Ransom Everglades honored the Class of 2020 on its originally scheduled commencement day with a virtual ceremony that included an address from retired National Basketball Association star Shane Battier P’26 and speakers from Israel and California. The May 22 event offered every element of the 116 previous commencements at RE, only this one was shared via Zoom livestream with the 135 graduating seniors and their families.
Valedictorian Natalia Lopez ’20 acknowledged the unusual times brought about by the COVID-19 outbreak, but reminded her peers that they face precisely the same challenge as every previous graduating class at RE: to leave the world better than they find it.
“Now more than ever,” Lopez said, “It’s crucial that we seize the privilege that has been our education and extend it into the world. This way, we lend a voice to those who may not have been so lucky. Really listen to others, collaborate and cooperate until you find solutions that work for everyone, because they’re out there.”
Battier, the Miami Heat’s Director of Basketball Development and Analytics, shared with the Class of 2020 wisdom gained from his 13 years as a player in the NBA and tenure at Duke University, where he learned under Coach Mike Krzyzewski that all that really mattered was the next play – not the last.
“We were conditioned to look at success and failure as an opportunity,” Battier said. “Can I react to this? Can I overcome this? … What’s next is what’s most important. The power that you have … in any adversity, in any trouble spot, is how you respond.”
Check back later for a link to a recording of virtual commencement
Head of the Upper School Patricia Sasser read every senior’s name at the remote event – which was designed to serve as a placeholder for a hoped-for, in-person gathering and other events for seniors on the Ransom Campus July 31-August 2, 2020.
Head of School Penny Townsend presented the commencement awards; Talia Berler ’20 and Joseph Gross ’20 jointly received the Faculty Cup; Preston Edmunds ’20 received the Head of School’s Cup; Kareena Rudra ’20, the Swenson Cup; and Diego Duckenfield-Lopez ’20, the Ransom Cup.
Associate Head of School John A. King, Jr., announced Humanities Department faculty member Greg Cooper as the 2019-20 Arthur Moses Faculty Award winner, and introduced retiring faculty members Penny Matthews and Guillermo Urbina as RE's newest Faculty Emeriti.
Mordechai Cohen of the Alexander Muss School in Israel and Rev. Deborah Wright ’70, a Presbyterian (U.S.A.) minister in California, offered invocations. Board Chair Andrew L. Ansin ’81 welcomed the class, urging students to choose a “good irreverence” – as described by the late Dan Leslie Bowden – that would allow them to instigate change that would make the world a better place.
Penny Townsend shared remarks from Harry Anderson ’38, who died just days before commencement and just short of his 99th birthday. Anderson had wanted seniors to know that: “You have learned at Ransom that its priceless assets are the people: faculty, administrators and classmates.”
The ceremony began with a heart-tugging video of the May 17 Senior Send-Off Drive-Through from Carl Kafka P’10 ’12 and it concluded with a slideshow of seniors preparing for their next step, wearing gear from their chosen colleges. (See Class of 2020 web page
for videos.) Marion and Rosa Scott sang and performed on the piano a number of pieces, including the alma mater "Rise Up for Old RE," composed by Alex Hamm '09