Class of 2020 Honored at Virtual Commencement
Mercersburg Academy held a Virtual Commencement for the 123 members of its Class of 2020 online Saturday, May 23. The event featured many of the elements of a traditional on-campus Commencement ceremony, including music chosen by the class, student speeches, class marshals, the reading of names and awarding of diplomas, the presentation of the senior class gift, special awards from the school, and the Commencement address from invited speaker, former NFL player, and Mercersburg alumnus Vincent Rey ’06.
Members of the Class of 2020 represent 16 American states (plus the District of Columbia) and 13 nations of the world. They will matriculate at 85 different institutions.
Visit Mercersburg’s Commencement page to see videos from the ceremony.
Students speaking at the ceremony included Valedictorian Sean Fiscus ’20 (La Vale, MD/Duke University), Salutatorian Shannon Fan ’20 (Beijing, China/Stanford University), Schaff Orators Aidan Ferrin ’20 (Bozeman, MT/University of California, Los Angeles) and Caroline Kranich ’20 (State College, PA/Washington and Lee University), Senior Class President Jesse Zhang ’20 (Beijing, China/University of Pennsylvania), and Student Council President Aba Sankah ’20 (Bradenton, FL/University of Pennsylvania). The class marshals were Grace Lewis ’20 (Greencastle, PA/Boston University) and Campbell Prentiss ’20 (Andover, MA/Elon University).
In addition to Rey, other speakers included Head of School Katie Titus P ’20, ’23, and Board of Regents President Deborah Simon ’74.
Rey, a graduate of Mercersburg and of Duke University, worked his way up from going undrafted to playing in 128 games for the Bengals from 2010 to 2018. He started 50 games at linebacker and tallied 497 career tackles and six sacks, five interceptions, and a touchdown. Rey was also a four-year team captain, was the Bengals’ leading tackler during the 2014, 2015, and 2017 seasons, and was nominated for the NFL’s Art Rooney Sportsmanship Award along with the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award.
Off the field, Rey has been involved with a number of charitable organizations, including the United Way, the Aruna Project, Lighthouse Youth Services, and REYspect Academy, a program in Cincinnati public schools. During his playing career, he also tutored seventh- and eighth-graders in math on Tuesdays, which is the typical “off day” for NFL players during the season.
A native of Queens, NY, Rey led Mercersburg’s football team to the 2005 Mid-Atlantic Prep League championship, and also wrestled and competed in outdoor track & field. He earned second-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference honors at Duke, where he was a two-year team captain and was named a University Scholar Athlete by the National Football Foundation and College Hall of Fame.
As part of the ceremony, Zhang announced the Class of 2020’s gift to the school: a brass sculpture of two oversized acorns and two squirrels titled “Maestro and Caroler” to be installed on campus this summer. The sculpture was created by Brad Oldham and Christy Coltrin of Dallas, TX, who are the parents of graduating senior Anabelle Oldham ’20.
An on-campus Commencement celebration for the Class of 2020 is planned for a date to be announced (when the school determines it is reasonable and safe to gather together on campus).
QUOTES FROM SPEAKERS
Sean Fiscus ’20, valedictorian
“Looking to the future doesn’t help us now. If we don’t want to throw a significant chunk of our lives away, we need to find a way to live in the present. My solution: look in the mirror. We have been cheated and broken by this pandemic, but interestingly enough, those who are the most cheated and broken tell the most heart wrenching stories, sing the most inspiring songs, and take the most gruesome, horrifying, life-changing mirror selfies.”
“Class of 2020, I can’t wait to see all of you in person for our non-virtual Commencement, but in the meantime, stop counting down the days. Look in the mirror. We all have some impressive battle scars to show off.”
Shannon Fan ’20, salutatorian
“To everyone who has been part of this journey, I thank you for sharing your time with me. You will always have a special place in my heart.”
“We’ve brought Mercersburg with us into our homes on all different continents. May we now go into the world.”
Caroline Kranich ’20, Schaff Orator
“Although Mercersburg has provided us with a first-class education, it’s the people that made our experience at Mercersburg so important. The people are why I call Mercersburg home.”
“Think of Mercersburg often, and never forget how lucky we are to have spent our high-school careers here. We will always have Mercersburg to return to, and we shouldn’t forget that.”
Aidan Ferrin ’20, Schaff Orator
“Something so brilliant about Mercersburg is the enacting of the proximity principle: a sociological phenomenon that states that those physically near each other are more likely to form meaningful relationships.”
“My message to you is to jump in headfirst. Be a part of a community—any community—and you will find strength, friendship, and love. The people around you are your support. All the places you inhabit are your home. And as this little Montana boy and 122 others exit this institution, leaving it in the hands of the next capable group of seniors, I—we—support you.”
Vincent Rey ’06, invited speaker
“Class of 2020, you have been trained, studied, gone through an arduous four years, and not only finished, but excelled in doing so. Classes have continued virtually, and you've still thrived even though you're separated by state, country, and time zones. There is no glory without a story, and this Class of 2020 surely has a story.”
“You have earned the right to be confident, so be confident.”
“When you serve, the spotlight will eventually come on you. The ones who refresh others will themselves be refreshed.”