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June 06, 2016

Phillips Academy's 238th Commencement

Weather proves no match for graduates' Big Blue Spirit
by Phillips Academy

The 238th commencement of Phillips Academy was observed with its customary outdoor exercises yesterday, despite a rainstorm that forced attendees under their umbrellas at times.

At 10 a.m. a procession was formed on the great lawn led by the Clan MacPherson Pipes and Drums. Trustees, faculty emeriti and faculty escorted the graduating class to the steps of Samuel Phillips Hall.

Prayer was offered Protestant Chaplain Reverend Anne E. Gardner, director of spiritual & religious life.

The ceremony included orations by School Copresidents Annette E. Bell of Houston and Theodore M. Perez of New York City.

Head of School John Palfrey began his address by noting that the Class of 2016 holds special significance for him. Having begun his tenure in 2012, he remarked, “you and I arrived at Andover together. You are the first class that I, as head of school, have been with all the way through. It has been a delight to watch you grow and thrive here.”

Palfrey chose humanism and technology for the theme of his address, urging the 308 graduates to always embrace the virtues derived from a liberal arts education when faced with challenges posed by advanced technology.

“As we rush to solve these huge problems, we often reach to technology to help us do that. As you know, I am, myself, very excited about what our use of technology can bring,” said Palfrey. “At the same time, I fear that the unfettered use of technology will bring with it bigger problems than it solves.”


“I can’t possibly say what the biggest problems of tomorrow will be, exactly. But to solve the problems that face society today and will face society going forward, I am certain that we will need people who can listen to one another; people who can appreciate other points of view; people who cherish diversity in all its forms; and people who can work across difference, turning the other cheek, setting aside hate and anger – choosing, instead, empathy and love.”

At the conclusion of the speeches, the members of the class of 2016 arose and followed the pipes and drums corp to the Great Lawn in front of the Addison Gallery of American Art, where the graduates formed a giant circle for the passing of the diplomas, a ceremonial tradition begun in 1952.

As part of the commencement ceremony, Palfey presented five major prizes to the following recipients:

Arzu Singh of Tallahassee, Fla., received the Non Sibi Award, given to the student who has honored Phillips Academy’s non sibi (not for self) tradition through efforts on behalf of others.

Caroline Shipley of Andover, Mass., received the Yale Bowl, given to the member of the senior class who has attained the highest proficiency in scholarship and athletics.

Tyler Lian of Old Lyme, Conn., received the Faculty Prize for outstanding scholarship during senior year.

Ashley Scott of Norfolk, Va., received the Madame Sarah Abbot Award, given to a young woman for strong character, leadership and outstanding scholarship.

Theo Perez of New York, N.Y., received the Aurelian Honor Society Award for sterling character, high scholarship and forceful leadership.




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