Home / Community Board / Featured Stories / Charge to Graduates

Charge to Graduates


Members of the class of 2022 – Brennand Field is a fitting place to celebrate your accomplishments and graduation from Prep. You played orientation games here as a prospective or admitted student; rock, paper, scissors this fall; and Capture the Flag during Spring Fling. Right over there is where others and I were dunked in the dunk tank – it is not that I am holding a grudge – my therapist says to keep processing the experience. I had no idea Mary Little was going to bring in an ace closer to make sure I hit the water.

This field is also where I told many of you at the Student Leadership Retreat this past August that we needed your help to relaunch many of the school’s finest traditions, including the senior trip and last night’s amazing baccalaureate ceremony. Both of these events took place for the first time since 2019, and we are grateful for the many ways you stepped up. 

In seeking ways to celebrate your uniqueness, I had to look no further than the responses you submitted when we surveyed you several months ago about what you wanted to hear today. Several of you mentioned that you’d prefer short graduation speeches that avoided corny jokes or forced references to philosophy. At least one of you added that this would be even better if an uplifting message was incorporated into a freestyle Hip Hop Song. 

This brings me to my first two points: life is full of disappointments, and the class of 2022 says some wack stuff sometimes. Of course, you are going to hear some corny jokes this morning. You are also going to hear from our speakers about the interconnectedness of the physical and social world and the healing power of curiosity and kindness. 

Yes, life is full of disappointments. But, to be clear, your time at and impact upon Prep is the least disappointing thing I can possibly imagine. You, our student leaders, debated, studied, wrote, calculated, analyzed, sang, acted, and competed – perhaps at the highest levels Prep has ever produced–  and in the face of significant challenges. Thanks to your work, our younger students have a much clearer picture of both academic achievement and real leadership.  

You also procrastinated at or near the highest levels Prep has ever produced. If the NMAA awarded state titles for the SIP dodging or the TAP hurdling, we would have several individual and team state champions.

You are also creative and persistent; not only did you help us relaunch traditions. Members of this class helped start a new one for this ceremony; more on that at the end of our program. 

Last week 54 members of the class of 2022 (we missed you, Jay, Isa, and Emma) ventured to the Green River in Utah, where we embarked on an 84-mile float down Desolation and Gray Canyons. Perhaps the audience doesn’t know that Eric Wynn and I each led groups of 27 and 28 students, respectively. Significantly outnumbered, I am still surprised and grateful that you all didn’t duct tape me to the bow of a raft and row off towards Lake Powell, as that plan would have worked. Over the course of our time on the river, we learned some things from our raft guides and from each other that will serve us well in the future. 

 Some of the lessons were explicit; our guides told us: 

  • The best practice is to avoid a dangerous mishap on the river. If you cannot avoid something, you need to participate in your own self-rescue – and you are always going to be the best positioned and most capable person to help yourself in any situation. This simple advice is true on the river and everywhere else.
  • Our guides also told us that if you find yourself disoriented under the raft, pick any direction and swim far enough that you come out from under the boat. Whatever you do, don’t vacillate and change your mind so much that you cannot tell if you are going in the right direction. This simple principle is especially good advice as you adjust to your new learning environment and sink your teeth into your academic major, for example. If you change direction too soon, you can’t tell if you are on the right track.

I’m not suggesting that we all become raft guides (and seniors, please be careful how you stalk them on Instagram- we have gotten a little aggressive there). I’m simply suggesting that we take care of ourselves, find our passions, and develop our skills through hard work, as they have done. 

As you know, the guides were not the only ones who had something meaningful to say on our journey. I want to share a few lessons I learned from watching and listening to you on our third night when we came together as a full group: the 54 of you who were able to be present, Grandma, and me.

Listening to you express gratitude to your friends and classmates for their many acts of inclusion and kindness was powerful. What did we learn? Even the smallest acts of inclusion are life-changing for those who receive them. Beginnings are very delicate times where small actions can make all the difference. Remember that when you start school or a new adventure in a few months– you can make the difference for others– the same one that others made for you here. 

Graduates, we are proud of your admissions to your new schools and of the paths you are choosing from here– but experience tells me that Prep is likely to be the most formative institution in your life. Education is a fascinating concept: it’s invisible, slow-acting, long-lasting, portable, and durable.  What you learned here is meaningful; take it with you. And, like today’s commencement speaker, come back and share what you learn out in the world.

Aaron Schubach
Head of School