June 04, 2014BETHLEHEM— Smiling graduates and families gathered on Hood Hill at the White Mountain School on Saturday morning. The 128th Commencement ceremony honored the 24 graduates, who hailed from ten states, as well as France, China, and Taiwan.
Head of School Tim Breen thanked the students, staff, and family members who enjoyed the morning with the graduates. "It is wonderful to share this day with you all," he said.
Breen asked for a round of applause for the parents and grandparents of the graduates. Partnerships with families are vital to WMS, Breen continued. Both WMS and family members have prepared the graduates "for lives filled with purpose and joy," he said.
Alumni and staff also received attention during Breen's opening remarks. "Thank you for returning to celebrate with us," Breen said to alumni. Staff was thanked for their hard work of assisting students on their journey.
To the graduates themselves, Breen said, "You are headed out today in many directions." Continuing, he noted, "You have left our school better than you found it, and I am thankful."
"We're a school of inquiry and engagement," Breen concluded. He asked the graduates to "seek truth and beauty" in their lives. "Make something happen," he requested of the Class of 2014.
Kelly Cornell, a member of the WMS Class of 2004, delivered the commencement address. In the decade since graduating, Cornell worked for the film industry in New York City, as well as in India for the family business, April Cornell, which manufactures clothing.
Cornell began by reading a poem from Maya Angelou, a beloved figure of international stature who died last month. The poem, "A Brave and Startling Truth" provides the graduates important insights, Cornell said.
As the poem notes, Cornell read, people "have the power to fashion for this earth a climate where every man and every woman can live freely without sanctimonious piety, without crippling fear."
From his time in India, Cornell learned the importance of giving back. With poverty all around him, Cornell said he saw "the obligation of my privilege." For the graduates, he declared, "Your heart will always make room, so long as you don't let your head get in the way."
The lessons Cornell wished to impart to the graduates were meant for them to see the possible. "If you ever feel small, don't," Cornell suggested. "Remind yourself of the potential of your will," he added, and "feel worthy in your own skin."
In conclusion, Cornell said, "Live with a full heart, respect deeply, and care unconditionally."
WMS A Cappella singers provided two musical tributes, "Lift Thine
Eyes to the Mountains" and "Send Me on My Way."
Department heads and Breen presented eighteen awards before the spotlight turned to each graduate. Applause greeted each member of the Class of 2014 as Breen and Rt. Rev. A. Robert Hirschfeld, President of the WMS Board of Trustees, presented diplomas.
As the recessional began, clouds were giving way to warm sunshine, perhaps a symbol of the optimism and potential within the two dozen graduates honored Saturday.