Dedham Country Day School concluded its 115th year by celebrating the graduation of the Class of 2018 on Friday, June 8, during Closing Exercises held in the Michael A. Rand ’86 Gymnasium.
Twenty-five graduates entered the gymnasium to the musical accompaniment of “Bringer of Joy,” based on “Jupiter” from The Planets by Gustav Holst, performed by a combined instrumental ensemble of student and adult musicians.
John Connors, co-president of the Board of Trustees and the father of a graduating student, welcomed everyone. Head of School Allison Webster brought along a stuffed animal, Patches, sharing a family tradition of consulting him whenever things went wrong or looked like they might not turn out perfectly, so that he could remind them that “everything would be okay.”
“It is easy to spend a lot of time and energy in life fearing that things will go wrong – that things won’t be okay in some way,” she told the graduates. “But what this fear underestimates is our capacity as people to make things right or adapt when things do go wrong – as they will. You have more power than you think to deal with life’s challenges – and this truth will make it so that everything will be okay.”
In his address to the Class of 2018 as faculty speaker, middle school math and Latin teacher Bo Harrington shared some of his own and his family’s wisdom with students, encouraging them to set small goals and use pencil and eraser when doing math. “If you can accept that mistakes will happen and have a plan to deal with them, if you can set a series of small goals to help lead you to greater things, and if you can learn to embrace that uneasy feeling of finding yourself in a new place, I know that you will have all the tools you need to shine through your ninth-grade year.”
Reflecting on a decade of being a DCD student, Class of 2018 speaker Gunner Peterson shared a memory from kindergarten of learning about butterflies as a metaphor for the transformation that would take place during his time as a student at DCD. “There is something so much more important within these experiences that teaches us not what to think, but how to think as individuals, as people. … These learning opportunities, combined with a sense of individuality and knowing yourself, create drive and ambition to do something that you are passionate about.”
Third grade teacher Lynne Mayard 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 Caroline Shih.
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 Mary Connors.
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 Oliver Riordan. He spoke about each graduate’s unique strengths and accomplishments during the presentation of diplomas.
Eighth graders Nytahah Bugg, Jeff Delva, Eli Gow and Audrey Volpe presented the Class of 2018 Gift, $1,276 to be split between the tech department for purchasing a drone to photograph the campus and the athletics department to support items related to DCD’s new mascot, the hawk. They raised the funds through bake sales along with babysitting and doing other odd jobs and chores during the year.
The Middle School Chorus, directed by Susan Aborn Glaser, performed “A Million Dreams” from the movie The Greatest Showman as a musical interlude before the presentation of diplomas.
Head of School Allison Webster honored departing families and recognized faculty members who had reached milestones in their years of service —Director of Food Services Jack O’Donnell, Building and Grounds’ Carl Abrahamson, and Director of Secondary School Counseling and drama and performing arts teacher Elisa Sidoli for 20 years, and Librarian Marge Farquharson and Executive Assistant Gail Schnopp for 30 years.
Each graduate received a yellow rose from a kindergarten student as they exited the ceremony to the accompaniment of “Festival Overture” by Lennie Niehaus. 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), Milton Academy (3), Dana Hall School (2), Buckingham, Browne & Nichols School, Beaver Country Day School, Concord Academy, Dexter Southfield, Ethel Walker School, Middlesex School, Miss Porter’s School, Philips Academy Andover, Philips Exeter Academy, The Rivers School, The Woodard School, and Xaverian Brothers