Commencement Weekend 2018

"This is your chance to be a maverick," sixth-form speaker Jack Garrard told the student body on Brooks School's eighty-seventh Prize Day.

Take advantage of all Brooks' support and encouragement to try new things and risk failure, he advised while sharing some of his own ups-and-downs during the past four years. "It is not your mistakes that define you, but it is what you do in response to them that shows the content of your character... And Brooks instills in people the courage to put themselves out there, make mistakes and learn from them."

"Embrace the change that you will go through here, and I promise, you will leave here better than when you arrived," Garrard concluded. "Thank you Brooks for allowing me to make my mistakes. This is truly a special place. I will hold my experiences here in my heart for the rest of my life."

Garrard's speech was one of the many highlights in an inspiring weekend honoring Brooks School's 105 students comprising the class of 2018 — hailing from 10 countries and 11 states — who graduated on May 28 after two days of celebrating.

The graduation weekend kicked off on May 27, with Brooks' annual Lawn Ceremony, during which more than 30 students were recognized for their academic, arts and athletic achievement during the school year.

"The hard work, exceptional leadership, and superb citizenship so many students have shared and provided leaves us proud of the year we have had together," said Head of School John Packard P'18, P'21, introducing the event held under an expansive tent overlooking Lake Cochichewick.

Visit our Class of 2018 page to view a list of all the prizes and winners as well as video of each student speaker.

Robert Lazar, chair of the arts department, introduced the arts prizes first, with recognition going to:

  • Riley Baker '18
  • Emma Dawson '18
  • Amelia Kovacs '20
  • Hannah Maver '18
  • Nalia Medina '18
  • Katherine Saunders '18
  • Kate Packard '18

Sehee (Sally) Jong '18 followed Lazar's remarks with a speech sharing her story of discovering different types of music while at Brooks. "There is no better place than a miniature college like Brooks to take on new things," she said, comparing the school to a dinner on campus catered by Chipotle. Similar to the range of entrée options, Jong said, "Brooks is an institution designed to offer students artistic, academic and athletic options. So stuff your plates now while these opportunities are low-risk and convenient. You might discover your new favorites and go back for more!"

With "this huge arts center coming, there are even more opportunities for you to discover the thing that feeds your soul," she added.

View galleries of photos from Lawn Ceremony and Prize Day.

Director of Athletics Bobbie Crump-Burbank P'11 took the podium next to present athletics prizes and introduce the athletics student speaker, Brian Flanagan '18. Honored students included:

  • The boys 1st soccer team
  • Millie Brady '18
  • Kathryn Delaney '18
  • Aly About Eleinen '18
  • Emma English '18
  • Pat Freiermuth '18

Flanagan started out his remarks by admitting that he was surprised he was asked to speak. "Out of the 12 seasons here at Brooks, I've been cut from a team in six of them," he said laughing. From 3rds-team soccer, basketball and golf to football, Flanagan chronicled his four years of putting in hard work in practice and during free time in hopes of eventually getting to play on 1st teams.

"I was determined and motivated to keep with it and try and make an impact," he said. All the effort paid off. By the start of his fifth-form year, Flanagan had gotten where he wanted to be and said he "realized that athletics provided a great life lesson. That nothing is ever going to be given to you. If you want something badly enough, you have to put in the hard work to attain your goals."

Associate Head for Academic Affairs Lance Latham P'17 presented the academic awards, and welcomed Callie Scala '18 on stage to share her thoughts about academics at Brooks. Honored students included:

  • Jordyn Arakelian '18
  • Terrell Brown '18
  • Max Charlamb '18
  • Eddie Choi '19
  • Caroline Cutter '19
  • Jackie Desautels '18
  • Jason Gold '18
  • Maddie Hesse '20
  • Max Kemper '18
  • Diane Lee '18
  • Jameson Lehrer '18
  • Nicole Li '21
  • Connor Silva '19
  • Nate Smith '18
  • Lami Zhang '19
  • Tim Zhao '18

Like the student speakers before her, Scala highlighted what she'd learned during her Brooks career — and made special note of one experience struggling in math class. She recalled how Chair of Mathematics Dave Price P'17, P'19 gave her a little advice that made a big difference. He said, "'Try and improve a little each time," she revealed. "'That may not mean getting high 80s or 90s, but that means two more questions right than you did before. Forget about the grade and try and learn for the sake of knowing it.' That was the first time a teacher really told me not to care about the number associated with the knowledge — or maybe it was the first time I really listened and understood what learning was."

Without the pressure of scoring a certain number, Scala said, "I continued to grow and do better every single time I walked into that classroom. Failure for me became my greatest success."

Packard concluded the Lawn Ceremony by awarding Brooks' school prizes to the students below, after which all of the graduates joined together in chapel for the traditional "Boo Hoo Chapel" service and a hug-and-good-byes-filled procession along the chapel walkway.

  • Millie Brady '18
  • Gardner Brown '21
  • Max Charlamb '18
  • Emma Dawson '18
  • Keigan Kerby '18
  • Diane Lee '18
  • Nick Li '19
  • Isabella O'Shea '18
  • Hannah Maver '18
  • Nalia Medina '18
  • Kate Packard '18
  • Catherine Scher '20
  • Andrew Stevens '18
  • Tianshu Wang '19

Festivities continued the following day with Brooks' Prize Day ceremony, during which Packard presented the graduates with their diplomas and bestowed special awards to science teacher Justine Rooney, and sixth-formers Jason Lawrence Gold '18, Diane Lee '18 and Jade Monique Tate '18.

Addressing the parents gathered, Packard praised the entire class of 2018. "They are talented and passionate and hard-working and driven and empathic and engaged and creative and kind, and, yes, occasionally frustrating," said the teacher, whose daughter Kate was among the graduates. "But if I were you, and I suppose I am today, I would be so proud of this group. I know that I am."

The students "have pushed themselves in classrooms, on athletic fields, on stages, in dormitories, and in running clubs and groups that are dear to them," he added. "They have experienced triumphs in all of these areas, the likes of which they will remember at reunions and with one another for the rest of their lives. They have had challenges and setbacks that have staggered them at times. They have bounced back. They have kept going forward ...There is no way to capture even a fraction of what this class of 2018 has contributed and achieved. There is depth and character to this group that is uncommon and they have left the school better than they found it."

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Spring Activity Awards

Athletes and teammates in afternoon activities were honored in chapel on Friday.

What Would You Say to Your Younger Self?

Brooks' bulletin board tradition gives graduating students a way to share advice — and be remembered long after they leave campus.

Alum Advice on 'One of the Most Important Things You Can Do in Life'

Comedian Rachael Burke '10 had students laughing, and learning, during her speech at the class of 2018's induction dinner.