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2018 Winter Athletics Banquet Talk

2018 Winter Athletics Banquet Talk
By Eric Fournier ’18, captain of the boys’ varsity ice hockey team

Eric Fournier ’18
Photo by Glenn Minshall
As most of you probably know, I’m not the most outgoing person in the world, so when Kevin asked me to speak, I had a small heart attack. Speaking in front of large crowds is my number one fear, but I knew this was a tremendous honor and that I would regret it if I said “no.” So I apologize if I appear a little nervous, but I will try my best. 

This season has been the highlight of my hockey career. I’ve never played on a team that has accomplished so much more than was expected. If someone told me at the start of this year that NMH hockey would be in the playoffs, I never would have believed them. Aside from our great coaching and work ethic on the ice, I believe our success originated from how much my teammates and I care about each other and the program.

One of my fondest memories from this year was when Noah Heisler ’19 and I got into an altercation with a Holderness player. I remember the play exactly; the ref blew the whistle late as the Holderness player skated toward our net with the puck. Instead of leaving the puck after the whistle, he stickhandled his way towards Greenie [Eric Green ’18] and shot the puck in the net. 

Anyone who plays hockey knows that this act is a sign of disrespect and poor sportsmanship. I wasn’t going to let him disrespect my school and my teammate, so I skated over to him. He knew I was coming, so as I approached him, he cross-checked me in the face. I didn’t want to draw a penalty so I just held onto his stick to protect myself. After a few seconds, I felt him go flying onto the ice. One of my teammates had hit him to the ground. Things quickly got out of hand, and before I knew it I was on my way to the penalty box. As I waited to hear what I had been penalized for, Heisler skated into the box as well. I asked him why he was in the box with me, and he responded, “I don’t know. All I did was hit the guy that was cross-checking you.” We proceeded to share our recollections of what happened and were pretty proud of our teamwork. Although we did receive two-minute penalties and put our team down a man, I still believe that it was the right play to stand up for our teammate, because we have each other’s backs.

Like all teams, we had our ups and downs, but we never turned on each other. I remember during our interview with [NMH Magazine editor] Jennifer Sutton for an article she was writing on NMH hockey, she asked Kyle (Valiquette ’18) and me if our team had gotten sick of each other after spending so much time together this year. Our immediate response was, “No, we have a great group of guys this year and everyone seems to get along really well!” This is what set this year apart from the rest; everybody cared about each other and was willing to do whatever it took for us to succeed as a team. 

My hope for all of you is that you are able to be a part of something where everybody cares about each other as much as my team team did. I hope you keep this in mind going forward because sports can create special relationships that last a lifetime. I am proud to call my teammates my brothers.

Thank you.

View a photo gallery of the event.
2018 Founder's Day Welcome

Welcome from Head of School Peter Fayroian
2018 Founder's Day

Whether this is your first or 45th Founder’s Day service (yes, today’s speaker has attended at least that many), welcome!

Annually, our community gathers on a day near the fifth of February, the birthday of our school’s founder – but why, precisely?

From our founding through the mid-1890s, we celebrated Mr. Moody’s mother’s birthday, she being so generous as to share her birthday with her son. Moody was a fine one for finding excuses to celebrate with his students; after all, Mountain Day was his idea. And though his younger son Paul once described him as “the humblest man I ever knew,” his love of a good party prompted him to continue the schoolwide tradition of observing February fifth after his mother died in 1896; sometimes even calling off classes, as he did in 1897 when he announced that some English friends had given money for the construction of this very chapel as a 60th birthday present. Surely no one here would argue against spending Founder’s Day like that! I hereby cancel classes for the rest of the day! (Oh, that's right: it’s Wednesday and classes are already over. I'm sorry.)

In February of 1900, all of that changed. Moody had died the preceding December, and six weeks later, no one at the schools felt much like celebrating. The day became a moment to memorialize him to whom we owe our existence as an educational institution. Well over a century has passed since then, and while the original impetus remains in place, Founder’s Day has not become some static year-to-year litany. We’ve had distinguished guests like Sister Helen Prejean and John Updike who spoke not a word about Moody. We’ve combined the solemn service with the hilarity of winter carnival. We’ve invited favorite daughters and sons, like today’s speaker, to share their wisdom. But running through the years, perhaps there’s some deeper reason why we gather each year at this time.

Consider then, the happy coincidence of Mr. Moody’s birth coming so close to mid-winter’s day. Pagans called it Imbolc; we call it Groundhog Day – the day when good Yankee farmers checked their wood sheds and hoped to find half their winter fuel supply remaining. Coming midway between winter solstice and vernal equinox, and about midway between Convocation and Commencement. It’s a good day to take stock of things, to make sure we still have half of our firewood, for us to come together as a community and remember why we are here, and to thank our founder and all of those along the way who brought us here, today.

Much is behind us, much is still before us. Welcome, indeed!

Photo by Glenn Minshall
Introduction of 2018 Founder’s Day Speaker Jay Ward

Introduction by Heidi Leeds ’18

Jay Ward has been teaching at NMH for 42 years. But his history at this school started well before he became a teacher. Mr. Ward first came to NMH as a faculty child when he was a baby. Although his family moved away, he returned as a Mount Hermon student in ninth grade, and graduated with the Class of 1968. Most of Mr. Ward’s time at NMH has been spent teaching. I did some rough calculations and figured that, if he’s taught four classes a year with the NMH average of 11 students for 42 years, he’s shared his knowledge with approximately 1,850 students (which, to put it in perspective would fill this chapel three times.) He has taught in five different subjects: Chemistry, Biology, Physics, Environmental Science, and Computer Science.

In addition to teaching, Mr. Ward has held many other roles on our campus throughout the years, including coaching wrestling and all levels of soccer, directing the Summer School, acting as chair of the science department, as dean of residential life, and now as the school registrar. And because of this last position, he probably knows your name even if you haven’t met him, because he is the one who works all summer to coordinate 650 busy, complicated schedules so that each of us can take the classes we want, which for me meant taking his AP Physics class this past fall.

Despite the fact that the fall semester was a week shorter than last year, he was able to magically squeeze in all the fun labs and projects. I, like many people, learn best through hands-on activities. In that class, we risked our thumbs calculating the distance a marble would fall off a ramp, shot falling monkeys with magnetic darts, and measured the speed of flying pigs. He even found time to tell us a few stories about what he called “the old days at NMH.”

Instead of yelling about being late to class, he told us that it happens to everyone, but just make sure you come in breathing hard. When he was a freshman, his teacher told them, “You better be huffing and puffing when you come in late,” so he and his friends used to stand outside the door and make themselves hyperventilate before entering.

During your campus tour, you may have heard about the famous Silliman fire that took place during a football game. Mr. Ward was a student at the time, but he was also a volunteer firefighter who held one of the hoses to stop the flames. NFL Films even interviewed him about it a few years ago. It’s still online if you want to see more.

I’m sure that anyone who has taken a class with Mr. Ward will agree that he’s a passionate and patient teacher. He has devoted his adult life to students at Northfield Mount Hermon. It is truly an honor to introduce him today. Please join me in thanking and welcoming Mr. Jay Ward.

Glenn Minshall photo

2018 Founder's Day Senior Reflection by Chaewon Carrie Kim ’18

Today, I would like to reflect on how NMH has changed me. Specifically, I would like to discuss how our past and our present shape how we understand success. But first, I must revisit the summer after I turned five years old: the first day of my English-only pre-school. “Americans are so fat!” I remember exclaiming to my friends as our kindergarten teacher, Mr. Adams, introduced himself in a language I couldn’t comprehend. He was a mildly overweight man in his late 40s, a foreigner, with closely-cropped blonde hair and a boisterous attitude that seemed out of place at my strict and hierarchical institution. This was my first encounter with a foreigner: an American.

Eleven years later, I realized that it has become easier for me to envision this memory of my past from the perspective of Mr. Adams rather than from that of my younger self. It was only natural that I grew more accustomed to the perspective of a foreigner; my four years’ stay at NMH as an international student was characterized by a successive chain of identity crises. I wrestled with the task of molding my sense of self in a way that appeased both the Korean and American cultures, while simultaneously striving to break free from the predefined norms that accompanied each.

A large factor contributing to this struggle was language. The English language, with its history, culture, and mannerisms embedded underneath, has escaped the pages of my textbook and crept up into my thoughts and conversations. As I grew stronger in understanding and analyzing English text, I realized that I have begun to internalize the perspectives and ideologies that seemed distant and intangible when read in Korean. In short, my cultural identity was irrevocably changed as a result of my bilingualism.

This change pushed me to into a scary domain I traditionally understood as not meant for people like me, people whose first language was not English and whose primary culture was not embedded in the customs and the history of the United States of America. The pristine and lyrical prose of Ralph Waldo Emerson, T.S. Eliot, and Mary Oliver seemed daunting and beyond emulating. My budding identity as an English writer, reader, and storyteller was not something I was eager to explore.

Before, I was protected by the safety of assuming the identity assigned unto me as a result of my foreign status. I used to believe that my English reflected my degree of assimilation; that because my English was fraught with holes, my sense of place at NMH, and by extension, the US, was also far from permanent. This meant I could always fall back upon a version of self that remained unmarred by my romance with English whenever I felt isolated or misunderstood — the version of self whose allegiance belonged to South Korea, my homeland, and thereby detached from the complex cultural transitions taking place within me. I especially compartmentalized my understanding of self my freshman year. When girls in my dorm would make fun of the way I pronounced a certain word, or when boys from NMH and, on one occasion, Deerfield, would approach me with the rhetoric of Asian exoticism, or when I recognized that my friends from back home and I were drifting apart, I would trap myself back into the homogeneous bubble of Korean culture to shield myself from the validity of such experiences and the subsequent damage they inflicted upon me.

Often, I would take a trip to this sacred, compartmentalized dimension during humanities and social science courses; when asked, “What is my place?”, my answer was simple: “Not here.” Predictably, I didn’t enjoy HUM I. My friends loved it. In response to my American friends’ enraged inquiries, I simply shrugged, then responded that I didn’t enjoy humanities. Sometimes, when I felt moody, I would retort that I didn’t have time to ponder upon life’s greatest philosophical dilemmas, such as what it means to be human, because my allegiance lay not with this happy-go-lucky liberal institution in Western Mass., but with the fast-paced and cutthroat society of Korea that pushed me to get ahead.

A part of this reasoning was true. My parents have always wished that I would pursue STEM, expressing worries that a humanities degree would hold no leverage in the ruthless American job market. Plus, aligning myself with the sciences meant upholding the marketable image of an Asian: hardworking, mathematical, and industrious, welcomed at both her homeland and in the US. I wished to adhere to the convenience of what I believed to be the grand narrative of success for a Korean study-abroad student, because then I wouldn’t have to justify the idiosyncrasies of my existence. I know, I was being pretty dramatic.

Spending more years at NMH helped me gain perspective. To put it in numbers, from 2014 to 2015, international students in Massachusetts made up about 6 percent of all students enrolled in higher education, which equals approximately 55,000 students. I realized that our experiences will become diverse and multifaceted, if they are not already so, and that my journey will be simply one of many contributing to the ever-expanding fabric of what it means to be a foreign national in an American institution. This was a very liberating insight.

As I look back on my time at NMH, a certain figure comes to mind. Amy Tan, a prominent Asian-American writer, once remarked, “I felt ashamed of being different and ashamed of feeling that way.” My time at NMH taught me the value of expanding my perceived narrative of success. I felt ashamed of not adhering to what I internalized as the reflection of success, then struggled as I felt ashamed for betraying my integrity. But now, I realize that I must appreciate and embrace the authenticity of my experiences in order to grow and learn. And I wish you do the same.

Thank you.

Glenn Minshall photo

2018 Founder’s Day Remarks by Rev. Lee-Ellen Strawn

Chaplain’s Words

Dwight L. Moody, the founder of this school, was a religious man who viewed people as valuable, asserted their ability to know the world and respond to its concerns, and maintained confidence in humanity’s potential to act with goodness. Moody fervently hoped that others would find joy and meaning in the type of impassioned Christian faith he was committed to. For this reason, education and life at NMH have always had a spiritual component. Today, NMH is not the religious school that Moody would recognize. Yet, I believe he would appreciate our efforts to put into practice the school’s historic core values of empathy, compassion, service, justice, equity, and community, and would not deny the spiritual quality of these values, nor that they can be found in all of the world’s religious traditions.

In recognition of the important role religion played in Moody’s life and has played in the life of this school, I have asked Fardusi Uddin, Chris Zhao, and Nashely Alvarez to join me at the podium to share with you an NMH credo, a statement of beliefs that guides our actions as members of this community.

An NMH Credo

We are Muslim.
We are Buddhist.
We are Catholic.
We are Atheist.
We are Hindu.
We are Daoist.
We are Evangelical Protestant.
We are Orthodox Christian.
We are Sikh.
We are Mormon.
We are Jewish.
We are liberal Christian.
And, we are more than these words, too.
This matters to us.
We are NMH.

We believe we are valuable beings.

Whether we know ourselves to be God’s beloved children, or egos striving to be empty and available for compassion toward others, or the result of cosmic forces of good, we believe our existence is important. We believe we can make a difference in our families, our communities, and our world. This matters to us; it affects the choices we make now and the dreams we will cultivate for our future.

We believe we can know the world around us and respond with courage and compassion.

Some of us will claim knowledge is a divine gift, others the process of evolution, and others yet, a combination of the two. But for all of us, we believe our knowledge makes us accountable to one another, and responsible to question systems that thwart justice, perpetuate discrimination and unequal privilege, and deplete the natural resources of the earth, our shared home. We believe we cannot ignore knowledge that makes us uncomfortable. This matters to us; knowledge is not for private accumulation but for communal, equitable distribution and the betterment of all persons.

We believe we, and all human beings, can act with goodness.

We believe it is possible to know right from wrong when we assume a position of humility and respect for others. We do not all adhere to the same source for the knowledge of good and evil. But we believe in the beauty we create as a community when goodness is desired and allowed to flourish. This matters to us; we believe in each other and what we each can become.

Individually, I am Muslim.
Individually, I am Catholic.
Individually, I am Buddhist.
But together we are NMH, for the time we live on this campus, and even after in the many corners of the world we will reach out to. This matters to us; this is our credo, as students and committed people wanting to learn and to make good of who are becoming in this place.


Sending Forth
As we go forth from this Founder’s Day celebration, I charge you to embody the spirit of our school in all that you do and with all whom you meet. Know that you and the persons sitting next to you are valuable beings with the ability to read the world and respond to its concerns with compassion and courage. And wherever you may go today, or in the years to come, as members of the NMH community, may you always maintain your confidence in humanity’s potential to act with goodness. Be blessed to be this blessing to others today and always.

Glenn Minshall photo
2018 Founder’s Day Moment of Silence by Michael Patterson ’19

I grew up in New York City. I was born there and have called it home for almost my entire life, and I know my neighborhood like the back of my hand. Billy, the street vendor on the end of my block who once gave me a free hot dog on my birthday. Central Park and the route I always took to get to school, walking, or riding my super-cool razor scooter. My building’s shared backyard that only my family really used, with its basketball hoop and uneven dirt floor. And I have memories in all of these places. Billy always giving my siblings and me free lollipops with every purchase of a hot dog. A tree halfway along the walk through Central Park that made you feel like you could see the whole park if you stood on its trunk. I remember setting up my new hockey goal so that I had to score with a very good shot in the backyard, and proceeding to rocket a puck a good foot and a half above the net and straight through our neighbor’s window.

One of my fondest memories was of the North Woods, a section of Central Park that somewhat resembled a forest; for New York City, it was pretty good. My friends and I would run around the paths and over a small stream playing tag, or stare at the waterfall from under a rock next to the stream. I loved the North Woods, and a love for the outdoors was born inside me. My grandparents’ house in Connecticut offered me an escape from New York City. I created mazes in the woods and would run around all day. I saw a deer for the first time, a majestic animal compared to the rats, squirrels, and pigeons of New York.

It was in Connecticut that I discovered fishing. I remember my parents buying me my first rod. The man in the store asked my parents if either of them fished, to which they replied, “no.” He chuckled and said, “That's evolution.” I got a rod and a box of worms and went to a nearby pond. I caught five fish, and from then on I loved to fish.

My love for the outdoors grew and grew over the years. I discovered the White Mountains of New Hampshire and the coast of Maine. I fell in love with the outdoors, a love that New York City did not fulfill. The North Woods of Central Park were no longer wild enough to give me enough time outdoors. So, when I had to start thinking about where I would go to high school, I realized that I would be happiest in a place that could support my love for the outdoors.

That’s how I found NMH, and because of everything else this school had to offer, I came here. I knew I wanted to leave home so I could pursue my love for the outdoors, but doing so was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I’m sure many of you have had the same experience I did. I had to say goodbye to the home I had lived in for 15 years.

When I showed up at NMH I could hardly do anything I was so sad to have left home. But with time, I began to make a new home. NMH is my home now, and it has shown me so many things. I have learned how to be a student, a better friend, and in general a better person.

NMH has given me the opportunity to discover fly fishing. All of my friends and most people who have had a conversation with me know that I am a die-hard member of the NMH Anglers, the unofficial fly-fishing club on campus of which I am usually the only member. I cherish my time fly fishing here because it is so fun, but fly fishing has also been my way of fully discovering and experiencing the love for the outdoors that drew me away from my first home to my second. And fly fishing will most likely take me to other new homes, and away from ones I love.

This will happen to all of us, it is the way life works. What you love will take you away from the places you love. Many of you have left your homes to come here, and will leave here to go elsewhere and make a new home. I recently found out that my family is moving over the summer. I will lose my home in New York, but I will always have what New York gave me. And when I leave here I will have what NMH has given to me.

During this moment of silence, take time to remember your home, wherever that was or may be. Take this time to cherish where you call home, and the memories and experiences that home gave you.

Let us be silent.

Glenn Minshall photo

2018 Founder’s Day Address by Jay Ward

I am sure that many of you are looking at me and wondering if I was asked to speak on Founder’s Day because I knew D.L. Moody personally. … No, Mr. Moody died in 1899 and even I have not been around so long. But my great-grandfather did know him. When a teenaged Moody first applied to become a member of a church in Boston, that church turned him down because they claimed they were not sure he was a committed Christian. The family story is that my great-grandfather, a deacon in the church, was one of the people who helped Moody prepare for a later application, which was approved. Of course there is another account in which it appears that my great-grandfather may have been mostly responsible for the church rejecting Moody in the first place.

I have had a long association with the school. Members of my family have been either students or faculty at NMH for 77 of the past 82 years. This is my 46th Founder’s Day in this chapel and I will enjoy celebrating my 50th reunion this June. I consider Mount Hermon to not only be my home, but also the place in which I grew up to become the person I am today. Maybe the sum of all my experiences does qualify me to say something on Founder’s Day. At least someone thinks so. Today I am going to be sharing with you some of D.L. Moody’s story and how his influence still can be found in NMH today, despite many changes.

Founder's Day is often the only place where students get to hear about D.L. Moody. It is important that you, as members of the school family, have some sense of our founder, even though he lived in very different times. I will just give a brief outline of his life. It will be review for some of you, new for others. If you get the chance to learn more about his life and work, you should.

Dwight Lyman Moody was born on Feb. 5, 1837, in Northfield, Massachusetts. His father died when Moody was four years old and his mother struggled to care for her nine children. At 10 years old, after only four or five years of school, he went to work on neighboring farms to make money to support his family. At 17, he left home for Boston to find work in the big city. In Boston, he eventually found work in his uncle’s shoe store and became a Christian. At 19 he went to Chicago, where he established himself as a very successful salesman and businessman. After several years in which he became more and more involved with the YMCA and church activities, Moody gave up business to focus completely on religious work. Moody was a deeply religious man, but not in a formal way. His education was minimal, but with his wife’s help he gradually improved at writing and speaking. His efforts eventually took him from the battlefields of the Civil War to Great Britain and around this country. Everywhere he went he faced challenges, but eventually had great success. Originally dismissed because of his lack of education and polish, he would draw tens of thousands to his revival meetings.

In his later years he spent a lot of his time around the schools, but he continued to be an inspiration to many near and far. To call him a 19th-century evangelist is too meager a description. From humble beginnings in tiny Northfield, Massachusetts, he became one of the most influential people of his time. The man who founded Northfield in 1879 and Mount Hermon in 1881 was immensely popular, and he was able to call on many influential friends for financial assistance. While he refused to Benefit personally from most of the money he raised, he made sure that funds went to his two schools and to the Moody Bible Institute in Chicago.

Moody’s two schools were definitely founded as Christian schools where young women and men received religious as well as academic and skills-based education, and this emphasis has certainly changed with only the religious studies requirement to echo what once was an integral part of school life. In my days as a student, we still had required Sunday and weekday chapel services and took full-credit, required courses in Bible I, Bible II, Bible III, and Bible IV. This was much less religious instruction than the original students had received. Of course that was 50 years ago, and life at the school has continued to change even more. It is doubtful that Moody would be comfortable with our present day embrace of many spiritual traditions and optional worship.

So what would Moody recognize in the NMH of today? Let me give you three threads that are still part of the NMH fabric.

First Thread: The Work Program

Moody used Wellesley College as a model for Northfield, and this included adopting a work program. Every student, not matter their background, was expected to do work to assist in the running of the school. Early students dragged rocks and boulders to create the nice lawns you see around us, got up early in the morning to milk cows, made the food, and cleaned the buildings, and even brought the stones up the hill that built this chapel. Not only was student labor a way to keep the costs of education down, but Moody believed that there was a great deal to be learned from manual labor, and that when everyone pitched in there was a deeper sense of shared community.

In my days as a student, the girls at Northfield referred to this domestic work as “dummy,” while we boys at Mount Hermon called it “workjob.” My workjob my freshman year was to empty, clean, and refill all the sugar bowls that were placed on the tables for breakfast. I did this all year. In sophomore year, I graduated to the more glamorous job of cleaning the salt and pepper shakers. As a junior, I waited on the waiters who waited on the single faculty, bringing them their food and cleaning up after them. Faculty members with families were not allowed to eat breakfast or dinner in the dining hall. As a senior, I was a resident leader, a position that was called “floor officer” at Mount Hermon and “cop” at Northfield. I am still trying to get the school to pay me for this experience because I did the same things a duty faculty member does nowadays: supervising study hall, checking students in, inspecting rooms, and even putting them to bed at lights out.

As I traveled to other schools for sports, it became clear that workjob was unique at Mount Hermon. At Exeter and other schools only the scholarship students worked — if students did any work at all. I was very proud that at my school everyone was expected to contribute to the school community. Every student was treated the same and asked to be part of the experience here. When students ask me, “Why do I have to do workjob when my family is paying all this tuition?” my answer is that they have just indicated by their question why it is necessary for them to work.

Moody would be very comfortable with our work program, although he would think all of you are getting off easy with your jobs.

Second Thread: Music

Moody loved music and always went out of his way to hear music. His partnership with gospel singer and composer Ira Sankey led to lots of hymn singing at his revival meetings. Moody and Sankey published a very successful hymnbook and the profits eventually went directly to the schools and paid for the erection of several buildings. It is said that many of the campus buildings were “sung up.”

There is a nice story about Moody and Sankey and some friends taking the ferry across the Connecticut River from Northfield to Mount Hermon. (There was no bridge.) This ferry was a rope ferry where the ferryman pulled the ferry across on a rope. As they crossed, they started singing to pass the time, and after a while the passengers realized the crossing was taking a longer time than usual. They discovered that a grinning Moody was pulling on the rope against the ferryman, prolonging the passage so that he and the ferryman could hear more music.

At Northfield in my day, every girl belonged to a choir, while at Mount Hermon, we had both Glee Club and choirs. In my senior year I could not stand being left out of all the fun and I worked up the nerve to try out for the choir. Despite a terrible audition I was allowed to join, and it was one of the best things I did. Vespers and Sacred Concert are more awesome when you are directly participating. And of course we sang every week in chapel services. When you experience Sacred Concert in May, remember that this school tradition was started by Moody as a tribute to his mother, and think of him. While Moody’s taste in music was focused on hymns and the like, I am pretty certain he would enjoy the expertise of the choirs, orchestra, bands, and groups we have today. The musical tradition is certainly something we still have from Moody’s day.

Third Thread: Scholarship, Diversity and Service. I consider these three things to be connected.

The schools were founded to provide opportunities to students so that they could prepare for a life of service. And some of these students, like Moody, came from very poor educational and economic backgrounds. In 1900, the tuition was set at $100 per year (which was half of the cost to educate each student), and many students had their tuition paid in whole or part by school funds. In the early days of this school, students who could pay the full tuition were not accepted. It is one reason NMH is less well off financially than other schools who have been around as long as we have. The school’s resources went to assisting students and therefore were not invested to grow.

Moody would recognize that NMH is still offering scholarship assistance to worthy applicants, still providing educational opportunity, and even today, your tuition is just a fraction of the total cost of your education. In that sense, every student in this room is on financial aid. I could never have attended Mount Hermon without aid, and I will always donate to the school in the hope that others will have the same chance I had. Just last Friday I spoke with an NMH trustee who feels the same way and is passionate about finding ways to extend the NMH opportunity to more people.

From the beginning, Moody’s schools were characterized by a diverse student body, and that was unique for private schools. Today, the NMH student body is even more ethnically and economically diverse, and our rich mix of people on campus is potentially an even better place to learn and live. Everyone of you benefits from the experience of learning and living with others from all sorts of places and backgrounds. Your horizons are broadened and you are less likely to be wary of people who are different from you. You are better equipped to navigate the kind of world you will inherit. I have learned so much about what it means to be a human being from my classmates and students over the years, and I know that there are so many ways to be excellent. I can name-drop famous NMH People (Did you know I had a date with Natalie Cole?), but I also have gotten to know many less well-known but very important people who are making an impact on the lives of others in so many different ways. I am extremely proud of our NMH graduates, like A’Dorian Murray-Thomas and poet Anna Meek, who visited us in the last few days.

The school is constantly trying to develop programs which will make all of us better citizens of an increasingly diverse and complicated world. This is a strength that Moody would recognize today. And while we no longer specifically prepare students for a life of Christian service, I submit that Moody would consider students who “act with humanity and purpose” to be worthy graduates.

So I remind you all, in Moody’s name, not only to take full advantage of the opportunities you have to learn from others, but also to search out ways you can contribute to a better world for everyone around you.

Moody’s schools were different from other private schools when they were founded. They addressed a need to educate students who were otherwise overlooked. And as the schools have changed since the 1800s, they have done so because students and the world they need to be prepared for have changed. The changes were not only in the amount of religious instruction or in the economic diversity of the student body, but also in the areas of school life and the nature of the curriculum. Think about this: most independent schools when I was a student were single-sex schools; NMH was ahead of things even then. In my senior year, if we were lucky, boys from Mount Hermon and girls from Northfield could get to see each other four days a week for an hour or two of closely chaperoned time, unless you were in the coed classes in Advanced Biology or Chinese, in which you saw the other half of the human race more regularly. When Mr. Weis graduated 10 years later his entire four years as a student were spent at a coeducational, two-campus school.

It wasn’t too long ago that the school decided we could teach our students better with our present CMAP system, where courses are taught in semesters. And of course we fairly recently moved to a single campus. I can tell you quite confidently that NMH is a better and stronger place because of all these changes.

In a similar way, the school’s commitment to diversity and social justice comes from a need to prepare students for the society in which they will live and work. Do you see that immersing yourself in these issues, questioning, learning from others, is absolutely crucial if you are going to be an educated and influential person in the multicultural world you will inherit?

If the school has changed so much since I graduated in 1968, how will the school have changed when you seniors return for your 50th reunion in 2068? I bet that NMH still will be a school that functions so that its students will be prepared to make a difference, to act with humanity and purpose in whatever culture they find around themselves. Your school is not stuck in the past and embraces necessary change, and this needs to be celebrated.

In closing, remember to be proud of your school and its founder, D.L. Moody. You can see his influence in our work program, in the music we make and enjoy, in the school’s commitment to scholarship and service, and in our willingness to adapt to be the best place to grow and learn so you can have happy and productive lives. NMH is not the same as the schools Moody founded, but the Spirit of Moody, as well as all of us who live and work here, still expect you as NMH graduates to make the world around you better in both small and large ways.

Let’s all get back to learning how to make it happen!

Thank you.

Jay Ward is NMH registrar and science teacher.

Photo by Glenn Minshall 

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