By Rebecca Portnoy, Associate Director of Communications, Concordia College
May 12, 2021: The mood in Sommer Center for Concordia’s 2021 Parade of Graduates could not help but reflect the real and ever-present apprehension at the rapidly approaching end of the beloved institution’s 140-year legacy. Yet pride, joy and hope took precedence for the day as the Concordia community celebrated their graduates and the hundreds of new beginnings they represent.
Health and safety restrictions necessitated a non-traditional format, with graduates and their families welcomed throughout the day for a personalized, individual commencement experience. Entering through a corridor transformed with balloons, celebratory messaging and video content, each graduate heard their name called and walked onto the stage to receive a diploma case and congratulations from President Nunes, then formally moved their tassel from right to left. Family and friends had an unobstructed view of the milestone moment, while Concordia staff and faculty cheered from the seats. The entire event was livestreamed.
The day began with the bestowal of two special honors. Kathy Laoutaris ’93, Director of Athletics and Campus Life, was clearly surprised and moved at being named the 2021 Distinguished Alumna for her decades of service and dedication to Concordia. The Honorary Doctorate was conferred upon Rev. Derek Lecakes, Bishop of the LCMS Atlantic District and Regent of Concordia College, as tribute to his life’s work in service to the Lutheran Church and Concordia.
Rev. Jeff Skopak ’88, pastor of Grace Lutheran Church in Jacksonville, FL, gave the opening prayer and closing benediction. Pastor Jeff is generously serving Concordia’s community as Campus Chaplain through the final days of the Spring 2021 Semester.
Almost half of Concordia’s nearly 400 graduating students chose to walk in the Parade, including all the graduates of Concordia’s Impact U program for young adults with intellectual disabilities. Receiving their Certificate of Applied Learning, the Impact U students basked in their achievement, cheered on by their families, Peer Neighbors, and a campus that has embraced their joyful presence and cherished the abundant gifts these wonderful young people bestowed on the community.
A Graduate’s Address from Katherine (Katie) Suss ’21, who graduated summa cum laude with a BA in psychology and a minor in English, was published in the Commencement Program. Katie also sang the solo in the Alma Mater recorded for the livestream. Katie, who as the daughter of Concordia Conservatory’s Executive Director Kathleen Suss has known Concordia’s campus since her infancy, concluded her essay with the observation: “When we no longer occupy this space as we once did, the leaves on the trees on the quad will still fall and the cherry blossoms will still bloom. But aren’t we so lucky to have seen them at all?”
In his remarks from the stage, President John A. Nunes credited Concordia’s staff and faculty for their unwavering dedication to students while working through an extraordinary set of challenges. Before bringing down the gavel for the last time he said, “My friends, we are in the midst of an ending. But today is about beginnings. Hundreds of newly-minted Concordia College New York graduates are ready to give the world their passion, purpose and service. And that is cause for boundless gratitude and well-deserved celebration.”
A recording of the livestream, along with the Commencement Program, is available here.
Editor's note: As a public service, MyhometownBronxville publishes articles from local institutions, officeholders, and individuals. MyhometownBronxville does not fact-check statements therein, and any opinions expressed do not necessarily reflect the thinking of its staff.
About the Bronxville Adult School & Contacts
The Bronxville Adult School is a not-for-profit organization incorporated in 1957 and chartered by the New York State Board of Regents. The School "offers all adults of Bronxville and surrounding communities the opportunity for personal growth through life enhancing skills and provides cultural, intellectual and recreational stimulation at a nominal cost."
The Bronxville Adult School
Bronxville Public Library
The Bronxville Public Library traces its origins back to 1875, when it was a small lending library housed in a room attached to the “Bronxville Model School.” The Library was officially chartered in 1906 and moved into the Village Hall Building. The needs of the library grew with the town and, in 1942, a new standalone building was erected, which is where the Library is today. Over the years, the Library was renovated and expanded to meet the needs of the community.
The Library has wonderful resources for adults and children and offers a comfortable and relaxing environment. The Library also houses a fine art collection, consisting principally of Bronxville painters and sculptors.
The Library offers special events, art exhibitions, and programs for adults, young adults and children. All events are open to the public, unless otherwise indicated.
The Bronxville Public Library
201 Pondfield Road (Midland Avenue & Pondfield Road)
Concordia College Adult Education
Concordia College was founded in 1881. It is a four-year, co-educational liberal arts college located in Bronxville. Concordia's Accelerated Degree Programs are designed to give you the skills to be competitive in your chosen career or in graduate school.
Concordia College - New York
171 White Plains Road
Bronxville, New York 10708
Sarah Lawrence College
1 Mead Way
Bronxville, New York 10708