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Westminster Celebrates Graduation of Class of 2022

Despite a forecast for a torrential downpour, clear skies prevailed for Westminster’s 134th commencement exercises held May 28 on Commencement Lawn.
 
Head of School Elaine White welcomed 123 members of the Class of 2022 and reminded them to share their gratitude for those who have made the day possible with their love, support and guidance, including parents, family members, trustees, faculty and staff members.
 
Head Prefect Cooper Kistler who led the procession of Sixth Formers to the tent on Commencement Lawn felt bittersweet about the day: “It’s just crazy to think my journey here is coming to an end, but I am also really excited to be sharing all the precious moments leading up to graduation with my classmates,” he said.
 
Salutatory Address
Following Head of School White’s opening remarks, Cooper recapped the Class of 2022’s journey in his Salutatory Address, beginning with their Third Form year, when he said, “We all went from having braces when we arrived, to meeting people from all over the world and expanding our social circle.”
 
He described how by Fourth Form year, just as members of the class were beginning to develop their own sense of independence, it was curtailed with the arrival of the pandemic. “Between quarantine, every time we returned to campus and social distancing all the time, our junior year was far from normal,” he said.
 
A sense of normalcy returned in the Sixth Form year. Over the past four years, the “class created a legacy that matters through relations and individual memories,” Cooper continued.
 
He also talked about how during the school year, he ended every Monday assembly with the phrase “dare to be great,” a call to action for students to strive to be their best selves.
 
Cooper adopted the adage from Will Rizzo ’21, the previous head prefect, who advised him on his new role as head prefect and told him to “dare to be great.”
 
“That four-word quote stuck with me,” said Cooper. “I thought it was the perfect way to start each week. By being great, you are constantly pushing yourself to change and develop over time.” He urged his classmates to carry the motto with them as they depart Westminster and embark on their next journey.
 
Outstanding Scholar Address
With humor and wit, Sung Min Cho ’22 delivered the Outstanding Scholar Address, poking fun at his own sloppy handwriting and poor note-taking, which he said led to some of his best scholarly exploration.
 
“Excellent handwriting and poor note-taking are essentially feats of inefficiency,” said Sung. “A popular idea is that if you improve either, you become a better student, and you’re able to do more in less time.”
 
In his view, the world is always asking everyone to optimize. But speeding along faster and faster doesn’t always lead to the best results.
 
“My very best thoughts were born out of deliberate inefficiency; my best growth came when I was browsing leisurely and taking too much time,” he said. “Do our ideas improve just because we write faster? Do we discover the greatest solutions to our greatest problems racing against the clock?”
 
He added: “Those who are able to carve pockets of inefficiency into the inherently efficient schedules at Westminster are those among us who find the most growth and success. They balance the worldly expectation for speed with the natural slowness and unpredictability of the creative process.”
 
He told his classmates to find their own balance, adding wryly: “Treasure inefficiency because no one else will treasure it for you. Let the world spin and spin itself in insanity — but you stay grounded and wise.”
 
 Keynote Address
 
The address by keynote speaker Martha Debayle, stepmother of Juan Garibay ’20, Andres Garibay ’23 and Matteo Garibay ’25, culminated a year of celebrating the 50th anniversary of coeducation at Westminster.
 
Debayle is one of the most influential voices in Mexico, an entrepreneur, a broadcast media mogul and personal lifestyle brand. “Apparently, I am a superbrand,” she joked. “I am not sure what that means, I think it’s like Oprah, except Latin, and I only wish I could be giving you all a free car!”
 
The president and founder The Media Marketing Knowledge Group, which holds four brands, Debayle has received multiple awards for her work promoting women’s empowerment.
 
In her address, she told her story of struggling to become successful in broadcasting, and she urged students to start making their own mark in the world. “This is it; you’re in control,” she said. “You’re in charge of your life.” 
 
She told the graduates that regardless of the challenges they will have to face in the world, they have a precious opportunity: a chance to write their own magnificent story. “And there is no greater gift in life than time and a blank page,” she said. “Your story is not even going to be typewritten; it will be scrawled out in your own, uneven, messy handwriting that is probably only legible to you.”
 
In that spirit, she gave each student a parting gift, a special Class of 2022 pencil with the inscribed words, “You are the author of your own story.”
 
“Whether it turns out you’re a child prodigy or a late bloomer like me, if you mess up just erase it and keep going,” she concluded. “But don’t stop writing.”
 
 
Student Prizes
The following student prizes were awarded:
 
 
Ganzenmuller-Buckey Award is given to the student who contributed the most to Admissions at Westminster.
Sawyer Von Jess ’22
 
Outstanding Community Service Award is presented to a student who demonstrates extraordinary commitment and service to our community.
Isabella Mattson ’22
 
Horizons at Westminster Award for service was presented to:
Keegan Bankoff ’22 and Samantha de Kanter ’22
 
Edward Scull Jr. ’71 Award for Excellence in Architecture
Richard Mugler IV ’22 and Isaac Mullen ’22
 
Cowing Art Award
Bennett Ghriskey’22
 
The Gretchen Hupfel ’82 Art Prize
Priscilla Ameyaw ’22
 
Excellence in Dance
Titiana Restrepo ’22
 
J. Lawrence Gilman Award for Achievement in Music and Participation in Musical Activities
Ashlyn Clapproodc ’22 and Molly Rubin ’22
 
Lewis J. Powers Photography Award
Elizabeth Cramer ’22 and Tyler Gutsfeld ’22
 
Dramatic Award for Service and Leadership in Theater
Olivia Olney ’22 and Ariel Seidu ’22
 
Critchell Rimington Creative Writing Award
Lara Connor ’22
 
Gordon McKinley Award for Excellence in English
Sung Min Cho ’22
 
Peter Briggs Prize for Excellence in Economics
Sung Min Cho ’22
 
Class of 1941 Peter Mars Memorial History Prize
Sung Min Cho ’22
 
Burdett Prize for Excellence in the Study of French
Kristina Oganyan ’22
 
Moncada Prize for Excellence in Spanish
Lillian Marvin ’22
 
Kevin Kwok-Fun Chau ’79 Prize for Excellence in Chinese
Christian Yalda ’22
 
The Richard P. Hopley Excellence in Latin Prize
Samuel Obeng ’22
 
Joyce Wilson Prize for Excellence in Mathematics
Serin Lee’22
 
Excellence in Physics
Isaac Mullen ’22
 
Excellence in Science
Isaac Mullen ’22
 
Butler Bowl
The faculty presents this award to a member of the Third Form for character and leadership.
Charles Genung ’25
 
Adams Bowl
This award is presented to a member of the Fourth Form who best embodies the qualities of Richard and Barbra 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.
Wills Erda ’24
 
Wilbraham Bowl
This award is given to a member of the Fifth Form who best embodies the qualities of Geoffrey Wilbraham, who gave distinguished and loyal service to Westminster from 1958-1994: high personal standards, consistent respect for others, unswerving commitment to the common good, steady insistence on fair play and abiding human decency.
Magdelaine McCarthy ’23
 
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.
Shelby Shaw Oken ’22
 
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.
Max Larock ’22 and Margaret Sadak ’22
 
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.
Priscilla Ameyaw ’22
 
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.
Sung Min Cho ’22
 
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.
Sawyer Von Jess ’22
 
Awarding of Diplomas, Closing Remarks and Diploma Passing
Head of School White and Chair of the Board of Trustees Brad Raymond ’85, P’19, ’20, ’24, ’24 presented diplomas to members of the class.
 
In her closing remarks, Head of School White congratulated the Class of 2022, saying, “You are officially alumni, and while you will venture far and wide on your journey, please know that you always have a home on Williams Hill.”
 
Following the ceremony, the graduates participated in the Westminster tradition of passing their diplomas on the Sixth Form Lawn. They formed a circle and 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.
 
You can see photos from the weekend on Flickr.
 
See the Spring Awards Ceremony here
 
See the Class of 2022 Commencement here.
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