NBSS Blog

Graduation 2021
Graduation 2021
NBSS


Finishing the requirements for graduation at North Bennet Street School takes hard work, commitment, and dedication at the best of times. The students in our 2021 graduating class completed their intensive programs during an extremely tumultuous year, staying the course through a building closure, remote learning, and extended in-person instruction—with a host of new safety protocols in place.

Not to be outdone, all of this occurred while navigating their own personal lives, preparing themselves for a future in their professional fields, and encouraging their classmates and colleagues. Simply stated, we couldn't be more proud of all that these graduates have accomplished.

On June 4, we celebrated about half of our newest alumni during a ceremony at Old North Church that honored the hard work and dedication of students in our Bookbinding, Cabinet & Furniture Making, Jewelry Making & Repair, Locksmithing & Security Technology, and Violin Making & Repair programs. To include family and friends who could not be there in person, we live streamed the ceremony as well.

We'll be honoring graduating students in the remainder of our programs on Friday, July 30, also at Old North Church.

Please join us in wishing them all the best as they advance into their careers; we look forward great things!

Watch video from the live stream of the ceremony below, and read a full transcript of President Sarah Turner, Board Chair Marc Margulies, and Provost Claire Fruitman's remarks to our graduating students.




Remarks by Sarah Turner, NBSS President

Hello and welcome—I am so so glad to be here, with you, in person today. We are here to celebrate the graduates in our Bookbinding, Cabinet & Furniture Making, Jewelry Making & Repair, Locksmithing & Security Technology, and Violin Making & Repair programs.

And thanks to the technologies that we've all come to know better than we ever imagined, we're able to reach out—through the ether—to your families, friends, and loved ones so that they can share in our recognition of you and your good work. Welcome, family and friends! Thank you for all the support you gave our students this year.

After a year with so much distance, so much that was virtual or somewhat removed, it is inspiring to know that all of you will take your hands-on, in-person, up-close training into the world with you, and offer your abilities to communities that have changed, but still need your talents, your tenacity, and your optimism.

And I use the word optimism, but I could also use courage or care. Because you brought these things with you as you came to School each and every day, through a global pandemic, keeping your focus, keeping your goals trained on your future. That wasn't an easy thing to do. Most of you started with us in simpler times: before the shut-down, before we re-oriented our daily lives, before we struggled to find certainty and clarity. Thank you for your commitment, for your trust in us—especially last spring, for your every-day effort to keep working and keep making progress. As we navigated through uncertain and scary times, you gave us the focus we needed to keep problem-solving, keep adapting, keep moving ahead—just as you were doing each day.

And for those of you in our shorter programs, those of you who showed up ready to start last fall and give yourself a new chapter and a new set of skills—hats off to you! I can't tell you how inspiring it was to all of us to see that in the middle of a strange time, there were those—like you—who saw opportunity, a chance for growth and change and came to School. Wonderful!

After a year with so much distance, so much that was virtual or somewhat removed, it is inspiring to know that all of you will take your hands-on, in-person, up-close training into the world with you, and offer your abilities to communities that have changed, but still need your talents, your tenacity, and your optimism.

To recognize all that it took to be here together—and you do have a full community around you—I thank the Boards of Directors and Advisors for helping us guide North Bennet through the last 15 months. Thank you for your faith in our decisions and for having the wisdom to protect what is most precious to this place: the people who work here, be that our students, our faculty, or our staff. Thank you for our healthy building, our well-ventilated shops, and our spacious program areas. It has been a safe harbor in a strange time.

Thank you to the staff—who work every day to provide some constant in that change, supporting the students and the faculty in all that they do. And to the faculty: thank you—for all the ways you bring your vision, your expertise, and your work-ethic to your students. Through you, we are able to give this new group of graduates the skills, abilities, and confidence to take their programs, their fields, their piece of this School forward and into all of our communities.

This is the team working to support you, but you, graduates, are the ones who took the leap, the ones who made the daily effort to slowly, but surely, learn new skills, to give yourselves new understandings and new opportunities. As I've said, that takes courage and perseverance and pushing forward even when it's not easy or clear.

And as shared with your colleagues when they graduated last October, you have been such an inspiration to us, you have been what propelled so much of our work forward.

I'm remembering a year ago—when we were wondering how long this would last, what lay ahead. Not only were none of us prepared for the shift that came—how to Zoom, how to navigate all of the technology that we've learned since then. But suddenly, people who are dedicated to the analog, the by-hand, the in-person had these modes reduced and we had to adapt. We did. You did. Your faculty did. And we did this because of our commitment to your studies, your programs.

I remember being so thankful then—even if we didn't recognize it—to have your progress as our focus. How we would help you make progress and find our ways forward to... today! To Graduation, to program completion, and accomplishment.

You did this. At first, you showed up on Zoom, you watched videos and read materials and stood by each other. Then, you made your way back to the shops and with all of us, navigated changes in the rest of your life: changes to family, to working life, to your locale in order to take up these studies.

And here we are. A time that seemed in the distance when you started has arrived. Congratulations on your hard work, your commitment to your projects, your programs—to yourselves and your futures. We can't wait to know you as alumni and to experience, through you, all that North Bennet can be in the world. Thank you.



Remarks by Marc Margulies, Chair, Board of Directors

I have a confession to make: I have no bookbinding expertise; I am not a good cabinet or furniture maker; I am utterly incompetent at locksmithing; I cannot make a violin.

But here's the thing: very few people have these skills, but YOU DO!

All of us who don't know how to do these things are in awe of those of you who have worked so hard to develop your expertise. You not only create and fix wonderful objects, but you do so with a patience, precision, and sense of purpose that is rare and truly admirable.

One of the things that I love most about North Bennet Street School is that it encourages its students, all of you graduates here today, to go into the world holding high the torch for a tradition of beautiful, useful, and meaningful handmade creations. What serves the human condition with more purpose than knowledge, beauty, safety, and music?

What serves the human condition with more purpose than knowledge, beauty, safety, and music?

While each of you graduates now has the skill and experience to successfully move forward with your chosen craft, I have no doubt that you also understand the additional "purpose" that has been conferred upon you as you receive your diploma. You now share the responsibility to help preserve a broad, but endangered, appreciation for the magical wonder of objects created by those who work with their hands. Clearly our society loves television, cell phones, cool new apps, fast computers, and mass-produced packaged foods. That's life in the twenty-first century, no doubt. But those things should also serve to remind us of how important (and hard) it is for people not to lose perspective of the intrinsic value of individual objects painstakingly fashioned with affection for the materials, the tools, the art, the process. If we, as a society, lose these skills, we will simply be the poorer for it, and we will not be able to regain those skills once lost.

So, does it matter if they're gone? Yes, it does. Losing the intimate relationship between humans and nature in favor of software or immediate mechanical gratification separates us from an appreciation for the planet that we live on. Losing those skills means that children will learn in fewer ways to discover their own talents, skills, and passions. Losing those skills means that our homes, our art, our music will be less diverse, more homogenous, less personal. We must, all of us, do all we can to be advocates, wherever we can, for the marvelous craftsmanship that all of you graduates have witnessed blossoming in yourselves and your colleagues at NBSS.

On behalf of all the members of the Board of Directors, we congratulate you on your accomplishments, and wish you great success in your chosen career as craftspeople—and as spokespeople for the "purpose" of craftsmanship.



Closing Remarks by Claire Fruitman CF '96, Provost

From longstanding remarks given by former NBSS Associate Director, Walter McDonald.

We may be almost finished here, but it's far from over.

There's a lot more to do. There will be mistakes from which you will learn. There will be customers you hope never to see again. New methods, equipment, and materials will change the way you work. You will get better and faster.

If you don't get it right, you have a chance to do it better the next time.

There will be wonderful customers for whom you will do work over your entire career, and they will recommend you to their friends, and they will become your friends because of your work.

There will be a time when you finish a job, look at it and realize that a short time ago you could not have done it, and you would not have even known where to start. And you will realize how far you've come.

So in closing: May your tools stay sharp. May your work be scheduled a year in advance. May your customers always be satisfied, pay in a timely manner, and without argument.

You have skills and knowledge that few people share. You can use these skills to make life better for others. You can be justifiably proud of jobs well-done.

Now we're finished here. It's time for you to go out there and do great work.


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