Handkerchief drops on 176th year: Commencement 2018
Mary Virginia Swain '77C

The sights and sounds of Pomp and Circumstance filled the Grove Sunday morning, May 20, 2018, as 72 seniors graduated from Saint Mary's School. Head of School Brendan O'Shea, presided over the commencement exercises. It was a glorious Saint Mary's commencement day in the Grove, as the graduates turned their tassels and Saint Mary's rings.

An old tradition was revived this year with the graduates processing out of the front doors of Smedes Hall and around the Circle to the Grove for the processional down the center walkway.

In keeping with Saint Mary's tradition, Student Government Association President Grace Battle Thompson '18 and Senior Class President Pell Williamson '18, both of Raleigh, marched at the head of the line of, otherwise alphabetical, seniors. As the graduates made their way to the center sidewalk for the official procession, underclasswomen presented each graduate with an iris to carry and place in the Class of 1987 urn before stepping onstage to receive her diploma.

Valedictorian Victoria Worsham of Cary, N.C., delivered the valedictory address.

Amber Morse '18 of Raleigh, delivered the senior commencement address, having been elected by her classmates as the senior commencement speaker.

Katlyn Grasso, founder and CEO of GenHERation, delivered the commencement address.

Following the speeches, special commencement awards were presented.

The Chorale and Voice Ensemble offered special music, The Awakening, by Joseph Martin.

Head of School Brendan O'Shea offered parting remarks to the graduates.

Following the final singing of the year of the School Hymn, Chief Marshal Lilly Beth Glenn '19 stood at the top of the steps of Smedes Hall, directly beneath the lantern adorned with Saint Mary's blue ribbons, to drop the handkerchief and declare the 176th session at Saint Mary's to be officially closed. After the traditional handkerchief drop, the marshals walked into Smedes and closed the doors on another Saint Mary's commencement.

Baccalaureate preceded the commencement exercises in the historic Saint Mary's Chapel with Chaplain Ann Bonner-Stewart presiding.

By all accounts, Saint Mary's commencement embodies personal touches of academic excellence, personal achievement, friendship, tradition, grace, honor, dignity, and courage that are hallmarks of the Saint Mary's experience.

Once again, Saint Mary's graduating class boasts 100 percent college acceptance to a broad range of outstanding colleges and universities around the nation and abroad. The range of colleges and universities Saint Mary's Class of 2018 have selected are as varied as the graduates themselves and reflects their wide-ranging interests. Students will be attending colleges and universities across the nation, as one student heads to France for a gap year and another to Germany. Click here for a complete list of where the Class of 2018 will be next year.

Members of the Saint Mary's School Class of 2018 are poised to step out of Saint Mary's gates and into an exciting future. Prepared at Saint Mary's "for college and life," these graduates have challenged themselves in and out of the classroom, expanded their boundaries, made real-world connections, and grown as young women of intelligence, integrity, and purpose – ready to serve and shape their world.

Commencement Awards:

Victoria Worsham '18 of Cary, N.C., was the recipient of the 2018 Cooper Medal, in recognition of achieving the highest G.P.A. for the year.

Victoria Worsham '18 was the 2018 recipient of the Niles Medal for finishing with the highest G.P.A. over her years at Saint Mary's.

Katharine Alexandra Crabtree '18 of Mount Pleasant, S.C., received the Catherine Ruth Proctor Award, presented by the Saint Mary's chapter of the National Honor Society in recognition of the student making the greatest scholastic advancement over the past four years.

Caroline Parrish Balderson '18 of Wilmington, N.C., was the recipient of the 2018 Georgia Lee Kinsey Award, presented by Saint Mary's Chapter of the National Honor Society to the graduate who has accomplished the greatest scholastic advancement over the past two years.

Ella Grace Lewis '18 of Tallahassee, Fla., was chosen to receive the King Medal, awarded each year to the graduate, who, in the opinion of the faculty, has most consistently practiced good citizenship at Saint Mary's and inconspicuously served as an example to others.

Margaret Burton Fountain '18 of Raleigh was voted by her classmates to receive the Margaret and Ann Highsmith Medal, awarded to a graduate who exemplifies the Christian idea of helpfulness to others motivated by her genuine love for all members of the school community.

Abby Harris '18 of Pine Knoll Shores, is the 2018 Marian Drane Graham Award winner, as chosen by a committee of alumnae, students and faculty. This award was established in 1968 as a memorial to Marian Drane Graham, Class of 1919, wife of Frank Porter Graham, former president of the University of North Carolina and a former U.S. Senator. The award is made each year to a graduate who exemplifies Marian's "reverence and humility of spirit, scholarship without pride of excellence, zest for life, faith and fortitude, and all-around development in the course of her radiant and nobly useful life."