Celebrating the Class of 2022 at Closing Exercises

On June 4, the 377th year of The Roxbury Latin School culminated with Closing Exercises and the graduation of the Class of 2022. For the first time in two years, the school was able to hold its traditional, intimate ceremony—which includes the seniors, their families, the faculty and trustees—in Rousmaniere Hall. Immediately after the ceremony, under bright and sunny skies, the 53 newest alumni of The Roxbury Latin School celebrated on the Senior Grass with classmates, family members, and members of the faculty. (View a gallery of images from the morning.)

Beginning with opening remarks from Headmaster Kerry Brennan—which acknowledged the challenges and triumphs of this particular group of boys, and also noted their many, worthy accomplishments—the ceremony included the singing of traditional songs America The Beautiful, Commemoration Hymn, and The Founder’s Song, as well as a performance of Come Fly With Me sung by The Latonics, with a solo by graduating senior, Eli Bailit. The ringing of the school bell, chiming 3-7-7, officially concluded the school year.

Class valedictorian, voted by his classmates, was Vishnu Emani who delivered a personal, poignant, powerful speech that drew a standing ovation from his classmates.

Vishnu’s address began with his recounting of a parable originally written by German author Heinrich Boll, about a fisherman enjoying his humble catch on a sunny beach. A businessman comes along, extolling the value of the fisherman starting a company, enlisting distributors, and making lots of money so that he can, one day, relax on a beach without a care in the world. The fisherman ultimately replies, “What do you think I’m doing right now?”

“The parable of the businessman and the fisherman underscores a crucial tension that we all inevitably experience,” explained Vishnu, “and that is the trade-off between ambition and contentment. The businessman exemplifies the mindset of ambition, because he sees every moment as an opportunity to accomplish more and grow in the future. But his hunger for success in the future comes at the expense of living in the present. Now, while it may not be obvious, the fisherman also makes some sacrifices. Although he is satisfied in his life, the fisherman has intentionally foregone opportunities to contribute to society and make a greater impact.

“This fundamental tradeoff is central to life’s most important decisions, for instance setting our work-life balance: do we spend our nights preparing presentations, or do we enjoy a home-cooked dinner with our family? Do we take the corporate promotion that would have us traveling every weekend, or do we settle down in a place we call home?… These are the sobering questions that high-achieving students like us, eager to make an impact in the world, are forced to confront… We have to ask ourselves: why are we making the decisions that we are, what is our intended goal, and what sacrifices are we willing to make to get there? So I say, let us dream big, let us take on life with vigor and passion, but, most importantly, let us keep our perspective, even as it’s so easy to get lured into the rat race that surrounds us.”

The commencement address was delivered by Ron Liebowitz, president of Brandeis University, and father to graduating senior Heshie Liebowitz.

“It would be tempting to join the legions of graduation and commencement speeches this year that have presented a variety of interpretations of the Jarvis Refectory maxim—from those to whom much has been given much will be expected,” Mr. Liebowitz began. “Such a speech would have me sharing words of wisdom that explains why your generation faces the toughest challenges ever, and, because you are so talented, to then exhort you to be bold and go out and fix all that is wrong with the world—from climate change to racial injustice to antisemitism to poverty to emerging diseases to growing mental health challenges. This has become a common mantra this year, most likely because we old folks are out of good ideas or haven’t the energy to do anything more. But I won’t go down that path.

“Having watched first-year students arrive at college for the past 38 years, I advise you—in fact, urge you—to dedicate the next four years to personal growth. My point is that the world’s great problems can wait—despite what we Boomers and Gen X’ers say—until you have done the hard and hopefully satisfying work that it will take to be in the position to make a difference. To be successful, you will first need to be deliberate, thoughtful, and even brave in how you navigate your way through college.”

At the conclusion of Mr. Liebowitz’s address, Headmaster Brennan and President of the Board of Trustees Bob O’Connor ’85 awarded diplomas to the newest alumni of The Roxbury Latin School.

Three major Class I prizes were also awarded during Closing Ceremonies:

The Richard A. Berenberg Prize, for generosity of spirit and concern for others, was presented to Alejandro Denis.

The Class of 1913 Award, for significant contributions to the life of the school, was presented to Mark Henshon.

The William Coe Collar Award, for achievements and contributions to the school that are deemed by the faculty as most deserving of recognition, was presented to Vishnu Emani.