‘KUA Will Always Be With You’
James Estabrook exclaims in surprise as a bear hug knocks his celebratory cigar from his hand following commencement at Kimball Union Academy in Meriden yesterday. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
Tennina Lindsay beams and waves after spontaneously running up to hug her nephew, Devin Thomas, as he walked back to his seat after receiving his diploma during commencement at Kimball Union Academy yesterday. (Valley News - Libby March) Purchase photo reprints »
Meriden — At yesterday’s 196th Kimball Union Academy commencement, the class of 2013 was urged to look forward to the opportunities in college and beyond while also remembering the KUA experience and the friendships forged.
“KUA will always be with you and you with KUA,” Head of School Michael Schafer told the 93 graduates in his Charge to the Class. “As you go out and contribute to the community you join, I hope you will not forget your formation here.”
In his opening remarks inside the Akerstrom Arena, Schafer congratulated the class and gave a nod to faculty, parents, friends and family for the inspiration, encouragement and support in helping graduates meet the challenges of tomorrow.
Valedictorian Sarah Porter, of Claremont, who Schafer praised for her intellect, creativity and passion for learning, said she felt a certain sadness these past few weeks as she realized all that she was doing was going to be “the last.”
“I wanted to stop, sit in the quad and savor and reflect on the years and the memories,” Porter said.
But eventually she came around to realizing that the change she experienced the last four years helped her grow in the same way it required change the last 200 years “to create this great school.”
“Change, while frightening, is essential,” Porter said. “I am reluctant to leave KUA but KUA is not leaving me. The people we met and the lessons we learned will stay with us because they have become part of us.”
Commencement speaker Don Lowery, KUA class of 1973, who grew up in public housing in Chicago and was able to attend KUA through a program that provides educational opportunities for inner city youths, reflected on KUA’s long and exemplary tradition of a diverse student population. He noted how the school was open to African Americans before the Civil War and welcomed foreign students in the 1940s.
Several awards were presented by Schafer, whose voice cracked with emotion when he told the story of a phone call he received last April and learned a student had been in a car crash that left him in a coma for five days with serious internal injuries. But miracle after miracle kept happening, said Schafer, and the student made a full recovery. James Estabrook, of Newport, showed no signs of the accident when he walked up to receive the Headmaster Award as everyone stood to applaud.
Class speaker Casey Miller, who arrived at KUA as a sophomore, also noted how people from all different backgrounds, countries and circumstances come together to share and learn at KUA. In one of his first experiences on a hike, he fell in with a French Canadian and a South African who played women’s basketball.
“Right off the bat I could tell KUA was a special place,” Miller said. While at his previous school, students congregated based on what they did or where they were from, “KUA broke down barriers,” he added.
“With the experience at KUA, I have learned so much about different people and so much about myself.”
List of Local Graduates:
Parker Beaupre, Meriden, Gettysburg College; Jonathan Munro, New London, Franklin and Marshall College; James Estabrook, Newport, Ithaca College; Jonathan Evans, Lebanon, Syracuse University; Ian Gregory-Davis, Meriden, Skidmore College; William Sheehan, Meriden, Bates College; Daniel Belback, Grafton, Loyola University Chicago; Karl Menzel, New London, Reed College; Joshua Young, Plainfield, University of Hartford; Sarah Porter, Claremont, Georgetown University; Emma Haskell-Cole, Meriden, Sacred Heart University; Mary Schisse, Newport, Providence College; Haley Pollock, North Sutton N.H., California State University, Fullerton; Zachary Hallock, Cornish, St. Lawrence University; Daniel Pogus, New London, Reed College; Eric L’Heureux, Meriden, Goldsmiths College, University of London; Senie Hunt Stewart, Warner, N.H., Wheaton College; Jennifer Comi, Norwich, Clark University; Rebecca DeTurk, Hartland, Hamilton College; Eibhilin Whittemore, Perkinsville, Emmanuel College; Kayla Jacobs, Norwich, Muhlenberg College.