The sixth graders processed into Burroughs Gymnasium for the Lower School Closing Exercises, stepping purposefully to “Trumpet Voluntary" played on solo violin. Dressed in formal attire that seemed striking after a Covid-19 year of a relaxed dress code, they were ready for the formalities that would mark the next stage of their journey at Norfolk Academy.
It was--like so many other events this year--a ceremonial closing unlike any other prior one, as a result of pandemic requirements.
Attendance was limited to meet the state's requirements for indoor gatherings and to allow for social distancing. The sixth graders sat with their parents flanking them in three-person groupings on the gym floor. Faculty attendance was also limited to the sixth grade teachers and a few additional faculty and administrators who helped with the event.
Families with students in grades 1-5, who usually attend the Closing Ceremonies in a packed gymnasium, could not attend. (Awards for students in grades 1-5, typically given at this event, were presented in May in an online ceremony.)
Those who wanted to watch from home could do so via a livestream on the website, and they tuned in: the broadcast of the ceremony had 250 viewers in 32 states and six countries, including China, South Korea, South Africa, and Canada.
In his remarks at the opening and closing of the ceremony, Headmaster Dennis Manning reminded families of Norfolk Academy's long history and its endurance through three pandemics: the yellow fever epidemic of 1855; the 1918 flu epidemic; and the current one. He thanked families for all they had done to make the school year possible, an extraordinary combination of in-person and distance learning with pandemic protocols and a massive surveillance testing program.
“It took an entire community to make that happen," he said. “Everyone in this gym owns that and was part of that. Thank you for the gift of your child and the gift of trust you placed in us."
Handshakes, a Norfolk Academy hallmark expressing the relationships of trust, have been prohibited during the school year due to the pandemic. However, as scientific knowledge about Covid has revealed that surface contact is not a transmission vector, the ceremony marked a return of the handshake; students shook the headmaster's hand as they received their diplomas.
“As I shook every child's hand, I could sense the potential," Mr. Manning said. “I am excited about next year."
However, before that unfolds, summer beckons. As he traditionally does, Mr. Manning gave the students their charge: First, they should practice moral habits, the same way they would practice the violin or lacrosse, he said. “The habits of the heart must be practiced and cultivated."
Finally, students should “read an hour a day," he said emphatically. “I wish you a marvelous, happy, healthy, fun-filled and reading-filled--these are compatible --summer!"
Congratulations to the entire Class of 2027! The following students were recognized as award winners at the Closing Ceremonies:
Distinguished Mathematicians: One student in each class is recognized as the distinguished mathematician for demonstrating a creative approach to problem-solving, tenacity, teamwork, and attention to detail.
- 6A: Leighton Soderberg
- 6B: Emmalee Bailey
- 6C: Erin Little
- 6D: Sophia Galiotos
- 6E: Noah Knittig
- 6F: Grady Cartwright
Distinguished Readers: One student in each class is recognized as the distinguished reader for an exemplary commitment to exploring and appreciating quality literature.
- 6A: Kathryn Wright
- 6B: Henry Chesson
- 6C: Louisa Kraus
- 6D: Allie Wight
- 6E: Carter McGhee
- 6F: John Benton
Exemplary Citizenship: One student in each class is awarded a citizenship certificate for displaying the qualities of compassion, cooperation, respect, and responsibility.
- 6A: Logan Robinson
- 6B: Caroline Dailey
- 6C: Cam Simmons
- 6D: Felicity Johnson
- 6E: Allie Carofino
- 6F: Lola Hires
President of Student Council Award: Sloane Becker
Athletic Award: To a sixth-grade boy and a sixth-grade girl who demonstrate outstanding achievement in Physical Education. Julian Albrecht, Allie Tyszko
Bessie Craig Ramsey Lower School Music Award: To the sixth-grade student who has made an outstanding contribution to the musical life of the school. Addison Tajan
Robert Baylor Tunstall Award: To the sixth-grade boy who shows excellence in English or original writing. Grant Fernandez
Girl’s English Award: To the sixth-grade girl who shows excellence in English. Anabelle Phillips
Robert S. Sergeant Creative Writing Award: To a sixth-grade boy and a sixth-grade girl who demonstrate excellence in creative writing. William Chung, Kate Fine
The Simcoe and Celia Glasser Poetry Award: To the Lower School student who possesses a gift in writing poetry as exhibited by creativity, perception, freshness of expression and control and clarity of the language. Korinne Brooks
Robert L. Thomas Memorial Award: To the sixth-grade boy who shows excellence in social studies. Will Poynter
William Selden Memorial Award: To the sixth-grade student who shows excellence in the study of history. Millie Borum
Lucy Singleton Penzold Award: To the sixth-grade boy who shows excellence in science. Luke Hatch
Betty F. Moore Science Award: To the sixth-grade girl who shows excellence in science. Anja Speers
William H. Smith Award: To the sixth-grade boy who shows excellence in math. Carter McCleish
Charles J. Cumiskey Award: To the sixth-grade girl who shows excellence in math. Holland Bosma
Latin Award: To the sixth-grade girl and boy who demonstrate excellence in the study of Latin. Haeun Roh, Jonah Bakkar
Rachel C. Hopkins Creative and Lateral Thinking Award: To the sixth-grade girl and boy who demonstrate the principles of Creative and Lateral Thinking in academic and nonacademic endeavors by applying Lateral Thinking to search for alternative solutions, to resolve issues, and to generate creative thought and action. Esther Morolari, Gabriel Divaris
Lower School Scholastic Award: To the sixth-grade girl who has made the highest scholastic average. Catherine Adams
Lower School Scholastic Award: To the sixth-grade boy who has made the highest scholastic average. William Poynter
Jeanne Atkinson Award: To the sixth-grade student who strives to promote peace and harmony in our world. Mia Jones
William C. Chewning, Jr. Award: To the sixth-grade boy who makes the best use of his natural talents and abilities, exemplifying the qualities of determination, tenacity, and perseverance. Wes Miller
Lucille G. Sebren Award: To the sixth-grade girl who makes the best use of her natural talents and abilities, exemplifying the qualities of determination, tenacity, and perseverance. Catherine Adams
Bess Moore Citizenship Award: To the outstanding girl in the Lower School sixth grade, based on character, leadership, and citizenship. Helen McCabe
Vickery Alfriend Award: To the outstanding boy in the Lower School sixth grade, based on scholarship, character, leadership, and citizenship. Andrew Buchanan