Commencement Week 2017
Senior School Commencement
Shady Side Academy celebrated the 125 members of the Class of 2017 at Senior School Commencement Exercises on June 9, 2017. Bagpiper George Balderose led the processional of graduates, playing The March of the King of Laois. The Chamber Choir, directed by Dr. Dan Brill, sang You Are The New Day, and Rev. Thomas E. Johnson Jr. '73 gave the invocation. SSA President Tom Cangiano presented the Posner Award for Meritorious Faculty Performance to English teacher Buddy Hendershot and math teacher Sue Whitney. Alumni Council President Roland Criswell '95 welcomed graduates to the ranks of SSA alumni. Senior Kirf Olander announced the class gift, three benches for the courtyard outside the new McIlroy Center for Science and Innovation. AnnaElaine Rosengart gave the Senior Speech, reflecting on the realizations of senior year. She reminded her classmates that they do not know what the future holds but they should "live their lives wide open" (see video below). School Head Sophie Lau addressed the graduating class, reminding them to share gratitude. Saleem Ghubril, executive director of The Pittsburgh Promise, gave the graduation address and encouraged the Class of 2017 to make their lives count. After a musical interlude of Somewhere Over the Rainbow by the Jazz Combo, graduates received their diplomas. Congratulations to the Class of 2017 and their families!
Middle School Closing Exercises
The SSA Class of 2021 was officially promoted to the Senior School on Thursday, June 8, 2017, at Middle School Closing Exercises. The 66 Form II students processed into the McKnight Hockey Center to Pomp and Circumstance, played by the Seventh Grade Concert Band, followed by performances of The Star Spangled Banner and Black Forest Overture. After a welcome from President Tom Cangiano, a number of awards were presented by School Head Amy Nixon to students and faculty, and the Eighth Grade Chorus and String Ensemble performed In My Life and See You Again. Amy Katz, Middle School learning specialist received the Raymond Vasco Award. The Form II Class Gift Committee presented SSA with funding for new materials and tables for the garden and outdoor classroom space to be used by the new eighth grade environmental science course. Form II student speaker Charlotte McDaniel reflected on the true meaning of family: beyond DNA, family is something you create with people you trust, love, respect and have fun with. Senior School Head Sophie Lau officially welcomed the class to the Senior School, encouraging them to make the best of all of the opportunities it has to offer, and then graduates received their certificates.
Congratulations to the Class of 2021 and their families!
Junior School Moving-Up Day and Closing Exercises
Students in grades PK-5 celebrated the end of the year and fifth grade graduation at Junior School Moving-Up Day and Closing Exercises on June 6, 2017. The 35 members of the Class of 2024 processed to Pomp & Circumstance, and President Tom Cangiano welcomed everyone. School Head Ellen McConnell presented the Follansbee, Thompson and Kurtz gifts from the faculty. The fifth grade chorus sang It's Time before presenting their precepts, or life lessons, they wrote after reading the book Wonder, and McConnell commented how the fifth graders had blossomed as leaders over the school year. After graduates received their certificates, Middle School Head Amy Nixon welcomed them to sixth grade.
Students in grades PK-5 sang On the Loose together and enjoyed a slideshow and video highlighting the 2016-2017 school year. The fifth graders passed their medallions down to the fourth graders, signaling their new leadership at the Junior School, then the entire student body sang the Moving-Up Song. The ceremony ended as graduates walked past the faculty, receiving many hugs along the way, followed by a reception on the playground.
Congratulations to the Class of 2024 and their families!
The Posner Award for Meritorious Faculty Performance
Thanks to the generosity of the late Henry Posner Jr. ’37 and the Posner family, the Academy has extended The Posner Award for Meritorious Faculty Performance to 26 faculty members since 2004. The purpose of the Posner Award is “to recognize, inspire and reward those faculty members at Shady Side Academy who, through their special ‘gift of teaching’ and mentoring, have affected, in a highly special way, the learning, development and lives of one or more individual students. This award, presuming as it does a high quality of teaching in all Shady Side faculty, recognizes and honors a teacher of transcendent influence, one whose impact on a particular student or group of students has been uniquely beneficial and enduring.” Nominations are submitted by SSA students, parents, alumni and administrators. Recipients are presented with the awards during Commencement Week.
Harold "Buddy" Hendershot
Senior School English Teacher
Buddy Hendershot has taught English at Shady Side Academy for 44 years and is embarking now on his well-earned retirement. When describing him, students and alumni invariably cite his unwavering commitment to the betterment of his students, both in and out of the classroom. They speak of him not only as an excellent teacher, but an outstanding mentor in the realm of personal development. And of course, no alum who has experienced it fails to mention the impact of his “Nature Writing” class.
Susan Belknap Whitney
Senior School Math Teacher
Sue Whitney is admired by students and colleagues alike for her kindness. She is known as someone whom any student can ask for help, on any topic, at any time, no matter whether you have her in class or not. She cares as deeply about the heart of every student she meets as she does about that student’s mind, and that level of passion shows in everything she does. She has taught at Shady Side Academy for 26 years.
Faculty & Staff Awards
A number of awards are presented annually during Commencement Week to recognize excellence, dedication and service by SSA faculty and staff.
The Ruth and F. Walter Jones Service Prize
This prize is awarded in honor of the late Mr. and Mrs, Jones to a member of the SSA community who, by willing and selfless service, has contributed to the quality of the Academy and enriched it by example. This year’s recipient was Maggie Marquette, who has been at the Junior School for 22 years, serving as its director of admission since 2007.
The Michel J. Farrell Chair for Support of Faculty Compensation and Professional Growth in Honor of Thomas N. Southard, President (2001-2010)
This endowed chair funds seven annual awards for outstanding faculty. This year’s Going Above and Beyond Awards went to Senior School librarian Lindsey Myers and Senior School counselor Creighton Runnette; Innovative Educator Awards went to Middle School computer teacher Tim McGuigan and Junior School third grade teacher Dan Stern; and Exceptional Interactions With Students Awards went to Junior School second grade teacher Kristin Litster, Senior School computer science teacher Dave Szlachetka and Middle School math teacher David Vadnais.
The Class of ’61 Faculty Award for Excellence
This award, established in 2011 in honor of the Class of 1961’s 50th reunion, recognizes an exemplary and dedicated Senior School teacher in his or her first or second year who shows the promise of an extended career and has made significant contributions to students and colleagues. This year's winner was Senior School science teacher Kelly VandenBosche.
The Kenneth M. Raymond Vasko Memorial Award
This award is presented annually to a Middle School teacher who has made a lasting impression upon his or her students by helping to develop their characters as well as their minds. This year's winner was Middle School learning specialist Amy Katz.
The President’s Award for Distinguished Staff Service
This is awarded to an individual who has exemplified the heights of excellence on a day-to-day basis through their actions, job performance, work ethic and positive relationships with colleagues. This year’s recipient was Dale Thompson, a member of the Senior School maintenance staff.
25 Years of Service AwardsAwards recognizing 25 years of service to the Academy went to Senior School science teacher John Landreth and Junior School computer teacher Karen Sandora.
Two members of the SSA faculty retired in 2017 after teaching for a combined 60 years. Retirees were honored at the Faculty/Staff Closing Days Celebration on June 13.
Harold "Buddy" Hendershot
Senior School English Teacher, 44 years
Buddy Hendershot started at Shady Side in 1973, and in 1974 he was hired to teach English and Spanish and coach soccer and track. He has taught a range of courses including Comparative Religion, The Romantic Experience, Introduction to Psychology, Nature Writing and Photography. He also began the girls soccer program.
Dave HavernSenior School Assistant Athletic Director and Head Football Coach, 16 years
Dave Havern joined the SSA Alumni & Development Office in 2001 to assist with the capital campaign. A former quarterback at the University of Pittsburgh, he was named SSA's head football coach in 2004 and has since led the team to multiple conference championships.