Wednesday, July 18 , 2018, 11:51 pm | Fair 65º


Cate School Graduates 72 Seniors at 105th Commencement

Headmaster reminisces about difficult year and selfless gestures

Cate School graduates will attend such colleges as Stanford, Columbia, Cornell, UCLA, and Middlebury.
Cate School graduates will attend such colleges as Stanford, Columbia, Cornell, UCLA, and Middlebury. (Cate School)

Assisted by the school’s board president, J. Wyatt Gruber (’93), Cate School Headmaster Ben Williams conferred diplomas upon the 72 members of the Class of 2018.

In true Cate fashion, Williams recognized every student with a personally crafted citation describing the contributions and talents of each during their years at Cate.

Before families, friends, faculty, students, alumni, and members of Cate’s board of trustees, the ceremony marked the achievements of its students.

Referencing a difficult year for the school and surrounding communities, Williams said, “History arrived on our doorstep in the form of a fire and then a flood. Our lives, with which we had all become relatively comfortable, were disrupted. We had to leave. And then we had to stay.

“We had to worry about our school, or our friends, or even the belongings we left behind.”

He pointed to the history that isn’t recorded — the small, seemingly insignificant “moments that are important not so much to the world, but to each of us.”

“With this ceremony, we acknowledge the end of an unprecedented year, not because of the big things we couldn’t control, but for the little things that we could,” he said.

“Thank you for that: for the year you have made, for the vitality you have given our Mesa, for your joy in the seemingly mundane, and for the greatness in each small gesture,” he said. “Lives were changed and improved through such graciousness every day.”

Science teacher Paul Denison (’72), chosen by the senior class to give the faculty address, spoke to the students about finding balance in their lives.

“Strive for balance. Most of us live a very unbalanced life here; there’s too much going on, too much to accomplish, too many things to do and not enough time to do them. You’ll have time next year. Use it,” he said.

“Balance serious study with the time to reflect, rest, and enjoy your journey. Find your equilibrium,” he said.

Selected by her classmates to give the student address, senior Julia Farner of Ojai, shared with the audience the uncertainty she and her classmates were feeling as they prepared to leave their school.

“So while we spent a lot of time focusing on how to answer questions with responses that sound, or even are, educated or researched or nuanced, what feels even more valuable is leaving this place with a willingness to accept the fact that everything will probably be really inconclusive and maybe even unanswerable for just about the rest of our lives. And to not just accept it, but start to revel in it,” Farner said.

In addition to diplomas, Cate’s highest honors to students and faculty were presented during the ceremony.

Farner and classmate Ian MacFarlane of Santa Barbara received the William Shepard Biddle Cup, the school’s highest honor.

Named for one of Cate’s most distinguished alumni, the award recognizes seniors who best demonstrate the qualities of humanism, idealism, and the desire to achieve that Cate seeks to teach its students.

Farner will continue her academic studies at Pomona College and MacFarlane will attend Stanford University.

The Scholarship Cup, Cate’s highest academic recognition, was awarded to Carter Melnick of Westport, CT. He graduated with highest honors and will continue his studies at Williams College in Williamstown, MA.

Alum and trustee Casey McCann (’93) received the Servons Award. McCann, general manager of Hazelwood Moving and Storage, was lauded for his assistance during the Montecito debris flow.

“When the afflicted Central Coast called for help, this young man and the moving company he leads were at ground zero, literally wading through mud and debris to rescue people and belongings,” Williams said.

“Though displaced from his own home, our alumnus thought only of others, working without rest to care for the families of Carpinteria, Montecito and Santa Barbara,” Williams said.

Cate’s Class of 2018 will matriculate to many of the nation’s leading colleges and universities in the fall including Stanford, Columbia, Williams, Cornell, UCLA, Emory, NYU, Pomona, and Middlebury.

— Joe Gottwald for Cate School.


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