Ransom Everglades sends off the Class of 2024 with wit and wisdom

Ransom Everglades sent off the Class of 2024 with a commencement ceremony on May 24 that featured wit, wisdom and a challenge. Noted Miami author and humorist Dave Barry, a former RE parent, provided a mix of hilarious anecdotes and practical advice during his commencement address, and Joshua Williams '18 offered a challenge to the Class of 2024 after receiving the 2024 Founders’ Alumni Award for Distinguished Service to the Community. The namesake of the Joshua’s Heart Foundation and recipient of countless humanitarian awards, Williams called on the graduating seniors to do nothing less than change the world.

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“We have been given such an amazing gift, an opportunity … that comes with a burden of responsibility and duty, to each other, to yourself and to your nation,” said Williams, a graduate of the New York University Stern School of Business who in 2012 became the youngest recipient of the Champions of Change Award presented by the White House, and in 2017 was awarded the President’s Lifetime Achievement Award. “It’s really important to band together, to think and to challenge each other to solve the most complicated, intellectually stimulating and challenging questions and problems that humanity has ever faced … Change starts from within, and it starts with each and every one of us.”

A spray of confetti and blue-and-green balloon drop concluded the ceremony on the Lewis Family Auditorium stage as RE’s senior class became the school’s newest alumni, ready to head off to 71 colleges and universities in 22 states and five countries. Prior to Williams’ remarks, Barry entertained the Class of 2024 and their families with various stories, including of driving the Oscar Mayer Wienermobile to the middle school campus to pick up his mortified son, Rob Barry ’99, from seventh grade. The elder Barry also turned thoughtful, sharing his journey from small-town newspaper reporter to successful author, syndicated columnist and Pulitzer Prize winner. His message to students: Work for – rather than wait on – success.

“That’s my message for you, the members of the Class of 2024,” Barry said. “It’s fine to have a dream, but you also need a job …. Get out there in the world and get started. The sooner you start, the sooner you will get there, wherever ‘there’ turns out to be. I hope it’s some place great. I wish you all the best.”

Chloe Alfonso ’24 gave the valedictory address, imparting her own kernels of wisdom: “I know this stage is filled with people who are going to make their mark on the world,” she said. “And I know none of you need it, but good luck. As my other favorite philosopher, Winnie the Pooh, once said, ‘You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think.’ I can’t wait to see what you do.”

Associate Head of School John A. King Jr. presented Alfonso with the Valedictory Cup and salutatorian Elliot Gross ’24 with the Salutatory Cup. Gross addressed his peers during the May 19 Baccalaureate/Senior Send-off.

Find the full salutatory address here.

Head of School Rachel Rodriguez and COO and Interim Head of the Upper School David Clark ’86 presented various commencement awards: Jake Perdigon ’24 received the Paul C. Ransom Founder’s Cup; Stephanie Wallen ’24 received the Marie B. Swenson Founder’s Cup; and James Brown Urmeneta ’24 received the Head of School’s Cup. Francisco Gomez Rivas-Vazquez ’24 and Sophia Romanov-Imber ’24 each received a Faculty Cup.

Outgoing chair of the Ransom Everglades Board of Trustees Jonathan Fitzpatrick greeted the students and RE families, and vice-chair Elana Oberstein-Harris ’93 offered her congratulations to the class and introduced Barry. The 2024 Ransom Everglades Commencement Symphony Orchestra conducted by faculty member Jon Hamm and the RE Jazz Vocal Ensemble conducted by faculty member Laura Montes performed traditional and special music for the ceremony.

“Our mission at RE is to produce graduates who put more in the world than they take out of it, and I know that we’ve succeeded in that mission with the Class of 2024,” Fitzpatrick said, addressing the assembled seniors. “Take some time to reflect on your journey at Ransom Everglades. Cherish the memories and the friendships – they will last a lifetime.”

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Founded in 1903, Ransom Everglades School is a coeducational, college preparatory day school for grades 6 - 12 located on two campuses in Coconut Grove, Florida. Ransom Everglades School produces graduates who "believe that they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it." The school provides rigorous college preparation that promotes the student's sense of identity, community, personal integrity and values for a productive and satisfying life, and prepares the student to lead and to contribute to society.