Challenging girls to become women of 
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The Class of 2021 Graduates
Newton Country Day’s 141st Graduation Ceremony was held in the Sunken Garden on Thursday, June 3. The families of the 64 graduates of the Class of 2021 gathered under the tent to celebrate the hard work and dedication of the senior class.

After the procession into the tent, Headmistress Sister Barbara Rogers welcomed everyone before introducing Class President Eliza Sullivan ’21. Sullivan gave the Invocation before the Mary Quinlan Salutatory Address was delivered by Ella Lesher ’21.

Acknowledging that the Class of 2021 showed great resilience and sacrifice, not only over the past year but through all of their years in the Upper School, Lesher said, “Courage is not always taking a risk or making a bold move, sometimes it's just the voice in the back of your mind as you fall asleep saying, '’try again tomorrow.’ My classmates are the reason I believe in the goodness of people. They've shown me it's true that we rise by lifting others. Just as a candle loses nothing in sharing its light, I've seen the beauty in selflessly supporting one another. We each have a unique way of making others feel seen, heard, and loved. This light that we've shared is so great that I'm certain it will remain here long after we leave, illuminating the pathways of friendship and community for years to come. I am so grateful to be a part of this brilliant class and can't wait to see what the future holds for these insanely talented, loving, generous, and strong people around me.”

Following Lesher, assistant physician in the Department of Hematology/Oncology at Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH), and an instructor in medicine at Harvard Medical School, Dr. Rachel Rosovksy P’16’21 delivered the Graduation Address. Rosovsky spoke candidly about her time working in the COVID-19 wards at MGH. In her speech she shared what she learned about herself during this time, as well as something she coined “pandemic driven” courage and confidence.

“Facing the challenges of senior year during a world-wide health crisis could not have been easy for you, right? It demanded resiliency,” Rosovsky noted. “Maybe your best friends weren't in your cohort. Maybe your teacher couldn't figure out how to work the Cleartouch or the Owl. You got through it. Here you are.

“Perfection does not exist and if you are striving for only that, you're going to miss out. It is partly through my struggles that I have become a better teacher, role model, colleague, boss, friend. So, when you do something wrong or make a mistake, don't become defensive or beat yourself up, rather - look at them as opportunities - how can you grow from them and be a better, and more compassionate person.

“A challenge that I have dealt with throughout my career, and maybe one you can relate to, is that I struggle with my inner critic. Recently, I gave a talk to the Centers for Disease Control. I give speeches all over the nation, even international, but this was the CDC at the height of the fight against COVID-19. I spent hours writing and preparing and right after I gave the talk, I was elated. You know that sensation when you feel you are on top of the world? That was exactly how I felt. I even heard the director of the CDC thought it was awesome. And, guess what? The very next day, as I was mulling over that talk, I started to question and doubt myself. There was my inner critic trying to take over. I talked with a friend who once said to me, you sometimes need to change the channel in your head. So, my message to you is be kind to yourself and to try not to let your inner critic have airtime; I am still learning how to do that.

“You are going to have times in college, and throughout the rest of your life, when you will feel overwhelmed; you don't have to struggle by yourself. You have a beautiful community of people at NCDS; you have amazing friends and support. Don't lose touch and make the effort to reach out to them. Always remember the people and resources available to you. NCDS has given you the tools - the courage and go after your dreams, make mistakes and learn from them, quiet your inner critic, be kind to yourself, and lean on your supports. And level the playing field. I hope you all find joy and gratitude every day.” concluded Rosovsky.

After the conferring of the diplomas, Alice Husson Prize recipient Gabriella Ciccolo ’21 took the stage to thank the faculty and staff.

“There's a common belief that in challenging times, we find the best in people,” Ciccolo began. “The idea is that difficult circumstances often encourage us to both look to and offer our neighbors unrivaled companionship, a listening ear, and small moments of happiness. While this may sound like a romanticized idea, I've never seen anyone embody this notion as powerfully as the teachers and staff at Newton Country Day have and do. This year has been taxing (to say the least), but the steadfast compassion and support that we've received from our teachers are the reasons we're standing here today.”

Director of Student Life Katherine Spelman then distributed prizes before Avery Woolbert ’21 delivered the Janet Erskine Stuart Valedictory Address.

Woolbert told the crowd of highlights from the Class of 2021 during each of their years in the Upper School, noting retreats and traditions. “Senior year we were challenged to preserve our community in the face of physical separation,” she said. “One memory I will never forget was our last day of class, when we gathered as a grade on the Upper Field and stood in a circle, singing along to Hannah Montana, many of us with tears in our eyes as we took in that moment, surrounded by our friends and basking in the many memories of this school we love so dearly. As I was writing this speech, I couldn't help but recognize how we ended our four year journey in the same way it began: gathered in a circle, united through the community we worked so hard to forge, develop, and preserve. We are a class of 64 individuals, but in those moments, we were one.

“As I traveled the timeline of memories I have at NCDS, one central theme emerged for me. I can say with the utmost certainty that at this school, I am seen and I am known. We all are. We are known by each other, by the Class of 2021, not simply as a consequence of our size, but as an intentional priority of the community we created. We are known by our teachers, who are not only our teachers, but our coaches, our counselors, and our confidantes. We are known by our families, who made real sacrifices so that we could come to this special place. We are known by our school. We are recognized for our individual gifts, but also for our identity as a class. We are empowered to be artists, scientists, athletes, and authors. We are called to be courageous teammates and confident leaders. We are NCDS graduates and Sacred Heart sisters. This is the legacy our school has gifted us: that we can go out into the world equipped with the knowledge that we are known, we are valued, and we are capable.”

After the Sacred Heart Goal Awards were distributed, Chairman of the Board of Trustees Christopher Kelly P’05’07’12’16 delivered the closing prayer. Families then joined their graduates for photos as they were welcomed into our alumnae community.

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