Team Detail

Baccalaureate Ceremony 2024

The celebrations for the Class of 2024 began with a Baccalaureate Ceremony that took place in the Nita Choukas Theater in Horowitz Performing Arts Hall. We welcomed families and friends of the soon-to-be graduates to our hilltop to celebrate with their beloved Wildcats.
A celebratory dinner was held outside the theater, where guests were able to mingle with the faculty who made a difference in the lives of the graduating class. The following ceremony began with the Class of 2024 descending down the stairs, finding their way to the front-row seats in the auditorium. Head of School Dr. Jennifer L. Zaccara greeted the class and their families and friends, and proceeded to recognize the four-year seniors (those members of the class who spent all four of their high school years at VA): Will Anderson, Sofia Bianconi, Bryce Boyd-Tucker, Leran Chen, Jack Citera, Delaney Cox, Ellis Dunbar, Diallo Ingraham, Jonathan Kwapong, Hazel Kekic, Dane Mulverhill, Elias Norton, Sydney Palmiotto, Josh Reece, and Carter West.

Dr. Zaccara then formally introduced the Salutatorian Bowen Xiao and Valedictorian Sydney Palmiotto. 

Next was the announcement of the Class of 2025 marshals who are two members from the junior class selected every year to lead the graduating class into commencement holding a ceremonial key where a small portion had been painted by a member of the graduating class. Ruby Besson and Charlie Hodgson were presented as the marshals, and the chosen graduating artist was Abby Mellen.

In one final remark before giving her Baccalaureate address, Dr. Zaccara introduced the Class Representatives for the Class of 2024. These soon-to-be alumni are selected and charged with communication, reunion planning, and alumni activity coordination for their class. Sofia Bianconi, Cole Allen, and Bryce Boyd-Tucker were selected by their peers to serve as Class of 2024 Class Representatives.

In her speech, titled “Living with Principles,” Dr. Zaccara began by exploring the paradigms of independent thought that Vermont Academy will be considering this summer, laying a foundation based on two important studies: The Chicago Principles, described as “a journey of an intellectual quest, without bias,” and the E.E. Ford Foundation’s document titled “The Framework,” which is structured on three pillars committed to “expressive freedom, disciplined nonpartisanship, and intellectual diversity.”

“I look forward to working with our community on these goals this summer and this coming year, but seniors, and families, I feel so confident that these values are already intrinsic in the experiences you have had with our school,” she shared. “I know that our seniors and PGs will step into the world with unfettered minds, seeking truth and exploring evidence before coming to their own opinions.”

Dr. Zaccara then welcomed the first faculty member to present an award, to the stage. 

Mr. Jonathan Barron ’96 presented the Fischer Drama Award, which is awarded to a member of the graduating class for his/her interest in and enthusiasm for the dramatic arts and has made the greatest contribution to the success of the dramatics program at VA. The award was given to Libby Cooper.

Mr. Steve Cady presented the O’Connor Music Award, which is presented annually to a Vermont Academy senior who has demonstrated excellence, dedication, and devotion to the art of music. He presented the award to Bryce Boyd-Tucker. 

Ms. Lisa Eckhardt McNealus ’79 presented the Frederic Stanley Art Award, which was established by Mrs. Frederic Stanley as a memorial to her late husband’s interest and achievement in art. Their sons are Vermont Academy alumni: Frederic, Jr., class of 1954 and Lee, class of 1961. In order to achieve this honor a student must show a strong work ethic, interest in learning and produce at a high level artistically. This year’s recipient was Khiêm Nguyen.

Ms. Maddie Paydos ’18 presented the first Senior Scholar Athlete Award, which is presented to a member of the senior class who has made significant contributions to the athletic program and has a distinguished academic record. The award was presented to Delaney Cox. 

Mr. Brian Allen ’14 presented the second Senior Scholar Athlete Award to Mathison Hole.

Dr. Greg Martin presented the Samuel B. Pettengill Scholarship Award, which is awarded to a member of the graduating class who exemplifies high ideals of outstanding citizenship and academic excellence. Created in 1992 with funds from the estate of Samuel B. Pettengill 1904 and Helen M. Pettengill, the income is used for college scholarships for Vermont Academy seniors from Vermont families. This year the award was presented to Cole Allen. 

Ms. Laura Frey presented the World Language Award, given to the student in the senior class who has demonstrated a deep love for languages and a sincere appreciation for the multiple and varied ways we express ourselves. Thus, we recognize this extraordinary student as a linguist who has the ability to improve the world by influencing how we can better communicate, understand, sympathize, and empathize with each other as human beings. This year’s recipient was Lucas Hoffman.

Mr. Russell Mayhew presented the H. Edmund Tripp Award, which is made to a member of the graduating class whose achievements in math during two or more years at VA have been outstanding and worthy of recognition. Ed “Beano” Tripp taught math at Vermont Academy for 39 years. He’s been described by former students as a deeply knowledgeable teacher who took joy in sharing his expertise with others. This year the award was presented to Bowen Xiao. 

Ms. Christine Armiger presented the Hayes Environmental Prize. Established in 1997 through the generosity of A. Reed Hayes III ’64 previous chairman of the Vermont Academy board of trustees and creator of the Hayes Environmental and Outdoor Fund, the prize is given each year to the student who best exemplifies both an understanding for our need to exist in harmony with the natural environment and a commitment to act on this understanding. This year’s recipient was Abby Mellen.

Mr. Peter Ahlfeld presented the The Amy Lanterman Learning Center Award , which is awarded to the student who exemplifies the educational values of kindness, perseverance, and sincere care for others embodied by long-term Learning Specialist Amy Lanterman. Created and given in honor of Mrs. Lanterman’s 25th year of service to Vermont Academy. This year’s recipient was Hazel Kekic.

Ms. Lisa McNealus ’79 presented the The Bob ’37 and Beth Campbell Art Purchase Award. In the interest of acquiring more artwork for our alumni art collection, Vermont Academy uses this award to purchase a piece of artwork each year from an artist in the graduating class. This year’s recipient was Khiêm Nguyen for his acrylic-on-canvas painting collection titled “Reverence.”

Ms. Laura Frey presented the Donald T. Brodine Memorial Award, which honors a faculty member who exhibits many of the characteristics of long-time Vermont Academy English teacher Donald Brodine -- one of the Academy’s most revered teachers. This year’s recipient was Ms. Whitney Barrett. 

Dr. Zaccara presented the Barbara Sweet Award, which is given annually to that full-time faculty or staff member within the Vermont Academy community who has served as an exemplary teacher, coach, advisor, dorm parent, and role model. The recipient of this award, as chosen by the graduating class, will have touched and significantly influenced the lives of all community members in all aspects of life here at Vermont Academy. This year’s recipient was Mr. Charles Butler. 
After all of the awards were presented, the Class of 2024 slideshow was played, and the graduating students got to sentimentally look back at smiling photos of themselves and their peers during their time at VA. 
Dr. Zaccara closed out the night with some final remarks and reminders of details for the commencement ceremony the next day. Students were off to have a fun night by the bonfire and everyone was ready for the final festivity to come.
Photos from the night can be found here.
Vermont Academy is a coed college preparatory boarding and day school in southern Vermont, serving grades 9-12 plus a postgraduate year.