Saturday, June 22 dawned bright and breezy – perfect for Conway’s forty-seventh commencement ceremony and celebration. Graduates, families, and friends gathered under the pines at Nonotuck Park in Easthampton to celebrate the remarkable achievements of the Class of 2019.

The amazing Conway School Class of 2019! All received a Masters of Science in Ecological Design following an immersive, hand-on, collaborative ten months together. Photo: Elaine Williamson ’11

During the ceremony, in a time-honored Conway tradition, the thirteen members of the class of 2019 presented each other with a Master of Science in Ecological Design from Conway’s intensive, ten-month graduate program in sustainable landscape planning and design. Each student introduces one of their classmates, which helps everyone in attendance get to know the graduates (and often prompts laughter and tears).

Typically diverse in academic backgrounds and ages, the members of the Class of 2019 are:

Martha Wills Abbott (Washington D.C.), Caitlin O’Neil Broman (Rochester, NY), Bo Guyer Carpen (Alexandria, VA), Lili Elena (Rockland, ME), Kristen Leigh Gessinger (Portland, OR), Eric N. Giordano (Andover, MA), Amanda Marie Hawes (Portland, ME), Lisa Jeanne Krause (Wayne IL), Aja Rose Mathews (Palo Alto, CA), Greta Moore (Bozeman, MT), Mary Sage C. Napolitan (West Tisbury, MA), Mallory Morgan Rasky (Buffalo Grove, IL), and Robbe Verhofste (Cumming, IA).

Following please find a gallery of images from the commencement weekend:

L: Down to the wire…the WireMac 31 wire binding machine, that is. Wrapping up the final plan sets of the year before graduation. R: The classroom and library got a mini-makeover in time for the celebration of graduates on the Friday evening before the big ceremony.

L: Graduates Mallory Rasky ’19 (second from left), Caitlin Broman ’19 (second from right), and Mary Sage Napolitan ’19 catch up with Mallory’s parents. R: Carla Cooke ’92 with Donald L. Walker, Jr. ’79 (Director of the school from 1992-2005).

L: The commencement ceremony took place under tall pines at Nonotuck Park in Easthampton. R: We brought a reminder of the school’s roots to grace the mantle – this painting is of the school’s first home, in a barn and sugar shack in the hills of Conway.

L: Graduates Mary Sage Napolitan ’19 (at left), Robbe Verhofste ’19 (at right), and a friend. R: Trustees Jenna Webster ’09 and John O’Keefe.

L: Elaine Williamson ’11 brought beautiful flower arrangements from her own gardens. R: Trustee and alum Jenna Webster ’09 kicked off the ceremony, welcoming everyone, and sharing thoughtful comments that wove together species diversity, landscape planning and design, transitions, and the logistics of the day. (Truly!)

L: Conway board member Bill Dwight introduced keynote speaker Alex Morse, who, he said, “subscribes to the beliefs that diversity is strength, science is real, fairness is achievable and dignity is a right.” R: Keynote speaker Alex Morse (Mayor of the City of Holyoke) told graduates, “You are graduating from Conway at a time when your skills are needed – now more than ever. … The task before us is the creation of just and sustainable communities where people are free to live and thrive, to which everyone has a chance to contribute; to build a world that is prepared for the future, and where people never feel they have to shoulder life’s burdens alone.”

In a time-honored Conway tradition, students awarded one another their degrees, introducing one another and sharing stories. Laughter and hugging generally ensue.

Kate Cholakis ’11, faculty member and Admissions Manager, shared insight into the amazing breadth and quality (and volume!) of work the graduates accomplished over the course of their ten months at Conway.

Aja Mathews ’19 (at left) shared a (genius) poem to introduce Greta Moore ’19 (at right).


R: Academic Director Ken Byrne helps keep track of the certificates during the ceremony – a surprisingly complex task…

Students awarding one another their degrees is always a highlight of the day.

Friends and family enjoyed the chance to learn more about the graduates and their year together.

L: Trustee Mollie Babize ’84 shared thoughtful parting words at the end of the ceremony. R: A group of students, faculty, staff, and friends sang “We Shall Be Known” by Ma Muse.

Our friends the Jouannets from Conway catered a delicious taco bar picnic.

Following the ceremony, we returned to our campus in Northampton to continue the celebration. L: Kristen Gessinger ’19 and CJ Lammers admire student work in the studio.

We’d especially like to thank all of the volunteers who gave expert help and support to the faculty and staff to make the weekend’s events possible: Carla Cooke ’92, Andrew Kilduff ’17, Glee and Bob Miner (P’07), and Tom Sullivan ’08.

Many thanks to our photographer for graduation, Amy Nyman ’13! We’re also grateful to Dave Weber ’15, Elaine Williamson ’11, and Priscilla Novitt ’07, who contributed photos.