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  • Writer's pictureMyla van Lynde

The Class of 2023

Lucy Guilbert-Neal '25

 

As the class of 2023 starts to finish off their senior year and begins to experience their “lasts” at the Cate School, many reminisce about their time here. Most feel an overwhelming sense of gratitude for the place they called home during their high school years.


To say the least, the class of 2023 has overcome many challenges during their time with an impressive amount of grace and understanding. The class was affected by Covid-19 starting March of their freshman year, and what they thought would be a normal boarding school experience was challenged by online school later that year. Just when members of the class had started to get used to living away from home and solidifying their relationships with friends and faculty, they were sent home. Nicole Teh ‘23 shared, “I think getting sent home before the end of freshman year for COVID and just that whole period of Zoom was hard. When we came back, it felt like the Cate that we had been introduced to had died, but I’m proud of our class for building off of the energy and spirit that the class of 2022 had brought back to remind ourselves what is magical about this place.”


The class of 2023 was forced to overcome many challenges and has emerged strong, resilient, and empathetic. Cathleen Chow ‘23 describes the class as “ambitious, resilient…In terms of things that we have gone through as a class, we are all very caring.” Nicole described the class as “fun-loving and hardworking”


Just like all of us, this class has made memories that will last a lifetime. Zosia Ingram ‘23 shared, “My favorite memories at Cate have included late-night talks in Schoolhouse, the Square Dance starting the year off in 2022, the JV lacrosse season, Pac Health smoothies, Genetics classes, avocado picking, and the Carpinteria Salt marsh.” Similar to Zosia, Nicole said, “I have way too many, but living in Schoolhouse my sophomore year was very special to me. I have so much love for that group of girls.” Cathleen shared, “I think my favorite memory comes from Soph Sem. I remember at the time no one liked soph sem because it was Covid and we were getting complacent, but I remember having really funny icebreakers that I will always remember.” Zosia recalled the time “When Ellie, Phebe, and I were building the Bothin Gardens we picked up chicken and horse manure for it (filling the car with deathly fumes) and as we were driving up the Cate hill a bag fell out of the back just as the Cate bus was driving up behind us. That was really funny.” All of their core memories were formed by the people surrounding them– they will not remember stress about academics or upcoming tests, and instead will remember the people who make life worth living.


As they think about starting the next chapter of their lives, they are filled with gratitude for the ways in which Cate has prepared them for moving on. Cathleen believes that “The one thing about Cate that differentiates us from a lot of other places is that you wake up in the morning and you see your friends. We socialize quite a bit more with adults and students alike than most schools, especially during Covid. We actively spend time outside of school with each other so we have learned and developed conversational skills that I think a lot of other kids our age might not be exposed to.” Zosia also expressed, “I think Cate's culture around work has prepared me to be diligent and dedicated. The test/quiz re-takes have shown me to keep going when something is hard and how satisfying it is to finally understand a difficult concept.” Nicole took a personally reflective approach, saying, “I think I have learned a lot more about myself. I have gotten better at managing my time and prioritizing what’s important to me. I have also gotten a lot more in touch with my emotions here and created a stronger sense of self in this community, which is something that will help me forever.”


Cate itself didn’t do this– it was the teachers and faculty who put in the care and effort to forge connections with their students who ultimately made their experiences in the classroom so memorable. Zosia shared, “Mr. Collins was an incredible advisor and I always had the best time hearing his stories and witty remarks... I have definitely felt like a part of Cate has been missing this year without our advisory and his constant supportive presence. I really appreciate Ms. Song, she makes every day better with her genuine care and positivity. She really is the heart of Schoolhouse. Mr. Denison really fueled my love for biology further through his genetics electives. He made me appreciate how special it is to be here now and how much of genetics there is yet to be understood.” Nicole said, “Mrs. Van Wickle was my advisor for the first 3 years and she was my rock. Spending time with her was a constant reminder of light during hard times and her life advice helped me navigate through everything. The swim coaches believed in me when I sometimes didn’t even believe in myself, and their support has meant everything. Ms. Barry’s anthropology elective inspired a love for a subject that I want to pursue for the rest of my life, and Ms. Hammond’s classes taught me to love writing. All the schoolhouse and Bothin Pars dorm parents have made the dorm feel so much like home.”


Just as starting at Cate is hard for any incoming student, seniors must start a new chapter of their life once they leave Cate. This is the time for them to embark on their next adventures. When asked how she felt about leaving Cate and starting the next chapter of her life, Nicole said, “Bittersweet. I am really really sad to leave, and honestly scared to start new, because nowhere has ever felt as much as home as Cate has, but I am also super excited to have more freedom and meet new people. I will just miss seeing everyone at Cate every day.” Cathleen expressed, “When I was in my junior year I thought it would be such a sad moment, but honestly I am very excited. But I do think that Cate will always be an experience and a part of my life that I will never forget.”


Legacy is also a topic that some students have a difficult time grasping. At an educational organization like Cate, students graduate every year, and every year there is a new freshman grade. It can seem like a single student cannot really make as much of an impact as they would have liked. But the truth is, although the new freshman might not know who a student is once they graduate, that student’s name will always be remembered by those whose lives they’ve impacted. When asked about what legacy she hoped to leave behind, Nicole responded, “I honestly just hope I have left a lot of light in the positions I’ve been in (PSN head, prefect in Bothin Pars, on the swim team, interactions with people around campus) and that people want to continue spreading that, because those groups, and this community as a whole, means a lot to me.”


When I asked Ben Williams for a short statement about the class of 2023, he responded, “I am always happy to write about our seniors. They are fabulous, taking on the responsibility for making the school year meaningful, fun, memorable, and spirited and succeeding on every front. How many times have we marveled at their words of wisdom in the chapel? Or laughed at their antics in assembly? Or cheered at yet another thrilling game or season? The class of 2023 for the three years before this one was full of great personalities and talents but unsure how to bring its full collective force to bear on the class or the school. But this year they cracked the code, united generously behind each other and their ambitions for their school, and delivered to the community the kind of soulful leadership that is as rare as it is precious. It is an honor for me to share my own ‘senior’ year on the Mesa with this wonderful, entertaining, dedicated group. To borrow from our inquiry question, I feel fortunate indeed to end my tenure with the Class of 2023.”


As we begin to say our goodbyes, we wish the seniors the best of luck as they embark into whatever life holds for them in the future. Thank you, Class of 2023!






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1 Comment


Gabriel Di Gennaro
Gabriel Di Gennaro
May 19, 2023

Another great article, Lucy!

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