Cate School launched the 2013-14 academic year on Wednesday with the annual Sunset Ceremony, a tradition started in 2006 by Headmaster Ben Williams.
Students, faculty and members of the Cate community gathered on the lawn in front of Parsonage and High House dormitories as the school's bell, MacBeth, rang.
As he does each year, Williams read an excerpt from a letter written by one of the school's earliest graduates, William Shepard Biddle, class of 1918, which prefaces founder Curtis Cate's book School Days in California. In addition to capturing his own experience as a student at Cate, Biddle contemplates what unites all who at one time or another call Cate home.
A portion of the letter reads: "There is a kinship ... between the old school and the new, whose roots go deeper than a few feet into the mesa soil. Instead, they reach far down to the rather crude little school of redwood board and brick chimney, which clung precariously to the foot of the Mesa between Lillingston and Gobernador Canyons; to the gardens of Marion Cate and the orange and eucalyptus groves; to the old boys and teachers, and their loyalties, and ultimately, of course, to Curtis Cate himself, and the principles he made the basis of the school he founded."
Headmaster Williams asked those gathered to connect themselves "to all that has happened on this Mesa in the past 104 years."
After the ceremony, underclassmen and faculty formed a receiving line to greet the new senior class. In May, after commencement, faculty will bid farewell to the Class of 2014 in the same location once they've received their diplomas.
In addition to returning students, the school welcomes 80 new students this year, 66 of whom are freshmen. Cate students come from 25 states including Oregon, California, Montana, Missouri, Vermont and North Carolina, and 16 countries including Bahrain, China, Ghana, Germany, the Philippines, Thailand and the United Kingdom.
For the 2013-14 academic year, the school has allocated more than $3 million in financial support.
— Sarah Kidwell represents Cate School.