Williams School celebrates 124th commencement with 33 graduates

Joshua Goldstein, center left, of East Lyme and Maddy Lahm, center right, of Lyme and their fellow graduates celebrate outside the Palmer Auditorium after The Williams School graduation ceremony on the Connecticut College campus in New London Wednesday, June 10, 2015.  (Dana Jensen/The Day)
Joshua Goldstein, center left, of East Lyme and Maddy Lahm, center right, of Lyme and their fellow graduates celebrate outside the Palmer Auditorium after The Williams School graduation ceremony on the Connecticut College campus in New London Wednesday, June 10, 2015. (Dana Jensen/The Day)

New London — If high school graduations are a time not only for celebrating students' achievement and coming of age but also for bringing together family, friends and community, then The Williams School 124th commencement Wednesday afternoon was as much backyard barbeque as it was a formal event.

There were more faculty and staff members leading the 33 graduating seniors into Palmer Auditorium on the Connecticut College campus.

And when class speakers Liam Tresnan and Grace Purcell addressed their classmates, they spoke about the closeness and the memories made with their class, an unusually small one even by Williams School standards.

"What we lack in quantity we make up for in passion," said Tresnan. Among his classmates, he said, were athletes, eagle scouts, writers and dancers, and that as each continued on in life, they would always think of each other as family and their high school as home.

Purcell urged her classmates to remember their time together, despite how their memories will fade and alter over the coming years.

"Remember this backstory we all share. I know how excited we are to go to college and forget about high school, but don't. As of today, (it's) all done and the memories are all we have," Purcell said. "I'm going to miss you all, but I promise I will remember you."

During her commencement address, Director of College Counseling Cristan Harris told the students to step outside of their comfort zone, find their teams and celebrate the "everyday touchdowns."

"It is much more fun to succeed and fail with other people," she said. "And if it's alright with you, we at Williams ask to still hold a place on your bench in case you need us."

Head of School Mark Fader acknowledged those graduating students whose parents and grandparents attended the Williams School, and called out by name the siblings of graduates who had themselves attended the school and returned for graduation. Later on in the ceremony, he hugged his own son, Thomas Fader, and presented him with his diploma.

Fader hinted at how having a son in the grade has allowed him to get to know the students better, whether it was from time they spent at school, at his house or on a sports field. He called the class a grand success story with a wide range of interests and talents, and a class that persevered through tough classes and a tougher winter. He urged them to keep in touch after they leave.

"Perhaps that cold winter," he said, one marked by many snow days, "helped me hang on to you a little longer," Fader said.

j.hopper@theday.com

Twitter: @JessHoppa

Williams School Class of 2015

Baltic

Riya Patel

Chester

Jack Ficke

Emma Godi

East Lyme

Joshua Goldstein

Essex

Samuel Schavoir

Groton

Xavier Mills

Guilford

Ethan Iglehart

Harbin

Zishu (Sherry) Qin

Killingworth

Abby Smith

Ledyard

Katie Lipman

Lyme

Maddy Lahm

Madison

Bert Atwater

Michalah Hayden

Andrew Levy

Mystic

Andrew Bronk

Katie Hodgkinson

New London

Skye Davis

Patrick Madaus

Cassie Seidel

Paola Vangjeli

Kailah Waheed

Noank

Michelle Chapman

Sarah Wilkinson

Old Lyme

Jack Fader

Max Griswold

Maya Holland

Liam Tresnan

Salem

Grace Purcell

Stonington

Christopher Bowdler

Katie Winchester

Uncasville

Ali Diouk

Waterford

Britta Widham

Westerly

Jack O'Connor

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