Rocky Hill School grads get practical advice in a peaceful setting


Brevity, practical advice along with recognition of key faculty members and a dash of humor that gave it the feel of a large family gathering characterized Rocky Hill School commencement exercises Friday morning.

Held outside of Hopelands with the Greene River and Narragansett Bay as a backdrop, Bryant University President Ronald Machtley offered the 30 graduates five practical pieces of advice on approaching the next academic chapter of their lives – advice, it seemed, would be valuable to life.

Machtley said how the graduates manage their time will determine how they succeed in college. For starters he recommended use of a weekly planner, a bound book and not a tablet and that students set aside 8 hours for sleep, 8 hours for academics and “8 hours for yourself.”

“Find your passion,” he said recommending, “don’t get stuck in a rut of taking courses you don’t like.” Machtley urged the graduates to make new friends, explore new ideas, to question themselves intellectually and find a professor who can serve as their mentor.

Citing advancements in technology, Machtley said the world is going to change beyond what we can now comprehend that will “leapfrog” the accomplishment of man landing on the moon.

“The world is waiting for Rocky Hill to make a contribution,” he said.

Dr. James Tracy, head of school, observed many of the graduates are leaving a small school – a safe harbor – to attend large universities and colleges. He told the graduates not to assume they are more clever than their proctors and said they could find themselves in classes as large as 500 students.

“Anonymity can be in your favor if you use it wisely,” he said. Nonetheless, he urged the graduates to “keep moving.”

Class Valedictorian Hannah Wahl-Dunnigan focused on what she and her classmates learned from their teachers and the Rocky Hill experience.

“One of the greatest lessons I learned was from (the late) Mr. (Terry) Coes. He was a remarkable human being who dedicated much of his life to the students of this school as a math teacher. He also gave me my first bad grade. Actually, it was the first grade I had ever received in my life. When I went to him, upset, Mr. Coes taught me that what appeared to be a failure or setback was really an opportunity to learn and grow. This has proven to be true in many ways,” she said.

“It is a common mistake to think that succeeding in life does not involve failure. We might spend our lives trying to avoid mistakes, but it is from mistakes that we take the greatest lessons. I found that the classes or subjects that I struggled most with at Rocky Hill ended up being the most valuable. Both in and beyond the classroom, overcoming obstacles and setbacks leads to growth and progress.”

The graduates are:

Jace Cardona

Yiwen “Avery” Chen

Yuxuan “Catherine” Chen

Katlyn Conforti

Abigail Costantino

Olivia DePasquale

Alex Dubs

Madelyn Dutilly

Madelyn Fine

Kyle Finn

Brandon Gregory

Shan Huang

Austin Jandrucko

Reese Jennings

Hannah Lawson

Sizhe “Lester” Li

Xin “Amy” Liu

Nicholas Mangiameli

Katia Mendez

Alec O’del

Ding Pang

Thomas Ricci

Tina Richards

Charlotte Roch

Michael Santos

Brianna Segerson

Ruochen “Scarlett” Shen

Nathaniel Talbutt

Hannah Wahl-Dunnigan

Andrea White


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