As Hal Daughdrill ‘73, Chairman of the McCallie’s Board of Trustees, officially welcomed the Class of 2017 into “the long blue line” of alumni, he shared with them a brief reflection on what makes the diploma and their experiences on the Ridge so indelible for their lives. He spoke of his visit to a Golden M reunion, where men celebrate their 50th reunion year and one particular conversation he had.
It was at that point that I turned to one of the gentlemen standing next to me and said to him how remarkable it was that these men felt the impact of McCallie and their teachers so deeply and so strongly so many years after the fact. He turned to me and said, “Hal, it’s been this way ever since the day we graduated. It’s been like this for the last 50 years.”
Commencement is the celebration of a beginning, and the emotions and atmosphere on display on the Ridge over the sunny and brisk May weekend reflected the beginning of incredible possibility for 169 new graduates from McCallie School.
Despite their collected list of accomplishments -- the AP Scholar and National Merit scholar semifinalist and commended lists are mere starting points for the many academic-related competitions and awards this year’s student body won -- the focus of the day was not on the things these young men have done, but rather on who they have become.
Headmaster Lee Burns ‘87 spoke to the high future expectations of the class with his words from Commencement: “Don’t take your extraordinary education as an entitlement, as an excuse and opportunity to simply claim for yourself all that you can. Share your gifts, talents and resources. Look outward and upward rather than inward. Invest in others. Wash the dirty feet of the disenfranchised. Give your life away. Use your privileges on purpose for other people.”
Despite a list of college choices as impressive as any in the history of the school, the theme of the weekend was not on the individual student, but on the interconnectedness of their class with the school and greater community.
Salutatorian Xuanlin Li spoke of the importance of seeking truth in life and remaining open to learning about truth even when it may challenge your perceptions about the world. Mr. Li will attend the University of California-Berkeley in the fall.
In his Valedictory speech, Grayson Medal winner King Jemison reflected on how the years at McCallie had guided he and everyone in the Class of 2017 along the path from being a boy to the cusp of manhood and the true vision of the best they can be in their adult lives.
“As the Class of 2017 moves forward through life, I hope and pray that we can treat others like we’ve been treated here at McCallie,” concluded Jemison, who will attend Stanford University in the fall. “Not as the flawed current versions of ourselves but as the incredible people we will be in the future.”
- Valedictory Address by King Jemison
- Salutatory Address by Xuanlin Li
- Video of Commencement
- Photo Gallery from Commencement
Throughout the 2016-17 school year we followed Joshua Azan as he walked through his senior year to commencement. Here's a look at his path to graduation.