Anna Atkins, Class of 2022 Valedictorian
"Good evening, family members, friends, honored guests, teachers, administrators and, of course, fellow graduates. It is truly an honor to be speaking to you as a part of the 295th graduation ceremony at Ursuline Academy. To my classmates, we did it! Every one of you is standing on this stage because of the hardwork and dedication you have put in over the last 5 years. As we close this chapter in our life and start anew, I would like to reflect on the most valuable lesson we have learned throughout the years: 'the importance of community.'
Whether you began at Ursuline in Toddler 2 or junior year, every one of us has been honored with the Skipperette name. The idea of class mascots is something special and unique to our school. This label has defined our class by instilling a spiritedness within us that we will take with us wherever we sail. I have seen this firsthand during my time at Ursuline. During field day, I watched my sisters show up and show out. Whether it was pulling together during tug of war or cheering on our teammates to overcome the teacher’s 3-point lead during kickball, it was our commitment to one another through this spiritedness that helped us win in the end. I hope that as we move forward to the next part of our journey, each and every one of you will proudly carry this anchor with you and cherish the memories that accompany it. One important aspect of community we have learned is how to find strength from it during unpredictable times.
When Hurricane Ida hit New Orleans and we had to leave school, I became a witness to the strength shared within my class. I watched young women check up on one another through social media, offering support during this frightening time but also continuing to make one another laugh and find hope. When we returned, I saw how my classmates became advocates for one another, especially those still without power who could not access assignments. This skill, which was not taught in classes but during the harsh times away, is something that we will use whether we are moving down the street or a thousand miles away in the fall. I know this in my heart because as Mrs. Heidel once (or maybe a few times more) told us, Ursuline girls are 'trailblazers.'
As I stand with my class on this stage, I see future doctors, lawyers, engineers, teachers, and most importantly strong women who will make an impact on their community wherever they go. I cannot wait to see what we will accomplish! Lastly, I would like to take a moment on behalf of my fellow graduates and myself to thank those that helped us reach this milestone. First, I would like to thank all the parents for helping their daughters choose Ursuline, therefore giving us the best sisterhood a girl could ask for. I want to thank my dad, for teaching me the value of an education, my brother for always challenging me, and my mom for being my biggest supporter and always driving to the Westbank when I forgot something at home. Next, I would like to thank the teachers and administration for their commitment to us and for offering advice even if we did not know it at the time. As Mrs. Delatte once told us, 'You may not be anxious if you do your best.' Lastly, I want to thank my classmates for truly being my home away from home. Thank you."
Hebah Mohiuddin, Class of 2022 Salutatorian
"Good evening family, friends, faculty, and fellow classmates. I am honored to be able to speak on behalf of my class on a day I know a majority of us have been counting down to. First, I would like to thank all of you for being here this evening. I also, of course, would like to thank my amazing parents and grandparents for allowing me to be in the position I am today. A special thank you to my dad for dropping me off and picking me up from school every day for the past 11 years because I have still not gotten my license. Embarrassing, I know.
Class of ‘22, we finally did it. I know we have all been waiting for this day for many years now. We have finally reached the finish line for a major milestone in our lives. I don’t think any of us would be here today if it wasn’t for Catherine’s GroupMe reminders for the week every Sunday evening. I want to thank all the teachers who have dealt with my endless questions throughout the years. (Maybe too many questions at some times). A special thanks to the teachers I lovingly call my queens. I consider Ursuline to be a second home to me, not because I probably have spent more time here than in my actual home or the fact that the tuition fees equal up to the price of a home (thank you mom and dad), but because this place is home to unforgettable memories and has allowed me to form some strong and long-lasting friendships.
We always dreamed of that normal high school experience and although we were not able to live that to the fullest extent, we made the most of it every single day at Ursuline. We obviously experienced many ups and downs and had to adapt to new things during our five years of high school. It wasn’t easy having to go virtual due to COVID and learning how to adjust to the new environment or having to leave our homes in the wake of Hurricane Ida and spending close to a month out of school, although that month-long break from learning was kind of fun. Even though I have been attempting to make jokes in my speech, I am very grateful for my experience at Ursuline the past 11 years. I could never see myself in another school setting or surrounded with a different group of people that are graduating with me today. The senior sweep mentality allowed us to strengthen our class bond and I am forever going to remember how interconnected we were when it came to class versus class battles and how competitive we could get.
The Alma Mater will always be engraved in my mind. Don’t worry, I am not going to burst out in singing right now. Finally, if there is one thing I leave all of you with… in the wise words of Sweden Ledet: 'trash, no. bin, yes.' But in all seriousness, I am so thrilled to see what the future holds for all 61 of us! I know we are all capable of doing great things! Life is a journey, we do not stop growing once we get our diplomas. As Albert Einstein once said, 'Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving.' I hope you all become the person you’ve always dreamed of being, and if you struggle, remember that it is okay to ask for help. Congratulations to all of you! Here’s to the class of ‘22. Thank you so much!"