Featuring beautiful weather, engaging speakers, moving student performances, both old and new traditions, moments of gravity and levity, and a whole lot of joy, Commencement Day on May 31 was as perfect as could be.
As is tradition, Dwight-Englewood School’s Commencement took place under the big tent on Leggett Field the Sunday after Reunion. However, this year’s ceremony marked the beginning of a new era for the orientation of the big tent: instead of facing west as in previous years, it faced the Modell’s Sports Complex and Imperatore Library, thanks to the construction of the new Hajjar STEM Center.
It was fitting that the tent placement for the 2015 graduating class was affected by the Hajjar STEM Center construction, since the new facility has had an impact on so many other things related to the class. In his amusing and lighthearted speech, senior class speaker and Tufts University-bound Adam Rapfogel ’15 noted that he and his 125 classmates — one of the biggest classes in recent years — had “drawn the short straw” because of the lack of a senior parking lot due to the construction for a building that will be finished in September 2015, long after they are gone.
During his remarks, Upper School Principal Joseph Algrant reprised the theme, acknowledging what he called the “parking lot fiasco,” while explaining why each graduate received a little car stress ball under their seats: “Use these cars in good health to squeeze when you need to de-stress, and try to forgive us for the inconvenience. You did take one for the team so that the rest of us can soon have the Hajjar STEM Center, and we appreciate the sacrifice. Maybe your children, say, the class of 2040 or so, will one day sit in one of those STEM rooms that you are now facing, and you’ll share with them the traumas of shuttle buses and cold walks up East Palisade Avenue.”
In a ceremony that had both firsts and lasts, Board of Trustees President John H. Hajjar, M.D., delivered his final trustee address as he rounds out his nine-year tenure on the board. Speaking as a parent, Hajjar gave this advice to the Class of 2015: “When you get to college, really reflect on what your passions are, and pursue something that makes you happy. You’ll never know what new passions you have yet to discover if you don’t try new things.” Hajjar also reminded the soon-to-be graduates to not forget to simply stay in touch and “call home every so often.”
Student contributions to the ceremony included poetry and music. Senior class reader Lisa Mordkovich ’15, who will be attending Middlebury College in the fall, gave a reading of the spoken-word poet Anis Mojgani’s poem “Closer.” In addition, musical performances were interspersed throughout the ceremony and included songs from the seniors of the Jazz Rock Ensemble, the Senior Handbells Ensemble, the Upper School Chorus, and StringJam.
The audience also lauded the recipients of the School’s most prestigious, most highly anticipated senior student awards: The Bailey Award was presented to Clement Wong ’15, who will be attending Carnegie Mellon University; the Trustees’ Award was given to George Georges ’15, who is heading off to Princeton University; and the Senior Citizenship Prize was awarded to Columbia University-bound Spencer Papay ’15. [Editor’s Note: Want to know the colleges and universities our seniors have chosen for this fall? Then click here for the Class of 2015 Matriculation List!]
The Commencement Address was given by Michael S. Klein ’81, the managing partner of M. Klein & Company, LLC, an independent financial and strategic advisor to companies, investors and governments. In his introductory remarks, Dr. De Jarnett noted that Klein’s reputation as a leader in financial services and as a strategic adviser was built during a 23-year career at Citi and its predecessors. After leaving Citi in 2008, he served as a private advisor to the United Kingdom in its response to the financial market crisis. He also helped lead the working group tasked with drafting and implementing the UK’s Bank Recapitalization Program, which became a framework for other governments.
Among his many volunteer and service efforts, Klein was an instrumental leader in launching the World Food Programme’s (WFP) Emergency Network, a groundbreaking partnership between the WFP and the private sector. Noted Dr. De Jarnett, “Through a multimillion dollar, multi-year grant that Michael facilitated from Citigroup’s Foundation, a new initiative was started by the WFP to conduct emergency needs assessment when a disaster occurs. Companies are able to deliver pre-planned contributions — such as trucks, telecommunications equipment, food, and other critical items — to augment WFP’s disaster response ahead of time.”
Speaking at Commencement was something of a family affair for Klein, who was joined at the ceremony by his wife, Beth, his children, his mother-in-law, and his siblings, Mark Klein ’80 and Rachel Klein ’87.
Klein encouraged the graduates to be physically present, as “Time is the only commodity that matters.” In noting that there are “only 130 Saturday nights in college,” Klein advised them to be mindful: “Don’t fall for the fallacy of later. Don’t be convinced with the words ’next time.’ Time is a gift for you only when you are present.” He also pointed out that much of what one accomplishes is simply through “showing up” even if you may not always know what to expect.
He invoked the famous call to action of President John F. Kennedy’s “If not us, who? If not now, when?”, and offered this advice:
- Pick your path. Whatever you choose, master your craft. You have no choice but to excel.
- Take this school, and all of its teachings, philosophies and the friends you’ve made, [as a sturdy base] as you become an adult.
- Make time for yourself, and make good use of it.
As a reminder for the graduates to do good and help others, Klein gave each senior a FEED Projects FEED 1 Bag, the purchase of which provides a donation equivalent to feeding one child for an entire school year.
Following the presentation of the diplomas, the faculty was led by the bagpipers to form the traditional Dwight-Englewood Honor Guard reception line to congratulate the newest D-E alumni. Best wishes to the Class of 2015!
Thanks are in order to the following families who, through their gifts to Annual Fund 2014-15, honor our Upper School Faculty and Staff for their commitment:
|The Family of Lauren Aboodi||The Family of Isabel Levin|
|The Family of Shereen Al-Sawwaf||The Family of Rachel Linder|
|The Family of Toren Arginteanu||The Family of David Lysenko|
|The Family of Lars Arienti||The Family of Noah Mansoor|
|The Family of Joshua Ashkinaze||The Family of Kai Marcel|
|The Family of Jack Brosnan||The Family of James Martin|
|The Family of Benjamin Brown||The Family of Yanal Matari|
|The Family of Zachary Canelos||The Family of Alexis and Stella Mayer|
|The Family of Austin Chen||The Family of Nicki Mohammadi|
|The Family of Olivia D’Alessandro||The Family of Liam Obergfoll|
|The Family of Vincent DeBellis||The Family of Yu Omiya|
|The Family of Luke Drobner||The Family of Atilla Ozkan|
|The Family of Shira Federman||The Family of Giulia Panter|
|The Family of Jon Feikens||The Family of Spencer Papay|
|The Family of Hao Feng||The Family of Tyler Perin|
|The Family of Andre Festekjian||The Family of Naomi Popkin|
|The Family of Adriana Fini||The Family of Adam Rapfogel|
|The Family of Jared Finkel||The Family of Daniel Reiff|
|The Family of Jack Forman||The Family of Danielle Roman|
|The Family of Jaime Gilman||The Family of Melissa Rosner|
|The Family of Elizabeth Goldberg||The Family of Jordan Runyon|
|The Family of Emily Goldner||The Family of Jack Seidenberg|
|The Family of Kianna Gonzalez||The Family of Ryan Semsel|
|The Family of Wendy Gonzalez||The Family of Julia Shin|
|The Family of Erin Greenberg||The Family of Elyse Shulman|
|The Family of Isabel Guerriero||The Family of Alphonse Sisca|
|The Family of Jacob and Julia Hyman||The Family of Jacob Snyder|
|The Family of Sarah Hyun||The Family of Maxwell Wonhyug Song|
|The Family of Nikita Jain||The Family of Larry Suprun|
|The Family of Elena Jiao||The Family of Mariam Syed|
|The Family of Melanie Kavaler||The Family of Alex Taub|
|The Family of Ashley Kim||The Family of Kabir Uttamsingh|
|The Family of Kendall Kim||The Family of David Victor|
|The Family of Vikram Kirpekar||The Family of Basil Williams|
|The Family of Corin Klein||The Family of Andrew Wong|
|The Family of Anastasia Kuske||The Family of Amani Wynter|
|The Family of Kee Hoon Lee||The Family of Olivia Yi|
|The Family of Jacob Lefcourt||The Family of Brian Zhang|
|The Family of Evangelina and Natalie Leventis||The Family of Jonathan Zhang|