In an unprecedented year, it was an unprecedented graduation—not least because of the unseasonable weather. But lashing rain and temperatures in the 40s could not dampen or chill the spirits of the 96 members of the Class of 2021 or the family and friends who gathered on May 29 under the big tent on the Revers turf to cheer them on.
Last year’s Prize Day, pre-recorded and shared online, felt like a foray into a strange new reality. This year’s Prize Day, pre-recorded and shared online, felt like the kind of event that’s become familiar during the long pandemic year. Live-streamed on May 27 (the recording can be viewed here), Prize Day served as an opportunity to recognize outstanding contributions from students, faculty, and staff.
When Wellesley’s Page Waterman Gallery, owned by alumnus Sturdy Waterman ’74, celebrated its centennial in 2017, the gallery decided to look forward as well as back. That year, Page Waterman launched its Next Up! art competition for high school students in Wellesley and surrounding towns. The highly competitive event tends to draw serious art students and is juried by a distinguished panel of working artists. Even in this disrupted pandemic year, the show went on—and Rivers students garnered an impressive number of awards.
When students return to campus next fall, various high-profile improvements to campus infrastructure will be underway or completed. But another change in the works, though less immediately visible, will also have a significant impact on student experience.
If silence can indeed speak volumes, it did so recently at Rivers during the annual Day of Silence. For many years, this annual demonstration protesting the harmful effects of harassment and discrimination against LGBTQ+ students has taken place on campuses around the country and around the world. Students take a one-day vow of silence to support those who have experienced harassment, bullying, and name-calling because of their gender expression, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Members of The Rivers School community today are mourning the tragic death of former student Terrence Clarke, who was killed in a car accident on Thursday in Los Angeles. The 19-year-old Clarke was a gifted basketball player who played for the University of Kentucky and was in the process of preparing himself for early entry into the NBA draft.
It’s going to be a noisy summer on campus—in the best way possible. This week, a final timetable for the renovations to the Prince, Lewis, and Carlin buildings was announced, and the long-awaited work is scheduled to get underway May 17.
There are clubs of every stripe on the Rivers campus, from chess to robotics to fishing. But until this winter, there was no club that specifically addressed the concerns and issues of girls and women. That changed in January with the launch of EMPWR (Enacting More Positive Change with Women at Rivers).
Yom HaShoah—Holocaust Remembrance Day—urges people around the world to never forget the extermination of six million Jews in Nazi Germany. To mark the commemoration, which this year began at sundown last night and continues today, Rivers welcomed two guest speakers to a special all-school meeting on Wednesday. Their message? Antisemitism did not begin or end with the Holocaust. At a moment when antisemitic incidents are on the rise at home and abroad, that message was especially timely.
Baseball has its World Series, football has its Super Bowl, and the NWHL—the National Women’s Hockey League—has its Isobel Cup, awarded to the league champions each year since 2016. And this year, for the second time in its history, the Boston Pride, helmed by Jillian Dempsey ’09, has its Isobel Cup, after a 4-3 victory over the Minnesota Whitecaps last weekend. To top it off, Dempsey—also a member of the Isobel-winning 2016 team—took home MVP honors.
Just before spring break, more than 100 members of the Rivers community joined some 9,000 attendees at an AISNE-hosted webinar titled “Go Beyond an Awareness of Racism.” The large turnout was driven in part by the high-profile featured speaker, prominent author and activist Ibram X. Kendi. Kendi is a New York Times bestselling author, winner of the National Book Award, and director of the Boston University Center for Anti-Racist Research.
The Scholastic Art & Writing awards have been recognizing and inspiring student creativity for nearly a century, since their founding in 1923. This year’s recently announced state-level awards saw 16 Rivers students garnering 21 prizes for photography, drawing, painting, and other forms of visual art. Among them were two Gold Key awards, which are automatically entered into the national competition.
Put on a musical during the era of masks and social distancing? Impossible, you say? Not for the intrepid team that makes up the Nonesuch Players. With the type of can-do spirit celebrated in countless Broadway musicals, they brought Rivers a show full of joy, humor, hope, and good old-fashioned razzle dazzle—all in the virtual space.
Sydnie Schwarz, Middle School DEI coordinator at Rivers, vividly remembers the first diversity conference she attended. “I was in eighth grade. I remember feeling like this world had opened up,” she says today. “Going to workshops, meeting kids from other schools—I was so excited.” It’s the kind of experience she hoped to bring to Rivers Middle School students by offering to have Rivers host the AISNE Middle School Students of Color Conference earlier this month.
If the past year has taught us anything, it’s that predicting the future can be a tricky business. But laying the groundwork for the future is another matter. With that in mind, last week’s Rivers Connect event brought together graduating seniors and Rivers alumni to discuss life after high school.
Rivers students typically embrace a number of community engagement opportunities throughout the year. But nothing about this year has been typical, with many nonprofits and other organizations unable to host or accommodate would-be volunteers. There’s one noteworthy exception, however: Since April, more than 50 Rivers students have volunteered with Immigrant Family Services Institute (IFSI), an organization that supports immigrant families.
It’s not as easy as ABC to win an ABC Award, given annually by Associated Builders and Contractors (ABC) Massachusetts. At the organization’s virtual awards ceremony last month, only 12 firms in Massachusetts were recognized for a project reflecting “overall excellence in project execution, craftsmanship, safety, innovative elements and challenges, and client satisfaction”—and one of them was Bowdoin Construction Corp. for its work on our own Revers Center for Science and Visual Arts.
Theater, like sports, teaches participants resilience, teamwork, and grit. And, like athletes, theater students engage in competition from an early age. The Massachusetts Educational Theater Guild (METG) has been holding student theater contests for years, but this year, for the first time, the group added a solo musical theater category.
The National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship is a prestigious, highly competitive program that supports scholarship in the humanities for up to a year. Among the 8 percent of applicants who were chosen for the fellowship this year are university professors, scholars affiliated with museums and other institutions, foundations—and one high school teacher.
Over the years, commemorations of Martin Luther King Jr. Day have taken different forms at Rivers—sometimes with guest speakers and performers, sometimes with powerful statements from students and other members of the community, sometimes with service projects that honor the legacy of the slain civil rights leader.