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Fifth-Grade Leadership Award Honors Impact of Chris Harper


Clockwise from top: Lower School counselor Lindsey Barnett leads a conversation about the Honor Code during the May 30 Tree Talk; Chris Harper poses with leadership award recipients Nyla Ward ’31 and Tim Schnydrig ’31; Harper reacts to the announcement of the award named in her honor.

Longtime Ravenscroft counselor and Lead From Here facilitator Chris Harper has been honored by Lower School leadership and the fifth-grade team with the creation of a new award in her name. The Dr. Chris Harper Citizen Leader Award recognizes two fifth-grade students who exemplify the traits of adaptability, collaboration, ethical behavior and inclusion that Harper has modeled throughout her tenure at Ravenscroft.

“This award enables the Lower School and fifth-grade team to honor students who exhibit key leadership qualities essential to our school community,” grade-level team leader Wes Brown said. “My colleagues and I felt a strong need to establish this award to recognize the leadership behaviors and mindsets our students display every day. These are important skills that students demonstrate while on campus but will serve them well as they thrive in our complex and interdependent world.”

Harper has been part of the Ravenscroft community since 1983. To scores of Lower Schoolers in recent years, she was the gentle voice and smiling face of their introduction to citizen leadership — making this award particularly meaningful.

“Chris Harper has been part of the fabric of our Lower School for decades. She has mentored countless students and faculty members as we built Lead From Here from the ground up,” Head of Lower School Jen Baccus said. “We can think of no better person to name this important award for than Chris.”

“I was surprised and am deeply touched by this gesture — and look forward to learning about future award recipients!” Harper said. 

The award was announced at the Lower School’s final Tree Talk of the school year on Thursday, May 30. Harper was present as fifth-graders Tim Schnydrig and Nyla Ward were recognized for their consistent modeling of the leadership competencies she has facilitated in various ways over the years. Congratulations, Tim and Nyla!  

Fifth-grade award recipients Blair Tayrose ’31, Nyla Ward ’31, Leah Goodrich ’31, Parker Tesh ’31 and Tim Schnydrig ’31

Another new award, the Fifth-Grade Scholar Award, was also presented at the Tree Talk. Congratulations to fifth-graders Leah Goodrich and Blair Tayrose, who were recognized for exhibiting excellence across all subject areas, displaying a strong commitment to academic integrity and a passion for learning, and embodying key attributes such as accountability, resilience and a growth mindset.

“We wanted to establish an award that acknowledges and celebrates the academic excellence that one or two of our students demonstrate in the fifth grade,” Brown said. “The students who were selected this year were at the top of their class academically. Just as important as their grades, these students demonstrated a strong moral compass and seriousness of purpose when they engaged in lessons and cocurricular activities while on campus.”

In addition, the recipient of this year’s Ione D. Pegram Scholarship was announced. The scholarship, created by the Pegram family in 2021 in memory of the longtime Middle School secretary, is given to a rising sixth-grader who exhibits grace, integrity and optimism in all that they do. (Similarly, the Ione D. Pegram Award recognizes two eighth-graders who embody these characteristics.) Congratulations to fifth-grader Parker Tesh for this recognition.

“We’re very proud of these students and of every one of our fifth-graders who have worked so hard this year to wrap up their time in Lower School,” Baccus concluded. “We are excited to see all of the amazing things that they accomplish in Middle School!”

Fifth-grade Ravens enjoy many opportunities to flex their growing citizen leadership competencies! Read reflections from four members of the Class of 2031 in the May 2024 Voices feature Fifth-Graders Lead in Safety Patrol, Library Ambassadors.