Dr. Serena Beeks Encourages Eighth-Grade Graduates at The Gooden School to Spread Joy, Make a Difference

Published : Monday, June 9, 2014 | 7:12 PM

Eighth Grade Graduating Class of 2014, The Gooden School: (girls, from left) Daria Young, Natalie Fung, Ariana Fotoohi, Ariana Saigh, Taylor Morris, Natalie Boberg, Reese Bauer, Tiana Lopez. Michael Brennan, Adam Evenson, Jack Crawford, Jackson Morgan, Alvin Wang, Samuel Christopher, Caleb McCoy, Sary Nachabe, John Nahas, Timothy Treinen. Photo credit: Photo by Meghgan Snyder for The Gooden School

In her graduation address to The Gooden School’s 2014 eighth grade class, Dr. Serena Beeks, encouraged the students to spread joy and “be the kind of person who in every situation brings possibility or creativity, light or hope, respect, compassion and love.”

The graduation took place on Thursday, June 5, on the school’s campus in Sierra Madre. As the executive director of the Diocesan Commission on Schools, Beeks oversees nearly 40 Episcopal schools in the Los Angeles Episcopal diocese.

Beeks advised the students to make a difference, regardless of their ages or circumstances. “Right now, today, as an eighth grader who can’t yet drive or vote (soon, though!), you are smart enough, rich enough, talented enough, and good enough to make a difference in the lives of others, right now.

“When you have interacted with a lonely person and realized your common humanity, you will want to treat others as you would wish to be treated, and your patience and tolerance for the differences and problems and worries of others increases. In everyday small ways you will want to think about easing the burdens of others rather than adding to them; spreading joy rather than sadness. You will find your greatest joy in bringing joy to others,” she said.

As Beeks congratulated the young graduates, she offered a prayerful perspective: “May you always, beginning right now, speak and act with confidence in your abilities to be a blessing to others. May you always take the time and make the effort to look deeper – for the good in the people you meet, for the good in yourselves. God bless, preserve, and inspire you all.”

Since 1998, Beeks has served as Executive Director, Diocesan Commission on Schools, Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles. She did however take a break to serve as division head of a new independent school in Las Vegas for five years, which gave her a perspective on challenges and opportunities in education outside of the world of Episcopal schools. Prior to her position at the diocese, Beeks served as founding head of school of St. Mark’s, in Upland, for 16 years. Beeks received her Doctor of Ministry degree from Virginia Theological Seminary, and is a graduate of UC Berkeley and Claremont Graduate School. She serves as a Governing Board member of the National Association of Episcopal Schools, and is an Honorary Canon of the Cathedral Center. Additionally, Beeks serves as a liaison between Episcopal schools such as Gooden and their sister schools in Haiti.

Reflecting The Gooden School’s reputation for academic excellence and its emphasis on the arts and service learning, Gooden students are accepted by the finest area high schools. This fall, graduates will attend Flintridge Prep, Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy, La Salle, Loyola, Maranatha, Mayfield Senior School, St. Francis and Westridge.

The Gooden School’s 2014 eighth grade graduating class (in alphabetical order):

Reese Evelyn Bauer
Natalie Joy Boberg
Michael Richard Brennan
Samuel Jacob Christopher
Jack Crawford
Adam Jeremio Evenson
Ariana Fotoohi
Natalie Fung
Tiana Yoo Mi Lopez
Caleb Sullivan McCoy
Jackson R. Morgan
Taylor Anne Morris
Sary Hieu Nachabe
John Nahas
Ariana Rayne Heslen Saigh
Timothy James Treinen
Alvin Wang
Daria Elizabeth Young

Established in 1975, The Gooden School offers a classical education for the 21st Century. The independent Episcopal school, K – 8th grade, is located in Sierra Madre. For more information, visit www.goodenschool.org.

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