Class of 2021 Honored in Graduation Ceremony

By Shun Graves '23

Branson welcomed seniors and their families to a full-scale graduation ceremony on June 8, 2021, awarding diplomas and recognizing the challenges the Class of 2021 surmounted throughout the pandemic.

Chris Mazzola presents the Head of School Award to the Class of 2021.

On a beautiful Tuesday morning, members of Branson’s 101st class strode across Tom Ryan Field to the sound of “Pomp and Circumstance,” and the ceremony began. Head of School Chris Mazzola spoke to the audience of how the class drove — and will drive — a return to an even better, post-pandemic normal.

“As I look at you, the Class of 2021, I have one hundred percent confidence that you will help us to build a much a better normal,” she said. “You are smart, you work hard, you are creative and curious, and you are some of the best problem-solvers I have ever seen. The world needs what you will bring to it, in the form of Branson’s core values of courage, kindness, purpose, and honor.”

Mazzola presented the Head of School Award to the Class of 2021, the first time that the students of an entire class have received the recognition.

Kelly Napolitana ’21 and Strat Tolmie ’21 also addressed the audience.

Tolmie recalled a conversation at Branson that compared artificial intelligence to humanity, resolving, “Branson students can go even one step further. They internalize what they learn into their very being. They let it sit inside them and transform their souls. They absorbed the light and goodness of the world, and they use it to generate their own,” he said.

Strat Tolmie addresses Class of 2021 graduates and their families.

Napolitana reflected on the vicissitudes of a pandemic year. “We adapted to change, not because we knew how to be resilient, but because we knew the only option was to keep moving forward,” she said. “We accepted everything as it was — good, bad, disappointing, surprising. We accepted ourselves as everything we were, amidst a world of uncertainty.”

Senior Class Presidents Bliss Green ’21 and Jack Talbert ’21 then presented the Mount Tamalpais School Award to Paul McCarthy. The faculty award recognized his contributions to the development of the senior class.

At the conclusion of the ceremony, seniors walked up to the podium one-by-one to receive their diplomas, as their families cheered. Watch the live stream recording.

That evening, seniors also attended the Safe & Sober Grad Night, a cruise around the Bay, to celebrate their accomplishments in their final gathering together as a class.

Julia Chow '21 receives her diploma as members of her Advisory await their turn.

Alumni Bricks

We also honored the graduating class through our latest installation of alumni bricks in the week prior to Graduation. The name of every member of the Class of 2021 has been paved just outside of Katharine Branson Hall.

We offer our greatest congratulations to the graduating class, and wish them the best in the next chapter of their lives!


See more graduation photos here. For download instructions, please contact