…I see my friends here before me, and I feel a deep sense of gratitude as I am flooded with memories of the times we’ve shared. Although my personal recollections are probably a little different from yours, one thing is for sure: We’re all very lucky to have had such transformative relationships with our teachers, and to have benefited from such invaluable opportunities to learn. This, indeed, is St. Luke’s.
– Luke Martocchio, St. Luke’s Salutatorian 2017, Attending Harvard
In his impeccable address, Salutatorian Luke Martocchio captured the spirit of Commencement—a time to reflect and enjoy a flood of memories—before the next journey and new memories begin.
I referenced Luke’s “stratospheric GPA” and “the quality of his intellect” when introducing him. But as we listened to him celebrate his teachers—from Mrs. Olsen in fifth grade through a host of Middle and Upper School faculty—we knew Luke’s greatest asset is his huge heart.
Awe-inspiring “intellectual prowess and acumen” describe Valedictorian Grace Zaro. As I cautioned the Commencement audience: “Do not be fooled by her casual demeanor. This is a scholar who combines innate brilliance with both discipline and a fiercely intense focus. In high school this has brought her to valedictory heights. At Stanford and beyond, the sky seems the limit.”
Gracie gave a provocative address. She used “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” protagonist Randle Patrick McMurphy to demonstrate humor is not a cop out: “When a situation is hard or frustrating, it is the little one-liner, the ability to self deprecate, that makes the fight easier. Humor is not a cop out, it is an advanced defense mechanism. Think about it: it is free, it is legal, it is harmless. It is your opponent’s worst nightmare.”
Each year, I marvel at the skills of our young speakers and the intense emotional impact of this day. When will I become desensitized? Never, I suspect. It’s an honor to send these wonderful people out into the world. And a beautiful sorrow to bid them farewell. Below is from my Commencement farewell:
“Whatever you achieve in your lives, remember to seek out communities like this one. Places that offer you connection, the feeling of rootedness, and the timeless values that St. Luke’s has. We live in a time of constant change, of uncertainty about what the future will hold for us…or ask of us…and of relentless questioning of what many of us considered timeless truths for most of our lives.
As any great skipper will tell you, your moorings matter. Without that safe harbor, that tether to something stable and comforting, that thing to which you can cling when storms seem otherwise overwhelming – without that, moving forward feels scarier and more difficult.
Soon – at college and throughout your life – you will face tough choices, in new communities and in unfamiliar cultures. You might encounter a fraternity brother or sorority sister who wants you to drink yourself into oblivion, to prove…who-knows-what. Maybe it will be a roommate – or a boss – who seems to lack a sense of honor. Whatever the circumstance…remember us. Remember St. Luke’s, and all the people who love you. Remember that here you have constructed a strong moral compass…within yourself. It’s there. Use it. Whenever you feel untethered, remember St. Luke’s.”
Enjoy this Commencement 2017 Photo Gallery (we’ll keep adding photos so check back).
St. Luke’s is a private, secular (non-religious) independent school in New Canaan, CT serving grades 5-12. St. Luke’s mission: An exceptional education that inspires a deep love of learning, a strong moral compass, the commitment to serve, and the confidence to lead. Come visit us!