Thacher’s 128th Commencement

Congratulations to the Class of 2017!
The big moment, years in the making, finally arrived for our seniors. Families and friends traveled from near and far to celebrate this momentous occasion with the Class of 2017. 

Festivities commenced on Friday evening with the Senior Banquet and Baccalaureate Address. After dinner, Rick Ridgeway—mountaineer, adventurer, and vice president of environmental affairs for Patagonia—addressed the graduating class. In his speech, he shared with the gathered crowd eight valuable life lessons. As Mr. Ridgeway put it, My goal is to share with you some lessons I’ve learned along the way and, in doing that, I hope that my story can somehow, someway—maybe even a little bit—leave you thinking about the direction your own story might take after you graduate tomorrow. (Rick Ridgeways full remarks can be found here.) Directly following was the presentation of the School’s traditional awards. The awards, their descriptions, and their recipients can be found below.

On Saturday morning, our traditional bagpipes heralded the procession of pairs—of juniors, seniors, and faculty—down the Marvin H. Shagam staircase to the white tents below. During the long-awaited commencement exercises, each Thacher graduate takes a turn standing center stage with Head of School Michael Mulligan as a tribute is read. Each senior tribute calls to light the best and most notable qualities of that graduate. 

 
Having officially transitioned to CdeP 2017 (CdeP stands for Casa de Piedra and is used to indicate the class year of Thacher alumni), the graduates celebrated with their family and friends on the Upper Field. Pictures were taken, cigars were lit, and tears were shed. Folks did not linger too long, however, as there still remained some packing to be done. Fortunately for the graduates, it was not goodbye yet, as they departed later that afternoon for some celebratory parties hosted by parents of the graduating class.

Cum Laude Society
Founded in 1906, Cum Laude was modeled on Phi Beta Kappa, the national college-level honor society. The electing body at Thacher is peopled by faculty members elected to Cum Laude in high school or to Phi Beta Kappa in college. Election to Cum Laude officially commends those students who have met the highest criteria of academic achievement and scholarly integrity throughout their high school careers, and across all disciplines. The Society’s constitution stipulates that no more than 20 percent of the senior class may be elected, and no more than 10 percent of the junior class. 
 
Members of the Class of 2017, elected in their junior year:
Emma Rose Freedman
Edel Dupre Galgon
Liam Reed Kirkpatrick
Jordan Cunningham Perry
Clare Brigitte Best Rogowski
Erin Olivia Slichter

Members of the Class of 2017, elected this year:
Penelope Alice Brittingham
Cara Marie Dienst
Elizabeth Holekamp Kern
Taylor Holston Gaines
Amanda Itzel Ibañez
Steven Malcolm Jump III
Maya Marina Wilcox
 
Members of the Class of 2018, elected this year:
Joseph Bennett Hardwicke
Jeffrey Ding
Suzanna Juliet Gülick-Stutz
Ricardo Lopez
Alexis Anne Silverman
Mary Ophelia Walton

Newton K. Chase Community Service Award
The Newton K. Chase Community Service Award is given to the students who, through volunteer work in the community, have demonstrated an unselfish interest in and concern for others. Mr. Chase, who served as Head of School for fifteen years beginning in 1949, believed strongly that the “best you can do” referenced in the Banquet Song should incorporate work done for the greater good and not for oneself alone and understood the value of engaging our hearts, hands, and minds in the service of others.

In keeping with this mission, this year’s recipients have dedicated themselves to identifying, promoting, and facilitating opportunities for participation in meaningful activities within the valley and beyond. We applaud these students for all they have done for our community and take this opportunity to thank them—for their leadership, their commitment, and their optimistic approach to the service of others. Their brand of the best they can do would have made Mr. Chase very proud.
 
This year’s award went to:
Penelope Alice Brittingham
Robert Tom Farrelly
Clare Brigitte Best Rogowski
 
Charles L. Warren Alpinist Award 
First given by Charles L. Warren, teacher and Director of the Outdoor and Camping Programs at The Thacher School, this award recognizes the student who has demonstrated a commitment to the mastery of rock climbing, mountaineering and backcountry camping. An alpinist is characterized less by achievements and summits attained and more by the full engagement of one’s body, mind and spirit in the process of ascent as well as the qualities of preparation balanced with hope as indicated in the motto of the School's Outdoor Program.
 
This year’s award went to:
Luke Wilson McKenna Leasure
Liam Reed Kirkpatrick
Edel Dupre Galgon
Ronan Patrick Byrne
Peter Flynn Schmidt
 
The Thacher Lettermen’s Club Perpetual Trophy
While being an accomplished athlete is an integral part of earning this award, athleticism is, by no means, this honor’s most important criterion. Commitment to excellence, teamwork, ability to elevate the play of others, and, above all, sportsmanship are the qualities for which this trophy is awarded.
 
This year, the award goes to a young man who has left an indelible mark on three major sports programs here at Thacher. A truly extraordinary athlete, his senior campaigns have inspired awe, respect, and gratitude. His athletic gifts seem almost superhuman at times, as he makes the seemingly impossible look easy. On the gridiron, he finished with over 800 yards rushing and receiving, a feat that has never been accomplished in the history of the program. On the hoop court, he graduates as one of the best basketball players in the program’s history. He was a four-year varsity player and as coach Carney notes, “He  gave everything he had over his four years and fittingly graduates having won more games than any other boy basketball player.” On the lacrosse field, this young man has done it all. Coach Sullivan lauds him as the “swiss army knife” player not because he has all the tools to do every job (although he does), but because he has literally played just about every position there is. He plays hard defense, was the go-to player to possess the ball, and scored and assisted against the toughest opponents. As we have seen this young boy grow into a mature man; his leadership, both vocal and by example, sets him apart from his peers. Putting fear in the eyes of his opponents, it has been a pleasure to watch this gentleman elevate our sports teams over the past four years and he will not soon be forgotten.  
 
This year’s award went to: Laurence Shugahara Jackson
 
Elizabeth Helms Adams Perpetual Sportsmanship Award
As with the previous honor, athleticism, commitment to excellence, teamwork, ability to elevate the play of others and, above all, sportsmanship are the qualities for which this trophy is awarded.
 
It doesn’t matter the venue—court or field—and it doesn’t matter the score. This player’s leadership, sportsmanship, hard-nosed play, and talent will shine through in any kind of athletic situation she finds herself in. As a three-sport varsity athlete, a winner of 10 varsity letters, a senior captain in all three of her sports, she fully embodies Thacher’s values in her play on a consistent basis; not only in tight games with a full crowd cheering her on, but also in daily practice where her commitment to hard work and hustle serves as a constant inspiration to her teammates and coaches alike.
 
As a 2-year captain on the basketball team, she not only dominated on both ends of the court as she played almost every position with ease and grace, but she also consistently demonstrated the highest levels of tenacity, athleticism, and courage in the face of challenge. In lacrosse, a sport that she learned to play here at Thacher, she was the lynchpin of the defense, where her strong communication skills were on full display, as well as her field vision and scrappy play. It was quite common for her to battle and win the ground ball, sprint up the field with a strong cradle, and ignite our attack. Thus, as in basketball, she was truly an end-to-end player.
 
A defensive anchor, an offensive playmaker, and the dependable voice of both energy and focus in tight situations, this player has set the standard for what it means to push herself to the farthest limits of her own impressive athleticism and skill while at the same time making sure to support and encourage those around her to do the same. She has left her mark on our programs not simply through her own impressive athletic accomplishments, but also in the unique leadership she has provided for her younger teammates. It has been an honor to watch her wear a Thacher uniform.
 
This year’s award went to: Jordan Cunningham Perry

School Chair Award 
Our School Chair this year demonstrates each day—in all of his interactions with others—those qualities that are central to the values of the School.
 
He is unfailingly kind; he is imminently trustworthy; he is always honest and forthright; he is a thoughtful listener and a proactive advocate.
 
He embraces and celebrates all members of the community.
 
He enjoys and shares a generous sense of humor yet also knows when a serious tone and hard work are called for.
 
By sharing the best of who he is with us, he has helped us find the best in ourselves.
 
Indeed, that this has been a good year at Thacher is in significant measure the result of the caring, thoughtful, generous tone that Eric has set as our student leader.
 
I am honored to present Eric with the School Chair Award tonight.
 
This year’s award went to: Eric Anthony Oregel

The Charles L. Tutt Bowl for Integrity and Responsibility
Given in 1963 by Mrs. Tutt in memory of her husband Charles L. Tutt, CdeP 1907.  
 
In giving this award, Mrs. Tutt wished to stress those qualities of character not always recognized in the traditional school-type awards.  
 
She spoke not primarily of leadership, but of integrity and responsibility, of fortitude in the face of adversity, and of consideration for others as traits that she had always admired in her husband and which she thought a school should be proud of in its students.
 
This year’s recipient not only embodies the adage of doing the right thing when no one is watching, but perhaps more importantly, he inspires others to live lives of integrity.
 
He does this not by lecturing or criticizing, but through his example.  
 
His every interaction with his peers and teachers is utterly genuine.  
 
Pass him on campus and no matter where he’s headed or what he has to get done, he’ll look you in the eye, ask how you are, and actually listen to your response.  
 
He does the work in front of him without complaint, coming to class with a seriousness of purpose that reminds those around him that the work of school is worthy of our time and energy.  
 
His classmates have learned to listen when he speaks; his insights are considered, authentic, unique, and offered always for the benefit of the group rather than his own aggrandizement.  
 
Indeed this year’s recipient’s humility, his calm, and his optimism sometimes veil the tenacity and fortitude with which he has wrestled his successes, whether on the face of a particularly tricky pitch, navigating setbacks to his health, building a community of brotherhood in the sophomore boys’ dorm, or mastering AP Chemistry.  
 
One of his teachers recently remarked of this young man, “How is it possible for someone to offer so much to the community, but ask for so little?”
 
This year’s award went to: Luke Wilson McKenna Leasure
 

The Thacher Cup
The Thacher Cup is presented to that senior who, in the judgment of the faculty, best demonstrates those qualities the School holds as central: academic excellence, extracurricular achievement, moral leadership, and concern for others.
 
This student is all about balance.
 
Indeed, she is an exceptional blend of all things: curiosity and conviction, humility and confidence, natural talent and gritty hard work.
 
Every class, every team, every trip, every dorm room and dining hall table is made better by her presence, whether she is playing the role of equalizer, energizer, mediator, motivator, leader, follower, or some combination of them all.
 
Her numerous and notable academic achievements are impressive on their own, but they are made all the richer by the way in which she has earned them: not simply by blazing ahead on her own quest for excellence, but by engaging earnestly with peers and adults along the way, knowing that giving of herself to others is what reaps the truest of rewards.
 
And indeed, she has given us so much.
 
In the classroom, she consistently raises the level of discourse in any discussion while also consciously moderating her own impact so as not to overtake the room;
on the court and on the field, she is a shining example of sportsmanship, hard work, and above all, leadership by example; on the stage she is a focused member of her troupe who delights in playing “backup” so that her friends might shine; and in all of the nooks and crannies of campus, she is both inextricably present and somehow also unseen, doing whatever needs to be done in order to ensure the greatest success for all involved.
 
She is a giver, even at the same time as she squeezes every last drop of goodness from her time in this valley…and she is a nurturer—having left a legacy on this place that will not soon be forgotten.
 
This years award went to: Jordan Cunningham Perry
Back
    • Commencement 2017

      Senior Banquet and Awards

    • Commencement 2017

      Commencement and Tributes

More About Thacher

Interested in learning more about Thacher? Get to know us better here or request additional materials here.