Seniors and juniors celebrate close of school year with annual Baccalaureate ceremony


Anna Vazhaeparambil

Juniors Simar Bajaj and Jai Bahri read the program, waiting for the ceremony to begin. At Baccalaureate, the school welcomes the rising seniors to be the future leaders on campus next year.

Students of the class of 2019 and 2020 gathered in the quad with parents and faculty on yesterday for the annual Baccalaureate ceremony, an event where the current senior class passes down their responsibility as leaders of the school to the junior class.

“I think it is important to symbolically transfer the power from the seniors to the juniors,” Alicia Xu (11) said. “It tells us that it’s our turn to step up and become the role models of the campus.”

The upper school orchestra, led by instrumental music teacher Dr. David Hart, performed Irish ballad “Danny Boy” and tango piece “Libertango” by Astor Piazzola as guests settled into their seats. After the seniors were honored during a procession into the quad, Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs Jennifer Gargano began the ceremony by presenting a brief welcome speech discussing the history of the baccalaureate ceremony.

“The purpose of this evening is not only about saying farewell to the graduates and passing on our words of advice but also about celebrating each and every one of you,” Gargano said. “Tonight there will be no diplomas or individual awards or recognitions. Rather, we are celebrating all of you, and the time here that you spent at the Harker school as individuals and as a class.”

Upper school choir Cantilena, directed by Susan Nace, sang an a cappella rendition of “Wake Me Up!” by Bergling, Blacc and Einziger, followed by “Brandenburg Concerto No. 3 in G Major” by Johann Sebastian Bach, played by the upper school orchestra.

Senior Honor Council member Stephanie Xiao then gave junior member Simar Bajaj a scroll in order to symbolize the rising senior class’ promise to continue to uphold the honor code and all community values. Afterwards, upper school head Butch Keller introduced this year’s Baccalaureate faculty speaker, upper school mathematics department chair Anthony Silk. In his speech, Silk shared advice given to him by his father and reminded students to pursue what truly makes them happy.

“If you know what you want to do for the rest of your life that’s great. If you don’t know, that’s even better,” Silk said. “The path that brings you the most happiness may not have even been invented yet. You may have to be the one to invent it.”

Anna Vazhaeparambil

Following this, Baccalaureate student speaker Haris Hosseini (12) reflected on the class of 2019’s journey, recalling several humorous memories and shared hardships, and left some words of wisdom for the juniors, urging them to appreciate the supportive people around them.

“For these last four years, I haven’t just been part of a class. I’ve been part of a family,” Haris said. “There is something about the class of 2019, something about our drive, our heart, and our legacy. We left a legacy of spirit and community and kindness, not for the Harker community, but in it. Our legacy is an imprint that no departure, no matter how final, no matter how emotional, can erase.”

Anna Vazhaeparambil

With parting words from Head of School Brian Yager, the ceremony was finished, and seniors were able to mingle as they took pictures and enjoyed some of their last memories together on campus before their graduation, which will take place at the Mountain Winery tomorrow at 5 p.m.

Tamar Sasson (12) views Baccalaureate as the final moments seniors have at the Harker School and a time to introspect and look back on the last four years.

“I related a lot to what Haris said, and I’ve been reflecting a lot. I haven’t really realized that [high school] is coming to an end this quickly,” Tamar said. “It’s a bittersweet thing, something that you have to experience. I definitely know now that I shouldn’t wait for the time to pass but let it sit with me.”

Tamar’s mother, middle school mathematics teacher Hava Sasson, adds how proud she is as both a parent and a teacher to watch the class’ journey over the last six years she has known them.

“I see [the seniors] now, and they’ve grown so much,” Sasson said. “I want to wish them good luck, and I want them to come back and visit us. Enjoy the journey.”