Commencement exercises for the members of Mercersburg Academy’s Class of 2023 will be held Saturday, May 27, at 10 a.m. on the traditional platform between Keil Hall and South Cottage on campus.
Parker Ward ’82, a Mercersburg alum and a former commercial airline pilot who became a paraplegic following a 2004 snowmobile accident, will share his incredible story of perseverance with the class in the Commencement address. Longtime faculty member Trini Hoffman P ’00, ’06, who is retiring at the end of the academic year after 29 years at Mercersburg, will be the featured speaker at Baccalaureate, which is set for Friday, May 26, at 7 p.m. in the Irvine Memorial Chapel.
Head of School Quentin McDowell P ’25 will preside over the school’s Baccalaureate and Commencement exercises.
Indoor seating for and a livestream of both Commencement and Baccalaureate will be available in the Burgin Center for the Arts’ Simon Theatre. Both ceremonies will also be streamed live online at mercersburg.edu. (In the event of inclement weather, Commencement will be held in the Hale Field House.)
Ward grew up in Norwich, NY, and attended Mercersburg for three years. He was a member of the football, lacrosse, and wrestling teams, and served as secretary of his class and as a dorm proctor. Ward earned a bachelor’s degree from the Rochester Institute of Technology and did postgraduate work at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. He became a pilot, amassing more than 10,000 hours of flight time flying Boeing 737s and other aircraft for US Airways.
In 2004, tragedy struck when Ward was involved in a snowmobile accident, leaving him a paraplegic from the chest down. Undeterred by this catastrophe, he persevered through determination and by always keeping a positive attitude. He then transitioned into teaching middle-school math and science and tutoring students. Ward currently works for his church as an office assistant, a position which he loves because he gets to talk to countless people and do technical work as well.
Ward and his wife, Kathy, have been married for 32 years. They have three daughters and three grandchildren, and live in Palm Bay, FL. Ward’s nephew, Mark Herring ’09, is a fellow Mercersburg alum.
Hoffman serves as Mercersburg’s director of student activities, where her energetic and high-spirited personality is a perfect match for her responsibilities of planning and coordinating more than 150 student events on and off campus. She also oversees all student clubs, including serving as faculty adviser for the Ski Club. A seasoned professional in her field, she recently presented at the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools conference, promoting social and emotional learning through student activities, and she is a five-time recipient of the Campus Event Planner of the Year award presented by Power Performers.
As a student at James Buchanan High School, Hoffman lettered four years in varsity field hockey, basketball, and softball, receiving the honor of 12 letters during her high school sports career, and she received an award for Outstanding Senior. She went on to play field hockey at East Stroudsburg University. After transferring to Shepherd College and majoring in physical education, she was honored to be inducted into Phi Epsilon Kappa, a national professional fraternity for those who engage in or pursue careers in physical education, health, recreation, dance human performance, exercise science, sports medicine, and sports management.
Hoffman taught and coached for many years in the Tuscarora School District before coming to Mercersburg in 1994. In addition to her responsibilities as director of student activities at Mercersburg, Hoffman teaches the Wayfinder course, a program primarily for 10th- and 11th-grade students to help them identify their passions and goals in life. She has taught human development for 29 years, coached field hockey and softball, served as head of the physical education department, and been instrumental in leading service trips for students to Costa Rica–the most recent trip took place over spring vacation in March. She is a faculty adviser in Main Hall and spent 18 years as Main’s dormitory dean. She has also served as adviser for Fowle Hall and Tippetts Hall. Hoffman is the parent of Mercersburg graduates Dane Hoffman ’00 and Shelby Hoffman ’06. Read more about Hoffman in the latest issue of Mercersburg Academy magazine.
More information about Commencement Weekend events is available online. Questions about Commencement events can be directed to Laurie Rice in the Office of Student Life (717-328-6119 or firstname.lastname@example.org).