CHARLOTTE – Glyn Cowlishaw is not like other heads of schools that pander to commencement crowds for cheap applause by saying the most recent crop of graduates is the best to ever walk across the stage.

But he let those gathered for Providence Day School's 47th commencement May 28 make up their own minds after reading off several bullet points worth of academic, athletic and artistic achievements.

For starters, the Class of 2021 was accepted into 214 colleges and universities in 38 states and six foreign counties. Graduates also attracted $17.3 million in merit scholarship offers. In fact, 87% of the class was offered a merit-based scholarship.

“As I said, I would never say this is the best class ever but the data is rather compelling,” Cowlishaw said. “Now I can make a data-driven statement: This is a great class. … When you return to campus as alums, you will be rewarded as the Class of 2021 – the class that stood up to the world and for the world, learning living in a different way without missing a beat. You will always have a special place in our hearts.”

Graduate Molly Kerrigan opened the ceremony by thanking the faculty for their efforts in trying to make an unusual year driven by COVID-19 seem normal. She also mentioned the many non-academic lessons she learned from her classmates.

Kerrigan was one of 60 Providence Day “lifers,” who attended the private school for every grade level.

“While it's baffling to think that I have attended PD for 13 years now, it's even stranger to imagine going to a different school next year,” Kerrigan said, adding she'll be a Charger for life.

She'll likely follow the lead of alums like Chris Mullis (1990) and Sean Smith (1988). Mullis serves as chairman of the board of trustees while Smith was the commencement's guest speaker.

One thing that gives the Class of 2021 an edge over other graduates, Mullis explained, is how quickly they transitioned from a why us to a why not us attitude.

“How you managed to accomplish so much is a much more complicated answer but it lies not just within the coherent strength of the Class of 2021 as a whole but it also within the hearts and minds of every single one of you,” Mullis said.

You each called upon strength and resolve. Strength and resolve you didn't realize you had 15 months ago.”

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