Category: Academics

Hua, LaChance, Jackson Named Commended Students

Head of School Steve Griffin of The MacDuffie School announced today that Ian Hua, Madeleine LaChance, and Alison Jackson have been named Commended Students in the 2020 National Merit Scholarship Program. A Letter of Commendation from the school and National Merit Scholarship Corporation (NMSC), which conducts the program was presented by the Head of School to these scholastically talented seniors.


About 34,000 Commended Students throughout the nation are being recognized for their exceptional academic promise. Although they will not continue in the 2020 competition for National Merit Scholarship awards, Commended Students placed among the top 50,000 scorers of more than 1.5 million students who entered the 2020 competition by taking the 2018 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT). 


“Those being named Commended Students have demonstrated outstanding potential for academic success,” commented a spokesperson for NMSC. “These students represent a valuable national resource; recognizing their accomplishments, as well as the key role their schools play in their academic development, is vital to the advancement of educational excellence in our nation. We hope that this recognition will help broaden their educational opportunities and encourage them as they continue their pursuit of academic success.”


Trash is a Treasure for Learning

Tuesday, October 22, middle schoolers took a very “gloves-on” approach to their studies. Students spent time exploring one of archaeology’s greatest treasures: the trash! A lot can be learned about a civilization by analyzing its waste, and the MacDuffie community is no exception. With an understanding of stratigraphy, students could assess which items were thrown away more recently than others and they used their supreme sleuthing skills to identify where each bag of trash had come from. It was a very smelly and informative adventure!

The English Department Offers: “From Shakespeare to Harry Potter”

This eight-day trip, scheduled during our 2020 March break, is open to MacDuffie students, staff, alumni, and their friends and families. For more information, email Tour Leader Carol Tomkiel at:, or call CHA Tours at: 1-800-323-4466. Enroll by our deadline, October 31, 2019 to receive $100 off the cost. (Online enrollment is fast and easy; our access code is 2019S00720.) This is a great opportunity for reunions, new friendships, and new connections!

MacDuffie School Sends Three Students On Ivy League Path

The MacDuffie School will see three local students tackle Ivy League education in the fall of 2019. The three young women, Nicolette Peterson, Aurora Basnet, and Yunxia Hallowell will set foot on the college path at some of the top-ranked Ivy League schools on the East coast. It is an impressive representation among a senior class of only 75 learners.

Peterson, a native of Granby, Mass. will go to the University of Pennsylvania.

“I’m planning on majoring in cognitive science and studying pre-med at Penn. I’m very excited, but I’m definitely a little nervous too. I’ll be living in the middle of Philadelphia, which is a very different environment than Granby where I’ve grown up. I’ll miss all of the incredible friends and teachers that I’ve been able to spend the past six years with. Also, I’ll definitely miss making it rain with Mr. Vennell,” said Peterson, referring to an activity led by Mr. Vennell during assembly where the entire student body layers sounds of snapping, shuffling feet, and rubbing hands to simulate the sound of a thunderstorm.

Basnet, also from Granby, will pursue a degree at Cornell in global and public health sciences on a pre-med path.

“Becoming a Cornell student is one of my wildest dreams manifesting. At Cornell, I am incredibly excited to delve further into my passions for public health practice and policy. However, despite all the excitement I have for my future, I will terribly miss the MacDuffie community that has molded me into who I am today. After all, although I am becoming a Cornellian, I will forever be a Mustang,” said Basnet.

Yunxia Hallowell, who hails from Springfield, Mass. will join the Princeton ranks this fall.

“I’m so excited to have the opportunity to be a student at Princeton, and I’m so grateful to my family, my mentors, and everyone else who helped me through the college process. I’m especially thankful to my teachers, whether they dealt with me for one semester or six years; I’ll miss my MacDuffie teachers next year,” said Hallowell, “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to do impactful work with my professors,” she said.

Hallowell is currently undecided on a major but says she is thinking about majoring in the Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International affairs.

“I am very proud of all of our students, but want to commend these three young women in particular for their accomplishments.  The Ivy League schools are looking for a special kind of student, who wishes to make a lasting impact in the world. These three students meet that standard and more!” said Head of School Steve Griffin.

Students at The MacDuffie School represent 25 different countries, bringing with them a diversity of experience to a shared corner of the globe in Granby, Mass.

This article was featured in The Sentinel on July 25, 2019.

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Commencement 2019

Farewell to the class of 2019! MacDuffie celebrated its commencement ceremony with song, speeches, and cheers at Abbey Chapel, which sent 77 graduates from 15 countries to their future endeavors.

“[MacDuffie] taught us that we are valuable members of society and that our voices deserve to be heard,” Student Body President Talia Wiesel said, encouraging her classmates to use their voices and the tools for success learned at MacDuffie as they go forth in the world.

“I have so much respect for everyone here today. All of the amazing graduates, and all of the faculty, family, and friends that have helped us to get to this point,” Head Duty Prefect Olivia Ramirez-Weissbach said. She invoked MacDuffie’s CIRCLE values of community, integrity, respect, creativity, leadership, and excellence in her speech.

English Department Chairperson Carol Tomkiel, chosen to be this year’s faculty commencement speaker, told the graduates she hopes they will “hear the call to your own authentic life.”

Along their future journeys, Tomkiel urged graduates to make and keep true friends, “someone that can see the jewel down inside of you.”

(Photos courtesy of Grynn and Barrett)