Judge Praises Vivian Webb Class of 2021’s Commitment to Community

Vivian Webb School’s Class of 2021 should be proud of not only completing their high school education during unprecedented times, but of preserving their sense of community and tackling social issues despite pandemic disruptions, commencement speaker Judge Maame Ewusi-Mensah Frimpong ’93 told graduates on June 12.

“The story of what you have accomplished is a magnificent one which will inspire everyone who knows you – your family, your friends, your teachers, your community and the world that is waiting to meet you,” Frimpong said.

More than 200 family and friends joined the 53 members of the Class of 2021 – including some present virtually – for the 38th commencement of Vivian Webb School held June 12 on Webb’s new Centennial Field.

Frimpong, a Vivian Webb valedictorian, Harvard graduate and Los Angeles County Superior Court judge, said students surmounted considerable challenges in earning their diplomas, including the pandemic that required them to shift to online learning in spring of their junior year.

Because of the pandemic, the class missed out on some traditions, including a senior trip to climb Yosemite’s Half Dome, though seniors returned to campus in 2021 for limited study groups, afternoon activities, sports and a special end-of-year program.

“That diploma represents that you can complete anything that you start. You have literally stared down a global pandemic and beat it. I felt pretty proud of myself when I hiked Half Dome, but I’m sorry, you ladies have really done something,” Frimpong said.

“You carried on. You kept learning and teaching and leading. You kept setting goals and reaching them. And even when you failed, you tried again. When you were told you had to go home and you couldn’t build community on campus, you kept building community virtually. You did not let anything stop you.”

Frimpong told students that while they lost some traditions, they created new ones and kept the most important of all.

“You still have sapientia amicitia atque honor – wisdom, friendship and honor,” she said, quoting the school motto. “Wisdom, friendship and honor does not live in a particular place and does not need a particular platform or format. You have it. And here’s the secret. Vivian Webb didn’t give it to you. You brought it with you. Vivian Webb just helped uncover it. The pandemic revealed it. And the rest of your life will display it.”

On top of that, students continued to deal with major community issues.

“During a year when the world and nation was grappling with very difficult questions around race and gender and equality and politics, you grappled with those questions. You proposed answers. You revised those answers, you came up with new vocabulary to make those answers better and better,” she said. “No matter how difficult the question, you did not stop trying to come up with answers.”

The ceremony also featured addresses by Head of Schools Taylor Stockdale, Associate Head of Schools Theresa Smith and valedictorian Jenny Han. Class President Ashley Munguia shared that the class gift would go to ensure funds weekend programs for future students.

Watch Judge Frimpong’s speech below or browse our news section for a recording of the entire ceremony.

June 18, 2021

11:51 AM PDT