Class of 2022 Commencement

JUNE 30, 2022

The skies cleared just in time as students, family members, and professional community members made their way to the Church of the Heavenly Rest on the morning of June 16 for the Class of 2022 Commencement.

As musician Janet Yieh led the processional with the familiar tune of “Pomp and Circumstance” by Edward Elgar, the entire crowd turned to face the entry. The Class of 2022 walked proudly into the church, each dressed in Nightingale’s signature navy graduation gown, delicately holding a single, yellow rose.

Caroline H. ’22, senior class co-president, led the presentation of the Class of 2022. “Regardless of the amount of time spent at Nightingale, each of us have left our mark and contributed to Nightingale and the world around us in their own way,” Caroline said.

To demonstrate just how much the Class of 2022 has contributed to Nightingale and the world around them, Caroline asked her peers a series of questions and recognized each graduate for their hard work and dedication to Nightingale, by asking them to stand if the question at hand applied to them. Seniors were applauded for their participation in summer internships, varsity sports, ISPs, clubs, musicals, semester abroad or away trips, student government, concerts, and more. Ultimately, every student in the Class of 2022 stood and celebrated for their dedication.

Student Council Vice President for the 2021-2022 school year Arya K. ’22 led the recognition of senior leaders and officers who dedicated their time to lead Upper School organizations and clubs. She read the names of each departing student leader, as well as the rising student leaders for the 2022-2023 school year, while hugs and a medallion of service were exchanged between both.

Genesis B. ’22, senior class co-president, then introduced Yazmeene L. ’22, the Class of 2022’s selected student speaker.

Yazmeene began her speech recalling that as a Class IX student at graduation in June of 2018, she was unsure about her future with Nightingale. She shared that, at the time, she was looking forward to her own graduation in hopes that the time would fly by. However, four years later, she found herself saddened during their last day of classes.

“Not because it was finally over with—but because it hit me harder than it had before that I was leaving the home that we’ve made over the past couple of years,” Yazmeene said. “Now, the question is when did this change happen? The flashes of memories from the past four years are the only way I could explain it to you.”

She then shared memories that were all too familiar to Class XII, dancing to Mamma Mia, recollections from their trip to London, their senior lounge, and difficult and wonderful moments of school that got them to that particular moment, and sitting in front of their loved ones as soon-to-be graduates.

“You are the greatest family I could have ever chosen and I would pick you all again every single time. I just want to say thank you for everything. For making me passionate about my everyday life but also my future,” Yazmeene said. “You inspire me every day with your talents and your courage and your kindness and I will continue to cheer you on while you keep doing what makes you happy. Thank you for teaching me to love in ways I didn’t even know I could love. I appreciate every single one of you more than you know.”

With their unknown future on the horizon, Yazmeene advised her peers to use their nerves to their advantage.

“Let it remind you of the work that you needed to put in to get to this point, all of the people that supported you along the way, and the gravity of your future. We have all put in the time that it took to get here. There were some assignments submitted hours or days late and free periods that we spent wasting time along the way but that all brought us here. To this moment where we know the next immediate step in our future. But, of course, don’t let this stop you from being curious about what the future holds. Your curiosity will be one of your greatest strengths along this journey and you should never forget to appreciate this in yourself as well as your other strengths.”

Next, Council President Zoe S. ’22 introduced the Class of 2022’s Commencement speaker, Beatriz Stix-Brunell ’11, who just completed her first year at Stanford University after retiring from a career in ballet at the Royal Opera House in London last spring. Zoe shared that Beatriz embodied the exact qualities the seniors were looking for in their speaker: artistic, creative, young, entertaining, joyful, caring, and someone who would relate to their experience.

“I have had the fortune of standing on many stages before many audiences around the world, but few measure up to the privilege and pride I feel standing with you here today,” Beatriz said, and then thanked the Class of 2022.

Throughout her speech, she shared some tangible and relatable advice that had helped her through many transitions in her own life. The first piece of advice, she shared, is that the first hurdles can sometimes be the most difficult to overcome, but before you know it, time passes and that time is now an experience.

“There will always be a first hurdle to overcome. While they dont get any easier—I’m sorry—they provide the opportunities to recognize your own capabilities, address your discomforts, and learn how to adapt to new situations,” she explained.

Another piece of advice she shared was that “pushes and falls lead to tangible progress. With them, come successes and failures, but that vulnerable state that’s born from pure exposure promotes our most important growth—so recognize it, embrace it, and soon the initial pain of insecurity will be replaced by the newly gained experience and knowledge.”

To conclude her speech Beatriz offered one, final piece of advice: “Never take yourself too seriously, because if you can make fun of yourself, then you’ve cracked the code.”

President of the Board of Trustees Rebecca Grunwald P’19, Head of Upper School Andrea Kassar, and Head of School Paul A. Burke, presented each senior with their diploma. After a round of applause for the Class of 2022, and with a hearty congratulations from Mr. Burke, a wave of navy graduation caps were tossed to the sky.

In his closing remarks, Mr. Burke noted, “You have sincerely moved from challenge to challenge, from class to class, from event to event learning your way towards a better day, while condescending to no one.”

“It was then, and only then, as you went about your final days, that I noticed that special something: I have seen you grateful. I have seen you grateful for each other, grateful for your opportunities, grateful for your Nightingale, grateful for your teachers, grateful for your—as Yazmeene made so clear—your families,” Mr. Burke said. “Gratitude doesn't change life circumstances but it can change how we live within them. Gratitude doesn't keep that bus from being delayed, but it helps you turn an inconvenience into an adventure. You seem to understand this in a way that feels deeper than any class that has come before. And perhaps that depth comes thanks to this historical moment, but perhaps it is just you being you.”

“Before you go, I have one final thought: all of us here—your family, your friends, your Nightingale, all of us are here today because we are grateful for you.”

Congratulations to the Class of 2022!