The Governor's Academy Celebrates The Class of 2024

The Governor's Academy Celebrates The Class of 2024


The Governor's Academy held its 261st Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 26 on the lawn of the Mansion House. One hundred and twenty-two members of the Class of 2024 received their diplomas before a crowd of faculty, family, friends, and underclass students. 

Delivering this year’s Commencement Address was The Governor’s Academy’s Board of Trustees President James M. Pierce. Pierce, an Academy graduate from the class of 1972, has served on the Board of Trustees since 2005 and as its president for the last ten years. After graduating from Bowdoin College, he had a successful 35-year career in wealth management beginning as a financial advisor at a regional investment firm in Portland, Maine, and most recently as the Vice Chairman of Wealth Management US for UBS in Chicago, Illinois. In 2010, Jim founded James M Pierce LLC and now focuses solely on leadership coaching in the wealth management industry.

Pierce opened with a couple of stories about his time as a student in Byfield. Reflecting on his public speaking class, he said, “What I learned was people care far more about your sincerity, your values, and what you stand for than whether or not your message is perfectly crafted.”

He offered the Class of 2024 some thoughts on how to lead themselves and others, “Leadership has very little to do with your position, but is so much about your ability to get others on board with a big idea, or to help people see their talents more clearly and then, with your help, to live up to them. To me, that is what leaders really do.”

Pierce shared his leadership philosophy with graduates—Work hard. Be honest. Be honest with yourself—and gave them their last homework assignment as Governor’s students, “Write your leadership philosophy. It will allow you to succinctly articulate your values and beliefs, your expectations of yourself and others, and why others should care about it. Then put it into practice and re-visit it occasionally. Is it still your true north? Are you still showing up that way?”

After receiving their diplomas, graduates followed the faculty to the Little Red Schoolhouse to say “goodbye for now” and then walked to Mansion House together to take a metaphoric leap into the next chapter of their lives. The jumping of the wall, when graduates literally jump over the stone wall behind the Mansion House, has been a tradition since the 1950s and continues to be a treasured and significant ritual for each graduating class.

The Commencement processional was led by the two members of the Class of 2024 who won awards voted on by the entire Governor’s faculty. Yiqiao (Miffy) Wang of Hong Kong was awarded the Morse Flag, which is presented each year “to a senior whose record in all respects meets the highest approval of the faculty.” Alec Babineau of Lafayette, Colorado won the Academy Prize, which is “awarded to a senior whose unselfishness and sportsmanship have best exemplified the spirit of the school.”

Local award winners included Hunter Kingsbury of Byfield, Massachusetts, Erin Crisafi of Newbury, Massachusetts, and Morgan Proops of Salisbury, Massachusetts. Kingsbury won the Goodwin Athletic Prize, which is awarded to “a senior boy who, by his athletic achievement and sportsmanship, has brought the greatest honor to his school during his playing career at the Academy.” Crisafi won the Sarah Ellen Avalon Prize, which is “presented to that senior who through hard work, determination, and strength of character, has worked to develop their potential to the fullest, and in so doing, has been a true credit to The Governor’s Academy.” Proops won a Special Prize, which is “awarded to members of The Governor’s Academy Senior Class, whose perseverance, courage, initiative, sense of responsibility, loyalty, and concern for others have contributed to the strength of the Academy.”