Whitefield Academy Blog
Salutatory Address to the Class of 2021
The following is the Salutatory Address from the 2021 Whitefield Academy Commencement given by Salutatorian Ruby Jane Bartmess.
Good evening parents, faculty, friends, and fellow graduates. Tonight is a night of celebration. A celebration of not only an academic achievement, but also of the completion of a journey. From kindergarten until now, we have grown, changed, and friends have come and gone as we learned to love each other as Christ first loved us. It is clear that we would not be here tonight if it weren’t for great mentors and companions who have helped us on our journey. Thirteen years ago at about this time, we were all finishing the first year of our academic journey, some of us at Whitefield, others at various schools across the country. And now, all together, after many years of hard work and dedication, laughter and learning, we are here tonight to graduate. To graduate is not only to be a recipient of a diploma, but it symbolizes a turning of pages from one chapter of life to the next. We have the privilege of walking across this stage because of the help and support from all of you here tonight and from many of you who are watching at home.
First of all, I want to say thank you to all the parents who have sacrificed so that we can be here tonight, graduating from Whitefield Academy. All of us began our lives on this earth about eighteen years ago and you, as our parents, sustained us, kept us healthy, taught us how to walk and talk, and eventually sent us to school. Once our education began, you put in hours of work, whether that was driving us to and from school or the many sporting events and various activities. Having you by our side, supporting us, encouraging us, and just being there for us when we needed it most has meant the world. You gave of yourselves in many capacities, all the while making those difficult financial decisions to stay the course that has brought us here tonight. You have demonstrated to all of us what it looks like to live selflessly.
In addition to our parents that have shaped our experience thus far in our lives, our teachers have played a large role in the development and education of our whole person. It has been such a privilege to attend a school where you are always surrounded by those who love Christ and teachers who want to know you not only as a student, but also as a brother or sister in faith. All of our teachers have propelled us into where we are today, from teaching us how to read and master the fundamentals of multiplication, to being able to write and defend our senior theses. As we began in lower school, we were blessed by teachers who not only laid the foundation for our education as a whole, but who also taught us what it looks like to choose good friends, how to use our imaginations and how to work through difficulties of all kinds. These lessons from our childhood have shaped us into the adults that we are becoming. You have all pointed us to Christ and showed us, by your example, what it looks like to emulate him.
I want to say thank you to all of our upper school teachers for the unique influence that they have had on our class. Mrs. DeConink, for opening our minds to the beauty that can be found in math. Mr. Wampler, for always engaging us in a deliberate and thoughtful manner. Mr. Castro, for helping us discover more about who we are as individuals and at least attempting to teach us how to dance. Mr. Selby, for not only enlightening us on the expansive tool that rhetoric can be but also forming us into students that can effectively use it. Mrs. Guensche, for all of your help with our theses, including your late night dedication. Mr. Laney, for showing us that all good things really do come in threes. Mrs. Theiss, for helping us iron out all the wrinkles of middle school, and we know there were many. Mr. Appling, for telling us dad jokes until you cried and teaching us to find the beauty in all forms of art. Yes, even modern art. Mr. Metcalf, for teaching us to think introspectively about our walk with Christ. Mrs. Evans, for showing us what it looks like to love life. Mr. Peng, for growing our minds about all of creation. Miss Nichols, for your dedication to Whitefield in all facets of the community. Dr. Mac, for being like a dad to our class, we all look up to you. Thank you to the office ladies who never lack a smile and who treat anyone and everyone who comes into the office like family. And lastly, thank you Dr. Johnston, Dr. Selby, and the Board for showing us what it looks like to lead in a time of uncertainty. Your dedication to our community, while allowing us to experience in-person learning, has been astounding.
There were lots of reservations beginning school last fall, as we knew our senior year was to be tainted by a global pandemic. That challenge has turned out to be an immense blessing. From the tea and hot chocolate waiting for us in the kitchen every morning, from the basketball season that no one thought we would get to have, and lastly the senior trip that was more fun than any of us imagined. Thank you to my class for all the memories and fun times along with the embarrassing stories and the constant laughter. The time that we have spent together over the years has been so rich. You all have a very special place in my heart, and I can’t wait to see what God has in store for each of you. I could not have asked for a better group of people to grow up with, be challenged by, and to become lifelong friends with. Tonight is a culmination of the virtue that not only we have achieved, but that our parents, teachers, and friends have helped us obtain. To all those who dedicated their time to our success, we would not be here if it weren’t for your love and commitment. Thank you for everything.
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