MICDS Celebrates Upper School student standouts during Prize Day

Upper School Students Recognized at Prize Day

Students, faculty, staff and families gathered in Brauer Auditorium this week for MICDS’ annual Prize Day celebration. While we recognize many accomplishments through the year in athletics, community service and in the arts, Prize Day is a celebration of academic growth and leadership, not only for the honorees, but also for the hard work and determination shown by all MICDS students, each with his or her own special accomplishments.

College Book Awards

The ceremony began with the presentation of the College Book Awards. These awards are given by local alumni associations of the colleges and universities in order to promote interest in their schools, and also to recognize the achievements of outstanding high school juniors. MICDS selects these students based on the descriptions of the awards provided by the colleges, not on the basis of any perceived ranking of students or institutions. All College Book Awards carry equal value.

St. Lawrence College Book Award: Nicita Anand ’20

Presented an award to a student who has displayed a significant commitment and enthusiasm to community service. In addition to the book, the recipient will also receive a $1,000 per year scholarship if she attends St. Lawrence.

Dartmouth Book Award: Chase Nwamu ’20

Presented to a junior who has achieved academic excellence and has demonstrated intellectual leadership, and who has made positive contributions to the athletic and extracurricular life of the school.

Washington and Lee Book Award, presented by Hunt Niedringhaus: Mackenzie Macam ’20

Presented to a junior who has demonstrated academic excellence, strength of character, participation in extracurricular activities, and leadership.

Brandeis Book Award: Ceci Cohen ’20

Given to a junior who demonstrates a commitment to civic engagement, community service, political activism, social justice, or volunteer work.

Brown University Book Award: Amarah Friedman ’20

Given to the student who best combines excellence in spoken and written expression with outstanding academic achievement.

Cornell Book Award: Sandra Polanco ’20

Created to recognize academic and extracurricular excellence, leadership, personal initiative in pursuit of diversity, and a strong work ethic.

George Washington University Book Award: Anna Speller ’20

Given to a junior recognized for academic excellence, leadership outside of the classroom, diversity of thought, and ability to put knowledge into action.

Harvard Book Award presented by Robert Zafft ’77, Harvard alum: Tanay Chandak ’20

Presented to a junior for combining excellence in scholarship with achievement in other fields.

Kenyon College Book Award presented by Gabe Ashman: Athena Tharenos ’20

Presented to a junior who embodies the highest level of intellectual engagement, creativity, and commitment to community that are central to the liberal arts and sciences.

Princeton University Book Award: Reagan Calcari ’20

Given to a junior who has shown a strong commitment to community service while maintaining excellence in academics.

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Medal: Benjamin Hollander-Bodie ’20

Given to a member of the junior class who has demonstrated potential for success in a vigorous academic setting, has excelled in advanced math and science courses, and exhibited a well-rounded interest and involvement in extracurricular activities. In addition, the recipient will also receive a $25,000 per year scholarship if he attends RPI.

Rhodes College Book Award: Ethan Stevenson ’20

Honors a high school junior who has excelled academically while maintaining a consistent record of success in pursuit of a wide variety of extracurricular activities.

Smith College Book Award: Meredith Goldberg ’20

Presented to a female student who exemplifies the characteristics of academic achievement, leadership, and concern for others.

University of Pennsylvania Book Award: Arjun Ramakrishnan ’20

Presented to the junior who best combines Benjamin Franklin’s characteristics of scholarship, innovation, and service. Arjun’s name has been inscribed on the Penn Cup.

The University of Rochester recognizes four students; one with an award in social sciences and the humanities, one in science, one in Innovation and Information Technology, and one in leadership and academics.

Frederick Douglass and Susan B. Anthony Award in Humanities and Social Sciences: Kathryn Klein ’20

Goes to a student who has pursued a rigorous curriculum in the humanities and social sciences as well as providing leadership and active involvement in community service.

The Bausch & Lomb Honorary Science Award: Boyu Liu ’20

Honors a student for outstanding achievement and academic excellence while pursuing a challenging curriculum in the field of math and science.

The Xerox Award for Innovation and Information Technology: Nick Clifford ’20

Goes to a student with a strong interest in information technology, and a high level of achievement in this area in coursework and outside of school. This student takes the lead in demonstrating new approaches to old problems.

The George Eastman Young Leaders Award: Jude Sorkin ’20

Goes to a student with strong leadership experience at school and in their community; high grades and challenging courses; and extensive involvement in extracurricular activities.

Wellesley College Book Award: Lauren Goldberg ’20

Honors a woman who has exceptional academic and personal achievement, both in the classroom and within the community.

Yale University Book Award presented by Ted Fouke, Yale alumnus: Jenna Zhao ’20

Presented to the member of the junior class who combines seriousness of vision and freshness of perspective with outstanding personal character and intellectual promise.

Department grade-level academic awards

English Awards

Ms. Lynn Mittler, JK-12 English Department Chair, presented the English awards. The English Awards are given to a student in each grade who, during this year, has excelled in written and spoken English, has been an intellectual leader in the English classroom, and has demonstrated enthusiastic devotion to the study of literature. The English Department chose to honor Ellie Gira ’22, Ally Kalishman ’21, Bree Baker ’20, and Ananya Radhakrishnan ’21.

Ellie Gira ’22 delights in the interaction with her peers over ideas, in sustained conversations about texts, in the life of the mind. There is a lightness of touch to how Ellie interacts with others that lifts the group as a whole, a playfulness, a respect for others, a thoughtfulness in Ellie’s classroom persona that elevates those around her in the midst of serious scholarly work. In addition to her strong skills, Ellie displays a generosity of spirit and admirable resilience in the face of setbacks for which we recognize her today.

Ally Kalishman ’21 isn’t afraid to ask questions, take risks, or venture off the prescribed path to find an answer that resonates. Her skills in close reading illustrate her commitment to treating fictional characters as reflections of our modern world who can teach us necessary lessons. Additionally, her modest attitude and inquisitive mindset make her a role model to her peers in the English classroom.

Bree Baker ’20 was the Junior English Award Recipient. There are some students who submit written work at the absolute top of the class on virtually every assignment. They craft the essays that make teachers forget they are supposed to be grading and find knowledge and learning even when the assignment guidelines are ill-phrased or otherwise imperfect. Then, there are students who are leaders during class discussions. This second group is fearless when expressing their own confusion, precise when addressing texts and compassionate when encouraging their peers to enter the conversation or push remarks and analysis a little further. Bree is both.

Ananya Radhakrishnan ’21 received The Edmee Baur Nash Award, established in 1969 by Mr. and Mrs. James H. Nash, which honors one student who has shown outstanding interest and promise in poetry. The poet Mary Oliver once claimed that although she didn’t “know exactly what a prayer [was], / [she did] know how to pay attention”. If, in place of “prayer,” we imagine the words “infinite empathy” or “worthy ambition,” “friendship” or even “poetry,” we discover a helpful way of describing what drives Ananya’s poems. We discover a desire to meet the world on its own terms, and to renew our interest in the world through a quirky mindfulness. To read a poem by Ananya is to encounter a refreshing mixture of distance from, curiosity about, and compassion for the scenes and interactions that compose daily life. Ananya discovers the unconventional facets of seemingly conventional experiences, actively constructing new ways to think about the latent significance within them. She also pushes the genre’s formal boundaries, seeking always after new forms for new ideas. And she fosters community among poets, encouraging her peers in their own language experiments. She can truly show us how to pay attention, and it is for her approach to writing poetry as well as for her poems that we pause to recognize and celebrate her now.

Ms. Amy Scheer, JK-12 Mathematics Department Chair, presented the Mathematics awards. The Mathematics Awards are presented to a student in each grade who has made outstanding contributions to the math program. This year, the Math Department has elected to recognize Basil Cosmopoulos ’22, Jonah Zacks ’21, and Nicholas Clifford ’20.

Conscientious, thoughtful, and engaged are the first words that come to mind when thinking about Basil Cosmopoulos ’22’s contributions to the math classroom. Baz’s approach is to listen first, carefully consider his approach, and then attempt his work. This attention to detail makes him an impressive math student. He is always willing to help his classmates work through difficult problems, and is genuinely interested when another student approaches a problem differently than he does. Baz’s logical mind and enthusiasm for learning make him stand out.

Jonah Zacks ’21 gives off an energy of pure curiosity and joy when discussing mathematics, and his easy-going personality and interest in helping others make him a natural collaborator. When introduced to new math concepts, Jonah regularly tries to “break math” by saying “well, what if we tried this…” and he will often ask questions that are answered in later problems or even later lessons. His passion, curiosity, and perspective truly set him apart in the math classroom.

Nicholas Clifford ’20 never stops thinking about math and algorithms.  In his free time, he is often found coding new features, attending competitions, creating innovative solutions with coding, or scribbling math problems that he enjoys decoding.  He is passionate about math, technology, and innovation. Nick loves to be challenged and he meets every challenge head-on with a positive enthusiastic attitude. Nick has the ability to translate the unfamiliar abstraction into a familiar form, occasionally using unusual techniques in problem solving – a trait of a gifted mathematician.

World Languages Awards

Dr. Steven Crumb, French Teacher, presented the World Languages awards.

The World Languages Department has chosen students who have achieved excellence in all language skills through engagement, enthusiasm, and love of language learning.  Today we recognize Nina Hamilton ’22, Bonnie Sneider ’21, and Garrett Christian ’20.

Nina Hamilton ’22 is a clear standout in ninth grade. Beyond her flawless academic achievement, she has a real passion for language learning and seems to acquire things very quickly. Not content to coast, though, Nina is always eager to advance. Recently, when her teacher introduced the imperfect verb tense, Nina’s enthusiasm came through clearly, with her excited response, “Finally, the imparfait!”

This year, Bonnie Sneider ’21‘s enthusiasm for learning Spanish has been extraordinary. She thirsts to understand the nuances of the Spanish language in order to achieve very high levels of proficiency.  Bonnie is not satisfied with mastering the material from class, but makes an extra effort to go above and beyond the content to add sophisticated grammar, idiomatic expression, and vocabulary in order to be creative with the language.

The children of Madame Scott have established the Colette Ely Scott Award, which is the Eleventh Grade Foreign Language Award. A respected language teacher at our school for 34 years, Ms. Scott retired in 1987. This award in her honor is given to eleventh grade students for demonstration of intense effort, ongoing interests, and true love of language and culture. This year’s award goes to Garrett Christian ’20. An exemplary student in terms of his academic achievement, Garrett is also a leader in the class. He models perfectly how to not just stay but also play in the target language, showing remarkable thoughtfulness and creativity. His peers feed off his enthusiasm and follow right behind as Garrett raises the bar. His projects have been outstanding both for the quality of the language and for their creative and engaging design. His work regularly has the class in stitches. Garrett has also developed an interest in learning other languages, notably Spanish, which he studies independently in his free time.

Fine & Performing Arts Awards

Mr. Brad Heinemann, Fine & Performing Arts Chair for the Upper School, presented the awards in Fine & Performing Arts. The Fine & Performing Arts Awards are given to a student in each grade who, during the school year, distinguished him or herself through outstanding achievement in their chosen areas of the arts. This year, the department has elected to honor Nigina Aripova ’22, Ava Mandoli ’21, and Lucy Zhao ’20.

During her first year as an MICDS student, Nigina Aripova ’22 has quickly established herself as an integral member of the strings program. It’s hard to believe she has only played the violin for a little over two years as she performs with such fluency and ease. She prepares diligently for class by assiduously marking up her music with bowing and fingering suggestions which she shares with others. She listens carefully and is quick to answer music theory questions. Furthermore, she is constantly providing ideas for new repertoire for the class. She has such a positive attitude, a quick, dry sense of humor, and her love for music and playing the violin is contagious. Nigina has been a wonderful addition to MICDS this year, and we look forward to seeing how far she’ll come the rest of her career in the US Strings Program.

Ava Mandoli ’21 took Dark Room as a 9th grader and has continued to develop her passion through summer photography enrichment programs as well as digging deeper with Digital Photography and Photo 2 this year.  She has set her sights on a summer opportunity to grow as an artist and challenge herself creatively. Her passion for the medium takes her on adventurous shoots to capture intriguing subjects, leading to original compositions. This spring St. Louis Artist Guild Youth Arts Exhibit chose one of her pieces for display, and she continues to seek opportunities to display her work publicly. She collaborates and shares her knowledge with her peers, and always exhibits an inventive approach behind the lens. These characteristics make her stand out from a field of talented young artists.

During her junior year, Lucy Zhao ’20 has been a most significant contributor to artistic life in the upper school. In addition to her position as concertmaster violinist in the string ensemble, she is a principal flutist in the upper school band. Lucy also was a key member of the orchestra for the spring musical, Ragtime, and her talents have also been recognized on the state level in the All-State Orchestra at the MSHSAA Solo and Ensemble Music Festival. In addition to developing her own musical skills, Lucy devotes her time and energy to helping others develop: she volunteers with the lower school string ensemble and has volunteered at events in Texas, South Africa, and China. Lucy brings tremendous enthusiasm and energy to all musical activities, and she is a role model for aspiring musicians.

History & Social Sciences Awards

Ms. Carla Federman, JK-12 History Department Chair, presented the History & Social Sciences Awards. The History & Social Sciences Awards go to students who have demonstrated a love of the subject matter, intellectual curiosity and academic excellence, along with enthusiastic involvement in the daily activities of their history or social science classes. This year’s recipients are Sam Lustgarten ’22, Fiona Richards ’21, and Tanay Chandak ’20.

Sam Lustgarten ’22 is an eager learner and seeks to know and understand historical events in their entirety.  This eagerness consistently leads Sam to search for answers and make new meaning. Sam is open-minded and able to understand and respect multiple perspectives. These traits, along with his excellent writing skills, allow Sam to excel at a level not often seen in 9th grade history.

Fiona Richards ’21’s passion for learning is evident daily, both in and out of the classroom. She is a strong student and takes an active role in group discussions, asking probing questions about history. These questions not only reveal the ways she engages with complex issues, but also challenge both herself and her peers to think about the past in new ways. Fiona’s essays reveal her to be a careful thinker who strives for excellence in communicating her ideas, continually trying to better understand the past and why it matters.

Because his coursework at his previous school already fulfilled our requirements, Tanay Chandak ’20 didn’t have to take any History or Social Science classes this year. And yet he did, enrolling in not one but two AP courses, and excelling in both of them. Tanay stands out in his classes due to his inquisitive nature and desire to learn – his questions, insight, and engagement are a driving force in the classroom. More than that, though, Tanay consistently impresses with his capacity to develop authentic ideas about and connections to real-world issues – Tanay seeks to connect his AP courses to the world around him, and in so doing pushes himself and his peers to deeper critical thinking.

Science Awards

Mr. Bob Shaw, JK-12 Science Department Chair, presented the Science Department Awards. The Science Awards are given to a student in each grade who during this school year has demonstrated enthusiasm, dedication and excellence in the pursuit of science.  These individuals have worked independently to enrich their scientific experiences and to enhance the extracurricular science program at MICDS. This year’s recipients are Sonia Bhayani ’22, Lucas McCarty ’21, and Asha Dundoo ’20.

The blending of math and science seems to be natural for Sonia Bhayani ’22. She is a natural leader and her peers use her as a resource – she can be often found in the STEM 2nd floor alcove, explaining things to her cohort. Sonia takes her work seriously and is always prepared. She asks probing questions and seeks to understand how the concepts discussed in class are applied to the labs and problems.

Lucas McCarty ’21 has been heavily involved in the creation of the new FIRST Tech Challenge robotics team, and has been working with a FIRST Lego League team in addition to another FIRST Tech Challenge team in Stuttgart, Germany to help exchange knowledge. He has volunteered his time to help Beasley students with their coding night and is always willing to lend a hand in the robotics lab and maker space. Lucas showed his innovation and dedication to learning by creating a working prototype of a collapsible wheelchair in the Entrepreneurship club. In the classroom, Lucas is just as innovative. While studying metabolism, Lucas proposed using LEGOS to model the process of glycolysis in cellular respiration. Using LEGOS allowed Lucas and his classmates to visualize a complex chain of chemical reactions at the microscopic level.

Asha Dundoo ’20 is a stand-out student with a natural curiosity about all aspects of science.  Despite a very full schedule (including both AP Biology and Independent Research) she is excelling in her academics. Asha is a dependable lab partner, and enthusiastic about sharing her knowledge of science. Notably, while in Costa Rica Asha demonstrated her ability to make connections between ecological phenomena and their impacts on people and culture. She demonstrates great drive to push independent research projects forward, exhibiting impressive self-reliance in designing and carrying out experiments.

Living the Mission Awards

Ms. Nicole Trueman-Shaw, Upper School Dean of Students and English Teacher, presented this year’s Living the Mission Awards. Our mission statement reminds us of what we all strive for at MICDS. It reads:

More than ever, our nation needs responsible men and women who can meet the challenges of this world with confidence and embrace all its people with compassion. The next generation must include those who think critically and resolve to stand for what is good and right.

Our school cherishes academic rigor, encourages and praises meaningful individual achievement, and fosters virtue. Our independent education prepares young people for higher learning and for lives of purpose and service.

The Living the Mission Awards recognize students in grades 9 through 11 who most embody four of our core values, leadership, respect, perseverance, and service. Students selected members of their graduating class as recipients for these awards.

Leadership Award: Olivia Thomas ’22, Ava Mandoli ’21, and Gerald Bentley ’20

Leadership means taking the initiative to make a positive difference for self and/or others.  These recipients identify and determine the extent of leadership needs within the group as the situation arises, and step into a leadership role when appropriate. They are individuals who, regardless of personal opinions, focus on the right thing to do. These students might take the lead, be allies for other leaders, generate leadership opportunities for others, or model behavior that honors and seeks out multiple perspectives.

Respect Award: Ittmum Zahir ’22, Trevon Bobo ’21, and Sandra Polanco ’20

Respect is treating others and self in a manner which accepts differences and values the worth of the individual. These recipients recognize the benefits of diversity and are sources of inclusivity throughout the community. They are individuals who exhibit healthy self-esteem, self-respect, and confidence, and empathize with and understand those around them.

Perseverance Award: Zoe Clark ’22, Raphy Sowah ’21, and Matthew Curtis ’20

Perseverance means continuing to fulfill responsibilities and to pursue goals despite challenges and not choosing to take the easy way out. These recipients are focused and dedicated and understand how determination can lead to success; they stay positive in the face of challenges. These are individuals with a growth mindset. They are resilient, willing to admit mistakes or ignorance and seek appropriate help because they are continually trying to improve.

Service Award: Noah Kleinlehrer ’22, Ally Kalishman ’21, and Catherine Cherrick ’20

Service means taking time to provide authentic assistance to the world and its peoples. These recipients exhibit sincere and authentic engagement with service opportunities; they imagine, plan, and execute service opportunities for self and others. Proactive individuals, these recipients sacrifice time and efforts for the greater good without the desire or need for reward.

Ryan D. Seed ’95 Leadership Award

Presented by Hana Tepper Taylor ‘95: Andrew Kuznetsov ’22

The award, established by the Class of 1995, honors a freshman who demonstrates Ryan Seed’s thoughtful leadership at MICDS or beyond. Ryan was co-president of the student council and captain of the soccer team. He had leading roles in various theater productions, the Signet Society, golf, and community service programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters. When we graduated, he was recognized with the Faculty Award, given to the student who most embodies the school’s values. Ryan’s life was cut short in 1998 during his junior year at Colgate University, when he passed away due to heart failure. Ryan worked hard and led by example; he was kind, generous, upbeat and collaborative every step of the way. He was universally loved and admired and had the unique ability to make lasting friendships with nearly every member of his class and beyond. Ryan’s positive personality and passion for life made him a natural leader. Andrew’s name will be inscribed on the Ryan D. Seed Leadership Award trophy.

Class Awards

Meredith Goldberg ’20 and Tanay Chandak ’20, the newly-elected co-presidents of Student Council, presented the Class Awards which have been determined not by the faculty, but by the vote of each class.

Ninth Grade: Jane Goldman ’22

The Wilma Jean Messing Ninth Grade Award is presented to Jane, chosen by her classmates for qualities of citizenship, scholarship and selfless service to the school. Her name has been engraved on the Messing Award Plaque, which hangs in the Messing Library.

Tenth Grade: Cal Barton ’21

The family of Ronald Beasley, in recognition of his dedication to the School established the J.E. Beasley Tenth Grade Award. This award is presented to Cal for his qualities of citizenship, effort, achievement, and contributions to the welfare of the school.

Eleventh Grade: Jude Sorkin ’20

The R.S. Beasley Eleventh Grade Award is named in honor of one of the school’s most respected Heads.  This award is presented to Jude, chosen by his classmates, for his distinguished academic achievement and devotion to the School. Jude has brought to life the standards in which Mr. Beasley so deeply believed.

Athletic Awards

Mr. Josh Smith, Director of Athletics, presented the Athletic Awards.

The McKelvey Award for Leadership in Athletics: Caroline Carr ’20 and Joe Condie ’20

Presented to two members of the junior class, who through their determination, sportsmanship, spirit, leadership, and dedication to the athletic program have made a significant contribution to the School. Caroline and Joe’s names will be engraved on the McKelvey Plaque which hangs in the lobby of the gym.

Lisa Lyle, Head of School, made the final presentations.

John E. Mackey Leadership Award

Presented to Sandra Polanco ’20

The John E. Mackey Leadership Award, established in memory of a beloved Country Day School alumnus and St. Louis leader, John Mackey, is awarded annually to a junior who possesses the same qualities that helped Mr. Mackey excel in every endeavor he chose. The award is presented to a student who is a natural leader, in all he or she does. This student shines because of his or her ability to work with others, bringing confidence, humor and direction to projects large and small. The award brings with it both honor for past achievement as well as the expectation that this junior will finish strong his or her senior year as a class leader.

Sandra Polanco is an active, thoughtful, and encouraging leader of the MICDS class of 2020.  She has been involved in student government, mock trial, and various affinity groups, just to name a few, and leads her peers by example and inspiration. Sandra spends many hours not only encouraging her own classmates, but also encouraging others beyond MICDS in her most meaningful community service activity, Wonderwomen. Sandra mentors younger students and helps them find their inner voice and courage, as they stand for their own values together.

Confident in her ability, committed to success in all that she accomplishes, Sandra balances all the demands of high school life. Sandra knows herself,  is attentive to those around her who are in need, and is not hesitant to provide her helping hand. She is intellectual, approachable, open-minded in her views, and forward-thinking.  Sandra celebrates who she is and stays true to what makes her inquisitively unique: she embodies a spirit of motivation and purpose, and is someone to whom others look for leadership.

Spirit of Learning Award

Presented to Emma Scally ’22, Amy Li ’21, and Benjamin Hollander-Bodie ’20

Today’s highest award, the Spirit of Learning Award, is given to one student in each class who has shown remarkable growth during this school year. It is meant to recognize each person’s courage, integrity, persistence, and achievement.

Emma Scally ’22 pushes beyond the basics. Rather than being content to merely learn a vocabulary term, for example, she strives to understand the concept that term illustrates. Her natural inclination to ask questions and her highly conscientious intelligence serve her well in her classes. She simultaneously pays attention to details and thinks critically about the Big Ideas, allowing her to produce organized and clear solutions to complex problems. Emma also brings a strong work ethic and a great deal of prior knowledge to her classrooms. Both not only help her perform at a consistently high level, but they enhance every aspect of the class from discussions to projects to small group work.

Curious and eager to learn, Amy Li ’21 brings a positive intensity to her classrooms that enhances the experience for everyone involved. Always engaged with group discussions, she pays close attention to her classmates’ comments, frequently shares her thoughts, asks questions, tests interpretations, and encourages others to do the same. An outstanding collaborator, she makes her classrooms better by taking creative risks and assuming leadership roles in group work sessions. This contagious enthusiasm is evident across disciplines and is not limited to schoolwork. Her progress as a competitive figure skater has benefited from this same willingness to devote herself to constant improvement in pursuit of excellence.

Spend some time with Benjamin Hollander-Bodie ’20 and it becomes immediately apparent that the intellectual gears inside his head are constantly spinning. He approaches all disciplines with boundless enthusiasm and a curiosity that drives him to learn everything he possibly can about a topic. Benjamin is a vocal participant in class, where his thoughtful insights evidence not only a deep understanding of the material but also his superb ability to make connections across different subject areas. Going above and beyond an assignment to further research topics of interest comes second nature to him. Benjamin delights in challenging problems and embraces the hard work it takes to arrive at shrewd solutions. A model student with a vast array of intellectual gifts, he is a worthy recipient of the Spirit of Learning prize.

Congratulations to all our 2019 Prize Day recipients!