Head of School Blog
Commencement 2019 Remarks
Good morning, and welcome to Canterbury’s one-hundred-second Commencement Exercises. We are grateful to have an extraordinary cross-section of the Canterbury family with us today: our faculty & staff; trustees, parents, grandparents, relatives & friends; Fr. Mark, Mr. Castellini; and especially, the class of 2019, 38 of whom are diehards.
Last Thursday, as your final day of classes came to a close, I could hear and see a group of you giggling, soaking up the sun, and taking photos of friends on the path between my office and the Hume patio. I had just sat down to begin writing this speech but couldn't resist a quick hello. As I wandered down the walkway, it was clear that you were a spirited combination of smiles and relief, of "oh my gosh, we graduate in one week?" and "oh my gosh, we graduate in one week!" and of pure love for one another. When Raif [Harris '19] asked about the theme of my speech, it was right then and there that I decided to focus my remarks on two themes: joy and goodness.
Let's start with joy. You have heard the adults in this community talk about joy, seen CSSJ flyers asking "where have you found joy today?" and perhaps realized along the way that Canterbury is a place where the importance of joy in your lives is recognized and celebrated. During your Fifth Form year, Father Mark explained during one of his homilies the difference between happiness—a temporary state—and joy—something we carry deep in our souls to remind us of what we value, how we can stay centered, and why some people live with a brighter perspective than others.
So where have you, the Class of 2019, found and shared joy? In recent days, your joy has inspired campus-wide games of Manhunt; entertaining moments in the pool, on the turf, and down a slip-n-slide; lingering conversations in the dining hall and around fire pits; dancing at the prom; cheering on the girls' lacrosse team to their championship victory; and playing "dark tag" in the library this past Saturday night.
Last September, as the school year was just getting started, I watched Bryan teach Sunfeel and Pluem Fortnite dance moves on the Hume Patio under the bistro lights . . . and just last Friday night, I heard you scream "DIPA!" under those same bistro lights after your classmate's amazing final performance in Maguire. In the weeks, months, and moments in between, you have carried one another through your senior year with joy. Not always with happiness but certainly with that deeper, enduring sense of gratitude and love for this place. Think about your Sixth Form year and the people and moments that you will now carry with you beyond this place . . . people and moments that will continue to inspire your joy.
Next —Goodness. In January, we had the privilege and pleasure of welcoming to campus Mark Shriver, CEO of Save the Children Action Network and son of Sargent Shriver, Canterbury class of 1934 and founder of the Peace Corps. Throughout his remarks, Mr. Shriver offered anecdotes that illustrated his father's life of service centered by family, humility, values, and forgiveness. Time and again, Mr. Shriver referred to his father as a good man. Sargent Shriver's positive impact on the lives of others and his unwavering commitment to service were the critical ingredients of goodness.
One week later, I attended the celebration of life ceremony for one of Canterbury's beloved alumni from the class of 1949. I listened to members of his family share stories of this incredible man—a good man, a good person—who raised his children, sustained a loving marriage, and mentored his grandchildren with clear and consistent values. In fact, Peter Carney's relatives shared their "family code" that afternoon: FISH—Faith, Integrity, Stewardship & Harmony. Ingredients of goodness. It was an honor to be present that day. (And yes, if you are wondering, members of the Carney family love to fly fish, which inspired their family acronym.)
So here we are. Mrs. Stone is sharing her favorite anecdotes once again in order to highlight a theme or two. Let’s get to the point.
In my office, I have a copy of a quotation familiar to many: "Go into the world and do well. But more importantly, go into the world and do good."
I suppose I could have started there, but it would have made for a very short opening speech. Our wish for the class of 2019, then, is simple: that you hold onto your joy—tightly and deliberately!—and that you never lose sight of the good work—the goodness—you can bring to this ever-complicated, ever-extraordinary world. Joy and goodness.
Head of School Blog