Westover Graduates Largest Class in Its History
The 59 members of the Class of 2012 – the largest in Westover’s 103 years – received their diplomas on Friday, June 1st, during the traditional graduation ceremony held under sunny skies in the School’s Quadrangle before an audience that included younger students, faculty and staff, families, and friends.
Alexandra Pape of Middlebury was the Class of 2012 speaker. In her remarks, Alexandra reminded her classmates of one of the first Westover traditions that they had taken part in as “new girls” to the School.
“It seems strange to think that almost four years ago we wrote our names on little, makeshift boats and were told that one day we would light a candle and send those very boats off into the Westover Pond,” Alexandra said.
“We ourselves are very similar to those small vessels,” she continued. “Some of us came to this School as a little, awkward block of wood, which was by no means ready for any seafaring voyage … But today, we are formidable ships. We are the product of many hands, which have sanded and varnished our wood. We have listened to our passionate teachers and grown excited ourselves, and thus our enthusiasm became our sails. Over the years, this enthusiasm for learning proved extremely valuable, as we have all been challenged by Westover’s demanding curriculum. Our educated enthusiasms thus became our passions, our rudders, our ability to steer ourselves. Today we are ships ready to be launched into a large sea. And though the waters may be rough and the lighthouse might seem hidden in darkness we have been built to withstand such things.”
Melinda Burbank (P’04), who retired in 2011 from her post as Science Department chair after a 30-year career teaching at Westover, was the Commencement Speaker.
In her remarks, Melinda noted that the Class of 2012 had taken a quotation from the late computer entrepreneur, Stephen Jobs, as their class motto: “The ones who are crazy enough to think they can change the world are the ones who do it.” Melinda told those gathered for the Class of 2012’s graduation, “Yes, I think Westover women are crazy enough, confident enough, and wise enough to know that they can change the world. If you continue in the mode of living and learning that you have partaken in while at Westover, I am confident that you will change the world! Do not forget the ‘I can do this, we can do this’ attitude that is engrained in the soul, heart, mind of Westover students.”
Earlier in the day, the Graduation Chapel Talk was given by Su DeSimone ’80 (P’11, ’12, ’16), who focused her remarks on “the deeper meaning and wider definition and scope of motherhood. I like to call it the Big Mother. The Big Mother is a concept that applies to women and men, young and old, all kinds of people from all kinds of backgrounds. At the heart of this philosophy is one basic idea – caring. It’s about giving of yourself. It’s about committing to something, reaching out your hands, and lifting something or someone up … and that means sticking with it, not walking away when it gets hard or ugly. And here’s the important part; it means not expecting anything in return. It’s about giving the attention when needed, nudging and nurturing things along, and letting go when it’s time. Make sure you find that thing that you care about … By giving of ourselves in big and little ways, we become a piece of something bigger, and we lift up the world. That’s the power of the Big Mother.”
During the Graduation ceremony, a number of awards for academic accomplishment and contributions to school life were presented; other awards also were given the previous day during the Orchard Ceremony. As always, the graduation ended with the students processing out to nearby Molder Field and forming the School’s traditional graduation circle, with the members of the Class of 2012 forming an inner circle and the younger classes forming a larger circle around them.