delivered by Kathleen Tuck Fontaine '83
For the family and friends gathered here — allow me to introduce myself.
My name is Kathleen Tuck Fontaine. I am the Assistant Director of Development and Alumnae Relations and the advisor to the Student Alumnae Association. I returned to campus 2 ½ years ago as an employee, but 35 years ago I — along with my classmates and dear friends — sat where your daughters sit today.
I am humbled and honored to be addressing you, the Class of 2018, my Stoneleigh-Burnham sisters. Graduating from Stoneleigh-Burnham School as a 4-year senior — we didn’t have a Middle School back then — brought me such a sense of pride and accomplishment, that I hope each of you feels. We sat as you do today, the anticipation of what lay ahead had each of us eager to raise our roses in the air, begin the celebrations, and head off into our futures. As we listened to our speakers though, we also felt that pause, the “I’m ready to move on, but I don’t want to leave” pause. Familiar is easy, comforting, safe.
In your time here, be it two years or six, you’ve been given the opportunity to invent yourself in an environment keen on supporting you and nurturing your growth. The academic program that has opened your world and challenged you, and for some, shown you a direction you’d yet to consider; your involvement in a sport, within a club or organization, stepping forward in a debate, informal concert or a school production; testing your limits, inspiring you to venture outside the comfortable, the easy. Each experience has allowed you to choose the who you want to be moving forward, the who you want to present to the world.
While here, the community that is Stoneleigh-Burnham has been your teacher, mentor, protector, companion, and guide. Within the halls and classrooms, on the sports fields, in the dance studio and barn, you’ve been able to witness the world – the exciting, unsettled, daunting, promising world at large, while knowing adults and peers were prepared to assist you, both in processing it all and in finding your way.
You’ve found your way. And you’ve found your voice. Stoneleigh-Burnham has lit the way for each of you in the search to find your thoughtful and impassioned voice, and you’ve learned to use it in an impressive manner. You’ve demonstrated that you know when and how it’s best to use it. It means you’re ready. You’re more than ready to move on. I choose the term “move on” rather than “leave” deliberately.
We’re family. You’re sisters — with each other, and hundreds of others who came before you. Sam Sattin Torres, Mina Payne, Sara Gibbons, Sally Mixsell, and I; we’re your sisters. I’d like to ask the other alumnae present today to briefly stand.
Class of 2018, here are more of your family. As a member of the Stoneleigh-Burnham Alumnae Association, you are part of a huge family tree whose branches extend out farther than the eye can see, and whose roots are deep and strong — in this community and others — where the Stoneleigh-Prospect Hill School, Mary A. Burnham School and more came together to become what is today’s SBS.
The relationships formed here with classmates, faculty, and staff, will continue to shape you. You will lose touch with some peers, finding them again later.
You will, as the years pass, forge friendships where there hadn’t been one as you discover new common ground. Stoneleigh-Burnham has gifted you that as well. I met my classmate, and dearest friend Sarah in the fall of 1979 as we stood in line in the library to sign up for extra-curriculars. Next week we celebrate our 35th Reunion. Along with the education and experiences you’re taking from your years at Stoneleigh-Burnham, you’ve got the lifetime of relationships to see you through what lies ahead.
All of this — the academics, the friendships, the experiences — this is what has made, and will continue to make your relationship with Stoneleigh-Burnham so special, and truly unique. All of us who have come before you have maintained the traditions and merits as well as provided for the changes and advances within SBS for the generations to come. You join us, as alumnae, in keeping what is so dear, while recognizing the potential in growth and change. While you may now consider Stoneleigh-Burnham part of your past, you are also its future. You will move on from here, as you are meant to do. As Mina, Sara, Sally, Sam, and I each did. And you will return.
If you had told me in the hours after crossing this stage and receiving my diploma that decades later I would be back within these halls as a staff member, I would have dismissed the remark with a laugh. But I am here. I have come home.
For you, it may be just for quick visits while passing through the area, or to celebrate your 5th Reunion. Someday you might bring your daughter to tour the campus before she applies for Middle School.
While I’m loathe to say goodbye to you, I am excited for each of you to move on.
I imagine you making connections and networking with other alumnae as you settle into college, apply for internships. I look forward to your returning here for Alumnae Career Day to discuss your college experiences and career path with the current juniors and seniors. I envision the class notes you’ll submit for the Bulletin to commemorate milestones in your life.
For now, I will offer a thank you to your families, for sharing you with us, and in doing so, shaping our alumnae family. I want to thank each of you — Class of 2018 — for while you came here for an education, you have in turn educated each of us. Today, as you head down the long drive that holds so many memories for all alumnae, you will be torn between the sadness of departing and the joyful anticipation of what is to come.
As it should be.
Just remember as you glance back over your shoulder — you are moving on — but not leaving.
This is your home, and you are welcome at any time.
Congratulations to the Class of 2018, our newest alumnae.