First PG and Salutatorian Speeches Charm at the 2024 Ivy Address

First PG and Salutatorian Speeches Charm at the 2024 Ivy Address
Suzanne Morrissey

With the stately Academic building as a backdrop, the 2024 Ivy Address took place on May 24, bringing the Class of 2024 community together for another meaningful Brewster tradition.

Billed as the last event for the graduating class before Commencement, the Ivy Address is a moment to pause and reflect on all that leads up to the big day. “It has been a very busy stretch,” said Head of School Kristy Kerin. “The spring term is always a blur of special events and activities. This week, that was especially true with spring fest, Moving Up Day, a senior sunrise hike, prom, packing, goodbyes, and travel for our families and loved ones. Let’s all take a moment to pause, take a breath, center ourselves in the present moment, and open ourselves up to the reflections that will be shared today.” Her soothing voice dovetailed with the audience’s collective pause on the grass of Lamb Green, setting a calm and joyful tone for the afternoon’s program.

The Ivy Address gets its name from the idea that the ivy plant represents the deep roots graduates plant while at Brewster. “Our hope is that just like the resilient ivy, our students will continue to flourish and prosper as they leave here, nourished and ready to transplant themselves into their new lives and communities,” Ms. Kerin said.

Master of Ceremonies and Academic Dean Matt Butcher explained that “the power of the Ivy lies in its ability to cling and bind, making it a potent symbol of determination and strength to the Druids. In the Irish tradition, ivy is considered a symbol of remembrance. In academic traditions, it represents the intertwining of intellectual, philanthropic, and social pursuits. Poetically, it is symbolic of the way in which our lives become intertwined with one another's.”

Mr. Butcher then introduced the 2024 Top Post-Graduate (or “First PG”), Pipitchaya “Sprite” Sridam, a Royal Thai Scholar who amassed an impressive 4.305 GPA during his one year at Brewster. “Each trimester, Sprite earned almost perfect scores in Advanced Physics, AP Chemistry, AP Macroeconomics, and AP Seminar, and he also excelled in Linear Algebra, an advanced collegiate mathematics course,” Mr. Butcher noted. “Humble, kind, and hardworking, Sprite will attend MIT this fall, where he is sure to continue to demonstrate his incredible academic skills.”

Sprite then delivered a speech that charmed the audience, revealing that he and his roommate (multi-sport athlete Ben Collins of Wakefield, Rhode Island) were—and are—polar opposites, but they soon became fast friends. “Although we didn’t expect to be with each other, Ben and I learned and adapted to each other’s lifestyles,” Sprite said. “I still remember when he introduced me to the Superbowl, which I had never watched before, and when I taught him trigonometry tricks that he hadn’t learned before. That’s the beauty—you learn the most from things you didn’t expect.” The audience let out a burst of laughter when Sprite added that he recently learned how to dip Oreos into milk. “It tastes really good, you guys should try it!”

Sprite shared how different Brewster was than in his pre-arrival expectations. Learning as much outside the classroom as inside was a happy surprise, as was his dance class, something he never thought he’d attempt.

Closing with a quote from martial artist and actor Bruce Lee, Sprite said, “Empty your mind, be formless. Shapeless, like water. If you put water into a cup, it becomes the cup. You put water into a bottle and it becomes the bottle.” He encouraged his fellow grads to remember life doesn’t work out the way you thought it would, but you can learn the most from embracing the unexpected. 

“I would like to thank Ben for being a supportive roommate, and I would like to thank every student and every teacher who created this environment for all of us,” Sprite said. “It was my honor to spend a year with all of you guys. Thank you for introducing me and many other international students here to our first chapter in the United States. Now, I understand the way education should be.”

Next, it was time to hear from the 2024 Salutatorian, Zoe Hausler. The San Franciscan leaves Brewster with a 4.2705 GPA, seven Advanced Placement courses under her belt, and a Global Scholar cord. She also is known for her devotion to athletics and community service. “To accomplish as much as she has requires incredible consistency, diligence, and energy,” Mr. Butcher noted, “and these qualities will serve Zoe well next year at Vanderbilt University.”

At the podium, Zoe began by thanking everyone assembled and her family. “I want to thank my mom for guiding me through life with her warmth and being a source of confidence. I also want to share my appreciation to my dad and grandma for helping me achieve my dreams and demonstrating what unconditional belief truly means,” she said.

She then acknowledged the tumult of being the first class to endure COVID as freshmen, and how this helped develop an overarching quality she finds in her classmates: “We are fearless,” Zoe stated. “We flew or drove to a small boarding school tucked away by a lake at a time when people were too afraid to even step outside of their houses let alone begin to live independently for the first time.” Even now, when the height of COVID tribulations have passed, Zoe says her grade continues to act fearlessly. “We have stepped into purpose, whether it be in the classroom, on the stage, or on the field, and have been fearless in our endeavors to leave our mark at Brewster.”  

Zoe described her initial trepidation about going to school so far from home, but finding her place and confidence with the help of Brewster’s Instructional Support program. “It wasn’t easy, especially in the beginning, but greatness never comes from within the comfort zone,” she said.

With rousing messages of not letting fear of failure stop the Class of ’24 from moving toward its dreams, Zoe concluded, “It is up to us to be fearless enough to enact meaningful purpose to the communities we will continue to touch. We have the whole world in front of us and we are the people who are going to continue to overcome. We are limitless in nature.”

Following the speeches, Dean of Teaching and Learning and Educational Research Dr. Marta Filip-Fouser recognized this year’s seven Global Scholars, who excelled in a relatively new and rigorous program that emphasizes a greater understanding of what it means to be an engaged, informed, and empathetic citizen through specific competencies, cohort-based experiences, participation in on- and off-campus activities, and coursework. Students received a light blue cord, inspired by the color of the United Nations flag, from the program’s co-director Mr. Steven Davis. The 2024 Global Scholars are Maggie Doyle, Liam Fahey, Gabby Harper, Zoe Hausler, Jack Northrop, Finnian Sawin, and Paulina Trott.

Art Department Chair Ms. Liz Baker McClain then gave tri-color cords to the four graduates who have successfully completed the Arts Scholar program, another new opportunity at Brewster for those who strive to experience various modes of artistic expression, advance their visual and performing art skills, and develop and deepen their appreciation of and curiosity for art. The tricolor cord includes the three primary colors—red, yellow, and blue— and were given to Liam Fahey, Gabby Harper, Marvell James, and Gracie Mouradian.

After a musical interlude during which HOWL choir members sang Natasha Bedingfield’s “Unwritten” under the direction of Ms. Michelle Lowes, the award announcements began:

Kate Turner Athletic Director’s Awards are given to two students who have each made a positive consistent contribution to Interscholastic Sports. 
Liam Flaherty and Ellery Gnazzo

The Fine and Performing Arts Award is given to a senior or PG who has made an outstanding contribution to Brewster Academy in the fine or performing arts—such as music, theater, dance, film, or other visual media—throughout their career.
Liam Fahey

The Lives of Purpose Graduate Award is presented to a graduating student who has made significant contributions to their school and community through their time, actions, talents, and dedication. The recipient serves as a role model for service and compassion and strives to help make the world a better place, demonstrating a passion for helping others at Brewster, in the local community, and beyond. This honor goes to a person who gives back to their community and does so willingly with no other expectation than that of serving others.
Liam Fahey

Senior Prefects Ellery Gnazzo and Boaz Sochaczevski​​ announced the Class Gift, a contribution to the Class of 2014 Scholarship Fund, before accepting the ivy on behalf of their class and ending the day’s Ivy event.