On Saturday, June 17, Ross School graduated 72 seniors during the school’s 17th annual commencement ceremony, who now join the ranks of more than 800 Ross alumni worldwide. Head of Upper School Bill O’Hearn led the graduation, warmly acknowledging the seniors with whom he’d bonded during his time as the Head of Middle School from 2009 through 2012 and who made him feel welcome upon his return to campus earlier during this school year.
Keynote speaker Mary Ellen Hannibal, East Hampton native and author of Citizen Scientist: Searching for Heroes and Hope in an Age of Extinction, among other books, and alumni speaker John Messinger ’02, conceptual artist and photographer, encouraged students to be authentic to themselves and mindful in forging their post–high school lives.
“This experience that you hold in your memory and in your body is a precious template for reconciling your role as an individual and your place in the larger whole,” Mary Ellen said. “Now, your task is to keep in tune with this essential rhythm, to stay with it as you choose what to study in college, your extracurriculars, and your eventual careers . . . let nature be your guide.” John added, “Be as true as you can be to whoever it is that you are. Follow with vigor and energy the things that light you up and make you smile. Ultimately, nothing will be more beneficial to you or the world than you taking the time to listen for and to your own voice.”
Before diplomas were awarded, members of the faculty announced the administration’s selections for special awards. Bill O’Hearn and Head of Ross Lower School and Middle School Jeanette Tyndall presented the Courtney Sale Ross awards, given in recognition of two faculty members who best exemplify the Ross School vision of leadership, academic excellence, and personal integrity, to Lower School teacher Meghan Hillen and Upper School Learning Specialist Lisa Gillespie.
Betsy Colby, president of the Ross School Parents Association and chair of the Board of Trustees, presented Weijing (Frank) Qi, senior class co-president, with the Ross School Board Award, given in recognition of a senior who demonstrates outstanding leadership qualities. Dean of Senior Projects Dale Scott presented the Anders G. Holst Award, given to a senior who demonstrated courage in creativity, to Amanda Mintz. For her Senior Project, Amanda leveraged her personal experience as a rape survivor to found a nonprofit organization that raises funds and educates young people about sexual violence.
Dean of Academics Carrie Clark presented the Richard M. Dunn Award, given to the senior who demonstrates excellent writing skills, either through performance in the Advanced Literature course or in the grade 12 Cultural History courses, to Emmanuelle Benard. Director of College and University Counseling Andi O’Hearn presented the Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award, which recognizes a senior who demonstrates the pursuit of excellence, the magnanimity of intention, and personal integrity, to Rory Gallaher.
In total, graduates of the Class of 2017 received more 335 acceptances to more than 160 colleges and universities around the world, and they were awarded $4.6 million in merit scholarships. Congratulations, graduates!
To view more photographers from commencement, please see our Flickr gallery.