Ninety-two members of the Class of 2018 received their diplomas from Head of School Alixe Callen on her first Prize Day, the 120th in St. George’s School history.
Matthew R. Toner, of Portsmouth, Rhode Island, received the St. George’s Medal, the school’s highest award, given by the faculty to a member of the sixth form who through effort, character, athletics and scholarship, has best caught and expressed the ideal and spirit of St. George’s School. “Matt’s quiet fortitude and consistent devotion to excellence under pressure have distinguished him throughout his SG career,” said Dean of Academics Christopher Shaw. Also honored with the Samuel Powel Cup, “for excellence in athletics and for promoting the spirit of hard, clean play,” Toner “truly embodies what the Powel Cup stands for,” according to Coach John Mackay. “He's one of the toughest young men I've had the pleasure of working with. Having been a standout in hockey and lacrosse throughout his SG career, he had nothing to prove in coming out for football his senior year except that he wanted to experience it. He did that, and much more, as a leader on our team, someone who never quit and played a very physical game (it says something about his toughness, having played the three helmeted sports throughout high school) but always remained an outstanding sportsman,” Mackay added.
A four-year senior, Matt has defined “scholar-athlete” at St. George’s since the beginning of the third form. Continually honored with the Head’s Commendation for his academic performance, Toner won in 2017 the Harvard-Radcliffe Prize Book Award, “for the student of the Fifth Form whom the Head of School and the faculty deem most worthy in scholarship, effort and character.” Advisor Scott Stachelhaus noted, “I have always been able to count on Matt to do the right thing – not because it garners him attention or credit, but simply because it's the right thing to do. That's a really admirable way to approach life, and I have a huge amount of respect for Matt.” Toner has devoted himself over four years to multiple sports. He was named Most Valuable Player in the winter of 2018 for hockey and served as team captain for both hockey and lacrosse. Matt heads to Bryant University in the fall.
Naya Ramtahal won the Phelps Montgomery Frissell Prize, selected for the senior “who, in the opinion of the faculty, has made the best use of her or his talents.” Arriving on the Hilltop from Bronx, New York, Naya quickly emerged as multitalented in the performing arts. She appeared in every musical over four years. As a third former, Naya played Consuela in “West Side Story” in 2015, and went on to play Addaperle in “The Wiz” (2016), Quirrell in “A Very Potter Musical” (2017) and most recently Ms. Fleming in “Heathers” (2018). A member of the Snapdragons and the St. George’s Orchestra, Ramtahal debuted her first formal orchestral composition, as “Velvet Dress” was performed for the first time last Thursday at Baccalaureate by the 24-piece SG Pops. She also prevailed this spring as the lead actor, Dorine, the saucy maid, in Molière’s 1664 comedy “Tartuffe, ou L’imposteur.” In addition to the Frissell Prize, Naya also won the 2018 Woods Dramatic Prize, “for the student whose abilities and efforts have contributed most to the theater at St. George's.” Naya also won the 2018 Chinese Prize although she only began her study as a freshman in 2014-15. The prize is “awarded to a student who has demonstrated consistently high performance in the study of Mandarin Chinese and shown a genuine interest in the Chinese language and culture while at St. George’s.” Naya Ramtahal will attend Occidental College in the fall.
The Jefferys Prize went to Sophie Coolidge, awarded “in memory of Cham Jefferys to the sixth former who, in the opinion of the faculty, has done the most to enhance the moral and intellectual climate of the school.” Sophie has participated in and led the Community Outreach Club throughout her four-year SG career. It was Sophie who saw “color runs” on Instagram years ago and proposed the idea to the club as a fun way to raise money. The Dragon Dash 5K Fun Run with Color was born and raised money from sponsors of runners who brave a serial gauntlet of colored powder hurled by volunteers. This April, with support from Sophie, the Community Outreach Club, and Student Activities Director Mary O’Connor, the Fun Run raised thousands of dollars to benefit the pediatric unit of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston. Also a regular recipient of the Head’s Commendation, Coolidge has participated in the school’s signature programs, including the Curie Institute’s internship in cancer research in Paris, and the first year of the SG Innovation Internships in San Francisco. Notably, Sophie’s mother, Alix Horne Coolidge ’85, last October named Sophie as “her role model” in an online news article published by the school. Sophie will attend Davidson College in the fall.
Abigail Turner was honored with the Pullins Family Cup, “awarded to a girl of the sixth form whose steady devotion to the high ideals of good sportsmanship has been an inspiration to her fellow students.” Turner is a four-year senior and a tri-varsity athlete and a tri-season team captain in field hockey, ice hockey and lacrosse. Abigail will join the class of 2022 at Colorado College.
Awarded to the female senior athlete for “athletic excellence,” and for “promoting the spirit of hard, clean play,” the Louise Elliot Cup went to Hannah Drechsel. Hannah is also a tri-varsity athlete in soccer, hockey and lacrosse, co-captaining all three teams. She was named Most Valuable Player for soccer in 2016 and for lacrosse in 2017, All ISL in 2017, and won the Dean Scholarship last year. Hannah will play for St. Lawrence University in the coming four years.
John Kirkpatrick won the Thayer Cup, “awarded to a boy of the sixth form whose steady devotion to the high ideals of good sportsmanship has been an inspiration to his fellow students.” John is a varsity cross-country runner, swimmer and sailor. In addition to serving on the Honor Board this year, as editor-in-chief of the Red & White student paper, and in three varsity sports, John maintained a very strong and successful commitment to his studies all year. He will sail next year at Stanford University.
Michaela Sullivan and Stephen Thompson shared the George D. Donnelly Athletic Award, given to “a girl and boy who, in the opinion of the Head of School and the Athletic Director, possess a passion for athletics and demonstrate the dedication and sportsmanship to succeed in a variety of athletic endeavors.” Coach Molly Dullea said about Michaela, that “the reason the girls’ team played so well in postseason was because they were ‘playing for Michaela’.” Sullivan sank her 1000th point this winter, captained the team to a 15-10 season, and will play at Middlebury next year. In both football and baseball, Stephen Thompson is “a positive teammate and a hard- working athlete” according to Athletic Director Rachel Horn. She added, “His coaches have been impressed by his maturity and focus. He expects the same from his teammates, and by leading them to be the best they can be, he raises the level of play.” Thompson is headed to the University of Pittsburgh.
The faculty and Head of School chose two fifth-formers to be honored with the Harvard-Radcliffe Book Award Prize this year. Spencer Dellenbaugh and Peyton Mulhern, both day students, brought different interests but a common commitment to making the most of their opportunities at SG. The prize goes to a member of the fifth form deemed “most worthy in scholarship, effort and character.” Peyton is a tri-varsity athlete who was elected one of five school prefects for the coming year. Spencer is an avid and award-winning competitor in local and national robotics competitions and will serve as a member of the Honor Board as a senior.
Matt Richards won the Allen Prize, awarded by the faculty “to a member of the fourth form who during the year, in the opinion of the faculty, has maintained a high standard in all departments of the life of the school.” Matt played on the football, hockey and lacrosse varsity teams, and was most often spotted in the evenings buried in his books in the Academic Center’s glass Staples Conference Room, given his four honors-level courses.