The 110th Commencement exercises of The Ethel Walker School were celebrated on Sunday, May 29, 2022. Guests listened to many distinguished speakers throughout the ceremony. “As we walk across this stage today and say our final goodbyes, know that the bitter sting we feel is just a sign of how sweet our time here has been, and how lucky we are to have experienced such golden hours,” said Student Body President Allison Wall, a day student from Avon. Wall referenced both the meaning and the feeling of the word “bittersweet” often used to describe graduating, “…and yet the past few months have been difficult to find what is ‘so sweet’ about saying goodbye to a school that’s more like a home.” In closing, she remarked, “Today is not about an ending; after all the word ‘commencement’ itself means ‘a start’. So, let’s instead think of our graduation as an appreciation for our past, a celebration of our growth, and above all, as the beginning of all we are yet to achieve.”
Despite a rather gloomy, rainy, cool day at the start of the weekend’s activities, the 57 graduates awoke to a gloriously bright and sunny day on Sunday, May 29, and basked in the warm sunshine. Family and friends were welcomed to campus, and though were required to mask at the earlier Baccalaureate and Prize Night events, which were held indoors, the actual Commencement ceremony felt celebratory and rather normal in this COVID-19 life we live.
The keynote address was delivered by Shabana Basij-Rasikh. Ms. Basij-Rasikh is an Afghan educator, humanitarian, journalist, and women’s rights champion. She is the Co-Founder and President of the School of Leadership in Afghanistan (SOLA). SOLA’s mission is to provide access to quality education across her homeland, where girls’ education is often prohibited or forbidden. Noting this point about the obstacles in life, she went on to say, “We aren’t the same, you and I. We come from very different backgrounds and there were very different roadblocks put between us and our education. But we overcame them. We got past them, and we didn’t do it alone – we had our families behind us, we had our teachers behind us, we had people who believed in us and now here we are, together at Commencement.” Ms. Basij-Rasikh, in her quiet and understated way, yet with her strong words and powerful message, gave all of the graduating seniors a message of hope for the future as strong, bright, young women. She added, “We aren’t the same, but we are more alike than you might realize, and here is something we share and will always share: as girls, as women, we know that we have the power to change the world.”