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the Gauntlet

the official student-produced news site for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

the Gauntlet

the official student-produced news site for Saint Stephen's Episcopal School

the Gauntlet

What is the Saint Stephen’s senior gift?

The gift is one of our best school tradition. But what is it, really?
A crest of our school mascot in the entrance of the Turner Building. (Dylan Kinder)

The Saint Stephen’s seniors have an annual tradition of giving back to the school, departing with a lasting impression by leaving a Senior Gift. These donations, left by a graduating class for the good of the school, can vary from a tile mosaic of our school’s Falcon to a bottle filling station that has saved almost 52,000 disposable water bottles to donations to a specific cause to spaces on campus, like the Senior Nest.

To find out more about what these gifts are all about, I interviewed Mr. Whelan, the beloved history department chair, who has been teaching for over 36 years and has many experiences in the field of senior gifts. 

“Senior year is about giving back to the school overall; oftentimes, the gift is used to benefit the future classes.”

An example of a beneficial gift that had a direct impact on campus is the Falcon’s Nest, which the class of 2017 had given to the school.

Whelan noted that the tradition stands out in our school, along with another senior tradition.

“The senior dinner is the oldest tradition at this school, older than graduation.”

The first senior dinner was in 1974, which was the first graduating class. Mr. Whelan added.  

“Back in the day, the classes were small, so the gifts tended to be on the smaller side. One of the senior gifts from the class of 1989, is a lectern I have in my class. When it was given to me, it was kept in my room, but used in other places whenever there was a speaker.”

A memoriam in the Palm Courtyard to Steven James Raker, who sadly passed away in 2005. (Dylan Kinder)

This is just one example of the many small but meaningful gifts that are scattered throughout the school left by departing classes.   

A common gift from exiting seniors can include leaving significant messages and memorials engraved on bricks with the main gift. There are some around fountains, some around the Palm Courtyard, and some on hallway floors.

These may not sound very significant, but they have a key role in preserving the memory of many important people. For example, when the Palm Courtyard got a refresh as a gift from the class of 2021, they removed bushes and added a brick pathway, which included engravings to give tribute to Mr. Jenson, the former Director of Admissions and sadly passed away the prior year. 

Bricks representing two seniors from the class of 2001, located in the Palm Courtyard. (Dylan Kinder)

It also has plaques commemorating other class gifts throughout the school.

Toward the end of my interview with Mr. Whelan, I asked him what his favorite gift was. He replied with the Senior Nest.

“The seniors gave assurance that the future classes would have a place to do their thing.” 

Mr. Whelan concluded it all by describing how the seniors worked closely together to leave a gift that was meaningful to them and one they could also look back on. 

So what’s in store for this year’s senior class? 

The class of 2024 is working hard to leave a meaningful gift just as their predecessors. To find out more about some of the considerations for this year, I interviewed the senior class Co-President, Ivan Tulupov.

“One of the gifts we’re still brainstorming is funding a garden next to the new S.T.E.A.M center,” Tulupov said.

From important donations towards the development of our school to yearbook stands and holding tanks in the Marine Science building, the senior gift is a diverse and purposeful tradition.  We can’t wait to see what this year’s senior class will choose. 

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