Commencement Address Archive

33 Announcements displayed.

  • Introduction of Will Milward '99

    Una MacCarthy's Introduction of Will Milward '99

    June 3, 2022

    Continuing our honored tradition of inviting a former student to share words of wisdom with the graduating class, I am excited to introduce Will Milward, Class of 1999.
     
    Some things never change. And good things continue strongly at The Lexington School, year after year, decade after decade. On the morning of June 5, 1999, at the Commencement ceremony in the theater, Will was one of three class leaders who stepped to the podium to share his memories and observations. It’s fitting that this morning, he returns to the stage, this time on the Scarlet Gate lawn, to give his thoughts to the Class of 2022
     
    Will is thoroughly connected to our school. His brothers, Jeff Milward ’99, and Webb Milward ’96, along with cousins Kav Milward ’95 and Emily Milward Magevney ’97 made for quite the Milward presence during the ’90s.
     
    In these later years, Will is still an active member of The Lexington School. He and wife Lindsay are proud parents of Daniel, fourth grade; second grader Austin; and five-year-old Paine. He is also the Alumni Council President. After Henry Clay High School and Sewanee, and living in Charlotte, North Carolina, Will moved back to Lexington with Lindsay in 2010 to become part of the fourth generation of the Milward family firm, which is now Marsh McLennan Agency, the largest insurance broker and risk advisor in the world.
     
    I had fun going back and forth with Laura Bonzo this week about Will stories from back in the day. We laughed through old yearbooks and trip stories and got stuck on one particular memory of the ninth grade show. When we still had a ninth grade, one of the favorite year-end traditions was this show. There were all kinds of goofy skits representing events and moments for the class, including making fun of all of us. Bonzo and I had fuzzy memories of Will being in one famous skit of the Backstreet Boys. But we were not sure. The texts started flying from 1050 Lane Allen Road to all over the country to confirm. Classmates from the Class of ‘99 were weighing in … Mary Bruce, Coley, Cy, Pierce, Emily were all pretty sure our memory was correct – 98% they said. It was his brother Jeff, who summed it up with, “Risk it as fact… He probably won’t remember either, but he will say, that sounds like me.”
     
    So, today, I would like to welcome past Backstreet Boy extraordinaire Will Milward, Class of 1999 back to the graduation stage and  to the Commencement podium once again.
  • Commencement Address 2022

    Will Milward '99

    Commencement Address

    June 3, 2022


    Hello Class of 2022, Family and Friends, Teachers and Administrators,

    It is great to be here this morning. Commencement speakers from the recent past have included a Neonatologist, NFL player, and Gold Medal winner, and lucky for you, you get a Commercial Insurance Broker! I know that the last few years have been an unusual and trying time for everyone, but I am glad I can be here in front of you today, in person, gathered on such a joyous occasion. Life has certainly challenged all of us and given us a lesson in how to deal with adversity. Through this, all of you before me have persevered and triumphed. It has taught us the value of relationships and the need for the human spirit to interact with one another, and for that we can be thankful.

    With news media disproportionately highlighting the negative aspects or influences in the world, it is easy to succumb to fear, but I challenge you to remain positive and undeterred as you move forward on your journey. I had a DARE officer in sixth grade here at TLS, and for those who may not know what DARE is; it stood for Drug Abuse Resistance Education and was geared toward educating middle schoolers on the dangers of drugs. Apparently DARE was replaced a few years later with the much hipper “Keepin It Real” campaign, or KIR, which, quite frankly, does not have the same ring to it. While our original DARE officer was ironically arrested for possession of drugs that she failed to report as evidence, the replacement officer provided a very elementary demonstration, but it carried a message that has stuck with me to this day. He held up a piece of paper with a small black dot on it and asked the class what we saw. In unison, we all yelled out, “a black dot.” What he pointed out and what we had failed to recognize was the overwhelming amount of white left on the page. We were all so focused on the tiny imperfection, that we neglected the untouched beauty that enveloped it. So, just remember that in life there will always be disappointments, losses, or other negative external forces that you will have to overcome. During those times, focus on the positive, know that there is a brighter tomorrow, and lean on those closest to you.

    Lean on your parents, friends, and loved ones. Those who helped get you this far and those who will help get you through the difficulties of tomorrow. While you will undoubtedly add new friends, the friends and foundation of your character that you have built here at TLS has established the social framework for all future relationships in your life. As you grow older, you will begin to be more appreciative of these bonds. As Ms. MacCarthy said, I am in the Commercial Insurance business and ever since I started 15 years ago, I have constantly heard that it “is a relationship business.” While I find this to be true, aren’t most successful professions driven by great relationships? Relationships with vendors or suppliers, customers or clients.  These connections are built on things like integrity and trust, no different than all great relationships in life. Likewise, support for one another and mutual respect are pillars to healthy relationships in both your professional and personal lives.  

    As you get older, you will start to think more about the impact these relationships have on you and the way your life impacts others, which will ultimately help shape your legacy in this world. I remember in Mr. Scarr’s fourth grade English class doing a book of famous quotes, and the first one I chose was by the great Jackie Robinson, who exclaimed just that, “a life is not important except in the impact it has on other lives.” Now, you do not have to hold the standard for your legacy up against the pioneers of history, but rather those who are in the audience of your life and who you have a platform to reach. My dad has many sayings that he has tried to impart on me and my brothers over the years, “plow to the end of the field,” “leave the campsite better than you found it,” the list goes on, but one has resonated more than the others in that, “you represent something larger than yourself.” Hear that again because in a world where everything is seemingly caught on video, maybe this warning message will go off in your head before making a bad decision down the line, because all of you do, “represent something larger than yourself.” You represent your family, friends, community, future employers, and past and future schools. As you go off to high school, you are representing The Lexington School. TLS has prepared you for that challenge, so do not let that weigh on you as a burden, but rather be grateful that you have the honor of representing those that have supported and believed in you to this point.

    I mentioned my dad, and my parents are here today still supporting me. I know that I did not appreciate it, as I should have when I was in your shoes, but be grateful for the opportunity you have had to be a part of something as special as TLS and the Class of 2022. You have made amazing friendships and memories that will last your lifetime. Take time today to thank your teachers, both past and present. Let them know you appreciate the time and effort they have put into making you who you are today. Take time today to thank your parents. Thank them for making a commitment to TLS on your behalf. Thank them for the science projects they helped you with, or the spelling tests they prepared you for. They chose to make an investment in you and your future out of the love they have for you. Be grateful for that, and continue to be grateful to them and others who have and will continue to help you along your journey.

    Life is one big opportunity, an opportunity to do something great in this world. With the tools that TLS has given you, you have the foundation to go forward and do just that. Remain positive throughout your journey, cherish and nurture the relationships in your life, and be grateful for what you have been given, now and always. With that, I congratulate you and wish you nothing but the best in your future endeavors. 
  • Introduction of Ting Ting Fu '00

    Una MacCarthy's Introduction of Ting Ting Fu '00

    June 4, 2021

    Introduction of Ting Ting Fu Class of 2000 and Graduation Speaker for the Class of 2021
     
    Ting Ting Fu ’00 speaks for those who cannot speak for themselves. Ting Ting is a neonatologist, an intensive care doctor for babies. At Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, Dr. Fu’s group oversees all the neonatal ICUs and the majority of well babies in the Greater Cincinnati area. Her husband, Vincent, and Penelope – better known as Penny -- their four-year-old daughter, are in Lexington with her this weekend.
     
    Ting Ting came to The Lexington School in third grade when she and her mother traveled from Bejing to join her father, who was attending the University of Kentucky and studying computer science.
     
    In Ting Ting’s detailed and warm TLS reminiscences, she recalled a special closeness and connection with several of her teachers but especially, Lynn Pickles, her fifth grade social studies teacher: “She’s the teacher I’ve kept in touch with the most. We just clicked. When I was sick at home for a week, Mrs. Pickles collected all my work and brought it to me. That was kind of her. She pushed me, in a good way, to be more out of my shell and encouraged me to have high academic standards.”
     
    From her Chapel Hill home Mrs. Pickles shows great pride in her former student, saying, “If you look on the TLS website, one of the first statements you read is: At The Lexington School, children find courage in lots of little places in every classroom, in every activity, and from every teacher they encounter.”
     
    “These words were clearly written with our commencement speaker in mind.  Ting Ting means ‘graceful,’ and it sounds gentle ... a name you don’t forget. It was clear to all of us that this hard working, serious, student would find the courage within herself to make a difference.”
     
    “Over the years, her classmates recognized in her a resilience, a core strength, and a strong moral compass. When she said something, people listened. “
     
    I have many fond memories of Ting Ting but mine are far more animated than the quiet student Mrs. Pickles describes. Ting Ting was classmates of Fielden Swimm our 7th grade English teacher and Andrew Schwartz our 8th grade math teacher.  The class had energy and spunk. We had a tradition at the time where at the conclusion of a unit on Greek mythology, we hosted a Greek Olympics.  One of the events was a chariot race in the gym which was formed with a bed sheet being pulled by two students.  Ting Ting was the rider on the sheet, and I believe her two buddies John Gilbert and Cole James were the “horses”. They ran with such energy and enthusiasm, Ting Ting was launched from the chariot as they rounded the corner.  She immediately jumped up not willing to lose the race.
     
    That drive to succeed served her well.
     
    After TLS, Ting Ting graduated from Dunbar’s Math Science Technology Center, confidently and articulately presenting her senior research project to an audience that included her parents, her sister, Vanessa Fu ’09 and Mrs. Pickles.
     
    Ting Ting matriculated to MIT, earning her Bachelor of Science degree, with an emphasis on biology, in 2007. She added her M.D. degree from the University of Kentucky in 2011.
     
    I am so excited to have Ting Ting with us today.  Please join me in welcoming Dr. Ting Ting Fu ’00 back to The Lexington School.

  • Commencement Address 2021

    Ting Ting Fu '00

    Commencement Address

    June 4, 2021

    Good morning and thank you for inviting me back today! I’m feeling a little old right now as I realize how long it’s been since my middle school days. When I told one of my former classmates that I was speaking today, he said it felt like TLS was from a different life than now. And he’s not wrong. You all weren’t even born then. Tubby Smith was the UK basketball coach. Cell phones were a novelty, and nobody in school had one. I think we were still mostly using dial-up Internet, and you probably have no idea what that even is. I also remember my English teacher, Mrs. Eames, handing me the first Harry Potter and telling me it was going to be the next big thing, and of course she was right. All of that to say, a lot has changed in the world, and yet you and I also share some common TLS experiences: amazing class trips that, for a bookworm like me, pushed me outside my comfort zone; family style lunches and that hot potato bar; The Mile run every year that I walked more than ran (sorry, Mr. Parlanti); and, of course, an excellent education. Every alumnus who walked through these halls knows what an accomplishment it is to be in your shoes today, so congratulations, and doubly so for surviving this crazy, unprecedented year.
     
    Of course your graduation is the focus of today, but I also want to take a moment to acknowledge and congratulate your parents. You might not realize it, but this is their day as much as it is yours. When I’m examining babies in the regular nursery, I tell the first-time parents that it’s really the kid who will be running the show now, in every regard. It might seem like a joke, but your parents know that this is actually true. They’ve cared for you and guided you and watched with hope (and a bit of anxiety) as you’ve carved your own paths, and they are especially proud of you today. And though I can’t be completely certain, I think your teachers share a parallel sentiment: they’ve guided you through the years and hope that they’ve passed along both knowledge and life skills that will prepare you for your future.
     
    Coming back here today, I can attest that they have. I think no one will be surprised when I say that it was Ms. Lounsbury’s anatomy class that sparked my interest in medicine and first led me down my career path. Neonatology, or intensive care for newborns, is a specialty that most people have never heard of, unless they’ve had a premature or sick baby of their own. At the core, I chose neonatology because I love taking care of babies, but I also love the multifaceted knowledge and skillset it requires beyond anatomy and physiology: there’s the chemistry of acid/base balance in the blood, the physics behind using a ventilator, the biology of how to grow a tiny baby that weighs one pound. There’s also the critical thinking required to read and interpret a medical journal article or conduct my own research studies and the effective communication needed to counsel a family about a difficult diagnosis. I’ve spent years honing these skills, but it all started here.
     
    It turns out that writing papers for Dr. Bonzo was never only about literary analysis. Reciting battle play-by-plays for Miss Cowling’s tests was not purely to learn world history. Solving algebraic equations and geometry proofs didn’t only teach you math theory. In the fast-paced world we live in now, no matter what direction your life takes you, some of the most useful skills you’ll ever possess will be your ability to communicate clearly and articulate your reasoning, to absorb and process an enormous amount of information, and to problem solve. I rely on these fundamental skills every day. And when the world was hit by a pandemic last year, these were some of the same skills that scientists and physicians needed to convey their experiences as COVID spread from country to country, to make the most educated decisions when so much was still uncertain. I hope our lives will be marked by only one pandemic, but no matter what challenges your future holds, I know you’ll look back one day and appreciate with more clarity the impact of your teachers and realize how lucky you are to be a TLS grad.
     
    I am equally certain that you will remember very little from my speech today, as you’re probably more excited about the main event and receiving your diploma. But if you’ll humor me, I’d like to share some lessons I’ve learned over the years that continue to guide me, and maybe one of them will stick with you.
     
    1. You, and only you, run your show. Don’t get me wrong – the support of your family and friends is invaluable and will carry you far, but ultimately, you are responsible for both your actions and inactions. So be proactive, work hard, and believe in yourself. Don’t dwell on “I can’t;” instead, figure out how to make it happen. Chase your dreams and ambitions because no one else will do it for you.
     
    2. Life is full of difficult decisions, especially when there isn’t necessarily a right or a wrong, but often the decision is merely a fork in the road. What truly matters is making the most of the journey you take down that path and how you handle the obstacles and celebrate the triumphs along the way. Take choosing where to go for high school or college as an example. You’ll probably do fine anywhere, but finding where you fit within that community and figuring out how to make the most of what that environment has to offer you that will help you along your journey, both during and after those four years, is how you’re going to flourish.
     
    3. Strive for progress, not perfection. It’s okay if you don’t succeed on the first try. Or second. Or third. That’s not to say you shouldn’t dream big or aim high for yourself, but the reality is that you will fail or at least feel like you’ve failed at some point along the way. Honestly, it will probably happen more than once. But being resilient and learning from your mistakes allows you to improve and overcome your challenges. As Henry Ford said, “Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently.”
     
    4. You will be a lifelong learner. You won’t know everything when you grow up. Spoiler alert: nobody does. Be inquisitive and ask questions, and be open-minded to new concepts and ideas.
     
    5. Be yourself. Be the person that makes you happy. Celebrate your individuality and what makes you unique. Accepting yourself is the key to self-confidence.
     
    Lastly, choose kindness and compassion. We are all human beings, and while our experiences and circumstances may set us apart from others, we have so much in common as well. We love our families. We want to be treated with respect. We all have fear, sadness, hopes, and dreams. Through empathy, we first recognize these commonalities in others and then understand their differences. By showing kindness and compassion to others, a small token of effort on your part can make a lasting impression.
     
    I’ll leave you today with one of my favorite quotations, commonly ascribed to our favorite Kentucky president, Abraham Lincoln: “Whatever you are, be a good one.” Go forth and figure out what you want to be. Whatever you choose, be a good one, but most importantly, be a good person. Congratulations again and best of luck to all of you.
     
  • Introduction of Kamron Cox '06

    Una MacCarthy's Introduction of Kamron Cox '06

    August 7, 2020

    Among many other firsts for you grand members of the Class of 2020, you all have the honor of listening to The Lexington School’s first virtual commencement speaker. As you would imagine, since our inaugural graduation in 1963, each commencement speaker has been in-person, behind the podium, in front of a live audience. Today, Kamron Cox ’06 speaks to us here at Scarlet Gate from New York City. He brings the goodness of our new normal while emphasizing the balance of longtime TLS truths.
     
    From his midtown Manhattan law office, Kamron took a moment recently to “talk TLS,” describing his path from Lane Allen Road to the New York Times Building on 8th Avenue. He said, “I remember being exactly where our eighth graders are now. My graduation morning is clear as a bell to me still. We were outside on the hill; it was hot as all get-out; and Ms. Bonzo was crying.”
     
    Dr. Bonzo-Sims is crying again today.
     
    Kamron noted a constantly recurring theme of his TLS years, which some students might also understand. “I was always being sent to Ms. MacCarthy’s office. I was a little worried when she first reached out about this commencement speech, because it’s not the first time I’ve been called to her office.”
     
    Tates Creek High School was next for Kamron, where he earned an International Baccalaureate diploma and was a National Achievement finalist, gaining a full ride to Auburn University. Of his collegiate years, he assured us, “At no point at Auburn did I ever cheer against UK’s basketball team, even when UK and Auburn played against each other in the NCAA tournament. It was the only time I cheered against Auburn, but there was no question.”
     
    The lifelong importance of TLS friendships was another strong theme for Kamron, as he said, “Rashad Bennett ’08 is my best friend. We’ve been in touch basically every day since I was in fifth grade and he was in third grade. We have a running text, and it’s meaningful to both of us.” Rashad was to be one of Kamron’s groomsmen in April, though his and Riley Kelleher’s wedding was postponed because of COVID.
     
    Again connecting with TLS, Kamron declared, “Vanderbilt Law School was the first time I had a class that I knew was harder than Bonzo’s English class. That didn’t happen until law school.”
     
    Post-law school, Kamron headed to the legal world of the Big Apple, where his focus is securities work at Covington & Burling. He recently learned of another TLS connection Philip Howard ’63, of TLS’s first graduating class, and Senior Counsel at Covington & Burling. Kamron exclaimed, “I knew he was from Kentucky, but had no idea he went to TLS! It’s nuts he’s right down the hall.” Philip, himself a TLS commencement speaker, in 1996, was delighted to hear the TLS connection as well. From outside New York City, in quarantine, Philip said, “What a small world that Kamron Cox and I graduate from TLS 40-plus years apart and end up in the same law firm in New York City. Of course, it makes sense: TLS is one of the country’s great schools, and Covington & Burling is one of its leading law firms, so, naturally, we would end up together.”
     
    Kamron, thank you for being with us today as we celebrate our virtual commencement, with roots deep in TLS’s history.
  • Commencement Address 2020

    Kamron Cox '06

    Commencement Address

    August 7, 2020

    Hello from New York City, and Congratulations to the Class of 2020!

    Admittedly, that introduction makes me sound a lot more impressive than I really am. I’ve never been anything more than a TLS boy at heart, and I’ll be the first one to tell you that.

    Another thing, the bit about it not being my first time called to Ms. MacCarthy’s office is true by the way. Too true, probably. It was pretty much my second Advisor Time as often I was in there talking to her about some other moment of misbehavior. I’m sure that got old for everyone, so sorry, from 15 years later. I know this COVID thing has made it where I can’t see them to be sure, but somewhere Mr. Herrington and Miss Cowling are laughing about that. They know how true it is.

    I guess the point is, I’m still just a TLS boy. As they said, I’m an attorney up in New York at a large law firm based out of DC. I’m just another person who works there for now, but trust me, there are some really impressive people that you’ve probably heard of who have been there at some point in their careers. They do amazing things, so who knows where my story will end. Before that, I was down in Nashville at Vanderbilt Law School, where I served as Chief Justice of the Moot Court Board. Before that, it was Auburn, where I graduated magna cum laude and held a number of leadership positions. Before that, it was Tates Creek’s IB program which helped me earn a full ride. But before all that, before any of those things I just mentioned, I sat right where you do.

    And I mean right there. Remember, I’ve never been anything but a TLS boy. Well, I guess I don’t mean exactly there, because there was no COVID when I graduated, but I remember vividly sitting in the same position that you do today. I was optimistically nervous about going to a new place, pessimistically nervous about disappointing my parents, and honestly a little bit excited about the transition. And all of this came after, you know, memorizing a million bones for Ms. Lounsbury, crushing too many crispitos at lunch, sitting on the bench for the basketball team, and getting kicked out of PE by Mr. Parlanti all the time. It’s kind of like, “Kam, how do you get kicked out of PE class? That’s the one time you’re allowed to be loud.”

    Anyway, they say a good speech is about the three Bs: Be funny, be brief, and be gone. I’m imagining your smiling faces, so hopefully I’ve handled the first one, and if not, just let me imagine I’m more entertaining than I am. Time to move to the second.

    Now I’m still a TLS boy, but I’ve made a few moves since then, I guess. Today is about you and your new beginning, and Ms. MacCarthy told me to tell you what I know about life. So, take a second, and I want you to envision your highest professional goals. Really picture your dreams and where you want to be when you get to be your parents’ age. What are you doing? Where are you living? Who are you impacting? Who are you helping? Hold onto that picture for the rest of my time, and walk with me for a second and kind of indulge me a little bit here.

    You just graduated from the best K-8 institution in this country. From sea to shining sea. I don’t care that it was ranked number two by somebody, somewhere, one time. I’m telling you here today that it’s number one. I’ve met people who went to all the Ivies, MITs, Stanfords, and all that, but I’ve never met anyone with a stronger elementary and middle school experience than those who wear TLS green. Honestly, because of our country’s private school network, this is probably the best K-8 in the world. Like, the whole world. So actually, make that all seven seas. I’m going to tell you something I didn’t realize when I was your age: At this moment, nobody is more prepared or more likely to reach your goals than you are.

    Opportunity is a huge part of getting to where you want to be. But you have that because you started at TLS. So, at this point, the only thing separating you from where you are right now and where you want to be ten, twenty or thirty years from now is hard work and time. Trust me, as I sit here with wrinkles under my eyes, the time part is not optional. But hard work is. You still have that picture of your goals in your head, right? I want to challenge each of you to commit to it. Remember that picture and decide that your dreams are worth it.

    Now here’s what I’m not supposed to tell you: It’s hard. It’s going to be very hard to reach your dreams. And it’s hard for two reasons. First, there’s a pressure to perform. There will be critical moments in your development that will have a major impact on your future. In the coming years, some of you will defend dissertations, you will sit for the MCAT, you will interview with congresswomen, and you will ask investors for seed money. You may know nervous, but I can tell you from experience, you don’t know nervous like New York Bar exam nervous. But in those moments, remember your foundation. You’re an alum of The Lexington School. If you’ve done your eighth-grade talk, or crammed for Miss Cowling’s final, or shot a fourth-quarter free throw against Sayre, then you know how to perform under pressure. Hold onto those experiences and you’ll be fine when the critical times come.

    Second, the competition is fierce. In this moment, you’re in the lead, but as soon as you step out of here, there are going to be kids all over this country gunning for your spot at your dreams. I will be frank: You may not know it yet, but some of the kids competing with you will be smarter than you. They will pay for more expensive SAT tutors than you. They will go to more celebrated high schools than you. They will have access to fancier extracurriculars than you. And, to be blunt, their parents have more money than yours. They’re no better than you, but if you loaf around, party too much, and become complacent, then you will lose your opportunity. Again, remember your foundation. You are an alum of The Lexington School. If you could remember enough to pass Bonzo’s grammar tests, you have the discipline. If you could handle lacrosse practice before Ms. Lounsbury’s Cell exam, you have the time management skills, and if you successfully planned Carnival and Little Kentucky Derby, you understand that preparation promotes performance. If you don’t apply what you’ve learned, those kids will eclipse you. But if you cling back to where you grew up, you’ll be just fine.

    So, when your path gets challenging, remember who you are. Remember your foundation. You’re an alum of The Lexington School. Your dreams are worth fighting for, and you can and you will reach your goals, despite any competition if you decide that from today forward you are going to apply what you’ve learned at TLS. What does our Alma Mater say? “A proud tradition grows!” You’re an alum now. Grow that tradition. Stand on your foundation and build on the great experience you’ve already had. You owe it to your parents, your teachers, and, most of all, to yourself.

    I speak for the rest of the alumni when I say that we are here and willing to help you. Anyone who learned on Lane Allen is a friend. So feel free to reach out to any of us with any questions or guidance that may serve you.

    With that, I’ll leave you with just two parting thoughts: First, you have a bright future, so when you reach those goals, reach back and help out. Second, when you grow up, there’s still going to be a strict dress code every day, so you just have to kind of get used to that. It’s the worst!

    Thank you and congratulations again to the Class of 2020.
  • Introduction of Jamie Rosenstein '08

    Chuck Baldecchi's Introduction of Jamie Rosenstein '08

    May 31, 2019

    Almost every one of us gathered here today knows how to Google.
     
    Jamie Rosenstein ’08, though, knows more about Google than all of us combined.
     
    Members of the Class of 2019, along with the rest of us, are each fortunate this morning to have Jamie, sister of Ross Rosenstein ’00 and Kyle Rosenstein ’03, as our 25th alumni commencement speaker. Currently a People Analyst at Google, she has worked for the company for three years, since attending schools on both sides of the Atlantic. Jamie earned her Bachelor of Arts in Economics and Psychology from Cornell University and spent a year abroad studying Experimental Psychology at the University of Oxford. In addition to her academic work in England, she was a marketing research assistant at Oxford’s Saïd Business School, and had fun learning about pentathlons by practicing running, horseback riding, fencing, swimming, and shooting with the team.
     
    Getting her feet wet at Google in the People Operations department, Jamie onboarded over 4,000 new employees as Noogler – "new Googler" – Program Manager during her first year. Proving herself there, she soon rotated to the Product Inclusion team to help teams and companies build more inclusive products. She has illustrated that even in New York and California her TLS roots continue to be strong; among the videos and events she has created, produced, and emceed is Build your Business with YouTube, featuring Beckett Fogg ’03 and other founders leveraging technology to build inclusive companies.
     
    On her current People Analytics team, she programmed and administered Google’s company-wide employee survey to over 90,000 employees. She now focuses specifically on leader and manager research at Google.  
     
    Thinking of TLS in the middle of her day at Google, Jamie relays, “In Mrs. Sadler's class, we learned all about the Iditarod. I used the term ‘mush’ in a conversation at work the other day when someone shared he went dog sledding on a family vacation, and thought the only reason I know that word is because of Mrs. Sadler's class!” Mrs. Sadler is quick to follow: “Jamie hasn’t done anything naughty in her entire life, so I don’t have any outlandish classroom stories, but she and her family gave me a larger-than-life cardboard cutout of a white wolf that I still appreciate.”
     
    Of her TLS years, Jamie says, “I have great memories of Mrs. Anderson’s class and, being my competitive TLS self, having to get ALL of the strings and beads on my recorders.” Mrs. Anderson replies with a smile, “Jamie embraced our third grade Recorder Karate program with tenacity and joy. Not only was she a high achiever, learning well over 20 songs, but she also helped other students achieve along the way. I loved having Jamie in music class, and now I am so proud of her current achievements. Well done, Jamie!”
     
    Identifying closely with the Class of 2019 and their love of the Southwest trip, Jamie recalls with clarity, “Even though I came down with a horrible stomach bug and wound up in the hospital with IVs, this was one of the most amazing, most memorable trips of my life. I would do it all again if I had the chance.” She is quick to emphasize: “No. I didn't get sick just to get out of sleeping in a tent, contrary to popular belief!” 
     
    We don’t have to Google her; we can hear her in person. Let’s welcome Jamie Rosenstein ’08.
  • Commencement Address 2019

    Jamie Rosenstein '08

    Commencement Address

    May 31, 2019

    Wow! What an introduction. Thank you for all those kind words, Mr. Baldecchi! You make me sound, well, AWESOME.
     
    See everyone these folks here at TLS really know how to build you up. Like, there’s NO WAY I know more about Google than all of you combined. Because of Google, you can just Google Google and learn everything. Heck, you can Google me and probably learn more about me than I know about me. As a matter of fact, I don’t even know why I’m standing up here. You can just grab your smart phones and learn everything you need to know these days. But alas, these teachers of yours thought that real-life human interaction might be, well, an interesting interlude between all that screen time. And now you have to sit here while I tell you things and pretend like my life worked out exactly as I planned.
     
    Look, it’s great to be back here at TLS, and it’s truly a privilege to speak before y’all this morning. So thank you for having me. In many ways, this is “where it all began” for me. I spent 11 years here from Miss Brogan’s Montessori class all through eighth grade. This is where I got extra big pushes from my brother at big wheel races so I could taste those sweet, sweet victory M&Ms; this is where I discovered how much l like math AND chocolate by getting to learn fractions with Hershey’s chocolate bars in Ms. Hutton’s class. I ate my first mystery meat Crispito those things were amazing by the way. I learned all about the Iditarod with Mrs. Sadler, turned every PE activity into a competition, survived the Southwest trip, and met many of my closest friends to this day including my best friend, Ellie Fogg ’08, who will be my maid of honor in my wedding next month.
     
    Anyway I’ve been struggling recently with an unnatural number of robo-callers all with that 859 area code. So, I was both shocked and thrilled when Lucy McKinstry called and asked me to speak for your graduation this year.
     
    Then after I hung up, I was like, man, what on earth am I going to say?! I struggled to think of what I could share from my 11 years post-TLS graduation that would stick with you, inspire you, and guide you FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIVES. I reflected on the many commencement speeches I’ve sat through (way too many between both of my brothers and mine) and realized I couldn’t remember a single thing from any of them not even the one from James Franco, well other than the fact it was James Franco, which is more than I remembered from the others.
     
    So, I did what anyone does, when we’re clueless about something I turned to Google. I typed “what are eighth graders into these days?” I think my first hit was from a website called www. Scary mommy dot com with an article titled “Five things your middle schooler is doing right now.” Definitely not helpful. And I’ll spare you and not read it. [Look out at audience] I see you parents; put those phones away.
     
    Then I realized, wait a minute. I work at Google. We track EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING. So I got all of your names from Lucy and went into the secret Google area I have access to and looked at all of your search histories to see what you’ve been up to. So I’ll just go through my list to share what I learned, starting with … ONLY JOKING. That is not a thing and I DIDN'T DO THAT. Disclaimer: everything I say today represents my own views only and is not representative of Google in any way.
     
    I did, however, search other things like “best commencement speeches” and came across some pretty phenomenal speeches from Steve Jobs, to Oprah, to JK Rowling. As I watched some of these “best commencement speeches,” I thought Wow, these people know what they’re talking about; they have some really great advice. Maybe I should just share some of the highlights from Steve, Oprah, and JK Rowling’s talks, and send you on your merry way. I thought this was a brilliant plan so naturally, called my mom to get her thoughts. Luckily (or maybe not), she did NOT encourage me to recite pieces of these speeches for you. She did what moms do best she told me how much you’d want to hear from ME because of MY very special perspective, so I decided I better stop my Google searching and do some thinking.  
     
    At Google, I spent a full year teaching our new hires, or new Googlers, or just nooglers, as we like to say. So today, consider yourselves my nooglers. Before I dive into my three main takeaways can any of you tell me why Google is called “Google”? [See if anyone in audience can tell me about misspelling of googol, because the search engine provides lots of info (1 followed by 100 zeros). If not, either tell them or tell them bonus points for later.]
     
    So, life lesson number 1:
    1) FOUNDATION, code name “Backrub.” Backrub was the project name Sergey Brin and Larry Page gave to Google before it was Google in 1996. This was because Google took a fundamentally different approach than other search engines at the time. Rather than counting how many times a search term appeared on a page and using that to rank results, Google analyzed relationships among websites and used “back links” hence the name Backrub to gauge the importance of a site. Basically, Larry and Sergey realized the value in understanding connections between sites, rather than looking at sites in isolation. This insight was foundational to Google’s success.  
     
    A strong foundation is one of the most important things you can have. Fortunately for all of you, you have been given this by your parents, family, and teachers here. TLS gives you the foundation to do just about anything you set your mind to. Beyond the education you get here, the friends you’ve formed over these years will be lifelong ones. I want you all to look around now and remember the teachers you’ve had who have shaped your experience, remember your classmates, and thank your parents. You are all incredibly fortunate. Attending a school like TLS is a privilege, one that few people have. I may not have realized it at the time and definitely did not thank my parents enough for the sacrifices they made to enroll not just one but three kids, but they clearly knew it would pay off eventually. Now they get to enjoy free lunches at Google when they visit me for Paroogler (Parent Googler) Day. Yes! That’s a thing. The point is you all have a strong foundation, a springboard from which you can launch yourself into ANYTHING. I’d encourage you to stay curious, be open to new experiences, and have confidence in your ability to do anything you want no matter how weird because of this strong foundation and support network you have.
     
    2) FAILURE. I encourage you all no, I CHALLENGE you to fail. Failure creates learning opportunities and helps define you. I call this “Google Video.” Google first started Google Video in 2005 in an attempt to create its own video service. Interestingly, the tool initially provided searchable transcripts of recorded TV broadcasts. Later on, Google allowed video uploads and sharing, although a bit too late. The $1.65-billion YouTube acquisition in 2006, which, funny enough, was negotiated at a Denny’s in Palo Alto, meant Google admitted defeat on its initial video service. Because of this, Google has been able to double down on what made YouTube so popular empowering anyone to become a content creator. And now, billions of our videos are watched on YouTube every single day.
     
    So many things in my life didn’t work out as I had planned, but in hindsight they all worked out, often better than I could have imagined. For example, I didn’t get into the college I wanted in sunny California, but instead ended up in the coldest, darkest place – Cornell, in Ithaca, New York. But I was open to it and curious to learn what goes on at the coldest campus in America. It ended up being an amazing time. I was even able to spend a year in a drearier place – called England – which also turned out to be a phenomenal experience, other than a bad case of pneumonia, which also was a big fail and another very valuable learning experience on the importance of lungs. I also failed to get a number of internships I thought I needed to land a good job, so I ended up working in research labs. That led me to Yahoo, which ultimately led me to a job at Google. I could go on and on about my failures, but I think you get the point – I failed to achieve many of the goals I set out for myself over and over. But each failure led to a new life and ultimately a personal growth experience. If you have ambitious goals for yourself, or even not-so-ambitious goals, you’re not going to reach all of them, and that’s OK. Now is the time to try new things, even if it’s uncomfortable at first. While you can do this at any point in life, transition periods are a particularly great opportunity to be open to new experiences – whether it’s a big step like going to a school in a state or even a country where you know zero people, or a smaller decision – like joining a club, attending a talk, reaching out to your favorite author, movie producer, entrepreneur, or sports figure, or just striking up a conversation with the person next to you on the airplane. Who knows, maybe you’ll find you’re sitting next to Beyonce’s favorite DJ, and have him DJ your wedding – yes, true story from my last flight to Kentucky! The point is – things might not work out as planned. You may not get into the college you want or get the job you want, but everything works out in the long run. I’d encourage you always to make the most of each situation, and look at failures as learning opportunities.  
     
    If you already don’t remember anything I’ve said, at least you can always turn to Google to get your questions answered and guide you throughout life. I will now take credit every time you use Google, which means my initial lofty goal of sticking with you and inspiring you for the rest of your lives might just be met! Which also means this commencement speech is way more memorable than James Franco’s! Maybe even more memorable than Steve, Oprah, or JK Rowlings?! You’ll have to let me know in a few years.
     
    Oh yeah – and Number 3 – for all you nerds out there like me who have been counting and thought, “Hey, she only gave two takeaways, but she promised us three ... wrong!” I didn’t forget. Number 3, which is ARGUABLY ONE OF THE MOST IMPORTANT – I call it – INCÓGNITO MODE. Social media is great. Google is great. Instagram is great. Technology is great. But you need to make sure YOU ARE USING THEM AND NOT THE OTHER WAY AROUND. I like to make sure I spend time every day and take longer periods on weekends to go “off the grid” and focus on the world around me, rather than a screen. As simple as reading a book in a hammock, enjoying nature, or even just leaving my phone at home for the evening to be fully present and enjoy spending time with friends.
     
    Congratulations to the Class of 2019! I can’t wait to see all the amazing things you do!
     
  • Introduction of Chase Minnifield '04

    Chuck Baldecchi's Introduction of Chase Minnifield '04

    June 1, 2018

    Twenty-five years ago, when Chase Minnifield ’04 first walked into the prekindergarten classroom of Mrs. Beers, he was not envisioning himself ever giving a commencement address. Rather, this four-year-old’s focus was learning how to negotiate circle time, forming a line, and getting through the halls of TLS. He will be the first to say The Lexington School education has served his sister, Chanel Minnifield ’06, and him well, and has since helped him navigate many corridors in life. From TLS, where he was a member of the last ninth grade graduating class, he matriculated to Henry Clay, then to the University of Virginia, earning his degree in sociology and becoming one of the nation’s best cornerbacks on the Cavalier football field. He then took his athletic expertise to the NFL, playing three seasons for the Washington Redskins. He also has his master’s in Sports Administration from the University of Louisville. Chase’s parents, Diane, former TLS trustee, and Frank, Cleveland Browns cornerback and member of the NFL 1980’s All-Decade Team, join us this morning as well.
    A self-confessed highly competitive youngster, Chase remembers with clarity countless lower school afternoons when he and best friend, Chris Floyd ’04, slipped into the Little Gym. It provided golden opportunities for dunking baskets, since the Big Gym goals were way too tall for them back then.
    Recess games of four square evoked high emotion too, so much so that one memorable Friday Chase had to visit Ms. MacCarthy, a first – and probably last – for him, and a very big deal. He recalls, “I’d never been sent to her office before, and I was pretty nervous. Ms. Mac was very kind and understanding though, and she said, ‘Chase, this isn’t like you.’ I said, ‘I let my frustration get the better of me,’ but – and here’s the kicker – I had to tell my parents. All weekend I was waiting for the right time, until it was finally Sunday, and Mom was ushering in church. When she passed the collection plate, I told her then, so it’d be a quick interaction.” Chase doesn’t offer that as a best example of confession, but he knows, first hand, the importance of being an honest, responsible, and reliable man.
    With his entrepreneurial spirit, Chase is a leader in our community. He is the founder of two businesses, Helping Hand, an apartment service provider for college students across America, and EZ Turn, a tech start-up, based here in Lexington, providing technology solutions for housing, both on and off campus. The EZ Turn App is used on multiple campuses, including the University of Kentucky, and in multiple states, from coast to coast.
    Additionally, the Minnifield Foundation, his non-profit to “encourage, uplift, and inspire youth through academics, athletics, and the arts,” is known for its hugely popular Superbowl Superbashes.
    Former and favorite teacher, Mark Scarr, sums it up well: “It was my pleasure to teach Chase in fourth grade. Back then, the classroom was where the middle school commons is currently located. What I remember most about Chase was his friendliness and kindness to all, peer and adult alike. I also remember he was about as responsible as a ten-year-old can be. Finally, Chase was one of the hardest workers I ever had the pleasure to teach. Chase, thank your parents for these gifts. They’ve obviously been a real asset in your life.”
     
    Chase Onassis Minnifield – The Lexington School’s only alum named after a bank and a Greek shipping tycoon – let’s all give him a warm and enthusiastic welcome back to his alma mater.
     
  • Commencement Address 2018

    Chase Minnifield '04

    Commencement Address

    June 1, 2018

    It's a pleasure to be back! The Lexington School and all it offers has a huge place in my heart. From the teachers, to all the students, to all the parents, it was such a great experience that I never really appreciated until I look back on it, but The Community at The Lexington School is a community to be proud of and to appreciate. When they say it takes a village to raise a kid, The Lexington School community was that for me – from discipline, to character, to responsibility, I truly believe I wouldn't have been the person I am today without the TLS community. So I say thank You, and thanks to my mom and dad for making the great decision to entrust my sister and me to grow up in this community! I’m forever thankful and grateful!
     
    For the graduating eighth graders! I come to you today and I remember the time I was in your seats thinking, man I can’t wait to get out of this school, but at the same time wondering what was going to become of all the friendships I had built here at TLS since we were all going our separate ways from public schools, to private schools, to boarding schools. And we didn't have social media then, so now it may be easier to keep up with everyone, but back then it was really a question for me and for my peers.
     
    Well, I’m here to tell you, these friends you have here today that you have built bonds with, friendships with – even you all that maybe have not got along every day or have many differences with – you will forever be connected through your experience at TLS, and these people sitting next to you will forever be your family, no matter how long you go without speaking or if you speak every day. When you see one another or run into one another, it will be like you are still sitting in Ms. Bonzo’s class or studying in the hallway for a last-minute exam, and it goes on and on – all the experiences you have shared together. This time spent will forever be a part of your journey and story that only these people understand. Through my companies, I do a lot of traveling to multiple different areas of the country, and wherever I am, I try to meet up with any of my TLS friends. I was recently in LA and had a mini TLS meet-up with Chris Floyd, Katie Simpson, Julie Burchett, Colleen Gross, Katherine Bandoroff … and we are all best friends and will always be best friends!
     
    So as you guys enter your next phase/chapter of life, don’t forget all the things this amazing community has taught you, from discipline and character to respect and vision. You have been equipped with everything you need to go be successful, not only in this next chapter of life, but in life in general. From my time at Henry Clay High School, to UVA, to the Redskins, to now, creating two companies and a foundation from the ground up, the tools TLS equipped me with still remain the foundation of myself and my success.
     
    Before I get off this stage and let the festivities continue, I want to make sure I give you guys a message that you hopefully remember for the rest of your life, and that is Dream, Struggle, Victory, Repeat! (DSVR for anybody who studies with acronyms like I used to.)
     
    Dream! I want you guys to dream big, dream so big that it's scary! I always had dreams of playing in the NFL, but I didn't tell that to many people because I realized my dreams scared some people. They would tell me things like yea right, or do you know how many people make it to the NFL from Lexington, KY? Just negative thoughts that I didn't want to become my own thoughts. So I dreamed, and I dreamed BIG. I applied action to my dreams by having great character, discipline, and consistency to reach my dreams and goals.
     
    Struggle! Struggle will happen. Adversity will happen. Both struggle and adversity will happen along your journey to reach your goals and dreams. They will happen in the short term and in the long term. But I’m here to tell you guys to have persistence and perspective as you go through any struggles you come across. As a junior at Henry Clay High School, I committed to play football at UVA on a full-ride football scholarship. Only one issue: I still had to play my senior season and not get injured before I could get on to the next chapter and next road to accomplishing my dreams! I fortunately made it through my senior season, had a great season, and didn't get injured. But I still had basketball season, and everybody who knows me knows I played and competed at anything and everything. My dad told me not to play, but I explained all the reasons I had to play, and he basically said, “Well, suit yourself.” So I played and really enjoyed playing, but I ended up tearing my ACL in December of 2006 at a Christmas tournament, and I’ll never get over the feeling of thinking I’ve messed up everything. I was scared to tell anybody because I thought my scholarship was gone, and I’d just ruined any chances of reaching my dreams. Calling my future head coach at UVA was one of the hardest calls I ever had to make, and he assured me I was on his plans for the future and this wasn't going to change how they saw me as a future Virginia Cavalier. Being 17 with a torn ACL and losing all my super powers(!), I was in a depressed place, but I found hope and I found fight, and I realized you never know how strong you are until being strong is all you can be for yourself and for everyone who supports you and has your back! So in Struggle, keep your head up and understand you are strong enough to push through this!
     
    Victory! When you Dream, and you don’t let struggles detour you, Victory is inevitable. Character, Discipline, and Consistency while you Dream and Persistence and Perspective when you struggle will give you Victory, which is just the long way to say Refuse to Lose. If you want it, go get it, and don’t let anyone or any obstacle stop you!
     
    If I say I am, I will be!
     
    Then the final thing is Repeat! Keep Dreaming! Keep pushing through your struggles! And keep Winning!
     
    Dream. Struggle. Victory. Repeat.
     
    Thanks for your time!
  • Introduction of Lee Kiefer '08

    Chuck Baldecchi's Introduction of Lee Kiefer '08

    June 2, 2017

    A quick Google search of Lee Kiefer ’08 gives you enough reading to last all morning – Number One foil fencer in the world, first US woman ever to earn that ranking. Two-time Olympian (London and Rio). Too many World Championship and Pan Am Games to count. At 15, she was the youngest member of the Senior World team. Two years later, winning the Senior World Championship bronze, she became one of only a very few athletesin the world to earn individual podium finishes in the Senior, Junior, and Cadet competitions. Two weeks ago, Lee graduated from the University of Notre Dame, where some say she “may well qualify as the most accomplished individual in the history of athletics.” In September, she’s headed to the University of Kentucky Medical School.
     
    Many of you know fencing is a Kiefer family sport. Lee’s dad, Steve, competed in college; siblings Alex ’06 and Axel ’11 hold their own impressive collegiate, national, and international titles. Mom Teresa, who fenced in high school by the way,is never foiled as logistics/videotaping/detail support. As is the Kiefer way – encouraging, and proud of, Lee at every step -- Steve, Teresa, and Axel are in our audience this morning. Because of work, Alex joins us via osmosis.
     
    What Google doesn’t tell, though, is the strength of Lee’s Lexington School family. Lee modestly brushes off her incredibly long lists of never-before-attained fencing accolades and wants to talk, instead, about her formative TLS years. In August, 1997, the long hallway to Miss Brogan’s Montessori classroom proved to be the beginning of a grand pathway to growth -- emotional, social, academic, and, yes, athletic. She’s a TLS “lifer,” filled with deep gratitude to her parents and teachers for that opportunity. She gives our school credit for a major part of becoming the disciplined, focused, accomplished, and confident person she is today.
     
    She still has her dear friend, Jane Brady Knight, from sixth grade. She still sings Ms. Zimmerman’s photosynthesis song from fourth grade. She remembers shedding her shoes at middle school dances because, at 5 feet, three inches, she towered, then, over the boys in her class. She confesses getting lunch clean-up duty from Ms. Bonzo for a skirt way too short in sixth grade … then dreaded eighth grade English because of it. Laughing now, she says, “When I finally reached Ms. Bonzo’s class, she was still terrifying, but I learned that sometimes the scariest teachers are also some of the most charismatic, which helps information stick in your brain for years to come.” Lee says, too, “Presenting Ms. Lounsbury’s creative learning tools in anatomy and physiology class was a very big deal. My sister still makes them for medical school, and I probably will again too, next year at UK.”
     
    We are most fortunate today to listen to Lee in person, as she moves from the fencing medal podium to our commencement podium. Please join me in welcoming Lee Kiefer ’08.
  • Commencement Address 2017

    Lee Kiefer '08

    Commencement Address

    June 2, 2017

    Good morning!
     
    Thank you for having me on this fine day. It’s funny I’m here speaking for a few reasons. First of all, I remember my commencement in 2008: sitting on the stage in my white dress, slouching per usual, and listening to the speaker. As he talked on, one of the prevalent thoughts in my mind was “Wow, this guy is so old.” He was probably not even 30 years old, but here I am at 22, giving a speech, and, because I look younger than most of the graduates, you guys are probably the ones feeling like dinosaurs.
    The second funny thing is that I’m terrified of public speaking. Before last month, the last time I had to speak in front of a group larger than 50 people was my eighth grade talk. I understand eighth graders make Capstone speeches now. We had to prepare a topic in Dr. Blake’s class for months and then present in front of an assembly. During my talk on “laughing,” my voice was shaking, my armpits were dripping with sweat, and I blacked out halfway through.
     
    That experience was more anxiety-provoking than the Olympics. Competing in front of thousands of people, holding the hopes and dreams of my family and America was no big deal, but public speaking to this day is a struggle. You guys are lucky though, because I had a chance to practice a few weeks ago when I delivered a senior farewell speech to the Notre Dame fencing team. Each senior is required to spill their heart out to their teammates and coaches during the end-of-the-year banquet, reflecting on their past four years as a team member. After watching others do this when I was an underclassman, I was prepared to find an excuse not to attend the banquet. Unfortunately, I couldn’t manage to escape, but the speech making and delivery process gave me some food for thought and inspiration to bring here.
     
    The theme I want to discuss with you today is fear. Fear can be defined as a “distressing emotion that is aroused by impending danger in response to a real or imaginary condition.” There are going to be moments in your life where you are fearful or nervous about a situation you face or about something to come. Regardless if you are a student, teacher, or parent, you should welcome many of these moments as challenges. Because many of us here today have grown up at TLS since we were five years old, it is possible to say that we have all been placed in common situations that evoked similar emotions of fear.
     
    For instance, some of the moments of fear I remember from my time at TLS are:
    • The France/Spain trip - I don’t know about you guys, but it is uncomfortable attempting to talk to strangers in a foreign language.
    • A funny but slightly traumatizing example was when Dr. Cooper would yell at us in chorus or during practice for a school play because we were not singing or talking loud enough.
    • Failing one of Dr. Bonzo’s papers. Enough said.
    • Not knowing what high school I was going to attend and the uncertainty that high school held.
    • Finally, mountain climbing, propelling, and other dangerous activities during the South West trip: being scared of heights or, more realistically, scared that one of your classmates was going to get hurt.
     
    For many of us, moments like these elicit fear, which is a very natural response to a threatening condition, but I believe that being conscious of the situation and conscious of ourselves makes it possible to evaluate what role this emotion should play in our lives.
     
    I ask you to resist the natural instinct to be scared of trying new things. Strange and uncomfortable experiences add to our reservoir of skills and enhance our knowledge of the world around us. It is okay not to know something; you only learn in those situations by asking questions and, most importantly, listening to the responses. Similarly, do your best not to be afraid or worried about other people’s judgments of you. Sometimes judgment can be petty and cause pain, but judgment can also make us better. It can remind us that we have room to learn. Listen to the people around you, but be confident in the person you are and the person you strive to be. Together, let’s talk in foreign languages with bad accents and sing out-of-key at the top of our lungs.
    Furthermore, try not to be scared to lose or fail. When I was in Rio, an inspiring weightlifter talked about the process of getting to the Olympic Games. He told us that “your life and your character will be reflected in the effort you put into every activity.” Even though he has an Olympic gold medal, his life is not driven by the fact that he won. What matters is the hours he spent training and the relationships he made along the way. A victory is determined by the hard work throughout the process, not the end result. So yes, it stinks to have a paper marked up in red, but with each draft, we are getting better. 
     
    Despite your best effort, there will surely be moments when you are afraid. Most commonly, you may find yourself scared when you really want to do well at something you care about, and that is totally understandable. Although you should not obsess over the end goal, it is okay to want all of your work, sweat, and tears to come to fruition. This does not only apply to sports; we can put the same effort into academics, jobs, and forming meaningful relationships. It is right for you to care with all of your bones, so embrace these moments of fear and do not let them cripple you. Invest yourself in your daily and long-term goals to become your best possible self. There will be no regrets.
     
    It is also natural to be scared for the people you love. It is your parents and your teachers who have provided you with the foundation and the opportunities to face the scary situations in your life. If you have trouble putting in the effort for yourself, stay motivated for these people. Without my huge team, consisting of family, coaches, teammates, and teachers, I would not have been able to qualify for my second Olympic Games. I would not have been able to win five NCAA Championships at Notre Dame, and I definitely would not have been able to get in to UK, where I will attend medical school in the fall. It is with their help that this second I am talking in front of hundreds of people without feeling nauseous.… Or am I?
     
    In conclusion, many of the things that appear scary are just the things that will help you grow into a better version of yourself. Be grateful for the support of your family and friends who help you through your respective journeys, and moving forward into high school and beyond, place an emphasis on helping others face their fears.
     
    Thank you, and best of luck, Class of 2017!
  • Introduction of Tulani Grundy Meadows ’92

    Chuck Baldecchi's Introduction of Tulani Grundy Meadows '92

    June 3, 2016

    Continuing the long tradition of inviting a former student as Commencement speaker, we have Tulani Grundy Meadows ’92 with us this morning. We also welcome her husband, Othello Meadows, and sons Garvey and Gibran, who are enjoying the school playground at the moment. Tulani’s parents, Ann and Chester Grundy, are with us as well, though we miss her sister, Saida Grundy ’97, a professor at Boston University.
    Several of Tulani’s TLS teachers join us too, remembering her vibrancy in the classroom, combined with her positive energy as a dependable, constant leader among her peers. Gretchen Young points out how Tulani’s middle school Speech Team excellence prepared her, even then, for confidence behind the podium today.
    Speaking to student-teacher closeness, a hallmark of a Lexington School education, Tulani describes the learning that flourished in Ann Eames’s English class. She says with fervency, “Mrs. Eames’s classroom was a very sacred place for me.” Unforgettably, she and her classmates simulated a day in the life of Helen Keller. Completely out of their comfort zone, each tried, unsuccessfully and with fear at first, to navigate blindfolded and with ears plugged. Their destination, down the interminably long hallway to the library, seemed filled with unconquerable barriers, a world apart from the nurturing environment they’d come to expect, even come to take for granted. Tulani says,The way Mrs. Eames introduced innovative ideas, conveyed information, and asked analytical questions, we knew we would always be respected.”
    Tulani continues to say, interestingly, another TLS highlight came after she graduated. An alumna by then, too, of Dunbar High School and Spelman College, she returned to TLS as the fifth grade social studies teaching intern and assumed the classroom of Lynn Pickles, on sabbatical. She says, “It was a great honor to teach with teachers who had taught me, to work under the tutelage of Mrs. Pickles, Miss Cowling, Mrs. O’Neill, Mrs. Walker, Mrs. Herd, and many others.” In perfect timing, the fifth grade team had planned a unit on the American South and the Civil Rights Movement, combining language arts and social studies. Tulani was perfect for the position.
     
    After University of Pennsylvania Law School, Tulani was a litigation attorney in the Atlanta office of Littler Mendelson, the world's largest labor and employment law firm. She lives now in Omaha, Nebraska, where she has found her professional calling; she is a teacher. Influenced enduringly by her TLS teachers, she has her own classroom as a political science and human relations skills professor at Metropolitan Community College,teaching American Government and The Constitution to pre-law students. Recalling her mentors, she says, “I remember those lessons to make learning come alive.”
    Having kept important balance about her, Tulani knows life isn’t all work and no play. Illustrating our speaker’s sense of fun and camaraderie, Mrs. Eames recounts the ninth grade Washington, DC, trip, specifically the last leg of the return flight home. Stranded in Dulles Airport, Tulani and her classmates decided to enliven the endless wait time with some public, improv theater. Mrs. Eames says, “She spiffed up her pop star look; her classmates lined the concourse acting as her loyal fans; and with the protection of two bodyguards and a publicist surrounding her and announcing, ‘Clear the way!’ ‘Please, back up!’ ‘Make way for Tulani Grundy,’ she brought forth her inner diva, smiling and nodding at her adoring crowd, who squealed and clapped as she glided by them on her way to her private jet.”
     
    The way is already cleared; we don’t have to back up; but let’s definitely make way for Tulani Grundy Meadows.
  • Commencement Address 2016

    Tulani Grundy Meadows '92

    Commencement Address

    June 3, 2016

    Good morning. Thank you for the kind introduction, Mr. Baldecchi. Mrs. McKinstry, thank you for your never ending graciousness and hospitality. Members of the Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, family, friends and, most importantly, the graduating Class of 2016. Hello. It feels so good to be back.
    So, yes. Almost twenty-five years ago, I sat where you are, listening to some older, allegedly wiser, TLS person tell me their life experience. The truth is, I don't remember a thing. Not a thing. This made me reflect on a question someone recently asked me, "If you could go back and talk to your younger self, what would you say?" I’ve been thinking about this and thought I would share with you a few things I wish I had understood when I was where you are.  So here it is.
    The first thing...
    1.  Sometimes your mom is actually right. Dads too. Listen to them. It may be hard at times to accept what they tell you, but they truly only want the best for you. One day you will understand the depth of their love.
    2. That boy or girl who will break your heart? Yes. The one you swear with every breath you possess you will never get over. You will. And years from now you will find yourself with someone else who puts those other "loves of your life" to shame. Love will break your heart and it will heal you. Don’t give up on it. Trust me.
    3. Eat your vegetables. Yes, the green ones. They matter. They are growing food--your body will thank you. And while you're doing that, get moving, be active, exercise. Mr. Parlanti and Ms. Merritt were right. You only get one body. Take care of it.
    4. Turn off the television. And for this generation this also means put away the phones (we didn't have phones back then; tragic, I know). Unplug. Have real conversations. Read more. Write more. Yes, Mrs. Eames, you ,too, have been right all along.
    5. Show Gratitude. As my mom puts it, "praise the bridges that brought you over." None of us has gotten here alone. You have been ridiculously fortunate to have attended a school such as TLS. It won't always be this way. Say thank you to the teachers who have poured their passion into you. Say thank you to your parents who have invested in you since day one. You are sitting here because someone has loved you. Someone has sacrificed for you. I urge you to extend that same love and sacrifice to others.
    6. Now this is a hard one to swallow. Your brain doesn't fully develop for another ten years. That's right. Ten years. This is a fact. This means you're going to make mistakes – plenty of them. Consider the possibility, though, that your mistakes are actually lessons in disguise.
    7. Travel. The world is big. Lexington, Kentucky, is a blip on the radar. Get a passport. Get uncomfortable. True happiness comes from experiences, not things.
    8. Be bold – don't accept everything you have been told. Life is complex and nuanced. Challenge assumptions. Ask questions. Think for yourself. Make your own path.
    9. Show compassion.  The quality that separates human beings from all other species is empathy. This is what humanity is all about – the ability to see beyond your own circumstance, to try and understand the challenges and struggles of others. This requires us to involve ourselves with people who are not like ourselves. It’s easy to surround yourself with people who are just like you. But if you really believe in something – invite challenge and perspective from people who don’t see things as you do. 
    We live in a world that is more divided than ever. A world where compassion and empathy have taken a backseat. As President Obama reminded us during a recent visit to Japan to observe the bombing of Hiroshima, “We must reimagine our connection to one another as members of one human race.”
    The final thing I want to leave you with is…
    Understand the difference between being a success and being significant. After leaving Lexington, I attended a prestigious college and went on to finish an Ivy League law school. I landed a job with the world’s leading labor and employment firm. I had a big, fancy office in a big, shiny building and fat paycheck to match. By what I had been lead to believe – I was successful. Yet I found myself rotting away daily, doing work I did not feel was meaningful or impactful. Years later, I made the choice to abandon my fancy job and returned to teaching. I haven’t looked back.
     It took me years to appreciate that our concept of success is at times problematic. The truth of the matter is success is not about how much money you make, your GPA, or professional accolades. Real success is about figuring out what nurtures your soul and what doesn’t. Real success is about being a service to others. It’s about winning AND losing, victory AND disappointment. Learning how to fail. Every, single one of us, even the ones who from the outside look like they have it all together, stumbles and falls flat on our face. It’s ok. This is life. 
    I urge each of you to get to know yourself. Figure out what matters to you. Be patient with yourself. Be kind to your journey.
    Class of 2016, you've got this. I truly wish you all the best. Whatever it is you want. Congratulations and thank you for letting me share in your special day.
  • Introduction of Will Lyons '00

    Chuck Baldecchi's Introduction of Will Lyons '00

    May 29, 2015

    This morning we are fortunate to have with us, Will Lyons, Class of 2000.
    It is a longstanding tradition, honored Class of 2015, that our Commencement Speaker is a former student, one who has sat at the desks where you have worked, studied hard for Miss Cowling’s Egyptian pharaoh tests, read books you borrowed from the library, played the recorder in Mrs. Anderson’s class as you did, memorized lines as you have for presentation in the theater, dribbled and passed up and down the same gymnasium. No one showcases The Lexington School—present or past—better than a student, better than one of our own.
    Will and his three brothers, Michael ’04 (ninth grade), Chris ’04 (eighth grade), and Sam ’08, brought their innate curiosity and sense of adventure to TLS from their family farm outside Versailles. Their parents, Susie and Robbie, here with us today, herded the boys into the car and into school every morning. The Lyons boys made folks smile in the TLS hallways; their teachers will tell you that. Will’s teachers will also tell you he has lifted “life-long enthusiasm for learning” straight from our Mission Statement and has run with it…has kayaked with it…has stalked it…has filmed it…has certainly embraced it. He is a lover of the great outdoors, an expert on—and under—the water, an inveterate explorer of the United States and of the world—working in New Zealand, Chile, Argentina, Mexico, England, greater Europe, Ethiopia, Cambodia, and Papua New Guinea. Will continues to travel the globe as he films for Discovery Channel’s Deadliest Catch—a 112-foot fishing vessel on the Bering Sea was home for a time—and other high-flying adventure programs. Much of his enthusiasm began and was cultivated here at TLS, as he relays, “Ms. Mac let me borrow her kayak, and that was really the beginning. My first trip was on the Elkhorn Creek and there was one spot on the creek—The Claw—that presented troubles for us. We flipped over and washed under a tree… I was hooked from then on.”
    It won’t surprise you to hear Will felt, back in the Spring of 2000, that the Southwest trip was created, planned, and written just for him – the camping, climbing, canyoneering, rappelling, the testing of his physical and mental limits. He loved every minute of it, just as you did two weeks ago. 
    He holds dear, too, his TLS friendships, made here in the classrooms and on the athletic fields, solidified in the canyons of Zion, along the challenging trails of the Grand Canyon. He is proud that two of his classmates—Fielden Willmott ’00 and Andrew Schwarz ’00—have returned to the same classrooms they knew so well together. It seems particularly appropriate the Pinpoints headline for their graduation was, “Ready to Take on the World.” Listen closely to the words of Will Lyons, you grand members of the Class of 2015; he’ll tell you, in his own words, that after the gift of your Lexington School experience, you, too, are ready to take on the world.
    Please join me in welcoming Will Lyons, Class of 2000, back to The Lexington School.
  • Commencement Address 2015

    Will Lyons '00

    Commencement Address

    May 29, 2015

    This is my first commencement speech of a long commencement season, so bear with me.
    I'm joking. This is actually my first speech ever, and that's the truth. Ms. Mac tried to get me up here last year, but I was busy. Plus, I wanted to wait for y'all. It really is an honor to be asked to stand up here. My brothers and I (and parents, for that matter) spent a combined 20 years on this campus. Now we have me, delivering speeches, Chris off to the Navy, Michael designing cars for a NASCAR team, and Sam finishing up his college degree and, hopefully, starting a career in broadcast so I can remain gainfully employed. And it all started here. Let me tell you a story.
    I took to the water at a pretty young age. I learned to sail while at summer camp one year and as far as I was concerned, that was the only reason I was put on this planet. That lasted for a while, then eventually I moved more inland and started running rivers. Big, small, steep, you name it. If it had rapids, I was there.
    Whitewater ran my life for the better part of a decade. I'm not so sure what my parents thought of it, but I was passionate enough about it to let it lead me where it needed to, and even managed to eek out a meager living doing so. A good friend of mine called me one day and offered me a part-time job helping him do some video work. Now, the truth is, I knew as much about making videos as I knew about flying a space shuttle. I told him so long as he was OK teaching me what I needed to know, I would love to do it. And why not, it was a job that would allow me to go kayaking all the time! Shortly after starting to work with him, I realized, “Hey, I like this video rigmarole.” I spent the next four years learning as much as I could from John on how to make videos. It grew from a part-time job into a full-time passion. Next thing you know, I'm covering a high school football game in Rosman, North Carolina, for WLOS, Asheville, NC's News Leader. Only one problem. I knew about as much about football as I did about how to fly a space shuttle. After a rough first half, I figured it out, wrapped up, and headed home. Then the phone rang. “Is this Will?” “Yes it is; how can I help you?” “Well, I got your name from Nick Urquhart. He said you might be available to work in the field on a show for Nat Geo we are shooting in California for three months.”
    Um, yes, of course, when would you need me?
    “Well, if you could fly tomorrow or the next day, that would be ideal.”
    Fly out tomorrow. Nice head's up. However, this was my shot. Not my one shot, but my first one. My next call was to my boss, who said simply, “Go for it!” Next thing you know I'm following game wardens around California, filming them bust poachers.
    From there, I found my way to Alaska, spending most of my time on boats with fishermen and miners. Next, Ethiopia, where I met some of the most beautiful and happy people of my life, filming the search for coffee. Cambodia, where I learned that a country who faced one of the most horrific crimes against humanity the world has known has learned forgiveness and the ability to move forward and rebuild. Then there was that one time we took a plane to a village in northeast Papua New Guinea. That was interesting.
    It was raining, as it does most every day there. We went to a small airport in Lea, the second largest city in Papua New Guinea. The pilot informed us we wouldn't be taking off today because the visibility was terrible and the grass runway we needed to land on needed good visibility. As you can imagine, our producer knew our budget and time didn't allow for any “mistakes” and we had to make it. After several hours of waiting, a different pilot came out and said he was willing to give it a try. Our producer was ecstatic, and next thing you know, we were taking off in zero viz. About an hour later of flying through clouds, I could feel the plane start to descend. The pilot said he was going to get low and see if he could break through the cloud cover and see anything to figure out where he was. Next thing I see is the clouds break and a rock wall a couple hundred feet off our right wing tip. The landing strip was straight ahead, angled uphill at a fairly serious grade. We slammed hard and skidded to a rather short uphill stop. We were greeted by about 30 of the most curious faces I've seen in a long time. We hopped in the bed of a pickup with the other 30 folks who met us and began an hour-long drive up what most folks would consider a good four-wheeling road. Eventually, we came to a village, where we were greeted by maybe 100 or so even more curious faces. As it turns out, we were the first whiteman ever to arrive. And we were there to make a TV show. What an epic collision of two different worlds.
    OK, enough about me, let's get all Bonzo on this and analyze these stories and the main character thus far.
    All those years I spent gallivanting around the country and beyond I was soaking up my surroundings like a sponge. I was learning how to take a risk, how to trust myself, and most importantly, how to relate to other people. I can't stress enough to you how important the last part of that is. Our planet is home to over six-billion people and you will feel much more at home if you can let go of yourself for a while and let yourself melt into your surroundings. Ask questions; try weird food; tell jokes. One of the best things I took away from my trip to Papua New Guinea was how people would tell me jokes in broken English and we could share a laugh.
    I often look at situations I'm faced with in the context of a river. Practically speaking, I know there is a solution to every problem, just as there is a way down every river. Rivers do not stop to wait for you; they do not sympathize with personal problems; they do not forgive hesitation. You make your decision and move forward. You run the rapid or you walk around it, but either way, you continue making downstream progress, because eventually, you have to reach the end.
    You have just built a rock-solid foundation here at TLS that will allow you to go forward and navigate future decisions in your life with strength and conviction. Don't be afraid to follow your instincts and passions. Don't let your life be overrun with fear. The fear of failure will only serve to prevent you from feeling success. You will all go forward and make your own decisions, no matter what I or anyone else (including your parents) will say to you. That's the point. That what's beautiful about life and all the other six- billion people we share it with.
    If I had been scared to make a quick decision to go to California, I would never have gained the work experience I gained. I may never have found myself back on open water on a fishing boat. I may never have rediscovered my love for the ocean.
    Two years ago, I found out about an offshore sailing race from Charleston, SC, to Newport, RI. I hadn't been on a boat in years, but I figured since I had gained some clout after working on Deadliest Catch, maybe I could get involved in helping film the sailing race. The organizers decided to put me onboard a boat with one of the teams for the race to collect footage for them to help tell the stories of the racers. I had such a good time that at the end of the race I discovered one of the boats was going to continue across the Atlantic to compete in several races in Europe. I managed to find a way onboard to trade off media work in exchange for offshore sailing experience. Next thing you know, I'm sailing with two relative strangers for two weeks across the Atlantic to England onboard a 40-foot racing boat. You may wonder how a kid from a horse farm in Kentucky wound up filming a small and mighty girl from England and a tall and rambunctious Long Islander sail across the Atlantic. As you move forward, work hard, respect people and your surroundings, and soak it up like a sponge. Don't worry about being normal or following the normal path. If you follow the river that most interests you, you'll know more success in life than any amount of material wealth could ever bring you. And if and when that river reaches the ocean, don't be afraid to go find another one.
    Most of you probably have four to eight years of school left in your life, some maybe a few more. But your journey is just beginning, and your education will never end.
  • Introduction of Griffin VanMeter '96

    Chuck Baldecchi's Introduction of Griffin VanMeter '96

    May 30, 2014

    Continuing our honored tradition of inviting a former student to share words of wisdom with the graduating class, we are fortunate to have Griffin VanMeter, Class of 1996, with us this morning.
    Many of you know – or know of – Griffin, who has gone on from The Lexington School to make his community-enhancing contributions to the greater Lexington area. The ideas that were planted and began to take shape here in the classrooms and hallways, in the theater, in the gym, in the lunchroom, and on the playing fields have come to fruition for much the betterment of our town and our Bluegrass region.
    In his own, creative words, by way of biography, Griffin shares that he “lives in a bungalow on Kentucky’s Old Frontier Highway with his beautiful and patient wife, Sarah Wylie, and their beautiful son, Otis (both of whom, along with a gaggle of VanMeter kin, VanMeter friends, and VanMeter former teachers, are in our audience this morning).”
    Griffin goes on to say he is “a Kentuckian who believes in the importance of place, but that's just the tip of his city-shaping scope. He has made his niche as a cultural catalyst in the community through his various organizations and projects across many campaigns. His award-winning, Kentucky Proud beard is just the icing on the cake of life. Griffin is partner in the Lexington-based branding agency, Bullhorn, and Kentucky for Kentucky, a rogue marketing company.
    “The NoLi Community Development Corporation, of which Griffin serves as president, recently received a $425,000 creative place-making grant from ArtPlace America to renovate 40 shotgun-styled houses and an 1850s hemp warehouse into creative spaces on the North Side of Lexington.”
    Back to my words now:
    Griffin’s devout devotion to the betterment of his community is unchallenged … but, as he unabashedly states, there were plenty of challenges along the way. As he recalls -- with a palpable love and respect for his alma mater – as a student here, he felt it inherent to disrupt the status quo. He was never comfortable taking the easy route, never “comfortable with comfort,” as he calls it. Early on, he was a risk-taker – still is, fortunately for Lexington – and he will stand here at the podium today much because of that. He is the embodiment of The Lexington School’s Philosophy Statement, which says:
    Because we are a nurturing environment, children feel confident.
    When children are confident, they will take risks.
    Because risk taking is inherent in learning, the possibility of failure exists.
    When a nurturing community exists, challenges lead to growth.
    Our success is defined when our students have the life skills to make wise choices and overcome obstacles.
    Griffin is quick to give bountiful and heartfelt praise to his revered teachers, who helped harness and channel his tremendous energy, who helped give him the vocabulary and the outlet for his creative ideas.
    Jacobo Aragon, seventh grade Spanish teacher, remembers Griffin’s interest in Spain’s conquest of Haiti, and the consequential enslavement of the Tainos, Haitian natives. The slave Guarocuya -- baptized with the Christian name Enrique -- denounced the unconscionable treatment of the natives. Enrique escaped, and, with stolen Spanish munitions, formed an army
    in the mountains with other natives to protect the women, the elderly, and the children. The Spanish never defeated Enrique and his army, but were forced into an agreement with him, ending slavery and prosecution of the Tainos.
    Griffin was so moved by Enrique’s leadership, courage, sense of justice, of freedom, and of community, that Griffin emulated him. Griffin requested a change from his Spanish name to Enrique; afterwards Griffin was Enrique in Senor Aragon’s class. Senor Aragon, in the audience today, speaks with great pride of his former student.
    We are delighted to have Griffin VanMeter ’96 with us this morning.
    Please join me in welcoming him back to The Lexington School.
  • Commencement Address 2014

    Griffin VanMeter '96

    Commencement Address

    May 30, 2014

    You’re not going to believe me, but I shaved this morning. Seriously.
    Y’all look great, y’all really do! Thank you for having me here to the magical and historic Scarlet Gate to celebrate this joyous occasion.
    Congratulations to you, the Class of 2014. Y’all are awesome.
    You know who else is awesome? Your parents, your family, your friends, your extended Lexington School family – your teachers, the school’s administrators and staff, and TLS alumni. In fact, everyone here is awesome.
    I’m grateful for the kind words by headmaster Baldecchi, and the remembrance from Senor Aragon of the defiant and protective Enrique. Gracias, mi hermanos.
    I’m glad that Headmaster Baldecchi shared in his introduction that I live in a bungalow on Kentucky’s Old Frontier Highway, which is North Limestone, with my wife, Sarah Wylie, and my son, Otis. Everything I do is a result of that biographical statement. Being of a place, and attaching meaning to place, is why I live the life I live.
    On my TLS graduation day – yes, I did graduate, I might have been older than all the kids in my class, and maybe I was able to vote at that time, and maybe I even had this beard, but I did graduate. Anyway upon my graduation I was happy to know I’d never have to do Lexington School homework again; leave it to Headmaster Baldecchi and Lucy Mckinstry to flip the script on me and have me doing TLS homework – by writing this commencement speech.
    It’s true; history repeats itself. Nothing has changed; you can check all my report cards; I missed all my deadlines; and didn’t start this assignment until last night.
    History repeating itself is the theme of an inspirational cultural manifesto called Hot Tub Time Machine, in case you haven’t seen it. It’s about a hot tub, that also happens to be a time machine. It got me thinking, if I had a hot tub time machine I would go back in time to talk to the me on my TLS graduation day. I’m telling y’all all this, in case you invent a hot tub time machine, and end up in 1996, you could then tell me the advice I’m going to share with you today, but in 1996. So we’re covered, depending on who gets into the hot tub time machine first.
    So when I travel back in time in the hot tub time machine, future Griff would say, “Hey,  graduating Griff, way to go,” and I’d give myself a high-five. I’d say, “First thing you should do is go kiss your parents and tell them you love them, and thank them for this future-proof investment of courage-building they’ve given you. Kiss your grandparents too, because they love kisses. Then try to kiss everybody else, because kissing is awesome.”
    When I had my attention after the kissing action item, because obviously graduating Griff would realize that this future me is right, smart, and really stylish, I would say to the graduating me:  “Hey, find your place and be there. Being of a place means to take root, to be experiential, to be part of something. To make change, and to realize just because something is one way today, doesn’t mean it has to be that way tomorrow.”
    I’d say: “Being of a place means to concentrate on the small things that make big differences –plant more oak trees and stick around to watch them grow. Ride your bike, walk more, live in a city, live in the country, record your memories, make more time for your friends. Be more charitable, make random acts of kindness fill your day, be optimistic, and nicer to everyone. Be more humble, be more loving, and learn everything about everything and everybody around you. This will be your wealth.”
    I’d say: “Being of a place means letting your happiness define your success, and not letting success define your happiness. Happiness is the only measure in life.”
    I’d say: “Being of a place means standing up to what you see is wrong as well as standing up for what you see is right – it means protecting the people who need protection; it means giving a voice to the voiceless.”
    I would say all these things to me in 1996. I would also say them to myself everyday henceforth, and I have said them to you today, although it was really aimed at me. Y’all just happened to be here.
    With all this being said, maybe we don’t need a hot tub time machine, because we can start being of a place now – today.
    Go forth from this day young Acorns. Go forth, set your roots deep. Be mighty oaks. Find your place and be there. Go Forth, Go Kick Ass.
    I’ll stick around to sign everybody’s yearbook. Have an Awesome day!
    Thank you, and again, congratulations.
  • Introduction of Keturah Gray '94

    Chuck Baldecchi's Introduction of Keturah Gray '94

    May 31, 2013

    Continuing our honored tradition of inviting a former student to share words of wisdom with the graduating class, Keturah Gray ’94 has found herselfsharing favorite TLS memories with her siblings, Rebekah ’96Mary Bruce ’99, and Carl ’02, and with Beth Medina Ewen ’94, her best friend since fifth grade. Memories of singing and acting out their own skits during break periods in Mrs. Young's drama room, Miss Cowling's storytelling history lessons, the famed Tremont trip, filling their time capsule at Liz Martin's house after ninth grade graduation, and the unforgettable trip to France with Madame Charron and Madame Leupold were Lexington School highlights.
    From here, Keturah matriculated to Dunbar, then on to Duke as a Public Policy major. Despite her Duke connection, I have it on good authority that she roots for UK, UofL, and Duke pretty equally (yes, it can happen).
    Keturah is a producer at ABC News in New York, where she works at the news magazine show, 20/20.  During her nine years at ABC, she has worked on multiple news specials, including on-air field reports of New York's Breezy Point Fire during Hurricane Sandy, and a 2009 Diane Sawyer special on poverty in Eastern Kentucky. Keturah's work has spanned a wide range of interests, from the over-medication of children in foster care to the beauty secrets of Miss America. From 2009-2011, she returned to Kentucky,  worked at the Louisville ABC affiliate, and simultaneously produced original programming for MTV.
    Last week, Keturah was honored at two consecutive events – in New York City and in Los Angeles. In New York, for her ABC News network-wide Superstorm Sandy/Breezy Point Fire reporting, she earned her second George Foster Peabody Award, celebrating excellence in media. In 2009, her Appalachia special on poverty in Eastern Kentucky also won the Peabody.
    In LA, the Alliance for Women in Media bestowed upon Keturah the Gracie Award for Outstanding Producer/News Non-Fiction for her field reporting the night of the devastating fire. She and another 20/20 producer were sent to Breezy Point to embed with residents who chose to remain at home during Hurricane Sandy despite mandatory evacuation orders. While Superstorm Sandy brought major flooding and strong winds to Breezy Point, it also fed a sudden and massive fire that destroyed more than 100 houses during a harrowing blaze that raged for hours. Keturah was there to document the night, capture the apocalyptic images, and search for her own safety alongside Breezy Point’s terrified residents. Keturah’s reporting was featured on all ABC News platforms. The house from which she and her colleague began reporting burned to the ground. In discussing her recent accolades, Keturah characteristically says, “To be acknowledged for our work is humbling – and an honor. I am much more comfortable being behind-the-scenes and part of a team led by a correspondent, so to have my name actually ‘ON’ the award is a new one.”  
    Though she lives in New York and travels extensively for ABC News, Keturah’s Kentucky roots are deep and strong. We are fortunate to have her back at The Lexington School this morning. Please join me in welcoming Keturah Gray ’94.
  • Commencement Address 2013

    Keturah Gray '94

    Commencement Address

    May 31, 2013

    Thank you for your kind introduction. Thank you, Mr. Baldecchi, dear Lucy McKinstry, and everyone at TLS for welcoming me back. It's a beautiful day to be “home again” and I'm honored to celebrate this momentous occasion with you. I congratulate you – the Class of 2013 –for reaching this milestone. You've earned your seat at Scarlet Gate today and you deserve to give yourselves a big pat on the back. Congratulations, too, to your “beaming-with-pride” parents, your siblings, and the faculty and staff at The Lexington School for helping you along the way. We are all so happy for you.
    When Lucy McKinstry called to ask if I would be this year's commencement speaker, I hesitated. As Lucy knows, there's a part of me that would rather walk on burning coals than stand at a podium and attempt to deliver so-called “words of wisdom.” Lord knows, I'm very much still learning how to navigate my way through this world … and honestly, y’all are a little intimidating! Yes, I'll take my video camera and go off to film hurricanes and fires, but face eighth graders ... and give a speech! I'm terrified of boring you all to tears! As I considered her offer, though, I also started to think ... about friendships, about family, and, especially for the young women here (because this was in late winter and Facebook’s Sheryl Sandberg was in the headlines promoting her new book), about “leaning in.”   
    In so many ways, those three themes bring me right back to The Lexington School. I decided that I wanted to “lean in” and stand up and share with all of you – who I know are eager to head off to high school and the adventures and life lessons that await you there. I wanted to be a friendly voice of the future reminding you to take a moment today. Right now. Look to your neighbor and appreciate the relationships begun here, the memories of crazy slumber parties or speech tournaments or soccer games you've been to. Think about the lessons you've learned in these lower, middle, and upper school hallways. For the rest of your life, no matter where in the world you travel, you are bonded to the classmates sitting next to you. You're bonded too, to the alumni like me. Though I'm 20 years older than you, you and I have been given the exact same tools to use to “conquer the world.”  We have similar cultural markers of life as a TLS Student – memories of Joyce Baker serving us crispitos in the cafeteria, or of Miss Cowling, through her stories, making the Civil War come to life. Twenty years is a long time, but we still have so much in common ... one key element I think, being the value of friendship learned in these classrooms, on the basketball court, or even later today at the graduation parties you'll go to.
    Many of you may have started here as high-spirited prekindergartners and you can't remember a time when you didn't know the person sitting next to you. Others may be like me, and you've experienced the joys of being “the new kid.”  For me, it was 1989. I was the nerdy girl with bright pink glasses and braces and a Southern accent so thick that when I said was from the small town of Glasgow, people thought I was saying "Alaska." Needless to say, I was scared to death of my first day as a fifth grader at The Lexington School. There was to be, however, a bright spot.  
    A few days before school began, the mother of my future classmate, Beth Medina, organized a “Welcome to Fifth Grade" pool party and invited me. That Saturday afternoon in August, Beth came up to me, introduced herself and her friends, and made sure I jumped in the pool with them. 24 years later, she is my best friend, my third sister – she's sitting right over there. We've had so many shared stories over the years ... good and bad. It's impossible to imagine what life would have been like if she hadn't walked over and said "Hello."  
    As you think of your own TLS friends – and as you head out in this world and make new ones – never underestimate the importance of that TLS value of being kind. Whenever possible, reach out a hand of welcome, encourage a new friend to dive off that diving board and jump in the pool. You never know what will come out of just being friendly. Following up on that theme – in a really crazy coincidence – last week, I was at another swimming pool at a hotel in Los Angeles. I started talking to the person sitting next to me.  Small world ... it turns out he's best friends with a former ABC News colleague of mine AND, more importantly, he went to college with Ellen Stilz, who was in my class at TLS. That small connection to someone in my TLS Family made me more inclined to sit and chat with him for awhile. We ended up having dinner with some of his friends and I got a tour of LA. New friend, new adventure, just out of saying “hello!”
    So what did I do? Of course, I immediately Facebooked Ellen to tell her I'd met an old friend of hers. In this age of Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, it's easier than ever to stay connected to our TLS Family. And I say family because we really are one. Merriam-Webster defines “family” as:  "a group of individuals living under one roof" and “a group of things related by common characteristics”. You've been here, under this TLS roof, every day, for years. Your teachers and the staff here have molded you as a group in ways you might not completely understand for another decade. They truly do care about you and root for your success. It's a family, and you're lucky as TLS students to have this educational experience. Truly. The Lexington School is unique ... and the older I get, it astounds me to think of how many creative and accomplished folks have come out of this small school.
    Perhaps there are so many success stories because another key theme is for all students to "Lean In" –an idea promoted by TLS teachers before it became a buzzword for women in the workplace. The faculty and staff here teach you to "Lean In" and apply yourself. To challenge yourself and go beyond your comfort zone. These are actions you must take for the rest of your life – as you apply to college, apply to graduate school, or head off to the workplace.
    “Leaning In” isn’t always easy, but when you do, the rewards can be the greatest. I want to share one simple story as an example.
    When I lived in Louisville, it became my goal to create a television show about a high school in Louisville that only enrolls teen mothers. One-third of the school is traditional classrooms like yours, one third of the school is nurseries for the newborns, and one third of the school is a clinic with medical personnel. The school exists as a way to prevent teen moms from dropping out; do not give them an excuse to fail.
    What you guys don't know about making television: before a network commits to producing and airing a piece, you have to shoot and edit what's called a “sizzle reel.” If the network likes the sizzle reel, then they'll say, "Ok, here's the financing; we'll commit to doing a pilot episode." When I was in the process of shooting and editing the sizzle reel, there were several people who said "Keturah, you're crazy. This is Kentucky, not Hollywood. You realize this will fail.” But it was my passion. I had to make it happen, and therefore, I worked my regular job at a Louisville news station during the days and on my off-days and weekends, I filmed at the high school.  After several months of negotiations, the show was ultimately picked up by MTV. I can't tell you how satisfying that was – my tenacity had paid off. My advice to you: Have a passion. Work Hard.  Believe in yourself.  When you push yourself to your limits, you feel the most pride at a job well done.
    All your life, please pursue a seat at the table – where activity and dialogue are going on. Know that when you get to the table, you deserve it. Last week, I was literally pinching myself to be seated next to my ABC colleague, Martha Raddatz, at an awards ceremony. She’s traveled to war zones, met presidents, and last fall, you might have seen her in the newspapers because she moderated the vice-presidential debates at Danville’s Centre College. We started talking about Kentucky and she told me she’d been here the weekend before to deliver Centre’s commencement address. I asked her what advice she had – which I’m sharing with you because it resonated with me so much. She said, “Success means simply that you have found your gifts, found your passion. You may be a teacher, a writer, a drummer, a parent, a coach, or a doctor. But once you find those gifts, you must share them and get better at them every day.  You must be warriors in your own way. You will be scared along the way, you will make mistakes, sometimes big ones, you will all have someone you think must be smarter or better, but you have gifts they do not have. Use them and use them well.”
    Over the next few years – well, really, over your entire life – you’ll discover your gifts and embrace some more. As you develop your talents, remember that great experience takes place at the edge of your competence.
    In honor of being back home, I want to leave you with one final quote from our Kentucky gal, Diane Sawyer. I’ve always loved it. "Being safe is the enemy of everything ... because in that beautiful anxiety is an air pocket of what you've always done and what you might do; that is your creative life."
    So, take risks, get out there and tackle the world. You got the world by the tail, TLS graduates. Hats off to you!
  • Introduction of Lincoln Brown '95

    Chuck Baldecchi's Introduction of Lincoln Brown '95

    June 1, 2012

    Continuing our cherished tradition of inviting a former student to share the stage with our graduating class, Lincoln Brown ’95 has been thinking again of his days and years here at school while he has worked on yet another TLS assignment.
    As Lincoln comes back to us today, in many ways he is the same as the talented and hard working student athlete whom Mark Scarr taught in the classroom and coached on the soccer field and on the basketball court. Mr. Scarr remembers the “eager participant in whatever venue – in front of the class, on the athletic field, and in the cafeteria -- as an able companion at the table. Lincoln was always an enthusiastic speaker.”
    Lincoln’s sister, Pamela Brown ’99, would no doubt nod in proud and knowing agreement with the “enthusiastic speaker” mention. Breakfastime and dinnertime conversations around the table between brother and sister kept them both on their toes, as each encouraged the other. Pamela had hoped to be here this morning to lend applause to her favorite “enthusiastic speaker,” but, disappointingly, her plans changed yesterday.
    A born entrepreneur who co-founded his first company, a successful investment fund, as a freshman in college, Lincoln earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Economics from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania.
    At the age of 23, he co-founded Entertainment Media Works, a multi-platform commerce solution that illuminated brands within media, allowing viewers to identify and purchase products they saw on their favorite television shows, movies, and music videos. An innovative leader, ahead of his time, Lincoln and his business partners laid groundwork for the future of interactive television.
    Focusing early on specific technology companies, he then shifted his interest to philanthropic endeavors. For the last 11 years Lincoln has traveled often to Haiti, where he has made a tangible difference in the daily lives of countless people. Through his work, he has felt the deep satisfaction of connecting the inspirations of his mind with the compassion in his heart.
    As well, he is founder and the current CEO of Sojo Studios, a for-profit company that generates community engagement and on-going revenue to support social improvements around the world. Lincoln envisioned an idea that creates engaging, entertaining, and accessible ways for people to give back to their communities. His novel concept allows participants to see exactly where their financial investment goes, to know the stories of those they are helping, and to keep track of the enormous impact they are making. What was once an idea is now a reality in Sojo Studios, which advances his goal of creating sustainable solutions for communities who need them.
    Another business venture Lincoln co-founded is CrossFit Maximus. Aptly named, his organization is the largest CrossFit in the world, as he perpetuates the Greek ideal, "A sound mind in a sound body."
    Margaret Cowling, reminiscing about her former student, sums it up well, “We are all so proud of Lincoln for doing so much and for doing it so well.”
    We appreciate Lincoln’s being with us this morning.
    Lincoln Brown ’95.
  • Commencement Address 2012

    Lincoln Brown '95

    Commencement Address

    June 1, 2012

    Thank you Chuck. To all of the teachers, families, and students here today, I am so appreciative of the opportunity to be with you on this special day.
    When Lucy McKinstry called me and asked me to be the commencement speaker, I was caught off guard, to say the least. Not just for the obvious reasons, but because of the irony with which I stand before you.
    The first thing I did was send an E-mail to my closest friends and my Family. About 15 minutes later, I get an E-mail from My Dad:
    “Wasn't this the same school that wrote your parents when you were in the Third Grade, saying that you were disruptive and there was basically no hope for you, and suggested we find another school. That's what I recall. If you remember, we did not pay any attention to it as I didn’t think much of the principal. Forgot his name but remember vividly. Love, Dad”
    Yes, I was asked, in third grade, as a nine year old, to leave TLS. Thankfully both of my parents were stubborn and told my Principal to go fly a kite. To be fair, I am sure the principal probably had a point, and for the record, I remember him much more fondly.
    Little did my parents know, that as much as a nine year old could be disruptive, I was an all-star. And it didn’t stop in third grade. I’m pretty sure that Ms. Foster can attest, if there was a Hall of Fame for being a regular to the middle school head’s office, I’d have to make the Top 10. I wasn’t a bad kid, but let’s just say that having to sit still in a class room for eight hours every day just was not my thing.
    So in thinking about what message I wanted to impart in the next few minutes, a few things came to mind.
    • If anyone is going to fall asleep, I’d prefer it be the parents or teachers, not the students. I won’t be quoting Thoreau, Shakespeare, Emerson, or any other poet or philosopher whose names you generally only hear in speeches like this one.
    • I won’t talk to you about your potential career path. Even though the world is changing at a speed faster than ever, let’s be honest and agree that most of the girls aren’t thinking beyond what pool you are going to later today, and guys, waiting for Rondo to play the Heat tonight.
    So, here goes. There are three main thoughts I want to leave you with.
    1) Gratitude
    When I sat down to script my thoughts, the word Gratitude kept coming to mind. Much of the foundation for my life was built within these walls. No, I don’t mean these walls as a physical structure, but in a metaphorical sense.
    I am talking about the teachers that genuinely cared about me (and trust me, I didn’t make it easy on them), that went the extra mile when they didn’t have to, and helped push me every day.
    It was the great friends that I still have to this day from TLS. Of my graduating class of 28, I still talk to at least 10 people regularly, and three of which are my best friends in life. By comparison, I speak to less people from my graduating class at Wharton/Penn, which was over 2,000 people. In the world of Facebook where it’s not uncommon to have 2,000 friends, 25% of which you wouldn’t remember their name if you saw them at the grocery store, cherish the relationships you have built here. They are special and will endure.
    I also can’t forget for the larger TLS community, those who came before and after, and as part of that, the parents of my classmates growing up. Each one was a role model for me in a different way. Some professionally, some were great husbands and wives, most all were incredible parents, and I learned from watching them.
    The walls of this school extend far beyond what you can even comprehend. You will just have to trust me on this one, as it’s not something that you will appreciate for years to come.
    So while yes, The Little Kentucky Derby, The 9th Grade Show, Developing early Arthritis from trying to take notes and keep up with Mrs. Cowling, being so scared of Ms. Foster that I remember hiding from her in a closet, Chicken Drummies and School Pizza, trips to Chicago and Washington, DC- They are all wonderful memories, but it’s the foundation and relationships built here that I remember and appreciate the most. I promise you will as well.
    2) Luck
    As part of being grateful, I thought about how lucky each one of us is. Yes, lucky. Just by the mere fact that you are here today, you have won the lottery of life in so many ways. I remember hearing Bill Gates talking about how had he been born 1,000 years earlier, he probably would’ve been eaten by an animal. He doesn’t appear to be athletic, lacks stature, and would have struggled to make such an indelible mark on the world had he been born at any other time.
    You could have grown up with parents who were not able to make the sacrifices necessary to send you to a school like TLS, you may have had to work on a farm and not even been given the opportunity to go to school. You could have been born with a life-long medical disability that impeded you from even having a fair chance in life. You could’ve been born in Afghanistan or Iraq.
    The list goes on.
    There are 6 Billion people in the world. Think of this. What if there were 6 Billion Ping Pong Balls, representing each person in the world, and you had one. Would you trade your ball for a chance at another one? No way. What if you could trade your ball and you would get 100 other balls to choose from.
    Let me help you with the math. Only five of those balls would be from the US. Of those five balls, what parents would you be given, how intelligent would you be, where would you live? Would you have even a Hail Mary’s chance of being here today?
    So for 100 balls, would you even consider putting your ball back in and picking another? I promise you not. Therefore, you are already of the luckiest 1% of people in the world.
    So the next time you think, I wish I was taller, smarter, better looking, could jump higher, or you get down on yourself, remember just how lucky you are.
    3) Accountability
    More than at any time in your life up until today, starting in about 30 minutes, you are responsible for the path you forge in life. There are real consequences to your decisions, both good and bad. You will be facing peer pressure in a way that you may not be prepared for.
    Girls, upon entering high school, older guys are going to overwhelm you with ridiculous flattery. Don’t listen to them. Protect your hearts, and remember Actions ALWAYS speak louder than words (no, your fathers didn’t pay me to say this, I actually brainwashed my younger sister on this topic for years).
    Guys, as the freshman in high school, you have nothing to worry about.  Absolutely no girls are going to pay any attention to you whatsoever. Buy some video games. I think Diablo II just came out.
    On a serious note, many of life’s greatest temptations, ranging from alcohol to beyond, will become more and more available. It all seems fun until you talk to the 16 year old who had one drink, just to fit in, and later got pulled over for running a stop sign, only to end up with a DUI on his record, which continues to plague him for years to come. And that’s just the PG version of the consequences I have seen some people face. Just be careful, use discretion.
    You will be able to look back on your life in 20 years, to where you are today, and realize that the decisions you make have ever increasing importance. The college you go to, the job that you end up with, are all the results of the seeds that have been planted in you, and the decisions that you make. Because of the opportunities afforded to you by your family, and by going to The Lexington School, you are more prepared in life than 99.99% of the world is at your age.
    Don’t take this for granted.
    And remember that the world won’t be as forgiving as your environment has been up until today. TLS, and the enduring values that the school lives by, have allowed you to fall gracefully, and get back on your feet with honor, in a nurturing environment. The rest of the world won’t provide you with this same courtesy.
    I leave you with two final thoughts:
    1. If your principal has ever written your parents a letter recommending that TLS isn’t the right place for your education, you still have hope. In fact, in about 15 years, you may be standing here giving the Commencement Address.
    2. I want to ask you a question that someone once asked me: “What would you do in life if you knew you could not fail”? “What would you do in life if you knew you could not fail”?
    -No, I’m not talking about being Lady Gaga or Lebron James, or even Mark Zuckerberg, I’m talking about realizing your dreams in life.
    • Abraham Lincoln ran for office time and again and kept losing, yet became maybe the greatest leader our country has ever known.
    • Edison struggled for year after year to realize his vision for the Lightbulb, failing over 1,000 times before succeeding.
    • Oprah, arguably the greatest TV personality of your parents generation, and one of the most influential people in the world, was fired from her first job because she was “unfit for TV”.
    Neither Lincoln nor Edison nor Oprah looked at their short term mishaps as failures, but as stepping stones to their eventual success. They wanted to live their dreams. Nothing was going to stop them.
    And stories like this aren’t just reserved for those we read about in textbooks and magazines, they probably apply to your parents and your teachers in one way or another, the every day heroes who touch all our lives.
    You have won the lottery of life. Remember, if you were given 100 new balls that represented a different life, to pick from, I promise each and every one of you that you wouldn’t trade in where you are today to be in another person’s shoes. And not only have you been blessed on your own accord, but you’ve been given families that support you in a way few ever do or are even able to. And to top it off, you are graduating today, from what is probably ONE OF THE VERY BEST Elementary Schools in the world. No, not just in Lexington, not just in Kentucky, not even just the United States, but in the world.
    Sure, you will stub your toe along the path of life, but you’ve been given the tools, whether you know it or not, to overcome each challenge head on, and to surmount each of life’s obstacles.
    And while you begin the next part of your journey in earnest once you graduate, your families and the lessons you’ve learned at The Lexington School will always be with you. Be ever so grateful, and don’t take this for granted. There are about 5.99 Billion people who would trade their ball in life for yours.
    To close, I am going to borrow a quote I’ve heard my Dad use often, by Sir Edward Marcum (I have no idea who that is, but it sounds impressive nonetheless).
    “How great it is to stand in youth, and dream your dreams before the stars, but what a greater thing yet is to fight life through, and say at the end the Dream is True”.
    Class of 2012, thank you, it has truly been an honor to be a part of your special day.
  • Commencement Address 2011

    Anna Shine '73

    Commencement Address

    June 3, 2011

    [I must say that] I am extremely honored and proud to be here today to celebrate with all of you. In addition to thanking Mr. Chuck Baldecchi your headmaster, I would like to thank Lucy McKinstry and everyone at The Lexington School who has helped make this day a very special one for all of us.
    Firstly, I would like to offer my warm congratulations to today's graduates - and their families. Research in education highlights the significant role a family can play in an individual's success, and so just as my congratulations go out to the class of 2011 today, I also congratulate your parents, your family, your teachers, and the staff.
    When I started at The Lexington School in 6t h grade which was (and even for me this is hard to believe), 38 years ago, there were only 10 of us in my graduating class: 3 girls, Ashley Addison, Stacey Stewart, and me, and 7 boys. There are 49 of you graduating today and although the number of students alone is one of the ways in which The Lexington School is different from what is was - when I was here, there are still many characteristics that are the same.
    I was asked to mention some favorite moments and to talk about friends and teachers from my time here, and although I do have a number of memories, and I am happy to share them with you, I would first like to tell you what has stayed with me most from my time here:
    I came to The Lexington School as an extremely shy and timid child, a child who used to run away FROM school, who used to stand alone at recess, who used to sit alone at lunch, who spoke in barely a whisper, who had a big bald patch on the top of her head from nervously pulling out her hair- and all because I was incessantly teased - and why was I teased? Simply because I spoke with a British accent.
    I can remember a few days before starting here having nightmares about the awful things that would happen to me here - how it would be more of the same, and I was petrified.
    And, I knew that on my first day, my somewhat eccentric father was going to drive me here in one of the family "cars", either a red double-decker London bus or a yellow 1931 Rolls Royce, whose back seat would periodically spontaneously burst into flames. As a result, we always carried an oversized bag of baking soda in the back seat with us, and if a fire broke out, we would quickly smother it with this white powder. I dreaded what was to come: not only was I going to be teased about my funny accent, but there was a fair chance that I was going to turn up to the first day at my new school looking like a powdery snow man.
    But... nothing happened - nothing bad I mean - actually lots happened... friendships, learning, kindness, support, encouragement, challenges - hair growth - and an audible voice!!
    The Lexington School was the first school where I belonged.
    The gentleness, kindness, tolerance, and support that met me on that first day, has always permeated through the school, from Bud Pritchett who was the headmaster at the time, all the way down to William Turner, the janitor who used to keep my 3 siblings and me company as we were always the last kids to be picked up as my mother would, more often than not, arrive close to 5:00 o'clock saying while laughing, "Oh darlings, sorry, I forgot to pick you up - again!!" - but at least she arrived in a more normal car...on the days that it simply never occurred to her to pick us up at all, Bud Pritchett would just roll his eyes, and say, "Come along kids", and drive us home. He, like us, lived on Cooper Drive.
    It was also at The Lexington School that I met my best friend, as my 2-year-old daughter says, "my best friend in the whole world - ever", Ashley Addison, who is also sitting right here in the front row. Ashley joined The Lexington School slightly after I did, but since the 7th grade we have remained best friends. We always planned to be roommates, first to go to college together, then to live together, then after getting married, live near each other, but since graduating from the 9t h grade, we have actually never lived in the same city, often not even in the same country. Nonetheless, we have remained best friends, and what is remarkable about this friendship in addition to its longevity - and why I mention it - is that one of us, and it doesn't matter which, is a somewhat secular Jew and the other is a somewhat religious Mormon. This very same environment of gentleness, kindness, and tolerance that I referenced earlier, allowed these two very different people to discover what they had in common rather than to notice their very distinct differences.  The Lexington School taught Ashley and me, as I am sure that it has equally taught you, that despite seemingly vast differences between individuals, or between Republicans and Democrats or between blacks and whites, for example, not only can common ground be found, but also magical wonderful relationships can develop.
    This school culture of nurturing and caring has always stayed with me as really, it presented an environment in which a hurting child could heal. When you take such a culture and combine it with this school's academic excellence you have something magical.
    Like me, each one of you has been lucky enough to be touched by this magic. After The Lexington School, I attended school with the British royal family and have gone to one of the best graduate schools in the world, but never have I seen such a remarkable learning environment as The Lexington School. Cherish what you have experienced here, as it is highly unlikely that you will AGAIN come across such a warm and supportive environment, such good teaching, and such a remarkable school.
    As Nelson Mandela has said,
    "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination."
    This remarkable school was my, and now is your springboard for the rest of your life, and you now have the opportunity to jump as high as you want. However, as all of us know from either watching diving, or actually diving ourselves that even the best boards in the world cannot guarantee the best dives. It is a combination of the board and the diver working together that create that perfect splashless entrance into the pool.
    Although my life is not perfect, I can honestly say that - finally - in general, I am satisfied both personally and professionally. Getting to this point took an amazing amount of hard work and what I call an "operational philosophy", if you will. I am going to share it with you in the hope that you find something useful in it, something that will help you with your dive.
    My philosophy has a number of parts, but I thought I would share with you 3 of the (parts that might be most useful)
    Part 1. Follow that Dream. I would say that the first step towards that perfect dive is to define what you
    (and not those around you) want that dive to look like.
    During your headmaster's introduction, you might have heard that I used to be a pilot and a flight instructor, and although I taught students just outside Kennedy Airport in New York, the truth is I never wanted to be a flight instructor - I always ALWAYS, from the time I was a little girl until I was in my late 20's, wanted to be a flight attendant, but I allowed myself to be pushed into a profession that others thought more appropriate for an educated woman - that of a pilot ...and as a result, I was never really happy flying - I never felt that it was my calling - my dive, if you will, and thus I never had the drive to push myself to make it to the top of this profession. I haven't flown professionally for over 20 years, and I have never missed it.
    Many of you have probably not yet defined your professional dream, and that doesn't matter at all. Although my wonderful French classes with Madame Koster here were the roots for my eventual career, I never realized it until I was in my late 20's. And even if you don't work it out until later, it doesn't matter, as it is never too late to do anything; it is never too late to follow your dream.
    George Bernard Shaw, for example, did not write a play until he was 50, and everyone in the world knows Pygmalion, and its musical version, My Fair Lady.
    And I, at the age of 47, became a mother for the first time, and at 50 became a mother for the second time, a time when a number of my friends, such as Ashley here, were having their first grandchildren. It was not an easy thing to do. I climbed mountains, well actually literally crossed oceans and rivers to adopt my first child as he comes from the middle of the Amazon, but for me, at least, by following this dream - even quite late in life, I have a warmth in my heart every minute of every day.
    You know, and it is a wee bit embarrassing to tell you this, but I have always had another dream - to come back in my next life as a professional jazz / hip-hop dancer, you know the Michael Jackson type of dancer, but just to hedge my bets in case I never have a second life, about 3 months ago, I started taking dance classes...and I am very proud to tell you that just last week, I managed to dance to a Michael Jackson song and although there is no chance that Michael Jackson would have recognized my uncoordinated out-of-beat movements as dance, I am not letting my rusty aging body dictate what I can and can't do...1am following a dream...You know, I have also always wanted to be a back-up singer - but we will leave that story to another time...
    You never want to regret not trying to follow a dream at whatever age and whatever the dream.
    As we are sitting here today on the land where the author James Lane Allen once lived, it seems fitting to remember his words:
    "Dream lofty dreams, and as you dream, so you shall become. Your vision is the promise of what you shall one day be"
    Part 2. Once you have defined your dream, push yourself - and NEVER EVER give up.
    People often say to me - "Oh you are so lucky to have what you have, to be so successful. .." my response is not that luck had no role in it, because luck always plays a role, but that a big part of my success is simply because I pushed myself - and pushed and pushed and pushed - and when I have been scared to push, and I have often been scared, and I am sure will be again many times in the future, I say to myself, not that fear doesn't matter, but that fear is a good thing because I feel that if I am not scared, I am not pushing myself
    enough.
    Pushing yourself is not easy. You manage to climb to the top of the mountain, then start to rest because you think you have made it, but it turns out that just around the corner, what you thought was the top of the mountain, isn't, and the mountain actually has another peak to scale, and another and another, and the difference between making it to the final summit or not, is very often the ability to push ourselves and never ever ever give up.
    When I decided to start my own school, I was told that because I had no money, I couldn't start my own business - but, I didn't listen.
    I was told that because I knew nothing about business, I couldn't start my own business - I didn't listen.
    I was told that because there was so much competition in the area, I couldn't start my own business - I didn't listen.
    I was told by a college president that because I didn't have enough brains, I couldn't start my own business - I also didn't listen. All of the above are true: I had no money, knew nothing about business, and faced huge competition, but I climbed and climbed and climbed and never - EVER gave up. It actually probably helped that I was told by my mother that I was smart and beautiful and wonderful and that I could do anything I wanted to and that I listened to her.
    I will share one other climb with you: When I left the United States to adopt my first child, I told my family and staff that I would return from the Amazon with my newborn in two week's time. Almost 6 years later, we have just returned. It is a long story, but simply put, because of their not unreasonable concern about international child trafficking, the American Embassy denied my son a visa to come to the United States. Here I was living a full life in the United States with family, friends, a business, a house I owned, and suddenly, I couldn't leave Brazil - at least not with my son. That was one big mountain to climb, but just as I have climbed my mountains, so can you, yours. 
    Part 3. Recognize what we have to be grateful for and in turn respond with gratitude to the world.
    I remember, during my time here, I would wake up some mornings, and say to my mother, "Oh, I am so depressed" ... She would snap around and say, "depression is a luxury for the rich ... pull yourself up by your bootstraps and get on with it.... " - as an aside, both my mother and I well know that clinical depression exists and neither she, nor I intend to minimize this affliction -
    Her point was that my teenage "depression" was not acceptable and that firstly, if things are not going the way you want them to, start climbing the mountain, and secondly, consider how much you have NOT to be "depressed" about:
    In his forward to Paul Farmer's book "Pathologies of Power", Amartya Sen, a Nobel Prize winner in economics, wrote the following:
    " 'Every man who lives is born to die', wrote John Dryden, some three hundred years ago. That recognition is tragic enough, but the reality is sadder still. We try to pack in a few worthwhile things between birth and death and quite often succeed. It is, however, hard to achieve anything significant if, as in sub-Saharan Africa, the median age at death is less than five years."
    Most of us recognize much of the time that we have a great deal to be grateful for. However, it is very easy to get caught up in fighting for that dream and climbing that mountain as it can take so much energy. Taking a step back and recognizing what you have to be grateful for can make the journey towards your dream much more rewarding.
    But recognition is not enough. There is a wonderful children's' book, "A Circle of Friends" by Giora Carmi, which in a simple, yet lovely way, demonstrates the benefits of behaving with kindness, warmth, and love. The truth is that our lives become more rewarding, more interesting actually, if we can always act with kindness, sympathy and with tolerance for others, and if we can always remember, "there but for the grace of god, go I".
    I think that you have all heard the saying that behind every great man is a great woman, but I also think that behind every great person, there are great parents, a great family, a great spouse or partner, a great best friend, and of course, a great school.
    I am very grateful for having all of these things in my life, and I am very grateful to all of you for inviting me to speak to you today. Again, I offer you my congratulations - I wish you all the very best today - and always.
  • Commencement Address 2010

    Joe Aldy '87

    Commencement Address

    June 4, 2010

    Thank you Chuck. Thank you to the members of the faculty of The Lexington School. Let me also thank the many friends of TLS who have joined us.
    Congratulations to the parents who are justifiably proud of their children as they become TLS alumni today. And most importantly, congratulations to the class of 2010.
    It has been said that "half of life is just showing up." Well, I am so disappointed that I could not live up to this simple maxim. But Mother Nature and the airlines conspired to thwart my three attempts to make it to Lexington to be with you today.
    It is such an honor to return to TLS to participate in this graduation ceremony.
    As I began to prepare my remarks a few weeks ago, I mentioned to a colleague that I would be returning to my middle school to give the commencement address.
    He said to me: "No one ever remembers graduation speeches. Do you remember who spoke at your middle school graduation?"
    This question was easy for me to answer: "I have a vivid memory of the middle school graduation speaker. It was me."
    He followed up: "What did you say?" And I have to admit that I had to pause. Now, I would like to think that this is a reflection of my graying hair and the aging process and not a measure of that speech. So I did what our graduates here today will most likely do at some point in their future - when you need to be reminded of the details about some special moment from your youth, you call your parents. So I called my mom, and of course she still had the video from my TLS graduation. And while I was no doubt a pain whenever my mom tried to capture a moment on film, and I will surmise that this trait may still exist among some teenagers today, I am so grateful for all of her efforts to collect and preserve the memories of our experiences growing up.
    So, 23 years ago when I graduated from this institution, the world was a very different place. It was before the fall of the Berlin wall. Before email and the internet. Before grunge, hip-hop, and Lady Gaga. Rex Chapman had just finished a stellar freshman season at UK. But what has not changed over that time is The Lexington School community and how it prepares young people for the world.
    In that earlier speech, I mentioned the foundation that TLS provides so that graduates can eventually pursue successful careers in medicine, or law, or, as I may attempt to be revisionist now, in economics. But it's more than just a foundation. It's a launching pad to a vibrant life.
    Graduates, you have already enjoyed many rich experiences during your time at TLS. I have fond memories of class trips to Pine Mountain, the Colorado Rockies, and Washington DC. These trips exposed us to new people, new ideas, new places, and new opportunities. They also provided for ever closer bonding with our classmates. Bonds that will last a lifetime - more than 20 years after my first trip to Colorado with TLS, a group of us from the Class of 1987 continues to make it out to Summit County for skiing vacations.
    The doors to a vibrant life are available to you because of the learning environment at TLS. The faculty's passion for teaching, as the Class of 201 0 knows and has so benefitted from, sets apart this school. I have some bad news for each and every graduate - regardless of the quality of the high school or prep school you attend, whether you attend an Ivy League university, or go to the best graduate school in the country - you will not come across a faculty that will have contributed to your growth, as a student and as a person, like the teachers at TLS. I've personally done this graduation thing a lot - five times from TLS through my doctoral program - and I have stronger memories about more teachers from my four years at TLS than at any other educational institution.
    These experiences and the TLS education promote a fertile imagination so that you may go out, explore, and create new opportunities as you move on to high school and beyond. So let me offer four pieces of advice for the Class of 2010.
    First, when you come to a door, walk through it. Try new things. Challenge yourself. Learn what interests you by taking advantage of new opportunities. And don't look back at a door you've walked through and ponder "what if?" Sometimes, a new experience may not turn out the way you would have expected or preferred. But don't regret trying. Learn from the experience and move on. If you have regrets, have them for· those times you walked away from an opportunity or for those times you failed to learn from an experience. And use the memory of those regrets to motivate you the next time you come to a door. The more doors you walk through, the more doors that will become available to you, and the richer and fuller your life will be.
    Second, keep your head up. Mark Twain once remarked that "there is no sadder sight than a young pessimist." The dreams that inspire are the dreams from youthful optimists. The world already has more than enough cynics and pessimists. Don't let them get you down or tell you what can't be done. In the big picture, our nation's history has been defined by dreamers who accepted neither the status quo nor past failure, from the forefathers establishing democracy to the inventors creating new technologies to activists fighting for civil rights. Even at the personal scale, it is your dreams - from what kind of career you may have, to running a marathon, to jamming in a band, to playing an important role in the life of a child - that will help you discover new doors to walk through and to inspire others to walk through them with you. To be fair, you also need to be honest through self-examination. I learned from my extensive bench time on the 9th grade basketball team that a college hoops scholarship was not likely in my future. ;) But I didn't get down on myself about that; instead I channeled my energies to those activities that elicited my passion and where I could set myself apart, where I could establish and realize ambitious goals, and where I could dream.
    Third, never stop learning. For some of you, many years ago, you began your education at TLS in preschool and along the way you learned the very basics about reading, writing, and math. Now, as you leave TLS, you have begun to develop the skills to organize and think about complicated problems. As you have nurtured your intellectual curiosity, your ability to teach yourself has evolved. This skill will enable you to seek out and explore new ideas in high school and beyond. Even after you have completed your formal education, teaching yourself will be critical to opening up new doors of opportunities. It will also help you find out what really drives you. What are you passionate about? What stirs your soul? What would you like to do each day that makes you excited to get up and get going? If you develop a craving for learning, you will be able to fully explore the rich and varied opportunities life affords you so that you can best answer these questions.
    Fourth, go make the world a better place. From the neighborhood you live in to the 6+ billion mass of humanity on this planet, there are plenty of needs and opportunities for improvement. You're young, and you dream. When you look around you, you can envision a better world. Find a way to act on that vision. Assess how you may most productively contribute to making your community better. It may be through a service club in high school, or a Greek organization in college, or may be the core of your vocation after college, but walk through some doors that require you to give in order to make others better off. Let me reflect on a personal experience. When I was in graduate school, I was fortunate to join my father on a Habitat for Humanity build in Ghana. I learned that when it came to building a home, my best, so-called "skill" was stirring concrete with a shovel. Yes, I developed an appreciation for why we have automated such an activity in construction here in the States. While it was only a couple of weeks, in that short time, we helped improve the quality of life for several families. I learned so much from our hosts about their families, their culture, and their land. And my life is richer for having shared with my Dad the experience of working in that village in Ghana. Thank you Dad.
    A deeply vibrant life is available to you. It is not your entitlement; you must earn it. As President Obama said in a meeting earlier this year, but I don't think he was the first to utter these words: "You have to eat your peas before you get dessert."
    Yes, you will have to work for it. But the TLS community has prepared you to work for it and earn it. So keep your head high, continue to learn, and walk through the doors of opportunity as they come your way. And discover how you can improve the lot of our community.
    Class of 2010, make us proud to have you join us among the ranks of the alumni of The Lexington School.
    Congratulations.
  • Commencement Address 2009

    Aoife Lyons '88

    Commencement Address

    June 5, 2009

    It is a tremendous honor to be here and celebrate the commencement of the 8th grade class of 2009. As a member of the “great class of 88” (yes, I’m that old), I remember the feeling of accomplishment, the carefully selected white dress, the nervousness of leaving classmates, the excitement of starting high school…… all on this day. But for the present let’s focus on the moment. There can be no more joy than living in the moment and enjoying how far you have come.
    In the words of the late Muppet artist, Jim Henson, creator of Miss Piggy, Kermit the Frog and Sesame Street:
    “Working together is like being part of a wheel. When the wheel is moving, you don’t see the individual spokes.”
    You have been an amazing group of young people who have had to work together to meet the goal of graduation. If one of the spokes breaks, then the bike cannot arrive at the destination. You have managed to keep all the spokes in place and the wheel going….and now, you arrive at the end! 

    Graduation! 

    Congratulations!
    I work with many children as a child clinical psychologist in Chicago. Having the backing of Our Lexington School helped me to be prepared for the future both emotionally and academically.
    In addressing your class on this wonderful day, I also want to address the teachers who helped you arrive at this point. They also represent important spokes in the wheel that has helped you arrive at your destination. I can only speak from my own experience at TLS.
    Mrs. Meekins was my first experience with the Lexington School as a first grader.  I remember the thrill of making Santa Claus with cotton balls to bring home to my mom.
    Mr. Pritchett with his candy wreath every Christmas.
    Ms. Eames drilled vocabulary words into my head (oh my goodness….the Friday vocab tests)! She was also my brother’s first teacher (as a 3-year-old) and his last teacher as a 9th grader.
    Mrs. Foster did wonders with math and “busy beads.” This was a girls only project where classmates, teachers and parents lined up to buy our bead bracelets!. As a grown up, I realize that it was all about learning math.
    Mrs. Bell challenged us with the “math team,” sometimes challenging the girls in the group to “beat the boys.”
    Madame Mills and Madame Charron did the same with French exposing us to ”Les Grande Concourse” prep and a wonderful trip to France.
    Mr. Hardesty made science interesting and fun, always with a smile and sense of humor.
    Ms. Cowley made history come live. She taught us how to take notes properly, which followed into great college note taking.
    Mrs. Anderson inspired us in music and pushed us to take a risk with singing.
    Mr. Scarr whipped my brother into shape and helped him develop a wonderful love of learning, which ended up in a Ph.D. and fluency in five languages.
    Thank you TLS.  Thank you for keeping all the spokes in place so that the wheel kept rolling.
    In my work with kids, I remember the caring that our teachers showed and try to emulate their passion and compassion for children. Our TLS teachers are educators in the most wonderful sense of the word. They truly care for both academic and emotional development.
    There are six key components that I learned through the TLS education that I would like you to remember as you continue your academic and life journey.
    Remember this acronym: CARING.

    C-A-R-I-N-G
    C: Compassion
    - particularly for those who may not have had the same opportunities that you have had. Sometimes things are not how they appear on the outside. Every family has its own particular strengths. The smallest kindnesses go the farthest way. When you stay positive and compassionate, it’s harder for other people to be negative ...and that can only be a good thing. 
     
    A: Academic Achievement - Your education is the one thing that can never be taken away. It is be best investment that your parents can ever make, and they have made it.  When my family moved from Ireland, my mom and dad clearly recognized that TLS was the best school and the best education their children could have. Even though it was a sacrifice, they made the commitment to education. My brother and I both now have Ph.D.s largely in part to my parents’ commitment to education. We can all have material things in the world, but they can disappear in an instant. Your education will always be yours. 

    A recipe for success is to approach the world with your educational background, coupled with wide opened eyes and a willingness to take a chance and you will become the young person you want to be. 
     
    R: Responsibility – As well educated young people you have a larger responsibility to your community. How your actions affect other's lives. How little things can make a difference, for example, the thank you note to a teacher who helped you, the phone call to a friend, acknowledging your parents efforts, putting others before yourself.  Your character is what people will eventually judge you upon above all the grades, school acceptances, and graduations.

    I : Integrity – To me, integrity means holding your head high when others are making different decisions. I’m sure you have all been in situations where you had to make a different decision than your classmates or friends. Integrity means being honest, even when you have made a mistake. It means being the bigger person and apologizing first. It means taking other’s constructive criticism without taking offence. It means being the mature young people that you are all becoming. 

    N: Never Give Up – Try to keep enough balls in the air so that when some fall to the ground you’ve got others up there. In other words, it’s not smart to have “all your eggs or balls in one basket.” We are all going to have successes and failures in life. The failures are a learning opportunity. And you never know what might be around the next corner. My colleagues thought that I was nutty- coo-coo to take the risk of opening a children’s clinic. (Yes, that is a clinical term.) It is a success. My father’s colleagues thought that he was crazy for moving to the United States and starting Alltech. After building a successful business, my parents have the ability to be able to give back and try new ventures. Never give up on your dreams. 

    G: Generosity
    – There is no greater satisfaction than in helping others. While my job as a child psychologist is challenging, it is the most rewarding vocation that I could imagine. And we all have different vocations in life. Spark goodness in others.  And again, helping people less fortunate can take many forms… volunteering your time…using the gifts that have been given to you to help others (for example…my brother using his fluent language skills in Spanish to help children in a Mexican orphanage, my parents contributing and developing science labs in school that could not afford to build them, pro-bono work that I do in Chicago). But perhaps more importantly, be generous with your sense of humor in difficult situations; try to instigate silliness…silly is good! Where would we be without seeing and generously sharing the humor in situations? It is worth pursuing and imparting your own sense of wonder to a situation.
    In closing, I would like to share another quote from Jim Henson…perhaps Kermit the Frog came up with this one:
    “Being afraid isn’t always a bad thing…sometimes you need that trembling feeling to remind you how exciting it is to be doing something new.”
    You are all imparting on a new journey. Embrace the magic of the moment and the excitement as well.
    With CARING, you will keep all the spokes moving, and everyone will stay on the road to success.
    You have all completed the first important part of the journey. The future is exciting, somewhat scary, and long anticipated. With your solid education at TLS, you have the tools to accomplish your goals and dreams. Ask yourselves…what are you searching for? This is the most important question. You have the education, drive, and support to shape your future.
    What are you searching for? How do you search for the concept of CARING and keep the spokes moving? What are you searching for? And how do you keep caring?
    Thank you and Congratulations.
  • Commencement Address 2008

    Andrew Grimes '95

    Commencement Address

    June 6, 2008

    Class of 2008, I am honored to be speaking at your Lexington School graduation. I had the distinct pleasure of attending your “Dessert” function last night and heard all the wonderful things your advisors had to say about each and every one of you. 

    I must tell you, when Mr. Baldecchi invited me to serve as the commencement speaker, I paused for a few seconds to make sure that he wasn’t speaking to someone else in another room or on another telephone line. I accepted the invite with great honor and surprise, as having spent time working with the Alumni Council this past year, I felt like I was walking these halls only days ago. Many of the commencement speakers in recent years have reflected on graduating 20 or more years ago, but I’ve only been gone from TLS for 13 years. Having said that, I feel as if my life isn’t really that far off from where you all are right now. It seems as if only a short while ago, I was in your shoes, wondering what exactly comes next and how I would handle it. 

    When I attended TLS, there was no lacrosse team, no Southwest trip, and no new wing. But when I walk the halls of this school and see both teachers and administrators in the same classrooms and offices as 13 years ago, one thing remains the same…TLS is a special place. Not only is it an extraordinary educational institution, but it’s an amazing place for personal growth. 

    From the teachers, to the administrators, to the amazing cooks in the cafeteria, - the entire staff here at TLS truly cares about each and every one of you. Every time I see the teachers here, we end up talking at length about different memories we had together: the Little Kentucky Derby; the 9th Grade Show; the test with no answers, only directions, in Mr. Hardesty’s class; the carpal tunnel inducing notes of Ms. Cowling; and field trips to Raven Run and Shakertown. While those memories are fairly fresh for you all and may not seem too terribly important today, please know that they will forever be significant moments in your childhood. 

    One day, every one of you will look back on moments like those and wish you could go back in time, if only for a second, to relive those great experiences. I, for one, wish almost daily that I hadn’t been so incredibly uncoordinated on a big wheel - never finishing out of last place in the Little Kentucky Derby. I also wonder why exactly I had a Care Bear big wheel when all my other friends had far cooler ones with Transformers and Star Wars themes. Personally, I blame my parents! 

    Speaking of parents, this is a side note to the overall message of this speech, but it’s equally important. So, let me tell all of you to thank your parents after you leave here today. Whether it’s on the car ride home or at the dinner table tonight, let them know how much you appreciate everything they have done for you. Don’t just thank them for providing you with the opportunity to study here, but also thank them for always being there for you. Each and every one of them put you and your future first when making the decision to send you here, so pay them back with a simple thank you. 

    It sounds sappy, but trust me…you will make their days - and they deserve it. Plus, you’ll get some serious brownie points, and we all know how valuable those can be…no matter how old you get. I’m not sure I ever told my parents thank you for sending me here, and I wish I had…so thank you class of 2008 and Mr. Baldecchi for the opportunity to say thank you to my parents who are here today, albeit some 13 years late. 

    I truly believe that The Lexington School cares about its students unlike any other. It wants each student to develop and grow not only within the confines of the classroom, but as an individual as well. Each child here is very different, and the teachers recognize that, helping guide each student along his or her own path. 

    I, for example, reached the beginning of 9th grade here and was afforded the opportunity to study at a school in Quito, Ecuador. I doubt any other school in Lexington would have even considered this as a possibility, but TLS made it possible without hesitation. I left the comfort of everyday life here to spend six months at an international school, living with a family that spoke not a lick of English. My first month there, I hardly said any words beyond, “mas despacio por favor,” which means ‘slower please’ and “que, no entiendo?” which means ‘What? I don’t understand.’ Once I got the hang of the language, it was an amazing experience where I was forced to fend for myself on many occasions in a foreign country of which I had only basic knowledge. Granted, I wasn’t perfect. As most 14 year olds in that situation would, I made some pretty big mistakes, and I brought a lot of the bad habits I developed home with me. For example, never bungee jump off an Ecuadorian bridge over highway traffic because it’s the cheapest place to do so. Not a good decision. I think my parents can attest to the fact that I was a little bit more hellion than angel when I returned. However, those experiences helped me grow as a person. I honestly believe one can make mistakes in life, as long as you learn from them and continue to better yourself. 

    When I returned to The Lexington School in January of my final year, it hit me what an amazing place this is. You take for granted the comforts and education of these walls when you are here, but when you leave, you’ll pine for the days when teachers and staff cared about you as much as those here did, and still do. Every single one of them wants you to grow, to become a better person. For me, they understood the best way to accomplish that was to travel and see more of the world. Now, I have spent time in nearly forty countries learning to appreciate different cultures, trying to implement different aspects of them into my own life here in Lexington. I’m not sure that without The Lexington School’s vision I would be able to stand here today in front of all of you, preaching the importance of finding your own path in life. 

    For others in my class, they were encouraged to pursue art, music, science, or other endeavors - …no matter the direction; the school helps you as much as possible in achieving your goals. If there is one thing I have learned, it is don’t underestimate the impact this school and its staff has had on all of you - you may not realize it today, but one day, you will all look back and appreciate the hard work, dedication, and care that everyone here exhibits. 

    For you all, the next step is high school. Some of you I’m sure are excited to be moving on, while others are sad and fearful of this next step. Don’t, however, be too quick to move onto the next step. Take time to step back, breathe, and reflect on your past at TLS. Believe me when I say - everything from here on out happens so fast, that you’ll wake up one day and wish you knew where the last 13 or so years had gone. Everyone will have different experiences and lead very different lives from here on out - moving in various directions along assorted paths. One thing, however, will always remain the same - you all graduated together from The Lexington School in 2008. You will always be able to connect with one another on a level where no one else can. Each and every one of you will look back at your time here as one in which you made some lifelong friends, some irrevocable memories, and learned some invaluable lessons that will carry you through life both in and out of school. 

    In fact, just last weekend, I received a phone call from a friend with whom I graduated TLS. I had spoken to him only once over the past five or six years, but he was coming in town for Memorial Day and wanted to get together to catch up. This is a friend I spent endless amounts of time with, whether it was on the math team here at TLS, or on the soccer field through high school at Henry Clay. We sat on the front porch of my house over the weekend and talked at length about what we have been doing the past few years and what lies ahead for us both. Although we hadn’t seen each other in years, it was as if we were still kids walking the carpool line together, conversing with ease about everything from TLS, to high school, to college, to the real world. In discussing our time at TLS, we both expressed sincere appreciation as to how the school prepared us for life once we left. Not only were we well prepared for the transition to high school, but the school instilled in us the integrity and work ethic necessary for college and beyond. When I told him that I would be delivering the commencement speech today, he looked at me and bluntly said, “Tell those kids to get out and do something. Tell them to be active in their lives.” When he said those words, I knew what I wanted to say to all of you graduates today. 

    Take the opportunity that The Lexington School has provided you and use it. Don’t rest on your laurels and accept life as it is. Make the world a better place by working as hard as you can to make your life and the lives of and those around you better on a daily basis. You have been blessed with a superior education here at TLS - take advantage of it. The school has developed and nurtured you to its best ability, and what you do from here on out is on your shoulders. All of you have the ability to be great in one way or another; now it’s on you to be so. Wake up every day and be active. Don’t let life come to you; take it to life. From the moment your alarm clock cruelly gets you out of bed in the morning, attack life with an unmatched fervor and energy. If you do so, the world is your oyster, and anything is possible. 

    Congratulations and good luck graduates! It has truly been an honor to be a part of your special day.
  • Commencement Address 2007

    Rev. Emily B. Richards '87

    Commencement Address

    June 1, 2007

    It is with honor and joy that I stand before you, the graduating class of 2007. Thank you for allowing me to share in this occasion. Graduating from The Lexington School is a great accomplishment, an accomplishment you will come to appreciate even more over time. When Mrs. Foster, a former teacher of mine, invited me to be your commencement speaker, it dawned on me that it will be twenty years this very month when I graduated from TLS. Twenty years may seem like an eternity to all of you, but I'll tell you it passes in the blink of an eye. I know it may be hard to believe, but I can remember what it was like on my day of graduation‐the excitement that the moment had finally arrived, the pride of my family and teachers, even my own pride in reaching this point in my life.
    Yet minged with the excitement was also a sense of apprehension and fear, both of which I imagine you are experiencing this day. For many of you, as it was for me, these classrooms and teachers are all you've known in your young lives. TLS has been much more than a school for you; it has been home. Some of you will be leaving this home and heading off to boarding school in the fall, while others will be venturing forth to local high schools. All of you will be embarking on new journeys, seeking your way in a world that is much larger than you've ever experienced. Today is one of those moments in your life where you find yourself on the threshold of something new, stepping out into uncharted territory. In many religious communities, it is at your very age when the passage from childhood to adulthood is ritualized‐the Jewish Bar and Bat Mitzvah and the Christian Confirmation, just to name a few. In this ceremony today you stand on the threshold of adulthood and together with your families and your school community, you ritualize this rite of passage in your lives.
    You may be wondering if you are ready to take this step into the future and discover who it is you are meant to be in this world. Whether you knew it or not, since you first entered this school the faculty and staff here having been preparing you for this day, the day when you would graduate. In her book, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee, child psychologist, Wendy Mogel writes, “Jewish wisdom holds that our children don't belong to us. They are both a loan and gift from God, and the gift has strings attached. Our job is to raise our children to leave us. The children's job is to find their own path in life.” It has not only been your parents' job, but TLS' job to raise you to leave them. Now it is your job to find your own path in life. Today is the culmination of TLS' hard work to prepare you to step out into the world with courage and confidence. One of the greatest gifts I received from this place was a sense of courage and confidence.
    The faculty and staff instilled in me a confidence in my own abilities and my own giftedness, as well as the courage to believe that anything was possible. As someone whose childhood was filled with visits to hospitals and doctor's offices, who spent more time worrying about the side effects of the medications I was taking than what homework I had for the night, it was often hard to believe in my future. However, along with my family, the faculty and staff at TLS believed in me even when I couldn't believe in myself. It was Mrs. Collier who welcomed me as a terrified five year old and my even more terrified mother with open arms and a warm smile to the first day of kindergarten. It was Mrs. Eames who taught me to find my voice and it was Mr. Noderer who encouraged me to share it with others. It was Miss Bale who sparked my imagination and Mr. Brown who cultivated my inquisitiveness. And it was Miss Cowling who expected nothing less than my best effort. These and many others at TLS shaped my young life in such profound ways.
    I stand before you as a TLS graduate who is not afraid to go after my dreams, believing that nothing is impossible because those at TLS first believed in me. I am in a profession that only thirty years ago was not open to women. It is in my lifetime that women have been ordained to the priesthood in the Episcopal Church. I am doing what many of my forbearers only dreamed of being able to do. I am doing things that at your age I never dreamed possible. I stand in the pulpit and preach to hundreds. I teach children and adults. I lead worship. I baptize babies and marry couples and anoint those who are dying. Thanks to the faculty and staff at TLS I had the courage to find my path in life.
    Know that as they believed in me; they also believe in each of you. This is your day to celebrate; your future to behold. Each of you has a story to tell about TLS, experiences to share of this place which has shaped you. Thank your teachers, your headmaster and the staff. Thank them for believing in you, if not today then someday. And thank your parents for sending you to this school to learn, grow and become the person you were meant to be in this world.
    I have no illusions that tomorrow or ten years from now any of you will remember what I have said in this speech. I have participated in too many graduation ceremonies to think otherwise. In fact, I don't even remember who spoke at my TLS graduation (my apologies to that individual). What I do hope you will never forget is that this school has made a huge difference in your life and in the lives of so many others. Leave here with hopefulness for your future and gratitude for the experience you had as a student at The Lexington School. And when you do become discouraged and unsure of yourself, when your dreams seem out of reach and everything seems impossible, recall your days here. Recall the moments in science lab or in the orchestra or on the soccer field. Remember Mr. Baldecchi, Mrs. Foster, Mrs. MacCarthy and the others. Remember this place which you once called home, where you were nurtured and challenged to be the best you could possibly be.
    Graduates, you stand at the threshold between childhood and adulthood. Step out into the world and take hold of your future with courage and confidence. Embark on this new journey to find your own path in life with the assurance that at TLS there will always be people who believe in you!
  • Commencement Address 2006

    Mark Lyons '92

    Commencement Address

    June 2, 2006

    As I walked through the halls today and saw still so many familiar faces, it made me remember what I special place this is. By being able to come back, I am both humbled and amazed to be asked to give this year's graduation speech. Humbled by the invitation, which is a true honor to speak not only to you [the class of 2006] but also to the great and dedicated teachers who stand behind you. Honored to have a small part to play in your experience at ‘our' Lexington School. Amazed to be back standing up here, when it seemed I was just sitting there where you are. It's like yesterday that I was learning, being challenged, and growing within these walls. Growing towards larger things, much like you have been up until now. Certainly for me, The Lexington School was central to my development - especially of my interests that would in turn create some of what seem to be my lifelong passions.
    When I thought of all that I received when I was a student at TLS, I thought of the foundation that had been set and built upon during my 12 years — from a three year old Montessori student through the 9th grade. That basis included a social responsibility, a strong sense of right and wrong, and an ability to think both critically and creatively. These beliefs and values were created by the dedicated teachers who constantly nurtured and challenged as well as treated each child as an individual, cultivating the qualities that made each one unique, not the same.
    People such as Mrs. Margaret Barker, Mrs. Mary Beers, Mrs. Ann Eames who was my first and last teacher at the Lexington School, who taught me how to tie my shoes at the beginning and love poetry at the end, Mr. Jack Brost whom I can credit with helping to instill my love of history, Mr. Frank Hardesty who brought an early sense of interest and understanding of the basics of science which I work with on a day-today basis. These teachers will also be ‘graduating' today - I'm sure they will be sorely missed within these halls, and I wish them all the best in the next adventure.
    Same as your class, the class of 2006, my classmates in 1992, and students from the classes that preceded mine and followed mine all received this basis to intellectually and morally stand on. But from that, a plethora of outcomes and lives have grown. In my class there are computer programmers, horse trainers, educators, and teachers, rock stars, business owners, and scientists. We knew each other very well, sometimes too well, probably much like yourselves. If we had been given the list of each of our future professions when we were sitting where you are and been asked to say what each of us would end up doing, I'm sure we would have matched different names up with each profession. This is because we all had many and varied interests based on our school's core abilities and beliefs. I believe this lies at the heart of the Lexington School Philosophy and is central to the fundamental objective of this great institution.
    I heard recently that 40-50% of the jobs that people at your age now will do in your lifetimes don't exist yet. This was put forth to challenge the training and education that our young people receive today. However, was this really any different from when I graduated 14 years ago? Did we not make the first steps with computers here at TLS? And at that time the Internet and email were certainly not right at our fingertips. We were completely assuming that computers would be a tool for word processing, not something that would change the world in such as short time, so rapidly and completely. What is so fundamental about this changing environment is what makes this education you have received so important. You have learned things that will stand to you no matter where you decided to go in your life. You have learned how to think. For me this was created here at TLS, and this is something with which you can never go wrong. As I thought of what I would say today, I thought of a few key principals: confidence, risk, and challenge. Ironically I had thought of this theme as something that I myself had lived. But when I read The Lexington School Philosophy Statement at the bottom of an email from Mr. Baldecchi, I was struck by the fact that these elements are all contained within it. This philosophy was instilled in me here within these walls.

    The Lexington School Philosophy Statement:

    Because we are a nurturing environment, children feel confident.
    When children are confident, they will take risks.
    Because risk taking is inherent in learning, the possibility of failure exists.
    When a nurturing community exists, challenges lead to growth.
    Our success is defined when our students have the life skills to make wise choices and overcome obstacles.
    You have been exposed to new ideas and experiences during your trip out west the last few weeks. These experiences will shape your interests. The more experiences you have, the broader and deeper these interests will become. That is why you must take every challenge, every chance, and embrace every risk. These are the opportunities you have to make your life something extraordinary.
    Someone once told me make life a statement, not an apology.
    Never be scared to be different. Being different may seem difficult now, but it is what in the end will get you to where you want to be and also make your life something unique. It is that you will look back on and smile. For me this has been the differentiating factor that has brought me success. It makes it very hard for people to nail down who I am because I come from such a broad educational background.
    Never be scared to take risks. But in order to do this we must truly have these fundamentals that have been taught during your time at The Lexington School - fundamentals that have been provided to you here at TLS. These provide that confidence and that strength to challenge ourselves and help us grow into the leaders and citizens that we must become.
    Of course you have all heard that to whom much is given, much is expected. We have a responsibility to fulfill. But part of the responsibility is also to us, not to be bogged down and weighted down by expectation. You have to follow the 5 Ds. Dream, dare, desire, dedicate, and decide.
    • Dream, for without a dream you will be lost.
    • Dare because you must take risks to gain rewards.
    • Desire, because you must be passionate about your goals, your beliefs.
    • Dedicate, both to yourselves, your teams, your community, and your family. This will come back 100 fold to you.
    • Decide, perhaps the most difficult of all. Have the confidence to make it happen.
    As Ronald Regan said, “You must be the tide by which all ships rise.” You have the ability to be this tide. You just need to believe in yourself and keep pushing yourself out of your comfort zone, back into that place where you will experience more and grow. You have come to know that place here in TLS and are well prepared for it. Keep seeking it, and you will find the success in life in the path that you choose.
    What will you choose? What will that mean?
  • Student Commencement Remarks 2006

    Alex Kiefer '06

    Student Commencement Remarks

    June 2, 2006

    Preschool

    Good morning and welcome, Mr. Baldecchi, Ms. MacCarthy, Board members, family members, and faculty. I am proud to introduce to you to my friends, the graduating class of 2006. First of all, I would like to recognize the faculty members who are retiring and extend a special thank you to them: Ms. Eames, Mrs. Barker, Mrs. Beers, Mr. Hardesty, and Mr. Brost. I want to thank everyone who helped all of us to make it through eighth grade and through TLS, especially the teachers who pushed us to the limits of our abilities and encouraged us to pursue our dreams. I also wish to thank all of our parents; you have sacrificed more than we can imagine, and we are grateful.
    As I am finishing my tenth year here at TLS, I can't help but to remember my preschool years. Those were the innocent years. The years of playing in the sandbox, climbing on the monkey bars, and shooting on a four-foot hoop. Dressing up as a princess or a Power Ranger, carrying around a blanket or a stuffed animal, and crawling through the tire tunnel in the little playground. Although those years were simple and pleasant, it is necessary to look back on those years and remember how it felt to be a kid. A quotation from The Wonder Years stood out to me: “Memory is a way of holding onto the things you love, the things you are, the things you never want to lose.” By reflecting on the preschool and grade school years at TLS, we can recall the value of the memories that TLS has given us.
    I came to TLS in Pre-K. When I try to think back to that year, one of the only things that I can remember is Halloween. Ms. Beers arrived at school in a Mother Goose outfit. Ms. Russo had pinned or taped purple balloons to her clothing, put a green piece of felt on her head, and had turned herself into a bunch of grapes. I came as a bear—Winnie the Pooh, I've been told. Several girls were princesses, but hey, I've never been one to follow the crowd. Even so, the array of costumes was outstanding. I can remember this, and remember that we are all different, just like the costumes. My individual memories of my classmates are unique. Everyone is special to me in his or her own way, and TLS has helped to increase our respect and our friendship towards one another. Even though we are all different, we all have the same basics, background, and concrete foundation—TLS.
    Kindergarten and First Grade are full of even more memories. Candy houses were a big deal. I remember icing the graham crackers, decorating the yard with a mirror pond and some trees, and lining the roof with peppermints and gumdrops. Then I was finished. Eagerly parading the house among my friends and family, I was proud to have created such a wonderful structure. Today, I will be finishing my years at TLS. While I am sad at the prospect, I am also excited. Excited at highschool and what's yet to come, yes, but also the fact that I have gotten through TLS. Made it through the exams and the papers and the speeches—well, almost. I will be eager to show off the TLS experience because it was a unique experience. Not only did my candy house seem beautiful and complicated, but my years at TLS seem that way too.
    Second and Third Grade were large parts of the growing up process. The part where boys are smelly and no one has braces even though you have a large gap in your teeth. We learned about different countries, by making rain sticks and icecream and drums and journals. We learned about the Native Americans and their houses by making our own miniatures. We learned cursive and how to multiply and divide. I learned the importance of reading and words, by writing in a daily journal and by completing summer reading. The major thing that I have learned from looking back is how valuable our school is. Not any school could teach you these things in such a unique way. Rarely has a textbook been used on a daily basis in all ten years that I have been here. This unique style of teaching enhances the learning process greatly, and it also makes the memories that I have here rich and deep.
    A memory is a wonderful thing. It can make you cry, smile, laugh, become mad, or wish. Some people wish that their life could be as simple as it was when they were five or six. I do as well. But I mostly hope that my life will continue to follow that path that TLS has started. A path only bound for success if I do everything that this school has taught me. I would now like to introduce Maggie Wilson, who will be discussing our fourth and fifth grade years.
    Thank you.
  • Student Commencement Remarks 2006

    D.R. Ball '06

    Student Commencement Remarks

    June 2, 2006

    Middle School

    Today, my classmates have talked about their memories from pre-school and lower school. I would like to continue by talking about the events which occurred in the seventh grade and eighth grade here at The Lexington School.
    When I reminisce on what happened in seventh grade, I remember a lot of laughs, but I also remember all the information we learned. Our seventh grade year included many projects such as creating our Middle East journal and poetry notebooks.
    However, we weren't busy writing all year long. We built unique and strong bridges in Mr. Hardesty's science class and went on our trip to Bradford Woods. A highlight of my year was when my tent group, Austin, Hil and I, forgot our tent and built a tarp to sleep under. We woke up the next morning after a stormy night and witnessed that Hil was covered with water. We couldn't help but laugh.
    For some reason in seventh grade, we all had an obsession with four square. We also enjoyed being able to be trainers racing in our first Little Kentucky Derby. As the end of the year closed, we believed that we were saying goodbye to all of our core teachers; however, Mr. Hardesty surprised us and came back as our eighth grade chemistry teacher.
    Entering eighth grade we had always heard that Mrs. Bonzo's class was extremely difficult. We got to experience this legend by having an in class writing on our first day of school. However, with large amounts of studying, we were able to complete our final exam to the best of our ability. Our eighth grade talks and our history papers not only drove us crazy, but they also made us restless after writing for hours. An important time in my eighth grade year was when our school raised over fifteen thousand dollars for the Hurricane Katrina Relief Foundation. This year we had Tubby Smith come to talk to us, and we got to see the UK cheerleaders do their national routine. Spirit Day was one of my favorite days of the year due to the competitive teacher survivor game! Mrs. Sherrard has taught us etiquette all year long, and our final exam was in our proper etiquette dinner at Donamire Farm. We got to do Dance, Dance Revolution on Anne and Maggie's Headmaster for the day, and we got to go to our last candlelight ceremony. It has been three years since the last candlelight ceremony we participated in, and it's hard to believe that graduation is the final ceremony we will attend as students of The Lexington School.
    Cherish your memories forever; not only have we learned academically at school, but we have learned many lessons about life. As we go on to different schools and different lives, we will remember each other and our time at TLS forever. For all of us, again I thank the parents of my graduating class for giving us the best education we need, and I thank our teachers for teaching us not only about English, math and history, but about life and what will be useful in the future. I would like to congratulate my fellow classmates, The Lexington School class of 2006, as today, we graduate.
    Thank you.
  • Student Commencement Remarks 2006

    Maggie Wilson '06

    Student Commencement Remarks

    June 2, 2006

    Lower School

    When recalling the past, people don't remember certain days, but moments and special memories they had. As students, we don't remember our assignment notebooks or the questions on the test-but we do remember the answers. Yes, it's true that TLS has well-equipped classrooms and facilities, but what the class of 2006 will remember is the people and memories from our years at The Lexington School. Cynthia Ozick said, “What we remember from childhood we remember forever-permanent ghosts, stamped, inked, imprinted, eternally seen.”
    Let's test your memory on this one. “This Bark On Me.” What comes to mind? A tree song. The songs we learned in fourth grade science are permanently in my brain. Songs like “B-B-B-Bats” were a favorite of ours, and we sang them loud and clear during Mrs. Zimmerman's classes. Although we practiced for what seemed like forever on the dulcimers, Old Kentucky Day was another memory of TLS we can't forget. From the skits we performed for the middle schoolers and our families to dancing in the gym, that day was quite memorable. After many science songs, journal entries, and ties worn by Mr. Platt, we began our fifth grade year.
    Few people will be able to remember what happened in Mrs. Kemmish's class on March 3rd; although, everyone will be able to remember the day we finished our roller coasters and showed the class our Rube Goldbergs. I'll always remember Kaitlyn and Chanel's that made coffee, or Maggie and mine which was…supposed to make a peanut butter sandwich. In fifth grade, we also had our Spanish versus French soccer game in which the French students won for the first time ever. It was also the first overnight trip for us. The Emperor's New Clothes was certainly one of the best experiences during fifth grade. In the play, we saw Wood's and Connor's singing skills during their duet, and Lee's lovely Sponge Bob Square Pants boxers. Even when we are adults, the lyrics to the songs we sang in that play will always be in our memories. Finally, we had the candle light ceremony, and we entered the middle school. Although it doesn't seem long ago when our candles were lit, three years has already passed.
    Sixth grade consisted of history, human anatomy, and useful information for the future, but what we will remember in our future won't be the many tests we took for Ms. Lounsbury, but the special times we had. As one way to teach us new information, we made learning tools for each new subject. Although they took forever to make, learning many different study aids will help me as I continue through my education. Mr. Gunn's “special” ways of teaching will be remembered too: Stretch the monkey, the squirt bottle, templates, and even the occasional math journal could have been seen flying through the air. The “Pi Song” was also another part of Mr. Gunn's curriculum. That was another way to help us students remember information in a fun way, and a way to make sure we know that…Pi equals 3.14159265358...and so on. Ms. Cowling also had a great impact on our sixth grade year, and there will always be memories of King Tutankhamen's cursed tomb, and we definitely learned the way to spell Caesar correctly. If not, we did after writing it 100 times. Although we had so many special memories from that year, it came to a close with ERB's and the readiness for seventh grade.
    Everyone in our grade is different and special in extremely unlike ways; we all combine to make a wonderful class that will always have the fond memories of The Lexington School with us. Recollections of every person will follow us throughout our lives. And the special memories of childhood truly will stay with us forever.
    I would like to introduce you to D.R. Ball-who will now speak to you about our years in 7th and 8th grade.
  • Student Commencement Remarks 2005

    Jennifer Grasch '05

    Student Commencement Remarks

    June 3, 2005

    Thank you, Ms. MacCarthy. First I would like to welcome Mr. Baldecchi, the faculty, Board members, family members, and my friends, the graduates of the Class of 2005.
    As a society, we are obsessed with commercials. Without even breaking a sweat, we can easily recite hundreds of slogans for various products. As pathetic as it sounds, I can perform the Capital One “No” commercials in their entirety — “Tic-tac[NO, ee-ii NO, Marco PolNO” - and I walk around the house singing, “I've got a jingle for Goldfish, baked and not fried Goldfish.” And I know I'm not the only one who does that. Following this trend, William and I have each chosen to focus on a particular commercial to illustrate what TLS has provided for the Class of 2005.
    I have been to American Eagle, Hollister, and almost every store in the mall, but I have never found anything like the gifts we have received at TLS in those stores. You simply can't hang a price tag on these gifts. According to a recent Mastercard commercial, some things in life are priceless. Our years at TLS are one of those invaluable things.
    One of the most priceless gifts we have received at TLS is lifelong friendships. Some days, we spend more time with our classmates than we spend with out own families. In the eight, nine, maybe even eleven years that we have been together, we have gained an intimate understanding of each other beyond the basic knowledge others outside our grade have. We are aware of the little habits of our classmates, which basketball team they cheer for in the NCAA tournament, and whose feet make the locker room stink after P.E. class. Together, my classmates and I have progressed from the “ooh, boys have cooties” stage to the “ooh, he's a cutie” phase. (By the way, don't tell my daddy that I don't still think boys have cooties!) My friends remember me when I was a little girl playing on the playground and, therefore, will always know me on some level. Beyond TLS, we will probably never have classmates who have such an in-depth knowledge of us or appreciate who we used to be and who we have become in the same way.
    In the entire world, there isn't a single store that will sell a sense of belonging, but we have that at TLS. In such a small group, we have developed a strong sense of community. Although we may have our share of nerds, jocks, and cheerleader-types just like every other school, we are so accepting of the differences in each other that we don't even notice them anymore. Because of that, we have developed our personalities without being influenced by teasing from others. There is such a high level of tolerance that I sometimes wonder if I am weird because, if I am, my classmates would be accepting enough that I might not even be aware of it. As strange as it sounds, that is also an irreplaceable gift.
    Another priceless aspect of our years at TLS is the devotion of the teachers. They serve as role models for us and support us at sporting events outside school hours. When alumni come back to school to visit, they are welcomed back by their former teachers, and we, too, will be eagerly received when we return. Our teachers have watched us progress from preschoolers and have brought us to this point, only moments from graduating.
    After so many years in this sheltered environment, leaving TLS seems frightening sometimes. However, I know that no matter how badly I mess up in high school, my friends from this school will still be there for me. Nothing I can do will change the fact that I am accepted within this community. Try finding that at the mall.
    TLS has given us an incredibly valuable experience. Not valuable like gold, silver, and diamonds, but valuable in ways that you could never put a price on. Caring teachers, common experiences, a solid education, and a strong sense of community, life-long friendships, and so many unforgettable memories.
    Tuition: $12,500 per year
    Eighth Grade Trips: $1,993.47
    Khakis: $29.99
    Solid-colored Polo shirt: $24.50
    The TLS Experience: Priceless
  • Student Commencement Remarks 2005

    William Derenge '05

    Student Commencement Remarks

    June 3, 2005

    As we are strongly a consumer society, I am sure everyone here has heard of OnStar. Providing security, reassurance, and Piece of Mind, OnStar is “Always There.” Always there to give its customers direction when they are lost and help in times of trouble. Like OnStar, The Lexington School community will be “Always There” as we depart from each other and begin to venture out into a new school and into a new part of our lives. The knowledge we have received will be with us wherever we decide to go. Due to the hard and devoted work of our teachers, we have been gifted with an excellent education. Although our knowledge will be put to the test, we can succeed in our new school environments. Although we are physically separated, we will still hear the OnStar voice of Ms. Cowling saying “Take out your notebooks,” Mrs. Sherrard reminding us that “forks go on the left,” Mrs. Bell asking, “What's the answer to number one, two, and seventeen?” Mrs. Trisko repeating, “Put on your lab coats,” and Mrs. Bonzo yelling, “No, you can't go to your locker to get your homework!” Like OnStar's twenty-four-hour information button, our knowledge is something that will greatly assist us in the future.
    Along with the knowledge TLS has given us, the sense of integrity and leadership instilled in us will keep us on the road and guide us to do what is right. Not only has the faculty and staff given us the understanding of algebra, geometry, chemistry, grammar, literature, American history, world history, Spanish, French, music, drama, art, health, and physical education, but they have given us a good sense of moral values, leadership, and self-confidence. Whenever we may think about taking a shortcut, our OnStar button will remind us to do what is right. Because of this, we are ready to move forward. Similar to the OnStar operators that are ready to provide direction at any moment, our moral values will keep us on course as we progress.
    As a representative of the graduating class of 2005, I would like to thank all parents and grandparents for giving us the opportunity and the privilege to receive a truly excellent education. Because The Lexington School has given us a solid academic foundation, our potential for success is limitless. In addition, I would like to say thank you and goodbye to the teachers who are retiring: Mrs. Carolyn Floyd, Mrs. Debbie Wilson, and Mr. Frank Hardesty. All of these teachers will be missed tremendously. The class of 2005 would like to extend thanks to Mr. Hardesty, Mrs. Wilson, and Mrs. Floyd for ending their careers with The Lexington School and would also like to thank all teachers working to make our TLS experience memorable.
    During our time at TLS, which for some of us is as long as eleven years, we have become almost family. Although we may be separated from each other, we know that we will maintain our friendships throughout our lives. No matter what difficulties we may encounter in our futures, we can find reassurance knowing that we all are experiencing a great change in our lives. The Lexington School will always be inviting and open for us to return and to revisit our friendships. Like OnStar, our TLS community is “Always There” to support us in any way. Knowing this, we can move forward with confidence.
The Lexington School provides an education of the highest quality in a structured, nurturing community. We instill integrity, a joyful pursuit of learning, and a strong work ethic.
1050 Lane Allen Road
Lexington, KY 40504
Phone:
 859.278.0501
Fax:
 859.278.8604
© 2008 – 2022 The Lexington School · Privacy