On Friday, May 27, the Class of 2022 made its way down the aisle at Orange Park’s Grace Episcopal Church for a beautiful Baccalaureate service. Seniors and their families gathered to pause the craziness of graduation activities, to reflect, acknowledge, and celebrate the accomplishments of their seniors, and to look ahead to the future.
After an invocation by Owene Courtney Weber ‘73, Senior Abbie Campbell read the lesson, and Weber returned to deliver the Baccalaureate Address. The St. Johns Singers sang several pieces, including An Irish Blessing, Bridge Over Troubled Waters, and The Lord Bless You and Keep You.
As Weber read each graduate’s name, she created a lovely opportunity for togetherness, not just for the senior class, but for their combined families as well.
The interlude was brief before everyone gathered together again, this time at Thrasher-Horne Center for Commencement. The seniors all looked amazing in their white dresses and dinner tuxedos, and after they processed to Pomp and Circumstance, the ceremony moved quickly to the Presentation of Awards (see below) and student speakers. After an introduction by 2022-2023 Student Council President Hunter Hopkins, two speakers, elected by the seniors themselves, took the podium. First, Mary Beth Garrison spoke from the heart, and from the hearts of all the seniors, as she took a collective tone in speaking about the School’s mission and gratitude—gratitude for the many individuals and events that have helped get the seniors where they are today.
“There are so many people and experiences that I am grateful for,” said Garrison, “and I’ll speak for the class as a whole, when I say that we would be completely different people without the St. Johns Experience.”
Closing with a raft of thanks for more experiences than she could even name, Garrison ended her speech with a quote from Eckhart Tolle: Acknowledging the good that you already have in your life is the foundation for all abundance.
Garrison’s talk was a tough act to follow, but the more-than-able Kinley Hall hit it out of the park in comparing the class to a circus—”entertaining, loud, colorful, full of talented people, and a little weird. We’re full of athletes, brainiacs, survivalists, entertainers, and yet we all come together to create one big show.”
“In all seriousness, ya’ll,” she said in closing, “these past four years have been an insane and crazy mess that have led us to this point. I am so proud of what we have all accomplished and I am excited to see where life takes us. One day in the near and dear future, we are going to step into a new circus and we may even have a different role. But keep working hard and never give up. As Mordecai puts it in Esther 4, 'And who knows, but that you were made for such a time as this.' "
With that, the diplomas were bestowed and the Class of 2022 was presented. Congratulations, new St. Johns alumni!
Instrumental Music Award: Ariel Gil Sauer
Art Award: Riley Madison Myers
Drama Award For Theatrical Performance: Zion Judah Dugan
Drama Award For Technical Theatre: Clayton Rusty Philpott
Mary Virginia Fisher French Award: Mary Elizabeth Garrison
Spanish Award: Mia Imelda Morin
Science Award: Sean Michael Gregson
English Award: John Francisco Cabrera and Mary Elizabeth Garrison
Music Vocal Award: Noelle Jessica Sanford
Cynthia C. Landry History Award: Abigail Bree Campbell
Carol A. Hart Math Award: Abigail Bree Campbell
Computer Science Award: Ariel Gil Sauer
Linda C. Guswiler Athletic Award: Evelyn Luisa Hanson
Captain Borries Cup Award: Bradley Eugene Hodges and Jordan Emilio Taylor
Valedictorian Award: Ariel Gil Sauer
The Roddey R. Fisher Award: Mary Elizabeth Garrison
Stephen F. Russey Best All-Around Young Man: Ariel Gil Sauer
Stephen F. Russey Best All-Around Young Woman: Abigail Bree Campbell
Dora Helen Skypek Award: Mia Imelda Morin
Edwin Paul Heinrich Award: John Francisco Cabrera