Commencement & Prize Night


  • In late May, on the evening before Commencement Exercises, the entire school gathers for Prize Night under the tent on Wersebe Field. In all, about 50 prizes are awarded, celebrating character, leadership, athletic, artistic and academic excellence. While the majority of the awards are presented to graduating seniors, there are opportunities for underclassmen to be recognized for their contributions and achievements.

  • The following morning, students and faculty line up outside Bourne Hall for a procession led by bagpipers and two of the newly elected prefects, who carry the American flag and the school flag.  Students from the freshman, sophomore and junior classes are followed by the faculty and graduates, as the entire school makes its way across campus to the tent on Wersebe Field for the Commencement ceremony.

  • The head prefect and head prefect-elect both deliver speeches prior to the Commencement Address.

  • The school’s top three prizes – The Brinsmade Prize, The Head of School’s Prize, and The Gunnery Cup – are awarded, and finally, with the blessing of the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, diplomas are conferred upon the graduates. 

  • Although students under Frederick Gunn participated in celebrations at the end of the school year, John Brinsmade, the second Head of School,  is credited with implementing the school's first graduation exercises.

  • The first formal invitation in the Paula and George Krimsky Archives and Special Collections is dated 1921. The exercises were held in the gymnasium and the address was given by W.W. Ellsworth, whose topic was “Choosing Life’s Work.”

  • The awarding of diplomas was mentioned in a 1924 invitation under Hamilton Gibson, and 14 prizes were announced at the same time, including the highest scholars in each class and one available scholarship of $300. There were seven seniors in the graduating class.