Mount Vernon Mind Awards
This award is presented to the two students at each grade level who consistently demonstrate excellence in the six Mount Vernon Mindsets. These students exemplify the qualities of excellent solution seekers, communicators, creative thinkers, innovators, ethical decision-makers and collaborators.
This student sets the standard for excellence in Humanities 9. She is curious, unafraid to ask questions, and always eager to share her thoughtfully formulated opinions. She takes ownership of her learning and encourages her classmates to contribute to meaningful conversations. Please join me in congratulating Audrey O’Toole.
This honoree is a deliberate, careful thinker who values the impact words can have. He has a genuine appreciation for big ideas as well as an advanced understanding of them, but his knowledge is always accompanied by humility and a delightful sense of humor. When he speaks, people want to listen. Please join me in congratulating Gibson Mack.
Her attention to detail and inquisitive mind are unparalleled. She cares deeply about learning and always strives to do her best. She’s quick to offer a smile and a hello when I see her in the hallways – and her ability to connect with people of all ages – from our littlest Mustangs to our faculty – shows how truly mature and confident she is. She’s a builder of relationships, ideas and things – she’s an artist, an athlete and a skilled communicator; she’s a role model to many. Please join me in honoring Skyler Tiffin.
This student puts thoughtful effort into all work he completes. He is extremely respectful and a great team player, easily collaborating with his peers. His dedication to his learning is clear from the moment he walks into class to when he visits enrichment to reinforce the learning done in class. This fact is clearly illustrated in the marked improvement in his coursework for AP Environmental Science. He never hesitates to ask for help or to help others. His collaborative work with project partners, table mates, and others exemplifies his excellence at embodying the Mount Vernon mindsets. Please join me in congratulating Alex VanLandingham.
This student stands firm in his convictions, while respecting classmates who may hold to a different set of beliefs. He possesses a rich knowledge of American history, but remains humble and open to new perspectives. He leads by example, working diligently on his projects in a manner that displays a level of self-discipline most adults never fully develop. All the while, it’s impossible not to notice his contagious sense of humor. Please join me in honoring Hayden Moore.
The next honoree exhibits all of the qualities we try to instill in an MV student. She is empathetic, passionate about her work, caring and focused on her academics. She strives to do everything in excellence and her resolve is something to be admired for someone her age. I recently had the opportunity to meet with her, and I was blown away by her curiosity and willingness to learn. Please join me in honoring Aria Morrill.
The first senior honoree is a scholar who has absolutely left his mark on the Mount Vernon community. He is a dedicated student, but also a kind and conscientious young man. He goes above and beyond what is asked and will deliver quality work regardless of what it takes. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know him since freshman year, and since then, he’s embraced what it means to be a Mustang and has already managed to leave his mark on this world. Please join me in honoring Josh Schwartz.
Our final honoree is a student who is strong in her convictions but yet respectful and open to different points of view. She holds herself to a high standard inside and outside of the classroom. She spends hours training for athletics yet still finds time to be actively engaged in volunteer work. She is someone who quietly makes her presence known. Please join me in congratulating Randi Lawings.
Harvard Book Award
For over a century, Harvard University Alumni have presented the Harvard Book Award at select high school institutions to honor outstanding members of the junior class who exhibit the qualities of excellence in scholarship and strength of character. It is considered the highest academic honor we can bestow on a member of the junior class. This year, it is my privilege to present this award to a student who has been described as deeply curious, remarkably motivated, kind in spirit, and a quiet leader among his peers. Demonstrating that scholarship extends beyond just books and the classroom, his dedication to service to others through scouting and volunteerism is remarkable, and his musical prowess knows no limits. Please join me in congratulating this year’s Harvard Book Award recipient, Mark Grove!
Advanced Placement Scholars
Determined by the College Board’s Advanced Placement Program, the AP Scholar awards recognize high school students who have demonstrated exemplary achievement on AP exams over their entire course of study.
First, the distinction of AP Scholar is awarded to students who earn scores of 3 or higher on three or more AP Exams. Please join me in congratulating Dylan Paul and Madeline Rappaport!
Next, the distinction of AP Scholar with Distinction is awarded to students who earn an average score of at least 3.5 on all AP Exams taken, and scores of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams. Please join me in congratulating Megan Lienau and Arial Strode!
Governor’s Honors Program
The Governor’s Honors Program is highly competitive, nationally recognized program. The selection process included nomination by a Mount Vernon Faculty committee and an extensive online application. Semi-finalists were invited to a state-level interview. This year, MV is proud to announce that we have two finalists who will attend an all expenses paid, month-long summer intensive program on a Berry College in Rome, Georgia. The GHP curriculum is designed to provide students with academic, cultural, and social enrichment necessary to become the next generation of global critical thinkers, innovators, and leaders. Please join me in congratulating this year’s finalists.
Ivan Mo: Mathematics
Nina Toller: Social Studies
DAR Good Citizen Award
Created in 1934, the DAR Good Citizens Award is intended to encourage and reward the qualities of good citizenship. This award recognizes and rewards individuals who possess the qualities of dependability, service, leadership, and patriotism in their homes, schools, and communities. These students are selected by their teachers and peers because they demonstrate these qualities to an outstanding degree.
This year’s honoree is well known in the MV community for her service to the school. You’ve regularly seen her as an ambassador for our community. From giving prospective students and their families tours to spending countless hours creating tie-dye shirts, she takes more pride in her community than most and we are better for it. Please join me in congratulating this year’s DAR Good Citizen Award winner– Sarah Traurig!
Outstanding Athletic Performance Awards
The Most Outstanding Senior Performance Award is voted on by the coaches and goes to a boy and girl in the senior class who has participated in a minimum of two sports and excels in their senior year when their leadership and performance is counted on the most.
Our female winner excelled in both competition cheerleading and soccer this year. In the fall, she was a gifted tumbler and talented cheerleader who helped her team to qualify for state for the first time in school history. This spring, the soccer team finished 3rd in the area and qualified for state while she remained one of the leading goal scorers on the team. This year’s recipient of the most outstanding senior female performance is Ashley McCown.
Our male winner proved his worth in football and track. In the fall, he led his team to the most wins in school history and advanced farther than any football team ever in the state playoffs. He was first team all region, threw for over 2,000 yards, and rushed for over 1,000 yards. He set school records for the most single season passing yards in Mount Vernon history. In track, he is a state qualifier in the discus with a top 4 in sectionals this past weekend. He also broke the school record this year with a throw of 142-4. This year’s recipient of the most outstanding senior male performance is Reggie Burnette.
Mount Vernon 3-Sport Athletes
Mount Vernon gives special recognition to students who compete in three or more varsity sports. They make our teams better, make our rosters deeper, and give everything that they have to Mount Vernon athletics.
It takes a special commitment and dedication to be a three sport athlete, and we want to recognize all of you today with a pin for your letter jacket and a certificate of accomplishment. For our seniors, it is even more special to compete at that elite varsity level three times a year. We want to say thank you for your time and dedication with this embroidered blanket. Hopefully, this is something you will enjoy and take with you as you head off to college.
Mary Catherine Springer
National Thespian Honor Society
The International Thespian Society, founded in 1929, is an honorary organization for dedicated theatre students at 4,600 affiliated schools across the world. Today we honor senior thespians who have have performed in more than 3 plays, musicals, or productions and have served the theater program in myriad ways.
Mount Vernon Artisan Award
As artists, we are storytellers. Be it a painting or poem, scene or song, we use our voice to share stories of joy and sorrow, love and loss, hopelessness and hope. This year, we decided to celebrate students in the arts by selecting the STORY rather than the student. Each arts teacher submitted a story about a student who had a year of incredible growth and artistic impact in our community. The stories were voted on by our team and today we celebrate the story of Ellie Kurlander.
Ellie has always shown commitment towards the visual arts from very early on. As a creator she always goes the extra mile, and in her learning she takes every challenge as an opportunity to expand her own mind. In her (i )project she is completely self driven and disciplined. She also seeks permanent dialogue with all of her art teachers and receives feedback wholeheartedly. Last but not least, Ellie has just been selected, through a rigorous interview and recommendation process, to work as an intern for the next few months at the High Museum of Art.
World Language Honor Societies
Cords are presented to seniors who maintained an ‘A’ average for their entire world language coursework.
National Spanish Exam
Buenos días. This year, we have many students receiving medals for their performance on the National Spanish Exam. We are so proud of their diligence and achievement and are very happy to honor them with these medals and certificates today. Following are the recipients of awards from levels 1 & 2 for the National Spanish Exam:
Level I Honorable Mention
Level II Honorable Mention
Level II Bronze Medal
Level III Honorable Mention
Level III Bronze
Level IV Honorable Mention
National Honor Society Cords
National Honor Society has come to be an organization that is near and dear to my heart. Truth be told, I was never a member myself during my time in high school, but as the sponsor of it now I find so much joy in serving alongside these students and watching them grow into leaders in their own right. The seniors who are graduating this year have really set the bar– they serve enthusiastically and without hesitation. Be it through formal service opportunities or by serving their fellow classmates and peers on a daily basis, I am constantly humbled by their dedication and drive. And all of this while also maintaining a 3.5 weighted core GPA! Today, we honor with special cords the graduating seniors who have earned and maintained membership into this prestigious society.
iDiploma Stoles and Recognition
I have the privilege to recognize seven seniors who have experienced more failures than most. They’ve been told they were just kids, that their ideas weren’t viable, their designs imperfect and their work ill equipped to meet industry standard. They rambled through interviews, botched pitches to executives and came close to losing a client. But what is remarkable about these seven seniors is that none of that stopped them. In fact, they are pressing on to curate an exhibit at the Center for Civil and Human Rights that is about to open to the public. They have their fingerprints on a park in a town nearby and they’ve impacted the local community through their work with Center for Disease Control, the Frazer Center, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Community Action Center and the local City of Sandy Springs. These pioneers pushed boundaries and challenged the notion that answers are better than questions. They are design thinkers who act on hunches, do not shy away from audacious and seemingly impossible feats. Collectively, this group has built an airtight network replete with the likes of Delta, Chick-fil-a, Porsche, Stanford’s d.school, and AT&T Foundry. Undoubtedly, their futures are bright. But it’s not their futures we celebrate. It’s their refusal to wait for those futures to unfold. It’s a bold desire to leave their mark on the world even before most would deem them capable. And that’s why we celebrate Abigail Emerson, Mitchell Lutes, Claire Jarrell, Megan Lienau, Colton Matovina, Joshua Schwartz and Maquie Weiss – because of their failure to wait. Each of you failed to wait until someone told you it was okay to act, contribute and design a better world – but that’s what makes you great – because you don’t need permission, you just need us to get out of your way…We’re out of your way, what will you do next?
Colt Club Honorees
Colt Club pins are presented to students who have consistently been enrolled in Mount Vernon since at least kindergarten. I am fortunate have had a chance to teach and get to know all of them at some point during their school careers. This year’s colt club seniors are some of the most kind, caring, curious, engaged and open hearted students that I can remember. They represent the core of what it means to be a Mount Vernon Mustang.
Colt Club of 2018, you have all made an incredible impression on Mount Vernon and your legacy will echo through our halls for generations to come. Thank You, and thanks to your parents who made your journeys possible:
Mustang Scholar Athlete
The Scholar-Athlete award is earned by a student who is competitive in the classroom and on the field. More than just an athlete, this student is the quintessential team player in all aspects of life.
From cross country to four years of varsity baseball, this senior is no stranger to the world of sports. He is constantly working to make sure that his teammates, friends, and teachers are supported.
When his friends need help studying for a test, he steps up. When his team needs him to play different positions from season to season, he steps up. When he is asked to coordinate weekly sales of Chick-fil-a, he rises to the occasion. Even when he found out he would be the only student taking AP Spanish, he didn’t back down. This kind of dedication makes him a stand-out student.
This student is intellectually unafraid and, in true Mount Vernon fashion, was open to feedback and exploring schools and regions of the country he otherwise would never have considered. That rare openness, mixed with a deep sense of self-knowledge, resulted in admission to one of the most selective engineering and business programs in the country.
He will be attending Bucknell in the fall and before they released admission decisions, the school personally called to tell us how profoundly this student’s HEART stood out in his application and how excited they are to welcome him. It is my most sincere honor to present this year’s scholar-athlete award to Ben Blair!
Mustang Spirit Award
The Mustang Spirit Award is given to a senior student who best exemplifies school spirit and represents the heart of the school through character and a positive attitude. This student embodies enthusiasm, involvement, genuine interest in others, and a love for Mount Vernon that runs deep.This eminently qualified senior is someone who believes her purpose is to raise others up. She’s been known to leave uplifting messages around the school, bring in delicious baked goods, and is never at a loss to find a good (or more often cheesy) pun that’s just right for the moment. She is the epitome of what it means to be a Mustang and teachers describe her as charming, compassionate, disarming, hardworking and creative. Not only has she left her handprints all over this school with her heart, spirit, and high fives, but she launched a digital magazine focused on reimagining education, written and produced entirely by students. As a sophomore led a workshop in Davos, Switzerland. While her impact and contributions are impressive, what is even more impressive is her humility and her ability to not lose sight of what she feels called to do on this earth. Her love for her peers, this school, and the community around her certainly runs deep. She has made a difference at our school, and she will be missed. Leaving everything she touches better than she found it, it is my distinguished honor to present this year’s Mustang Spirit Award to Miss Abigail Emerson!
The Prefect Award is presented to an outgoing prefect who not only has completed his or her role effectively but who also has gone above and beyond what was expected. Being a Prefect requires putting others first, so before I present the award we want to thank this year’s Prefects for all their hard work. We are very proud of all of them.
I would also like to recognize our incoming prefects for next year. As I call your name, please stand. Please hold all applause until the end. Ashley Koch, Audrey Seeber, Katieanne Peterson, Dhailije Dub, Jill Parker, Will Mitcham, Hannah Hagenau, Kiki Hale, and Parker Corley.
This year’s Prefect Award goes to a young lady who students admire and respect. She carries herself with poise and confidence and does not let disappointment stop her. In fact, she applied for but was not selected as a prefect her junior year. She persisted and found ways to show her commitment to Mount Vernon.
She has made quite an impact. No one doubts her dedication, whether it is planning an amazing Sadie Hawkins dance or representing the high school to Lower School families, throughout this year she spent countless hours thinking of ways to enrich the student life experience for everyone.
One prefect states, “I have personally been able to witness her speaking in front of parents at lower school events and to prospective middle school students; in every case she is informative, respectful and truly an excellent model of we want all students to strive towards.” Others state, “Outside of her position she works hard in the classroom and builds strong relationships. She continues to serve as a role model in everything she does.” Other prefects seem to look to her for advice and in meetings she contributes ideas and has stepped up to help other prefects in their duties. Her dedication, work ethic, and willingness to help makes her the perfect recipient of the Prefect Award. Please join me in recognizing Maqueline Weiss!
AJC Cup Award
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has been helping schools recognize outstanding seniors in the metro area for over 75 years. It is meant for a student who excels and shows leadership abilities across many disciplines including community activities, arts, athletics, and academics. Mount Vernon Upper School teachers and administrators vote on this award each year and we consider this award the Best All Around Senior.
This year’s honoree stood out from the moment he stepped foot on campus. For more than his remarkable height, this student is also a steadfast and singular friend to his peers, a leader in the classroom, in the arts, and on the court. Some might even say that he is Mr. Mount Vernon. He is absolutely unshakable and can seem to call upon an inner calm at moment. There is sunshine in his veins. “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” might as well be his motto because that is exactly how he lives out each day — inspiring all of those around him.
From starting new clubs where students can share and find pride in their individual stories to leading discussions in classes to cheering on his classmates at every possible turn.
Teachers described him as a top-notch friend and dedicated academic. For many of us, it is in the moments between classes and studying where we see this student as a standout young man who effortlessly weaves himself into the rhythm of our daily lives. We are all better for knowing him. Please join me in celebrating this year’s AJC cup honoree– Cam Bennett!
Salutatorian & Valedictorian
Calculated after the second semester midterms, the salutatorian and valedictorian awards belong to the students who earned the highest weighted core grade point averages. The medals they are about to receive will be worn during the baccalaureate and graduation ceremonies. We are incredibly proud of the academic accomplishments of these individuals and could not be more excited for their futures.
While her determination to challenge herself with Mount Vernon’s most rigorous classes is certainly impressive, we are equally in awe of the influence this student has had through a variety of leadership roles. She serves as President of the Interact Club as well as President of the National Honors Society and was recently crowned Prom Queen. She has the ability to engage others in conversation regardless of their respective ages, backgrounds, or beliefs and make them feel heard and respected. Her unmatched intentionality distinguishes her from her peers. Attending Duke University in the fall, please join us in congratulating the salutatorian of the class of 2018: Miss Arial Strode!
The honor of valedictorian belongs to the student who has set the academic bar for his or her class– the true embodiment of academic excellence. This year’s valedictorian is a student who possesses an uncanny ability to articulately communicate no matter the topic or medium. She is poised in conversation with adults, yet still approachable in the eyes of younger students. She is an achiever in all aspects of the word, yet she also possesses a free spirit that takes time to pursue questions and enjoy life. Her influence as Head Prefect and choice to pursue two Mount Vernon degrees sums up her dedication to academic endeavors, authentic learning, and leadership. After she leaves Mount Vernon, where she has spent her entire academic career, she will be attending UNC-Chapel Hill as a prestigious Morehead-Cain Scholar. Please join us in honoring the valedictorian for the class of 2018: Megan Lienau.