Hats off to the Class of 2017: Seniors graduate in Mountain Winery ceremony


Nicole Chen

The class of 2016 tosses their hats into the air at last year’s graduation ceremony at the Saratoga Mountain Winery. This year, graduation will take place at the Mountain Winery on May 18.

by Kshithija Mulam and Maya Valluru

Upper School Division Head Butch Keller announced the 2017 baccalaureate and graduation speakers during a senior class meeting on April 17.

Students in the senior class voted on the baccalaureate faculty and student speakers as well as the faculty members to present speeches at other ceremonies held in May and June to celebrate the end of the school year. Keller announced that the baccalaureate faculty speaker will be economics teacher Samuel Lepler and the student speaker will be Aditya Dhar (12).

Baccalaureate is a ceremony held for the junior class, the senior class, faculty and senior parents as an induction of the junior class as seniors and a way to bid farewell to the graduation seniors.

“When he told me, I kind of waffled between being really honored, because it means a lot to me, and being horribly nervous,” Lepler said. “It’s the last time that this school is together with the senior class. There’s a little pressure, but it’s great and always really fun to watch the seniors accomplish what they have and move on.”

In addition, history and social science teacher Damon Halback will speak at the alumni luncheon and math teacher Troy Thiele will speak at the bricklaying ceremony.

The alumni luncheon is held for parents and students of the senior class to honor their becoming alumni. The bricklaying ceremony is held by the Office of Advancement to honor the seniors who will have bricks engraved with their names lain into the walkway that leads to the Patil Performing Arts building.

The alumni luncheon, the bricklaying ceremony and the baccalaureate ceremony will all take place on May 17 at the Upper School.

Keller also named the valedictorian of the class of 2017, Kai-Siang Ang (12), who will also speak at the graduation ceremony. He has been awarded the title of valedictorian by the administration for being the senior with the highest cumulative GPA throughout his high school career.

“Being named valedictorian is [knowing that] I’ve come a long way. There have been a lot of people who have helped me along the way. A lot has changed, and I have a lot to be grateful for,” Kai said. “The most significant impact that [being named valedictorian] has is that I know I have these five minutes in the speech to say something that is valuable to me… I really value that opportunity, and I’ll try to make the most of it.”

This particular graduation will also mark the last time that long-time Head of School Christopher Nikoloff will address the senior class at the graduation ceremony. Nikoloff will be replaced by Brian Yager on July 1. Other speakers and performers at the graduation ceremony will include Chris Malachowsky, one of the founders of the Silicon Valley tech company Nvidia, honor council representatives and various upper school choirs.

Graduation will take place at the Saratoga Mountain Winery on May 18 at 5 p.m.

This piece was originally published in the pages of the Winged Post on May 11, 2017.