Commencement 2018

Dear families,

Today is Groundhog Day, which falls roughly halfway between the winter solstice and the spring equinox.
Whether the groundhog sees his shadow this year or not, spring is more than six weeks away in snowy Vermont. Nevertheless, plans for our Commencement ceremony on Saturday, May 26, are well underway. We’ve made a few changes to graduation and the student move-out process this year that I wanted to share with you.

Originally, the plan for this year was to have graduation with only seniors present. Once I started as head of school, I changed this plan. All undergraduates must attend the graduation of seniors and PGs. In fact, they will line up, and the graduates will walk between the undergraduates, who will clap in appreciation of their departing friends. Like the Wildcat Games, Mountain Day, and Winter Carnival, Commencement is an important tradition at Vermont Academy, and I want all our students to be here, not only as observers but as participants.

No student can move out until graduation is completed; that includes international students, unless there is an extenuating circumstance. More details will follow, but you should know that no loading of cars can happen until graduation is over, and that faculty and staff will be stationed around campus to make sure that the focus is on the ceremony and its importance. Dorms will close on Sunday, May 27.

Yes, there will be a bagpiper! I have also decided to have a reception under a tent in the late afternoon on the preceding day, Friday, May 25, with some hot hors d'oeuvres. This reception will be followed by the Baccalaureate in the Nita Choukas Theater in Horowitz, where awards will be given, and we will watch the senior photo slideshow. There will be some awards given at graduation as well, but we have made some changes to shorten the length of graduation and shift some awards to the Baccalaureate.

Following the Baccalaureate, there will be an informal barbecue for seniors, PGs, and their families, and underclassmen will have pizza in Chivers. Families of seniors and PGs are also free to take their graduates off campus for a private dinner at a restaurant. I wanted to keep the evening informal, and to raise the level of attention to the events in the Baccalaureate while giving families a choice of a relaxed dinner on campus or a chance to go out.

We will continue to share details with you as the date gets closer. If you have more questions about the events of May 25 and 26 or about student departures, please contact Caitlin Holton in the Dean of Students Office at, or Jason Wang in the Global Programs office at for international students.

I hope that you have a wonderful weekend—as a major Patriots fan, I am eager for the Super Bowl.

Warm regards to all!