HEBRON — In front of a few hundred people of all ages at Saturday morning’s commencement exercises at Hebron Academy, 14 girls and 57 boys with diplomas launched themselves toward the future to do “extraordinary things,” at the behest of class president Emily Rose Powers of Auburn.
“This class is an interesting anomaly,” John J. King, Head of School, said of the disparity between sexes. “They came from everywhere (around the world), they’re going to colleges across the country, and they left a particular mark of humanity on this school.”
“They accomplished a lot of things to become incredible people. I will miss all of their personalities, and I think they will miss this place, too. They connected with each other and Hebron in a big way.”
That became evident when Powers delivered the graduation message after members of the Class of 2010 were led to their seats in front of the Athletic Center stage by piper and Hebron Academy alum J. Christopher Pinchbeck.
“Between the support we get from our advisers and the attention we get from our teachers, Hebron could not have prepared us any better for the world into which we are about to be launched,” Powers said.
Through anecdotes, she skillfully and humorously took all on a memorable journey through the educational progression of the graduating class. These ranged from intense games of Pictionary in French class to the afternoon that one teacher canceled classes due to the heat and broke out a Slip ‘n’ Slide.
Powers also worried aloud that no one would remember her advice or the speech, which she said took many hours to craft.
“We have four more years to build on ourselves, to fail epically, to get second chances, to be wrong and boisterous, and have it chalked up to our youth,” Powers said. “And after that, we take on responsibilities that start to box it in, to provide less room for error.”
“I guess what I’m saying, against all the advice that we’ve grown up with, against what I’m sure our parents are thinking right now, is this: Please mess up.”
She then urged her classmates to take what they learned from Hebron about themselves, and refine, shape and mold it, so that when the time comes, they are who they want to be.
“Get dirty from everything you can get your hands on,” she said. “We only get so long before we can’t really fool around anymore, when we start to really have something to lose. Don’t waste this time being afraid to live.”
Powers then referred back to the start of her speech when she quoted writer David Eggers from his book, “A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius.”
“Whether being stuck in the middle of nowhere Maine was a blessing or a curse, I will always be a member of this senior class,” she said.
And then, in a nod to Eggers and his book, Powers concluded, saying, “From here, we must understand that we have got to do extraordinary things. It would be absurd not to.”
Her classmates, faculty, underclass students, and the crowd simultaneously erupted into vigorous applause.
“Thanks, Emily, that was awesome!” King said. “I think all these folks will remember your advice.”
After King praised the Class of 2010’s humanity, their hard work and response to challenges, he presented several class awards. Diplomas were then bestowed, followed by a rendition of the school hymn.
And then, Valedictorian Emma Larkin Leavitt, who was awarded the school’s highest honor — the Hebron Academy Cup — followed up where Powers left off.
“We’re together now, but we’ll shift, we’ll drift; we are our own personal panacea,” Leavitt said. “We’re sitting, but let’s dance in our heads. Let’s scream. Let’s feel the moment down to the threads in our shoes, because it’s all we have left to do.”
“Doctor Seuss once said, ‘There’s no limit to how much you’ll know, depending how far beyond zebra you go.’ Let’s commence.”