On Friday July 15, St. James School celebrated the Class of 2016 Graduation in the cottage yard across from the lych gate to the historic Church of St. James the Less. Families and guests gathered under a tent in the 90-plus degree day as trumpeters and singers prepped, students and staff donned their robes, and board members lined up with students and staff–joined by Keynote Speaker Dr. Michael Gomez, Prinicpal of Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School–to march to the front of the stage.
The ceremony began at 5:15 sharp with staff, students, and board members marching from the churchyard sidewalk toward the school then proceeding down the center aisle under the tent to the tune of Processional Pomp and Circumstance performed by guest trumpeters and school piano teacher Doug Tester. The National Anthem was sung by St. James School choir students, led by Choir Director David Stovershlegel, followed by the invocation from The Rev. Betsy Ivey, Rector, St. Simon the Cyrenian Church
Point Breeze (Philadelphia).
Head of School David Kasievich welcomed everyone to St. James School’s 2nd annual class graduation then introduced Commencement Speaker Joseph Cotten, Salutatorian, to say a few words.
The commencement address was delivered by Dr. Michael Gomez, Principal of Cristo Rey Philadelphia High School. He delivered a rousing speech to the class of 2016 that touched on gun violence, race relations, and the overall current state of affairs in the nation. He pressed students to work hard through high school and college, noting that they weren’t wearing graduation caps, only gowns:
“I’m glad you’re not wearing them,” said Dr. Gomez. “The first caps you should wear should be about eight years from now. Picture it–a glorious day with about 5,000 people behind you, when you get that college diploma. That’s when a cap really matters.”
Following Dr. Gomez’ speech was the moment the students had been waiting for — presentation of candidates (by Mr. Kasievich) and conferring of diplomas (by Laura Dimery, Principal).
Speaking for the class was Valedictorian Justin Best, who is heading to The City School in the fall. Co-Founders Presentation by Dr. Audrey E. Evans honored Joesph Cotten and Samira Oliver for outstanding achievements.
Mr. Kasievich recognized parents and guardians who truly made a world of difference in supporting their students through four years at St. James School.
The program ended with Lift Every Voice & Sing sung by Stuart Jasper, Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts, and a closing benediction by The Rev. Andrew L. Kellner, Associate Rector St. Simon the Cyrenian Church, Point Breeze (Philadelphia).
The students, staff, and board members proceeded out of the tent and families gathered with their graduates for portraits at the front entrance to the school by St. James’ iconic red door. Guests enjoyed a deliciously prepared picnic thanks to School Chef Deborah Anthony and Chef’s Assistant Mr. Hill.