News From Masters

Congratulations to the Class of 2017!
Posted 07/20/2017 11:00AM


* Click here to watch a full replay of the Upper School Graduation ceremony *

The Class of 2017 graduated on Saturday, June 10, as families and friends looked on with pride from seats in front of Graduation Terrace.

Masters alumna Ilyasah Shabazz, an educator, activist and motivational speaker, gave the Commencement address. Ms. Shabazz, who is the third daughter of Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz, attended The Masters School for two years.

“As I stand here,” she said, “I’m reminded of the special friendships developed with classmates and of taking classes with unforgettable teachers.”

Ms. Shabazz also spoke of the invaluable lessons she learned from her parents. “Malcolm stood up against the injustices around him, demanded human rights and didn’t compromise his principles for the sake of money,” she said.

Her mother, who raised six daughters and earned both a master’s degree and a Ph.D. after becoming a widow in her 20s, “never accepted ‘no’ and ‘I can’t,’” Ms. Shabazz said. “The challenges in life are what make you so much better,” she told the seniors.

“You have the power to organize, to strategize and to seek solutions to the injustices that continue to plague our society,” said Ms. Shabazz, urging the students to continue to step forward into leadership roles with the aim of making the world a more equitable place. “You must own your power.”

In his invocation, Academic Dean Chris Goulian remarked, “It’s been my privilege each of the last 18 years to read the names of each senior” during Commencement ceremonies. “Each name is an affirmation that you have indeed earned the highest honors” that The Masters School can bestow. “Each name proclaims our faith and reflects our pride in you.”

Nina Hylton and Kevin McGuire, Presidents of the Senior Class, followed with welcoming remarks.

“Masters has taught me that everyone has their own struggle,” Nina said. “As I leave this place, an unshakable empathy will remain.”

“We have all grown tremendously by being in a challenging environment,” she told her classmates, noting that the tenet “to dare” in the School’s mission is embedded in each senior. “Your final assignment is to dare….to change the world for the better, to think for yourself, to define yourself, and to dare to live out your legacy each and every day.”      

Kevin spoke of the many academic, athletic and cultural activities that he was able to pursue while at Masters. “As busy as each day is, I’ve always wanted to experience more.”

Turning to his classmates, he said, “Thank you for inspiring me to be better every day.”

In her “Reflections” speech, Head of School Laura Danforth told the seniors, “We need you to be powers for good in the world now.”

Noting that “It’s a difficult time in the world,” she said such a climate can be overwhelming. But she urged the seniors to keep things in perspective and to take care of their health and well-being so that they can face the challenges ahead.

 “Resist the temptation to make stress your calling card,” Ms. Danforth said. “Instead, make your calling card about courage, resilience, curiosity and joy.”

After the presentation of diplomas to the graduates, the young adults chanted “17, 17” with their might and tossed red roses – from baskets carried by the girls in keeping with Masters tradition – into the air.

In her farewell address, Stephanie Mestyan, Dean of the Class of 2017, asked the graduates to continue to see themselves as a class as they move beyond Masters. “Remember this class, this clan, and reach out….Share your successes, your struggles, your stories.”

Ms. Mestyan said the graduates should not be afraid to fail because “without failure, there’s no need for innovation….It’s not what you do, but what you do next that matters.”

The Glee Club sang the “Old Irish Blessing” as the ceremony came to a close. The graduates then walked down the center aisle – and joined their families to celebrate their achievement.


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