Thayer recognizes student success at Last Chapel

There was much to celebrate at Thayer Academy’s Last Chapel, which was held June 10 in Alumni Gym, but one particular highlight was that everyone got to share the moment together. 

Following the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Peter Chen ‘23 and Conor Mannion ‘23, and a stirring rendition of “America the Beautiful” by Marguerite Greene ‘23 and Isabella Rivera ‘23, Upper School Director Highley Thompson P ‘20, ‘23 welcomed students, faculty, staff, and families to the ceremonies. Thompson pointed out that the last fully in-person Last Chapel (i.e., with no pandemic restrictions) was in 2019. He thanked the Class of 2022 for its resilience in moving forward no matter the obstacle and thereby strengthening the Thayer community. He also praised the faculty and staff for working so hard to navigate the challenges of COVID-19 and always putting students first. 

“It is an honor to come to Thayer every day and work with such an incredible group of professionals,” he said. 

This year’s faculty speaker, chosen annually by the graduating class, was Upper School Science Faculty Jim MacVarish P ‘11, and the longtime teacher and Marine Corps veteran did not disappoint. While praising the many seniors who received recognition that day, MacVarish pointed out that many others present were not receiving awards. Calling that group “The Non-Laude Society” and labeling himself “most definitely a card-carrying member of the The Non-Laude Society,” he urged those students to take the long view. 

“Your diplomas will look just the same,” he told the graduates. “Your future is just as bright.” 

MacVarish offered a litany of pandemic woes — from scheduling nightmares to the necessity of cohorts to adapting to the hybrid system to the seemingly endless need for test kits and disinfectant — but praised the class for its ability to adapt and overcome. As a reward, he said, the class received incredible memories like the productions of Newsies and Noises Off, trivia and open mic nights, championship bids from sports teams, and the recent prom at Gillette Stadium. 

Lastly, MacVarish pointed out that life was also difficult when he graduated high school — global warming, rampant inflation, the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan — and when his father, also a Marine Corps veteran and one who fought in the Battle of Iwo Jima, graduated high school. 

“Seniors, it’s your turn,” he said. “Class of 2022, it’s your turn to step up and make a difference.” 

Finishing his remarks with the Vulcan farewell to “live long and prosper,” MacVarish received a standing ovation for his efforts. 

Before MacVarish’s address and the distribution of student awards, Thompson recognized a number of faculty who had achieved service milestones, including: 

For 20 Years of Service: Upper School History Faculty Heidi Brown; Upper School World Languages Faculty Terri Lukens P ‘24, ‘27; and Director of College Counseling Thad Robey P ‘17, ‘19. 

For 25 Years of Service: Upper School Science Faculty Paula Collins P ‘10, ‘21, Ph.D. 

For 30 Years of Service: Upper School Math and Computer Science Department Head Kevin Cedrone P ‘22, ‘27; Upper School Science Faculty Karen Jodoin P ‘22; and Senior Maintenance Technician Carl Obin. 

For 45 Years of Service: Upper School History Faculty and Archivist Larry Carlson P ‘02, ‘05, ‘10. 

Thompson also thanked and recognized the contributions of departing faculty and staff who are moving on to new career opportunities. 

As for Jodoin, who is departing after three decades at Thayer, Thompson thanked her for challenging her students to think, for being a vocal ally to those in the Thayer community who needed to be heard, and for pushing the science department to continued excellence. Specifically, he cited Jodoin’s work as a founder and faculty advisor of Allies, Thayer’s gay-straight alliance, and her 14 years as head coach of the girls varsity basketball team. He also noted that Last Chapel happened to fall on her birthday. 

“Congratulations, thank you, and happy birthday,” Thompson said. 

Following the presentation of student awards, as is Last Chapel tradition, Carlson closed the ceremonies with the singing of “Thayer, Thayer, Forever” as the students departed the gym. 

LAST CHAPEL PRIZES 2022

Thayer Academy’s Last Chapel Awards recognize students from all grades who have achieved excellence in particular fields of study or who have demonstrated the qualities of leadership, character, and service that embody the spirit of the Academy. 

Awards presented at Last Chapel 2022 were: 

DEPARTMENTAL PRIZES

THE BILL HOLBROOK MEMORIAL ARTS PRIZES: Katherine Holmes, Painting and Drawing; Samuel Taylor, Pottery; Charlotte Murphy, Graphic Design; Stella Chiari, Theater, Abigail Golden, Photography; Demi Kroumpouzos, Dance; Kyle Cedrone, Instrumental Music; Isabella Milano, Vocal Music; Ryan Chiari, Tech Theater; and Jeremy Ridlon, Media Production. 

THE NICHOLAS AND ROSE PAPANI PRIZE: Ryan Noreke, Instrumental Music; and Josette Chenaur, Vocal Music.  

THE FRENCH PRIZES: Emily Bunn, French II; Xiaoyu “Rita” Zheng, French III; and Conor Mannion, French IV.            

THE LATIN PRIZES: Yuyang “Tony” Yin, Latin II; Amanda Fogel, Latin III; and Daniel Cherry, Latin IV. 

THE SPANISH PRIZES: Julia Gelina, Spanish II; Abigail Greenough, Spanish III; and Jessica Fisher, Spanish IV.  

THE MANDARIN CHINESE PRIZES: Chinese II, Sean Toland; Amelia Compson, Chinese III; and Isabella Richter, Chinese IV.  

THE RICHARD R. DOWNEY JR. MEMORIAL PRIZE FOR EXCELLENCE IN WORLD LANGUAGES: Stella Chiari. 

THE ALGEBRA I PRIZE: Abigail Cherry. 

THE MATHEMATICS PRIZES: Steven Silvers, Algebra II; John McCarthy, Geometry; and Sebastian Keleher, Precalculus.  

THE COMPUTER SCIENCE AWARD: Jiajun “Peter” Chen. 

THE FRESHMAN SCIENCE AWARD: Emily Bunn.  

THE SOPHOMORE SCIENCE PRIZE: Katelyn Sentnor.  

THE CHARLES A. PITKIN CHEMISTRY PRIZE: Max Hughes.  

THE RENSSELAER MEDAL (for Math & Science): Sichao “Tommy” Bi.

THE W. LAWRENCE CAHALL JR. PRIZE FOR EXCELLENCE IN THE STUDY OF SCIENCE: Teri Homicile.  

THE PETER SCOTT CAHALL SCIENCE PRIZE: Olivia Walker. 

THE NAOMI R. AND SAUL B. COHEN SCIENCE AWARD: Madelyn Stearns. 

THE WILLIAM J. HOLBROOK AMERICAN HISTORY PRIZE: Alexandra Voloshin.

THE UNITED STATES HISTORY PRIZE: Max Hughes.  

THE MERTON L. EMERSON ESSAY AWARD: Xiaoyu “Rita” Zheng.

THE SPECIAL HISTORIAN AWARD (for Modern European History): Teri Homicile. 

THE ROLAND STANLEY COOPER MEMORIAL PRIZE FOR HISTORY: Nicholas Pulgini.

THE MOST IMPROVED FRESHMAN ENGLISH AWARDS: Annadele Agbonjiazoe, Reilly Fraga, Emily Guilfoyle, Will Roberts, and Riley Roycroft.  
              
THE HARRIET GEMMEL SHORT STORY PRIZE: Grace Coughlin 

THE JUNIOR ENGLISH ESSAYIST AWARD: Max Hughes; and Alena Mulhern. 

THE EDITH GILES MITCHELL PRIZE (for English and History): Abigail Greenough. 

BOOK PRIZES

THE BRANDEIS BOOK AWARD: Caroline Driscoll.  

THE BROWN BOOK AWARD: Jessica Fisher.  

THE COLUMBIA COLLEGE BOOK AWARD: Alena Mulhern. 

THE DARTMOUTH COLLEGE BOOK AWARD: Madelyn Stearns.    

THE HARVARD BOOK CLUB PRIZE: Jiajun “Peter” Chen.           

THE ST. LAWRENCE BOOK AWARD: Isabella Rivera.  

THE WILLIAMS COLLEGE BOOK AWARD: Addison St. Jean.                                   

THE SOUTH SHORE SMITH CLUB’S BOOK AWARD: Virginia Thompson.  

THE TULANE UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD: Marguerite Greene. 

THE SUFFOLK UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD: Amanda Fogel. 

THE YALE BOOK AWARD: Conor Mannion.  

THE SAINT MICHAEL’S COLLEGE BOOK AWARD: Alix Madden; and Caroline Gelina.  
         
THE SAINT ANSELM BOOK AWARD: Jackson Reardon.  

THE UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER GEORGE EASTMAN YOUNG LEADERS AWARD: Daniel Cherry.  

THE UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER FREDERICK DOUGLASS AND SUSAN B. ANTHONY AWARD: Mia Matos.  

THE UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER BAUSCH & LOMB HONORARY SCIENCE AWARD: Jiawen “Gavin” Zhao.  

THE UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER XEROX AWARD FOR INNOVATION AND INFORMATION TECHNOLOGY: Max Hughes.  

GENERAL AWARDS

THE NANCY DINATALE TAYLOR PRIZE: Bella Balducci.  

THE THOMAS J. BERRY III PRIZE: Eli Lukens. 

THE WILLIAM C. GOULD JR. PRIZE: Clare LaMattina.

THE COLIN F. MACDONALD III PRIZE: Jack Regan.  

THE MAUREEN E. BUCKEN PRIZE: Peyton Knightly. 

THE LEO R. FLYNN PRIZE: Nathan Austin-Johnstone.  

THE THOMAS J. GERAGHTY AWARD: Jaden Smith. 
                                                                             
THE FRANK E. REMICK PRIZE: Charlie Gavin.  

THE ADA HELEN GILBERT CLAFF PRIZE: Katelyn Sentnor. 

THE WILLIAM J. HOLBROOK PRIZE: Teri Homicile.  

THE CLASS OF 1992 COMMUNITY SPIRIT AWARD: Jane Richard.  

THE WARD S. DONNER PRIZE: Abigail Greenough.  

THE PATRICE DONOVAN COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD: Caroline Driscoll.  
         
THE JULIAN H. CHERUBINI PRIZE FOR SCHOLASTIC EXCELLENCE: Jiajun “Peter” Chen.  
                                                     
THE CHERUBINI PRIZE FOR ACHIEVEMENT IN THE ARTS: Alenka Cetkovic, Visual Arts; and Tatiana Allen, Performing Arts.  

THE FERNAND LACHANCE AWARD: Jake Brini.  

THE MATTHEW CALLAHAN HEALEY ’09 MEMORIAL PRIZE: Kyle Cedrone. 

THE KISHA WATTS MEMORIAL AWARD: Ross Tejeda. 

THE PATRICK C. WALSH MEMORIAL AWARD: Maeve Bettencourt. 

THE INDEPENDENT SCHOOL LEAGUE AWARD OF EXCELLENCE: Caroline Lally; Lindsey Wilmot; and Ross Tejeda. 

THE THAYER ACADEMY PARENT ASSOCIATION COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARDS: Kyle Cedrone; Stella Chiari; Zach Gondelman; and Cooper Mullen.    

THE REUBEN AND LIZZIE GROSSMAN AWARDS: Stella Chiari; and Kyle Cedrone. 

Thayer Academy Last Chapel 2022 1

Ross Tejeda ‘22 received the inaugural Kisha Watts Memorial Award from Robert and Karen Watts, Kisha’s parents. The award honors the late Kisha Watts, Thayer Academy Middle School’s first Black faculty member who also worked as an admissions officer, and is given to that senior whose own efforts have advanced the diversity, equity, and inclusion of Thayer’s school culture. 

Thayer Academy Last Chapel 2022 2

As faculty speaker, Upper School Science Faculty Jim MacVarish P ‘11 donned a headset at one point in his speech to illustrate the perils and pitfalls of trying to teach a class virtually. 

Thayer Academy Last Chapel 2022 3

Alena Mulhern ‘23 accepts an award at Last Chapel. 


 

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