We observe today, not just a graduation, but the commemoration of our four years. We danced at Horn Shows, listened to poetry at Finn House, and shouted and cheered at the Rocky Horror Picture Show. We installed our art in Gund Gallery, competed for and won national sports titles, and danced again at Senior Soiree and Fandango. We studied in a library (finally) and got to enjoy the full span of Ascension green for the first time ever. We resurrected an historic December ceremony for winter graduates and adopted a college moniker to represent us all.
It was a joyous four years, but it did not leave any one of us, nor our community as a whole, unmarred. As two years ago, our college careers — and our entire lives — were upended by a global crisis. We attended class remotely, not among peers but alone behind a screen. Many of us were quarantined to single rooms, alone and afraid, for almost two weeks. On campus, everything that we loved about Kenyon came to a halt. Some of us also lost family, friends, and loved ones over the course of this global tragedy. And we grieved, which often drives us to seek solitude or, at best, the company of our most intimate companions and family, but instead so many of us found our solace in our community, our comfort among more than a thousand, our security in a thing as unremarkable as a gravel path.
After today, our class will go many different ways. But Kenyon will always remain to us all as a place that gave us sanctuary when we needed it most. It was being here that let us continue to learn and grow in a village where it seemed like everyone was on your side. In the middle of our crisis, being here gave us the courage to continue because we realized what is important to us: friends, family, community. Though challenges tore us apart and isolated us, they also reminded us how much we rely on each other. Only when we were isolated, could we remember how important it was to be together. There is clarity in crisis, and ours helped clarify what is real and true and worth fighting for.
And so we celebrate today, and all of us here, but we also remember those of us who are not. Our classmate, Stella Simic, left us four years ago. She was a force of relentless creativity, unafraid to speak her mind, and a good friend. In the midst of her loss, many of us wanted only solitude. But instead, we gathered with friends, with loved ones, and found comfort not just in the few, but in the many.
No single person could have lifted our community from the wreckage of the pandemic, because no one can do everything. But everyone can do something. And we did. Thank you.
Grant Holt ’22 is a history major from San Gabriel, California. In addition to serving as the senior class president, he edited Persimmons, a student-run art and literary magazine, wrote for the Kenyon Collegian, and contributed to Lyceum, a creative science publication.