Congratulations, Class of 2019

Congratulations, Class of 2019

On May 31, Noble and Greenough School celebrated the accomplishments of the Class of 2019.

As everyone gathered for the final assembly, Head of School Dr. Cathy Hall noted, “Today marks our last time in this space as it is…this space is where we begin and end our year.” The crowd cheered as a string of Class I performances wrapped with an epic delivery of Queen’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.” “Talk about nailing it,” said an impressed Provost Bill Bussey. Class I took their last walk through the Castle as Nobles students, many pausing to take one last “Castlegram,” fuel up on a snack for the long ceremony ahead, and adjust boutonnieres and flower crowns.

The ceremony began with a heartfelt and jubilant declaration of love to the Class of 2019 from devoted School Life Council co-presidents Owen Asnis and Cyan Jean. They commended their classmates for their kindness, talent and humor. Jean said, “The truth is, our class is so special because we’ve stuck together. The past four years have not been easy—we’ve been through a lot together…the one constant has been our love, support and respect for one another.” Asnis added, “It is truly gut-wrenching that these are our final moments together, but as cliché as it sounds, it’s time to go change the world as I know we will.”

In addressing the Class of 2019, Hall recalled some epiphanies she had during times of clarity in her otherwise “blurry, sleep-deprived” early months as a new parent. Despite her protective instincts, she realized, as children grow, “the less your children’s safety and security are in your direct control, and the less you can protect them from the inevitabilities of life.” She learned to trust her son’s “own ability to make good choices, and to have the tools to recover when he did not.”

Hall recognized that it was “not only impossible for me to protect him from the inevitable obstacles and failures” her child would encounter, but also “essential and good for him that he face them as he grows.” Of the challenges facing the Class of 2019, Hall said, “I also realize how much we can shield you from failure if we want,” but “that struggle can and should be part of the learning journey. It is enormously important for you to have faced and managed those challenges, to have experienced failure and to know you are more than fine on the other side, to hit moments of stress or sadness and to do the work to find your way to a better place.”

“It is an even greater gift to have faced those moments and experiences here at Nobles, surrounded by the intricate web of adults who believe in you deeply and who will go to the mat to support you…We believe in you enormously, and your success gives us great pride and tremendous inspiration for the work we dedicate our lives to doing each and every day,” said Hall.

Before introducing faculty speaker Mike Hoe, Hall also presented the Vernon Greene Award for excellence in teaching to middle school science faculty member, advisor, coach and Nobles parent Chris Averill.

Of the 20-year Nobles educator, Hall said, “To step into Chris’ middle school science classroom is to witness students engaged in rich, thoughtful, highly organized learning, delving meaningfully into his science curriculum, but also delving into broader skills and larger life lessons.”

Hall also recognized Averill’s mentorship of countless Nobles faculty over the years. She quoted a colleague who said, “He is thoughtful about students, clearly has their best interests at heart and, most importantly, shows flexibility in his thinking. He is never afraid to speak up when he feels it is in the best interest of the student, even when others may disagree.”

After accepting the award, a visibly moved Averill received an embrace from his daughter, Sarah, in the first row of awaiting graduates.

Director of Academic Support and science faculty member Mike Hoe gave an unforgettable speech, “Don’t Be Sorry. Be Better.” He first expressed regret that beloved Nobles colleague, the late Bill Kehlenbeck, couldn’t be there to help him edit it. “We miss you, Bill, and I hope this speech does you proud.”

Hoe recalled the creation of “Life Tips by Mr. Hoe,” when the graduating class was in their first year of high school. He shared Hoe-isms like “figure it out,” “don’t do that, it’s weird,” and “cry me a river, build a little bridge, and get over it.” But Hoe’s favorite three life tips were his focus on graduation day:

Life Tip #1: Be more meta. “Part of being truly meta is also maintaining a childlike innocence that enables you to still be idealistic and to notice the little things that happen each and every day.” One day while coloring with his daughter Ellie he became distracted and messed up. She said, “Dad, sometimes it’s okay to color outside the lines.” Hoe called such moments opportunities to reflect, grow and learn.

Life tip #2: Don’t be complacent and never settle—even if life tries to force you to settle. Hoe lost his father in 1989, when he was only three. He praised his mother’s strength as she went on to earn two doctoral degrees while raising two children on her own and working full time. She taught him, “being truly kind requires intent, being sensitive is not a weakness, and that while chivalry is indeed, not dead, girls can be anything they damn well please”—a fact his wife and daughter remind him of every day. So, when loss seems like life forcing you to settle, Hoe said, instead “challenge yourself to grow from it.”

Life tip #3: Don’t be sorry, be better. Hoe believes “to be truly sorry means to be better moving forward to prevent whatever happened in the first place from ever happening again.” He recounted a hilarious story in which he was less than proud of his role in (not) supporting Castle neighbors, the Harringtons, in an attempt to rid their domicile of a certainly-rabid bat. “It’s really easy to be a hero when everyone is watching, but the true heroes are the ones who speak up and do the right thing when no one is watching,” Hoe said.

Max von Schroeter and Mikaela Martin were selected by their Class I peers as ceremony speakers.

In his speech, “A Down Payment on Opportunity,” von Schroeter jested that although he loves Nobles, it isn’t perfect. “We’ve got problems. For example, politics create tension, tuition is too high, homework causes too much stress. I’m still single.” In seriousness, he said, “To even have a connection to this place, I believe, is an extreme privilege…I couldn’t begin to encapsulate the wonder that Nobles brings together people from such different backgrounds and gives them a chance, one darn good slingshot, into the world.”

Von Schroeter invoked the inaugural address of 26th U.S. president, Theodore Roosevelt. “No people on earth have more cause to be thankful than ours [which, von Schroeter stated drily, was saying a lot given the TB crisis of 1904]…Much has been given us, and much will rightfully be expected from us.”

Von Schroeter said to his classmates, “I don’t want to sound too pushy, but to go to a school like this and not take advantage of everything it gives you is an insult to everybody who didn’t have the opportunity we had. You could become a carpenter, a doctor, a teacher, a social worker, a mechanic. You could start a business and give people jobs. You could innovate and come up with the next product or software that makes life easier and better so that one day, some kid will talk about 2019 as I just did about 1904.

“But it’s all up to you. Nobody’s going to make it happen for you, nobody’s gonna tell you how to do it. And sometimes you’ll pull through and other times you’ll fall short. But if you remember that only you can make it happen, then trust me, it will work out. Now let’s go out there and earn it,” said von Schroeter.

Next was Mikaela Martin, who shared “Acronyms Solve Everything.” Reflecting on the past six years at Nobles, Martin explained her guiding acronym, C.A.R.L.

The “C” is for community. From the time Martin stepped on campus as an overwhelmed Sixie, she “fell in love with the community that Nobles was and the potential [she] saw within it, for [her]self.”

The “A” is for appreciation. For Martin, saying “I love you” has always been challenging. For years, she joked, her way of expressing those feelings to friends was with “a karate chop to the throat,” which could mean anything from “Wow, the weekend was so long and I missed you so much!” to “Give me the attention I desperately crave!” As she has replaced martial arts with loving words over the years, she said, “Nobles has gifted me with people and relationships that have helped shape me into who I am and taught me the value of gratitude.”

The “R” represents respect. At Nobles, Martin says, she has learned to deal with conflict in a respectful way, and to carry herself in a way that elicits respect. “Nobles has also taught me to respect others…you have no idea what anyone is going through or fighting either inside or outside of themselves or the school environment. There is no place at Nobles for disrespect and there is always space for a middle ground.”

The final “L” is for love. Martin shared some of her classmates’ endearing traits, saying, “We must treasure the people we love and the things that they do that we love because there will come a time when we yearn for the comfort that their presence and their little idiosyncrasies provide, but they will not be there. I am learning, step by step, to become conscious of the people I love and the things that I love, so that, when I am not so near them, I will always be able to draw off of their warmth.”

Among the ceremony’s musical performances, after a week filled with many memorable performances, was the First Class Ensemble with the school song, “Noble and Strong,” composed by faculty member Michael Turner with lyrics by Sam Forman ’95, and also Ben E. King’s “Stand By Me.”

Head of School Cathy Hall announced the awards that were accepted by students the prior evening. Prior to the diplomas, the ceremony also included the awarding of the Head of School Prize to Lev Sandler and Madeleine Charity; the Russell B. Stearns Achievement Award to Maya Principe and Maya Rodriguez; the Trustees’ Prize for Scholarship to Liam Smith; the Bond Prize for Improvement to Cyan Jean; the Miller Medal to Lily Farden; and the Gleason Award for Academic Excellence to Nathaniel Birne.

After accepting their diplomas, the graduates thanked and were reunited with the proud faculty and family members who have been, and will be by their sides, all along.