The Davis Academy Class of 2016 marked the end of a graduation tradition Thursday night, June 2, making a grand entrance beneath a line of tallitot held by teachers and staff members before sitting in the front of the middle school gymnasium.
A new auditorium will be ready when next year’s eighth-graders graduate, but alumni speaker Leah Michalove said she remembered walking down the same aisle and sitting in the same seats eight years earlier.
“I was cooler then,” the Rhodes Scholar and new Emory University graduate joked. “My hair was purple under my white hat.”
Michalove spoke directly to the graduates, emphasizing the importance of asking questions in Judaism and how they should bring that practice into their lives as they begin high school. “We gained the name Am Yisrael when Jacob physically struggled with G-d,” she said. “We are challenged to constantly struggle and question.”
She gave examples of different types of questions and the importance of each: “Physics is the science of hows, but so too is empathy. Through hows we learn without passing judgment.”
Michalove told the Davis graduates that although they may not remember specific Hebrew terms, historic dates or vocabulary words, they will always remember how a Jewish education taught them to ask questions and become activists. “My wish for you, Davis Class of 2016, is that your questions compel more questions.”
In that spirit, the Class of 2016 presented a video in which the graduates asked plenty of questions — perhaps not as philosophical as Michalove’s, but a moving tribute to their years at the school.
The presentation was made entirely by the students, and they interspersed their baby photos with both funny and emotional responses in the hallway to questions such as “What was the funniest moment at Davis?” and “How would you describe our grade?”
Several members of the administration spoke to the graduates and their parents, thanking them for the opportunity to nurture their students and their commitment to the school. The majority of the graduates had attended Davis since kindergarten.
After receiving their diplomas, the new graduates sang Shehechiyanu and danced to the Israeli song “Shir La’Ahava.”