The emotional departures weren't limited to the 27 graduating seniors during Sunday's 35th commencement of the Community School, held inside the school gym on a sunny day.
Head of School Andy Jones-Wilkins is leaving the school after five years. Behind-the-scenes contributors like Athletic Director John Remington and Technology Director Michael Beesley won't be back.
In opening remarks, Jones-Wilkins asked 500 in the audience for a moment of silence to remember five people who passed away in the last year.
They were school founder Sam Hazard, Joe Richardson, 2007 graduate Sarah Adicoff and two parents of 2011 graduates, Joe Benz and Norka Albarran.
Jones-Wilkins, becoming head of school at Tandem Friends School in Charlottesville, Va., on July 1, was particularly emotional. He grabbed the microphone for a solo singing performance of The Beatles' "In My Life" with guitarist Brad Hershey, and he took a few tearful moments for his own exit thoughts after the Senior Reflections portion of the program.
"What the Community School has is a structure that exists to make relationships between kids and adults meaningful," he said. "What I'm taking away is the depth and breadth of those relationships that have made a difference in my life. Cutthroat culture is here forever."
Along with the poignant moments, there were plenty of smiles on a lovely afternoon.
Brazilian exchange student Geraldo Pereira Neto said, "What most impressed me was the energy and enthusiasm of the people I've met here. And I thank my class for teaching me some English I never learned from my textbooks."
Scholarship presenter JoEllen Collins called the graduates "a stellar, interesting and dynamic group."
Echoing that sentiment in their own manner were graduates Emma Wilander ("We're the round pegs in the square holes, the ones who see things differently.") and Freya Dickey ("It's been a long, interesting and rough-at-times journey.").
In their senior speeches, Annie Pokorny compared the class to "one giant Slurpee with a plethora of flavors," while Tate Boley said, "I like to imagine our class as a pipe organ with each person representing a different note."
The Yearbook Dedication, the only graduation award decided by the student body, went to departing staff members Michael Beesley, Fritz Brun, John Remington, Jen King and Peggy Lupton.
As its senior gifts, the class of 2011, represented by Kelly Hennessy and Emily Williams, did two things. They remembered three who have recently died—Sarah Adicoff, Joe Benz and Norka Albarran—with a memorial in a school study space. And they made a donation to the Camp Rainbow Gold program for kids with cancer.
Other speakers were Upper School Director Phil Huss, giving congratulatory remarks, Mountain Express columnist Dick Dorworth with the commencement address, and 28-year teacher/provost Mike Wade as the faculty speaker.
Cutthroat award recipients
The Upper School faculty selected most of the awards and scholarship winners revealed during Sunday's three-hour commencement ceremony and also during Friday's awards program in the school gym.
Emily Williams received the Beaupre Award, the school's oldest honor. It goes to seniors with high standards of scholarship, leadership, citizenship and athletic achievement.
Annie Pokorny accepted the Head of School Award. Chosen by Jones-Wilkins, the award goes to the sophomore, junior or senior who made a difference in school life. Joining Jones-Wilkins on stage for the presentation were two of the previous four recipients—Bronwen Raff 2009 (Tufts University) and Grayson Palmer 2007 (Colby College).
Senior Project honors went to Colby Benz, John Chrysikopoulos, Zana Davey and Annie Pokorny. The Bill Benjamin Memorial Scholarship for Senior Project Proposals was given to Annie Pokorny.
Zana Davey received this year's Idaho Mountain Express Award in the amount of $1,000. The award has been given since 1988 to a graduate likely to contribute to the community.
Drama teacher Fritz Brun presented the 20th Tom Johnson Memorial Awards for excellence in performing arts to Kyla Jarrett and Tate Boley.
Annie Pokorny accepted the Laura Flood Memorial Award announced by her brother, Randy Flood, of the class of 1993.
Winners of the 21st Dixie Grabos Memorial Award for the appreciation and love of literature and writing were Natalie Goddard and Kelly Hennessy. Eric Griffith earned the Trophy Sagebrush Award for imagination as a vital part of education.
Eli Albarran received the Klingelhofer Senior Speech award in memory of George Klingelhofer. It is given for the best senior speech of the year.
Zoey Olbum and Colby Benz were selected as graduating winners of the Peggy and Sigi Engl Memorial Achievement Awards. The awards, announced by Michael Engl, go to students at each grade level who improve through effort, determination and hard work.
Other recipients of the Engl prize at Friday's assembly:
Junior class, Hailey Rheinschild and Cooper Hanley. Sophomore class, Hannah Robideaux and Mason Noyes. Freshman class, Isabel Kirk and Sam Rogers. Eighth grade, Anna Dunn and Miles Remington. Seventh grade, Lukas DeWolfe and Jay Fitzgerald. Sixth grade, Sage Rheinschild and Travis Flynt.
Memorial scholarships were a big part of school awards.
Marleigh Poulsen was selected for the Carrie Bashaw Hislaire Memorial Scholarship. Recipient of the Karen Wright Cardozo Memorial Scholarship was Will Harder. Hannah Robideaux earned the Greg Allison Memorial Scholarship. Henry Rickbeil accepted the David Dorward Memorial grant.
The Tom Bloomfield Memorial Scholarship went to Zach Lindahl. Camille Bourret received the Philip B. Detwiler Memorial Scholarship, and Eric Runkel won the Fredrick Chandler Memorial Scholarship.
Book awards, special school and local grants included:
Julie Doan was Dollars for Scholars recipient for 2011. Bryce Ervin accepted the Works of Grace Foundation Scholarship for children of teachers. The Ketchum/Sun Valley Rotary Club scholarships were presented to Zana Davey and Zoey Olbum.
National Merit Scholarship awardees for 2010-11 were Zana Davey and Eric Griffith. The Congressional Award went to Zana Davey (gold medalist) as well as Emily Williams and Bryce Ervin (silver medalists). The Wood River Odd Fellows and Rebekahs scholarship was given to Julie Doan.
Book awards went to Meredith Pintler (Wellesley College), Sophia Carkonen (Smith College), Gray Riedinger (Williams College), Isobel Pollock (Colby College), Maranda Stopol (Whitman College), Colin Waycott (College of Idaho) and Camille Bourret (Grinnell College).
Given for the 28th year, faculty scholarships were awarded to Sara Runkel, Brygitte De La Cruz and Sophia Carkonen.
The Anne Reed Gallery Award went to Zoey Olbum. Idaho Dairymen Distinguished Student Awards went to Emily Williams and Kyle Jarrett.
Head of School Scholarship recipients were Kyla Jarrett, Meredith Pintler and Taylor Adler. They are continuing scholarships through graduation. Winners of Middle School Community Awards were Madeline Nelson (eighth grade), Olivia Ott (seventh grade) and Lane Letourneau (sixth grade).
Earning Bob Doyle Service Awards were Collette Block and Isobel Pollock. Outstanding Barn Sale Volunteer Award winner was Hannah Conn, who also won the Iconoclast Award. Taylor Adler earned the Green Scholarship.
Other community service awards were:
symbol 183 f "Symbol" s 11· Platinum (100-plus hours): Taylor Adler, Camille Bourret, Zana Davey, India Emerick, Bryce Ervin, Taylor Figge, Tim Kanellitsas, Gabrielle Perenchio, Ella Marks, Meredith Pintler, Isobel Pollock, Gray Riedinger, Eric Runkel, Logan Shipley, Daniela Stokes, Emily Williams and Emma Wilander.
symbol 183 f "Symbol" s 11· Gold (50-plus hours): Morgan Atkinson, Gavin Blair, Collette Block, Sophia Carkonen, Cassidy Carson, Chloe Chrysikopoulos, Chelsea Cloud, Hannah Conn, Jordan Fitzgerald, Alexandra Harten, Erin Hennessy, Kelly Hennessy, Isabel Kirk, Kegan Lupton, Shayna Moellenberg, Kami Norbom, Zoey Olbum, Paige Riedinger, Jordan Sachs, Caitlin Sholtis, Maranda Stopol and Keegan Whitelaw.
symbol 183 f "Symbol" s 11· Silver (35-plus hours): Madeleine Caraluzzi, John Chrysikopoulos, Natalie Goddard, Ben Kanellitsas, Nick Krekow, Zach Lindahl, Reta Flynt, Annie Pokorny, Garrett Rawlings, Kelsey Syms, Colin Waycott and Sarah Williams.
symbol 183 f "Symbol" s 11· Bronze (25-plus hours): Tara Burchmore, Pierson Carlsen, Lukas DeWolfe, Sofia DeWolfe, Julie Doan, Katie Feldman, Jay Fitzgerald, Jake Flaherty, Chloe Francois, Noe Garing, Morgan Jones, Carson Jones-Wilkins, Madeline Nelson, Geraldo Pereira Neto, Lena Perenchio, Arielle Rawlings, Hailey Rheinschild, Sam Rogers, Devon Sherrerd, Colton Sholtis, Ben Swift, Moyo Tian and Nick Wright.