492 Holmes Road, Pittsfield, Massachusetts 01201

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114th COMMENCEMENT

6/8/2012

Congratulations, Class of 2012

Thirty-three girls received diplomas on Sunday during the 114th Miss Hall’s School Commencement (log-in to see more photos), while family, friends and faculty members gathered under a tent on the Front Lawn to send off the Class of 2012 on a breezy and sunny spring day.
 
Miss Hall's School Commencement
Head of School Jeannie Norris introduced the class as one known for its cohesiveness and strong bonds. “You are a small class,” Ms. Norris noted, “but as one of you said, ‘We are mighty.’ And, mighty you are, in your leadership throughout your years here.” A talented group of accomplished artists, academicians, dancers, and athletes, members of the class stepped forward in many ways as leaders. “Your work in school publications, philanthropic initiatives, environmental sustainability, and your very impressive work leading a major initiative to update the School’s cell phone policy leave no doubt that you will be remembered as a class of action, with little patience for delays, and as a class with a very big heart,” Ms. Norris said.
 
As she considered those characteristics, Ms. Norris said E.B. White’s Charlotte’s Web, came to mind. She also relayed the story behind the creation of the classic children’s story, as told in The Story of Charlotte’s Web: E. B. White’s Eccentric Life in Nature and the Birth of an American Classic, by Michael Sims. In the book, Sims recounts how White discovered a spider’s egg sac in his barn and how that discovery ultimately inspired the creation of Charlotte’s Web. “I like to think that when E. B. White saw the spider egg sac in his barn, he had one of those revelatory moments in which new perceptions and ideas break through our conventional minds,” Ms. Norris added, noting how White’s pig, Wilbur, similarly endeavors to protect Charlotte’s offspring and send them off into the world. “And, perhaps the reason we continue to return to White’s classic is that down deep we all long for shared experience and for such love for each other that another’s needs are our needs, and, as Charlotte said, ‘Your success is my success.’”
 
In closing, Ms. Norris asked the girls to remember how right it felt to support, inspire, collaborate with, and cheer for each other. “With that memory deep in your heart, go out and establish other close and lasting ties, other partnerships through which you will create new opportunities not just for yourselves but for others as well,” she said. “Young women, we watch you fly off into the sturdy and connected lives you will make, and finally we love and honor it all. We will wave, wish you all the best, and await the news, that will occasionally come floating back, of what you have done.” (Read the entire address)
 
Miss Hall's School Commencement
In her address, Senior Class President Petty Chen ’12 thanked the MHS faculty for support, parents for their encouragement, and underclasswomen for their joy and laughter. Turning attention to her classmates, Petty spoke of the common bonds they share and how her MHS experiences have reinvented her concept of sisterhood. “When I met all of you years ago, I knew that we were the class that was going to do great things, even though we were the smallest class in years,” she said. “Today, as we drive down the hill to leave our home of four years, it is not the end, but the beginning to a journey that’s going to prove me right. (Read Petty’s remarks)
 
School President Emma Rivera ’12 spoke about her “family” at MHS. “Thank you to the caring adults who lifted our chins when we were at our worst and cheered us on when we were at our best,” Emma said. “As for my sisters, I can’t thank you enough. We have truly been through it all. You introduced me to new things, new ideas. We are so lucky to go to Miss Hall’s. It has made us the confident women we are today.” Though it is time to move on, Emma noted, that does not mean it is time to let go of MHS. “We are ready to claim our seats at the table, and more importantly our seats at the head of the table,” she said. “We are ready to take a front-row seat in those lecture halls and make change on our respective campuses. Then, we will make change in the world. And, we will come back to Miss Hall’s and help continue the cycle with the girls that follow us.” (Read Emma’s remarks)
 
Miss Hall's School Commencement
Commencement Speaker Tiffany Dufu, President of The White House Project, spoke about her work of advancing the causes of women and girls and relayed a story about visiting a friend in Colorado, where she encountered her friend’s very large goldfish. The fish, Ms. Dufu explained, had never lived in a fishbowl but were instead raised in a pond. As a result, they grew to the size of their environment. “It reminded me a lot about what we do at The White House Project,” she said. “We provide larger ecosystems of support for women. We’re essentially breaking women out of fishbowls.”
 
Through that work, Ms. Dufu noted, they have learned a great deal about what makes White House Project alumnae successful. Key to their success is an early learning of leadership skills such as effective self-advocacy, and making sure there are mentors and sponsors available for young women as they seek to attain positions of leadership. “Your leadership journey is not going to be easy,” Ms. Dufu added. “Know that with every challenge you will grow. My father used to tell me, ‘Tiffany, if you want something you have never had before, you are going to have to do something that you have never done before to get it.’” (Read Ms. Dufu's remarks)
 
Miss Hall's School Commencement
Following Ms. Dufu’s remarks, Dean of Academics and Faculty Jenny Chandler, assisted by Ms. Norris and MHS Board President Susan P. O’Day ’77 conferred diplomas on the graduates. Additionally, the ceremony included a symbolic passing of the torch, as Ms. Norris presented Head-Elect Peggy Jablonski with the School bell, which belonged to founder Mira Hall. The service concluded with the Alma Mater, a benediction read by Ms. Chandler, and “Dona Nobis Pacem” sung by the Junior Class.

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Located in the Berkshires in western Massachusetts, Miss Hall's School is a private, college preparatory boarding and day school for girls in grades 9-12. The School inspires and encourages each girl to pursue the highest standards of learning and character; to contribute boldly and creatively to the common good; and to seek a purposeful life based on honor, respect, growth, and personal authenticity.