Prize Day 2022: A Return to Form

As Prize Day 2022 unfolded under the tent this morning, it was hard to believe that it had been three years since the event was last held live and in person. The familiar rhythms of the day and the traditional slate of honors and awards made it feel almost as though no time had passed since Prize Day 2019.
Faculty and staff were recognized for completing five, ten, fifteen, twenty, twenty-five, thirty, and even thirty-five years of service at Rivers. Several prizes honoring staff and faculty were announced: The Bergen-Decker Award, presented to a “member of the Rivers staff or faculty who has set an example of leadership, compassion, and selfless spirit, and who through hard work and commitment helps to make the school a better place,” went to Elena Hucko; the Mida van Zuylen Dunn Award for Teaching was given to Andrea Villagran and Andrés Méndez-Peñate; and Mary Mertsch was named to the William F. Gallagher Teaching Chair.

Attendees had the rare pleasure of seeing the John B. Jarzavek Teaching Chair change hands; this honor is given to a faculty member who holds the distinction until he or she leaves Rivers. There has only been one recipient, David Saul, since the chair was established. With Saul’s retirement last spring, an opportunity presented itself, and Ben Leeming was named the new holder of the honor. 

Following the awards for faculty and staff, the prizes for students were bestowed. Last in the program, but foremost in prestige, was the Faculty Prize, Rivers’s highest honor, which went to Keira Thompson ’22. In citing her win, Head of School Ned Parsons said, “This year’s Faculty Prize recipient is among the most accomplished scholars ever to attend Rivers. Over her upper school career, she has taken our most demanding course load each year and excelled equally across all disciplines.”

Other significant prizes for seniors were also announced. The Dudley H. Willis Trustee Prize was awarded to Sam Lyons ’22 and Lucy Ton That ’22. The Jeremiah J. Sheehan Prize went to Dan Shanley ’22. And the Hooper Lawrence Memorial Prize was won by Natalia Ramos ’22. 

There were also prizes for athletics. Top honors went to Max Poulton ’22, who received the James A. Navoni Athletic Prize for Boys, and Eleanor Todd ’22, recipient of the Priscilla Wallace Strauss Athletic Prize for Girls. Griffin Jones ’22 and Kayla Castellucci ’22 won the Independent School League Award of Excellence, and the Senior Award for Exceptional Dedication to Athletics went to Castellucci, Elizabeth Girard, Anna Miller, Britt Nawrocki, Amanda Roan, and Todd. 

Several other students also garnered awards: Abigail Matsuyasu ’23, the Harvard Club Prize; Ava Palazzolo ’23, the Thomas P. Olverson Prize; Natalie Kloman ’23, the Williams College Book Award; Lexie Siegel '23, the Brown University Alumni Book Award; Hannah Lapides ’22, the Center for Community and Civic Engagement Prize; Joylyn Kim ’24, the Johns Hopkins University Alumni Faculty Prize; and Andrew Ho ’25, the Kenneth F. Benjamin ’50 Citizenship Award. 

Departmental honors were also awarded to graduating seniors:

•    The Robert W. Rivers Prize for English, Celina Chen 
•    The Mathematics Prize, Timothy Minicozzi  and Quinn Taylor-Black
•    The Science Prize, Amanda Gary and Griffin Jones 
•    The George Woodbridge History Prize, Lucy Ton That
•    The Interdisciplinary Studies Prize, Finn McCusker 
•    The Otto Alcaide Language Prize for Spanish, Keira Thompson 
•    The Otto Alcaide Language Prize for French, Isabelle Canty  
•    The Austin A. Chute Memorial Prize, Oliver Boisvert, Lucy Ton That, and Elizabeth Girard
•    The Three-Dimensional Arts Prize (Ceramics), Natalia Ramos-Peña 
•    The Three-Dimensional Arts Prize (Sculpture), Summer Pierson 
•    The Two-Dimensional Arts Prize, Marin Broderick
•    The Photography Prize, William Elwood 
•    The Choral Music Prize, Colin Falvey ’23 and Alexander Massarotti ’23 
•    The Classical Music Prize, Adele Hartt 
•    The David Killam Instrumental Music Prize, Ian Behrstock, Frank Kasparian Weisman
•    The Nonesuch Players Prize, Anna Monaghan 

Several members of the graduating class were elected to the Cum Laude Society: Ian Behrstock, Marin Broderick, Caroline Butter, Celina Chen, Amanda Gary, Samantha Hamelsky, Adele Hartt, Griffin Jones, Meghan Kerfoot, Hannah Lapides, Samuel Lyons , Avery Mattoon, Timothy Minicozzi, Anna Monaghan, Michael Pasko, Quinn Taylor-Black, Keira Thompson, Lucy Ton That, Frank Kasparian Weisman, and Elena Zuvekas. 

It was a day to rejoice in normality and ritual, both of which have been in short supply during the pandemic era. And, as Parsons said in his opening remarks, it was a day to celebrate everyone at Rivers, and not just the prizewinners: “In honoring the students in this ceremony, we want to note that the creation of the community we seek to be requires the dedication of all of our students, faculty, and staff, and I want to congratulate every one of you for your outstanding contributions this year.”