June 10 was a perfect day for an outdoor Commencement celebrating The Potomac School’s Class of 2022. Hundreds of family members and friends were on hand to cheer for the 108 graduates as they crossed the stage to accept their diplomas from Head of School John Kowalik and shake hands with Board of Trustees Chair Sameer Bhargava.
Owen Diesenhaus ’22 spoke on behalf of the graduating class, combining thoughtful insights with humor. He offered his classmates and all in the audience four valuable pieces of advice, playfully dubbing them “Dieselations”: Rather than being regretful about the past or anxious about the future, live fully in the present. Recognize that you are always changing and growing, and embrace that process. Listen to your inner voice and “go with your gut.” Deepen your existing relationships and actively build new ones.
Upper School science teacher Laura Petro called this year’s graduates “an outstanding class – rich in depth, character, and selflessness.” She stated that she had observed their courage throughout their high school careers, as they boldly took risks in order to learn and grow – whether that meant trying out for a varsity team, auditioning for a play, signing up for a challenging elective, or speaking about their personal experiences at an assembly. She urged the graduates to hold onto that courage and eagerness to grow, advising that they never be afraid to pursue their passions. Petro also encouraged the graduates to “put time and effort into forming bonds … so that you have a person or group to celebrate your successes, help carry your burdens, and share your dreams.”
Head of School John Kowalik spoke of the many challenges facing the world today, from the pandemic to economic uncertainty, political divisiveness, and violence. “There are no simple answers. But when I look at the faces of Potomac’s Class of 2022, I see the antidote to all the misery I just cited. I see your generosity of spirit. I see your ability and your commitment to help make the world a better place,” Kawalik said. “I also see some of the things you’ve learned during the pandemic – that patience and resilience matter, that being part of a community can give us strength.”
Kowalik urged the graduates to recognize that they are not powerless, even in the face of seemingly insurmountable challenges. He told them, “You cannot fix everything. … But you can make a difference. In your own sphere of influence – your family, your community, your career, even with people you meet at random – you have the power to make a positive difference.”