Lawrence Academy Head of School Dan Scheibe presided over his first Founders' Day on Oct. 26, infusing the celebration with his fresh perspective as a new member of the community.
Even though the day marked only the 20th anniversary of the Founders' Day tradition, he said, "This is a tradition that honors the deepest parts of the school. One thing that's been interesting to me about Lawrence Academy is that for a school that was founded in 1793, you feel like you should be able to do archeological exercises and find things all over the place that are ancient, or maybe something like a hole in a building from the Revolutionary War. In fact, we don't have anything that goes all the way back to the beginning like that. There's not some secret cornerstone or some mystical chalice that we have here that we can rub and honor. Instead, what we do is we bring people together that embody the mission of the school."
The individuals recognized for their extraordinary service were senior Jake Riggert, staff member Peter Fredriksen, and teacher Jerry Wooding, all from Groton, as well as staff member Tanya Clark of Shirley and teacher and college counselor Joe Sheppard of Pepperell. Recently retired teacher and webmaster Peter Hazzard of Rindge, N.H., was also honored.
Jake Riggert was selected by members of the school's Cum Laude Society to receive the Greater Good Award. In a tradition started by J.
Cum Laude Society member Holly Moniz, also from Groton, who presented the award, described Jake as someone whose "many contributions fly under the radar, but who always helps out whenever he sees an opportunity." An LA tour guide and peer counselor, he began his long history of service to community in elementary school. To name just a few of his efforts, he has run food drives for Loaves & Fishes, collected gifts for Toys for Tots, and washed the town's EMS ambulances. When Japan was reeling from the 2011 tsunami, he helped raise funds and opened his own home to two students who were temporarily unable to return to their families there. Riggert supported the Groton-Dunstable middle school's Big Book: Pages for Peace project, an effort that began when he was a student there. He spoke publicly to encouraged participation, solicited comments from world leaders and famous personalities, and collaborated with students from Afghanistan and Libya via Skype. Noting her classmate's "work ethic and complete dedication to his community, whether it be in his hometown of Groton or right here at LA," Moniz presented the award saying, "Thanks for all that you do to make the world a better place."
Clark, who serves as the office manager to the Admissions Department, was selected by the student peer counselors and proctors to receive the Kathy Peabody Memorial Book Award. Established by 1966-67 residents of a campus dormitory to honor the memory of their former dorm parent, the award is given to a member of the nonteaching Lawrence community who helps to create a secure, positive environment in which all members of the community may achieve their best.
Seniors Jordan Grant of Boxford and Steve Drury of Leominster announced this year's recipient, each speaking of Clark's influence on the community. They thanked her for her friendly open-door policy, her willingness to listen, and the "little things that she does to make everyone's day better." Clark received the award along with warm congratulations from the award's founder, Kevin McDonald, '70, and George Peabody, husband of the memorialized dorm parent.
Fredriksen reached the milestone 25 years of service to Lawrence Academy this year, and was acknowledge for his dedication as the school's housekeeping supervisor. Fredriksen was unable to attend the ceremony, but Scheibe promised to "say nice things to his face at a future assembly," and encouraged community members to embarrass him with their congratulations in the meantime.
Sheppard, Wooding, and Hazzard, all long-serving teachers who have also contributed in other capacities during their time at the school, were selected to share the 2012 Founders' Day Award for Service to Lawrence Academy. Established in 1993 on the occasion of the school's 200th anniversary, the award has traditionally been given to someone who contributes in some significant way beyond the day-to-day businesses of operating the school or teaching in the classrooms. But this year, Scheibe chose to make his own observations about the foundations of the school.
Selecting three teachers to represent the legacy of education that faculty has provided over the years, he said, "Our three honorees today do not take us all the way back to the founding soils and waters of the school, but put them together and they get us more than halfway there. Thirty years, plus 34 years, plus 47 years: 111 ... Throughout the years, the faculty has stood for what is deepest and best in the school. The faculty has taught with love and passion, coached with pride and fairness, directed with zeal and purpose. The faculty has lived with the students, advised the students, protected the students, and celebrated the students. The faculty possesses a vision that extends beyond the decades to the fundamentally generous and adventurous spirit that guided Lawrence Academy's founding itself ... We celebrate that accumulation of wisdom, expertise, and affection today, and though we honor today three faculty members in particular who are somewhere in the process of retirement, we also generously honor a spirit of mature exuberance that will never, ever retire from this school."
To read Scheibe's tribute to the three individuals, visit the "News" section on Lawrence Academy's website at www.lacademy.edu.