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Jun 07, 2016

St. Stephen’s Graduates the Class of 2016

On the morning of Saturday, May 21, proud parents and honored guests gathered with members of the St. Stephen’s Episcopal School community to celebrate the school’s 66th Graduation Exercises.


Head of School Bob Kirkpatrick, Executive Chair of the Board of Trustees Ellen Osborne Ray ’86, the Rev. Todd FitzGerald, Bishop Dena A. Harrison

Following opening prayers by the Rev. Todd FitzGerald, Head of School Bob Kirkpatrick kicked off his commencement address by asking the graduates, “Are you an inherent optimist and see the possibility in things, or do you find reasons to poke holes and find fault?”


“Nothing worth achieving can be accomplished without an open, constructive, forward-looking mindset,” he said. “Lots of new and exciting, but also potentially scary situations lie ahead. It would be easy to go into a defensive posture…to hide behind what and who we know, to avoid taking risks. But that’s not who you really are, who we have tried to help you become.


“Ultimately, the way forward is up to each of us,” he noted. “So open your eyes, open your minds, open your hearts, engage others with optimism, and look for that ‘silver lining,’ as they say, in every situation. Find a way to say ‘yes’ more often than not, and see how much more fulfilling your life and the lives of those around you can be.”


After congratulating the class, Kirkpatrick turned the podium over to English instructor Janmarie Hines, who was selected by seniors to present the faculty address at graduation.


“I have always admired the determination and tenacity of St. Stephen’s graduates,” Hines noted. “In keeping with conventional graduation speeches, I shall impart a few lessons that you have taught me.


“Be brave,” she said. “I don’t really need to tell you this because I see your courage in the way that you display and share your gifts in class, in athletics and in the arts. Second, be patient with your parents and teachers, but especially with your parents.... Third, try to be present in your life; by that I mean do not pine for the past or obsess about the future, but live in the red-hot now. Finally, show respect and kindness to others and to yourselves.


“I’ll end with my best wishes, great love and eternal gratitude to the Class of 2016 and to the larger St. Stephen’s family,” concluded Hines, who retired from teaching at the end of the school year.


Following the presentation of major awards and diplomas, Wilson Nichols ’16 gave the senior speech. The graduation exercises ended with a recitation of the school prayer and the closing benediction, led by the Rt. Rev. Dena A Harrison, Bishop Suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas.


Congratulations to all of St. Stephen’s graduates!



Special Medals and Honors


The Bishop John E. Hines Medal is named after the Rt. Rev. John Hines, founder of St. Stephen's Episcopal School, who was a man of extraordinary vision and bold action. The Bishop Hines Medal is awarded to the member of the senior class who maintained the highest academic standing throughout his or her junior and senior years. The 2016 Bishop Hines Medal was presented to Ryan Przybocki.


Named for the school’s first headmaster, The William Brewster Medal was established in 1960 by the St. Stephen’s faculty to recognize a member of the senior class who has made the greatest total contribution to the life of the school. The recipient is an engaged and talented student — strong across all disciplines and genuinely interested in “the life of the mind.” Nayib Asis Elizalde was named the 2016 Brewster Medal recipient.


The Dobbie Leverton Fenton Medal is awarded annually to a member of the senior class who promotes the values of social justice. This year’s Dobbie Leverton Fenton Medal was awarded to Sachi Paul.


The Velberta Asher Towner Award in the Performing Arts is named for “Bert” Towner, a member of the St. Stephen’s faculty from 1958 to1984 and a longtime chair of Fine Arts. This award is presented to a student who has excelled in the performing arts — music, drama and dance. This year’s Towner Award was presented to Makaa Copeland.


The Rev. Charles Abram and Virginia Sumners Music Award is presented annually to a member of the senior class who has made the greatest overall contribution to music at the school. The 2016 Sumners Award recipient was Pablo Thiel.


The Anne Dewey Guerin Award is awarded each year to the member of the senior class who has made the greatest contribution to the theatre program. This year’s Anne Dewey Guerin award was presented to Emily Hentschel.


The Catherine Elliott Montgomery Prize is awarded by a committee of teachers to a member of the senior class whose creativity, character and scholarship give promise of a contribution in history or the social sciences. The 2016 Montgomery Prize was awarded to Lia Mouton-Johnston.


The Don Cunningham Memorial Award is presented to a female and male senior who have lettered in three sports in their senior year and have demonstrated outstanding talent, leadership, dedication and sportsmanship. The 2016 Cunningham Award was presented to Maddie Almanza and Michael Joseph.


The David Paschall Award was created to recognize and honor outstanding accomplishments of students in academics and athletics. To be eligible for the award, a student must earn a varsity letter during each term and maintain honor roll status during the fall and winter terms. This year’s David Paschall Award recipients were Maddie Almanza, Katie Leiferman, Mallika Rao, Jordan Smith and Elizabeth Sturley.


The Athletic Leadership Award is presented each year to a male and a female student-athlete who have demonstrated exceptional leadership qualities throughout Upper School. The 2016 Athletic Leadership Award was presented to Erin Mikeska and Jordan Smith.



Special Faculty and Staff Recognition


During the baccalaureate service and graduation exercises, the following special awards were made to stand-out members of the St. Stephen’s community.


Middle School math instructor Kathy Duren was awarded the 2016 Dean H. Towner Master Teaching Chair.


English instructor Janmarie Hines received the Upper School Teacher Excellence Award.


History instructor Octavia Sadler received the Middle School Teacher Excellence Award.


Will Powell, security officer and assistant football coach, received the Staff Excellence Award.