Honoring Student’s Academic Excellence

by Nancy Draina

The Academic Excellence Award is conferred on a student whose academic performance during the year demonstrates remarkable consistency at the highest level of achievement. The intent of the award is to reward those who have rewarded us in the classroom – both students and faculty – who achieve on a level of excellence matched by the values of scholarship we all hold dear, and who study with intensity, motivate themselves and others, and genuinely celebrate learning in all aspects to its fullest.

This year’s Academic Award recipients are: Willa Schendler ’22, Zane Mullally ’21, Sarah Teague ’20 and Josiah Utsch ’19. The remarks below were written by each award winner’s advisor.

9th Grade Academic Award

I first heard about this person described by one of her parents with words that might be loosely translated as a phenom. This parent was gushing, effervescing with pride, amazed that DNA had dealt him such a profound miracle, wondering if perhaps CRMS might be lucky enough to persuade her to attend. And while one expects a parent be effusive, perhaps even a little over the top, I figured this person must be pretty special, and I looked forward to meeting this 9th grader .Well this 9th grader came this year and I started hearing stories about achievements that were inspired, essays that were impeccably written and when I met this person, I realized the parent understated the true depth, talents and wisdom of this 9th grader. As one teacher remarks, “she has a wisdom and maturity beyond her years, both in and out of the classroom. From the first day of Wilderness through the last day of our advanced genetics unit in Biology, she exuded a genuine curiosity, humility, and love of learning. She raises the bar and serves as a touchstone for her peers. With only a moments notice she took on the extra challenge of organizing the CRMS riparian restoration project this year, overseeing budgeting, procuring cottonwoods, and facilitating the planting day. She is a leader without the need of a title.

Einstein once said that the purpose of education was to clarify your thoughts about critical issues and then find the courage to take your thoughts seriously. Willa Echo Schendler would make Albert, that is Albert Einstein proud, just as proud as her father Auden.

She seeks to be vital in all that she does. After all there are not many people who can spend 10 days in a small cold snow cave, snowed in the Sierras with the same hyperbolic but proud parent, a couple of other friends, snowed in, blisters on both feet and then… have the audacity to come back smiling and talking about how much fun it was.

10th Grade Academic Award

“Learning is not attained by chance, it must be sought for with ardor and attended to with diligence.” ?Abigail Adams
Curiosity, persistence, quest for intellectual growth, diligence, good role model, zest for learning – these are all words which describe both the ideal student attributes, and more importantly, this student, our Sophomore Academic Award Recipient.

This student consistently works toward more knowledge and understanding, rather than simply a grade or for outer recognition. They seek out every opportunity to learn by asking probing questions, leading discussions into deeper places, taking risks in front of peers by expressing their thoughts fully, even if they do not “know” the answers. This is where true learning takes place – out on the edges of our knowledge and skill, where we are uncertain – it can be a challenging place to be, at any age, and this student is willing to be in that uncomfortable place both for their own betterment, and that of the whole class. Which leads us to their next outstanding quality – their commitment to the growth of their community. They lead in a quiet, deft manner, encouraging others to focus on the topic at hand, keeping the conversation meaningful, leading by their own good example of exploration, interest, and participation, always in a positive manner.

Their quest for mastery and a depth of understanding was recognized and appreciated throughout the year, elevating everyone present.
Congratulations, Zane Mullally.

11th Grade Academic Award 

Endowed with exceptional qualities and abilities, this student has been described as a prodigy, exhibiting grad school intellect in these high school classes. Welcome to this student’s universe, where the academic and intellectual curiosity pervades every minute of every day.

Perhaps you will find yourself with this student hiking and discussing different concepts in the realm of astrophysics. Perhaps you will join this student in working with other artists, collaboratively stoking each other’s creativity and reaching new heights in the process. Perhaps you will have your writing pieces published or edited by this student, talking about writing, editing and the sharing of ideas and opinions in a public setting. You may even decide which classes to take based on this student’s schedule, hoping to spend as much time with them as possible and knowing that being with them will make you a better student and academic. We have all benefitted at least indirectly but most of us directly from this student’s academic curiosity and openness.

Please join me in recognizing Sarah Teague as this year’s junior year Academic Award Winner.

12th Grade Academic Award

This year’s 12th-grade academic award winner is a student who walks into each and every class period excited. So excited they can almost not sit down. They are excited about something they just read, something they just learned or about something they want to learn. They get so excited that at times this student can often appear to lose focus or get distracted, but it’s never out of lack of interest, but quite the opposite.

The desire to learn and ask questions drives this student like no other even to the point of forgetting what they were doing just a few minutes ago. One of their teachers said that this student “has one of those brilliant minds who might not remember to put his shoes on the right feet, but will undoubtedly change the world.”

They bring energy and true curiosity with them everywhere they go whether that is a classroom, a table at the Bar Fork or helping another student as a peer tutor. Many teachers have commented that this student is truly in love with learning and does so for the sake of learning and not to simply check a box on a college application, or to receive other extrinsic rewards.

This year’s winner was described by one of his teachers as “having a remarkable memory for detail and consistently makes connections from history, literature, and current events to our class discussions.” In a response to their written work a teacher commented, “This is beautiful and so well stated, so real, so tender and so intellectually spot on…” It not only described words on the paper, but also the author.

To quote one final teacher, this student “has transformed from a disorganized boy into one of the most driven, capable, and inspiring students with whom I have ever worked,” “like the nautilus, he is wonderfully odd and has come out of his shell to lead our school community.”

Heading to Middlebury College next year: Josiah Utsch is this year’s 12th-grade academic award winner.

Tags from the story

Academics, Student

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