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Congratulations to the Class of 2024

Santa Fe Prep’s 57th Commencement ceremony was held in the upper school quad, celebrating the achievements of 46 graduating seniors. In his welcome remarks, Head of School Aaron Schubach spoke of the value and consequence of a Prep education. Beyond its most essential purpose of preparing young people for a college education, Prep readies its students to engage in and build communities.

“I aspire to change the world by sending forth amazing people with broad educations and strong values. Change the world? I am pretty sure that sounds like delusions of grandeur from a principal at a small school. But it’s true. […] Here’s why—education creates personal transformations. In fact, it’s the only thing that does. […] When we learn more about the human condition through literature and when science helps us see beyond the surface of the physical world, we are able to temporarily escape the naive confines of our cloistered minds.”

To open her graduation address, alumna Karen Phillips ’98 shared the poem “Spring” by a Burmese poet who uses the pseudonym Nga Ba, and translated from Burmese by ko ko thett. A testament to the resilience of the class of 2024, Karen wished the graduates a joyful celebration as they prepare to set out into the world in the spring of their lives. Karen reflected on her memories of Prep in the 90s“a scrappier, grungier place” that nevertheless fostered a passion for language and community, shaping her as a thinker and setting her on her path to becoming executive director and publisher at Words Without Borders, an organization that cultivates global awareness by expanding access to international writing and creating a bridge between readers, writers, and translators.

“[Prep] is a place that values humanism and humanistic inquiry. That encourages creative expression through the arts, but also excellence on the playing field. That prioritizes service, inviting students to become change-makers in their communities. It is a school rooted in our unique landscape that fosters a sense of place through outdoor learning. But what I most appreciated as a student, and what I understand is still special about the Prep experience, is the space and freedom it provides to become oneself, to try on different hats, and to defy categories. And as far as I can tell, Prep is still sufficiently, and wonderfully, weird.”

Douglas Schwartz Class Speaker Award recipient Virginia Moore used the narrative archetype of “The Hero’s Journey” to chart the experiences of her classmates at Prep as well as the adventures that await them as they move on to college and beyond.

“Our lives will continue to shift in ways we can’t even imagine right now. But, in having completed the journey once before, we are equipped beyond belief for whatever the world throws at us. As we enter the liminal space that is the summer before college, we can hold onto the knowledge that once we cross the threshold into the world of the unknown, this isn’t our first rodeo. We have made it through a rigorous and wonderful journey, and we have every ability to do it again.”

In their valediction remarks, co-valedictorians Sofia Alexandrescu and Abigail Furlanetto fittingly presented co-metaphors to highlight the uncertainty and excitement for the future of the Class of 2024. When a video of a basilisk lizard walking on water sparked excitement in a 10th-grade chemistry class and curiosity about how the beloved Dr. E (Ellee Cook ’09) was inspired by a mentor to study lizards while pursuing her PhD, the students were struck by the importance of mentorship and team building in the shaping of one’s community. Shifting from the imagery of the basilisk lizard to a sailboat competing in a race further served to highlight this significance of community building.

“We also know that having a good crew—surrounding ourselves with a community of supportive, caring people—will always lend itself to a smoother journey. Having a knowledgeable coach—helpful and passionate teachers, mentors, and leaders—will also aid us on our path. Just as Dr. E found inspiration in her mentor, we too, have been shaped by the mentors found in our friends, families, and teachers. We also know that there’s always another race—another opportunity to learn, to succeed, and to grow. We must go into these future races with confidence, excitement, and trust in the crew alongside us.”

Graduates, with hearts full of gratitude, we bid you adieu! Click here to see where members of the Class of 2024 are headed after Prep!