Cold Spring resident Giliean Pemble-Flood graduated among a class of 25 on Friday, June 12, from Oakwood Friends School in Poughkeepsie. He has been at Oakwood Friends since ninth grade.
Oakwood Friends School, founded in 1796, is an independent, coeducational, college preparatory day and boarding school serving grades six through 12. Guided by Quaker values, Oakwood Friends seeks to educate and strengthen young people for lives of conscience, compassion and accomplishment. It works to foster a diverse community of students and staff in an atmosphere of mutual respect and enrichment, sensitive to the world and its needs.
Commencement at Oakwood Friends is different from those at most area schools. The night before, there is a senior class dinner with faculty, friends and family. After dinner, all go to a candlelit meeting for worship where some participants, after silent contemplation, are moved to speak extemporaneously.
All students, not just seniors, attend graduation the next morning. It is held outdoors, under a sprawling copper beach tree on school grounds. After family and friends find their chairs, students from sixth to 11th grades, plus faculty and staff, enter and take their seats. “Pomp and Circumstance” stirs, and the seniors file in, in a processional of two lines. Graduates sit in front of the tree facing the audience. Speeches by those other than graduates are limited, saving time for one of the more unusual aspects of an Oakwood Friends School commencement: each graduate speaks for up to three minutes, in an often-emotional reflection on her or his years there.
Photo by Michael Gallo Farrell, Oakwood Friends School