During Cushing’s 139 Commencement on Saturday, May 24, Headmaster Torino presented a very special diploma to a very special individual from Newton Center, Massachusetts. Below is his address to the Class of 2014 and the Cushing community.
Sylvia Adasko Lilienthal is a proud member of the Class of 1940.
After arriving on campus from the North Shore of Boston in 1936, Sylvia spent a very successful and enjoyable 4 years at Cushing. When asked about her favorite Cushing memories, she said that they include meeting her husband and the drama program, in which she played the lead role in Anne of Green Gables. She also remembers very fondly the hour of Manners Instruction that she attended every Saturday morning, something that she said has stayed with her throughout her life.
When I had the pleasure of meeting Sylvia, she told me about her experiences as a student, including an unexpected turn of events at the end of her senior year.
Class of 2014, imagine this: It is the night of your senior prom, and you’re to graduate the very next day. Then, imagine what it would be like to be told that night that you will not graduate – because you are missing a gym credit.
That is the scenario that Sylvia faced, and consequently, she did not receive a Cushing diploma in 1940 and did not march with her class.
Sylvia continued on to Endicott College (then Endicott Junior College) as planned, graduating in 1942 with a major in fashion merchandising – a perfect career for someone who had been voted “Best Dressed” at Cushing. She went on to work in sales at Adasko’s, her family’s chain of stores, in Salem, Massachusetts.
Sylvia and her husband raised a beautiful family of two sons and a daughter, and after taking a few years off to care for her children, she worked as a party planner and in the designer’s section of Filene’s department store, a great Boston institution.
As I wrote to Sylvia in inviting her to be with us today, “Upon reviewing your 1940 transcript, it is clear that your only missing credit is a physical education class. While I certainly consider exercise and fitness an important part of the boarding school experience, I am confident that your many walks throughout the “School Upon the Hill” more than made up for any missed credits.”
Sylvia, 74 years later, on behalf of the Board of Trustees, it is a privilege to bestow upon you your Cushing diploma.