Offices & Resources

Prize Day Week: Chapels, Dance, Tea, Social, Concert
Prize Day Week: Chapels, Dance, Tea, Social, Concert

Prize Day Week got underway on Wednesday, June 5.

Yes, it's called "Prize Day," not "graduation" nor "commencement"—although both those concepts are fully part of the St. Mark's Prize Day experience. At St. Mark's Prize Day is much more than simply a graduation of seniors or a commencement of new alumni out into the real world. Rather, it is a sequence of traditional events, all evocative of the School's rich and storied past.

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 5, VI 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 7, 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, giving a full-scale performance recitation of Dr. Seuss' "Oh, the Places You'll Go." 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 6, the traditional VI Form Dance showcased smartly attired St. Markers. Photographs were taken on campus, and then there was music and dancing overlooking Boston Harbor.

On Friday morning, June 7, 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. At both events, VI Formers shared their memories and offered thanks to those who had helped and supported them along the way.

Friday afternoon saw the annual Prize Day Concert on the stage of the Putnam Family Arts Center's Class of 1945 Hall. The St. Mark's Orchestra, under the direction of Mr. Nathaniel Meyer, performed Beethoven's "Ode to Joy" (Symphony No. 9) and a section from Brahms' first symphony. The St. Mark's Choir, directed by Mr. James Wallace, chair of the arts department, sang, as did the Royal Blues. There were individual student performances by violinists Waverly Shi and Richard Zhang, pianist Alan Gao, and Ryder Henry on the French Horn, accompanied by Mr. Ilya Kazatnsev. A VI Form jazz ensemble—Matt Walsh (trumpet), Rwick Sarkar (trombone), Laura Drepanos (clarinet), Nick Bechard (tenor saxophone), Alan Zhu (guitar), Leo Xie (bass), and Kareem Chambers (drums)—performed "Laura's Blues", an original piece by Laura Drepanos '19. Finally, a "VI Form Combo"—Matt Walsh, Luc Cote, Alan Zhu—closed out the show with Weezer's "El Scorcho."

This final musical event of the year featured farewell performances by 19 VI Form musicians. All were introduced onstage by Mr. Wallace and their names and pictures appeared in the program: Mei Mei Arms (Choir, Royal Blues—soprano), Nick Bechard (Jazz Band—tenor sax), Kareem Chambers (Jazz Band—drums), Patrick Dei (co-president of the Choir and the Marksmen--tenor), Haley Dion (Choir, co-president of the Royal Blues—alto), Laura Drepanos (Jazz Band—clarinet), Mary Flathers (co-president of the Choir and the Royal Blues—alto), Shelby Howard (Choir, Royal Blues—alto), Nick Karlsson (Choir, co-president of the Marksmen—bass), Edna Kilusu (Choir—alto), Caitlin Lochhead (Choir, Royal Blues—soprano), Clementine McKeon (Choir, Royal Blues—alto), Seoyung Stephanie Moon (Orchestra—cello), Rwick Sarkar (co-president of the Jazz Band—trombone), June Seong (Choir, Royal Blues—soprano), Matthew Walsh (co-president of the Jazz band—trumpet), Qianqian Selina Wu (Orchestra—flute), Yi Leo Xie (Jazz Band—bass), and Yixuan Alan Zhu (Jazz Band—guitar).

Only the Friday evening Athletic Awards ceremony and traditional Baccalaureate Service then stood between the Class of 2019 and their big Prize Day event on Saturday.