GCDS News - Magazine

Congratulations, Class of 2021! This is Your Moment

“At this school, we learned that our voices matter and that they have a place in academic conversations and in the broader world,” said senior class speaker and student body president Sam Weiner during the school’s 94th commencement ceremony on May 21. Sam, along with 13 other senior classmates, graduated during a joyful, in-person ceremony surrounded by family and faculty members. This is the school’s second high school graduation since it opened in 2019.

“The sense of community is what so many of us love about GCDS, and teachers are at the heart of that,” said Sam as he thanked the faculty. “Thanks for teaching us that ideas can become reality, that community really matters, and for showing us how to be leaders.”

Sam also thanked the school administration for their commitment to the senior class. “We seniors were allowed to come to school five days a week even during this hybrid year, which was incredible. The school listened to us, and we got to have a full senior year while so many others weren’t able to.”

Sam, a GCDS “lifer,” who attended the school since Nursery, leaving for only one year to attend Stanwich School while the GCDS acquisition of the school was in process, thanked Head of School Adam Rohdie. “Cheesy as it sounds, this school is proof that dreams can come true—this one is being built before our eyes,” he said, referring to the new high school. “Mr. Rohdie, I want to thank you for it. I don’t think anyone other than my family has been by my side for as long as you have.”

Earlier during the ceremony, an invocation was delivered by Julie Kast, a Middle and Upper School English teacher who is retiring after 21 years at the school. Alumna Heather Hummel Gallagher ’81, an author and photographer, then passed on life lessons to the Class of 2021.

Head of Upper School Dr. Chris Winters addressed the seniors and expressed admiration for their spirit of resilience. “When I reflect on this year with all of you seniors, it is your small acts of kindness that are most memorable. You have all helped me and us and, I hope, yourselves, not only manage, but find joy and thrive during this craziest year of your lives.”

Before awarding the graduates their diplomas, Board of Trustees President Vicki Craver asked the students to reflect on the event and themselves. “This is your moment. You have risen to the occasion and embraced every challenge.”

“You pressed together as a class this year and instead of fracturing, you healed us. You found joy in the sadness, light in the dark days. You reminded us what it means to be optimistic. You saw the bright side. You are ‘glass half full’ young people. And within your amazing strength and resilience lies your greatest challenge.”

Mr. Rohdie encouraged the graduates to have an impact on the world and their communities. “So, Class of 2021, the challenge sits squarely in front of you. I challenge you to go out and to help heal our nation, pull your communities together, be the glue. You have all the skills you need; you are prepared—and we desperately need you. You will shape the world you are about to enter. Shape it into a heart.”

SULGER FELLOWSHIP AWARDS

The Aldin Horowitz Sulger Fellowship Award recognizes the student or students who have continually demonstrated a special generosity of spirit to others in the community. Rather than simply selecting the student most likely to succeed, the recipients are the students most likely to help others succeed. This year’s award was presented by Head of Upper School Dr. Chris Winters.

LIAM PIPER

In a year where so many people were saying “no,” our recipient said “yes” to everything. He showed up to all snow shoveling events at senior parking lots, and participated in the school musical, Into the Woods. He even stepped into a role as an understudy when one student had to quarantine at the last minute, learning the lines, memorizing the songs, and performing beautifully. Our recipient’s dedication to his peers and his willingness to go above and beyond is admirable. He is a perfect example of selflessness.”

—Dr. Chris Winters, Head of Upper School

SAM WEINER

As Student Body President, Sam’s commitment to making GCDS a better school was on display each and every day. Regardless of the pandemic, he worked tirelessly to bring joy to people around him. He kept us laughing with his Want to Be a Millionaire game in Town Halls. He spent countless hours designing and planning the Color Wars schedule. He made it a practice to stop in the hallway to smile and talk to other students. He is always ON.”

—Dr. Chris Winters, Head of Upper School

 

THE HEAD OF SCHOOL AWARD

The Head of School Award recognizes the student or students who best embody the core values listed in the Greenwich Country Day Mission Statement and have “discovered and developed what is finest in themselves and have achieved the highest standards in their studies, in their play and in their character.” This award is voted upon by the entire Upper School faculty and presented by the Head of School.

HENGYU (OLIVIA) HU

Olivia is tough as nails and when she cares about something you do not want to get in her way. Just this year, as Asian Hate was on the rise, she organized her anger and passion into a campaign to make her school aware of the problem and snapped us all into action to do something about it. In the classroom she leads by example. She is a tireless worker who cares about her work and strives to make a positive contribution to her classes.”

—Adam Rohdie, Head of School

 

COLLEGE DESTINATIONS FOR THE CLASSES OF 2020 & 2021

Carnegie Mellon University

Barnard College

Boston College

Brown University

Drew University

Emerson College

Fairfield University

Hamilton College

Lehigh University

Le Moyne College

Mount Holyoke College

The Ohio State University

Rollins College

Tulane University

Union College

University of California, San Diego

University of Connecticut

University of Delaware

University of Denver

University of St. Andrews, Scotland

Villanova University

Wesleyan University (2)

Yale University