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By: Stephanie Pierson, Valedictorian, MDS Class of 2020

I would like to start off by thanking the people who have supported us during this portion of our academic journey and those who will continue to support us as we move into the next stage of our lives, including family, friends, and teachers. I am especially grateful for all of my family for their undying support and for pushing me to become the best version of myself. I encourage you all to thank the people in your lives as well who have gotten you to this point.

Class of 2020, we are the high school class whose existence has been sandwiched between two life shattering events. Arguably, the two most important events of our lives so far have been marred by tragedy. The majority of us were born within a year after 9/11 and now we are graduating amidst the covid-19 pandemic. Our graduation, although a time for celebration, marks our being launched into a flawed world that is in desperate need of our creativity and tenacity. I won’t act like we didn’t get a raw deal with having to miss out on some of the events this year that we were most looking forward to, but I am grateful for every moment that I have spent with my classmates and teachers. If I have learned anything these past few months, it has been that we cannot take anything for granted.

I was asking some of my classmates how they would describe our graduating class and there was one word that came up over and over again that I believe describes us best: family. Our close-knit community is best displayed at some of Mount de Sales’ traditions like Lunch on the Lawn, and our class comes together for Powderpuff games, homecoming hall decorations, and in the senior-led section at football and basketball games. That truly is special.

Often you will hear high school seniors talking about how excited they are to be finished with high school and to move away and begin college, but sometimes we, as graduates, get so caught up with this whole idea of beginning a new life that we forget about everyone from our past who has shaped us into who we are today. Please do not let the turning of a tassel end the meaningful relationships that you have established with your friends and teachers. If I could time travel and rewind to before the pandemic, I would tell myself to cherish every moment that comprised my high school experience, even small ones, like hanging out in the student parking lot.

Some other words and phrases that students used to describe our class were that we are resilient, unstoppable, and prepared for whatever the world may throw at us. I’m sorry that I cannot make promises of everything being alright, but if you want that, Bob Marley is there for you. Seeing the “Cavs on the Front Lines” social media posts has shown me how this school prepares its graduates for a life dedicated to discovery, innovation, and service. Graduates of Mount de Sales relentlessly work to give back to their communities and solve the world’s problems. Because of the way that our Mount de Sales education has nurtured and allowed our curiosity to blossom, I know that in just a few years, we too, will be working hard to solve any crisis that strikes.

Class of 2020, these past couple of months have shaped us, but they will not define us. We will be defined by how we responded and came together like the family we are. Before I finish, I would like to leave you with a quote from Henry Stanley Haskins, “What lies behind us and what lies ahead of us are tiny matters compared to what lies within us.”

Even with the uncertainty that grips our futures and our world right now, I am more confident that we, the class of 2020, will continue to live out the values that mount de Sales has instilled in us and that we are equipped to tackle any of the challenges that we may face.

Mount de Sales Class of 2020, parents, family, and friends, congratulations!

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Mount de Sales Academy is a private Catholic school located in Macon, GA, and serves students in Bibb, Houston, Jones, Monroe, Peach and other surrounding counties. MDS is sponsored and inspired by the Sisters of Mercy. Since 1876, MDS has served a diverse college-preparatory community of learners—students and teachers alike—who are poised to discover, challenged to innovate, and motivated to serve.