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St. Paul’s School graduate challenges classmates to continue improving

  • Bud Henry, of Boston, has a carnation pinned to his jacket in the chapel at St. Paul's School before his class graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Bud Henry, of Boston, has a carnation pinned to his jacket in the chapel at St. Paul's School before his class graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Students cheer as the ceremony for the St. Paul's School graduation closes on Sunday, June 2, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Students cheer as the ceremony for the St. Paul's School graduation closes on Sunday, June 2, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Eleanor Holmes, left, waits to get her photo taken after receiving her diploma during the St. Paul's School graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Eleanor Holmes, left, waits to get her photo taken after receiving her diploma during the St. Paul's School graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Students gathered near one of the doors of the chapel hoping to catch a breeze at St. Paul's School graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Students gathered near one of the doors of the chapel hoping to catch a breeze at St. Paul's School graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • James Washburn carries a ceramic statue of a pelican affectionally named Nigel during the procession at the St. Paul's School graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. The pelican is a mascot for the school and the statue has been passed on between classes for anyone who might be walking in the procession alone to carry. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    James Washburn carries a ceramic statue of a pelican affectionally named Nigel during the procession at the St. Paul's School graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. The pelican is a mascot for the school and the statue has been passed on between classes for anyone who might be walking in the procession alone to carry.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Kyle Dickey, of Newton, Mass., gets help with his tie from Liam Murphy, of Bedford, New York, while waiting in the St. Paul's School chapel with Robert Kopf, of New York City, before their graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Kyle Dickey, of Newton, Mass., gets help with his tie from Liam Murphy, of Bedford, New York, while waiting in the St. Paul's School chapel with Robert Kopf, of New York City, before their graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Kwabena Adu-Diawuo and Kristin Rhea Ramcharan wait outside of the chapel before leading their classmates in the procession toward their graduation from St. Paul's School, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. Adu-Diawuo and Ramcharan were student class officers. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    Kwabena Adu-Diawuo and Kristin Rhea Ramcharan wait outside of the chapel before leading their classmates in the procession toward their graduation from St. Paul's School, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. Adu-Diawuo and Ramcharan were student class officers.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • St. Paul's School graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    St. Paul's School graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • The St. Paul's School faculty lines forms a reception line along the school's pond to shake hands with the class of 2013  St. Paul's School graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

    The St. Paul's School faculty lines forms a reception line along the school's pond to shake hands with the class of 2013 St. Paul's School graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013.

    (ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

  • Bud Henry, of Boston, has a carnation pinned to his jacket in the chapel at St. Paul's School before his class graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Students cheer as the ceremony for the St. Paul's School graduation closes on Sunday, June 2, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Eleanor Holmes, left, waits to get her photo taken after receiving her diploma during the St. Paul's School graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Students gathered near one of the doors of the chapel hoping to catch a breeze at St. Paul's School graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • James Washburn carries a ceramic statue of a pelican affectionally named Nigel during the procession at the St. Paul's School graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. The pelican is a mascot for the school and the statue has been passed on between classes for anyone who might be walking in the procession alone to carry. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Kyle Dickey, of Newton, Mass., gets help with his tie from Liam Murphy, of Bedford, New York, while waiting in the St. Paul's School chapel with Robert Kopf, of New York City, before their graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • Kwabena Adu-Diawuo and Kristin Rhea Ramcharan wait outside of the chapel before leading their classmates in the procession toward their graduation from St. Paul's School, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. Adu-Diawuo and Ramcharan were student class officers. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • St. Paul's School graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)
  • The St. Paul's School faculty lines forms a reception line along the school's pond to shake hands with the class of 2013  St. Paul's School graduation, on Sunday, June 2, 2013. <br/><br/>(ANDREA MORALES / Monitor staff)

Kristen Ramcharan didn’t have to go far to see the world.

“This is the place where an African American girl from Jersey who enjoys knitting can meet a Caucasian fellow from Boston whose writing is witty and honest,” the student council president said, addressing her classmates at graduation from St. Paul’s School yesterday. “(This is the place) they can meet an avid swimmer from Thailand who can meet a beautiful singer from Nigeria who can meet a traveling fanatic from Wisconsin.

“I didn’t have to travel to another country in order to experience what cultural exchange could offer me.”

And she could have left it there. Basking in the glow of a diverse atmosphere at her bucolic boarding school and patting herself on the back for noticing. Instead, she challenged the

classmates who will continue on at the school to do more than that.

“What we learn here is how to converse with someone who’s never used slang, a foreign language or English. What we learn here is how to accept others for their similarities to us as well as their differences. But as in any learning environment, even though these lessons are presented, there are those few who cannot grasp the concept at hand,” she said. “Although we do well as a school where this is concerned, there’s room for improvement.”

And so she challenged the community to learn and exchange more. She told them to talk about gender and race relations and the roles they play at St. Paul’s. She urged them to discuss the reasons people still “may feel uncomfortable here.”

“St. Paul’s is a place of academia,” she said. “But it has been one of the great places to learn about people. When you hear someone talk with an accent, don’t giggle at their obvious difference, ask them where they are from. We must try to engage each other while also trying to understand each other. Don’t be alarmed when one group of people spend a lot of time talking to each other, they’re just finding comfort in friends. Talk to that person. Talk to that group. . . . Let’s learn to trade stories like currency. I’ll trade you stories about where I live if you explain to me how you were raised, just so we can create a community where diversity is a tool that we use to make this place strong and healthy.”

Graduating senior Michaela O’Conner, 19, of Concord, who is headed to Columbia University in the fall, said it was the vast opportunities she was given at St. Paul’s to engage that helped her break out of her shell.

“I’ve grown a lot with my people skills. I am significantly less awkward, and I’m much better at talking to adults and people I don’t necessarily know very well,” O’Connor said. “I think St. Paul’s puts us in a lot of situations where you have to make small talk and you have to get along with adults and students who you don’t necessarily have things you do that are the same. So you learn a lot.”

And as the rector sent students off to their futures, he, too, urged them to seek out the best parts of themselves as they move into their futures.

“As one of your formmates said so eloquently last week, your form has witnessed much change in it’s time here,” said School Rector Michael Hirschfeld. “You have also been faithful stewards of the school’s soul, and thank you for that. Your form has also showed leadership in a way that’s foundational to our school, leadership grounded in kindness. . . . I have every confidence that you will continue to be sowers of kindness, truth and community in the lifetime before you.”

Legacy Comments1

St Paul's . . . if it was good enough for John Kerry it's good enough for you! (check please . . . )

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