It was breezy, chilly, and wet, but this Monday, the General Studies Class of 2011 diligently filed into the large tents on South Lawn to finally graduate. Dean Peter Awn received a warm welcome and gave the prototypical opening about what it means to be a GS student, followed by remarks from PrezBo, who could scarcely get out the words “Peter Awn” before the crowd burst into applause again for the much-beloved dean. After these speeches came the Class Day speaker, Roger Leeds, GS ’66, who seemed to take the mic just as the elements outside were picking up. At one point during his speech on his experiences with GS (his mother’s disbelief on his attendance) and his life after (his own disbelief at an offer to join Johns Hopkins), a sudden torrential downpour caused him to stop speaking entirely, since no one could hear him. He went on wondering what this meant for the futures of the Class of 2011, but hoped it was a good sign.

Next to speak was the salutatorian, Elliot Shackelford, who praised the diversity of the GS student body and just couldn’t seem to stop smiling. He shared anecdotes about his time at GS and his days as a young pianist: although once he needed to sit on telephone books to reach the keys, through maturation he lost the need (aw)—GS students go through a similar process. The valedictorian this year, Kira Boesch, avoided the snafu surrounding last year’s valedictorian but nonetheless gave a heartwarming speech about her path to GS, her experiences as a professional ballet dancer, and the community spirit.

It also seemed like this year’s GS graduation was particularly popular, perhaps given previous events this year. Earlier in the morning, Fox News showed up to get film for this segment dedicated to graduating GS vets. National media, guys! But no sweat, GS ’11 was lookin’ good in front of the cameras.

And finally, after sitting in a tent for hours and eventually shaking hands with PrezBo himself, the GS Class of 2011 went on their merry ways—although, so we’ve heard, not before first heading to a hidden room full of beer and champagne (aka a “reception,” for those over 21). Most deserved.

Cheers, and congrats, Class of 2011!

Photos by Amital Isaac