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Commencement Exercises for the Class of 2024 Held Memorial Day Weekend

Mercersburg Academy honored 109 members of the Class of 2024 during the school’s 131st Commencement exercises Saturday, May 25, on the traditional Commencement platform between Keil Hall and South Cottage. 

Andrew Leibowitz ’24 of Whitehouse Station, NJ, delivered the valedictorian address, and Crystal Yuen ’23 of Lawrence, NJ, gave the salutatorian address. 

Nancy Abudu ’92 was the invited speaker. She was joined by Head of School Quentin McDowell P ’25, ’27, Board of Regents President Tom Hadzor ’72, and Schaff Orators Georgina Louise Devlin ’24 of Montréal, Quebec, and Nathaniel Antonio Pio de Roda Gotera ’24 of Chesterfield, VA, who represented the class.

See a replay of the ceremony.

Yuen talked to her classmates about how relationships are more important than roles in determining who we become. 

“Everyone loves to ask the question, ‘What are you going to do?’ ” Yuen said. “I would rather know who you are going to be. It’s the relationships and the qualities we develop from those around us that truly define us.”

Leibowitz challenged members of the Class of 2024 to develop an interconnected system of purpose rather than a pursuit of milestones. 

“We must recognize that our unique experiences and diverse talents we’ve cultivated here at Mercersburg equip us with the tools to make a difference,” Leibowitz said. “This microcosm of the world has taught us our differences are not barriers but rather bridges that connect us.”

Abudu, a Mercersburg alum who is a United States Court of Appeals judge for the Eleventh Circuit, encouraged the graduates to face their fears.

“In life, sometimes you have to fight for yourself,” said Abudu, who is the first Black woman on the Circuit and the first person of color from Georgia to serve on the court. “Yes, you need to fight for others who don’t have a voice or don’t know the words, don’t have the vocabulary to articulate what it is they’re going through and what they need, but it starts with you being able to do that for yourself, and doing it unapologetically, as long as it is not about taking something from others but contributing to the greater world because you yourself are coming into the world more whole.”

Devlin told the Mercersburg Class of 2024 that they should remember all the ordinary moments they shared together.

“When I think about Mercersburg and this class, the seemingly ordinary moments are the ones that have bonded us together and that have made this experience beyond anything in our imaginations,” Devlin said. “Through these ordinary moments, my experience at Mercersburg has expanded my horizons. Mercersburg has opened doors for me that were once locked, giving me opportunities I could have never imagined experiencing. The people I have met have taught me about the world, and the miles I have traveled have helped me see the world.”

Gotera reminded his classmates to never forget the power of connection.

“As a class, we subscribe to a culture of kindness and openness that allows us to connect beyond small talk and despite perceived differences,” Gotera said. “As a class, we don’t care about the superficial. We don’t care about your appearance, and we don’t care about your popularity. We don’t care about where you are from and neither do we care about the college you are going to attend. What we care about is who you are.”

This year’s class marshals were Dylan Stiffler ’24 of Huntingdon, PA, and Nora Jane Smith ’24 of Mercersburg, PA. Senior Class President Sihyeon Bae ’24 of Seoul, Korea, presented the class gift. 

Students will matriculate at more than 65 different colleges and universities, including Boston University, Brown University, Georgetown University, Johns Hopkins University, New York University, Northeastern University, the University of Pennsylvania, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of Richmond, the University of Toronto, Tufts University, the United States Naval Academy, and Villanova University. 

 View a list of prizes awarded at Commencement.

On Friday, May 24 (the evening preceding Commencement), seniors participated in the traditional Baccalaureate ceremony in the Irvine Memorial Chapel. David Bell P ’17, ’18, who is retiring at the end of the 2023-2024 academic year after 27 years at Mercersburg, delivered the Baccalaureate address. He spoke to the graduates about how to handle change when it comes, reminding the four-year seniors that they arrived at Mercersburg in the middle of the pandemic.

“I still can’t fully fathom the courage it took for all of you to come here, and for you parents to send your children to us, when things were so uncertain in the fall of 2020,” said Bell, noting that change can be unsettling but often inspires new ideas. 

Bell infused Dad jokes throughout his address and ended it with an a cappella version of Tim McGraw’s “Humble and Kind,” emphasizing some basic social skills – hold the door, say please and thank you; and don’t steal, cheat, lie, or hold a grudge, but to always stay humble and kind.

See a replay of the Baccalaureate service.

Learn more about speakers Abudu and Bell.

School carillonneur James Brinson gave a recital on the Chapel’s Swoope carillon one hour prior to both Baccalaureate and Commencement. 

For additional information about the weekend, visit