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Laughs, Nostalgia Expected at Class Day

By Radhika Jain, Crimson Staff Writer

While the rest of their classmates are busy enjoying lunch in Harvard Square and strolling across campus with family and friends, Scott A. Levin-Gesundheit ’11 and Molly O. Fitzpatrick ’11 will be downing cough drops and speaking to a mirror, respectively.

The two soon-to-be Harvard alumni will be delivering this year’s Ivy Orations—traditionally light-hearted addresses—to an audience of 10,000 during today’s Class Day exercises in Tercentenary Theatre, and while they each have different “pre-speech treatments,” as Levin-Gesundheit puts it, both admit they are a little nervous for the big moment.

“My mom said 10 or 10,000 people is the same,” Levin-Gesundheit said. “I’m not sure that’s actually true.”

Levin-Gesundheit and Fitzpatrick will be joined by Laura Jaramillo ’10-11 and Timothy J. Lambert ’11, who will present the more serious Harvard Orations at the ceremony.

In addition to the speakers, who were chosen by the Senior Class Committee (SCC) and Harvard Alumni Association from more than 70 applicants, four students will perform this year’s Class Ode. Andrew G. Brownjohn ’11, Bridget P. Haile ’11, Hannah M. Horowitz ’11, and Matthew D. Trout ’11 will perform the two verses—sung to the tune of Fair Harvard—which Horowitz, Trout, Andrew G. Maher ’11, Christine K. Son ’11, and Shaun T. Vigil ’11 composed.

Other speakers for the ceremony will include Dean of the College Evelynn M. Hammonds and former “Saturday Night Live” actress Amy Poehler.

The senior speakers, performers, and Class Committee will be meeting Poehler for lunch before the ceremony—which Fitzpatrick said makes her more nervous than delivering her speech.

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to spend an hour quoting ‘Parks and Recreation,’ until she moves to sit somewhere else,” Fitzpatrick said.

She is not the only one eagerly anticipating Poehler’s presence on campus.

“I’m hoping to make her my best friend,” said Elizabeth C. Elrod ’11, Eliot House representative on the SCC, who will be introducing Poehler.

Joining the lineup of high-profile comedians at the University today is Alec Baldwin, one of the stars of NBC’s hit show “30 Rock,” who will be delivering the Class Day address at Harvard Law School.

Despite a history of eminent legal scholars and jurists at Class Day, choosing a speaker known for his humor is not out of character for the Law School, according to Paul J. Ray, an HLS class marshal who was on the committee that invited Baldwin.

“We wanted to find someone who was a good speaker, who was funny—has insights into the way the world works,” Ray said.

“It’s a good choice ... something lighthearted the day before a more serious ceremony,” added Jennifer D. Dein, who is the former student body president at the Law School.

The spirit of joviality is one that students hope will permeate Class Day activities across the University, according to SCC Marshal Kurt Tsuo.

“Class Day is really a celebration of the class,” Tsuo said. “I think I’m most excited for the orations [Wednesday].”

Benjamin H. French ’11, Leverett House Representative on the SCC, added that the presentation of the Ames Award to one male and one female during today’s ceremonies gives the Class of 2011 a chance to recognize “unsung heroes” of the class.

“I’m most excited probably to spend the day with my classmates,” he said. “[It’s] kind of a day that we’ve created, about us and for us.”

— Staff writer Radhika Jain can be reached at radhikajain@college.harvard.edu.

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CollegeCommencementCollege LifeSeniorsClass of 2011