Class of 2023 graduates, reflects on open-mindedness, excitement of the unknown


Photo credit: Parker Keston

The Class of 2023 applaud and cheer as English teacher and 12th grade dean Stephanie Nicolard finishes her faculty address. Their graduation took place Friday, May 26, at the Skirball Cultural Center.

By Audrey Chang, Editor-in-Chief

Dressed in white attire and crowned with colorful flower wreaths, the Class of 2023 walked across the stage to receive their diplomas and celebrate the end of their Archer experience.

Graduation took place Friday, May 26, at the Skirball Cultural Center, the same location as last year’s ceremony. The event was livestreamed for friends and family unable to attend in-person to ensure everyone who wanted to watch and support the graduates could. Before graduation, seniors went to Archer to take photos together.

In the week leading up to the ceremony, the Archer community celebrated the senior class with events, including the Senior Tea Party and the Senior Farewell, and the class also went on a Disneyland trip.

The ceremony began at 11 a.m. with the processional, where students entered and gathered on the stage, which was followed by a welcome speech from the Board of Trustees Co-Chairs Frank Marshall and Tiffany Smith-Anoa’i and Head of School Elizabeth English.

After the welcome, Georgia Ehrlich addressed her fellow seniors. In her speech, she highlighted the moments, discoveries and discussions she has cherished most throughout her Archer experience. She encouraged her classmates to embrace being lost — whether relating to how they started at Archer, their shifts in perspective during their time there or how they will feel lost when entering college.

“From thinking we would never survive our first Arrow Week to puzzling over what the phrase ‘tolerance for adversity and uncertainty’ would come to mean, I have learned that what we believe to be true is always open to redefinition. And even more so, the better we get at letting go of what should be, the quicker we can access what could be — who we have the potential to become,” Ehrlich said. Getting lost does not mean losing. It doesn’t mean abandonment or carelessness. In fact, it means just the opposite. Lostness is built on a foundation of trust. It sows its roots in self-possession and curiosity. It takes the past and uses it not as a security blanket, but as a trampoline.”

Lostness is built on a foundation of trust. It sows its roots in self-possession and curiosity. It takes the past and uses it not as a security blanket, but as a trampoline.

— Georgia Ehrlich ('23)

English teacher and 12th grade dean Stephanie Nicolard presented the faculty address after Ehrlich’s speech. Nicolard discussed the concept of being “jolted” — moments when she has been electrified with passion — and why being open to and following these moments of realization is essential.

“Class of 2023, I would describe you as effectively jolted. You’re electrified, inspired. Complacent is the last word I would use to describe any of you. Remember the particular feeling of this spark. Bottle it up for the years ahead — you might need it,” Nicolard said. “It is one thing to have an epiphany; it is quite another to have the courage to do something about it. The great thing about the jolts too, is that they’re different for every one of us, and they are contagious … When you feel the jolt, pay attention. Spend your attention wisely. It will lead you somewhere authentic and true. I can’t wait to see where that is.” 

The graduates performed “Landslide” by Fleetwood Mac and the school song, “Within the Walls of Archer,” by Marilyn and Alan Bergman to conclude the ceremony after the awarding of diplomas. Student Body President Rose Chuck (’23) introduced the commencement speaker: producer, actor, director and activist Kerry Washington, who made her address after the first song performance.

Washington is a graduate of an all-girls school, an experience she said helped cultivate a desire to learn, a readiness to take on challenges, a value of fostering kindness and respect and an understanding of the power of sisterhood.  

In her address, Washington emphasized that although she and none of the graduates can know for certain what the future holds, the Class of 2023 has learned how to create meaningful relationships, to be resilient and flexible, to embrace opportunities for growth and have established their unique voices and personal power. Above all, Washington encouraged them to be excited about the unknown.

“I hope that my lack of answers to some of your questions helps to remind you that there really is nothing I can give you that you don’t already have,” Washington said. “Stay close to yourself and to your own wisdom and to your knowing, and stay close to your unknowing. Stay curious, stay teachable. Your strengths are hard-won. Take them with you and build on them. Take your heart and your mind and your voice and your sisterhood. Take your passions and your sense of community and your love and your resilience. Take your curiosity and your willingness to learn. Take the grace that Archer has seeded within you, and go out there and grow, and get excited about all that you do not yet know.”