Thirty-four graduate from Westminster

Published 9:17 am Wednesday, May 19, 2021

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By WILLIAM MARLOW / Special to the Reporter

NORTH SHELBY – The Westminster School at Oak Mountain celebrated its Class of 2021 over the weekend, and held an outdoor commencement ceremony at the school’s Upper School soccer field on Saturday, May 16.

In total, 34 members of the school’s senior class received their diplomas during the graduation.

Head of School Bradley Baggett welcomed attendees, thanked the school’s faculty and staff, as well as the families of the students for their patience and continued support throughout the unprecedented events of the past year during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Baggett also congratulated this year’s graduates, and said that he imagines many of them had probably not envisioned their final year of high school entailing a once-in-a century pandemic, but encouraged the graduates to use the challenges of the past year as a learning opportunity for when they encounter future hardship and reminded them that there is always more things in life to celebrate than regret over.

“To our seniors, congratulations on making it to this day. I know the journey has not always been easy, and it goes without saying that the past 14 months have not gone the way we wanted all the time, and I do pray that whenever you face difficulties in life, that you remember that you have so many more reasons to celebrate and be grateful,” Baggett said.

Salutatorian Bennett Steenwyk then addressed his graduating class, and said that he is grateful for his memories at Westminster School, and that his classmates have served as a second family during the past four years.

“I have often been told that I wouldn’t have guessed you’re an only child, and I think I know why. I have been able to find my own kind of family here at Westminster. God has surrounded me with the best people and which have shaped me into the man I am today,” Steenwyk said.

Steenwyk then noted highlights from his past four years, such as the lifelong friendships he had formed while on the school’s basketball team or when he and his friends built a rope bridge across the Cahaba River. Steenwyk said that he will specifically miss his classmates’ candid demeanor, and willingness to accept him for who he is.

“I am not the coolest or the most attractive or the most athletic guy in this class, but that never mattered when it came to just being one of the guys. The kind of culture that only demands everyone be themselves,” Steenwyk said. “I won’t go down in any Westminster athletic books for my basketball career, but I do have 14 close friends that as an only child I consider my brothers.”

Valedictorian Luke Eller also thanked his classmates for their impact on his life, and shared some of his favorite memories of each of his classmates, and the way each one of them had personally shaped his life.

“Westminster is more than a building. It is more than a class or a teacher. It is more than an administration, or a sports team, and it is more than a high school. It is a community,” Eller said.

Both Steenwyk and Eller will be attending Auburn University in the fall.

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