Celebrating the Class of 2021

Dear CJA Community,

On June 5th, we celebrated the Class of 2021, our thirteenth graduating class. This year’s ceremony looked a little different — outdoors at St. Ignatius College Prep and socially distant — but the feelings of love, gratitude and pride were the same as in years past.

Our commencement speaker and Board Chair, Dr. Lauren M. Smith, offered our graduates her five rules to live by as they matriculate to their high schools:

  1. Do the work
  2. Never stop being a student
  3. Be kind and be grateful
  4. Know your limits, but don’t let anyone set them for you
  5. Enjoy the ride

This sage advice was an excellent capstone to their time at CJA and beautifully mirrors the graduate-at-graduation values they have been working towards for the past five years. In practice, being Committed to Doing Justice looks a lot like doing the work. It means staying focused on what is important and walking and working with the marginalized to build a better world for all of us. The Intellectually Competent among us aren’t necessarily the smartest or most gifted, but the lifelong learners committed to always being a student. To be Loving means to treat others with kindness and to acknowledge the gifts of life with gratitude. Being Open to Growth means that you are open to new experiences while also respecting your boundaries and limits without letting anyone else tell you what you are capable of achieving. Finally, being Religious looks a lot like enjoying the ride, seeing each moment of each day as a gift from God to be lived and enjoyed to the fullest and finding meaning and wonder in all that we do, in our successes and in our challenges.

Thank you, Dr. Smith, for delivering a thoughtful and engaging speech to our graduates and for being an exceptional example to our graduates of what it means to be a person for and with others.

Thank you also to St. Ignatius College Prep for generously allowing us to host our graduation safely and socially distanced on Fornelli Field.

Please enjoy reading more about our graduates and the graduation ceremony in this eNewsletter.

Mary Grawe
Vice President of Development

Graduate-at-Graduation Award Winners

Committed to Doing Justice

“Christopher showed his commitment to doing justice in the service of others by deepening his understanding of injustice and its root causes. He held up the ugliness of injustice to the cleansing light of compassion and love.”

Intellectually Competent

“Whether in the building or remote, Dariyon and David practiced planning for the future by joining teams that could help them improve themselves; they practiced communicating effectively with teachers and peers to ask for help; and, they thought critically by participating in classes with questions and ideas that spurred their learning and their peers’ learning.”


Elijah and Thomas graduate today, imparting on this community and imprinting in the hearts and minds of so many a legacy of empathy, solidarity and love. Your kindness and compassion remind the people whose lives you have touched that we too are worthy of love.”

Open to Growth

Matthew takes ownership of his learning and is a leader among his peers, holding himself — along with his classmates — to high expectations. As a result, he has made tremendous growth as a reader and mathematician… Daniel constantly reflects on his progress, recognizing that perseverance and struggle are necessary components of growing and learning. He encourages feedback because he knows it only makes him stronger.”


Ryan holds himself to a standard. He has a confidence that he is meeting the challenge he set for himself, to accept who he is – a person made in the likeness of God. The world can see it… Octavius’s faith is a faith of action. A faith of noticing the world around him, seeing who needs help, and saying, ‘God has entrusted me with gifts. I know how to use them. I can bring God’s light to others, so they know that they too matter.”

Phoenix Award

“CJA’s Phoenix award is all about our students’ ability to rebound from setback after setback, to regenerate themselves and once again shine brilliantly for all to see and to go forth and set the world aflame as true persons with and for others.

The spirit that drove Aaron to success and rebirth was a desire to be his best self, to make his unwavering and supportive family proud, and to be part of the solution to the world’s problems which he so aptly noticed on a daily basis… It is not often that you will find a student like Deon who can successfully name the emotions that get in the way of his learning, stare those emotions straight in the face and persist anyway. That takes courage and that courage opened worlds of knowledge for him.”

Watch the Class of 2021 Graduation Ceremony

Congratulations to the Class of 2021