Prize Day began with the traditional procession of faculty, VI Formers, and all other students into the tent on Belmont Field. After Rev. Barbara Talcott, the School chaplain, gave a prayer of invocation, all those assembled sang "America the Beautiful" and recited the School Prayer. Head of School John C. Warren '74 spoke, congratulating the VI Formers, acknowledging their families, and recognizing faculty moving on from St. Mark's. This year, two longtime faculty members—Lee Wells (at St. Mark's for 38 years) and Ken Wells (at St. Mark's for 33 years)—are retiring. They were warmly applauded by the appreciative St. Mark's audience.
Assisted by Ms. Wells, Mr. Warren then presented the Prizes and Awards. These presentations would culminate in Sada Rose Nichols-Worley '18 receiving the Founders Medal—the highest honor St. Mark's can bestow.
THE GEORGE HOWELL KIDDER FACULTY PRIZE, established by his children at the time of Mr. Kidder's retirement from the Board of Trustees. This prize is awarded by the Head of School 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.
THE CLASS OF 1961 FREDERICK M. BURR STAFF PRIZE, 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 of staff to the quality of the education provided by St. Mark's. Fred Burr considered himself one—like so many staff members—who enthusiastically supported the work of adults and students while working outside the limelight. The Burr Prize is awarded annually by the Head of School to a member of the staff who demonstrates extraordinary support of the work of St. Mark's adults and students, the approach the Class of 1961 sought to honor.
THE BRANTWOOD PRIZE celebrates the strong bond that has existed for close to a century between St. Mark's School and Brantwood Camp. This prize is awarded each year to the St. Marker(s) who have done the most for Brantwood.
Tyreese James '18
Summer Hornbostel '18
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.
Elizabeth Eastman '18
THE CARLETON BURR RAND PRIZE is given in memory of Carleton Rand, Class of 1946, and is awarded for excellence in journalism.
Yangfan Helynna Lin '18
Antonio Emanuel Banson '18
THE COLEMAN PRIZE IN ENGLISH is awarded to that student, who, in the judgment of the English Department, has submitted the outstanding essay during this academic year.
Elizabeth Eastman '18
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.
Yiwei William Lu '20
THE HENRY REDMOND PRIZE FOR ENGLISH NARRATIVE is awarded to the student, who, in the judgment of the English Department, has submitted the outstanding piece of narrative during the academic year.
Lanruo Lora Xie '20
THE FREDERICK A. CAMMANN MUSIC PRIZE is awarded to that student who demonstrates the most talent in musical theory and composition.
Julian Yang '20
THE J. STANLEY SHEPPARD MUSIC PRIZE is given in recognition of Stan Sheppard's thirty-four 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.
Jason Hwang '18
Riya Sunita Shankar '18
THE WALTER IRVING BADGER PRIZE IN DRAMATICS is given in memory of Walter Badger's thirteen years of service to the St. Mark's drama program and is awarded to the member of the Sixth Form who, during his or her St. Mark's career, has contributed the most to drama at the school.
Kaela Leigh Dunne '18
THE PHILIP GALLATIN CAMMANN SCIENCE PRIZE is awarded to a student who has excelled in more than one science course.
Ziyi Gillian Yue '18
THE CHEMISTRY PRIZE is awarded to a student who has excelled in the study of chemistry.
Matthew Walsh '19
THE FREDERICK R. AVIS AND ANNA M. PLISCZ BIOLOGY PRIZE honors two revered St. Mark's biology teachers whose love of teaching and learning set examples for both colleagues and students. The prize is awarded to that student who by interest, curiosity, original thought, and practical application of ideas has acquired a better understanding of biological processes.
Sophie Haugen '18
Riya Sunita Shankar '18
THE ST. MARK'S PHYSICS PRIZE is awarded to that student who through original thought, practical development of ideas, and inspiring leadership has done the most for the advancement of the science of physics during the preceding year.
Jovin Ho '18
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.
TianYu Zhao '18
THE ROY IRVING MURRAY PRIZE FOR EXCELLENCE IN SACRED STUDIES is given in memory of a St. Mark's chaplain in the 1920s and 1930s.
Anthony Michael D'Angelo '18
THE H. CASIMIR DE RHAM PRIZE FOR EXCELLENCE IN FRENCH is given in honor of a member of the Class of 1914.
Summer Rand Hornbostel '18
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.
Mo Liu '18
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.
Mary Evelyn Hoffman '18
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.
Yi Leo Xie '19
THE MORRIS H. MORGAN PRIZE FOR EXCELLENCE IN GREEK is given in memory of a member of the Class of 1877 and for many years a professor of Greek at Harvard.
Zijian Mark Wang '18
THE CHINESE LANGUAGE PRIZE is awarded to a student for exemplary work in and a passion for the study of the Chinese language.
Isabelle Titcomb '18
THE FREDERIC A. FLICHTNER PRIZE FOR EXCELLENCE IN HISTORY is given in memory of a member of the faculty for 35 years.
Jamie Margaret Lance '18
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.
Mo Liu '18
THE SHEN PRIZE is awarded to the winner of a public speaking contest among Advanced Placement 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.
Colin Capenito '19
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 exemplary leaders. The gift of these gavels honors everything our Head Monitors have given to St. Mark's in this role.
Rebecca Lovett '18, Colin Boylan '18
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.
Lanruo Lora Xie '20
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.
Sophie Haugen '18
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 his or her St. Mark's career has shown unusual determination in all his or her undertakings and who has continuously been willing to go beyond the call of duty to get the job done.
Hans Wu '19
THE ST. MARK'S PRIZE FOR EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING for that student who has made the most of experiential learning opportunities at St. Mark's, whether through the regular curriculum, St. Mark's Saturdays, independent study, and/or Lion Term.
Riya Shankar '18
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 is awarded to
Tyreese James '18
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 girl 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."
Kaela Leigh Dunne '18
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 manly physical courage or even his firm forthright moral courage; it was his spiritual strength."
Lauren Menjivar '18
THE DANIEL B. FEARING ATHLETIC PRIZES 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.
Colin Boylan '18, Caroline Peterson '18
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.
Rebecca Joan Lovett '18
THE WILLIAM G. THAYER SCHOLARSHIP FUND PRIZES were established by the alumni to honor the Thayers' first twenty-five 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.
Yangfan Helynna Lin '18
Matthew Henry Walsh '19
Lanruo Xie '20
Beining Zhou '21
THE DR. & MRS. THAYER SCHOLARSHIP to the student with the highest academic average among all III, IV, and V Formers.
Matthew Henry Walsh '19
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
TianYu Zhao '18
THE FOUNDER'S MEDAL, the school's highest academic award, honoring the School's Founder, Joseph Burnett, 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.
Sada Rose Nichols-Worley '18
After the prizes and awards were presented, the 2018 Prize Day speaker, Alexis Scott Faber '95, was introduced by St. Mark's Board President Alys Reynders Scott '85.
Ms. Faber is the Global Head of Financial Lines for Willis Towers Watson, a leading global advisory, broking and solutions company. See below for the text of her address.
Mr. Warren then presented the diplomas, followed by a speech from the 2017 Valedictorian. One of the most interesting and unique St. Mark's Prize Day traditions is that of the VI Form Valedictorian. Unlike most schools, where the Valedictorian is the senior with the highest academic standing, at St. Mark's the Sixth Formers elect one of their classmates to give the Valedictory address. This has been the custom at St. Mark's since its earliest days, recognizing the original definition of "valedictorian" as one who delivers the closing or farewell address at a ceremony (a "valedictory", from the Latin vale dicere, "to say farewell"), with no reference to specific academic standing requirements. This year's valedictorian was Anthony D'Angelo '18. See below for the text of his valedictory speech.
Ms. Scott then welcomed the ninety new graduates to membership in the St. Mark's Alumni/ae Association, and with a Benediction by Rev. Talcott, the 2017 Prize Day ceremony came to a close.
THE 2018 PRIZE DAY KEYNOTE ADDRESS by Alexis Scott Faber '95
It's an honor to be here. To the graduating class of 2018, congratulations, you should all feel very proud of your achievements. To the parents, family and friends of this class, I know you all feel proud of this accomplished class. Making the decision to send your children to St. Mark's was likely one of the more significant decisions you have had to make in your child's life thus far. Whether the journey has been defined by moments of joy over your child's success or concern over his or her struggles or both, you should feel very proud of the gift you have given your graduates – the gift of an excellent education, one of the greatest gifts one could receive.
Last summer, when John asked me to speak at Prize Day this year, the first question that I asked him was "why me? (a question I often ask when someone tells me I have been selected for something special)," and his response was "because you are a role model for the school motto – Age Quod Agis – do what you do well." The more I reflected on this brief exchange, I realize that I am not here because I am a celebrity (you probably all know that if you googled me). I am not famous like a Kardashian; for sure, I am less dramatic than a "real housewife" and I am well past being a celebrity apprentice. Rather, what I am – some 23 years after my own graduation from St. Mark's – is "real". I am the wife of a loving and supportive husband. I am the Mom to two happy, healthy boys, I am the daughter of two encouraging parents and I am a successful female executive of a global insurance brokerage company and have operational responsibility for more than 12,000 colleagues in over 120 countries. It is often said that "you can't have it all". I agree that you can't have it all, all of the time. But you can have most of it, most of the time – if you want to and you strive for it.
Today, I will share three guiding principles with you from my journey.
The first is "know yourself." What do I mean by this? To know yourself means to study "the self," with the aim to understand what you stand for, what you are good at and most importantly, what you are NOT good at.
Most of you have spent time this past year writing college essays and a likely part of that process was the challenge of articulating your personal brand. I define a personal brand as three words that you believe define you and that others who know you agree define you. My personal brand is defined by integrity, determination and ambition. I encourage you to think about which three words define you, tuck them away in your mind, put them in your phone, or write them down somewhere and every time you come to a significant decision point in your life, or are faced with a conflict, come back to them, let them guide your decision making process. Integrity for me is essential. When I think about integrity, simply put, it means doing the right thing. Not the easy thing, not the popular thing, but the right thing. When you are doing the right thing, the determination and drive and conviction needed to succeed comes so much easier.
I am both determined and ambitious. But being so doesn't mean that I have been successful in every endeavor. During my 6th form year at St. Mark's, I applied and was accepted Early Action to Princeton, in part as an ice hockey recruit, and I headed to college ready to pursue my "high school dream." Unfortunately, the experience I had with the hockey team during my first two seasons did not come close to meeting my expectations. I was unhappy with the relationships I had with my teammates and recognized that I needed to make a change; I made the difficult decision to leave the team. Sadly, a few months later, this decision resulted in my being "black balled" out of an exclusive eating club, while my 7 roommates were accepted to the clubs of their choice. Alienated and struggling to find an identity that was not centered on sports, I became depressed. My unhappiness ultimately led me to leave Princeton and transfer to Williams College.
The lesson here was if the plan is not working don't be afraid to change it. Letting go of expectation is never easy, especially when those expectations are not just your own but shared by people whom you love and trust. But in the end, what matters is that you know yourself and have the ability to make the best decision for you. I wanted to enjoy college, form meaningful friendships and be challenged academically and athletically. Princeton was a high school dream but it did not turn out to be my dream. Recognizing that, stopping, backing up, giving up that high school dream and making another choice allowed me find at Williams the college experience that I wanted. Sometimes it is in failure that you find your greatest successes.
As the graduating class of 2018, you have made a decision to pursue a path for college (or something else). You should trust your ability to adapt and turn a failure (large or small) into an opportunity to better understand yourself.
And now, let's spend a moment on knowing your weaknesses. I spent the first 30 years of my life very consumed by beating myself up about all the things I was NOT. I am not funny, relaxed or spontaneous. The most important part of knowing yourself is getting very comfortable with what you are NOT good at. This is not easy. It's about admitting weakness, being vulnerable and seeing failures as learning opportunities.
I started my career in Investment Banking right after college in 2000. The banking environment attracted a classic "type A" overachiever personality. It was like I had been sent from central casting. After three years of 100 hour weeks in NY and then London, countless evenings spent crunching models and bonding with the printer as I reviewed documents, I decided to leave the advisory business and join an insurance broking company, the Willis Group. My biggest fear in making this change was moving out of an environment where I was on a team with colleagues who were like me, and joining an organization with more diverse personality types. I looked forward to the opportunity of bringing my intensity and ambition into a very traditional business. What I did not anticipate is that not everyone would embrace my intensity as a positive. One day, the leader of the business that I worked in as a financial analyst called me into his office. He sat me down and said – "I am going to give you some feedback. You may not like this, and maybe I should not say this to you but I am going to because I think you are bright and capable and I want you to succeed. Pause. You need to make some adjustments to your behavior." I took a deep breath and focused very hard, trying to contain my emotions and take this in stride. He said "you walk these halls like you are on a mission to get things done and nothing is going to stop you." Characteristically, I did not crack a smile. He went on, "you need to stop, smile and ask people how they are doing. People want to get to know you, they know you are going to get things done but they want to know who you are."
This feedback hurt. I was 26 years old at the time and took any type of constructive criticism as a failure. But over the years as I have heard this feedback again at different times, I have come to know my weaknesses much more intimately. I may not always greet everyone with a smile but I have become aware that being open and vulnerable with my colleagues and friends has made me a much stronger and more approachable person.
Getting to know yourself is a process and the learning lasts a lifetime, but the more you invest in this process the more confidence you will build in your decisions – whether those are who your life partner is, what you do for work, or how you spend your time. Know yourself.
The second guiding principle is "love what you do." Simple, yes. Easy, no. I have learned this principle from a role model. For me, a role model is not about aspiring to be just like another person but more about seeing a very special quality in someone that you admire and aspiring to embody that quality yourself.
My role model for loving what you do is my father. He has been a Harvard Law Professor since the day I was born and he loves his work. He has taught me, without words, but just by being himself, what it means to love what you do and he has inspired me to strive to find this same love for my work. My Dad, as the lone man in a family with three women, has always been given a lot of grief. One of our favorite things to criticize my father about is the time he spends in his "hole." His "hole" is a small room in our house at the beach, with minimal windows and air circulation, and it is where my Dad has always retreated to, to do his work. We were always making fun of Dad, who many mornings barely appeared during breakfast before retreating to his hole with his coffee. And we were never clear on what exactly went on in the hole – there was a computer, lots of documents, a telephone, ink stains on the chair and in recent years, a TV. While there was nothing that irritated my mother more than my dad retreating to his "hole" and not being outside or in the family room, I have come to understand and appreciate what "the hole" represents to my father – it's a place where he is doing what he loves – working. He reads, writes, has intellectual conversations and for fun, watches sports. Through watching my Dad summer after summer, I have come to appreciate what he found in life – a love for what he does. And it's this passion that I have taken into my own life and work and am proud to say – I too, love what I do every day. Thanks Dad.
The third guiding principle is "find counselors, seek counsel and take counsel."
As I reflect on my time at St. Mark's, probably similar to many of you, the relationship I had with my advisor, DeDe Anderson, was one of the most special experiences I had at this school. I had the fortune of getting to know Mrs. Anderson on the playing fields and in the classroom and dorm. She became one of the first "counselors" that had a lasting impression on me. Mrs. Anderson saw me at my best and worst and challenged me to push myself to be the best I could in all that I took on. She taught me what Age Quod Agis meant and through this relationship I have always strived to "do what I do well."
Throughout my life, I have sought to replicate the counselor relationship I had with DeDe Anderson. Take the initiative to seek out great counselors and listen closely to what they say.
A few years ago I met a woman at our company who had been in the business for 40 years, had a reputation of accomplishing great results for clients, was tough as nails and was the first female partner in the insurance industry. Let's call her Claire. Claire taught me what leading with integrity meant. Everything Claire did was guided by "doing the right thing." Fast forward a few years, I had just taken on a new role, leading a business of significant size and technical complexity in North America and Claire was initially skeptical of my ability to lead this business based on my background. Whenever I hear of "Alexis doubters" my response is - I am going to befriend them and listen to what they say. So I set off to get to know Claire and over time she became a counselor of mine. One day, Claire and I were on the phone and she asked how I was doing with my work-life balance. For a Mom of young children, this was a popular inquiry. I told Claire "it's tough." I typically aspire for my answer to that question to be "it's good," but that day, true to myself, I knew no other way to answer than with the truth. Claire's response was as follows – "this company can and will eat you alive if you let it. And you need to understand that the only person who can control your boundaries and achieve balance in your life is you. Nobody else is going to do that for you." A moment of silence followed and I said, you are right, I need to do that and I will. I stopped what I was doing that afternoon and went for a run, and as I ran I thought, what are the things that are important – being home in the mornings and for dinner to be with my family, being present at important events for my kids, spending quality time with my husband and most importantly taking care of myself so I could be at my best for everyone in my life. So, I went home, pulled up my calendar and starting making changes, challenging the ways I was spending my time, re-evaluating trips, accepting the need to say no to a few things and setting a tone with myself, that I was in charge.
To all the advisors in the room, on behalf of the graduating class thank you for investing in the students at St. Mark's and modeling the type of counseling relationship that we all seek to replicate as we take on opportunities in our lives. To all the advisees, reflect on the relationship you had with your advisor and make a commitment not just to keep in touch but to use this relationship as a model for how significant an impact a meaningful counselor can have on your life. Find counselors, seek counsel and take counsel.
You all have had many opportunities over the last few years to learn more about yourselves, whether it has been during your 4th form course about personal mission statements, studying abroad, work experiences or just your day to day interactions with your teachers and classmates. Never underestimate the power of "knowing yourself," the more you know yourself, the easier it is to know others and live lives of consequence.
My father has his "hole", a symbol of his love for what he does. We all need to cherish the places we have found in our lives that represent our passions and seek out more of these places in the future.
So as you walk out of this tent today, pack up and head off to your next adventure, I encourage you to seek out new counselors, take their counsel and be good listeners, there is so much to be gained through perspective.
In the words of Socrates "know thyself."
Good luck and Godspeed.
2018 VALEDICTORIAN SPEECH by Anthony D'Angelo '18
Good morning class of 2018, faculty, staff, parents, and friends. My name is Anthony D'Angelo and I am honored to be speaking here this morning. Congratulations to my fellow classmates, as well as the family and friends who are here today. Thank you to everyone who helped us get here, it would take a long time to name every person that has contributed to the success of the Class of 2018, so thank you everyone. Today, he students in my class receive their diplomas, all beginning a new journey to a new place. Personally, I will have the opportunity to study at my number one college choice, the University of Pennslv- Oh, wait, that was the ah pre-march 28th copy...hold on. Let me start over.
Hello my name is Anthony D'Angelo. OK...what am I going to speak about? Well, many would expect that I am here to talk about the impact this school has had on me and my classmates. However, I am going to talk about the complete opposite, how St. Mark's really hasn't changed who I am. Mr. Warren, just bear with me—it gets better, I promise.
When I came on campus as a new sophomore, most people will tell you that I was one of the most annoying kids at the school. I was weird, loud, and just did things that, well, made people question my sanity. For example, I have had to be a part of multiple dorm meetings in which the dorm parent has stated that weird sounds have been echoing throughout the dorm, and everyone knew exactly who it was. Furthermore, in class, I would just yell out things and somehow, teachers just never said anything. My friends and I joke that in faculty meetings, the teachers said "Hey guys, that Anthony kid, I think he has problems and we should just let him express himself in class." I say that now as a joke, but I sometimes believe that it actually happened.
One time, a few classmates and I were talking to Mr. Lyons about affirmative action, and he used the argument that college wouldn't be beneficial if it was just a school full of Anthony D'Angelos. I laughed along, but I stated that schools with just Anthony D'Angelos already exist. They really do. They are called insane asylums. Long story short, I was honestly one of the weirdest kids and most people thought I had serious problems, so all my classmates got together and decided it would be really nice if they voted me as valedictorian since they don't have prom king at St. Mark's. So what is my point? St. Mark's did not change who I was. Rather, the school just got use to who I am and decided to put up with it for three years. And that is a really good thing.
All right, well enough about me. I was told not to talk too much about myself, but I felt giving the crowd a sense of who I am would be a good idea in case I yell out something that would shock or offend everyone here. I am clearly imperfect, like I said. And like myself, this school is imperfect. It might not be internally dysfunctional like me, but it has flaws, as every place does.
Even though us students like to focus on these flaws because we are obnoxious brats, we have witnessed amazing additions to the school that outweigh these tiny problems. For example, our class got to be the first freshman to use the new STEM building, which even though I dreaded classes in that building, except for math class with Mr. Lester of course, it was a great new addition to the school. The STEM building was an extreme step in the right direction for St. Mark's because we as a school are taking huge strides in using new technology, such as trying our best to learn how to work the projector in the Center, sending emails to the right group of people, and building sundials that aren't in the shade of the new STEM building. And with these technological advancements come innovation. The school is obviously taking strides in innovation. I mean, Innovation is the name of the game at St. Mark's! That's what our Saturday classes are all about! Learning how to blend smoothies or African drum...INNOVATION! Watching movies or drinking coffee and tea...Intellectual spark at its finest! The school is helping us grow as students because Saturday class blesses us with having to be stuck on campus Friday night, which we all spend studying and getting ahead on work of course, and then having to get up early on Saturday. And with the new Saturday classes came Lion Term. Personally, I have had amazing experiences with this new addition. This month, I was given the opportunity to travel to Alaska and see the world in a unique way. I know that I would have not gotten the chance to do so anywhere else. And how could I forget my junior year Lion Term when I visited the Basketball Hall of Fame and...well...I think that was it.
But per usual, we students must find a way to complain about something, so we moan and groan about graduating in June. Even though we don't graduate in May like almost every other senior class before us, we were at least convinced that Lion Term would take the place of finals week, which was, I mean, an amazing sigh of relief...until they replaced it with, you know, assessment week. I guess technically the school kept their promise on that one. As privileged students, we expect the school to make changes, but when the school does make changes, we always find a way to complain. I am being extremely hypocritical because I am doing that right now.
Another aspect of St. Mark's that is always changing is the athletic program. Now, although we won't be here for the new athletic center, the athletic program has taken big strides. Athletics allow people to work hard to in order to achieve a goal. Sports also help bond a group of people together in order to win. I will always remember the football games, when our team needed energy, when we needed a drive, I would look to the 10 spectators on the stands and man, it would get us going. With boys' cross country going 15-1, field hockey going 13-5, and wrestling going 17-2, St. Mark's takes pride in succeeding in the sports that nobody really cares about.
And speaking of athletics, our spirit is second to none, especially for Groton Day. Not only was the crowd INSANE during the Groton-St Mark's basketball game, but our Groton bonfire, in good spirit, can get rough and rowdy, even a little too rowdy at times. (I am still very sorry about that Mr. Lev). Even though I still have no idea why or how I got kicked out of a girls' ice hockey game, my class and I will still come support St. Mark's Athletics for years to come, and now I will be able to watch other games because I won't have a game of my own at the exact same time. I also feel it is my obligation to support St. Mark's Athletics since I will personally go down in history as the best St. Mark's baseball starting first base coach.
Athletics are just a small part of the St. Mark's experience. What really sums up the St. Mark's experience is the student life. Now, going to an elite private boarding school comes with rules, even some I might not agree with. Why I was not allowed to have a 60-inch TV due to "academic purposes" still makes zero sense to me, but regardless, these rules do not get in the way of us having fun, while also teaching us important life lessons. Checking in on time to study hall is an important lesson, even though right after someone comes and makes sure you are in room. These rules and mandatory chores will all come in handy eventually. Seated meal will help when you might have to sit with people you don't know, or don't like, such as when I have seated meals with my family, except with a lot more yelling and the occasional "Hey, I SAID PASS THE CHEESE PLEASE!!" Italians, am I right? But some things won't be the same in the real world. No, having a car on campus or driving with friends will not be treated as the worst crime possible in the real judicial system. Does the keycard situation frustrate me when getting into the building without a card is as easy as getting out of the building? Maybe a little. Now, I will mention the biggest complaint here at St. Mark's. Mr. Vachris, get ready: DRESS CODE. Although many students will disagree, I actually do not mind the dress code. I think it is important and it is not that hard to follow. Do I question the significant difference between a ¾ zip and hoodie, maybe. But in Mr. Vachris words "If one person is out of dress code then another person is out of dress code, and soon it's a domino effect and a rule is a rule."
To finish up, I want to say thank you to my classmates for getting through these past few years with me, regardless of the homework, rules, heaters staying on when it is 70 degrees out, and so on. But hey, we can all complain about this school, but at the end of the day, the school cares about us. We complain about little things that we feel need to be changed, but at the end of the day, they don't really matter. We have the opportunity to attend a school where you know almost everyone's name, what sport they play, and so on. Our whole school is able to fit in a small room such as the Center. Although some people may see this as an annoyance, I think it is blessing to have connections which each and every person in my school. That is something that we will never have again. Every time I gave an admissions tour, even the tours that were graciously scheduled right in the middle of my Monday sleep-ins, I told the prospective student why I chose St. Mark's. The idea that I can walk down the hallway and say hi to every person and be myself in front of every person, is what gives this school its identity.
In college, or wherever else we may end up, there are going to be deadlines, time commitments, and mandatory events, except we won't have Ms. LaFreniere emailing us every time we mess up, that goes especially for you Jimmy Tobin. And if there is ANY type of music event at college or in your hometown, you won't have Mr. Wallace's constant email reminders to gently encourage you to go. Use your experiences here to your advantage. Impress people. Most importantly, and I can't stress this enough, be yourself. If I wasn't myself, I wouldn't be talking to you all day, regardless of how much my parents paid my classmates to be nice to me. We all have something quirky or unique about us. St. Mark's has something amazing and unique about it. We also all have flaws. The school we are leaving has flaws. Don't let these tiny flaws distract us from the amazing experiences we had, the amazing education we received, and the friends we made. In the future, don't look for flaws in people, new places, or yourself just to find something to complain about. Be positive and good things will happen, you can notch me on that.
Thank you all for listening or at least pretending to listen, and I hope each person took one thing away from this talk.
Now I'm going to go off script a bit, as Mr. Hebert is leaving. I thought I'd share with you something that he and I often share:
"This is the day that the Lord has made. Let us rejoice and be glad in it!"
Have a great rest of the day and congratulations to everyone. Thank you.