Recognition Day celebrates Thayer Class of 2028

Recognition Day celebrates Thayer Class of 2028

Bridget Hegarty '28

“Alone we can do so little; together we can do so much.” 

The words are originally those of 20th century trailblazer Helen Keller, but Bridget Hegarty ‘28 deftly borrowed those words today (Thursday, June 6) as she offered the farewell address at Thayer Academy Middle School’s Recognition Day. She used the quote to describe the incredible bonds and amazing memories she and her 78 classmates had created during their time at the Middle School.

As the top scholar in the eighth grade class, Hegarty earned the honor of addressing her classmates, their families, faculty, and staff in the CFA’s Hale Theater. Hegarty spoke of the many types of teams in everyday life, from sports teams to theater productions to grade levels to families, and said it’s through such commitment to a common goal that relationships thrive. 

“Always remember your teams and be grateful for them,” said Hegarty. She urged her peers to cherish their Middle School memories even as they prepared to create new memories in ninth grade. 

“Bring on the Upper School,” she said. “We’ll take it on together and continue to cheer one another on.” 

The eighth grade class chose Middle School English Faculty Brian Cibelli, who also serves as director of studies at the Middle School, as its guest speaker, and he did not disappoint. 

“It’s 100% true that the more you put into something, the more you get out of it,” Cibelli told the eighth graders. The English teacher cited the character of Granger in Ray Bradbury’s dystopian novel Fahrenheit 451 who at one point describes the difference between a lawn cutter and a gardener, explaining that the latter touches something with his hands, puts something of himself into the work, and leaves the world transformed for the better.

“Be a gardener,” said Cibelli. 

In addition to the sage advice, Cibelli leavened his remarks with humor, at one point remarking that he still gets disappointed when there’s no ice cream in the school lunchroom. 

James Dawley ‘28 offered the invocation and led those gathered in the Pledge of Allegiance. 

“I think the Class of 2028 is special,” said Dawley, who noted how encouraged he felt at the Middle School thanks to faculty, staff, and fellow students. 

Kate O’Donnell '28 offered welcoming remarks and made clear just how far the class had come from the COVID-19 pandemic days of masks and modular classrooms. 

“I invite you to take in this moment,” said O’Donnell, who further encouraged her classmates to always find joy, jump in with their friends, appreciate the small moments, and get out of their comfort zones. 

Vaibhav Sathish ‘28 offered the benediction. He recited the poem “See It Through” by Edward Albert Guest before leaving his fellow eighth graders with his own words of wisdom. 

“Please remember to never give up on your dreams and always stay positive,” said Sathish. 

Cibelli receiving the
Eric M. Swain Award for 
Teaching Excellence                  

Recognition Day also afforded the opportunity for Head of School Chris Fortunato P ‘26, ‘28 to celebrate two faculty members. He first announced that Cibelli was one of this year’s recipients of the Eric M. Swain Award for Teaching Excellence. The news elicited a standing ovation from the audience. Fortunato then recognized Middle School Arts Teacher Tara Corcoran ‘88 P ‘19 for her 30 years of service to the Academy. Corcoran recently announced that she is stepping away from leading Middle School theater productions but will still teach drama classes and serve as a 7th grade advisor. 

In his own brief remarks, Fortunato said that Thayer students can do hard things and that the school would always support them as they tackle those challenges and seek those opportunities that lie ahead. 

“The possibilities of those new chapters are many, varied, and joyful,” he said. 

The ceremony also saw a number of awards presented across all grades and a moment of appreciation for the Middle School’s TAPA (Thayer Academy Parent Association) representatives. Fifth grade students led by Middle School Music Teacher and Choir Director Jeff King ‘04 performed Andy Grammer’s “Don’t Give Up on Me” and later sang the Thayer Academy Alma Mater. 

In all, 79 students received certificates. 

“Congratulations, Class of 2028,” Middle School Director Galen Hamann P ‘31 told the eighth graders as the Hale Theater audience rose for its second standing ovation of the day.  

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