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Congratulations, Class of 2017!

On June 2, Noble and Greenough School graduated 129 members of the Class of 2017.

The final morning assembly for the Class of 2017 included Mac Porter’s performance of “Castle on the Hill” by Ed Sheeran: "I think this song is pretty fitting," said Porter of the lyrics: “And I miss the way you make me feel, and it's real/We watched the sunset over the castle on the hill." Others acts included Coldplay's “Paradise,” sung by Syra Mehdi, Grace Scott-Hiser, Sabrina Li Shen and Harry Sherman, as well as a reprise of Adele’s "Hometown Glory"—a song first memorably performed by Jonathan Herring as a Class IV student.

The morning celebrations continued with awards and the granting of diplomas to a class marked by the loss of beloved classmate Casey Dunne in 2015 and other challenges that saddened and strengthened them profoundly. Speakers shared thoughts on finding new paths, what a typical day at Nobles is like, striking out on one’s own and the importance of communicating with family.

Student Life Council co-presidents Harry Sherman and Kayla Getter were among the first to address the audience. Sherman shared his shattered expectations about playing pro hockey. The NHL-hopeful often ended up on the Nobles bench and that allowed him to try just about everything else. “Do not restrict yourself to a predetermined label,” he said. “If you ever feel yourself struggling to fulfill a particular label or title, don’t settle for one. Explore Nobles and embrace each other.”

Getter cataloged the usually endearing habits and foibles of classmates and friends who have populated her Nobles’ day. “But in the end, it doesn’t matter if your day was anything like my day…This place impacts everyone.”

In addressing the Class of 2017, Henderson, who retires in July after 17 years as head of school, told the audience that he is often asked why he wanted to become a school head. He recounted his early days at struggling schools and the serendipitous call to consider returning to Nobles. “It has been the greatest gift of my life, after my wife Ross and three boys, Paul, Patrick and David, to be back in this village.”

Henderson offered students nine lessons learned from his life and career. “Much of what happens in your life is serendipity. You land in the right place at the right time,” he said. “Your challenge is simply to recognize it and take advantage of it. Your glass is always half full and never half empty. Optimists succeed and bring other people with them.”

For Henderson’s full remarks (and the other eight lessons-learned), click here.

Before introducing faculty speaker Maura Sullivan, Henderson also bestowed the Vernon Greene Award for excellence in teaching to Karen Gallagher, math faculty member and director of the boarding program. “Karen is a total school person,” Henderson said. “She has built her life and, indeed, her family around life on this campus. Over her years at Nobles she has emerged as a master teacher, combining great pedagogy and knowledge with relentless effort, wisdom, pragmatism and deep care for her students and colleagues. She offers all this along with a marvelous sense of humor.”

Faculty speaker Maura Sullivan, dean of faculty and math faculty member, traced her connection with the Class of 2017 and spoke of her trepidation about delivering a speech. “I started to remember why I had chosen to be a math major in college,” she said.

“I liked the precision, direction and logic of math. I wanted formulas to follow, a set of rules to live by. To me, English papers have very little of any of that. Sure, there are some general guidelines, but people who don’t follow those guidelines are often seen as geniuses.”

She quipped that math teachers often get the unfair question of whether the subject is relevant to real life. She said that most academic questions aren’t ones we deliver solutions to every day.

“But, if that is your measure of your education, then you are selling this place—and yourself—short. 

“What Nobles has given all of you are tools that will help you navigate through life, even if those aren’t necessarily obvious to you in the moment.” (Read Sullivan’s full remarks, including her story about a bald eagle sighting and the bond she has with her field hockey team, here.) 

Peter Scharer and Rachel Kennedy were selected by their classmates to speak on the dais. Scharer urged classmates to both practice what they hope to become good at—for him, at one point, football—while also dropping yourself into unexpected places, all alone, like his school year abroad experience in Italy. He suggested that if his several anecdotes sounded random—a one-hit wonder on the football field, a seventh-grade crush that led him to the stage but not to love, or how he ended up in Verona looking at nativity scenes in stranger’s garage—maybe they aren’t so random. “Nothing is truly random or lacking in context,” he said. “Nothing can come out of the woodwork of life that isn’t already there.”

Rachel Kennedy told classmates and others about her family’s penchant for communicating through handwritten notes and how she often used notes to let her father know what she wanted or needed—but too few times had she written to express her gratitude. Kennedy said she wanted to channel her late mother by celebrating the man her mother loved: Kennedy’s dad.

“There are two traits of yours that I believe have gotten me to the finish line…to be vulnerable and to forgive,” she said. “When you say that Mommy is proud of me, know that she is even prouder of you.”

Head of School Bob Henderson announced the awards that were accepted by students the previous evening. He also recognized seniors who earned distinction, high distinction and highest distinction. Nobles Board of Trustees President Beth Reilly ’87 honored Bob Henderson for his great and lasting contributions to their mutual alma mater. She also announced the establishment of the Robert P. Henderson Jr. '76 Head of School Chair. 

The ceremony included additional awards such as the Head of School Prize, Miller Medal and Gleason Award, which went to new graduates Spoorthi Balu, Jack Roberts and Victor Li, respectively. Other awards given on graduation day were the Trustee Prize to Julia Shanno, the Bond Prize Kiara Curet and the Stearns Award to Medhanit Felleke, Philip Barnett and Frannie Adams. Mary and Matthew Dunne, parents of the late Casey Dunne ’17, accepted the Class of ’98 Award on her behalf.

After accepting their diplomas, the graduates greeted and thanked faculty and family members. Among the final musical performances, after a week filled with many memorable performances, was the First Class Ensemble with “Noble and Strong” by faculty member Michael Turner with lyrics by Sam Forman ’95. The pair wrote the song in honor of Nobles’ sesquicentennial.

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Congratulations, Class of 2017!