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A Day of Firsts and Lasts at North Cross’s 46th Commencement

North Cross Headmaster Timothy Seeley addresses the commencement crowd.
North Cross Headmaster Timothy Seeley addresses the commencement crowd.

It’s all in the numbers at North Cross.  The senior class boasts all of its 30 graduates are going to college. The class also totaled 128 acceptance letters from 79 colleges and universities, including a graduate bound for MIT, who was also accepted at Cal Tech, Harvard, Cornell, Stanford, and Carnegie Mellon.  The best and brightest from North Cross School were honored at  Monday’s commencement in a ceremony featuring several firsts – and a last.

Monday’s ceremony was the first commencement under Headmaster Tim Seeley, who succeeded Paul Stellato last summer.  And it was the last for English teacher G. Gates DeHart III, who is retiring after 39 years at North Cross. DeHart gave the commencement address, quoting Pulitzer prize winner Toni Morrison, and choking up as he wished students, faculty and parents farewell.

Seeley noted the year in transition at North Cross, which welcomed a new upper school head (his old position) and a new Dean of Students.

“This senior class is especially dear to me,” said the Dartmouth graduate, who did some quoting of his own from poet E.E. Cummings: “life is to be found in direct experience … not in intellectual activity.”

Graduating North Cross students, said Seely, “have the tools to help negotiate the next set of transitions and changes.”

Board of Trustees chair and alumna Anne Lee Stevens introduced DeHart as “the very best [example] of an educator. He never got bored, he never got jaded.”

DeHart quoted Morrison from a speech where she talked about the dangers of racist, sexist and oppressive language, when used as a weapon. DeHart attended Roanoke College and UVa (undergraduate, master’s respectively); he also served as drama teacher at the school, directing several productions each year.

Just before he finished with a blessing for students, DeHart implored seniors to remember “the totality of language,” and mentioned Lincoln’s short but poignant Gettysburg Address. “His words were exhilarating. His words symbolize deference to the ‘uncapturability’ [of the moment].”

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