Seniors cheer on the varsity boys basketball team to their second consecutive state title on March 11. Photo: Fred Assaf

After four years in the upper school, the time has come for the Class of 2021 to graduate and say goodbye to Pace. While they definitely have not had a conventional four-year high school experience, the Class of 2021 certainly made the most of their senior year and are ready to leave Pace as confident, prepared students and individuals.

While typical senior celebrations took a different form or did not happen as planned throughout most of this academic year, GAP Day was a return to tradition that was welcomed by students, faculty, and families alike. Marked by Pace seniors’ iconic parade down West Paces Ferry, many of the traditional Great American Picnic traditions remained the same or were slightly altered in order to ensure safety from COVID-19. For example, morning assembly and senior testimonials were given on the lower field. 

The administration also found extra special ways to honor the Class of 2021 on their last official day on campus. Sir Wins-a-lots’ appearance from a helicopter was “extra” in and of itself, but each senior’s ability to take a tour of the city in a helicopter made the day extra special. Seniors made their own fun as well, like when they jumped in the Assafs’ pool after the annual water fight on the hill and were joined by the Class of 2021 Dean Krista Wilhelmsen and Associate Director of College Counseling Ben Wescott, who belly flopped into the pool while still sporting his mask.

To detail all the accomplishments of the Class of 2021 would take far too much space, but from nationally recognized and published writers to four-time state champions to a producer with a freshly released album, it is evident that the members of this class have stayed busy throughout their four years in Pace’s upper school, and that they have diverse interests.

These diverse interests carried over into these seniors’ choices of colleges, universities, and post-graduate programs as well. As of May 1, National College Decision Day, Pace seniors had chosen schools in nearly 20 states and the District of Columbia. Besides the state of Georgia, some of the states with the highest number of members of the Pace Class of 2021 are Virginia, Texas, Louisiana, and North Carolina, all with 7 students each. Pace is sending 6 students each to the University of Virginia, Tulane University and the University of Alabama, making these two schools, along with The University of Georgia, which is receiving 9 Pace seniors, the most Pace-populous schools of the year.

As of NCAA signing in early February, 10 members of the Class of 2021 had committed to continuing their athletic careers in college. Four-time diving state champion and state record-holder Lizzy Kaye will dive at the University of Virginia next year, joining a program that just brought home its first national championship ever. Football star Jayden Thomas is headed to Notre Dame’s football program, where he will excel without a doubt. Some of the other sports to be represented at the NCAA level in the next four years include track, basketball, swimming, softball and lacrosse.

Besides the seniors who are taking their athletics to the next level, Pace has had some incredible athletic achievements this year, and many of these would not have been possible without the leadership and passion brought by the members of the Class of 2021. The girls’ volleyball and cross country teams each won state championships in the fall; it’s worth noting that this was the volleyball team’s fourth consecutive state championship win. The boy’s basketball team also brought home the top spot in the state for the second year in a row in late winter. While spring sports have yet to all finish up, each team is performing at its highest ability and many are being led by seniors. 

While leaving high school and moving away is always bittersweet, the past 15 months have already brought about a lot of change in the lives of this year’s seniors. While they may have been physically separated during the spring and summer of 2020, this time apart brought them closer together throughout their senior year and allowed them to make the best of the situation at hand. 

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