Reflections on the Class of 2016

By: JP Jacquet
Twelfth Grade Class Dean

Below are excerpts from Dean Jacquet’s speech at the 2016 Senior Class Dinner.

Class of 2016, how should you be described? In previous years I’ve started these remarks by citing the number of Lifers (11 for your grade) to highlight the BC roots and connections of your class. For this year’s graduates, though, I thought it would be fun to acknowledge that you even have members who attended the since-closed BC Learning Center. Regardless of when you arrived you have gelled well as a class. As I asked faculty, staff, parents and other members of the BC community about the class of 2016, people used different words to describe some common themes. First, your class really likes each other. Your grade has many, and often overlapping “fro-mances,” which is my gender neutral term for what people typically call bromances. Two quick things: yes, I just invented that word and no I don’t think it will capture any traction after tonight.

Despite your fondness for each other, you often like to make your own choices and frequently ignore groupthink. You are a class of 56 and as one dean, who constantly has science on the brain noted: The class of 2016 are like awesome Protists! Like Protists, all of you are so wonderfully different in such dynamic ways! Yet unlike Protists, you are not “the odds and ends” of BC, rather, you have forged unique paths for yourselves that cannot be easily duplicated. When you do decide to act collectively, the outcome is typically impressive.

Examples from this year alone include the Senior Blood Drive, your senior prank of prolonged student announcements, and your most cohesive move to date: your departure from prom.  You were the first class in recent years to have 100% grade participation at prom. But attendance was only the beginning of your impressive group action. As I told a colleague later, “The class of 2016: they came, they ate, they danced and then they left…by 10pm.” A fact, which initially startled us chaperones but did ‘gift’ me the opportunity to catch an extra episode of the 1980s hit murder tv series, Murder She Wrote, a present I am greatly thankful for.

Having taught many of you in 10th and/or 11th grade, I appreciate the firsthand view I’ve had of your personal growth, intellectual curiosity, and spirited drive. As your senior class dean I can attest to the hard work and achievement you accomplished in the classroom.  Tomorrow’s Recognition Assembly will recap some instances of academic excellence you have achieved collectively. This recognition is based on internal BC evaluations and external evaluations and measurements by organizations like The Cum Laude Society, the Scholastic Art and Writing Organization, the National Latin Exam and the National Merit Scholarship Program.

In athletics, this grade helped our school achieve new individual and team honors that have cemented our strong sports presence in New York State. Throughout your high school tenure, we’ve seen increased participation in girls, boys and coed teams. Your grade ushered our female sports teams into the very competitive AAIS league. Members from your class helped start three new sports and added six new sports teams over the past four years. As a group you won or shared nine league championships.  Members of the class also earned 24 individual league honors over the course of four years.

Together you added important pages to the BC story whether we are talking about this winter’s boys swimming ACIS league title or girls softball team’s tremendous postseason run to the championship game from the ninth seed — just to provide two examples.

Turning to the arts, the Senior Art Night was a small testament to the great and impressive learning and work done by the class of 2016. The hallways and Upper School Atrium have been adorned by your artwork. Throughout the year you sang and played in truly impressive concerts that yielded spectacular performances and earned awards at places such as the Ellington Jazz Festival. This fall’s production of “An Evening with Hitchcock & Poe” closed the old Performance Space and the second semester marked the opening of the new Marlene Clary Performance Space at Sterling Place. Earlier this month the dance team displayed their wide repertoire of choreography and the spring musical “The Music Man” provided a great opportunity for middle and upper school students to showcase their talents in our newest space.

Yet it is not just the quality of performances but the process and the development that occurred along the way. Our newest debate coach shared a comment about the debaters that I believe describes your class as well, “You showed incredible leadership and really had a hand in creating excitement for this year and the years to come. You are welcoming and supportive —  by choice, not by request.”

Yet with every accomplishment achieved or thoughtful gesture provided, you and your classmates have been a bit different this year. As seniors, by necessity, you have spent the year with one back foot firmly planted within this community, which you helped create, while you look for a landing spot for your front foot. Your college counselors have often used the phrase “college is a match to be made and not a prize to be won.” In my conversations with them and you, I know that you have truly taken this to heart. As the Office recently shared with the greater BC community,”Even in this incredibly competitive admission climate, more than 82% of you seniors were offered admission to at least one of your top choices.”

It’s noteworthy to point out how diverse this college list is. More than a quarter of the class will leave the northeast, including two students who will attend university in the UK. As a testament to the range, one student will be attending school with just over 800 students, on a working farm nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. While another student will have almost 27,000 classmates on a campus nestled on a completely different mountain range — the Rockies. While most of you will pursue a liberal arts degree, several of you will enter specialized programs in engineering, business, visual art and theater.

You are all ready and poised to tackle the world beyond the gates of Berkeley Carroll.