Congratulations, class of 2017!

Exeter gathers to celebrate the 236th commencement.

Nicole Pellaton
June 4, 2017
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On June 4, beaming members of the class of 2017 processed, received prizes and diplomas, and celebrated with families, friends, and Academy faculty and staff. The cloudless day provided a perfect backdrop to the ceremony that honored 322 graduates.

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See a selection of favorite moments from graduation and the preceding week.

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Senior Isabella Edo welcomed families and friends. “We have watched this school change from a place settled on tradition to a place that is open to looking at things with a new set of eyes,” said Edo as she summarized many of the changes the class of 2017 witnessed and took part in making happen.

“Today we are signifying the end of our adolescence and the beginning of young adulthood, and that’s terrifying but also exhilarating,” Edo remarked in ending. “Class of 2017, our time here has come to a close but I’m so happy that I got to spend the past four years with you. I love you. I will miss you. Congratulations on making it here. We did it!”

“You’re a class that sings — figuratively as well as literally,” said Principal Lisa MacFarlane in her brief speech to the graduating seniors. “You take action that extends Harkness beyond the classroom and into the world.” Encouraging the seniors to continue their good works in “everyday life,” MacFarlane added: “I believe in living Harkness not just because you find your own voice, and that is vital, but because it means you listen to the voices of others, and try to find the bridges between each other. There’s a humility in Harkness; it's not about being loud or drawing attention. It’s about tracing the relationships between events, between people, recognizing the appropriate oscillations between sound and quiet. None of us knows fully. That by itself is a sobering, if not outright painful, moment. Real Harkness, living Harkness, is, as it ought to be, the enemy of pride.”

MacFarlane was assisted on the podium by Trustee Eunice Panetta ’84, Dean of Faculty Ethan Shapiro, and seniors Connie Cai and Eric Tang.

Kelvin Green '17 led the Invocation.

MacFarlane acknowledged the contributions of the retiring faculty: Patricia Babecki, instructor in mathematics; Ming Fontaine, instructor in modern languages; and Pam Parris, coordinator of academic support services.

Seniors Charis Edwards and Joel Lotzkar presented the class gift to the Academy – a contribution of $3,558, which will be matched by the 50th reunion class (thank you, class of 1967!). The funds will be used to repurpose wood from the historic copper beech (familiar to generations of Exonians as the climbing tree in front of the Academy library) that was cut down earlier this year after suffering severe storm damage. Once the wood has cured, members of the class of 2017 will work with PEA to determine appropriate projects (a Harkness table is one popular idea).

The string quartet – Joonho Jo ’17, cello; Hoyeon Kelly Lew ’17, violin; Kianan McDonald ’18, viola; and Tomoko Sophia Oguri ’18, violin – played as students processed.

Class Marshals Marvin Bennett, Kelsey Detels, Tarek Khartabil and Rachel Luo escorted fellow members of the class of 2017 to their seats.

Wishing a wonderful summer to the great class of 2017!