Last night, the Princeton Day School Class of 2020 and their families joined with Head of School Paul Stellato, Head of Upper School Trixie Sabundayo and Senior Class Dean Dr. Mia Manzulli to celebrate their collective journey through PDS during the Baccalaureate Celebration.
Mr. Stellato kicked off the event with remarks to the senior families addressing the current social climate, stating, "I think about the ways over many years that we have tried to build a welcoming, respectful and inclusive school community. The flood of conversations around race, justice and equity have been led by your sons and daughters (the Class of 2020). They have been the ones who have raised this standard high, have urged us to do better and to do more and, among their many legacies, this may be among the most enduring that they will carry forward. So you can be very proud of them, as I am."
He also honored the memory of longtime PE instructor and coach Pete Higgins, who sadly passed away yesterday. 9Please see the news post honoring Pete Higgins here.)
Mr. Stellato shared a special message to outgoing Head of Upper School Trixie Sabundayo thanking her for her leadership and her fellowship throughout her time at PDS. "We will remember her for her kindnesses, for her leadership, and for her care of this great senior class," Mr. Stellato said.
In his message to the senior class, Mr. Stellato lauded the Class of 2020 for their ferocity and leadership throughout their PDS careers. "This class has led in every possible way. In the theater, on the playing fields, in the classroom, in the hallways and in the spirit and ethos of our community, which is healthy and strong through and because of their leadership," Mr. Stellato stated. He concluded his remarks by recognizing the Class of 2020's inductees into the Cum Laude society, as well as the rest of the award winners from the recent Upper School Awards ceremony.
Here is a recap of the other Baccalaureate Celebration speakers:
Photo from the US Awards Ceremony.
Head of Upper School Trixie Sabundayo
Ms. Sabundayo took the virtual podium and commended the Class of 2020 for their resilience during an unprecedented spring "filled with uncertainty about the current health of the world, inequity in America and also in what comes next and how to respond". She concluded, "My wish to you, Class of 2020, is that each of you remembers the vast potential in standing together in moments of uncertainty. I hope you recognize your fear, but not be deafened or blinded by it. I hope you find ways to listen and to engage with purpose. I hope by doing this you find meaningful connection to and in your communities. You do have agency in this time of uncertainty."
Photo of Eric Leung leading the seniors in the Halloween parade (for which their class won best costume theme for the fourth consecutive year)
Senior Class President Eric Leung '20
Eric Leung shared memories with his fellow seniors, including a dubious self-introduction all the way back from the first day of school. Eric lauded the Class of 2020's ability to collectively come together and speak out on important and difficult issues multiple times throughout their PDS journey. Eric added that the spirit of this senior class was unrivaled, no matter what the setting. Eric also shared that the class gift would be three-fold, including donations to Homefront, to combat homelessness in Central New Jersey, and the NAACP Legal Defense fund to aid efforts for civil rights and racial justice. The third portion of the gift is to build a new Upper School Athletics shed to house equipment for the use of US students.
Eric concluded his speech with words of advice to his fellow seniors. "I want to ask everyone to remember and hold onto the happy memories and the tough ones that we overcame together. The 91 of us have so many memories that no one can take away. So make sure you cherish that and remember that PDS has and will always be our home. Stay connected with one another and support each other, whether it's now or in the future," Eric said.
Senior Class Dean Dr. Mia Manzulli
Dean of the Class of 2020 Dr. Mia Manzulli began by expressing gratitude to the senior parents who went above and beyond to help get everyone to this day. Dr. Manzulli used the Halloween themes of the last four years to describe the collective creativity, cohesiveness, and competitiveness of this class.
Dr. Manzulli continued, "We knew that PDS would be hard-pressed to find another class as fiercely competitive and inspired as yours. We knew that you would be remembered as the class that fought for a sexual harassment policy and fought for change. We knew that you would have a senior year like no other. No matter that you have spent the last few months at home, you have made your last few months at PDS count. In a world that has turned upside-down, we need, now more than ever, young leaders who aspire to make things better and effect change. I believe that you, the Class of 2020, have the power to do this."
The event concluded with a slideshow of highlights of the Class of 2020 created by senior Aaron Baseman. (Photos above from the slideshow depicting three of the four winning Halloween costume themes for the Class of 2020.)
Highlights from senior class slideshow:
Photos courtesy of Aaron Baseman.