Graduation at Carolina Friends School, opened amid 1964’s civil rights battles as an intentionally racially integrated school and still rooted in Quaker values, is different by design.
The 39 seniors were serenaded at rehearsal with the World War II classic “We’ll Meet Again” and entered the June 5 ceremony through a tunnel of applauding and high-fiving faculty and staff.
The graduates handed flowers to their parents in the audience and sat back to hear reflections and counsel from classmates, family members, friends, teachers, and other audience members rising to speak from silence, in the tradition of a Quaker meeting.
Senior Anand Wong reflected on his four years at Friends: “This class has built strong connections with each other – through shared space, shared time, and shared commitment to the world.”
Indeed, these graduates have probed deep questions as they heard internationally renowned neuroscience scholars in what may be the country’s only high school neuroethics course. They delved into microbiology and biotechnology, and mounted oral defenses of final papers analyzing the works of thinkers from Aristotle to Kant to Nietzsche.
They’ve lived out the school’s emphasis on “education for action,” learning from migrant farmworkers in eastern North Carolina, lobbying against mass-incarceration policies on Capitol Hill, doing conservation research in the Peruvian Amazon, and pioneering civic engagement work in Cuba.
Carolina Friends’ newest alumni are matriculating at 25 institutions in 10 states, the District of Columbia, and two European countries.
Their choices include state universities such as N.C. State, UNC and UCLA; liberal arts colleges such as Carleton, Haverford, Kenyon, and Oberlin; and larger private universities such as American, Duke, and the University of Chicago.
“You have a passion for learning, a thirst for experience, and a commitment to community,” Upper School head Tom Anderson told the graduates. “You are poised to become confident, centered, and thoughtful contributors to your next endeavors, big and small.”
In the words of one parent to the 39 seniors, “You’re a small class, but I think you’ll have a disproportionate impact on the world.”