Dedham Country Day School celebrated the conclusion of its 116th school year and the graduation of the Class of 2019 on Thursday, June 6, during Closing Exercises held in the Michael A. Rand ’86 Gymnasium.
Twenty-five graduates entered the gymnasium to the musical accompaniment of “La Rejouissance” performed by a combined instrumental ensemble of student and adult musicians conducted by Laura Sousa Wagner.
John Connors, co-president of the Board of Trustees gave the trustees’ greeting, welcoming everyone.
Reflecting on a decade of being a DCD student, Class of 2019 speaker Cameron O’Rourke, who lives across the street and spent his early childhood years exploring the natural environs of the campus and hiking nature trails through its wooded areas, used the metaphor of trees, flowers, and forests to describe his and his classmates’ growth during their time at DCD. “I had always wondered how the trees grew to be so tall,” he said. “As a kindergartener, I wondered the same about my Big Buddy. But this year I have had the opportunity to experience how it feels to be tall… or taller. I have seen the growth of the scenery, but more importantly, I have experienced the growth of my class and how we have developed, like nature.”
The graduating eighth-graders chose Dan Balk, a sixth-grade teacher, service-learning co-coordinator, and assistant athletic director, to be their faculty speaker. In his address to the Class of 2019, he talked about his love of teaching, despite earlier dreams of playing for the Celtics or Red Sox! Encouraging them to pursue their own dreams, whether realistic or not, he told them, “Remember what you learned here at DCD. You’ve tried so many sports and so many mediums of art, and you’ve been asked to try to find things that you love, and you’ve been forced to fail. I can’t wait to see 10 or 20 years down the road what professions you all do settle into, and I would not be remotely surprised to see an extremely wide array of jobs, maybe even a NASCAR driver or two. And, of course, it’s okay if your plans change.”
Head of Lower School Carla Haith presented the Dietsch Prize, awarded annually to a Lower School student in honor of Alice Dietsch, a DCD faculty member from 1930 to 1976, for Kindness, Curiosity, and Love of Learning, to fifth-grader Nehemiah Sanon.
Eighth-Grade Advisor Rob Thacher presented the Charlotte Lowell Award, given annually to a graduating eighth-grader since 1927 in memory of Charlotte Lowell, 1918–1927, for Friendliness, Kindness, and Unselfishness, to Cameron O’Rourke.
Head of Middle School Nate Buffum presented the Lisa Sutherland Award, given annually to a graduating eighth grader in memory of Lisa Sutherland, 1960–1975, for Excellence in Academics, Athletics, and the Arts, to Carly Ward. He spoke about each graduate’s unique strengths and accomplishments during the presentation of diplomas.
Eighth graders Martha Arends, Megan Fuqua, Hannah Peters, and Catherine Ross presented the Class of 2019 Gift, $1,160 to renovate the middle school basketball court, supporting their parents’ eighth-grade gift of renovating the patio outside the middle school. They raised the funds through bake sales along with babysitting and doing other odd jobs and chores during the year.
The three eighth-grade members of the Middle School Chorus—Martha Arends, Megan Fuqua, and Natalie Rudnick—provided a musical interlude, singing the One Republic song “I Lived,” under the direction of Choral Director Caroline Scheibe and accompanied on piano by Valerie Snow.
Head of School Allison Webster honored departing families and recognized faculty members who had reached milestones in their years of service—third-grade teacher Colleen Hultgren and Athletic Director Mark Jackson for 20 years, Director of Arts Kevin Coakley for 25 years, and pre-K teacher Caroline Swan for 35 years. She also recognized departing faculty members for reaching milestones in service, including instrumental music instructor Duane Claussen for completing 20 years, and woodworking teacher Gerry Clifford for 30 years at DCD, along with middle-school art teacher Lisa Houck, who is leaving after 15 years, reading specialist Kathy Suchma, leaving after 13 years, and choral director Caroline Scheibe leaving after one year.
In her remarks, Head of School Allison Webster spoke about the topic of wishing and what we choose to wish for, using a recent trip to see Disney’s newest Aladdin movie as fuel for a conversation about what we might want to wish for, from small to big goals. “Remember that huge goals that change our world are achieved through many small steps,” she told students. “Some of you knit with me this winter, and you’ll remember that any project, no matter how large, is made one stitch at a time. Keep setting big goals and knitting those stitches in the areas you value, and I know you’ll have a positive impact on our world.”
Head of Middle School Nate Buffum talked about each student’s special traits as each received a diploma. Each graduate received a yellow rose from a kindergarten student as they exited the ceremony to the accompaniment of “Spring” by Vivaldi. Seventh-grade families hosted a reception for the families and friends of the graduates in the Valentine Center. Many tears were shed as the graduates said goodbye to friends and faculty members before heading off to summer activities and new schools in the fall.
Among the many local schools to which they are now headed are Noble and Greenough School (4), Thayer Academy (3), Milton Academy (2), Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School (2), Brooks School (2), Beaver Country Day School, Boston University Academy, Catholic Memorial, Dana Hall School, Gann Academy, Middlesex School, Newton Country Day School, Tabor Academy, The Rivers School, Winsor School, and Xaverian Brothers High School, among others. Congratulations to all!