Congratulations to the Class of 2022!
After a slight weather delay, the 130th Commencement Ceremony for the Class of 2022 took place under clear blue skies overlooking beautiful Lake Wononscopomuc on June 3 in front of hundreds of family members and friends. The event honored 158 senior Bearcats who prevailed through the pandemic, inspiring Head of School Craig Bradley to encourage them during his remarks to learn from the experience.
“One of the many lessons of the pandemic that I will never forget is that of interdependence. We are all – no matter our place in the community - dependent on one another in myriad ways. A community like ours operates successfully because we draw together.
“A very important quality you will carry with you throughout your lives, and for which you will be valued and rewarded, is a fundamental understanding of what it means to be an integral part of something larger than yourself -- to be part of a team, a community.
In his comments he quoted Viktor Frankl, a psychiatrist, neurologist, philosopher, and Holocaust survivor. Frankl believed that the search for life’s meaning is the central motivational force in all of us.
“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response,” Frankl said. “In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”
Bradley emphasized the importance of choice. “Each of you will face choices large and small in the days, years, and decades ahead. I encourage you to remember Frankl’s words and to recognize the power you have in those moments of choice. Your choices matter. Your growth – our growth – and our freedom matter.”
Co-presidents of the Board Trustees Elizabeth G. Hines ‘93 and Robert R. Gould ‘77 introduced the presentation of diplomas, after which outgoing Dean of the Senior Class Andrew D’Ambrosio (recently named Dean of Student Life) invited each senior to the stage to collect their diploma. Music before, during, and after the ceremony was played by the Hotchkiss Orchestra, including an interlude on cello and piano played by seniors Noam Ginsbarg and Kenny Zhang, respectively.
Parting Words from Beloved All School President Sydney Goldstein ’22
“As a class, we have been through a lot this year and over the past four years, but I am extremely proud of how far we’ve come,” said Goldstein.
“I could not be more grateful to have spent my high school years on arguably one of the most if not the most beautiful high school campuses imaginable in the middle of a fantastically bucolic area…. Thinking about where many of you and I will be spending our next years in the world outside of Hotchkiss, it is rather easy to say that we will all miss living on a campus as wonderful as this one.”
“The rest of our lives will be filled with both challenging and easy times,” she went on to say. “But we’re all fully prepared to face whatever those may entail. As we finish the Hotchkiss chapter in our diaries, let us approach our next experiences with the values of resilience, determination, curiosity, and compassion that we learned as students here. Let’s never let go of the family that we found here, because even though we will all soon drive through the main gates for the last time as Hotchkiss students, we’ll never leave the Hotchkiss community.”
Keynote Speaker Adam Sharp ’96 Offered Advice for Life: “Fail Spectacularly!”
In taking the stage, Sharp ‘96, who is president and CEO of the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, acknowledged that high school is tough for everyone, himself included. “I suspect every high schooler thinks their experience is the most difficult high school experience ever. It seems to be a part of the rite of passage. But some classes certainly have a stronger claim than others, and I humbly cede mine. This Class of 2022 is truly a class that has persevered.”
He went on to share unvarnished memories from his own Hotchkiss experience, speaking of extensive work he did as a part of numerous clubs, which most-notably included in revitalizing Hotchkiss TV (HTV) in 1994 -- even as he nearly flunked out of school.
He explained how committed Hotchkiss teachers, coaches, advisors, and others helped him restore his confidence and boost his grade point average, ultimately enabling him to earn a college scholarship from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences, the very organization he now leads.
“That year proved to be the most important, and lasting, of my education. It shaped how I learned from that point forward. It taught me how I could pivot from defeat to pursuing a new victory. And it continues to serve as a humbling reminder — one I probably don’t heed often enough — that climbing out of a hole is a lot easier when someone is there to lend a hand.”
In stressing the inevitability of stumbles in life, as well as the profound value of learning from them, he offered three pieces of advice:
“First, seek out the fun failures. The failures of little consequence. Seize opportunities to experiment, to play. To learn your craft in a safe space where mistakes provide more fodder for laughter and learning than fear and expense.
“Second, consider risk. Don’t avoid it. Ask yourself, if this is where I fail, what good can come from it? What new questions can it raise? What opportunities can it present….?
“The Hotchkiss education is not meant to tell you where to go, but rather, to prepare you for a journey on a path of your own making. To negotiate the gravity of necessary failures to stay true to your own charted course.”
“Last, when the unexpected failure sneaks up on you, be honest with yourself and others and candidly ask these same questions in retrospect. Careers have ups and downs. I have been fired and laid off and made choices that at times seemed like the wrong ones. Yet when I reflect on each career peak, I realize I wouldn’t have been in the position to even consider those opportunities had I not first been cast into the wilderness of the valleys below. The view from the summit helps salve the pain of the journey.
The candor of Sharp’s reflections, punctuated by numerous moments of levity and a number of good laughs, invited the seniors in the audience to contemplate the value of failure.
“The Hotchkiss education is not meant to tell you where to go, but rather, to prepare you for a journey on a path of your own making. To negotiate the gravity of necessary failures to stay true to your own charted course.
“And so to the many congratulations, blessings for good luck and future success… [that] you will receive in the days and months ahead, I add an equally important benediction: Fail spectacularly!”
In the final moments, the senior class stood arm-in-arm for the last time as they sang a rousing rendition of Fair Hotchkiss, joined by hundreds of family, friends, faculty, and staff in attendance.
It was a Graduation to remember.
View photos of the ceremony in our Flickr album.
You can watch the recording of the ceremony below: