156 seniors graduate as ceremony returns to Rockefeller Chapel

Téa Tamburo, Editor-in-Chief

Under the stained-glass windows and vaulted ceilings of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel, members of the Class of 2022 walked through a sea of family and friends on the afternoon of June 9 to receive their diplomas and look toward the future. 

Faculty and students spoke on themes of connection, hope and preparing for their futures. All-School President Brent Pennington, Senior Class President Zachary Gin and senior Anathea Carrigan each gave speeches.

Between speeches, seniors Eddie Christensen performed “Praeludium and Allegro” on violin, and An Ngo and Taig Singh performed “Where Does the Time Go.” 

The class recognized faculty members Mirentxu Ganzarain, Daniel Bobo-Jones, Shauna Anderson and Ian Taylor with honorary diplomas. 

Because of the pandemic, this year’s graduation was the first to take place in Rockefeller Chapel since 2019. Although graduates were permitted guests, and non-graduating students could attend, this was the first time attending required a pre-reserved ticket. 

Commencement speaker Sam Kass, a 1998 alumnus, emphasized curiosity. 

“We are born with all sorts of mental and physical capabilities that shape who we are in all kinds of ways we have absolutely no control over. But making a decision to constantly be more curious is something that each and every one of us can do,” he said, “and by asking these new questions and seeking out these experiences, we create the conditions for the other cornerstone of success to emerge and that is purpose.” 

Mr. Kass shared about the time he took to find his passion and path in life, and he encouraged students to do the same. 

“The challenges that your generation faces — people like to keep reminding you that — they are monumental, but the world is waiting for your leadership and most desperately needs it,” Mr. Kass, a chef and food activist, said. “So keep exploring, keep going to new places, keep trying new foods and keep asking questions. Discover all the things you care about and go all-in on one of them.”

Brent addressed the class and spoke on themes of hope.

“As I look back I saw in their eyes: my mom’s, my dad’s, my teachers’, my counselors’ and everyone, and every single one of their eyes I saw one thing, one emotion, and that was hope,” Brent said. “The world is a scary place, but as you look at every accomplishment, every business, every government, everything is made up of people. People who one day have to be, or were in, your situation, people who were told they would make a difference. They believe in you and they believe in us, and that is why we are here.”

Zach emphasized kindness, compassion and care in his speech.

“Now that we’re branching off on our own, facing new challenges and reaching for new goals, let’s remember our nerve-wracking moments in ninth grade versus the people we have become today,” Zach said. “It can be frightening to leave everything you know behind. But the spirit of support we have created together will go with us and hopefully help us build caring communities wherever we end up.” 

For Kathleen Baffa, seeing the Class of 2022 receive their diplomas was bittersweet. 

“It was really nice to see our entire grade one-by-one walk across the stage,” she said. “It was a bittersweet moment for sure.” 

Todd Hao is proud of his class for making it through the last four years and looks forward to seeing what his classmates become. 

“We all have had a very good time together, and I want to see what everyone becomes in the next 10 or 20 years.”