Members of the Class of 2021 officially became Mount St. Mary Academy’s newest graduates during this year’s Commencement Ceremony on Monday, May 24. The special event returned to Robinson Auditorium in downtown Little Rock after having been temporarily moved to the football field at Catholic High School in 2020 due to COVID-19.
Per tradition, the young women wore white gowns and long gloves, and carried a single red rose, as they processed in through an audience of family members and friends and onto the stage. The 131 graduates, accepted to more than 100 colleges and universities, collectively received over $15 million in scholarship offerings and will be attending 37 different higher education institutions across 16 states this fall. Additionally, this year’s graduating class completed more than 10,000 hours of community service during its junior and senior years, proving that “living Mercy” remained a priority even through the challenges of a global pandemic.
Msgr. Lawrence Frederick, affectionately known as Fr. Fred, delivered the commencement address. In the same manner as his homilies, he began his address with a story, which ultimately encouraged each young woman to consider what she will do when faced with adversity in the future. Fr. Fred asked the graduates to rely on their Mercy values to help change their circumstances for the better – just as they’d successfully done during the past year. He also reminded them of these values’ importance in living a truly fruitful life. “If you follow the Mercy values that the school has taught you, you will have a life based upon the four cardinal virtues: prudence, justice, courage and temperance,” Fr. Fred said. “And those virtues will help you develop the person that God wants you to be, the person He intended you to be, and you will be serving Him the best way you can.”
Fr. Fred was introduced by Fourth Honor Graduate Sarah Cate Lay. Fifth Honor Graduate Sydney Austen offered the invocation, and Third Honor Graduate Anne Marie Coy presented the class essay, “Don’t You Forget About Me.” The salutatory address, “The Nerd, the Beauty, the Jock, the Rebel, and the Recluse” was given by Second Honor Graduate Brynne Johnson, and First Honor Graduate Chloe Gourde delivered the valedictory address, “Sincerely Yours, The Breakfast Club.” Like the iconic 1985 American teen drama film, The Breakfast Club, each of the top graduates’ addresses celebrated the individual talents of their classmates and their ability to come together as sisters, despite their differences, during their four years at Mount.
Bishop Anthony B. Taylor presented the diplomas as MSM President Pattie Davis and MSM Principal Sara Jones announced each graduate and the college she will attend. The three were joined on stage by Theresa Goshen Hall ’78, Catholic Schools superintendent, and Susie Whitacre, MSM Academy Board of Directors chairman. The evening concluded with graduates linking arms and singing the alma mater together one final time as a class.
The Class of 2021 chose the following words by Abraham Lincoln for its class quote: “The best way to predict the future is to create it.” As strong, confident women of wisdom, compassion and integrity, Mount St. Mary Academy’s newest graduates’ futures are sure to be bright.
Visit https://youtu.be/7cvhZltA3nY to view the video of this year’s Commencement Ceremony.
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.