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Sixth Form Awards Assembly Honors Graduating Class in Their Final Week as Canterbury Students

Kelly Slonaker

Members of the Class of 2020 were honored and presented with awards during a virtual assembly on the evening of May 19. As with the Underform Awards Assembly earlier in the week, the ceremony was livestreamed for faculty, family members, and friends, while Sixth Formers were present via Zoom to accept their awards.

The assembly opened with a prayer from Tracy Garcia-LaVigne, Director of the Center for Spirituality, Service & Justice, followed by opening remarks from Head of School Rachel Stone. Rachel noted, “Collectively, you have embraced your experiences here and developed self-awareness, discipline, and confidence along the way. That learning curve never ends; you will face it again next fall as a new round of challenges arrives. But you are ready. You know yourselves as students; you know that persistence counts just as much as intelligence — if not more — and you know that seeking help is a strength, not a weakness. The faculty and I thank and congratulate you for your good work and the impact you have made, and will leave, on our community.”

Preceding the first awards, Assistant Head of School for Student Life Peter LaVigne recognized all members of the class who had held leadership positions over the course of their final year, including Sacristans, Sixth Form Council members, and proctors. Class of 2020 members of the Canterbury Honor Society — Sabrina Capodicci, Jillian Carleton, Brigida Caruso, Isabella Cotier, Gabriel Diamond, Alexa Esposito, Xing Gao, Ryan Greguski, Katherine Grissmer, Yongkyung Jo, Grace LaVigne, Abigail Omaña, Cecilia Poli, Erik Stedman, Yitian Sun, Cadence Trach, Yiqi Wang, Jiayi Wu, Diqing Xu, and Wensi Yang — were also recognized individually for their hard work and academic accomplishments, and were addressed by 2019 J.P. Mandler Teaching Award recipient Cammy Roffe.

Athletic Director Jim Stone began the award presentation with athletic awards in several categories. Emma Gambardella, Grace LaVigne, Gabriel Diamond, and Justin Schneider received the Most Improved Athlete Awards. Cecilia Poli and Trayvon Alexander received the Best Leadership Awards for serving as captains on the league champion Girls’ Varsity Soccer and Boys’ Varsity Basketball teams, respectively. Victoria Congdon, Megan LeBlanc, and Jack McCluskey were presented with the Best All-Around Athlete Awards for their skills and dedication to multiple varsity-level sports.

Dean of Faculty Wright Danenbarger then presented the Edward F. Mack Awards to members of the class for their contributions to particular areas of school life. For Outstanding Contributions to The Tabard, Nicholas Vial received the award; for Outstanding Contributions to Community Service, Erin Sudbey; for Outstanding Contributions to the Cantuarian, Jillian Lanese; for Outstanding Contributions to the Women of Canterbury, MaryBridget Horvath; for Outstanding Contributions to the Sustainability Club, Maeve O’Donnell; for Outstanding Contributions to Theatre for Performance in a Female Role, Abigail Omaña and Chiara Vaccaro; for Outstanding Contributions to Theatre for Performance in a Male Role, Ryan Greguski and Nicholas Vial; for Outstanding Contributions to Theatre for Technical Theatre, Jillian Carleton, MaryBridget Horvath, and Erik Stedman; for Outstanding Service as a Proctor, MaryBridget Horvath, Cecilia Poli, Justin Schneider, Yitian Sun, and Jiayi Wu; for Outstanding Service as an Admission Ambassador, Grace LaVigne and Andrew Mancini; for Outstanding Contributions as a Sacristan, Abigail Omaña; and for Outstanding Contributions in Student Government, the members of the Sixth Form Council: Sabrina Capodicci, Brigida Caruso, Griffin Duffy, Griffin Fillios, Jack Mccluskey, Venessa Okoroanyanwu, Abigail Omaña, and Jackson Zavatsky.

The award presentations continued with academic honors given to Sixth Formers for specific areas of study. The Edward J. Duffy Family Award for excellence in the study of Studio Art, given in memory of Mr. Duffy by his children, was presented to Shannon Gao.

The Francis T. Carmody ’25 Award for creative talent in art — given in memory of Trustee Francis Carmody, son of founding Trustee, Terence Carmody — was presented to Alexa Esposito and Diqing Xu.

The Stephen N. ’43 And Lacey Hume Award — given in memory of Trustee Emeritus and son of the founding Headmaster, Stephen N. ’43 and his wife, Lacey — was presented to Chiara Vaccaro for excellence in the study of vocal performance, and to Qiyuan Wang for excellence in the study of contemporary music. 

The Frederick L. Gilson ’50 Award for excellence in classical music performance was presented to Katherine Grissmer.

The John Thomas Smith Award for excellence in the study of English — given in memory of John Thomas Smith, benefactor of the School and parent — was presented to Abigail Omaña.

The English Essay Award, presented to the author of the best critical essay written for the annual Sixth Form English essay assignment, was given to Gabriel Diamond and Xing Gao.

The Francis T. Carmody ’25 Prize Awards were presented to William McMullan for creative talent in prose, and to Charles Dyer and Xing Gao for creative talent in poetry.     

The Allan A. Ryan Award for excellence in the study of History — given in memory of Mr. Ryan, a founding Trustee and parent — was presented to Sabrina Capodicci and Jiayi Wu.

The Weldon R. Knox Award, established by the Class of 1971 in memory of Mr. Knox, who taught math from 1960 to 1975, was presented to Kasey Sarmiento. The award is given to that student who has demonstrated the greatest improvement in the study of mathematics while at Canterbury. 

The James A. Farrell Award for excellence in the study of mathematics — given in memory of Mr. Farrell, a founding Trustee and benefactor of the School was presented to Jiayi Wu.

The Hubert McDonnell Award for excellence in the study of theology — given in memory of Mr. McDonnell, a Trustee from 1938-1950 and parent — was presented to Sabrina Capodicci and Erin Sudbey.
             
The Canterbury Art Legacy Award, to recognize the accomplishments of advanced art students by including their work into the permanent art collection at Canterbury, was presented to Alexa Esposito.

The Terence F. Carmody Award — given in memory of founding Trustee, Terence F. Carmody — was presented to Erin Sudbey for excellence in the study of Spanish, and to Alexa Esposito and Abigail Omaña for excellence in the study of French.

The Captain Thomas J. Sartor Award for excellence in the study of science — given in memory of Captain Sartor from the Class of 1919, benefactor of the School and parent — was presented to Erik Stedman.

The final honor, the Roderick Clarke ’46 Distinguished Academic Achievement Award, given by the Class of 1956 in memory of Mr. Clarke, who served Canterbury from 1954 to 1990 as history teacher, Director of Studies, College Counselor, and as Canterbury’s Headmaster for his last twelve years, was awarded to the student with the highest GPA. Rachel Stone presented the award to this year’s recipient, and Class of 2020 Valedictorian, Sabrina Capodicci.

Sixth Form Council member Jackson Zavatsky then addressed his classmates via video: “Over the past few weeks, I have realized that my disappointment [in not being able to return to campus] is a demonstration of one thing, and one thing only: the bonds we’ve created with each other are unmatched. The friendships that were formed here are invaluable and will last a lifetime. The love that radiates from this campus, in large part, comes from this class; it comes from this vibrant group of seniors, of which I am so lucky to be a part. [...] We will be a part of history; we will help change the course of education, technology, and traditions. We will know how to stand tall even when life tries to push us down, and we will continue to extend love to one another. We have learned resilience in the face of defeat, heartache, and pain. This is the Canterbury Saint way. This is what our class — the Class of 2020 — is all about.” 

Rachel Stone closed the assembly by thanking the Sixth Form Council for their remarkable leadership throughout the year, and with remarks for the entire graduating class: “In four quick days, we will celebrate the class of 2020 — our 103rd graduating class — and all that you have done to earn a Canterbury diploma. Don’t forget to make time this week to laugh with your friends, to thank those who have made this journey both possible and successful, to soak in the breadth and depth of your accomplishments, and to think back to your first days and weeks on our hilltop.”

The assembly concluded with a performance of “Stand By Me” by the Contemporary Music Band, and performances of “You Will Be Found” and the School song “Cantuaria Floreat” by Varsity Voices.

Livestream Recording

Key Speakers and Music Performances

Photos