We’re starting to say goodbye to our seniors
“Education is the best provision for life’s journey.”
Last Friday, we began the bittersweet process of saying goodbye to the seniors. After taking their class picture on the steps of Founders Hall – serious and silly – and participating in a parade around campus where they basked in the cheers of their schoolmates, the seniors made their way to the gym for an assembly.
We’ve known all along that these students would eventually leave us, but until recently, we were unaware of where they were headed. Now, we know. The members of the Class of 2022 will attend schools in the Pacific Northwest, the South, Southern California, the Northeast, and Montreal, Canada. They will study a variety of fields in large research universities and small liberal arts colleges.
After introductory remarks by Keystone alumna and trustee Victoria Shum, Class of 2000, Director of College Counseling Sara Christiansen, and me, the seniors came forward to give their name, where they will go to school, and one fun fact about their new educational institution. We learned vital pieces of information like which university inspired an Edgar Allen Poe poem or what post-secondary institution banned Nirvana from playing there after the grunge band trashed the venue.
Then, we adjourned for a celebratory family luncheon. For the first time in two years, families, students, and faculty/staff members were able to be together in the gym while relatives followed the announcements via Zoom. It felt great after so long to recognize the seniors in person.
That same evening, seniors, eighth grade students, and faculty/staff members gathered for the annual senior dinner. After watching a heartwarming video created by the seniors and hearing a hilarious speech by twelfth grader Jack who was selected by his classmates to give the address, we adjourned to the gym again for a delicious dinner, conversation, and a speech by Upper School math teacher Ms. Preston. The faculty/staff then presented each senior and ninth grader with a gift marking this transition. The evening also allowed our oldest students to offer words of encouragement and wisdom to the rising ninth graders.
As you may have noticed, hanging on the main campus fence on East Craig are individual pictures of the Class of 2022. We began this form of recognition in Spring 2020 when school was in full-on distance learning mode; subsequently, we decided to maintain it as an annual tradition. We are proud of our students and we want to demonstrate that visually.
To make an understatement, Keystone students work hard whether it’s in the classroom, the theater, the art studio, the music room, or in the gym, pitch, track, courts, course, or field. Colleges pursue them because these soon-to-be graduates will make their institutions richer places.
Having worked with seniors for a long time now, I have seen the college admissions process change significantly. The combination of the common application for colleges, many more students from around the world applying to American colleges and universities, and the phasing out of some standardized tests have all made the process much more competitive and anxiety inducing. In addition, dealing with COVID the last two years prevented students from visiting colleges, and in some cases since 2020, students have matriculated to schools sight unseen except for what they could learn online. While applying to college when we were younger may have felt stressful, the process now can seem like a completely different animal.
At Keystone, we stress the importance of each student finding the right school for them. For some students, that may be large public universities; for others, it could be a small liberal arts college. Location may be the determining factor for one Cobra; a specific program could be the deal breaker for another. As the price of higher education continues to increase, cost will be taken into account, and whichever school offers the best scholarship may decide where a student goes. There are a variety of factors going into the final decision, and as the adults in their lives, we need to support the students as they navigate the process.
We could not be prouder of the Class of 2022 as they prepare to leave Keystone for the next step in their educational journey. They have done excellent work up to now, and they have epitomized the school’s four core values of academic excellence, ethical growth, community involvement, and responsible leadership. As they draw upon the lessons they have learned at Keystone and in their lives, our graduating seniors will make their colleges, universities and the world around them a better place. We wish them the very best, but we will miss them.