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Amelia Howard '18.5 enjoys the ski-down at the Middlebury College Snow Bowl.

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Class of 2018.5 Celebrates Midyear Graduation

February 2, 2019

MIDDLEBURY, Vt. – Middlebury celebrated the accomplishments of the Class of 2018.5 in a warm and mirth-filled ceremony on February 2 at Mead Chapel. The midyear graduates—better known as “Febs” because most began their Middlebury educations in February of 2015, were surrounded by a capacity crowd of family and friends.

Two students shared the traditional address to the senior class this year. President Laurie Patton first introduced Charlotte Frankel, an English and film and media culture joint major from New York, N.Y. To the great delight of her classmates—and the surprise, she guessed, of her family—Frankel brought down the house with her original parody of the dramatic showstopper “Who Am I?” from Les Misérables, rewritten as a tongue-in-cheek “Who Are We?”

Classmate Peter Dykeman-Bermingham followed Frankel with a more traditional speech. The chemistry and biochemistry major from Nashua, N.H., reflected on the value of asking big questions together, which he considered a defining aspect of his Middlebury experience. Even in a time when online information offers easy answers in seconds, Dykeman-Bermingham said he most cherished the things he learned from his fellow students.

“Middlebury has always been a place where people ask each other questions, forgoing the ease of Google, so we can be continually surprised by the breadth of knowledge of our friends,” said Dykeman-Bermingham. “In my time here, I have taken a mere 30-some-odd courses of the couple hundred offered that I was interested in. I depended on my friends to impart the insights I missed. We’ve kept each other informed and engaged for four years now.”

Patton noted that the 100 graduates, representing 27 states and 16 countries, had won NCAA and NESCAC championships; led the annual quidditch classic tournament; launched the NER Out Loud podcast, which features the work of the New England Review; and served as mentors to local schoolchildren and as Privilege & Poverty interns locally and nationally.  

Dean of Students Baishakhi Taylor presented the Jason B. Fleishman ’03.5 Award to Paige Guarino, a psychology major from Hopkinton, Mass. The award, named in memory of Jason Fleishman, who died shortly after his February Celebration in 2004, honors midyear graduates who “epitomize Jason’s leadership, academic passion, determination, and care for others.”

Taylor said that Guarino was nominated by several classmates for the award, particularly for her energy, positivity, and guidance of her peers. “Perhaps her most striking quality is her tireless optimism,” wrote one nominator. “As she works to make the world a better place, she never loses hope and deeply believes in the goodness of all human beings.”

Peter Dykeman-Bermingham ’18.5 was one of the student speakers at Feb Celebration on February 2.

During the official recognition ceremony, Taylor called each senior to the stage to receive a replica of Gamaliel Painter’s cane, a historic symbol of Middlebury College, presented by Thomas Steinle ’84, president of the Middlebury Alumni Association. Guarino led the gathering in singing the traditional “Gamaliel Painter’s Cane” song and the College alma mater. Associate College Chaplain and Muslim Advisor Saifa Hussain offered the invocation, and Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life Mark Orten gave the benediction to conclude the Mead Chapel ceremony. Associate Professor of Music Jeffrey Buettner played the organ for the celebration.

Still wearing caps and gowns, graduates left the chapel and boarded school buses for the short trip to the Middlebury College Snow Bowl in Hancock, where they participated in the traditional “ski-down.” On skis, snowboards, snowshoes, and some by foot, the graduates descended the Lang Trail, crossing over to Cameron, which took them to the cheering crowd below.

The annual February Celebration is sponsored by Middlebury’s Alumni and Parent Programs Office. Student leaders Emma Hampsten and Kate Porterfield assisted with planning. All midyear graduates are encouraged to return in May to participate in the College Commencement ceremony.

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