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Commencement Ceremony Celebrates the Class of 2022

Excitement filled the air as proud families and friends gathered at Christ Baptist Church on Friday, May 27, for Commencement to honor and celebrate the Class of 2022. Faculty, staff and trustees were joined by alumni and members of the senior class itself in sharing reflections, best wishes and advice as the graduates began to look ahead to what comes next.

The commencement address was given by Dr. David Fajgenbaum ’03, who is an Assistant Professor of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, Founding Director of the Center for Cytokine Storm Treatment & Laboratory, Associate Director of Patient Impact for the Penn Orphan Disease Center, and co-founder and President of the Castleman Disease Collaborative Network. 

Author of the national bestselling memoir “Chasing My Cure: A Doctor’s Race to Turn Hope Into Action,” Fajgenbaum shared insights from his remarkable journey, which has included many highs and lows. 

Fajgenbaum recounted his excitement at winning the state football championship during his sophomore year at Ravenscroft to heading off to Georgetown to play Division I football, through the devastating passing of his mother during his sophomore year in college to his own near-fatal bouts with Castleman disease. He said he has been driven to action by words from Pope John Paul II, which had guided his mother before him: “Happiness is achieved through sacrifice. Do not look outside for what is to be found inside. Do not expect from others what you yourselves can and are called to be or to do.” Fajgenbaum has since built an international network of more than 400 physicians and researchers and thousands of patients to research and combat Castleman disease. 

Now 100.68 months in remission — as he said, he never rounds up or down, realizing that with this disease he is living “in overtime” — and having made a difference in the lives of thousands of patients, Fajgenbaum shared how thankful he is for every moment and for the family that has blessed his life. He also offered these imperatives to the Class of 2022:  “We are all in overtime. Positivity and humor are powerful antidotes. Solutions may be hiding in plain sight. Reflect and create silver linings!”

Left to right: Michael Rutigliano ’22, Valedictorian; Dr. David Fajgenbaum ’03; Ethan Erickson ’22, Senior Speaker

Valedictorian Michael Rutigliano shared reflections on “advice” — in particular, bad advice and what can be learned from it. Sharing examples from professional communicators and lessons in chess, he said, “There is no one-size-fits-all method to success, so no advice will work for everyone perfectly. But as we find the right answers for ourselves, we can match other people’s answers against our own. If someone says something that doesn’t fit your experience, you can borrow wisdom from their experience, but you can also learn more about how you think by changing their advice so that it does make sense and work for you.” 

Senior Speaker Ethan Erickson ’22, who was chosen by his classmates to speak, also reflected on the expectation of sharing advice during speech. “These days, everyone is on the lookout for perspective. It’s one of those intrepid scams in which everyone wants it, but nobody seems to have it,” he said. He contemplated the abstract nature of “perspective” with his peers by sharing a humorous and metaphorical story of a neanderthal’s experience watching the class as they grow and evolve, offering in the end his conclusion that by living in “pursuit of abstract, potentially empowering but also destructive concepts, we risk away the opportunity to live comfortably with ourselves.”

In addition to the speeches, another Commencement tradition is the Presentation of the Yellow Rose, during which each graduating senior presents a single long-stem yellow rose to their mother, step-mother, grandmother or other beloved recipient as an expression of gratitude. Families shared in laughter, tears and cheers as they paused in warm embraces to honor the significance of the moment.

Clockwise: Seniors processing into Christ Church; Presentation of the Yellow Roses; The graduates toss their graduation caps to put on their college caps!

Head of School Doreen Kelly also recognized Ravenscroft faculty and staff for their hard work, dedication and determination this year. She noted that the founders of the school’s four awards for outstanding faculty and staff — Charles and Barbara Helton, Munther and Janet Qubain, the O’Herron Foundation and the Ravenscroft Parents’ Association — had again elected to distribute the awards to all faculty and staff for their tireless efforts to support the student body during what she called “another unprecedented school year.”

Perhaps most symbolic of the character of the Class of 2022 was their collective steadiness as, throughout the sanctuary, muffled cell-phone alarms went off in response to severe weather alerts from across the region. As undeterred by momentary changes in the weather as they have been by the myriad challenges of the last few years, these Ravens continued moving forward, accepting their diplomas, ceremonially exchanging their mortarboards for college ball caps and stepping out to enjoy the reemerging sunshine amid the congratulations and best wishes of their teachers, family and friends. 

Please enjoy photos from Commencement 2022 in our Ravenscroft Flickr Gallery. You may also enjoy a replay of the ceremony through Livestream.