On Thursday, May 27, seniors and their parents gathered in the Quad for Senior assembly. The morning was livestreamed to the rest of the student body.
Kris Samuels Holmes ’78 congratulated the seniors and welcomed them into the JBS Alumni Association. Katie Xu, senior class president, thanked the faculty and staff for their additional support during the pandemic, both on campus and online, and thanked parents for their support of the Class of 2021. Katie looked back on the last school year, noting how she and her classmates had to stay flexible and resilient as they navigated this unprecedented time. The faculty speaker, Mr. Chen, who began at Burroughs when the seniors were 8th graders, reflected on his learning curve as a young teacher. He remembers that even though he felt fear before his first day teaching, it didn’t mean he wasn’t ready to teach. He encouraged students to embrace those “scary moments,” and remember that just because you feel afraid, it doesn’t mean you’re not ready to leap into that challenge. He also encouraged them to embrace joy—specifically by doing things that are an end in themselves, like playing pick-up basketball games, tending a cactus garden or playing an instrument just for your own enjoyment. Mr. Abbott closed out with memories of the class of 2021, both his own and those of other faculty.
After assembly, the seniors and their parents gathered for a short reception.
For photos, see Campus Candids. Katie’s remarks follow.
Good morning everyone! Faculty, staff, parents, Mr. Abbott, and the students of John Burroughs School. It is an honor to be speaking to you at the Class of 2021’s very last JBS assembly.
First and foremost, I would like to thank everyone who has helped the class of 2021 get to where we are today. To the staff at John Burroughs, thank you for investing countless hours to keep our school running and for allowing us to grow and learn in such a beautiful environment. To the administration, thank you for reimagining so many events and working hard to give our class additional opportunities to come together this year. To our teachers, thank you for your immense patience and for showing up to inspire us every single day, and for letting us back into the Zoom call when it unexpectedly kicked us out. And of course, to our families, thank you for caring for us, and for loving and supporting us throughout our education and throughout our lives.
This year has been an especially challenging one, and I know you have all had to step up in many different ways to make this year work. You could’ve chosen anything and you chose to help us, so on behalf of the class of 2021, thank you.
Everyone’s wish is to somehow make a mark on this world. We pursue education, and we form relationships in hopes to grow, to learn from each other, to find our passion, our calling, or our way to an enjoyable life. We’ve dedicated our time together at Burroughs doing those things, but what happens when we experience — dare I say — an unprecedented year?
Our senior year certainly was not what we had expected it to be. Although we had to spend a large portion of the year on computer screens or roaming half-empty halls, we were also determined to not let our expectations hold us back. We embraced the limited moments we had together, poorly throwing our torches into the bonfire, performing songs at Commons Cafe that were rehearsed an hour in advance, and chaotically reuniting 15 minutes before our math finals. I am certain I will never witness a group of people so passionate about Stromboli Day and so willing to speak their mind in the class group chat. We had an impressive inability to participate in Theme Thursdays, but shout-out to Phoebe for always pulling through. Although our riveting game of Assassin ended mysteriously, our wholesome round of Secret Snowflake made up for it.
Then came February 22, one of my fondest memories with this class. That was the day we returned back to full-time school for the first time in almost a year, showing up in formal attire waist-up, and PJs waist down. The energy in the assembly that morning was exhilarating, and there was nothing but joy as we raced to each of our classes to claim the seats we had been sitting in all year long.
And for the next and last few months of high school, senioritis and nostalgia undeniably found their way to many of us. There were always people playing chess in the library. We began rewatching our childhood shows, and reverted back to Clash of Clans and Minecraft. We played four square after lunch every day and made waffles in the quad like it was nobody’s business.
Three “first days of classes” later, I could not be more proud of the way our class has embraced our last year together. Though our circumstances often forced us to spend time apart, even isolated, we refused to spend it alone.
And that's what I love about the class of 2021. Throughout our entire Burroughs career, we’ve always had a special way of supporting one another; one that has left our expectations open and free of judgement. We’ve allowed each other to change and grow and be whoever we decide to be, and we’re gracious when people make mistakes. Because of this freedom I truly believe we’ve each become closer to being who we really are, to being 'able to leave no part of ourselves at the door,' as Mr. Abbott so often says.
And nothing proves that more than seeing Jacob Rackers lip syncing like nobody is watching or Leyla pulling off corny jokes in a wig and a cow print hat at Commons Cafe. Nothing proves it more than seeing Ali Zolman’s different pair of hand-made earrings every single day or watching Will Deplanty’s ability to name any capital of the world. Nothing proves it more than seeing Ithan, Eric and Teddy pull off matching Christmas suits, and witnessing Augie draw out race car track paths from memory or rally up a crowd.
You guys are not only incredibly unique, but also incredibly inspiring--I think back to the remarkable speeches of two of my classmates this year. Simeon taught us all about kindness and gratitude, about the importance of family and how much something like a simple handshake matters. Allie Lane taught us that it's okay to ask questions and challenged us to think about what it means to create a world committed to including everyone.
Everyone’s wish is to somehow make their mark on this world. But before you begin your new adventure, and you continue your education and find your passion and discover how you will make your mark on this world, I want you to know that you already have made your mark here at John Burroughs School.
I still remember the very first time somebody in our class made an assembly announcement. Sitting in the very back row of the balcony, everybody gasped as a familiar face, one of our classmates, walked up onto that big wooden podium. Now I don’t remember who it was or what they were talking about, but I do remember everyone cheering in support, empowered that the class of 2021 had made its way to the big stage.
Now I know some of you may not think you yourself have made an impact, especially considering the year we’ve had and our limited contact with one another during it, but I guarantee you that there are people who think about your impact on them all the time, even if they’ve never told you.
I know that you have influenced me, and every single one of your classmates with your energy, your interests, your talents and your perspectives. I know that we’ve all influenced the ways that each of us talk, the things that each of us value, and the little mannerisms that each of us pick up on, and I know that these will stay with us well beyond our high school years. I know that in a way, we each reflect every person that is important in our lives. So, thank you for being such an important part of my life, and thank you for letting me be a part of yours.
Congratulations, class of 2021, we made it, and we made it together. Thank you.