The tight-knit community of Bishop Seabury Academy said goodbye to its graduating seniors in a ceremony Friday morning.
Addressing the 20 soon-to-be-graduates, English teacher and academic dean Matt Patterson invoked the words of James Joyce, Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson and the Book of Matthew, but, above all, encouraged them, like Joyce’s character Stephen Dedalus, to find their place in the world. Some students, he said, were born at Lawrence Memorial Hospital and had spent their entire lives in the community; others came from as far away as China and even “the strange state of Georgia.” But all came together as a class at Seabury and all now embark on bright futures.
“If you find your place in the universe,” he said, “you will always know when you are home.”
In her charge from the class, graduate Elizabeth Tweedy spoke about her classmates admiringly and individually, remarking on classmate Thomas’ detective skills, Rachel’s courage, Jun Ha’s friendship.
She said the class represented an impressive amount of “ambition, talent, strength — plus a fair amount of quirkiness.” Her quotations, from Dr. Seuss and pop singer Beyonce, were less highbrow than Joyce and Emerson, but just as warmly received.
“I was here. I lived. I loved,” she said in summation of her class’ time at the school.
Students from all grades participated in the “stepping up” process, a unique tradition of Seabury that involves ceremonially advancing the classes into the next grade, as well as a lot of hugs for the students advancing out of the school.
Don Schawang, the head of Seabury, also used the occasion to bid farewell to retiring teacher Judith Galas, saying that her teaching exemplified the idea that “education is not just about grades but about making better people.”
Schawang closed the ceremony with final, simple words of advice: Be happy and be good.
“Try always to be good,” he said, “and the happy part will follow.”