Providence graduation

The Providence High School Class of 2021 files into their commencement ceremony June 2 at the Bojangles' Coliseum. Screenshot from YouTube 


CHARLOTTE — What brings you peace and joy? What makes you excited each day? What gives your life meaning? These are the questions Providence High School Principal Tracey Harrill told the Class of 2021 to ask themselves as they set out in search of “the good life.”

Harrill was referring to a New York Times article by Dani Blum about flourishing, or living in a state in which all aspects of a person’s life are good. In the article, Harrill said, Blum advises readers to savor and celebrate the small things, like dinner around the table with family and friends or in-person contact with people.

Harrill encouraged the seniors during the June 2 commencement to look through the pictures on their phones that evoke joy and happiness and use them as a roadmap to the good life. She also encouraged them to find their purpose.

“If you do what makes you happy, you will never feel like what you do is work,” Harrill said. “Find that meaning and make it the cornerstone of your good life.”

As of today, Harrill said, the Class of 2021 has already made history by surviving the pandemic and completing the two most challenging grade levels of high school mostly from home. She told the grads they leave with memories — good ones and difficult ones — that will undoubtedly shape their lives forever.

“You will be able to tell your grandchildren about how different your high school years were,” Harrill said.

The past 15 months at Providence were especially different for Salutatorian Megan Wheeler, who transferred to the school in the middle of her junior year and just before the pandemic.

Wheeler volunteers at the Humane Society of Charlotte and said being at Providence reminded her of the animal shelter.

“Just like high school, the Humane Society is a temporary stop on the path to a bright future,” she said. “After animals come to the shelter, they are nurtured and taught the correct behaviors in order to find their forever home.”

Wheeler said her favorite part about working at the Humane Society is writing the names of pets on the board as they’ve been adopted.

“Walking throughout the hallways at Providence, I couldn’t help but notice the display of everybody’s names and future plans and feel the same sense of pride,” she said. “While our plans for next year may not necessarily be our forever homes, they are certainly stepping stones towards them.”

Watch the Providence High School Class of 2021 commencement below:

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