Commencement 2021 brings the CA community together


After a year the likes of which no other Senior class has experienced, the Colorado Academy Class of 2021 finished strong, happy, and classy. These students, who spent a year of combined remote, hybrid, and in-person learning, celebrated their final, official day at CA joyfully in-person.

They had to walk a little further from Welborn House to reach a socially distanced Commencement ceremony that filled Firman Field. And even after they graduate, some members of this class will continue their commitment to CA, competing in the pandemic year fourth sports season, which continues into late June.

Watch a recording of the livestreamed Commencement. (Please note that video starts at 4:00.)

View and download the Senior class picture and diploma photos from the Class of 2021. (Scroll down for many more photos.)

Chair of the CA Board of Trustees Erika Hollis urged the Class of 2021 to use the freedom of their upcoming summer to enjoy themselves and to find direction for their future.

“A summer experience—with reflection—may affect your career choice—either affirming what you always knew you loved,” Hollis said, “or teaching you what you really don’t want to do for the rest of your life. Pay attention. Be honest with yourself either way.”

Dr. Jon Vogels had the opportunity to congratulate his son, Henry Chesley-Vogels ’21.

Upper School Principal Jon Vogels used his final Commencement Speech to honor the resilience of the Class of 2021.

“This year’s 101 graduating Seniors are an eclectic and dynamic bunch,” Vogels said. “They have earned the highest cumulative GPA in the history of the school, they have been part of multiple state championships in sports, created thousands of pages of code, written hundreds of poems and stories and plays (some of which have won national awards), they have solved complex math problems, played multiple instruments, delivered PPE supplies to Native American reservations, and tutored DPS elementary students over Zoom, just to give a few examples.

“Oh, and they endured a global pandemic during the last fifteen months of their high school careers. We will miss your steady presence here, and your leadership of all Pre-K—12 students in this most stressful of years has been noticed and valued.”

Head of School Dr. Mike Davis paid tribute to Vogels, who is stepping down as Upper School Principal after 18 years but will continue at CA as an English teacher and Advisor to the Speech and Debate program.

“I love his compassion for students and warm sense of humor,” Davis said. “He has a wonderful perspective on young people that has informed his decision making and leadership. Jon, you have shaped the development of hundreds of students over your years as principal, creating opportunity for learning and growth. On behalf of the entire CA community, thank you.”

And then Davis had some final thoughts for the Class of 2021.

“You have proven that you are resilient and can muster the strength and creativity to come out better than when we started,” Davis said. “You will handle what life brings to you with the same kind of courage and kindness that have defined how so many of you interact in your daily lives. As you leave CA, know that you are prepared for anything.”

On behalf of the Class of 2021, Senior Colby Lish, who was the student-elected speaker, thanked CA for the experiences students had received.

I would like to recognize for a moment the caliber of the school and the quality of the education that each of us has received. CA has, for the past four years, trained us to be critical thinkers, problem solvers, and collaborators.

“As we go off into the world, remember that we are all leaders—though we will each present it in our own unique way. We have received the priceless gift of education, and now it is our duty to take charge of the world that we are stepping into with the intent to better it for the next generation.”

For much of the year, singing was not permitted for safety reasons. But at Commencement, members of Chanteurs sent the Class of 2021 off with “Light in the Hallway.”

“You are not alone, you are right at home,” sang the students. What better message for the Class of 2021 to have in their hearts as they bid farewell to CA.

Watch a virtual pre-recording of the Commencement ceremony.

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