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30 seniors graduate as SDS Class of 2019

During Spartanburg Day School's commencement exercises Friday morning, 30 students processed in as seniors and out as graduates of the Class of 2019. 

The ceremony was held in the Senior Courtyard, which was filled with friends, family, faculty and staff and many supporters.

Head of School Rachel Deems welcomed the crowd to the 56th commencement ceremony of Spartanburg Day School.

"On this last morning together as a class, you are encircled by those who love you, believe in you, who want the best for you and by those who will always welcome you back to this place," Deems said. "You are ready to leave us for you have been expertly prepared. Having met some of you as sixth graders and others somewhere along the last seven years, I have witnessed your potential unfold and have great confidence in the paths you will follow and how you will do your part to change the world for good."

Mrs. Deems acknowledged board members, faculty and past heads of school in attendance. She also recognized the family of Alli Hoy, a member of the class who died in January 2018 after a courageous battle with Burkitt's Leukemia. A chair was left empty in her memory, and friend and classmate Ariana Muehlenbein presented Alli's parents with roses during the traditional rose ceremony.

Alumnus Berkeley Young '81 served as this year's keynote speaker. He spoke of his own journey since graduating as a Griffin and of the journey still to come for the students sitting before him. 

"With your graduation today you are part of a great legacy that comes from this caring, educational community," Young said. "Many have gone before you and many more will follow.  Wherever you go in life Spartanburg and the Day School will be with you."

Valedictorian Christine Yang spoke of the immense impact support from teachers, camaraderie of classmates and richness of experiences had on her during her years at SDS. 

"All the experiences in high school have shaped us into better human beings and made us think about our future," she said. "When I worried about what to major in college, Mr. Lonon told me to chase my passion and study what I enjoy. He led me to understand that to achieve greatness is not to acquire money and recognition. It is, instead, to enjoy the process and be hopeful toward life. Yes, it’s time for us to take on the world, to find and pursue our passions. To 'leave a legacy.'"

Six graduates are "lifers" at SDS, having spent every academic year since 4K as Griffins. The lifers are: Anne Dobson Ball, Jake Beets, Rett Foust, Robey Leonardi, William Owens and Elizabeth Smith.

Upper School teacher and dean of students Paige Phillips was awarded the 2019 Larrabee Endowed Chair Award, an award presented annually at graduation to recognize good teaching and honoring a faculty member who incorporates innovation and creativity in the classroom. 

The Caggiano Memorial Alumni Award was presented to SDS Director of Technology Services Celia Cooksey '86. The award is presented to an alumnus who has distinguished his or herself on a national or international level or for one who has made a significant contribution to the life of the Day School.

The Gary Clark Headmaster's Award is annually presented to a senior who, through graciousness, good manners, courtesy and through a genuine concern for others, has had a positive impact on the Spartanburg Day School community. This year that award was presented to Jake Beets.

Anne Dobson Ball was awarded the Groblewski Cup, an award recognizing a member of the graduating class for outstanding leadership.

Congratulations to the Spartanburg Day School Class of 2019!