On June 11, Ross School’s Class of 2018 transitioned from students to alumni at the school’s 18th annual commencement exercises. Friends and family from around the world gathered in the Center for Well-Being to celebrate the accomplishments of the graduating class. Chief of Student Advancement Andi O’Hearn welcomed guests to the event and offered warm congratulations to the students. She recalled Roman Imperial philosopher Seneca the Younger, whom students learn about in seventh grade at Ross, and the words of comfort he offered about life’s transitions: “Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end.”
“You will forever be a part of Ross School as an alumnus of the Class of 2018,” Andi said. “As you begin your new journey, I hope that you will take the best of Ross School with you.”
The afternoon’s commencement address was offered by Jamie Amelio, founder and CEO of Caring for Cambodia, a nonprofit organization committed to the care and education of Cambodian children. She encouraged graduates to identify and support causes that matter to them, to stay bothered, and to work to create positive change in the world around them. Using her 15 years of experience working in Cambodia as a lens, she described to students the importance of discovering causes about which they are passionate and working in service to others. “With the technology that each of you has in your pocket, you can look to your phone for an answer about almost anything. You can find a roommate. You can look for a date. You can look for a career,” Jamie said. “But you cannot [use technology to] find what is in your heart, the passion that lifts you skyward.”
Award-winning journalist Taylor Vecsey ʼ01 delivered the alumni address. She spoke of the ways in which Ross School prepared her for her career and how the school’s motto, “Know thyself in order to serve,” has impacted her daily life. As a volunteer EMT and Emergency Medical Services captain with Bridgehampton Fire Department, Taylor has found something that both fulfills her personally and enriches her community. The day’s speeches concluded with those by senior class co-presidents Annabel Loke and Rainier Benard, and student-elected speaker Dambite “Ted” Morency.
Another highlight of the day’s celebration was the presentation of annual awards. Second grade teacher Julie Browning and high school English teacher Jessica Pollina were honored with the Courtney Sale Ross award, which recognizes two faculty members (one from the Lower School and one from the Upper School) who exemplify the Ross School vision of leadership, academic excellence, and personal integrity. Melissa Ibrahim was selected to receive the Ross School Board award, which recognizes a senior who demonstrates outstanding leadership qualities. The Anders G. Holst Award, which honors a senior who demonstrates courage in creativity, was given to Yi (Bevis) Pan. Rosa Carmichael received the Richard M. Dunn award, which is given in recognition of a senior who demonstrates excellent writing skills, through performance in either the Advanced Literature course or the grade 12 Cultural History course. And the Steven J. Ross Humanitarian Award, which recognizes a senior who demonstrates the pursuit of excellence, the magnanimity of intention, and personal integrity, was awarded to Ted Morency.
Following the presentations of the diplomas, all the students, faculty and staff, and guests in attendance stood to honor the service of Ross School veteran faculty member Greg Drossel, who is retiring this year after more than two decades of service. The students then recessed to the festive sounds of the Ross School drummers. Congratulations, graduates!
To view more images from graduation, click here.