Sun Shines on Class of 2019
It was a magnificent day for a graduation Thursday, June 6, as The Harvey School celebrated commencement for the Class of 2019. Following the indoor ceremony inside the Fenstermacher Athletic Center, faculty, family, and friends gathered on the lawn under sunny skies in the school’s Quad to greet the 74 graduates and offer them congratulations for their accomplishment.
This year’s commencement address was delivered by Collette V. Smith, the Director of Government and Community Relations for the new Women’s National Football Conference and the founder and president of Believe N You, Incorporated, which visits schools, children's organizations, and corporations to encourage and inspire individuals to find success in their lives. Smith also holds the distinction of being the first African-American female coach in the NFL when she served as a defensive backs coach for the New York Jets during training camp in 2017.
In addressing the graduates, Ms. Smith exhorted them to “make a challenge to yourself to be great,” adding, “It lives inside of you and you have the power to let it out.” Once a professional football player in a women’s league, Mrs. Smith told them the story of her decision to answer the call at age 42 to play the game she loved as a child. She recalled her joy and satisfaction in taking the opportunity to play football and follow her passion. Mrs. Smith asked the graduates to consider every day as “a battle.” She said, “A winner is someone who gets up every single day and fights the good fight.” Ms. Smith added, “I want you all to be superheroes in battling your challenges.” In ending her speech, Ms. Smith urged the graduates to have big dreams and find their passion. She said, “Make tomorrow better today. Put the work in right now. You have the power.”
Sanath Kumar, the Class of 2019 valedictorian, saluted his classmates for their accomplishments and thanked the teachers for their help and guidance. Sanath said he was inspired by the man many credit with the founding of the scouting movement for boys and girls, British war hero Robert Baden-Powell, who wrote that individuals should strive to leave this world a little better than the way they had found it. Sanath told his classmates that each of them “has the tools and abilities to change the world.” He said all it takes is for everyone to just do “something small to leave your mark on the world, like picking up plastic bottles on the beach.” The top scholar of the class added, “As long as you have the motivation and work hard, you can accomplish whatever you set your mind to.” Sanath concluded his speech by saying, “To everyone, continue to follow your passions, try your best, and once again, leave the world in a better place than you found it.”
At the conclusion of the diploma presentations, Head of School Bill Knauer directed the graduates to shift their tassels from right to left and offered his congratulations, prompting the graduates to shout for joy and toss their caps high into the air in celebration of the end of their Harvey days and the beginning of their next journey.