On Friday, May 27, 2016, 41 diplomas were presented to the members of the Class of 2016, Linden Hall's 270th graduating class. The Class of 2016 includes girls from six countries and six states. They have been accepted at 107 different colleges and universities throughout the United States and will matriculate at 32 different schools.. Combined, they have received $3.1 million in scholarship money. Three are National Merit Commended Scholars, four are AP Scholars with Honors, and eight are members of the National Honor Society.
Our 41st Head of School, Michael Waylett, addressed the Class of 2016, their friends, family members, and the Linden Hall community at the Baccalaureate ceremony on May 26. He commended the class of 2016 for their diverse interests and accomplishments stating, "They are accomplished composers, songwriters, musicians, dancers, artists, thespians, athletes, and small business owners. From dentistry to aviation to bio-mechanics to business to foreign policy, their interests are diverse and ambitious."
He invited the Senior class to fast-forward 20 years to the year 2036, when "their lives have taken many paths," advising them to remember their Linden Hall classmates:
"Together you shared and celebrated triumphs, overcame challenges, and supported and loved one another. During your lives after Linden Hall, I encourage you to stay in touch, reminisce about your time here, share your good news, and be there to support one another during the low times. The girls you count as your best friends today are uniquely qualified to be your best friends for life."
Finally, Mr. Waylett encouraged the soon-to-be graduates to "not turn a blind eye on injustices and suffering; rather, speak out and take action. Remember to live by the words of Thomas Jefferson, our third President, and most notably, founder of the University of Virginia, - 'Action will delineate and define you.'" He challenged the girls to be problem solvers rather than problem identifiers and applauded them for their leadership and for working to leave their school a better place. Finally, he challenged them to "go forward from this place and make a difference," and to remember "to whom much is given, much is expected."
The theme of life-long friendship continued into the next morning at the 270th Graduation Ceremony, where Valedictorian Erika Yeungling spoke to her classmates about her "Linden Hall family' and how over the weeks leading up to graduation she had "tried to make every second count - every laugh the happiest laugh I could muster, every conversation the most profound conversation it could be - I was trying too hard to have control over the end. I wanted the last few weeks to be nothing but perfect" but the perfection eluded her and she realized that "we have absolutely no control over what happens next, we can only hope. No matter how much we plan; how much we try to choose where our lives go there will always be something unexpected to make the road harder and different." She implored her fellow classmates to "take a moment, close your eyes, let it go" and provided her Linden Hall family with these words of comfort, hope, and enduring friendship:
"The past is in the past and our future is a wonderful combination of perseverance, chance, determination and hopefully each other."
To end her speech, Erika quoted A.A. Milne, "If ever there is a tomorrow that we're not together, there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we're apart...I'll always be with you."
Salutatorian, Khrystyna Babenko also spoke about her time and friendships formed at Linden Hall. The theme of her speech was habituation. She stated that when she first came to LH, four years ago, she thought "she had stumbled upon some sort of nerdy utopia." At first, she felt like she didn't belong but with time she integrated and eventually habituated. But Khrystyna cautioned her fellow classmates, "Habituation is dangerous because it distorts our sense of reality and can make our lives boring and meaningless...The only way to fight back is to take time and be mindful."
She encouraged the Class of 2016 to appreciate what they have, to remind themselves why they enjoy the things they do, to live fully by loving deeply, and bade them to appreciate their time at Linden Hall, reminding them "why this school is awesome."
"The people here are fantastic. They are wonderful and precious. They will love you and support you in your darkest times; your friends will keep you sane as much as they drive you insane. Teachers who care about their subjects. Friends who hug you when you cry and do Calculus with you through lunch — these are beautiful things."
She ended saying, "Always remember what this school has given you, because ultimately, it has made you who you are today. Now we are armed with knowledge, life skills, and lifelong memories. So, let's go do great things."
Graduation speaker and Linden Hall alumna, Barbara Mistick '73, who is currently serving as the President of Wilson College in Chambersbug, Pennsylvania, also spoke about her time at Linden Hall and the connections she has formed over the years. She expressed nostalgia for her years spent at Linden Hall and encouraged the graduates to embrace the promise of a Linden Hall legacy that reaches back 270 years.
As a Linden Hall alumna, she has connected with many other distinguished alumnae, many of whom graduated before her and whom she did not meet until after graduation, but who she felt an instant connection with because of their ties to the School. Ms. Mistick encouraged the Class of 2016 to take some time over the summer, slow down and spend time with the people they love. She challenged the Class of 2016: "Put your devices aside and have real, live conversations with those who love you best. Be deliberate and find time to unplug and talk to those who hold you dear."
"Welcome those people who show an interest in you into your life, and do everything you can to develop the promise they see in you. Allow yourself to dream big,"
She spoke about the importance of social and personal networks: "Find five people who inspire you and make time to see those people in person...Create opportunities to foster a relationship with those in your network for they are the people you can count on when you need them most, in times of celebrations, and when facing adversity."
To the Class of 2016, we congratulate you on your many accomplishments and wish you the best of luck in all your future endeavors. We hope you never forget your Linden Hall family and that you will always think of Linden Hall as your home. We know you will go out in the world, dream big, and make a difference.
Click here for the 2016 Baccalaureate Video.
Click here for the full 2016 Graduation Video.