Amidst the waning days of the global pandemic, guests gathered on Sunday, May 30 to celebrate the 109th commencement exercises of The Ethel Walker School. “We didn’t know what the universe had in store, but now we know that’s okay, because this experience is a part of who we are,” said Student Body President Elisabeth “Lizzy” Strapp, a day student from Granby, when referencing the pandemic that shuttered many schools throughout the world. “COVID could’ve splintered the unity we had built over our previous three years. Being away from one another all of last spring and being so limited this year could’ve changed our class dynamic. But we didn’t let it. We are not the class who lost our final days together. We are the class who persevered.”
Despite a weekend of strong winds and rain, the class was undeterred as they celebrated at a commencement ceremony with family and friends. Each of the 54 students in the graduating class were able to invite up to six family members or friends to attend after guests supplied either a copy of their vaccination card or a negative PCR test to the school’s director of health services. All guests were required to wear face coverings while in the building and to maintain physical distancing from other guests who were not in their family group.
The keynote address was delivered by The Honorable Jahana Hayes, U.S. Representative for Connecticut Fifth Congressional District. She detailed three pieces of advice to those assembled after she kicked off her shoes to deliver a passionate address to the graduates about living a life of purpose. “Embrace failure. I have failed more than most people have tried. Faith is taking the first step even when you don’t see the whole staircase,” said Hayes. “Be the best you that you can be. The blueprint for success will look different for each and every one of you. Your gift is different from every other person in this room.” Hayes also added, “Be of service. Live a life of purpose and responsibility. Remember. It is a privilege to serve. The sooner you realize that your gifts are not your own…by giving you actually receive. You will decide if it will be a moment or a movement.”