On June 8, Head of School Clair Ward presided as 31 eighth grade students were graduated during Shore’s 85th Closing Exercises. Ninth graders were graduated during their own celebration, held the day before.
Under a sprawling tent erected on Shore’s athletic fields, Ward thanked the audience for their support as the school navigated a year still impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, and she reminded graduates that despite any challenges they may face, they should welcome whatever the future may bring. “You are not finished growing. You are about to step beyond Shore. You will look back on these years and realize that some of your most strongly held beliefs when you were here will be challenged, and your perspective in some cases will shift. Lean into this. Don’t remain stuck or naive. There is so much living to do, and we want every bit of it for you.”
Before the Closing Exercises began, graduates gathered in the Dining Hall, where they received white roses they’d carry or wear during the ceremony. Parents looked on, cameras and phones in hand to capture the scene, as the graduates posed for class photos on the steps of the historic Winslow Building and then processed as a group for the start of the Closing Exercises.
At the podium, Head of School Clair Ward welcomed the audience by calling on the graduates to be their best. “For however many years they have been at Shore, we stood beside them, coaching them in small moments that shaped them into who they are today. Today’s celebration acknowledges their hard work and their very full journey on their way to this moment. But all of these graduates will be taking a step that will require them to be all that they can possibly be.”
Key in the continuation of this journey, said Ward, are Shore’s core values. “Graduates, we are committed to you taking Shore’s Community Code and Equity & Inclusion Commitment with you as your true north in knowing what is right and just. If you are kind, true, respectful, open, and dependable, you will in fact be not only your best, but the best of Shore. If you are committed to being your authentic self, to making space for others to be their authentic selves, and to confronting bias when any of that is not possible, you will continue to make us very proud. As we move through our ceremony of celebration today, be thinking about how your ability to take your Shore best to the next level is in fact the greatest knowledge you will have gained here.”
Following Ward’s inspiring introduction, the President of the Board of Trustees, Amy Marks, shared a message with the graduates. “You endured middle school during a pandemic. I think about how you all have done the incredible tasks of achieving, growing, developing, being friends, being siblings, helping your parents be just a little bit less weird—all during a pandemic—you did all that in a fast-changing world that just seems to keep throwing curveballs your way. You all inspire me. If resiliency is built through challenge, and gauging our true potential comes from rising through that challenge, then you are arguably the most resilient class of Upper Schoolers that Shore has seen.”
Clair Ward then called each eighth grade graduate individually to the podium, where she congratulated them before the students received their graduation certificate from Amy Marks and shook hands with Head of Upper School Gustavo Carrera. Later, graduates were invited to present roses to their parents, and one family whose children had spent a combined 26 years at Shore was acknowledged with a bouquet.
As the ceremony wound to a close, Clair Ward returned to the podium to offer her final words, in which she urged the graduates to persist, no matter what challenges or disappointments they may face in their lives. “Sometimes in life hard work is not enough. Sometimes you will work hard and still not succeed. More than anything else, your teachers and I want you to know that this is absolutely okay. Life happens, and every disappointment is an opportunity to broaden your perspective. Take your moment to be angry or frustrated, but move into your next challenge knowing that you are still capable of success even when you made a mistake.”
Ward also advised students to remain open, a central tenet of the Community Code. “Do everything in your power to get additional perspectives when you can. At Shore, we call this being open to new ideas. If you use only your own view on the world, you will miss the chance to have experiences of which you yourself could never have dreamed. The real magic in life is serendipity—surprise, and maybe even occasionally the opportunity to feel lucky.”
She concluded, “Students, on behalf of your teachers, I want to thank you for the privilege of being your guides and your coaches. Thank you for letting us walk beside you throughout your Shore journey. Know that this will always be your home, and that you will always be a class that finished the year in complete and utter fulfillment of our mission.”
Graduates and their families then listened as Shore’s A Cappella singers, joined by alumni and employees, performed the traditional benediction. Eighth graders recessed to the song “Live Your Life,” by T.I., whose lyrics urge, “What you need to do is be thankful for the life you got—stop lookin’ at what you ain’t got, and start being thankful for what you do got.”
In the Howard Gymnasium, faculty formed a receiving line to cheer the newly graduated students as they high-fived one of the hands painted around the doors of the gym, “taking one last touch of Shore,” as Clair Ward explained, “and leaving one last touch of yourself at Shore.”
Outside on the Greentop families then gathered to greet their graduates and share well wishes for the summer and fall. Several eighth graders will return to Shore in the fall to be part of the school’s unique ninth grade program, while other graduating students will move on to top high schools and college preparatory schools including Brooks, Governor’s, Holderness, Pingree, Pomfret, Phillips Academy Andover, Phillips Exeter Academy, St. Mark’s, and St. Paul’s, among others.
The eighth grade graduates of the Class of 2023 are: Namya Bandi, Tessa Borgatti, Lyla Cass, Isla Finn, MelienaMarie Johnson Hyre, Sophie Kelly, Philip Kim, Ashley Laubinger, Hayden Lucey, Kelly McVeigh, Matthew Minor, Abigail Nam, Gracyn Needham, William O’Connor, Sydney Pappas, Eliza Rosenbaum, Charlotte Seliger, Tyler Smith, Annalisa Smith-Pallotta, Sage Smith-Pallotta, Gavin Spencer, Lalwani Surpitski, Mia Townshend, Erickson van Otterloo, Henry Vareschi-Woelfel, Oliver Wallace, Anne Wang, Lydia Warren, Elliot Weir, Ash Wolfgang, and Justin Young.
Shore Country Day School’s mission is to provide an education that inspires a love of learning and encourages children to embrace academic challenge. We seek to build character, cultivate creativity, and value diversity as we help our children become healthy, compassionate citizens of the world.
The School admits qualified students of any race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, or any other status protected by applicable law, and extends to them all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the School. The School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, ancestry, sex, religion, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, disability, or any other status protected by applicable law in the administration of its admissions, scholarships, and loans, and its educational, athletic, and other programs.