Leaving with Knowledge, Friendship, and So Much More

The 43 members of the Class of 2021 were celebrated at the School’s 107th Commencement on Friday, May 28

While many traditional aspects of their year have been upended or shifted due to the pandemic,  Commencement in Miss Charlotte’s Garden, though socially distanced, felt like a gift for the Class of 2021. Together with their families in-person or virtually joining over a livestream, the graduating seniors closed the chapter of their lives as Foxcroft students and joined the ranks of alumnae. All went off without a hitch; even the Brood X cicadas, emerging from the ground after 17 years, behaved (for the most part).
Though the weather teased the possibility of rain, the overcast clouds held off any inclement weather until later in the day — another much-appreciated blessing. While at one point an in-person ceremony was an uncertainty, everything came together magically to allow these students their own moments in the Garden to accept their diplomas, hear from inspirational speakers, cheer with families and underclassmen, and finally sing the School Song hand-in-hand in the closing circle.

As this year’s Commencement Speaker, Joyce Chang, Managing Director and Chair of Global Research at JP Morgan Chase, bestowed upon the Class of 2021 stories of her experiences over the course of her career. Her own journey began in a setting much like Foxcroft — at the boarding school Phillips Exeter Academy in New Hampshire, where she was a classmate of Senior Class President Julia C.’s father. “I thought that I would be a diplomat, a policymaker, or in the Foreign Service,” she reflected, noting that while her path from there was not as linear as she originally anticipated, she “still looks back on prep school as the place where I took hold of owning my own narrative, a skill for life, but not necessarily a career roadmap.” As these students know all too well, flexibility and adaptability are essential life skills.

In addition to emphasizing timeless advice such as working hard, being curious yet prepared, and advocating for yourself and others, Chang grounded Commencement for the Class of 2021 in this moment in history. “In a single year, together you have weathered a global pandemic, an unprecedented policy response, volatile elections, and heightened tensions on racial and social justice.” These experiences are platforms for continued growth. “What I have come to learn and respect most about the Class of 2021 is the way that you did not let a crisis go to waste. You were at your most creative and resilient this past year, and you took it upon yourself to create your own opportunities.”

Following Chang’s inspirational address was the Senior Class Speaker. Chosen by her classmates, Student Vice Head of School Bianca M. was poignant and sentimental in her remarks, surprised by her own tears as she started her speech. Reflecting on unexpected moments in Reynolds Dormitory that led to strong connections and love between classmates, she wove in her trademark humor and inside jokes that our community enjoyed as she led Morning Meetings throughout the year. Describing an impromptu “Harry Potter” movie marathon in the lounge following a long day of teambuilding early in freshman year, Bianca offered; “If you had described this scene to me two weeks earlier when we first arrived on campus, I wouldn’t have believed you. See, the smiling girls in the welcome pamphlet didn’t tell you this was going to happen… Only through experiencing every moment — good and bad — with your class by your side, [do] you discover those girls are smiling because their friend just brought back a plate piled high with spring rolls on General Tso’s night.” (A true act of friendship!)

Through her remarks, Bianca highlighted the two most valuable gifts the graduates would leave Foxcroft with — “knowledge and friendship.” She noted some lessons occurred in the classroom while others were self-taught through experiences in the dorm, the Dining Hall, and across campus. “Our teachers gave us knowledge from the four years of labs, essays, and group projects which will help us to pursue our passions and tackle the world’s problems,” she said, “but we taught ourselves friendship.”

With the gift of knowledge came recognition of academic achievements. Chair of the Board of Trustees Kate Hastings ’78 awarded diplomas to the impressive group. Collectively, the members of the Class of 2021 received 218 offers of admission from 137 colleges and universities and were offered more than $3.1 million in merit scholarships. Among the class, there is one National Merit Scholarship Program Commended Scholar, 14 AP Scholars, nine students selected to the Cum Laude Society (five of them as juniors), and ten students who completed the requirements to earn an Academic Concentration designation on their diploma. Members of the class will attend Bucknell University, Carnegie Mellon University, Columbia University, Gettysburg College, Mount Holyoke College, New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology, New York University, Savannah College of Art and Design, Spelman College, University of California at Los Angeles, University of Michigan, University of Virginia, and Williams College, among others. Visit our website for the full list of college acceptances.

Several prizes were given at Commencement as well, in addition to those announced at Wednesday’s Awards Assembly earlier in the week. Among the prizes, the highest honor presented to a graduating senior is the Charlotte Haxall Noland Award, which went to Bianca M. who will attend Pomona College. Valedictorian Scarlett D. who will attend the University of California, and Salutatorian Eunice Y. who will matriculate to Carnegie Mellon University, accepted their honors virtually as they completed the spring semester as distance learners. Other top awards went to seniors Jennifer C., Moni C-P., and Hays T., while the highest honors for younger students went to juniors Claire A. and Amelia F., sophomore Leyla A., and freshman Kennedy C. For a complete list of awards and prizes, please click here.

In closing, Bianca charged her classmates with these words: “Let’s walk out of Miss Charlotte’s Garden today as a class of friends. Let’s continue to surprise the world with our humor, compassion, and commitment. Let’s go do good things today, tomorrow, and for the rest of time.” Seeing how this group of individuals has grown, persevered, and thrived in their time at Foxcroft, there is no question they will do just that.
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An all-girls boarding and day school in Northern Virginia, Foxcroft prepares young women in grades 9-12 for success in college and in life. Our outstanding academic program offers challenging courses, including Advanced Placement classes and an innovative STEM program. Our premiere equestrian program is nationally recognized, and our athletic teams have won conference and state championships. Experience the best in girls' boarding schools: visit Foxcroft.