Kathleen DiSanto ’03 urges graduates to be true to core feelings, find happiness

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On Friday, May 24, KO students and faculty bid farewell to the class of 2019 as they took the next step from seniors to alumni at the Commencement Ceremony.

Graduation began at 10:30 a.m. as the orchestra played and trustees, faculty, and lastly the seniors processed to their seats. After the chorus sang the school song, written by Orchestra Director Richard Chiarappa, history teacher Ted Levine delivered the prelude and initiated the event. Senior Matt Safallow then introduced the keynote speaker as physics teacher Kathleen DiSanto. Head of School Tom Dillow spoke at his first KO graduation after Ms. DiSanto, followed by Director of the Upper School Carolyn McKee, who handed out diplomas alongside Mr. Dillow.

History teacher Rob Kyff concluded the ceremony with a final farewell to the senior class. The event was organized by Executive Assistant to Head of School Sherri Malinoski. Mrs. Malinoski worked hard to ensure that the ceremony went off without a hitch. Mr. Dillow said he was excited to experience his first commencement and enjoyed the learning process. “It’s such a great opportunity to celebrate the seniors who have worked so hard for many years,” he said, “some of them for seven years here, others for four or fewer, but it’s always a wonderful celebration at the end of the year.”  In his parting words to the seniors, Mr. Dillow advised them to always remember where they came from and to remember that their success going forward is not anyone else’s definition of success but that they get to decide what that is.

This year’s keynote speaker as chosen by the senior class was Ms. DiSanto. A KO graduate herself, Ms. DiSanto’s speech revolved around her own graduation experience and the plans that she had as a KO senior. Her five step “Kathleen DiSanto list for my life,” and more specifically the steps that didn’t work out, all tied into her theme of aligning your decisions with yourself in order to achieve core happiness.

Ms. DiSanto started by listing her five life goals, including marrying Mr. Brodeur and going to Washington University. However, not all of her plan worked out, and Ms. DiSanto said that her message to the seniors was that the important thing is to be able to move on from it.

“Despite the fact that you have these plans and they seem really good in that moment, you have to sort of be ok with the fact that as time passes your definition of what happiness is will change,” she said. “And so you have to kind of take every decision that you make and align it with your values.”

Ms. DiSanto spoke from her own experience when she admitted that this is by no means an easy task. “In order to achieve core happiness, you have to align your decisions with yourself and that’s how you’ll be happy,” she said, “and that was really hard for me to learn and figure out.” In her parting words to the seniors, Ms. DiSanto stressed that similar to her own experience, following your own feelings is the most important part of reaching core happiness. “Because my advice to you is to be true to your core feelings in every decision you make,” she said. She ended the speech by reminding the seniors that KO will always be there for them and that she is excited for their future. “I miss each of you already and can’t wait to hear about how you turn your plans upside-down!” she said. “Please visit often and know that you always have a home here.”

Form 6 Dean Ronald Garcia agreed that graduation is a bittersweet moment and he hopes the seniors come back to visit. Mr. Garcia described the senior class as a tight-knit, fun-loving group. “They spend a lot of time together and they really enjoy each others company, I would say it’s a more unified class than a lot of classes we’ve seen,” he said.

While KO will certainly miss the seniors, they have a lot to be proud of and even more to look forward to.