2022 Commencement

Mountain Connection, May 30, 2022

On Saturday, faculty and staff gathered with families and guests to celebrate Commencement for the 2022 seniors. Head of School, Samantha Coyne Donnel’s speech spoke to the value of the class of 2022’s experience at SMS, “Last year Gina Wither shared with me that SMS’ unofficial motto is ‘you’ll thank us later’. While many schools pave the road for students and shelter them from hardship, the journey at SMS is meant to be challenging, recognizing that adversity builds character. Graduates have told me that, because of their education at SMS, they felt prepared to handle whatever swerves and bumps life handed them. The pandemic, for example, was not conjured up as part of a grand scheme to expand our challenging program.  But, seniors, you have certainly endured that long, extended swerve with grace, courage, and optimism.” This year’s class is the first to graduate from the K-12 Steamboat Mountain School, and it includes three students, Ella, Tinsley, and Eliana, who attended the lower school. In fact, Tinsley is the first 13-year student in SMS history, as she began at the Emerald Campus in kindergarten. No one minded the brief lightning delay midway through the ceremony, which made for a memorable backdrop, and, of course, the seniors took the apparent setback in stride by holding a dance party on the bus while they waited out the storm. Once the all-clear arrived, graduation speaker, Natalie Beal ‘95 spoke about one of SMS’ core principles, the impact of wholeness. She said, “Graduates, I invite you to take a moment to breathe to capture this space and time in your life. SMS is a magical place in which both positives and negatives operate in extremes. In this place, time slows down and allows people to be introspective to really get to know themselves and get to know each other. This is a beautiful place and a gift to us that does not exist anywhere else in the world, and it is a place that has positioned you for greatness.” After Beal spoke, select faculty took time to share about each graduate. From the humorous to the tearful, a trademark of the SMS graduation is these speeches. A student’s name is not simply listed off and a diploma handed but rather each faculty member spent time sharing about each student. Through Beal’s words and faculty tributes, we can hear that at SMS, students embark on the two human journeys: inwards to explore self and outwards to engage with the world. They develop a deep understanding of who they are and who they are becoming; our students increase their meaningful impact on the world.


This graduating class embodies the spirit of adventure and independence that Lowell Whiteman planned for SMS and we hope that the Class of 2022 takes these lessons with them.

Class of 2022 Matriculation

Josie Angell, Northeastern University in Boston, Massachusetts


Eliza Bodden, Occidental College in Los Angeles, California


Eliana Brown, Syracuse University in Syracuse, New York


Maia Coe, Montana State University in Bozeman, Montana


Megan Faherty, Wake Forest University in Winston-Salem, North Carolina


Presley Hofland, College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina


Ella Howland, American University of Rome in Rome, Italy


Mira Kearns, Babson College in Wellesley, Massachusetts


Liam Kelly, PG Year to pursue Alpine Ski Racing


Peri O’Connell, Laguna College of Art and Design in Laguna Beach, California


Annika Ort, University of Colorado in Boulder, Colorado


Karina Romanova, ESC Clermont Graduate School of Management in Clermont, France


Carly Simmons, Colorado College in Colorado Springs, Colorado


Ella Stroock, Chapman University in Orange, California


Xander Tatar-Brown, PG Year to pursue Freestyle Ski Racing


Catcher Weynand, Colorado Mountain College in Steamboat Springs, Colorado

Tinsley Wilkinson, University of Denver in Denver, Colorado

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