With bright sun shining down, and thunderous applause at their backs, 102 students marched out of the tent overlooking Lake Cochichewick on Monday with a new title to their name: Brooks School graduate.
Hundreds of family members and friends of students in the class of 2023 joined the school community in celebrating Brooks’ Commencement Weekend on May 28, with an awards-filled Lawn Ceremony, and on May 29, for the diploma celebration of Prize Day. (Students in the classes of 2024, 2025 and 2026 finish their school year — Brooks’ 96th! — following completion of their Exhibitions of Learning this week by June 2).
“Their journey has not been ordinary,” Head of School John Packard said of the graduates’ last four years, during his Prize Day address on May 29. “There is no disputing the fact that these years have been disrupted in ways that were unimaginable when most of them started at Brooks back in the fall of 2019. And while I have no desire to revisit in any detail the masks, the tests, the screens, the distancing, the isolating and quarantining, and all that so compromised how we like to spend time together here, I do have a desire to share how well this class of 2023 has done through it all. Theirs is a story of resilience and community.”
Their support of each other was evident throughout the weekend as they cheered for classmates and teammates who received a slew of recognitions.
During Lawn Ceremony, seven prizes in the arts were announced, four athletic awards were given out and 22 academic honors bestowed.
Student speakers in each of the three areas of school life shared touching and inspiring remarks, as well.
A dozen general prizes were awarded, too, before the beloved — and always emotional — student-led “Boo-Hoo” service in Frank D. Ashburn Chapel on Sunday. Parents and guardians, meanwhile, enjoyed a guest reception before many joined their students for a special dinner together in Wilder Dining Hall.
Monday’s Prize Day festivities kicked off with the annual pinning breakfast, during which members of the class of 2023 received either a green-and-black rosette or a patch to wear during this special day as an emblem of their accomplishments.
The graduates and their families then gathered for a Chapel service before the main event of Prize Day: the awarding of diplomas in a massive tent on the lawn behind the admission building.
“They have been pivotal to helping the school bridge a once-in-a-century phenomenon by wanting to be with one another; by wanting to be at their school,” Packard said in his final speech about the class on Prize Day, during which he awarded additional prizes to Marcos Montiel '23, Preston Wong '23 and Senior Prefect Laura Kahu '23 for their outstanding accomplishments at Brooks.
“So, when I think ahead to where they might be in their lives at their 25th reunion in 2048, or at their 50th reunion in 2073, I am confident that they are going to want to be here every bit as much as those who returned earlier in the month, and those who return throughout their lives, because they have worked so hard to have the experience they have had. They have enriched the lives of one another and all at our school in ways that leave me believing the school will matter to them for the rest of their lives. How fortunate the school will be!”