GPS Holds Second Annual Baccalaureate

Class of 2024 families gather at Patten Chapel for nondenominational service
On Thursday, May 16, members of the Class of 2024 processed into Patten Chapel on UTC’s campus for a baccalaureate ceremony. This service, which featured student and faculty speakers, invited friends and family to celebrate our seniors during one of several events held this week in their honor—the senior dinner the night before, Class Day today, and Commencement tomorrow.

Prior to the evening, seniors voted for the student and faculty speakers they wanted to hear from during the event. Augusta Glendenning Webb ’98, art and Biblical ethics teacher and sponsor of Christian Forum, was chosen to offer the invocation following the processional. She remarked on the resilience, intellect, and compassion of the Class of 2024 and concluded by saying, “May these graduates walk in courage, integrity, and grace, knowing that they are deeply loved and infinitely capable. With hearts overflowing with pride and love, we release them into the embrace of the future, trusting that they will carry the light of Girls Preparatory School wherever they go, worthy of the school they most revere.”

Head of School Megan Cover spoke next, welcoming attendees to the service. She said, “As a class, you chose Flourish as the theme for the year, which represents the growth each of you experienced—as individuals, as a class, and the impact you made on each other and the school. You embraced your differences, your unique strengths, and your similarities to make up the beautiful, fragrant bouquet of the Class of 2024. 

"As you depart 205 Island Avenue for the myriad opportunities that await you, I hope you reflect fondly on the teachers and coaches who inspired and challenged you, the friends who supported you, and your family who gave you the gift of an all-girls education. And know that GPS will be your forever home.”

After Megan’s opening remarks, senior Gigi Breazeale offered a reading from Proverbs, followed by readings on the GPS core values by Caroline Breazeale (Honor), Abigail Carpenter (Respect), Emmaline Hill (Curiosity), and Kaitlyn Melda (Relationships). The GPS Singers then performed “Where the Light Begins” by Susan LaBarr.

Tess Azzouz offered a reading from “On Self-Knowledge” by Khalil Gibran next, followed by an instrumental violin performance from Meri-Madeline Sanders of “Concerto in G Major, Op. 24” by Oscar Reiding.

Andy Arick, Dean of Girls Leadership and Outdoor Education, was selected by the senior class to offer the faculty address. He spoke about their resilience as freshmen, when COVID forced adaptability, and touched on the three things he believes are important for everyone to find—a community, a calling, and gratitude. He explained how each student at GPS has had access to an incredible community and external commitments that forced them to show up for each other. 

“In college, you’re about to lose many of those mandatory external commitments, and the motivation to show up for the people who mean something to you will have to be intrinsic,” he said. “Find groups and communities that require commitment. Find something that makes you set aside your own priorities from time to time and pay attention to the priorities of others.”

He spoke about finding your calling next. “Being summoned by a calling is scary. It often requires you set aside the safety and security of what makes you comfortable or happy, and it forces you to get out of your comfort zone, equipped with nothing more than the sense that this is where you are supposed to be, this is what you’re supposed to do,” he said. “If you’re willing to listen, finding a calling will leave you with academic and career paths with few regrets. It may not be comfortable or picturesque every step of the way, but you will live life knowing that you are making a difference in the pursuit of a higher goal.”
He continued, “You are a successful group, and I have no doubt that you will continue to find success in the years to come, but remember that your successes are built on a foundation that was given to you. Find ways to be grateful for that. Gratitude is an anchor. Use it to find stability in the hard times.”

Andy concluded by encouraging the girls to seek out ways to work in service of others. “Do that by committing to community, listening for your calling, and anchoring yourself in gratitude,” he said

To close the ceremony, the crowd sang the GPS “Alma Mater” before Head of Upper School Beth Creswell Wilson ’96, PhD, offered the benediction.