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Class of 2019 Graduates from Westminster

Westminster School celebrated the graduation of 114 students at commencement exercises May 25. Headmaster Bill Philip welcomed everyone, made some introductions and spoke about the remarkable year.
 
“This year, our Admissions Office processed about 1,000 applications for 130 openings,” he said. “In College Counseling, 89 percent of the members of the Class of 2019 were admitted to colleges ranked as the “most” or “highly” selective categories in Barron’s Profiles of Colleges and Universities. This achievement underscores the impressive talent shared by all of the graduates we are celebrating today.”
 
He also thanked those in attendance for their support of the Soar Together Campaign, which continues to set records, having surpassed $72 million toward a goal of $100 million by 2022. “This school is flourishing thanks to the passion of our school community, whether students, faculty, parents, alumni and friends here on campus today or in the past and the future, as well as those around the country and the world who cherish and seek to advance this school as it makes a difference in the lives of students.”
 
Salutatory Address
In his Salutatory Address, Head Prefect Scott Wilson ’19, a resident of Simsbury, talked about his Westminster journey, beginning with his arrival as a Third Former, and how his form dean, Paul Kendall, had asked the Prefect Board at the beginning of this academic year who they would be as a person leaving Westminster. “I am who I am because people have influenced me in a way that I may not even be conscious of,” said Scott. “So as I look out and I see the Class of 2019, I am so proud to know that these are the kids I will be moving on with. And we are kids, but we’re not just kids. We are athletes, actors, artists, performers, classmates, teammates and friends. We are the future. … I’m a little bit of all of them.”
 
Headmaster Philip then recognized two departing members of the Westminster community. Faculty member Jon Deveaux will become head of school at Fairfield Country Day School July 1. Since his appointment to the Westminster faculty in 1993, Jon has served 22 years as director of admissions, and one year as senior advancement officer. Going forward, his family’s home on campus will be known as Deveaux House. Plant manager Peter Anderson, who is retiring, was saluted for his dedicated service to Westminster from 1985-2011 and 2017-2019, his leadership and his legacy overseeing numerous construction projects over the years.
 
Outstanding Scholar Address
In her Outstanding Scholar Address, Yoonah Lee ’19, a resident of Seoul, South Korea, spoke about how words influence thoughts and actions. She shared how she gained confidence, even when things did not go as expected, by saying positive words to herself. “Words have the power to change your thoughts that are to be carried out through your actions, that stitched together, create and define your lives,” she said. “As excited as we all are to start a new chapter in our lives, let’s be honest, we are all quite nervous and scared to face obstacles that are soon to come. Even if you forget everything I said, take these words to heart: We can do it. We are happy. And life is amazing.”
 
Keynote Address
The keynote speaker was Soledad O’Brien P’19, ’20, an award-winning journalist, speaker, author and philanthropist, whose daughter was among the graduates. “When your education is framed around the pillars of Grit & Grace, you are prepared to move forward in a world that will be hard,” she said. “You are so fortunate to have been raised in a community that values these things: being a great student, being a focused athlete and being a great human being. Those are the elements that will make you successful in life.”
 
She added: “The hard stuff is to always hold on to your integrity, those things that you stand for, the values that you learn at home and at school, and to have a sense of compassion for people who are nothing like you, who do not look like you, who do not act like you, and who are also human beings who are just trying to figure it out as you are. If you are sitting here today, you have been privileged. You got the chance to attend this school, so you are among the very lucky ones who have been given tremendous opportunities wherever your story started, whatever obstacles you have overcome. Much has been given to you, so we expect a lot from you.”
 
She closed by encouraging the graduates to face their worries and push through them. “There are many, many roads to get to where you are going and getting somewhere worthwhile means that some of the story will be what didn’t work out, what went wrong. That is the story of life and that is what makes life an adventure. You have everything you need to succeed in that adventure because of this school, the teachers, the advisors and friends who have been invested in you over all these past years. … This is the beginning of some very great things from the Class of 2019, and I am honored to be in the Westminster family with you.”
 
O’Brien anchors and produces the Hearst Television political magazine program “Matter of Fact with Soledad O’Brien.” She is also founder and CEO of Starfish Media Group, reports for HBO Real Sports, the PBS NewsHour and WebMD, and has written two books: her critically acclaimed memoir “The Next Big Story” and “Latino in America.” A graduate of Harvard University, she has anchored and reported for NBC, CNN and others, winning numerous awards, including three Emmys, the George Peabody Award, an Alfred I. duPont Award and the Gracie. Newsweek magazine named her one of the “15 People Who Make America Great.” With her husband, Brad Raymond ’85, P’19,’20, she is founder of the PowHERful Foundation that annually sends 25 girls to and through college.
 
The following faculty members and students received awards:
 
FACULTY PRIZES                                                                             
 
Twenty-Year Service Pin
Mitch Overbye P’05, ’09
 
Gow Senior Master Chair
Presented to the faculty member with the longest tenure at Westminster School, this chair honors John Gow, who taught and coached at Westminster from 1925-1972.
Todd L. Eckerson P’09, ’11, ’17, ’21
 
The Swayze Award:              
Presented annually in honor of distinguished alumnus, trustee and former chairman of the Board of Trustees Townsend Swayze ’55, this award is given to a member of the faculty for outstanding contributions to the life of the school.
Jane Toner P’02, ’21
 
The O’Brien Award:             
This award is presented annually in honor of Marianna and Junie O’Brien P’81, who devoted their lives in service to young people and to schools. It recognizes a member of the faculty who has, over the course of the year, been especially selfless and generous with time and care in the nurture and support of students and whose extraordinary, ongoing personal commitment to young people sets an example to the Westminster community.
David Chrzanowski
 
STUDENT PRIZES                                                                             
 
Gretchen Hupfel ’82 Art Purchase Prize
Suzanne Renehan ’19
 
Cowing Art Award
Margaret Chavez ’19
 
Lewis J. Powers Photography Award
Yoonah Lee ’19
 
Excellence in Dance
Kaitlyn Eddy ’19 and Elaina Comia ’19
 
Edward Scull Jr. ’71 Award for Excellence in Architecture
William Carlisle ’19 and Lukas Dudzik ’19
 
Excellence in Science
Emmett de Kanter ’19
 
Excellence in Physics
James Jaeyoung Chun ’19
 
Joyce Wilson Prize for Excellence in Mathematics
Yoonah Lee ’19
 
Peter Briggs Prize for Excellence in Economics
Sean Clarke ’19
 
Class of 1941 Peter Mars Memorial History Prize
Emmett de Kanter ’19
 
Dramatic Award for Service and Leadership in Theater
Julia Krys ’19
 
Design Award for Service and Achievement in Technical Support
Elliott Kennard ’19
 
J. Lawrence Gilman Award for Achievement in Music and Participation in Musical Activities
Julia Krys ’19 and Justin Schuster ’19
 
Gordon McKinley Award for Excellence in English
Emmett de Kanter ’19
 
Burdett Prize for Excellence in the Study of French
Klaudia Khegay ’19
 
Moncada Prize for Excellence in Spanish
Valeria Osorio Garcia ’19
 
Richard P. Hopley Excellence in Latin
Yoonah Lee ’19
 
The Kevin Kwok-Fun Chau ’79 Prize for Excellence in Chinese
Natalie Rubin ’19
                 
Butler Bowl
The faculty presents this award to a member of the Third Form for character and leadership.
Cooper Kistler ’22
 
Adams Bowl
This award is presented annually to a member of the Fourth Form who best embodies the qualities of Richard and Barbara Adams, who gave devoted service to Westminster for over 40 years, showing outstanding personal qualities and concern for the community and unwavering dedication to students. Barbara served on the faculty from 1995-2011, and Dick served on the faculty from 1970-2013.
Allison Masthay ’21
 
Wilbraham Bowl
This award is presented annually to a member of the Fifth Form who best embodies the qualities of Geoffrey Wilbraham, who gave distinguished and loyal service to Westminster from 1958 to 1994: high personal standards, consistent respect for others, unswerving commitment to the common good, steady insistence on fair play and abiding human decency.
Megan Rittenhouse ’20
 
Brian T. Bruyette ’77 Senior Athletic Award
This award is given annually to the Sixth Form boy and girl who best exemplify excellence in athletics and who contributed to the character of the team. It is given in memory of Brian T. Bruyette ’77, who in his enthusiasm, sportsmanship, effort and skills, represented all that is best in this school.
Emmett de Kanter ’19 and Georgia Swank ’19
 
Richard K. LeBlond II Honor Award
This award is given annually to a member of the Sixth Form who exemplifies dedication to academics and loyalty to the school.
Emmett de Kanter ’19
 
Paul Winship ’35 Alumni Book Prize
This book prize is awarded to a Sixth Former who has made an unusual commitment in both breadth and depth to the school’s programs and activities.
Giovanni Hamilton ’19
 
Outstanding Scholar Award
This award is presented to the Sixth Former who, in the opinion of the faculty, is the outstanding scholar of the class. The award is not necessarily determined by rank in class but is based, rather, on the attributes of the true scholar: curiosity, imagination, power to associate new observations with prior experience, thoroughness, appetite for ideas rather than for grades as an end in themselves and the ability to move easily in the realm of concepts.
Yoonah Lee ’19
 
Keyes Bowl
Established by the Class of 1966 and recognized as the school’s most prestigious commencement award, the Keyes Bowl is presented annually to a member of the Sixth Form and recognizes the qualities of loyalty, courage, leadership and humility.
Julia Krys ’19
 
Awarding of Diplomas
Headmaster Philip and Chair of the Board of Trustees Brad Raymond ’85, P’19, ’20, with the assistance of Director of Studies Bill Sistare, presented diplomas to members of the class. The graduates then recessed to participate in the Westminster tradition of passing diplomas on the Sixth Form Lawn. They formed a circle, and at the signal of the head prefect, passed the random diplomas they received during the commencement ceremony until they received their own diploma. They then stepped out of the circle signifying their graduation.
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