On August 3, St. Luke’s School hosted the 91st Commencement—a virtual celebration honoring the 81 students in the graduating Class of 2020. In May, families had an opportunity to celebrate the graduates with individual visits to campus during the Hilltop Celebration
. As Head of School Mark Davis said, this was “a Commencement different from any other in St. Luke’s history...memorable in a way none of us could have anticipated, but which we will always remember.”
To follow health guidance and ensure the safety of the St. Luke’s community, the graduating seniors, family, friends, and St. Luke’s faculty came together one last time via a live-streamed event, and diplomas were mailed home to students prior to the ceremony.
Keeping the traditional rituals of St. Luke’s at the heart of this commencement, Head of School Mark Davis took a moment to share a personal connection and attribute for each graduating senior. He then addressed the class with heartfelt words, “At St. Luke’s, each student is known, and each student is needed. Each of you has been encouraged—in some cases prodded—to do your best, and ultimately recognized and celebrated for reaching a little— or a lot—higher than you thought you could. The faculty and I have loved watching you contribute, prosper, and grow up before our eyes here on the Hilltop. We will remember you and miss you terribly.”
Chris Walsh, St. Luke’s 2020 Valedictorian, is headed off to Brown University in the fall. He left his classmates with a witty comparison between their time at St. Luke’s and the game Minecraft—a video game that lets players create and build their own world. “We've gotten pretty good at building to the manual's specifications. But now is when we start getting chances to write our own builder's manuals. Now that we've all placed the last block on our replicas, we have the opportunity to build our own masterpieces for the world and trust me, we'll make them even better.”
2020 Salutatorian Amelie Warneryd, who is attending the University of Pennsylvania, reflected on the school’s motto Enter to Learn, Go Forth to Serve during her address. She reminded her classmates that they can change the world amidst the uncertainty of today’s current climate. “Who knew that after years of hearing the phrase ‘go forth to serve,’ we’d be at a perfect time to actually go do it upon graduation? We’ve had to get comfortable with the fact that our transition to college and beyond is not going to feel the way it once might have. Our world has changed. But our time at St. Luke’s has shown us that anyone, whether a healthcare worker on the front lines, a student advocating for racial justice, or just someone desperately trying to figure out how to sew a face mask, can have an impact amid the uncertainty; we can do so by showing compassion for others in whatever small ways we can as we embrace the mystery of what is to come.”
As this graduating class faced a very different end to their high school experience, they will also begin with an unusual start to college. But, Upper School Health and Wellness Coordinator and this year’s Caduceus yearbook dedicatee Camille Demarco-Havens left them with some empowering words of wisdom, “No matter what your start will look like, you are ready. You have prepared for this for a long time and with adaptability as your ‘go to’—you are ready for the challenge. You have your family by your side, your St. Luke’s family, and most importantly you have you—as a St. Luke’s graduate with the tools to be successful. You Are Ready! ”
Mark Davis concluded this year’s commencement with an emotional explanation of the day. “Today, more than any other day in the school year, the faculty and I feel the most conflicting emotions. We feel joy in what you have accomplished here and in who you have become, and we feel excited and optimistic for your futures. At the same time, we feel sad that our time together has come to an end.”
Congratulations to the St. Luke’s Class of 2020.