As we make final plans for the 2019 Commencement Service at Tabor Academy, we are very fortunate to have secured as our Commencement Speakers two people who know our students and community very well indeed. Both are retiring in June after serving Tabor for 29 years each, seeing the school grow and change in important ways.
Kelli McSweeny and Mark Howland, both lovers of language and literature, arrived at Tabor in 1990. Just before their arrival, the school had made the enormously consequential decision to bring boarding girls back to Tabor, and the school was growing and changing as it made efforts to consolidate the campus and be more inclusive of the girls. A new headmaster, Jay Stroud, had just arrived in 1988, bringing his own vision to campus, while tasked with finishing this transition to a co-ed boarding school with equal facilities and opportunities for girls. To this exciting environment, Mark and Kelli were among over 11 new faculty arriving at Tabor.
Kelli McSweeny, who will be our Commencement Speaker, contributed across Tabor from the language department, where she taught Russian for many years, to Admissions, and most recently, as an English teacher. Her enthusiasm for teaching and coaching, and her commitment to the girls on her teams and in the dorm has made her a mentor to many students across the decades. She is a caring colleague and friend, and both our students and faculty appreciate her commitment to their growth and success.
Mark Howland, our Baccalaureate Speaker, was hired into the English department where he has remained committed throughout his tenure. His love of drama soon had him engaged in theatre at Tabor, becoming the chair of the drama department, as well. And, in a move that helped the school in numerous ways, he helped students interested in dance to bring a proposal to Mr. Stroud to establish dance as a team sport at Tabor. Dance at Tabor has been enormously successful, attracting both boys and girls to the team, as well as dramatically improving our musical productions. Beyond those contributions, Howland has also been a quiet and caring leader, an attentive listener, and a massive support system to those students and colleagues he has intersected with throughout his time at Tabor, quietly changing lives for the better.
Both McSweeny and Howland have that quality of making people feel important, listened to, and cared for. They have each been so influential over the years as advisors, coaches, teachers, and friends to our students, faculty, and alumni. There is no doubt that their last lessons to our community will be received with rapt attention by everyone in attendance, especially the Class of 2019.