Nestled in the St. Stephen’s Chapel on a stormy morning, Head of School Chris Gunnin addressed members of the Class of 2021, their families, teachers and staff who had gathered on The Hill for the school’s 71st Commencement Exercises on May 22.
“Graduates, today marks a special milestone in your lives,” Gunnin said. “We have gathered as a community today to applaud you for the work you have done, for the skills and concepts you have mastered, and for the young adults you are becoming. We give thanks to God for the relationships you have formed and the character you have forged. By every measure, you are committed to excellence, you are eager to engage in the world around you, and you are ready to make your mark in the world — just as you have made your mark here in the St. Stephen’s community.
“I would be remiss if I did not point out that you have faced what no St. Stephen’s class before you has,” Gunnin continued. “You have excelled as much and in some cases more, and you have faced unprecedented challenges of the last 16 months, having lived your formative high school years in a time of great anxiety created from a global pandemic.
“And through it all, you have endured, exhibited remarkable grit and shown generosity of spirit at a commendable level,” he concluded. “You have found new ways of learning, being, creating and connecting. Your spirit has been nothing short of inspiring.”
Following Gunnin’s enthusiastic welcome and heartfelt remarks by faculty speaker Ben Hines ’91, senior speaker Betsy Goodrum addressed her classmates at the podium. The ceremony concluded with the presentation of major awards and diplomas, followed by the recitation of the school prayer and the benediction, led by the Rt. Rev. Kathryn Ryan, bishop suffragan of the Episcopal Diocese of Texas. Congratulations, Class of 2021!
Medals and Honors
The Bishop John E. Hines Medal was named after the Rt. Rev. John Hines, founder of St. Stephen's Episcopal School, who was a man of extraordinary vision and bold action. The Bishop Hines Medal is awarded to the member of the graduating class who maintained the highest academic standing throughout their 11th- and 12th-grade years. The 2021 Bishop Hines Medal was presented to Linda Liu.
Named for the school’s first headmaster, The William Brewster Medal was established in 1960 by the St. Stephen’s faculty to recognize the 12th-grade student who made the greatest total contribution to the life of the school. The recipient is an engaged and talented student — strong across all disciplines and genuinely interested in “the life of the mind.” The 2021 Brewster Medal was presented to Betsy Goodrum.
The Dobbie Leverton Fenton Medal is awarded annually to a member of the 12th-grade class who promotes the values of social justice. This year’s Dobbie Leverton Fenton Medal was awarded to Grace Mugo.
The Velberta Asher Towner Award in the Performing Arts was named for a longtime member of the St. Stephen’s faculty and former chair of the fine arts department. This award is presented to two students who excelled in the performing arts. The 2021 Towner Award was presented to Bella Salazar Harper and Matthew Kim.
The Don Cunningham Memorial Awards are presented to a female and male Spartan who lettered in three sports in their 12th-grade year and demonstrated outstanding talent, leadership, dedication and sportsmanship. This year’s Cunningham Awards were presented to Whitney Ball and Luke Near.
The Catherine Elliott Montgomery Prize is awarded by a committee of teachers to the 12th-grade student whose creativity, character and scholarship give promise of a contribution in history or the social sciences. The 2021 Montgomery Prize was awarded to Linda Liu.
The Jan Hines Leadership Award is presented to those students who have made positive contributions to our school and worked tirelessly to make our community a better place. This year’s award was presented to Matthew Kim, Peter Lee, Billal Lyzzaik and Abbie Prewitt.
The Rev. Charles Abram and Virginia Sumners Music Award is presented annually to a member of the 12th-grade class who made the greatest overall contribution to music at the school. The 2021 Sumners Music Award recipient was Linda Liu.
The Anne Dewey Guerin Award is awarded each year to the member of the 12th-grade student who made the greatest contribution to the theatre program. This year’s Anne Dewey Guerin award was presented to Gus Cosby.