Montrose Graduation 2018: Filled with Touching Tributes & Rousing Speeches (Reprinted)


Lily Wei '20, Features Editor

As the traditional graduation music floated around our ears, the seniors, wearing glistening white graduation gowns, gradually came closer to the crowds. We saw proud expressions on faces of all ages. As the graduates swung onto the raised platform, we saw flashes of red high heels, clusters of blooming roses, and wide smiles rising from beaming faces.

The ceremony began with Head of School Dr. Bohlin’s introducing longtime Chairman of the Board, Mr Neil Jacob. Mr. Jacob’ s great sense of humor immediately softened the serious atmosphere and grabbed the audience’s attention as he took off his jacket and loosed his tie. He started with the story of D-Day in 1944; he emphasized that, while our challenges are different from those brave soldiers, we are all called in extraordinary ways through our ordinary life.

Salutatorian Gabby Landry ’18 shared a series of memories for the Class of 2018, starting with an anecdote about their ambitious freshman fundraiser plan that turned out to be a failure because the money raised did more to decrease rather than increase their class fund. But they gained a foundational bond that helped them achieve the kind of success that has focused on causes bigger than self. The Co-Valedictorians, Elizabeth Ling and Anneka Ignatius, riveted the crowd. Elizabeth gave a humorous and touching reference to her late grandfather’s tongue-in-cheek goodbye phrase “write if you get work” in order to remind the graduates that finding their work is about finding their purpose. Anneka encouraged her classmates to view that purpose as a gear in a pendulum clock — that their work is vital and connected to a higher purpose — and to remember to command your own circle, centered on inner strength, moved by perseverance, and unimpeded by outside voices.Scroll down to read the student  speeches in full.

This year, we were honored to have alumnae Dr Nicole Mercier ‘94 as our speaker to talk about her experiences as a woman in science, who is the mother of four small children, and who is engaged in extensive community service. She earned her PhD in Cell Biology from the University of Massachusetts Medical School, and she currently serves as the Managing Director of the Washington University in St. Louis Office of Technology Management. She has advocated for improving women’s engagement in scientific fields, and she instituted Women in Innovation and Technology (WIT) Program. She was impressed by this year’s senior capstones; and she referred to the individual social issues that each senior wrote and spoke about. She left the graduates with a life-long lessons: say “yes” when opportunity comes and  remember that character is “the differentiating factor” that will position them for success.

The presentation of diplomas ensured as Dr Bohlin shared individual tributes for each senior, which was the most special part of graduation ceremony. Dr. Bolin spoke about each graduate’s  unique personality and contributions to Montrose, mixed with touching and humorous references. These were shining moments for each girl because they saw how much they have each been known and loved at Montrose as unique individuals with special gifts to carry forth into the world.

After the end of ceremony, the reception took place in the Arts & Athletic Building, which the Events team decorated beautifully, with colorful flowers and varied fruit and treats for all to enjoy. On the central table, two cakes had each seniors’ name written on them. People were busy taking pictures with families who may have traveled as far as China. Families and friends hugged, snapped photos, and talked with their teachers and advisors to thank them for widening their knowledge and for helping them to grow. There were some sprinkles of tears but mostly wide smiles. It was a sad moment because Montrose will not be the same without the Class of 2018, but it was also the best moment because we were all so grateful for their years at Montrose.

Congratulations to the Class of 2018 as they leave their legacies at Montrose and move on to engage the world and bring their faith, character, and vision to wider circles. We all wish them the best as they transition to college, and we hope they visit during vacations!

Gabby Landry, Class of 2018 Salutatorian &

Harvard University Class of 2022

Good morning family, friends, faculty, honored guests, and my favorite All Stars, the Class of 2018. As you look up at this stage of 41 soon-to-be Montrose graduates, I want to take you back to four years ago. Let’s picture October 2014, and a group of new and returning Montrosians with “freshman” written all over them. What was on our minds then was our freshman fundraiser, something called Octoberfest. Class meetings became our planning headquarters, as we divided ourselves into committees and thought up elaborate plans for a night of games and activities in the cafeteria and M&M. But while plans work out so well in theory, they tend to fall short in reality. A few days before the fundraiser, we realized: someone had broken into Mrs. Keeley’s office and stolen our candy. The day of, we somehow went overboard with the purchasing of Dunkin Donuts hot chocolate. And that night, we looked around and realized our marketing skills must’ve been lacking because the turnout wasn’t fantastic. If that wasn’t enough, we discovered we actually lost money instead of making money. All in all, not our best moment…but it did bring us closer together in our first few months of being classmates.

I think about plans like that, plans that one friend called “fun, but really rushed and scraped together,” when I recall some of our greatest successes as a class. When we helped lead the school in a day of service that touched the lives of people we may never meet. Why? Because we were inspired to put the needs of others before our own.

When we brought a storm of renewed energy to our Red and White teams as captains this year. Why? Because we knew that when we invested that reinvigorated spirit, the excitement on our younger teammates’ faces would be priceless.

When we came into school as the entire cast of High School Musical, prepared with lunchtime flash mobs and a fully coordinated dance that got the whole school singing. Why? Because we knew that we really were all in this together, and we cared enough to go that extra mile.

These are why. when I read this quote from Viktor Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning, everything clicked. He says: “Don’t aim at success—the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it. For success cannot be pursued; it must ensue, and it only does so as the unintended side-effect of one’s dedication to a cause greater than oneself.”

The Class of 2018 is unique in many ways, but one thing that stands out to me is the extraordinary talent, inside and outside academics. And I truly believe that this comes from the spirit that each individual has, that dedication to something greater than ourselves. It’s that dedication that keeps us so motivated and energized—that makes us able to keep belting out “All Star” in the middle of Senior Commons, to pop into every teacher’s classroom or office for multiple daily chats, to stick with each other through every dead car battery and be able to laugh about it later.

I see this dedication in every member of this class. There’s a commitment to excellence, a passion for serving others, and a vision for projects that will be treasured by generations to come. Here is where we find the source of our best successes.

This idea also ties into our faith. Psalm 1 speaks of the individual who aligns her thoughts with what is highest: God’s priorities and His plans for her life. Verse 3 says that she will be “like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever she does shall prosper.”

To my classmates: success has already followed each of us during our time at Montrose. And as we enter a new chapter in our lives, we will find even more open doors to pursue.

I want to leave you with this thought. As we find those open doors, we must walk through with a dedication to a cause greater than ourselves, and with the mindset that aligns our goals with God’s plans. This is the attitude that we have established together here at Montrose, and this is the spirit that will continue to link us when we are apart.

Class of 2018, we’ve made it! Thank you all for being classmates I am blessed to call sisters, and for the memories that I will forever CHER18H.

Elizabeth Ling, Class of 2018 Co-Valedictorian &

Northeastern University Class of 2022

Greetings faculty, parents, friends, second cousins several times removes, and most of all the Montrose Class of 2018.

If you’re like me, you’re probably thinking more about food right now than the words coming out of my mouth, so I’ll try to make this quick and simple before I pass out from hunger and nervousness simultaneously.

Before dance on Monday nights, my sister and I would always rush over from school to my grandparents house to grab a good meal (normally consisting of the best chicken wings ever known to mankind) and sneak in a bit of homework before a strenuous hour and a half of EXERCISE. (And you might be thinking, Elizabeth? Exercise? Uh yeah, except I think it’s pronounced “Help I’m dying”). I digress.

With people rushing in and out of the kitchen for food and changing into dance attire and solving that math problem no one could ever figure out, it was hard to get in a decent conversation. However, when the clock hit 6:45, and the water bottles were in our dance bags at the door, my grandfather, without fail, would say as we scrambled out the door, “Write if you get work.”

As I was preparing this speech, I began to think more about that phrase: “Write if you get work.” It was a phrase I brushed aside, thinking “pfft I’m only eighteen, and the only work for me is my job at the library.” (I take everything too literally.) What did my grandfather think about this phrase? In his days, you wrote because you had moved to find a better life and could finally afford the postage to write a letter.

But when my grandfather passed away this April and I found myself searching for old memories, I thought more and more about the phrase “write if you get work.” What is my work? What is our work? At Montrose, where the teachings are based on the teachings of St. Josemaria Escriva, the idea of work is familiar to us all. At Montrose, we work our very hardest for the glory of God. But, as this chapter of our lives begins to close, and we enter into a world of suffering and desolation (that was not meant to be funny), we need to ask ourselves again, WHAT IS OUR WORK?

You may be in your seat thinking, “my work? When Elizabeth Ling finally sits back down, my work will be to finish off all the food on my plate at the graduation reception. And while that is a noble cause, you would have sorely missed my point. Our work is to be that beacon, the personification of caritas, veritas, and libertas in a world that forgets what love is, what compassion is, what faith is. In a sense, Montrose has entrusted us all with a new mission, a new “work” laid out before us in the world.

I believe, with all my heart, that God has a purpose and a mission for all of you; and, although he hasn’t contacted me with the details yet, I know the impact this class will have on the world already. There will be times of hardship and uncertainty, but we will empower ourselves and those around us who look to our examples and virtues. Shining our light through the darkness.

So, when you leave this stage, I don’t want you to say “I’ll write when I find work;” I want you to say to yourself “I have found my work.”

Thank you very much, and congratulations once again to the Montrose Class of 2018.

Anneka Ignatius, Class of 2018 Co-Valedictorian &

University of Pennsylvania Class of 2022

Good morning Faculty, Board Members, Distinguished Guests, Alumnae, Families, Mom, Dad, Aidan, the Moriarty family, Noelani, Brooke, Lianna, and, of course, the Montrose class of 2018!

Self-assured, armed with set friend groups, and they even knew Latin. For these reasons,  my Montrose classmates intimidated me when I first met them on the freshman year Boston trip. However, my anxiety quickly dissipated over the course of the year, and, instead, my admiration blossomed. Indeed my classmates display boundless talent, but the class of 2018 allows their humility and humor to impress the most. At our senior prom, we dominated the dance floor. Boys doing backflips failed to outclass Keely Dumouchel’s somersaults. Our ear-piercing rendition of “All Star” led by Jocelyn Kelly was possibly Grammy worthy. I digress.

Have you ever observed a grandfather clock, also known as a pendulum clock? In a grandfather clock, each time-keeping gear moves a different needle but proves equally important to the clock’s overall function. Whatever career you wish to pursue in life, I would recommend that you perceive your work like a gear in a grandfather clock. You must perform to your optimal ability so that you can ultimately fulfill a higher purpose of service to your fellow man. Whether you practice Catholicism or any other religion, we can all appreciate the humbling power of Mark 10:45 that reminds us, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.” The unity of our class hinges upon our diversity: we possess unique life purposes and contrasting talents, but we all receive the call to serve. My classmates run marathons, lead plays, and even craft alternate zombie-themed endings for Virginia Woolf’s novel To The Lighthouse. We are invaluable “gears” in this pendulum clock of Montrose, and we will continue to contribute as such in our future communities.

After graduation, my 40 friends and I will all immerse ourselves in communities far larger than our wonderful, intimate circle from high school. Just as at Montrose, we will weather successes and failures. Our problems will differ from worrying about an APUSH test grade or a “mole” project in Chemistry, but we can address these challenges because our high school experiences allowed us to develop perseverance. It is the lowest points in life that test a person’s character. For this very reason, I urge each of my fellow classmates to solidify your confidence from within rather than from the approval of others. Your happiness equates to strength. When I set aside time to visit Boston with my friends or drink tea with my patient mother or take a ballet class with my favorite teacher, these experiences bring me joy and provide me with a moment of calm amidst stress. Honor work and academics, but also remember the people and activities that matter most to you.  

When I reflect upon people who matter to me, I recall the advice from my mother and aunt about the importance of “operating in your own circle.” Allow me to explain my interpretation. Society portrays life as a race with set lanes in which competitors run ahead or fall behind, but life really resembles the Mad Tea Party ride at Disney World. In the Mad Tea Party, each “teacup” revolves in its own circle and spins according to how the commander at the wheel imparts direction and speed. I simply want you to remember that you operate your own teacup, or your own circle. Failure preys upon self-doubt and may convince you that you “lack” talents compared to your peers. On the contrary, success may delude you due to the heaps of accompanying praise. Yet, you exist neither behind nor ahead of your peers, and I hope this fact empowers you. We will all arrive at our respective dreams on our own schedules. We command our own circles. High school, college applications, and the many tests you will take in your educational career all remain important, but these trials mark mere stopping points along your life’s arc, a journey that stands as uniquely yours. Consider yourself a modern Dante from The Divine Comedy, charged with finding her purpose but always capable of seeking guidance.

Take every failure and transform it into a new triumph. The Wright Brothers needed to fail to engineer the first airplane, and Misty Copeland needed to overcome rejection to become American Ballet Theater’s first African American principal ballerina. If you persevere, you can soar with the titans. Perseverance separates strong characters from the weak, but I recognize that this quality seems lofty to uphold. Fellow classmates, are you tired? You have a right to be. You worked tirelessly for four years both inside and outside of school. Still, this graduation symbolizes another starting point rather than a finish line, and that should excite you. You now have far more chances to grow and cultivate your inner strength.

Consider these words from acclaimed theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking who passed away earlier this year: “However difficult life may seem, there is always something you can do and succeed at.” Hawking lived with ALS, a neurodegenerative disease that impaired him physically, but he investigated the secrets of our universe in groundbreaking fashion. Hawking pondered why the universe exists at all and in this manner. The thought of life after graduation might invoke some fear in you (as it does in me), but I hope that our newfound independence frees us all to ask questions, succeed and fail like Hawking. In my experience at Montrose, watching women lead discussions inspired me to an unimaginable degree: I believe more than ever that strong girls can run the world.

This day marks the beginning of the next chapter in our life’s story, and now we must turn the pages. Go forth with the bravery to address challenges, the humility to ask for help, and the courage to adapt to change. Above all, remain curious, find your purpose, and protect your happiness.  

Thank you and congratulations to my classmates, the Montrose class of 2018!