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Class of 2020 Moves with Grace into Uncertain World

The Class of 2020 could be characterized by its many accomplishments: award-winning art, championship athletics, sustainability initiatives, prestigious projects and poems, and national recognition for debate, science, and music. But for Head of Upper School Asha Appel, this graduating class characterizes community in a way never seen before.

“Individually, you’ve done amazing and special feats and had many successes and accomplishments, but what makes you who you are is the way you come together,” Appel said in her graduation speech. “You’ve come together in joy and sadness and the most challenging time in recent history. You’ve come together as a center of encouragement, as the colorful and dynamic and spirited core of our community. And you’ve come together to help guide us all through a spring when it would have been very easy to give up, to just throw up your hands in abdication, to be defeated by the many, many pieces we cannot control.”

In her speech to the Class of 2020, Appel spoke of this year’s Senior Retreat as the most collaborative, the most creative, the most equitable and inclusive in recent memory. Appel mentioned the Senior Entrance this past fall as revolutionary and “wildly successful.”

“By making a story the whole school could follow, you made it clear that your special class was full of students whose individual strengths and passions combined to invent the extraordinary,” Appel said. “And that’s been the trajectory of your whole year.”

As fearless leaders of our student community, the Class of 2020 faced the abrupt and unexpected switch to remote learning head-on.

“There is no group of kids I know who imagines better, who sees a challenge and says with confidence and swagger, bring it on,” Appel said. “Your class reminds me of great come-from-behind stories, when the heroes are faced with seemingly insurmountable odds and overcome through sheer force of will, strength of character, and a willingness to work together to do something special.”

Persistence, joy, connection, and strength: just some of the words that describe this OES Class of 2020. Carrying on the mission and values of OES seemingly comes naturally to this class of artists, activists, scientists, athletes, and much, much more.

Concluded Appel, “Your class reminds us that even when there aren’t answers, we need to live in the questions, to be strong in the discomfort of not knowing, to look forward to the opportunity to change the world, to keep looking even when it feels there’s nothing left to find, to do and build the extraordinary.”