Derby Academy celebrated its 228th Derby Day Lecture and Graduation Exercises on Wednesday, June 12, 2019.
The day’s event began with an all-school choral concert, featuring the musical talent of Derby students and faculty, followed by a special tribute to Associate Head of School John Houghton, who is retiring this spring after more than two remarkable decades at Derby.
Faculty member Aileen Nalen shared anecdotes from current and former colleagues, students, and parents, reflecting on John’s time at Derby.
“It is fitting that Derby’s motto is “Improve Both Mind and Heart,” because as he has cared deeply for the whole child, John has worked simultaneously to inspire a love of learning and an appreciation for history through his carefully scaffolded lessons tailored to both stretch students’ thinking and meet their needs as varied learners.”
Nalen continued, adding “John’s effective leadership, high standards, and professionalism earned him the respect of the full Derby community. He embodies the values of excellence and hard work.”
Following the choral concert, students, faculty, Trustees, and proud parents accompanied the procession along Fearing Road to New North Church in Hingham, a longstanding Derby Academy tradition. Leading the way were parade marshals AJ Cashman of Hingham and Jessica Fisher of Hanover, the two academically top-ranked Grade 8 students.
Head of School Joe Perry offered opening remarks at New North Church, congratulating students, and asking that they hold onto the relationships and memories they’ve created while at Derby.
“You will always have this time and this comfort to look back on and draw strength from, however, today marks a new beginning; a time when you step forth and break out of your comfort zone,” Mr. Perry said. “To grow and experience your own path. Your time, to walk at your own pace. Your time, to follow your own compass. Your time, to set your own destination.”
“You are ready. You are prepared. You know right from wrong. You know healthy from unhealthy. You can lead. You can follow. You can dance. You can skip. You will fall. You will soar. You are ready.”
First awarded in 1987, the Waters Prize was established to honor former Headmaster Thomas Waters who presided over Derby Academy from 1968 to 1984. The Waters Headmastership is remembered today for its strong leadership and its emphasis on a versatile, compassionate and committed faculty. This year, faculty member Ali Moore was awarded the Thomas J. Waters Prize for excellence in teaching.
Derby Academy’s two highest awards, the Madam Sarah Derby Pin and the Academy Pin, are presented to a girl and boy from the eighth grade who most nearly embody the values of the Derby community through demonstrated effort, interest and positive contributions in academics, arts, athletics and extracurricular activities. Through an endowment established in 2009 by John Harper ’48, this pin is given in memory of his father, Wallace Harper. This year, Elizabeth McDougall, of Hingham, received the Madam Sarah Derby Pin and Johnny Cronin of Hingham, received the Academy Pin.
Derby Academy presented diplomas to the following 43 graduates:
The Rev. Jennie Barrett Siegal, senior pastor at Old South Union Church in Weymouth, delivered the Derby Lecture, congratulating the graduates on their successes at Derby and offering advice as they continue on their educational journeys:
“Your words are powerful. Use them for good. Derby Academy graduates, that is the opportunity and the challenge that you will have, not just as you leave this place and go on to high school, that is the opportunity and the challenge that you will have as you live the rest of your lives. Your words are powerful. Use them for good,” Rev. Siegal said.
“You have been challenged to grow as students, with brilliant minds and as people with caring hearts. And now you get to carry your mind and your hearts out into the world, a world that is in desperate need of people who are both intelligent and kind. Because with minds and hearts connected you can use your words to do incredible good in the world. With minds and hearts connected, you can use your words to speak goodness and love into a world that is too often filled with hatred and division. You can use your words to call forth justice and peace from a world too often focused on oppression and violence. You can use your words to build up the dignity of all people in a world too often focused on tearing people down. Words are such powerful things. And you, you can use your words to do such incredible good.”
She concluded by advising the graduates: “Dedicate your minds and your hearts to finding that glory in each person and you will indeed make this world a better place.”
Following the morning’s events, a luncheon was held at Old Derby in downtown Hingham to celebrate the newest group of Derby alumni and their families.
Congratulations to the Class of 2019!