Santa Catalina School celebrated the Class of 2023 during the school’s 71st Commencement on May 27.
In white gowns and carrying red roses, the 53 members of the graduating class filed one-by-one into Sullivan Court before a crowd of family and friends. After an opening hymn by the Santa Catalina choir and an invocation by Uso Atuegbu ’23, Head of School Dr. Barbara Ostos introduced this year’s Commencement speaker, history teacher Dan Place.
Mr. Place, who retired at the end of 2023 after 49 years as a teacher, said he was honored to be “graduating” with the seniors. In his speech, he shared three stories about women who had inspired him over the years. The first story was about his mother, Lita Weber, a determined and ambitious woman who bucked norms to pursue a career as a teacher during the Great Depression. The second story was about Mr. Place’s mentor, who told him, “I went into teaching because I believed teenagers make such a wonderful audience; but after I had been teaching awhile, I realized I was the audience.” Mr. Place told the Class of 2023 that he loved being in the audience to witness their perseverance, flexibility, good-natured humility, faith, and kindness. Finally, his third story was about the graduates themselves. “You have been my inspiration each and every day,” he said.
The students then came forward to receive their diplomas, and Anna Gorman ’23 followed with the benediction. Then, as is tradition, the new graduates erupted from their seats and tossed handfuls of red rose petals into the air in celebration of their achievement.
Congratulations to the Class of 2023!