Lowell Whiteman grads step into the sunlight

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— Elizabeth Findell said she thought Saturday's Lowell Whiteman School graduation ceremony was more like a mirage than reality.

"It hasn't really hit me yet," she said. "I feel like I'm playing dress-up and that after this, everything will go back to normal."

Findell was one of 21 seniors to graduate from Lowell Whiteman School during ceremonies in the school's gymnasium Saturday.

Mary Ewing, president and chairman of the school's board of trustees, joked that the weather finally cooperated for a graduation. Snow fell during last year's graduation.

"We like to think that the sun always shines on the Whiteman graduations, and this year it actually did," she said.

Ewing congratulated the class, calling the seniors the epitome of what the Lowell Whiteman School aims to achieve with its students.

"You're an illustration of what we do here," she said. "As you go forward, know that you represent everything we try to do. Remember us, as we will remember you"

Graduating senior Scott Ven--trudo was the first senior to speak during the ceremony.

"My classmates are lovely people. I'm honored to be graduating with them," he said. "Next year, our class will disperse along the wings of time. Some of us might be in school or skiing, but we can remember that we made this place our community and take that with us."

Findell followed Ventrudo's speech with one of her own. Acting as if she were talking on her cell phone to a potential Whiteman student, Findell summed up her four years and encouraged the student to check out the school.

"It has been a crazy four years, from riding horses to Starbucks to eating yak tongue in Mongolia," she said.

Findell, an aspiring journalist who will enroll at Claremont McKenna College in the fall, said her favorite part about Whiteman graduations are the unique introductions each student receives from a faculty member before they walk to the stage to receive their diplomas.

During her introduction, Findell was described as a secret agent, a prankster, a traveler, a drama queen, a future editor of Time magazine, an equestrian and a planner.

Other students were described as jocks, marshmallows, honest people, good friends, ladies' men, rock climbers, Olympians and linguists.

Walt Daub, director of the Lowell Whiteman School, said the speeches were examples of the variety of students that characterized the Class of 2006.

"This was a diverse class with a wide variety of interests," he said. "They're active and they're committed and engaged. That's what makes them interesting."

One of the ceremony's highlights came from former student Craig Dobbin, who delivered the commencement address. Dobbin graduated in 1986 and is a musician.

"I'm sure no one will remember this in 20 years. I didn't remember my commencement address, and my mom was the one who gave it," he said.

"I came to The Lowell Whiteman School with dreams of going to Stanford to study law. But I ended up at the University of California at Santa Barbara wanting to be a rock star," he said.

Dobbin said he credits his success to his failures and recommended they take failure in stride.

"What changed my future was failing. When I got the letter regretting to inform me that I didn't get into Stanford, I felt like the rug of my life had been pulled out from under me, " he said. "You need to be willing to fail, because failure can lead to your greatest success."

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