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Back on Campus, for Packer's 175th Commencement

At the end of a school year that felt like it was edging back to normalcy, faculty, staff, and families gathered together on a balmy June evening in the Packer Garden to celebrate the class of 2022. 

This year marked the triumphant return to the pre-pandemic Graduation format, with students together onstage and  groupings of family members looking on from the audience.

Speakers highlighted the class of 2022’s remarkable empathy and kindness toward one another, as well as their resilience and steadfast commitment to social justice and activism. The Commencement Program also included a Living Land Acknowledgement, presented by four members of the Senior class, to recognize and respect Indigenous peoples as traditional stewards of the land upon which Packer was built. 

To ensure that other family members and loved ones across the world could "attend" the event, the ceremony was also live-streamed. Nearly 500 people tuned in.
Several members of the class offered exquisite musical performances: John Boch played the piano as Sarah Thau sang "In My Life" by the Beatles; Jake Schlein, Alexander Economakis, Hannah Youngwood, Dana Hillebrecht, Frankie Komar, Lucy Anderson, Lily Orlando, Sadie Sadler, Sarah Thau, Gigi Bylinsky, Olivia Rosas, Monty Gunnell, Sofia Leaf, Olivia Bobadilla, and Callie Worth belted out “The Circle Game” by Joni Mitchel with Hannah Youngwood on guitar.


In another return to tradition, the Class of 2022 was able to invite an outside speaker. Schuyler Bailar, who is a diversity and inclusion educator, activist, life coach, speaker and the first transgender athlete to compete in any sport on an NCAA Division 1 men’s team, sparked humor and joy with his moving tale of self discovery and hard-learned wisdom.
Enjoy excerpts of all of the Graduation speeches, with links to the full transcripts below. 
I want to recognize families of the class of 2022 for your support, patience, and partnership. You weren’t expecting to have your kids at home for as much of their high school experience as they were. And you have made the most of each of the celebratory moments we have had - performances, presentations, games, meetings - on zoom and in person. Now, take a moment to exhale - this anticipated moment is finally here.
Full Remarks
Class of 2022. Please listen to me closely, when I say we are a life force. We are an ever-changing ball of light and energy that has consistently demonstrated our resilience and strength over the last four years. We have so many things to be proud of. So many accomplishments to be celebrated. And so many moments of joy to be highlighted.
— Madison Ivory
Full Remarks
To all of the parents and families on behalf of the class of 2022, we want to say, thank you. You are the heartbeat of this class. In some way each of you is responsible for who stands on this stage, what they have done and where they will go. We are grateful for you. And now to send off our peers, we want to say this...
— Aden katz
Full Remarks
I want to recognize your empathy, your sense of connection to one another. Kindness and empathy may be dubbed “soft skills,” but don’t let that lead you to underestimate their importance. Kindness and empathy are what bring people together. We feel that urgency particularly today, as fear, polarization, and selfish forms of individualism plague so much of our society/country. Building connections to others — including and especially people we don’t see eye to eye with — is the only way to disarm conflict and create lasting, positive change, the only way to heal. And in this respect, you are ahead of so many of us in the adult world.
Full Remarks

You don't have to understand everything about somebody else in order to love and respect them. And I think that you all probably have been told that learning is one of the most important things in the world. And, I agree. I think learning is so, so important. But there might be one thing that's more important than learning, that's more important than understanding. And that is loving. So I hope you all can take that forward with you all, that spirit, that heart, because activism truly, at its core, is love. It is love in action. And I hope you never stop loving.

— Schuyler Bailar
Transgender Activist, author
As I stand before the Class of 2022, thank you for being the courageous, supportive, fun-loving and unignorably outspoken class that you are. In the three years I’ve known you, you have never let up on pushing, and pushing, and pushing for what you believe in. For all your pushing, know that you have pulled off something extraordinary. You are leaving Packer a stronger school because of you.
— Maria Valentina Nunes
Upper School Division Head
Full Remarks
I fell in love with [the class of 2022’s] passion for change and commitment to justice, as well as their loving, generous hearts. They, in turn, fell in love with my dog. I sent them a heartfelt email every Friday afternoon with some stories to inspire them, some advice, and some pictures of my little dog, Simba. In case you don’t know this, sending heartfelt emails to Gen-Z is similar to talking to a soundproof wall: you should expect no response. And that remained true in this case, but the exception was when someone would occasionally comment on how cute Simba was. The other exception was when I shared about a day that was difficult for me, and so many of them responded with an outpouring of love and support. The moral of our story is: the people who are meant to support you at the end were often right next to you all along, and… get a dog. 
— Larissa Dzegar
Dean of the Class of 2021
Full Remarks

You can see more photos of the event on our Flickr album.


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