On Friday, September 20, the Class of 2020, together with their parents and teachers, gathered for the annual Senior Luncheon on campus. This Lamplighter tradition is an opportunity for attendees to celebrate the students’ achievements and reflect on special memories of their time at the School thus far. During the event, students receive a Senior Pin as a symbol of their Lamplighter journey and the exciting experiences yet to come, as they prepare to join the Alumni Association upon graduation in May.
This year’s Senior Luncheon kicked off with a musical presentation by the Class of 2020, including two songs: “Stand in the Light” and “Lamplighter Spirit”. Following the Senior songs, Dr. Joan Buchanan Hill, Catherine M. Rose Head of School, welcomed all guests and recognized faculty and staff, as well as three representatives from the 2019-2020 Alumni Council in attendance: Jane Rozelle Humphrey ’95, Kathryn Nelson ’93, and Braden Wayne ’95. The Senior Pin Ceremony followed as each member of the Class of 2020 was formally “pinned” by a parent or special guest.
The Senior Luncheon culminated with a panel discussion comprised of seven Lamplighter alumni as a preview and inspiration for Seniors and their parents of life after Lamplighter. The young alumni panel, moderated by Chief Advancement Officer, Clayton Hollingsworth, included the following middle and high school students:
Julian Balestri ’17, a seventh grader at Greenhill School
Bella Ehring ’15, a freshman at Booker T. Washington High School for the Performing and Visual Arts
Dilan Koganti ’18, a sixth grader at St. Mark’s School of Texas
Parker Owen ’13, a junior at Highland Park High School
Cameron Peters ’12, a senior at John Paul II High School
Julia Small ’16, an eight grader at The Hockaday School
Samantha Ward ’15, a freshman at Parish Episcopal School
Each panelist was asked to describe Lamplighter in one word and to share a special memory of their time at the School. The panelists fondly recalled their Lamplighter experiences and used words such as “spectacular,” “unique,” “memorable,” “amazing,” and “incomparable” to describe the School. Their special memories ranged from signature programs such as Lamplighter Layers and FLASH news broadcast, to favorite traditions like the Senior Jacket Ceremony at Carnival, All School Program, and bringing the baby chicks to the coop, to everyday encounters like being greeted with a hug in the carpool line by Ms. McCullough.
The oldest panelists, Owen and Peters, now a junior and senior in high school, respectively, talked about how Lamplighter prepared them for their high school experiences. Owen cited the strong organizational skills learned during his Lamplighter years, while Peters noted that the School provided him with “a solid foundation, not just in school, but in all aspects of his life.”
Middle school panelists, Koganti and Balestri, talked about the aspects that they miss the most about Lamplighter. Balestri commented that he misses fun elements like recess, lunch, and Pizza Friday, but also the everyday mindset of coming to school eager to learn new things. Similarly, Koganti recalled that he “was always excited to go to school each day at Lamplighter,” noting that although he is happy in his middle school, he truly misses the feeling of “waking up each morning wanting to go to school” that he experienced as a Lamplighter student.
Ehring and Ward also shared their thoughts about how they would describe Lamplighter to someone not familiar with the School. Ehring referenced the openness of the classrooms and the unique design features like the wells. Ward talked about the teachers noting that they “not only care about your academic success, but also about you.”
The panel discussion closed with a question unique to Julia Small, a second-generation Lamplighter alumna. Julia’s mother, Nicole Ginsburg Small ’83, also graduated from Lamplighter, and her father, Justin Small ’83 is a former student. Panel moderator, Clayton Hollingsworth, asked Small to think about Lamplighter 40 years into the future and imagine what she might change about the School. Small joked saying, “Lamplighter should add a middle school and high school, so students could stay longer!” Yet, understanding Lamplighter’s unique focus on early childhood and elementary education, Small said in all seriousness, “Lamplighter should stay exactly the way it is. My experience was so amazing and I wouldn’t change a thing!”