Members of the Shore community came together on Thursday, June 8, for the Celebrating the Light of Knowledge ceremony. The ninth grade graduation took place inside the Trustey Family Theatre, where the stage and podium were adorned with blue and white flowers. Also on the stage was a large blue candle with a flickering flame that illuminated and cast shadows on the four surrounding white unlit tapered candles representing each graduating student.
Head of Upper School Oliver Hay opened the ceremony by sharing the words of Margaret Fuller, which serve as an inspiration behind the ceremony.
“If you have knowledge, let others light their candles in it.”
– Margaret Fuller
A native of Cambridge, Massachusetts, Fuller believed in the transformative impact of education, remarked Hay. “Fuller also knew that the knowledge we gain from our education is more than just expertise; it is about the character that we build, a process that starts at school and continues for the rest of our lives.”
This knowledge first inspired Fuller to become a teacher, and later a writer and editor who advocated for women’s equality and joined the struggle against autocracy in Europe. “Ultimately, she used the light of her knowledge to stand for what is good and right,” said Hay.
“There is no doubt that learning illuminates the mind and enhances perspective,” added Hay. “It has been our pleasure to watch our graduates grow and illuminate their view of the world. We know that this will serve them well as they take the next step in their journey.”
Head of School Clair Ward was then welcomed to the podium, where she explained the significance of light as it directly relates to Shore.
“Graduates, before you is the candle of Shore burning brightly, but on its own.” As Ward continued, she explained that when the students received their diplomas and lit their own taper from the Shore candle, their collective light would remain with Shore and its history.
Ward spoke about the unique, meaningful, and impactful bond between students and their advisors as they navigate change, challenges, and joy during a formative period of life. This year’s ninth grade advisors were Pamela Torres and Gwen Sneeden.
One by one students were called up to the podium by their advisors, lighting their individual tapers from the Shore candle on their way. Advisors then shared their thoughts and wishes for each graduate, presenting them with an honor cord – a tradition reserved only for students who complete a ninth grade year at Shore.
The strong relationships between ninth grade students and their advisors were evident throughout the ceremony. For example, Gwen Sneeden’s remarks about her advisee Sage Smith-Pallotta included the story of her habit of sticking pieces of tape onto her arm. “I like to think there is a metaphor here,” said Sneeden. “I realized maybe she was telling me to stick with her, because there are great things in store for her.” Sneeden went on to present Smith-Pallotta with a roll of tape, to which she accepted, tearing off a piece and sticking it onto her advisor.
After each student received their diploma and lit their candle, Ward officially presented the Class of 2023. Each student was called forward once again to share some of their own thoughts of celebration and gratitude in honor of their milestone—their departure from Shore and the beginning of the next step in their educational journey.
Alder Hurley began the student remarks by thanking their family, friends, teachers, and advisor, as well as the kitchen and maintenance staff. They also thanked Jenn Boyum and Sarah Sklarsky, and Shore as a whole for welcoming them into the community.
In her remarks, Annalisa Smith-Pallotta thanked her Shore classmates for welcoming her into the community as an eighth grade student and spoke about the bonds that she formed with the Shore faculty. Whether in or out of the classroom, she said “I greatly appreciate the memories created from these experiences and the people involved.”
Annalisa Smith-Pallotta finished her remarks by thanking Bruce Springsteen, a comment to which the audience laughed, a testament to how well the students, families, faculty, and staff knew one another.
Philip Kim thanked his teachers, peers, and the larger school community for supporting him through his ten years as a Shore student. He also thanked his family for the opportunity to attend Shore.
Sage Smith-Pallotta was the last student to give remarks and said “ever since I came to Shore in eighth grade, Shore has given me some of the best friends, and the best memories. The bond I created with my teachers and classmates is something I will never forget.” She went on to thank “everybody who went out of their way to check up on me” and her advisor Gwen Sneeden, pointing back to the instances of sticking tape. “Thank you Shore, for these past two years of my life.”
After the student remarks, Ward continued the Shore tradition of honoring the families of the graduates. Students presented their families with a red rose, signifying the school’s respect and appreciation for their devotion to Shore and its philosophy.
“It has been a community partnership that has brought our graduates to this point, and the most influential relationship in this partnership is between the family and the child,” said Ward. “We offer our deepest gratitude for all you have done to support and encourage these amazing kids through this whole year.”
Also according to tradition, the family whose final graduate represents the largest cumulative number of years at Shore was individually recognized. This year it was the Kim family, who completed 22 years of enrollment at Shore as Philip graduates. As Ward thanked Yun and Dowun Kim for their commitment to Shore, Philip brought the presentation bouquet to his family.
In her closing remarks, Ward spoke about light as a symbol of peace, enlightenment, prosperity, and the ability of good to prevail over evil in many cultural and religious traditions.
“Much like we look to the light of the stars for guidance and inspiration, we hope you will look to Shore – the foundation of your educational development,” said Ward. “Know that the Shore you see now reflects the fact that you were here.”
“It is our hope that you will always see yourselves in Shore as you remember your moments of growth, your moments of challenge, and your moments of joy,” said Ward. She expressed gratitude to the students on behalf of the teachers for the ways in which they served as guides, and coaches, teaching them some lessons, too.
“Know that this will always be your home,” said Ward.
While the flame itself may have extinguished as the students recessed, the knowledge, perspective, and care that they received at Shore never will.
Students were reminded that the Shore candle burns brightly for them awaiting their return as alumni.
“Use what you have been given here to make the world a better place,” said Ward. “Use what you have learned here to bring the Shore Community Code to the larger world community.”
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.