Seniors gather to celebrate annual Senior Ceremony


Mason Walline/Chronicle

Upper School English Teacher Jeremy Michaelson speaks to the senior class at the annual Senior Ceremony.

Mason Walline

Seniors and their families commemorated their journey through the high school at the Senior Ceremony on Sunday.

The Senior Ceremony has been a school tradition since 1933 at the Westlake School for Girls. Students lined up with their flower wreaths and boutonnieres to partake in this tradition and receive their class rings.

During this year’s ceremony, the senior prefects shared original speeches for the senior class and their families. Senior Prefect Jessica Thompson ’23 welcomed guests to the ceremony. Senior Prefect Aiko Offner ’23 encouraged students to pursue what they are passionate about. Senior Prefect Rowan Jen ’23 dove into the meaning of the Harvard Westlake crest through his own experiences. The class’ turbulent journey, from seventh grade to the present, was narrated by Senior Prefect and Features Editor Harry Tarses ’23.

In her speech, Offner said Senior Ceremony is an opportunity to reflect on the achievements of each student, as well as to anticipate the future.

“Striving for excellence, even when we won’t always achieve it, every one of us pushes the communities we’re a part of to grow with the talent, resilience and warmth we have acquired over our years,” Offner said. “And now, like the 90 classes that have been here before us, we get to take one moment in our fast forwarded lives to think about what we really want to take away from our time here.”

Led by their student director Leo Saperstein ’23 and Performing Arts Teacher Zanaida Robles, the HW Jazz Singers performed Young at Heart and Golden Slumbers, arranged by Charlie Kogen ’19 and Kieren Chung ’23 respectively. The performance took place during the middle of the ceremony and acted as a break from the speeches.

After seniors received their rings or pins, English Teacher Jeremy Michaelson delivered the closing speech of the ceremony. He used his time to explain five lessons his students taught him over the years that he believed the Class of 2023 should hear. Michaelson said the seniors should remember their loved ones when life becomes difficult and welcome the responsibilities of adulthood.

“There will moments of uncertainty, moments when you’re frustrated by everything you have to do and everything can’t know and can’t control,” Michaelson said. “When you encounter those moments, I hope you remember how much your teachers, family and friends adore you. And how much power that love gives you. When you feel lost, overwhelmed by everything you still have to learn, I hope you remember how much you have to teach.”

After the final speech concluded, students and their families took photos on the field.

Chiara Neirick ’23 said she enjoyed the ceremony and the speeches as they provided an opportunity to reflect and memorialize upon the class’ past years together.

“I thought that it was really great that we were all able to come together, such a beautiful time and celebrate what we did best,” Neirick said.

Upper School Dean Sharon Cuseo, who has helped run the ceremony for 28 years, said the event is more than just a tradition.

“We look at it as investing the seniors in their leadership role model positions,” Cuseo said. “It’s kind of a nice book-end to graduation, an official reminder that everyone’s looking at you.”