The Webb School's 48 seniors graduated on May 27. Family and friends joined faculty and staff in honoring the class. Justice Scott J. Crichton, a Webb 1972 graduate, was commencement speaker.
The day began with Baccalaureate and L.R. Smith, history teacher and chapel director, welcoming guests and introducing the Rev. Eric Little, Bell Buckle United Methodist Church minister, as the speaker.
Head of School Ray Broadhead welcomed those attending commencement and congratulated the 48 graduates.
"The class of 2017, with 48 students graduating, is a very special class in that they have bonded so well. Their friendships run deep, and they have much love for each other. Some of them will be friends for life!" he said.
"We are very proud of you, the class of 2017, for all of your accomplishments. You have worked very hard to reach your academic goals, and you have been leaders on the playing fields, the courts, and on the stage. Your academic accomplishments include two National Merit Scholars, Chelsea Ilarde and Maddie McAndrew, many winners of national academic awards, and very strong performances on the national Advanced Placement Exams. The Strings Orchestra continues to grow and to improve each year, and the piano students had their best performance in years at a recent recital.
"Many athletes have been named to All-District and All-Region teams while working with teammates to produce competitive sports teams, including a co-champion 8-man football team led by QB 1 Wes Watson. The college counselors reported that they did an excellent job of meeting deadlines, and all of them have been admitted to college. This class is also known for its creativity, energy, passion, and many very interesting individuals. I expect that they will pedigree their ancestors as they make a difference in the world.
"The faculty and I congratulate the members of the class of 2017 for all of their accomplishments and for having achieved this important milestone in their lives."
Webb Board of Trustees Chair John Sawyer, Webb class of 1988, introduced Crichton, who is serving his third year of a 10-year term as Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of Louisiana. Prior to his election to the Supreme Court, he served 24 years as a judge with the First Judicial District Court (Shreveport/Caddo Parish), presiding over 25,000 cases in both the civil and criminal divisions. By order of the Louisiana Supreme Court, he previously served one cycle as a judge pro tempore for the First Circuit Court of Appeal.
Crichton first recognized graduates for their hard work and accomplishments and then their parents and other family members who have "sacrificed for the gift of a sound preparatory education."
The speaker then recounted "in the spring of 1968, my dad, a 1936 graduate of Webb, had a non-negotiable discussion with me, a spindly 13-year-old, that went like this: "This fall you're going to Webb School. So, around Labor Day, almost 50 years ago, my parents gassed up the family car, and the three of us (my mom and dad in the front, me in the back) drove 600 miles from north Louisiana here to Bell Buckle. After helping me move in the dorm and as night was approaching, they said 'see you at Christmas' and drove off. It was, at best, a terrifying moment. After a few challenging days, nights and in fact weeks, like many of you, I settled in."
Reflecting on his time at Webb, Crichton said, "Essentially, there were four distinct aspects of my four years here that – while I didn't recognize at the time – shaped me into the person that I am today." Those aspects were the Honor Code, the teachers, the Webb leadership model and Outward Bound, a program very much like Webb's Wilderness Instruction and Leadership Development (WILD).
Crichton told the audience that he had never heard of a specific Honor Code, "the pledge dating back to 1870 that we signed at the beginning of each year or the additional pledge signed on each test and the school's motto of Noli Res Subdole Facere – Do nothing on the sly." He added, "Although Latin is a dead language, those words have as much vitality today as ever; and I'd argue are more necessary today than ever. And those words would become a standard for the rest of my personal and professional life." Discussing the impact of teachers, he said, "Much like your teachers today, the faculty - nearly 50 years ago – also had passion, dedication and razor sharp focus that provoked thought and analysis. Crichton cited the school's mission and other words by founder Sawney Webb that formed the foundation for the school's leadership model that compelled him to take a 'hand in the game' at Webb and to carry that directive forward. He also told the graduates that during their lives they will likely draw on the core concepts of WILD, much as he did Outward Bound.
"During my commencement on Sunday, May 28, 1972, there was no faculty member, no administrator and no classmate – and not even me – that would have imagined the journey that would take me to the summit of my state's third branch of government. But it all started for me through The Webb School Model, Sawney's teachings, and establishing relationships. For you as well, there are endless and exciting possibilities that lie ahead. Included in your program are the translated words of the 2nd and 3rd stanzas of Horace's Integer Vitae, "Have confidence to search uncharted depths of ocean, climb to heights before not dreamed or dared, seek for Truth in worlds to us yet hidden, and know that God will sustain you.
"Determine what you want to achieve and what matters to you. Take a hand in the game on your terms, recognizing the sanctity and finite measure of time. ...Webb School Class of 2017: As you take the next step and embark on life's journey, Lead a Large Life, Good Luck and Godspeed."
Kennady Peek of Murfreesboro gave the student address during the ceremony.
As part of the commencement ceremony, Ryan Xia, China, received the highest academic honor in the class, the Anna Landis Hightower Award, which honors the student with the highest grade-point average for four years at Webb.
Chelsea Ilarde received the John Hardin Highest Scholastic Award for achieving the highest scholastic average in her senior year and the John Lewis Morgan Award, which is presented annually to the student who has maintained high standard of excellence in his or her academic work and who has demonstrated the highest qualities of good citizenship in the service of the school.
Also recognized was Neil Barrett, recipient of the student-selected David Newton McQuiddy Award. The award is given by the family of David Newton McQuiddy to honor a teacher who has integrity, is loyal to Webb and its ideals, is dedicated to the profession, and who encourages sound character development and academic excellence. A native of Bedford County, David Newton McQuiddy graduated from Webb in 1921 and completed his studies at Vanderbilt and the University of Chicago. He served as a teacher and librarian at Webb for 12 years, following which he became the Headmaster and Academic Dean of the Tennessee Military Institute in Sweetwater.
Broadhead said that this year's recipient has promoted creativity and intellectual curiosity at Webb, teaching first in the Middle School, and then being promoted to the high school two years ago. "He challenges students to think, and to write cohesively and precisely to express their thoughts. He is the master of the rewrite. As faculty advisor of the Oracle, there are times where he has to balance the right of freedom of the press versus responsibility to the community. He listens carefully to both sides of the issue, and works with each side to come to an acceptable understanding. He is a thoughtful peacemaker." Broadhead added that Barrett has also worked closely with younger boarding students in Cooper-Farris dormitory, has a strong relationship with the members of the dorm, and is often the calming force amidst the chaos of the middle school boarding students. "He and his family are fully involved at Webb, and their presence at games, meals, and other Webb events demonstrates their commitment to life at a day/boarding school."
Other recognitions and awards presented during the commencement ceremony included the following:
Community Service (Graduation) – Presented by Andrew McRady
Students who have averaged 50 hours of community service each year they have attended The Webb School.
National Merit Scholarship Award – Presented by Ray Broadhead
Honor Council Senior Members – Presented by AJ Swafford
Kara Brooke Bellenfant
WILD Senior Award
Presented by Brian Wofford
Joseph Peters Meersman Jr. Award Decided by the Theatre Department
Presented by Ruth Cordell
The Marjorie Iley Manley Award
Presented by Janet Linton
This award goes to that student that best combines an appreciation of music and foreign
The John Freeman Academic Achievement Award
Presented by James Garcia
This award is presented by the family of John Freeman to that persevering student who faced initial academic difficulties at Webb but who began to flourish academically and to realize his or her potential.
The Paul Hunt Award
Presented by Robyn Kerstiens
This award is given to that student, who, in the judgment of the faculty, has exhibited particular courage, determination, and cheerfulness during the year.
The Schornstein Award
Presented by Teal Lynch
The family of Richard Schornstein, Jr., presents a prize to that student or students, regardless of classification, whom the faculty judges to be the hardest worker in school.
The Albert Duling Incentive Award
Presented by Leone Broadhead
This award is presented to that student, regardless of age or grade level, who has demonstrated his or her ability to overcome adversity during the school year just concluded; and this student has indicated a growing awareness of and commitment to Webb School's ideals and standards.
Senior Achievement Scholar-Athlete Award
Presented by Scott Dorsett
The Senior Achievement Scholar-Athlete award recognizes two seniors: one male and one female who have excelled both academically and athletically. The award is voted on by each varsity coach. The requirements are as follows:
Play 2 varsity sports senior year
Play at least 4 varsity seasons in their Webb Career
An Overall GPA of at least 2.5 at the end of the first semester of their senior year
Webb Follin Award
Presented by Jacquelyn Boyanton
This award is in memory of Gerald Webb Follin, and is given to the senior with the highest cumulative English grade average. A student must be at Webb a minimum of at least 3 years to be eligible.
The Henry Harrell Mathematics Memorial Award
Presented by Lea Anne Windham
The Henry Harrell Mathematics Memorial Award honors the memory of a graduate and friend of Webb School. The award was established by Mrs. Henry Harrell in memory of her husband. The award is given to the graduating senior who has demonstrated excellence in all of the mathematics courses he/she has undertaken at Webb School.
The Shevlin Brooks Bigger Science Award
Presented by Brian Polk
The Shevlin Brooks Bigger Science Award is given by family, friends, and classmates to honor and perpetuate the memory of Shev Bigger '79. The award is presented to recognize outstanding achievement in the study of science.
John Hardin Highest Scholarship Award
Presented by James Garcia
Webb School makes an award of a new $100 dollar bill to the graduate who achieves the highest scholastic average in his/her senior year.
The Anna Landis Hightower Award
Presented by James Garcia
This award is presented annually to that member of the graduating class who has maintained the highest academic average in his/her four years at the Webb School.
The John Lewis Morgan Award
Presented by Ray Broadhead
This award has been established to perpetuate years of meritorious service to Webb School. This award is made annually to the student who has maintained a high standard of excellence in his/her academic work and demonstrated the highest qualities of good citizenship in the service of the school.
Recognized Old Guard
Students who have been at Webb four or five years
Kara Brooke Bellenfant
Recognized Ancient Guard
Students who began their career at Webb in the sixth or seventh grade
Seniors presented Summa Cum Laude Bibles
A student whose GPA for all years in high school is 4.3 or higher.
Seniors presented Magna Cum Laude Bibles
A student whose GPA for all years in high school is between 4.0 and 4.29.
Kara Brooke Bellenfant
Seniors presented Cum Laude Bibles
A student whose overall average for his/her years at Webb is 3.7-3.99
The Class of 2017 includes: Connor Anderson, Houston, TX; Beyza Baykan, Kirklareli, Turkey; Caroline Grace Beach, Murfreesboro, TN; Kara Brooke Bellenfant, Shelbyville, TN; Ronnie Dean Booth Jr., Trussville, AL; Katie Lynn Breiding, Manchester, TN; Zoe Elizabeth Burst, New Orleans, LA; Austin T. Cooper, Holliday, TX; Bailey Elizabeth Dornisch, Murfreesboro, TN; Xuezhou Han, Beijing, China; Alexander Hopson Hurley, Germantown, TN; Chelsea Ilarde, Shelbyville, TN; Amber Martha Jared, Smithville, TN; Rohan Choudary Kaza, Brentwood, TN; Tobiaz P. King, Bell Buckle, TN; Jhansi Uma Louise Kolli, Murfreesboro, TN; Haeun Hannah Lee, Seoul, South Korea; Sugang Jamie Elizabeth Lee, Seoul, South Korea; Jialin Li, Changchun, China; Elisabeth Leigh Little, Christiana, TN; Yash Mansharamani, Rosehall, Jamaica; Anesu Alyss Mariya Butler Masundire, Murfreesboro, TN; Madelyn McAndrew, Murfreesboro, TN; Garth McIntosh Jr., Freeport, Bahamas; Katherine Luree McMahan, Morrison, TN; Chaeremon Livingston Samuel Minnis, Freeport, Bahamas; David Chinanjeevi Nuthalapaty, McMinnville, TN; Kennady Allese Peek, Murfreesboro, TN; Keaton Isaiah Pendergrast, Shelbyville, TN; Miriam Robledo Vega, Madrid, Spain; Christopher Joe Rogers, McMinnville, TN; Flora Hyomin Seo, Seoul, South Korea; Nathaniel Lee Sherwood, Smithville, TN; Andrey Shults Antreevic, Moscow, Russia; Elijah Clemens Smith, Nashville, TN; Jake A. Smithson, Murfreesboro, TN; William Phinizy Spalding, Newport News, VA; Aubrey Speer, Memphis, TN; Sarah Austin Stewart, Rockvale, TN; Abby Rose Surdacki, Franklin, TN; Doobee Tarhule, Norman, OK; Jiaqi Wang, Beijing, China; Wesley Davis Watson, Shelbyville, TN; Mary Christine Watts, Birmingham, AL; Wang Sun Xia, Changshu, China; Chuanyu Zhang, Beijing, China; Chuanzhou Zhang, Beijing, China; Zhao-Ming Zhong, Johannesburg, South Africa.