On the morning of Friday, June 5, 2020, Palm Beach Day Academy‘s 8th and 9th Graders held the first-ever Commencement of it’s kind. Because this year’s graduates could not gather in the Smith Family Theater with their friends and family, dressed to the nines and wearing their graduation caps, it was more important than ever before to the PBDA faculty and administration that our graduates feel the love and support from this community.
At 10am sharp, students, parents and faculty joined a Vimeo link to celebrate the graduates’ many accomplishments and honor all that their years at PBDA have represented for one final time.
The virtual ceremony opened with the “graduate processional,” a series of photos of the graduates who were each filmed at their homes walking in their graduation outfits toward the camera. Ninth Grader Jasmine L. led “The Pledge of Allegiance” before Head of Upper Campus Mrs. Sarah Kemeness took to the Smith Family Theater podium to offer a pre-recorded welcome to parents, friends and faculty and asking, in jest, that viewers not fast-forward to see their child’s graduation photo.
Mr. Fanning Hearon, Head of School, then took to the stage to welcome the viewers and congratulate the graduates before introducing 9th grader Kate G. to present the 9th Grade Class gift. For this year’s class gift, purchased with funds earned from the winter Cake Raffle, the students decided to donate all proceeds to the Boys and Girls Club of Palm Beach County to help feed and provide opportunities for children in our community who are in need.
Next, Jen Howard, the English Department Chair on the Upper Campus, presented the Katie Tummon ‘03 Educational Autobiography Award to 8th graders Caroline J. and Roger R. The award for 9th Grade Character Sketch was awarded to 9th grader Kate G. The John L. Thompson Research Paper Award went to 9th grader Mei V.
Following, Tracy Kramm presented this year’s Alumni Award to 9th grader Kate G. Established in 1988, the award recognizes the graduate who has consistently demonstrated consideration for his or her fellow students, the faculty, and the school.
The William H. Davis, Jr. Science and Mathematics Award was established in the memory of William Davis. It is considered the school’s highest honor in the complementary disciplines of mathematics and science. This year’s award was presented to Mei V.
The Amory L. Haskell Cup, one of the most coveted awards of the year, honors the winning Walter H. Butler Field Day captains. This year, the Flamingos defeated the Pelicans with a final score of 302-196. The winning Flamingo Captains, Kate G. and Tyler A., received this year’s Amory Haskell Cup.
The Big 12 award is given to the PBDA athlete who has played competitively on all four Varsity sports teams in Grades 7, 8 and 9. Four team sports in all three years – a difficult achievement for many, so much so that the Big 12 has not been awarded since 2009 and even then, only one graduate qualified this year. Congratulations to Kate G. for winning this year’s award.
Annie S. received this year’s Upper Campus 7th – 9th Grade GRIT Award, an improvement award established to recognize the student who has shown the most overall growth as a student and as a school citizen.
The Fletcher Hunt Memorial Cup was presented to the school in Fletcher Hunt’s memory by Colonel and Mrs. Robert F. Hunt, Jr. It was the wish of the Colonel and Mrs. Hunt that, for the first year, the cup be awarded to the student in the 6th Grade who attained the highest scholastic average, and that, each subsequent year, it be awarded one grade higher. It would accompany Fletcher’s class through the school, culminating in its presentation to a senior in June 1967. After that date, it returned to the 6th Grade as a permanent award. Gigi G. received the Fletcher Hunt Memorial Cup for 2020.
The Faculty Cup was donated anonymously by a parent who wished to provide a high academic goal for the school’s superior students. It is awarded each year to the Upper School student with the highest academic average for the year, provided the average is 90 or above. Congratulations to this year’s recipient, Mei V.
The Robert W. Bayless Scholar/Athlete Award was established by the Bayless family in memory of Robert Bayless, Director of Athletics and Chairman of the English Department from 1958 until his death in 1973. The award recognizes an outstanding student(s) on the Upper Campus for a combination of Honor Roll academics and athletic endeavors. The recipients of the Scholar/Athlete Award this year were Caroline J. and Garvey B.
The 1958 Cup was established by the Class of 1958 to be awarded to the Upper Campus student who has set an outstanding example for his or her classmates. This award embodies such qualities as responsibility and willingness to serve, concern for others, personal integrity, and excellence in citizenship, scholarship, and sportsmanship. Bertie A. was presented with the 1958 Cup.
The Holder Cup was given to the school by Mrs. Holder to perpetuate the memory of Dan Holder and to serve as a source of inspiration to boys and girls on the Upper Campus. Dan Holder was a member of the faculty from 1949 until his sudden death in 1952. The Cup is awarded “for the student who, through his integrity, school spirit, scholastic endeavor and good sportsmanship, has contributed most to the life of the school.” The Holder Cup is considered to be Palm Beach Day Academy’s highest award. Mei V. is this year’s recipient.
Next in the ceremony, long-time faculty members Allison Charnick and Katy Thompson honored PBDA’s “Lifers” – those students who have been with Palm Beach Day Academy from pre-school.
Following, eighth and ninth graders Garvey B., Caroline J., and Ted J. offered reflections on their time at PBDA and the many adventures that they and their classmates have enjoyed together over the years.
Sarah Kemeness honored faculty member Katy Thompson with the 15th annual presentation of the Adele Shook Merck Excellence in Teaching Award. Courtney Ellender had been honored as the Adele Shook Merck Excellence in Teaching Award for the Lower Campus earlier at the Lower Campus Bridge Ceremony.
Thank you to our faculty, families, alumni and friends who joined us in saluting this year’s graduates, and have shown love and support for each of them along the way. These fine students are the ones who uphold our school’s traditions of excellence. Congratulations to each of you – we are so proud of your accomplishments and can’t wait to see each of you change the world!