“You are citizens of the world,” commencement speaker Mary Helen Hensley told Carlisle’s senior class. “It is your responsibility to educate yourselves that way.”
These seniors have a head start on her advice.
Comprised of 42 students, the Carlisle School Class of 2013 included 28 honor graduates, 11 International Baccalaureate Diploma candidates and 14 international students. Members have achieved a 100 percent college acceptance rate with nearly $2 million earned in scholarships to date.
Their achievements were celebrated during Saturday morning’s commencement ceremony, the 40th in Carlisle’s history.
The ceremony opened with an invocation led by salutatorian Anne Pryor Gravely, followed by opening remarks by Interim Head of School Barry Dorsey and the valedictory address by Liza Moore. Seniors Caroline Harris, Ellyce San Pedro, Liza Moore, Lori Yeaman, Nash Tetterton, Margie Feng and Caroline Jordan also performed a musical selection.
“The determination and courage of those in my class is strong,” Moore told those gathered at the school. “This passionate drive is evident in many of my classmates and it inspires me to work diligently to fulfill the expectations I have for myself.”
Despite setbacks and obstacles along the way, the senior class “has strived to achieve and accomplish at our highest potential, and I know this determined spirit will strengthen all of our future endeavors.”
Hensley alluded to this sentiment. “All experiences are equally important, good or bad,” she said. “Celebrate your challenges, and accept that it’s okay to mess up.”
A Martinsville native and Carlisle alumna, Hensley is the daughter of former headmaster Dick Hensley. She was inspired to return to school after undergoing chiropractic therapy following a severe car accident in 1991and graduated as a doctor of chiropractic from Sherman College of Chiropractic in 1998. She has practiced in Philadelphia, as well as Athlone, Ireland, where she moved in 1999. In 2012, she transitioned full-time into public speaking and writing.
She passed along a piece of advice first given to her by her father: “Read everything you can get your hands on, especially things you don’t agree with. What you think might not always be right.”
“You have the world at your fingertips, and that is a great tool if used properly,” she added.
Diplomas were presented to seniors by Jack Thomson, current Carlisle board president, and Dorsey. Recipients of the Trustee’s Award, which is given to students who have attended Carlisle since the first grade, also were recognized.
This year’s Distinguished Alumni Award, recognizing a Carlisle graduate who has contributed unselfishly to the local or Carlisle community through volunteerism, achieved excellence in the workplace and exhibited positive leadership in the community or workplace, was presented to Robin Robertson, ’74.
Robertson has taught at Carlisle for 25 years and also is involved with Piedmont Arts and the SPCA. For the past three years, she and her students have designed cards for all occasions and sold more than $5,000 worth. The proceeds from the sale were donated the proceeds to the City of Hope, an orphanage in Tanzania, Africa.
At the end of her remarks, Moore challenged her fellow seniors to “set high expectations for yourself, but know that you don’t have to accomplish these goals alone,” adding that teachers and friends they have made at Carlisle are only a phone call or click away.
“People at Carlisle believe in the school and believe in the students in an unparalleled way, and that sense of pride and community has been an integral part of my time here,” she said.
“As long as you’re at Carlisle, your family is not just your flesh and blood. We are all part of a family,” Hensley agreed. “No matter where you are in the world, this is home.”
(Caitlin Gibson does public relations for Carlisle School.)