Class of 2021 Celebrated at 128th Commencement
To close its 128th year, Mercersburg Academy saluted the graduating Class of 2021 Saturday, June 5, with Commencement exercises in the traditional on-campus location: the platform between Keil Hall and South Cottage. View the program.
The ceremony, as well as Baccalaureate (held the previous evening on the Prentiss-Zimmerman Quadrangle facing the Irvine Memorial Chapel), marked the completion of an unforgettable year that included a fully virtual winter term, nearly 10,000 COVID-19 tests performed (with zero campus transmissions of the virus), and now a celebration of the 131 members of the senior class and all their accomplishments.
Former faculty member Floyd Robinson was the invited Commencement speaker. Student speakers included valedictorian Alexa Marsh ’21 (Fairfax, VA), salutatorian Lian Wang ’21 (Hong Kong, China), Nevin Orators Dylan Gantt ’21 (Atlanta, GA) and Farah Yahaya ’21 (Easton, PA). Retiring faculty member Tom Rahauser ’74, P ’05, ’07, ’12 delivered the address at Baccalaureate.
Other participants in the service included Senior Class President Rose Potter ’21; Student Council President Ryan Bland ’21; Head of School Katie Titus P ’20, ’23; Board of Regents President Stacie Rice Lissette ’85, P ’14, ’14, ’17, ’23; Class Marshals Kevin Chen ’21 and Ebube Onwusika ’21; and School Minister Rev. Will Whitmore.
Members of the class will matriculate at 88 different colleges, universities, and institutions of higher learning. The most popular college choice among members of the class is the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis (seven). Four students from the class are bound for the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, with three students apiece heading to each of the following schools: Carnegie Mellon University, the University of Colorado Boulder, New York University, the University of Vermont, the University of Virginia, Virginia Polytechnic Institute (Virginia Tech), and Wake Forest University.
"Class of 2021, our Mercersburg story has been defined by the fullness of laughter and loud swelling cheers, of difficult days and saddened spirits, of stimulating seminars, astounding creativity, and compassionate thought," said Marsh, who is headed to Princeton University. "And, confronted with unparalleled obstacles, our final year has been defined by an incredible resilience."
"Mercersburg students taught me that students deserve all that we as educators can and should offer," said Robinson, who was Mercersburg’s first faculty member of color when he was appointed in 1969 and taught at the school until 1976; he retired in 2019 after a 25-year career in student affairs at the University of Houston. "In congratulating you today, I am also thanking the students who supported me during my tenure here. Students, you have the strength, power, and wisdom to make a difference. Your ability to make life more humane is an inherent part of who you are and will become. Do not fail to reach out to others to make a difference. The world needs you."
"From the chaos of these four years, I've found order," Wang, who will attend Stanford University, told the assembled crowd of parents, friends, faculty and staff, and her fellow students. "I've built connections, found friends I truly care about, and people I truly respect... Our lives will continue to be full of chaos—and in the midst of it, it may feel overwhelming and inescapable. But stop for a moment. Don't try to avoid or fight against chaos, but appreciate it, and live in it fully. Realize that chaos is necessary for any order to emerge, and try to pull order from it. This process is what it really means to feel, to struggle, to live, and to be human."
"To my classmates: I know that my story is not synonymous to yours," said Yahaya, who will attend Brown University. "But I also know that today each and every one of us will leave campus with a common chapter titled 'Mercersburg'; a chapter that tells the story of our time here, each written through the unique lenses of our individual perspectives."
"When I think about our class and the connections we have with one another, I envision all of our bonds coalesced into this one web-shaped pattern," said Gantt, who will matriculate at Georgia Tech. "It connects all of us to each other, and it's so beautiful because it wasn't planned."
For more information on this story, please contact Lee Owen (firstname.lastname@example.org) in Mercersburg’s Office of Strategic Marketing and Communications.