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Commencement Tributes to
The Seniors Presented by Michael K. Mulligan, Head of School, on behalf of the Faculty Saturday, June 2, 2001
Good morning! Let me start by stating what will become quite obvious soon enough: A Thacher Commencement, at least in its present incarnation, is not for the faint of heart. As many of you know, in our version of this ceremony, we take the time to ask each senior to come to the podium, to take the limelight for a few moments—well, let’s be honest, minutes—and to listen to some observations I will make about him or her. What you will hear in each comment is a sense of not what a senior has done at Thacher but, rather, who he or she has been to us here. These are not lists of accomplishments nor summaries of careers so much as they are glimpses at character. We know they are not perfect representations, nor complete, nor definitive. But we hope that through them, each senior will hear just how valued he or she has been, as a member of this fine class and as an individual who has brought particular gifts to it, to the Thacher community and, in many cases, to the world beyond these gates. This takes time, but we believe that honoring each student is precisely what this day was made for. You should know, too, that our idiosyncratic commencement is not for the alpha-lovers. The diplomas are conferred at random; Peter Robinson, Assistant Head of School, will choose in a willy nilly—if nonetheless dignified—manner. Be ready: you just never know when your child will be called to join me here. Let’s begin the festivities! Michael K. Mulligan Head of School
CHRISTY DIAN ACQUISTAPACE Where others might hesitate, Christy blazes full-speed ahead and simply does: riding full-tilt around the Gymkhana Field, one hand on the pole of a flag flapping furiously at the horse’s side, the other capably on the reins; or swinging a pannier chock-full of gear up over the crossbars of a packsaddle so that a horse trip can move out onto the trail; or willingly taking on a solo in Chamber Ensemble that sends her impossibly pure soprano voice up into the stratosphere with an ineffable sweetness; or writing personal essays with exuberant vividness and honest, unrestrained detail. As one of her teachers once wrote, “Christy is tremendously sensitive to the significant and the memorable in life.” Christy is, in short, both grit and grace, power and gentleness. She casts a long shadow, so significant is her example and achievement in those areas she has chosen for her focus these four years.
BLAKE LANIER ADAMS-AYERS To catch a little bit of Blake’s essence, look to the horses he has helped to train during his time at Thacher, beginning with the once-infamous mustang “Jaws”: in their eyes, see gentleness where fear and doubt once lived; in their coats, see responsibility and care of feeding and grooming; in their movement, see the rewards of daily discipline, the results of Blake’s judiciously applying a sensitive eye and touch, and so competently riding the line between yielding and holding. Other qualities have informed Blake’s academic pursuits: “possessed of a fine mind, a keen sense of irony, and an eye for the absurd” (in the words of one of his teachers), Blake brings engagement and great thoughtfulness to his work. And his real legacy? It is that other students may now safely and confidently ride the mounts he has gentled so well—Blake’s lasting gift for generations of Toads to come.
YASMINE HUSAIN ARASTU In Yasmine, an outward serenity overlays inward discipline; she moves through her days with inimitable grace—and an equally inimitable giggle. And those days are full to brimming with what Yasmine has chosen to spend her talents and energies on: with the duties of a rigorous course-load, with raising her lovely alto voice in song or pointing her camera for the yearbook, with service to Thacher’s residential life, as well as to the greater community of Ojai. Yasmine attends to every one of these with seriousness, persistent effort, and thoroughness, driven by a true and animated curiosity that likes to peek around corners. Yasmine’s frequent “Aha!”s contain both the satisfaction of discovering and the thrill of discovery; the fact that she is generous in sharing those moments with others attests to her essential belief in the importance of association, of connection: Yasmine is extraordinarily sensitive to and appreciative of the luminosity and heft each thread of humanity contributes to the whole fabric.
DAVID ALLEN BABBOTT Dave was lured west from Vermont by family roots in California and to Thacher specifically by an inherent affinity for the values this school holds dear. The match, we feel, was made in…Shangri-la. Dave made the transition with affable ease. His lively intellect, driving inquisitiveness, and insistence on ever broadening his knowledge and perspective all combine to make Dave a treasure around the seminar table, an estimable opponent in any debate, a stimulating companion on the trail or around the campfire; in fact, it’s hard to figure whether the fire or Dave accounts for the sparks. And those fly as well when Dave takes to court or field, where he has been an undisputed leader and an ardent competitor— someone the other team would just as soon not see across the net or down the field, but someone we’re glad to hear when he takes to the risers to sing. As for those several moves in your young life, Dave, we offer a line from your classmate Meredith Walker’s story Flight: “The terrific thing about migration is that no matter where you are, you’re always aimed for home.”
MICHAEL GORDON BACK One way to fill the big shoes of older siblings is to grow big feet. Mike has done this—obviously—on the literal level; but more important is the metaphoric. By not shirking from academic or athletic challenge, Mike has, in fact, discovered that he can blaze his own educational path, that his learning is most meaningful when he helps to create its context—for example, pursuing independent projects in Spanish language and poetry, or embarking on a language immersion trip to Mexico. Mike’s teammates and peers look to him for leadership, both on the court or field and off it, and Mike provides. A natural athlete and a lover of all things competitive, Mike also provides any crowd in the bleachers with his special kind of pyrotechnics, especially in soccer and basketball, where he clearly makes things happen. We’re grateful for the fireworks—and for the very fine young man who has set them ablaze.
ANDREA LOUISE BLACK A quietly determined trailblazer for whom boarding school was definitely a road less traveled four years ago, Andrea has made Thacher her own on all possible levels. She invests fully in painstaking preparation for whatever task is before her: a long or challenging reading or writing assignment in English, a critical lacrosse game or tennis match, a difficult studio art problem, an Environmental Science lab. “I wish,” said one of her coaches, “I could bottle Andrea’s enthusiasm, dedication, and desire.” Her classroom teachers would agree and would add to that list of valued and admired qualities her gentle kindness, her natural sense of perspective and balance even when the world of school, sports, and “other” spins alarmingly fast, and her understated but crystalline appreciation for the web of relationships with family, friends, and teachers of which her life is so beautifully woven.
ALDEN HOOPER BLAIR To a discussion in class, to a formal dinner table, to a confab in the section, Alden brings keen and genuine interest to every interchange. He learns for the sheer love of it; he has energy, he sees the connections (and the comedy), and he remains entirely engaged in everything from current events to history long past. No wonder one of his teachers once called him “the spark of the class,” and another proclaimed, “Alden’s the reason I teach!” That animated intellectual energy translates into the physical when Alden takes the stage or hits the trail or ocean: singing and acting, camping and kayaking, cracking everyone up with his Calvin & Hobbes interpretations or riffs on Monty Python. Yet our highly accomplished wilderness man and supremely organized Camp Supply Guru can step down readily and easily from that throne to help others in myriad ways and many: one-on-one or in groups slightly larger, Alden is also our touchstone for moral goodness and kind action.
CHRISTOPHER LYON BONEWITZ A clever and witty chameleon of the very best kind, Chris has been many things to us these four years, some more public than others: a Chamber and Chorus singer, a lovesick Orlando, a dashing horseback rider, an Italian womanizer, a wonderful older brother and younger brother, a U2 wannabe, a probing physicist, an animated discussor of Ralph Ellison, a highly articulate, if mute, king. (We’ll let you figure out which are roles he’s played, and which are the real thing.) Chris’s versatility is mental as well as purely physical, and the impression he leaves is indelible, on younger students in his care, on his classmates, on faculty and even faculty children. For Chris, as changeable as he has the talent and imagination to be, has an immutable and admirable center from which he operates: it is one made of thoughtfulness, generosity, common sense, and essential goodness. We will miss both that center and the astonishing permutations at its edges.
JENNIFER LAUREN BOWIE Jenn may look like one single person here today, but those of us who’ve watched her work and play in the Thacher world and beyond it know well this secret: she’s a whole army. What Jenn accomplishes in one day astounds those who watch her— and takes her from classrooms to the yearbook office to the darkroom to Middle School to Ojai and Oxnard (community service of several kinds) to volleyball court to soccer field. Where others might be breathless from covering so much ground daily, Jenn feels genuinely enlarged and enriched by each experience, to which she brings exceptional discipline, considerable creative and intellectual prowess, and unmitigated thoughtfulness. That sense of personal expansion is rooted in a simple truth about this unassuming and magnanimous young woman: She understands intuitively that by seeing the need in others and by responding to it, she beautifully and completely fulfills the singular promise of self with which she was born.
MARY ANN BRONSON A brainy dynamo in every single subject, Mary Ann could leave most of us in the dust. But catch-me-if-you-can is not her M.O.: rather, Mary Ann seeks connection through ideas. It’s not sufficient to walk through the garden alone: Mary Ann wants the company of someone else with whom to marvel at the dew on those pea pods over there, at the vermilion bugs on those leaves, to soak it all up completely and indelibly, on the intellectual as well as on the experiential level. Though her academic work stands often as the paragon, that is not what her teachers admire most; it is, instead, the style with which she applies a surpassing mind. As one of her teachers wrote: “Mary Ann poses those rare inquiries where the question’s content enlightens the class while its phrasing lightens the mood.” Charismatic, fun-loving, musical, loyal, and giving, Mary Ann has spread light, in the words of Edith Wharton, in two ways—as “both the candle and the mirror that reflects it.” We feel fortunate to have basked in her glow.
MATTHEW DESMOND BREWER It’s one thing to be tall; it’s another altogether to act it. From ninth grade onward, Matt has carried himself with honor and integrity, and with an uncompromising sense of fairness, committing himself over and over to this School’s expectations and traditions. Put Matt in a classroom, and you’ll witness that standard and resolve: in his element especially in history, he provides his peers with an example of steady application and serious purpose. Put him on a lacrosse or soccer field, and he leads from behind, as it were: his force in the goal or as a defenseman ripples forward, a surging wave of competence and competitiveness that lifts everyone before it. Put him on stage and he works hard to get his character right, to sing “Under the Boardwalk” perfectly in pitch. Put Matt at the bottom of a sixtyfoot ravine with three horses tangled in tack and near death, and he acts with fiery determination to free the terrified beasts and set them right again on the trail. Put him on the list of Thacher graduates, and witness our sterling pride in all he has accomplished.
FREDERICK CHRISTOPHER BROWN Present Chris with a philosophical concept or a formidable defense on the opposing lacrosse team, and he’ll confront them with equal verve, courage, and sheer delight. Chris fairly revels in the stuff of which his Thacher life’s been made these four years: no area, it seems, is not deserving of his good humor, can-do approach, high standards and full-on attention. Blend these qualities with a thought-full, agile mind and a effervescently active curiosity and you’ve got a student valued in any discussion, in any academic area, in any forum. Chris also understands that all this without a sense of the community context—without, in other words, people—is quite empty. That Chris counts so many in the Thacher community, from the youngest to the oldest, as part of his circle of friends is a tribute to his caring, his inclusiveness, and the personal groundedness that somehow makes his arms, already long and strong, even longer in his constant and solicitous reaching out.
ERIC PRESTON BUTTS A photo taken this spring at a track meet shows a tensely muscled sprinter just before the crack of the starting gun; hands placed just so, feet in the blocks, he’s looking down the track towards the finish line. The runner is, ironically, Eric, who is a baseball player—but the picture tells much about the person he is: prepared for the race physically and mentally, a little worried but eager, intensely focused on what he needs to do to do himself and his team proud. The snapshot reminds us of yet another element in his approach to life: Eric fits in as much as he can in any given day (in addition to the “usual”—that is, homework in five or six classes, quality time with the people he cares so much about, athletic practices—a trip to the local convalescent home, some piano practice time, a minute with his younger sister). Eric works overtime for personal improvement, even with the knowledge that his own progress is to a large degree dependent on and intimately bound with that of teammates, schoolmates, friends—every one of whom holds him in the highest esteem. And, we might add, affection.
KEVIN EDWARD CAHILL Kevin can take all kinds of sow’s ears—a man-down situation in lacrosse or a slow roller in baseball, a physics problem, a stubborn little horse named Tish—and turn them into silk purses. The tools he uses are his honest work ethic, a stunningly sharp mind, and a disciplined and resolute approach. Though the words “inherent mobility, lateral quickness, and intelligence” came from a coach, they could well be applied to the other areas of Kevin’s Thacher life, where Kevin takes full advantage of all the learning possible. Yet to the extent that he is exceptionally conscientious in his classwork and athletic endeavors, he is also modest and unassuming about his many successes. As Kevin himself once wrote, “I’ve learned that relationships with anyone, including a horse, are best if they are centered on mutual respect.” It is clear that what’s on the inside of this boy is something of which Sherman Day Thacher would be proud.
BLAKE HARRISON CALDWELL Blake is not interested in fanfare or public praise: rather, he aims high out of an interior mandate for personal evolvement. Even as he’s opted for increasingly more difficult courses, his trajectory has been outward and upward: focus, preparation, and consistent effort to fulfill his intellectual potential have clearly marked Blake’s academic life. As well, his passion and dedication have moved him successfully on all kinds of courts and fields—and have inspired others to apply their own diligence to their desires. Optimistic and enduringly patient, Blake is a leader by both position and example. As his advisor recently wrote, “I only hope that Blake realizes the positive impact he is having on the lives of those around him.” We would add that in this way, Blake has become a teacher where he was once a student. Nothing could make us prouder.
CLARISSA DIANE CALDWELL It is Clarissa’s great gift that she is, by example and word, an inspiration to others. (Humble and entirely self-effacing, she would also probably be surprised to know this.) Her independence and maturity, best demonstrated by her choosing to spend eleventh grade in France last year on the SYA program, combine with patience and empathy to make her central to the lives of her family and friends— the latter including the equine variety, for which she has a special affinity and talent. Her coursework bears a particularly personal stamp, as her teachers abroad and at home here attest: in the words of one, it comprises “a unique blend of scholarship and emotion,” and in those of another, “an especially lively imagination and a playful intellect.” A wise and deep soul, Clarissa demands much of herself, and in the bargain, generously invites others to places where they become better students and people for her healthy example and influence.
HANNAH MURDOCK CARNEY Hannah’s impress at Thacher began with the first kind smile she smiled in our midst. And her mark has deepened exponentially to take in any aspect of Thacher life you could name, from the humanities, science, art, or math classrooms to the library where she volunteers her time and energy, from the concert hall to the soccer field, from dorm life to dusty trail, from humans to horses. What Hannah unselfconsciously and unselfishly contributes to each of these areas is the stuff that not merely lasts but actually multiplies, both in the individual and in the community of which she is so integral a part: cultural refinement, ethical strength, a lively intelligence, measured and consistently applied diligence, ready compassion, a gentle humor, and an uplifting, if sometimes sly, wit. Hannah’s moral goodness will serve as our obbligato long after she has lifted her bow from the string for the final time in our admiring presence.
LAUREN FERRIS CERRE By force of her quietly intrepid character and sunny personality, Lauren made smooth and joyful a transition to Thacher that could have been downright hard last year. In fact, it took no time for certain elements of community life here to be associated expressly with her: the Special Olympics centered in Oxnard, the soccer midfield, the concept of Zero Waste, the St. Joseph’s dining room. As these activities suggest, Lauren is honestly invested in the concept and experience of collaboration and cooperation for the betterment of all: instilled in Lauren is a powerful appreciation of other cultures and a heart-felt empathy for those less fortunate. Economist Joe Dominguez wrote, “To be frugal means to have a high joy-to-stuff ratio. If you get one unit of joy for each material possession, that’s frugal.” Thus does Lauren embody, through her resolute, principled action, both frugality and generosity. Six economical words to end: too late arrived; too soon gone.
CLAIRE HONORÉ CICHY Equipoise and grace: these are perhaps the most visible qualities in Claire’s firm possession. They inform her personal style and reflect her belief that by attending carefully, deliberately to each facet of her life, she thereby polishes the whole and makes of it a brilliant representation of who she is. In her classes, Claire impresses with her uncompromising work ethic and the thoughtfulness of her verbal and written inquiry. Equally valued are her skill and determination as an athlete (especially on the soccer team), and her inclusive and supportive approach to students of all ages, whatever the venue. As one teacher said, “Claire is wonderful company on any hike.” Amplify that word “hike” to the metaphoric, and you’ll understand that on this four-year trek called Thacher, Claire has been an important and greatly appreciated compadre, by force of her most estimable character.
LOGAN ELIZABETH CLARK In Logan are intertwined some charming oppositional impulses: the placid and the excitable; the respectful and the irreverent; the serious and the goofy. She can use her exquisite soprano voice to serenade Ojai’s senior citizens with tunes from their youth—or, as part of her indefatigable Indoor Committee work, to give the Thacher Assembly a new spin on “Domine.” She also engages inherent dualities when it comes to the many academic, athletic, or artistic tasks of her life: a trusted intuition combines with a strong analytical impulse; flights of fancy link with factual groundedness. Flight and ground mix again when Logan takes to the track or cross-country course: there, she breaks records without the slightest hint of pride. Highly sensitive to the needs of others, grateful for the opportunities she has, hugely contributive, Logan cares genuinely about this local world and that beyond our immediate view. She has been a beacon whose light, though not long in our midst, has nonetheless reached far.
CANYON CODY When Canyon leaps down the steps from the Senior Lawn to speak at Assembly, the crowd parts happily—and is never quite sure what’s up: An imminent dunking contest in the gym? Some showdown between the Current Events Club and the Sir Winston Churchill Debating Society in Room 14 tonight? Something going on in the election we should know about? Canyon’s passions and curiosity know no bounds, it seems—and thank goodness, neither does his energy. Resourceful, eager, wide-eyed, funny, and fun-loving, Canyon is always poised to carpe diem—for that matter, to carpe any idea, activity, endeavor that he views as worthwhile. His trademark zeal is matched by an incisive intellect and a dedication to his chosen endeavors: around a seminar table or a campfire, or on a full-court press, Canyon is more fully present in the moment than most of us will ever be. What’s up? Just…everything.
MATTHEW JOSEPH COHEN Fair. Perceptive. Loyal. Refreshing. A list of words to describe Matt would start here and then trail off because the more you think about him, the more impossible it gets to use only adjectives. This is because Matt is all about action: from his trademark hustle on the baseball field to his choice of academic program, Matt does not mess with Mr. In-Between: he says what needs to be said, does what needs doing, without fanfare or self-promotion. He also sets an important example of balance: Matt knows that time on the field, at the dining room table, in Los Padres, is valuable, personally meaningful. That he is a talented mediator demonstrates the critical application of this impulse to maintain healthy perspective. As Roy Campanella said about Matt’s favorite sport, “To be good, you’ve gotta have a lot of little boy in you.” We value the maturity that’s grown in Matt these years he’s been with us—but we also urge him never to lose the boy who keeps it all fun.
KERRY BAKER CONNOLLY It was Kerry’s strong sense of independence and individual direction that propelled her from east coast to west four years ago. Always, in fact, Kerry knows exactly where she wants to go, and with an iron will (and a great sense of irony), pursues her goals to their logical ends. Kerry never shirks from the tough issues, historical or current, global or local; and, blessed with the skills of a good raconteur and debater, she enthusiastically grapples with them. Though she’s not always satisfied with the conclusion reached in a debate or discussion, she understands that such answers are merely way-stations on the road to the fullest understanding possible; she comprehends at a fundamental level that most big questions have moving targets for answers. Lively, thoughtful, and well-informed, Kerry affirms the belief of essayist George Santayana: “Intelligence is quickness in seeing things as they are.”
EMILY ALISON DACHS Emily moves with uncommon ease among all the constituencies, all the extended family members of Thacher. She reaches to others out of a genuine interest in what they think or feel, and she communicates her own opinions and ideas eloquently and forcefully. Energetic in analysis, eager to tackle a plate piled high with courses, athletics, and community responsibilities, Emily has been an effective leader both in front of and behind the scenes. Of her importance around the discussion table, there is no doubt: “She was absolutely invaluable to our class,” remarked one of her teachers. Gutsy and devoted, especially as a soccer player, Emily will be remembered by many with an image from what was the game of her life thus far: frozen in a moment of “diving, horizontal, in the highlight-reel rescue of a blistering shot on goal.” In fact, unembarrassed about her belief in what Thacher stands for, Emily, has, in many ways and often unobserved, been a goal-keeper—in fact, a vision-keeper—for this school’s values.
TARA EMILY DESJARDINS Tara knows intuitively what is important in her life: sharing her gifts and goodness with others, caring for those hard-pressed to care for themselves, realizing her own significant potential so that she can give more back—and her daily activities bear testament to these priorities. No-nonsense and supremely self-sufficient, Tara organizes and then participates in community service projects often three times weekly, galvanizing others to help, as well, and even brilliantly conceiving of a plan to bring some elderly guests to Thacher for occasional meals. Tara’s empathy for others matches her efficiency, the latter of which comes to bear dramatically in her academic life. And hers is a full life that she manages executively and proficiently. An insightful and very talented visual artist, Tara achieves in the studio what, in a very real way, she does everywhere else in her life here: to our lasting benefit, she brings the invisible into the light.
ANDREW MICHAEL DeYOUNG When Andrew arrived at Thacher three years ago, a transformation began to take place: away from Chicago and no longer the littlest brother of four, he became, even without kissing any toads, our confident and way-beyond-competent Prince. An admirable work ethic powers his study, and natural curiosity drives him to take ideas outside the classroom for pondering and discussion; furthermore, Prince’s humility allows him to accept guidance and suggestion with grace and to put them to beneficial use. Though he is an intense competitor when he’s at the net, Prince knows well how to lighten up: his wry humor and ability to connect with young kids, his peers, and adults make him a treasured member of this community. When Princey said recently in Assembly, “I know you’ll find it hard to believe that this is my last sports announcement…” we all laughed and nodded, knowing that certain royal footwear is, indeed, hard to fill.
ROBERT DOUGLAS DICKSON To see Rob on the cross-country trail or track is to witness a remarkable ability to put a team’s gain above one’s own pain. When called upon to dig deep and come up with the resolve to see the race through, Rob is always there. (He has also done so far afield from Thacher—for example, on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro.) He is actively participatory, too, when a play or other performance needs staging, lights, and sound: in this arena, Rob is both highly knowledgeable and devoted to the art. Mechanically gifted, he can build or fix almost anything—which, with his physical strength, skill, and knowledge of the outdoors, makes him an estimable and at times invaluable companion on a camping trip, especially one that gets into any sort of difficulty. Blessed with an incisive and analytical mind and a voracious hunger for reading widely, Rob especially engages with all things historical, seeing compelling links and making leaps with a mental agility we respect and admire.
MICHAEL RENAN DISNER The moral fiber in Mike Disner is dense, even infrangible, and it supports and informs his every action. Both seen and unwitnessed, he acts from an innate sense of rightness that, when combined with a deeply felt appreciation for what others bring to the table, makes him a model of goodness not merely for younger students but for peers and adults, as well. But don’t be mistaken: though Mike can be dead-on serious, responsibly mature, acutely focused in his studies, his beloved baseball and his acting, he also revels in the sort of boy-fun that winds him up in the middle of Lower School pig-piles or in foggy pastures at 2 a.m. playing Capture the Flag. His yen for adventure of all kinds, intellectual, spiritual, athletic, keeps him moving—out in what some call the real world and here, in the close community of Thacher. By his very presence, Mike makes our world, without a doubt, the real one.
BONAWYN CHAUNCEY EISON While Bonawyn might argue that he’s been blessed with unusual opportunities, we would assert that opportunity has simply been the by-product of what makes him unique. In this experience of Thacher, Bonawyn has invested tirelessly, on every level, at every turn, accomplishing not only much personally, but providing important benchmarks for others. Provocative and engaged with his coursework, Bonawyn has always sought to understand from the inside out; his doing so prompts the deeper comprehension by others around him. On the athletic fields and track, he is as tough mentally as he is physically. But Bonawyn effortlessly trades toughness for compassion when he’s in the company of classmates and schoolmates: his charisma goes deeper than mere charm to qualities far more elemental. Blessed, you say, Bonawyn? It is we who have had that boon these fast four years.
TERESA JOANNE ENRIGHT Even the wilderness survival training she’d had before she got to Thacher didn’t prepare Tessa for her first day here as a new junior: “Scary does not even begin to cover it,” she recalls, shivering slightly. Seeing Tessa go sprightly from one class to another, watching her hop in the van to head to Acacias and St. Joseph’s to sing for the elderly every week, or cheerfully join the discussion fray in English or political philosophy, or splash into the ocean with her kayak, or curl fingers and toes around the nubs of a boulder—well, it’s hard to remember what she had to give up to come here and to believe that the transition was ever difficult for her. In two very short years, the amiable, funny, and dedicated Tessa has woven herself inextricably into the fabric of her class. She has shown us all, incontrovertibly and sparklingly, what it means to meet challenges with courage, resiliency, and gusto.
HEATHER JOY FERGUSON Heather ‘s teachers often remark that they learn from her. This arises in part from Heather’s independence of thought, her singularly creative take on the ideas that swirl around her in a wide variety of disciplines; it comes, too, from Heather’s expression, which is forceful and clear. The hustle that infuses Heather’s academic life characterizes her other activities: depending on the season, she moves energetically from yearbook to singing to riding to Indoor Committee meetings to soccer. And in this last lies perhaps Heather’s finest personal quality: her steely-eyed refusal to be bowed by even repeated and serious injury. Just as she has taken the reins of her education firmly into her own hands, so has she determined—with unusual bravery—to own her life, even when the path is decidedly boulder-strewn and all uphill. We admire her endurance and the strength of soul that provides for it.
CARINA ANN FISHER Carina embraces paradox. A ranch girl whose urbanity enables her to move comfortably through many settings, she is incontrovertibly her own person, one who is willing to be uncomfortable as she seeks what is true. Drawn to the ironic, yet rooted in a caring optimism, she speaks her mind and lives by her loyalties in ways that have made an indelible impression on her friends and classmates. Directly and thoughtfully, Carina has shown us what not to take for granted; by applying herself to her coursework, to her ceramics, and to the camping program—especially kayaking—she has demonstrated commitment and won her own growth. When her journey presents her with rapids, either real or metaphoric, she gracefully and gratefully learns the lessons offered by the terrain—when to hold on, when to let go, and at last, who to become.
MEREDITH MACRAE FLANNERY Meredith would have to get out a dictionary to find out what the word “limits” means. Limits just do not exist in her worldview. To her, the boundaries some put on definitions of, say, “teacher” and “student” make no sense: we can all learn from each other, she’d argue. Furthermore, no academic subject is off-limits: if Meredith is intrigued by a course offering, she signs up for it. And her pursuit of knowledge is never less than exacting and exhaustive. That personal expansiveness extends in Meredith to her tennis, soccer, and lacrosse, where, championship titles or not, she simply loves the physicality, the competition, the camaraderie: equally, they make her heart race, her smile broaden. By virtue of her multitudinous gifts, Meredith raises the bar for the rest of us—but doesn’t mind a bit if, after she jumps it, we sneak underneath. For her, it’s all just part of life; and life is good.
PETER WILSON FRYKMAN The Mountain Biking Club, the Tea Club, the Thacher Film Society, the Fly Fishing Club. Spain, China, Costa Rica, Tibet, Portugal, Haiti, the British Isles. There may be four clubs currently lacking a president and several foreign locales wondering what hit them, but there’s only one word to describe Peter: omnivorous. Peter’s appetite for knowledge is gargantuan, and, though he adds tangible value to discussions right here at desks and around seminar tables, the truth is that classroom walls can hold him only so long. Then, self-confident and bold, he’s busting out, seeking in lands abroad, on mountain trails, in fast-flowing rivers, those people and experiences that will answer some of his persistent questions. Peter’s antennae quiver constantly, picking up on the latest current event or New York Times editorial, an event on campus or one half-way ’round the world. That he’s been so tuned in at Thacher is to our great delight and enduring appreciation.
MAXWELL ANDREW GREENE Whether or not he’s ever read Ray Bradbury, Max has taken to heart a directive attributed to that author: “Be the only you that’s truly you on earth.” Imitating Darth Vader to advertise an Indoor Committee event, cutting loose on his guitar, holding forth on Leda and the Swan or on atherosclerosis, doing investigative reporting in Ojai on “updog” (you’ll have to ask Max what that is), urging on his actors as he films another scene for one of his indies, Max is entirely Max. And he is green—by which we mean he is all growth and creativity and fecundity and hope that that color represents. Gregarious, witty, captivating, Max often uses his special magnetism for the good of this community and for causes beyond: among other things, he’s been innovative with creating more variety in school social events, he’s served the elderly meals at homes in Ojai, and he’s raised awareness money for furthering AIDS research. In all this, Max uses materials that will last— good humor, kindness, integrity—to build enduring and important bridges between people.
EDWARD BROOME GRETHER The approach that Ted brings to his classes, to tennis, to his music, and to the other areas of Thacher in which he is counted on as a leader rests on a foundation of four essential qualities: dependability, determination, dedication, and delight. Though the last may be understated in Ted, it is quietly present in him; the others speak vociferously in his visible daily actions. The moniker affectionately given him by his tennis coach—“Mr. Consistency”—works for Ted across the board and makes of him a valuable secret weapon on the court, in the dormitory, or in an especially squirrely lab in Environmental Science. Connected to the land and the ocean by virtue of his upbringing, Ted is both wonderfully well-grounded in the principles that guide him and, with four years of Thacher under his belt, ready to sail. Like Ulysses, he will, we expect, “roam with a hungry heart…beyond the utmost bound of human thought.” We wish him safe voyage.
ESTHER GUZMAN A moment in this winter’s musical, Babes in Arms, captures well how most of us in Esther’s thrall feel: she sits on a stool—the older, wiser, heart-too-big Bunny Byron—among the kids at her feet; they are looking to her for guidance in the middle of this mess they’ve created. So she sings a story to them: and no one wants that song (or any other one Esther’s singing) to end. Ever since her debut in the Thacher-Cate Coffee House three years ago (in which Esther won for us the Tony Dunn and the League Championship, solo), it’s been like this. But there’s more to Esther, of course: her intellectual power and ability to cope increasingly successfully with the academic rigor here; her unfailing kindness towards a host of younger students whom she genuinely calls “friend;” the personal integrity that forms her unshakable core. Still, we come back to that flawless voice, an amazing grace—and the discipline it takes to make it great, the courage it takes to use it so often. And we know, when Esther sings, how it’s going to be in heaven.
ERIN THOMAS HAFKENSCHIEL Erin is as sunny as they come. And like the sun, she warms, she promotes growth, she gives hope and always—always—brings cheer to those under her salutary influence, whatever their age, whatever their position. But this is no Erin-golightly—at least that’s not all she is: Erin loads herself up with the most demanding courses she can; she confronts complex dance routines and daunting opponents on the soccer or lacrosse field with gumption and arduously-honed technique; she thinks long and deeply about religion, race, gender—all the big and worthy issues; a true egalitarian, she stands fearless, stalwart, and tall for right action. It is said that words move, but examples draw. The example Erin has set, without expectation of recompense or recognition, has certainly brought many to her, for their own betterment. The ripples surely extend: for by elevating others, Erin has, in small ways and large, raised the level of goodness in this little city on a hill.
MICHAEL LIGHTFOOT HAMMER Mike’s way of being in the world is both highly active and unusually reflective: while his questions, widely ranging in topic, never stop, Mike himself does, at least momentarily—to listen to the answers, to observe the results. On the coast of Maine or right here in the Los Padres, Mike expresses an uncanny ability to absorb what is around him—trigonometric rules, an aviary-bound bird or one in free flight, Spanish grammar, a decaying orange in the compost he’s just turned, the strings of a banjo as they’re plucked—and make sometimes miraculous links among them. In this way, Mike is undeniably a poet: a sense of the metaphoric is elemental in him. Thoreau, who, like Mike, often saw the world in terms of “as if,” advocated that one ought to “[s]implify the problem of life, distinguish the necessary and the real. Probe the earth and see where your main roots run.” Mike has done just this. That some of those main roots connect him to Thacher is a blessing for us.
KATHERINE ANNE HARMON There is in Katie a certain courtliness and an arresting duality: a manner, a bearing, that somehow embodies both stasis and movement, that suggests both consciousness and freedom from thought. In fact, Katie is one of those people who, despite significant artistic, kinesthetic, and literary gifts, keeps everything in its proper place, casting serenity over it all. Original and astute, she can peer into a text—English or French—and see what others cannot, then bring it to the surface to share and to engage others’ opinions. In her dance—ballet, modern, jazz—and in her creative writing, Katie achieves that often elusive impression of effortlessness, even as she invests arduously in the training and practice that precedes a performance or the final version of a poem. It is an elegant, studied magic in which she trusts—and by which we are enriched and brought to a higher awareness and appreciation.
LAUREL HADLEY HASTINGS When we think of Laurel, we cannot help but picture her as she was in one of her finest moments: during her Senior Exhibition, kimono-bedecked and aglow in both the beauty of rustling silk and the assurance that she has learned much about the women who have worn the same dress. Laurel knows how to root out the important details, whether they are woven in cloth or embedded in a piece of literature, or art or a slice of history; she is adept at both analysis and synthesis. Of her part in their classes, her teachers have written of her “energetic and upbeat classroom presence” and of her “positive influence on classroom dynamics.” That uplifting spirit finds its way into hearts beyond Thacher, as well, most often and consistently to the elderly at St. Joe’s and Acacias. Combine spirit with speed on a soccer midfield, and you’ve got a critical member of a varsity squad. In short, Laurel inspires with her gracefulness in both thoughtful repose and in dynamic action. We are grateful for that example.
ADELAIDE APPERSON HEARST Looking for Addie? Glance up, way up: see that sheer-faced rock? See that spidery looking object on the side? That’s Addie, moving skyward, inch by inch, fingerhold by tenuous toe-hold. Careful and calculating, Addie has come to know the medium and to understand her relationship with it, not as its conqueror but as its translator to those who will never scale the heights she does. This is equally true of the other aspects of Addie’s life: even as she pushes intellectual, physical, and spiritual limits, she seeks and establishes a remarkable balance : between hard work and robust fun, between smiling inside and outright guffawing, between respect and irreverence, between generosity to the large community of Thacher and unselfishness to her circle of close friends, between thought and action. Let the ascent be tough, be arduous, be long: Addie is game and more than up to the challenge.
ROBERT EMMETT HOPKINS Even forgetting the fact that Emmett is our Plant and Planet steward, we must (with a nod to the poet Andrew Marvell who turned noun to adjective) call his abilities vegetable. They are many, various, and do they grow and perpetuate! With his prodigious intellect and a hunger to know more, Emmett has taken every discipline to mind and heart, seeking challenge at every turn and responding with astounding fluency and precision. He is tireless in his application, expressive in his writing, astute in his problem-solving. But he does so modestly, unobtrusively; he supports and helps his classmates with generosity and genuine interest in their sharing the table with him. Emmett is also the first to roll up his sleeves—to shovel compost, to memorize his lines and practice his drawl, to repeat that particular shot in basketball until it’s perfect, to get the Lower School and its young denizens into shape for formal inspection. Unpretentious, genuine to the marrow, Emmett has made this Thacher soil rich.
DELORIA DAWN LANE MANY GREY HORSES The initial road to Casa de Piedra may have been many miles long, but Dee has completed the odyssey of Thacher with characteristic courage and tenacity. She has applied her common sense and good mind to the academic tasks before her; and to the cross-country and track teams, she has dedicated her natural speed and innate leadership, inspiring teammates and even opponents; to personal relationships, to the Thacher family, and to established friends in Ojai’s homeless community-at-large, she has brought an encompassing heart and a refreshing open-mindedness. In her vision for the future, Dee is far-sighted: with hope rooted in what she herself has accomplished and what she has seen others do, she looks confidently towards what is possible. It makes perfect sense, then, that her name means Daybreak Morning Star. Like the star that announces the sun’s arrival, Dee is infused with optimism and with a light uniquely hers.
ERIN KATE JOHNSON Give Erin a complex calculus problem, a formidable opponent on a soccer field, a book on chaos theory, a Saturday night to plan for the School—and watch as she furrows her brow for a second, then smiles and nods thoughtfully, then rips into the challenge, emerging with success fast in her hand. But it’s not success she keeps for solely herself; in fact, Erin sees her gifts—powerhouse physicality, speed of mind and body, acute determination—as best when they’re shared, and she spreads the wealth with humility, warmth, and good humor. (Even without any lines, she is fall-off-your-chair funny in a skit.) Coming to Thacher as a junior demands emotional flexibility and a willingness to jump in: Erin has done this, not both feet first, but by taking a flying dive into sports and classes, into the campus social whirl, into now-fast friendships, smiling unaffectedly all the while. That soaring out and then down—and the splash that follows—is what we will remember most vividly about Erin.
BRIAN JOHN KELLY Trying to keep up with Brian as his mind whizzes along, taking hair-pin turns, making quick reverses, and even occasionally jumping ditches, is simultaneously exhilarating and daunting. Mostly, we just say, “Take us along!” and get ready for an adrenaline rush—because Brian does take us, on roads in virtually every academic discipline. While his nimble mind asks always for more challenges (the bigger, the better), Brian is no lone ranger: his intellectual magnetism and genuine analytical passion draw other students into his circle of inquiry. Initiative and responsibility are the hallmarks of Brian’s contributions; his generosity is quiet and often unseen, but very present as an aspect of who Brian is at his center. Perhaps most important to us is this: Brian has matched the value of honor that is at the core of this school and community with his own deeply-rooted sense of personal integrity.
TIMOTHY JERRY LANGER That TJ appears so low-key but is actually intense—even at times blazing—is part of his mystique, his charm, and his effectiveness. In the crunch—say, a critical relay in track, a decisive offensive play in a soccer game, an exam in AP Chemistry or Statistics—TJ is mega-focused, burning white-hot with the intellectual or physical speed, strength, and energy he knows well how to channel for optimal success. Yet in other moments, the level-headed TJ is perfectly relaxed, a witty and clever companion in a conversation, a devoted friend who’s right there somehow even before you need him. What TJ cares about he invests in passionately: keeping the lacrosse goal clear of the opposition, performing well in his classes, remaining loyal and steadfast to his good buddies of four years. Our King of the UnProm, he wears the crown with good-naturedness and élan.
GRACE LOGSDON The campus is still and quiet. Then, from somewhere, a laugh rents the air. It is unaffected, completely genuine, entirely encompassing of everything in its circle. It is…Grace. Grace finds humor and delight in many situations because she is so attuned, so alive; she understands beauty and irony both as artistic, literary, mathematical, and scientific concepts and as ideas that express themselves in daily activities. And there is no one who more willingly, lovingly embraces you for who you are, no holds barred. It’s no wonder that community service of all kinds has been a foundational element of Grace’s life. But laughing and love aren’t all: Grace has discovered her passion in an academic and experiential area—the sea and its inhabitants—and she has melded seriousness and insight with shoulder-tothe-wheel diligence to become increasingly a scholar in the field and a dedicated environmentalist. Grace’s appreciation for the nobility of every individual, every species, endears her to us all; and her laughter refreshes us daily, exploding like water glinting in sunlight. We will miss it—and her.
TYLER BOYD MANSON Tyler was, we’ve heard, simply born with the affable nature we witness daily in him. Whether he’s taking part in data-collection for a science lab, lounging on the lawn with friends, or tossing his little sister upside down on his shoulder, Tyler is easygoing and amiable. Part of this is Tyler’s essentially open-minded approach to people; in his happy presence, you feel, simply, accepted. Yet coexistent with these qualities is a vibrant kinestheticism: on a skateboard ramp built with his own hands, on a lacrosse or soccer field, on a cresting wave, Tyler coils and uncoils with velocity, brawn, and —for his size—a surprising sort of balletic ease. Though the catechism of Tyler’s life is primarily physical and athletic, he also engages a thoughtful mind and increasing expressiveness when involved in personal writing and political philosophy debate. Above all, Tyler is comfortably who he is; and his winning talent is in allowing others to be who they are, without criticism or judgment.
GAVIN TODD ALEXANDER McCLINTOCK “The sea comes in like nothing but the sea,” begins a poem by Glyn Maxwell. And so it is with Gavin. Uniquely and unselfconsciously himself, he moves through the events that fill his days joyfully, responsibly, grinningly, his briefcase swinging at his side, his skateboard tucked under his arm, his hands white with climbing chalk. Gavin takes on academic risks and physical ones with equal relish, and he is methodical and complete in his work even as he flashes with connections: between, say, the concept of torque in physics and as applied to a particular surfboard, or between a fictional depiction of World War II and the bona fide history informing it. Connections are critical, too, in Gavin’s personal life: family and friends, younger students and faculty children (who are all glee under his attention)—all are beneficiaries of Gavin’s generous and nourishing outreach. In worlds of people and ideas, mountains and oceans, Gavin is happy and supremely at ease.
CYRUS TACHOLE MENENDEZ-BADER What Cyrus does each winter sports season is symbolic of his finest qualities: as the varsity lacrosse team’s face-off man, he must be intensely focused, physically and mentally poised, determined and uncompromisingly tough. His coach calls him an “arrive early-stay late” kind of athlete—an approach Cyrus has used to achieve in other areas: although he’s humble about it, Cyrus is adept at cello, viola, bass, violin, and guitar. Lacrosse sticks and stringed instruments are one thing—but human connections are also critical to Cyrus, and he has established lasting and loving relationships with Thacher friends and with others: his Italian host family (through the Experiment in International Living) and residents at two local senior homes. It is to Cyrus’s great credit that at the top of his “life’s goals” list is this: “to help others accomplish theirs.”
LILY ANNA MITCHEM While some new sophomores might stumble a bit in joining a class already established, Lily hit the ground…well, dancing when she arrived. Yet while her skill and talent have moved her as a dancer, singer, and actor across our stage and others with remarkable beauty these three years, it is another element that evinces our admiration and appreciation: it is the attitude of willingness and pure pleasure that Lily brings to the task. Developing a character, working as an ensemble player, accepting direction with grace and eagerness, she simply loves the art of it all. Lily’s enthusiasms also include any good classroom discussion, where she flourishes in the process of debate and discovery. She also invests her significant energies in community issues—both on this campus and in the city of Ojai, where she has selflessly worked with the Ojai Youth Foundation. Civicminded, Lily is also civic-hearted: both inform her actions and earn our lasting respect and affection.
CAITLIN PATRICIA OLSON-MULHOLLAND In her daily rituals, Caitlin breathes life and concreteness into the abstract values we sing about in The Banquet Song: “honor, fairness, kindness, and truth.” Each quality finds expression in a gesture, many unconsciously motivated: a literary analysis entirely her own from start to finish; a Community Council meeting run with focused attention to each speaker and with genuine respect toward his or her views; quiet help with a freshman’s saddling up a horse too tall for him to reach; returning to a calculus problem or a historical moment as many times as it takes to understand it thoroughly, organically. What stamps Caitlin’s uniqueness is her complete and unaffected appreciation of all that Thacher has offered, even as she has given back so continuously and so liberally: she has wrapped her arms around it—and us—in an embrace whose imprint will last well beyond her leaving.
JOHN WESCOTT MYERS II Gallant and gutsy, serious when he needs to be and fun-loving the rest of the time, Wes is happiest when he’s in the middle of some adventure—riding a wave or riding hell-bent-for-leather through a gymkhana event, landing his plane on a short runway or himself on high-jump foam behind Upper School, soaring off a speed-bump on his little rag-tag banana-seat pink bike. Sure, he loves numbers and formulas and equations—but the concepts of mathematics, physics, chemistry, and statistics are, for Wes, really just good reasons to get in gear and do it. Herein lies Wes’s forceful magnetism: merely think about this young man, and you start to feel the wind in your face, the little hairs on the back of your neck rise. Physical strength and speed are also part of what makes Wes the powerhouse he is. The words of a film critic about a contemporary actor might well have been penned for Wes: “Just airborne and free and maybe a little crazy…he’s a show-off without vanity.” Now that’s some high-flight trick.
SMITHA MANDHA REDDY Smitha provides the sort of model behavior and spirit that quietly moves in all directions: downward in ages to younger students, across to peers, over to adults. For if you observe Smitha as carefully as she does the world around her, you see incarnate certain qualities that make a community like this a better place to work and play for everyone: unqualified respect for others, compassion for the underdog, seriousness of academic and human purpose, reverence for the School’s cornerstone virtues of truth and honor, kindness and fairness. This all makes Smitha sound very solemn. In fact, though she is undeniably self-possessed, she mixes into all her activities and pursuits an appreciation for humor and plain old good fun. Smitha loves the journey as much as any arrival, and she takes genuine pleasure in making the trip with others whose growth and happiness she herself positively and unconsciously promotes.
ERICA ALEXIS DAVIDSON REYNOLDS Erica may be the bewreathed fairy-wand conductor of the Middle School chorus, but trust us when we say there is nothing middling about this young woman. What she does she does thoroughly and well and with a memorable joie de vivre. Erica seeks out risks and adventures, from those found in AP classes in several subject areas to those represented by a rigorous, year-long study-abroad program. And she meets them with self-possession, maturity, and a winning, if paradoxical, combination of equanimity and unbridled enthusiasm. Erica is known and esteemed for her depth of insight and ability to push a classroom discussion into uncharted territory; her unaffected curiosity quite simply elevates both her own inquiry and that of her classmates. Erica’s delight in life finds perhaps its most telling expression when it comes out in song—and when that song raises the spirits of members of Ojai’s senior community. They—and we—are grateful for that delight’s having found so uplifting a voice.
ELIZABETH VIRGINIA SANSEAU When we talk about heart, we think reflexively of Elizabeth. A combination of the nurturing, the steadfast, the dedicated, the loving, it is what she brings to her personal relationships with family, peers, and faculty, to every tennis, soccer, or lacrosse practice and game, to her demanding and many classes, to her several crucial leadership roles. But that’s not all: Elizabeth also contributes physical and intellectual talent, an everything-in-its-place sense of order and organization, a thoroughness and efficiency that is both the key to her success and, let’s face it, the envy of many. That she does all this with a perpetual broad smile tells us that Elizabeth has, by nature and experience, gained that place where proportion and delight, earthbound stability and flashing radiance hold equal sway. It is a place both beautiful and rare.
KEVIN ROBERT SCHMIDT He tinkers, he debates, he mulls, he fine-tunes: Kevin is never more content or at home than when there’s some sort of puzzle on the table in front of him. Engaging his highly mathematical mind and often brilliant powers of analysis, Kevin has at it, and often emerges mere seconds later with his original version of “Eureka!” Kevin packs those skills of observation and problem-solving into his backpack, as well as his long-nurtured and loving bond with the outdoors, when he heads to the wilderness; there, he has often been like an adjunct faculty member, his expertise and leadership matching his energy and passion for camping. But Kevin’s area of greatest influence and generosity has been, by far, that of the technical theater: Kevin’s contributions to lectures, concerts, dances, and staged radio shows have come several times weekly, as he’s mixed sound and light to often splendiferous artistic effect. When people exclaim after Thacher performances, “What a show!” we know just who’s behind that curtain making it all happen.
NICOLE ROSE SILVERMAN Nikki is an alchemist: what she touches she transmutes. Words, floating loose, combine under her influence to make, say, literary or historical analysis of stunning precision and depth—or to make powerfully compelling poetry. Issues such as racism and injustice, priorly muddy or inchoate, become clarified in her gaze, and in her translation, gain inestimable persuasive power. People, hurt or anxious or confused, heal and become clearer-sighted in her care and nurturance. But do not presume effortlessness. In fact, like every good magician, Nikki brings to bear on her art qualities of meticulousness and diligence, knowing that to be fully realized, gifts must be activated by patience and practice. A literary critic commenting recently on the twentieth-century poet James Merrill wrote, “his work persists in making pain yield gracefully either to solace or to insight.” So it is with Nikki, but more: she invites others into the goodness and humanity that awaits on the other side.
JAMAL SCOTT THORNES It was Jay’s desire for more—in particular, more rigorous academic challenge and the chance to develop the skills of independent living—that brought him to Thacher three years ago, and it is a hunger that has moved him to greater and greater achievement during his time in this extended family. Strong powers of observation combine in Jay with a fine mind and a deeply held personal pride to make of him an increasingly successful student. And his physical gifts—speed, resilience, grace—ally with unshakable persistence to create in him a commanding and highly respected basketball, soccer, and baseball player. Through his own heart-and-soul play and serious approach to the game, Jay elicits the best in others. Jump-shots or leaps of faith—Jay takes them all eagerly, knowing that you can’t win if you don’t try. We admire Jay’s backbone and his spirit.
ANTHEA NOEL TJUANAKIS For people like Anthea was created the phrase “take no prisoners.” What she sees as worthy she pursues: an understanding of Faulkner or of a physics concept, a League championship in lacrosse or soccer, the best possible expression of a mood or person or place in her studio art work. Mind-bogglingly energetic in both thought and action, Anthea sees the world kaleidoscopically: she looks at the whole of something or someone, then sees the parts, appreciates each one for what it is individually and as an elemental part of the larger piece. In this way, she is both scientific and artistic, analytical and expressive. Always and forever, Anthea will be our Rosalind from As You Like It: funny, evolving, witty, dazzlingly bright, dynamic, dissatisfied with the status quo, even a little edgy—and, through all of it, capable of moving everyone to a higher plane of existence.
JONATHAN MOSS TUCKER Stepping boldly off the edge of the world (“anyplace west of 495,” for those New Englanders out there), Tucker came to Thacher three years ago ready to take the values and practices of this community in an unembarrassed, full-on bear-hug. Immediately, Jonathan’s talents and special gifts were manifest: his provocative and innovative view of characters in fiction and in life; his incisive intellect and zest for inquiry of almost anything and everything; his discernment and capacity for making historical and literary connections; his sense of the team or group effort and his part in it; his ceaseless generosity in the form of sharing openmindedly and open-heartedly his ideas and opinions, Krispy Kremes, a copy of a book he’s just devoured, or time just to talk. What’s best is this: Jonathan is unabashed in his appreciation of the life he feels lucky to lead; he takes none of it for granted.
MEREDITH ARDEN WALKER In her two, too-quick years with us, the name “Meredith Walker” has come to be synonymous with invention, with originality, with independence, with the stage, small or large, indoors or out. Meredith’s ever-attentive receptivity, as well as her honed ear and keen eye, grant her access to worlds some of us only dream of. But her real genius lies in the fact that she can take the textures, sounds, smells, and people of those worlds, translate them through poetry, prose, music, or acting, and thereby bring us into closer contact with otherwise unimaginable riches. As astonishing as Meredith’s artistic range is, it is equaled by other potent and defining qualities that mark her as a person and as a student: her uncompromising dedication to excellence in all that she takes on, her commitment to at-risk children in her work beyond Thacher, her devotion to making the days of an elderly woman or man brighter. No, Meredith would say, not brighter, exactly. Rather, try luminescent or incandescent. You see? Her voice has infused us totally.
EMMA LLOYD WHITE “Original”—that’s the word you’ll hear repeated like a mantra if you talk to Emma’s teachers about her work as a student. It’s as though, even while sauntering straight ahead, Emma is more able than most to see the world in all its beauty and complexity from myriad and many angles: from below, above, back, front, sideways. And here’s her special magic: through her creative and analytical writing, in her applications and interpretations in so many subject areas, Emma helps us as well to see it anew, more completely. Her abilities run broad and deep, across the disciplines, and so does her pervasive esprit. The creative process—in writing, in performing, in photography and drawing—may be arduous, but it is one with which Emma engages honestly, directly, and passionately. The twinkle in this girl’s eye is actually the harbinger of a sparkling and ebullient Emma-muse.
MATTHEW KESTRAL WILSON “The winds and waves,” wrote eighteenth century historian Edward Gibbon, “are always on the side of the ablest navigators.” And in Matty, we witness a full expression of such a marriage of talent, skill, focus, and the support of nature. Hands, heart, and head form a union in him that is often amazing to those standing by: as we listen to his expressive interpretation of Liszt’s piano literature, or as we try to keep our eye on the blazing ball he’s pitched across home plate, or as we witness his successfully driving a calculus problem to its logical conclusion, we are often slack-jawed in admiration. Involved in his own learning, pushing his own limits, Matty balances his pursuit of individual goals with a rare sense of dedication to the larger good. We trust, in sending him off today on his next journey, that fair winds will follow him—and that the waves coming toward his boat will be nothing compared to the wake behind him that he alone will create.
LEE EMERSON WITTLINGER Lee is often received by those in his wide circle of influence with awe, pure and simple: his instructors and peers in virtually all his subjects stand amazed at the facility with which he can solve a problem or convey his understanding of a complex idea. This lightening-quick mind, as well as intellectual ambition and unadulterated delight in the inquiry, activates the success Lee has achieved in his coursework these four years. In the words of one faculty member, “Lee is possessed of the rare perspective to see the absurdities in life, the insight to look deeply and the skill to express himself clearly, forcefully, and memorably.” But it’s not merely mathematics or politics or literature that Lee comprehends so readily, so completely: on teams, in the dorm, around campus generally, Lee discerns, as well, the more subtle mechanics and exigencies of moving in the world of people. An exemplary debater, he is also a dedicated friend.
SIMON XI Worldly-wise and quadri-lingual (quinti-lingual if you count computer-speak), Simon may have entered the Thacher gates unobtrusively three years ago, but he will certainly leave a large and—if this is possible—loud hole in our midst when he heads out today. Simon is, in the words of his teachers, a consummate scholar, the keeper of a zinging analytical mind that has taken him to heights in nearly every science and math course available to him. Simon is no solitary academician, though: he not only shares what he knows with others in and out of classroom and lab, but uses his rarified knowledge and respected expertise to promote the School’s technical progress. (Thanks for those résumés, Simon!) If Simon is a wizard, and we think so, he’s certainly a benevolent one who has worn his robes with distinction, admirable responsibility, and great humor.
doubt have noted that what I just read is all
O HO L
THE T H
Because you are careful listeners, you will no
HER S C A
in the present verb tense. The qualities I’ve spoken about are, even as we are still gathered under this tent, still active in our lives. Importantly, they will continue to be,
in subtle ways, for time to come, as the positive influence you have had, especially on younger
students who will return in the fall, expresses itself in the acting out of Thacher’s values by those who watched you closely and now follow you. But the moment—sad and happy, bitter and sweet—has come, and it is time to shift tenses—to put these so-cherished aspects of you seniors into a justbarely past. To do so, I now call you…graduates of Casa de Piedra, Class of 2001! Michael K. Mulligan Head of School
Front cover: Original photograph by Robert Douglas Dickson, CdeP ’01
The Thacher School 5025 Thacher Road • Ojai, California 93023 www.thacher.org