Select Page

Select a language

Graduation 2024

One-hundred-eighty-seven seniors received their Milton Academy diplomas during the school’s commencement exercises on June 7, 2024. Graduation at Milton is a ceremony that carries years of traditions and favorite rituals—formal and informal. One longstanding tradition of the ceremony is students electing their student speakers, which assures seniors that they will, at their last Milton gathering, hear from classmates they have chosen. This year’s student body elected Lily Park and Bryan Sukidi. Delivering the commencement address was alumnus Jason Bowen, Milton Academy Class of 2000. Below you can find their speeches, as well as links to watch the ceremony in its entirety and flip through photos from the day.

View photos from Graduation 2024.

Watch video of the ceremony.

Invocation by Suzanne DeBuhr, M.Div

Good morning.

Today, we celebrate the achievements of the graduating class,
measured by the classes you have taken,
the assignments, tests, essays, and projects you have completed,
the games you have won and lost,
and the performances that have shared your talents.

Measured by the passage of time,
by your growth—in inches as well as knowledge,
and in the distance you have traveled
from your first year at Milton to your last.

Today’s graduation is also measured by what cannot be quantified.

As a class, you entered the upper school
during the height of the pandemic
and a pivotal moment of social upheaval and racial reckoning.
When the world around us was rife with discord,
you were thrown together when togetherness was discouraged.

And yet, together you came,
regardless of the circumstances that kept you distanced.
And while today,
we have not escaped conflict nor reached ideological harmony,
you, as a class, as individuals forming a community,
embody a hope for the future students
who will tread the paths you have carved:

In forging connections despite calls for isolation;
In resisting division by unearthing common ground;
In rising above the impulse to cancel
in favor of a spirit of curiosity and wonder.

On this day, we celebrate you, class of 2024,
for all that you have realized,
and we send you on your ways –
with a share of trepidation, uncertainty, and excitement
to seek discoveries and adventures that bring you joy and inspiration beyond measure.

Thank you.

Welcome by Head of School Dr. Alixe Callen

Good morning.

Ms. Hughes Johnson, Ms. Sugrue, Mr. Ruiz, Mr. Bowen, Mr. Stone, Ms. Swain, members of the board of trustees, faculty, staff, alumni, students, family, friends, and members of the Class of 2024, it is my honor to welcome everyone to Milton Academy’s 2024 commencement ceremony.

I would like to offer a particularly warm welcome and deep gratitude to the many parents, guardians, siblings, grandparents, relatives, and friends gathered today to help celebrate this wonderful occasion. And welcome to all of you who are tuning in from around the world. Graduates, please join me in thanking all of these loved ones who have been instrumental in your journey to this moment.

And now, please join me in thanking Milton’s exceptional faculty and staff.

A proud Milton tradition is honoring our retiring colleagues at Graduation, and it is my great pleasure to continue that today.

I will read the names of these seven wonderful individuals. After I have read all seven names, I invite you to join me in expressing our gratitude for their incredible service to Milton, which incredibly totals more than 200 years.

Our Director of Facilities, Mr. Nick Parnell, who has served Milton for 11 years.

From our Performing Arts Department, Ms. Pam Walker, who has been costuming our actors for 20 years.

Our long-standing Dean of College Counseling, Mr. Rod Skinner, also a member of the Class of 1972, who is celebrating 25 years of service to Milton.

Senior Executive Assistant to the Head of School, Ms. Cheryl Aveni, who has worked at Milton for 26 years, serving alongside five different heads of school.

Ms. Vivian WuWong, history teacher and student advocate extraordinaire, celebrating 32 years of teaching and supporting Milton students.

Ms. Sarah Wehle, whose titles have been numerous – Classics teacher, Academic Dean, Interim Principal, Interim Dean of Faculty, celebrating 47 years of incredible Milton service.

And finally, Mr. Bob Sinicrope, who started here as a math teacher 51 years ago, and has spent the past 50 years building a jazz program that has become a model for countless schools.

Please join me in congratulating each of these remarkable individuals for their amazing service to Milton.

As this is just my first year as Milton’s head of school, it feels slightly absurd to follow the recognition of these lions of Milton with anything resembling words of wisdom. But I’ll try.

Graduates, I was not here when your upper school years began, but I do know something about the circumstances. You joined Milton during the height of the pandemic, and the ensuing years have seen rapid and profound political, social, economic, and technological change. When history looks back on this time, I think it will be compared to the 60s—a period of upheaval and disruption, but also of invention, and evolution. People will write books about these years. Your children will ask you to tell them your stories.

Seniors, in the face of all this change, you have risen. You’ve become passionate advocates for climate action, anti-violence, acceptance for all, and for a brighter future. You have rejected the status quo and have called us all to be better, to expand our understanding and embrace our differences, and to be stewards of our world with meaningful care and deep love. Here on campus, you—your class leaders and peers across the school—have bounced back from the disconnection of the pandemic days to build our community anew.

And you’re fun! I’ve been so impressed by the humor, creativity, and joy you bring to Milton every day. You remind all of us of the promise your generation holds. Even when things feel at their gloomiest, your warmth and good spirit have lit the way forward.

Class of 2024, the world—and all of its myriad challenges and joys—needs you, and you are ready. The world needs your love, kindness, care, and, most importantly, your ability to get things done.

You have heard me say this before, but as a Milton alum, I have always believed that in addition to the first-rate, world class education I received here, also came a sense of responsibility, an innate expectation that I’d better put that education to work for the betterment of the world. “Dare to be true” is not just a motto, it’s a calling—not just for your time here on campus, but for the rest of your lives; a calling that we must take action, we must stand for something greater than ourselves.

Class of 2024. I have seen your leadership (repeatedly!). I know your strength, your capacity to make things happen—to turn challenges into opportunities; to effect meaningful, positive change. Milton has given you the chance to practice and hone the skills that you will need–that our world needs. I also know the kindness, care and joy that you will bring to everything you will do.

You have already succeeded beyond words. I know that you will go out and dare—dare to be bold, dare to be compassionate, dare to be of use: Dare to be true! You are ready!

Thank you.

Speech by Lily Park ’24

Thank you, Mr. Ruiz. Ms. Hughes-Johnson and the board of trustees, Dr. Callen, Ms. Sugrue, members of faculty and staff, friends, family, students, and, of course, the Class of 2024:

I’m extremely excited that we’ve finally made it to this pivotal moment in our lives. I do, however, think it would be unfair of me to celebrate this day without acknowledging that, since I first stepped onto this campus, I’ve been somewhat afraid of graduating. Now, in all honesty, I’m not surprised that I’ve gone through high school partially dreading this often eagerly awaited day, because this has happened to me before.

On the evening of my 10th birthday, I was utterly terrified. Though I should’ve spent the night stuffing myself with ice cream cake or opening presents like any typical ten-year-old, I instead spent my evening sitting on the edge of my bed, staring at the clock on my nightstand with fearful tears in my eyes, waiting for the exact second the clock would read 8:08 p.m., the time at which I would officially turn ten. As I sat there, I couldn’t steer my mind away from the realization that never again in my life would my age be a single digit. To me, that meant my life as I knew it was coming to a close. The image of the numbers 8:08 represented my fear that nothing was ever going to be the same.

Looking back, I now see my extremely dramatic outlook on this moment that at the time seemed so monumental was perhaps excessive. But my ability to turn a typically happy moment into an unreasonable fear has been a part of how my brain has functioned for as long as I can remember. Essentially, I’ve been afraid of change my entire life. And because the future inherently brings change, this fear has also translated into a fear of the future. As I reflect on my desperate attempts to hold onto that single digit and avoid the dreaded 8:08 on that night I turned ten, I recognize how firmly I hold onto the past as a way to give myself a sense of certainty when I’m faced with the future. I can’t stop myself from leaning into this tendency to stick with familiarity.

This instinct is reflected in a number of rituals I’ve created for myself over time. To list just a few examples: I’ve made numerous time capsules for myself; three of which I’ll finally be able to open at the end of today. I’ve filled up over ten journals by recounting my days in them each night since middle school. Every year since I was thirteen, I’ve reread Little Women in between Thanksgiving and Christmas, and every year since I was fourteen, my parents and I have rewatched Gilmore Girls in its entirety (that’s seven whole seasons). I don’t know why I do all these things. All I know is that I feel so intimidated by the future to the point where I lock myself into these obsessive rituals.

Although it may not be manifested as obviously as my practices, I would guess that each and every one of you has also felt the need to cling to familiarity in the face of change. But why? Why are we so afraid of change?

Though I don’t think I’ll ever fully be able to answer this question, I want to start trying, and I think it’s best to start at the epitome of fear for the future: that little ten-year-old version of me. At the time, I was afraid of moving on to harder challenges like switching schools or finding activities I loved. Even though these fears seem so trivial now, to that ten-year-old, they were incredibly real. When I think about it, those fears were just a ten-year-old’s version of fearing the expectations that come with getting older: the pressure to understand oneself and have it all “figured out.”

But when I look back at what followed after the clock turned 8:08 on that fateful night, I wish I could tell my anxious, ten-year-old self that facing these fears head-on would eventually shape me into a truer version of myself. Although, for example, switching schools was one of the main worries on my ten-year-old mind as I watched the minutes pass by, I never would have guessed that that leaning into that same fear would eventually lead me to choose this very campus for my high school path, and in doing so, guide me to discover myself. In my four years here at Milton, I’ve found my true passions through performing at Beatnik and in dance concerts, my values through discussions at the Harkness table, and my gratitude through the relationships I’ve formed with so many people in this community. On my tenth birthday, however, if I had followed my inclination to remain 9 years, 364 days, 23 hours, and 59 minutes old forever, who knows who I would’ve become?

Now, all of you here today, regardless of where you are in your life, will every once in a while find yourselves face-to-face with one of the numerous changes that come with the future. Class of 2024, we’re facing one right now. And while in these moments, we may not necessarily be eyeing the clock awaiting the exact second when we think everything in our lives will derail, many of us are feeling this complex bundle of dread, worry, and fear, but also joy, excitement, and pride. We must remember that these feelings are human; they’ve been with us, for some of us since we were ten, because they’re a natural part of the confusion that comes with growing up.

Most of all, we must tell the soon to be ten-year-olds inside each of us that we don’t have to be so afraid; these fears may just be opportunities to grow, and maybe that way, we can learn to embrace the moment the clock strikes 8:08. Thank you.

Speech by Bryan Sukidi ’24

Thank you, Ms. Sugrue. Ms. Hughes-Johnson and the Board of Trustees, Dr. Callen, Mr. Ruiz, members of faculty and staff, friends, family, students, and the Class of 2024.

I love my parents more than anything in the world, and yet I, despite being their son, cannot confidently say that I know them. Yes, I know that their names are Sukidi and Uum, that their birthdays are on August 2 and April 12, and that they love me and my older sister just as much as we love them (at least, I think so). But it wasn’t until I started my journey at Milton four years ago—just when my parents had finally returned to their home country, Indonesia—that I began to realize just how little I knew my own family. You can spend your entire life with someone, love them with all your heart, think you know them, and yet still not know their whole story—not truly know them at all.

So what, then, does it mean to know someone?

When I first arrived at Milton, I had decided that I wanted to have as many friends as possible—except there was one problem. Despite being excited to meet new people, I was a shy, 14-year-old kid with a stutter and the most horrific buzz cut you’ve ever seen. It felt like I was entering a community that had already been created. Everytime I entered the dining hall, I felt overwhelmed by the sheer number of unfamiliar faces—and every day, if I didn’t see anyone I already knew, I would grab a green to-go box and retreat to my dorm to eat alone. The days turned into weeks, and not long after, I found myself aimlessly drifting through the school year. Freshman year went on, and even though I slowly gained friends along the way, I still didn’t feel like I knew anyone—at least, not in any meaningful way.

So by my sophomore year, I tried a different approach: I wanted to make people laugh and smile. Maybe this way, I’d make more friends. At Beatnik, I performed songs like “Grenade” and “You Belong With Me.” In the dining hall, I made stupid jokes about the chicken being so undercooked it was still alive. And for Halloween one year, I dressed up as a hot dog and frolicked around campus, hoping that my costume would draw people closer to me. And for most of the year, this approach worked: I had more friends than ever, and I loved being the person who could make other people laugh and smile. But when sophomore year eventually came to end, I left feeling the same as I did the year before. While I knew more people, I didn’t really know anything about them.

When I look back on those years, I used to ask myself why it was so hard for me to form those deeper, more meaningful relationships—and for the longest time, I thought that maybe it was because I didn’t know enough people, or that I wasn’t funny enough. It wasn’t until my junior year English class that I realized I had found the piece that was missing.

During one of our first classes, my teacher offered to begin with a check-in question. The way it would work is that someone would come up with an easy-to-answer icebreaker, and we’d go around the Harkness table, sharing our response. It was supposed to be a relatively lighthearted question—something like “What’s your favorite ice-cream flavor?” but that day, I, without knowing at all how my class would react, posed the question: “What are you most afraid of in life?”

I was met with a deafening silence, and I instantly regretted asking such a question. But when someone finally spoke up, followed by the next person and then the next, my uncertainties quickly faded away. All it took was a question—one thought-provoking question—for my classmates to open up about their fears of being trapped in a 9-to-5 job, the idea of becoming a parent one day, or the thought of growing old without anyone to call a friend —and for the first time in my high school career, I felt the warmth and joy that came with knowing my classmates not just as classmates, but as people —people with their own stories, fears, and dreams.

Our English class loved the idea of a check-in question so much that it became a routine: Every day, my classmates would look to me to generate a check-in question, and for the first five to ten minutes of the class, we answered questions like “What’s the story behind your name?” “If every job paid the same, what path would you choose?” “When was the last time you cried?” In the end, I had learned more about the people in that English class in a single year than I had about my own parents in 18.

So when I visited my parents in Indonesia, I started to ask them questions, too—about the choices they made in raising me, about religious beliefs I had simply accepted, and about the story of how my mom and dad first met. Before asking, I didn’t know that my father—who grew up in a small, farming village in Indonesia—didn’t have a legal last name before coming to America, that my mother’s childhood dream was always to become a teacher, or that I was actually named by my four-year-old sister, whose favorite teacher was Ms. Ryan, and so naturally (B for boy + Ryan = Bryan). Growing up, I never saw my parents as more than the roles they played as “mom” and “dad”—to my 13 year old self, they were just my parents. Only through asking did I fully begin to understand the dreams they had to set aside, the sacrifices they had to make, and the incredible gift they gave me by sending me to school in America. As I look at all the people here today, I wonder about all the amazing, rich stories you all have to tell—and how many of them will go forgotten or untold because nobody thought to ask.

The single most important thing I learned during my time at Milton is how to ask a good question. It’s in the way we look people in the eyes, to remind them that we’re listening. It’s in the way we pause when we ask someone “How are you?” to invite more than empty, one-word responses like “good.” Because to ask someone a question is the greatest gift we can give to a world that is desperate for more empathy, more understanding, and more people willing to look up from their screens and ask, “Who are you, and what is the story only you can tell?”

To the Class of 2024, we are entering a time in our lives in which our understanding of the people around us is only just beginning to unfold. Soon, we will start to see our parents not just as “Mom” or “Dad’, but as actual people. Soon, we will begin to see our classmates as the friends that will be by our sides forever. But in order to see the beauty in the people around you, you must be brave enough to ask. Be the one who asks, who listens, and who, through your curiosity, leaves no story untold.

Thank you.

Introduction by Claire Hughes Johnson '90

Good morning!

What a beautiful day for this wonderful occasion! On behalf of the Board of Trustees, I want to first congratulate the Class of 2024 and their families on all of the work, passion, and growth that have brought you to this special moment! We are so proud of you and everything you’ve accomplished.

It is my honor to introduce this morning’s speaker, Jason Bowen—an actor, educator, and member of Milton’s Class of 2000.

Born and raised in Boston, Jason has performed on Broadway, and acted in both television, and film productions. His notable and previous credits include The Play That Goes Wrong, Law & Order: SVU, Blue Bloods, The Upside, and Mother/Android. Last fall, he was hailed as “outstanding” in the American Repertory Theatre’s production of The Half-God of Rainfall, and I happen to know current and former MIlton community members who loved his performance.

The seeds of Jason’s career were planted just across the street in King Theatre.

Joining Milton Academy in fourth grade, Jason made his mark in the community with humor, kindness, and thoughtful contributions to class discussions. I should also note that we also benefited from his talent on the basketball and tennis courts. He was a classic Milton student: a basketball team captain who played flute in the orchestra, acted in school productions, competed with the Speech Team, sang in the Miltones, and served in the Self-Governing Association.

His Performing Literature teacher, Rick Hardy, wrote that Jason, then a sophomore, “really must find his way onto a Milton stage in the next two and a half years.” He got his chance as a junior, when a friend encouraged him to audition for the fall play and he landed a lead role in the musical Damn Yankees. Jason’s natural skill and commanding presence wowed the performing arts faculty, who encouraged him to keep pursuing acting, which he did—first at Skidmore College, where he received a bachelor’s degree in theater, and then on professional stages and screens.

Milton encourages its students to explore varied interests and dare to find new passions. And to do so with joy and kindness.

Jason’s advisor, Jeanne Jacobs, writing during his senior year, shared: “From the start he was charming and kind. His smile made you feel at home, appreciated, welcomed. He could find something to like in everybody, and he could make you laugh—at him and at yourself… We hope that he will remember us when he is famous, and return for many visits.”

Well, Jeanne, wish granted.

We are so grateful that Jason has returned to share wisdom with the Class of 2024 and help us celebrate their Graduation. Please join me in giving a warm welcome to Jason Bowen, Class of 2000!

Commencement Address by Jason Bowen '00

Milton Academy’s Class of 2024: Are you ready?! You sound like you’re ready!

And I know you’re ready—because I know just how much you had to do to get here. You took the SATs, the SAT IIs, the AP exams, the regular exams, the quizzes, the pop quizzes—I’m sure those are just as fun now as they were 25 years ago.

And pardon me while I let the 16-year-old Jason address the faculty quickly. Can you just stop doing that please?! No more pop quizzes! No more!

Sorry y’all, I had a brief moment where I was back in chemistry class getting lost in the abyss that is generally referred to as the periodic table (shiver). Now let me tell you, and I say this with all sincerity, I very much respect science and anybody involved in it, because I knew early on that I, me, yo (eso fue un poquito español para mi gente aquí…what’s up y’all!), had no place near a Bunsen burner or in anyone’s lab. The fact that I made it out of here with both of my eyebrows was victory enough for me. Believe me when I say you should all be glad that I am not responsible for finding the next cure for anything. If that was the case, whatever you got, you would just have to have it.

But I digress…

As I was saying, Class of 2024, you took the tests; you wrote the papers, especially that one long Class II history paper; you read the books—or at least you read enough of the books to pretend like you read the books, not that I know anything about that, but maybe some of you potentially might’ve had that experience. Whatever, you’re here now. You did the science projects, the senior projects, and the arts projects. You sat through physics and chemistry and pre-calculus and geometry—even though in geometry, some of you knew good and well that, while this knowledge is clearly relevant to somebody in the grand scheme of education, you personally will never have any practical use for the Pythagorean theorem or knowing what the angles of an isosceles triangle are. Sorry to break it to those of you that were holding out hope that later in life you would finally discover the incredibly esoteric reason for learning that stuff. I’m here to tell you that I’m 42 years old, I graduated 24 years ago (almost to the day), and personally I, me, yo, still have yet to identify the purpose for any of it… so yeah, good luck with that.

If you’re not fortunate enough to be graduating today and you still have to take geometry, completely disregard what I have just said. It is imperative that you learn that stuff. Don’t worry, Math Department, I got you.

Back to what I was saying: You went to the assemblies and the advisor meetings, you tried out for the team, you made the team, you didn’t make the team but tried out again, and again, and maybe even again until you did. You went to the practices, the rehearsals. You joined the JSU, or Onyx, or GASP, or any of the other student groups. You signed up for the electives, sometimes because you had a genuine interest, and sometimes because that college application needed just a little bit more fluffing up. You did the school plays, you performed in orchestra and jazz concerts, and sang a capella at assemblies. You competed in speech team events and recited poetry at the Beatnik Café. You became peer group leaders and members of the mediation team. You checked in with your college advisors and identified your safety schools versus your possibles versus your reaches.

Then you went through the whole college admissions process by getting your recommendations together, and writing your essays, and then anxiously awaiting the response, and rushing to check the mailbox to see if you got a small envelope or a package from the schools. And then, you had to actually decide where you were going. And then, once you decided where you were going, you and your families got to celebrate the fact that you were going to college. And then, finally, after all of that, you still had to come and finish your last spring semester. But, after that, the only thing left to do was to put on your blue blazers and white outfits, march across the Quad, and accept your well-earned diplomas. Because you are officially ready.

“Ready for what specifically, Jason?” you might be asking. We’ll get to that in a minute. First, I want to acknowledge the fact that I got a chance to speak with the Class I Representatives, Devon and Bryan, a few weeks ago. And one of the things that I got out of that conversation was a piece of advice to “just be relatable.”

So, I would like to take the opportunity to now introduce my relatability factor to you all. I started attending Milton in the fourth grade, at nine years old. I didn’t quite make it into the 13-year club, but that’s alright. That nine-year period was more than enough time for me to make countless memories. For instance, I can remember staying up late to write a four-page paper that was due the next day even though I wasn’t quite sure that I had done all of the required readings for said paper. I can remember getting kicked out of Mr. Hardy’s English class with seven minutes left because he thought I was laughing (side note: I wasn’t laughing then. I was laughing earlier, but by that point I was done). I can remember that same teacher becoming one of my favorite teachers and being one of the first ones to encourage me to consider acting, even before I had done a play.

I can remember my friend Cortney Tunis coming to me junior year in homeroom and telling me that she was signing me up for the auditions for the school play. I can also remember looking at her like she was a couple sandwiches short of a picnic and refusing to go. I can then remember actually going to the auditions in JKB theater and then getting cast as the lead, and then having the trajectory of the rest of my life completely changed forever.

I can also remember the first school dances in Middle School on the third floor of Ware Hall, where you slow-danced with your arms fully extended. I can remember when the arms started to bend a little bit and we all started dancing a little closer. I can also remember getting my little heart hurt for the first time, once again, on the third floor of Ware Hall. Picture this: a 12-year-old Jason, quietly putting some books in my locker in between classes, when I suddenly heard the sweet, innocent voice of Carrie Chan (she was my girlfriend’s best friend at the time). I heard Carrie say, “Hey, Jason.” At least that’s how I thought I heard it at the time. I turned and greeted her with my usual, affable energy. “What’s up Carrie?!”

Then I noticed the distraught look she had on her face. So, I repeated, this time with a completely different tone, “What’s up Carrie?” “Ummmm…Pauline said she doesn’t want to go out with you anymore.”

Oooh, that hurt me y’all. When I tell you my heart dropped from the third floor down to the snack bar, I mean it. My heart was broken. Pauline was almost my first love. Seriously. We went out for a whole 2 ½ weeks.

But, anyway, I say all that to say this: I’ve sat exactly where you are, I’ve walked the same halls (although some of them are different now because you have all of these new buildings), I’ve learned in a lot of the same classrooms, and felt a lot of the same feelings. And I can tell you from firsthand experience that receiving a diploma from this school means you’re absolutely ready to go in whatever direction you choose. I promise you, whatever you see for yourself, you have been given the tools to go and pursue it. It’s now on you to go and make your place in this world.

Speaking of making or having your places in this world, I have one last memory for you. I can remember learning a song here, in the Lower School, with the rest of Mrs. Damp’s 4th grade class. The song lyrics state, “All God’s children got a place in the choir, some sing low, and some sing higher. Some sing out loud on the telephone wire, and some just clap their hands, or paws, or anything they got now.” While at the time this appeared to be a random song we learned for chorus, it had a profound message that I actually still carry with me to this day. Which is, no matter who you are, where you come from, what your abilities or weaknesses are, where your insecurity or your confidence lies, there is a place for you individually in this world.

Now, some people’s places are going to be like the ones singing out loud on the telephone wire in the song. You know? Some people are going to have those careers that garner attention easily and are often front and center and have work that’s generally easy to see. Like, I don’t know, an actor, for instance. And others are going to lead lives and have careers that resemble the ones that are clapping their hands in the song—and really be the ones that are supporting society on a fundamental level. Because anybody here that is familiar with music knows you need a solid rhythm section. And while the hand-clappers might not always get the shine, the song doesn’t work without them. We need engineers, we need responsible coders to help us out with this AI situation that is clearly going to get more and more embedded in our lives (I don’t know about y’all, but I’m a little scared, just a little), we need good politicians. Not just on a national, MSNBC/CNN level, but on a local level as well. We absolutely need the hand-clappers.

One role in the choir that was left out of the song was that of the choir director. You know, the one running things and putting it all together? The bosses, the CEOs, the lead MDs, the VPs, the SVPs, the Ps. The choir directors. I look out at this Class of 2024 and I feel like I see a few choir directors out here. I’m sure there are plenty of future bosses out there that are about to get handed their diploma today, am I right?

So, whatever your role is in this choir of life, whatever your place may be in this world, just know that it is personally yours and that it is a really important position. And the beautiful thing is that you are all now at the moment where you get to really start carving out that place for yourselves. You get to now go out into this world and tell it who and what you are. And you all are now more ready than ever to do it.

Now, I’m about to start wrapping this up (I know there are diplomas to get, family lunches to get to, and maybe a grad party or two to get ready for…), but before I do, there’s a little story I’d like to share with you. There’s actually a choir involved in this as well, or at least a group of people singing. I’m not sure if any of you are familiar with the real-life fable of Flacco the Owl, but I live in the New York City area, and last year Flacco’s story took the city over by storm.

Flacco was an owl that was born and bred in the Central Park Zoo. He lived his entire life in the owl enclosure, until one day someone cut a hole in the net of the enclosure and Flacco escaped. So many people were talking about Flacco. It seemed as if the city was obsessed with his story.

The interesting thing about Flacco was the fact that, even though he was free, he never really left the Central Park area. Nonetheless, people were in awe of Flacco as they would catch sight of him flying, or hunting, or just majestically sitting perched on a tree branch. Flacco was out here in these Central Park streets living his best life! Now, Flacco was soaring the skies for about a year but, unfortunately, he wound up going on home to glory a few months ago. Flacco was found suffering from some injuries and has since taken his final flight to that owl’s nest up high. Before you get too sad, just know that Flacco has very much been properly mourned already. Grown adults, with jobs, responsibilities, and probably children to care for, took time off of work, gathered in the park, and had a nice homegoing for him. There were epitaphs read, poems recited, and a relatively large group of people singing in the park in his honor. He’s already had a beautiful homegoing service, so feel free to save your tears.

Initially, I didn’t necessarily understand what the big deal was about Flacco. “Oh, wow! A bird is flying…. Great.” That would generally be my internal response to the Flacco wave that was taking over. But, then I realized what the obsession was really about. It wasn’t about Flacco. It wasn’t just about a bird. It was about witnessing something leave a controlled environment and evolve into a state of greatness. It was about watching something assume its natural place in this world.

From Flacco’s story I learned that when you have the opportunity to bear witness to that level of evolution, it’s definitely something worth stopping for and appreciating. Which is exactly why we’re all here today. You are all on the verge of leaving this particular, controlled environment and flying in whatever direction you choose. One major difference between you and Flacco (aside from the lack of wings and upright vertebrae, the teeth, the feathers, the neck that turns 180 degrees vs 90 degrees, oh, look at that—there goes some geometry) is the fact that Flacco was ill prepared for his flight. He wasn’t bred in an environment that fostered his natural abilities and instincts. He was essentially set up to fail out in the world. This is the polar opposite level of preparation that you all have received while being a student here at Milton. Every test, every paper, every homework assignment, every late night, the whole list we went through earlier, all of that was designed to prepare you for success as you take your place out here.

There are two last quick things I’m going to leave you with. The first one being that I was watching something the other day and a woman from the Democratic Republic of Congo was being interviewed. She was from a village that was caught in the middle of a civil war—rebel soldiers on one side, government soldiers on the other. Neither of which seem to care about the fact that the people were unable to provide for themselves. There were no jobs to be had, so there was a community of people resorting to illegal activity simply to eat. The interviewer asked the woman, “Aren’t you scared you’ll get caught?” and the woman stoically replied, “When you’re hungry, you can’t be scared.”

I hear many things in that statement but one of the main things is necessity. She literally cannot afford to be scared. She absolutely needs to eat. I encourage you all to stay hungry and fearless in your pursuit of your place. I can easily relate this to myself because I get asked often, “Do you get ever nervous before you perform?” Nope, I’m too hungry to be nervous. “How do you remember all of those lines?” I’m too hungry to forget my lines. “You acted on Broadway?” Sure did. I was too hungry to not get there. You know? So, whatever it is that you’re going for, whatever it is that you want for yourself, whoever you see yourself being, stay hungry for it. From when you’re just thinking about it to when you’re actively working towards it to when you think you have it, stay hungry.

Lastly, I’m an actor, so it seemed only right that I include a quote from a play that I’ve done. Fortunately, I didn’t have to think too hard about it because it’s one of my favorites and it is definitely something that I consider often. It’s from Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. I’m mildly paraphrasing, but it says, “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon them.” I’d like to make the case that you are all three.

You were born great, otherwise you would never have been accepted into this school in the first place. You have to be incredibly smart to go here (if I do say so myself). You have all also achieved greatness here today by graduating. It is an impressive accomplishment to graduate from this school. You put in the work and the time. You stayed dedicated, persistent, and focused. And, as smart as you have to be to get into this school, you have to be even smarter to actually graduate. And this is where the third part of the quote comes in—greatness being thrust upon you. There are going to be moments in your life that require you to step up in ways that are unprecedented for you. There are going to be times when you have to dig deep down in your spirit to access the strength and fortitude that are necessary to take the next step in your journey. Sometimes on that journey you’re going to have to walk alone. And sometimes you’re going to have to walk through the mud. So it’s important that on your journey you remember that you are built for that.

You were born great, you’ve already achieved greatness, and you’re more than ready for whatever greatness is thrown at you. So, as long as you remember that and you stay hungry to carve out your place in this world I, me, yo can promise you that if anybody is gathering to sing for you it’ll be because you’re a choir director.

With that, I’d like to say thank you for having me. It’s been an honor and a privilege to be here with you, and to be one of the folks you chose to listen to on such a momentous occasion in your lives. To Milton Academy’s class of 2024 I say congratulations!

Class of 2024 Graduates

Matthew Abati, Charlestown, MA
Oluwatamilore Toluwalope Adewumi, Brockton, MA
Oyinkansola Oluwatobi Agunloye, Skokie, IL
Jack Raymond Allieri, Wellesley, MA
Maame Badu Amoah, Accra, Ghana
Christopher Amodeo, West Valley, NY
Bryce Anderson, Killingworth, CT
Charles Thomas Anthony, Brookline, MA
Talia Gigi Argov, Newton Highlands, MA
Hallelujah F. Ashenafi, Norwood, MA
Diane Asiedu, Philadelphia, PA
Emily Katherine Baldwin, Hingham, MA
Georgia Ford Barrett, Hingham, MA
Maddi Basterretxea Larrión, San Sebastián/Gipuzkoa/Basque Country, Spain
Braden Benzan, Milton, MA
Samantha Michaela Berk, Brookline, MA
Oliver Thomas Blais, Milton, MA
Liam Boukris, Huntington Beach, CA
Michael Bradley, Boston, MA
Eli Breyer Essiam, Cambridge, MA
Thatcher Joseph Brown, Wellesley, MA
Samantha Joyce Buonato, Weston, MA
Alexa Catherine Burton, Boston, MA
Brianna Renée Cadet, Abington, MA
Kaifu (Kyle) Cai, Wellesley, MA
Sam Callahan, Milton, MA
Zoe Zhao-Hui Campbell, Brookline, MA
William Cannata, Eastham, MA
Dingning Cao, HaiDian District, Beijing
Kaitlyn Tucker Cappillo, Wellesley, MA
Jonathan Careri, Vaughan, Ontario, Canada
Madison Carty, Milton, MA
Justin Chen, Milton, MA
Matt Childs, Medway, MA
Claire Ellen Choe, Boston, MA
Carsten Chow, Kowloon Tong, Kowloon, Hong Kong, China
Murphy Chuang, Taipei, Taiwan
Jason Clayton, Tai Tam, Hong Kong
Aidan R. Cole, Marshfield, MA
Devon Connerly, Hingham, MA
Emily Helen Counihan, Dedham, MA
Hailey Paige Coval, Milton, MA
Cecil Joseph Cox, Lexington, MA
Grant Jonathan Cressman, Hingham, MA
Dylan Crowley, Milton, MA
Katherine Suzanne Cullinane, Lynnfield, MA
Caroline Adams Curtis, Winchester, MA
Monica Ganeto D’Oliveira, Lynn, MA
Soraya Lillian Darvish, Milton, MA
Jordyn Davis, Randolph, MA
Charles Norman Prince de Ramel, Newport, RI
Samuel Alexander DeGrappo, Eliot, ME
Jaiden Delva, Grayson, GA
Tallulah Charlotte Doeringer, Swampscott, MA
Erika Juhee Drisko, Concord, MA
Abigail Dunn, Hingham, MA
Brady Earle, Winthrop, MA
Hugo Roger Eechaute, Singapore
Scarlett Emily Eldaief, Boston, MA
Kevin Michael Farmer, Boston, MA
Ben Fawcett, Duxbury, MA
Elena Maria Ferrari, Cambridge, MA
Melanie Shepley Forney, Dedham, MA
Allison Fung, Newton, MA
Blain Gelhaar, Boston, MA
William Harter Clarkson Glick, Brookline, MA
Ella Goldberg, Milton, MA
Sam Goldings, Weymouth, MA
Chrisangel Gonzalez, Boston, MA
Henry Good, Brookline, MA
William Leatherbury Grant, Milton, MA
Yuxin (Christina) Gu, Katy, TX
Gabriel Joseph Guerrero, Hingham, MA
Laurianie Isabelle Guiteau, Boston, MA
Eliot Jotimuttu Fedson Hack, Milton, MA
Robert Silas Hamblett, Eliot, ME
Omar Hesham Hamoda, Milton, MA
James M. Hamory, Wellesley, MA
Kevin Yu-Shi Han, Lloyd Harbor, NY
Christopher James Happy, Sterling, MA
Aimée Gabrielle Heard, Meredith, NH
Curt Aiden Heath, West Bridgewater, MA
Ava Montes Heredia, Iowa City, IA
Matthew Higgins, Norwell, MA
Owen Howlett, Bridgewater, MA
Ingrid Hsu, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Po-Tao David Hsueh, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Grace Hull, Norwell, MA
Emily Huneycutt, Mechanicsville, VA
Austin Ward Hunt, Marlborough, MA
Anna Rose Hutter, Seattle, WA
Adam Ibrahim, Quincy, MA
Chloe Grace Wood Johnson, Milton, MA
Haley Jones, Mableton, GA
Rachael Jones-Booker, Milton, MA
Melvin Joseph, Eastern Province, Saudi Arabia
Christian Kakhome, Lilongwe, Malawi
Daphne Mathilde Karlen, Chestnut Hill, MA
Anna Smyers Kaufman, Brookline, MA
Riley Sophia Keblin, Newton, MA
Liam Kralik, Cambridge, MA
Will Connare Lavallee, Chestnut Hill, MA
Mai Thanh Le, Quincy, MA
Zachary LeBlanc, Ogunquit, ME
Anthony Lee, Quincy, MA
Connor Kar Yau Lee, Dallas, TX
Jackson Han Lee, Milton, MA
Peter Leitzes, Milton, MA
Danny Ray Li, Milton, MA
Kylie Lick, Duxbury, MA
Cooper Andrew Love, Marshfield, MA
Nicholas Kenneth Mack, Newton, MA
Ainsley Michelle Madden, San Francisco, CA
Serhii Malevych, Rivne, Ukraine
Tara Ming Wai Mallela, Oakland, CA
Sonya Therese Martin, Robins, IA
Anna McDaniel, Milton, MA
Andrew Millington, Milton, MA
Alexander Min, Chestnut Hill, MA
Jai Mittal, New Delhi, Delhi, India
Jia Mittal, New Delhi, Delhi, India
Micah J. Moise, Milton, MA
Clare Reidy Mone, West Tisbury, MA
Zach Munson, Milton, MA
Dylan Michael Murphy, West Bridgewater, MA
Keith Nally, Milton, MA
Neha Thawani Nanda, Austin, MN
Jonah Nash, Bellevue, WA
Navid Nasser Ghodsi, Dubai, United Arab Emirates
Evan Ning, Sudbury, MA
Riley Nordin, Hingham, MA
Kristian Uke Etienne Okali, Milton, MA
Olajuwon Beatrice Motunrayo Oladipo, Canton, MA
Lily Joy Park, Chestnut Hill, MA
Stephanie Se-Aun Park, Seoul, Korea
Ryan Parker, Ladera Ranch, CA
Andrew Parkes, San Francisco, CA
Rio Pearlstein, Needham, MA
Elizabeth Shields Pener, Brookline, MA
Alexa Adrienne Anderson Garcia Montalvo Peraza, New York, NY
Eric Perreault, Milton, MA
Sophie Petherick, Plymouth, MA
Nick Petronio, Needham, MA
Taya Elizabeth Puner, Milton, MA
Yevgeniya Regent, Kyiv, Ukraine
Gustavo Leonardo Reynolds, Milton, MA
Benjamin Rhodes-Kropf, Newton, MA
Katherine Elizabeth Risden, Kingston, Jamaica
Carolina Rose Ritchie, Toronto, Ontario
Abigail (Abby) Jo Rochelle, Natick, MA
Sebastián Romero, Boston, MA
Michelle Nicole Rubeiz, Norwell, MA
Anthony Cristian Ruscito, Canton, MA
Jacob L. Schwartz, Westwood, MA
Imran Serifovic, Milton, MA
Ryan Patrick Shea, Norwell, MA
Zain Ahmad Sheikh, Newton, MA
Benjamin Louis Siegel, Sharon, MA
Caden Simmons, Milton, MA
Frederick Joseph Simpson, Milton, MA
Liam Kalil Simpson, Kingston 8, Jamaica
Sanaa Choyce Slayman, Mattapan, MA
Alitza Leilani Garcia Soiffer, Brookline, MA
Abigail Meihua Song, Hopkinton, MA
Maya Spektorov, Weston, MA
Tuhina Mehek Srivastava, Southborough, MA
Samuel Asher Stayn, Wellesley, MA
Connor William Steele, Norwell, MA
Jordan Chase Stuecken, Boston, MA
Bryan Sukidi, Somerville, MA
Ellie Sullivan, Dedham, MA
Akshaya Sundraraj, Flushing, NY
David Sunshine, Boston, MA
Christina Nicole Sweeney, Milton, MA
Darren Szeto, Hong Kong, SAR
Sean Szeto, Hong Kong, SAR
Finlay Taylor, Milton, MA
Vijay Dev Thakore, Wellesley, MA
Shu-Wu Tsai, New Taipei City, Taiwan
Emily Rebecca Vaz, Kingston, Jamaica
Luke Witkowski, Milton, MA
Meiyi Naomi Yu, Newton, MA
YiXuan Yu, Beijing, China
Alex Zhang, Hong Kong, Hong Kong
Keira Zhuo, Brookline, MA


The Head of School Award is presented each year to honor and celebrate certain members of Class I for their demonstrated spirit of self-sacrifice, community concern, leadership, integrity, fairness, kindliness, and respect for others.

Oluwatamilore Toluwalope Adewumi
Samantha Michaela Berk
Scarlett Emily Eldaief
Omar Hesham Hamoda
Daphne Mathilde Karlen
Mai Thanh Le
Serhii Malevych
Rio Pearlstein
Liam Kalil Simpson

To the Headmonitors.

Christopher Amodeo
Katherine Elizabeth Risden

To two students, chosen by their classmates, who have helped most by their sense of duty to perpetuate the memory of a gallant gentleman and officer.

Soraya Lillian Darvish
Bryan Sukidi

Awarded to that student(s), in Classes I-IV, who in working within one of the culture or identity groups at the school or other significant cultural or social justice initiative, has made an outstanding contribution to build community at Milton by promoting the appreciation of their cultural or identity or the work for equity and justice throughout the rest of the school.

Oluwatamilore Toluwalope Adewumi
Soraya Lillian Darvish

Established by Dr. and Mrs. Eric Oldberg for students deemed exceptionally proficient or talented in instrumental or vocal music or in composition.

Murphy Chuang
Eric Perreault

Awarded in recognition of helpful activity in furthering in the school an interest and joy in music.

Grace Hull
Nicholas Kenneth Mack

Awarded in memory of George Oldberg ’54, to members of the school who have been a unique influence in the field of music.

Ava Montes Heredia

Awarded to students who have demonstrated genuine curiosity, enthusiasm, as well as remarkable scientific growth in physics, chemistry and/or biology.

Kaitlyn Tucker Cappillo
Claire Ellen Choe
Devon Connerly
Erika Juhee Drisko
Elena Maria Ferrari
Melanie Shepley Forney
William Harter Clarkson Glick
Haley Jones
Anna Smyers Kaufman
Benjamin Louis Siegel
Jordan Chase Stuecken
Keira Zhuo

Awarded in honor of Donald Wales who taught Class IV science for more than 36 years. It recognizes students in Class IV who have consistently demonstrated interest and excitement in science.

Adam Amin
Theodore Edgar
Harrison Felix
Shruthi Inamdar
Sifei Jia
Adair Johnson
Miles Johnson
Hugh Kramer
Alex Sherman
Stella Tjan
Madeleine Wu
Cindy Zeng

For pre-eminence in physical efficiency and observance of the code of the true sportsman.

William Cannata

Awarded by the English Department to students who display unusual talent in non-fiction writing.

Caroline Blake
Mai Thanh Le
Bryan Sukidi

Awarded by the English Department for the best essay about a work or works of literature.

Adrienne Fung

Awarded in honor of two English teachers, father and son, to authors of unusual talent in creative writing.

Alexa Catherine Burton
Elena Maria Ferrari

To a Class I student who has demonstrated an outstanding attitude and commitment to athletics at Milton. She models exceptional sportsmanship, leadership and dedication, and she serves as an inspiration and role model to her teammates and others.

Alexa Catherine Burton

Awarded to students in Class I who have achieved excellence in the study of mathematics while demonstrating the kind of love of the subject and joy in promoting its understanding which will be the lasting legacy of Donald Duncan’s extraordinary contributions to the teaching of mathematics at Milton.

Maame Badu Amoah
Dingning Cao
Devon Connerly
Soraya Lillian Darvish
Erika Juhee Drisko
William Harter Clarkson Glick
Yuxin (Christina) Gu

Awarded for unusual contributions of time, energy and ideas in theatre production and in technical assistance throughout a student’s career.

Jacob L. Schwartz
Abigail Meihua Song

Presented by the Performing Arts Department for outstanding contributions in production work, acting, speech, audiovisuals, and dance throughout a student’s Milton career.

Oluwatamilore Toluwalope Adewumi
Jordyn Davis
Ella Goldberg
Serhii Malevych
Lily Joy Park
Carolina Rose Ritchie
Abigail (Abby) Jo Rochelle
Meiyi Naomi Yu

Awarded for exceptional effort, excellence, and achievement in public speaking.

Samantha Michaela Berk

Awarded for outstanding contributions to Milton Performing Arts throughout a student’s career in both performance and production.

Yevgeniya Regent
Abigail Meihua Song

To a student in her Class I year, recognizing exceptional athletic skill and admirable contributions to her team. This talented athlete demonstrates a strong work ethic and conducts herself with a spirit of teamwork and good sportsmanship.

Caroline Adams Curtis

To members of the First Class, who, in Public Speaking and Oral Interpretation, have shown consistent effort, thoroughness of preparation, and concern for others.

Alexa Catherine Burton
Abigail (Abby) Jo Rochelle

Created by his students of 1984 in his memory and honor, this prize in Classics is awarded to the student from Latin 4 or beyond who best exemplifies Mr. Daley’s love of languages.

Thatcher Joseph Brown
Alexa Catherine Burton

For self-sacrifice and devotion to the best interests of his teams, regardless of skill.

Jack Raymond Allieri

To members of the Second Class, outstanding in Mathematics, Astronomy, or Physics.

Ohuntoluwase Adeyefa
Devan Agrawal
Aidan Cullinane
Aidan Gao
Jeonghurn Lee
Jason Louie
Brady Payne

Established in 1911 and awarded to Class I students who, in their study of history and social sciences, have demonstrated interest, outstanding achievement, respect for others, and a deep curiosity about the human experience.

Scarlett Emily Eldaief
Zachary LeBlanc
Olajuwon Beatrice Motunrayo Oladipo
YiXuan Yu

Awarded on the basis of a separate test at each prize level.

Level 5 – Meiyi Naomi Yu
Level 4 – Maximilian Weil
Level 3 – Andria Laitadze

Awarded to those students who, in the opinion of the Department, most exhibit the qualities of academic excellence, enthusiastic participation, and support of fellow students, both in and out of class.

Samantha Michaela Berk
Eli Breyer Essiam
Zoe Zhao-Hui Campbell
Abigail Dunn
Elena Maria Ferrari
William Harter Clarkson Glick
Omar Hesham Hamoda
Ava Montes Heredia
Grace Hull
Chloe Grace Wood Johnson
Liam Kralik
Olajuwon Beatrice Motunrayo Oladipo

Awarded for imagination and technical excellence in art and for an independent and creative spirit of endeavor.

Eli Breyer Essiam
Dingning Cao
Caroline Adams Curtis
Aimée Gabrielle Heard
Ingrid Hsu
Clare Reidy Mone
Yevgeniya Regent
Samuel Asher Stayn
Luke Witkowski

Awarded to students for excellence in computer science.

Dingning Cao
Hailey Paige Coval
Erika Juhee Drisko
Benjamin Rhodes-Kropf
Imran Serifovic
Bryan Sukidi

This annual award recognizes student athletes for exhibiting the Independent School League ideals of integrity, sportsmanship, fair play, and good citizenship, while participating as a multi-sport athlete during their Independent School League career.

Gabriel Joseph Guerrero
Christina Nicole Sweeney

Graduation Speakers

Jason Bowen ’00
Actor and Educator

Dr. Alixe Callen
Head of School

Lily Park ’24

Bryan Sukidi ’24