New Canaan Country School's Head of School Tim Bazemore encouraged the 42 ninth-grade graduates of the class of 2013 to continue to have "courage of the heart" at the school's closing exercises June 12.

"You are a class that knows something about courage," said Bazemore. "9/11 happened during your first week of school. You have witnessed courage too often in recent months watching Victoria Soto throw herself in front of her young students at Sandy Hook and watching Carlos Arredondo run through the smoke to save the victims of the Boston Marathon bombing.

"But it is not just physical courage that you have learned, you have also learned moral courage," he continued, " ... and the third form of courage, which is less obvious, courage of the heart, the courage to carry on and to be resilient. Your class has been called on to learn courage of the heart more than most. It is, I believe, your greatest attribute as a class and potentially the most important thing we have taught you."

Ninth-grader John "Jack" Wood of New Canaan addressed his classmates, "I am pretty sure that I speak for many of the class of 2013 when I say that we sit here today with mixed emotions -- ready to take on the future, but unwilling to let go of this special place."

"NCCS has given you a toolbox that will allow you to continue to strive and ultimately succeed," he added. "We have been taught to work together, to collaborate and to value other's ideas. We were pushed to take on public speaking by getting up at assembly to make an announcement, or even to tell a joke. We learned responsibility as part of a work program. And we learned tenacity by having relationships with teachers who give everything they have, including treating us with respect and dignity.

"At NCCS, our teachers, the values and culture of the school have shaped our character whether it be in the classroom or a thoughtful comment from a member of the staff from a one-on-one conversation ... Just like Country School has taught us -- it's the journey, and whom you go with on that journey that really matters."

More Information

Fact box

Graduate Virginia Mahoney received the Robert Gamble Award, which is presented to "the student who exemplifies, to the highest measure, the fruit of the spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control."

Graduate Luke Bazemore received the Paul Johansen Award, which is presented to "the member of the graduating class who stands for the qualities which Paul embodied: care and concern for others, compassion and a sense of community."

Both the Gamble and Johansen awards are named in honor of two students who waged battles against fatal illnesses while attending NCCS.