After she was named the next Eugene McDermott Head of School in Nov. 2016, Dr. Karen Warren Coleman was also selected as the speaker at the 103rd Commencement on May 20, 2017.
According to Form IV dean Rebekah Calhoun, the senior class will typically create a list of speakers that would both appeal to the class and fully represent the class.
“From that list, the Headmistress would work toward narrowing it down and then going to see who might actually be available,” Calhoun said. “Mrs. Lee felt like it was a time-honored tradition” to ask Dr. Coleman to speak at Commencement.
While the senior class does have the opportunity to think of a list of people who they believe represent their class as the speaker, according to Calhoun, for a variety of reasons, including security concerns, many of the people on the lists of most previous senior classes have been unable to speak. As a result, every year Calhoun sees some initial resistance to the announced speaker.
When Coleman was announced, the senior class did not feel as though they knew her as she had not been on campus for the entirety of their Hockaday careers, according to Calhoun.
“But Dr. Coleman has made significant efforts to get to know them and how they work as a class. They wanted someone who they felt could represent them,” Calhoun said.
Senior and the class secretary Erica Jones echoed Calhoun’s sentiments as she believes that the effort that Coleman has put forth in writing the speech has caused the seniors to become excited for the speech.
“After we took a step back and looked at who she was and what kind of speech she could give for us, we are really excited,” Jones said. “The Form Council had the chance to meet with her and now I am really excited because we all realized how cool she is.”
In fact, in an effort to give a speech that feels authentic to the identity of the class, Coleman has attended various senior-only events throughout the year.
“She has really made significant efforts to be able to represent the class,” Calhoun said. “She has met with the Form Council and the whole class during a Y period. She dropped in at their lock-in. She has done a great job in reassuring them that the remarks will be what they are looking for in terms of class identity”
And while she prepares for the Commencement address, Dr. Coleman is starting her transition process into the Hockaday community.
“She is coming in for meetings, but it is hard to come in for a meeting for only a couple of hours and get a real feel for a new place,” Calhoun said. “By taking the time she has taken to get to know them, that will help her transition more easily.”
Senior Maggie Stein also believes that the introduction of the Coleman to the school community this year will help her flourish in the coming years.
“Even as the Class of 2017 prepares to begin a new journey in life, Dr. Coleman is starting her own journey at Hockaday, a place that will be forever be our home,” Stein said.
– Katie O’Meara- Photos & Graphics Editor -