How will each of you leave your mark on the world without losing sight of the values our school has bestowed upon us?

Kelsea Henry, Valedictorian, Commencement Address

Good evening everyone. On behalf of my classmates, thank you for being here to support the AHN class of 2016 on our graduation night. I’m going to assume if you are bowing your head you are praying for us, not keeping up with the Lightning game on your phone. We are grateful to our parents for the opportunity to attend the Academy of the Holy Names for the past 4 years and for some of us lifers, the past 13 or 14 years. Without the guidance and support of the faculty and teachers of the school, we would not be able to stand before you today as strong, confident young women and for this we are most appreciative.

The Academy students in the seats before me and certainly my sisters on the stage know our classes’ signature song “Lip Gloss”. For those of you that have no idea what I am talking about, this song consists of stomping, clapping, and singing “whatcha know about me?” On the outside, people believe they know the notorious Class of 2016, but I am here to tell you a few things that you may not know about our amazing class:

  • We have a wall of love in the senior lounge with pictures of things to make us all happy
  • Sophomore retreat started our food frenzy when we climbed over one another for a bag of donuts and muffins
  • Every day a different member of our class is celebrated
  • We do consider senior lounge dance parties our workout for the day
  • We’re kind of a big deal


We’ve established we think we’re big deal, so what’s next? We as the class of 2016 represent the future generation of mathematicians, artists, entrepreneurs, writers, public servants, doctors, and so much more. We all possess a different set of talents, gifts, and capabilities, but without each other our individual value is immensely weakened. The power in lifting up someone’s spirit, supporting varying opinions, and respecting polar differences is what cultivates the wonders of Academy. Human beings must coexist and unite thoughts that provide an opportunity for advancement and betterment. Each person counts as one, not minus one or only a half, every person is one part of the whole and without every part the whole cannot function. As we enter into the real world, the possibilities become endless.

Each one of my sisters’ gifts contribute not only to society, but also to our bond as a senior class. Sydney Wynne, although unable to share a spot on stage with us, is without a doubt here tonight looking over us with a smile as our Christmas Angel. Her gift of contagious kindness, never-ending generosity, and love for all sparked a revolution within the class of 2016. We entered into our Junior year of high school as disconnected individuals, but we left as the unstoppable united whole. This unexpected event inspired a devotion to one another that was otherwise not foreseeable. I know I speak for my entire class when I say that not only these past 2 years, but our entire high school experience fostered a drive within each of us and we will leave with some of our most fond memories. Whether it be cramming before a test or singing down the halls, each person has contributed to a unique bond amongst 99 girls. As cliché as it may sound, the Academy of the Holy Names allowed me to find my sisters, all of whom I am immensely grateful for and indebted to for everything they have done for me. Our class would not be the same if one part of our whole never existed.

In addition to sisterhood, an Academy education embodies rigorous academic studies, spiritual development, and interdependence through camaraderie and individualization. This educational foundation has prepared us for the future. Now that we embark on our own journey without Academy’s direct guidance we are faced with so many options and potential paths. Each of us will establish different goals whether it be your continued education, career choices, starting a family, or even where you choose to live. How will each of you leave your mark on the world without losing sight of the values our school has bestowed upon us?

I want to leave you with this quote by Mother Teresa: “People are often unreasonable and self centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may accuse you of ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest, people may cheat you. Be honest anyway. If you find happiness, people may be jealous. Be happy anyway. The good you do today may be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway. Give the world the best you have and it may never be enough. Give your best anyway. For you see, in the end, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.”

Be true to yourself! You are a big deal! Congratulations Class of 2016!