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Cate School Confers Diplomas to 72 Seniors

The Class of 2016 at Cate’s 103rd commencement ceremony, where 72 seniors received diplomas. Click to view larger
The Class of 2016 at Cate’s 103rd commencement ceremony, where 72 seniors received diplomas. (Ashleigh Mower / Cate School photo)

Cate School held its traditional commencement exercises Sunday, May 29, 2016, marking the school’s 103rd graduation ceremony.

With the assistance of the school’s President of the Board of Trustees Monique Parsons ’84, Headmaster Ben Williams conferred diplomas upon the 72 members of the Class of 2016, recognizing every student with a personally-crafted citation describing the contributions and talents of each during their years at Cate.

Beneath foggy skies and in the presence of families, friends, faculty, students, alumni and other members of Cate’s board of trustees, the ceremony marked the achievements of students who come to the school from all parts of the state, from across the country and from around the world to experience a rigorous academic and co-curricular program.

Williams spoke first, noting that in his 18 years at Cate, he had never encountered a more cohesive and connected class.

“You know and admire each other. That’s clear. It’s your greatest collective virtue,” he said, urging them to carry that virtue forward, even in instances when the world may not be ready for it. “Take this mesa as a microcosm and perhaps you will understand your power, your ability to make a difference, the joy you carry... Remember always what you did here.”

English teacher and author Brooks Hansen was chosen by the senior class to give the faculty address. He spoke to the students about defining oneself with a particular identity, which he offered, “as active and engaged members of the 21st century, we are helpless not to see ourselves reflected in these terms, and therefore helpless — or almost helpless — not to conclude that this is who we are.” 

Hansen warned against this shorthand, noting “that these newly burnished and robust senses of identity become almost like suits of armor: they help protect us, sure, and they empower us, and they embolden us in a lot of important ways. But if we’re not careful, they might trap us, too.”

Senior Joel Serugo of North Hills, Calif., was selected by his classmates to give the student address and spoke about the hardships and open discrimination he faced at schools he previously attended, both in his native Uganda and in Los Angeles.

He contrasted those experiences with his tenure at Cate, where he said he felt welcomed and fully embraced, concluding that “Cate and the entire world is a collection of disparities and contrast, and being a part of a place that celebrates all differences whether they be characteristic, racial, sexual or physical is a privilege, and I, along with my classmates, love and are eternally grateful to have had the opportunity to witness and live with this privilege.”

Ryan Cain receives the Scholarship Prize, Cate School’s highest academic award. He will continue his studies at Yale in the fall. Click to view larger
Ryan Cain receives the Scholarship Prize, Cate School’s highest academic award. He will continue his studies at Yale in the fall. (Ashleigh Mower / Cate School photo)

In addition to diplomas, the school’s highest honors to both students and faculty were given out during the ceremony.

Alondra Torres-Navarro of Los Angeles received the William Shepard Biddle Cup, the school’s highest honor. Named for one of Cate’s most distinguished alumni, the award recognizes a senior who best demonstrates the qualities of humanism, idealism and the desire to achieve that Cate seeks to teach its students. Torres-Navarro will continue her academic studies at Harvey Mudd College.

The Scholarship Cup, the Cate’s highest academic recognition, was awarded to Ryan Cain of Huntington Beach, Calif. He graduated with highest honors and will continue his studies at Yale University.

Several other seniors were honored with special awards, to wide and enthusiastic applause.

Longtime faculty member and Assistant Headmaster for External Affairs Meg Bradley received the Servons Award.

Bradley was lauded for her deep optimism and energetic fundraising for the school during her 18-year tenure. She departs to head Santa Catalina School in Monterey, Calif.

Several other faculty members were also honored for their unique contributions and commitment to teaching and school life at Cate.

The ceremony marked the culmination of a weekend of commencement festivities, including a Saturday athletic and academic awards ceremony and an evening baccalaureate service.

Cate’s Class of 2016 will matriculate to many of the nation’s leading colleges and universities in the fall including Stanford, Harvard, Georgetown, Columbia, Bowdoin, Davidson, Colorado College, Johns Hopkins and the University of Pennsylvania, as well as many others.

The following seniors received their diplomas during Sunday’s ceremony: Ever Avary, William Bai, Hannah Barr, Cem Basar, Taylor Bigony, Ajibola Bodunrin, Hannah Bowlin, Cole Brennan, Alex Brown, Porter Brown, Prem Bunsermvicha, Christian Burke, Ryan Cain, James Chang, Eunbie Coe, Jake Dexter-Meldrum, Elizabeth Douglas, Jacob Farner, Makena Fetzer, Sam Furmanski, Julia Gan, Anna Graves, Clinton Hall, Elan Halpern, Sam Hill, Maliha Hollis, Jae Hong, Graeme Hugo, Rei Imada, Hannah Jorgensen, Jonathan Kim, Justin Leung, Mikaela Li, Emma Liberman, Gabi Limón, Jessica Liou, McKenna Madden, Peter Marcus, Lydia McMahon, Megan Mettler, Jacob Meyer, Keller Mochel, Charlotte Monke, Duffy Montgomery, Isabel Moss, Harrison Murray, Michael Nettesheim, Evan Kate Oetgen, Jason Pak, Charlotte Pecot, Minty Pham, Julie Phan, Morgan Pierce, Patrick Prestridge, Jack Pruitt, Cordelia Pryor, Maria Rios, Jillian Rogers, Cecelia Sanborn, Malachi Schrager, Joel Serugo, Peyton Shelburne, Dean Smith, Brandon Sugarman, Jack Tarlton, Alondra Torres-Navarro, Max Vasquez, Yvette Vega, Isaiah Washington, Oliver Welch, Jaime Yrastorza and Lauren Zahm.

Sarah Kidwell is director of marketing and communications at Cate School.

 

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