Honoring Excellence: The Annual Upper Mid Awards Ceremony

This week Taft hosted the Annual Upper Mids Awards Ceremony, a time when academic excellence and achievement, community service and commitment, and accomplishments in both the national and international arenas is recognized. 

This week Taft hosted the Annual Upper Mid Awards Ceremony, a time when academic excellence and achievement, community service and commitment, and accomplishments in both the national and international arenas is recognized. It is a time of celebration, acknowledgment, and reflection on what it means to truly fulfill our mission to “educate the whole student.” 

 

“These awards are really about rewarding consistent hard work over time, habit, sacrifice, perseverance,” noted Head of School Peter Becker ’95 in opening the ceremony. “And hopefully also the joy of pursuit.” 

A full listing of the awards bestowed on our students follows; video of the full ceremony is below.

CERTIFICATES OF ATTENDANCE FOR INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS 

Ella Luise Lerche: i-WAY Scholar 

NATIONAL MERIT SCHOLARSHIP PROGRAM 

From more than 1.3 million program entrants, these students are among the 50,000 highest scoring participants. They will receive recognition this fall in the 2025 National Merit Scholarship Program as either semifinalists or commended students.

Benjamin Bazarian, Tate Celebi, Fiona Chou, Madeleine Hsu, Kevin Jin, Christopher Joszczyk, Quinn Leonard, Grace Qudeen, Matthew Romero, Yuanfeng (Teresa) Wang, Yueyong (Joseph) Wang, Michael Xu 

THE CITIZENSHIP AWARD 

This annual award goes to Upper Middlers who have contributed significantly through their volunteer service in the community. Congratulations to Serena Nareshkumar Patel and Daniel Richard Schnaars.

NOTEWORTHY ACADEMIC ACHIEVEMENTS 

History: Sally Higgins earned second place honors in the Senior Paper Division at the regional CT National History Day Conference in March. The honor means that Sally’s paper advanced to the statewide CT State History Day competition in May. 

Science: Taft’s Science Olympiad Team competed at the state competition at the University of Connecticut. Team members Veronica Antov, Marytna Glowacka, Kai Kinoshita, Torie Korenha, Graham Petite, Michael Ren, and Michael Xu earned top ten finishes in a number of Olympiad events. Additionally, Fiona Chou won a National Silver in the 2024 USA-China BioOlympiad Initiative. 

Mathematics: Taft finished first in the region in the New England Mathematics League (NEML) competition for the third consecutive year (besting Hotchkiss!), third in the state, and fourteenth overall in a field of more than 200 competing schools. 

Chinese: Hayden Leehyun Choi earned a gold medal in the 2023 Chinese Language Association of Secondary Schools (CLASS) National Essay Contest.

Latin: Taft students continue to perform well in the annual National Latin Awards. Congratulations to:

            Gold: Summa cum Laude: Alice Li, Max Kenausis, Sophia Zhao

            Silver: Maxima cum Laude: Kai Kinoshita, Christopher Pangaro, Michael Ren, Matthew 

Romero, William Zhao

Bronze: Magna cum Laude: Liam Dhumale-Smyth, Eleanor Puricelli, Trevor Stellmach

Honorable Mention: cum Laude: Theo Charrington, Jacob Lucas, Brady Morris, Kylie 

Picard, Carl Roux, Yolanda Wei, Georgie Willard, Effie Young

UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER
BAUSCH AND LOMB HONORARY SCIENCE AWARD

This award is presented by the Bausch and Lomb Company to that member of the Upper Middle Class who has been outstanding in their work in science. Congratulations to Fiona Chou.

BROWN UNIVERSITY BOOK AWARD 

Christian William Tian Yi Yeung was honored as the Upper Middler who best combines a high degree of ability in English expression, both written and spoken, with those outstanding personal qualities which, in the words of the Brown Charter of 1764, give promise that they will become one of the succession of students duly qualified for discharging the offices of life with usefulness and reputation.

RENSSELAER POLYTECHNIC INSTITUTE MEDAL 

Kevin Hao Jin earned this prestigious award for excellence in mathematics and sciences. 

UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER FREDERICK DOUGLASS AND SUSAN B. ANTHONY AWARD 

This award is presented to that member of the Upper Middle Class who has demonstrated commitment to understanding and addressing difficult social issues; leadership and dedication to community action; strong grades and rigorous courses taken in the humanities and social sciences. Congratulations to Isabella Nascimento Silva Pinto.

FRAKER FAMILY AWARD 

Isabella Nascimento Silva Pinto received this award from the Head of School for distinguishing herself in creating a close and diverse global community. 

FEIDELSON FAMILY LEADERSHIP AWARD

The Feidelson Award is presented annually to a rising Taft Senior who has shown great strength of character, acts quietly as a mentor in the Taft community, and sets an example of civility and leadership for others in the dormitories, on the playing fields, or in the classroom. This year, that student is Lane Douglas Kierstead.

UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO BOOK AWARD 

The University of Chicago Book Award is given to that student whose challenging coursework, intellectual engagement in and out of the classroom, ability to draw connections across academic disciplines, and commitment to the community make them unique. Congratulations to Nataliia Shyika.

DARTMOUTH BOOK PRIZE 

The Dartmouth Book Prize is presented to an Upper Middler who has demonstrated intellectual leadership and made a positive contribution to the extracurricular life of the school. This year’s recipient is Rachel Kibler Turer.

HARVARD BOOK PRIZE 

The Harvard Book Prize is awarded to that student in the next‐to‐last year of college preparatory courses whom the Head of School, after consulting with the faculty, shall deem most worthy by result of high scholarship and character. Congratulations to Fiona Chou. 

CLASS OF ’78 MACMULLEN AWARD 

In honor of Willy ’78 and Pam MacMullen, the Class of ’78 MacMullen Award recognizes an upper-middle student who exhibits particular grit and resilience in overcoming obstacles or adversity. Willy MacMullen, who began teaching English at Taft in 1983, served as Head of School from 2001-2023, and Pam MacMullen taught English from 1995-2023. Congratulations to Sofia Bella Torres.

BOWDOIN BOOK AWARD 

Quinn Joseph Leonard was honored with the Bowdoin Book Award for demonstrating extraordinary service to the common good and an unusual passion for inquiry, discovery, and innovative thinking. 

SMITH COLLEGE BOOK AWARD 

Congratulations to Sally Payson Higgins, who was earned this award for embodying the academic achievement, leadership qualities, and concern for others that characterize the thousands of women who have graduated from Smith College. 

YALE BOOK AWARD 

The Yale Book Award is presented annually to a student in the upper mid class who, in the opinion of the faculty, demonstrates outstanding personal character and intellectual promise by reason of both spirited participation in class activities and overall scholastic achievements. This year, that student is Serena Nareshkumar Patel.

UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA JEFFERSON BOOK AWARD 

The Jefferson Book Award Program was established to recognize outstanding high school students during their Upper Middle year. The award is presented by the School’s Committee representative to the Upper Middler whom the high school considers to best represent the Jeffersonian ideals of scholarship, leadership, and citizenship. Congratulations to Ebenezer Lamptey. 

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