The Class of 2014 graduated Friday, June 6 on Ted Slavin Field in Rick Commons’s first commencement ceremony as President. The event was streamed live online for the first time this year.
The procession of faculty, who were clad in academic regalia, and graduating seniors, who were in black and white robes, was led by middle school physical education teacher and senior faculty member Kimberley Hieatt. Hieatt carried the faculty mace in her first time leading the procession, as it was the first commencement after former senior faculty member and visual arts teacher John Luebtow retired.
After the seniors had taken their place on the bleachers, Father J. Young started the ceremony with an invocation.
Senior athletes Sam Hummel ’14, David Manahan ’14 and Max Rothman ‘14 were given their diplomas before the speeches began because they would compete in CIF championships in Clovis, California that afternoon.
Next, Commons was about to introduce salutatorian Joey Lieberman ’14 when Lieberman interrupted him.
“I’m going to let you finish, Mr. Commons, but I just have to say that the class of the 2014 was the best of all time,” Lieberman said, imitating Kanye West at the 2009 MTV Video Music Awards.
The theme of Lieberman’s speech was false beginnings.
“This is not the end of the beginning,” Lieberman said. “This is not the beginning of the end. This is the end of the middle.”
Lieberman played a short film depicting a Harvard School salutatorian address from 100 years ago. The film featured him as a fictional Harvard salutatorian and Clay Davis ’14, Alex McNab ’14, Conor Belfield ’14, Brooks Hudgins ’14 and Oliver Goodman-Waters ’14 as administrators and classmates.
Commons then presented the Veritas Award to Molly Cinnamon ’14 and the Bishop’s Medal to Tom Thorne ’14.
Valedictorian Zoe Bohn ’14 talked about how she was intimidated by her classmates and how she had to move outside her limitations.
“You can be the person you want to be and not just the person you see yourself as,” she said.
Bohn paid tribute to classmates Justin Carr, who died during his junior year, and Julia Siegler, who was killed in a car accident during her eighth grade year. She said the Class of 2014 would carry their spirits with them “to Tisch, to Harvard, to everywhere you go,” in the years ahead.
Head of School Jeanne Huybrechts read seniors’ names aloud, and Commons handed them their diplomas.
Commons walked off the stage to hand Carr’s diploma to his parents in the front row. Huybrechts asked for a moment of silence to remember Siegler when her name came up in the alphabetical order of graduates.
For some of the ceremony, a plane pulling a banner congratulating the seniors circled overhead.
“You have made us happy and proud with all you have gained and given at Harvard-Westlake,” Commons said, closing out the ceremony. “But you will make us happier and prouder still if you are able to apply those gains and give those gifts to purposes that take you far beyond yourselves.”
Some seniors had slipped name tags with their names on them into Commons’s hand when they accepted their diplomas. He said he would keep them in his office so they could see them when they came back to visit, before telling the class, “Farewell” and signaling them to toss their caps into the air.