Mr. Kwon, Trustees, Ms. Nunes, Ms. Dzegar, Faculty, Staff, Families, Friends, and most importantly members of the class of 2022,
Welcome to Packer’s 175th Commencement Exercises.
It is my honor to be with you today to celebrate this remarkable class. I have learned from Latin faculty members that this is our dodransbicentennial Commencement. It is a particular joy to be with you in the Garden - the heart of our community. Many of you spent countless years observing the Class of 2022 take part in May Day celebrations. and it is fitting to be back in the Garden for our first graduation here since 2019. And particularly meaningful for me as [both mins] and Maria Nunes' first.
I would like to extend a warm welcome to those of you joining our celebration today via livestream. After students and faculty have accomplished multiple modes of learning over the past three years, it is fitting to have our second hybrid graduation, which allows us to take this celebration global. We have loved ones watching from all over the world - New York, Las Vegas, London, Mexico City, Dublin, Taiwan, and even New Jersey, to name a few.
I would like to recognize our Board of Trustees. The board’s steadfast stewardship through these challenging years has ensured our ability to provide excellent education to every one of our over 1000 students.
I also want to recognize our phenomenal faculty and staff. Every day, you share your expertise and demonstrate your tireless dedication to our students. Their commitment to excellence across countless challenges these past years has been remarkable. It is a great honor to count myself among you.
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.
My sincere thanks to everyone who has prepared for this day - Shriya Bhargava-Sears, Fiara Sealy, Maxine Coleman, Jimmy Dolan and all of the facilities team, Mr. Riggio and our musicians, as well as the Upper School Deans and the 12th Grade advising team.
Tonight we are starting the program with a Land Acknowledgement. Land Acknowledgments recognize and respect indigenous peoples as traditional stewards of the land. This practice helps us develop our mindfulness and appreciation for the long natural and human histories of this very place, and focuses us on our duty to understand and steward natural and human communities here in Brooklyn.
In 2019, Graham Hall-Keough, member of the class of 2021 - brought together students and faculty to develop a Land Acknowledgment for Packer. We call it a “Living” Land Acknowledgement because it starts with our statement, uttered in community, and extends to our work developing relationships with indigenous organizations. This year, our Land Acknowledgement Committee has cultivated a relationship with the American Indian Community House, In addition, the Shen Gallery housed a Living Land Exhibit - Curated, designed, and written by student curators, with faculty mentorship The exhibit was an exploration of culture and place by three contemporary indigenous artists.
Students and faculty have spoken our land acknowledgement at a number of school meetings this year, and now for the first time here at our commencement. It is my pleasure to welcome members of our Living Land Acknowledgement Committee up to the stage now.