63rd Commencement Exercises

On Saturday, May 22nd, the Marvelwood School awarded diplomas to 27 students at its 63rd annual Commencement exercises. For the first time in many years, the ceremony was out-of-doors under a large white tent in the center of campus.  Bringing families to campus for the joyful celebration was especially meaningful after such a challenging and unusual school year.  

Keisha Cleveland Baptiste ‘91, who started her teaching career at Marvelwood and has dedicated her life’s work to ensure that all students, regardless of demographics, have access to high-quality education, addressed the graduates. The School’s highest award, the Wittenberg Cup, was given to Olivia Pignataro of Carmel, NY. The Co-Valedictorians were Olivia Pignataro and Danielle Ruderman of Bethesda, MD; the Salutatorian was Isabella Brown of Kent, CT.  A complete list of prizes awarded at graduation is below.

Head of School Blythe Everett P’14, ‘16 concluded the ceremony with these words:

This year, many of you have found voices you were unaware you possessed, spurred on by being a witness to unimaginable tragedy, injustice, irrationality, or fear.  You lifted up the people who needed you, and had others to lift you up when you needed them.  Your resilience -- and in fact, the resilience of our entire school community -- has been remarkable.  In a climate that has seemed to encourage nothing but sterile solitude and physical and emotional distance, we have been bound tightly together by our shared experiences, and have come through the fire to find ourselves here, celebrating our seniors as well as perhaps our greatest accomplishment -- staying together and COVID-free for the entire school year.  We deserve to trumpet this success from the rooftops. This, we have done against the odds, with faith and with confidence in our convictions, and not without a little luck.  

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Matriculation Choices for the Class of 2021:

Dante Abad: Entering the Marines

Robbie Altamarino: Naugatuck Valley Community College

Isabella Brown: Colby Sawyer

Lily Brownlee: Juniata College

Casper Cheng: Boston University

Cooper Homes: Lynn University

Tyler Fredritz: Plymouth State University

Jack Krugman: Springfield College

Madelyn Malinowski: Central Connecticut State University

Via Masina: University of Vermont

Koby Mbonu: Oberlin College

Kim Nguyen: University of Toronto

Sam Miller: Elon College

Axel Orzano: Ringling College of Art and Design

Madeleine Paddock: Gap Year

Olivia Pignataro: College of the Atlantic

Simon Pinchbeck: Clark University

Michael Reuter: Rochester Institute of Technology

Sam Schadt: Ithaca College

Danielle Ruderman: Elon College

Devin Sierra: St. Thomas Aquinas College

Sam Schneider: University of Colorado, Boulder

Harrison Valasquez: Elms College

Bryan Thiam: Colby College

Kyle Zhao: University of California, Davis

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Prizes awarded at Graduation

The Wittenberg Cup:  Olivia Pignataro

Marvelwood’s most esteemed prize is the Wittenberg Cup.  This cup is named after Lester Wittenberg, Jr., a teacher at South Kent School and Salisbury Summer School, and an influential friend and supporter of the Bodkins in Marvelwood’s early years.

The Wittenberg Cup is given to that graduating senior who, in the opinion of the faculty, has achieved the most in all areas of Marvelwood life--academics, athletics, dormitory life, and extracurricular activities--and who has, in addition, evidenced personal qualities and virtues that represent those ideals of character that we want our graduates to strive to attain.

Headmaster's Cup:  Casper Cheng

The Headmaster's Cup recognizes that graduating senior who has demonstrated noteworthy academic and extracurricular determination, diligence and fortitude, and whose contributions and positive spirit have enriched our school community.

Bodkin Cup:  Madelyn Malinowski and Via Masina

Originally called the Loyalty Cup, the Bodkin Cup was renamed in 1981 to honor Bob and Cornelia Bodkin, the founding Headmaster and his wife.

The Bodkin Cup is awarded to a graduate who has been unusually loyal to the school, who has been overwhelmingly positive and enthusiastic, who has participated actively and constructively in school affairs, and whose good citizenship, courage, determination, and love for our school reflect the qualities of character which were always identified with the Bodkins and espoused by them.

Johnson Cup:  Koby Mbonu

The Johnson Cup was instituted in honor and memory of the former Headmaster’s father and mother.  Mr. Johnson’s parents were firm believers that human beings can really transform their lives if they choose to do so.  This cup, therefore, is awarded as a tangible affirmation that not only is change possible but that it has taken place--positively and dramatically--in the life of the recipient.

Accordingly, the Henry and Ruby Johnson Cup is awarded to that senior who, in the course of his or her years at Marvelwood, has achieved the most significant personal victory, or made the most substantial progress in terms of personal growth in all areas of life at the school. 

Desmond Letsie Mphenyeke Cup:  Koby Mbonu

Normally presented on Prize Day, the Desmond Letsie Mphenyeke Cup honors the life and memory of a special young man who came to Marvelwood from Soweto, South Africa.

Our graduation speaker, Keisha Cleveland Baptiste '91, was a freshman when Desmond died of congenital heart failure. She founded the Cultural and Social Awareness Club and helped to design the cup we present to honor the life of her fellow classmate. CASA was developed as a weekly forum to learn about, discuss, and promote diversity, acceptance, tolerance, and equity. Thirty-three years later, it continues to be an active and important organization at the School. 

The Desmond Letsie Mphenyeke Cup is awarded to that senior who demonstrates exceptional leadership and interest in bringing awareness to the Marvelwood community.