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Webb Celebrates the Class of 2024

The Webb School celebrated its 154th Commencement Exercise on the morning of May 25, 2024.

Head of School Ken Cheeseman opened the celebrations by greeting the graduating class.

"On behalf of our faculty, staff, and leadership at the Webb School, it is my great pleasure and honor to celebrate the Class of 2024 and welcome each one of you gathered today at the Commencement Exercises of our 154th school year."

"You 75 students from 11 different countries in 5 different continents are a medley of talents, skills, passions, and paths forward.  We are so impressed by you and celebrate your accomplishments; we are grateful for the journey we shared with you, I think I speak for this faculty when I say again and I want you to really hear this: we are grateful for the journey that we shared with you, each member of the Class of 2024."

Head of School Ken Cheeseman

Prior to graduation, the students and their families joined faculty and staff at Baccalaureate where Associate Head of School Jim Callis and Honor Council President Cooper Medling led the congregation in prayer. Jim Callis also introduced the Baccalaureate speaker, Lindsey Trice who currently serves as Webb's Assistant Athletic Director.

Photo of Lindsey Trice

Lindsey Trice

A Shelbyville native and graduate of Tennessee State University, Trice chose to share with the graduating class a story about the portrait of a Webb graduate.

"A story full of resilience. A story of a scholar who overcame, who persevered through years of challenging tests. A story of a true Webb lady and gentlemen that exhibits the finer morals and values. A story of a prepared individual who is ready to take flight? "

"One that has found their emerging voice and the freedom to so eloquently but boldly speak on a variety of topics that are near and dear to their heart."

"A beautiful story that I argue is just now beginning."

In closing, she bestowed a blessing upon the seniors.

"May God do exceedingly, above and beyond all you could ever think or imagine. Flight 2024 you will begin boarding shortly, please have your photo ID and boarding pass ready. It’s in fact TIME for TAKEOFF!"

154th Commencement Ceremony

Dr. Tabetha Sullens '94, Associate Head of School for Enrollment Management, delivered the invocation and Head of School Ken Cheeseman welcomed everyone including the members of the Board of Trustees in attendance. Mr. Cheeseman extended his gratitude to the parents and guardians of the Class of 2024.

"On behalf of our faculty and staff and on behalf of your children, I want to thank you for giving us faculty the blessing of knowing, caring for, and investing in your sons and daughters.  I want to thank you for your investment in the nurturing and challenging of your children and the support you have given us faculty and staff as we have endeavored to do the same."

Turning towards the graduating class, "Back to you seniors, I am proud of you!" Mr. Cheeseman proclaimed. 

"You heeded Sawney Webb’s advice well; you did not shrink; you took a hand in the game; you were not just a spectator; you engaged."

"Along the way your academic strength was recognized by educators outside of Webb:  The College Board's National Merit Program has recognized 7 of you for special commendations and 1 National Merit Finalist.  Additionally, the College Board has recognized 8 of you as AP Scholars and AP Scholars with Honor."

"In the Arts, you blessed us with a beautiful year; the fall production of A Christmas Carol delivered in the black box theater was outstanding, as well as the spring performance of Little Shop of Horrors in the Follin Chapel.  The fall and spring string concerts were tremendous; piano recitals were uplifting and inspirational; Springfest showed both light-heartedness and creativity from many of you that was a gift to many of us."

"Athletically, you led us through yet another successful year in the history of Webb School athletics. You enjoyed numerous district and region team championships. Just this year, six teams finished among the final 8 in our division at the state level, with one state champion team and another one as a state runner-up."

Commencement Speaker Chase Spurlock '05

This year's commencement speaker is a graduate of The Webb School and serves as the Vice Chair of the Board of Trustees. Introduced by Mr. Cheeseman as a "serial entrepreneur leading innovation at the intersection of biotechnology and artificial intelligence", Chase Spurlock, PhD is currently the CEO and Co- Founder of Decode Health.

"What an amazing gift for me journey back and think about my awesome, transformative years here on campus," Dr. Spurlock began.

"As I think about my time since graduation, I’ve slowly realized that I didn’t so much graduate ‘from Webb’ – rather, I graduated ‘into Webb."

Dr. Spurlock shared personal stories and lessons he has learned from his time after graduating. He encouraged this year's graduates to "give yourself permission to wander". "It’s the process of wandering – taking a wide range of courses – experiencing new ideas, and meeting new people - that feeds the imagination and enriches your life." He emphasized the importance of building and investing in relationships.

"Woven into the tapestry of Webb life are our relationships. [R]elationships at Webb and beyond serve as 'signposts in [this] strange land' that sharpen us and make us stronger, truer versions of ourselves."

The final lesson Dr. Spurlock had to impart was to allow yourself to create margin. 

"What I keep coming back to in my mind is an important truth - that being busy doesn’t always mean you’re living [...].  Your time is among your most valuable assets, and who you spend it with and what causes you use your time to advance are precious. Make wise choices."

"If my teachers at Webb taught me one thing, it’s this – it’s that honor, in the end, is a creative act. We create honor for ourselves and this community by creating something in the world. Today, that message persists, and to each of you in the Class of 2024, this is my invitation and charge to you – to leave here today and go do it." 

The David Newton McQuiddy Award

As part of the ceremony, Head of School Ken Cheeseman announced the 2023-2024 David Newton McQuiddy Award recipient as English teacher, David Cicotello.

The award is given by the family of David Newton McQuiddy to honor a teacher whose integrity is outstanding, who is loyal to Webb and its ideals, who is dedicated to exceptional teaching, and who encourages sound character development and academic excellence in his/her students.

Cheeseman congratulated David and mentioned his "passion for literature and learning are evident from the first day you meet him. His love of life and ability to connect with others and truly 'see' others has been a gift to The Webb School."

The Head of School's Award

Funded by the J Murray Hill ‘75 Endowment, this award is intended to be given by the Head of School to fund any appropriate annual expense. This year an investment has been made to the W.I.L.D program towards professional development for wilderness first responder training and back-country medical supplies.

Student Awards and Honor

Many seniors were honored during the graduation ceremony. Student members of the Honor Council, Cooper Medling (President), Mary-Margaret Mayfield (Vice President), London Sullens (Secretary), Jaycie Bateman (Sergeant At Arms), were recognized for their service and dedication to a cornerstone of the Webb tradition since its founding 154 years ago.

Multiple seniors were recognized for their excellence in community service including Joseph Gray Hamilton with the most hours of service. Other students who averaged at least 50 hours of community service each year they have attended The Webb School included London Sullens, Mary-Margaret Mayfield, Jaycie Bateman, Caleb Powers, Madeline Smith, Kacey Calhoun, Sara Boyd, Itali Johnson, Winston Dugdale, Siena Smith, Paige Priestley, Bebe Falkner, Samantha Kirby and Ema Nagyova.

Athletic Director Jena Jones presented awards to multiple scholar-athletes for their sportsmanship, academic and athletic excellence including Mai Phan, Cooper Medling, Boonchita Sriwongngam, Christopher Douglas, Bella Griffy and Nathan Brisbois.

Caleb Powers and Mary-Margaret Mayfield were recognized for their outstanding participation in Wilderness Leadership

Jaycie Bateman and Mary-Margaret Mayfield receive multiple honors

Jaycie Bateman 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 and also the John Hardin Highest Scholastic Award as the student who achieved the highest scholastic average in his/her senior year. Additionally, she was presented the Webb Follin Award, in memory of Gerald Webb Follin, as the senior with the highest cumulative English grade average.

Dr. Sullens presented the John Lewis Morgan Award which was established to perpetuate the years of meritorious service to The Webb School.  This award is made annually to the student who has maintained a high standard of excellence in his or her academic work and demonstrated the highest qualities of good citizenship in the service of the school.  The award celebrates the life of John Morgan, who served on The Webb School faculty for 43 years and also served as Head of School from 1959 until 1963. The recipient is selected by vote of the faculty, and it represents the highest award presented to a member of the senior class.

Dr. Sullens presented the award to this year's recipients: Mary Margaret Mayfield and Jaycie Bateman.

Student Speaker Winston Dugdale Delivers

Winston Dugdale was chosen by his fellow classmates to deliver this year's student graduation speech. "Winston excels by drawing on his unique gifts that are at once passé and revolutionary, straightforward and convoluted, witty and wise," Head of School Cheeseman conveyed to the audience. "[T]here is always a bit of 'Winston' in everything he his core, he is a young man of true character that everyone should love and admire."

Reminiscing on the preciousness of childhood and its evanescence, Dugdale questioned, "What will be left of these days other than an old yearbook on a forgotten shelf when I'm a stranger in an alien time and an alien world?"

"I answer you this: the impressions on the heart. That is what remains. Every season of life leaves its indelible mark on our lives, like the sediment on rock. Like the rolling, Tennessee hills, the daffodils, the magnolias, and the little town of Bell Buckle that time forgot, that are painted on my soul."

"[My grandfather] has preached to me from an early age the same enduring understanding: to add value to the lives of all we meet. If Webb was built on any principle, if Webb strove for any goal, if Webb inscribed any message on my heart, it would be that very same principle."

Dugdale concluded by addressing his fellow classmates, "You are the ones that make this speech so hard. For this may be the last time I look you in the eyes, the men and women I grew up with, the ones I love dearly. Webb will never be the same. You will never be the same. But my heart will always know you and the time we shared. I do not believe that you will go out and change the world. I know it."

Presentation of Bibles to the Class of 2024

Farrar Vaughan '95, Chair of the Board of Trustees, had the honor of presenting the graduation Bibles, other Holy Books, and the Webb graduation certificates to the Class of 2024.

"To the class of 2024, you will leave Webb, your second home, to embrace new endeavors.  Senior survival solidified many of your relationships and pushed you to a new-found resilience and grit many of you didn't know you had.  There are some members of your class whom you may never see again … and there are some who will be closer than a brother or sister for the rest of your lives.  We hope that each you will return often to Webb and share your celebrations with us and support the work we do for the next generation of Webbies.  Webb will always be your home."

“Wherever you go, remember that you are a Webb lady or gentleman. That honor comes with the great responsibility of living your life with integrity, character, and service to others. These lessons are lifelong; you carry these with you in college and in organizations later in life. Lead a purposeful life, be a servant leader, and always be kind. Godspeed to you all.”


Old Guard

Henry Allsup

Jaycie Bateman

Kate Billingsley

Sara Boyd

Kacey Calhoun

Chelsea Callis

Charlotte Carkuff

Taveon Comage

Mylee Cox

Ethan Crunk

Winston Dugdale

Bella Griffy

Gray Hamilton

Mia Jin

Ben Kendall

Tenshow Li

Cooper Medling

Brookelyn Pedigo

Caleb Powers

Leo Qi

Austin Smith

Siena Smith


Brooks Watson

Noah Wheat

Eddie Yan

Mason Yoes

Steven Zhang

Ancient Guard

John Andrews

Ramon Arellano

Noah Brown

Kamiah Canady

Gabriel Crisp

Olivia Hastings

Kenley Johnson

Hannah Joslin

Katy Kilgore

Gage LeMaster

Mary-Margaret Mayfield

Camille McCamey

Cy Nash Aspen

Northcutt Kylie

Parsons Mai

Phan Paige

Priestley Willa

Kate Shofner

London Sullens

Harry Thomas

Henry Thomas

Megan Watts

A special gratitude to Janet Linton, Fine Arts Department chair, Susan Mullen, string instructor and string orchestra director, and the student string ensemble.