More than 150 students graduated from the Hun School of Princeton on Friday, June 9. The School celebrated its 103rd commencement with musical performances, awards, and speeches designed to inspire its graduates, who come from sixteen countries and eleven states. For the first time, eight graduates had completed a school program called “Scholars’ Tracks.” The students specialized in arts, global studies, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics.
Three students addressed their classmates during the ceremony. Salutatorian Lydia Buckley of Princeton talked about the small routines she would miss after leaving Hun, such as the early morning rush to classes, school dodge ball tournaments and karaoke contests, and playing field hockey.
“These are the small constants we have grown accustomed to, but it’s time to move on from here,” said Buckley, an actress who will attend Cornell University in the fall. “It’s time to leave our safe haven. It’s uncomfortable, yet strangely exciting. It will take all your heart. It will take all your thought,” she said, quoting Adrienne Rich’s poem about new beginnings, “Final Notations.”
Speaker Aadil Mufti of Princeton, who will study at New York University in the fall, talked about his favorite eraser as a metaphor for his journey.
“I remember very vividly how I got hold of this eraser,” he said. “It was the night before my first day of high school.” Finding it in a drawer, he became “captivated” with it. “I thought, ‘Wow, I just found this really cool eraser in my room, who would not want to be friends with me?’” he asked, noting he was stuck in a fourth-grade “definition of coolness.”
“When we think of erasers, we think of them as devices that allow us to forget our mistakes, devices that give us a second chance. But to me, this baby blue eraser… is a vast universe of memories,” Mufti said. “At the end of the day, we are just like this eraser; full of mistakes, suffering, boredom, frustration, and sheer absurdity.”
Valedictorian Julia Salerno, who will attend Carnegie Mellon University in the fall, told graduates to have courage to make mistakes, feel frustration an disappointment, give it the time it deserves, and then move on from it.
“Have the courage to figure out what you want, not what your friends want, or your parents want,” said Salerno, of Yardley, Pa., who also acknowledged that her own parents are right “pretty much all the time.”
“Find what it is that makes you happiest, something you could do all day without getting tired of it, and then talk about it for hours. It may take a long time, but when you find it… you’ll know it and you’ll never go back,” she said.
Headmaster Jonathan Brougham said goodbye to the class by advising graduates to worry less, and enjoy life in the moment more. Quoting philosopher Epictetus, Brougham suggested students concentrate only on issues they can control, such as what is happening right now.
“Regrets about the past. Unresolvable worries about the future. Epictetus … had the self-discipline to push aside the afflictions of the past and live in the present,” he said. “So can you. Banish those worries. You will be wonderfully relieved.”
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Hun Commencement Awards
Faculty Prize – Sophia Albanese
Valedictory Award – Julia Salerno
Salutatory Award – Lydia Buckley
John L. Kuschke Memorial Award – Lydia Buckley
John R. Scott Memorial Award – Patrick John Nally
Michelle Bonacci Marks ’89 Memorial Award – Julie Fassl
Robert Strianese ’70 Memorial Award – Frederick Hansard
James A. McFadden ’59 Memorial Award – Christopher Fake
Edwin “Jake” Jacobs Memorial Award – Grant Versfeld
Katherine Wright Gorrie ’98 Memorial Award – Natalie Davis
Headmaster’s Awards – Noor Al Busaidi, Christopher Bahr, Griffin Ferrara, Yooha Kim, Alexander Versfeld, Jr.