On June 3, upper school students, faculty, families and friends of Wakefield Country Day School gathered in the senior garden to congratulate the school’s 12 seniors on their accomplishments at Wakefield’s 33rd commencement ceremony.
The program began with a procession of the faculty and graduates to Johann Pachelbel’s “Canon in D Major.” Honoring a long-time WCDS tradition, the senior girl wore a white dress, and the boys sported navy blazers, white pants and straw boaters.
Jon Heddleston, pastor of Reynolds Memorial Baptist Church in Sperryville, delivered the invocation. Head of School Kathleen Grove welcomed all and then spoke about each of the seniors, sharing remarks from the faculty and identifying accomplishments and contributions.
Salutatorian Shafran of Viewtown entertained the audience with his reflections on being salutatorian (did he “lose” by coming in second or “win” by getting to speak first?), on bonding with his class while cleaning up the senior garden and getting poison ivy, and on the challenge in life to strive to be No. 1.
Shafran concluded, “to wrap up this last homework assignment, I just want to say that I am proud to be graduating with the incredibly diverse and undeniably awesome Class of 2012.”
The commencement speaker was former University of Virginia president John Casteen, who spoke about the difficult times that Wakefield’s students face and how the classical education they received at the school will support them in doing good for others.
Casteen referenced Freud’s definition of a healthy personality as one with a capacity to love and to work and urged the seniors to strive to become a genuine expert in something, building on the education at Wakefield Country Day School (“what we know works”). Overall, he recommended a life of learning and giving.
With three degrees in English from the University of Virginia, Casteen was Virginia’s secretary of education from 1982 to 1985. From 1985 to 1990, he was president of the University of Connecticut. He became president of U.Va. in 1990 and served for 20 years.
Following Casteen’s remarks, college advisor Marsha Dowell and Grove presented the seniors with their diplomas to the seniors, who included: Amanda Carroll, Austen Cloud, Gregory Czekaj, Alexander Harris, Elwood Hazel, Benjamin Hopkins, Daniel Larner, Maxime Manzi, William Mullany, Michael O’Heir, Michael Pearson and Shafran.
The last speaker of the evening was Greg Czekaj, who gave the valedictory address. Czekaj, of Amissville, thanked families, staff members, and faculty for “refining us, in one way or another, into the capable young adults you see before you today; you have truly been instrumental in our lives. This is not goodbye but rather goodbye for now, as we are once and always Owls and part of this beautiful mycelium.”
Czekaj offered a quote to each of his classmates and said, “Whether you’ve been here since pre-k, or just happened to end up here in the last few years of high school like myself, you are part of the parliament all the same [a parliament being the name for a group of owls]. In such a small, unique and frankly wonderful setting, we are less of a figurative and more of a literal family. As I look into the crowd and see these familiar faces, I know that I could depend on any one of you to be loving and supportive, because that’s the Wakefield way. We are born leaders, we are constant examples, we are courteous, we are studious, we are athletes, we are friends, we are classmates, we are siblings. And personally, I wouldn’t trade Wednesday assemblies, rounding the corner only to be plowed into by a mob of third graders on their way to gym, or even the late nights studying, for anything in the world.”
Awards were presented as part of the ceremony to seniors and other upper school students. The awards and winners were: Most Improved Student, Sydney Penza; Courtesy, Ashlyn Ramey; Citizenship, Greg Czekaj and Shane O’Heir; Athletic, Brian Shafran and Amanda Carroll; Art, Rachel DuMez; Drama, Rachel Paulisch and Michael Stone; Grammarian, Monica Marciano; Writing, Katie Brown; Yearbook, Will Mullany; Mathematics, Makenzie Magaro; History, Rebecca Paulisch; Laura Virginia Hale U.S. History, Alex Foster; Science, Makenzie Magaro; Computer Science, Michael Pearson;
Molly Fraser French, Makenzie Magaro; Spanish, Katie Brown and Tad Wojcik; Latin, Katie Brown; Religion, Joseph Dowell and Monica Marciano; and Music, Briana Johnson.
Other awards and winners were: All-Around Girl, Makenzie Magaro; All-Around Boy, Alex Foster and Joseph Dowell; Pamela Lynn New Student, Anne Katherine Burns; Pamela Lynn Leadership-Amanda Carroll; Kathleen F. Grove Head of School, Carl Liles; William E. Lynn Sr., Marc Cugnon; William E. Lynn Jr., Alex Foster and Willow Lynn; Catherine B. Warren Scholarship, Shannon Weir; and Good Samaritan, parent Tom Shafran.
After Heddleston’s benediction, Grove described how four seniors had recently moved the stepping stones that they made in prekindergarten in 1999 to the senior garden they had cleaned up and now sat in in 2012. Amanda Carroll, Woody Hazel, Will Mullany and Shafran came forward and rang the bell to dismiss the upper school for the summer. The seniors and faculty processed out. The attendees adjourned to the school’s front lawn for a reception plus photographs, conversation, laughter, embraces, and tears.
At ceremonies held June 2, Wakefield Country Day School recognized its Lower School students’ accomplishments and the seventh graders’ move to Wakefield’s Upper School.
Reverend Debra Rutter of Calvary Episcopal Church gave the invocation, Head of School Kathleen Grove welcomed students and families and seventh-graders Campbell Baker and Tanner Perry spoke. Grove then spoke about each grade seven student, presenting them with a leaving certificate. Members of the seventh grade class were Baker, Jonathan Carrier, Lucas DuMez, Sydnei Eachus, Landis, Nicholas Leskovec, Perry, Brianna Rodriguez, Vaught and Wells.