Prep for Prep faculty and staff, students, and families gathered at New York City’s Riverside Church to celebrate the commencement of contingent XLIV and recognize contingents XLII and XLIII. The Saturday, August 20 occasion was the first time since 2019 that the culminating event of the Preparatory Component was held in person.
Many of the commencement traditions that are dear to the Prep for Prep Community were featured. All three contingents entered (and exited) to the theme from “Chariots of Fire.” Musical performances by contingent XLIV included renditions of “Tomorrow” from the musical “Annie” and “We’ve Only Just Begun,” which accompanied the candle-lighting portion of the program. Several student recitations highlighted the characteristics of the Prep for Prep motto. An excerpt from Hamlet addressed the importance of integrity, a trio of poems by Langston Hughes reflected on courage, and a quote from John Donne reinforced a commitment to improving one’s life and the lives of others. The Prep for Prep scroll was passed from contingent XLII all the way down to contingent XLV. And many academic awards, prizes, and certificates of excellence were presented, including a new award recognizing achievement in computer science, which was created in honor of Dale Allsopp (VII).
Against the backdrop of the gothic-themed nave, two student speakers remarked on the significance of their Preparatory Component experience. “We have endured 14 months of this rigorous program in order to get ever so closer to our goals and today our hard work has been rewarded,” said Raihan R. (XLIV). “The time we spent in waking hours and the time we spent in the dead of night are not in vain. We are the future leaders of America. We have made it to our desired destinations and we can move past the now and look forward to a brighter future filled with our dreams and aspirations.”
Jenelle J. (XLIV) added, “During these 14 months we have all made friendships that will last a lifetime by connecting with each other, as we are the only ones who truly understand what it means to be a part of the Prep for Prep Community. These connections have also made it possible to make it through a global pandemic …. Completing these 14 months is not only an accomplishment for yourselves and your families, but for people of color everywhere.”
Nikole Smith, Director of Academic Programs, acknowledged the unprecedented experience of all three contingents and stressed that it had made them stronger as individuals and as a community. “No one imagined any of this but we dreamt of the promise that the United States had for all of us,” said Nikole. “Despite it all, you—the students' families and friends—made it clear that one thing would not waiver, your commitment to success…. Your presence here today continues to build Prep for Prep’s rich legacy.”
The following is among the words of wisdom Nikole shared with the students: “Remember, you can weather any storm that comes your way…. Be your best self. Take advantage of opportunities that arise. Stand up for those who are pushed into the shadows and never feel forced to adapt to the negative aspects of the changing world. Instead, you change the world that we live in.”
Armed with advice like this and the support of their families and the Prep for Prep Community, the 76 students in contingent XLIV are more than ready for the next chapter in their educational journey. Here’s a look at the schools they will be attending this fall.
Berkeley Carroll (4)
Brooklyn Heights Montessori
Columbia Prep (2)
Horace Mann (4)
Poly Prep (8)
Saint Ann’s (2)
Sandy Spring Friends
St. Andrew’s (2)
St. Bernard’s (2)
St. Luke’s (2)