Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Parsons The New School for Design
University of Washington
The Culinary Institute of America
So reads the last ten schools on my list of senior plans. Students with the last names from Woods to Zuk received a warm round of applause from faculty, staff, and peers in Chapel as I announced their senior plans and we wished them congratulations and good luck in the next stage of their education.
I think it is noteworthy that our graduates are heading to schools from coast to coast (actually, several are heading to schools in other countries) to study everything from engineering design to fashion design in some of the nation’s best post-secondary institutions, ranging from liberal arts schools to culinary arts schools. I am also impressed with the number of students entering the work force having already secured jobs as electricians, nurse’s assistants, and childcare providers. And I am grateful to the handful of students who have enlisted in the armed services to protect and defend our country. Every year when I read these senior plans in Chapel, I am filled once again with confident hope that these young people will make the world a better place.
At the top of our graduating class stand two young men who exemplify not only the diversity of talents among our graduates, but also the ways in which our graduates have made and will continue to make a difference in the world.
I have had the privilege of teaching our Salutatorian Callum Hening in an accelerated Literature and Composition course, and I have been impressed with his thoughtfulness and insights regarding large moral questions and complex social issues. Whether discussing the problems implicit with human freedom or the solution to institutional racism, he has been careful to weigh all options and create cogent arguments explaining his views. His excellence in literature study is a bit surprising because his forte is in math and science. He won the Student of the Quarter award for five of his classes: Physics, AP Physics C, Multivariable Calculus, AP Chemistry and AP Microeconomics. But then again, he won a gold medal on the National Spanish Exam. Also a dedicated athlete, Callum excels in the grueling sports of long distance running and Nordic skiing; he was elected captain of this Nordic ski team for the past two years. The Caledonian-Record will give Callum the Boys’ Athlete-Scholar award at the inaugural NNEKY high school sports awards banquet this weekend.
One of his most impressive achievements, however, came outside of the classroom and is the reason I am so hopeful for his future success. For his Capstone, Callum researched the problem of funding for NASA and its impacts on other industries. His research was meticulous and thoughtful, and his presentation was stellar, but more impressive was what happened after Capstone was over. Callum wrote Senator (now Presidential candidate) Bernie Sanders about his findings and received a personal and lengthy response from the Senator’s office. Callum’s ability to engage and influence decision makers at the federal level bodes well for democracy.
Callum plans to attend Dartmouth College where he will focus on Physics and Astronomy, but I am sure he will not stop being engaged in conversations regarding social and economic issues.
Likewise, Valedictorian Luke Jackmauh is headed for great things. An avid polyglot, he has studied Latin, French, German, and some Greek. He was also part of the team that represented the Academy at the We the People National Finals in Washington, DC. He plans to take up a double major at Harvard in French and German, with a minor in Russian, and hopes to use his language skills to reconnect with the immigrant Jewish culture of his ancestors, traveling through Lithuania, Russia, and Poland.
Luke’s interest in culture and language led him to his own outstanding Capstone, in which he argued for the treatment of African American Vernacular English (AAVE) as a language of its own and advocated for schools to teach students who spoke AAVE at home as if they were second-language learners. At a time when racial divides seem to be in the news every day, and when the achievement gap among children of color still remains one of our largest educational challenges, Luke’s white paper, which he sent to leaders of the Boston public school system, seems not only timely but critical. Regardless of whether those particular schools act on his compelling research, Luke remains committed to discussing issues of language and power, and the role that communication and culture play in minority communities.
As Callum and Luke highlight, our 2015 graduates display a stunning array of achievements, and their impact will be felt well beyond the borders of this community. These seniors have taken seriously our encouragement to “dream big”, and they have plans and dreams that will change the world. I look forward to celebrating them over the next week and throughout Commencement Weekend, and I look forward to hearing about the exploits of this remarkable senior class in the years to come.