Onward: Gilman Class of 2019 Graduation

The 116 members of the Class of 2019 marked the end of their time at Gilman on a beautiful Saturday, June 8, while families, friends, and faculty members cheered them on during the 122nd Founders Day exercises. It was a day not only for celebration but for acknowledgement of the support received from the entire Gilman community, preparing the graduates for this day.

Headmaster Henry P. A. Smyth began his address by referencing last summer’s reading selection, Admiral William H. McRaven’s Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life...And Maybe the World. Smyth said, “You cannot paddle the boat alone. This crowd is a manifestation of that truth.”

Rather than offering “sage advice that will propel you toward much success and happiness,” Smyth told the graduating class, “you have already heard what you need to hear. You have heard it from your teachers, coaches, and advisors; from your classmates, teammates, and schoolmates; from your parents, grandparents, guardians, and mentors.” He reviewed the wisdom that these people had already conveyed to the graduates over time:

  • Work hard.  
  • Play fair.  
  • Be your best self.
  • Recognize that you are part of something larger than yourself.
  • Be a good person.  
  • Treat others with respect.   
  • Practice the Gilman Five.  
  • Say hey (the "Power of Hello").  

Smyth also cited several events from the school year, including Baccalaureate remarks from Lower School Teacher Nick Schloeder ’85, the Cotton Lecture presentation by Politico Reporter Dan Diamond ’98 and Art Director Andrew Schapiro ‘01, and assembly speakers throughout the year.  Collectively, these speakers captured the importance of awareness, observation, and discernment.  To summarize, Smyth issued this charge to the graduates:  Be attentive.  Smyth explained, "If you are going to fulfill Gilman’s mission by being men of character and integrity who have the skills and ability to make positive contributions to the communities in which you live and work – in other words, if you are going to make the world a better place – you need to notice it."

Smyth concluded with the Latin phrase finis origine pendet, translating to “the end depends on the beginning." Building on that concept, he told graduates, “Whatever your destination, take your beginning with you. Go from here with the confidence that you will always have your Gilman experience – and your Gilman brothers – to support you.”

Valedictorian Noah Jun thanked faculty, administration, and staff for “the compassion and attention [students] receive daily on this campus.” He said, “it has been clear that Mr. Smyth, Mr. Foreman, and many others have worked thoughtfully to diversify every aspect of Gilman, making sure we are prepared and well-versed for the complex world we are about to enter. Teachers … have gone beyond their designated subjects, encouraging us to engage difficult issues with critical thinking and civil discourse so that we can make meaningful contributions to society in the future. We have felt the light of every adult member of the Gilman community as they served us in one way or another. Through your examples, we see the light of what it means to support those around us for a larger cause.” Jun, who, in addition to being the valedictorian, also won the 12th grade William S. Thomas Scholarship Prize, went on to acknowledge the support of family as well as the many contributions made to one another by classmates. Turning his attention to the future, he exhorted the graduates to “shine our light by using what we have learned here to become men for others.”

Before the graduates received diplomas, several students were honored with awards for scholarship, community service, and athletic performance. Faculty members received awards as well. The headmaster also recognized faculty and staff who had completed 20 or 30 years of service. 

In what has become a tradition, the Traveling Men performed “The Parting Song,” a song of departure based on a 17th-century Scottish song, which featured 10 members of the graduating class. With so many featured seniors, the group incorporated nine new singers, who will be joining the T-Men in the fall.

To conclude the ceremony, pairs of graduates left the stage with a special handshake, hug, selfie, confetti, or other creative flourish.

The ceremony was live streamed and can be viewed below. Many more photos will be added in coming days, so please check back.