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Seniors on the Move, Moving On
Sara Courtney

As graduation approaches, we check in with a handful of seniors before they head out into the world, in this shortened version of our series, Seniors On the Move, which was intended to be a look back and a look ahead, while capturing a moment in time.

What will tomorrow bring? And who has time to think about yesterday?

Moving right along...

Greta Pew is heading off to Williams College in Massachusetts where she plans to study Economics and Psychology and play on the women’s soccer team. While at Pingry, Greta has played Varsity Girls Soccer since her freshman year. Greta reflects on her favorite childhood memories:

“My most memorable memories come from the days my mom and grandma Peggy (whom I’m named after) would surprise me by picking me up and taking me to the MET. I always missed these days with my mom and grandma as I grew older and couldn’t miss school. I also cherished these moments to be able to experience museums at such a young age. My grandma Peggy always loved museums and it is something that always reminds me of her and her love for art and history.

 

Mark Mason will be attending the University of Southern California in the fall, majoring in Psychology and Gerontology, where he will “study the mind and how to prolong life as I follow a path to becoming a clinical therapist.” Mark intends to join the Black Student Union and D-Society, which focuses on “uniting Black students from different schools across the country.” While at Pingry, Mark played Varsity Football, competed on Varsity Track all four years, where he was captain his senior year. In addition to being a peer leader and an active member of the Black Student Union, SDLC, and Black Affinity, he was heavily involved in the arts, acting in Pingry’s production of Urinetown and singing in the Buttondowns.

As he considers the future, Mark shares his reflections on yesterday:

“One of my favorite childhood memories and my favorite day as a senior are combined. When I was in kindergarten through 5th grade at the Lower School the day of Friday Night Lights every year, the seniors would come down to the Lower School to greet the elementary schoolers as they walked into school. As a kid, I always dreamt of the day I'd be able to do the same, and when that day came for me I could not have been more excited. As I stood there getting high fives from all the kids and seeing the bright smiles on their faces, and their fun backpacks and crazy hats (it was crazy hat day) I was overjoyed and sincerely warmed in my heart. I felt accomplished for having made it this far and excited for the future of Pingry Football.

Throughout my time at Pingry, I've always had the goal of being remembered as someone who deeply cared for others, and wanted to inspire and create change. I've worked so diligently the past 4 years to break down barriers in the highschool related to anything, race, age, interests, etc. and I truly believed that along with the help from friends, family, and trusted faculty, that I have made the impact I have been looking to make my whole life. I also want to be remembered as a loving and caring person, a person who has always and will always want to see those I care about succeed. It is so incredibly important for everyone to have some sort of support system, and throughout my time here, I have tried so hard to be that for as many people as possible. 

In my opinion, college is a time for me to figure who I am, and who I want to be. While I can confidently say that high school has allowed me to truly discover a lot about myself, I would say that college is a time for me to break down the limiting boundaries that come with the lack of freedom being a teenager can provide. I am ready to step out into the real world, and create not only a life for myself, but a name for myself. One thing that will always stay the same about me is my urge to help people. As I begin my journey to becoming a clinical therapist, I plan to look into ethnic and class based disparities and how I can work to break them down. I want to work for people of all different backgrounds, but especially those from under-supported communities.”

 

Sophia Odunsi is heading off to the University of Southern California where she plans to major in Biological Sciences on their Pre-Med track. Her time at Pingry was busy, as she was President of the FYI Sci Club, and co-leader of the Black Affinity Group, Black Student Union, and Girls Affinity Group. She also participated in Varsity fencing for three years as an epee fencer, and found the time to participate in the fall plays during her freshman, junior, and senior years.

Sophia thinks back to her favorite day this past year, and how she hopes to be remembered:

“My favorite day as a senior was the closing night of this year's fall production of Wendy and Peter Pan. Although it was a night filled with tears of goodbye, I reflected on how proud I was to have been a member of a close and kind community at Pingry. It was inspiring to see our progress from opening to closing night; additionally, I liked seeing how I had changed from my first day and first audition at Pingry to my last day on the Macrae stage. The dinner/party that followed was the perfect culmination of my time with the Pingry Drama Department and set the tone of excitement for the remainder of senior year.

Finally, I want to leave Pingry, remembered as someone highly motivated and driven. I want people to remember my bright smile and willingness to help. I also hope to be a missed community member, especially by my underclassmen friends. I am grateful for my time at Pingry and hope I made an indelible, positive mark on the community.”

 

Alan Zhong is looking forward to attending Yale University in the fall, where he is considering a Computing and Linguistics major and hopes to write for one of their many esteemed publications, and possibly try out an a cappella group. During his time at Pingry, Alan participated in Robotics, Math Club, Student Tech Committee, IRT, HIRT, Tennis, and Cross Country.

Alan is excited for whatever the future may hold:

“Having spent the past 9 years in the Pingry 'bubble,' I've realized that my experiences to this point—as valuable as they are—aren't representative of the real world. I'm hopeful that in college and beyond, I'll have the chance to meet new people, learn about new things, and discover new experiences that'll help me understand more about the world and my place in it.”

 

Annabelle Mahoney will be playing women’s lacrosse and studying Economics at Northwestern University next year. Since arriving at Pingry in her sophomore year, she has played Varsity Lacrosse for three years, participated in ski racing, and ran the club Morgan’s Message.

What does tomorrow bring? Annabelle can’t wait to find out:

“I am most excited to continue playing the sport I love as well as forming new friendships and I am excited to use everything Pingry has taught me to help me succeed in both college and my future after that.”

 

Ali Santana was heavily involved in all facets of the Pingry community. As a leader of the Latinx Affinity Group, the MEND Club, as well as the Humans of Pingry Club, she also participated in the American Modernism HIRT, was a tour guide, and played field hockey for four years. Next year she can be found at Davidson College, where she’ll be studying Communications and Spanish.

“I have been at Pingry since kindergarten and I have loved every moment of it. However, when applying to colleges, I was most excited when envisioning myself in a completely new and different environment. Moving South will definitely be a change of pace, but I'll be bringing parts of Pingry with me. I choose a small liberal arts college in order to keep the Pingry feel, while taking on a whole new challenge. I also plan to go abroad for at least a semester and if not more, which is all a part of my excitement for discovering the unknown and experiencing things I'm not necessarily used to.” 

 

Evan Xie is on his way to Princeton University, where he plans to study mathematics, engage in undergraduate research, join an entrepreneurship club, and play club ice hockey. There’s no surprise there, because while at Pingry, Evan was the leader of the Math Team, Editor in Chief of the Pingry Community Research Journal, Senior Editor for The Pingry Record, and was a member of the SmartHeart IRT team, all the while competing on the Varsity Ice Hockey team all four years, and being a captain during his senior year.

Before he bounds off for bigger things, Evan considers what made his time at Pingry so special—and how he hopes to be remembered here.

“During my four years at Pingry, there have been many community members who went out of their way to support me: upperclassmen who made me feel at home on campus, teachers who nurtured my intellectual passions, and coaches who helped me rediscover my love for my sport. These individuals have undoubtedly been the most special part of my high school experience. They've shaped much of who I've grown to become—and for that, I'll be forever grateful. Inspired by their impact on me, I've always tried to be a welcoming and supportive community member, especially toward younger peers. So, I hope to be remembered as a friend, classmate, and teammate that others could comfortably look to for advice or encouragement.”

 

Ally Smith is thrilled to be attending Indiana University in the fall, where she is enrolled in the Kelley School of Business. During her time at Pingry, she served on the Honor Board, served on student government, and represented Pingry as a Model United Nations delegate. She enjoyed participating on the field hockey and lacrosse teams, and looks back fondly on the preseason training trip to the Netherlands, and notes it was “arguably my favorite week in my four years at Pingry.”

Ally has her sights set firmly on the future, yet she was happy to share a glimpse into her favorite childhood memory:

“My most memorable childhood moments come from my annual camping trips with my dad and two siblings. We stayed at a campsite near a historic theme park and began each morning with chocolate chip pancakes and scrambled eggs cooked on our portable stove before heading to the rides (maybe not the wisest pre-rollercoaster breakfast.)  These trips were especially fun if we visited in October and admired the homemade Halloween decorations during our nightly bike rides around the campsite. I still joke with my siblings about how tightly we held each other while singing happy songs to distract ourselves from the terrors of the infamous haunted house ride. As an adrenaline chaser, I love each ride's characterizing loops and drops. I only have fond and clear memories of the laughter associated with these weekend getaways, and I hope to one day take my kids to Knoebels in Elysburg, Pennsylvania.”

 

Verna Mae Lange is looking forward to majoring in Chemical Engineering at Yale College, where she will continue to be active in the dramatic arts, club volleyball, and ice hockey. She is particularly interested in getting involved with the Buckley Center, an independent organization dedicated to free speech.

When it comes to her favorite day at Pingry, she recalls one special night:

“My favorite memory as a senior was the night we camped on Parsons Field. I spent the whole time candidly speaking with classmates who I’d spoken to, but never really befriended. We all sat together, playing old music, feeling the breeze, sharing our memories and our hopes for the future. I will always cherish those moments under the stars.”

 

Graham Stevens is gearing up to play lacrosse at Harvard next year, and looks forward to exploring and discovering the right major for him. While at Pingry, he participated in lacrosse and basketball, as well as a wide range of clubs, including Lacrosse the Nations, Finance Club, Student Movement Against Cancer, and more.

Graham takes a look back, and shares what has stood out so far—and what he can't wait to discover:

“I have a lot of great memories during my childhood. But I would say, learning how to ride a bike for the first time was something that was really memorable. It was always something that seemed so daunting yet challenging and I could never quite learn. Eventually it clicked and it felt like I gained so much more freedom in the world. It's a similar feeling to when I first started driving a car.

It's really hard to pick one singular day, but the very first day of lacrosse season was extremely exciting. My friends and I were just so excited to finally get to practice and the entire day we were just talking about it. I remember I had all my favorite classes with my favorite teachers so the day flew by and I just had so much excitement the entire day.

I wanted to be remembered at Pingry as someone who was involved in all facets of the school. I want to remember that I was always there for them and that I was active in athletics, clubs, community events, and in the classroom. Pingry gave me so many oppurtunities and I want people to think that I took advantage of them all.

I'm very excited to meet even more people and learn from everyone else around me. I'm excited to explore opportunities academically because I still don't really know what I want to do for school and I'm just excited to be a part of a new community.” 

 

Julia Eng is looking forward to studying English and Art History at Columbia University next fall. During her time at Pingry, she was a big part of The Pingry Record and Calliope, and was heavily involved in the American Modernist Humanities Independent Research Team (HIRT), where they read and analyzed Faulkner, Nietzsche, and more.

Julia can’t wait for tomorrow to come:

“I'm definitely most excited to meet new people. As much as I love all of the friends over the past thirteen years, I'm ready to see what lies beyond.”

 

Leon Zhou is heading to Brown University next year, where he hopes to major in Molecular Biology. He is excited to join their Outing Club and explore other environmental groups. While at Pingry, he was a leader of the Asian Student Union, a member of the Varsity Squash Team, Head Copy Editor for the Pingry Community Research Journal, and the leader for the Fluorescent Fish Independent Research Team. 

When it comes to his time at Pingry, Leon is thoughtful about it all:

“I hope that people will remember how dedicated I am to things that I'm passionate about and how I was always willing to help others. At the same time, I also hope that people see that I've always tried to grow and improve throughout my four years at Pingry.

My favorite day as a senior was probably one of the days I spent in Lyon, France during spring break as part of Pingry's French Exchange. Every day on that trip was really awesome, but my favorite was when I visited the town of Chamonix with my host family and got to see Mont Blanc and the Alps in person for the first time. There's a cable car lift which takes you up to the peak of a nearby mountain, and it's so surreal and beautiful to be above the clouds and just see snow-capped peaks stretching in every direction for miles and miles.

I'm really excited to meet new people and get new experiences, as well as deepen my current hobbies and interests like hiking or cooking and discover new ones as well. I'm particularly excited to continue exploring and discovering everything the world has to offer and, as my Physics teacher Mr. Coe so eloquently put it, build a life worth living.”

 

Delaney Swain kept active during her time at Pingry, playing softball, soccer, fencing, and basketball, in addition to the many clubs she participated in, such as Clay Club, Handbells, and Covenant House. Next year, she will be studying Psychology and Studio Arts at Skidmore, and, of course, playing softball for the school.

Delaney hopes that made an impact on her peers, and she looks forward to what tomorrow may bring:

“I hope to be remembered at Pingry and in the broader world as someone who gave more than I took from my community. I hope that people remember me as a good friend, a good student, and overall a good person. I hope that in 10, or 20, or 30 years, if someone from Pingry hears my name, more of their memories of me are of moments we shared together and the way I treated people, rather than individual accomplishments I may have achieved. And most of all, I hope that I've had an impact on the Pingry community and been able to leave it better than when I came in 4 years ago, even in the smallest of ways.

While I'm going to miss Pingry and high school in general (I've never really been someone who enjoys growing up), I'm really excited for my next chapter with new beginnings, new experiences, and new people. I definitely have some ideas for what I want to do beyond college, but I'm really excited to have the time to explore those options and figure out where my future is going to take me. And of course, I'm also super excited and grateful to have the opportunity to continue playing softball for four more years.”

 

McKenna Dwyer is on her way to playing lacrosse for Williams College next fall, where she is bound to make a huge impact on the team—and the school. When she looks back on the last few years, something special stands out:

“My most memorable childhood moment would probably be playing on a sports team with my younger sister Morgan, specifically Field Hockey. Morgan played up so we could play together, and my mom was our coach. I look back and remember all the fun drills and games we played not only as sisters but also as teammates.”

 

Michael Hollomon has a bright future ahead of him, and his presence on campus—and especially the football team—will be felt for a long time. Pingry Football Head Coach Joe Passaro believes Michael is, in many ways, irreplaceable:

“Michael Hollomon was a 2 year captain and leader for the Pingry football program. His leadership and work ethic will sorely be missed. He has left an amazing legacy for our young players to live up to. Michael has been the epitome of what a high school quarterback and student athlete should be.”

 

Ngozi Nnaeto can be found next year on the campus of Northeastern University, where she is bound to bring her witty humor, knowing smile, and determination to all she does. Girls Basketball Coach and Form III/IV Dean of Student Life Rob Hoepfl, who coached Ngozi during her time at Pingry, has no doubt her future is bright:

“Ngozi is a special kid. She cares about the people in her life and listens to the feedback she receives and how to improve. Her growth as a person and athlete these past four years is tremendous. Her confidence has blossomed from her freshman year until now. This growth stems from her willingness to face challenges head on and not get discouraged when she doesn't get the results she wants the first time and also from her willingness to put in work when no one is watching. When you combine her work ethic, willingness to take feedback and apply it, and how much she cares about people in her life, I know that she will be successful going forward in college and beyond.”

 

Charlie Sherman will be heading to Lehigh University after graduation, where he will continue his lacrosse career in college. During his time here at Pingry, whether on the lacrosse field or out on the ice hockey rink, Charlie has given it his all. Varsity Boys Lacrosse Coach Michael Webster knows that he has the grit and work ethic to achieve whatever he sets his sights on:

“Charlie is a great player who works hard to do his best in every drill and every practice. He holds himself accountable to be his best and encourages others to do the same. Charlie knows that there is a price to pay for success and that price is consistency and intensity in his practice.”

 

Matt Lombardo is on his way. First stop, the University of Richmond, where he plans to study Finance. Matt is a ubiquitous presence on Pingry’s campus, serving as President of Blue Key, the student ambassador group, as well as the Vice President of SAC. He raced on the Pingry Ski team for four years, serving as a captain during his junior and senior years, and managed the Boys Varsity Soccer team this past fall. Matt is already looking ahead, saying “Although I will miss Pingry, I am excited about college because it offers new perspectives and a chance to pursue an area of interest that will eventually lead to a career.”

When it comes to the idea of Matt Lombardo not being on a Pingry campus anymore, Director of Strategic Communications and Marketing Emily Cooke expresses what pretty much everyone is feeling:

“Matt's legacy at Pingry is so much more than getting Peter Millar in the bookstore. As the unofficial Chief Student Consultant to the Office of Institutional Advancement, Matt enabled our departments to do our best work because he has an opinion on everything -- and we trust it. His visits to the OIA office always came with a healthy dose of laughter and when he left our days were always brighter. Next year won't be the same without him.”

 

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To contact the author: Sara Courtney, Communications Writer