June 8, 2021—Winsor celebrated all 66 graduates of the Class of 2021. The 127th Commencement was held under a soaring tent in the courtyard while families, faculty, and staff gathered to celebrate the students, and commemorate their achievements in this unprecedented year.
The ceremony opened with a sea of white as the senior class processed into the tent and took their seats, each holding a single red rose. Head of School Sarah Pelmas began the ceremony with remarks on the achievements of the senior class. Ms. Pelmas even dropped into the crowd of teary seniors to pass out tissues.
“In this incredible year, they have been true leaders who have shown all of us how to find silver linings, persevere in the midst of real challenges, demand improvement where it is needed, and find joy whenever possible. They have led the school with energy, creativity, high standards and the Winsor trademark generosity, and they have given us much to celebrate.”
Jane Hwang ’21 was invited to the stage to deliver the class reading from the Pixar animated film, Ratatouille. “In the past, I have made no secret of my disdain for Chef Gusteau's famous motto: 'Anyone can cook.' But I realize, only now do I truly understand what he meant. Not everyone can become a great artist, but a great artist can come from anywhere.” Pulling from Anton Ego’s critique of the restaurant Gusteau’s, Hwang chose a passage that challenges our preconceived notions of who can succeed—even a rat as a chef in a fancy French kitchen.
Allison Kaneb Pellegrino ’89, P’21, ’22, president of the Winsor Corporation, offered an emotional and heartfelt congratulations to the graduates, sharing her own wisdom and reflections.
“You’ve managed an incredibly complicated, disappointing, and unpredictable year with determination and grit. You’ve been role models for all of us. It wasn’t just the students in Classes I through VII who looked to you for guidance, but also the faculty, staff, and even the board as well. You are the very definition of resiliency.”
A performance of Keane’s “Somewhere Only We Know” by Advanced Rock On was met with a standing ovation, screams, and applause. Music featured prominently in the ceremony with music faculty Andrew Marshall leading the graduation choir in the anthem, “Blessing” by Katie Moran Bart, “Jerusalem” by C. Hubert Parry, and “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing”—the later two accompanied Performing Arts department head Felicia Brady-Lopez on piano. Senior Small Chorus also performed “The Road Home” by Stephen Paulus.
Mishael Quraishi ’21, was chosen by her classmates to be the speaker at Commencement. She shared, “I won’t dwell on how being stuck at home might have felt like the title of one of my quarantine reads: 100 Years of Solitude. Instead, I’ll give you a quote from it: ‘There is always something left to love.’” She went on to explain, “The statement is so definitive, ‘always,’ yet I’ve come to appreciate it’s truth. The things you love can be grand or seemingly insignificant to others. But your ability to see the bright side of a situation, your mindset, is what shapes your future. Winsor taught me that.”
Ms. Pelmas opened her speech by saying thank you to the faculty and staff who made this year possible including Director of Health Services and School Nurse, Diane Sneider. She highlighted two trailblazers: current-day scientist Kate Kariko and 19th-century Supreme Court Justice John Marshall Harlan. Using their stories and work as an example, Ms. Pelmas shared, “One lesson you might take from this is that you should allow yourself to change your beliefs. Indeed, you will not be engaging with a variety of beliefs if you do not remain open to the possibility of changing your own beliefs from time to time. And, when something is fundamental to how you see the world, fight for it. Even if you are the only voice saying what you say, speak the truth.” She added, “And also, perhaps more importantly, allow for the possibility that other people might change their opinions as well.”
Senior Class President, Alexandra Lee ’21, took the stage to introduce Commencement speaker, Dr. Karilyn Crockett ’91. Alexandra shared, “From climate change, Me Too and Black Lives Matter movements, to starting an equity board here at Winsor, there is a clear passion and push for change that is much needed in today’s world.” Dr. Crockett is an assistant professor of Urban History and Public Policy & Planning at MIT, and most recently, Boston’s first Chief Equity Officer—so her work closely aligns with the class of 2021’s interests.
Dr. Crockett talked about being raised by her nana and cultivating passion. Gazing out over the audience she said, “When I look at you I feel a sense of fire, resolve.”
“Don’t let college get in the way of your education,” she said, which elicited a good chuckle from the crowd. To end the ceremony, she added, “It’s time to go and you are totally ready.”
A standing ovation from the entire tent concluded the event as people filtered out for refreshments.