Miller School of Albemarle

Archive for June 2011

2011 Pond Plunge! A Senior Tradition

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To view a slide show go HERE. Or, view more photos and the video, download them or even get them printed at our new Smug Mug site HERE.

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June 3, 2011 at 11:38 AM

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Class of 2011 Miller School of Albemarle Video

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Thanks Mr. Macdonald!!

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June 2, 2011 at 6:56 PM

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Class of 2011 Graduation!!

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To view a slide show go HERE. Or, view more photos and the video, download them or even get them printed at our new Smug Mug site HERE.


Good Morning

First I’d like to thank our Chinese and Korean guests in their languages;

首先,我谨代表Miller School全体师生欢迎并感谢各位家长亲临我们的毕业典礼。同时,感谢您们对我们由始至终的帮助及鼓励。正是有了您们的支持,我们才会获得留洋海外的机会,从而使我们离我们的梦想更近了一步。

Now, in Korean,

모든 학부모님들, 환영합니다. 이렇게 저희들의 졸업식에 참가 해 주셔서 감사합니다. 항상 멀리에서도 응원해주셔서 감사합니다. 그 응원과함께, 저희는 더 많은 기회와 함께 저희 꿈을 향해 한 발짝 나아갈 수 있게되었습니다.

(mo dn /hak bu mo nim dl,/ hwan young hab ni da. E rot gae/ jeo he dl eh / jol up sik eh/ cham ga hae/ ju sheo seo/ gam sa hab ni da. /Hang sang/ meole ehso do/ eung won hae ju sheo seo/ gam sa hab ni da./ gh/ eung won gwa ham ggae,/ jeo he nen/ duh/ man en/ gi hwae wa /ham ggae/ jeo he/ ggum el/ hyang hae/ han /bal jjak /na ah gal /su /it gae deh ut sp ni da.)

The Class of 2011 is so special compared to others because we may be the most diverse class ever. Eleven of us are from China, six of us are from Korea, and one of us is from Saudi Arabia. The person who stands here now giving you this speech is also special because, among all the valedictorians through hundreds of years in Miller history, this person may speak the worst English.

I assume you may question whether such a particularly unique class is able to achieve success. The answer is an overwhelming yes.

As international students, we are ambitious; we never stop one second as we pursue our goals; but we are also dependent, and sometimes weak and homesick. We are willing to enter a brand new environment; but meanwhile, we are also afraid that this environment is too exclusive for us to be a part of. Nevertheless, no anxiety is necessary at Miller.

Everyone puts great effort into helping us improve our language ability; but also, Miller is more like a family rather than a normal high school. In this new family, we are not nostalgic, isolated or lonely any longer; instead, we build up beautiful relationships which reach far beyond our expectations.

With this thought in mind, I received this text right after I got a rejection letter from Cornell University, from my best friend, whom I depended upon more than anyone else.

“This is just a night before the dawn…Don’t long for today’s sunset, for it was too dark for you to see. But expect to see the sun rise in a brighter light tomorrow.”

At Miller, as a part of this sweet family, each of us deserves each other. Although we are graduating, our best memories will not fade away, our relationships will contribute to our future routes, and our dependence will undoubtedly be the keys to our faith as we construct our new lives.

Again, a great thanks to our parents, for making the decision to send us to Miller School, for being our steadfast supporters every single second, and for every vigorous and determined attempt you exerted to assist us in accomplishing our goals.

Grand thanks is also due to the faculty, for being with us, supporting us and encouraging us. Thanks for your patience, diligence, and attention.  You taught us a great deal of knowledge, and imparted, elucidated and enlightened the paths to pursue in our lives.

Last but not least, let’s express thanks for each other, and for this sweet family we built up together. Remember the two crazy days we all spent in DC? Remember the prank night we all flipped over the entire school? Remember the essay we had to do for English class even though it was almost the end of the year? Remember Jo’s speech at Senior Dinner which made us all feel bitter sweet?

One of my friends said to me, “Your presence affected my life, but one thing which far more deeply affected my life is your absence.” Eventually, appears the inevitable moment of our leaving; let us look at each other one more time. Let’s take this second to engrave these figures who played significant roles in our lives and who may become the most familiar strangers after today.

Let’s pray that each other’s futures will be happy and fulfilled without us accompanying each other. Lastly, let’s cheer that our memories of each other will definitely become one of the most beautiful parts of our souls.



To the class of 2011, I offer my congratulations. Here we are this May morning, graduating at last. We have been anticipating this day for the past four years, some of us longer. It has been quite a ride from scared little freshman to confident young men and women getting ready to go out into the world.

Though the journey to this day has been different for each of us, one part is the same, and that part is Miller School. Miller has been just one of many stepping stones in each of our lives, but it is one that we share. Miller has influenced us each differently, and some more than others. Miller means a different thing to each and every one of us. To some it has been a home, and has held a family. To some it has been a learning ground for life much more than academia. But I think that for each of us, in some way, it has been more than just a school, more than just a requirement, more than just a routine.

When asked what makes Miller extraordinary and unique, people always talk about how special the community is. The repetition of this may make it seem less true, but for me, and for my classmates, the community that surrounds us has been one part of Miller we will never forget. We have had the honor of learning form teachers who know us, and who care for us; who treat us like adults when we earn their respect; who look us in the eye, and who eagerly great us each fall with hugs and smiles. I would not want to be a part of any other community; I could not have asked for more.

When we look back at the time we have spent at Miller, it seems to have gone so fast. How can it possibly be more than just the other day that I was driving up the front entrance, and setting eyes on the Bell Tower, and Old Main, for the very first time.

I can still remember the first day that I came to Miller. It was an open-house during the late winter of my eighth grade year. I did not really know much about Miller at that point, and I didn’t even know for sure that I wanted to attend. I was of course impressed, and I admit a little intimidated, by the grandeur of these beautiful old buildings. The campus though, was not what first struck me. The first thing about Miller that really made an impression on me was the smell. I know that sounds a little odd, but as I walked up the stairs just inside the portico, counting each step as I went, I inhaled deeply, and I remember that smell vividly. It was a smell of wood, and age; not a musty crumbling smell like one that might be expected in Gormenghast Castle, but a smell of history and magic more reminiscent of a place such as Hogwarts.

The class of 2011 is a historic class in many ways. Amongst our ranks stand the very last of the Miller devils. With the graduation of this senior class goes a little bit of Miller history. Though we are the last of the devils, in the class of 2011 also stand some of the first true Miller Mavericks. We are the first graduating class to have been freshman as Mavericks, gone all the way through as Mavericks, and we are proud our identity.

We are the first senior class to have Mr. France as our Headmaster. We are so lucky to have had Mr. France as our headmaster. He is a caring, and hardworking individual, the equal of whom we would be hard pressed to find. He has helped us to stay close, and really be one with our community here. I hope that as we move on we will still be able to stick together and take care of each other in one way or another. I can say with certainty, that we are all glad to have spent this year with Mr. France leading our school. The future of Miller School is sure to be full of success and joyful “Mondays” with Mr. France as Headmaster.

We have so many memories from this year and the years before to look back on that will remind us of Miller and our time spent within these halls.

Last winter we were held captive with an inordinate amount of snow. Some were trapped here at Miller, some were held up in airports, trapped in limbo amidst their travels, still others stuck at home without power or any possible way to escape. Eventually the plows reached all the back roads, and we were able to reach home, or in some cases escape home. Fortunately nobody was hurt, we all survived the snow, and can brag today that we were there; we witnessed it; we experienced it together.

Eventually though, the snow melted, the flowers bloomed, and we all moved on. Now it’s that time of year again, and we are truly moving on. We are moving on to summer, to college, and to the rest of our lives.

Perhaps one day we will come back to Miller, and when we do, it will welcome us back like an old friend. It might not look exactly the same, or smell exactly the same, or house all of the same people; but no matter what, we know that we can come back to a place that will always be familiar, no matter how long we stay away.

Written by Miller School of Albemarle

June 2, 2011 at 2:49 PM

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Annual Senior Class Rock Painting!

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To view a slide show go HERE. Or, view more photos, download them or even get them printed at our new Smug Mug site HERE.

Written by Miller School of Albemarle

June 2, 2011 at 1:20 PM

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Final Awards Ceremony of the Year

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On May 27, 2011 the final Awards Ceremony of the year was held where academic and special achievement awards were presented. Following is a list of the awards and their winners. You can few a slide show of the ceremony HERE. Or, view more photos, download them or even get them printed at our new Smug Mug site HERE.


Art – Jessica Zheng

Written by: Sharon Kennedy

It’s been a good year in Art!  We hosted two “en plein air” art events; Shuo created a monumental triple portrait in charcoal; Duo was accepted at one of the top art schools in the country; Dana dazzled us with some hauntingly beautiful paintings, and this year’s class of Art 1 students created some amazing self portraits.

As all this was going on, another student was quietly developing her art ability and building her art knowledge.  Her drawings have gone from “very good” to “exquisite,” and she’s proved to herself that she can also achieve wonderful results in painting, while maintaining one of the highest averages in Art during the last two years. 

For her remarkable progress, superior work ethic, terrific attitude and genuine love of art, the 2011 Art Award is presented to Jessica Zheng, of Great Falls, VA.  

Design/Build – Chris Wygand

Written by: Steve Hunter

This young man has many admirable qualities. During the course of the year, he demonstrated a terrific work ethic, matched with superb skills in the design and building of various projects in wood and metal. Most importantly, this student has an intense, enthusiastic curiosity that will carry him far in his future endeavors. He demonstrates patience and perseverance–character traits so essential to the creative process. It has been a pleasure to work with Chris Wygand.

Drama – Brian Kimble

Written by: Mary Jo Burke

The great actor Derek Jacobi said, “I think actors always retain one foot in the cradle. We’re switched on to our youth, to our childhood. We have to be because we’re in the business of transferring emotions to other people. Actors, I don’t think, ever really grow up.”  What Jacobi meant by this is that a good actor must always retain a youthful imagination in order to bring characters to life on the stage.  The recipient of this year’s Drama Award is a young man who has done just that.  He is a kinetic actor – relying on physicality and improvisation to create his characters.  He thinks outside the box when it comes to staging and brings an incredible level of energy and enthusiasm to the stage.  The combination of this with his “Peter Pan” vision of acting has made the Miller School stage a never-never land where dreams and characters come alive in a magical way.  Thank you, Brian Kimble, for your youthful enthusiasm and vision of drama.  We will never forget you and the characters that you have brought to life. 

English – Aaron Barnett

Citation written by: Steve Knepper

In his first year at the Miller School of Albemarle, this student has distinguished himself as a writer, critic, and thinker.  He has written “A” essays on ethics, The Declaration of Independence, and Henry David Thoreau’s Walden.  For each essay, he produced multiple drafts and met with his teacher during help session.  He has exhibited the same diligence and drive in his budding career as a creative writer.  On many evenings, when he could have been watching TV or playing video games, he was instead crafting novellas, short stories, and poems.  For one of those stories, he was recognized as runner-up in the Spring Honors fiction competition.  Creative writers must serve a long apprenticeship, but this student is already well on his way to mastery.  In class discussions, he demonstrates remarkable insight and intellectual curiosity.  Never satisfied with an easy answer, he always pushes his teacher and his classmates to think more deeply about the matter at hand.  He realizes that the study of literature is the study of humanity, of the big questions which every age must ask, and because of this Aaron Barnett, from Centreville, VA is an exceptional choice for the English Award.


French – Tori Hadalski

Written by: Rick France

The French Award is presented to the student who shows the greatest proficiency in and mastery of the French language, highlighting the essential skills of listening, speaking, reading, and writing. Generally speaking, the award winner has completed several years of study and demonstrated an ability to comprehend and express oneself correctly in French. This year’s recipient comes from the A.P. French Language class, meaning that the design of the course includes rigor in demanding a vast knowledge of vocabulary and an articulate, real-world level of oral expression. This student has achieved this level of success with a profound, serious work ethic that has enabled her to have the confidence to attack all forms of French. Her knowledge of current events, globally, keeps her aware of how and why certain things occur in France differently from how they occur in the United States. Her keen interest in world affairs has increased her awareness of France’s political role throughout the world. A thorough study of the various periods and genres of French literature added to her appreciation for the nuances of words and phrases, thus using subtleties to make one’s point.

In sum, this student has attained a breadth of knowledge of French, France, and French culture and deserves to be recognized for her effort. The French award goes to Tori Hadalski, from Midlothian, VA.

History – Grace Dawson

Written by: Hugh Meagher

The Miller School History Prize is awarded to the student who not only makes high marks in the classroom, but who also demonstrates affection for and a genuine understanding of history.  During her Miller years, the recipient took two advanced placement classes and earned high marks in each.  I have had the pleasure of teaching this young lady Advanced Placement American Government and Politics; I am continually amazed at her breadth of knowledge and her ability to recall both fine details as well as broad themes in history and politics.  I am certain that this year’s recipient will distinguish herself not only at the University of Richmond, but also in later life.  Grace Dawson will be an asset to every community with which she associates, just as she has been an asset to us at Miller School. 

Latin – Laura Sullivan

Written by: Mary Jo Burke

The famous phrase from Virgil’s Aeneid – dux femina facti – the leader of the action was a woman – sums up the recipient of this year’s Latin award.  This young woman is a true leader both in our school community and in the classroom.  She was a member of the very first “Latin 8” class offered at Miller School, and she is the first student who has been able to study Latin here for five years.  This young woman always gives 110% to her work; if a grammatical topic or translation doesn’t come easily, she simply doubles her efforts to master it.  The posters and projects she has created over the years have effectively combined facts with creativity.  While she may not always believe it, I have seen her skill at translating from Latin into English improve tremendously over the years, especially this year as I’ve challenged her with Cicero, Caesar and Virgil.  It has been a joy to work with such a dedicated and talented young woman.   It is with the greatest pride and pleasure that I present this year’s Latin award to Laura Sullivan, of Charlottesville, VA. 

Math – Jennie Wang

Written by: Jim Douglas

The great set theorist Georg Cantor once said that, “In mathematics the art of proposing a question must be held of higher value than solving it.”  This quote strikes at the soul of every mathematician.  Mathematics is not about the repetitious art of solving homework problems.  No.  Mathematics is for the inquisitive mind, the mind that asks questions to which there may not yet be an answer.  Georg Cantor was such a mind, a mind that dared to venture into insurmountable terrain as he began to wrap his mind around the concept of the infinite, declaring that infinite sets should no longer be considered to simply going on and on forever, but should be considered completed sets and defined entities.  Cantor not only tamed the wild beast that is the infinite, making numerous discoveries, but he was also able to traverse a landscape that had intimidated many of the greatest mathematicians of all time.  The winner of the Mathematics Department Award is not only very good at solving problems, but also understands the art of proposing the question, just as Cantor did.  She asks the question that exposes the core theory behind a problem.  She is truly a very gifted mathematician.  This year’s Mathematics Department Award winner is Jennie Wang.

Music – Sam Orem

Written by: Chris Celella

One of the most famous and praised singer-song writers of the 1950s and 1960s almost never stepped on the stage.  While he is now famous for his passionate and lively performances of his song “Oh, Pretty Woman,” Roy Orbison was first described by his producer as “a timid, shy kid who seemed to be rather befuddled by the whole music scene. I remember the way he sang then — softly, prettily but almost bashfully, as if someone might be disturbed by his efforts and reprimand him.”  The recipient of the music award is a young woman, who much like the great Roy Orbison, was timid about performing in front of a crowd for much of her time at Miller.  This year she found her wings! She confidently and passionately shared her talents with the Miller School community.  We thank Sam Orem for her beautiful voice and powerful stage presence.

Photography – Savannah White

Written by: Tom Pallante

The photographer Mike Morse said, “Technical ability aside, the difference is commitment. Some people look at whatever they do as a job and then they want to be good craftsmen. Then there are people who do it as a passion. They really care about it, and it shows in their photographs.”

The idea of passion serving as a vehicle for one’s growth and success in the photographic process summarizes this year’s award winner.  The spark, which I believe is the vision, succeeded by fire, which is the passion, resulted in a creative sample of thoughtful, experimental and poetic photographs.  I have witnessed this growth for three years.  At first it was tentative, and now it is demonstrative and confident.  It is my pleasure to award Savannah White from Batesville, VA the 2011 Miller School Photography Award.  

Science – Grace Dawson

Written by: Mark Gottlob

The satirical newspaper “The Onion” once ran an article called “Science is Hard.”    I used to share the article with my students, but they never thought it was as funny as I did.   The humor for me was the irony, because science is hard, and we make no concessions to that fact at Miller.  Science students are told at the beginning of each school year that to be successful in science they have to complete the heavy homework load, learn to apply math, and most importantly learn to think and solve problems.  This students success comes from not just meeting those demands but embracing them, and, even though she will not go on to major in science at the college level,  Grace Dawson’s work ethic and ability to solve problems will help her continue to be successful.

Spanish – Joaquin Litzenburg-Brunetti

Written by: Michael Dalton

“Time is the substance from which I am made. Time is a river which carries me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that devours me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.” – Jorge Luis Borges

A true study of Hispanic Literature cannot be complete without delving into the labyrinths of the great Argentine writer Borges.  Miller School of Albemarle affords its students and its faculty members the luxury of intimate classes, and we grow to know one another quite well.   It is even more interesting when the students begin to really grasp that what they are learning isn’t merely clever phrases or breathtaking sonnets.  Literature is life, it is an escape, and it is the synthesis of our human experience.  As Alex Barnett puts it: “Why do you think people like reading and playing video games so much? Perhaps it is because, if just for a moment, they get to live in a different world.”  I have thoroughly enjoyed living in a different world with this young scholar at the fabled round table beneath the portrait of the young red-haired girl in our library.  We would meet with great approval from Borges who mused:  “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.”  This young scholar earned a bronze medal on the National Spanish Exam and made me always anticipate “A” period with hope and happiness.  It is right and just that a young man with Argentina in his soul should receive this year’s Spanish Award.  Congratulations, Joaquin Litzenberger-Brunetti.  You have made both your teacher and Borges proud.

Charles Vawter Award – Presented to the 8th grader with the highest academic average – Marta Regn

Written by: Alice Simpkins

The Charles Vawter Award goes to the eighth grader with the highest academic average.  The recipient of this award is a diligent and well-respected student in our eighth grade class.  Much like Miller School’s first superintendent Charles Vawter, this young woman is a self-assured, determined, and personable.  She combines intelligence with a work ethic that impresses her teachers and inspires her classmates.  The Vawter Award goes to Marta Regn of Palmyra, VA. 

Mary Taylor Clark Award – Presented to the 9th grader with the highest academic average – Ursala Nelson

Written by: Jessie Haden

The Mary Taylor Clark award is presented to the 9th grade with the highest academic average.  Mrs. Clark served the Miller School of Albemarle for many years as librarian and registrar.  She understood very well that the education one receives in lower grades provides the foundation on which valedictorians are built.

Mrs. Clark would be very proud of this year’s winner as her foundation grows stronger each year as she embraces all aspects of the Miller School educational experience.  Congratulations and keep up the good work, Ursala Nelson of Nellysford, VA.

Lapsley Award – Presented to the 10th grader with the highest academic average – Sara Vogelgesang

Written by: Mary Jo Burke

The Lapsley Award is named for James Lapsley, who served as superintendant of Miller School for thirty-two years.  He guided the school through the Great Depression and World War II.  This award, which commemorates his selfless service to the school, is presented to the member of the 10th grade who has the highest academic average.  This year’s recipient sets a high standard for her peers to follow.  She excels at academics, producing work that has been characterized by her teachers as far surpassing the quality normally seen from someone so young.  She has a thirst for knowledge, never gives less than her best to any assignment, and provides insightful comments during class discussions.  Congratulations to this year’s Lapsley Award winner, Sara Vogelgesang from Shipman, VA. 

Sewanee Book Award – Presented to the 11th grader with the second highest academic average – Chase Cannon

Dartmouth Book Award – Presented to the 11th grader with the highest academic average – Jennie Wang

Salutatorian – Presented to the senior with the second highest academic average – Grace Dawson

Written by: Mary Jo Burke

A good student masters the material presented by her teachers; a great student wants to delve deeper into the subject, asking probing questions about a topic, longing to know not just “what” but “why.”  Since her arrival at Miller School in 9th grade, the faculty has known that we were working with a “great” student.  This young woman sets the bar high, not only for herself, but for her peers and her teachers.  She is endowed with an inquisitive mind.  In the classroom, she is the one who asks the insightful questions and who takes the class discussion to a higher level.  In her writing, she looks deeply into every topic, using her powerful analytical skills to bring out the deeper meaning in a work of literature.  Her talent as a writer comes out not only in the papers she writes for classes but also in her music, where she creates moving characters and situations that tug at the heartstrings of her audience.  The professors at the University of Richmond should consider themselves fortunate to have this scholar and artist in their classrooms next year.  Congratulations to this year’s salutatorian, Grace Dawson!

Valedictorian – Shuo Sun

Written by: Rick France

The Valedictorian of the Senior Class has maintained the highest overall average for the past two years. This average includes both the number of classes studied and the level of difficulty. This year’s recipient takes an amazing array of challenging classes and maintains excellent grades. His courses this year included: A.P. English Literature, A.P. Calculus BC, A.P. Environmental Science, Honors Chemistry, A. P. United States Government and Politics, and Advanced Art. The fact that he is still breathing is impressive.

We have grown to admire his fine mind, hard work, and wry smile. Thus, it is most appropriate that this year’s Valedictorian is Shuo Sun from Beijing, China.

George R. B. Michie Award – Presented to the senior who most exhibits signs of being a life-long lover of the written word – Kelsey Corcoran

Written by: Chris Ross  

The Michie Award is given to a student who demonstrates a life-long love of reading and writing.  One sure sign of this award-winner is a voracious reading appetite.  This young lady tears through books.  She went through Water for Elephants in mere days, and instead of coasting, asked for another book to read while still keeping up with the classwork.  She researched the New York Times top ten books of the year and went on to devour Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption detailing Louie Zamperini’s compelling story of survival.  In terms of her writing, she is equally determined to revise, revise, revise; an active verb that is music to English teachers’ ears.  Clearly, books and writing will be a part of her life for many years to come, and, for this reason, we award the Michie Award of 2011 to Kelsey Corcoran.

Daughters of the American Revolution American History Award – Presented by the Jack Jouett Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution – Whitney Martin

Written by: James Braxton

Each year a Daughters of the American Revolution American History Award is presented to a junior who has shown great interest and a love for American History. This year’s winner has been a model student.  She is hardworking and studious. Her love for history has been evident in her research and her participation in class discussions. This year’s winner is a wonderful young lady with a great personality. The 2011 DAR American History Award goes to Ms. Whitney Martin from Charlottesville, Virginia.

Lion Him Stork Scholarship – Awarded to a senior who chooses to attend a community college in the state of Virginia – Garrett Moore

Written by: Hugh Meagher

This award, named in honor of the late Jim Stork goes to a local graduate who will be enrolling in the Virginia Community College Associates Degree Program.  Jim Stork was an Albemarle native who, along with his fellow Crozet Lions, worked tirelessly to make it possible for deserving youngsters from Central Virginia to attend college.  This year’s recipient is Garrett Lee Moore of Shipman,Virginia. 

The Bob Roberts Award – Given to a senior who has participated fully in all aspects of Miller School of Albemarle life – Grace Dawson

Written by:  Connie Gilchrist

Every year, The Bob Roberts Award is given to a senior who has participated fully in all aspects of Miller School Life.  This year’s recipient is most deserving of this award as she gives tirelessly her time and talent to Miller School.  She’s a major contributor to our music and drama program as an actress, a composer, and a singer.  In the classroom she excels as a poet, an AP Government scholar, and a top notch Honors Spanish student.  She serves the Charlottesville area as a volunteer with the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities.  As a school leader, she took on the very difficult position as the Student Chairman of the Discipline Review Board attending and presiding over every meeting this year.  Perhaps the greatest thing about this young lady is that she lives every day as a role model to other students as she exemplifies character, integrity and kindness.

It has been an honor and a privilege having Grace Dawson on our campus for four years.

Sons of the American Revolution Good Citizenship Medal – A Medal in recognition of a student’s dependability, cooperation, leadership, and patriotism, presented by the Thomas Jefferson Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution to a junior boy – Aaron Barnett

Written by: Mary Jo Burke

The Good Citizenship Award is presented to a male member of the junior class in recognition of his dependability, cooperation, leadership and patriotism.  This year’s award winner, a newcomer to Miller School, has jumped right in and made his mark as an outstanding member of our community.  His teachers and the dorm parents can always count on him for anything they need done.  In his service at Agnor Hurt Elementary School, he is a mentor to the students with whom he works and a real asset to the classroom teacher.  As a peer tutor, he goes above and beyond in his efforts to help his peers master difficult material.  Polite, helpful and good natured, he is also a strong student in the classroom.  In every aspect of life at Miller School, this young man goes above and beyond to serve our community.  Congratulations to Aaron Barnett!

Ada Gilbert Bowers Award – Given in tribute to former Miller School of Albemarle nurse Ada Gilbert Bowers and presented to the student who has exhibited a sense of curiosity in the research pr0cess during the current school year – Sara Vogelgesang

Written by:  Connie Gilchrist

Every year this award is given in tribute to a former Miller School student and nurse, Ada Gilbert Bowers.  It is presented to a student who has best utilized the library’s media for all aspects of scholarship during the current school year.  This year’s recipient is an obvious choice for this award as her scholarship record is excellent and her quest for knowledge unparalleled.

Often seen totally focused on her studies, whether in the library or on a bench in a busy hallway, this student craves knowledge.  Whether it is exploring the classical influences in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, leading discussions in her Algebra/Trig class, or concentrating on Latin translations, she is focused and involved.

This year’s winner is not only an exceptional student but also a fun loving and enthusiastic member of many activities in our school community.

It is with great pleasure that we award this year’s Ada Gilbert Bowers Memorial Library Award to Sara Vogelgesang!

Mary Saunders Ladd Award – Presented to the student who has given unselfishly in volunteer service to Miller School of Albemarle – Andrew Lee

Written by: Joe Spivey

This award is given to the student who has unselfishly volunteered his or her time to the school community. The recipient of this year’s award has given more of himself to the betterment of the Miller School than anyone else. The time and energy he has devoted to making others more comfortable and happy is immeasurable. For his work in the School Store, Concessions Stand, Athletic Management, Strategic Planning and the many other things he does for all of us, the Mary Saunders Ladd Award is presented to Andrew Lee of Seoul, Korea.

Charles L. Leonard Environmental Award – Presented to a student who has demonstrates outstanding stewardship of the earth – Laura Sullivan

Written by: Meghan Sweeny

Kermit the Frog sang, “It’s not easy being green.” He was absolutely right! Being green, also associated with being environmentally responsible, takes effort, sacrifice, and passion. This year’s recipient understands the dedication and passion that living a green lifestyle requires. She has inspired her classmates and teachers alike to protect and preserve our natural world.  Laura Sullivan is deserving of the Charles Leonard Environmental Science Award.

John Keppler Outstanding Effort Award – Given to a senior who has demonstrated the traits of determination, effort, and perseeverance  – Mohammad Alfouzan

Written by: Peter Hufnagel

Two years after finishing an agonizing 4th place at the Olympic Games, the British runner Roger Banister accomplished a goal that doctors and scientists said was impossible. On a warm May afternoon in 1954, Banister stood on the start line of a track and contemplated the effort that would be required to run world’s first sub-4-minute mile.  He had been warned by his doctor that “he would die in the attempt” because the human body was not capable of such an amazing feat.  Three minutes and fifty-nine seconds later as he collapsed across the finish line, the first thought that ran through Banister’s mind was: “I must be dead.”  Breaking the 4-minute mile required one of most outstanding efforts of the twentieth century.  Pushing himself beyond the limits of pain and suffering, Roger Banister accomplished a goal that few thought was possible.  The Keppler Award is in honor of a young man who, like Roger Banister, exceeded people’s expectations in running and in life.  John Keppler’s Outstanding Effort in athletics allowed him to accomplish goals that most would have argued were out of his reach.  Likewise, today’s recipient of the Keppler Award is a young man who has consistently proven that determination and effort will triumph in every mile of life.  For exceeding all of our expectations and showing us that nothing is impossible, Mohammad Alfouzan is the 2011 recipient of the Keppler Award.    

Good Citizenship Medal – Given to the gunior girl who has desplayed the qualities of honor, service, courage, leadership, and patriotism, presented by the Jack Jouett Chapter of the National Society of the Daughters of the American Revolution – Taylor Baker

Written by: Joe Spivey

The Daughters of the American Revolution give an annual award to a junior girl who displays the qualities of honor, service, courage, leadership and patriotism. The student selected certainly meets the criteria. She has served the Miller School Community with honor and courage. She is a quiet leader who leads by example and by exhibiting her strong character. We are all very proud of this year’s recipient of the DAR Award, Taylor Baker of Charlestown, West VA.

International Award – Presented to the student who, since arriving at MSA, has acclimated to our school culture without losing touch with his or her own culture – Mohammad Alfouzan

Written by Mr. Ross

In the closing paragraph of his Chapel Talk, our International Award winner writes, “Every good Saudi citizen wishes he had the chance to stand in front of people to change how the West perceives us.  And, in fact, you are all welcome to come to visit my country some day!”  Due to your impeccable ambassadorship, our perception of your country and your religion could not be better.   Your kindness, diligence, sense of responsibility, and humor has set the gold standard.  We are indeed fortunate that a short portion of the pilgrimage of your life has included a stint here on the Hill.  We thank you for your presence, and your invitation.  We look forward to bringing the whole school to visit you in Riyadh in late August.  (Just kidding).  Congratulations to Mohamad Alfouzan of Saudi Arabia as the winner of this year’s International Award.

International Award – Presented to the student who, since arriving at MSA, has acclimated to our school culture without losing touch with his or her own culture – Xinwen “Maggie” Zhang

Written by Mrs. Tyler

It is difficult for many of us Americans to image leaving everything and everyone we have ever known to pursue an education in a foreign land.  Few of us know what it is like to travel thousands of miles, enroll in a new school, learn a new language, AND still thrive in academic, athletic, and social pursuits with an excess of grace.

This award goes to a young lady who has been a student here for three years.  She has been a vital part of our Miller School community.  She not only excels with her academics, but she is also a team player in all aspects of her life.  She has graced us with her high heeled shoe fetish and entertained us with her enthusiastic conversations.   She is an avid world traveler who carries her positive attitude and smile with her wherever she goes. We will miss her.  It is with great honor we present Xinwen “Maggie” Zhang of Henan, China with the International Award.

Community Action Award – Given to the student who has displayed outstanding service to the surrounding communities through dedication and leadership – Laura Sullivan

Written by: Elizabeth Brann

This award is presented to a student who shows commitment and dedication to community service.  This year’s recipient has been a self-starter and involved in community service endeavors on and off the Hill.  Her devotion to community service and taking the time to put herself in others shoes or, at times, ski boots became clear to the MSA community through her chapel talk this year where she described her training and experience as an adaptive ski instructor.  What some may not know is that she is also a dedicated member of the Horses as Healers service group, an organization committed to providing therapeutic horseback riding to children with disabilities. There is never a task presented that she is not willing to tackle, and she sets a great example for others.  She takes the initiative to be productive and consistent in her volunteer work.  It is my pleasure to present the Community Action Award to Laura Sullivan.

Charlottesville-Albemarle Foundation Board – Miller School of Albemarle slects a rising senior to serve on the Youth Board of the Foundation in 2011-2012 – Chase Cannon

Written by: Jessie Haden

Each year, the Charlottesville-Albemarle Community Foundation gives 10,000 dollars to an organization that supports young people in our area. The decision is placed in the hands of nine seniors from local public and private schools.  These students have the opportunity to learn firsthand the meaning of and the workings of philanthropy which goes hand in hand with our service program at Miller.  The students review and discuss applications, interview leaders, and make on-site visits. In the spring, they decide which organization is most deserving of the 10,000 dollar grant.  With this particular announcement today there is no reward, just a request for a commitment of hard, serious work.  Chase Cannon of Morehead City, North Carolina has agreed to be Miller School’s representative on the Board for the 2011-12 year.

Wayland Cup – Presented to a female baording student who has demonstrated dependability, cooperation, leatership, and compassion towards others in day-to-day life in Old Main – Xinwen “Maggie” Zhang

Written by: Kathie Cason

The Wayland Cup is presented each year to a boarding student at Wayland Hall who demonstrates dependability, cooperation, leadership and compassion toward others in the day-to-day life at Wayland.

The recipient of the Wayland Cup for this year has served faithfully as an RA, but, most importantly, she has been good friend and listener to everyone in the dorm.  She is often the first one to give encouragement to someone after a rough day, the first one to jump up and down to celebrate someone’s recent accomplishment or to bring some “fun and laughter” into the dorm after a long day.  She always has a “great idea” and a plan for an activity for the dorm to do. She is funny, enthusiastic and mindful of others.  

For sharing her wisdom, her sense of adventure, her compassion, and teaching all of us to appreciate the “little things” that make a difference every day, the Wayland Cup for 2010-2011 is presented to Maggie Zhang.

Old Main Cup – Presented to a male boarding student who has demonstrated dependability, cooperation, leadership, and compassion towards others in day-to-day life in Old Main – Chase Cannon

Written by: Jessica Landseadel

The Old Main Cup is presented each year to a boarding student at Old Main who demonstrates dependability, cooperation, leadership and compassion toward others in the day-to-day life in the dorm.

This Old Main boarder has had a tremendous impact on dorm life in Old Main during his first year at Miller.  While most newcomers are adjusting to life on the hill and figuring out how things work over the first couple months, he was thrust into a leadership position right away.  His work as an RA in Old Main has been outstanding.  He is trustworthy, dependable and well respected by both students and faculty members.  The students on his hall have all greatly benefitted from his influence and have had a positive start to their Miller career due to his efforts.  For his leadership in the dorm, the Old Main Cup is presented to Chase Cannon.

Haden-Hart Cup – Presented to an 8th or 9th grade female boarding student who demonstrates dependability, cooperation, leadership and compassion toward others in the day-to-day life in Haden-Hart Hall – Kate Zhao

Written by: Erra Grant

The Haden-Hart Cup is presented each year to a boarding student at Haden Hart who demonstrates dependability, cooperation, leadership and compassion toward others in the day-to-day life in the dorm.  This year’s recipient has proven to be kind and helpful in all aspects of life in the dorm.  In addition, she is a role model for her roommates and has taught everyone in Haden-Hart the value of completing homework and household chores quickly and efficiently.  The word “procrastination” is not in her vocabulary.  This young lady shares many of the same characteristics as Jesse Haden and Col. Tom Hart, for whom the dorm is named.  Kate Zhao’s many remarkable qualities make Haden-Hart and Miller School a special place.

Most Improved Student Award – Given to a student who, during his or her career, has displayed the most progress in his or her overall life at Miller School of Albemarle – Andrew Lewis

Written by: Sam Hale

This year’s recipient of the Most Improved Student Award goes to a young man who demands respect from his peers and teachers through his quiet diligence and attentiveness to his studies.  He has been a steadfast member of our community for the past two years. From the time this young man arrived at Miller School until now, he has undergone a complete transformation.  His work is of the highest caliber, he is consistently on time with all assignments, and he has been a contributing member to many of our athletic programs–often two during the same season.  His perseverance and determination have served him well here at Miller as they will when heads to James Madison University next year. This year’s recipient for the Most Improved Student Award goes to Andrew Lewis. 

Cody Watts Plugger Award – Given to a student who never gives up and is continually trying to make his or her goals more attainable – Jonny Milkis

Written by: Mary Jo Burke

The Plugger Award is named for Miller School student Cody Watts, whose life was tragically cut short by an accident.  Cody is remembered by his peers and those who taught him as a pleasant, hard-working young man who did what was expected of him and always tried his best.  These characteristics also describe this year’s winner of the Plugger Award.  Since his arrival at Miller School as an 8th grader, this young man has always tried his best, especially when the work is challenging.  He never gives up, takes advantage of help session and tutoring.  In the classroom, he is pleasant and cooperative.  This year, he has taken some very challenging courses and has performed above and beyond the expectations that he had set for himself.  The academic progress he has made over the years is the result of his hard work and dedication.  Congratulations to our 2011 “Plugger,” Jonny Milkis of Charlottesville, VA!

Jessie Carr Haden Student Leadership Award – Given to a student whose conduct in life sets a standard for all others to follow – Johanna Annunziata

Written by: Elizabeth Brann

Ms. Haden joined Miller School of Albemarle in 1962.    Over that time, she has led the school in various capacities.  She was in charge of our 5th, 6th, and 7th graders, she taught our seniors, she served as the Director of Student Life as well as the Director of Admissions.  She is currently our Special Events Coordinator.  She is a recipient of the Samuel Miller Award.  Ms. Haden is a dependable figure in our community as is the recipient of this award.  The student who will be recognized momentarily joined MSA in 2009, so does not really hold a candle to Ms. Haden in terms of time, but she has exhibited the qualities of true leadership, in particular as our Student Government Association president.  Please help me congratulate Johanna Annunziata as this year’s recipient of the Jessie Carr Haden Leadership Award.

Faculty Award – Presented to a student who consistently balances academics, athletics, adn service to the school, setting the standard for what it means to be a member of the Miller of Albemarle community – Leo Zhao

Written by: Peter Hufnagel

The Faculty Award is presented to a student who embodies all that we hope to inspire in a young person and one who demonstrates the ideals that can make a significant contribution to the world.  This year’s recipient of the award is a young man who has made many contributions to life on the hill and has impressed his classmates and the faculty with his work ethic, quite and helpful personality in the dorm, and consistent performance in athletics.  His demeanor can be best described as reserved and calm. With this in mind, it seemed like a bit of a paradox when this year’s recipient of the Faculty Award organized one of the most energetic and spirited rock and roll bands in Miller School’s history.  Whether he was leading his band in a performance of Green Day’s “September Never Ends” or directing a rock rendition of “You are My Sunshine,” this young man has entertained his classmates and taught us all that it is okay to “cut loose” occasionally, especially when it brings joy to the community in which we live.  The faculty at Miller School hopes that your enthusiasm and love of rock and roll never ends, for it has brought sunshine into all of our lives.  Thank you for being the quiet and unassuming rock star that we all love.  You will be missed, Leo Zhao. 

Previously Presented Awards:

Emily Couric Scholarship Award Nominee – Laura Sullivan

Greater Community Service Award – Andrew Lee

Boys State – Grant Dinwiddie

Girls State – Nicole Courtney

Written by Miller School of Albemarle

June 2, 2011 at 1:04 PM

Posted in Posts

“Real Moments” Baccalaureate Speech by Christopher D. Ross

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Presented May 27, 2011 at the Miller School of Albemarle

Good Evening.

I’ll begin with thanks to the Board of Trustees, Mr. France, and the members of his administration for running a tight ship; the parents and families of the graduating class of 2011 for investing your trust in us to educate your children; my fellow teachers for bestowing your time, energy, and expertise; you 32 seniors for inspiring and challenging us with your questions and answers.  You are the reason we show up every day to dig a little bit deeper.  And finally, I’d like to thank Samuel Miller and his compatriots for turning his dream of a school on a hill into a reality.

There is no doubt we are privileged to spend time in this bucolic sanctuary every day.  Truly, we can stop and listen right now—to the sounds of nature that enrich our presence.  As our song states, “Mid the mountains of Virginia/’Neath the skies so blue/Stands our noble Alma Mater/ Glorious to view.”  The beauty of our surroundings prompts me to offer some thoughts on the relative merits of nature, solitude, and technology.

When my father was a young man, he thought it a prudent decision to buy a farm in northern Pennsylvania and plant Christmas trees on it. The farm itself became a sort of Nirvana for me.  I loved roaming the country-side; I quietly spied on deer, badgers, and porcupines; and I’ll never forget the scalding summer day my brother and I hiked over the crest of a hill and discovered a mysterious lake glistening in the distance.  We stopped in our tracks, looked at one another, and crowed, “Paradise!”

When I grew to be your age, my college essay required my opinions of technology.  I wrote about the paradise of the farm, but added the disconcerting details of how one day I looked up from our porch-swing and witnessed a large truck trundling down the dirt road, spraying it with a black, viscous, and acrid smelling liquid. In my young mind, I was certain this truck represented a precursor to paving, a dastardly sign of the increased traffic of “civilization” marching down our farmhouse road.  Indeed, the dirt and the dust represented a sanctuary for me.

We all realize, of course, how technology has a way of paving roads to our doors, but that does not mean we cannot create for ourselves a fire-walled “dirt road” that leads us to a place of nature, solitude, poetry, and peace amidst the host of technological distractions that keep us so connected, yet, paradoxically, separated from each other.

Due to this phenomenon, I exhort you to create a healthy relationship with solitude and nature apart from texting, phones, Internet, and e-mails. Yes, times are changing quickly, but take the time; make the time, to slow down.  It’s okay.     You don’t always have to speed like mad to keep up with the changing world around you.  It will still be here when we put down our phones.

Having said that, I tip my hat to Mr. John Donne and Mr. Thomas Merton who opined “no man is an island”.  We can’t do everything alone.  After a period of refreshing solitude, we rejoin the world. Thenceforth, make opportunities to seek out face to face contact.  Indulge in eye contact.  Strive for moments of real world connectivity.

I experienced one of these God-given moments on Wednesday.

I was cloistered in my classroom, standing at my podium, revising this speech, when an odd thing happened.  A bird landed on the screen of my window, and suspended itself there.  Beyond my initial amazement, I quickly went back to my computer screen.  I was sure it would disappear as quickly as it appeared.  But it lingered.  Hmm, I thought, what kind of bird is this?  Is this some sort of sign?

I approached the window in a small and silent semi-circle, and planted myself next to my bookshelf. Once again, I expected it to fly off immediately.  But it clung on, maintained its equipoise, long enough for me to discern its markings.  I’ll confess; I even spoke to it.  I asked, “How are you doing?  What are you up to today?”  It cocked its head, and flew away.

Wednesday night, still looking for an ending to my speech, and unable to ignore the mysterious bird, I sprang out of bed, went to the bird book in my kitchen, and I.D.ed it; “Brown above, shading to reddish brown, bold eye-ring”;    a Wood Thrush.  Bells of other poets clanged softly in my head.

Thursday morning; cross-referenced the Audubon Bird Book, which included this Thoreau quote about the thrush;

Whenever a man hears it he is young, and Nature is in her Spring;  Whenever he hears it, it is a new world and a free country,                        and the gates of heaven are not shut against him.

Thursday on the internet, tracked down other poets who had written about thrushes.  Gerard Manley Hopkins in his1877 poem entitled “Spring”;

 Nothing is so beautiful as Spring –         

When weeds, in wheels, shoot long and lovely and lush;         

Thrush’s eggs look little low heavens, and thrush         

Through the echoing timber does so rinse and wring         

The ear, it strikes like lightnings to hear him sing;

John Keats, (1795-1821), wrote “What the Thrush Said”;

John Clare, (1793-1864), wrote in “The Thrush’s Nest”;

I heard from morn to morn a merry thrush
Sing hymns to sunrise, and I drank the sound

A review of Emily Dickinson’s poetry in the September, 6, 1896 Boston Courier stated;

As a caged thrush sings, so sang she, for the sake of singing and of making beautiful her place in the world, while she might…

For you Emily Bronte lovers, the name of Catherine Linton’s house was………..



These birds have been here before.

And I feel that resident wood thrush is here right now.

Who knows, possibly sitting on its clutch of green-blue eggs?  Or maybe feeding its hatchlings by now?

Maybe thinking about its future?

Or just being?

And—just as we are—

Watching the twilight appear?

Chris Ross

Written by Miller School of Albemarle

June 1, 2011 at 1:15 PM

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