Len's 2021 Commencement Remarks

Class of 2021, at convocation back in August, your class president addressed the community at convocation, the beginning of the year, and asked us all, “How do we uphold our School’s tradition, something that binds us together as members of the Saint Mary’s Hall community?

He offered the following answer to that question: “The answer is, we don’t know yet. Do we embrace and appreciate our current school traditions? Do we create new ones? Maybe a balance. Either way, I encourage each of you to view this as a year in which we gain a deeper love for our school, our community, and our rich history. I want to say this out loud for anyone who needs to hear it. No one is alone in this, and it will pass, because challenging times always come to an end. They also make us stronger as a community and as individuals.”

Challenging times will make us stronger. Fletcher, we were all in awe at how mature and skillful that sentiment you expressed was.  And I can tell you that our faculty and staff talked about it for days and returned to it many times this year. You and the Class of 2021 inspired us. You challenged us to bring our best. To put all of this in perspective. And while I agree that challenges make us stronger, it’s really a credit to the Class of 2021 for approaching this year with such a mindset. You took to the quad, the outdoor senior lounge, you reached out to your peers to check on them. You showed great concern for your teachers, making sure that they were safe and served well in this pandemic. The Class of 2021 has perhaps imprinted a legacy that we are only just beginning to understand as this School embarks on the next stage of its history. 

And so, we come to the end of that journey here today. There’s a line in that Fleetwood Mac song that Emma sang so beautifully last night, “Can I handle the seasons of my life?” 

Tonight, as we celebrate your individual and shared accomplishments; acknowledge your connection to 142 years of proud SMH graduates; appreciate the sacrifice and support of your families, classmates, and teachers; and look ahead to the next step in your journey toward a life of meaning and purpose, you have handled this season of life in ways that we can be proud and in ways that made us stronger as a community. 

It is my honor to introduce to you, the great Class of 2021:

  • They hail from 28 zip codes and 3 of them drove over an hour/day to get back and forth to our Starcrest Campus.
  • 27 are what we affectionally call lifers, 9 entered in Lower School, 21 entered in Middle School and 35 entered in the Upper School. Of those 35, 4 joined the class for this senior year. ALL 92 leave a legacy…
  • They are artists, engaged in every visual and performing art you can imagine. They create and express themselves, and they study the history of art and music. They debate and defend their views through well-crafted speeches.
  • At least 45 service organizations ranging from San Antonio to Peru and Tanzania have benefitted from acts of kindness and generosity from this class. They volunteer over 16,000 hours of their time and 34 members of the class have been awarded a President’s Volunteer Service Award. Seven earned their Eagle Scout, and one was among our nation’s first female Eagle Scout.
  • As athletes, they combined to earn 35 TAPPS All District honors, 6 All-State Honors, 19 Academic All-State Honors, and 1 State Championship in Swimming and 1 team state championship in women’s golf. They have 13 college athlete signees. And 1, was featured on ESPN’s SportsCenter Instagram
  • They have earned a total of $11,017,558 in MERIT scholarships. 62% of the class received at least one merit based scholarship. 6 seniors were named National Commended Scholars. 3 seniors were named National Hispanic Scholars. 3 seniors were named National Merit Finalists. 1 senior is a Deadman Distinguished Scholar at UT. 1 senior received a National Merit Scholarship. And 1 senior is a Valero Alamo Bowl Scholar.
  • And they will spread far and wide. They completed 800 total applications to a total of 232 different schools. They will attend 54 different universities, in 20 different states, and 3 different countries outside of the US.

Simply incredible. And those are just some of the characteristics of this group. Their talents and achievements are varied and vast. They represent the great breadth and depth of our school. Together, they form the GREAT Class of 2021.