Upper School Recognizes Outstanding Students During 2021 Academic Awards Ceremony

The final day of Oak Knoll’s academic school year concluded June 11, 2021, via a jammed-packed, in-person celebration recognizing many students at the annual Upper School Awards Ceremony. Students in grades 7-12 were celebrated for outstanding achievement across all departments including academics, the performing and creative arts, world language, athletics, computer science, music, English, history, mathematics, physical education, science, and theology.

Before recognizing members of the Upper School for their outstanding accomplishments, students shared tributes to retiring Head of School Timothy Saburn and presented him with special gifts.

“Mr. Saburn truly embodies Cornelia Connelly’s idea of educating the whole child and does so with the utmost kindness, compassion, and lack of judgment for every single one of us,” said OKS outdoing Student Body President Lizzie Athaide ’21.

Saburn thanked the Oak Knoll community classes for the thoughtful and personalized gifts for his years of service to the school.

“I went into this business to work with kids and the students I’ve worked with here, including all of you, are the most remarkable students I’ve met in my career,” Saburn said. “God bless you all, God bless Oak Knoll, and thank you.”

Todd Stawicki, a graduate of the United States Military Academy at West Point and veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, was on hand to present Emma Gamboa ’21 with her certificate of appointment into the United States Military Academy at West Point, Class of 2025.

Also addressing fellow students, parents, faculty, staff, and administrators was Class of 2021 Salutatorian Caroline Maher ’21 of Westfield. The Class of 2021 Valedictorian is Teresa Pollard.

“The opportunity to attend in-person school this year has granted us more than a sound education – it gave us a crucial support system so that we could navigate these tough times together as a community,” said Maher. “The word ‘essential’ is different this year than it was two years ago. With the world turned upside down, we were forced to take a step back and realize what really is essential in life. Heroes such as first responders, medical professionals, food service workers, and the staff at Oak Knoll were proven to be essential – and in my opinion, human connection has proven to be most essential. The gifts and opportunities we have been granted by our families and our school are both a privilege and a responsibility. Wherever we go it is important to be kind and help others along the way.”

OKS seniors were each called to the podium to receive their Holy Child medals as a sign and reminder of the legacy and heritage of Holy Child founder, Cornelia Connelly, as well as the impact of their Holy Child education that will follow them throughout their lives.

Recipients of Oak Knoll’s all-school awards include:

Dr. Shirley A. Jackson Award
Leticia Sefia ’21

Connelly Scholar Award
Isabel Garcia-Maxson ’25
Cora Laborde ’25
Keira Ardise ’25
Lauren White ’25

Katie MacMaster Award
Avery Drone ’25

Brigid Gibbons Award
Paula Sefia ’22

Student Council Award
Katherine Whelan ’21

Holy Child Spirit Award

Nicole MacMaster ’21

Sr. Elizabeth Barber Award
Catherine Sharp ’21

Dr. Yvonne Imbleau Award
Jodie De Jesus ’21

For a full description of each award, click here.

In addition to the all-school awards and annual departmental awards, athletics bestowed the Women in Sports Award to Katherine Whelan ’21, The Kelly E. Durkin Award to Colleen Quinn ’21, the Scholar-Athlete Award to Maeve Olson ’21, and Athlete of the Year Award to Keely Comizio ’21. Students who were previously inducted into the World Language Honor Society and the Cum Laude Society were also mentioned, and Heather O’Hern ’21 was recognized as a National Merit finalist and Teresa Pollard ’21 recognized as a National Merit commended student. Artists who were previously recognized during the annual Arts Celebration were also honored.

Eight senior “lifers” were also recognized for having attended Oak Knoll since kindergarten, including Madison Ballou ’21, Madeline Donohue ’21, Sarah Duttenhofer ’21, Amanda Heckmann ’21, Nicole MacMaster ’21, Molly McCann ’21, Gabby Molina ’21, and Lily Ramsey ’21.

“Seniors, we thank each one of you for the gift that you have given to us throughout your years at Oak Knoll,” said Kate McGroarty, Upper School Division Head. “It has been a privilege to work with you and see you realize your potential and to be ever so confident in your promise of greatness. As a class, you have made many things possible even in the face of adversity and uncertainty.  You have been instrumental in my first year here at Oak Knoll and I owe you a debt of gratitude.”

Congratulations to the Class of 2021 and all OKS Upper School students!