The Class of 2021 will be known for many things. They are a bright and talented group of young women who added so much to the life of St. Cecilia Academy.
They stayed strong and focused with perseverance and resilience while navigating the many challenges of a senior year in person during a global pandemic. Applying for colleges proved especially challenging for this year's senior class, as many campuses were either closed entirely or not offering tours to the public. Standardized testing sites sometimes canceled dates at the last minute or turned students away due to capacity limits. As the Class of 2021 graduated from St. Cecilia Academy on Friday, May 21, at the traditional outdoor celebration surrounded by family and friends, they had much for which to be grateful - and their joy was evident.
The Class of 2021 will attend 32 different colleges and universities in 18 states, with one student serving in the United States Marine Corps. The graduates earned over $10.2 million in merit aid awards for an impressive range of talents, including academic merit, leadership, athletics, service, and the arts. They will head as far away as Pepperdine University, Boston College, Parsons School of Design, Texas Christian University, and Ave Maria University, while some will stay closer to home, attending Vanderbilt University, The University of Tennessee, and Sewanee-The University of the South. The Class of 2021 will attend both private and public universities, Catholic and non-Catholic, and their interests are diverse, including business, education, nursing, marine biology, neuroscience, graphic design, and international studies.
The three top award winners in the Class of 2021 reflect a wide range of talents and interests. Salutatorian Meghan Rafoth, a graduate of St. Matthew School, is gifted in science and fine arts and possesses a heart for service. While at SCA she applied her deep understanding of physics not only to science but also to perfecting her dance moves. She was known by her fine arts teachers as a “triple threat” who could dance, act, and sing, and that talent was recognized with TPAC’s 'Spotlight Award for Outstanding Female Dancer' for her role as Flotsam in "The Little Mermaid." Meghan’s sharp intellect and penetrating insights consistently wowed her teachers. She challenged herself throughout high school with honors and AP level classes while maintaining a near-perfect GPA, and her ability to communicate complex concepts in readily understandable terms made her a favorite tutor among her peers. Meghan will attend the Honors College at Indiana University with a full-ride scholarship as a prestigious Wells Scholar, majoring in math and physics.
Valedictorian Madelina Huffman, a graduate of Harding Academy, followed her passion for beauty wherever it led, from performing an operetta to marveling over a mathematical formula. Over her four years at SCA, Madelina has been honored for excellence in Geometry, Literature, French, Chemistry, and History, along with her membership in three honors societies. Madelina also devoted considerable time to volunteering both in and out of school. One of the most evident gifts for which she has been known at St. Cecilia is that of her musical talent. With a voice at once powerful and angelic, Madelina starred often on the SCA stage, most notably as Ariel in "The Little Mermaid." While she was involved in many different areas of school life, she was known for her balance, and told younger students, "Work hard and always do the best you can, but know that one bad grade won't destroy your GPA, college plans, or life. If you don't know the material by midnight, stop studying and go to bed. You will be fine." Madelina will attend Vanderbilt University this fall.
The 2021 St. Cecilia Girl, the highest honor St. Cecilia Academy confers on a senior by a vote of their junior and senior peers, went to Ruthie Connallon McGrady, a graduate of St. Henry School. Ruthie is a natural leader who has led her classmates with grace and class throughout her high school career. During the past four years, Ruthie excelled in academics while at the same time participating in clubs, class leadership, and being a positive example to her peers. Her enthusiasm and joy have been contagious, whether she was welcoming prospective students as an SCA Ambassador or performing in multiple SCA theater productions. During a challenging senior year, her humor and warm smile radiated goodness within the entire St. Cecilia community. Since her freshman year, she has performed in every drama production and held leadership roles in theater, as well as lending her beautiful voice to choir concerts and the singing of the National Anthem at athletic events. Ruthie finds the fun in any situation and has formed strong bonds with her peers and teachers alike. She will attend Ave Maria University in the fall and major in Nursing.