Thirty-nine seniors graduated from Carlisle School Friday evening during its 45th commencement exercises. The class of 2018 amassed more than $4.9 million in merit-based scholarships, and received more than 135 acceptances to 60 different colleges. The graduating class included 19 honor graduates who achieved a cumulative grade point average of 3.67 or higher during their high school years, and 10 international students from South Korea, China, Ecuador and Spain.
Salutatorian Garrett Kenneth Howerton, who will attend the University of North Carolina in the fall, delivered the invocation. Head of School Thomas P. Hudgins, Jr., welcomed the students, faculty, family and friends in attendance.
Andrew Preston Painter, who will attend the University of Virginia in the fall, gave the valedictory address.
Painter reminisced about the times he and his fellow classmates shared at Carlisle, both the struggles and the triumphs, including personal anecdotes for each graduate.
“I will miss you. I’ll miss every single moment without fail. It hasn’t been just this place and this school that I’ve grown so accustomed to over the years. It’s you,” Painter said directly to his classmates. “I’ve found home in all that you have given me to smile about over the years. You have made Carlisle the home of my dreams.”
Martinsville’s Vice Mayor Chad Martin served as this year’s commencement speaker. Martin, who graduated from Carlisle School in 1997, was elected to the Martinsville City Council in November 2016, beginning his four-year term in January 2017. He currently works in Martinsville’s Commonweath Attorney’s Office.
Martin has worked extensively in the nonprofit sector for more than 15 years, holding a certificate in nonprofit management from Duke University. He has served as a Hunger Justice Leader for Bread for the World, a volunteer coordinator for the women’s shelter, a CASA volunteer, a suicide hotline trainer, and a Crisis Intervention Trainer for law-enforcement agencies, among many other roles.
Martin began his commencement speech by saying what an honor and privilege it was to return to his high school and address the graduating class. He asked all the parents of the seniors to stand to receive the recognition they deserved for leading their children to this point in their lives.
He guaranteed that his speech would be brief and not boring, wanting to impart on the seniors one piece of advice he believed trumped all others – listen.
“I charge you to be the one generation that listens,” Martin urged, stressing the importance of listening to those older and wiser. But more importantly, “I need you to listen to that inner voice that is pushing you and driving you to be great. I need you to listen to that voice that is giving you a purpose and passion,” he said.
Drawing from near-death experiences as a child and his work with Good News Prison Ministry, Martin illustrated the importance of listening. He explained how going against your own common sense or not listening to those who are there to guide you can only lead you astray from your dreams, especially fitting for the seniors as they experience a new level of freedom and responsibility in college.
The Distinguished Alumni Award was given to Dr. Susan Morris, Carlisle class of 1975 and a member of Carlisle’s Board of Trustees. Samantha Wilds was given The Hooker-Garrett Award, and The Francis T. West Chair for Teaching Excellence was awarded to Gregory Morrison.
All 39 seniors were accepted into four-year colleges and universities, a longstanding Carlisle tradition since the first graduating class of 1974.