Farewell to the class of 2019! MacDuffie celebrated its commencement ceremony with song, speeches, and cheers at Abbey Chapel, which sent 77 graduates from 15 countries to their future endeavors.
“[MacDuffie] taught us that we are valuable members of society and that our voices deserve to be heard,” Student Body President Talia Wiesel said, encouraging her classmates to use their voices and the tools for success learned at MacDuffie as they go forth in the world.
“I have so much respect for everyone here today. All of the amazing graduates, and all of the faculty, family, and friends that have helped us to get to this point,” Head Duty Prefect Olivia Ramirez-Weissbach said. She invoked MacDuffie’s CIRCLE values of community, integrity, respect, creativity, leadership, and excellence in her speech.
English Department Chairperson Carol Tomkiel, chosen to be this year’s faculty commencement speaker, told the graduates she hopes they will “hear the call to your own authentic life.”
Along their future journeys, Tomkiel urged graduates to make and keep true friends, “someone that can see the jewel down inside of you.”
Good food, good conversation, sharing fond memories…sounds like Reunion Weekend!
On Friday, we welcomed Marisa Maleck ’03 and presented her with the Distinguished Alumni Award at an afternoon Assembly. Marisa is an attorney who, among other achievements, has served as Clerk of Courts for Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and worked on the Senate Judiciary Committee. Her speech to the student body was a contemplation of the CIRCLE values and how they have influenced her life.
On Saturday evening, we held a wine and beer reception, complete with displays of old yearbooks and other MacDuffie memorabilia unearthed in our History Project. Following the reception we enjoyed an elegant dinner provided by SAGE Dining Services. At dinner, our Volunteer Award was presented to Carol-Ann Boardway Chapin and Michael Chapin for their MacDuffie community efforts.
Congratulations to our award recipients, and thank you to all who attended the events. We look forward to next time!
Every fall, we gather “life at MacDuffie” photos and articles from the last year, collect class notes, and create the Alumni Magazine. This year’s issue has been dropped in the mail, and we also have a digital edition available. Happy reading!
After a day of festivities, the MacDuffie community came together to welcome its newest members in the nearly seventy-five year old tradition of Candlelight. This ceremony closes out the school’s annual Mountain Day- a day in which students and faculty members participate in Club Fair and hike up Mount Holyoke together. The point of this celebration is to make everyone feel as though they are included and comfortable by having new members of the school stand in a circle inside of a circle of returning members and eventually becoming one giant circle. After several speeches made by student leaders, a musical selection, and a dance piece, the inner circle is asked to step into the outer circle, officially making each new student and teacher a part of our community.
After a brief explanation of what Candlelight was and what it meant, each student and faculty member was asked to take a candle as they processed out of the gym, led by the seniors. As I walked past lit torches to the open field where the ceremony would be held, it sunk in for the first time that this would be my last of seven Candlelights. But as I looked around, I saw ninety-six students and twelve faculty members who were just experiencing the joys of this day for the first time. This reminded me of my very first candlelight in sixth grade at the old Springfield campus; I remember being nervous, confused, and just not knowing what to expect. I also recall how welcomed I was when I first came to MacDuffie. How, even over the course of my first week here, it felt like a second home. That feeling of acceptance and lack of judgment was so comforting, and, as a senior, I want nothing more than to spread it around the rest of the community.
When we approached the field and formed two circles, I was already getting teary eyed. Flags of each country represented at MacDuffie waved in the cool breeze and a large stack of wood sat in the middle of the meadow. Beautiful music played on the violin by Charlie Lee, ‘16, seemed to beckon and sooth the mass of people. After several speeches by our valued student leaders about the school’s six CIRCLE values, (Community, Integrity, Respect, Creativity, Leadership, and Excellence) an impressive musical performance of Stand By Me by the MacDuffie Singers, and an elegant, well-choreographed dance by the MacDuffie Dancers, Dean of the Boarding and MacDuffie Alumni Dina Lyman stepped forward and asked the inner circle to step into the outer circle. It was such a breathtaking spectacle- I was lucky enough to be able to stand back and see a circle of over three hundred and fifty people holding lit candles and lanterns in the darkness. I then stepped forward to lead the school in singing Summer Suns as everyone made their way to the grotto behind school for final remarks.
It was surreal to me, taking that last walk back to the grotto with all of my friends and teachers. So many people here have become family to me over the years, and Candlelight, as Mrs. Lyman always says, is one of the seniors’ first goodbyes. But I also got that same feeling of comfort that can only be described as pure happiness, knowing that everyone at the ceremony was now a part of this community that I have come to love so much.
After we arrived at the grotto, Mr. Steven Griffin, Head of School, gave an eloquent speech that only furthered my sentiments. In the minutes during which we sang our Alma Mater, The Magnolia Song, I realized how proud and privileged I am to be part of such a strong, unified, diverse group. I knew that, even when we dispersed, graduated, or moved on from the school, everyone could say that they were once part of a school as close-knit, unique, and welcoming as MacDuffie.