When Colorado Academy planners imagine the perfect Commencement, they dream about a day like June 2, 2022—sunshine, blue sky, no wind, and moderate temperatures. Even better, this was a day when Commencement returned to beloved traditions which had been disrupted by two years of COVID-19 changes.
Chair of the CA Board of Trustees Erika Hollis greeted families and friends of the graduates. Evoking her own life experience, she reminded the Class of 2022 that the future professional plans they have today may change—more than once. She urged the students to “take the time to reflect on life.”
“What are you grateful for?” she asked them to consider. “How do you want to be viewed by the world, and how do you want to view others?”
Wisely, Hollis pointed out to the graduates that the qualities listed in the CA Mission Statement that served to guide them in their time at CA—curious, kind, courageous, and adventurous—will also serve them in their futures.
Solving the puzzle
Head of School Dr. Mike Davis reminded this graduating class that they are special to him because he had started at CA with them 14 years ago. He acknowledged that the global pandemic “transformed your lives.” But he emphasized the ways that students in this class persevered, despite the many disruptions.
“Your leadership and tone have been so critical for saving the core aspects of our student culture: courage and kindness,” he said. “You helped set the tone in the classrooms, the Community Leadership Team, in Senior Speeches, in athletics, and the arts.”
Davis pointed out the unique relaxing hobby this class adopted—collaborating on complex jigsaw puzzles in the Senior Lounge. He used the puzzles to draw a lesson for students’ lives.
“If you picture your current life as a jigsaw puzzle, you are only about 20 percent of the way there,” he said. “You are literally putting the pieces of your life together to form the big picture. You have made it through the first part of your education. Now, you will go on to college life and study. You are about to have a lot of freedom, and with that comes a lot of fun. You will make new friends and discover new talents and passions.
“As many of you worked out puzzles in that Senior Lounge, you looked at every piece from every angle to try to put it all together. If you think about the major societal issues you will confront, I hope you do the same. Take that piece, turn it upside down and sideways. Question it. And figure out how it fits.
“I am so proud of you, and I am so proud to have been part of your educational journey. You are a remarkable group of students who have steadied our ship and brought joy back to our community.”
Senior Maude Tetzeli, the speaker elected by her classmates, perfectly captured the personalities and memories of her class. She paid tribute to faculty and staff as unsung heroes who had helped her and her class get through their years at CA. She compared the Class of 2022 to their mascot, the mustang.
“We are mustangs through and through, and we always will be,” she said. “Known for their immense individuality in personality and diversity of appearance and interests, mustangs come in every color and are especially intelligent and agile.
“Most important, they are unwaveringly loyal to their herd. This class is made up of every kind of person: artists, athletes, actors, debaters, scientists, writers, engineers, musicians, and leaders. When we come together as one, as a group of intelligent, adaptable, courageous people, these traits appear more beautiful than ever. We are individually defined, and yet collectively enhanced. We truly live the mission of Colorado Academy.
“CA’s mission calls us to be curious, kind, courageous, and adventurous learners and leaders. I don’t think our purpose needs to change just because we are graduating. Just like the horses we are named after, we will go forward with the powerful combination of fierce individuality and knowledge that we always have a herd behind us. We are the Mustang Class of 2022.”
The Commencement ceremony ended with tributes to the accomplishments of each individual student, just before they accepted their CA-red diplomas. (Read all the tributes here.)
Then, the celebrating and picture-taking began, on a perfect Commencement Day!
The Commencement Reception, which takes place the evening before Commencement, will not be remembered for perfect Colorado weather. But hundreds of family members braved chilly temperatures and joined the Class of 2022 for an evening party.
Head of School Dr. Mike Davis asked students to thank their families for their support of the school. “Your parents, and in some cases, your grandparents, made a very deliberate decision to send you to CA,” Davis said. “For nearly everyone, it involved sacrifice and an intentional commitment. While you are all ready to hit the road and go to college, I know from my many talks with alumni that there will be a day when you will be able to truly reflect on the amazing gift your parents and grandparents have given you by sending you to Colorado Academy.”