Carmel Academy graduated its Class of 2017 on June 14th, celebrating the school’s 12th commencement exercises. The student-designed graduation ceremony centered around the theme, “Our Carmel Experience” as the school’s 26 graduates poignantly reflected upon what they learned at Carmel, both inside the classroom and out, and how the school has shaped and prepared them for their future. Through personal writings and songs, in both Hebrew and English, the graduates shared their memories, as well as their aspirations for the future based on the foundation they received at Carmel Academy.
“The definition of the word journey is ‘the act of traveling from one place to another.’ Our past experiences have helped form us into the young men and women that we are today. Our future is full of excitement as we move into the next stages of our lives. While we may be moving along on our journey from Carmel to new places, we know that the journey is what makes us who we are,” said graduate Chaya Banschick.
Head of School Nora Anderson addressed the graduating class and urged her students to live with optimism and with a growth mindset. “Take what you have learned at Carmel Academy and change the world for the better. Caring about your Jewish history, heritage, values and community is what should propel you to make a meaningful life. Please question and at times disagree—make a mark in the world! Do what you need to do to make ours a compassionate, God loving place to live. But do it within the context of the values of Torah, your parents and your teachers.”
As part of the ceremony, the graduates shared in Hebrew excerpts from their year-long project Shorashim, or Roots. The project was modeled after an Israeli initiative that has become a nation-wide tradition, where the students researched their family’s history and connection with the Jewish people.
“In essence, it was a journey of self-discovery for each of us,” said graduate Sofia Jacubowicz. “The project enabled us to reflect on how we view ourselves within our family’s heritage and enhanced our understanding of Jewish peoplehood.”
During the ceremony graduate Hannah MacDonald introduced the song Matanot Ketanot, or small gifts, which reflects on the small gifts that people collect as they enter the holy space of Shabbat. “Throughout our years at Carmel, the teachers and administrators have given us these Matanot Ketanot, small gifts, that we cherish today and will carry with us always. As we continue to grow, we will be able to draw from these gifts to become the people we are meant to be.”
In what has become a Carmel Academy tradition, after the students received their diplomas, the entire faculty joined the new graduates on stage to bless the class as they embark on the next stage of their lives.
By Julie Lapin