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Gearan Tells Grads to Make a Difference

President Mark D. Gearan presented the Commencement Address to the Governor’s Academy Class of 2011 in Newbury, Mass., on Sunday. The Eagle-Tribune covered the event and noted that “Gearan got the audience laughing very quickly when he praised the two soon-to-be graduates who decided to attend his Geneva, N.Y., school in a few months. On a more serious note, Gearan said it was important for those heading to college to step out of their comfort zones and try something new in terms of courses or activities.”

The newspaper article also quoted Gearan, “Seize the day and soak up the experience college life will provide you,” Gearan told the students. “When you serve others, when you make a difference, you feel better.”

The full article follows.


Governor’s Academy grads told to make a difference
The Eagle-Tribune (North Andover, MA)

Dave Rogers • May 30, 2011

NEWBURY — It was a memorable Memorial Day weekend for the 93 members of
The Governor’s Academy Class of 2011 who said goodbye to the nation’s oldest boarding school following yesterday’s commencement exercises.

Weather conditions were just about perfect for the hundreds of graduates, faculty, trustees and guests who filled the mostly shaded Mansion House Lawn for the 248th commencement in the school’s illustrious history.

Before the ceremony began, a brass quintet greeted commencement guests with classical selections played through a PA system. The outfit of choice, it seemed for men, were blue blazers, blue striped shirts and bright colored ties. Many women were wearing multicolored sundress while some toddlers and young children were also wearing ties and dress shirts.

Area luminaries spotted in the audience were Newbury novelist Andre Dubus III and former Boston Bruins forward Bobby Carpenter, two of the many proud parents, grandparents, great-grandparents and other relatives who cheered effusively when their children were called to the podium to receive their diplomas.

Some in the audience brought massive placards that they waved enthusiastically when their loved ones walked by. Others activated booming horns when their sons or daughters were called, taking the advice of headmaster Marty Doggett, who said it was more than all right to applause after each student’s name was read.

“Clearly people were listening to me,” Doggett joked, eliciting one of many hearty laughs yesterday morning.

Receiving the Morse Flag this year, an honor on par with being named class valedictorian, was Yiqi Xu of Beijing, China. Xu also took home the Thorndike Prize, awarded to the ranking scholar of the school.

Also saying goodbye yesterday was Doggett, who recently announced his departure after 12 years as headmaster. Doggett spent a few touching moments asking his five sons to stand up and then thanking his wife, Patty, for her support over the many years he served as The Governor’s Academy 27th headmaster. As a way of honoring Doggett’s service to the school, the Board of Trustees announced last week that one of the school’s dormitories, New Dorm, home to sophomore girls, was renamed Doggett Dormitory.

Board of Trustees President Jeffrey Gordon said to the audience the Doggett years will rank as some of the most productive in The Governor’s Academy’s history.

Giving the commencement address this year was Hobart and William Smith College President and former Peace Corps director Mark Gearan.

Gearan got the audience laughing very quickly when he praised the two soon-to-be graduates who decided to attend his Geneva, N.Y., school in a few months. On a more serious note, Gearan said it was important for those heading to college to step out of their comfort zones and try something new in terms of courses or activities.

“Seize the day and soak up the experience college life will provide you,” Gearan said.

Gearan also spoke of the need to lead an engaged life and to make a difference in the world.

“When you serve others, when you make a difference, you feel better,” adding it was a clear way towards happiness.

As he has done in past commencement exercises, Doggett asked grandparents and great-grandparents to stand up and be recognized. He then praised them for creating a narrative that arches across generations and implored students to listen to their stories and their wisdom.

Once all of the 93 diplomas were handed out, graduates did what past classes have done for generations; they jumped over a small brick wall near the Mansion Lawn — a tradition that signifies their leap from high school and their first steps into the future.

Copyright © 2011 The Eagle-Tribune, North Andover, Mass.