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For the Class of 2023, the Harpeth Hall community 'is a second home'

Senior Class President Mary Virginia Sullivan would never have considered herself a sentimental person, but standing on the stage of the Frances Bond Davis Theatre giving the annual address during the Senior Recognition Assembly, she wished she could go back in time.

“I get emotional thinking about how suddenly there’s a timer on my high school experience – this is it,” Mary Virginia said. “But I suppose the fact that high school ends makes it so valuable; everything worth its time must end eventually. …There is no other place I would have rather spent the last six years of my life than at this school. …The Harpeth Hall community is a second home and this class is my family.”

More than anything, Mary Virigina felt gratitude.

Gratitude for the 108 other members of the Class of 2023 who “have created an irreplaceable community where we are not judged by our choices but by how we treat each other.”

Gratitude for Harpeth Hall’s amazing teachers whose “open classrooms have served as places of comfort for far more students than you realize. You are doing work that shapes people of the future and sending us out into the world knowing that we can and will change it.”

Gratitude for her parents, and all of her peers’ parents, “for sending your child to a school that not only teaches us to spell words but also how to use them. I am here, on this stage, a product of six years at Harpeth Hall that has taught me how to use my voice, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.”

During the annual Senior Recognition Assembly, the young women of this year's senior class make a promise to transmit Harpeth Hall "greater, better, and more beautiful” than it was transmitted to them.

It's a tradition that dates back decades to Ward-Belmont College, where Harpeth Hall formed its roots. At Ward-Belmont, the seniors revealed their class song, their class colors, and their "beanies" at a special assembly each year. They marked the event with the senior pledge.

Today, Harpeth Hall seniors create a theme for the year. They also take the same pledge as the generations before them. It's a tradition that both grounds our students and pushes the school community forward.

The Class of 2023 is already proving themselves to be remarkable leaders, full of bravery, energy, and positivity.

“You are leading by example,” Head of School Jess Hill said to the class. “The very best example you are setting for all of us is how to live in the moment. You have turned down the noise of distraction and you have seized the day. You have learned from living through a pandemic that you can’t take anything for granted. …You are stronger and more agile in so many ways, and I thank you for being exactly who you are.”

Frances Fondren–Bales, head of the upper school, recognized how the senior class had already embraced their senior theme – to Brave the Sea in 2023.

“The concept of bravery is essential to leading and improving a community. Class of 2023, are you brave enough to ask questions of this community that just might lead to change? I think you are. Are you brave enough to put yourself out there and live authentically as an example to all students in this theatre? I think you are.”

With less than 265 days left of their senior year, the class of 109 pirates are ready to bravely take on the mantle of school leaders.

Ms. Hill left the seniors with a few wishes from poet John O’Donohue.

As a leader, “may you have the grace and wisdom to act kindly, learning to distinguish between what is personal and what is not. May you be hospitable to criticism. May you never put yourself at the center of things. May you act not from arrogance but out of service. May you work on yourself, building up and refining the ways of your mind. …May you know the wisdom of deep listening, the healing of wholesome words, the encouragement of the appreciative gaze, the decorum of held dignity, the springtime edge of the bleak question. …May you have good friends to mirror your blind spots. May leadership be for you a true adventure of growth.”