A beautiful, sunny afternoon met the 153 members of the Class of 2021 on Jackman Field as they accepted their diplomas and looked toward the future.
Students and faculty spoke on themes of being together, sharing experiences, welcoming failure and preparing for the future. Seniors Nicholas Worsley, Elena Stern and Rohan Shah performed during interludes between speeches.
Priyanka Rupani, director of diversity, equity and inclusion and a 2006 alumna, advised in her commencement address for students to pack for the next chapter of their lives with purpose, authenticity, connection and knowledge.
“Your class has found ways to pursue your passions and explore your purpose during virtual May Project, to be authentic in your activism online and in person, to create opportunities for connection through the BRAVE conference and other open forums and to deepen and share your knowledge through creating and facilitating experiential workshops for your peers and teachers,” Ms. Rupani said.
Former all-school president Omar Siddiqui reflected on the past four years and the memorable experiences that define the class.
“If this past year has taught us anything it’s that you don’t have to physically be next to someone to be with them,” Omar said. “I can think of no classmates more kind, genuine and inspiring to be with me as I brave the future.”
Class of 2021 president Antonio Gracias left his peers with actor Denzel Washington’s advice of falling forward and overcoming setbacks.
“I urge you not to fear failure, but welcome it,” Antonio said. “Get back up after you fall. Learn from your mistakes, and fall forward.”
While not set in Rockefeller Chapel as is tradition, many graduates appreciated having the commencement ceremony still take place. The Class of 2020’s ceremony was canceled.
“It was a great ceremony for, you know, what we had. There’s COVID restrictions, but the school handled it really well,” senior Nicholas Pietraszek said.
The ceremony concluded with graduates praising faculty who are leaving this year: math teacher Fionnuala Ward, history teachers Naadia Owens, Christopher Janus and Susan Shapiro, and assistant principal Asra Ahmed.
Looking forward, senior Jayne Crouthamel is proud of her class for making it through the past four years.
“I feel like we’ve really left our mark on this school, and like I said, I’m just proud of us as a whole,” Jayne said, “and I can’t wait to see my classmates’ names appearing in newspapers and journal articles and everything in the years to come.”