Thirty-three seniors graduated from Carlisle School Friday evening during its 44th commencement exercises. The class of 2017 amassed more than $4.6 million in merit scholarships, and were accepted to 76 colleges and universities in 19 states plus the UK and Canada. The graduating class included 22 honor graduates who achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.67 or better during their high school years, and 10 international students from China, Serbia, Ecuador and Spain.
Salutatorian Caleb Graham Tisdale, who was awarded the Jefferson Scholarship and will attend the University of Virginia in the fall, gave the invocation. Head of School Thomas P. Hudgins, Jr., welcomed the students, faculty, family and friends in attendance.
Matthew Aaron Neider, who will also attend the University of Virginia in the fall, delivered the valedictory address. Neider thanked individual teachers and provided anecdotes of his fellow classmates’ unique imprint on the school and each other.
“The passion that each student holds toward his school is one of a kind,” he said. “When you walk along these grounds, you are walking through a legacy of integrity, leadership and friendship.”
Neider drew upon the popular film and nonfiction book Hidden Figures in providing advice to his peers, cautioning that “there will be times in our lives when we are the hidden figures. People might not appreciate or acknowledge the good that you do, but the way you respond to this is what determines if you achieve success.”
He also spoke of the potential that each graduating student possesses. “Motivate yourself to break barriers. Strive for greatness. Try to improve yourself every single day,” he said. “Motivation is what gets you started and habit is what keeps you going.”
The commencement speaker was Franklin DeWitt House, Jr., senior program officer with the Harvest Foundation. He began a career in education in 1984 after graduating from Lincoln Memorial University. He joined the Harvest Foundation in 2014 after 30 years of service in education.
He provided examples of how each member of the graduating class has lived up to the Carlisle motto — “Lead. Excel. Succeed.”
“Follow your passion and it will lead you to your purpose,” House advised, adding that talent without passion and purpose is a missed opportunity.
Thirteen seniors were given the Trustees’ Award for attending Carlisle since the first grade. The Distinguished Alumni Award was given to Lee Probst, Carlisle class of 1987. Analisa O’Toole, Carlisle class of 1989, was given The Hooker-Garrett Award. The Francis T. West Chair for Teaching Excellence was awarded to Meredith Nicoletti.
All members of the class of 2017 were accepted into four-year colleges and universities, a tradition since Carlisle’s first graduating class of 1974.