HEBRON — Hebron Academy Class of 2015 President Rachel Hadley Jurek reminded her fellow graduates to “find the beauty in life’s small moments” during her graduation message at Saturday morning’s commencement.

Beneath blue skies and in the midst of strong gusts of wind, the 86 graduating seniors marched from the George Winfield Treat Science Hall to the Athletic Center, where hundreds of friends, family and alums waited. The graduating class was led by piper J. Christopher Pinchbeck, Class of 1987.

Upon arriving at the Athletic Center and taking their seats, Jurek thanked the family and friends of the graduating class, the underclassmen and the faculty of Hebron Academy

“I thought about this speech more than I thought about food, and for those of you who don’t know me, that’s saying a lot,” Jurek said. “If I could show you my Google Drive account, you’d see pages and pages of ideas, numerous introductions and drafts. Although I spent most of the year looking for the right things to say, it turns out the answer was right in front of me the whole time. My speech today comes from all of you.”

Jurek continued, saying that she “spent a lot of time thinking about life, who we are and what direction we should be going.”

“Oscar Wilde once said, ‘To live is the rarest thing in the world; most people exist, and that is all,’” Jurek said. “We come, we go, we do without thinking; we work and practice and plan for some moment down the road, not knowing when that moment is going to happen. Our class has often been too focused on the next step and moving forward when the best moments are the small ones.”

She said that “in order to truly live, and not just exist, we need to take each day as its own,” and “find the beauty in small things.”

“That’s what I think Wilde meant,” Jurek said. “To really live is to find happiness in the simplest moments, moments of spontaneity, these moments we often overlook.”

Jurek proceeded to list off small moments that she remembered during her time at Hebron Academy: staying out until 2 a.m. to “study for all-too-frequent calculus quizzes, staying up all night playing Call of Duty with the boys, napping through free periods, trying to finish art projects that were due the following day.”

“Immerse yourself completely in the here and now, and celebrate these last few simple moments, because before you know it, we will be alumni,” Jurek said. “Time doesn’t stop or slow down for anyone. Take a breath and enjoy the moment.”

Head of School John J. King presented several awards to students, including the Reed Award to Colin Nathaniel McKay and McCaela Nicole Prentice in recognition of “fine spirit, improvement in skill, devotion to athletic teams and an unselfish determination to contribute to Hebron’s athletic success.”

After the awards had been presented, King gave the Hebron Academy Cup to Zachary David Abisalih.

The cup is presented to a senior who “represents the finest spirit of scholastic effort, who has, in athletic competition, shown a high degree of excellence, and who has, in personal relations with the school, shown a commendable spirit of devotion, high ideals, friendliness, endeavor and responsibility, qualities that Hebron Academy holds in the highest esteem.”

Following the presentation of diplomas, the Hebron Academy Hymn, “Sow Ye Beside All Waters,” was sung. The hymn was written by the Rev. Samuel F. Smith, author of “America,” for the dedication of Sturtevant Hall in 1891.

Senior Ye Tao told her fellow seniors that they should look forward to “the brand-new beginning of a wonderful new chapter. I am looking forward to it, because I know no matter what becomes of us in the future, we’ll always be a part of Hebron.”

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Class facts
Number of graduates: 86
Going to college: 86
Joining the military: 1, West Point
School hymn: “Sow Ye Beside All Waters”

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