Today we enjoyed a wonderful awards assembly to honor recipients of three awards: The Drew Nealley Walkers’ Club Award, the Daniel Benner Memorial Award, and the Theolyn Wilson Music award.
The Drew Nealley Walkers’ Club Award, given in memory of former Grace student Drew Nealley, is awarded to the student who has logged the most walking miles during recess. Students in all grades are eligible for this award. Drew’s parents Eric and Sarah Nealley were on hand to present the award, which this year went to a student in — wait for it — Grade 1, Sanjana Jacob! I think even Sanjana was surprised by her own dedicated walking.
The Theolyn Wilson Outstanding Student in Music Award is presented to a Grade 5 student who has had a solo in a major performance, has consistently demonstrated exemplary conduct in music class, and has developed excellent performance skills in singing and/or playing an instrument.
Ms. Wilson was at the ceremony with us and was delighted to present the award to this year’s winner, Grade 5 student Cameron Hagans. As Ms. Danish said, “In discussing this year’s recipient of the Wilson Award, the faculty cited the honoree’s beautiful voice but more than that this musician’s embodiment of the joy of music. Our honoree is always dancing and singing through life!”
We were lucky enough to be joined by a few Grace alumnae who are past winners of the Theolyn Wilson Music Award, Lourdes Fitzgerald (2012) and Carolyn Hoff (2015). It was great to have them back on campus and to hear about their continued adventures in music!
The Daniel Benner Memorial Award is given to a student in Grade 5 who has participated on a Grace sports team and has exhibited scholarship, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Daniel’s mother, Dr. Gurny, joined us to present the award this year to co-recepients in Grade 5: Nevan Brundage and Danielle Foster. As Ms. Danish noted, “One is a kind and gentle friend with a strong work ethic and excellent sportsmanship. The other is a kind of “mayor” of the class – a student who serves as an anchor and a leader in Grade 5.”
Congratulations to all award winners, and thanks to all of the Friends of Grace who joined us for today’s presentation.
Below are some excerpts from Head of School Jen Danish’s presentation:
“Good morning Grace students, parents, faculty, former Grace students and parents, and distinguished guests. We are delighted to have you with us today. As we draw closer to the end of another school year, we have much to reflect on and celebrate. Let me take this opportunity to thank all of you for making this first year for me such a special one. In many ways, I feel like I have been here much longer than 11 months – mostly because this community is so very warm and welcoming. I am prouder than ever to be a Grace Gryphon and I enjoy each day that we get to spend together. Again, thank you to all of you for welcoming and supporting me as your new Head of School.
We are here today to offer awards to a few deserving students – recognizing values they possess like teamwork, sportsmanship, scholarship and musicianship. We offer these awards to students in our school now with a look back to the students and faculty that these awards are named for who have come before us. Gathering annually for this assembly gives us an opportunity to recognize good works in our community and also remember that we are a part of something larger than ourselves. We are connected to a Grace family that includes the memories and contributions of past students Drew Nealley and Daniel Benner and music teacher, Theolyn Wilson. We are all a part of the tapestry that is Grace and when we leave this place, our contributions, large and small, will have impacts many years after we have left. So as we offer these awards today, let us all remember that we all have much to give to each other and to Grace.
Ms. Danish also shared with us a wonderful prayer written just for occasions such as these!
“Holy God, Holy and Mighty, Holy Immortal One, we meet to honor those among us who have distinguished themselves in various ways. We also honor all of those who have aided in that effort by friendship, sharing of ideas, encouragement, and team spirit. Above all, we bless you who created a world in which such insight, leadership, and hard work are possible. Help those of us who are on the sidelines at this moment not to be so envious that we don’t use it as a time to figure out what draws out the best in us. Help us to be with those whom we honor so that they don’t confuse themselves with notions of superiority in areas other than those for which they are rewarded. Help us to liberate everyone to do as well as we can, and with your help to achieve with integrity and peace. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ who distinguished himself in speaking and living for justice and love. Amen.”