Groton, MA -- “That simple sense of giving, of giving to others, of a commitment that goes beyond yourself,” said Headmaster Dan Scheibe as he opened the annual Founders’ Day ceremony on Friday, October 28 , when the school reflected on its history and celebrated its 224th year.
“And in addition,” Mr. Schiebe continued, “there is definitely a sense of service that is simply marked in tenure, and in today’s world, where it’s common to go from job to job or career to career or place to place, it is worth noting and celebrating just the simple fact of commitment over time.”
“What you see in that commitment over time is a sense of generosity, a sense of patience, and an amazing sense of identity with the values of the place.”
Each of this year’s Founders’ Day award recipients were recognized for the ways in which they have embodied these values of service.
Seniors Trent Briggs of Westford and Sam Rosenstein of Southborough were co-recipients of the school’s Greater Good Award, presented by Taylor Goodman-Leung ’17. Given to students each fall and to members of the alumni body each spring, the award recognizes those who strive to use their education to benefit the greater good of humanity.
In addition to being a peer counselor and member of the Elm Tree Society, Trent has worked outside of school to educate people on Down syndrome in order to further understanding of the disease; Taylor noted how, “It is the volunteer hours and selfless determination outside of school that sets Trent apart from others.”
As for Sam, Taylor described him as “a driving force for the past three years for the success of Stop Hunger Now at LA”, which, with his leadership and the growing involvement of others, has managed to pack over 23,000 meals to be distributed. Sam has also been recognized by both the Parent Independent School Network and the Stop Hunger Now organization. Taylor described how LA now has one of the strongest chapters of Stop Hunger Now at any school.
Next, Kassandra Almanzar ’19 and Paul Tola ’18 presented Dean Onners of Buildings and Grounds with the Kathy Peabody Memorial Book Award, which is given to a member of the non-teaching LA community who helps to create a secure, positive environment in which all members of the community may achieve their best.
“It’s hard to think about Lawrence Academy without Dean Onners,” Kassandra reflected as she highlighted his long tenure at the school. Paul emphasized, “Dean has been at LA for 34 years…[he] gives his heart and soul to the school every day.” Not only does Mr. Onners have “the reputation of being the best Zamboni driver in the ISL”, but, as Paul outlined, “he now takes care of the LA fields, along with the lawns, the trimmings, and mowing…so when you are playing a game, and the field is mowed and lined and all set to go, you have Dean to thank.”
“Thank you so much for all you do for us.”
The 25 Years of Service Award was presented to Mathematics Department Chair Krista Collins and Jennifer O’Connor, Director of Services for International Students. Both teachers were recognized as innovators with a tireless passion and commitment, and as strong advocates for their students; Krista Collins is “constantly looking for ways to make math more accessible and more relevant” to her students, and Jennifer O’Connor has been a compassionate mentor in helping international students in their transition from home to Lawrence Academy and the United States, and “lets each and every one of the students know that they are appreciated for who they are.”
Mr. Scheibe presented Joel Sugerman with the Chair to Honor Teaching Excellence, an award given every five years. Mr. Sugerman, the Director of Theatre as well as the Art Department Chair, was recognized by the headmaster for “his constant attention to his craft; his absolute dedication to the process of doing; his understanding of the full depth of meaning of his discipline and the depths of the human experience that it can explore; his faith in the value of the experience of learning as an end in itself that is not always about the performance or production”, combined with “his complete trust and faith and his confidence in his students”, as “the depth of quality of his work” and “the extraordinary performances that we get to see through his students” has illustrated.
Finally, the Founders’ Day Award, Lawrence Academy’s highest award, was presented to Sue McKenna; Maura Delaney, former Dean of Students, accepted the award on Sue’s behalf.
“What Sue has cared for, and has always cared for,” declared Mrs. Delaney, “[is] that deepest part of us, the health and well-being at our very core.”
“Sue spent her career here making sure that the light shines for all. Sue would be the first to tell you that she is not a hero, and that she has not changed the world, but I would beg to differ; Tolstoy once wrote, “Everyone thinks they can change the world but no one thinks of changing themselves”. Sue McKenna changes the world because she gets everyone around her to change themselves. She changes the world one Mountain Day, one late-night call, one drive to the emergency room with a sick student, one sick pass, one Open House, one shoulder to cry on, and one laugh at a time.”
As the ceremony drew to a close, Ms. Delaney echoed, “A friend said that Sue nursed our health, but far more importantly, she nursed our souls. She embodies a Maya Angelou quote that goes in part, ‘People may not remember exactly what you said, and they certainly will not remember what you did; but they will always remember how you made them feel’.”