Good morning on this glorious Sunday!
I am here to welcome Millbrook School’s graduating Class of 2017. I also welcome the parents, families, and friends of our awesome Millbrook graduates, our inspiring and inspired faculty, our dedicated hard working administrators and staff, distinguished alumni, and the entire Millbrook School community.
I am Caroline Wamsler, a member of the Board of Trustees of Millbrook School, and a proud alumna of the class of 1987. I extend a warm and heartfelt welcome on behalf of Board of Trustees as we open the 86th Commencement Exercises of Millbrook School!
I first came on this campus in the fall of 1984, which – to the students – surely feels like eons ago. Allow me to paint a picture of the school I enrolled in 33 years ago. The year I graduated there were 172 students on campus, which was just a little more than half of the current student population. The site where the Hamilton Math and Science Center now stands was an open rolling hill across which we walked to reach The Mill, which was the Art Center in those days. The Wray Gymnasium stood where Hollbrook now graces our academic quad. The Mills Athletic Center was not even a pipe dream in the minds of administrators or the Board, there were no Burton or West Dormitories, and certainly no new Dining Hall with its 400 seats.
While I seem to describe quite a different place to you, it was also very much the same Millbrook it is today. As alumni return to this campus they do not focus on the physical changes that I have listed for you, but they do comment on the fact that at its heart and core Millbrook looks the same: They gaze upon the valley before they turn off of Route 44 and see the chapel steeple anchoring our campus, they comment on the intimacy of Pulling Circle, and the beauty of our quad. Yes, much has also changed here at Millbrook under the leadership our current headmaster Mr. Drew Cassertano, his colleagues and an incredibly generous community of alumnae, friends and parents, but nonetheless - Millbrook has remained firmly anchored in the principles and ideals of our founder, Mr. Edward Pulling.
Now, let me fast forward to the Class of 2017. With today’s commencement your time at Millbrook comes to an end. We have all gathered here to celebrate you and your accomplishments. That you are surrounded today by your parents and families, your teachers and dorm parents, your coaches and your friends is quit appropriate, because we rarely accomplish anything great alone! This gathering of friends brings together the very people who have accompanied you on your Millbrook School journey all along. In fact, in these past years they have at times walked beside you – and shared in your accomplishments, at other times they might have walked ahead of you – to show you the path and serve as models and guides. And I am certain that at times they even walked behind you and pushed you, motivating you to be daring, encouraging you to reach your fullest potential, and challenging you to succeed in this thing that we call life. So, I thank all of the parents for entrusting your children to us, just like my parents did so many years ago, and I congratulate you on the accomplishments of these fine young women and men.
I also greet our faculty, administrators and staff. You make the vision and the ideas that underlie the mission of Millbrook School a daily reality, and I join you with great pride as we graduate these students!
Alas, back to the class of 2017. Commencement has its root in the word “to commence” – to begin, to start, to enter upon. So rather than celebrating the end of your time here on this campus, we are really marking the start of your life after Millbrook.
Your paths ahead will lead you to destinations all across the United States and beyond. You will pursue your interests in different fields, find satisfaction in different work, and you will search for different ways to shape better communities. All of you will face moments of challenge and moments of joy, moments of failure and moments tremendous accomplishments, and mostly your life will be filled with many days that lie between those extremes.
As I told you at the onset, Millbrook School and its campus has changed in many ways since it was my home, but at the core it also remained the same. Similarly, you will change, but the values you have learned in your years on this campus will remain within you as a point of reference, an inner compass and a resource you will never loose. So, as you pack your bags, take with you not only your diploma, your smelly socks, and your Millbrook sweatshirt, but also take with you all that you have learned and all you have embraced. Pursue with profound curiosity the opportunities that await you, and confront life’s challenges, question boundaries and barriers with confidence, and strive to accomplish your greatest dreams.
Today after four, or three, or two, or even just one year on campus you will stop being Millbrook School Students and become Millbrook School Alumni, which you will be the rest of your lives. I can’t wait to welcome you to this special community and I look forward to seeing you and celebrating with you for decades to come. Congratulations my dear fellow alums, and a heartfelt welcome to all.