Welcome to St. Andrew's two-day celebration of the Class of 2017.
As faculty and students, we gather together virtually every day: in the Dining Hall for family-style meals, at School meeting, in Chapel, but tonight's and tomorrow's gatherings are particularly powerful and dynamic — not only because these are the last two occasions when St. Andrew's of 2016-17 is together but, more importantly, because you as parents, grandparents, guardians, siblings, family members have joined us. We welcome you all.
You collectively represent the commitment, generosity, trust, and love that made your graduates' St. Andrew's experience possible. You literally and metaphorically provided the expectant, faithful, and ethical audience for the lives of your sons and daughters at St. Andrew's.
We all remember some version of a talk, a one-sided conversation with our parents or guardians that sounded something like this:
As you go to school, as you visit another person's home, as you post on social media, as you form friendships and relationships with others, as you go to a party, as you represent the family or your school at a place of worship, a job, or on a trip, pause, think, and remember this test:
Align what you say and what you do and how you behave to the moral, ethical, and spiritual expectations and example of your grandmother, grandfather, mother, father, sibling, or role model.
Speak, act, contribute protect, honor, affirm, and commit in a way that would make your parent or ancestor proud.
In a time of national and global distraction and confusion, it is clear to me that the love, endurance, faith, and generosity of families serve as the foundation of all our hopes and aspirations in our nation and the world. If our families embody grace, generosity, and love, if we see our families as the essential resource for committing to causes larger than ourselves, if our global parent body translates love for their own children to love for all children — all people — especially those who are scorned, isolated, invisible, and endangered, or as was the case in Manchester, caught in a world scarred by violence and hatred — we as a world will not just survive; we will flourish.
We gather at St. Andrew's tonight and tomorrow to form a narrative of grace, of generosity, of commitment; we who attend these ceremonies will return to the world more determined than ever to fight for goodness, fight for peace, and fight for human rights. We will see this family celebration as the foundation for committing to the flourishing of the human family that surrounds us each and every day.
The power of these ceremonies emerge through the words of our seniors tonight as they reflect on their St. Andrew's experience in athletics, the arts, academics, and community service. Tomorrow, we will hear remarks from the Co-Presidents of St. Andrew's, Jas Southerland '17 and Francis Kigawa '17. And, we will welcome L. Heather Mitchell '92 back to St. Andrew's as our Commencement speaker. Together, we will create a narrative of grace, appreciation, gratitude, and commitment .
So, welcome to St. Andrew's. Welcome to days of hope, renewal, gratitude, and promise. You have sacrificed, worked, endured, and lived for others. Bask for a moment in the miracle of the St. Andrew's graduate sitting next to you right now.
We are honored you are here.