The members of our exceptional Class of 2021 were able to do something they only hoped could happen after the year—or maybe the last two school years—they have experienced: They participated in a traditional, in-person Graduation, shared with family and friends, in the Nave on Friday, June 11. Even a few months earlier, the status of this event was difficult to confirm. However, instead of reconceiving the event in full, this year we were able to celebrate and honor our Grade 8 students as we should.
With Bruce Gellin, MD, MPH—the Rockefeller Foundation’s Chief of Global Public Health Strategy, one of the world’s premier vaccine and infectious disease experts, and husband of former, longtime, beloved School Nurse Sharon Gellin—as the featured speaker, the students gathered in the Nave for a ceremony with processional and recessional, prayers, the awarding of diplomas, and remarks that honored and inspired.
Dr. Gellin opened by recalling his first interactions with the Class of 2021 during their Grade 6 “Smeasles” project, given its name at a time when a measles outbreak in New York was receiving a lot of attentIon. The students engaged in this project during their interdisciplinary studies—in this case, at the intersections of math, biology, and health—and studied epidemiology and contagion, modeling what an explosive outbreak of a new virus would look like if it were unchecked by a vaccine. But more than the virology, our Grade 6 students came to understand the impact that a severe, contagious disease like Smeasles would have not only on health and well-being, but on society.
Dr. Gellin then reminded the graduates of the importance of individuals acting within community and of communities working together in trust. He highlighted the path they have taken to get to their graduation, completing their St. Patrick’s careers in a year defined by a pandemic. And he noted the wonderful remarks shared by the students just two nights earlier as they offered their “This I Believe” statements, expressing their intentions and determination as they finished their time with us. We are grateful to Dr. Gellin for helping us mark this momentous occasion, and we will miss our graduates as they move on to what will no doubt be exceptional high school careers.
Congratulations, Class of 2021!