It was a beautiful, sunny day for The Rumson Country Day School’s eighth grade Class of 2014, as they arrived on the RCDS campus on June 6 for their Upper School Graduation. The 49 boys and girls came to school one last time dressed as every RCDS graduate before them — in navy jackets, white slacks and ties for the boys, and beautiful, long white gowns for the girls — but this ceremony was the second time the Class of 2014 gathered as a group that day.
Earlier that morning, the boys and girls participated in the annual Class Day, a longstanding and much anticipated tradition where RCDS students come to school on the last day dressed in formal dress code. Students were seated by class grade in the gymnasium with eighth graders being in the first row, seventh graders in the second, all the way to the Beginners (Kindergarten) in the last row. After a formal acknowledgement of their hard work by Headmaster Chad Small, each moved up a row to signify their promotion to the next grade. This year, Headmaster Small — who completes his final year at RCDS this month — became an honorary eighth grader and recessed down the center aisle for the last time. The school also honored (and surprised) Mr. Small with a moving video that celebrated his remarkable run as the school’s Head Gator for the past 25 years.
To commemorate his final year at RCDS, Headmaster Small addressed the audience as Keynote speaker for the ceremony on Warner Field. After his remarks, Headmaster Small presented several special awards. The Athletic Department Award, which is awarded to graduating athletes who best exemplify the qualities of athleticism, participation, spirit, and sportsmanship, was presented to Kaeli Huesman, Christina Ryan and Tommy Kalinowski.
The Joseph N. Dempsey, Jr. Award is given in memory of Jody Dempsey by his family, and selected by the Performing Arts Department for excellence in performing arts. This year, the recipients were Conor Kelly and Paul Thomas.
Formerly known as the Headmaster’s Award, The Blake Award is named for Edgar Bond Blake who served The Rumson Country Day School for 40 years, 20 of them as the school’s Headmaster. The prestigious award that acknowledges a student who exhibits exemplary service to the school was presented to Paul Thomas and Zahrah Siddiq.
The Swede Joseph Chevalier Memorial Award was presented to Max Kyrillos for his display of kindness and humility toward fellow students, devotion to growth and originality, and perseverance to goals. His care and concern for fellow students has been instrumental in the building of community at RCDS.
Each year, the Class of 1973 bestows the Theodore K. Reiss Memorial Award in memory of Ted Reiss. The Reiss Award is presented to a member of the graduating class who has shown the most outstanding qualities of good sportsmanship, not only on the athletic field, but in all phases of school life. This year, the award was presented to Tommy Kalinowski.
Two graduating students are recognized every year for their outstanding academic achievement in the Upper School over the last three years. Elizabeth Klemm received the Highest Scholarship Award and Cole DeMeulemeester was presented with the Second Highest Scholarship Award. To conclude the awards portion of the program, Board President Shawn Reynolds presented The Trustees’ Prize Award to DeMeulemeester who has shown the most outstanding qualities of scholarship, sportsmanship, leadership and character.
Cole, who was President of the Class of 2014, presented a class gift to Mr. Small, furthering a tradition begun decades ago at RCDS. This year, the eighth grade raised funds for a unique game for the school. Gaga is a fast paced sport played in an octagonal pit. Played with a soft foam ball, the game combines the skills of dodging, striking, running, and jumping, while trying to hit opponents with a ball below the knees. Fun and easy, RCDS students will get a serious workout thanks to the Class of 2014!