SAXTONS RIVER -- Vermont Academy held commencement exercises for the Class of 2014 on May 24. In a glorious display of cooperating weather, over 700 students, faculty, family members, and guests gathered on South Lawn to honor 68 graduating seniors and postgraduate students.
Head of School, Sean P. Brennan, gave a motivating address on the importance of resilience, and Chairman of the Vermont Academy Board of Trustees, Michael A. Choukas ‘73, P ‘94, reminded graduates that the best is yet to come as they take their experiences at Vermont Academy into the world. Several students also spoke at the ceremony, each speech funny, humble, and thankful to the teachers, coaches, administrators, and fellow students who touched their lives and hearts at VA. Mostly though, they thanked their parents for the opportunity and their unwavering love and support.
Rachel Therrien of Alstead, N.H., was honored as VA’s 2014 Valedictorian. Jack Leyland of Paris, France, was honored as Salutatorian.
During the ceremony, several graduates received special awards. The Robinson Prize: Oran Horn, Kahnawake, Quebec; The Grant V. Frazer Award: Meng Sun, Shanghai; The Larry Smith Award: Rachel Therrien; The Charles Jackson Award: George Brown, Darien, Conn.; The Ford Improvement Award: Charles Anderson, New Canaan, Conn.; The Bernice B. and Olin D. Gay Award: Leslie Botey, Paterson, N.J.; The Robert L. Long Leadership Award: Molly Brennan, Saxtons River; The Shanaman Cup: Brian Allen, Brookfield, Conn.
Bob Harrington, who is retiring from Vermont Academy after 45 years of service, closed with a touching benediction, based on words by Andrew Pakula:
"As you prepare to leave this special place, pack away a piece of this Academy in your heart. Wrap it carefully like a precious gem. Carry it with you through the joys and sorrows of your days. Let its gentle glow strengthen you, warm you, remind you of all that is good and true, until you gather here again in this place of love."
During the ceremony, Harrington was bestowed with VA’s highest faculty honor, The Condict Cup.