On Saturday, May 25, Asheville School celebrated the Class of 2019 at the school's 119th commencement.
This year's graduation was bittersweet; in addition to saying goodbye to the 72 members of the senior class, students and families also said goodbye to Head of School Arch Montgomery, who is retiring after 17 years at Asheville School's helm.
Montgomery presided over the ceremony, expressing his appreciation to the members of the senior class.
"It is with genuine gratitude that we celebrate the Class of 2019, not by mentioning their specific accomplishments but by trying to recall their wonderful spirit, their effervescence, and their affection for one another," he said.
"This class has grown up, and we have been privileged to watch it happen, to witness as they launch themselves into adulthood, and I hold them in warm affection. We are proud."
As is the custom at Asheville School, Montgomery individually thanked each student for their specific contributions to the community during their time as students.
Luke Mitchell (Charlotte, North Carolina), the newly elected President of the Class of 2019, delivered the Salutation. Class Poet Audrey Gee (Farmville, Virginia) read an original poem written for the occasion, and Grayson Sword (Asheville, North Carolina) delivered the Class Oration.
Montgomery then recognized members of the faculty and staff for their contributions to the school before leading the presentation of senior awards.
Audrey Gee, who had the highest academic average among seniors, was recognized as Ranking Scholar of the Sixth Form.
Addie Trivers (Atlanta, Georgia) earned the William Bryant Wellons III Award for excellence in the performing arts for her outstanding contributions to every facet of Asheville School's music, drama and dance programs.
The faculty of Asheville School awarded junior Richard Viso (Baton Rouge, Louisiana) the Harvard University Book Prize, which is presented to a fifth form student who displays excellence in scholarship and high character.
Grayson Sword was awarded the Lewis Honor Council Award for her work as the 2019 student chair of the Asheville School Honor Council.
The faculty voted to honor Gabriel Wong (Marsh Harbor, Bahamas) with a special faculty award for his love of the school, his enthusiasm for learning, and for his leadership on dorm and of the robotics team.
The faculty voted to honor Maggie Chang (Hickory, North Carolina) with a special faculty award for her efforts to build relationships between Asheville School and the greater Asheville community through her dedication to the after-school tutoring program and her co-creation of Camp Good Trouble.
The faculty voted to honor Stefan Yu (Midlothian, Virginia) with a special faculty award for his dedication and leadership in the Mountaineering Program.
Luke Mitchell was honored with the A. Chase Ambler, Jr. Award, which recognizes a graduating senior who demonstrated unselfish service to the school community.
Nicole Alleyne (Martinez, Georgia) was honored with the George Jackson Headmasters Prize, which is awarded by vote of the faculty to the graduating member of the sixth form who captures the essence of the hopes and dreams we have for all students at Asheville School.
Just before the conclusion of the ceremony, Arch Montgomery's advisee, senior Justin Merriwether (Dhahran, Saudi Arabia), called Arch and Phyllis Montgomery to the stage. Together, Arch and Phyllis Montgomery have lived and worked at Asheville School for 17 years as Head of School and Events Coordinator, respectively.
Merriwether thanked the pair for their dedication to the school:
"On behalf of the class of 2019 and the rest of the student body: Archibald Montgomery – from the 17 years you have given to the Asheville School, to helping me in ways my parents could not when they were 8,000 miles away, to your ability to contribute in whatever ways we needed; and Phyllis Montgomery – for your amazing melted brie cheese with apricot jam at Senior Coffees, for your seemingly endless work behind the scenes without recognition, for your willingness to help this community in the big ways and the little ones – we thank you."
Join all of us at Asheville School in wishing the Class of 2019 congratulations and best of luck in all their future endeavors!