Last night’s traditional Baccalaureate service gave seniors the opportunity to reflect on their Blair experience and hear words of wisdom from a beloved faculty member they selected to speak on the night before their graduation. (To watch the Baccalaureate service in full, please click "play" below.)
The program has long been a Blair tradition and began with a bagpiper-led procession through the Arch to Armstrong-Hipkins Center for the Arts, where faculty members lined the sidewalk and applauded the graduating class. Once inside, the service was spiritual in nature and included readings by Daisy Kahn ’19, Jacob Leddy ’19 and John Zoetjes ’19, as well as musical meditations performed by the Blair Academy Chamber Orchestra, the Blair Academy Singers and the student-run A Cappella group.
Head of School Chris Fortunato introduced the evening’s keynote speaker, Associate Dean of Admission Leucretia Shaw, a fellow boarding school graduate who attended The Lawrenceville School. Mrs. Shaw shared with students the importance of being grateful for life’s lessons and from whom or what we learn those lessons.
“I challenge you to express your gratitude openly and honestly and to live thankfully, for you are alive and you are here on this earth to serve a purpose,” she said. “Each and every one of us is here for a reason. Relish that and always be grateful to be here, even on the bad days, because according to one of my closest friends, ‘God don’t make no mistakes.’”
Mrs. Shaw has been a Blair faculty member since 2010, and has held numerous roles across campus, most recently as a member of the admission office, freshman class monitor, Blair LEADS teacher, advisor and a member of the Faculty Executive Committee. In past years, she has also taught Spanish, a subject in which she majored at Georgetown University before getting her master’s degree in educational leadership from Columbia University’s Teacher’s College.
Having experienced boarding school herself as a youngster from the Bronx who later became a boarding school teacher and is now a Blair parent of Nia ’17 and Ian ’20, Ms. Shaw is well-suited to talk about the anticipation and excitement—and, yes, gratitude—that students feel on the eve of commencement. She talked about her own teachers—actual teachers, as well as the other people in her life and experiences from which she has learned valuable lessons—and delved into her own gratitude for family, friends, colleagues and, of course, the students of the class of 2019.
“The wonderful thing about life is that we are all students, we are all learners, and you have been my most surprising teachers,” she said. “I have been a student of yours, inspired by you, motivated by you, and I am grateful for the lessons you have imparted.”