203rd Commencement Celebrated at New Hampton School

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On Friday, May 24, 88 graduates and their families, classmates, faculty, trustees, and alumni, gathered for New Hampton School’s 203rd Commencement. This honored tradition has seen generations of students graduate on the lawn in front of Meservey Hall and many more generations to come.

New Hampton School’s 203rd Commencement Ceremony

Head of School Joe Williams welcomed the graduates, trustees, speakers, faculty, students, and families and shared his commendation for the Class of 2024’s contributions and achievements. Williams highlighted the importance of reflection and appreciation for the opportunities provided by the school community. “You are part of something much bigger than yourself,” he reminded the graduates, urging them to embrace humility, humor, and hard work as they embark on their future endeavors. He emphasized that humility allows for learning and empathy—essential values in an increasingly individualistic world. “Humility opens doors,” Williams stated, “It is the foundation of empathy and compassion.”

Williams also underscored the significance of humor in navigating life’s unpredictable and challenging moments. “A good sense of humor can be your greatest asset,” he said, noting its ability to cut through tension and foster connections. Williams encouraged graduates to find humor in the difficult and use laughter as a means to maintain perspective. He also stressed the irreplaceable value of hard work. “There is no substitute,” he asserted, advising students to embrace challenges and learn from failures. “The most rewarding achievements are those earned through dedication and determination.”

Opening Speakers

Williams introduced speakers, including the Ben Cecil Welcome Speaker, Oscar Edelman ’24, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Karl Kimball ’74, and Student Body Co-President Brady Bernier ’24, who had the honor of sharing opening and closing remarks before the presentation of diplomas.

Ben Cecil Speaker Oscar Edelman delivered a hope-filled address, highlighting the unique qualities and accomplishments of the class of 2024. Edelman praised the diversity of talents among the graduates, including standout athletes, musicians, and actors, all of whom demonstrated remarkable dedication and hard work. “We have an amazing diversity of personalities,” Edelman remarked, celebrating how the senior class raised the bar by initiating new traditions such as lip sync battles at the Winter Carnival and founding the fall Play Days with other Lakes Region schools. He emphasized, “As a class, we are always looking to improve the community,” and underscored the values of hard work, kindness, and humility that the graduates will carry forward.

Reflecting on his personal journey, Edelman shared how he overcame academic challenges upon arriving at New Hampton. Initially struggling with self-doubt and academic performance, he credited supportive teachers and rigorous study sessions for his turnaround. “Through study sessions in the dorm and utilizing the nights my teachers were on duty, I learned more about self-advocacy and how important it is to reach out for help.” 

In basketball, Edelman learned to handle setbacks with resilience, likening this to playing defense with passion and effort: “Instead of bowing my head down now, I run back and play as hard as I can.” He also highlighted the importance of independence fostered by boarding life and building a community based on kindness and trust. His key message to his fellow graduates was clear: “Do your best to stay humble in whatever you do; with hard work comes endless success; and be kind, no matter the person.”

Bernier’s speech reflected on the rapid passage of time and the profound changes each student has undergone, noting how living closely with peers reveals true character. He shared an impactful lesson from his basketball coach, emphasizing that daily efforts, even on the worst days, build character more than isolated successes or failures. Highlighting his classmates’ dedication—such as Brady Clough’s early morning workouts and Taylor’s infectious positivity—Bernier showed the strong bonds and support within the senior class. He urged his peers to focus on their daily actions and character and to stay true to themselves.

2024 Cum Laude Speaker

New Hampton School began a tradition in 2019 to recognize academic excellence and to promote a scholarly perspective at Commencement. Selected by the members of the Cum Laude Society, this year Hanyin Coco Zhang ’24 held the honor of representing the very best of the academic minds on campus. Following the presentation of faculty citations and Commencement medals, as well as performances of the alma mater and Fleetwood Mac’s “Landslide” by members of Contemporary Performance Lab, Zhang shared her address with the class of 2024 and guests.

Zhang began by quoting Aristotle: “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” She reflected on her academic journey, marked by dedication and perseverance, particularly during the challenging period of remote learning due to Covid-19. “The 13-hour time difference kept me studying even after midnight,” Zhang recalled, especially noting the isolation she felt from her home community through late hours of study. However, she credited her advisor, teachers, and classmates for their unwavering support, which helped her transition to on-campus life and embrace new experiences like the soccer team.

Zhang expressed that her years at New Hampton were about much more than just achieving high grades; they were about personal growth and discovering her true self. She shared how she managed leadership positions and participated in the International Baccalaureate program, which required her to balance a multitude of academic and personal responsibilities. “I learned to organize my time, and explore new interests while handling different roles,” she said. Zhang also highlighted the importance of recognizing one’s efforts and taking breaks when needed, advocating for a balanced approach to excellence. “Excellence does not mean perfection,” she noted, encouraging her peers to cherish their unique skills and contributions. In her concluding remarks, Zhang expressed gratitude for the support from the New Hampton community, which helped her overcome language barriers and cultural differences. She implored  her fellow graduates to continue striving forward in all aspects of life, stating, “Excellence is not a destination but a continuous journey.”

Co-President Reflection

Student Body Co-President Taylor Settles ’24 began by encouraging her classmates to think back on their time at New Hampton and consider their positive contributions. “Upon reflecting on my four years here, I can proudly say I have accomplished all of my goals,” she stated, highlighting her meaningful friendships and efforts to create an inclusive community. Settles noted the challenging start of their high school experience, marked by pandemic restrictions such as masked meals and directional arrows in hallways, but witnessed the resilience and strength they developed together. “We persevered, became stronger together in the process, and found ways to improve the New Hampton community.”

Settles praised her classmates for their initiatives, like bringchange2mind—which supports students’ mental health—plus the Breast Cancer Walk, and for fostering a reputation of kindness and inclusivity. She acknowledged the dynamic nature of their class, with members coming and going, yet the new members finding their way to seamlessly integrate into Husky Nation. Every single one of you has made a positive impact on the New Hampton experience for someone else whether you know it or not.”

In conclusion, Settles shared a poignant lesson she keeps close to her heart. “Live every day like it’s your last, and take notice and appreciate the little things and people around you.” She urged her peers to focus on the present, stating, “I believe that the small, seemingly insignificant moments are what help us be where our feet are, because every second counts.”

Congratulations to the following graduates who received distinguished awards for their contributions to the school and their class at Commencement.

Photos are available on Flickr with additional photos available next week.

2024 Commencement Recognitions

Ben Cecil Speaker: Oscar Edelman
Cum Laude Speaker: Hanyin “Coco” Zhang
Faculty Award: Hanyin “Coco” Zhang
Faculty Award: Martina Pike
Faculty Award: Taylor Settles
Honorary Diploma: Rosemary Brewster P’08, ’14

New Hampton School Commencement Medals

Academic & Personal Growth:
Laura Liebert

Intellectual Curiosity:
Ashley Holland
Gus Kusch

Citizenship Medal:
Ava Millerick

Meservey Medal:
Abigail Tattersall

Please join us in congratulating the New Hampton School Class of 2024.

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