Thirteen years ago, I, along with my 16 other “13-year club” members, walked through the doors of McKelvey for the very first time. Unbeknownst to us, we were venturing out on a journey to discover ourselves and our world…all “At Hewitt.” I remember walking up the stairs that first year, pausing at a small window conveniently placed on the staircase landing to join the many other lower school girls as we waved a final goodbye to our parents, some of us jumping with excitement, and some, like me, filled with anxiousness and nerves.
We have grown from little girls in plaid jumpers into literary fanatics, actresses, coders, dancers, artists, activists, athletes, and yes, handbell ringers. I say with confidence that we have found our voices here, and although it has been a while since we have actually been in the building, fist-bumping Mr. Malone on our way through the door, we will never forget that feeling we had as we walked the halls that allowed us to discover who we are…all “At Hewitt.”
I was introduced to the Ms. Lindberg original hit single “At Hewitt” in its founding year, and to this day (and quite honestly, for the rest of my life), this song holds a very special place in my heart. When we come together as a Hewitt community to sing this song, we recount the nature of Hewitt girls. We are “breaking down walls,” “treating each other as a family,” “growing into independent women,” and valuing our growth, all “by faith and courage.”
This year, as our lives were flipped upside down and our physical world became restricted to Zoom, I saw the lyrics of “At Hewitt” come into play when we as a community needed them most. Denver taught the handbell choir how to make music with water-filled wine glasses, our yearbook editor brought out the best of all of us in our socially distanced senior portraits, and Hewitt’s theater program presented genre-breaking Zoom plays. Although we were physically apart, we showed up for each other, we spent hours on FaceTime together, and we cared for one another. And like I know Hewitt girls do, we took what were the hardest school years in our history and we persevered and grew, even in the face of immense grief and uncertainty. From this, I learned that from faith comes courage, and from courage, faith.
Even in Hewitt’s founding days 100 years ago, this community knew exactly how to persevere, adapt to challenges, and break down barriers, all with faith and courage, of course. Caroline Hewitt founded our school in 1920. Yes, right when our world was coming out of the 1918 flu pandemic, and right when the 19th Amendment started a decades-long fight for all women’s voting rights. Fast forward to today, and the Class of 2021 epitomizes bold, independent thinkers who realize the power of our combined efforts as change makers, artists, and scholars. As a handbell ringer, I learned what it takes to play together, ringing our unique parts to create something beautiful: careful attention, trust in one another, practice, and helping each other through the difficult parts. And that is the way I feel about the Class of 2021 - we have come together to make change, to build, and to leave Hewitt better for our having been here.
So let us take a brief moment to reflect on this moment of closure, celebration, and transition. To my fellow classmates, I ask you to remember that as you move off to college in the coming months, when you have to say, “See you later,” to the people who have nurtured and supported you or when you find yourself with a 15-page paper and a final exam due all on the same day, that you have seen these challenges before. We have each come through the most challenging times seen in generations, and we are all here today because we were able to juggle these challenges and pick ourselves up again after we had fallen. So, grab tightly to these accomplishments we celebrate today, and use that feeling to launch your goals and dreams. As I reflect, I am forever grateful for my 13 years at Hewitt. I am grateful for the lifelong relationships I have nurtured here, the lessons learned, the best successes, and the greatest failures. I am grateful to all of you — my brilliant teachers and friends, our community, and our families — for shaping me into the young woman I am proud to be today.
Together we, the Class of 2021, move on today with a forever bond. We will always be Hewitt girls. We have seen the best of times and the worst of times, wisdom and foolishness. As Dickens wrote, “...it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair.” We have learned that a full life is not just happy times, it is the sad times as well - those times when we are called to step up for each other. We have learned about true friendship and resilience in a way that perhaps those who came before us did not have to. Above all, we have learned that we all have the power and the potential within us to lead any life we choose.
Interested in reading more 2021 commencement remarks?
Read The Superheroes Within Us by Christine B., Class of 2021
Read Remarks to the Class of 2021 from Head of School Dr. Tara Christie Kinsey and Commencement Speaker Amy Walter