Ordinarily, the National Speech and Debate Association’s (NSDA) year-end tournament is a blockbuster, in-person event: Thousands of students and their coaches take over a host city for a week of end-to-end competition that determines the best student speakers and debaters in the country.
This year, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the tournament was held virtually. Five thousand students from 1,300 schools competed from home for NSDA recognition. They included seven Milton students: Jana Amin ’21, Jack Burton ’22, Tim Colledge ’21, Miranda Paiz ’21, Nyla Sams ’20, Benjamin Simpson ’21, and Tyler Tjan ’22.
Milton Academy’s most ambitious campaign in School history, Dare: The Campaign for Milton, concluded on June 30. Dare made a commitment to the people of Milton, with student financial aid and faculty recruitment and retention named as top priorities, along with support for the Milton Fund and campus improvements.
“We launched Dare to put Milton on a firm financial foundation,” Head of School Todd Bland said. “When we began the campaign in 2015, our endowment was two to three times smaller than our peer schools. By growing our endowment, we are making a commitment to investing in our students and faculty today and to securing Milton’s future.”
This letter was shared with our alumni community on June 4th. A similar letter was also sent to current Upper School students prior to graduation.
Dear Alumni and Friends,
These past months have been unlike anything we have experienced together. Most recently, as a nation and within our Milton community, the tragic deaths of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, and others have caused feelings of fear, outrage, and pain.
In a message to our students, faculty, and staff sent over the weekend, we unequivocally condemned racist violence, systemic injustice, and bigotry. Some of you took to social media to share stories about your own experiences at Milton and implored us to take action to fully live our ideals and mission. Thank you.
Please know this: We hear you and acknowledge that we are not immune to racial inequities and injustices. We can and must do better to foster inclusion and equity throughout our School. We are committed to doing this critical work, as complex and uncomfortable as it may be at times.
In English and history classes, learning stems from conversations, focusing on discussion with peers, not lectures from teachers. When Milton had to abruptly switch to remote learning in the spring, faculty had to figure out how to shift this experience from in-person to virtual. English Department Chair Nicole Colson said that while being in a space together is the ideal, she found the overall experience to be positive.
“When you build a real community in your classroom, it doesn’t go away when you shift over to remote learning,” said Colson. “Who they were in the classroom is who they were on Zoom.”
Colson said one trick she figured out after a few sessions was to have all the students unmute themselves for the entire class. Some were worried that background sounds from their home life would be disruptive, but Colson felt differently.
Eighteen teams ranging in size from one to seven students came together via Zoom to participate in MiltonHacks II, an intramural, student-led hackathon. The hackathon took place over 12 hours on May 24, during which students from different schools built projects that were judged by a panel of Milton alumni. Teams competed in six categories: Most Addictive Game, Most Educational, Most Technical, Most Scalable, Best UX/UI, Best Novice Hack, and Best Overall Hack.
Most Addictive Game went to Dina-Sara Custo ’22, who built a social-distancing simulator game where the player must avoid others to advance. “The more people that see the good message the game is promoting, the better the outcome will be,” said Custo.
Oliver Eielson ’21 won Best UX/UI for his app, Busy Beach. Eielsom described BusyBeach as an app that “helps people and governments limit contact and overcrowding at beaches and stop the spread of coronavirus.” He also won the Student Vote award, determined by popular vote at the end of the hackathon.
The School community gathered virtually this morning to celebrate seniors at the Prize Assembly. Awards recognized overall student achievement as well as achievement in the performing arts, visual arts, English, science, math, classics, computer science, modern languages, history, public speaking, student publications, and athletics.
The Head of School Award honors and thanks certain seniors for their demonstrated spirit of self-sacrifice, community concern, leadership, integrity, fairness, kindliness, and respect for others. Eight students were honored (in photo via zoom): Zaki Ellis M’hammedi Alaoui, Yaneris D’Anique Briggs, Jerry Ducasse, William Conners Livingston, Erinma Adaeze Onyewuchi, Allison Nicole Reilly, Jeanna Yuyang Shaw and Iryna Sobchyshyna.
Congratulations to all of the prize recipients, including a few junior students. Below is a complete list of awards:
The senior project is a long-treasured tradition at Milton—an opportunity for Class I students to spend the month before Graduation focusing on one topic before presenting their work.
This year, the coronavirus pandemic changed many seniors’ plans for projects, but members of the Class of 2020 still found creative ways to use their time, either by pursuing their projects safely, altering their projects, staying in their regular classes, or dedicating their month to serving the Milton community. In lieu of the senior project fair that traditionally caps off the seniors’ May work, projects were compiled on a website.
Over this past weekend, the following letter was shared with students, faculty, and staff.
May 30, 2020
Dear Students, Staff, and Faculty,
We write today to decry racist violence, a manifestation of pervasive, systemic injustice, and to condemn bigotry in all its pernicious forms. In this moment of separation, when this pandemic renders us unable to gather in person to speak, share, and comfort one another together, our isolation makes it all the more difficult to bear witness to these tragedies—and the countless others they symbolize.
In the face of the injustices around us—including the killings of Ahmaud Arbery, Breonna Taylor and George Floyd, and the incident in New York City involving Christian Cooper—we must reaffirm Milton’s long-standing commitment to building an inclusive community, the strength of which rests on our shared appreciation for culture, diversity, and identity. This cannot be a passive commitment. We must each continue to find ways of taking action to live our values. We know this work is essential to fostering mutual respect, responsibility, and empathy in each of us, so we may carry these values out into the world.
The Athletics Department celebrated Milton’s athletes virtually during the annual M-Club Gala on Wednesday. Class I students were presented awards for their outstanding performance in athletics.
Caroline Guden, an outstanding athlete in field hockey, ice hockey and lacrosse received the Priscilla Bailey Award. The award recognizes an athlete who “has been a most valuable asset to Milton Academy athletics and community, and who demonstrates exceptional individual skills and teamwork as well as sportsmanship.” Guden’s field hockey coach described her as “always giving 100 percent. She empowered her teammates. They could count on her to create a spark and make things happen.”
Football standout Kalel Mullings received the Robert Saltonstall Medal. Over Milton’s history, the Saltonstall has indicated “a distinguished record in all-around physical activity, with emphasis on leadership by example, conscientious training, good body mechanics, and observance of the code of the true sportsman.” In addition to his feats on the football field, Mullings excelled on the basketball court as a defender, and on the track and field team, where he was an impact member on medal-winning relay teams and running the 200M. His football coach said he was the most “kind, considerate, sincere, and friendly player who made it a point to know every player on the roster and made younger players feel important and valued.”
Nine students were selected for a Bisbee Prize by their teachers for outstanding research on their U.S. history papers. Although unable to gather in person for the spring tradition, the history department recognized students’ impressive work on topics ranging from the 1994 baseball strike to the repeal of the Chinese Exclusion Act.
The Bisbee Prize was established to honor Ethan Wyatt Bisbee, a former history faculty member who retired in 1993 after 40 years of teaching. The Prize was endowed in 2005 through a gift by John Warren, formerly of the history department, and his wife, Laura Warren ’78, former head of Robbins House.
Recipients of the 2020 Bisbee Prize are: