Class of 2020 Commemorates Graduation with Outdoor Ceremony

The sun was shining down on Gill St. Bernard's School Sunday afternoon as the Class of 2020 celebrated its long-awaited Commencement. Processing to the background music of the bagpipers of St. Ann's of Hampton Pipes and Drums, seniors joined their parents on the Hillard House yard and were warmly welcomed by Head of School Sid Rowell. 

Mr. Rowell then proudly recognized the GBS Lifers and their parents. The Lifers have been attending the school since first grade or earlier and include: Morgan Champey, Pierson Chan, Kerry Colford, Erin Devine, Julia Gateman, James Hersh, Julia Hersh, Zachary Layden, Andrew Lutz, Skylar Macak, Andrew Margolis, Edward McCarthy, Rebecca Michaels, Emily Raia, V. Matthew Steinbaum, and Teresa Zimmer. 

Head of College Guidance Kerri Small then introduced student speakers noting, 'One of the unique aspects of a Gill St. Bernard's Commencement is that we give students the opportunity to reflect on their years at the school, and this year we have five students who have chosen to speak.' Those students sharing senior reflections included: Robert Brandl, Samantha Lowe, Adrian Massuet, Jennifer Ji, and Edward McCarthy.

After the students’ speeches, Dean of Faculty Irene Mortensen and Upper School Division Director Dr. Joel Coleman recognized this year’s award and prize recipients, including:

 Luke Mariak - FRANCES B. ROHN MEMORIAL AWARD - Named for a highly respected teacher of mathematics for many years at The Gill School and is given to the student who achieved the highest four-year average in mathematics.

 - Allie Zhao - CAROL J. HEANEY MEMORIAL AWARD - Given in memory of Carol J. Heaney, a treasured science teacher for many years at GSB, this award recognizes that student who demonstrated intellectual curiosity, outstanding academic achievement, and superior promise in the study of science throughout his or her high school years.

 - Adrian Massuet - HISTORY DEPARTMENT AWARD - The award is a book prize presented annually to the senior as having done the most outstanding work in history.

 - Caroline Grant - PEAPACK GLADSTONE BANK AWARD - Provided by Peapack Gladstone Bank and awarded to the senior with the highest four-year average in English.

 - Caroline Grant - PATRICIA LEE GAUCH AWARD FOR CREATIVE WRITING - Presented to that senior whose inventive voice, artful storytelling, and disciplined work contribute to the literary life of Gill St. Bernard's School. Established in 2014, and endowed by former students and colleagues, the Patricia Lee Gauch Award annually recognizes Patti Gauch, a cherished English teacher at Gill during the 1970s, by celebrating her joyful embrace of life and learning.

 - Robert Brandl  - WORLD LANGUAGE DEPARTMENT AWARD – A book prize presented to the senior with the highest four-year average in either French, Spanish or Latin.

 - Theodore ‘Teddy’ Lazar - COMPUTER SCIENCE AWARD - Awarded each year to a senior who demonstrated interest, aptitude, and exemplary achievement in computer science throughout his/her years at Gill St. Bernard’s School. He/she excelled in computer programming, computer-aided design, or both.

 Miranda (Mars) Braemer - GERRY CIRILLO PRIZE IN THE FINE ARTS - Initiated by alumni from the late 1970s, this prize was established in 2017 to honor and recognize Gerry Cirillo, who spent nearly 40 years at GSB as an art teacher, many of those as Chair of the Fine Arts Department. He also served as Director of Admission and Dean of Students and coach. The prize is given to the most outstanding senior based on participation in the Fine Arts program and the quality of work over a four-year period.

 - V. Matthew Steinbaum - LISA SCHMIDT MUSIC AWARD - Established by Lisa Schmidt of the Class of 1974, this award is given to a senior in recognition of his or her musical talent and contributions, and to inspire growth and participation in the field of music.

 Emily Raia - JOYCE CREASEY MEMORIAL AWARD - Given to the senior female athlete whose ability, leadership, sportsmanship, and team loyalty distinguished her and contributed the most to our athletic program.

 Zachary Martini - HAROLD D. NICHOLLS MEMORIAL AWARD - Presented to the outstanding senior male athlete, in memory of Harold D. Nicholls: teacher, coach, Senior Master, and Headmaster from 1917 to 1957 ('A good friend and wise counselor to generations of boys at St. Bernard's'). 

Lexi Yates - BENNETT SERVICE AWARD - Given in memory of Caryl and J. Gordon Bennett, the award was established by the Gill School Parents Committee to honor the student who best demonstrates, through active community service, the school's concern, and consideration for others. 

Rebecca Michaels - SUSAN H. STOVER AWARD - Beginning with the Class of 2003, this award honors Susan H. Stover, who served for many years as Director of Development at the school. It is presented annually to the senior who demonstrates the highest level of service and loyalty to Gill St. Bernard's.

 - Eleanor Gustafson - LINDABURY SENIOR HONOR As part of the senior gift to the school, the Class of 2007 established this award. It encourages future seniors in understanding the importance of community as part of GSB's core values. Emphasis is on mentoring and always treating everyone with respect. The prize is awarded to the senior who made an outstanding effort to positively affect the experiences of underclassmen, working hard to be a person of inclusion, demonstrating compassion and thoughtfulness, and acting as a role model and leader. This recipient is a senior who exemplifies the characteristics that underclassmen seek to emulate. 

Kerry Colford - CAPORUSSO/DeLUCA AWARD Established by two graduates of the Class of 1996 to honor a member of the senior class who provided distinctive leadership to both the class and school during his/her years as an Upper School student in extracurricular activities.
Adrian Massuet - JULIAN T. BROWN CUP - A St. Bernard's tradition, the cup has been awarded annually since 1913. It is the highest honor that may be attained by a young man at GSB. This student is chosen from the graduating class based on his character throughout his years at the school. He worked for the good of the school, showed thoughtfulness and consideration, and maintained his integrity. It is this student more than any other who exemplifies the characteristics of faith, honor, and consideration. 
Teresa Zimmer - ELIZABETH GILL AWARD - This is the highest honor that may be attained by a young woman at GSB. This student is chosen from the graduating class based on her character throughout her years at the school. She worked for the good of the school, showed thoughtfulness and consideration, and maintained her integrity. It is this student, more than any other, who exemplifies the characteristics of faith, honor, and consideration.
 - Adrian Massuet and Allison Zhao - JEAN LOIZEAUX AWARD - Named for Jean Loizeaux, a beloved and influential teacher at GSB for 45 years, this award is given to the senior who earned the top academic record. This year the award goes to two students who earned equivalent scores.
Dean of Student Life David Pasquale then recognized members of the Honor Board noting that, 'To support the Gill St. Bernard's Honor System and the core values inherent to it, a student-faculty Honor Board was established in the Upper School. This group makes a commitment to promoting honor and integrity throughout our community and helps to evaluate cases of student misconduct. Five seniors are selected each year to serve in what is considered one of the most important student-leadership positions at the school.' Mr. Pasquale identified these students for their outstanding service: Robert Brandl, Julia Hersh, Emma Lipkin, Rebecca Michaels, and Anoushka Thakur.
Dr. Coleman then shared the history of the Cum Laude Society, which was founded in 1906, and recognizes excellence, justice, and honor in secondary schools. He noted, 'An association of 382 chapters worldwide, membership within Cum Laude is granted to those students who rank among the top 20 percent of their graduating class.' Dr. Coleman introduced the eighteen seniors who were inducted into GSB Cum Laude chapter, including: Robert Brandl, Kerry Colford, Luca DelVescovo, Eleanor Gustafson, Julia Hersh, Nicholas Kovalenko, Theodore Lazar, Emma Lipkin, Luke Mariak, Adrian Massuet, Edward McCarthy, Rebecca Michaels, Karoline Nerone, Evan Portnoi, Emily Raia, Madeleine Trezza, Allison Zhao, and Teresa Zimmer.
Returning to the podium, Head of School Sid Rowell announced that, 'In 1991, a group of St. Bernard's School Alums decided to establish an award to honor outstanding teachers at Gill St. Bernard's School. They did so because they understood the profound impact that a good teacher can have on a student, and also because they were grateful for the wonderful teachers they had when they were students at the school. The result was the St. Bernard's Chair of Excellence in Teaching. In addition to an engraved school chair, the recipient receives a medal and a small stipend.' Mr. Rowell announced that this year the Gill St. Bernard’s Chair of Excellence is awarded to accomplished and beloved science teacher, STREAMS Director and, for the first time in the school’s history, to a GSB alumna, Noreen Syed '10.
As Dr. Coleman asked the Class of 2020 to stand, he announced the names of all the graduation candidates to Board of Trustees Chair Mr. Doug Matthews. Upon the reading of the 88 names, Mr. Matthews officially certified the class stating: 'By the authority vested in me as Chair of the Board of Trustees of Gill St. Bernard's School, and on behalf of its trustees and faculty, I declare you bona fide graduates of the school and entitled to all its rights and privileges thereunto appertaining. The diploma you received is evidence of our actions.'
The ceremony concluded with Mr. Rowell inviting everyone to stand for the playing of the Gill St. Bernard's Alma Mater, and with hearty congratulations, the students were accompanied by the bagpipers as they proudly and joyfully processed from the grounds together.
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