The Derryfield School celebrated fifty-two graduates in an outdoor ceremony on Saturday, June 4. The joyful occasion marked the fifty-fifth commencement for the independent, co-educational institution, whose mission is to “inspire bright, motivated young people to be their best and provide them with the skills and experiences needed to be valued, dynamic, confident, and purposeful members of any community.”
In her welcome speech, Dr. Mary Halpin Carter, Head of School, characterized the seniors as: “dedicated, hardworking learners; deep, reflective thinkers; students whose energy and enthusiasm sparkle; students who are fierce competitors and kind souls; resilient students who have inspired us with their strength; and, unique people who dance to their own beat.” She talked about how their freshman year was “normal,” their sophomore and junior years were marred by Covid disruptions, and their final year finally reverted (with a few restrictions) back to “normal” after February. Halpin Carter surmised, “Perhaps that is why, compared to other classes, you are more self reliant. You make the most of the unexpected. You adapt creatively, finding uncharted paths.”
After an invocation by Reverend Rebecca Colton Josephson, and a welcome from Reina Stimpson, Head of the Upper School, senior Madison Molina thanked the teachers, administrators, parents and friends who had each, in their own way, helped the members of the senior class make it through to graduation. Molina also recounted what it was like to come to Derryfield, having just moved to New Hampshire from Miami, Florida. “While the first months were lonely, over time I began to make friends, acclimate to the community and school, and now stand here having made relationships and experiences that I value deeply and will always remember.”
Math teacher Stephen Young, elected by the senior class to give a speech on behalf of the faculty, then gave an amusing and far-reaching address that included an assessment of New Hampshire natives, “generous, thoughtful, industrious, and strong advocates for Boiled Dinner,” an acknowledgment of all the struggles presented by Covid, an overview of his favorite author, Kurt Vonnegut, and a story about the few months he spent in Berlin, before the fall of the wall. The end of Young’s rambling road brought the audience to a comparison between sorrowful moments and joyful moments. “There are a lot of moments ahead of you on your journey, and they zip by pretty quick. Savor the joyful moments, learn from the sorrowful moments, don’t complain too much, but reach out for help when you need it, because you all have something important in common. You are loved, and your journey has just begun.”
Next, Mackenzie McCarthy performed “I Lived,” and then Matthew Farah delivered the commencement address. Farah urged his fellow classmates to be more “childish,” to be intrinsically playful and compassionate and incredibly curious. Farah said he regretted the timidness he showed at times–his unwillingness to take risks. He concluded, “When we overcome this fear of judgment, we fully partake in the activities that make us human. We connect more deeply with our friends. We experience curiosity and are excited to learn about the world around us. We laugh and feel deep satisfaction about our lives. We act like children.”
Anna Induni, in the farewell address, hailed the semicolon–punctuation whose correct usage had been emphasized many times over to the members of the senior class. Induni then gave her interpretation of the semicolon, “I believe greater meaning can be found from the semicolon, beyond its efficacious use in study guides. The semicolon is able to connect two closely related albeit separate ideas in order to create a meaningful message. Therefore, I encourage my peers to not view graduation as an end of a sentence, chapter, or book, but rather as a semicolon - a continuation of their best memories.”
After a benediction from Reverend Josephson, the boisterous graduates recessed, with many high-fives, through a gauntlet of well-wishing Derryfield faculty and staff.