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Congratulations, class of 2018!

Exeter gathers to celebrate the 237th commencement.

Nicole Pellaton
June 3, 2018
Play VideoGraduation at Exeter

To watch the video of graduation, click the arrow above. 

On June 3, beaming members of the class of 2018 processed, received prizes and diplomas, and celebrated with families, friends, and Academy faculty and staff. The ceremony honoring 316 graduates was graced with ideal temperatures and a picture-perfect sky.

Senior Athena Stenor welcomed families and friends. “Ours is a community that seeks progress,” said Stenor as she talked about the impact of her four years at Exeter. Stenor referenced her college search, during which she visited schools that, on the surface, resembled Exeter. She asked herself: “Why does Exeter in particular make my heart flutter with love? The answer is the people. It’s always been the people.”

As Stenor described the many accomplishments of the graduating class — joining national and international conversations against injustice; marching in the historic Women’s March and March for Our Lives; raising funds for Puerto Rico and organizing clothing drives for Syrian refugees — she underscored the theme of community, and the active role the class of 2018 wants to maintain in “shaping the goodness” of Exeter.

In farewell, Stenor added: “The class of 2018 is a collection of change makers. People who have already started molding the future. That is who we are. And that is who we will become.”


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“I think the class of 2018 will come to be seen as the headwater for Exeter’s next great yes, the next step in the school’s journey,” said Principal Lisa MacFarlane in her brief address to students, as she referenced the poem “Che fece” [“The Great Yes”] by C.P. Cavafy. She thanked the class for taking stands on many important issues, including socially responsible investing; free and responsible speech; inclusion and equity; and healthy and respectful relationships. “Exeter is a little braver, a little more rugged, a little more creative, a little more fun now than it was, because of you,” she said.

Returning to Cavafy, MacFarlane read aloud his poem “Ithaka,” which begins with these lines:

As you set out for Ithaka
hope your road is a long one,
full of adventure, full of discovery.

“Class of 2018, you are seeking your Ithaka, your great yes, and it is yours to create,” MacFarlane said in conclusion. “The skills are in your hands and hearts and minds. … And when you return, you will, I know, find that the seeds you have planted here from your best selves have grown to shape this place to its next great yes. Thank you for that. And congratulations.”

MacFarlane was assisted on the podium by Trustee Marc de La Bruyère ’77, Dean of Faculty Ellen Wolff, and seniors Menatallah Bahnasy and Jackson Parell. She acknowledged the contributions of the retiring faculty: Vicki Baggia, Kathy Brownback, Myra Citrin, Joseph Reiter and Jeanne Sterne.

The string quartet — Tomoko Sophia Oguri, violin; Maria Lee, violin; Kianan W. McDonald, viola; and Amanda M. Sherwood, ‘cello — played as students processed.

“The Road Home” was performed by The Concert Choir Seniors: Tess E. Aalto, Gabriel F. Byan, Ciara O. Cagney, Diana V. Davidson, Ruby C. DiCarlo, Harry J. DiTullio, Allya S. Elgayar, Harrison G. Fitzgerald, Daniel S. Miller, Sagar A. Rao, Anneé E. Reach and Nathaniel A. Sassoon.

Class Marshals Lauren Arkell, Charlotte Polk, Elliot Stork and Taylor Walshe escorted fellow members of the class of 2018 to their seats.

We wish a wonderful summer to the great class of 2018!

If you missed the ceremony, you can watch it on demand at Exeter Live.

Here's a list of graduation prizes:

The Yale Cup, awarded each year by the Aurelian Honor Society of Yale University to the member of the senior class who best combines the highest standards of character and leadership with excellence in his studies and athletics: Adedolapo Adedokun, East Brunswick, New Jersey

The Ruth and Paul Sadler ’23 Cup, awarded each year to that member of the senior class who best combines the highest standards of character and leadership with excellence in her studies and athletics: Lauren Arkell, Brentwood, New Hampshire

The Perry Cup, established by the class of 1945 in honor of Dr. Lewis Perry, eighth principal of the Academy, and given annually to a senior who has shown outstanding qualities of leadership and school spirit: Chidiebele Ikpeazu, Parkland, Florida, and Marie Leighton McCall, Wake Forest, North Carolina.

The Williams Cup, established in memory of George Lynde Richardson Jr. ’37, and given annually to a student who, having been in the Academy four years, has, by personal qualities, brought distinction to Phillips Exeter: Lucas Schroeder, Durham, New Hampshire

The Eskie Clark Award, given annually to that scholarship student in the graduating class who, through hard work and perseverance, has excelled in both athletics and scholarship in a manner exemplified by Eskie Clark of the class of 1919: Robert T. Murray, Yarmouth, Maine

The Thomas H. Cornell Award, based on a vote by the senior class, is awarded annually at graduation to that member of the graduating class who best exemplifies the Exeter spirit: Anna C. Clark, Herndon, Virginia

The Cox Medals, given by Oscar S. Cox Esq., in memory of his father, Jacob Cox, are awarded each year to the five members of the graduating class who, having been two or more years in the Academy, have attained the highest scholastic rank:

Ian Malcolm Johnson, Austin, Texas

Maria Lee, Irvine, California

George Peter Bourkoff Matheos, Hingham, Massachusetts

Athena Casey Stenor, Brooklyn, New York

Vinjai Saraj Vale, Exeter, New Hampshire

The Faculty Prize for Academic Excellence, given to that member of the graduating class who, having been two or more years in the Academy, is recognized on the basis of scholarship as holding the first rank: Vinjai Vale, Exeter, New Hampshire

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