‘It’s time to gallop’: Deerfield Academy speakers share advice with 201 graduates

Deerfield Academy held its commencement ceremony on Sunday morning.

Deerfield Academy held its commencement ceremony on Sunday morning. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/MATTHEW CAVANAUGH FOR DEERFIELD ACADEMY

Deerfield Academy held its commencement ceremony on Sunday morning.

Deerfield Academy held its commencement ceremony on Sunday morning. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/MATTHEW CAVANAUGH FOR DEERFIELD ACADEMY

Graduate Kaelin Creagh of Deerfield shares a hug with a loved one during Deerfield Academy’s commencement ceremony on Sunday morning.

Graduate Kaelin Creagh of Deerfield shares a hug with a loved one during Deerfield Academy’s commencement ceremony on Sunday morning. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/MATTHEW CAVANAUGH FOR DEERFIELD ACADEMY

CJ Williams of Amityville, New York, this year’s recipient of the Deerfield Cup, during Deerfield Academy’s commencement ceremony on Sunday morning.

CJ Williams of Amityville, New York, this year’s recipient of the Deerfield Cup, during Deerfield Academy’s commencement ceremony on Sunday morning. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/MATTHEW CAVANAUGH FOR DEERFIELD ACADEMY

Head of School John Austin (left) and graduate Rufus Mahoney of Greenfield during Deerfield Academy’s commencement ceremony on Sunday morning.

Head of School John Austin (left) and graduate Rufus Mahoney of Greenfield during Deerfield Academy’s commencement ceremony on Sunday morning. CONTRIBUTED PHOTO/MATTHEW CAVANAUGH FOR DEERFIELD ACADEMY

By LIESEL NYGARD

For the Recorder

Published: 05-26-2024 3:55 PM

DEERFIELD — Speakers at Deerfield Academy’s commencement ceremony on Sunday shared jovial messages with the 201 graduates, including lessons that could be learned from a creative senior prank.

Leila Govi, a Deerfield Academy alumna who graduated in 1993 and now serves as president of the school’s board of trustees, congratulated the “intrepid Class of 2024” and thanked them for their leadership throughout their academic years on campus.

“Since the first day you stepped foot on campus back in the fall of 2020, you embraced the challenges of those days with optimism, hard work and most importantly, trust,” she said. “I focus on trust because so many of our cherished institutions are losing the trust of their communities, but not Deerfield.”

Govi then went on to recount this year’s senior prank of bringing a petting zoo to campus, which included goats, sheep and an alpaca, along with chicks that were placed in Head of School John Austin’s office.

“Humor and good-natured fun, just like trust, are essential in bringing a community together and making it stronger,” she added.

During Austin’s speech, he noted that the alpaca, named Adam, had briefly escaped during its time on campus.

“Adam did seem to enjoy his 23 minutes of freedom, excited to finally be out of that little pen in search of greener, tastier grass,” he said. “You are Adam, you are in our pen, the gate is open, people are cheering for you and it’s time to gallop.”

During her speech, Deerfield Academy graduate Adaugo Nwaokoro congratulated her class on “achieving this milestone.” She also gave advice to the academy’s underclassmen, encouraging them to integrate themselves into their community, become “exemplary role models” and savor their years as Deerfield Academy students.

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This year’s commencement speaker was George Loening, a Deerfield Academy alumnus who graduated in 1984 and later founded Select Equity Group in 1990, an investment service located in New York.

In his speech, Loening encouraged the graduates to find their calling, which was inspired by Angela Duckworth’s book “Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance.”

“[The book] tells the parable of the bricklayers. You ask three bricklayers, ‘What are you doing?’ The first says, ‘I am laying bricks.’ The second says, ‘I am building a church.’ And the third says, ‘I am building the house of God.’ For the first it is a job; for the second, it is a career; for the third, it is a calling,” Loening said. “I want you to find your calling.”

A recording of Deerfield Academy’s 2024 commencement can be found at deerfield.edu/parents/events/commencement.

Franklin County graduates

Dylan Camp, South Deerfield; Kaelin Creagh, Deerfield; Paul de Bruyn Kops, South Deerfield; Nainika Lebaka, South Deerfield; Nikhil Lebaka, South Deerfield; Rufus Mahoney, Greenfield; David Mazur, Conway; Caleb McDaniel, South Deerfield; Margaret Melnik, Deerfield; Conor Moriarty, Deerfield; Anna Morrissey, Greenfield; Toler Poole, Leverett; Natania Reid, Deerfield; and Giorgia Santore, Sunderland.

Hampshire County graduates

Anna Dyjach, South Hadley; Mariam Kokosadze, Northampton; Benjamin Wolfson, Amherst; Alice Zhang, Amherst; and Shurui Zhao, Amherst.