The Class of 2021 arrived to the University of Miami's Watsco Center on May 21 to find a 58-foot congratulatory sign hanging across the front of the facility. The RE seal beamed on giant video screens and appeared on curtains near the entry. Blue and green bunting hung from the rafters.
The podium from the Lewis Family Auditorium sat in the middle of a flower-covered stage, and the 163 members of the senior class sat in folding chairs spaced six feet apart on the arena floor. The RE faculty climbed to spectator seating, taking assigned seats spaced four apart. Graduates’ families clustered in socially distanced pods. Everyone wore masks.
Head of School Penny Townsend summed up the atmosphere when she stood at center stage shortly after 10 a.m., looked out over the graduates and declared, “today we celebrate an extraordinary class during extraordinary times.”Watch the commencement livestream video here.
Find photos from the first half of commencement day here.
Photos from the second half will be shared when available.
Despite the pandemic precautions, the Class of 2021 relished the time together, ignoring instructions to follow the procession of faculty out of the center at the event's conclusion. Instead, they remained behind, gathering on the confetti-filled arena floor, sharing hugs, handshakes and final goodbyes.
The graduates were clearly delighted to be in person a year after RE had held a virtual commencement. The Class of 2021 dressed in traditional RE graduation garb (white dresses or dark suits), and sat for the traditional pre-ceremony photo – albeit in socially distant seating. Family members cheered and hooted, as always, as each graduate crossed the stage to receive a diploma from Townsend and Board Chair Jeffrey Hicks ’84 – who handed three to his triplets, Axel Hicks ’21, Hanna Hicks ’21 and Sebastian Hicks ’21.
Jeff Miller ’79
received the Founders’ Alumni Award and gave the commencement address
, and he intercepted his son Lenny Miller ’21
and niece Kelli Miller ’21
after they accepted their diplomas, posing for the event photographer and snagging his own selfie. During his remarks, he reminisced about learning from legendary English teacher Dan Leslie Bowden, and urged graduates to take the time to remember those that touched their lives and helped them grow.
“My wish for each of you is to stay connected and feed off the tremendous energy and shared values that Ransom Everglades has both taught and reinforced over the years,” he said. “I challenge you to identify your own Mr. Bowden … Take the time to say thank you, give a socially distanced hug (unless you’ve both been vaccinated), and remember that the humanities – heart, gusto, grit and compassion – is the cornerstone of your alma mater.”
Erik Medina ’21
gave the valedictory address
, encouraging his classmates to use the power they gain in the future for good – in big ways and small. Maya Rosen ’21
offered the salutatory address
, reminding her classmates to hold on to their special “only at RE moments.” Both concluded by telling their peers: “I love you all.”
Penny Townsend presented the commencement awards: Liza Dill ’21 received the Faculty Cup; Georgia Crosby ’21, the Head of School’s Cup; Medina, the Ransom Cup; and Yuhan Liu ’21, the Swenson Cup. She also presented the Arthur Moses Faculty Award to Head of the Upper School Rachel Rodriguez, who is departing Ransom Everglades after 16 years.
Associate Head of School John King recognized the Class of 2021 Cum Laude Society members (top 20 percent of the class; see below). He also congratulated Sebastian Mateu ’21 for receiving a Morehead-Cain scholarship from the University of North Carolina; Mateo Jolivert ’21, a Danforth Scholarship from Washington University at St. Louis; and Connor Munroe ’21, a scholarship to the Thornton School of Music at the University of Southern California.
Jamie Lockhart ’21 sang the National Anthem, the RE alma mater and benediction, and the RE Advanced Chamber Ensemble performed under the direction of faculty member Scott O’Donnell.
At the end of the ceremony, RE’s legacy graduates gathered with their alumni parents to receive plaques and take photos.
Class of 2021 Legacy Families
David J. Arnold ’86 and Elanah B. Arnold ’21
Catherine H. Balestra ’90 and Mia Balestra ’21
Bradley Gould ’85 and Peri M. Gould ’21
Eric Gould ’85 and Lindsay A. Gould ’21
Mark Hoffman ’85 Jordan J. Hoffman ’21
William H. Holly ’86 Hayes R. Holly ’21
Daniel Holtz ’77 and Aaron R. Holtz ’21 and Lauren R. Holtz ’21
Heidi Howard Tandy ’88 and Jonny A. Tandy ’21
Louis L. LaFontisee ’81 and Louis L. LaFontisee ’21
Wendy A. Levitz ’88 and Kiran M. Desai ’21
Elizabeth Matthews ’80 and Caitlin J. Matthews ’21
Jeffrey Miller ’79 and Lenny F. Miller ’21
Carlos Prio-Touzet ’72 and Alexandra S. Prio-Touzet ’21
Stephanie Sayfie Aagaard ’88 and Anders Sayfie Aagaard ’21
Gregory J. Schein ’89 and Victoria Chirdaris Schein ’89 and Thomas Schein ’21
Michelle Simkins Rubell ’90 and Ella J. Rubell ’21
Scott A. Srebnick ’83 and James A. Srebnick ’21
Jessica Meyeringh White ’91 and William Walker White ’21
Class of 2021 – Cum Laude Society
Elanah Beth Arnold
Madeleine Maria Bagnall
Jonah Benjamin Bennett
Victoria Caroline Davis
Margaret Elizabeth Dill
Alexandre Joshua Dray
Maxwell Benjamin Feinberg
Lindsay Alison Gould
Peri Madison Gould
Jordan Jay Duy Linh Hoffman
Samuel Joseph Lindemann
Jacob Ethan Martin
Frank Leatherbury McPhillips III
Erik Alexander Medina
Samantha Reese Miller
Aidan Patrick Murphy
Gabriel Felipe Pulido
Maya Simona Rosen
Shuli Elena Rosenfeld
Emma Zane Rosenthal
Ella Julia Rubell
Daniella Marie Sanchez
Zara Rose Shapiro
Nicolas Andres Stone Perez
Nicole Tacher Lois
Hilary Sage Weisburd
Justin Stephen Wong