Prize Day Week got underway on Wednesday, June 6.
There was an end-of-year event at the conclusion of the very first year of St. Mark's operation, in June of 1866. This event was more of a commencement than a graduation, as college was a rare destination for St. Markers in those early days. It took place within the framework of a church ceremony: a Baccalaureate Service, a custom originating in 15th century English universities. Only five years later, in June of 1870, did the ceremony expand to include the awarding of "prizes." The earliest of these were given for excellence in Latin and Greek, along with the School's highest honor: the Founder's Medal. Thus it became "Prize Day"—another term with medieval English roots—and so it has been, both retroactively and ever since.
At the evening service in Belmont Chapel on Wednesday, June 6, the Sixth Formers said goodbye to the School with a slideshow of memories and the lighting of candles, as well as words and music. On Friday, June 8, at the morning service, the School said goodbye to the Class of 2018 with more words and music. Next year's Monitors—current V Formers—said farewell to the seniors in verse. There was heartfelt applause as the VI Formers processed out of the Chapel and underformers moved to the new places they will occupy next year.
In between these two events, on Thursday evening, June 7, the traditional VI Form Dance showcased smartly attired St. Markers. Photographs were taken on campus, and then there was music and dancing aboard the Odyssey in Boston Harbor.
On Friday morning, June 8, the Southborough Tea (formerly the Ladies' Farewell Dessert) took place under the tent on the main quadrangle. This event dates back more than 40 years, when it was part of a series of graduation events at the Southborough School for Girls, an institution coordinated with St. Mark's in the years before coeducation. When St. Mark's went co-ed in 1977, the majority of the first female students came from the Southborough School. So the tradition was continued, to support St. Mark's women in maintaining their own identity and to honor the memory of a short-lived but much-loved school. The current name of the event reflects that legacy, and today it is a gathering of all St. Mark's girls where the VI Formers take the time to share memories, convey appreciation, and reflect on their time together.
The recently adopted "Gentlemen's Social" event took place simultaneously, in the Lions' Den, complementing the long-standing ladies' farewell tradition. As at the Southborough Tea, VI Formers shared their memories and offered thanks to those who had helped and supported them along the way. They then adjourned to the cage for some indoor soccer.
Friday afternoon saw the annual Prize Day Concert on the stage of the Putnam Family Arts Center's Class of 1945 Hall. This final musical event of the year featured farewell performances by 15 VI Formers. The Orchestra, under the direction of Nathaniel Meyer, played pieces by Brahms and Holst. Mo Liu '18 then played a piano solo: a Grieg sonata. The Choir, led by Director of Music and Arts Department chair James Wallace, sang Laetatus Sum by Gorczycki. Helynna Lin '18 followed with a piano solo, playing a piece by Debussy. The Marksmen then sang "If I Ever Fall in Love" and The Royal Blues sang "Dock of the Bay." The concert concluded with an acapella solo by vocalist Grace Darko '18, singing Rev. Paul Jones' "I Won't Complain." It earned her a standing ovation. In addition to Darko, Lin, and Liu, other graduating VI Form performers include Steven Burke, Ethan Chung, Anthony D'Angelo, Kaela Dunne, Benjamin Hunnewell, Rachel Hwang, Jason Hwang, Izzy Kim, Caroline McGinnis, Jonathan Shakespeare, Riya Shankar, and Kaito Tanaka. All were introduced onstage by Mr. Wallace and their names and pictures appeared in the program.
Only the Friday evening Athletic Awards ceremony and traditional Baccalaureate Service stood between the Class of 2018 and their big Prize Day event on Saturday.