On June 18, the Ross School Class of 2016 drew the curtain on their high school years and took their first steps toward a collective bright future, as the 82 students crossed the Great Hall to receive their diplomas.
The berobed class and faculty processed into the hall accompanied by an orchestra made up of younger students, and then were serenaded by Ross’s alma mater, sung by underclassmen and a handful of faculty members. They were then welcomed by Executive Director Kristin Eberstadt and addressed by Ross Founder Courtney Sale Ross, both of whom spoke to the remarkable closeness and support for each other exhibited by this year’s seniors and postgraduates, who hail from 16 different countries. In a moving call to action, invited speaker Gonzalo Sánchez-Terán spoke about his humanitarian experience in a multitude of countries and the importance of not letting fear keep us from doing the right thing and treating all humans as our family. Alumni speaker Nathaniel Oppenheimer ’10 recalled his days at Ross and encouraged students to follow their passions. Finally, Class of 2016 Co-President Katya Wolosoff and seniors Jin Zhang and Abby Okin also spoke of their days at Ross, as well as their trepidation and eagerness to move on to and embrace whatever is next.
Each year, Ross School presents special awards in five categories. This year, the Courtney Sale Ross Award, given in recognition of the faculty members most exemplary of the Ross School vision of leadership, academic excellence, and personal integrity, went to Lower School teacher Sarah Ryan (also a Ross School alumna) and Upper School teacher Mark Tompkins. The Ross School Board Award, given to a senior who demonstrates outstanding leadership qualities, was bestowed upon Class Co-President Elizaveta Kotova. In an unusual dual presentation, the Anders G. Holst Award, in recognition of a senior who demonstrates courage in creativity, was awarded to both Katie Morgan and Malik Basnight, both politically active individuals who explored concepts related to feminism and sexuality, respectively, in their Senior Projects. The Richard M. Dunn Award in recognition of a senior who demonstrates excellent writing skills was given to Frances Sacks, and Jin Zhang received the Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award, given in recognition of a senior who demonstrates the pursuit of excellence, magnanimity of intention, and personal integrity. In addition, the following eight students wore gold honor cords with their robes, designating that they graduated with academic honors: Julia Benedetti Rutzen, Sarah Jannetti, Karen Kikuta, Katie Morgan, Abby Okin, Sara Stewart, Alexandra Waldman, and Jin Zhang.
As the last act of the ceremony, Head of School Chris Angell and Assistant Head of School Ben Bonaventura presented the students with their diplomas, and the class was pronounced graduated. They recessed to the rhythm of a cadre of drummers, and then joined their friends and family for a celebration on the Nike Green, where enthusiastic smiles, tearful farewells, and fierce hugs were exchanged as the new grads prepared for their next adventures.
For the list of colleges and universities the Class of 2016 will be attending in the fall, visit www.ross.org/matriculation.
More pictures of the graduates can be viewed in our Ross School Graduation 2016 Flickr gallery.