The 132nd Commencement Exercises at Newton Country Day School of the Sacred Heart took place on a beautiful June 7th in the Sunken Garden. Fifty-nine members of the Class of 2012 received diplomas, academic prizes, and Sacred Heart awards.
Mairead McAuliffe ’12, President of the Class, delivered the Invocation. She was followed by Salutatorian Helen Stillwell ’12, the Mary Quinlan Prize recipient. Mary Delaney ’12, the Alice Husson Prize recipient, addressed the faculty. Blair Seiler ’12 delivered the Janet Erskine Stuart Valedictory Address and Enuma Menkiti ’97 gave the Commencement Address. The Clare McGowan Faculty Award was presented to Mrs. Karen Naylor-Riobueno P’13. Chairman of the Board of Trustees Mr. Terence Carleton P’99 offered the closing prayer and blessing of the graduates.
Prior to commencement exercises, the graduates and their Sacred Heart educated relatives gathered in the Chapel for a Legacy picture. Almost 30 alumnae were present including two mothers, Pat Hennessy Chadwick (NC’75) and Kathleen Hennessey Mulroy (Greenwich ’74); three grandmothers, Patricia Becker Hanley (City House ’51, Maryville ’55), Jane Quigley Hone (NC’55), and Anne Carlin Mulroy (Manhattanville ’50); and 17 Newton Country Day alumnae sisters, as well as aunts and cousins.
Graduates Offer Commencement Addresses
As part of the 132nd Commencement exercises, the three graduates with the highest cumulative averages addressed their classmates, faculty, and guests. An excerpt of each address follows.
Blair Seiler ’12
When I think of the class of 2012 I’m brought back to one memory. We were sophomores, planning Newton Country Day’s annual decade day, where each grade dresses up and performs a dance inspired by the most popular moves of their chosen era. Unable to come to an agreement on just one plan of action, my class decided to combine everyone’s ideas and take on both the 1890’s and the 1990’s as our decade. As half the grade waltzed to the Pride and Prejudice soundtrack in long black chorale dresses, the other half waited backstage garbed in plaid and spandex to pull out their best NSYNC moves. That memory defines who we are as a class: a grade of leaders, of ideas, and zeal; occasionally obstinate in our opinions and individualism; unafraid to fail, unafraid of judgment, unafraid to speak out.
Despite our strong and divergent personalities, our warmth and comfort with ourselves has led us to appreciate each other. There is a powerful connection that has brought together a group of 59 lively girls – our Sacred Heart experience.
I’ve seen the Sacred Heart Goals taken out of print and portrayed in action: powerful faith, intellectual passion, social awareness, personal growth, and dedication to community. These are values ingrained in our identities. As we continue developing and finding our passions, there will stay a part of us rooted in living these common Goals that will automatically lend a hand, notice the needs of the people around us, and take time to reflect on who we are and if we’re proud of the things we’ve done. Experiencing the Sacred Heart traditions has bonded us together and shaped all of us. We’ve been so privileged with such an incredible foundation in a broad variety of subjects. But what matters most is what we’ve learned about being citizens and stewards of this world.
There are greater challenges waiting to meet us than finishing that daunting sophomore year research paper. We will be faced with personal challenges, and we’ll encounter an increasing number of global challenges. With every novel technological development comes new ethical challenges, new responsibilities, and new burdens. No matter how quickly our world advances, we’re still plagued with basic human rights violations, poverty and massive disparities in global resource distribution. Corruption and environmental issues hold the potential to dismantle entire economies. Facing these issues, we need to stay genuine and bring our individual senses of morality to every dimension of the world that we participate in. We need compassionate, intelligent, socially conscious leaders to find creative solutions to current disputes.
We leave this place we’ve called home for so many years nostalgic, filled with the knowledge that it’s time to begin our life long search for purpose. So hold onto that courage and individuality we’ve found here and never forget where we’ve come from.
Helen Stillwell ’12
Welcome to all graciously gathered here today. Your support, love, and encouragement throughout our journey has enabled each of us to sit here before you today – beautiful, poised, confident, and ready to take the world by storm as true daughters of the Sacred Heart.
I [quote] Leymah Gbowee, a Liberian peace activist: “I am what I am because of who we all are.” This philosophy sheds light on the spirit of the young women before you. Each of us has grown into the individuals we are today due to the collective strength of character, compassion, inherent determination, and utter exuberance of the Class of 2012. It is through each other’s talents and love that we have come to be who we are, and through the care, solidarity, and wisdom bestowed upon us by all of you with us today. For that we as a class are indebted to you. Life is both a shared and solitary experience. The nature of the people surrounding us influences how we endure individual moments that as a class, as humans, we will encounter. The quality of preparation you provided will allow us to conquer those challenges that lie ahead.
Today is the 132nd Graduation. Many white dresses and bouquets of flowers have passed through that door; many young women about to end one chapter of their life and start anew. I invite you to look upon your daughters, granddaughters, nieces, friends, students, advisees and marvel at their gifts, talents, individuality, strength, and intelligence. I am blessed to have shared this experience with the Class of 2012. We are vibrant, innovative, inspiring; our differences complement one another, our attributes better one another. We are dynamic and loud, yet contemplative and soft-spoken. We are ambitious and diligent, yet humble and light-hearted. Wherever we go, laughter follows, the endearing sense of life that constitutes our class.
Whether our Revolutionary War-themed Blue-Silver Induction or our Polar Express Christmas Celebration, we approached each task with an unparalleled sense of heart and pride in ourselves and in this community. The example the Class of 2012 shaped this year is eloquent in its sincerity. We have come to know the presence of God within this community and each other. Our faith as a class and our conformation to the attitudes of the heart of Jesus has brought us together in ways only true belief can allow.
Address to the Faculty
Mary Delaney ’12
As my classmates and I discovered over the years, Newton Country Day is one of those places that is almost impossible to explain to those who haven’t experienced it. Our teachers work with us tirelessly until we fully understand the material; they come in early, stay late, and fill up their free periods to help us with homework problems, essay edits, and test corrections. Truly remarkable are the friendships we form with them. They serve as coaches, advisors, retreat leaders, and role-models. In all their actions, they uphold and reinforce the mission and goals of the school, always looking outside of themselves to help us. They lead by example and constantly inspire us to be better people.
Our teachers taught us that we are smarter than we think, stronger than we know, and capable of achieving whatever we set our minds to. They share their own gifts with us and help us to discover talents within ourselves. In challenging us to find the strength within ourselves to become better students, better athletes, and better friends, the NCDS faculty helped us to transform into the people that we are today.
When we look back on our years at Newton, we might not remember the significance of Hamlet Act 4 Scene 7, or the ways to prove congruency in triangles; we might not remember how to conjugate verbs in foreign languages, or how to calculate the carrying capacity of a population - but we will remember the moments we spent with the teachers, running through the halls on Congé, laughing at inside jokes that lasted in some cases years, and crying when we felt overwhelmed. Our teachers are a central part of what has made NCDS not just a school, but a home for us. They taught us about life, about others, and, most importantly, about ourselves.
We are better students and better people for having known each of you. For that, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts.
View a slideshow of the 132nd Commencement.
View the colleges and universities at which the Class of 2012 will matriculate.