Friday, June 7 was a truly “bright and beautiful” morning as we celebrated the graduation of the Class of 2019. We welcomed classmates, parents, siblings, grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and more to Grace Episcopal Church to mark the end of our graduates’ time at Grace and to inspire them in their journey forward. Thoughtful words from our Grade 4 and 5 students, from Head of School Jennifer Danish, and from Congressman Jamie Raskin buoyed our spirits.
In her remarks to the graduates, Head of School Jennifer Danish reflected on the ways they had embodied our schoolwide theme of compassion, and encouraged them to spread that compassion to others — and themselves — as they move into middle school and beyond.
I have been reflecting on your final prayers from chapel last week. I especially love this tradition of hearing from our Grade 5 students at our last chapel about what Grace has meant to them. I noticed a common theme in the beautiful words and memories you shared with us. Many of you recalled your first days or moments as Grace students. Amazingly, those memories are strong in many of you even though the events took place years ago. One of you wrote: “When I first started in preschool I was sitting alone when someone walked up to me and asked if I wanted to play with him. Little did I know that would pave the way for many good things to come.” And another, “When I first walked in to my preschool classroom I wanted to leave. But when I looked around everyone was smiling and it helped me feel better.” a third prayer reads, “You have blessed me since the day I walked into this school.”
What moves me most about your memories of Grace is the common theme of belonging that you all felt on your first days at Grace. You were shown kindness and compassion in this place from the very beginning and it has allowed you to flourish and thrive. Many of you also described the kindness of your teachers and fellow Gryphons. This community has shown you compassion and kindness, and that has stayed with you. As you prepare to leave and move onto a new community, please know that you will find that kindness again wherever you go. Your willingness to be open to new experiences will allow you to access new compassion in the world around you.
I also want to offer one piece of advice as you make this step. That advice is to show compassion to a very important person in your life. To always be gentle when you can. To believe that this person is doing their best; that mistakes are the building blocks to our greatest growth. And that person is you. You deserve kindness and compassion most of all. And if you can offer that loving kindness to yourself – the way I know Mr. L has taught you in mindfulness practice – you will be a kinder and gentler person for all of the world. I hope that as you graduate from Grace you remember this most of all.
And also that we love you and we are proud of you and we welcome you back home to Grace whenever you are able. Best of luck to each and every one of you on this very special day as you take flight.
In the fall, our Grace graduates will be taking flight to the following schools: Barrie, Bullis, Holton Arms, Nicholas Orem Middle, Our Lady of Lourdes, Siena, Sandy Spring Friends, St. Andrew’s Episcopal, Stone Ridge, and Washington Jesuit Academy.
Friends of Grace, thank you for your support this year, add we hope you enjoy photos of the closing ceremonies below. Happy summer!