Rector tells graduating Sixth Formers, “Your legacy will be continued dialogue and improvement on how we live together”
“There was perhaps no day more exciting,” said Sixth Form President Charlie Lee ’15, addressing the crowd at Graduation, “than the day Steve Aoki came to perform.”
Explaining that Aoki is a world-famous DJ and producer of electronic music, Lee apologized for his generalization when he added, “If you have never heard of him, that probably means you wouldn’t approve of his music very much.”
Aoki’s April 9 performance at SPS was a well-guarded surprise, orchestrated by Lee and fellow Sixth Form officers Malaika Ogukwe, Noah Ruttenberg, and Priscilla Salovaara, a community bonding gesture designed to bring the students together toward the end of the school year.
Lee’s words came in the midst of his May 31 address to his fellow graduates, their families, faculty, trustees, and many others in the SPS community. Graduation was the second of two Sunday events held to celebrate the conclusion of the Form of 2015’s time as students of St. Paul’s School. Because of heavy rain in the area, the ceremony took place in the Matthes Cage, with more than 1,500 people looking on.
Lee spoke of his own – and his formmates’ – gratefulness for the experience of St. Paul’s. He referred to changes in the School culture, identity, tradition, and rules during the Form of 2015’s tenure, but rejected the idea that those changes have defined their time at SPS.
“I believe it is our collective response to change, the ways in which we have come together and strengthened the bonds between us – in good times and bad – that defines our time here,” he said. “As students, we have shown ourselves to be resilient, energetic, and caring in the face of adversity. If there is one thing we can all learn from our collective experiences this year, I believe the way we treat each other is what truly defines our time here and makes this place special.”
Earlier, the students and their families listened as author, activist, and former SPS faculty member Lorene Cary ’74 delivered a Baccalaureate address in the Chapel of St. Peter and St. Paul.
At the Graduation, Rector Mike Hirschfeld ’85 welcomed all those in attendance, including Board President Jim Waterbury ’75 and fellow trustees Ward Atterbury ’85, Eric Ruttenberg ’74, Rex Bates P’12,’15, Kate Gellert ’89, Jim Diamond ’85, Sam Reid ’81, John Lechner P’07,’09,’12,’15, James Houghton ’82, Laurel Abbruzzese ’86, and Sarah Bankson Newton ’79. The Rector also welcomed four former board presidents in Amory Houghton ’45, Jim Kinnear ’46, Benjie Neilson ’56, and Douglas Schloss ’77. He then offered reflections to the 156 graduating members of the Form of 2015, praising the form members for their “desire to leave this school a better place.”
Hirschfeld noted that the Form of 2015 is the largest in School history. Members will attend 74 different colleges and universities. They lived through the snowiest – and coldest – New Hampshire winter on record. Members contributed more than 1,400 hours of community service; helped the girls hockey team earn its first-ever New England championship; represented St. Paul’s and the World Independent School Debate Championships and on the stage of Carnegie Hall.
“You brought to the School and experienced the magic of Steve Aoki,” Hirschfeld said, echoing Lee, “magic that I and many other members of the faculty are still striving to understand. But it was magical, that we know.”
Hirschfeld praised the Student Council for implementing changes to the Internet policy, for revising the Honor Code, for amending the Student Council Charter to ensure that the Sixth Form officers will always represent both boys and girls, and for establishing Young Men’s and Young Women’s Clubs to promote honest dialogue about living together in community.
“Your legacy will be continued dialogue and improvement on how we live together,” Hirschfeld said. “You have taken on with patience and grace difficult community issues, not always of your choosing. You have learned that our relationships and the community they support take intention, diligence, and, above all, love to maintain. This lesson will serve you well as you enter into new relationships and contribute to new communities in the years ahead.”
Hirschfeld then introduced Lee, who received the President’s Medal after his address. Following Lee’s speech, diplomas were awarded and several individual awards were presented, recognizing students for their achievements in academic and extracurricular pursuits.
Qingshu Han of Beijing, China, one of 37 students to graduate with summa cum laude honors, was the recipient of the Charles S. Knox Memorial Cup, awarded to the student of the graduating form who has attained the greatest distinction in scholarship during his or her years at St. Paul’s School. Amanda Grace Morrison of Helena, Mont., who also graduated with summa cum laude honors, was the recipient of the Benjamin Rush Toland Prize, recognizing intellectual achievement, athletic ability, and a gallant spirit.
Twelve students also graduated cum laude, while 55 members of the Form of 2015 earned magna cum laude honors.
Mujtaba Basij-Rasikh was the recipient of the Rector’s Medal (given at the Rector’s discretion to one who deserves special recognition for service to the School). Catherine Ellen Etchart, who graduated summa cum laude, received the Clifford J. Gillespie Medal, recognizing “honesty, integrity, and an eagerness to undertake the tasks that make the School a better place.” Summa cum laude graduate Philip Houghton Grayson was awarded the Reverend Dr. Everett P. Smith Prize for contributing “conspicuously to the morale and well-being of the School, its students, or the community.” Olumaemiladeola Adeboye (magna cum laude) received the final award of the day, the School Medal, awarded for “excellence in the performance of School duties.”
Hirschfeld concluded the ceremony by offering a prayer attributed to Sir Francis Drake and introduced to him by his predecessor, Twelfth Rector Bill Matthews ’61.
Disturb us, Lord, when we are too well pleased with ourselves; when our dreams have come true because we dreamed too little; when we arrived safely because we sailed too close to the shore. Disturb us, Lord, to dare more boldly – to venture on wider seas, where storms will show your mastery; where losing sight of land, we shall find the stars. We ask you to push back the horizons of our hopes; and to push into the future in strength, courage, hope, and love.
The Graduation exercises concluded with Hirschfeld declaring, “For the Sixth Form of 2015, the session of 2014-2015 is closed.”
Graduates proceeded through the traditional “hug and cry” line at the back of the Matthes Cage, thanking and bidding farewell to members of the faculty as family members looked on.
A list of 2014-15 Graduation award recipients and descriptions of their prizes follows (all recipients are members of the Form of 2015, unless otherwise indicated):
THE GEORGE W. CHASE AWARD
Established in 1997, The George W. Chase Award is given to that student, irrespective of form, who through his or her cheerful, thoughtful, and enthusiastic leadership in the house has set an example of selfless inspiration to others. These are the qualities that Mr. Chase helped to nurture during his 34 years at St. Paul's and that symbolize the best qualities of the School community. The winner is selected by the heads of house.
THE CLIFFORD J. GILLESPIE MEDAL
This medal was established in 1997 by two grateful Trustees in honor of Clifford J. Gillespie and his 33 years of dedicated service to the School as teacher, coach, and Interim Rector. It is awarded to the student who best embodies the qualities which characterized the career of Mr. Gillespie: honesty, integrity, and an eagerness to undertake the tasks great and small which make the School a better place.
Catherine Ellen Etchart
THE CHARLES HALSEY CLARK AWARD
The Charles Halsey Clark Award was established by Hong Kong Chinese families in honor of the ninth Rector of St. Paul's School. It is awarded to that student who best demonstrates interest in and an appreciation for Chinese language or culture.
Hanna Isabel Chan
THE CHARLES AND BENJAMIN CHENEY GOODWIN PRIZE
Founded by Mr. Charles A Goodwin of the Form of 1894, this prize is awarded for excellence in Classics.
Paul Francis de Francis Kigawa
THE ST. PAUL’S/SEIKEI JAPANESE PRIZE
This prize is given, in honor of those who have encouraged or participated in the exchange of students between the two schools, to the student chosen by the Language Division on the basis of grades, classroom performance, and participation.
THE MCLEOD PRIZE
Given by Edna V. McLeod in memory of her husband, Ambassador Scott McLeod, the McLeod Prize is awarded to the student who has contributed the most to the dance program through talent, dedication, enthusiasm, and spirit.
Philip Houghton Grayson
Amanda Grace Morrison
THE SCHLAGER PRIZE FOR VALOR
Given by Mr. and Mrs. S. Lawrence Schlager, this prize is awarded to that student who, during his or her years at the School, has exhibited courage, strength of character, and a determination to succeed.
THE HOWE MUSIC PRIZE
This prize was given by Mrs. Mary Carlisle Howe, of Washington, D. C., to that student who shows the greatest interest and activity in music.
THE SPANHOOFD PRIZE
Established by Mr. Carl Schurz Petrasch in memory of Mr. Edward Spanhoofd, a master in the School from 1880 to 1929, the Spanhoofd Prize is awarded for the highest rank in German, as determined by the marks for both recitations and examinations.
Mara Grace Kelly
THE ELLSWORTH GREENLEY PRIZE
This prize, founded by Mr. Howard Greenley in memory of his son Ellsworth of the Form of 1930, is awarded for excellence in any form of artistic work.
Emily Lauren Saunders
THE JAMES APPLETON THAYER MEDAL
Awarded to the student whose interests and efforts have contributed most in the activities of the theatre.
Courtney Nicole Becker
Chisom Diana Dimiri
THE JOHN HARGATE MEDAL
Endowed in 1911 by the alumni in memory of the Reverend John Hargate, M. A., of the Form of 1861, this medal is offered to the student who attains the highest rank in Mathematics.
Evan Wynn Wickenden
THE AMBASSADOR DUKE SPANISH PRIZE
Presented by Angier Biddle Duke of the Form of 1934, the Spanish Prize is awarded to the student who passes the best examination, both oral and written, on a work of a Spanish or Latin-American writer.
Sun Woo Lee ’16
THE MALBONE FRENCH PRIZE
Established by the Reverend Godfrey Malbone Brinley of the Form of 1884, the Malbone French Prize is offered to the student in the Fourth, Fifth, or Sixth Form who passes the best examination, both oral and written, upon some well-known French book.
Yasmeen Bahereh Sabet
THE VANDERPOEL PRIZE IN THE NATURAL SCIENCES
Endowed by Mr. Waldo Newcomer of the Form of 1886 and Mrs. Newcomer in memory of Aaron Melgert Vanderpoel of the Form of 1885, this prize is awarded to the student with the most distinguished record in science.
Emily Grace Weinschreider
THE FERGUSON SCHOLARSHIPS
Established in 1882 by the Reverend Henry Ferguson, Rector from 1906 to 1911, these scholarships are the School's most distinguished prizes for its scholars. Winners are chosen in the Fourth Form and in the Fifth Form through two days of examinations in four disciplines.
Alexander Louis Friedman ’17
Ziheng Wang ’16
THE CHARLES S. KNOX MEMORIAL CUP
Given by the Lord Fermoy of the Form of 1905 in memory of Mr. Charles S. Knox, a master in this School from 1872 to 1920, the Knox Memorial Cup is awarded to that student of the graduating Form who has attained the greatest distinction in scholarship during his or her years in St. Paul's School.
THE REVEREND DR. EVERETT P. SMITH PRIZE
This prize, given to the School in 1970 by Mr. Jarvis Cromwell in memory of his uncle, the Reverend Dr. Everett P. Smith of the Form of 1887, is awarded to that student who has contributed conspicuously to the morale and well-being of the School, its students, or the community.
Philip Houghton Grayson
THE BENJAMIN RUSH TOLAND PRIZE
Ben Toland, best scholar and athlete of the Form of 1938, was killed in action, serving beyond the call of duty in the assault on Iwo Jima. During his 24 years, he, to a remark-able degree, united intellectual achievement, athletic ability, and a gallant spirit. This prize is awarded to the Sixth Former who best combines these qualities.
Amanda Grace Morrison
THE RECTOR’S AWARD
This award is made at the Rector's discretion to graduating Sixth Formers whose selfless devotion to School activities has enhanced our lives and improved the community shared by all at St. Paul's School.
Courtney Nicole Becker
Benjamin Reath Neilson III
Malaika Nndidiamaka Ogukwe
Noah Joseph Charles Ruttenberg
Priscilla Katharine Salovaara
THE RECTOR’S MEDAL
The Rector's Medal is awarded at the Rector's discretion to a graduating Sixth Former who deserves special recognition for service to the School.
THE SCHOOL MEDAL
This medal is awarded for excellence in the performance of School duties.
Oluwademiladeola Alexandra Adeboye
THE PRESIDENT’S MEDAL
The President's Medal is awarded to the president of the Sixth Form in recognition of the excellence exhibited during the year in office and as an acknowledgment of the extraordinary responsibility this position holds.
Charles Carroll Lee IV