GALLERY: Williams School graduates a class with impact

Sarah Cunningham, right, celebrates with fellow graduating seniors at the conclusion of the Williams School 121st Commencement in Palmer Auditorium of Connecticut College in New London Wednesday, June 6, 2012.
Sarah Cunningham, right, celebrates with fellow graduating seniors at the conclusion of the Williams School 121st Commencement in Palmer Auditorium of Connecticut College in New London Wednesday, June 6, 2012. Tim Martin/The Day Buy Photo

New London — Head of School Mark Fader told The Williams School graduates Wednesday that the Class of 2012 was "a force."

"I mean that in a positive way," he said. "The impact you've had on all that we do at Williams is felt every day. I admire all the ways in which you, collectively, have enriched our community."

Sixty-seven graduates of the private school gathered on the stage of Palmer Auditorium at Connecticut College to receive their diplomas Wednesday evening. Forgoing the traditional caps and gowns, the men wore blue blazers and the women wore white dresses.

Class speaker Galina Smith took the podium first, offering an opinion about the life of the class from the perspective of a student. She began by talking about the new senior lounge that the class had the privilege of using before anyone else.

"High school, on account of the traumas and victories we all experience, changes a person, no matter what. Williams is special in the way that it squeezes all its brand-new seniors into one room for a year, so now all of those traumas and victories happen within a couple feet of one another," said Smith with a dry delivery that earned her a laugh.

Smith also extended thanks to the faculty and administration.

"Their enthusiasm for teaching and learning is one of the many things they try and impart to us before we leave," she said. "Even though you cannot teach a person how to be passionate and curious, the faculty at Williams has not only led by example, but has nurtured our own passions."

Fader catalogued the students' accomplishments, drive and diversity, describing them as "camp counselors, Eagle Scouts, grocery store cashiers, scholar-athletes, avid readers, musicians, performers, artists, journalists, scientists, environmentalists, skeet shooters, leaders, unsung heroes and historic preservationists."

"The Class of 2012 is heading off to 22 different states, including Washington, D.C., and that also includes a student taking a gap year in Italy," Fader told the crowd.

Fader demonstrated his self-described "peculiar" passion for school mascots by rattling off the 46 mascots of the graduates' chosen colleges.

"That said," he continued, "I want you to please remember that you will forever be a Williams Blue and part of the permanent fabric of the Williams community."

The graduates demonstrated their musical talents with performances that included a commencement chorus singing "Riversong" and "An Irish Blessing"; senior Grace Walz singing Adele's "Someone Like You"; seniors Ian Garcia and Benjamin Polito playing guitar and singing "The Modern Age" by The Strokes; and a rendition of Freddie Mercury's "Don't Stop Me Now," performed by the entire class.

Senior Julie Philippe, who is headed to Barnard College, had mixed emotions about the whole experience, saying it was "bittersweet."

"We've felt ready for this day for the past nine months. It's really hard to believe that it's finally here," she said.

t.mccarthy@theday.com

The Class of 2012:

W. Benjamin A. Ballard, Alyssa Marie Benincosa, Patrick Michael Bransfield, Emily Kay Brodzinski, Kacey Leigh Cairns, Gabriel Anthony Campbell, Margaretta Day Carter, Sabrina Mary Catlett, Jocelyn May Cole, Morgan A. Crandall, Sarah Jane Cunningham, Zachary L. Dameron, Capri Pearl DeBiccari, Olivia Rose Denison, Gordon S. Duncan andWesley L. Duncan.

Also: Elizabeth Early, Emily Christine Flaig, Grace Holbrook Funsten, Ian-Regee G. Garcia, Nathaniel Declan Garwood-Sheppard, Alexander K. Gelotte, Andrea Michelle Goldstein, Jia Sheng (Henry) Guo, Ankur Gupta, Kiana Elizabeth Hainsworth, Anna Eleanor Holt, Molly Elizabeth Huysman and Ege B. Izmirli.

Also: Tessa Jane Kalinosky, Anne Casey Kenworthy, Alison LaFrance, William C. McKenzie, Kimberly Rae Meneo, Christina Marie Menniti, Michael B. Miley, Grace Ann Mills, Ian R. E. Myshka, Yale Tucker Norman, Annie Clair Otfinoski, Matthew Clarke Paolillo, Ross Patterson, Timothy J. Perry, Julie Marie Philippe and Benjamin S. Polito.

Also: Taylor G. Quigley, John Walter Ramatowski, Martha Hope Renn, Brooke Ayn Safferman, Peter A. Schavoir, Erika L. Scott, Kyle Chetan-Lutah Sebastian, Luke Thomas Sherman, Oliver McNally Sherman, Sarah Mariah Shourds, Galina M. Smith, Lily Rose Sparen, Noah Haas Thomas, Mary Kathleen Trammell, Leah E. Valletta, Parker David Verhoeff, Grace O. Walz, Holly Christine Westbrook, Evan Joseph Winalski, Alison Sophia Wislocki, Tristan N. G. Yerkes and Rashad Malik Young.

Thomas Kelly, left, head of the English Department at the Williams School, becomes emotional during the commencement chorus
Thomas Kelly, left, head of the English Department at the Williams School, becomes emotional during the commencement chorus "An Irish Blessing" during the school's 121st commencement in Palmer Auditorium of Connecticut College in New London Wednesday, June 6, 2012. Tim Martin/The Day Buy Photo
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