Asheville School Celebrates 118th Commencement

Asheville School celebrated Graduation Day on Saturday, May 26, as 73 seniors received their diplomas on the Boyd Chapel lawn during the school’s 118th commencement.

Head of School Arch Montgomery reflected on the year and thanked the seniors for their outstanding contributions. “Few classes have exceeded your academic and intellectual achievements,” he said. “You have programmers, mathematicians, grammarians, scientists, writers and philosophers in your midst. You have been a pleasure to teach, while maintaining a marvelous camaraderie and class cohesion.”

During the salutation, Class President Raven Walters thanked faculty and staff members of Asheville School, Arch and Phyllis Montgomery, and students’ families.

Class Poet Counti McCutchen shared a poem she wrote for the occasion. It implored her classmates to remember their time at Asheville School, even as years go by. “Do not forget the moments that inched along so slowly / Yet ended so fast,” she read.

Class Orator Mac Waters delivered an address that touched on students’ shared experiences and love for their community. He spoke of the many memories made at Asheville School—both of watershed moments and of the more mundane moments of day-to-day life.

Montgomery then recognized and honored many of the dedicated and extraordinary graduating students.

David Zheng, who earned the top academic record in the school, was named Asheville School’s Ranking Scholar.

The Harvard Award, which is awarded to a junior who displays excellence in scholarship and high character, was presented to Nicole Alleyne.

The George Jackson Headmaster’s Prize is given in honor of George Jackson, Asheville School’s third head of school. Nathan Alleyne received this award because he captures the essence of the hopes and dreams Asheville School has for all students.

Mac Waters received the W. Bryant Wellons III ’90 award because his contributions to the performing arts echo the talent, enthusiasm, and character of William Bryant Wellons III. The Michalove Award in Drama for outstanding theatrical achievements went to both Kate Cavanaugh and Gelsey Beavers-Damron.

The Pen and Plate Club of Asheville recognized John Delaloye for achieving the best record in the humanities during his time at Asheville School.

The M. Livingston “Sly” Lewis Award pays tribute to a man whose 34-year career at Asheville School as English teacher and Dean of Students epitomizes his own upright character and sense of what is honorable. This year’s recipient was Nathan Alleyne, the student chair of the Honor Council.

The A. Chase Ambler, Jr. Award is awarded by vote of the faculty to recognize a graduating sixth former whose unselfish service to the school community best exemplifies the contributions of personal time and energy Chase Ambler made over the course of many years to the school. This award has only been awarded eight times in 27 years to seniors who are deemed particularly distinctive and deserving. This year’s recipient was Kate McLemore.

Jack Temple earned a faculty award for his ability to make every situation and experience better by his presence, for his cheerful nature that brings out the best in others, for his deep humility, for his respect of his classmates and teachers, and for his enthusiastic participation in virtually every area of school life.

Mac Waters earned a faculty award for his musical performances—on stage, in the chapel, and for the larger community—that display genuine excellence; for his superb scholarship; and for his leadership as a prefect and for showing the community an example of effective, sensitive and thoughtful social activism.

Nina Mendoza earned a faculty award for being an inspiring President of the Student Council and prefect; for her humor, grace, and involvement in the school community even as her home community in Venezuela suffered crises; for her scholarship and curiosity; for her kindness; and for her quiet, unsung service to others outside Asheville School.

David Zheng earned a faculty award for his outstanding academic record; for his photography and art; for his contributions to chorus and drama; and for his good humor and generosity of spirit.

To conclude the commencement, the Class Arbor was handed over by Nathan Alleyne and was received by the President-Elect of the 2018-2019 Student Council, who is none-other than his sister, Nicole Alleyne.

While presenting a White Oak tree to the class of 2019, Nathan Alleyne evoked the imagery of the power of a tiny acorn to transform into a tall and rooted oak tree. “Each Asheville School student has embodied that little acorn from the moment we place our feet on campus,” he said. “We absorb knowledge and experiences and we reach our branches high and wide to attain more. But no matter how far we stretch from the ground we call home, our roots remain. We pass this White Oak tree to the class of 2019, the next generation of acorns. May you grow and thrive next year. May you use your gifts and talents for the wellbeing of others, just as this tree graces our campus with shade and covering for years to come.”

Asheville School’s 73 graduates hail from 12 states and nine countries. You can see the list of colleges they plan to attend here<>.

Congratulations to Asheville School’s most recent alumni — the Class of 2018!

About Shelby Harrell
Shelby Harrell is the editor of the Biltmore Beacon, editor of The Guide arts and entertainment publication and is a staff writer for Mountaineer Publishing. Originally from Asheville, she has worked in journalism for seven years and currently lives in Clyde, NC.