Honoring Senior Traditions: Student Awards Ceremony, Senior Celebration, and May Projects

Senior Celebration also known as Senior Clap Out was held on Thursday, June 1. Seniors parade on the first floor of the Historic Campus and the rest of the Labbies, faculty, and staff congratulate them for graduating./Photo credit: Jayna Rumble, Photojournalist teacher.

Honoring Senior Traditions: Student Awards Ceremony, Senior Celebration, and May Projects

Excitement roamed at the Historic Campus on Thursday, June 1 as graduating U-High seniors had the opportunity to experience Lab traditions for one last time. They attended their last annual student awards assembly, walked down the first floor hallways for the senior clap out, and presented their May projects at Upper Kovler Gym to the rest of the Labbies and Lab community.

Student Awards Assembly

The 2023 U-High student awards assembly was held in Gordon Parks Arts Hall, Griffin Auditorium and Grade 9–12 along with some faculty and staff attended. The awards program included: a welcome speech from U-High Principal Paul Beekmeyer, two student academic recognitions for extracurricular activities, U-High student musical performances by Santi Tardio, and William Tan and Maurice Neuman, and a closing speech and senior celebration led by U-High Dean of Students Ana Campos.

Athletics_student awards assembly 2023

From left: Maya Atassi, Luke Grotthuss, Xavier Nesbitt and Jacqueline Slimmon are this year’s Monilaw Medalists./Photo Credit: UCLS Athletics

Congratulations to the following Grade 12 honorees for their awards:

  • Brent Cawelti Award presented by Director of Schools Tori Jueds: Maya Atassi and Ben King.

  • Alan Stern Award presented by U-High Journalism Teacher Logan Aimone: Dalin Dohrn and Jana Lesniak.

  • Citizenship Awards presented by U-High Assistant Principal Zilkia Rivera-Vasquez and Associate Director of Schools Carla Ellis.

    • Grade 12: Lizzie Baker, Charlie Benton, Juan Chaides, and Yaseen Qureshi.

  • Senior Service Awards presented by Ana Campos: Fermi Boonstra and Juan Chaides.

  • Leadership Action Belonging (L.A.B.) Awards presented by Ana Campos.

    • ArtsFest: Grayson Smith, Charlotte Sims, Maya Herron, Jeffrey Huang, Jenna Kilkus, Hannah Maxcy, Lusia Austen, Jessica Daugherty.

    • Asian Students' Association: Zara Baig, Sophia Li, and Kriti Sarav.

    • Black Students' Association: Michael Ewing, Camille Bryant, Donovan Miller, Ben King, Charlie Young, Blake Dunkley.

    • Eye to Eye: Ava Wilczak.

    • F1 in Schools: Raza Zaidi.

    • Jewish Students' Association: Charlie Benton, Daniel Tothy, and Henry Koyner.

    • Latinos Unidos: Juan Chaides and Kariani Rojas.

    • Muslim Students' Association: Maya Atassi and Yaseen Qureshi.

    • Social Justice Week: Anika Gupta and William Kraemer.

    • Students with Disabilities Association: Téa Tamburo.

    • Young Women of Color: Lizzie Baker and Kiran Shaw.

  • Athletic Awards presented by Athletics Director David Ribbens and Athletics Assistant Director Laura Gill:

    • Bill Zarvis Award: Katie Bai, Ben King, Sohrab Rezaei, Lizzie Baker, Ethan Kucera, Jake Roggin, Corona Chen, William Montague, Kriti Sarav, Maya El Shamsy, Bryan Pan, Charlotte Sims, Elizabeth Frost, Kenneth Peters, Serena Thomas, Charlotte Henderson, Yaseen Qureshi, and Jeffrey Huang.

    • James Wherry-Willis Award: William Meyer.

    • William "Doc" Montlaw Medalists: Maya Atassi, Luke Grotthuss, Xavier Nesbitt, and Jacqueline Slimmon.

  • Faith Dremmer Award presented by U-High Science Teacher Daniel Bobo-Jones: Zoe Stephens.

  • Phoenix Award presented by All-Schools President and U-High Senior Fermi Boonstra:

    • Grade 12: Frederick Pytel.

Senior Celebration

senior clap out

Seniors walk down the hallways and students, faculty, and staff are cheering for them.

Applause, cheering, high-fives, thumbs-up, waving, smiles, and laughter were seen as seniors stood up from their seats one last time from the Griffin Auditorium and walked the first floor hallways of the Historic Campus to N3–11 students, faculty, and staff congratulating them.

A Senior Celebration also known as the Clap Out and Lab tradition that started when some of this year's graduating class were in seventh grade, according to Ana Campos.  Lower School and Middle School students made signs for seniors as they passed the hallways. Early Childhood students also had signs as the seniors made their way to Scammon Garden to enjoy a frozen treat with them– paletas on a sunny Thursday morning.

Senior May Project Presentations

senior may projects

Seniors present their May projects on Thursday, June 1.

For the month of May, seniors work on their May projects and present them at the end of the month to their classmates, the rest of the school, and the Lab community. A Lab tradition that has been going on for more than twenty-five years.

This year, all 161 seniors completed their May projects which included 108 different projects–thirty-eight group projects and seventy individual projects–said May Project Coordinators Laura Doto and Jayna Rumble, which is their first year coordinating the projects. “They are making movies, composing music, designing clothing, building cars, diving with sharks, exploring parts unknown, cooking up a future, and culminating their Lab education in a capstone project that is as unique as they are,” Doto said.

We would like to highlight a few of the senior May projects who worked on science, art, theater, and engineering.

Juan Chaides-senior may project

Juan Chaides and an attendee view an artwork at his art exhibition “Young Life is a Lifetime” at the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago on Saturday, May 20./Photo credit: Max Li.

Juan Chaides hosted and curated an art exhibition "Young Life is a Lifetime" at the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago on Saturday, May 20.

The art exhibition is “a collection of works by myself, other Lab students, and outside artists in Chicago that will be displayed at the First Presbyterian Church of Chicago,” Chaides said. “My previous experience with photography and participation in exhibitions were the first spark of interest in the topic, it was only after I witnessed the Southspace art gallery that I was able to fully commit to doing this as my May [roject. It was weird but I suddenly wanted to figure out what goes into running such an event and May project was the perfect way to achieve that."

Asha Patel_Senior May Project

Asha Patel presented her May project on Thursday, June 1 at Upper Kovler Gym. Patel studied sharks with Gili Shark Organization.

Asha Patel went to Bali for the May project to study sharks with Gili Shark Organization, an award-winning organization designed around conservation through citizen scientific research,” according to their website. "Gili Shark Conservation is very hands-on and that is how I learn best," Patel says. "Working with sharks has been my lifelong dream. With humans killing over 100 million sharks a year, and only sharks killing about [ten] humans a year. I have become so attached to this underworld ecosystem that seeing the damage humans are doing to it makes me more and more passionate about making an impact. This once hyperfixation on sharks led me to a passion now of wanting to study ichthyology. I've come to understand sharks as very misunderstood creatures and in some ways I relate with my own learning difficulties."

Anna and Lucia's Senior May Project

Anna Bohlen and Lucia Muthu on Friday, May 26 in Judd Hall with Diane Jackson’s fifth-grade class who performed their play Un Mystère à Paris.

Anna Bohlen and Lucia Muthu wrote and directed a French play for Diane Jackson's fifth-grade French class for their May project. Bohlen and Muthu decided to write and direct the French Play for their May project because of their "shared love for theater, the French language, and working with children."

In April, they collaborated to write the play Un Mystère à Paris, which is a mystery that takes place in Paris. Bohlen and Muthu shared on the play program that the fifth graders had "the brilliant idea of doing a mystery and helped us create the plot."

During the month of May, they spent their time working with "[fifth] graders on line memorization, basic acting skills, and French pronunciation," Bohlen and Muthu said. "We hope to create a meaningful experience for the [fifth] graders by allowing them to practice speaking French using the fun and engaging medium of live theater."

Bohlen and Muthu said in the play program, "We have had the most wonderful time working with the fifth graders on this play for [three] weeks. We are so lucky to have had the opportunity to spend our May project with these talented young actors/French language learners."

Group May Project_driveable vehicle

Seniors Jay Molony and Peter Cox work together to build a go-kart for their group’s May project./Photo Credit: Henry Benton/U-High Midway.

This year, two groups–six seniors James Fry, Nico Ahmed, Erich Raumann, Peter Cox, Daniel O’Connor, and Jay Molony–collaborated with each other to design and build a small driveable vehicle for their May project. "In terms of inspiration, all of us have been part of the robotics club for most of high school, so we were interested in doing a cooperative engineering/design project for our May project," Peter Cox said.

Ariel investment senior may project

(Left) Téa Tamburo’s first day at Ariel Investments internship for May project.
(Right) Ariel Investments Internship May project presentation on Thursday, June 1.

Some additional May Projects included Amelia Cifu's American Sign Language Poetry, Blake Dunkley's Mastering Perfumery, and seniors Téa Tamburo, Louis Auxenfans, Ethan Kucera, and Yaseen Qureshi were chosen for the Ariel Investments Internship. Former Chair of the Lab Board and Lab alumnus John W. Rogers, Jr., ‘76, is the founder and co-CEO of Ariel Investments.

Congratulations to the Maroon Class of 2023 for their research and dedication on their May projects!

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