Asheville School celebrated Graduation Day on Saturday, May 26, as 73 seniors received their diplomas on the Boyd Chapel lawn during the school's 118th commencement.
Head of School Arch Montgomery reflected on the year and thanked the seniors for their outstanding contributions. "Few classes have exceeded your academic and intellectual achievements," he said. "You have programmers, mathematicians, grammarians, scientists, writers and philosophers in your midst. You have been a pleasure to teach, while maintaining a marvelous camaraderie and class cohesion."
During the salutation, Class President Raven Walters thanked faculty and staff members of Asheville School, Arch and Phyllis Montgomery, and students' families.
Class Poet Counti McCutchen shared a poem she wrote for the occasion. It implored her classmates to remember their time at Asheville School, even as years go by. "Do not forget the moments that inched along so slowly / Yet ended so fast," she read.
Class Orator Mac Waters delivered a moving and sentimental address that touched on students' shared experiences and love for their community. He spoke of the many memories made at Asheville School—both of watershed moments and from the more mundane moments of day-to-day life.
"In a few months, the class of 2018 will be moving on to the next chapters of our lives, where we will have the chance to craft new identities for ourselves," he said. "I think that our time here will live on repeat in the backs of our minds, a constant reminder of the beauty of every day we spent here."
Montgomery then recognized and honored many of the dedicated and extraordinary students and faculty members who work to make Asheville School a strong community. He thanked members of the Buildings and Ground staff who worked hard to make graduation possible.
David Zheng was named the Ranking Scholar of the senior class and the school.
The Harvard Award, which is awarded to a junior who displays excellence in scholarship and high character, was presented to Nicole Alleyne.
The George Jackson Headmaster's Prize is given in honor of George Jackson, Asheville School's third headmaster. It is awarded by a vote of the faculty to the outstanding member of the sixth form. Nathan Alleyne received this award because he captures the essence of the hopes and dreams Asheville School has for all students.
Mac Waters received the W. Bryant Wellons III '90 award because his contributions to the performing arts echo the talent, enthusiasm, and character of William Bryant Wellons III. The Michalove Award in Drama for outstanding theatrical achievements went to both Kate Cavanaugh and Gelsey Beavers-Damron.
The Pen and Plate Club of Asheville recognized John Delaloye for achieving the best record in the Humanities during his time at Asheville School.
The M. Livingston "Sly" Lewis Award pays tribute to a man whose 34-year career at Asheville School as English teacher and Dean of Students epitomizes his own upright character and sense of what is honorable. This year's recipient was Nathan Alleyne, the student chair of the Honor Council.
The A. Chase Ambler, Jr. Award is awarded by vote of the faculty to recognize a graduating sixth former whose unselfish service to the school community best exemplifies the contributions of personal time and energy Chase Ambler made over the course of many years to the school. This is not an annual award. It has only been awarded eight times in 27 years to sixth formers who are deemed particularly distinctive and deserving. This year's recipient was Kate McLemore.
This year, members of the faculty decided to grant special faculty awards to four members of the class of 2018.
Jack Temple earned a faculty award for his ability to make every situation and experience better by his presence, for his cheerful nature that brings out the best in others, for his deep humility, for his respect of his classmates and teachers, and for his enthusiastic participation in virtually every area of school life.
Mac Waters earned a faculty award for his musical performances—on stage, in the chapel, and for the larger community—that display genuine excellence; for his superb scholarship; and for his leadership as a prefect and for showing the community an example of effective, sensitive and thoughtful social activism.
Nina Mendoza earned a faculty award for being an inspiring President of the Student Council and prefect; for her humor, grace, and involvement in the school community even as her home community in Venezuela suffered crises; for her scholarship and curiosity; for her kindness; and for her quiet, unsung service to others outside Asheville School.
David Zheng earned a faculty award for his outstanding academic record; for his photography and art; for his contributions to chorus and drama; and for his good humor and generosity of spirit.
Awards for Excellence were announced as follows:
American Studies - Literature: Lillie Bridges
American Studies - History: Kate Cavanaugh
Spanish VI-AP Lit: John Delaloye
AP French V: Nina Mendoza
AP Music Theory: Mac Waters
Chinese IV: Alisha Ki
Chinese V: Evan Kim
Psychology I: Kai Newman
Anatomy and Physiology: Tuna Sezgin
Psychology II: Gelsey Beavers-Damron
AP Environmental Science: Jack Temple
Second Year Physics: John Delaloye
Engineering: Jack Temple
Visual Art: David Zheng
AP Calculus AB: Sapphire Zhang
AP Statistics Applied: Rylynn Pierson
The following students received high commendation for their senior demonstrations: Nathan Alleyne, Gelsey Beavers-Damron, Lillie Bridges, Kate Cavanaugh, Drake Colemen, Catherine Cullen, John Delaloye, Mary Alice Faunce, Anna Gouveia, Robert Harlan, Grace Karegeannes, Evan Kim, Lyndie Lavender, Counti McCutchen, Lily McLarty, Kate McLemore, Eleanor McRae, Nina Mendoza, Rylynn Pierson, Jack Temple, Mac Waters, Sapphire Zhang and David Zheng
The following students received commendation for their senior demonstrations: Sagi Ashkenov, Anthony Benevento, Olivia Bledsoe, Bethany Bunce, Kendall Greene, Mary Mac Johnson, Fahad Mohammed, Kai Newman, Riley Sullivan and Raven Walters.
Montgomery also thanked long-serving faculty members for their dedication to the school and community. John Crawley was recognized for his 20 years of service, and Diane Wilson was presented the John L. Tyrer Award in recognition of her 25 years. Van Kussrow was celebrated for devoting 30 years of service Asheville School.
Kate McLemore, a representative of this year's Blue and White, announced that the yearbook was dedicated to Chapman Davis and Lecky Haller. Tom Bleick and Charles Long received the Brooks Award for their exceptional service and devotion to the institution.
To conclude the commencement, the Class Arbor was handed over by Nathan Alleyne and was received by the President-Elect of the 2018-2019 Student Council, who is none-other than his sister, Nicole Alleyne.
While presenting a White Oak tree to the class of 2019, Nathan Alleyne evoked the imagery of the power of a tiny acorn to transform into a tall and rooted oak tree. "Each Asheville School student has embodied that little acorn from the moment we place our feet on campus," he said. "We absorb knowledge and experiences and we reach our branches high and wide to attain more. But no matter how far we stretch from the ground we call home, our roots remain. We pass this White Oak tree to the class of 2019, the next generation of acorns. May you grow and thrive next year. May you use your gifts and talents for the wellbeing of others, just as this tree graces our campus with shade and covering for years to come."
Asheville School's 73 graduates hail from 12 states and 9 countries. You can see the list of colleges they plan to attend here.
Congratulations to Asheville School's most recent alumni -- the Class of 2018!