Congratulations to LA’s Class of 2019

Lawrence Academy’s 226th Graduation Exercises

Groton, Mass. — Sunny skies greeted Head of School Dan Scheibe as he moved from the Schoolhouse to the Quad and stepped to the microphone to preside over Graduation 2019.

“226 graduation exercises at Lawrence Academy,” he began. “That is an awesome substantial history and you, the class of 2019, are an awesome, substantial class.”

No doubt feeling the crescendo of joy that back-dropped the morning, and with 109 smiling senior faces staring back at him, Mr. Scheibe took a moment to take it in and revel in the wonder of the Class of 2019’s collective accomplishment.

An Awesome Class

“Things can be so good,” said Dan of life’s ups-and-downs. “We have this sense of exaltation, but we have this sense of vulnerability too.

“You may feel giddy and sad and agitated all at the same time. There’s nothing wrong with us. We’re just experiencing constant recovery from the human condition.

“The fact today, and any day is that life can be complex. It has beauty and it has its burdens, but somewhere in life’s extremity, there is this transcendent, disruptive, transformative mystery and maybe that’s where life’s real energy emerges and we happen just to be sensing it now,” he said.

Change The World

In the “now” was where Kate Williams (of “1% for the Planet”) placed her keynote remarks.

“I know you have a million thoughts and emotions running around in your head on this big day and that’s as it should be,” said Williams, who brings a deep passion for and commitment to the power of collective action. “I hope this one point, this one gift of perspective that I can offer you can penetrate and stick: Our world needs you and you have power to change the world.”

To that end, Ms. Williams spoke to the work of LA’s current students and that of former Spartans.

“At Lawrence Academy, you’ve not only learned in the classroom but you’ve also learned by doing; you consider the real issues facing the world,” added Williams. “You rolled up your sleeves and you’ve gotten to work.

“Through Winterim projects, both near and far, that are focused on improving communities, to awarding your Greater Good Award to alumni like Rob Kaplan, [who is] investing in solutions to plastic waste in the ocean, to working diligently right here on campus to eliminate single use plastics.

“[I want to thank] Shelby [Guinard ’19] and Emily [Leung ’19] and the Environmental Sustainability Council for their great work right here on campus,” she said. “So as you leave here today with your diplomas in hand, I invite you to act. I invite you to keep an eye out and an ear to the ground.

“And invite you to own your stake in a healthy and dynamic planet.”

From Now to Nostalgia

From the now to nostalgia, senior speaker Will Adam took to the stage to paint a picture of life at Lawrence Academy, and admonished the Classes of 2020, 2021, and 2022 to look up from their books.

“This is by no means me supporting an indolent, carefree lackadaisical mindset for you,” he said. “But it is me encouraging you to focus on making memories; because you won’t remember that homework you took hours to complete or that test you studied a week for or that bad grade you got at midterm, but you will remember the good times you had with friends.

However, Adam reminded students to choose those friends wisely.

Learn From Your Peers

“Most importantly, learn from your peers,” said Will. “They are by far the biggest influence on who you are in high school, but also who you can become…so make sure you are surrounded by those who will make you your best self.”

Nicole Winthrop ’19 added to Adam’s painted picture, speaking to the building blocks the Class of 2019 had garnered along the way at LA.

Building Blocks

Nicole Winthrop ’19. Jon Chase photo

However, Nicole explained that those “LEGO blocks” of experience don’t come in one shape or size, and didn’t necessarily come from inside a classroom.

“They can be ideas, mannerisms, friends, or just straight up joy; whether I’m playing with record on stage as you guys walk into assembly or making a winning dragon fruit smoothie with Justin [Chen ’19], I’m showing not only my classmates but also myself, who I am,” said Winthrop.

“And yeah, I’m not exactly sure what I’m building with these LEGO-type clocks.

“And I know that the things that I did at la, are not the only thing is that the defined me. It simply added on to who I am and who I want to become,” she said.

Get After It

Scheibe, who set the caps flying to complete the ceremony, left the graduates with final words of instruction.

“Class of 2019, make of yourself a light,” he said. “Absorb as much light as you can, spread as much light as you can.

“The world needs your radiance. Get after it,” he said.

Click here for the 2019 Graduation Program.

Join Us for LA Reunion 2019

We’d love to see you back on campus!

Alumni, don’t miss our annual gathering on the Quad…

We’re calling back classes ending in “4” and “9”, but former LA students (and faculty) from all years are welcome to join us on Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8.

Join us!

Reunion registration, schedule, and info available here:

Want to see who is going to join us on Powderhouse Road?

Contact Caitlin O’Brien (978-448-1574).

See you soon!

Boys’ Hockey: One Goal Down, One to Go

The Spartans Head North to KUA for the NEPSAC Semifinals

Groton, MA — [ Photos | Video ] Given the nature of coaching and athletes, there is good and bad that comes after a 10-3 victory; never mind such a lopsided win in a division-clinching game. Keeping a team’s motivation high, through the highs and lows of a long season, can be difficult.

For example, there’s a reason that NHL teams do not even touch the conference championship trophies on their way to the Stanley Cup Final – it’s not the top prize.

After the Spartans 10-3 ISL Keller Division-clinching win last Saturday over Tabor — en route to a NEPSAC playoffs berth announced on Sunday — LA head coach Robbie Barker ’00 was asked how he would keep his students motivated going into the New England Tournament.

“Anytime you win the ISL it’s something special,” admitted the former Spartan standout. “Its a tough thing to accomplish, so yes I’d say its very satisfying.

“The ISL was one of our team goals this year, and with any list of goals, you enjoy it for the time being [when it’s achieved] and then you move on to your next objective.”

But Barker quickly added:

“This isn’t a group that needs much help in getting motivated or staying motivated. Playoffs are playoffs, and anyone who has experienced playing in playoffs knows that if you can get up for a game at this stage of the season, you should probably find a new sport.”

Robbie Barker ’00, Lawrence Academy Boys’ Ice Hockey Head Coach

On Wednesday, there were moments in the Spartans 2-1 overtime victory where fans might have questioned some of the squad’s on-ice decisions (there were a whole lot of blue shirts in the box all night), but nobody doubted LA’s commitment.

And, looking forward to a championship-sending “scrimmage” with the Lakes Region Champion Kimball Union Wildcats, Barker didn’t think his — or his team’s — approach should change.

“At this point in the season, you can’t focus too much on what your opponent’s tendencies are, but instead focus on what you can control and implement the strategies and systems that got you here,” he said, pointing out how difficult it is to be consistent over the length of the hockey season. “Winning the ISL, I have always said, is harder than winning New Englands.

“In the ISL you need to play well for three months, and during New Englands, it’s a one done, so it’s anyone’s game,” said Barker.

“The boys have proved all year that they were a top team in the best high school hockey league in the United States, and I couldn’t be more proud of this group.”

Coach Barker

Moreover, that pride remains evident on-and-off campus, given the sheer numbers of well-wishes the boys have received in the wake of both victories.

“The amount of text messages I have received from our alumi over the past two weeks has been remarkable,” said Robbie. “Guys I’ve never coached to guys I coached for four years.

“It’s a great feeling knowing that we are continuing the tradition.

“I love this program, the past players, and this group of kids and couldn’t be more proud to be part of the Spartan hockey family – Family First.”

Good luck to the boys’ ice hockey Spartans!

Nikki Arnold ’19 Joins Lawrence Academy Girls’ Basketball’s 1000-Point Club

In a week that featured some outstanding athletic performances, it was a free throw that garnered much of our attention – and rightly so.

LA girls’ basketball v. Middlesex. Jon Chase photo

With her free-throw basket versus Middlesex School on Friday, February 6, varsity girls’ basketball captain Nikki Arnold ’19 (Derry, NH) joined illustrious company.

Arnold, set to join the varsity at Sacred Heart University next fall, inked her name next to LA Athletic Hall of Famer Kristi Laggis ’95, Emily Pratt ’16, Gabrielle Reuter ’16, and Erin Antosh ’17 in LA’s girls’ basketball 1000-point pantheon.

“It feels really good,” said a relieved Arnold, postgame.

“Personally, didn’t think I was going to make it,” added Nikki, sidelined by injury during parts of her senior season. “Getting it is like an accomplishment I thought I was never going to achieve.

“It feels really, really good to actually get to do it and be a part of the five people to actually do it here at LA.”

The highlight of the Spartans third-straight win helped raise the squad’s record to an impressive 12-3 overall. However, even in the aftermath of an important victory, Head Coach Donna Mastrangelo mused about Arnold’s technique, and didn’t sound very surprised her senior made the exclusive club.

“It’s a thrill for me to be honest,” said Mastrangelo, who generally wears a serious gaze. “It’s so much fun.

“I just get so excited watching her shoot,” added the coach. “It’s beautiful. It’s textbook.”

There’s clear admiration from the player’s side, as well.

“[Coach Mastrangelo’s] the reason I’m here in the first place,” said Arnold. “She recruited me from eighth grade and brought me in here to tour and everything and she’s developed me into the player I am over the past four years.

“I wouldn’t be here without her.”

But the season is far from over, and both Nikki and Coach are looking forward to challenging for some team accolades.

“I think we just need to keep playing hard on defense and keep our momentum,” said the senior. “If we play hard on defense, that usually translate into fast breaks and good layups and shots.

“Our defense is really our game and I think that this game wasn’t maybe our best defense, but we picked it up in the end and that’s what really want us to game.

“And I think if we can continue that will have a good shot this year.”

Coach Mastrangelo was a little more direct.

“We got through this game tonight,” she said. “It was not our prettiest performance, that’s for sure.

“And that’s a good thing to know that that was not our best performance; to know that we have to work harder if we really want to accomplish our goals.”

#FBF: Reminiscing About “The Judith French Poetry Recitation”

Back in 2013, fresh after seeing his first “Judith French Poetry Recitation,” Mr. Bishop wrote about the experience. With today being the day for the 2019 event, we thought it a good time to hit the flashback button to 2013…

LA the Big Winner After Class of 2014’s Poetry Recitation

My own stomach rolled nervously as I watched finalists prepare for their performances in the auditorium.

That retrograde (regurgitate?) emotion—fueled, no doubt, by repressed memories bearing images of regrettable attempts at acting and public speaking throughout my academic career—was further fueled by my new colleagues joking that new faculty are often asked to recite poems during the program and I would be next up on stage (to which I remarked my selection would be short and entitled “I Quit.”).



Franchesca Kiesling ’14


However, it was no joking matter to the 10 Lawrence Academy students who took the stage to entertain and enlighten their classmates and teachers during last Wednesday’s Judith French Junior Poetry Recitation Competition.

With selections from Gwendolyn Brooks’ “Primer for Blacks” to Edgar Allan Poe’s “Annabel Lee” to Rudyard Kipling’s “If”, a wide swath of English verse stood as testament to the diversity of Lawrence’s student body as well as the breadth of their interests.

“I’m not so sure that the piece itself spoke to me with its story, so much as its language and sound did,” said Conrad Solomon of his poem by Poe. “Although the story does touch me emotionally, I find “Annabel Lee” to be almost like a piece of music that is pleasing to the ear.”

And, far from being immobilized by nerves, some of the finalists spoke about the empowerment inherent in the competition.

“Strangely enough, I found this process very enjoyable,” said Jonathan Mangini, who recited Jack Gilbert’s “Once Upon A Time”.

“For me, it was almost a treat to be able to recite poetry and bring about art to a whole school environment.

“Although, I’d have to say that I was most nervous in the classroom setting,” he added.

Jonny wasn’t the only member of the class of ’14 who found a certain amount of terror while looking into the eyes of their classmates.

“With 15 people staring at you [in the students’ individual classes], you feel and hear and see all the eyes staring you down and every minute gesture being done,” explained Franchesca Kiesling, who performed “Magic” by Gabriel Gadfly. “In front of 400, your eyes get lost in the crowd; you don’t see everyone as another pair of eyes, but as just another face.

“I must admit that beforehand I definitely had some nervous energy to expel, but once up there, it was easy.”

Franchesca, who could be seen frenetically reciting her lines to herself prior to the event, might have found it easy to calm down during the proceedings, however, it wasn’t so easy for everyone in the crowd to stem the strain.

“Yes, I do get nervous for the students as they perform,” admitted Mark Haman, long-time Lawrence English teacher and the afternoon’s master of ceremonies. “I will have seen each of them recite at least once before and have a sense of the possibilities for each.

“Some of the performers are my students, and for them I feel an especial concern, having seen them work hard throughout the stages of preparation. I worry about the distractions…[and] I worry about the gap between performers as the judges write their notes, aware that extending the wait for the remaining performers can only aggravate their nervousness.

“I don’t especially worry about the audience being restless, because nearly twenty years of these events has reassured me that many people, adults and students alike, feel that the recitation is one of the highlights of the school year,” he said.

After the recitation, Haman’s feelings seemed universal around campus, and even the highly competitive contestants were glad to see everyone’s performance rise to the occasion.

“What stood out particularly to me was the high caliber of poems that were recited…and how much courage it took for some of my classmates to get up on stage and recite their poems with gusto,” said Sebastian Sidney after his recitation of Brooks’ poetry. “This competition will always have a special place in my heart.”

But not all of the contestants—particularly the eventual winner—can actually recall their recital.

“I won’t remember reciting the poem itself,” Franchesca said. “It just came and went.

“But I’ll remember the slight nod of my head signifying I was finished and hearing everyone love it. That is my most favorite feeling.”

However, even though Kiesling’s recitation was adjudged the favorite, while she reviewed her own memories of the three competitions she’d witnessed since matriculating at Lawrence, Franchesca echoed the sentiments of many who witnessed the 2013 competition.

“Freshman year I thought it was so cool, and I had always wanted to do it,” she said. “Sophomore year I still thought the same thing, and I also thought of how brave everyone was.

“I think this year was the best of all though,” added Franchesca. “Our class owned this poetry recitation and if I was the judge, I’d let us all win.”