The week before graduation is always an exciting time at The Storm King School. This year, the senior class made lasting memories on a trip to Six Flags New England, a field day filled with music and games, and several awards ceremonies, all leading up to the School’s 151st commencement. The anticipation reached its pinnacle on Friday, May 31—the eve of graduation—when the seniors and their families gathered at Orr Commons for the Butterfly Ceremony, followed by the Senior Banquet and the Senior Service.
The Butterfly Ceremony and the Senior Service have become important traditions at the School, and a highlight of the Storm King experience. The first Butterfly Ceremony was instituted more than a decade ago by former Dean of Students Robert Watson, who, at the time, was in search of ways to make the experience of his students different and more engaging.
At the Butterfly Ceremony, a sharply-dressed senior class formed a circle on the lawn in front of Orr Commons. Each senior was given a delicate envelope containing a live Monarch butterfly to release as they made a wish for the future. “The butterfly is a symbol of transformation in many cultures and serves to represent our graduating seniors who are transitioning into the possibilities of their futures,” said Assistant Headmaster for Student & Residential Life Mr. Alan Lewis, who led the event this year.
Following the Butterfly Ceremony, the seniors and their families enjoyed a delicious meal at the Senior Banquet, before proceeding to the Walter Reade Jr. Theatre for the much-anticipated Senior Service. Senior Service, another important Storm King tradition, is designed to give the seniors a chance to speak their minds and bid their farewells with family, faculty, and friends as witnesses–a tradition which began during Headmaster Frank Brogan’s tenure (1966-1974) when Storm King held its first open-forum commencement in 1969.
This year’s Senior Service opened with remarks by Senior Class Advisor Mr. Jim Bennett, followed by a processional of the Class of 2019, who placed candles on the stage while Dean of Academics Dr. Tim Lance announced each student’s name and the college they will attend next fall. Next was an inspiring and entertaining speech by History & Social Sciences Department Chair Michael Hauser, who was chosen by the senior class to address them. Mr. Hauser confirmed that the Class of 2019 met all the requirements for graduation and were ready for commencement: “When you come back to the Storm King campus as alumni, you’ll be welcomed with open arms. When we ask you if you’ve accomplished your dreams, I hope that you won’t say ‘no,’ but rather, ‘not yet.’ Or even better, you’ll say ‘yes.’ In all sincerity, I wish you great success. But more importantly, I wish you absolute happiness. Class of 2019, it’s your world.” After hearty applause, Mr. Hauser’s words were followed by a photo reflections slideshow created by Director of Video Production Mr. Zhenya Kiperman and David Lu ’19, with music written and performed by Amelia Douches ‘20, which brought smiles to the audience.
Senior Speeches were the final event of the evening, where the seniors who chose to do so said a few words about their time at SKS– their cherished memories, relationships, struggles, and triumphs. During their emotional speeches, the students spoke openly and thanked all those who made a difference in their educations and lives. After the conclusion of the speeches, Mr. Lewis delivered closing remarks and sent the seniors off to spend their last night on the Mountain: “One final word…as new graduates of The Storm King School, I ask you to continue to follow your dreams.”