Friends graduates asked what they might contribute to the world
The Carolina Friends School seniors processed into Sunday’s graduation ceremony through a tunnel of dozens of applauding and high-fiving faculty, administrators, coaches and advisers (past and present).
The seniors stood in front of the audience as Principal Mike Hanas thanked their parents and guardians. “You have shared with us your most precious gift,” he said, “and you have partnered with us in work often joyful, at times humbling, and richly rewarding.”
The students then walked through the crowd to present their families with floral bouquets as an expression of appreciation.
Addressing the seniors, Hanas highlighted their academic, artistic and athletic accomplishments. He also noted their class service, on campus and in the Triangle, regionally with migrant work communities in eastern North Carolina, and as far away as the Galapagos Islands, Nicaragua and Trinidad.
Hanas lauded the graduates’ embrace of the school’s commitment to learning, leadership and service. “You have met and exceeded expectations, have challenged us to develop new curriculum and spaces in response to your curiosity, and have made an ethical application of what you have learned your highest priority. You care not only about what you know but about how you might put what you have learned to use in the world.”
Because Carolina Friends School was founded by members of the Religious Society of Friends (Quakers) in Durham and Chapel Hill, Sunday’s ceremony was based on the Friends’ worship meetings and belief that wisdom begins in silence. After his remarks, Mike Hanas asked the audience to maintain silence, but to rise and speak to the graduates as moved.
The seniors then heard heartfelt praise and advice from faculty, coaches, fellow students, family members, and friends.
One middle school teacher called the students a “class of subtle, kind, graceful leaders.”
A parent noted that the “nurturing environment” of Friends School had encouraged the students to question things and to be certain that truth is always the way to go. “You are so ready for adulthood.”
Another parent expressed gratitude to the faculty and staff. “You’ve given them a strong academic foundation. You’ve cared for them and nurtured them. You’ve taught them social responsibility and to be grounded.”
A mother of twin graduates said to the class, “You have shared yourselves with trust and with love.”
Said another speaker, “Go, and come back. And keep in touch. We love you.”
In fact, the word “love” was used repeatedly in audience remarks.
After Principal Hanas closed the period for sharing from the silence, he began distributing the diplomas, which are granted to graduates “with our love and blessings.”