Music, laughter, and bells rang across the King School campus as 91 members of the Class of 2022 received their graduation diplomas and celebrated the strength of their community among family and friends during this year’s Commencement ceremony on Friday, June 3. A highlight video and photo gallery are available to view online.
“You carry the virtues you have lived by during your time at King: Integrity, Kindness, Perseverance, and Respect,” said Head of School Carol Maoz as she addressed the graduating class. “Those virtues have been our school’s guiding principles and will continue to serve as your life compass, guiding your decisions and helping you make the right decisions,” she added.
The graduates included 14 “lifers,” students who joined King in Prekindergarten, Kindergarten, or Grade 1. Two of the lifers joined Maoz as speakers during the event, valedictorian Ronald Harvey ’22 and senior speaker Jack Holtz ’22. Also sharing words of wisdom were Board Chair Thomas King P’20, '20, ’23, and keynote speaker Julie Sheetz ’03. The ceremony began with a blessing by the Rev. Mark Lingle from St. Francis Episcopal Church and a powerful rendition of the Star-Spangled Banner by Luisa Simon ’23.
A common theme among the speakers was the importance of a tight-knit and supportive community, especially in challenging times.
“As we celebrate your accomplishments and your special day, let’s also acknowledge the contributions of all those who have helped you get here – your friends and families, your teachers, coaches, administrators, and King School’s unwavering commitment to academic excellence,” stated Maoz.
“The defining aspects of my time here were undoubtedly the friendships and connections that I have built along the way,” said Jack Holtz, who delivered a side-splitting speech punctuated by his deep connection to his classmates. “This definitely hasn’t been the easiest time to go through high school. However, I believe what kept us going during these tough times were the bonds that we share with one another.”
Those bonds were built on kindness, according to Ronald Harvey, who considers this virtue the tie that binds the graduates. Acknowledging the varied, backgrounds, interests, and talents of his classmates, he pointed to collaboration and mutual respect as foundational to the class as a whole and credited this for his academic success.
“We don’t fit in a box as individuals or a group. We have a wide variety of interests that make us each unique, and we don’t judge each other for being who we are,” Harvey said.
“As we leave school today for the last time, I want you to all recognize the value of community,” he said to his classmates. “This is what we have created and what we embody, and we should be very proud. As we go our separate ways after this summer, wherever the future takes you, remember how powerful a community like this one can be, and strive to create a community like ours in your new homes,” he added.
Maoz echoed the message by highlighting the importance of multiple perspectives. “You have learned the power of teamwork and community, the importance of friendships, and diverse viewpoints and perspectives. You know that together we are stronger,” said Maoz.
Resilience in unprecedented times was a central theme for keynote speaker Julie Sheetz. As King’s 2003 valedictorian, she graduated in the aftermath of 9/11 and understood the far-reaching impact that a historical event like a global pandemic may have on the lives of the graduates of 2022.
Upon her own graduation, Sheetz was intent on bringing solutions and understanding to the world. Yet even with a clear plan, her path was full of leaps of faith, and she encouraged students to be open to the unexpected.
After earning a bachelor's degree in international relations and French studies from the University of Pennsylvania, curiosity led her to Asia and eventually a master's degree in Asian Regional Studies from Harvard University. Her career has led to the Department of Defense, where she ascended the ranks and now serves as Chief of Staff for Indo-Pacific Security Affairs in the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
Sheetz encouraged graduates to trust their instincts, be courageous in applying their knowledge, and test their theories.
“Take the job that’s uncomfortable, talk to the person who intimidates you – get outside your comfort zone,” she said. “It is important to know your own limitations. And in testing them to find out that they might not be as limiting as you thought. Finally, you have to engage with the world around you and be in dialogue with people and places that shape the context in which you will hone your own interests and pursue your ambitions.”
Board Chair Tom King reminded students to pause and celebrate this milestone of academic achievement and to be confident that the work done thus far will serve as a solid foundation for the future.
“As this stage of your life as a scholar comes to a close, a new chapter begins. Your new challenge is to continue to stretch, to extend your abilities, to keep asking questions, exploring, and discovering,” he said. “Never lose your sense of wonder, and I know you’ll change the world.”
In his closing words, senior speaker Jack Holtz quoted Head of Upper School Marnie Sadloswky, who he referred to as a “contemporary philosopher.” He reminded his classmates to “dig deep and find a reason. As I move on, my reason will be all of you.”
Maoz offered the graduates reassurance despite the uncertainties that may lay ahead. “You are expanding your horizons and entering a different world, one that will be at times uncertain and unpredictable. We don’t know what the future holds, but I know you will be ready, ready to pursue your dreams, ready to succeed, and well prepared to better the world.”