In a time-honored academic tradition, seniors turned their tassels from right to left and the Class of 2023 became our newest alumni!
Their cap toss followed as Riverside Church — filled with family, friends, faculty, and staff — erupted in applause and cheers. This was the culmination of Commencement for both Dwight School and Dwight Global Online School in which 151 students earned their diplomas.
Their big day began with a processional down the aisle to the sound of Pomp and Circumstance played by Vita Zambetti, our Timothy House Music teacher. The smiles of seniors were shining as brightly as their sparks of genius and their pride was palpable. Alexander Cunningham, Dean of Grade 12 in New York, officially ushered in the ceremonies, which marked the conclusion of our 150th-anniversary celebrations. What a great way to cap off our milestone year!
In her address to graduates, Dianne Drew, Head of Dwight School and Global Education Director, spoke of their resiliency as the cohort of students who bore the full brunt of COVID-19 and triumphed in its wake. She recognized members of the 13-year Club, or Dwight “lifers,” who have been at Dwight in New York since Kindergarten or earlier; as well as students who have completed all of high school at Dwight Global.
Imparting some final words of advice, Ms. Drew reflected on the theme of generosity and the importance of having “a shared understanding of what generosity can do for a community” when traversing difficult times. She elaborated, quoting something powerful Michael J. Fox, who lives with a very serious health challenge, said: “With gratitude, optimism is sustainable. Optimism will be an important and necessary beacon for our graduates to reach for as you embark on this next chapter of life. Sustaining optimism through the lens of generosity will help shape your lives in ways you may not even realize and undoubtedly, it will carry you through times of significant challenge. … We have great faith in your future success, knowing that the seeds of your pathway ahead have been forged here at Dwight.”
Chancellor Stephen Spahn, marking his 56th Dwight graduation, shared his own words and wishes for the Class of 2023, and in his own time-honored tradition reminded graduates that his door will always be open to them and “they will forever be Dwight.”
Dwight’s Head of Upper School Eric Dale and Associate Head of Dwight Global Shannon Hoffman had the honor of recognizing all of this year’s award recipients for their outstanding academic achievements, leadership, contributions to our community, and notable talents on the playing field and in the arts.
Two of those students shared their sparks of genius filling the sanctuary with the sounds of beautiful music: Dwight Global’s Katelyn Moon performed "Marche Miniature Viennoise" on the violin; and Lily Ventura from Dwight New York sang “What I Did for Love,” accompanied by Ms. Zambetti.
The spotlight turned to student-speakers who represented themselves and their fellow members of the Class of 2023: Nathan Smith, recipient of the Dwight Global Leadership Award; Abigail Harrison, Dwight Global Valedictorian; Jacob Bruner, Dwight School Salutatorian; and Kyra Spahn, Dwight School Valedictorian. Each one spoke from the heart about their individual experiences, shared moments with classmates, lessons learned, and appreciation for all those who have supported them on their Dwight educational journeys.
This was an especially memorable moment for Kyra, whose personal journey at Dwight was carved alongside family very close by as the granddaughter of Chancellor Stephen Spahn, and daughter of Vice Chancellor Blake Spahn ’89 and Co-Director of Lower and Middle School Admissions Maryll Spahn. Kyra, like her father before her 34 years prior, later received her Dwight School diploma from her father!
When the time had finally come for the presentation of diplomas, Louisa Childs, Head of Dwight Global Online School, followed by Eric Dale, Head of Upper School at Dwight School, read the names as each student rose to accept theirs with a handshake.
When all of the diplomas were in hand, Dwight Senior Class President Avery Meer, together with Dwight Global’s Senior Class Representative Veronica Torres led the graduates in turning their tassels, marking their final milestone together.
Following the ceremonies, the Class of 2023 gathered with their guests for a reception in the South Hall for hugs, congratulations, and one last moment together before they all go off to pursue their sparks at the finest colleges and universities around the world.
We look forward to welcoming them back on campus for visits and reunions for many years to come!