The Pennington School holds 181st commencement exercises


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The Pennington School granted diplomas and certificates to 104 members of the Class of 2022, which includes students from six states and two countries outside the United States.

The 181st commencement exercises were held on June 4.

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Head of School William S. Hawkey, Ph.D. granted the diplomas and certificates. The commencement speaker was Jordan M. Gray, Pennington School Class of 1991 and a member of the school’s board of trustees, according to a press release.

Senior prizes were awarded on June 3. Yiwei Zhu of Shanghai, China and Ariana Colner of Lawrenceville, were valedictorian and salutatorian, respectively.

Zhu earned a senior prize for excellence in Spanish and the William Alford Award for Distinctive Service in Music. She also shared the The Pennington School Award for International Citizenship with Hexin Jiang of Shenzhen, China. Zhu will attend Johns Hopkins University in Maryland in the fall.

Colner earned a certificate in applied science and senior prizes for excellence in German and technical theater, as well as the Scientific Inquiry Award. She also received the Head of School Award to the Best All-Around Student, recognizing “that member of the senior class whose distinguished scholarship and dedication to a variety of extracurricular activities has set a memorable example for us all.” Colner will attend Williams College in Massachusetts.

Gateway Prizes, which are given to the students who best exemplify Pennington’s core values of honor, virtue and humility, were awarded to seven seniors: Tyler Anderson of New Hope, Sydney Francis of Ramsey, Eva Guerino of Hopewell, Ronan Karp of Pennington, Hieu Nguyen of Ho Chi Minh City, Xavier Sang of Skillman and Gia Villegas of Bordentown.

Several teaching prizes were presented to members of the faculty. The Henry and Selma Otte Distinguished Teacher Award, given annually to a full-time teacher with at least five years of teaching experience at The Pennington School, was given to Samantha Stern-Leaphart, teacher of English; assistant dean of students; and director of diversity, equity and inclusion. Department Chair of the Arts Dolores Eaton was presented the Robert E. Martini Award for Distinguished Teaching, given to one whose teaching takes students’ individuality into account and who makes a significant impact on students’ lives. In addition, Head Coach and Teacher of Health Ryan Stokes was given the Kie and Hija Ahn Award for Peace and Global Understanding.

The Pennington School is an independent coeducational school for students in grades 6 through 12, in both day and boarding programs. The curriculum is college preparatory, with an emphasis on individual excellence, fostering the development of the whole student through academics, athletics, community service, and the creative and performing arts.


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