Seniors and juniors attend 2016 Baccalaureate ceremony on Wednesday


Maya Valluru

The junior class sits in the front of the crowd across from the seniors during the ceremony. The upper school’s annual Baccalaureate ceremony took place on May 18 at 6:30 p.m. in the Quad.

by Tara Parimi and Maya Valluru

The Upper School’s annual Baccalaureate ceremony took place today at 6:30 p.m. in the Quad to bid a final farewell to the Class of 2016 before they graduate on Thursday and welcome juniors into their senior year.

The junior class, the senior class and their families were all invited to attend the event.

Prior to the ceremony, at around 5:30 p.m., some seniors participated in the annual brick-laying ceremony, watching bricks be placed into the cement pathway to the Patil Performing Arts Building. The Upper School has observed this tradition since the spring of 2002.

After the ceremony, starting at approximately 6 p.m., juniors began convening in Dobbins Hall while seniors waited in Manzanita Hall. In the baccalaureate procession that followed, juniors entered the Quad first while seniors followed minutes later.

The ceremony began with an introductory address by assistant head of school Jennifer Gargano on the history of the Baccalaureate ceremony, a tradition which dates back to the 15th century at the University of Oxford, where all artium baccalaureus (A.B.) candidates performed sermons in Latin. Gargano then welcomed upper school choir Cantilena to the stage to perform the Glee version of Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.”

“Baccalaureate is a fun way to send off the seniors to college,” junior Maya Rai said. “The speeches were really inspiring and the performance by Cantilena was probably the highlight of the evening for me. I had [a] really good time and it made me super excited for my own graduation.”

Following Cantilena’s performance, Head of Upper School Butch Keller gave a quick speech directed towards the parents of the seniors. Keller told of how well-behaved and confident the seniors were throughout their years at Harker and especially during the trip to Laguna Beach. He then introduced the faculty speaker Martin Walsh.

A college counselor, Walsh shared humorous anecdotes concerning the college recommendation process. In his speech, Walsh urged students to value all ceremonies as they are important milestones in one’s life.

After Walsh’s address, Keller introduced student speaker Edward Sheu (12), who shared stories about his time on the varsity water polo team and urged students to welcome new challenges as high school students.

The senior class selected Walsh and Edward as their baccalaureate faculty and student speakers in April. The Class of 2016 will graduate tomorrow at Mountain Winery to a commencement speech from philanthropist, pediatrician and former lower school science teacher Priscilla Chan and a farewell address from Class valedictorian Anika Mohindra (12).