Sixty-five members of the Class of 2018 celebrated their graduation from The Harvey School Thursday, June 7, as family, friends, and faculty gathered to see the seniors receive their diplomas in a midmorning commencement ceremony in the Fenstermacher Athletic Center.
Head of School Bill Knauer, giving the welcoming remarks in his second Harvey commencement, referenced the late poet, Maya Angelou, recalling she once said, "Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better." Mr. Knauer said the Class of 2018 should take inspiration from the words of the writer, historian, actress, educator, and civil rights icon, urging the graduates to learn from their mistakes and strive to reach their full potential. “It is about demanding not perfection of yourself - or of others - but only that you take what you learn each day and become a better person,” said the head of school.
Sonia Manzano, actress, screenwriter, author, speaker, singer-songwriter, and best known for playing Maria on "Sesame Street" from 1971 to 2015, delivered the commencement address. Manzano, who won 15 Emmys for writing scripts for the acclaimed children’s show, offered the Harvey graduates advice on how to go on from high school to college. “Have faith,” she said. “Now that you have a foot in the next door, you’ll figure out the rest,” she said. She also asked that the graduates reject the notion that “compassion and empathy are seen as weaknesses in today’s world.” She asked that the students continue to see them as “values.”
Tabbed to deliver the valedictorian address was the top scholar of this year’s senior class, Connor Phillips, who began his speech by asking for a moment of silence for the victims of school gun violence. Connor also asked his classmates to stand and applaud their parents for their “encouragement, guidance, and love” through the years. He acknowledged the teachers for giving their students “the tools necessary to meet future challenges.” He said, “If we continue to take advantage of what we have been given, we will make a positive difference in our homes and communities.” In concluding his speech, Connor called upon his classmates to value integrity. He said, “I ask you all as my fellow graduates to continue to do the right thing, and to make a positive change in your community.”
The ceremony concluded with two symbolic gestures, the shifting of the tassels on the cap from right to left and the passing of the Leadership Cup from this year’s Student Council President Ben Kabakow to next year’s student leaders Mya Turner and Reynise Walker.