As graduation nears each spring, we spotlight seniors who share a history that goes back to their first days together in Kindergarten — Dwight’s 13-Year Club.
This year, five members of the Class of 2020 are the newest to be inducted, and they will soon take their last Dwight steps in sync when they graduate in our virtual Commencement Exercises on June 3: Anish Bardhan, Annabella Civorelli, Joseph Demarest, Stephane Hatgis-Kessel, and Pablo Navarro.
Before their final trimester came to a close, we asked them a few questions, hoping to capture a glimpse of their unique interests and paths — and parallel Dwight educational journeys.
Here's what they had to say:
What is your spark of genius — and how has Dwight fostered it?
Anish: My spark of genius is leadership. Growing up, I have always been compelled to take action and be a leader amongst my peers. I hope to one day go into politics and try to make a difference within my community. Dwight has encouraged and provided me with opportunities to take action. From working with Mr. Spahn and fellow students on student-led projects, to taking on the role of student body President, Dwight has allowed me to develop leadership skills and helped nurture my interests in politics and activism other the years.
Bella: My spark of genius is performance. I find that I am most in my element when on a stage. Dwight has fostered this through the annual musical, Shakespeare Monologue Competition, and Carnegie Hall performances, which have given me once-in-a-lifetime opportunities. I played both Janet Van de Graff and Triz in last year’s production of The Drowsy Chaperone. In my freshman year, I played Beth in Little Women. Both roles were a blast because I enjoyed the unique bonding experience that musical theater offers. I also gained a very close mentor through the years, Mr. Christgau.
I started singing in sixth grade in Mr. Hamilton's choir, and began lessons as a freshman with the amazing Mary Thombs in Dwight’s Music Conservatory and have continued with her since. We found that I had both a liking and a voice for opera — and ran with it! This gave me the opportunity to perform in an octet as a sophomore in Carnegie Hall’s Stern Auditorium and as a soloist this year in Zankel Hall.
Joey: My spark of genius is my ability to work hard regardless of the circumstances, and to realize the rewards. In school as well as in athletics, including track and field and basketball, working hard allowed me to persevere, maintain my standard in all classes, and prioritize what was most important to me. My teachers throughout the years have ensured that the subjects are understood, and the teams became another family.
Stephane: My spark of genius is coding. I enjoy making things — especially things that have the ability to help others. Dwight's Spark Tank program provided funding and guidance for many of my endeavors, including building a prosthetic hand, hosting a Hackathon, and creating an app. The teachers at Dwight, especially Mr. Moran and Mr. Gragg always made themselves available after school to help with my projects.
Pablo: My spark of genius is leadership. During my time at Dwight, I have been a part of many clubs, such as the Student Tech Committee, where I was the General Secretary; and the Varsity Golf Team, where I was Captain for three years. These opportunities have allowed me to develop my leadership skills and prepared me to lead in the future as well.
What is your favorite memory or what have you enjoyed most about Dwight?
Anish: What I’ve enjoyed most about Dwight is the community. After 13 years, I know that many of the friends I’ve made here will be my friends for life. I think that having such a community at a school is truly priceless.
Bella: I have several great memories. I think my favorite experience was being the vocal soloist at Carnegie Hall this year. I also went on the Dwight School London choral trip in tenth and eleventh grades, which was fantastic. I have friends on the London campus with whom I still keep in contact. And I loved having a filibuster with Ryan in Ms. Waldron’s class to stall because neither of us was prepared to perform our monologues!
Joey: I have enjoyed the feeling of community that Dwight has created. Since Kindergarten, I have formed relationships that I hope will last forever. Also, I am grateful for the guidance that my teachers have provided in my classes, which has allowed me to produce my best work.
Stephane: I remember that I had the opportunity to present the projects I worked on in Middle School at Dwight's booth in the NYC Maker Faire. This was the first time showing my projects and both Mr. Moran and Mr. Farnsworth were very supportive. Their encouragement was a really positive experience. I have also enjoyed spending time with my friends over the years. I appreciate the friendships I have built with all my classmates.
Pablo: One of the things I have enjoyed the most about Dwight is the friendships I have created. While there are five people in the "13-year club," there are many more people who have been here for more than five years, which has allowed us to build a really tight-knit community.
What has changed the most over the years?
Anish: I think that Dwight’s integration of technology into the curriculum has changed the most. I remember being part of the test year for the addition of iPads in fifth grade. It was such a new experience back then. The use of technology is now a regular part of my everyday life. I feel this was a change for the better because not only does it improve the quality of our education, it helps to better prepare us for a future filled with new technology.
Bella: When I first came to Dwight, there were 12 students in our Kindergarten class, and the Quad wasn't finished being built yet! Also, the amount of opportunities to perform, travel, and interact with our other campuses has grown so much.
Joey: As an IB Diploma candidate, the amount of work has changed the most. With the expected increase in eleventh grade, teachers from the previous years structured classes, allowing me to prepare for the challenge and for the next level, college.
Stephane: I remember the Main Campus looking very different when I was in Lower School. Over the years, Dwight has also worked on fostering a technology-focused community, which I have been a part of.
Pablo: The campus has changed the most. I have witnessed Dwight's expansion with the addition of the Dwight Athletic Center, the Performing Arts Center, and the newly purchased brownstone. The administration has been continuously improving our campus for current and future generations.
What college will you be attending, what do you plan to study — and are your career goals?
Anish: Cornell University and I hope to major in policy analysis and management, so that I may pursue a career as a political advisor; hopefully, one day as the Senior Advisor to the President.
Bella: I will be attending Sarah Lawrence College! I’m interested in studying art conservation/ restoration and continuing my studies in operatic singing. I'd like to pursue both as a career.
Joey: I’ll be going to Skidmore College, and am thankful to my college guidance counselor as well as my teachers for facilitating my growth as a student and individual. I want to major in English. My Literature HL class has exposed me to various works that fueled my interest in analyzing texts. Majoring in English will also be a foundation for law school, as I want to become a sports lawyer. After realizing my yearly birthday wish of becoming a professional athlete would be impossible to accomplish, pursuing a career that joins two of my passions, law and sports, will be engaging.
Stephane: I will be entering the Turing Scholars Program at University of Texas Austin and plan to major in computer science. I am most interested in conducting research, so I hope to pursue a PhD.
Pablo: I will be attending New York University - Stern School of Business, where I will major in business and political economy with a concentration in finance. I hope to pursue a career in finance and eventually become an entrepreneur.
Thank you to all five students for sharing your personal passions, Dwight memories, and exciting plans for the future. We look forward to following your success in the years to come!