The Academy's 256th Commencement Exercises Held Over Memorial Day Weekend
Posted 05/27/2019 08:15PM

The Governor's Academy held its 256th Commencement exercises on Sunday, May 26 and celebrated the graduation of 109 seniors.

After receiving their diplomas in front of family and friends, graduates spent a few minutes celebrating with faculty and classmates on the lawn in front of the historic Little Red Schoolhouse. Friends then joined hands and took 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.  

Delivering the Commencement address this year was Frederick M. Lawrence. Lawrence is the 10th Secretary and CEO of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, the nation's first and most prestigious academic honor society, founded in 1776. Lawrence is a Distinguished Lecturer at the Georgetown Law Center and has previously served as President of Brandeis University, Dean of the George Washington University Law School, and Visiting Professor and Senior Research Scholar at Yale Law School. He was elected to the American Philosophical Society in 2018 and the American Law Institute in 1999.

An accomplished scholar, teacher, and attorney, Lawrence is one of the nation's leading experts on civil rights, free expression, and bias crimes. Lawrence has published widely and lectured internationally. He is the author of Punishing Hate: Bias Crimes Under American Law (Harvard University Press 1999), examining bias-motivated violence and the laws governing how such violence is punished in the United States. Lawrence's legal career was distinguished by service as an assistant U.S. attorney for the southern district of New York in the 1980s, where he became chief of the Civil Rights Unit. Lawrence received a bachelor's degree in 1977 from Williams College magna cum laude where he was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and a law degree in 1980 from Yale Law School where he was an editor of the Yale Law Journal.

In his address to the Governor's Class of 2019 entitled "Is Change Really the Only Constant?", Lawrence urged graduates to use their college experience as an opportunity to learn how to think. He said, "Embrace breadth and long-term thinking; avoid narrowness and short-term thinking. In a college course, do not ask 'am I learning a specific piece of information I can use?' You likely won't be able to use it in ten years, or even ten months, and possibly not in ten days. Instead, ask 'am I learning a way of thinking that I will be able to use for the rest of my life?' 'Cross-train' your brain in college. And don't ever stop."

Alek Sophia Davis of Leesburg, Virginia 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."

The Thorndike Hilton Cup, "awarded to the highest ranking scholar of the graduating class," was presented to Weizhi (Will) Zhao of North Andover, MA.

The Academy Prize was presented to Vinay Metlapalli of Andover, Massachusetts. This prize is "awarded to a senior whose unselfishness and sportsmanship have best exemplified the spirit of the school."

Susannah Moore List of Reading, Massachusetts was the recipient of the Peter W. Bragdon Head of School Cup, which is "given to that senior, who in the judgment of the Head of School, has best served the mission of the school."

Congratulations to the Class of 2019!


To view all photos from Commencement weekend, please click here. 

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