TASIS Announces the Class of 2017 Graduation Awards
Posted 05/28/2017 04:00PM

Graduation Program 2017

The following Graduation Awards were presented to outstanding members of The American School in Switzerland’s Class of 2017 at the School’s 61st Commencement Ceremony on the morning of Saturday, May 27. Each listing is accompanied by the citation that was read as the award was presented.

Excellence in Art: Dominikus Kronwitter

Presented by Fine Arts Department Chair Martyn Dukes

Art is a language through which every artist hopes to find a voice, and for over 60 years art at TASIS has been the means by which countless students have been able to give expression to this idea. I have taught this year's recipient for many years and had the privilege of watching him grow as a young artist.

Calm, unassuming, and sincere, this person and his artwork quietly resist the character stereotype of the young art student—the artist who is brash and who, in order to gain some recognition, attempts to be provocative and to fly in the face of tradition. What you do find is an accomplished young artist whose artwork is characterized by a curiosity for the world around him. He engages with it honestly yet quietly, and ideas are developed with unwavering perseverance. These are traits that will undoubtedly both mark him out and bring success in the competitive world of art and design he has decided to enter.

So, please, join with me as we congratulate Dominikus Kronwitter on being the recipient of this year’s graduation award for Art.

The Bertha Seifert Award for Excellence in Music: Tennessee Hildebrand

Presented by Fine Arts Department Chair Martyn Dukes

This year’s recipient of the Bertha Seifert Award for Excellence in Music is a student with many and varied musical skills.

This student arrived at the School having studied three different and demanding instruments. He has developed the ability to play all three to a high level within a range of differing genres. He has played as both soloist and ensemble member yet has expressed doubt in his confidence to exhibit his real emerging talents—somewhat hard to believe given his terrific performance in the most recent finale concert for the Spring Arts Festival.

Over the past year this student has blossomed into a truly gifted performer, having worked extremely hard this past semester in developing his technique through his lessons, often fitting in two or more lessons per week amongst a very involved academic and sporting schedule.

In support of his individual talent, he has been a member of the music literacy class, through which it has become evident that unbeknownst to many he also has a highly developed gift for creating and arranging music, most particularly for film and media. This and his unique combination of instrumental talents has led to him being offered a scholarship to Loyola New Orleans School of Music, before which he will serve a five-month apprenticeship at the specialist Luthier Academy “Academia Cremonensis” in Cremona. In amongst these significant achievements, he is also a generous-spirited, fun-loving, and collaborative class member.

For his outstanding and individual talent and dedication, it is our pleasure to give the 2017 Bertha Seifert Award for Excellence in Music to Tennessee Chapman Hildebrand.

The Horst Dürrschmidt Award for Excellence in Photography: Zainab Qureshi

Presented by Fine Arts Department Chair Martyn Dukes

The TASIS Art Department’s award in photography honors long-time photography instructor and department chair Horst Dürrschmidt, whose vision, leadership, and creative energy helped to shape so much of what the arts mean at this school.

The recipient of this year's award is a highly motivated, talented, creative, and intelligent young woman. No matter the subject she photographs, she brings the same kind of passion and intent to each challenge, from detailed color and pattern constructs to studio portraits or landscapes. The quality of her photographs is outstanding and demonstrates advanced knowledge of the principles of photography. Her images demonstrate technical skill in both black and white and color and reveal a willingness to experiment and push her limits. She also has high expectations for herself and works with her images until they are just as she wants. She is not only an exceptionally talented photographer but also a very fine young woman with great enthusiasm and a positive attitude.

This year's winner is Zainab Qureshi.

The Kay Hamblin Award for Excellence in Theater: John Tabor Gage

Presented by Fine Arts Department Chair Martyn Dukes

The Kay Hamblin Excellence in Theater Award is presented annually to a student who consistently demonstrates a love for and dedication to the art of theater. This student knows that individual success is possible only through collaboration because theater exists to tell a communal story and move an audience to feel, to think, to hope.

It was only after arriving at TASIS in 10th grade that simply being in plays developed into a profound recognition of the way theater can reveal the human condition and teach us more about ourselves—both individually and as a community. A growing readiness to take the physical, emotional, and linguistic challenges that excellent theater demands and to plunge vigorously into each new unit of study with a mixture of intensity and humor made this student a delight to work with.

Credits include three years of Drama and Theatre classes and every mainstage production in his time: tragedy and comedy, backstage crew and designer, Shakespeare’s lovesick scholar and Goldoni’s supercilious lawyer. And he didn’t stop after the IB Theatre class was complete. I quote: “Arts Festival? I’m in!” and from a follow-up email, “I would love to come in and join the theater community one last time.”

For his love of the stage, his commitment to the theater, and his tremendous growth in the dramatic arts, this year's Theater Award goes to John Tabor Gage.

Excellence in English as an Additional Language: Maria Vittoria Gallina Bognetti

Presented by EAL Department Chair Carolyn Heard

This year's recipient of the EAL award has distinguished herself for her firm commitment to achieving the goals of IB English B. Described by her teacher as being “a real scholar,” throughout the two years of the course, she has been among the most consistently organized and well-prepared students in the class, producing work done with great care, evidencing not only a firm grasp of the expectations of the assignment but also a keen desire to implement new vocabulary and syntactical structures in her speech and writing. For her exceptional diligence, intellectual curiosity, abundant enthusiasm, and seriousness of purpose, the EAL Department bestows its award for excellence in English as an Additional Language to Maria Vittoria Gallina Bognetti.



Excellence in Modern Languages: Laura Vecoli

Presented by Modern Languages Department Chair Nilda Lucchini

The Award for Excellence in Modern Languages recognizes the achievement of a student who has undertaken studies in at least two of the five languages offered at TASIS. This year the Modern Languages Department honors a student who has been part of the Spanish, French, and Italian language programs.

The recipient’s teachers describe her as a dedicated student interested in learning not only the languages but also their associated cultures. She joined Spanish 3 two years ago with a very low level of Spanish. In a few months, however, she became one of the best students in the class and would go on to finish the year with the top grade. After taking only a year of Spanish because of a heavy IB course load that already included six courses, she decided to sit for the IB Spanish B SL exam. Her teacher confesses that he was a bit concerned because students usually take this exam after four years of studying the language. Nonetheless, few who know her were surprised when she put in the work needed to achieve the maximum score of 7 on the exam.

According to her IB French B HL, our recipient is a very curious person with amazing intellectual abilities, and her class participation is always rich and creative. In addition, she surpassed even her teacher’s expectations with her written and oral skills. Her teacher now views her as a fluent French student who is able to effectively read and analyze French literature.

The Modern Languages Department is very pleased to present its award to Laura Vecoli.

The Cynthia Whisenant Award for Excellence in English Literature: Aida Loggiodice

Presented by English Department Chair Todd Matthew

In his poem on writing poetry, "Ars Poetica," Archibald Macleish writes: "A poem should be equal to: / Not true. / For all the history of grief / An empty doorway and a maple leaf. / For love / The leaning grasses and two lights above the sea— / A poem should not mean / But be." This year's award winner lacks the pretension—that is to say, the intention—of an award winner, but she is one in every way imaginable. In describing her performance in class overall, her English teacher last year was dumbstruck, simply writing: "Wow squared."

And, for all the fawning, her humility and willingness to engage others in a common intellectual pursuit remain her two greatest assets as a learner. She does not speak to be heard. She does not grandstand—though she could. She listens carefully. She questions honestly. She understands, as Bob Hicok writes, "That spaces between words are more articulate than words." On the page, her thinking is deep and clear, analytically or creatively. One completely forgets that she only started learning English in the fifth grade.

For her remarkable accomplishments as a student of the English language, her humility and grace, and her exceptional contributions to the intellectual life of the school, this year's Cynthia Whisenant Award goes to Aida Loggiodice.

Excellence in History: Niccolo McConnell

Presented by History Department Chair Dr. Thomas Mauro

This year’s Excellence in History Award recognizes a student who, from the very first day of his entrance into the High School, exhibited a remarkable interest and competence in the study of history and the social sciences. He excelled in all eight of the department courses that he took, and this year he was named the recipient of both the European History award and the Economics award.

His IB History teacher writes, “He is indisputably the finest student I have had, with an unblemished record of absolute consistency at the highest level. He chose to write his Historical Investigation on an aspect of German economic and political history in the interwar period whose causes and significance are fiercely disputed by historians. I was gratified, but not surprised, to receive an outstanding piece of written work which would have done credit to an advanced undergraduate at university specializing in this topic.”

Based on his outstanding achievements in all department courses during his TASIS career, it is with great enthusiasm that the History Department presents the Excellence in History Award for 2017 to Niccolo McConnell.

Ambassador’s Cup for Excellence in US History: Kirill Krupenin

Presented by History Department Chair Dr. Thomas Mauro

The Ambassador’s Cup for Excellence in American History is awarded each year to a student who demonstrates exceptional achievement in the study of the history of the United States of America. This year's recipient stood out among an unusually able and motivated group of Advanced Placement US History students. Because of his thorough and meticulous reading and note taking, his mastery of the subject matter was second to none. This was recognized by his classmates, who looked to him as a classroom authority. In the historical essays that he wrote throughout the year, this student distinguished himself in his ability to produce powerful evidence-based arguments that also demonstrated a deep understanding of change and continuity in United States history over time.

Acknowledging his superior content knowledge, his incredible ability to cogently synthesize information, and his razor-sharp contributions to class discussions, the History Department is proud to present this year's Ambassador's Cup to Kirill Krupenin.

The Shah Akbar Khan Award for Excellence in Mathematics: Adam Novak

Presented by Math Department Chair James Shields

The competition amongst the strongest students in mathematics is intense; some of them take three or more math courses in their last two years at TASIS. This year’s award winner excelled in all three Advanced Placement Mathematics courses: AP Calculus AB, AP Calculus BC, and AP Statistics.

His Statistics teacher writes of his mastery of hypothesis testing and also of his taking time out to mentor other students in the class.

In BC Calculus he designed a streamlined version of Newton’s Method to approximate zeroes with differentials and then proceeded to teach the class his new and improved version.

The Department of Mathematics is pleased to give this year’s Shah Akbar Khan Award for Excellence in Mathematics to Adam Novak.

Excellence in Science: Hannah Gage and Sara Ilic

Presented by Science Department Chair Alec Ogilvie


Time is relative, as Einstein said, it doesn’t seem a year ago since I was last here! However, in this packed year the science students have been very active. As is almost tradition now, the science department couldn’t choose a candidate, we had to choose two; as there were so many deserving students. Both students have completed a demanding science programme, incorporating IB Higher level Chemistry and IB Higher level Biology, quite an academic feat to accomplish well. They both have illustrated incredible hard work and dedication, constantly asking questions in order to clarify concepts and deepen their understanding of the material. Both have undertaken challenging internal assessment research questions in chemistry and biology, requiring many many hours after school and at the weekends, performing practical work and analyzing their data. They stretched the boundaries of their understanding with enormous drive and determination. They would always go the extra mile. Together they investigated many interesting areas including: The cystic fibrosis gene, caffeine levels in various teas, lipase activity in milk, tooth decay, and the effect of exercise on sleep quality. They both will follow on with science at university, one with medicine and the other with biomedical science or biochemistry and molecular medicine. I’m sure that they know who they are now! It is my pleasure to announce and congratulate this year’s winners for the 2017 science award: Hannah Gage and Sara Ilic.

The Salutatorian Scholarship Award: Laura Vecoli

Presented by Academic Dean Dr. Mark Abisi

The Salutatorian is the graduating senior considered to have the second-highest academic performance after no less than two years at TASIS. This year’s Salutatorian is an intelligent, compassionate, diligent student who is exceedingly mature and possesses a strong, determined sense of purpose. She has earned Full Year Highest Honors during each of her three years at TASIS. Most impressively, she earned these top grades while pursuing the rigorous IB Diploma. Her advisor shares, “Her contributions to the TASIS community have been many and varied over the years, and she is both a generous, giving person and a fine scholar. As a proctor, school ensemble string player, sportswomen, graduate from the TASIS Leadership Academy, and Senior Humanities Program member, she has simply got on with life and all it has to offer at TASIS without fuss. A quiet and almost timid student when she arrived, she has bloomed in the intervening years and today is an outgoing and vital young women.”

Her English teacher writes, “Even as her time at TASIS draws to a close, she remains herself: steady, diligent, and earnest. I never really had any doubt, but she has not succumbed to senioritis in any fashion and seems to be separating herself even further from the competition with her clear-eyed approach to the end of high school. It’s hard to overstate how impressed I am with her not only as an English student but also as a person.”

It is my great pleasure to present the Class of 2017 Salutatorian, Laura Vecoli.

The Valedictorian Scholarship Award: Adam Novak

Presented by Academic Dean Dr. Mark Abisi

The honor of being the Valedictorian is based on superior academic performance over not less than two years of study at TASIS. The School considers academic achievement, the rigor of the academic program followed, and the number of courses completed.

This year’s Valedictorian is deeply and sincerely committed to academic excellence and has distinguished himself over 12 years of study at TASIS in all academic areas. His first grade Reading teacher wrote, “He has become an excellent reader this year.” His first grade History teacher wrote, “He is a keen learner and is always interested in gaining a deeper understanding of the material being presented in class. He shows a great enthusiasm for learning about the world around him.” And his first grade Physical Education teacher wrote, “He seemed to enjoy the hockey and baseball units more than square dancing, but he did master all the skills for all of our units.”

He went on to become a top student in the Elementary School, and he has achieved Full Year Highest Honors throughout all of Middle School and High School. Moreover, he graduates from TASIS earning top marks in 10 AP courses and two IB courses.

It is with great pleasure that I present this year’s Valedictorian award winner, Adam Novak.

The Headmaster’s Award: Fiona Perdomo

Presented by Headmaster Lyle Rigg

The recipient of this year’s Headmaster’s Award typifies the very best of a TASIS student. She makes the most of the opportunities offered to her, is unceasingly optimistic, always offers a winning smile, and is both a gifted athlete and a strong student. She commands both respect and loyalty from her friends, and as a day student she has often served as an important bridge between day and boarding students.

Her competitive spirit is seen in her commitment to varsity sports—especially soccer, where teammates look to her as their leader. She readily and calmly assumes the responsibilities of team captain while also understanding the importance of being part of a team.

This young woman’s athletic skills are similarly translated into the classroom, where her performance has been consistently outstanding. Her teachers remark on her honesty, work ethic, and disciplined approach to her studies.

One of this young woman’s coaches describes her as “honest, kind, and a very hard worker who quietly spreads good throughout her peer group and the school. She is a caring and thoughtful friend, and I could go on and on about what she gives to others and to this community.”

It is with great pleasure that I present this year’s Headmaster’s Award to Fiona Perdomo.

The ECIS Award for International Understanding: Laura Vecoli

Presented by Headmaster Lyle Rigg

This prestigious annual award is sponsored by the European Council of International Schools (ECIS), which specifies that the recipient must be “a good representative of his or her own country, with a positive attitude towards the life and culture of others, able to converse in at least two languages, a contributing force in the life of the school, with the ability to bring differing people together into a sense of community, thus furthering the cause of international understanding."

The recipient of the ECIS Award for International Understanding is a native of Italy, grew up in France, and has a trilingual background. A cheerful, courteous, and easy-going member of TASIS, she works really hard both in and out of the classroom: in her academics and in serving the community, in her service learning, and in her leadership initiatives. She is both a proctor and an athlete and in so many ways typifies the very best of TASIS. (As last year’s recipient of the J. Michael Horak Award, she has already been recognized as someone who gives spontaneously and tirelessly of herself to the many and varied needs of the student body.)

Her advisor remembers a quiet and almost timid student when she arrived. She has since bloomed in the intervening years and today is a vital young person, and despite her reserve, an influential one in the school.

This student likes being with and working with those around her. She has that rare quality of being able to listen and is always interested in her classmates’ stories, ideas, and problems, often encouraging those around her to connect. With the minimum of fuss—and by simply paying attention to people—she discreetly goes about building a sense of community.

Clearly she has much to offer beyond our school gates, and her deep-seated interest in human beings and their interrelationships will undoubtedly shape much of it.

It comes as no surprise to learn that she was offered a place at Durham University to study anthropology while being simultaneously courted by the prestigious EHL (Ecole hôtelière de Lausanne) to follow hospitality and a university in France to follow a degree course in International Relations. She has chosen EHL.

It is my honor to present the 2017 ECIS Award for International Understanding to Laura Vecoli.

The Jan Opsahl Service Award: Hannah Gage

Presented by Headmaster Lyle Rigg

This award recognizes students for whom the school community comes before self. In the past, this award acknowledged students who contributed to the school community and to school life beyond the call of duty. Faculty members are asked to be especially mindful of students who may be giving of themselves in quiet, unobtrusive ways.

The advisor of this year’s Jan Opsahl Service Award recipient remarks, “From the first day I met her, I was struck by what a caring person she was. She told me of her dream to become a doctor, and I couldn’t think of a better career for her. I am so pleased that her dream is being realized. All her teachers comment on how hardworking she is, and she always strives to do her best, sometimes putting herself under enormous pressure. But whatever she may be feeling internally, she will still have a smile on her face and will find time to help others. Both as a proctor and as a member of her varsity athletic teams, she can be counted on to succeed mightily in her role. The younger members of the TASIS community look up to her for help and guidance—some of them even calling her ‘Mom.’”

For her selfless devotion to her peers and the entire school community, I am delighted to present the this year’s Jan Opsahl Service Award to Hannah Gage.

The Michael Ulku-Steiner Leadership Award: Gabriele Capacci

Presented by Headmaster Lyle Rigg

This award recognizes the student or students who have shown initiative, creativity, and disinterested involvement in making our school a better place to study and to live in. Student council, committee, or student activity work may qualify a student. The award generally has been given to a student recognized as a leader (in the furthering of TASIS goals and ideals) by both the students and the Faculty.

The recipient of the Michael Ulku-Steiner Leadership Award has been a part of the TASIS community for the past six years. During his tenure, this student has always been very serious about his responsibilities and very focused on fulfilling all his obligations. He is not someone who leads by imposing his ideas and opinions on everybody, but one who leads by setting an example to follow.

During advisor meetings, the candidate has demonstrated great care in counseling other members of the group. In fact, he wanted them to be not only successful in academics, but also to feel proud of their personal accomplishments. It is with great enthusiasm that he would then discuss how to make TASIS a better place to study at and to live in.

Mature beyond his years, he knows when to take charge to bring a task to completion and when to stand back and simply act as a guide. As a sophomore, he was already behaving as a leader as a member of the Leadership Academy. Shortly after, during the summer break, he worked with the Red Cross to implement a summer camp for child refugees. He later went on to participate in the Nepal Global Service Program trip, where he helped build a retention wall for Tibetan refugees.

The Michael Ulku-Steiner Leadership Award is, by definition, given to a student recognized as a leader by both the students and the faculty, but during an advisor meeting, the recipient of this award stated, very appropriately, that “it is only truth and honesty that can lead students and faculty toward the same goal: academic excellence.”

It is a privilege to present the 2017 Michael Ulku-Steiner Leadership Award to Gabriele Capacci.

The H. Miller Crist Award: Aida Loggiodice

Presented by Headmaster Lyle Rigg

This award is given to the senior student who, in the opinion of the faculty, best represents the ideals and goals of the school. This is the highest recognition accorded by the TASIS Faculty to a senior who, by his or her actions (academic and otherwise), best embodies or pursues the ideals, aspirations, and goals of the School. In some ways, the award combines the stipulations of the Service and Leadership Awards with an expectation of academic excellence.

When praising the recipient of this year’s H. Miller Crist Award—the loftiest recognition accorded to a graduating student—one is conscious of being at a disadvantage from the start. For such is the quality of her character that those who do not know her may conceivably think a description of her merits an exaggeration—those that do, an underestimation. But the fact is that you will find, try as you may, no more perfect embodiment of the ideals of the school: service, compassion, kindness, academic excellence, love of learning, and love of life. Truly remarkable is that her commitment to these ideals—the tireless effort in the classroom, the leadership in Service Learning, the heavy extracurricular involvement, the informal mentoring in the dorm—often does not really seem a commitment at all, but rather an unconscious movement or inclination, like a heartbeat or the blink of an eye. In her, opposites coexist and take action according to the needs of the moment: tenacity and tenderness, initiative and deference, reason and imagination. The irony is that despite her capacity for empathy, perhaps her leading characteristic, she is probably unaware, blinded by her humility, of just how much we appreciate and admire her.

It is a great honor to present the H. Miller Crist Award to Aida Loggiodice.

powered by finalsite