Originally Published: May 25, 2011 12:05 p.m.
Not only will graduates of the Orme School Class of 2011 embark on a new path after Saturday's ceremonies, a longtime Orme family will do the same.
Head of School Alyce Brownridge, her husband Dennis, both 24-year Orme employees, and their daughter Ellie, 17, who has lived her entire life at Orme, will also begin new chapters in their lives.
Alyce will take on the position of Upper Division Head of School at San Domenico School in San Anselmo, Calif., while Dennis will retire.
Ellie, who was the recipient of one of two of the Class of 2011's top honors, the Founder's Award, will begin her college career at the University of Arizona this fall.
Brownridge spoke to the 32 graduates, taking her place among such celebrated Orme commencement speakers as former President Ronald Reagan, Barry Goldwater, Jimmy Stewart, and former Supreme Court Judge Sandra Day O'Conner.
We all start life with three things, Brownridge told the graduates - genetics, such as intelligence, acting or athletic abilities; opportunities, such as wealth or place of birth; and attitude.
"We can't change the first two, that's our luck of the draw. But attitude is what we make of what we're born with," she said.
She gave grads a list of seven "obscene" words to lose from their vocabularies, and suggested replacements. They include "but" which often becomes an excuse; "maybe" which can be replaced with a direct answer; "try" which can be improved by "will;" "mine," reminding the students of the lifelong lesson to share of themselves; and "never," because few things in life are absolutes.
In the last two "Why me?" Brownridge emphasized that sometimes things in life go badly and how we handle it is our choice.
"The only one going through your life is you, and you have to say, 'This is my life, this is how I choose to live. I won't feel sorry for myself. I will live it being grateful,'" she said.
Valedictorian Tiaranesha Jackson told her fellow graduates and visitors that "fear and desire" propelled her forward in her Orme career.
"At 14, I was afraid to leave home and try something new. I cried as the plane left Chicago, and when I saw the dirt road at Orme I thought we were lost!" she said.
She returned for three more years, and said her desire to make every member of her family proud kept her going. She said she learned a few lessons at Orme that she will take into life with her - "Be polite," "Take responsibility," and "People need diversity."
"I can say 'I love you' in eight languages."
Jackson urged the audience to embrace activities that make them a little bit afraid, "fear is a part of growth and it ensures that we live our lives to our fullest potential," and go after their desires without holding back. Jackson is one of only 1,000 students nationwide to be a Gates Millennium Scholar. She will attend Lehigh University in Bethlehem, PA, and she is the first in her family to attend college.
While students in the Class of 2011 hailed from as far away as China, Lithuania, Korea, Turkey and England, several, such as Ellie Brownridge, Hilly O'Hanlon, and Whitney Lewicki, are Orme faculty children, and several are from local communities - David Galbraith from Dewey, Catherine Kane and Alyssa Morgan from Prescott and Michaela Smyly from Mayer. The remainder of the class is from throughout the United States.