On May 31, the 98 members of the Class of 2019 graduated in St. Anne's-Belfield School's 109th Commencement Exercises. More than a thousand people were in attendance at the Conway Convocation Center to celebrate the graduates.
"My own late spring ritual is the same each year," Head of School David Lourie told the assembled guests while introducing the class. "I take a moment to reflect on each senior's journey, be it sixteen years long or two, and how he or she has impacted this School community. And it is with each senior's story that a story of each senior class - as a whole - emerges. With the Class of 2019, a theme emerged very quickly, and it was one of courage. And courage in many forms."
Lourie noted that the class includes All-State, All-American, and NCAA Division I scholarship athletes, as well as musicians, artists, singers, songwriters, thespians, community event organizers, symposium leaders, Tom Tom pitch winners, Hackathon mentors, role models for the School's youngest students, and much more.
Seventeen "sandbox kids" were among the members of the Class of 2019, those enrolled since Pre-School, Kindergarten, or first grade, and were honored with their names read aloud. Twenty members of the Cum Laude Society were also recognized in the Class of 2019.
Ms. Sarah Johns '99, who provides legal advice to Virginia Commonwealth University as an assistant attorney general and associate university counsel, served as the keynote speaker. Johns' message focused on the commonalities between herself and her graduating class, which just celebrated its 20th reunion, and the Class of 2019. She spoke of everyone writing their own Book of Firsts.
"You have each been writing your own Book of Firsts," Johns told the graduates. "While in school, everyone in this room and many others have provided you guidance. But you have been writing each chapter about a different one of your firsts: academic, athletic, social, and others. For example, looking back, you may remember the first time that you presented research to your class, memorized a passage, ran a mile or mile and a half in your goal time, raced with a Kindergartener on your back at Field Day, wore formal attire to a dance, had a conversation with someone whose native language is different from yours and maybe even communicated in both your native language and in theirs – or maybe in some third mutual language. You may remember first setting foot into a professional setting for your Senior Internship.
"In thinking about these chapters in your Book of Firsts, and others I'm sure that come to mind, do you remember the anticipation, frustration, fear, and also pride and joy? Have you noticed that you are stronger, wiser and more prepared for what is to come? Along with these happy and sought-after firsts may come others. You may also remember the first time you failed a test or quiz, the first time you didn't do your homework and your teacher didn't notice. Through each one of these first experiences too, we grow stronger, wiser, and more prepared for what is to come. Indeed, each first experience becomes a part of who we are and who we will become."
In addition to Johns' speech and the conferral of diplomas, the ceremony included the presentation of three special recognitions:
- The Michael E. Waylett Service Award — honoring a teacher or staff member whose extraordinary dedication and service extends beyond the classroom, this year awarded to Ms. Kasema Jaredic;
- The Malone Prize —presented to a member of the St. Anne's-Belfield School community in recognition of that individual's loyalty, service, and contribution to the life of the School, this year honoring Ms. Mary Blake;
- The Diana Edwards Smith Teaching Mastership — awarded since 1987, the highest teaching award given in the academic year, this year recognizing Mr. Jon Shoup.
The graduates of the Class of 2019 will matriculate at more than 50 colleges and universities this fall. The full Class of 2019 Matriculation List is available online now.
Photos will be available soon on the School's SmugMug account. A recording of the Commencement ceremony is available for School community members. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
Preceding the Commencement ceremony was the School's final Chapel for the Class of 2019. Mr. David Smith delivered remarks.