The next river, with its horizon lines and rapids, is not far off, and you are well prepared to run it...before you do, take time to enjoy where you are, and those with whom you are paddling. - Head of School Craig Bradley
One hundred and seventy members of the School's 125th graduating class collected their diplomas under bright skies on June 2. In the days leading up to Commencement, grads-to-be relaxed and celebrated their achievements in the senior awards ceremony, but most importantly, they took time to appreciate the beauty of the campus and the friendships they've formed over the past four years. During the Baccalaureate Ceremony, held in the Chapel before Commencement, Senior Class Co-President Sally Kuehn spoke about how her final weeks at Hotchkiss gave her the opportunity to slow down and notice the things that she had taken for granted.
"In the past two weeks, I have given unblinking attention to the ordinary. I was not disappointed. I started to notice the chimes in the MAC bell tower, which I'd somehow managed not to hear before. I went on a hike with the Outing Club, and we sat quietly for three minutes, simply to absorb the sound of silence," Kuehn said. Many other seniors shared Kuehn's sentiment, including School Presidents Aba Sam and Jelani Hutchins-Belgrave, who offered their reflections in a joint Commencement speech.
Sam and Hutchins-Belgrave also spoke about the influence of their peers at Hotchkiss, which commencement speaker Gabe Polsky '98 echoed in his address. Polsky, executive director of National Geographic's Genius and a filmmaker whose 2014 documentary, Red Army, debuted at Cannes to critical acclaim, has remained close with Class of 2017 Dean Keith Moon. Polsky said that Moon has continued to be a mentor to him, nearly 20 years after graduating from Hotchkiss. And Polsky cited another important lesson he learned from a Hotchkiss classmate: to take risks and face rejection, a skill that has served him well in Hollywood and in life.
"You learn how to dodge punches, absorb them — but most importantly, have fun dancing in the ring," he said.
He encouraged seniors to be their authentic selves and to figure out how to turn their passion into something they can share with the rest of the world.
"What I've learned is that any form of human activity, no matter what you do, is communication," he said. "So find out what you'd like to communicate and go do it."
See more videos from graduation week here.
Snapshots from commencement: