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Dedication Day Remembers

During the Dedication Day ceremony, a wreath was placed at Tagart Memorial Chapel in memory of devoted faculty and staff. Flowers were placed in an urn in remembrance of each member of the McDonogh Family who passed away in the past year.


Childs Memorial Terrace was a fitting site for McDonogh’s first-ever Dedication Day ceremony held on Thursday, October 22. “It is the place that marks the beginning and the end of our McDonogh journey,” explained Bridget Collins ‘90, The Charles W. Britton Director of Character and Service, in her remarks during the ceremony. “It’s the place where we gather for convocation and the ringing of the school is the place where beloved faculty and staff members say goodbye when we celebrate their retirement on Head of School Day. It is the place where you will one day walk across this stage, receive your McDonogh diploma and hear the Dedication Hymn one last time as a student,” she told the students viewing the ceremony online.

The virtual ceremony began with a welcome from Head of School Dave Farace ‘87 who shared the significance of the event. “We honor the people whose labor, commitment, vision, and generosity led to the establishment and growth of our school,” he said. “We pause to remember beloved members of our community who have left this life this past year and will welcome them home one last time by speaking their names and ringing the Chapel bell.” He was followed by Emily Adams ‘21 who introduced the invocation given by Collins.

In her remarks, Collins spoke of the changes in tradition that have taken place throughout McDonogh School’s history saying, “Dedication Day holds on to the tradition that has allowed this school to grow and flourish for generations...and that is the tradition of remembering all of those who’ve gone before us. It is the tradition of expressing our love and gratitude for the founding of this school and the people who make this community extraordinary. It is the tradition of realizing that while change has been difficult, it has made us a stronger and more diverse community.” She concluded, “We are a beautiful community that recognizes and appreciates the changes we have gone through to achieve this beauty.”

The ceremony continued as students placed memorial wreaths in honor of and with gratitude to the individuals and groups whose stewardship, labor, philanthropy, dedication, and sacrifice helped to establish, create, and enrich McDonogh School including:

  • The Piscataway Conoy and Nanticoke People, who hunted and stewarded the land for many generations before the School was founded.
  • The enslaved people of John McDonogh whose labor at the McDonoghville Plantation in Louisiana helped build a significant portion of his wealth.
  • John McDonogh’s gift of philanthropy that established the public school system in New Orleans and a school farm in Baltimore for poor boys, which became McDonogh School.
  • Generations of devoted faculty and staff who held students to the highest standards while offering the highest level of support.
  • McDonogh alumni who gave their lives in military service to our nation in WWI, WWII, Korea, and Vietnam.

Following a rendition of the Dedication Hymn recorded by students and alumni last April, 47 members of the McDonogh Family who passed away in the past year were remembered. As each name was read by Alumni Association President Josh Thomas ’06, a bell tolled in Tagart Memorial Chapel and Alumni Association Vice President Caitlin Xenakis ‘07 and Director of Alumni Relations Beth Sauer Hopkins ’02 placed a flower in an urn on the steps of the chapel.

The ceremony concluded with Taps, played by Dr. Kevin Costa, and the benediction introduced by Sohan Gunawardane ‘21. Those who viewed the ceremony also enjoyed the McDonogh Alma Mater performed by the Upper School String Ensemble.

Watch the Dedication Day ceremony.
(Please note, McDonogh School discontinued the military program in 1971, not 1968 as mentioned in the remarks.)