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The students of Altos de Chavón School of Design gathered at the Plaza Chavón on a warm, sunny day on Saturday, May 13th to celebrate their 33rd graduation and the first of the Santo Domingo campus! Ever since last year, the technical careers of Fashion Design and Communications have been taught in the school’s campus in the capital. This year, a total of 68 students graduated; 46 students from Santo Domingo and 22 from Fine Arts in Altos de Chavón.

Early that day, the students congregated around the St. Stanislaus Church for rehearsal, amidst discussions of their final moments of school and looking forward to future plans. Around 6:30 p.m., the ceremony began with the students marching to what has become the traditional opening song, “Libertad” sung by Nana Mouskouri. Sanil Mercedes, the master of ceremonies, who is also assistant Rector and Coordinator of Student Services, welcomed the students, faculty, families and guests to the 33rd graduation and introduced special guests: Ana María Ramos, José Jhan Rodriguez, Nancye Green, and Michael Donovan. Marianne de Tolentino, also a special guest, was not present but able to virtually address the students by video. 

This year was different from the rest with the first graduation of students from the new urban campus in Santo Domingo. Rector Stephen D. Kaplan gave the introductory graduation speech:

“The Chavón School of Design is an amazing school. It has been the source of some of the most successful artists and designers imaginable. Some 36 years ago, when the School was first taking shape, we never imagined how much of a force for quality education in the field of art and design we were going to be. And this year is special for many reasons. The School now has a home in both the splendid, bucolic spot we’re enjoying at this moment and the vital, handsome urban building in the Miraflores neighborhood of Santo Domingo. The graduation is a tale of two cities: Altos de Chavón and Santo Domingo.

So this is our most important graduation since the first one, 33 years ago: two locations and one tremendous school, which left its mark on the worlds of art and design in the Dominican Republic and abroad. A school that has changed lives and created a brotherhood/sisterhood that binds all Chavón graduates – Chavoneros – together. Chavoneros are a cadre of talented designers and artists with common roots…

You, the Class of 2017, are facing a world of uncertainty. But you, our army of Chavoneros, are armed with pride and humility with a solid work ethic, and with the joy that art and design work bring. I am certain that you are equipped for the future. However strong the competition may be, a Chavonero is prepared for it.

I wish you all the best in your futures, and I thank you for giving me the chance to get to know you.” 

Stephen D. Kaplan

The students were surrounded by loved ones who witnessed this important milestone in their lives, as one by one each made their way across the stage, accepting their technical degrees from Stephen Kaplan and Vice-Rector Adolfo Lucero. The number of Altos de Chavón School of Design graduates has grown steadily over the last few years with 26 students graduating in the field of Fashion Design, 19 in Communication Design, and 27 in Fine Arts. An impressive number of these students earned honors, and notably Karla María Dipuglia from Santo Domingo graduated Summa Cum Laude and was the valedictorian.

After the ceremony which concluded with the song, “Rumba Azul” by Caetano Veloso, the proud students made their way, diploma in hand, with their guests to the the main Gallery where they all happily posed for pictures and were congratulated by all in attendance. They enjoyed a refreshing cocktail reception and final exhibition of the work by the Fine Arts students and a presentation by the first graduate group of Film students.

Congratulations graduates!! We look forward to following your careers and hearing your success stories as you go out into the world. Go forth and conquer!

The following photos were taken by Esteven Garcia on Saturday, May 13th at the 33rd graduation of the Altos de Chavón School of Design Class of 2017:

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and by Emilio Rodgar with a drone:

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