From Moosehead Monday in the Wardroom to a packed crowd at Tribeca on Thursday, this year's Encaenia week at King's was one non-stop fiesta.
King's Alumni launched the week on Saturday, May 10, with the Alumni Annual Dinner, a suave affair that had members of the king's community decked out in their finest. The dinner, which was attended by King's alumni, 2008 graduates, and special friends, began in the President's lodge with wine and refreshments, and soon filtered into Prince Hall for an elaborate buffet. The night was highlighted with the presentation of the Judge J. Elliott Hudson Distinguished Alumnus Award to David Kerr Wilson (1948), awarded for his unique and robust contribution to the King's community.
After a bustling night at the King's Wardroom, Tuesday morning began with a new program, "Grad Improvement Day," spearheaded by this year's Grad Class Committee. Over a dozen students filled up the hallway between the Wardroom and the Pit in the King's A&A to roll on a few coats of yellow paint, bringing new life to the once drab corridor.
"I hope this is something that the graduating class will do next year,” says Adrian Molder, 2008 Grad Class Committee President. "I think it's a great way for people to come together and to give back to the campus."
The evening came to a close with a moonlit boat cruise around the harbour. Atop the infamous Harbour Queen I, the graduating class joined special faculty and alumni for a windy soirée of cozy gatherings in the cabin, rooftop chats, and a beautiful view.
As the big day drew closer, the graduating class rehearsed at the All Saints' Cathedral early Wednesday afternoon, followed by a reception at the Wardroom for graduates, family, friends and faculty. The lot was invited to join the Grad Class Committee on the A&A staircase as they formally announced Honorary Grad Class President Sharon Brown, the Administrative Secretary for CSP, EMSP and HOST. The royal blue curtains at the head of the steps were then drawn to expose the graduation gift: a stunning stained glass King's crest bordered by the university and its programs' years of establishment.
Guests filtered into the spruced up Prince Hall for the President's Dinner, a gorgeous meal topped off with delicious wine. Arguably the evening's highlight, alumnus Dr. John Hamm (BS 1958) spoke to the graduating class of both his experience at the university and of the unique lead that King's provides its alumni.
"Academically, you are now advantaged," said Hamm to the packed hall. "It is up to you, individually, not to waste that advantage. As of graduation tomorrow, you have a head start."
The dinner, which came to a close with the sipping of port and sherry on the second floor of the A&A, was an Encaenia week favourite for many, including Grad Class Committee Secretary Ruby Stocklin-Weinberg. The event, which was bursting with the traditions King's characteristically embraces, provided Stocklin-Weinberg with an opportunity to introduce her family to the distinctiveness of her university. Molder, too, points to the President's Dinner as his top pick for the week.
"I was sitting there with my family, my professors and their families, and my friends," he says. "That we could all come together in one spot is pretty unique and pretty powerful."
Graduation day began with a multi-denominational Baccalaureate Service in the King's College Chapel on Thursday morning, which filled the space with the gorgeous sound of the university's talented choir and featured an address by Dr. Laish Boyd (BAH 1979, DD 2008), who later received a Doctory of Divinity honorary degree. The graduates then collected for the annual library steps photo, smiled for the camera, and began the traditional piper-lead procession down University Avenue. At the Encaenia ceremony, honourary degree recipient Dr. George Cooper eloquently addressed the graduates and guests, pushing the importance of a fulfilling lifestyle outside of the material realm.
"By all means go and make it big in the commercial world," he said. "Material progress is good for society, and business is a commendable calling if that's what you want to do. But like Tevye, you must have some aim in mind beyond just a second hummer or a third vacation home. It doesn't have to be religion, or the joy of intellectual pursuits, such as Tevye wished for. But it does have to be something that is true, that is lasting, and that really moves you."
The ceremony found its close in the valedictory addresses of graduates Mitchell Cushman, who received a Bachelor of Arts with First Class Honours in Theatre and English, with the University Medal in the former, and Claire Guyer, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts with Combined Honours in Early Modern Studies and Theatre. The pair's separate moving speeches came together in a humorous Mad-Lib portion that had the audience – students, family and faculty alike – bubbling with chuckles and laughs.
With celebration in order, the graduating class filled up Halifax's Tribeca Bistro Bar for a party that lasted well into the night. The week of festivities came to a close the next morning — perhaps a wee bit too early for some — at the President's Brunch, held in Prince Hall, where graduates could mingle with the King's community and bid farewell to their university, at least for now.
Grad Class Committee Secretary Erica Rayment, who admits she never wants to leave King's, loves the "pomp," ceremony and tradition that resonates from this institution's walls.
"Being part of something that has been going on for so many years, it feels so wonderful," she says. "You feel like you're part of something bigger than yourself."