Welcome Remarks ~ Dr. Margaret Haviland
Welcome to our Westfield Friends School Meeting for Worship for Graduation and celebration of the class of 2020.
As is our practice in our ZOOM Worship, let us begin by closing something in our physical spaces to symbolize entering into this virtual space together
Now Let Us Take Three Calming Breaths together to help us settle and center
Let us Begin with a Moment of Gathered Worship together
Welcome to our graduation. In a few minutes, we will hear the graduates' speeches and listen to songs recorded by the class with Ms. Fielding. When they are finished speaking, I will have a few closing remarks, I will read the graduates' names and then we will listen to the school song and "As We Leave This Friendly Place."
I want to ask that you keep your microphones muted so that we hear our graduates' voices clearly.
Usually, in Quaker Meeting for Worship, there is time for others to stand and speak. This is not that kind of meeting. This is programmed worship focused on the gift and ministry of listening to these nineteen young people’s words.
I love that this graduation ceremony focuses on the students and their thoughts and their words. I would ask that as you watch them and hear them, remember that you are seeing so much more than a single individual pulling themselves into adulthood on their own.
When I was in college I heard the poet Nikki Giovanni give a reading and lecture. One of the poems she read was about spending her summers on her grandmother’s porch in Indianapolis. I too am from Indianapolis. I realized that as a woman of color, Nikki knew a totally different Indianapolis from me. Since then, I have spent my life listening to and trying to empathize with other people’s stories and to understand us from within our communities.
I will let Nikki help you understand what you are about to hear from our graduates." I Am a Mirror" by Nikki Giovanni from Bicycles: Love Poems, Harper Perennial, 2009
I am a mirror
I reflect the grace
Of my mother
Of my grandmother
Of my grandfather
Of my great-grandmother
Of my great-grandfather
Of my ancestors
Of those on the auction block
Of those in the middle passage
I reflect the strengths
Of my people
And for that alone
I am loved
And now the graduates, in their own words
Hanilyah will you lead us off, please
Wentworth Theodore Smith
Landon Parker Smith
Lorenzo Michael Rizzieri
Genevieve Rae Urbano
Adrian Joseph Harder
Grace Anne Ward-Gallagher
Julia Kate Brown
Jackson Thomas Mahoney
Aurelia Grace Harp
John Patrick O'Connor
Olivia M. Arnold
Ian Michael Morley
Nicole Anne Jung
Benjamin Michael Girgis
Noah Edmund Johnson
Olivia M.C. Neri
Anya Lee Kazemi
I want to thank you, the graduates' parents, aunts, uncles, grandparents, friends, and family for sharing these young people with us. We are blessed and privileged to have gotten to be a part of your lives.
I want to thank and recognize Valerie Parry for her role in preparing these students for this day.
I want to thank and recognize all of the teachers and staff who make our school possible
I want to thank the Board of Trustees for their leadership and Westfield Monthly Meeting for its continuing care.
I want to recognize Eva Peak and thank her for all she has done to support these students.
Much has been said about Eva and her monarch butterfly hatch and release projects. One of the amazing things about Monarchs is that they travel thousands of miles and return to the exact spot where they were hatched.
- Class of 2020 you are ready to go out and I know you will return.
- You are coming of age during a pandemic that has taken from you and thousands of others.
- You are coming of age at a time of great primal anger and upheaval over the failures on the promise of this country's aspirations to “be a city upon a hill”, a “Holy Experiment”, “a more perfect union”
- You leave this school where you have been privileged to experience community in its highest expressions.
- You are about to discover that community doesn’t just happen.
- You will have to actively create the communities of equity, justice, opportunity, and love wherever you go.
- This is hard and noble work.
- I know you will succeed.
I will now read the graduates' names. They will get their diplomas in a little while at the Meeting House. After I finish we will listen to songs. At the end of the second song, our meeting for worship for graduation will be over.