The 69th Commencement Ceremony at Sacred Heart Academy took place on Four Sisters Field on June 5, 2021, a beautiful Saturday morning. 211 girls representing the resilient Class of 2021 proudly donned their traditional white graduation robes, many adorned with regalia representing academic honors and society memberships.
The Class of 2021 is an impressive one. Over 90% of the graduates earned $58 million in scholarship money for academics, athletics and the arts. 17 student-athletes, who were celebrated earlier this year at the college commitment ceremonies, were recruited to play in college. Almost 100% of the graduates will move on to a four-year college, many enrolling in the nation’s top-ranked programs for science, health, engineering, business, education and the arts.
During the Senior Awards Ceremony on Thursday, Graduation Liturgy on Friday, Graduation on Saturday, these types of examples of the Class of 2021's accomplishments were shared, but the consistent message delivered to the graduates was to take what you’ve learned here at SHA, continue your education, and make a difference in the world. This was summed up years ago by St. Catherine of Sienna who said, "Be who God meant you to be, and set the world on fire."
Lindsay Moran '21, the Salutatorian, explained how the Class of 2021's experience at Sacred Heart Academy challenged them to become the best versions of themselves as students and people:
"Through Sacred Heart’s belief in courage, compassion, and commitment, we all became women who lead with heart. Not only will the core values of Sacred Heart aid us in the transition to college this fall, but also the education we received here will provide us with a sturdy foundation to build upon our knowledge; however, the greatest lessons we learned were not found on the textbook pages we all so diligently read. Our history teachers taught us how the world once was and empowered us to see all it can be. Our math teachers taught us the power of perseverance, to never give up on any problem that we face. Our music and art teachers taught us about the hope and comfort the arts provide even in the darkest of times. Our theology teachers taught us the importance of faith and that we must always love our neighbor as we love ourselves. Our world language teachers taught us the power of communication, but more importantly they taught us how to listen. Our science teachers taught us the need for observation so that we do not merely exist in this world, but we seek to understand it. Finally, our English teachers taught us the power of empathy as we studied lives and worlds far different from our own."
Valedictorian, Carmela Musso '21, explained how Sacred Heart Academy expanded her perception on what leadership really means:
"From my first drive past Sacred Heart Academy in seventh grade, I was intrigued by the signs lining Four Sisters Field encouraging students to “lead with heart.” To be completely transparent, I was confused by the idea presented by this slogan. To me, a leader was many things - commanding, fierce, and formidable- but what did heart have to do with leadership? It is only after four years at Sacred Heart Academy that I can finally answer this question that weighed upon my rather naïve 12-year-old mind. The leadership demonstrated by my peers has allowed me to expand upon my definition of a leader. Leaders are commanding, yet also compassionate. Leaders are confident in their abilities, but also willing to ask for help. Most importantly, leaders are motivated not by external rewards but by an internal desire to improve life for those around them. These are the leaders I have seen at SHA, and these are the leaders I encourage you to continue to be. As Nelson Mandela said, “a good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.” We have all the tools necessary for success - by remembering to lead in all aspects of life with our hearts, nothing can stand in our way. That is how we proceed into the future, unknown as it may be."
In the final act of ceremonial tradition, SHA President, Mrs. Kristin Lynch Graham, presided over the turning of the tassels from the right side to the left to signify their graduation and welcome them as Sacred Heart Academy Alumnae.
Sacred Heart Academy’s celebration of the Class of 2021 began with the senior prom on Wednesday, June 2, at the beautiful Stewart Manor Country Club. Senior prom was followed by the Senior Awards Ceremony and Luncheon on Thursday, June 3, catered generously by Michelle O'Donoghue Walrath '94 and Organic Krush. On Friday, June 4, the seniors gathered to pray together for the last time as a class at the Graduation Liturgy in the Sister Virginia Crowley Theatre.
Special awards are presented during this Liturgy each year, to young women who have embodied the ideals of Sacred Heart Academy.
The SHARE Award is given to a graduate each year who will be pursuing the profession of teaching. The recipient is chosen by the faculty and staff. The award includes a check of $250 and a piece of lace, a reminder of the first Sisters of St. Joseph – who taught lacemaking – to empower women to make a living. The Share Award reads: May this lace serve as a reminder of Sisters of St. Joseph, valiant women who preceded you in the noble vocation of teaching to which you have been called. This year’s recipient is Grace Sanz.
The Catherine Rose Miller Award, named after a member of the Class of 1996 who passed away after a battle with Cystic Fibrosis, is awarded to a student who represents Cathy’s joy, dedication, determination and courage. This year’s recipient is Bettina Bauman..
Each year, Sacred Heart Academy presents the Lead with Heart Medal to a graduating senior who witnesses the Gospel message and lives out SHA's mission of inclusive love, unity, and reconciliation in both the school community and beyond. This year’s award went to two seniors: Sophia Camulaire and Semaya Robinson.
The Class of 2021's time at Sacred Heart Academy was an unprecedented one due to the COVID-19 pandemic. They faced many changes, but one thing that didn't change was the Class of 2021's perseverance. They were able to find the joy in every challenge that came their way, and set an example for their SHA sisters coming up after them. May they continue to Lead with Heart in their future endeavors.