On Friday May 21, Madeira awarded 89 diplomas to the Class of 2021. After the traditional processional to their seats with handheld bouquets of 13 red roses (a tradition that honors the 13 original boarding students at Madeira), Imam Mohamed Magid P ’16, ’19, ’21 gave the invocation.
Board Chair Gaither Smoot Deaton ’88 opened the ceremony speaking about the endurance and resilience of the Class of 2021.
“You’ve had more to endure than most and you serve as resilient role models to the classes that preceded you and to those who will follow you. As we have heard today, you have set the bar high and I hope you will enjoy all of the credit you are due.”
Ms. Deaton concluded by reminding the graduates that the School will always be here to support them.
“I offer to you on this jubilant day as you venture forth to new endeavors, adventures, and beginnings – your school, your Madeira family, will always be here to celebrate your successes and to ease your disappointments,” said Ms. Deaton. “You can always come back to this place. You have given us your best and you have made us proud. For that, we thank you. And, in the words of former Head of School, Charlie Saltzman, good luck and Godspeed.”
Head of School Gretchen Warner continued with praise for the Class of 2021, noting their accomplishments in such a challenging year.
“I stand before you with profound gratitude and awe. You have been a positive, passionate, and kind class of extraordinarily hard-working young adults under incredibly challenging circumstances. You have had a deep impact on this school and our community, and we are so proud of all that you have done - for yourselves, your school, and the Madeira community,” said Ms. Warner. “Cherish and expand on what you’ve learned at Madeira, what you love, and who you’ve become. Be wise, take care of yourself, and be true to your roots. As you leave campus today, know we are so proud of you and that we believe in you. No matter where your life takes you, you will forever be a Madeira graduate.”
Elected by her peers as the class speaker, Salimah Hagmagid spoke of how much the class cares and supports each other.
“The Class of 2021 is energetic, loves drinking sparkling water in the senior clubhouse, spends too much time on TikTok, and can get carried away with prank ideas very quickly, but our identity as a class boils down to one real fact: we care for each other so much, and that care and support we have had for each other is what allows us to receive our diplomas today,” said Salimah. “We are all so incredibly proud of each other for what we have accomplished and eager to witness what we will continue to accomplish in the years to come. We love this class. We love our teachers. We love Madeira, and we love our families.”
Senior Avery Tyrrell introduced the commencement speaker Rear Admiral Estella Z. Jones, B.S., D.V.M. Rear Admiral Jones serves in the United States Public Health Service as an Assistant Surgeon General. She also serves as the Deputy Director of the Office of Counterterrorism and Emerging Threats, which is part of the Food and Drug Administration. In that role, she provides strategic and executive direction on programs that continually combat global health threats. Rear Admiral Jones is the first black female veterinarian in the U.S. Public Health Service to achieve this rank, which is equivalent to the rank of brigadier general in other uniformed services.
In addition to sharing her journey to her impressive position in the U.S. Public Health Service, Rear Admiral Jones gave the Class of 2021 13 principles to guide them as they move on from Madeira:
Principles to Match Your 13 Roses:
1. Trust your instincts, particularly when you feel something is not right or it’s a bad decision.
2. Don’t be too hard on yourself.
3. Allow this time to discover who you are and what you want.
4. Don’t succumb to society or peer pressures - career, dating, be critical of others.
5. Have a healthy respect for your body.
6. Self-care isn’t selfish.
7. The world is filled with awful, heartbreaking things but also with beauty, which can mend your heart.
8. Life will offer great despair but also great hope!
9. You will have crushing failures but also soaring victories.
10. Setbacks set the stage for comebacks.
11. Believe in your DNA - Madeira has already given you the basic foundation upon which to build a lifetime of humanity and any goal of your choosing.
12. The present is where you lay the foundation for the future; Your future.
Imam Magid gave the benediction and the ceremony concluded with the awarding of diplomas and the graduates’ recessional.