Class of '24 banner revealed: Unity, strength, new beginnings

When the Class of ’24 arrived on campus, many of them hadn’t made connections with classmates other than maybe a teammate or roommate. COVID-19 had shifted everything for them. So now, as they prepare to make the final walk across the stage on Sunday, they are acutely aware of how hard they worked as a group to foster a sense of community and unity, despite the obstacles.

It’s this theme – community, unity and new beginnings – that focused their creative thinking as the small but mighty committee of Kailyn Kroll and Vaiden Mallonn volunteered to design the class’s banner.

As is tradition, the banner – brought to life by local seamstress Angie Cook – was revealed at Commencement rehearsal this morning. Kailyn, who will graduate on Sunday, presented the banner to President Rob Huntington on behalf of her committee mate, Vaiden Mallonn, who is on the theatre trip to NYC.

Kailyn and Vaiden encouraged “the harshest criticism, compliments or little tweaks” from their classmates throughout the process. But they stayed true to their focus to tell the class’s story of “perseverance, strength and grit” as well as its demonstrate its personality and legacy.

“We all had to have a new start here, no matter who you are,” Kailyn said. “Our class looks for success in our journey, and that starts after graduation – or even during our time here.

“We feel like (the banner) represents our class very well. We all have new beginnings, every day.”

The meaning of the class banner tradition wasn’t lost on Kailyn and Vaiden. Because their generation often lives in the moment, especially during this chapter of their lives, reflecting on their legacy isn’t necessarily in the forefront of their thinking.

Even so, Kailyn believes their banner will stand the test of time. “Each class is different, but I feel like this one will truly stand out through the years,” she said. “It’s inspiring to know that in 50 years, we’ll be seeing our banner hanging in Wickham Great Hall.”

On the eve of Commencement rehearsal, Kailyn shared her delight at seeing the finished banner. “It’s here, it’s beautiful and we love it,” she said. “I’m at a loss for words, seeing our vision come to live and thinking about the tangible impact we’re about to leave.”

“The Class of ’24, whenever we come back, in five, 10 or 50 years, I hope the world finds more of the unity we were seeking during our time here.”

President Rob Huntington, who likes the banner “a lot” too, told the class, “You should all be very happy about this.” He explained that beginning Monday, the Class of ’24 banner will hang in the lobby of the Campus Center for one year, until the Class of ’25 carries on the tradition once again.

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