Class of 2023 Commencement maintains both tradition and change


McKinley Garner

FRONT LAWN FESTIVITIES. With weather allowing, Commencement is held on the front lawn, outside of Old Main. Interim prinicpal Ken Jaffe said that commencement “… recognizes seniors while simultaneously recognizing all the support families and faculty gave seniors in their journey.”

Nothing says goodbye to high school like the smell of cigar smoke. The now infamous tradition of lighting a cigar after walking the stage to receive a Saint Paul Academy and Summit School diploma started as a rebellion prior to the merger of Saint Paul Academy and Summit School. Students would cross the street after they graduated, light cigars, and blow smoke toward the campus. Now, it has begun an annual tradition symbolizing students’ graduation and the commencement of their time at SPA.
While some things stay the same, this graduation will look different than it has in past years. One of those differences is that the new dress code implemented last year will now be status quo. Last year USC, with help from the leaders of Action for Gender Equality, amended the dress code to be more inclusive. This amendment made it so any formal attire in the colors navy, cream, or white is approved.
Linnea Cooley is wearing navy pants and a white shirt at commencement. “I think this [dress code] is pretty lenient and I don’t want to have to buy more clothes for graduation,” Cooley said.
Maya Sachs is sticking with the white dress route. “I personally will wear a white dress because I like wearing dresses,” Sachs said. “But I don’t think people should be forced into that tradition.”

This is also the first commencement ceremony for Head of School Luis Ottley, Dean of Students Stacy Tepp, and the first and last commencement for Interim US Principal Ken Jaffe.
“Overall I’m excited to see how the week unfolds,” Jaffe said, “[…] recognizing seniors while simultaneously recognizing all the support families and faculty gave seniors in their journey.”

But while commencement is the end of the senior’s high school career it is also a sign of new beginnings. Senior Cayenne Ramirez knows that commencement is not the last time she will see her classmates; “I making plans for moving forward and how we’re still gonna be a part of each other’s lives.”
The keynote speaker is Ben Bollinger Danielson and Simon Assefa and Riley Erben will represent their class as commencement speakers. “I wanted to speak because I have enjoyed my time with my grade and […] to express my thankfulness to be a part of the grade,” Assefa said.
After the ceremony is the final tradition, the all-night party. Hosted and planned by the parents association as a last hurrah for the Class of 2023; the all-night party has become notorious for its secrecy. To build suspense in the weeks before, parents keep all details, including activities and location, completely confidential.
“It is a bit of work, but worth it because of the joy it brings the community. For me, personally, I could do this all day for the Class of 2023,” said Kathleen Caoyonan, Julia Colbert’s mom.
The commencement ceremony takes place June 11 at 4 p.m. on the front lawn with a rain location of the Huss center. A reception in Redleaf Commons will follow.