Nobles Celebrates 156th Graduation Today!
June 3, graduation day for the Class of 2022, started with clouds and pattering rain that turned to gentle sunshine by afternoon. That pattern was not unlike the upper school experience of the 136 seniors who became Nobles graduates today: Their time at Nobles had more than its share of pelting and threatening skies during the time of Covid. But it ended just beautifully–as did June 3, 2022.
The final morning assembly for this resilient group of scholars, artists and athletes was the first since 2019 to include the full on-campus community of seniors, underclassmen, faculty and staff. It was worth the wait. Highlights included a final goodbye and recognition from Head of School Dr. Catherine Hall of Nick Nickerson, 48-year Nobles veteran and senior master. “How do you say thank you for 48 years?” Nickerson said. “Nobles has become the single greatest influence in my life. This place has made me into a better version of myself,” he added to roaring applause.
The Class of ’98 Award, given by the graduating class, was presented to Danielle Frankel by School Life Council Co-Presidents Sid Balu and Mary Connors. Musical performances included “Yellow” by Coldplay, with Will Grimes as lead vocalist, and “Sign of the Times” by Harry Styles, performed by Alejandra Mendez and Claire Mao. Following tradition, the assembly culminated in a slideshow of special moments the class has shared.
Balu and Connors were among the first to address the full graduation audience, in the rain and under the tent. Connors said, “Nobles has been our nest” and now it’s time to fly. Balu noted that their class is the largest in the school’s history—yet the impact of each one of his classmates has been felt and valued despite the growth.
Head of School Cathy Hall also addressed those graduating today. Her talk flipped the script on the challenges of Covid and the trend to applaud students for their resilience. Instead, she asked them to have courage: “[To] be brave enough to be yourself, to be kind, to be hopeful, to laugh—even when it is hardest to do, even when you are hurting, even when nobody is watching.” (Read Hall’s full remarks here.)
Before introducing faculty speaker and Provost William Bussey, who retires from Nobles after 34 years, Hall presented the Vernon L. Greene Award for excellence in teaching to Jenny Carlson-Pietraszek, history teacher. Carlson-Pietraszek came to Nobles in 1997 and, among myriad contributions, has taught every grade and also served as middle school head.
“Jenny lives out a growth mindset in her daily life,” Hall said. “Always looking for ways to improve as an educator, she ambitiously seeks out new resources, ideas, and colleagues from whom she can learn.”
Retiring Provost William (Bill) Bussey was invited by the Class of 2022 to speak. Bussey’s eclectic and hilarious remarks centered on his college experience and what he learned from it. (Read the full account here.) He also noted the incredible community contributions of students and his colleagues. On his decision to retire, he noted, “About two months ago, I was in the Stop and Shop mulling over the kitty litter. And then it dawned on me that I didn’t own a cat. And I thought, maybe it’s time to move on.” (For the record, everyone knows Bussey is a dog person.)
Brendan McNamara and Tulasi Vithiananthan were selected by their classmates to speak on the dais. Vithiananthan spoke about her love of movies and how one her favorites, We Bought a Zoo, never won an Academy Award but was a star for her. In it, Matt Damon’s character says, “Sometimes all you need is 20 seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it.” Vithiananthan recounted her own experience of being brave in her Class IV history class when she was terrified to present. That choice stayed with her and helped define her Nobles experience.
McNamara shared that he was initially unsure about his decision to leave his public school for Nobles: He thought not about what he could offer Nobles but about what he could get from Nobles. Former faculty member and McNamara’s former basketball coach Adam Cluff assured him that he was, for sure, “a Nobles kid.” Then it clicked for McNamara: “I have loved coming to school because this isn’t just any high school. This place is different.” (Read Vithiananthan’s and McNamara’s full speeches here.)
Head of School Cathy Hall announced the awards that were accepted by students the previous evening, among them the Head of School’s Prize to Jacob Casper and Mary Connors; the Russell B. Stearns Achievement Award to Tope Adetunji, Alejandra Mendez and Sahr Matturi; the Trustees’ Prize for Scholarship to John-Henry Lotz-McMillan and Julia Maranhao-Wong; the Bond Prize for Improvement to Marieko Amoah; the Miller Medal to Emerson O’Leary; and the Gleason Award for Academic Excellence to Daniel Wang. The celebrations culminated with the granting of diplomas to the class and, after accepting their diplomas, the graduates thanked faculty members in the receiving line, a longstanding Nobles tradition.
Among the ceremony’s musical performances were the First Class Ensemble performances of “Noble and Strong” and “The Rainbow Connection.”
If you missed the in-person or livestream graduation, you can watch the recording here.