Class IV Lower School Closing Ceremony

Monday, June 7, 2021—The Winsor School community celebrated Class IV students during the school’s 31st annual Lower School Closing Ceremony. Faculty, staff, students and their families came together in record-high temperatures as the event was live-streamed to a broader audience, which included members of the Board of Trustees, parents, and alumnae.
Lower School Head Sharon Jones-Phinney opened the ceremony by acknowledging that in September she could not have imagined this day actually happening “with you under the tent and your families within a reasonable distance from each other.” She applauded the tenacity and resiliency of the class of 2025 who “still managed to find moments of joy” even through the most difficult challenges of this unprecedented year. 
Selected Class IV speaker Nidhi Mallavarapu ’24 thanked class coordinators Ms. Huntoon and Ms. Parsley as well as all of the advisors for helping guide the class during their Lower School years. Nidhi gave a special thank you to the staff who kept Winsor safe through the pandemic, including facilities and food service teams.  

Nidhi encouraged the audience to sit with closed eyes as she painted two descriptive pictures of imperfectly “messy” moments at Winsor with her classmates. The first vision being the Class of 2025 filming their Shakespeare play. The second was a field trip to Boda Borg, a place filled with quests and interactive games, with 60 twelve-year olds excited for their first field trip.  

“We are a jumble of people who are so different. There’s the tired people and the always hungry people. There are the debaters, artists, musicians, Marvel fans, Grey’s Anatomy fans, athletes, lawyers, doctors, actresses, scientists, mathematicians, linguists, historians, and the Shrek fan-club,” Nidhi described the rich tapestry of her class.

She compared her class to a puzzle. “Individually, we’re a chaotic group of pieces that don’t seem to fit together. But when you put us all together, we make a beautiful picture. To the lovely Class of 2025, you are a mess. You are a perfect mess. Thank you for giving me a home,” she added.

Before Head of School Sarah Pelmas addressed the class of 2025, students Mina Feldman (on electric guitar) and Caitlin Wang (violin) played the musical rendition of Abba’s “Dancing Queen.”

When addressing the class, Sarah applauded the students and their rise to leadership in the Lower School at a time when “everything was in upheaval, when we were only sometimes on campus, when the school was full of cleaning supplies, and one-way halls, and pre-packaged lunches.” 

To this class, she advised these young leaders to look around closely for their heroes. “In your class you have incredible athletes, fierce social justice warriors, nuanced and thoughtful writers, inspiring and talented artists and performers, and deeply kind and supportive friends. Worship that, admire that, lift up yourselves and each other through the power of sheer admiration” Ms. Pelmas stated. 

In closing,  she encouraged students to heed her advice: love unreservedly and in full view of everyone and then "celebrate what you love, celebrate success and greatness in yourself and especially in others...We are all uplifted when we see the very best in others and celebrate it."

Ms. Pelmas then conferred the annual awards to the Lower School winners:
  • The Brooks Prizes for Poetry Reading in Classes IV and V: Nidhi Mallavarapu ’25, for “Lucinda Matlock” by Edgar Lee Masters.
  • The Clare Cutler ’62 Memorial Prize for Excellence in the Dramatic Arts is a two-part award, given to members of Class IV. For outstanding Shakespearean acting and contributions made directly to the success of the ensemble, the prize is presented to: Nell Sparks ’25. For exceptional work on tasks in committee, or technical contributions which inspired the entire ensemble, the prize is presented to: Anita Rodriguez ’25.
On behalf of the Legacy Club, Kate Drachman presented their gift to the school: a stained glass mosaic of the Wisor Lamp of Learning. The goal of the project was to create a lasting representation of our class and the school as a whole.  “The Lamp of Learning has been a symbol of the school since it was founded, so we felt that it would be a timeless emblem to represent Winsor,” Kate stated.

Lower School Head Sharon Jones-Phinney closed the ceremony with final words about the challenges of the year and the resilience of the class. “We all know what a challenging year this has been for all of us. Regardless of the challenges, whether they were personal, public, academic, or social, what I found to be true is that Winsor remained constant throughout,” she concluded.