NMH graduates reflect on ‘sacred gift’ of education, building relationships


Staff Writer

Published: 05-22-2023 11:50 AM

GILL — Exchanging smiles with 209 graduating seniors, Head of School Brian Hargrove summarized the Northfield Mount Hermon School Class of 2023’s journey as a matter of “strengthening your head, your heart and your hands.”

“There is no greater gift that your parents or your guardians can offer you than this education,” Hargrove told the students during a welcome address for the school’s 140th commencement ceremony. “It’s a sacred gift, and together, we’ve walked this path and we’ve endowed you with a gift that can never be taken away.”

Hundreds gathered in the shade of a large event tent beside the campus’ Memorial Chapel at 11 a.m. on Sunday to celebrate the young adults bidding adieu to high school. Taking Hargrove’s place at the podium, student speaker Hazel Peach Reeder delivered an oration stressing the importance of saying a good “goodbye.”

“To say ‘goodbye’ is to experience a sendoff that is good. To teach someone how to say ‘goodbye’ is to share those experiences with the people around them before they even leave,” Reeder said. “You all deserve to enjoy your next chapter, to remember every little detail, and eventually, to have a good ‘goodbye’ that inspires others to do the same.”

Following Reeder’s speech, the graduates were led by classmates Sashana Kracauer and Polly Wang in singing “Here We Gave Gathered,” a hymn written by Alice Carpenter. The hymn’s lyrics, prompting the graduates to “step inside” their “circle of kinship” and “sing now in friendship,” served as a fitting introduction for the commencement address.

“Be not stingy with your heart,” advised Bisa Williams, a Class of 1972 graduate who later served more than 30 years with the U.S. Department of State as an ambassador and deputy assistant secretary of state. “Allow yourself to feel and receive the love your friends offer. The relationships you build will bring you joy, peace and laughter. They will satisfy you far more than any commendable record of world accomplishments or firsts.”

Graduates from Franklin and Hampshire counties

Aviva Barry, Greenfield; Aaron Burstein, Gill; Louisa Calame, Greenfield; Tea Carboni-Pietras, Gill; Riley Carroll, Northfield; Djibril Diaw, Gill; Elizabeth Dripps, Northampton; Rohan Edwards, Greenfield; Christian Georges, Florence; Jasper Graham, Florence; John Hanscom, Hadley; Emma Hughes, Florence; Sashana Kracauer, Buckland; Liam Lichocki, South Deerfield; Trevor Mills, Shelburne Falls; Matthew Provencal, Colrain; Racquel Provost, Leyden; Hazel Peach Reeder, Gill; Meena Relyea-Strawn, Gill; Chloe Rourke, Northfield; Pearl Schatz-Allison, Gill; Tobiah Sol, Gill; Nathan Wood, Northfield; and Runkai Zhang, Sunderland.

Local Award Recipients: Aviva Barry, Greenfield, Cum Laude Society; Aaron Burstein, Gill, Appley Award, Ralph E. Jillson Award; Louisa Calame, Greenfield, Cum Laude Society; Djibril Diaw, Gill, Head of School Award; Elizabeth Dripps, Northampton, Academic Excellence, NMH Dance Prize; Rohan Edwards, Greenfield, Cum Laude Society; Jasper Graham, Florence, Cum Laude Society, Piscuskas Day Student Prize; John Hanscom, Hadley, Howard and Margaret Jones Farm Award; Emma Hughes, Florence, Robert P. Weis Mathematics Prize; Sashana Kracauer, Buckland, Valedictorian, Cum Laude Society, Bannwart Choir Prize, C. Russell Bragg Memorial Prize in Environmental Studies; Racquel Provost, Leyden, Vitold Piscuskas Sportsmanship Award; Hazel Peach Reeder, Gill, Class Orator, Cum Laude Society, Alice B. and John E. Baldwin Award; Meena Relyea-Strawn, Gill, Cum Laude Society, Florence Chapman Haslun Prize; and Pearl Schatz-Allison, Gill, Thompson Art Prize.

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Reach Julian Mendoza at 413-930-4231 or jmendoza@recorder.com.