On Wednesday, June 10, 2020, Providence Country Day School celebrated the class of 2020 at the 93rd commencement ceremony. It was a day unlike any before, with graduating seniors driving up to receive their diplomas one at a time and families tuning in through FM radio or online video streams. The PCD community paid tribute to a talented, motivated, and hard-working senior class who successfully completed their high school careers amid a pandemic that required social distancing, virtual learning, and the cancellation of sports seasons, senior projects, and proms.
The importance of community, personal growth, and perseverance were running themes throughout the day. These were reflected in Oscar Hammerstein's You'll Never Walk Alone, the invocation Director of College Counseling Terry Ward gave to open the ceremony:
"When you walk through a storm, hold your head up high,
and don't be afraid of the dark.
At the end of the storm is a golden sky
and the sweet silver song of a lark.
Walk on through the wind, walk on through the rain,
though your dreams be tossed and blown.
Walk on, walk on, with hope in your heart,
and you'll never walk alone."
Head of School Kevin Folan welcomed graduates and their guests and commended the seniors on their perseverance in the face of the pandemic. "I know that you have walked through the wind and through the rain during these unprecedented and arduous times. Though your dreams of what your senior spring could have been were tossed and blown, you remained undeterred. And yet, I am confident that the PCD class of 2020 will ensure that good will come of this and that we will be a stronger, more nimble community, state, country, and world."
Graduating seniors Devin Dembrow and Sophie Robinson introduced the two invited speakers, Carol-ann Tripp, PCD's award-winning physics teacher, and Michele Mennucci, the Department Chair of Visual and Performing Arts.
"Always believe in community," Tripp said in her address. "Your community and you were active and cooperative partners in the creation of a learning experience. The fundamental give and take nature of all these interactions is essential, undeniable and irrevocable. It is more than just a good idea for society in general. It is specifically a law in Physics."
Tripp emphasized the importance of community not only in the seniors' PCD education, but in their futures as well. "I believe the right attitude, the one that will continue to hold true and clear and firm, is for all of us to always believe in community," Tripp said. "So, as we take our next steps forward to move out into the world, let us...stick together in the communities we have always believed in."
Mennucci encouraged graduates to learn to become their best selves, a process she called a "life-long pursuit." Throughout this process, Mennucci advised graduates to be empathetic, open-minded, respectful, courageous, trustworthy, and generous.
She also lauded the graduating class for their ability to persevere through unique challenges. "We have all learned a lot over the past three months. The pandemic has revealed many things about ourselves, our country, and our world. As we look ahead, we can agree that there will be daunting challenges to face, serious problems to solve, and countless opportunities to contribute to the greater good. It is clear to all of us here today that the future will need the very best people working together to make a difference. I believe you will be those very best people."
The 36 seniors in PCD's Class of 2020 will be attending 26 schools spread out over 13 states.
Nicholas Joseph Allienello, Regis College
Margaux Evangeline Bedford, University of Rhode Island
Illianna Jacqueline-Eufemia Britto, University of Rhode Island
Anthony Salvatore Bruno, Lasell University
Matthew P. Burke, Rhode Island College
Sonya Evelyn Crucey, Elon University
Wolfgang Viet Curl, Drexel University
Dante Z. Darden, Boston University
Paige Kaitlyn Dauplaise, Washington College
Joshua V. DeMacedo, Dean College
Devin Lawrence Dembrow, Boston University
Gregory Alexander Demetrakas, Temple University
Julianna Fei Dick, Boston University
Leo James Farrelly, Brandeis University
Hannah Rose Finkelstein, University of Rhode Island
Erkan Gao, University of California, San Diego
Michael Richard Harris, Lasell University
Bennett Edward Hicks, Bryant University
Zhehao Jin, Boston University
Odelia Orr Kabessa, Temple University
Olivia Ann Kelton, Assumption College
Emerson McClendon Kopsack, Syracuse University
Hope Marie Laiter, Dean College
Songyan Liu, University of California, Berkeley
James C. Marsella, University of Pennsylvania
Zoey Anne Martin, Savannah College of Art and Design
Laura Noel McCarty, St. Mary's College of Maryland
Sophie Claire Robinson, Emerson College
Jacob C. Rothschild, Interim Year
Finnian Buckley Small, Bennington College
Matthew Todd Smith, Rhode Island College
David R. Sylvia III, Nova Southeastern University
Elliott Robert Trendell, Brown University
Ziyun Wang, Case Western Reserve University
Charles E. Yancho, Johnson & Wales University
Liyuan Zhang, University of Michigan
Graduating seniors received the following awards:
THE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN VOCAL MUSIC
THE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC
THE CHARLOTTE T. STRATTON THEATER AWARD—Presented to a student who has demonstrated unusual excellence in theater.
THE JUDITH A. SPEYER ART AWARD—For excellence in art in honor of Ms. Speyer whose teaching and passion for the arts inspired students for 31 years.
THE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PHOTOGRAPHY
YEARBOOK AWARD—In recognition of outstanding effort, achievement and leadership.
THE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN SPANISH
THE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN LATIN
THE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN BIOLOGY
THE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN PHYSICS
THE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN MATHEMATICS
Songyan Kyle Liu
Liyuan Cygnus Zhang
THE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN ART HISTORY
THE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN HISTORY
THE SANDSTROEM BOOK AWARD—For excellence in English, to the outstanding senior English student.
THE RICHARD S. STANZLER MEMORIAL PRIZE—Given in memory of Richard S. Stanzler, of the Class of 1954, by his family and friends to that student in the Upper School who has excelled in the humanities in the current academic year.
FACULTY CITATION—"For his consistent enthusiasm, positive energy, and generosity and work ethic both in academics and athletics."
FACULTY CITATION—"For her unwavering dedication to bettering the community through her hard work and care for others."
FACULTY CITATION—"For his dedication to respect and inclusion within the PCD community, and for his faithfulness of effort in founding the PRIDE Alliance."
KENNETH R. GRABOYS COMMUNITY SERVICE AWARD—Awarded in honor of Ken Graboys '81, to the graduating senior who has demonstrated extraordinary giving of self in service to others in the greater community.
THE ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE AWARD—Given to a member of the graduating class who has been a student at Providence Country Day for two years or more and maintained the highest academic average.
Liyuan Cygnus Zhang
THE GERALD B. WOODRUFF PROGRESS AWARD—Given to that student in the graduating class who in his or her years at PCD has displayed the greatest personal growth as an individual and a member of our community.
THE WILLIAM R. GIUNTA MEMORIAL BOOK AWARD—Given to a member of the graduating class who best exemplifies a spirit of concern and interest in people and the value of community.
THE PERCIVAL C. NORRIS MEMORIAL AWARD—Awarded to that member of the graduating class who has, over the years, shown outstanding loyalty and constructive leadership in the tradition of Mr. Norris.
THE CLASS OF 1929 GOLD MEDAL FOR EXCELLENCE—For excellence in scholarship, participation in athletics, participation in other extracurricular activities, leadership in and influence upon the school, and faithfulness of effort.
THE ROBERT ARTHUR LAVAN MEMORIAL MEN'S ATHLETIC AWARD
SUZANNE BAILEY WOMEN'S ATHLETIC AWARD
J. RODERICK EATON SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD
THE CHARLES S. GWYNNE AWARD
ATHLETIC DIRECTOR'S CITATION (SEQUOIA AWARD)
Underclassman also received the following awards during this year's annual awards ceremony:
THE MARY SUTTELL GIRL'S UNDERCLASS ATHLETIC AWARD
THE ALEX POULOS MEMORIAL ATHLETIC AWARD
THE MIDDLE SCHOOL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING EFFORT AND ACHIEVEMENT IN INSTRUMENTAL MUSIC
THE MIDDLE SCHOOL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING EFFORT AND ACHIEVEMENT IN VOCAL MUSIC
THE MIDDLE SCHOOL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING EFFORT AND ACHIEVEMENT IN VISUAL ART
THE MIDDLE SCHOOL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING EFFORT AND ACHIEVEMENT IN SPANISH
THE MIDDLE SCHOOL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING EFFORT AND ACHIEVEMENT IN LATIN
MIDDLE SCHOOL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING EFFORT AND ACHIEVEMENT IN HISTORY
THE MIDDLE SCHOOL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING EFFORT AND ACHIEVEMENT IN ENGLISH
THE MIDDLE SCHOOL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING EFFORT AND ACHIEVEMENT IN MATHEMATICS
THE MIDDLE SCHOOL AWARD FOR OUTSTANDING EFFORT AND ACHIEVEMENT IN SCIENCE
THE AWARD FOR EXCELLENCE IN CHEMISTRY
THE RENSSELAER AWARD—Given by Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute to a member of the junior class for achievement in mathematics and science.
THE PELL MEDAL AWARD—For excellence in United States History.
THE BROWN UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD—Awarded to the top junior who combines a high degree of ability in the field of English (both written and spoken).
THE MIDDLE SCHOOL PROGRESS AWARD—Awarded to a student or students who have demonstrated significant academic or social growth in their Middle School careers.
THE MIDDLE SCHOOL ACADEMIC AWARD—Awarded to the student who has achieved the highest academic average in the class over the past two years.
THE MARY ELIZABETH HUNT AWARD—Awarded to our most outstanding Middle School citizen, in honor of Betty Hunt, our school receptionist for many years, who radiated warmth and sunshine.
THE WILLIAMS COLLEGE BOOK AWARD—Awarded to the most outstanding Middle School student for combined scholastic achievement and extra-curricular participation and leadership potential.
THE NANCY M. HANLEY AWARD—Given by friends and family in honor of Nancy Hanley, Librarian, ninth grade lead advisor, parent of Ted '85 and Mike '86 and wife of Jim '58. This award is given to that ninth-grade student whose spirit, citizenship and academic commitment lift those around them in the way that Mrs. Hanley did for those around her.
THE PCD ALUMNI AWARD—Given to a member of the tenth-grade for high scholarship combined with consistent and constructive leadership.
THE UNIVERSITY OF RHODE ISLAND ALUMNI ASSOCIATION BOOK AWARD—Awarded to the junior in our School whose outstanding personal attributes and service to school and community make this person worthy of honorable recognition.
THE DARTMOUTH ALUMNI ASSOCIATION OF RHODE ISLAND BOOK AWARD—Awarded to that junior who ranks in the top ten percent of his/her class and who best combines the qualities of scholarship, leadership and achievement.
THE HARVARD CLUB OF RHODE ISLAND BOOK AWARD—Awarded to the outstanding student in the junior class who displays excellence in scholarship and high character, combined with achievement in other fields.
THE YALE ALUMNI CLUB BOOK AWARD—Awarded to that junior in a rigorous college preparatory program whose academic achievement and contribution to the life of the school is testimony to his or her outstanding personal character and intellectual promise.
To close the graduation ceremony, Mark McLaughlin, Associate Head of School for Advancement and Strategic Partnerships, provided the Charge to the Class of 2020. The Charge included statements from advisors Jen Aitken, Chris Dodd, Nancy Gelardi, Alex Shamgochian, and Peter Walsworth. Together, they advised graduates to take care of one another, to check privilege and listen, to be courageous, and to speak out against injustice.
"Take care, be well, stay connected to each other and your school," McLaughlin said. "And always remember the words of David to Solomon to be strong and of good courage."