2018 Commencement Address

Mr. Fay, members of the Board of Trustees, faculty and staff, parents, grandparents, alumni, friends, and most importantly, seniors – welcome. We gather each year at this time to reflect on the academic year just completed and to honor and say farewell to the graduating class. This is a time for looking forward and for celebrating all that you – Class of 2018 – have accomplished.

So here we are – look around you to take in the pageantry of this moment. This is the very last time that you will all sit together as a class. It has been quite a journey.

Seven years ago, 33 of you sitting on this stage were 6th graders, and you and I were just starting our first year at MBS. I have a distinct memory of meeting many of you at the Ice Cream Social, but the two who stick out most vividly in my mind are Katie and Ricky – always side by side. Ricky, with his stylish buzz cut, and Katie not missing a beat. Looking back, one has to wonder and marvel at where the time went, but when I look at you, confident, bold and grown up (or mostly grown up), it shines a light on the passage of time.

What are your memories? Here are some snapshots of your memories from 6th grade.

“One of my earliest memories from my seven years at MBS was giving a speech at your installation when I was in sixth grade. I remember little about reading in front of the school; however, I have a clear picture of what MBS looked like from the stage: daunting. I was terrified to leave my comfortable seat at the top of the middle school balcony and come down to the stage. But this speech taught me about perspective. Each year as I moved one more row down, I became more and more comfortable until I was a senior sitting directly in front.  The stage got smaller and the room got less daunting. I am now fully confident in my school, but have always taken with me the feeling of being a little fish jumping straight into what seemed to be a big pond. The experience of delivering a speech at your installation shaped my time at MBS, and I hope to take it with me to college.” 

“I remember as a 5th grader touring with Sami Saunders and spilling juice all over the table at lunch and blaming it on someone else (Mr. Teasdale cleaned it up.)”

“I remember walking through the student center one time and being terrified of the seniors.”

“I remember the French teachers using the Quebec trip as leverage to get students to commit to French.”

“The first thing that jumps to mind is the (in)famous "skunk catching" bench talk. Seven years, and hundreds of sleepless nights, later, I've been unable to decipher the hidden moral. My studies will continue in college, where I hope to consult with a cryptologist.” 

“In all seriousness, my time at MBS has been very much defined by our theatre program. I started the musical on a whim in 6th grade, and I played the rain in our production of "Once on This Island." I was excellent. I've done theatre every year here, with the exception of a freshmen year lull where I oddly decided to do 3 seasons of sports instead. The thing about theatre, especially high school theatre, is that it allows you to find who you truly are through an exploration of another personality. I can think of no other part of this school that has so affected who I've become.”

“One thing I remember from sixth grade was how scary the rest of campus felt compared to the middle school. Having to first walk outside of that building to get to the learning center or library was terrifying as a new, small student. 

“The other thing that comes to mind was the first bench talk you ever gave. Bench talks have always been a constant in our years at MBS and I still remember a bunch of the stories, especially the skunk one. The first one, however, was about how MBS is special and how we should embrace and seize all opportunities that we can in our time here. That always stuck with me as I continued on at MBS, and I tried to be a part of anything I could in my next seven years here.”  -Thank you, Grace.

No, I did not make up that quote, but since Grace remembered that bench talk, I am going to recall some of it.

As you entered this school, I reminded you of what it means to be a student at MBS. But, graduates, whether or not you arrived in 6th grade, all of you have heard these charges before, and this is my last time to give them to you. 

Just as your parents remind you of their expectations as you leave the house, so, too, would I like to remind you of what it means to be an MBS student, and I urge you to approach college or university with this same sense of initiative and responsibility. Here are three reminders from the list of recommendations that I offered in 2011, properly updated to reflect your new status, they are still important to reflect upon.

Reminder #1 Being a community member of MBS means you are developing skills and habits of stewardship, stewardship for the School, for our natural environment, and for our local, state, national and international communities.

Reminder #2: Get to know as many teachers as you can. Your teachers are from all over the world, and they have a greater abundance of collective world experiences than any other faculty I have ever seen. Beyond the international diversity, they have enormous diversity in life experiences, and they are deeply committed to you.

Reminder #3: Being a community member is perhaps one of the most rewarding things you will ever do, and it requires constant vigilance and awareness of those around you. But most of all, it requires engagement, engagement with people, with activities, with clubs, sports, with the arts and classes. I urge you to engage with people on your campus who are not students and are not professors. Get to know the people who keep the buildings clean, the people who take care of the campus and who serve you meals.

So while I offered this advice seven years ago, it is relevant today. Harvard statistician Richard Light spent ten years gathering statistics on college students to figure out what brings college students the greatest happiness and success.  His statistics reveal that as college students you have massive amounts of free time.  Use this time well by getting to know you professors and visiting them during office hours, by taking courses with multiple assessments, by getting involved in activities beyond the classroom. His message is simple:  Try new things. Get engaged. Get to know people.

Think, for a moment, of what we have accomplished over the past two to seven years – you, during your middle and high school years, and I adapting to a new environment and position as Headmaster. We have come a long way.  I mentioned to you at the beginning of this year that your goal should be to leave MBS an even stronger school than it was when you arrived. I think that, collectively, you have done just that, each in your own way.

Good luck – we are proud of you and will miss every one of you. We are excited about what lies ahead for you. Come back to visit us often to share what you have learned and what you have accomplished. MBS means many different things to everyone here, and over our time here we traveled different paths. Wherever life takes you after graduation, I hope you guide yourselves back here at some point, as MBS is a home that will always welcome you with wide arms and an open heart.

Thank you.
 


 

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