ULS seniors graduate in live ceremony 07/16/2020
By Mary Anne Brush of the Grosse Pointe News
While 78 graduates were recognized during University Liggett School’s commencement exercises Sunday, July 12, it was far from a typical ceremony.
“It suffices to say that this is likely one of the most unprecedented commencements in the 142-year history of this institution,” Head of School Bart Bronk said during his commencement address, recorded on video.
Due to social distancing guidelines, graduates were acknowledged individually throughout the day from 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., with each allowed a limited number of guests.
Upon arrival, students crossed the stage, received their diploma and any awards and posed for photos. Student speakers Maria Mirkazemi, Dominic Marchese, Patrick Ilitch and Ava Henness, class valedictorian, delivered their speeches for a video recording.
Bronk noted the differences in his remarks.
“Rather than our typical gathering in June, we find ourselves in mid-July,” he said. “Rather than being all together here in this beautiful space, graduates and families have come individually to celebrate their accomplishments. Rather than speaking to the beautiful congregation that is our community, I am recording these words, for posterity, in front of an empty grove.
“This is certainly not what any of us planned when we gathered together at Flag Raising last September, full of optimism for the year ahead,” he added.
Life is what happens when you are busy making other plans, he reminded the graduates.
After reviewing their accomplishments throughout the year, Bronk acknowledged the disappointment they must feel with the abrupt closing of the school buildings and shift to remote learning in April.
“Life is, at best, impartial and at worst, probabilistic. Despite our best efforts, despite our greatest hopes and intentions, even if we do everything right, life will sometimes find a way of shifting the ground beneath our feet.
“Now I hope and I pray that these past few months — and the unpredictable months to come — represent the worst unfairness you experience in your lives,” Bronk continued. “If that turns out to be the case, you will have lived a good life by any measure.”
In the meantime, he left the Class of 2020 with parting words of advice: count your blessings, share gratitude, choose optimism “and finally, be kind. Be generous. Be empathetic. Be loving. For the only antidote to an unfair world is fair-minded people.