Graduation 2016 – Sturgis East

Maura Coughlin, Class of 2016, leads the procession of Sturgis East faculty and seniors through Hyannis Village Green to Hyannis Harbor for the 2016 graduation ceremony on June 4.

Maura Coughlin, Class of 2016, leads the procession of Sturgis East faculty and seniors through Hyannis Village Green to Hyannis Harbor for the 2016 graduation ceremony on June 4.

June 4, 2016 was the perfect day for the 15th graduation of Sturgis East and the 3rd graduation of Sturgis West. Both graduation ceremonies were held at Aselton Park overlooking Hyannis Harbor. The day of festivities began with Sturgis West graduation at 10:00 AM followed by Sturgis East graduation at 2:30 PM. This article includes full text of graduation speeches along with links to videos of several speeches and a selection of photographs by Jarvis Chen and Marion Weeks.  We hope the speeches, videos and photographs capture a bit of the spirit of the 2016 Sturgis East Graduation.

Congratulations Sturgis East Class of 2016: Ahmad M. Akkawi, Jordan D. Albrizio, Deja A. Andrews, Lauren A. Benedict, Jorgia R. Bergin, Lauren E. Berkley, Benjamin J. Blake, Meghan K. Borowski, Kathryn E. Boudreau, Mathias D. Boyar, Cole J. Britton, Kelly W. Britton, Mitchell R. Burns, Sarah H. Byron, Elizabeth B. Campbell, Matthew F. Carbonaro, Colin M. Caton, Meghan E. Clancy, Caleb W. Clarkson, Sarah A. Clifford, Hannah M. Conklin, Julia L. Cotter, Maura A. Coughlin, Grace W. Cox, Joshua T. Cox, Katie N. Curran, Victor B. Dominatto, Andrew L. Dornback, Georgina L. Duffy-Hetzel, Jarod T. Estep, Emma S. Esterman, Kyle J. Fallon, Grace G. Fayne, Mary K. Fitzgerald, Ashley A. Fligg, Sarah A. Flint, Samuel G. Fryer, Grace C. Gallagher, Michaela T. Gallagher, Spencer L. Gayton, Maria G. Girardin, Elizabeth E. Happel, Tyler W. Holbert-Catania, Kathryn A. Holland, Kendall R. Hoover, Kassie F. Hyde, Kimberlee R. Jeghers, Benjamin N. Johnson-Staub, Jessica W. Johnson, Timothy H. Johnson, Jared C. Joy, Brian A. Kelsey, Shannon R. Kelsey, Marisa E. Kenny, Cameron M. Kluza, Christiane S. Kuppig, Ian A. Law, Julien P. Legault, Shayna H. Leibowitz, Tess S. Liddy, Christina F. Lucci, Isabella T. Luff, Daniel C. MacIsaac, Annalee M. May, Miriam P. May, Sasha L. McEnaney, Maeve A. McNamara, Eilir P. Milsted, Zoe R. Neal, Christopher D. Neuman, Jamie M. Neuman, Kevin P. Nicolai, Christopher A. O’Brien, Carter C. Otis, Margaret N. Paul, Cooper W. Peterson, Elias S. Pol, Antonia R. Powicki, Tess E. Puopolo, Maxwell J. Putman, Mitchell G. Qualls, Lindsay M. Rice, Peter L. Rioux, Isabella D. Roberge, James C. Rogers, Meghan C. Rogers, Anna K. Rohlf, Jack A. Rush, Jonah J. Senzel, Jensen D. Simmons, Kaitlyn E. Smith, Lauren V. Smith, Andrew R. Somerville, Amanda K. Sullivan, Isabel M. Tarr, Eleanor N. Titcomb, Hannah N. Trelegan, Khidra M. Weisman, Zachary T. Wright and Brett A. Zimble

Nautical Traditions of Sturgis Graduation

Sturgis Graduation Tent at Hyannis Harbor

Sturgis Graduation Tent at Hyannis Harbor

Sturgis graduations are a wonderful celebration of the achievements of our students. The ceremony incorporates several nautical traditions that reflect our maritime setting and connection to Captain William Sturgis (1782-1863) for whom our school is named. Decked out in the finery of robes and led by Eric Hieser and Paul Marble along with bagpiper Maura Coughlin, Sturgis grads march with faculty down Main Street and through the Village Green to Hyannis Harbor where they enter a shining white tent filled with people who love them and have traveled far to be present at their commencement. No graduation is ever complete without sounds of the harbor in the background – including ship’s bells and an occasional blast from a ferry’s horn.

Patrick O'Kane assists seniors signing out

Principal Patrick O’Kane assists seniors signing out

Signing the Ship’s Log

After receiving their diploma, each graduate proceeds to a table displaying a ship’s log. When students first begin their journey at Sturgis, they sign the log.  Just as William Sturgis signed on board for his first voyage, students “sign on for a term of duty,” signifying their request to begin the voyage.  At the end of graduation, students “sign out” next to their original signature, signifying completion of the voyage.  The lucky last student in each class (alphabetically speaking!) is given the honor of ringing the ship’s bell.

Welcoming Address by Paul Marble, Associate Director

Sturgis East Class of 2016, Parents, Faculty, Board of Trustees, Relatives, & Friends: today is a momentous day.

Paul Marble addresses Class of 2016

Paul Marble addresses Class of 2016

One hundred Sturgis East seniors – soon to be graduates – sit behind me, expectantly.  They are nearing the end of one journey, about to embark on another, and for the last time each of these one hundred people will be an active part of this special group – the class of 2016.

We gather here near the edge of the ocean on a beautiful June day – the sky is blue, the grass is green and the air is pleasant – and listen to people who care deeply about Sturgis and each other. We see the looks on graduates’ faces when they are handed their well-earned diplomas. We bask in the pride, joy, and love on the faces of those who came here to celebrate. All of this feels quite momentous to me.

As our soon-to-be-graduates are IB students, they may have held that statement – today is a meaningful day – up to closer scrutiny: “But, Mr. Marble, how do you know it is a momentous day” for us?

I  assume so based on what many of you wrote in your graduation speeches. You see, parents and friends, we have a custom at Sturgis that every senior writes a graduation speech, and a committee of faculty chooses the two speeches that are most evocative of our Sturgis beliefs and values to be given at graduation; you will hear from Maria Girardin and Emma Esterman, shortly. I have had the pleasure of reading all of the speeches, and I would like to continue our custom of sharing select passages from these speeches with you today.

When I call your name, please stand while I read your words aloud:

Brian Kelsey

Brian Kelsey

From Brian Kelsey: “Welcome friends and family of the Class of 2016! All of us students remember that a few years ago we lined up right where I stand now to sign our names in the captain’s log, with the promise that when we graduated we would be able to complete our journey and sign out. A trivial action then, but I guarantee you since that day we have all thought back to it, probably more than once: “Will I make it”? Some of us may have thought. “What will I be like”? “Will I finally have my life figured out”? I know all of us at one point have thought “Oh god, why didn’t I go to my town public school?” Yet on that very first day, as we sat on the grass supposedly listening to inspirational words from Mr. Marble and Mr. Heiser, but really worrying about the cute girl a few feet away and being jealous of that Zimble kid getting to ring the bell, I’d like to think all of us knew that something special lay in front of us, we just didn’t know why or how at the time.”

Tess Liddy

Tess Liddy

From Tess Liddy: “We owe our parents a debt of gratitude for either forcing us to come to Sturgis or allowing us to. The last thing I wanted when I was 14 was to go to school here but I’m so glad I did. So while we owe our families a great deal for putting up with us over the years, our guidance office for helping us plan the future, and our teachers for making sure we had the right IB learner profile traits;  we owe each other so much more. So thank you for being just as lost as I was on the first day of school freshman year, thank you for helping me when I was beyond confused in every math class, thank you for all the respect we gave each other during English discussion circles and ToK presentations, and thank you for all the time we’ve spent together. It’s been an amazing four years with the class of 2016.”

Elisabeth Campbell

Elisabeth Campbell

From Elizabeth Campbell: “My teachers here at Sturgis have engaged me in topics from nuclear fission to the never-ending rise and rule of Mao Zedong, long block after long block, and have shown me that being “well rounded” is more than simply balanced. It’s seeing the endless connections between topics and courses, and using these to delve deeper in, to question things, and to form multi-faceted judgments. As many of you know, throughout the International Baccalaureate Programme, we completed IA’s, or Internal Investigations, for each class, and one Extended Essay. With these, I explored the expense of water programs and their relation to life expectancy in Afghanistan, I researched that temperature changes in Eastern African countries had on malaria cases, and I wrote about the achievable eradication of the Guinea Worm Disease. The IB gave me the freedom to not only find my interests, but to explore them from numerous perspectives. So, I began to see public health as a common theme in my work. Next year, I’ll be majoring in public health, and if it had not been for this specific program, I don’t believe I would have found something that encompassed so many of the things I was interested in. But at the same time, I’m keeping in mind that just when it seems I’ve figured things out, life changes, and more so, I change.”

Andrew Somerville

Andrew Somerville

From Andrew Somerville: “We are the lucky ones. When you look at the biggest requirement for us to get into Sturgis, all it took was luck. If you see Sturgis as a building, it was love that led us to the front door, but it is mere chance that we got in. We did not get in because we were smart, or we were kind, or we had money. We got in because our names were drawn out of a lottery.

This is one of the fundamental beliefs of IB for all. Sturgis doesn’t care if we’re rich, or if we’re smart, or if we looked like a model IB student, it cares whether we applied for the program or not. And the only way to prevent favoring one student over the other is through the least discriminatory metaphysical concept, chance. And chance is why we’re here.

And even through the tough times, we still persevered. Love was the road that brought us to the front gates, chance got us through the gates, but it was determination that kept us here.”

Anna Rolfe

Anna Rolfe

From Anna Rohlf” To quote Hamlet, Act III, Scene III, line 87, ‘No” I’m not ready to graduate.

Sturgis made me the person I am today. Because of Sturgis, I am an inquirer, I am open-minded, I am knowledgeable, I am caring, I am a thinker, I am a risk-taker, I am a communicator, I am balanced, I am principled, and I am reflective.

But I am also an expert procrastinator. I am a slightly above average dodgeball player. I am a second place Spirit Week winner. I am an acclaimed Main Street food critic. I am a gold Extended Essay star recipient. I am a performer on a stage where the main set piece is a pile of rocks. I am a four-time Free Cone Day attendee. I am a Camp Burgess survivor. I am a name in the Captain’s logbook. I am a member of a community.”

Miriam May

Miriam May

And, finally, from Miriam May: “When we leave our chairs today, holding our long dreamed about high school diplomas, let’s truly reflect on how the last four years of schooling has changed us as individuals. I believe I can speak on behalf of many when I say that Sturgis has been a life changing opportunity. But also we have been supported by the love and support of family members and friends, the people we go to when we needed someone to lean on. As we go on our separate ways and many different directions in the years to come, the memory of a high school graduation is a life milestone. So I would like to ask everyone to take a moment and look around and allow this moment to sink in. We are surrounded by our peers, our siblings, our parents, our grandparents, our aunts and uncles, and many of our “chosen” family which are family under every circumstance except blood. I’m asking this because many times we don’t live in the moment, and right now is a moment that should not be forgotten.”

To my initial claim: today is a momentous day, I now add the rationale: because today is a culmination of the past four years where we have all chosen to live, think, and gather with great intentionality, care, and reflection. Students, faculty and family have made our collective Sturgis experience momentous, and today is a day to celebrate in that accomplishment.

Just as all of our seniors are graduating, so, too, are many of our faculty about to embrace their own new opportunities. I would like for the following faculty to please stand so that we can show our appreciation for their commitment to our mission and our students:

Carla Aiello, Christina Alvarez, Martha Armenti, Bob Armenti, Aimee Baker, Nick Conti,  Amanda Hulse, Creigton Hulse, Jo Mary Pontes, and Chloe Roselander-Ginn, please stand.

Sturgis East Class of 2016, congratulations, and thank you for choosing to see the best in each other and for making the most of yourselves. I hope that you always carry Sturgis in your hearts.

Greetings from the Board of Trustees – Fred Work, Trustee

Fred Work

Fred Work

Graduates, faculty, administrators, board members, family and friends of the class of 2016, welcome to this ceremony. I am honored to be chosen to represent our board. Actually, I volunteered …

I would like to take the spotlight off our graduates for a few minutes to honor a man without whom we would not be here today or without whom Sturgis would not be #1 in the Commonwealth and top 50 in the nation. He is our retiring—humble and retiring—executive director, Eric Hieser. I’ll get to the humble part later.

Since Sturgis Board of Trustees is so little known, give me a second or two to tell you who I am: My name is Fred Work.  I’m the longest-standing board member—got on the board in 2000 or 2001—so long ago, can’t remember exactly when! We have term limits. Ask me about them after graduation!

Well, they call me the institutional memory—never been sure how to take that … I’d like to take you back to a time when Sturgis was this close to returning our charter to the Commonwealth and closing our doors. I really want all of you to see the documentary coming out of the Sturgis History project. By now, you’re probably wondering when I’m going to say something about Eric. Well, you’ll see how it all comes together in about a minute.

Charter schools are supervised and regulated. We are inspected and have to apply to be re-chartered every 5 years. The board is required to be present at one or more of the examiners’ meetings. One such meeting has stayed in my memory for a very long time. Two examiners, Professors from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, came into a meeting and sat down next to me. They were saying: “O my gosh! There’s something really strange here: Sturgis kids are HAPPY!  This is a happy place, a happy school!” And then, “How is this done?” I immediately jumped in and said, “Easy! You hire a director who sets four parameters:

he or she hires teachers who love kids

he or she hires teachers who love their subject and love seeing students learning and growing

he or she hires teachers who are collegial, respect each other, and work as a team

and, as director, he or she maintains that collegiality and coöperation

Now, finally, you have heard about Eric Hieser. This is who he is.

I love it; Sturgis is my dream school. Here’s where I cite Eric’s humility: Over and over, I and many others have said, “Eric, you’ve done this! You’ve made this school what it is!” Eric’s response has always been to say, “No no! It’s the faculty and staff and students who have made Sturgis what it is today!” Team player is another way to describe Eric. If he sees that you have a better shot at scoring, this is the man who will get the ball to you.

I picked up a cute story from Paul Marble this morning. He and his wife were watching the rushes of the Sturgis History Project, the video I want all of you to see. He noted that whenever asked during an interview being filmed for this project, “What have you contributed to the success of Sturgis?” the interviewees consistently pointed and gave credit to everyone except themselves. Of course, I gave credit to Paul for making this observation. However, after an earlier delivery of this speech, Paul leaned over and told me that his wife had made the observation, not he!

This shows the humility factor here at Sturgis and it comes down from the top, from Eric Hieser himself. I call it trickle-down humility. Allow me to state one more inarguable point: Eric, you turned this school around. You took Sturgis from deep dysfunctionality to the highest levels of teaching and instruction any kid or parent could ask for. I was there. I saw it happen. I am witness to the evolution of Sturgis under your leadership. You did it, and thousands of people whose lives have been touched or changed by your policies—thousands of us are profoundly grateful for all you have done.

To be fair Eric, yes, you did not do this alone. However you have been the leader of the team which makes Sturgis what it is today. You leave Sturgis in a state of excellence and in good hands. You retire Summa Cum Laude.

Thank you, Eric Hieser

Farewell Address by Eric Hieser, Executive Director

Eric Hieser

Eric Hieser

Sturgis East Class of 2016, Parents, Faculty, Board of Trustees, Relatives, & Friends:

Class of 2016, it seems that we have something in common!  We are all coming to the end of our time at Sturgis this year.  I am sure that you are quite excited to move on to the next stages of your lives, but I would also not be surprised to hear that some of you are feeling some nostalgia about your time at Sturgis.  Although over the past weeks and months, I guess I have been repressing the thought of confronting the reality of June 30 as the last day of my joy of working with students and faculty over the past 45 years.  When people ask me if I am really looking forward to the next steps of my life, I tell them that I have not taken much time to think about it—probably because when one truly enjoys what one does in life (and is lucky to get paid for it!), it is difficult to think about life without students.  I actually think that it finally hit me when I first looked at the graduation program and it noted “Farewell Address” next to my name.  Some of you graduates may also be having some uneasy feelings about what life beyond Sturgis will bring, but the fear of the unknown is only natural.  I suggest that you should feel confident to take on any challenge with your IB education and your well-developed Learner Profile traits!

West 2013 Freshmen Orientation at Hyannis Harbor

Freshmen Orientation at Hyannis Harbor

Some of you graduates may be reflecting on fond memories from our time at Sturgis, starting with when you began your journey at Camp Burgess, and learned about the life of William Sturgis and its parallels with Sturgis students, and you signed the log book signifying the start of your IB voyage.  I am sure that you will remember many of the traditions and high points of the Sturgis experience, almost as they were yesterday—experiences such as international trips, Model UN, homecoming games and dances, prom, awards ceremonies, IA’s, mocks, the EE, and IB exams, and–many other memories that only you know about—and it is probably best left that way!

Eric Hieser speaks to grads at Alumni Reunion 2011

You know, we have learned a great deal from our students and faculty over the past 12 years of my time at Sturgis.  Some people may have thought that the Sturgis of today came from some grand design that we have worked toward since 2004, but to the contrary, we are only now able to put labels and descriptors on what has evolved from the outstanding collaborative work of students and faculty with a vision of what might be.  We have also learned a great deal from the many visitors who have spent one or several days observing Sturgis over the past 12 years.  One of the key takeaways that we gained from Dr. Jal Mehta and his team from the Harvard Graduate School of Education after their 10-day visit was his observation that “School Culture Can Have a Significant Impact on Deeper Learning.”

So, I firmly believe you, the Class of 2016, have had an outstanding faculty, an IB for All experience, and a vibrant, inclusive school culture that are the key parts of Sturgis that have changed your lives, and these are actually reflections that many of you have articulated over the past several weeks. The culture that we have aspired to create is multi-faceted, but quite intentional, and includes:

  • IB Exams

    Helping each student strive to maximize his/her potential—it is not achieve compared to what the student sitting next to you achieves but what you achieve compared to your own potential;

  • An IB for All program builds a sense of camaraderie among students—although some of you may have described it as camaraderie through misery;
  • An unswerving focus on Student Learning is Why We Are Here—as the driver for all decisions;
  • Developing a mindset of “if you try to maintain, you lose”–you always want to be enhancing and tweaking what you do to make it better for learning;
  • Building trust and mutual respect among students, faculty, and school leaders—a culture of We–rather than Us & Them;
  • Emphasizing that it is not what you know—but it is what you do with what you know that makes you successful;
  • Helping students understand that it is not the end result each year–or at the end of high school that is important—but the most important thing is the journey in developing the habits of mind to be successful in university and in life that is most important.
  • Realizing that the most impactful thing that we as school leaders do is to hire great people—and then to stay out of their way for the most part. (Recognize Faculty)
  • I pause to recognize some of the key people that have helped Sturgis to evolve and grow over the past 12 years: 1st IB Coordinator Arthur Pontes, Principal Chris Andre, IB Coordinator and first Sturgis West Principal Peter Steedman, current IB Coordinators Cindy Gallo and Julie Carman, & Principal and incoming Executive Director Paul Marble.  Their leadership contributed significantly to the Sturgis of today.
Eric Hieser addresses Class of 2016

Eric Hieser addresses Class of 2016

I will end my words with my favorite quote about:

“The Essence of Success”:

Successful is the person who has lived well, laughed often and loved much;

who has gained the respect of children,

who leaves the world better than one found it,

who has never lacked appreciation for the earth’s beauty,

who never fails to look for the best in others, or

give the best of oneself.”

So, Sturgis faculty—I challenge you to:  Be All That You Can Be—by continuing to enhance your impact on transforming public education across the U.S. and around the world.

Class of 2016—I challenge you to:  Be All That You Can Be—by reaching your potential—every day—every year—and sharing your influence with others so that you can lift everyone up.

Thanks to all of you for an amazing end to a career. I would not have wanted it any other way!!!

Sturgis Singers “In My Life” –

John Lennon and Paul McCartney, Arranged by Roger Emerson

Sturgis Faculty – Jo Mary Pontes, Mathematics

Members of the board, administration, colleagues, family and friends of the graduates and especially, the Class of 2016.

Today, I would like to talk to you about change, the unknown and our ability to predict what our lives will be like in the future.

For those of you who have been in my classes, you wouldn’t be surprised if I refer to life before calculators and I cite some statistics — which have been fact checked.

You are familiar with change.   Think about what has happened to you during the last four years.

You are also familiar with the unexpected — this presidential primary season has certainly provided some surprises.

Jo Mary Pontes

Jo Mary Pontes

Both you and I are leaving Sturgis and are facing an uncertain future.  We both have questions about what is to come.  Most of your questions are probably quite different from mine.  I wonder, “Should I finally open a Facebook account?”    You may be wondering, “Have I chosen the best college option?”  “Will I get a satisfying job and meaningful life from the career path I have selected?”

But  like many of you, I also question: “Will I have enough money?”     “How is it going to work out with my roommate?”

I would like you to do the almost impossible  and look deep into the future — 50 years from now when YOU will be able to retire.  Most of you are about 18  and it is projected that you will  live another 18 years after you retire.  So I am asking you to imagine what will occur in the middle period of your lives  when you will be completing your schooling and then working.   How accurately can you predict what will occur?

Some questions:

Will you are really have multiple careers?  (not jobs — careers)

What aspect of your lives will be changed by 3-D printing and robots?

What advances in medicine and transportation will occur?

Will there ever be a woman president?

Arthur Pontes photographing Jo Mary Pontes

Arthur Pontes photographing Jo Mary Pontes

Will population growth and environmental degradation be as bad as some have predicted?  Will  you someday sit under swaying palm trees on a tropical island called Wellfleet?

Will your children be spared the challenge of learning to factor polynomials?

Physicist Niels Bohr said, “Prediction is very difficult, especially if it is about the future”.

Perhaps reviewing the last 50 years will help you imagine the next 50.

Your history teachers have taught you to value knowledge of the past.   Perhaps they quoted Confucius  who said, “Study the past if you would define the future.”

So, with that in mind, let’s go back the early 1960’s when I graduated from high school and let’s think about MY middle 50 years.  At that time,

There were only 5 TV channels and  no remote controls and no way to record shows.

All phones were landlines and attached by a cord to the wall.

In 1960, 93% of cars sold in the US were also manufactured in the US.

In that year, half of the women were married by age 20 and half the men by age 23.

In 1963, some 120 000  men were drafted into the army.  That number more than doubled two years later.

Women were not permitted to run in the Boston Marathon until 1967 because it was thought they were incapable of such a physical and mental challenge.

A married woman could not get her own credit card.

Women earned 61 cents for every dollar a man earned.

We bought nothing from China.    Russia, Eastern Europe and China were closed off states.

MIT’s tuition of 15  hundred dollars per year was typical of private colleges.

I was there but it seems like a foreign world to me.  I wonder what you will think in 2066 when you look back to 2016?

Jo Mary Pontes

Jo Mary Pontes

Some other events from that time period:

Muhammed Ali, who died yesterday and then known as Cassius Clay, won a gold medal at the Olympics in 1960 at the age of 18 starting a remarkable career.

The Alliance for Progress and the Peace Corps, both from 1961, were supposed to spread democracy and progress to developing nations.

Rachel Carson’s  watershed book Silent Spring, warning about the dangers to the environment, was published in 1962.

Martin Luther King Jr. gave his “I have a dream”  speech in 1963 and the Civil Rights Act was passed in 1964.

It was expected that, by now in 2016, the world would be a more peaceful place than it was then, with much greater justice and equality throughout society.

What was expected of technology? The World’s Fairs in  Seattle in 1962 and  in NYC in 1964  give us some insights about  expected advances.

Some predictions include:

There would be phone conversations where you could see the person to whom you were talking;

Computer controlled robots would be widely used in manufacturing.  The projected results were an 8-hr work week (yes, I said week not day!)  and also the disappearance of most manufacturing jobs;

We would have computer-driven cars and a family helicopter — Can you picture the consequences of distracted driving in a helicopter?

By now, nuclear fission and fusion would be the  primary sources of energy.

Some of our housing would be underground or on the sea floor – partially in response to concerns about how we would be dealing with the after effects of the expected nuclear war.

They predicted a very plastic and disposable society including  a house so entirely constructed and decorated with artificial materials that to clean it, you would just take a hose to the whole house; the water would go down a drain in the floor and warm air would complete the drying.

Our food would be almost totally pre-processed and frozen;  with a touch of a button, a machine would access the food from the freezer have it cooked in a matter of minutes.   Much of this food would be manufactured from algae or recycled carbon based products such from sawdust.

How correct were they?

Here are some significant things that they missed — and hence they also missed the resulting societal transformations:  the internet, social media,  HIV/AIDS, climate change, same-sex marriage and the emergence of China as an economic powerhouse.

In my own life, major events were also unforeseen. I did not expect to meet anyone special in my freshman year of college, but  Arthur Pontes is still my best friend after more than half a century.  I had never heard of overseas American-style schools and could not have imagined teaching on two continents over a 25 year period.  I didn’t  even expect to  be a teacher, but am thrilled that all these occurred.

Will your job, neighborhood, and the world be as you anticipate?  as the futurists anticipate?  What will they not foresee?

Are you ready for the unknown?

I am optimistic that you will thrive in this uncertain world.  While I know some of you better than others, I have observed all of you for the last 4 years.  I have seen you stretch yourselves intellectually and rise to the challenges presented to you — and not just in math and the IB.  I have seen you be passionate about the arts, sports and your other activities. You have been funny, quirky, curious and considerate.  I have seen your determination and grit — you have given me inspiration in my own life.   You have supported each other, helping classmates who encountered difficulties  and in the end, here you are.  You have accepted and appreciated the uniqueness of each classmate’s personality, interests and talents.  I appreciated it when you extended this acceptance to me as I sat in with the jazz  ensemble for the last four years.

As we leave Sturgis, I am very fortunate to carry with me an incredible number of fond memories of your class.   I couldn’t ask for a better way to end my career than working with you.   I could go into a lot more detail, but I would get too emotional and my talk would go on way too long.   But I thank you.

So  the keys to your successful future will be based marginally on specific facts you have learned — not the pluperfect subjunctive or the law of sines– and more on your attitudes towards people and learning.   Essential  to your future is what is found in the IB Learner Profiles  —  being a risk taker, a thinker, a communicator, being open-minded and reflective, being balanced and caring.   These characteristics, and your inner strength,  are what will carry you through the many challenges that you will face.

As I have said a number of times, you are entering a unpredictable and volatile world.

Change will  occur;   so be an agent of that change.  There is so much that needs to be done.   You are equally valuable whether you achieve notable success in your chosen field or if you focus on your community and family.  Make your mark as a senator, an artist or a scientist, or  — no less important —  be a caring nurse or teacher, a responsible entrepreneur, a good friend,  and a good parent to your children.

It is said that “Uncertainty and expectation are the joys of life.” (William Congreve)

Embrace change with open arms and an open mind. Embrace the unknown.

In other words, embrace “life.”



 Sturgis Class of 2016 – Maria Girardin

Maria Girardan

Maria Girardin

The first day of school: Walking in – into the hallway, swarming with the youthful bodies of adolescents, I thought “Ah, people.” for my previously home schooled self was not accustomed to the large density of peers in one small space. There were crowds – herds of them all flowing in the traffic from class to class, as I tried to position myself to move with the masses.

The second day of school: Seniors, Juniors, Sophomores bursting with positivity about the school-whomever I talked to. “A tight-knit community”, “rigorous academics”, “An accepting-a welcoming environment”. “They’re brainwashed!” I thought, a naive freshman, unaware that I would be saying those same words  when asked about the school the very next year, and a few years after when college interviewers probed me about my high school experience.

Now, the freshman mass, the awkward clump who did not quite understand the rules of hallway traffic and complicated schedules both numbered and alphabetized, evolved and shifted just as the freshmen before them. They learned the correct behavior: what to say and how to fit in, but then again, in other ways, did not conform to the monotonal normal, but were stretched, expanded, tilted, jolted by their superiors, the faculty, who did not tell them what to think, but how to think- not to be quiet, but shout and see where their creativity took them. Now in sophomore english class, this slightly more tamed, yet more sophisticated mass fought and clawed at each other to let their voice be heard about the intricacies within “The Great Gatsby”. In order to explain their interpretations of symbols and metaphors within the work, they employed new strategies, different tactics. They were almost ready for the storm to come.

Now, this ferocious storm took on a ferocious name. “International Baccalaureate”, a name only few dare to spell and even fewer spell correctly. This was a storm that only took and never gave. Time, patience, energy, all flew into the vortex, but the storm wasn’t full. The storm wanted more: more IAs, more words on that EE, more practice for the language oral.

However, though most were strong, the thing I admired most about this class was not that they took on the storm with fierce and serious faces, but their vivacity, their passionate and foolish youthfulness, their willingness to accept the bad-that maybe they could not do it all, that maybe instead of burning themselves out they should chill and go to the beach or to the mall. Instead of filling the volume of their bodies with stress, they would brush it off with a joke, knowing that- to quote the “most spirited” Ahmad Akkawi on Spirit Day, “that if we shall lose, we shall lose with dignity”. And we did, both on Spirit Day and in general. In life we lose many battles- many tugs of war, but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t get back up and dance after it is over (specifically the dance of “the wobble” on the bandstand in reference to our failed Spirit Day.)

Maria Girardan 2

Maria Girardin

And the thing I also admired about this class is that in this vivacious, yet easygoing, carefree spirit, the people of my class would support one another.  For example, when I had to do my final TOK presentation which I patched together last minute-still sorry about that, Ms. Daley- a select group of classmates said “it was ok”, “it was going to be over soon, and I was going to feel better after gosh darn it!” and they even cheered as I went up to give the dreaded presentation, knowing how horrible I felt about it. Now, if I did it again would I do the same? Absolutely not, but the support of my classmates made me realize that, yes, we can use our time badly and mess things up, but we can learn from that. The important thing is moving on.

This support is also and possibly even more so present in the faculty. I can still remember my horribly embarrassed, worn out self, coming to Dr. Gilligan’s classroom, just crying as the result of obtaining the wrong plant for my stomatal count on the bio IA. I remember saying “I just can’t do it, Dr. Gilligan” in reference to both my IA and EE, and I remember her saying that I was tired and that I most definitely could do it. A couple months later, with a whole lot of help and support, I did. Let me tell you, if any of you want to read a 4000 word research paper on the biological distribution of an insect you’ve never heard of, I can hook you up.

I can also remember discussing with Ms. Pontes problems with the IA and in handing it in on time. This was when I had to put my schoolwork on hold, having to take care of my other little siblings, when my baby sister with complications at birth was rushed up to Boston Hospital. At this time, I remember Ms. Pontes saying that in the grand scheme of things, when I look back, taking care of my sister and my family would be more important than that extra time on my IA. Yes, the math teacher, saying that math might not be the most important thing in life. The whole class, through that whole ordeal at that time, also was extremely supportive. At least 5 people asked me, everyday, how my little sister was doing and that they were praying or thinking of her. She’s fine now, by the way, and is an absolutely gorgeous girl, but having that support in such a time of struggle and knowing that the faculty and that my peers cared about me, meant a lot and I know I’m not alone in feeling that way.

So, class of 2016 of Sturgis Charter Public School East, today I will not ask you to “Go out and change the world”, but instead will tell you, that contrary to what some might say, life is not some grand epic journey, but a collection of moments; beautiful and fragile. So, soak them up. Have fun. Do what you love and know that you have and will grow and strengthen by doing so. I will not tell you to “Go make a difference”, but tell you that you are making a difference, just by living; just by being present, by smiling at the shy freshman who didn’t have any friends, by telling that stressed junior that SAT scores aren’t everything, by telling that senior that you were glad that she was your friend.

Never give up your vivacity.

Never give up your empathy.

Never give up your endurance in making new beginnings.

And as Mother Teresa once wonderfully put it, “Always greet each person with a smile, for the smile is the beginning of love”

Ryan King Award – Christopher Churchill, Latin

Chris Churchill Presents Ryan King Award

Chris Churchill Presents Ryan King Award

Ryan King is a Sturgis alum who overcame significant physical injuries that she sustained while she was a student and pressed on to graduate in 2002.  Each year at graduation, the faculty and administration recognize a graduating senior, who exhibits some of the same qualities that Ryan did: perseverance, determination, resolve and a positive attitude in their academic pursuits.  The winner receives a college scholarship donated by the Sturgis Parents Association.

This year’s Ryan King Award recipient is not one to shy away from a challenge, something made evident by the IB courses she chose to take.  Although a naturally reserved student who is nervous about being the center of attention, she refused to let her anxiety about public performance stop her from exploring her passion for music.  Instead, she elected to take IB music and, through tireless work with Ms. Sheeler in preparing for the final concert, found the confidence to, in her own words, “clear my head for three minutes, forget the people, forget everything, and just play.”  It was the same with Latin.  Because of her interest in the subject, she opted to take the course at the Higher Level in spite of the fact that fluency with the language was not a skill that came naturally to her.  Instead of letting the easier path steer her away from what she wanted to do, she met the challenge head on, working with me after school every Tuesday (and sometimes Thursday!) with a sharply honed determination the likes of which I have honestly never encountered before.  This is a student who fought every step of the way for her understanding of Latin and whose perseverance wore down a two thousand year old language.

Ellie Titcomb

Ellie Titcomb

Now, I’m sure you’ve all heard Eric Hieser express many times that at Sturgis our chief aim is to create an environment in which every student is able to produce their best work and be their best self.  With this in mind, a large part of a teacher’s job is to chip away at those things lurking within students (and indeed within all of us) that hold them back: anxiety, self-doubt, fear.  What makes this year’s award recipient stand out from among her peers, is that she takes the initiative to confront these demons herself and, through sheer force of will, overcomes them.

There is so much more that I could say about this student.  Fortunately for you, I have been strictly forbidden from monopolizing the rest of graduation.  Instead, I will say only this: such a mature approach to life’s challenges requires at its core a quiet, but powerful courage which all too often goes unrecognized.  Please help me correct this today by joining me in recognizing a truly exceptional student: Eleanor Titcomb.

Sturgis Faculty – Joel Tallman, English

Joel Tallman - JC

Joel Tallman

Good Afternoon, Colleagues, Parents, Grandparents, Aunts, Uncles, Brothers and Sisters, Cousins, Step-Parents, Friends — and the Graduating Class of 2016:

I’d like to thank you for the honor of being chosen to speak to you today.

You know, I’ve seen those teachers whose students write about them to the Ellen show, and Ellen flies those teachers to California for a taping of the show, and she talks about how great they are for their dedication to such an important profession, on national television, and then she gives them a check from Shutterfly for ten thousand dollars.

But this is nice, too.

No, seriously, I was flattered to be selected to speak today.  It is an indication that I have fooled you into thinking I have some kind of important knowledge or advice inside my head.  Tricking you into thinking that is a big part of my job.

They say, “commencement means a beginning, not an ending,” but whoever “they” are, they don’t know what they’re talking about.  Because let’s face it: the most important thing about graduating is that, come Monday mornings from now on, you don’t have to get up early to go to high school.  It’s finally finished!

And now it’s time to begin to begin that long process…of forgetting everything you’ve learned over the last four years.

You know you don’t need it any more:  chemical equations, the plots of novels, historical dates and names, the quadratic equation, Latin declensions, the carbon cycle, meiosis, mitosis, Shakespeare, special relativity, the causes of World War I—in real life, people just look that stuff up on Wikipedia!  This whole “school” thing was a scam!

It’s just as you always suspected:  You’ll use almost none of it ever again in real life.

If you need some evidence of this: Just ask your parents, or pretty much any adult here today, if they could pass your IB exams.  Spoiler alert: They can’t.  Because they’ve forgotten almost everything they were ever taught in high school.  And so will you.  And so has nearly everyone who’s ever been a high school student.

If you have younger brothers and sisters, following in your footsteps at Sturgis:  SShhhhh!   DON’T TELL THEM.  We want to keep it a secret.

But one day, when you have kids of your own, and they grow up to attend high school, and they’re not doing their homework, because they would rather be playing with their Virtual Reality goggles, and you say, “Do your homework,” and they say, “But why? I’m never going to use any of this stuff in real life!” then you can say…

Wait—what was my point?  What will you say?  What can you say to your future kids, when so many generations of high school students have come to realize, eventually, that so many of their tests and quizzes turned out to be an empty exercise in learning, and then forgetting, information that turned out not to be useful?

I do have an answer.

But first: I’m not going to say that knowing random facts about science and math and literature and history makes you superior, or is somehow impressive—except to snobs, and contestants on Jeopardy.

Joel Tallman draws a laugh

Joel Tallman draws a laugh

And we know that education—being highly educated—certainly getting high grades—isn’t anywhere near the top of the list of things that make a good person.  More education doesn’t mean better morals.  All the best things you can be and do, have nothing to do with a school education:  Kindness.  Generosity.  A sense of humor.  Patience.  Helping out someone who needs help.  Being your own best person, and not some person other people want you to be.  Inner Peace.  Simple decency.  These things are all available for free, at any time, to everybody.

And not one of them requires a high school diploma.  Many of you came to Sturgis with those qualities, and we take no credit for your having them now.

Plus: As you already know, many of the most important things that happened to you over the last four years happened outside of the classroom—certainly outside of the quizzes and tests and homework.

Wait, I can hear you asking, then what was the deal with all the quizzes and tests and homework?

As I said, I do have an answer.  In fact, almost a billion people in the world know the answer.  Because almost a billion people in the world haven’t been to school; almost a billion people in the world aren’t even literate.  And every one of those hundreds of millions of people knows what every person who can’t read, knows about those who can.  Everyone who doesn’t have a chance to go to school knows why your tests and quizzes and homework were important.

Because all those people know they’re missing something important.

They know the simple truth:  That it’s better to know, than not to know.

That it’s better to read the newspaper than be uninformed, when you’re living in a society with other people.  When you’re all trying to get along together.  When you’re in a voting booth. In a world where every time you make a choice about anything, it’s a kind of vote, about what kind of society you’re helping to make.

They know that being able to learn about the cells in the human body, and the chemical composition of the stars, and the Golden Mean, and poetry, is a privilege, not a chore.  (Well, maybe in addition to being a chore.) And those hundreds of millions of kids—boys and girls—a greater number of girls—all over the world who can only stand outside and gaze through the school windows, are jealous of you, who’ve gone through those twelve years of books and lectures and worksheets and tests and quizzes and homework, to sit in those seats where you’re sitting.

Now, I know it didn’t always seem like a privilege, day after day, every day, at school.  It certainly didn’t to me.  For me, high school—I’ll be honest—just seemed like a really boring interruption in my otherwise interesting and important pursuit of naps and television shows.

School is not perfect.

But here you are, and I am proposing that this graduation represents a great privilege—not the diploma itself—we could just sell those on the internet—but of course all of the things the diploma represents.  All of those tests and quizzes and reading and information and knowledge—and the friends and frustrations, and loves and breakups, and jokes and embarrassments and fun and whatever personal, private trials you’ve suffered inside, for these four years.  All of it—the whole package—was a privilege you’ve been given.

And if we teachers have done our jobs right, it isn’t just trivia, and questions that might show up on Jeopardy.

It isn’t unimportant; it’s only partly a bunch of facts you can now safely forget.  Don’t take your education lightly, don’t take knowing stuff lightly, because it is a privilege.

Some people in this world do not believe that.  Those people are wrong.

What should you do with this privilege?

I don’t know.

Of course, that’s the hard part, because of course it’s up to you.  If I had a crystal ball, I’m sure it would tell me that even though sometimes your future will have some bumps, most of the time it’s going to be fine.

But I know that you know that the world isn’t perfect.  We’ve got a lot of problems and challenges, as citizens and as humans, in this country and on this planet.  (Just look at the current presidential election campaign, for a little taste of the insanity my generation is presenting to you. You’re welcome.)  You didn’t cause all of those problems. And frankly—maybe—you can’t solve most of them, not you as an individual, and not you as a generation.  (Although, please try not to make things any worse.)

But: You’re a capable group of people—at least you escaped the IB.  And—represented by the diploma you’re about to receive, and by that ridiculous gown and hat you’re wearing—and the future you have ahead of you:  you’ve been given this great privilege.

Spider-man learned, “With great power comes great responsibility.”  Well I’d say: with every privilege should come a little more compassion.

Your diploma stands for that bit of privilege you’re being granted, for your work over the last four years.  Use it to make your own personal future as good as you can, and hopefully to leave your corner of the world a little better than it was when you got there, but remember that knowing stuff is important; the privilege is important.  Just: Please take it seriously.

Thank you, and congratulations.

Sturgis Class of 2016 – Emma Esterman

Emma Esterman

Emma Esterman

When I was assigned to write a graduation speech, the first question that popped into my head was “What can I say to the senior class that will matter to them?” But, I didn’t get very far. And by not very far I mean that question was the only writing on the page. After countless hours of trying to brainstorm life advice for ninety-nine of my closest peers, their families, and the extended faculty of Sturgis, I realized the source of my writer’s block. I couldn’t think of much to write because I am not really in a position to be giving sage advice on how to navigate your futures. I’ll leave that to people who have experienced more of life. The truth is, I still am not sure what I will be doing with my life. The IB has prepared me equally well for a career as a stress counselor as it has a backpacker. But, what I do know is how I am going to live – as a caring and considerate individual. And I hope all of you do the same because this is behavior I learned directly from you. The advice I do have for your futures relies on my observations of your conduct, the teachers, students, and parents that make up the Sturgis community. So, “What I have to say to everyone here” is much more accurately, “What do I want to say about everyone here?”

As all of us probably know, Sturgis is continually ranked as a top high school in the state, and charter school in the nation. Sturgis being named one of the best high schools in Massachusetts coincided fortuitously with the statistics unit in Higher Level math my junior year. After briefly remarking on the enormous privilege of such a ranking, Ms. Sandland structured our entire lesson around debating the fallibility of the results due to the ambiguity of the term “best.” And, as anyone sane does, I completely agree with Ms. Sandland.

You see, nowhere does US News’ Best High School Rankings mention the word “community.” Their opinion of the best characteristics of a school are high standardized test scores and students prepared for college. To me, these are just side effects of being around dedicated people, people who live by or strive to live by the IB learner profile traits we seniors have heard so much about. For four years, the administration at Sturgis has asked us to inquire, think, communicate, be knowledgeable, principled, open-minded, caring, balanced, risk-taking, and reflective. Upon mentioning these traits, I’m sure a couple of seniors’ eyes glazed over in dismissal of yet another named academic construct we no longer have to hear about. But, now, as I stand here ready to graduate and leave Sturgis, I realize their relevance.

If asked to measure how well I think I have mastered these traits, I would say a) To what extent can complete mastery of subjective characteristics be achieved? b) Am I allowed to include an uncertainty with this measurement? Because c) I’m still working on it. Honestly, I can’t say my balance has improved – I still fall over when I try to do tree pose. I still cry sometimes when I communicate with teachers, and I still am not altogether sure what principled even means. But, as much as we all joke about the negative effects of the IB on our personal habits and health, I can say with confidence that all of you, each and every one of the people in this audience is caring. And to me, this is the most important trait of them all. Because without caring people, there wouldn’t be a Sturgis community. Without its community, Sturgis wouldn’t be my best high school in Massachusetts.

To others around me, Sturgis doesn’t always appear to be worthy of “best” high school status. When my mother asks me why on earth she should send my brother to Sturgis in three years after hearing me talk about my EE, IAs, TOK, and CAS, I always say…“well, it’s hard to explain.” To elaborate on my teenage long-windedness, at no other institution could not having a cafeteria, auditorium, or fields be looked at as an asset. Upon mentioning what Sturgis doesn’t have to other high schoolers, they all apologize or pity me. I am always surprised by this. In my mind, not having these facilities means we get to have the nicest home gym for volleyball at the HYCC, we get to play music for each other at the Cotuit Center for the Arts, we get to have a favorite booth in Common Ground. With fewer amenities and material items, the intangibles become more important, creating and fostering the close-knit community that makes Sturgis, Sturgis. I believe Mr. Heiser is correct when he says “It’s hard but it’s worth it,” but for a different reason than he probably intends. Yes, the hard work at Sturgis is worth it in college, but getting to spend four years of your life with the best people in the world is the real pay off.

As I look back on my years at Sturgis, the memories that persist all manifest one important quality – how much people care. Care about other people and about what they do. The process of doing my extended essay is all a blur. I can barely remember taking some of my IB exams. But, what I do remember are small moments of human compassion.

The supportive spirit of Sturgis is first and foremost demonstrated by the faculty. Ms. DA picked up Chinese take-out for the Multicultural Club, Mr. Mathews drove the future tennis captains to practice when we missed the bus, Mr. Whalley used numerous free blocks to be my personal lab assistant and help me figure out my IA that just wouldn’t work, Mr. Flonta, the strings conductor, gave me one of his strings when mine broke five minutes before a concert, Mr. Carspecken set up math tutors out of retirement from Montana. These are only a select few examples of Sturgis teachers’ unending dedication to their students.

The caring nature of the community extends beyond those employed at Sturgis, though – to parents and alumni. People’s parents with no obligation to watch out for any other students went out of their way to improve the lives of others, helping coach our volleyball team to two state tournaments. Sturgis alumni who boomerang back to teach or help us find scholarships between classes at Harvard emphasize that those impacted by the Sturgis community realize its importance and never stop caring. Due to their continued selflessness and generosity, I am a better person and, for that, I am forever grateful.

Emma Esterman

Emma Esterman

However the actions of my fellow classmates are what have made the most lasting impact on my memory. Jensen gave out the link to the nearly one-thousand online flashcards she made to study for exams just to help others succeed. Maggie hugged me after my IOC and before every IB exam just to cheer me up when she was going through the exact same things. The Kelseys threw me my own sweet sixteen and drove me to school every day for two years. I feel it is imperative to mention that this is equivalent in miles to driving across the continental United States five times. I could list off an example of how my life was made better by the actions of every one of these seniors. Such profound examples of selflessness should prove that what you do matters – from the small things to the very big. Because people notice.

Members of the Sturgis community are uncharacteristically loving and benevolent. No matter how many times I have tripped up the stairs, worn my pajamas to school, or made awkward eye contact, I have been treated with kindness. Mr. Fetzer still thought I was good at history no matter how little I spoke in class. Ms. Weaver gave me a job teaching volleyball when I didn’t think I could play well at all. As a result, I developed more confidence in both history and volleyball. So take the time to notice other people, because what you can give to them may help them define themselves. As priest and author John Joseph Powell wrote, “It is an absolute human certainty that no one can know his own beauty or perceive a sense of his own worth until it has been reflected back to him in the mirror of another loving, caring human being.” Experiencing your kindness every day has made me strive to be a better person – something that is worth even more to me than knowing how to write an OPVL or hit an overhead serve.

Not only are Sturgis teachers and students com-passionate, but they are passionate. Every day I find out something I didn’t know about one of my classmates that inspires me. Your freedom and commitment to embracing who you are has made this class a joy to be a part of. This passion is what will take you places. Success is not what is on paper, it is what is in your hearts. As the anthropologist Margaret Mead so eloquently put it, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has.” Lindsay, you are going to change the world with your art. Brett, your knowledge of British elections will come in handy one day. Katie, your passion for civic engagement does not go unnoticed.

While we may be graduating from high school today, I hope we never emotionally graduate. Yes, I know what you are all thinking — why would I want our future world to be run by adults with the minds of teenagers, especially when those teenagers have a tendency to squawk at random in the hallways? What I mean is never grow out of your empathy. Keep your childlike curiosity about other people, your perceptiveness of others’ problems. Use Sturgis teachers and alumni as examples. Let no one ever question your maturity. And always care about what you do.

And so I say to the first senior class to lose spirit week, to the teachers I have cried in front of, to the school without a cafeteria, locking bathroom doors, or an auditorium, I would not have had it any other way. Never lose your charm. Never reduce your accomplishments to the tangible. Never take for granted the importance of being caring. Thank you, Sturgis community, for a truly spectacular four years.

Gretchen Buntschuh Literary Scholarship – Patrick O’Kane, Sturgis East Principal

Patrick O'Kane

Patrick O’Kane

Gretchen Buntschuh was a colleague of ours who taught English at Sturgis and influenced students and colleagues with her grace, insight and command of language.  Sadly, Gretchen died of pancreatic cancer in 2010.

The Gretchen Buntschuh Literary Scholarship is awarded each year to a graduating senior who has demonstrated a genuine interest in literature and gift for language.

Sturgis faculty provided the following description of this year’s winner:

Marca Daley, Theory of Knowledge: “Her writing is always reflective, demonstrating thoughtful consideration of her own learning and experience. She is able to assess and understand her own strengths and limitations, as well as those of other perspectives, which results in critical and insightful commentary.   Whatever the mode of written expression, formal or informal, she expresses her ideas and information confidently and creatively, and with a style appropriate to the purpose of the assignment.   Her written work in TOK was always exemplary, and I often used parts of it as exemplars for others to emulate.”

Patrick O'Kane Congratulates Skye Kuppig

Patrick O’Kane Congratulates Skye Kuppig

Xanthipi Abel, Art teacher: “She is a ray of sunshine in our class, reflecting her love of reading, writing and art into creative and original thought, which transpire to wonderful dialogue and artwork. She is a true artist, heart and mind.”

Colin McDonald, English teacher: She is one of the most perceptive students I’ve had the honor to work with. She demonstrates gentle eloquence in her writing. Her thoughtful nature and genuine interest in literature spark authentic classroom discussions. As a consequence, I frequently find myself conversing with her as a fellow peer of literature and language. She is the reason our school has a literary-arts magazine. Her contribution to the Sturgis creative writing scene has been prodigious.

Skye with Buntschuh book

Skye with Buntschuh book

In addition to this $500 scholarship, Talin Bookbindery in Yarmouthport has donated a beautifully hand-bound collection of essays written during her four years at Sturgis.  Talin hopes to inspire fine young writers to continue writing and to develop an appreciation for the ancient craft of bookbinding.

Following thoughtful deliberation, the scholarship committee and English Department faculty feel the senior who best embodies the spirit of Ms. Buntschuh’s gift and passion for language is … Skye Kuppig.  Congratulations!

Receiving of Diplomas and Signing the Ship’s Log


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