St. Mark's School's 157th Prize Day on Saturday, June 11, marked the conclusion of the 2021-2022 academic year. Eighty-eight VI Form students graduated from St. Mark's in a ceremony under the tent on Belmont FIeld. Alice Hung '86 delivered the keynote address, and Michael Fisher '22 was the valedictorian.
"You have challenged us throughout your time here to be a better school," Head of School John C. Warren '74 said during his opening remarks to the graduates, citing a petition authored by Pathways prefects that inspired progress in the School's diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts.
Mr. Warren also noted dialogue and forums initiated by the Class of 2022 in the wake of national and world events this past year, including Russia's invasion of Ukraine and the leaked Supreme Court draft decision on Roe v. Wade. "You embraced the principle of St. Mark's teaching you how to think, not what to think," he said.
Mr. Warren went on to offer special thanks to faculty members who are departing after distinguished service to the School, including Senior Teacher Barbara Putnam, who is retiring after 43 years at St. Mark's. Prizes and awards were then presented, beginning with the George Howell Kidder Faculty Prize and the Class of 1961 Fred Burr Staff Prize.
The George Howell Kidder Faculty Prize is awarded by the head of school, on the advice of faculty, staff, and student leaders, to a member of the faculty who has contributed to St. Mark's above and beyond the ordinary and who has shown the same love of learning, compassion, and commitment to excellence which marked George Howell Kidder's life. Modern Languages Department Head and Spanish teacher Kathleen (KK) Roussinos was this year's recipient.
The Class of 1961 Fred Burr Staff Prize was established by the Class of 1961 on the occasion of their 40th reunion to honor one of their teachers, Fred Burr, and his emphasis on the contribution staff make to the quality of the education provided by St. Mark's. Fred Burr considered himself one—like so many staff members--who enthusiastically support the work of faculty and students while working outside the limelight. The Burr Prize is awarded by the Head of School, on the advice of faculty, of staff and of student leaders, to a member of the staff who exemplifies these qualities. Senior Associate Director of Donor Relations Megan Hyland was this year's recipient.
Mr. Warren then presented the student awards, including the Founder's Medal, which honors the School's Founder, Joseph Burnett, and is endowed in memory of Brigadier General Richard Townsend Henshaw, Jr., of the Class of 1930. It is awarded to the member of the graduating class with the highest academic standing over the last three years of his or her St. Mark's career. This year the Founder's Medal was awarded to Michael Ferlisi. A full list of award recipients appears below.
Following the presentation of prizes and awards, Ms. Hung delivered the keynote address. Ms. Hung presented advice to the graduating class using the metaphor of glasses: clear glasses, "so that you can have a clear and honest view of yourself and others"; a magnifying glass, "so that you can understand the intricacies and yet frame the challenges you face in a larger context"; and sunglasses, "that will help you filter out some of the harmful, bright rays that personal success will sometimes bring."
At St. Mark's, the valedictorian is chosen by the VI Form class. In his valedictory address, Michael Fisher '22 said, "When it comes to the future, I have good news and bad news. The bad news is, I have no idea what the future holds for any of us. But here's the good news: We are all at an amazing point in life, where the possibilities are truly limitless."
Trustee Tarah Donaghue Breed '00, president of the Alumni Executive Committee, then welcomed the Class of 2022 to the Alumni Association before Head Chaplain Rev. Barbara Talcott concluded the ceremony with a benediction.
Prizes and Awards
The John A. Carey Prize is given in recognition of and appreciation for the 36 years of loving service John Carey gave to this School. It is given to that student who has contributed the most to the visual arts at St. Mark's and who has excelled in more than one art form. This year the Carey Prize was awarded to Rongrong (Katie) Mao.
The Carleton Burr Rand Prize is given in memory of Carleton Burr Rand, Class of 1946, and is awarded for excellence in journalism. This year the Rand Prize was awarded to Suha Choi and Kendall Sommers.
The Coleman Prize in English, endowed by Joseph G. Coleman Jr., Class of 1899, is awarded to that student, who, in the judgment of the English Department, has submitted the outstanding essay during this academic year. The winner of this year's Coleman Prize is Madison Hoang.
The William Otis Smith Prize for English Verse is given in memory of a member of the Class of 1907 and is awarded to that student who, in the judgment of the English Department, has submitted the outstanding verse during the past year. This year, the Smith Prize was awarded to Sophie Chiang.
The Redmond Prize for English Narrative, presented in memory of Henry S. Redmond, Class of 1923, is awarded to the student who, in the judgment of the English Department, has submitted the outstanding piece of narrative during this academic year. This year's Redmond Prize was awarded to Jiayi (Linda) Li.
The J. Stanley Sheppard Music Prize is given in recognition of Stan Sheppard's 34 years of faculty service to the music program at St. Mark's and is awarded to that student who has contributed the most to the musical life of the School during the current year. This year, the Sheppard Music Prize was awarded to Xuantong (Taylor) Zhou.
The Walter Irving Badger Prize in Dramatics is given in memory of Walter Badger's 13 years of service to the St. Mark's drama program and is awarded to the member of the VI Form who, during his or her St. Mark's career, has contributed the most to drama at the School. This year's Badger Prize was awarded to Sydni Williams.
The Frederick R. Avis and Anna M. Pliscz Science Prizes honor two revered St. Mark's biology teachers whose love of teaching and learning set examples for both colleagues and students. The Avis-Pliscz Science prizes are awarded to two students who, through curiosity, determination, passion, and practical application of ideas have acquired a deeper understanding of particular scientific processes. This year's Avis-Pliscz Science Prizes were awarded to Jaclyn Zatsiorsky and Lauren Tran.
The Philip Gallatin Cammann '14 STEM Prize is awarded to that student who has most successfully pursued breadth and depth of study in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics courses. This year the Cammann STEM prize was awarded to Veronika Kitsul.
The Edward A. Taft '69 Computer Science Prize is awarded to that student who by interest, curiosity, original thought, and practical application of ideas has acquired a deeper understanding of the field of computer science. This year the Taft Computer Science Prize was awarded to Zifan (Carl) Guo.
The John Suydam Mathematics Prize is given in memory of a member of the Class of 1904 who taught mathematics at St. Mark's for many years. It is awarded to that VI Former who has done the best work in mathematics, having also studied physics. This year the Suydam Mathematics Prize was awarded to Peiyun (Reina) Wang.
The Roy Irving Murray Prize for Excellence in Sacred Studies is given in memory of a St. Mark's chaplain from the 1920s and 1930s. This year it was awarded to Sydni WIlliams.
The H. Casimir De Rham Prize for Excellence in French is given in honor of a member of the Class of 1914. This year it was awarded to Ethan Karabanow.
The John Richard White Prize for Excellence in German is given in memory of a member of the Class of 1899 who also taught German here. This year the White German Prize was awarded to Peiyun (Reina) Wang.
The Peter Bryce Appleton Prize for Excellence in Spanish was given by Francis Appleton, of the Class of 1935, in honor of Peter Bryce Appleton, a member of the class of 1961. This year the Appleton Spanish Prize was awarded to Tess Barrett.
The Chinese Language Prize is awarded to the student who has demonstrated extraordinary aptitude and passion for the study of Chinese during their career at St. Mark's. This year the Chinese Prize was awarded to Diana Oh.
The Henry P. Kidder Prize for Excellence in Latin is given in memory of a member of the Class of 1914. Henry Kidder is also the grandson of the founder of St. Mark's School. This year the Kidder Latin Prize was awarded to Suha Choi.
The Morris H. Morgan Prize for Excellence in Greek is given in memory of a member of the Class of 1877 who was for many years a professor of Greek at Harvard. This year the Morgan Greek Prize was awarded to Michael Ferlisi.
The Frederic A. Flichtner Prize for Excellence in History is given in memory of a member of the faculty for 35 years. This year it is awarded to Zimo Tang.
The George Hall Burnett Prize in History is given to commemorate the graduation in 1902 of a grandson of the founder. It is awarded on the basis of a special essay in American history. This year the Burnett Prize in History was presented to Marianne Lyons.
The Ely Prize in Public Speaking, originally given by a member of the Class of 1892 in memory of his mother, is presented to the student who gave the best speech in the Global Seminar Public Speaking Competition. This year's Ely Prize was awarded to Divi Bhaireddy.
The Shen Prize is awarded to the winner of a public speaking contest among Advanced United States History students on the topic of democracy. The prize is given by Y.L. Shen in honor of his daughters, Ing-ie (Ava) Shen of the Class of 1988, and Ing-Chuan (Judy) Shen of the Class of 1989. This year's Shen Prize was awarded to Alden Mehta.
The Alice Hung '86 Prize is selected by a vote of the faculty to the rising VI Former who best embodies the global citizenship priorities that distinguish Ms. Hung's life and career. The founder and director of a highly successful international business operating on multiple continents, Ms. Hung has been instrumental in the establishment of a St. Mark's partner school relationship in China. The Alice Hung '86 Prize was awarded to Shreeya Sareddy.
The Head Monitor Prize is presented to the male and female Head Monitor in recognition of exemplary devoted service to St. Mark's. Both in their public roles and behind the scenes they have been outstanding leaders. This year's Head Monitors were Laryssa Barbosa and Michael Fisher.
The John and Elizabeth Munroe Prize, first given in 1949 in memory of a member of the Class of 1902, was renamed in 1990 to include his wife, a distinguished and inspiring figure in the field of social work. The prize is awarded each year, by vote of the faculty, to the underformer who has shown the greatest promise of intellectual leadership and who by his or her example has best fulfilled the ideals of St. Mark's School. This year's John and Elizabeth Munroe Prize was presented to Yunxuan (Coco) Chen.
The Association of St. Mark's School Prize is awarded by vote of the faculty to that VI Former who best represents the ideals of St. Mark's School and who, through his or her service to the broader community beyond the St. Mark's campus, enriches both his or her own life and the life of the greater School. This year's Association of St. Mark's School Prize went to Zifan (Carl) Guo.
The Charles Willard Bigelow Prize is given in memory of a member of the Class of 1891. It is awarded for promise of character by vote of the faculty to the V Former who, throughout their St. Mark's career, has shown unusual determination in all their undertakings and who has continuously been willing to go beyond the call of duty to get the job done. This year the Bigelow Prize went to Charlene Murima.
The Henry Nichols Ervin Scholarship is named for a member of the Class of 1936 who was killed in World War II. It is awarded by vote of the faculty to that student who best exemplifies the character of Henry Ervin who, while at St. Mark's, at Brantwood, at Harvard, and in service to his country, seldom missed an opportunity to do a kindness or lend a hand. This year the Ervin Scholarship was awarded to Brady Leonard.
The Pierson F. Melcher Prize is given in honor of the founding Headmaster of the Southborough School and is awarded by the St. Mark's faculty "to that student who through clarity of expression, effectiveness of logic, and sense of community well-being best exemplifies the tradition and spirit of the New England town meeting." This year's Melcher prize was awarded to Daniella Pozo.
The Douglas H. T. Bradlee Scholarship is named for a member of the Class of 1946 who was killed in the Korean War. It is awarded by vote of the faculty to that student who best exemplifies the qualities of Douglas Bradlee. In the words of his Headmaster, what was special "was not so much (Douglas Bradlee's) keen mind or his frankness or his...physical courage or even his firm forthright moral courage; it was his spiritual strength." This year the Bradlee Scholarship was awarded to Veronika Kitsul.
The Daniel B. Fearing Athletic Prizes, named for a member of the Class of 1878, are awarded to the boy and girl who best combine athletic ability with good spirit, good team play and sportsmanship. The prize was established to reward both the winners' contribution to the success of their teams and their wholesome and positive effect on the athletic life of the School. This year's Fearing Prizes were presented to Avery McInerny and Levi McAllister.
The Harold Hayes Prize, named for a member of the Class of 1907, is awarded by vote of the faculty to the member of the graduating class who has been of greatest service to the School. This year's Hayes Prize went to Laryssa Barbosa.
The St. Mark's Prize for Experiential Learning, selected by vote of the faculty, goes to that VI Former who has demonstrated, through action and reflection, a particular passion for applying knowledge gained in St. Mark's classrooms to challenges existing in the larger world beyond our campus The recipient of the St. Mark's Prize for Experiential Learning was Jaclyn Zatsiorsky.
The William Townsend White Scholarship is named for a member of the Class of 1886. It is awarded by vote of the faculty to a deserving student based upon academic achievement. This year the White Scholarship was awarded to Zimo Tang.
The William G. Thayer Scholarship Fund Prizes were established by the alumni to honor the Thayers' first 25 years of service to St. Mark's. It is awarded each year to those students in each form with the highest academic average for the year. The recipients of this year's Thayer Prizes were Michael Ferlisi (VI Form), Austin Gorman (V Form), Erin Rasmussen (IV Form), and Lanxuan Zia (III Form).
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's recipient was Erin Rasmussen.
The Founder's Medal honors the School's founder, Joseph Burnett, and is endowed in memory of Brigadier General Richard Townsend Henshaw, Jr., of the Class of 1930. It is awarded to the member of the graduating class with the highest academic standing over the last three years of his or her St. Mark's career. The recipient of this year's Founder's Medal was Michael Ferlisi.
Text of Alice Hung's Address
Dear Mr. Warren, Parents, Teachers, and fellow St. Markers,
It is my greatest honor and pleasure to speak to you on this very special day celebrating the graduating class of 2022. When I arrived at St. Mark's 38 years ago, I came looking for a wonderland and found my American home. It is truly one of the highlights of my life to come back home to our great campus to share the journey I've taken since then.
My biography lists me as an entrepreneur, philanthropist, and venture capitalist, but it doesn't tell the whole story of how I got here. I hope to share the three main pillars of my life and gift you with some words of advice to help you build a foundation for your own limitless future.
The first pillar of my life is built with the courage to make bold, difficult decisions. I have moved to different countries many times in my life now, and each time, it was the courage to make the boldest decisions to leave my comfortable life that allowed me to embark a journey full of excitement, challenges, success and failures, laughs and tears......I was born in China during the Cultural Revolution and spent my childhood in poverty on reform farms with my family; when I was 6 years old, we immigrated to Hong Kong to find a new chance for our family. My mom was a chemist and my dad was a geophysicist, but with no Cantonese, no English, and diplomas not recognized by Hong Kong institutes, there was not much chance besides finding odd jobs. Those days were hard, and I remember my mom bringing work home for my grandmother and I to help so we can earn extra money. I remember being six years old, helping my grandmother put clothes on tiny toy monkeys. I saw a lot of toys, but none of them were for me.... Life was hard, but my parents were fighters in their lives, and with their knowledge, they were able to switch jobs, step by step. They saved money and took turns to attend night school to learn English, and afterwards, my dad moved from working as a welder to electrician, then product designer, electronical engineer, and finally to general manager of an electronic factory in Shenzhen. My mom started as a seamstress, then a chemist in different textile dyeing companies, and finally, when China adopted an open-door policy, my mom started a successful company to trade and distribute IBM typewriters, digital computers, and analytical instruments with my dad.
I was inspired by my mom and dad and I started to think of a wider world that could broaden my horizons. Even though I had never been away from my family before, I decided the best chance for my future was to go to the United States to study for high school. When I was fifteen years old, I went to the library of U.S. Chamber of Commerce in Admiralty and found a book about U.S. preparatory schools. That's where I learned about St. Mark's, one of the ivy leagues of U.S. high schools. When China opened her doors in the 1980s, I moved to the U.S. to attend St. Mark's. The first week of school, I became very sick and caught a high fever, but I remembered how hard my family and I had worked for me to come here, and there is no way I can ever give up, so I woke up and I went on. My time at St. Mark's broadened my mind, giving me the confidence to take on any obstacles that appeared in my life, and serving as a cornerstone for my career.
The second pillar of my life is built by relationships. Diligent study will undoubtedly increase your knowledge, but getting good grades in exams is just the most basic requirement. If we are to succeed, we must actively understand people, treat people with sincerity, and listen carefully. Only then can we develop genuine relationships that can expand our horizons and teach us things we didn't know we were lacking. During my two years at St. Mark's, my teachers and school mates became my the greatest supporters. They took turns inviting me to homestays during the weekends, and for Thanksgiving I would join in their family dinners. They motivated me during difficult times, helped me with my English pronunciation, and taught me American culture, for example how to eat with a fork and knife because all my life, I had only used chopsticks.
The third pillar of my life is was built during travel. In Chinese, there is a saying that goes along the lines of: traveling 10,000 miles is better than reading 10,000 books. When you travel, remember to think of more than just different countries, but also think about traveling spiritually to learn about yourself and other people. When I first arrived at St. Mark's, I was a girl who had never traveled out of Hong Kong or been away from my family. Then and now, when I travel, I talk to people: to the doorman, the bartenders, the teachers, the bankers, to mates in the college dormitories, I talk to foreign students different from me. From their experiences, I learn what matters to other people, what ideologies they have, what dreams they have. This not only stimulates my own thoughts but also improves my communication skills. And this is the number one survival skill in life. Also, when you travel, don't forget to learn the history of the place, the people, and yourself. History is like a mirror, and it repeats itself by reflecting and repeating for indefinite amount of times. Reading and learning about world history enhances the data you have gathered from reading, traveling and talking. History puts things into context and can be a reference for your judgement. Only through all these types of travel can you appreciate the differences in culture, history, and economic background.
Now, I also want to give everyone in the graduating class three pairs of eyeglasses to bring with you so you can build your own three pillars of life.
My first gift to you is a pair of clear glasses so you can see yourself and other people very clearly and honestly--see all our limitations and our strengths, and our real interests. This will strengthen your knowledge and relationships. Fellow students, there is an old and wise Chinese saying that goes: "Know yourself and know your enemy, and you will be victorious in a hundred battles." Seeing yourself clearly will help you find the best match of career, right spot in the world where you can master the position, shine on the spot, and have a happy life. Seeing other people clearly allows you to build strong, treasured business and personal partnerships. Any time you might come across an obstacle or find yourselves in an argument with your future partners, use these glasses to inspect both your strengths and weaknesses. This process will help you gain your courage back so you can produce solutions.
My second gift to you is a magnifying glass that can zoom in to let you critically look at things and then back out so you can see them in the bigger context. The key to success is to think critically to retain your sense of independence and avoid crowd following. Today's world is very different from the world in 1986 when I graduated from St. Mark's. Back then, we didn't have Internet and social media. Our knowledge came from books or teachers, and if we missed home, we had to go to phone booths or just write letters--things moved more slowly then. But we also had a lot of time to think and reflect. Reflect on ourselves, think about our dreams and think about the world. And this is very important to me. Therefore, I encourage you to put down your phones and computers for 15 minutes every day, recollect yourself and think about what can be done better, can be said better and what you can learn from the people you meet today. This short 15 minutes will help in your decision-making skills tremendously. Next, I hope you use this gift to also zoom out and see the bigger world we live in. When you know and see the entire the world well, you diversify your sources of information, you know where to go, and that is where the opportunities are.
My last gift to you is a pair of sunglasses that will help you to filter out some of the damaging UV rays that success can bring. Remember highs can come with lows, so don't forget humility, don't be a victim of your own vanity and success. Success can sometimes make us very self-centered and not willing to listen to other people's opinions. Unfortunately, this attitude will be a major obstacle to your success. If you feel superior to others, not continue to learn, not try to understand the changing world, you will end up with tunnel vision, as the Chinese say "a frog in the well knows nothing of the great ocean." Only by listening with humility can you communicate well with others, establish good networks, and seize new opportunity to develop your career. I hope you also remember that having the heights of success affords you the ability to help lift others up.
I have made many major decisions in my career, family, and life. I sailed through many stormy waters. And here, with these three pairs of glasses to help you build your own three pillars of life, I hope that everyone will find success and happiness. In your future St Mark's reunions, when you come back to see your friends, I hope you will have big smiles on your faces.
And hopefully, my honest sharing and small pieces of advice can be of benefit to you in the future. The next years of your life will be the most fantastic parts of your life, please enjoy this opportunity. You will see a bigger world, meet your lifelong friends, and plan big dreams.
Text of Michael Fisher's Address
Hello everyone. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Michael Brian Fisher. I would like to start off my speech by thanking all the people that have made an impact on my time at St. Mark's, but I'm afraid that that would take up all the time I have up here. To save time, I'd like to thank everyone in this room including students, faculty members, coaches, and especially Carl Corazzini. I had a hard time deciding what to write about for this speech so I settled on a favorite book of mine.
[Fake Oh the Places You'll Go . . .]
Today is your day.
You're off to Great Places!
You're off and away!
You have brains in your head.
You have feet in your shoes.
You can steer yourself
any direction you choose.
If you thought I was really going to just come up here and address the class of 2022 by simply reading a Dr. Suess book, you are sorely mistaken.
Last time I had the opportunity to speak in front of you all like this was during my chapel talk back in September. If you do not remember, or you took the opportunity to sneak a sleep in that Friday morning, I gave a speech about living in the present. I described my grandfather's battle with brain cancer, and what it was like for us all to know that my grandfather was given a timeline of 12 months to live. I'd like to point out that he is still doing awesome and was able to make it today, and for that my family and I are ecstatic. As I was about to finish this chapel talk, I left the St. Mark's student body with a few words of advice from Ferris Bueller that I thought embodied the message I was trying to pass on. I told everyone:
"Life moves pretty fast, if you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it"
My intention was that whether students were just beginning their time at St. Mark's, or nearing its end, they would be thankful for the moments they still had together because as we all now know, life does move pretty fast. I wanted everyone to make the most of every second they had left at St. Mark's, and embrace the experience they were living in. But I think that in that speech, I missed something. What about looking around once in a while? This is the crucial part of Ferris Bueller's advice that I had not clearly covered. So why don't we today, take this opportunity, take a look around.
To start, I'd like to look back. Back to all the amazing times we had together at this place. I can still remember the first convocation we had freshman year, when everyone was holding a lit candle in the darkness of the chapel, and thinking to myself, oh my, what have I gotten myself into here. It seemed that by the end of sophomore year, we had all become somewhat acclimated to life at St. Mark's, and everything was looking up. As we all know, it wasn't. I am normally not one to bring up Covid, and I usually wince a little whenever I hear the word around me, but as we look back on that awful experience, I wanted to express some gratitude to the members of this graduating class. Despite the challenges presented to us, we worked our hardest to create an experience that was as close to that of a normal high school year as we could. Finding ways to just relax and have some pure fun every once in a while was extremely difficult then, yet we found our ways to sneak in a smile every once in a while. Covid was undoubtedly terrible, but the people here today found ways to make it better. Now, moving past that, we seemingly out of nowhere became seniors, and I think that we really made up for a lot of things missed this year. From big things like Groton Night, to small things like decorating the dining hall with solo cups (who ever did that is a genius): I think that the Class of 2022 finished our high school careers strong and made the very most out of this year while reestablishing what the St. Mark's community is all about.
Now enough about what has been, let's look at where we are now because we made it. Congratulations to all, as we all definitely experienced those hard times where we truly wondered, am I going to graduate? Well, you did, so congrats. Today, we all have a final opportunity to be in the same place together. As Ms. Killeen said at the conclusion of Brantwood, and more notably as Mr. C. said at the conclusion of our final economics class, this is the last time this group of people will all be in the same place. Ever. So all I ask from you today is to enjoy it, enjoy the presence of the people around you, both faculty and students, because you never know when you might see them again.
As we finish looking around, we have seen both the past and the present, but what about the future? Well when it comes to the future, I have good news and bad news. What would you rather hear? Well, the bad news is I have no idea what the future holds for any of us. But here is the good news: We are all at an amazing point in life, where the possibilities are truly limitless. These next few years, we have the opportunity to decide the people we want to be for the next portion of our lives. And that doesn't just apply to the major you pick at whatever school you are headed to. It applies to the people you make friends with, the people you stay friends with, the volunteering work you do, and everything else in between. The future is bright for all of us, and it truly is what we decide to make of it.
As I come to the end of my time up here, I'd like to once again thank everyone for making our St. Mark's experience the best it could have possibly been, and congratulate everyone on making it to the other side. As I said, I have no idea what the future holds, but I do know one thing. Every single one of us can make a difference in this world. I would wish you all the skills, confidence, and determination that you might need to achieve your goals in the coming future, but I do not need to. I know that every student here today is going to be the best damn teacher, governor, or learner there ever once was.