The Emma Willard School community came together under a big tent looking out over Mount Ida to celebrate Baccalaureate for the Class of 2019 on Saturday, June 1.
Molly Z., president of the Class of 2020, opened the ceremony reflecting on the Class of 2019 and their impact on the school. She recalled August 28, 2015, the day they arrived on campus as freshman. Molly, who was dropping off her two older sisters, noted the joy and wonder on the faces of the graduates-to-be as they explored the hallways and got to know each other for the first time.
“In the time between your first step you took onto this campus and the last step that will propel you into your next success, you accomplished so much,” she said.
Molly thanked the graduating class for using every opportunity to show the underclasswomen how important it was to make the most of their time at Emma Willard. “I know that next year my class will do the very best we can to emulate you all.”
Jason Jiang, father of Amy Jiang ’19, shared his gratitude for his family’s Emma Willard School experience, which began with a burst of joyful tears upon Amy’s acceptance. He thanked the extraordinary faculty who have guided the class throughout their time on campus.
“Teachers care, engage, and challenge—the best recipe for academic and personal growth. Your care and wisdom have made every day an opportunity for the class of 2019,” he said.
History Department Chair Josh Halata delivered the final remarks of the day. His address described a moment of transcendence he experienced while walking his dog through the Mount Ida cemetery, and the sense of connectivity he felt to those who had lived, were living, and would live.
As he tracked his steps on his Fitbit and noted the epitaphs on the headstones he passed, he considered the value quantification brings to our lives, and was reminded of an aspect of Buddhism he teaches in his World Religions classes: The Four Immeasurables—things too immense to be counted.
“The immeasurables in our lives are our anchors. Without them, we flit about aimlessly in pursuit of the transitory—the solely measurable,” he said. “They are our purpose and they allow us to define our secondary purposes. They allow us to not just survive but to make meaning of loss, of unpredictable change, and of our relationships. They allow us to live more beautifully.”
He implored the Class of 2019 to consider what felt immeasurable in their own lives.
“I see the framework of these four immeasurables—loving kindness, compassion, appreciative joy, and equanimity—as inexhaustible wells from which to draw for a lifetime,” he said. “Both as grounding principles and dispositions to cultivate for your own lives and relationships and for all the work you will do to serve, shape, repair, and beautify this world.”