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REGISTRATION, ORIENTATION, AND CONVOCATION HAVE SM 2012-13 OFF TO A STRONG START

Posted: September 10, 2012

With 100 new students on campus and a total of 350 enrolled for 2012-13, the new school year at St. Mark’s is fully underway. A week of registration and orientation, culminating in Friday night’s Convocation ceremony in the Class of ’45 Hall set the stage for the first day of classes on Saturday and a strong start for the School’s 147th year of operation.

Student leaders—Monitors, prefects, Pathways facilitators, and others—began it all with a Student Leadership Day on Monday, September 3rd. On Tuesday, those students participating in early sports practices arrived on campus, and the Pathways Program began working with students of color, international students, and more. Orientation for returning students also included various leadership committees such as the SDC and SAC, and these efforts, along with more pre-season sports sessions, continued through Wednesday.

On Thursday, September 6, it was time for new student registration and orientation. That evening, following a new parents reception, the annual New Student Chapel Service was held. Carrying unlit candles, new students and faculty followed the Chaplains into Belmont Chapel, where they were welcomed by returning students and faculty, who shared the flame from their lit candles as they welcomed the new arrivals: “You are the light of the world.” As part of the service, Dr. Heather Harwood—chair of the Classics Department—spoke about the School’s Latin motto: Age Quod Agis. St. Mark’s Chaplain Barbara Talcott introduced the School’s mascot—the Lion of St. Mark—after which the congregation sand “Thula Klizeo”, a contemporary South African hymn. New assistant chaplain Stephen Hebert then told the story of the School Prayer, after which Head of School John Warren led all those assembled in reciting the prayer. Mr. Tom Berryman—St. Mark’s Director of Music—introduced the School Hymn, “Sun of My Soul”, and after a special blessing, the service was done.

Friday morning saw registration for returning students, with a reception for their parents later that afternoon. In the evening, the traditional St. Mark’s School Convocation took place. The entire school was gathered together to open the 2011-2012 year by welcoming new students, honoring returning students, and recognizing faculty for their service to St. Mark’s. Mr. Warren welcomed everyone, thanking students and faculty for their positive attitude to start the year.

Dean of Academics Lynette Sumpter then spoke, recognizing the accomplishments of returning students for high honors as St. Mark’s Scholars and for honors work as 2011-12 scholars.

Faculty were also recognized, for service to St. Mark’s, by Assistant Head of School and Dean of Faculty Michael Wirtz. English teacher John Campanale and Language teacher Axel Galeano were all honored beginning their fifth year of service to St. Mark’s. Mathematics teacher Allyson Brown was honored beginning her tenth year at the School, while Drama teacher Les Baird, English teacher and longtime basketball coach David Lubick, and Dr. Mikhail of thye Mathematics Department were recognized for their fifteen years at St. Mark’s. Mr. Tom Berryman, teacher of Music, was celebrated for his 30 years of service. “The adults that make St. Mark's their work and home mirror for all of you the scholarship, hard work, and passion we are celebrating in the student body,” Mr. Wirtz told the audience. “You are being taught by published authors, presenters, artists, researchers, award winners, world travelers, tinkerers, inventers, novelists, and poets. Most importantly, you are being taught by learners. Tonight, I want to take a moment to recognize the commitment that faculty make to the School and their students, keeping the institution running and helping it retain its special character. Collectively, the faculty has completed 584 years of service to St. Mark's… They understand the school's history, and have actively participated in improving St. Mark's in ways big and small.”

Mr. Warren then presented a series of prizes to returning students, for last year’s accomplishments.

The Harvard Club Prize, selected by a vote of the faculty, is awarded to the outstanding student in the Fifth Form who combines excellence in scholarship with achievement in other fields. This year the prize was awarded to Matt Golding ‘13.

The Williams College Book Award Prize, selected by a vote of the faculty, is given to a Fifth Former in the top five percent of his or her class academically who has demonstrated intellectual leadership and has also made a significant contribution to the extracurricular life of the school. This year the prize was awarded to Angela Koh ‘13.

The Yale Club Book Award, selected by a vote of the faculty, is awarded to a Fifth Former who possesses outstanding personal character and intellectual promise. This year the prize was awarded to Maddie Vachris ’13.

The William G. Thayer Scholarship Fund Prizes were established by the alumni of this school to honor the Thayers’ first twenty-five years of service to St. Mark’s. The Thayer Prize is awarded each year to the student in each form with the highest academic average. This year the prizes were awarded: in last year’s Form III to Julie Geng; in last year’s Form IV to Melissa Kok; and in last year’s Form V to Rohit Bhatia.

The Dr. and Mrs. William Thayer Scholarship is awarded to the student, not in the graduating class, with the highest academic standing in the school. This year the prize was awarded to Julie Geng ‘15.

The Peter M. Schuh Scholarship Award is given in memory of Peter M. Schuh ’92 and each year will be awarded to a rising sixth former based on the following criteria:
• Maintenance of at least a B average in the fifth form year
• Participation in more than one varsity sport
• Exhibition of leadership as a Monitor, Editor, Prefect, Peer
Counselor or other similar position and
• If each of the first three qualities are met, the recipient shall exhibit
exceptional loyalty to, and enthusiasm for, St. Mark’s School
(by vote of the Director of Studies, the Dean of Students, and the Director of
Athletics)
This year’s recipient of the Peter M. Schuh Scholarship Award: Zachary Twitchell ‘13.

The Andrew Michael Sheridan Prize is given in memory of Andrew M. Sheridan ’05 and each year will be awarded to the rising sixth former who best exemplifies the character of Andrew M. Sheridan, as remembered with these words:
“Through acts of kindness, optimism, faith in God and humanity, hard work, and gentle humor, Andrew strived to do what is right and shared his joy of life with others…every day. In so doing, he encouraged us to believe in ourselves and inspired us to be our best.”
The recipient of this award is selected by a committee that includes the Dean of Students, Director of Studies, Director of Athletics, and Chaplain. This year’s recipient of the Andrew Michael Sheridan Prize: Vicky Hwang ‘13.

“I would like to say thank you to everyone here for engaging very positively with all of the opening of school events,” said Head of School John C. Warren ’74 in his concluding remarks. “We are off to a great start for what promises to be a great year.”

At the end of the week, Mr. Warren thanked both faculty and staff for the “upbeat beginning… I am particularly aware that the past week has presented a variety of challenges for many of us; more than the number that normally characterizes the complicated enterprise of starting a school year. Opening school while wrapping up many components of a construction project, and while working amongst an ongoing construction project, is far from ideal! I greatly appreciate your patience and flexibility and the attentiveness of so many of you in addressing challenges as quickly and as thoroughly as possible. Here’s to a continued great 2012-13!”

“Although it is always represented as magnificently alone, the lion’s magnificence does not come from its aloneness. It comes from the lion’s place as part of a large, loving, and multi-generational pride.”

--Rev. Barbara Talcott, School Chaplain