We know where they are going, but Sunday’s forty-ninth commencement at College Prep was distinctly about where the class of 2009 had been. This graduation ceremony captured the magic of College Prep better than any event I can remember in my five years in the Admission Office. It began with a moving invocation by beloved Spanish teacher Marta Ginebreda, made all the more special because her daughter was among the 85 graduates.
Christina Romer, the Chair of President Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers and mother of two College Prep alums, then spoke to a rapt audience about the first months working in Washington in the Obama administration. Tasked with finding the country’s way out of a historic recession, she spoke humbly of her own uncertainty in these unprecedented times.
Faculty speaker Jack Coakley’s awesomeness was confirmed when he preceded his speech by passing out Red Vines to the graduates and concluded it with a quote from Flight of the Conchords! Students in Mr. Coakley’s Chemistry classes love him for his positive energy and easy-going nature. Those lucky enough to have been coached by him on the Cross Country and Track teams know that he is also a master motivator. The rest of us caught a glimpse of his coaching genius, as he mentored the graduates and audience in his uniquely upbeat style.
These were two truly wonderful speeches, but what I’ll remember most about this day were the two student speakers. Two days after graduation, Head of School Murray Cohen began our end-of-the-year faculty meeting by dissecting these two speeches and how they captured something essential and magical about College Prep.
In her heartfelt and reflective speech, Maya S. said, “I doubt that I will ever stand in such good company again” a line worthy of immediate inscription somewhere according to Dr. Cohen (we will try to oblige him in the admission materials!) She spoke of a community where the engaged and bright citizens moved beyond respecting one another for their considerable academic and intellectual talents to the more important — and rare — business of truly caring about one another. This is why, I imagine, that so many of our graduates go on to do the healing work of the world in their various professions.
In his inimitable and comedically brilliant style, Ilyas K. delivered these philosophical lines: “To expunge CPS from memory would be to erase completely the axis around which our decisions, our daily activities, and really, our lives, were defined for the last four years. The first rule when sketching a graph in a CPS math or science class is to draw your axes. Without them, the graph is meaningless, set adrift in an infinite Cartesian plane.” This grounding that the College Prep experience provides helped transform Ilyas from a loud, unsure freshman four years ago to a young man who embodies the heart of our mission statement as we “prepare students for productive, ethical lives in college and beyond.”
So, kudos to you class of 2009! You have made us proud.