Eighty-five St. John’s College, Annapolis, seniors, having completed their senior essays and defended them in oral examinations, are expected to receive their diplomas at the college’s 224th commencement ceremony on Sunday, May 15 at 10:30 a.m. Fifteen students in the Annapolis Graduate Institute will receive their master’s degrees. A tradition at St. John’s, the senior class selects the commencement speaker, typically notable alumni and beloved members of the faculty, called tutors. This year, St. John’s tutor Thomas May will address the graduates.
A tutor at St. John’s College since 1979, Thomas May also serves as director of the school’s Freshman Chorus. Music is an essential part of the college’s distinctive liberal arts curriculum, built around collaborative inquiry and the study of original sources by some of the world’s greatest writers and thinkers, from Homer, Plato, and Euclid to Nietzsche, Einstein, and Woolf. Freshman Chorus is a unique opportunity for the entire class to sing together on a regular basis as one unified body. Even students who are initially reluctant to sing come to appreciate the experience. “Singing in chorus provides the intimate access to music that takes our study beyond the abstract realm of rules, conventions, and formalities of this art, or passive appreciation of examples to the very doing and making of it,” says May, who approaches the first-year study of music through both the immersive experience of choral singing as well as a discussion-based music notion class.
May earned his bachelor’s degree from Loyola College in 1971 and his master’s degree from Fordham University in 1975. He also served as director of St. John’s College’s Graduate Institute from 1986-89.
Another commencement tradition, the ceremony opens with a procession of faculty and students led by St. John’s tutor David Townsend on the tree-lined front lawn. A handful of prizes and honorable mentions are awarded before each student is given a diploma and congratulated by St. John’s President Christopher B. Nelson.
The graduating seniors represent 27 states and Australia, Cayman Islands, China, Puerto Rico, South Korea, and Turkey. The master’s candidates represent 10 states and the District of Columbia and Canada. Eleven of this year’s graduating seniors and eight of the master’s candidates are Maryland residents. The graduating seniors from Maryland include: Stephen Bowen Aller, of Gaithersburg; Robyn Dianne Bell, of Berlin; William Grant James Feeney, of Havre de Grace; Christopher Randolph Hutter, of Catonsville; Adam Reid Kuester, of Baldwin; Stanley Nelson Lavery, of Belcamp; Shannon Marie McGovern, of Elkridge; Aeryn Demetri McKenzie, of Elkton; Clifton Stevenson Mobbs, of Baltimore; Michael Charles Bruce Powell, of Easton; and Kyle Joseph Walters, of Baltimore.
In case of rain, commencement exercises will take place in Francis Scott Key Auditorium from 10:15 a.m. to noon. College Avenue will be closed to traffic from St. John’s Street to King George Street; the first block of Prince George Street will be closed as well.
For more information: www.sjc.edu.