Greenhill School graduated the Class of 2021 at the 71st Annual Commencement ceremony held in Phillips Gym on Monday, May 24, 2021 at 10:00 am.
Head of Upper School Trevor Worcester
introduced the graduation class and gave welcoming remarks.
gave a senior address about the Korean concept of jeong
. “In Korea, there is a word called jeong
, which is not directly translatable to English but my interpretation of it is a feeling of love we have towards someone who is special to us and our desire to give to them – it’s a uniquely Korean way of feeling. At Greenhill, we are tied together by this concept of jeong
, this want to support our peers, and by the knowledge that we will cheer each other on no matter where we are. It’s our love for Greenhill and connections with each other that creates jeong
. This concept is a foundational part of my Greenhill experience.”
delivered the second senior address, reflecting on the strength of the senior class. “The class of 2021 will not be known in history for its struggle or fear but for its triumph. Our character, having been forged in fire like steel, will come out stronger than before. I challenge us all to have confidence in the ability of our future selves. If we have made it this far, there is so much more we are prepared to do. There is a world waiting for us, our minds, our voices, and our impact… Our perseverance through difficult circumstances can and should be used as tools for improving our futures.”
The distribution of diplomas followed and Head of School Lee Hark concluded the ceremony with his own charge to the Class of 2021, "These years of work and heartache and toil and sweat and late nights and stress – and friendship and support and joy and the amazing things that surprised you – all of it was preparing you for this moment. To go grab your future. Our motto says it all: Per aspera, ad astra. Through hardships, to the stars… You have every reason to be excited. Being an adult is wonderful. It’s a lot of fun. And this troubled world you’re about to inherit is wonderful, too. And it is desperate for people who pursue excellence, and who lead with integrity, courage, and compassion. Class of 2021, Greenhill alumni: Envision your future, turn to it and stare it down, and then set about living that life of purpose.”
CONGRATULATIONS SENIOR AWARD WINNERS
Anagha Gouru Valedictorian
“Anagha has excelled across the academic disciplines. Selected in 10th grade to take AP Biology, she has enrolled and succeeded in seven AP courses and two post-AP courses across four disciplines (and all three lab sciences) in Upper School. Her AP Chemistry teacher remarked that, ‘She is a talented problem-solver with a positive approach to new challenges.’ In addition to those high-level courses, one of her English teachers said that, ‘She is a powerhouse who brings energy and enthusiasm to class discussions.’ Anagha has been a four-year debater, complimented by her coaches as a talented researcher and strategist. She has also been a four-year member of Greenhill Concert Band, earning many accolades as a stellar French horn player. Anagha is multi-talented and achieving in all disciplines at the highest level.”
Preston Gerard Salutatorian
“‘Exemplary.’ ‘A role model for classmates.’ Regardless of the academic discipline, Preston can find multiple descriptors like that in any of their comments from teachers. Over the course of Upper School, Preston has successfully completed six AP courses, earning an A or A+ in all of them. Even in those high-level courses not designated as AP, he shines. One of his English teachers wrote, ‘his insights and questions invariably propel our conversations in interesting and helpful directions.’ Preston’s mastery in two foreign languages, his honed skills in filmmaking, and, his ability to excel in all disciplines contributed to incredible achievement in the classroom and this deserving award.”
Tej Dhingra Recipient of the Estelle Dickens Service to Greenhill Award, presented to the senior who has given the most outstanding service contribution to Greenhill School. The award commemorates the over-four decades of service given to Greenhill by beloved teacher and administrator Estelle Dickens.
“Tej brings his personality to the activities for which he serves and leads. As a Hill Guide, he masterfully leads prospective families with the knowledge of the campus he has been a part of since first grade. Tej is a multi-year member of the Community Service Board, giving his time on campus with multiple activities and in the greater community as well. This year, he served as a peer mentor for the Thomas advisory. The most visible of his accomplishments, however, are his steadfast contributions and leadership with Greenhill Today, our online broadcast news program. The faculty sponsor of the program shared: ‘Under his guidance, the show has made great strides in terms of content and production quality. This is a credit to the stellar work ethic and self-starting skills that Tej consistently brings to his work.’”
Kelly Meng Recipient of the Kate Cecil Award, given to the senior who renders the most outstanding service to the Dallas community. The award is named in honor of Kate Cecil, a member of the faculty for seventeen years.
“Kelly has logged nearly 1000 hours of community service during her four years of Upper School. In the spirit of true volunteerism, for Kelly, it is not about the notoriety or the number of hours, but the sharing of the mission and goals of each of the organizations with which she works. In her time in Upper School, Kelly has worked with organizations that focus on national and local campaigns, social change, environmental causes, and supporting children and the elderly. Kelly is an attorney for Teen Court in Plano, she teaches local middle-schoolers public speaking, and she is an antiracist mentor for young Asian-Americans. The respect earned from her peers and faculty clearly transcends the walls of Greenhill to the greater community, and she is a model for what our mission states: ‘prepare and inspire our students to live authentic, purposeful lives.’“
Sonia Dhingra Recipient of the Phillip G. Foote Award, given to the senior who is considered by the faculty to epitomize the qualities of citizenship in the Greenhill community. These qualities are rooted in the School’s core principles of honor, respect, and compassion. The award is named for Greenhill’s second Head of School.
“Sonia displays a ‘refreshing sense of humility and perspective, and is not one to advertise her accomplishments.’ Her journey outside of academics has taken her through different types of publications: journalism and photography, earning the highest accolades and distinctions for both. She has also been on the Honor Council for all four years, the only senior this year to hold that distinction, and the Council easily elected her as student chair. Sonia has the respect and admiration of her fellow students because she cares about them, and she shows it. This final quote from her advisor sums it well: ‘She views community not only as a place of safety and inclusion but also as an obligation, where she has a part to play, where she must invest some of the fruits of her efforts to serve other members.’ What a great role model for us all.”
Josh Flowers Recipient of the Board of Trustees Award, presented to the senior who has met the challenge of Greenhill with perseverance, courage, and humor.
“‘Tough as nails.’ ‘Fearless and fierce advocate of others.’ Josh is a dynamo who demonstrates the traits of this award and our core values with grace. A social justice defender, his perseverance shines through as a powerful presence in the Black Student Union, addressing a Juneteenth rally last summer. His courage is ever present as he works and advocates for those with disabilities, inviting us all to see their challenges and their beauty. As one nominator wrote, ‘It is characteristic of him that he would include advice on how to treat them just as they would prefer to be treated.’ And then there is his tremendous ability to make everyone laugh. Josh has brought joy to this community in his roles in productions, his steady hand in Improv, and simply being around him on campus. One of his English teachers framed this talent best: ‘If you ask anyone on campus about him, the first thing they will tell you is that he is hilarious. And it’s true! He is. But what fewer people know is that he is an equally fierce storyteller who uses his talents to speak his truth.’”
Clarissa Smith Recipient of the Senior Leadership Award, given to the member of the senior class who best demonstrates the qualities of leadership. The origin of this award was the D. Harold Byrd and Jennie Stuck awards, which honored male and female leadership.
“‘She leads with authenticity, integrity, character, and strong morals, and is one who always does the right thing – not only for herself, but for all.’ A fitting remark that echoes the sentiments of many faculty members who have had the privilege of working with Clarissa. She seeks out the hard work, and is lifted up by those around her to lead. As an alum of the Student Diversity Leadership Conference, she has engaged in those challenging conversations in our community, and last June, she organized the student-led Black Lives Matter march here on Spring Valley and Midway roads. Clarissa’s peers look to her as a leader. A faculty member shared: ‘She is a student leader through and through, but her brand of leadership is one that brings people together and calls people in. She does not shy away from difficult conversations as she dives right in with compassion and a willingness to work together to make things better for everyone.’ The world needs more leaders like Clarissa.”
Pearson Brooks Recipient of the Bernard L. Fulton Award is the highest honor given in the Upper School and is presented to the senior who best embodies the mission and ideals of Greenhill School. The award is named for the founder and first Head of School.
“Pearson ‘exudes integrity, honor, compassion, and strong morals; he is a bright light on our campus.’ There are very few parts of this community that our award winner today has not engaged in, served, or led over his four years of Upper School. A strong academic, one faculty member remarks that ‘he is a multi-dimensional thinker who sees the big picture and considers many factors rather than thinking linearly.’ Pearson gracefully balances those demands with his service and leadership in the other two parts of our academics, arts, and athletics triangle. Student life is just as integral to his community building: he was a member of the Black Student Union affinity group and a co-chair of the Christian Student Coalition affinity group. He also served on the Honor Council for three years, was a Peer Mentor, and led the Class of 2021 as their President this year. The following, well-deserved compliment from one faculty member encapsulates it all: ‘Pearson is the heart and soul of Greenhill.’”
The Helen Fulton Awards are named in honor of Helen Fulton, founding faculty member and wife of Greenhill’s founder, Bernard Fulton. Helen Fulton was a life-long learner, exemplary citizen, and a well-rounded, balanced individual. This award is unique because seniors nominate their peers whom they believe embody these characteristics and then the winners are chosen by a faculty vote. Ten students were chosen to receive this award.
Note: All quotes are from Head of Upper School Trevor Worcester’s introductions at the Upper School Honors Assembly