If you'd like to watch the 2021 Commencement Ceremony at Providence Park in Portland tonight, click here!
When the Class of 2021 began their final school year this fall, they faced a variety of Covid restrictions and challenges. As the year progressed, the Zoom boxes on computer screens, virtual gatherings, and heavily distanced activities slowly faded away, but one constant remained: The Class of 2021’s fearless blazing of the trail that this school year brought, leading the way and setting a good example for younger OES students. The newest graduates truly fit the class’s motto of 'Trailbla21ng.'
“You’ve lived up to your theme! You made it through the morass of a global pandemic,” Head of Upper School Asha Appel said in her Senior Recognition Awards speech on Thursday. “You have paved new roads through the unknown, you’ve raised your voices for that which you believe in and against that for which you will no longer stand. You've gotten comfortable with the uncomfortable, and you’ve created opportunities where there appeared to be none.”
Their eleventh-grade year was cut short, with non-school environments their new place to learn remotely. This class couldn’t gather regularly with family, friends, teachers, and others for nearly a year. They faced a multitude of new guidelines, rules, and restrictions at school—and these artists, athletes, scientists, writers, and much more—did so with finesse, care, and enthusiasm.
“You know you are ready to leap, capable of handling whatever wonderful, scary, joyous, crazy thing happens next. And so your word, class of 2021, is poised,” Appel said. “You are poised to swan dive into that vast ocean of space in all its sweetness and darkness, poised to solve the world’s problems, poised to care for your community, to take on the challenges that make you stronger, to be extraordinary, to blaze new trails that we all will follow.”
A unique experience for a unique class, the end of this school year marks the beginning of new adventures for seniors who so gracefully faced the challenge of graduating high school during a pandemic.
“The real beauty in getting through something challenging—whether it’s high school, or a pandemic, or your first break-up, or a really tough hike up a seemingly endless mountain—is that it marks the beginning of something new rather than an end,” Appel said. “When we begin to see ourselves as always poised to discover, as always glowing on the verge of something extraordinary, we will not be disappointed or discouraged by what might seem to be yet another obstacle.
“We’ll celebrate you as individuals and the collective that is the Class of 2021, a group that matters to this school, and is helping to make the world a better place, even shaping the future now,” Appel concluded. “We are so grateful to have been a part of your extraordinary journey and are proud to set you off on your next adventure.”
Congratulations, OES Class of 2021!