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Cate School Celebrates 101st Commencement Ceremony

Cate School held its traditional commencement exercises on Sunday, marking the school's 101st graduation ceremony.

With the assistance of the school's president of the board of directors, Monique Parsons, Class of 1984, Headmaster Ben Williams conferred diplomas upon 67 members of the Carpinteria school's Class of 2014, recognizing each with a personally crafted citation describing their contributions to the school during their years at Cate.

Under sunny skies and in the presence of families, friends, faculty, students, alumni and other members of the Cate's board of trustees, the ceremony marked the achievements of students who come to the school from around the country and world to experience a rigorous academic and co-curricular program. Williams encouraged each senior, in his or her own way, to build a legend.

"Maybe what is required of each of you right now is to imagine forward, look back and learn from what you see," he said. "Legends are not built overnight, but they are built. And it happens one moment at a time, one interaction at a time."

English Department chair Ross Robins, who was chosen by the senior class to give the faculty address, pointed the students toward a journey — one that involves imperfection and uncertainty.

"If you didn't know it beforehand, you've certainly figured out by now that education is an elevated form of guesswork — basically, a series of hunches," Robins said. "Teachers and schools feel their way along, sometimes quickly and sometimes slowly, toward an indistinct goal and with no assurance we'll get there, or even if there's a 'there' there. We sense a possibility and try to make it happen. But there's no predetermined outcome, no guarantee except that, like your parents in their parenting, we'll continue to work at something that's impossible to do perfectly."

Senior Ethan Barretto of Studio City was selected by his classmates to give an address, and echoed Robins. Using a metaphor of a river cutting through a canyon, Barretto assured his classmates: "We have literally always been winding our way towards some unseen future, but only now are we actually aware of it, and I recognize how alarming this can be. We're coming around a sharp bend in the canyon, but the fact that we do not know what is on the other side cannot possibly impede our ability to get there."

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

Erika Noble of Moreno Valley 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. Noble will continue her academic studies at Stanford.

The Scholarship Cup, the school's highest academic recognition, was awarded dually to Nick Burns of Ventura and Monica Wang, of Shanghai. Burns will head to Stanford in the fall, while Wang will attend Yale University. Additionally, both graduated with highest honors.

Longtime faculty member and director of technology Donna Dayton received the Servons Award, and faculty members Jeff Barton, Marnie Woehr, Jessica Block and John Knecht were also honored for their unique contributions and commitment to teaching at Cate.

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

Cate's Class of 2014 will matriculate to many of the nation's leading colleges and universities in the fall including Stanford, Yale, Columbia, Swarthmore, Georgetown, Middlebury, the University of Virginia and the University of Pennsylvania.

— Sarah Kidwell represents Cate School.

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