Farewell Class of 2019!

With bright sun overhead, and the excited buzz of 95 soon-to-be-graduates and their families in a tent overlooking Lake Cochichewick, Brooks School celebrated — and graduated — its class of 2019 yesterday.

See all the photos from Prize Day HERE!

This 88th commencement weekend honored students from 14 different states and 10 countries with diplomas and a slew of academic, arts and athletics awards.

"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," Head of School John Packard said to students and their family and friends gathered a day prior at Brooks' May 26 Lawn Ceremony. "We look forward to sharing that pride and good feeling with you."

See a list of all the prizes, with descriptions and video of the speeches on our Class of 2019 page.

Lance Latham, co-head of the arts department, was the first to award student prizes. He announced this year's arts winners: Grace Handy '19, Arooj Kamran '21, Katie O'Brien '19, Xiu Stuart '19, Mathias Tankersley '19 and Skyler Zheng '20, who were recognized for their achievements and promise in visual arts, photography, drama and music.

It was music, in fact, that inspired this year's arts speaker Yan (Stella) Si '19. A lifelong piano player, Si took up bass and jazz band during her first year at Brooks, and branched out into rock music the following year — something that was foreign to her after growing up in China.

"With the new art center opened this year, there is so much potential of what [you] can do," Si told students in her speech. "Who knows what you will find by the time you are seniors. Trying new things helps you discover what you love."

After the Lawn Ceremony, students enjoyed the traditional "Boo Hoo Chapel" service.

Athletics awards quickly followed, with Bobbie Crump-Burbank, director of athletics, bestowing honors on six members of the class of 2019 — as well as a team:

  • Owen Borek
  • Nick Fulgione
  • Sabrina Gribbel
  • Ashley Houlihan
  • Michael Hughes
  • Caroline Kukas
  • And the girls 1st field hockey squad.

Soccer and squash player Brooke Robinson then spoke about trying new things in her address, which detailed how she took up squash for the first time here at Brooks. "Throughout my past three years at Brooks, it has been an honor to be a part of extraordinary teams and watch great teams achieve greatness," she said. "The relationships I've formed with both players and coaches I know will extend beyond my time at Brooks."

Sports at the school have helped her grow, she explained. Urging others to try new pursuits on our 270 acres, or on campuses courts, ice, lake or rowing tanks, Robinson said the reward is well worth the risk of going outside of your comfort zone: "Playing on a Brooks team allows you to be part of something bigger than yourself."

Academic prizes wrapped up the recognitions on Sunday afternoon. Susanna Waters, academic dean, presented prizes to the students below, before Spencer Pierce '19, took the podium to speak about academics at Brooks.

  • Top Burapacheep '19
  • Nick Carabatsos '20
  • Hongru Chen '22
  • Emily Choe '20
  • Eddie Choi '19
  • Jessica Cohen '19
  • Sarah Fleischman '19
  • John Fritz '20
  • Charlotte Marks '19
  • Caitlin Peirce '19
  • Stella Si '19
  • Jason Silverman '21
  • Tramie Tran '19
  • Tianshu Wang '19
  • Lily Valerio '19
  • Katie Warren '19
  • Ethan Yang '19
  • Lami Zhang '19

Quoting "a friend" who said that "the best lessons aren't answers, they're questions," the sixth-former challenged fellow students in his remarks. "I dare you to ask the hard questions," he said. "The ones that make you stop and think and be curious about the world around you and the emotions inside of you."

Eventually, he added, "we will all move on from Brooks, whether it takes four years or 41, but when we do, carry with you the lessons you've learned and the people you've met because they will always be the ones who've taught you the most."

Fourteen individual School prizes followed before Packard announced next year's school prefects. Thanking the exiting student leaders whom he described as "doers and omnipresent on campus in ways we all felt," he said that, "they gave of themselves and their talents generously."

More than half of the class of 2020 has agreed to take on a leadership role next year as admission, chapel and dorm prefects, on the school's Community Activities Board, as peer tutors, club heads, team captains and in other activities.

"This group will have much to do with the kind of year we have in 2019-2020," said Packard. "The challenge ahead for them is to make good on the opportunity they have earned."

Prize Day — during which diplomas are distributed — kicked off early May 27 under a sky as bright as the day before.

Following a moment of silence acknowledging memorial day, Packard thanked parents and commended the faculty.

"Our school thrives because we have a faculty that seeks ways to fold the school's life into their own lives, and vice versa," he said. "We thrive because we have a faculty that routinely steps up and steps in, and does not work simply to the tangible letter of what is expected of them. We have a faculty that goes above and beyond because they are wired that way and never settle for good enough."

Calling them "today's unsung heroes," Packard noted: "My pride in the work they have done with this class of 2019, on and in between the lines, could not be deeper."

He bestowed two faculty members awards this year. History teacher Amanda Nasser received the The Reverend George F. Vought Prize, to honor a member of the faculty who in their first few years has made "special contributions to the School and exhibited notable professional growth."

Retiring math teacher Dusty Richard was the second honoree. In recognition of his aforementioned 41 years on the faculty, Richard was given the title Faculty Emeritus.

"He has been timeless," said Packard. "By this, I mean his capacity to reach students in ways that find a permanent place in their hearts has never missed a beat. He understood kids in 1978, and he understands them just as well in 2019."

Student speaker Martin Li '19 (shown below) offered the final address before the last set of prizes — awarded to Amolina Bhat '19, Jadie De Leon '19 and Connor Silva '19 — and diplomas were given out to all members of the class.

"Take a moment to reflect on this family that you sit with today, and appreciate those who have shaped your experiences here," he advised in his personal, and at times, emotional address. "Take it from the kid whose sole goal was once hiding from this community: We are better together."

Packard, no doubt agrees. "There is no way I can capture anywhere close to all this class of 2019 has shared with the school through these years," he said before concluding commencement weekend. "We have enjoyed so many moments with them and the sum total of their contribution here has left the school better than they found it. We hope they find themselves wandering this campus in their heads for all their years, and that those moments nourish and remind them of who they were here, and inspire them as their lives take shape."

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