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Class of 2022 celebrates Commencement

Returning to Mosack Athletic Center for the first ceremony in three years, the 163 members of the Class of 2022 celebrated their Commencement on Friday, May 27, 2022.

The Commencement speaker was Dr. Amina Ahmed, alumni parent to Julia and Annabel Henegar ‘19, and chief medical director of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Atrium Health Levine Children's Hospital. She became a leading expert on the COVID-19 pandemic that became a defining experience for this class.

“You will forever mark memories as ‘pre-pandemic’ and ‘post-pandemic,’” she told the seniors during her speech. “What did you learn about yourselves from this experience? You learned that you are resilient and yet flexible - cliché but true just the same. You learned the value of human connection simply by its absence. Along with dismay and disappointment, I hope you also experienced gratitude. Gratitude for access – access to viral tests, access to vaccines, and access to information.”

The pandemic taught other lessons, she noted. “Early in 2020, a friend asked me if the pandemic was the Olympics of infectious disease – something I had been training for. What I had not trained for was the ‘infodemic’ – the onslaught of information and misinformation to cull through to get the right answer, or at least the right answer for the moment,” she said. “What did I learn from this experience? The pandemic was the greatest reminder that medicine is not just a science, but also an art. And yes – a pandemic is the Olympics of infectious disease.”

Seniors also presented their class gift: A donation to The Bhandari Mehta Endowment supporting student financial assistance and entrepreneurship, and a bench and cherry tree to be added to the new patio outside the McMahon Fine Arts and Dining Hall expansion. “We hope that this area will be for seniors to enjoy their last year together at PD, get to know each other better, and create new, lasting memories with those you have watched grow alongside you,” said Sam Melton of the Senior Gift Committee.

Award winners included Valedictorian Rachel Hobby; Salutatorian Garrett Cronk; Head of School Award winner Jasleen Kaur; and King Constantine Medal winner William Kirshbom.

“My time here at PDS has been somewhat of a rollercoaster, especially with the events of the last two years, and I know that all of yours have been too, but I can see how much we’ve all grown in our time together,” said Hobby, who thanked her family, friends, and teachers in her valedictory speech. ”I want to thank you all for exposing me to and sharing with me your passions and instilling in me a love for learning. I will always be grateful for your role in shaping who I am as a person.”

Ted Dickson will now hold the Downing/Williams Endowed Chair of Teaching Excellence for the 2022-23 academic year. The honor was established in 2018 with the philanthropic support of Nancy and Bruce Downing, parents of Yates ‘12; Charlotte ‘14; Tommy ‘17; and Michael ‘19. Endowed Chairs are synonymous with exceptional faculty and teaching excellence. The chair is awarded to a full-time faculty member who will hold this high distinction for one academic year. The recipient receives a stipend and professional development award.

Dickson, who joined PD in 1991, has taught all across the U.S. and in Europe; has been recognized at the local, state, and national levels for teaching excellence; works tirelessly with the Advanced Placement program, serving as an AP reader, question writer, Table Leader, Exam Leader, and consultant; has presented at over 40 conferences all across the US and in Europe; and Is a published author of multiple articles and books. 

Also recognized Friday:

–16 Global Studies Diploma recipients;

–Eight legacy graduates who are children of alumni; and

–57 “lifers” who attended PD since at least first grade.

Congratulations to the Class of 22! Please see for more information.