BB&N’s Class of 2018 welcomed this year’s graduation with smiles as bright as the sun streaming through the windows of the Nicholas Athletic Center.
The proceedings opened on a light note with senior class president Robert Tearney ’18 reciting a Wiz Khalifa song, but turned quickly to a reflective, emotional tone as senior student speaker, Athena Chu ’18 addressed her class.
Listing memories of her talented classmates, Chu celebrated her peers, recalling moments both poignant and funny as she championed the friendships and camaraderie within her class. “I want to celebrate us,” Chu said. “Not what we have done, but who we are. Just us.”
As any good parent would, keynote speaker Dr. Aria Olumi used the podium to embarrass his son, Shayan Olumi ’18 before turning his attention to some advice for the soon-to-be graduates. Olumi spoke of coming the U.S. alone in the late ’70s as a 12-year-old who spoke limited English. “I say this as a friend, a father, and an immigrant: It’s difficult to be different…but adversity creates empathy. If you’ve ever been an outsider you know how awful it feels to be treated poorly. So, my message to the graduating class is to use that knowledge to stop yourself from ever treating others that way, and to give you the courage to intervene when you see others behaving badly.”
Following a rousing performance by the BB&N Chorale, Head of School Rebecca T. Upham took the podium for her final graduation address as Head of the School. Upham thanked the community for her 17 years at BB&N before quickly focusing her full attention to The Class of 2018.
Touching on the increasingly divided and dissident national climate, she encouraged the students to seek out dialogue with others, and to “speak one’s mind by telling one’s heart.” And, quoting British-born Ghanian-American philosopher Kwame Appiah, Upham stressed the idea that “conversation doesn’t have to lead to consensus about anything, especially not values. It’s enough that it helps people get used to one another.”
Processing out of the Athletic Center and into a beautiful summer day, BB&N’s latest graduates looked poised to help make a difference in a world where only the sky is their limit.
Click here for a gallery of photos from Graduation.