By Sierra Smith, Communications Specialist
On Sunday, May 30, University School of Nashville conferred diplomas upon 103 seniors during its Commencement.
Under a giant white tent on the Back Field, pods of six guests per senior gathered in celebration and honor of a class that endured a senior year riddled with the uncertainty and near-constant concession associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The exceptional way in which the Class of 2021 responded to the circumstances of their final year at 2000 Edgehill served as a recurring theme in the conversations of waiting guests, as well as speeches given.
“Was it all too much, this school year we’ve had, Class of 2021? Or now that the heaviness is starting to subside, was it just enough?” Head of High School Quinton Walker asked. “You have brought such joy into one another’s lives, into the lives of your faculty who have taught you and spent time with you in the room, your coaches, your teachers, into the lives of your family and your friends. You were open, you were hungry … Without question, we’re a better school because of you.”
In addition to hearing from Walker, Director Vince Durnan, Retiring Director of College Counseling Janet Schneider, President of the Senior Class Ethan Li ’21, Vice President of the Student Body Michael Gordon ’21, and Distinguished Alumna Ivanetta Davis Samuels ’86 shared words of advice, gratitude, encouragement, and congratulations.
Davis Samuels, who received the Distinguished Alumna honor for her role in the local and national response to COVID-19 as Senior Vice President, General Counsel & Corporate
Secretary for Meharry Medical College and USN’s Board President, spoke on the path her life has taken and the importance of knowing, and protecting, your personal brand.
“Let’s talk about branding, you all know so well, you’ve grown up in the age of social media, and there’s a lot of money, billions are spent on influencing each of you to gravitate toward a cause or consumable or an image or reputation,” Davis Samuels said. “I would encourage each of you, again, to think of your personal brand and what it will stand for. Define your core values and your own principles, be unyielding in your protection of those, your path forward will be clear if you align your choices with your own values and principles.”
Gillian Flatt ’21, Natalie Rittenberg ’21, Nicholas Sieders ’21, Lydia West ’21, and Cecilia Yezbak ’21 performed “Rivers and Roads” by The Head and The Heart, as well.
The Class of 2021 is the 102nd and largest graduating class from University School of Nashville, previously known as Peabody Demonstration School, since the school was founded in 1915. This class includes one National Merit Scholar, six National Merit Scholarship Program Semifinalists, and seven National Merit Commended Students. At least five graduates plan to play a sport at the collegiate level. To watch a live recording of Commencement, visit USN’s YouTube channel