Graduation 2020 Speech: Kenna Brickman, Senior Class President

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Graduation 2020 Speech

By Kenna Brickman '20, Senior Class President

Welcome faculty and staff, family, and friends, Dr. Gomez, Mrs. Jess Dillon Bieligk, Class of 2000. Thank you for joining us to celebrate our years spent here at Holy Child and all that we have accomplished.

While most graduation speeches would discuss the achievements of the graduating class, what makes us unique, and how we will be remembered, this year is different.

This year we have been called to do and be something bigger than ourselves. What the class of 2020 has experienced is unprecedented. Our time together was cut short by a pandemic. We had little time to grab our things from school and prepare for weeks of shelter in-place. The pandemic upended life as we knew it for us and millions of people throughout the world. While we are all in the same storm, we weren’t all in the same boat. Healthcare workers and grocery store employees became essential workers. We adapted to online learning, cared for each other virtually, and assisted the undeserved members of our community. The recent deaths of Ahmaud Arbury, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, Rayshard Brookes and countless others have shed light on the police brutality and racism that has terrorized black communities for hundreds of years. We have grappled with the tough reality that life for our Black sisters and brothers is disproportionately harder in every facet of their life, even their experiences at Holy Child. In a time of fear, sadness and despair, the Holy Child community and the class of 2020 has demonstrated incredible resilience and strength. I’m very proud and honored to represent my class and speak to you today.

Reflecting on a simpler time, earlier this year I had some moments of senioritis: I slept through some alarms arrived late to school a few times. Finally, I received an email with the subject line: Detention. That day, we were tasked with sorting pictures of alumni, looking at the dates on the photos and sorting them by grade. I studied every photo, trying to figure out where, why, and when it was taken. I loved seeing the Holy Child history, values, and spirit through these pictures, despite not understanding the context of the images. I began to consider how our class’s time here at Holy Child will be both seen and understood. Suppose in 50 or 100 years from now, a grandchild, stranger, or even future Holy Child student, discovers the cherished pictures and videos from our four years here. What will they see? What will they learn about us, our time here, and what we have accomplished?

They might see pictures of us in sleeping bags throughout the school during our freshman retreat, or videos of everyone driving around together the night before the first day of school. A highlight could be the AP Statistics class playing basketball in the gym, competing against Mr. Rosenberg. Pictures from Kairos would show only a glimpse of the class, united as one through prayer and reflection. Maybe they would see Mr. Hatton and his class dressed up as the characters of Pride and Prejudice, or us on the sophomore retreat chasing chickens around the farms of Calleva. The videos of dance parties in the Commons during senior lunches or the s'lounge with our entire student body would only be a snapshot of the joy we felt on campus prior to the pandemic. These are just a few of our most treasured memories.

Holy Child has provided us with shared experiences and a space to grow into the women we are today. We have created irreplaceable friendships and found mentors in our teachers, faculty, and staff. We have been taught to engage in challenging discussions and listen to what each other has to say. Over the last few weeks our community and each of us individually has been called on to step up in the Black Lives Matter movement, and truly demonstrate what Holy Child has taught us, Actions Not Words. I am so proud of my classmates and fellow alumni who organize, protest, and work to make our community more inclusive and actively anti-racist.

As we leave here today, we must build on what we have learned at Holy Child and create a future that draws others into community. We need to remember to continue to take action. To listen to the Black voices in our communities, educate ourselves on the ways we perpetuate systemic racism, and work together to facilitate the change we want to see. Holy Child has shown us the value in each of our voices, so we must share them and speak out against injustice.

What a person of the future would surely recognize from photos and videos of this time in our lives is our perseverance. Our class adapted to the “new normal” sustained by a deep love for each other, our school, and our community. We have demonstrated an unwavering spirit. I am confident that this spirit will be evident to the future observers, and will transcend visual imagery. I believe that the 49 of us will continue to evolve and persevere in our ever changing world. We are resilient. We are women of faith. We are women of action. Thank you.