Dedham Country Day School celebrated the conclusion of the school year and the graduation of the Class of 2017 on Thursday, June 7, during Closing Exercises held in the Michael A. Rand ’86 Gymnasium. Twenty-seven graduates entered the gymnasium to the musical accompaniment of “Canon” by Pachelbel performed by a combined instrumental ensemble of student and adult musicians. Each graduate received a yellow rose from a kindergarten student as they made their way to the stage in front of a hushed audience of parents, friends, alumni, and students.
Sheila Hiatt, President of the Board of Trustees and the mother of a graduating student, welcomed everyone. Addressing the graduates she said, “All of you should be extremely proud of everything that you’ve accomplished and experienced on your way to this moment. While it may not have seemed so at the time, all of it was invaluable, the challenges and the struggles, as well as the enormous successes.”
Head of School Allison Webster talked about the importance of finding balance in a world full of contradictions. Taking her inspiration from Ian McEwan’s book Nutshell, and a children’s favorite, Alexander and the Terrible, No Good, Horrible, Very Bad Day, she told students, “You know that you have the power to shape stories that make sense of your world. You use your optimism not to ignore the parts of our stories that are sad or stressful, but to know that you have the capacity to face the difficult things in your life.”
In her address to the Class of 2017 as faculty speaker, PE teacher Elaine Gage shared some of her own personal life lessons in encouraging graduates to take on all the challenges of the next stage of their lives. “I hope what you will take with you as you leave DCD is an ‘I’ll Try’ and an ‘I Can’ attitude. When something is difficult, remember — the more you do it — the better you will get at it. And if you truly want to accomplish something, you need to really want it and be determined.”
Reflecting on a decade of being a DCD student, Class of 2017 speaker Matthew O’Rourke articulated the feelings of his fellow classmates in saying, “We have grown since kindergarten. One thing that has stayed the same is the atmosphere at DCD. It’s our second home. It doesn’t matter if we’ve been here for ten years or one. It’s our home. My classmates are my family members.”
Lower School head 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 Shalease Allen.
Eighth Grade advisor Ruth Gow 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 Emily Shih.
Middle School head 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 Alex Burmeister. He spoke about each graduate’s unique strengths and accomplishments during the presentation of diplomas.
Eighth graders Aleesa Borghi, Kenzie Kelly, and Gabby Rayev presented the Class Gift, books for the new front lobby display area and Apple TVs for classrooms, which they funded with the proceeds from bake sales along with babysitting and doing other odd jobs and chores during the year.
Head of School Allison Webster honored departing families and recognized faculty members who had reached milestones in their years of service — fifth grade teacher Joanna Bemis for 20 years, middle school science teacher and advisor Ruth Gow for 25 years, and admissions associate and coach Deb White for 30 years. The Eighth Grade Select Ensemble performed “The Ash Grove,” a Welsh Folk Medley directed by Susan Glaser and accompanied on violin by instrumental music teachers Chris Nicholas, who is retiring after 32 years, and Susan Kenney, retiring after 17 years teaching music through the Private Music Program at DCD.
Seventh grade families hosted a reception for the families and friends of the graduates. 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 (6), The Rivers School (4), Thayer Academy (2), Concord Academy (2), Milton Academy (2), Xaverian Brothers High School (2), Kent School, New Hampton School, Groton School, Needham High School, Bishop Feehan School, Deerfield Academy, Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School, and Brimmer and May School. Congratulations to all!