Class XII Awards Ceremony
As taken from Head of School, Andrew Menke's welcoming remarks at the first annual Class XII Awards Assembly.
Good afternoon. Welcome to this US Awards Assembly. This is another historic moment in a string of momentous occasions for all of you, and especially you, seniors. We are happy to be together to celebrate the closing of the year and many of your accomplishments.
Last Thursday I was sitting at my dining room table trying to come up with something uniquely profound to say on this occasion: about flexibility, nimbleness, resilience, perseverance, overcoming challenges in these unprecedented times. All of which describe you during this separation.
It’s hard to know quite what to say or how to capture the real challenge and heartache of this once-in-a-lifetime upheaval event, especially in the absence of being together. All of you students, and in an acute way, you seniors, have been dramatically impacted. And around the country and around the world, there have been 100,000 plus lives lost, record-setting unemployment—the effects of this pandemic are real and painful.
I wanted to search for something deeper and more meaningful—words, thoughts, ideas, sentiments—that would not be lost in the din of trying to describe the challenging, present circumstances like the hundreds of Zoom hours you have logged this spring. Perhaps like you, I suppose I’m a bit weary. Despite the reality in saying, “these are uncertain times” and answering the next question, and the one after that with…. “I don’t know.”
So let me tell you two things that I do know:
1. You are all brave and courageous, and over these 11 weeks you have made us extraordinarily proud.
2. AND I am certain that your liberal arts experience will serve you well in the weeks, months, and years ahead.
I’m an optimist...I believe that this COVID cloud will recede, and when it does the world will perhaps more than ever need your work ethic. You have proven once again that you can do hard things! The world will need your curiosity and problem-solving, your nimble and reasoned minds, your analytical abilities, and ability to make sense of information, your clear communication skills, and your ability to hold up and respect two opposing viewpoints at once. And it will need your passion to work TOGETHER and with others and to find common ground and solutions.
There have always been plenty of challenges—and there are plenty now—and the world needs human beings who are engaged and inspired life-long learners who understand how to positively and productively engage in and contribute to their communities. Utah, the nation, and the world needs you... all of you!
You have heard many of us reference Waterford’s vision - to inspire lives of meaning and purpose. This is our why.
And this has been a time of all of us asking why. And trying to find meaning, purpose, and perspective in this time of COVID disruption has been challenging. So I leave you with this anonymous quote that speaks to who you are and who I think you need you to be at this time and at your core.
"The world needs more people who do not have a price at which they can be bought; who do not borrow from integrity to pay for expediency; whose handshake is an ironclad contract; who are not afraid of risk; who are honest in small matters as they are in large ones; whose ambitions are big enough to include others; who know how to win with grace and lose with dignity; who do not believe that shrewdness and cunning and ruthlessness are the three keys to success; who still have friends they made 20 years ago; who are not afraid to go against the grain of popular opinion; who are occasionally wrong and always willing to admit it. In short, the world needs leaders."
Fortified with a Waterford education, your children are my reason for optimism!
CUM LAUDE SOCIETY
Each year, the Cum Laude selection committee aims to honor students who demonstrate true scholarship. Committee members look at students’ academic records and students’ contributions to the lively intellectual community that is fostered in the Waterford classrooms. This honor is bestowed upon the members of a graduating class who have a record of excellence in all academic disciplines and to those who demonstrate sustained commitment to the life of the mind. The below students from the Class of 2020 were inducted into the Cum Laude Society this year.
ART DEPARTMENT PRIZE - Ariane Kovacsovics
We have an amazing group of young artists in this year’s Senior class. This was a difficult selection to make, but Ariane stands out for the intensity of her artistic vision and the impressive breadth of her photographic skill. She has demonstrated excellence in a tremendous range of subject matter. This includes some genres that are especially difficult to approach in a way that feels original. Ariane’s photographs of wildlife, for example, are beautiful in a way that is unlike what you have seen before. Her senior project is a group of striking and complex diptychs that grab your attention with bold form and color, but also reward extended viewing with the subtleties of the relationships between the paired images. For her originality, deep dedication, and tremendous passion for making art, we are proud to present her with this award.
COMPUTER SCIENCE DEPARTMENT PRIZE - Bo Cramer
Bo Cramer plays lacrosse and hockey - two facts that immediately vault him into my top echelon of cool people. The present honor, however, is based squarely on two criteria: passion and achievement in the study and practice of Computer Science. In every course, from Middle School to AP and all points between, Bo has been a congenial over-achiever. In his culminating experience as my teaching assistant in the AP course, Bo showed a unique and enviable gift for drawing aside the dark curtain of complexity. I am honored to recognize Bo, first as a passionate, dedicated student of computer science and finally as a respected colleague
DANCE DEPARTMENT PRIZE - Amelia Rukavina
Growing up I was a huge fan of a dancer named Janie Parker, she was a principal dancer with Houston Ballet, and I was a fan for two reasons...one she had amazing technique..two she made it seem like the technique didn't matter because when she performed she was so invested in her part that she took the audience with her to another place. Amelia reminds me of her because she has these similar qualities. She has beautiful technique that comes from her dedication to the art of ballet—this technique only comes from that time, repetition, and effort of training the body to move in ways that aren't natural or easy. Amelia also skillfully takes us to another place when she performs..even her simplest gestures are heightened with meaning and expressiveness...and we are taken by her magic. Thank you Amelia for your generous heart and gentle spirit on stage and off.
ENGLISH DEPARTMENT PRIZE - Katie Sanyal
Katie embodies the qualities of curiosity and excellence that Waterford celebrates as central to the liberal arts education. Katie is an accomplished writer with a vast body of creative writing, and she recognizes the value of story for making sense of a complex world. She loves literature and appreciates the beauty of words and language. She recognizes good writing and cares deeply about the craft. Katie exemplifies the love of literary art that we hope to inspire at Waterford, and we wish her the very best as she continues her studies. Congratulations.
HISTORY DEPARTMENT PRIZE - Adah Welsh
Adah earned this honor because she not only took far more history courses than required as a senior but she also distinguished herself with her dedication in each course. To Adah, history courses were not requirements, they were opportunities. Regardless of the class, Adah prepared thoroughly. She took notes to understand, not to simply complete an assignment. In fact, her notebooks simply overflowed with her unique handwriting. And in discussions, Adah’s poise and maturity not only regularly established a serious tone, but her curiosity as well as her well-timed humor only further enhanced class discussions. If doing history is like solving a mystery, Adah promises to be a very talented detective.
MATHEMATICS DEPARTMENT PRIZE - Sakiko Tanaka
Sakiko is likely very happy that she does not have to come and stand by me in front of everyone because she has never sought the spotlight. Nevertheless, we want her to know that we have seen her. We have seen her hard work, her immaculate notes which could be published, her scholarliness and most of all, her individual dedication to learning mathematics. Through careful study she has developed a deep mastery of not only calculus and linear algebra, but also of geometry, number theory and advanced probability, going well beyond our typical curriculum. And, she has done this in two languages, developing a technical mathematical vocabulary in both English and Japanese. She is remarkable and worthy of this recognition. Congratulations, Sakiko.
MUSIC DEPARTMENT PRIZE - Noah Conner
Noah is a multifaceted musician who can play many instruments with great expertise. He is a very intelligent, talented and highly motivated student who has made a lasting contribution to the Waterford Music program. Noah has performed for and with the LS music program, the MS/US Choral, Orchestra, Band, Jazz Band and Percussion Ensemble. He is a 2A Academic All State Music Recipient. Noah has performed and competed at the Region and State Music Festivals and received top honors, both as a soloist and with his Percussion Ensemble.
Noah will continue his studies at the University of Utah as a double major in Physics and Music. He was accepted into the percussion program as well as the drum line, which is a highly coveted spot especially for an incoming freshman.
According to his teacher Dan, “Noah is a hard worker who has done an excellent job of playing both classical music and jazz. I’m equally impressed by his drum set playing and his work with mallet instruments. Noah has been one of those musicians that helps raise the level of the players around him. I’ve enjoyed his harmonic creativity as an improviser and the ability to play “in the pocket” on drums. Noah has been a pleasure to work with.
Noah has a combination of attributes that make him extremely successful in music. His passion for music is part of who he is. He really loves music and is not prejudiced to style. I would say his playing on the drum set and marimba in particular is beautiful as masterful painting has beauty. He has a fearless joy for learning that allows him to move forward at a rapid rate. He has the innate talents that are so desirable for a musician including: a great ear, great listener, a solid tempo, a great work ethic, and a dependability to his craft and to his peers. He is good in a supporting role and is very helpful to the musicians he is working with but he really shines as a soloist where his love of what he does shows through in his performance style. He is an amiable and genuine person with a bright musical future. It has been a privilege to share in Noah’s musical journey while he has been a student at Waterford.”
Noah is a gentleman. He is kind, sensitive, and leads with a quiet confidence. He is also patient, compassionate and inspires others to be the best they can be. Noah’s enthusiasm for life and love of music is evident every day he walks into the classroom. Congratulations, Noah.
PE/ATHLETICS DEPARTMENT PRIZE - Hanna Bruce
Hanna is one of the last of a dying breed. She is a true multi-sport athlete who has played three sports; soccer, basketball and lacrosse during each of her four High School years at Waterford. Not only has she played all of them for four years but has started at the Varsity level for each team since her freshman year.
When asked to talk about Hanna as an athlete all three of her coaches come up with three similar descriptions. First, she has a great attitude and is always positive with her teammates, coaches and the officials. Second, Hanna can really run - in fact as one coach said so well “she can run like the wind”. Third, She loves competition - don’t let her smaller physical stature fool you. She is a tenacious competitor who one old school coach once referred to as a little rat but only as homage to her fierce nature and never say die determination that she brought to the court day in and day out. It didn’t matter if it was a practice or a game Hanna brought it every day!
It was these qualities that made Hanna an outstanding leader and Captain on all 3 of her teams. She leads by example and by doing so makes all those around her better players and teammates. Hanna’s contributions to her teams are countless, and her teammates and coaches will miss her everlasting smile, work ethic, and leadership next year.
Congratulations, Hanna - you have made a huge and lasting impact on the Waterford Athletic program over the past four years, and we will miss you dearly.
SCIENCE DEPARTMENT PRIZE - Evan LaForge
Evan is an old-school engineer. He would fit right in with the likes of Edison and Tesla. His eclectic mind swirls with obscure physical principles and complex mathematics. He is powered by a form of energy no Einstein has quite described. He seems to be driven by a combination of the need to do and the need to teach. Evan is so excited by his ideas that you get pulled into his enthusiasm, just for the pure joy of it.
Evan has expressed the desire to become a Professor of Physics. That is a class I want to take!
THEATER DEPARTMENT PRIZE - Nina DeVos
The black box has been Nina’s home for the past nine years. In that time, she has performed in more than twenty productions. We knew she would be a powerhouse when in Lower School she played Susanna in Rip Van Winkle. She went on to delight us as Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, unnerve us as Tiresias in Oedipus Rex and Antigone, and win our hearts as Marguerite in The Scarlet Pimpernel. Nina also gave us two of the great leading women of Shakespeare: Imogen in Cymbeline and Isabella in Measure for Measure. We will miss her passion, her power, and, most of all, we will miss the bright light that she brings to the black box. Congratulations, Nina Faine.
WORLD LANGUAGES DEPARTMENT PRIZE - Lucas Butterfield
We were delighted to have Lucas from Class VI to Class XII, first in Latin, and then in both Latin and Spanish. He lights up when he can make connections, and he uses his free time to explore topics even further. Always curious, engaged, and motivated, he made his love for languages apparent during every class session. As Lucas continued studying Latin throughout Upper School, he impressed his teachers with his ability to read advanced texts, like Tactius, at his own request, which even college students tend to shy away from. Lucas is more than a learner, he is erudite in the languages he studies. He immerses himself in the grammar, culture, and history of Spanish speaking countries. Lucas embodies our values of integrity, curiosity, and excellence. We are proud of you, and know that you will make meaningful contributions in our ever-changing world! Congratulations, Lucas!
THE JUNIOR BOOK AWARD
Each year, Waterford confers the Junior Book Award to Class XI students who demonstrate exceptional academic achievement. This year, we recognize five juniors for their commitment to academic excellence and their thorough pursuit of intellectual growth in and out of the classroom.
THE WATERFORD AWARD - PIPER THOMAS
Each spring the Head of School recognizes one or two students, who exemplify the spirit of our mission—joyfully growing through the depth and breadth of the liberal arts experience and selflessly giving back to the School in a multitude of ways. Piper is an upbeat, hard-worker, who is always energetic and incredibly enthusiastic. She is passionate and full of ideas. An “old soul,” she is smart, talented, strong, confident, and full of charisma. She is outgoing with strong points of view that always have room for others. Piper is direct as she stands up for social justice and insists that peers respect each other, even in moments of discomfort. She is a thoughtful force for good at Waterford, and always advocates for students to be their best selves. Piper enjoys the life of the mind. She learns quickly, and precisely and is always eager to gain new skills. She is a strong and committed student and an effortless writer with solid analytical skills. Piper is a natural performer seemingly born to be on stage. She has graced the theater and dance programs; she is fearless and hard-working, and inspiringly receptive to direction. She was in The Oedipus Cycle and stage-managed Three Sisters. This year she was in The Scarlet Pimpernel. She immediately connected in the theater; friendly to all, and committed to the work, she brought a positive attitude, a quick mind, and a complete commitment to her performances. She is also a phenomenal dancer with the skill and presence to make each production better. She was a joy to watch as the Sugar Plum Fairy, Glinda the Good Witch, and she was going to steal the show as the "Bossy Stepsister" in Cinderella.
Congratulations, Piper. Thank you for all of your many contributions, in and out of the classroom!
Congratulations to the entire Class of 2020. We are so proud of all your accomplishments—you have left a lasting mark on the Waterford School community!
Watch the recording of the Class XII Award Ceremony.