After having to postpone the special event by more than two months due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Mount St. Mary Academy was finally able to celebrate its Class of 2020 during the Commencement Ceremony on Saturday, August 1.
Traditionally held at Robinson Auditorium in downtown Little Rock, this year’s event took place on the Roy Davis Field at Catholic High School in order to accommodate social distancing guidelines. Each graduate and her two guests wore face masks and sat in chairs directly on the football field while additional family members and friends watched the livestream from home. Albeit quite different than ceremonies past, the necessary changes for this year’s one-of-a-kind commencement made it a very memorable event for an equally memorable group of graduates.
Sarah Catherine Phillips Gutierrez ’98, founder and CEO of Aptus Financial, delivered the commencement address. After praising the resilience of the Class of 2020, she encouraged the graduates to remain faithful and be mindful of the potential limitations of “golden handcuffs” while designing the lives of their dreams. “Wield the power of your resilience to cast away fear, anchor yourself in your faith to discover your dreams and then please always pay yourself first,” she said.
Mrs. Gutierrez was introduced by Fourth Honor Graduate Olivia Alexander. Though she was unable to attend the ceremony on its new date due to her matriculation to the U. S. Naval Academy, Fifth Honor Graduate Cecelia Rech offered the invocation via audio recording. Third Honor Graduate Catherine Althoff presented the class essay, “One-Hundred Eighty Degrees.” The salutatory address, “Looking Back While Moving Forward,” was given by Second Honor Graduate Lily Wewers, and First Honor Graduate Caroline Potts delivered the valedictory address, “Another Angle.”
The Most Reverend Anthony B. Taylor, bishop of Little Rock, presented the diplomas as MSM President Pattie Davis announced each graduate and the college she will attend. Other special guests in attendance included Sara Jones, MSM principal; Theresa Goshen Hall ’78, superintendent of Catholic Schools of Arkansas; Greg Hartz, MSM Academy Board of Directors chair; and Susie Whitacre, MSM Academy Board of Director chair-elect.
The 115 graduates of the Class of 2020 were accepted to more than 100 colleges and universities and collectively received over $19.6 million in scholarship offerings. They will be attending 31 different colleges and universities across 16 states this fall. Additionally, this year’s graduating class completed more than 10,000 hours of community service for the greater Little Rock community during its junior and senior years.
View the video of the 2020 Commencement Ceremony at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5TJhukiMC3g.
Congratulations, Class of 2020! We proudly celebrate you and your achievements as you close one chapter and look ahead to the next as women of wisdom, compassion and integrity.
Mount St. Mary Academy, sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, develops young women with a moral and intellectual foundation rooted in Catholic tradition. Mercy-minded and college-prepared, our students meet the future with wisdom, compassion and integrity.