Stoneleigh-Burnham School is pleased to announce that Andrew Bergdahl, chair of the mathematics department, has been chosen by the Class of 2019 to deliver the Commencement Address. This year marks the 150th anniversary of Stoneleigh-Burnham School, and Commencement will be held on Friday, May 31, at 10:30 a.m. in Emerson Hall.
Mr. Bergdahl has a BS in mathematics from the University of Minnesota, a MS in mathematics from Nichols State University, and has been teaching math for nine years, including one year at Baptist High School in Kitebi, Uganda, four years at Shattuck St. Mary’s in Faribault, MN, and three years at New Hampton School in New Hampton, NH. He has also taught physics in the summer session at Phillips Academy Andover for a number of years. Andrew, his wife, and their children live on campus.
Mr. Bergdahl wanted to be a teacher from his days in elementary school.
“I’ve always enjoyed sharing interesting trivia and ideas that I’ve learned with my friends, and teaching lets me do that,” he said. “I think learning is the most sublime thing a person can do while they’re alive, and I love sharing that with other people.”
He was drawn to teach math because of its “simplicity and infallibility,” and he adds, “Math exists independently of people, and to explore math is to explore reality itself.”
His favorite part of teaching?
“Standing back and watching young people make discoveries, watching them generate brand new knowledge using only logical reasoning,” he said. “What math teaches young students is that they already have everything they need to uncover the truth.”
Mr. Bergdahl has found a special purpose to his mission as a teacher at SBS.
“To watch this discovery in young girls especially, who are told implicitly every day that they are not in control of the world, that they need someone else’s permission to make change, is tremendously inspiring,” he said.
His other interests include acting, singing, and digital drawing. Mr. Bergdahl is also an epee fencer, and started an Ultimate Frisbee team here on campus this spring.
Responding to news of his selection, Mr. Bergdahl said, “I was very surprised and happy to hear that I was chosen to give the address. Being asked to speak really drove home for me what a thoughtful community we live in.”
In keeping with another long tradition, Julia “Jewels” Hatchard ’19 has also been selected by her class to speak during the commencement ceremony. Jewels has been an SBS student since 2013, and in addition to the strong scholarship which has made her an IB diploma candidate, she serves the community as OEK for the Bigs and Littles program, as a Resident Assistant, and as the President of the Hip-Hop Club.
Jewels has defined her experience at SBS around her sense of community and the chance to express herself.
She says, “I came on an open house day in the fall of 2012 and I sat in on a housemeeting, which had the whole school community laughing and giving announcements. At the time, a girl named Jane Logan was presenting an interpretive reading piece about Joan of Arc, and the way that she performed captivated me. I wanted to be like her, so I came here. I definitely did find my inner performer, and I still love the community!”
For Jewels, the close relationships at SBS are the key to everyone’s success.
“Here, your friends become more like family and here your teachers are more than just teachers but almost like another parent and friend,” she said. “I really enjoy how we all cheer for one another and push each other out of our comfort zones to accomplish bigger and better tasks.”
Jewels loves the teaching and coaching that she gets to do with her Hip-Hop dancers, and meeting and getting to know more students through her work as OEK. As an RA, she enjoys building the bonds between the students on her hall, as well as those on the nearby middle school hall, and making the hall feel like home.
In her confident yet humble way, Jewels is really looking forward to giving her Commencement Address.
“It is a huge honor to have been chosen to give the address for graduation,” she said. “I feel very appreciative to my class. I’ll do my best to present, and represent them well as a peer. I hope that I can say goodbye to everyone as easily as I welcomed them at the beginning of the year.”
Commencement attendees, including graduates, students, faculty and staff, members of the Board of Trustees, parents, and guests will also hear remarks from Head of School Stephanie Luebbers. Senior Class President Ka Yun “Charlotte” Kim and Dean of Faculty Shawn Durrett will speak at the opening of the ceremony, and Board of Trustees Chair Lynn Kehoe ’77 will assist in the awarding of diplomas. Annual prizes and awards will be presented by Academic Dean Lauren Cunniffe P’09, and science faculty member Nick Roosa will close the ceremony with his remarks.