Holy Innocents' Class of 2012 Takes Its Place in School History |
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Holy Innocents' Class of 2012 Takes Its Place in School History
The Holy Innocents' Episcopal School Class of 2012, which focused on others during their years at Holy Innocents’—years filled with more community service than any class in school history—became the center of attention themselves Saturday. One hundred graduates marched across a platform in the Main Gym, had their tassels turned by faculty member Jeff Walrich, and accepted the diplomas that will enable them to disperse soon to 18 states, from Pennsylvania to California, Iowa and Wisconsin to Texas, with one setting out for an adventure in the United Kingdom. The Class of 2012, Holy Innocents’ 17th graduating class, will long be remembered as being passionately involved with community service—accruing some 1,700 hours of service to Atlanta and beyond. Inspired by the words of Brittany Ketchup, President of the Upper School Student Council to “let this be the year you use your talents and leave your mark on this community,” one HIES senior led the school’s Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) Walk Team to raise some $39,000, more than any other school in the nation. One served on the National Teen Advisory Board of Girl Talk, and one persisted to earn his Eagle Scout rank. Academically, members of the class also shone. Headmaster Gene Bratek noted at the ceremony on Saturday, May 19, that one member of the class received an Outstanding Senior in French Award from the American Association of Teachers of French, another earned an Academic Achievement Scholarship Award from A Better Chance, and one received a prestigious appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy. And “at last count this class has been offered 98 merit scholarships, totaling $4,029,312, which do not include the Hope Scholarships that will be announced later,” Bratek said. Athletically, the class also distinguished itself. Among other things, the varsity wrestling team won a state championship and seven class members were offered Division I athletic scholarships to colleges and universities, One academic scholarship winner was Valedictorian Natalie Blythe Sterrett, a member of Holy Innocents’ Alpha Omega Society, who attended the school for at least 13 years. With scholarship offers in excess of $500,000, Natalie chose to attend the University of Virginia as part of the Echols Scholar Program, based on the Jeffersonian ideal of freedom of inquiry and the development of critical thought. She plans to be a math teacher. In his introduction on graduation day, Associate Headmaster Rick Betts described Natalie Sterrett as incredibly impressive, kind, gracious, respectful, joyful and intelligent. Her accomplishments include being an accomplished equestrian, who won this year’s Varsity Open Over Fences National Championship as well as the National Horsemanship Award, which requires knowledge of the care, grooming and fitness of horses. Natalie is a member of Mu Alpha Theta mathematics honor society, the National Honor Society, Spanish Honors Society and Cum Laude Society, was selected to be a 2012 STAR Student, and won of the Algebra II/Trigonometry Honors Award. But “she does not revel in her own studiousness,” said teacher Holly Chesser. “In fact, she has never shared with me her scores or achievements over the years, although there have been many… That kind of loving humility is so refreshing. “She’s a kid you want to root for.” Natalie said in her valedictory address that it is not the classwork that graduates will probably remember most from their time at Holy Innocents’; it is the people who made a difference in their lives. “I have learned most from the people who made a real impact on my life, from the people who cared and helped to shape my character. Remember those from whom you learned the most,” she advised graduates. “Find more people like them and be like them." Robert James “Jake” Decker was named Salutatorian of the Class of 2012 and spoke at baccalaureate in the Cathedral of St. Philip on Friday, May 18. He plans to attend the University of Pennsylvania.