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Nobles Celebrates 152nd Graduation

Nobles Celebrates 152nd Graduation

On June 1, Noble and Greenough School graduated 114 members of the Class of 2018. The final morning assembly for the class kicked off with a rendition of “You’ve Got a Friend in Me,” performed on saxophone and guitar by Caroline Collins-Pisano and Courtney Collins-Pisano. The celebrations continued with awards and the granting of diplomas to the class—the first graduating class under the leadership of Dr. Catherine Hall, head of school. Student speakers shared thoughts on finding opportunity after injury, appreciating myriad milestones, seeing the benefit of a “failed” stamp, and understanding faith, hope and love.

School Life Council co-presidents Uche Ndukwe and Emma Majernik were among the first to address the audience. Ndukwe told the audience how the Nobles community kept him grounded after an Achilles injury paused his athletic career and disrupted his sense of identity. Nobles faculty members including Vicky Seelen and Mark Spence wrote him notes of encouragement. “Don’t get down, my friend,” Seelen wrote. “The healing happens, and you will have gained something. Consider the gifts.”

“Ms. [Kate] Ramsdell helped remind me that I had more to offer Nobles than my pass rush,” Ndukwe said. She encouraged him to focus on his work as a musician, middle school mentor, church member and helper at his parents’ restaurant, he said.

Majernik noted that milestones are part of the human condition, pointing to babies’ instinct to grab and hold onto an object. She described learning to ride a bike as another milestone, with its many stages of trial, error and progress. Majernik shared a personal milestone, too: She learned to waterski. She explained that the most difficult aspect was learning “to leave your arms straight and relaxed” rather than hold on tight, pulling them protectively into your chest.

“Much like water skiing, it is now the moment where we must fight the urge to pull in. Together we will allow our arms to reach out in front of us. However, it is not an act of completely letting go, it’s the decision to allow for some distance, to explore what lies ahead.”

In addressing the Class of 2018, Hall, who became Nobles seventh head of school last summer, told the audience that the Class of 2018 would always be special as her first Nobles class. Hall made one simple request of the class: “I ask that you engage,” she said.

“At Nobles, we need to do our part…to contribute to a climate of engaged discussion, one that promotes intellectually rigorous and respectful conversation, one that elevates our thinking and spurs productive leadership, one that builds rather than tears down.

“I ask you to find your voice and to use it to define how you will lead for the public good. Leadership for the public good is not a calling just for some of you. It is a calling for every single one of you.”

Before introducing faculty speaker Edgar De Leon ’04, Hall also presented the Vernon Greene Award for excellence in teaching to Steve Toubman.

“The consummate teacher-coach-advisor at Nobles, Mr. Toubman served as a full-time teacher while leading our wrestling program with tremendous success for 35 years,” Hall said. “Noble and Greenough School has benefited from his talent, hard work, dedication, kindness, quirky humor and optimism.”

Edgar De Leon, associate dean of students, said that he has only two fears: roller-coasters and public speaking. He acknowledged his role as Detention Czar, suggesting that, in inviting him to speak at their graduation, the Class of 2018 was penalizing him for doling out the detentions.

He also explained his love of Cosmopolitan magazine. “I believe Cosmo, with its riveting celebrity ‘how-to’ pieces, has truly changed my life.” He noted Cosmo-approved do’s and don’ts for online dating that the Class of 2018 might adopt, including 1) Don’t post a face that’s not actually yours!—Remember, you may actually meet and 2) Don’t write long complaints about your failed relationships. Let’s be real. It was probably your fault.

The takeaway from these and other tips is that being authentic and honest is key, De Leon said. Also, take the time to really see people and look for the nuance rather than the easy label. “The truth is we all are nuanced—there are different aspects to our story, and all of it makes us who we are.” (Read the full address here.)

Jill Radley and Danny Monaghan were selected by their classmates to speak on the dais. Radley’s speech featured a heartfelt thank-you to the DMV for failing her on her driver’s test. “At Nobles, it is not too often we hear the words ‘you failed,’” she said. “Sure, we’ve all bombed a test or quiz, got caught driving down to the MAC, been cut from a team or declined a role we really wanted, but no one stands there on the other side waiting to stamp ‘failed’ on your face after you go through these things.

“As cheesy as it sounds, every failure I’ve had during my four years here has shaped me into who I am standing before you today. That includes the 51 percent on my physics test, the time I tripped over myself catching a routine fly ball during a softball game, the two times I ripped my pants at school.

“It is easy to let your failures identify you, but it is what you do after said ‘failure’ that makes up who you choose to be… Nobles has taught us the importance of reaction, of what you do after, and because of that we have allowed nothing to become a ‘setback.’”

Monaghan shared stories of faith, love and hope.

He recounted driving past the wall outside Nobles years ago, intrigued by the impressive entrance, wondering what lay beyond. He shared how his father had faith in him, which gave him faith in himself to find out what was on the other side of that wall engraved with “Noble and Greenough School.” He described his love of his mother and also how his mentors at Nobles, including advisor Brad Becker, helped him regain hope after the death of McCrae Williams ’17.

“As individuals, we decide the role faith will play in our lives, how much hope to grab onto and hard we’ll love,” he said.

He left his classmates with a 10-word, 10-syllable thought to hold onto when faith, hope and love felt less sure: “If it is to be, it is up to me,” he said.

Head of School Cathy Hall announced the awards that were accepted by students the previous evening. The ceremony also included the awarding of the Head of School’s Prize to Olivia Thompson and Patrick Stevenson; the Russell B. Stearns Achievement Award to Jelinda Metelus and Danny Monaghan; the Trustees’ Prize for Scholarship to Samantha Alves; the Bond Prize for Improvement to Adia Maund; the Miller Medal to Ryan Flynn; and the Gleason Award for Academic Excellence to Paul Apostolicas.

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