By Ralph Spencer, D'Evelyn Education Foundation Board of Directors
The annual Senior Banquet, held on May 17, 2017, at the Lakewood Sheraton Hotel, was a very special event for all D’Evelyn seniors. After all, D’Evelyn students can only attend one senior banquet in their lifetime and bask in the glow of their achievements over the last 4/6 years. As everyone knows, graduating from D’Evelyn is a significant achievement!
Allow me to summarize the 22-senior scholarship/award presentations (worth $20,000!) made that night, not only to honor our graduated seniors, but also to recognize two D’Evelyn teachers and a counselor who claimed prestigious awards.
The award ceremony also included the presentation of two Jamin B. Wilson Excellence in Education (E in E) Awards. Jamin graduated from D’Evelyn in 1999 with an ROTC Scholarship and went on to Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (for ROTC classes). He died tragically in an automobile accident in December 2006 while commuting to his Air Force job in Germany. Jamin’s parents, along with many D’Evelyn community members, friends and family supporters, have donated more than $90,000 over the last 10 years to the D’Evelyn Education Foundation in Jamin’s name to award deserving D’Evelyn educators for their own “excellence in education.” Each E in E Award winner received a $2,500 no-strings-attached check, a framed certificate, and an impressive glass trophy. The recipients of this year's awards were presented to Ms. Deborah Holland, Social Studies Department, and Mr. Robert Northway, Jr. High Counselor. Please take a moment to congratulate the parents (some of whom are still at D’Evelyn) of the above scholarship/award winners the next time you see them as well as the three faculty members whose names can also be found engraved on two special plaques in the school’s front lobby.
By Ralph Spencer, D'Evelyn Education Foundation Board of Directors
The following 1998 graduation speech was given by Lindsey Sustad, one of 64 students in D’Evelyn’s first graduation class. This speech is a MUST READ for our new parents and their students who have joined the D’Evelyn family this year (and for anyone else who has not yet read it)! Parents, please take the time to read this speech to your students at the dinner table in the next few days. I believe you are obligated to share Lindsey's epiphany on the secret to D'Evelyn's success with your children so they will know ahead of time that their individual experiences at D'Evelyn will be part of a grand plan devised by our amazing founders. I hope her words provide some solace to those students (and parents) who may be wondering if all the time and effort they put forth into their academics, every day, is worth it. I think you will agree with me that yes, it absolutely is worth it. Thank you, Lindsey, for sharing your understanding of our incredibly successful school like no one else could. And parents, if you get a shiver down your back upon reading Lindsey’s speech, don’t worry, it’s perfectly normal. Trust me!
“Teachers are constantly bombarded with the question, ‘Are we ever going to have to use this in real life?’ Earlier this year I discovered the answer. It was a surprising realization, but when it dawned on me, the entire philosophy of D’Evelyn made sense. In 9th and 10th grade, we took a variety of core classes in which our brains were loaded with basic information of the subjects. During those two years, I learned more facts, stats, and general stuff than I ever thought I would need to know. I sometimes got frustrated and often wondered where in the world I would ever have to know how to do any of this stuff. I mean, come on: An algebraic proof? Cause and effect essays? The periodic table? Little did I know the answer was right around the corner!
In 11th grade, while we were still being bombarded with knowledge, we were actually forced to use it. The periodic table came back to haunt me in Physics. I was also shocked that I had to use what I had learned in math the last two years to do my Physics homework. We had to write papers of significant length, including a few cause and effect essays, in American History and Physics. This also meant we had to use the grammar and language skills we learned in English in 9th grade. While this secret plot between the teachers had been going on all along, it wasn’t evident to me.
It became even clearer this year. Those algebraic proofs have taught me problem-solving skills I often utilize in other areas of my life. We are constantly making connections in Senior English to the books we read in 9th and 10th grade. With a knowledge base of American history from my junior year, my understanding of American government and economic systems has been accelerated this year. We, as students, have done less busy work and more thinking. Senior teachers have done less talking while we have been left to do more discussing. We learn by working and plowing through things on our own, using our acquired knowledge and critical thinking skills as our only tools.
From all of this I have learned that school actually does apply to ‘real life.’ The history I learned helps me to understand the newspaper I read every morning. I see physics and chemistry at work every time I do something so small as to open my refrigerator. But perhaps the scariest thing of all happened as I drove down the road listening to my radio. As I listened to the words of a popular hit song, I saw it directly relating to the book we were currently discussing in English. If that isn’t a real-life application, I don’t know what is.
As a graduate today, I feel confident in taking my first step into this ‘real’ world because of all the skills and knowledge I have acquired from my work at D’Evelyn. I, along with these grads, have acquired an educated awareness of how this world around us works. This educated awareness has given us the confidence and amazing acquired ability to make intelligent arguments in heated debates among adults. We can make connections between literature and psychology or sociology and international relations.
Taking D’Evelyn smarts to the streets is to understand and analyze the world with an educated view. Life is much fuller for one who is educated and aware. So the next time I feel tempted to ask the purpose of learning something, I think I’ll stop, trust the teacher, and look for the opportunity to apply the knowledge to my ‘real life’ world.”
The D'Evelyn Education Foundation is a 501(c)(3) charitable corporation. The Board of Directors oversees the finances, legal issues and long-term strategic plans of the organization