Stunning achievement’ of Brunswick class highlights 110th Commencement

DSC0084It was a bittersweet moment last week when 88 young men bid farewell to their second home at the 110th Brunswick School Commencement.

Some had attended the school for only a few years, while 14 graduates attended the institution every step of the way from pre-kindergarten to their senior year of high school. But no matter how many years they had been there, the school had made an impact on them and most of them were classified as “veterans,” having attended the school for the majority of their youth.

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Students’ allegiance to their school was evident in the traditional faculty-senior handshake, which took place in Brunswick’s hockey rink, just before the start of the official commencement ceremony. During this ritual, faculty members, dressed in graduation gowns and cowls from their respective universities, shook the hands of each member of the senior class, often stopping to hug their pupils and send them off with well wishes as well as messages of how proud they were, gestures that were eagerly returned by the soon to be graduates.

However, long their tenure at the school, the members of the class of 2012 procured “stunning achievement” while attending Brunswick, according to Headmaster Thomas Philip. Mr. Philip spoke of each individual student’s contribution to the school and how his presence would be missed in his opening speech.

“Thank you most sincerely for all the credit you brought to yourselves and the school in your time here,” he said.

With similar sentiments, the Rev. Thomas Nins asked students to take pride in their accomplishments at Brunswick, telling them, “Hard work, dedication, and sacrifice have made this day possible.”

Vindicating both the headmaster’s and the pastor’s praise, Richard Salamè, valedictorian of the class of 2012, took home the Brunswick Community Service Award as well as the prestigious Kulukundis Cup, an award for maintaining the highest academic standing in the class for the year, a 99.89 grade point average in Richard’s case.

But despite these achievements, Richard introduced this year’s Ivy speaker Robert “Robby” Fernandez as the “real valedictorian.”

Robert lived up to his unofficial title Wednesday afternoon, giving a well-received, often humorous speech that encouraged students to push their own limits rather than settle for the easy route. He dedicated much of his speech to the notion that happiness is not equivalent to success and is a quality lost and regained many times in a person’s life, a concept fostered by German philosopher Arthur Schopenhauer.

School years were often full of stressful, unhappy times, “So what bearing does that have on the people we are today?” Robert asked his fellow classmates.

“We learn and progress as individuals and collective organizations by conquering and overcoming the obstacles that lay before us” and in that way, “unhappiness may be more useful than happiness,” Robert said.

Before receiving a standing ovation from his classmates, Robert had a concluding message for the class of 2012: “If we have not been taught anything else, our youth at Brunswick should have at least taught us this: Courage, honor, truth are the ideals we were taught to strive for. Cliché? Maybe. Abstract? Maybe. Impossibly idyllic? Maybe. But only by following those ideals can we ever hope to embody them.”

Following Robert, faculty speaker George Boynton spoke of the mentors in his life and urged students to find their own. “Find great teachers, find the legends … Find somebody that is going to push you hard to become better,” he said.

Additional awards received by Brunswick seniors included the Brunswick Parents’ Association Prize, awarded to William Murphy; the Thomas A. Altman Prize, awarded to Luke Esposito; Faculty Citations, awarded to Addison Bennett, Reid Breck, Peter Geithner and Maxwell Singer; the Jenkins Athletic Award, presented to James “Cooper” Briggs; the Robert L. Cosby Award, presented to Michael Chronert and David Fitzpatrick and the Headmaster’s Trophy, awarded to Harold “Carter” Johnson.

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