Year-End Celebrations 2020
Senior drive-thru Celebration, Commencement exercises & fireworks show
Shady Side Academy celebrated the 94 members of the Class of 2020 at the Senior Drive-Thru Celebration on Friday, May 29, 2020, the original date of Senior School Commencement Exercises. Graduates and their families drove around the main quad in decorated cars while teachers lined the sidewalks holding signs and cheering, with stops along the way to receive gifts and take socially distant photos with Senior School Head Sophie Lau. While SSA had hoped to hold its traditional in-person commencement ceremony on Friday, July 31, COVID-19 gathering limits on that date prohibited such an event. Instead, a unique drive-in commencement exercises and fireworks show was held on the lower athletic fields on Thursday evening, July 30, sending off the Class of 2020 with a bang - literally! Congratulations to the Class of 2020!
Bill Avner Creative Writing Prize
Guy Patterson and Eliyah Roberts
English Department Achievement Award
Nicholas Brastins Barnes Memorial World Language Prize
George Byron Waldrop Latin Prize
Josiah L. Goldsmith Prize (French)
Peacock Chinese Prize
M.A. Cancelliere Economics Prize
Joseph P. Pavlovich Mathematics Achievement Prize
Merle M. Alexander Prize (Science)
Miller Award (Science)
Juliana Bem, Yuchen Liang and Daniel Xu
George Baton Scheetz History Prize
Alison Linares Mendoza
Sauers Prize in History
William C. Nealon Award
Daniel Xu and Sara Yossef
National School Orchestra Award
Eliyah Roberts and Molly Skvorak
National School Choral Award
Maxwell Minard and Isabella Salvucci
John Philip Sousa Band Award
Yuchen Liang and Sanjna Narayan
Louis Armstrong Jazz Award
E. Bruce Hill Jr. Memorial Prize
Gargoyle Club Award
Special Gargoyle Award
Todd Drelles Memorial Prize
Roy Arthur Hunt Sr. Computer Science Award
Twelve Season Varsity Letter
Raphael M. Sotak Honors
Form VI – Reshub Bahri, Aniket Kumta, Alison Linares Mendoza, Scout Spong and Mason Tomlin
McCollum Jones Boarder Prizes
Andrew Fergus (Croft House) and Rose Genstein (Morewood House)
2019 Parkin Fellow Awards
Sara Burr, Selah Curran-Blakeley, Nicole Caputo, Alison Linares Mendoza, Scout Spong and Xinran (Nancy) Wang
Centennial Class Award
Walter Martin Lester Memorial Award
Joseph Bole Hare Steffey Memorial Award
Edward Ernest Ebbert Memorial Award
Lowell Innes Award
Middle School Closing Exercises
The Class of 2024 was officially promoted to the Senior School on Wednesday, June 3, 2020, at the Middle School Closing Exercises and Drive-Thru Celebration. Eighth graders and their families began the day by watching the virtual Closing Exercises ceremony video, featuring remarks from school leaders, eighth grade awards and Form II student speakers Jack Engel and Abril Linares Mendoza (see video below). Then graduates and their families drove to the Middle School campus for a drive-thru graduation celebration. The parade of cars made its way up the campus drive as the Middle School faculty cheered the eighth graders along the way. At the top of the hill, the graduates stopped to receive their certificates and awards from School Head Amy Nixon and to have some photos taken.
Congratulations to the Class of 2024 and their families!
Willard E. Mead English Award
Charles P. Shriver Mathematics Award
Robert B. Stiffler Athletic Award
Girls – Paulina Johnson
Boys – Edward DeBruce, III
Betsy H. Watkins Form II Improvement Award
E. Bruce Hill Memorial Award
Abril Linares Mendoza
David A. Mancosh Award
Form II Art Award
Form II Computer Literacy Award
Form II Latin Award
Form II Latin Improvement Award
Form II Socratic Seminar Award
Form II Mathematics Achievement Award
Algebra I – Alexa Karet
Geometry – Harihar Viswanathan
Chorus – Marley Grandizio and Amir Awais
String Ensemble – Sadie Navid
Band – Abril Linares Mendoza
Jazz Band – Otis Liu
Form II Physics 1 Science Award
Form II Social Studies Award
Form II Spanish Award
Form II Spanish Improvement Award
Form II Chinese Award
Form II Chinese Improvement Award
Form II Fall Drama Awards
Actress – Elliott Scheri
Actor – Deven Nahata
Form II Winter Musical Awards
Actress – Kayla Zhu
Actor – John Engel
Form II Dramatics Club Achievement Award
Junior School Closing Exercises
The 33 members of the Junior School's fifth grade class were officially promoted to the Middle School with a virtual Closing Exercises & Moving-Up Day ceremony and a drive-thru celebration on Tuesday, June 2, 2020. After watching a special closing exercises video in the morning, fifth graders and their families gathered on the Junior School field in their cars, then drove around the traffic circle lined with cheering teachers, making a few stops to take photos and receive graduation certificates and gifts from Interim School Head Dr. Peter Mathis.
Congratulations to the Class of 2027 and their families!
COUNTRY DAY School Closing Exercises
The 17 members of Country Day School's fifth grade class were officially promoted to the Middle School with a virtual Closing Exercises ceremony and a drive-thru celebration on Monday, June 1, 2020. The day began with a Zoom virtual gathering, featuring fifth grade videos and presentations from the faculty. Then graduates and their families drove around the Country Day School campus, waving to cheering teachers along the way. Families made a few stops to take photos and receive gifts and graduation certificates from School Head Dr. Jennifer Asmonga – and of course, to hear Mrs. Fire sing!
Congratulations to the Class of 2027 and their families!
Faculty & Staff Awards and Honors
A number of awards are presented annually during Closing Days to recognize excellence, dedication and service by SSA faculty and staff.
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 30 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.”
Pam Boehm, Senior School History Teacher
Pam Boehm joined the Senior School history faculty in 2014. Known for her kind, calm and open-minded nature, she is willing to tackle tough topics and encourages her students to do the same. Boehm currently serves head advisor of the Morewood House girls’ dormitory and advises the Diversity Leadership Council (DLC).
“Ms. Boehm is a multi-talented person who has made a big impact on my life,” said one of her former students. “As a member of the DLC, I witnessed fi rsthand her passion for social justice and diversity. She encourages all of her students to be accepting of others, regardless of their diff erences. She truly changed my life.”
A parent wrote, “She made an indelible impact on the high school educational experience of our son at Shady Side Academy – through her mentoring and thoughtful direction, through her passion and caring, through her deeply-rooted support of our son through thick and thin. I cannot think of a more dedicated and deserving teacher than Ms. Boehm.”
Camille MacRae, Middle School English Teacher
Camille MacRae joined the Middle School English faculty in 2014. Known for her passionate approach to teaching and unique classroom décor, MacRae is credited with helping students step out of their comfort zone and explore new ideas. Whether she is reciting Shakespeare in the classroom or encouraging students to take the stage for a Middle School drama production (for which she serves as director), MacRae has proved time and time again to be an extremely valuable member of the Middle School faculty.
“I wish I had space to tell you all about the emails, notes, and talks; the advisory group discussions and Socratic seminars; the family/student conferences – the precious time that she spends with her students and their families,” said one parent.
“She is an invaluable treasure, and she has changed my son’s life for good, forever.”
Another parent wrote, “She has turned her classroom into a setting within which all her students are lovingly encouraged to express themselves in ways personal, varied and compelling. She inspired in our child perspective and principle, empathy and passion, and we will be ever grateful.”
Michael J. Farrell Chair for Support of Faculty Compensation and Professional Growth
This endowed chair funds seven annual awards for outstanding faculty. This year’s Exceptional Interactions With Students Awards went to Middle School Mathematics Teacher John Curry and Junior School Senior Pre-Kindergarten Teacher Melissa Petitto-Kenny. Going Above and Beyond Awards went to Country Day School Kindergarten Teacher Kendal Broderick, Middle School English Teacher Lauren Cannon, Junior School Music Teacher Emily Fields and Senior School History Teacher Tara O'Brien. The Innovative Educator Award went to Senior School Science Teacher Gregory Weiss.
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 Mathematics Teacher Elizabeth Vuchinich '12.
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 World Languages Teacher Mandy Fong.
Ruth and F. Walter Jones Service Prize
This prize is awarded 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 winner was Technology Integration Specialist Jody Kokladas.
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 winner was Country Day School Head Custodian Mark Smith.
25 Years of Service
Two employees were recognized for reaching 25 years of service to the Academy:
Junior School Fourth Grade Teacher
Director of Admission at the Junior School
Nine faculty/staff members retired in 2020 after a combined 257 years of service to the Academy:
Scott Aiken '79
Senior School Art Teacher, 1987-2020 (33 years)
Senior School Math Teacher, 1998-2020 (22 years)
Middle School Art Teacher, 1979-2020 (41 years)
Middle School Health & PE Teacher, 1978-2020 (42years)
Campus Security Guard, 1993-2020 (27 years)
Junior School Head Custodian, 1988-2020 (32 years)
Middle School Science Teacher, 1984-2020 (36 years)
Chief Financial Officer, 2014-2020 (6 years)
Facilities Staff, 2002-2020 (18 years)