Academic News

Heather McGhee ’97 Named 2022 Graduation Speaker

This year’s Graduation speaker is Heather C. McGhee ’97. She is an author and public policy advocate who designs and promotes solutions to inequality in America. For nearly two decades, she helped build the policy organization Demos, serving four years as its president.

McGhee’s New York Times bestselling book, The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together, was long-listed for the National Book Award and the Carnegie Medal for Excellence.

She holds a B.A. in American Studies from Yale University, a J.D. from University of California at Berkeley School of Law, and has been awarded several honorary degrees. McGhee lives in Brooklyn with her husband, whom she met in Class III at Milton, and their three year-old son.

Graduation will be held the morning of June 10.


50th Alumni War Memorial Lecture

This year’s Alumni War Memorial Lecture will be delivered by Benjamin Crump, Esq., on Monday, May 16.

Listed amongst the Most Influential People of 2021 by TIME100, Ebony Magazine’s Power 100 Most Influential African Americans, The National Trial Lawyers Top 100 Lawyers, and named the 2014 NNPA Newsmaker of the Year, renowned civil rights and personal-injury attorney Benjamin Crump is often referred to as “Black America’s Attorney General.” Through his steadfast dedication to justice and service, Crump has established himself as one of the nation’s foremost lawyers and advocates for social justice, winning a number of record settlements and verdicts for victims and families that have faced injustice. He has worked on some of the most high-profile cases in the U.S., representing the families of Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, George Floyd, the residents of Flint, Michigan, who were affected by the poisoned water of the Flint River, as well as the family of Henrietta Lacks in a landmark reparations case. In 2021, St. Thomas University College of Law announced the Benjamin L. Crump Center for Social Justice in his honor, which will open doors for minority students pursuing law degrees. His 2019 book, Open Season: Legalized Genocide of Colored People, reflects on the landmark cases he has battled, and how discrimination in the courthouse devastates real families and communities. He is the founder and principal owner of Ben Crump Law.

Upper and Middle School students will attend the lecture, which will also be streamed as a webinar for our alumni and parent communities. Please use this link to register for the May 16 webinar. A recording of the lecture will be made available following the event.

The Alumni War Memorial Foundation was established in 1922 to honor those Milton Academy graduates who gave their lives in World War I. It was later expanded to honor graduates who died in World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. The Foundation supports lectures and events exploring the responsibilities and opportunities of leadership in a democracy and has invited to Milton prominent leaders in many fields.

Class I Students Start Senior Projects

The Senior Project period launched April 28, as members of the Class of 2022 embarked on internships, design-your-own (DYO) projects in various academic fields, explorations and hiking, and plans to create art and develop performances for the community.

In addition, faculty members are offering seniors the option of a Senior Seminar, where students attend sessions on campus and complete independent work on an array of subjects, said Academic Dean Heather Sugrue.

“The students are excited because it gives them more options,” she said. “And the faculty offering the seminars are excited because it’s an opportunity to focus on a particular area of interest, and the students are opting in.”

The Senior Seminar became an option last year as some students remained remote due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The subjects include historical archeology, storytelling in sports, non-European roots of mathematics, cooking as activism, exploring the American legal system, magic, field sketching and illustration in science, race and the war on drugs, intro to public health, and machine sewing. In addition, several arts teachers are offering seminars for students to continue their work in a particular area, such as painting, advanced jazz, and photography. This gives participants an opportunity to create a portfolio or project without requiring them to write a DYO proposal—and the seminars provide a forum for peer critique and visiting artists, Sugrue said.

Students working on full and half DYO projects—half projects allow them to continue in a class or take a seminar as well as their DYO—are engaged in a wide range of activities. These include preparing music recitals, filmmaking, podcasting, learning to tap dance, interning at law firms and with journalists, shadowing physicians, teaching English as a second language, assisting in the Lower School, and working with the Department of Equity, Inclusion, and Justice on programming, among many others.

There will be several opportunities for the community to see Senior Project performances toward the end of the school year; additionally, a website will be made available on which students can showcase their work, Sugrue said.

Science DYO Projects on Display in Pritzker

Students in advanced science classes last month presented their design-your-own projects as the Science Symposium returned to the Pritzker Science Center. 

Projects ranged from investigations into the physics behind musical instruments, to the effect of building materials on heat retention in an area, to genetic factors that may affect sleep patterns. 

“It was fantastic,” said Michael Edgar, acting chair of the Science Department. “Having students talk about their work—not in a formal presentation but to answer questions and have conversations about it—is what the symposium is all about.”

Several students who did physics projects brought their experiments to the symposium, an opportunity to demonstrate their work. Teachers Jim Kernohan and Shannon Copeland had worked on the physics of sound in their classes this year, and several students made their own instruments. Puck Doboe ’22 used frequency formulas to build instruments with open and closed columns (pan pipes and a recorder), and invited visitors to play.

With enough study, a physicist could create an entire orchestra based purely on mathematical ideals,” Doboe concluded.

Click here to view photos of the event.

In addition to the Science Symposium, the students contributed to a website that features their projects, which gives those who were unable to travel to Milton for the event an opportunity to peruse their work. 

Milton Speech and Debate Competitors Shine at State Championship

The speech and debate teams celebrated recent accolades at the Massachusetts Speech and Debate League’s (MSDL) State Championship, including a senior being named a speech state champion and a recognition for the overall speech team.

Talia Sherman ’22 captured the state championship in Dramatic Performance while the team received a third-place sweepstakes award, which measures the team’s overall success in comparison with other schools. Jack Burton ’22 was recognized for his creation and leadership of the MSDL Student Board, and was invited to give a speech, in which he acknowledged the league’s coaches for their work throughout the past two years of online competition.

In debate, four students competed in the category of Novice Public Forum and were highly successful, advancing into the elimination rounds as quarter- and semi-finalists.

Several Milton students will compete in national tournaments later this spring: Sherman, Tyler Tjan ’22, Elliot Smith ’22, Burton, Tamsin Connerly ’22, and Fernando Paiz ’23 will compete at  the National Speech and Debate Association Tournament in Louisville, Kentucky, in June. Paiz, Ella Goldberg ’24, Alexa Burton ’24, Jack Burton, Neha Modak ’22, Safina Abramova ’25, Tjan, Sherman, and Omar Hamoda ’24 will participate in the National Catholic Forensic League Grand Nationals in Washington, D.C., on Memorial Day weekend.

Milton’s full results from the MSDL State Championship are as follows:

Quarter-Finalists: Felicity Wong ’25 and Valerie Gu ’25
Semi-Finalists: Annaka Schmults ’25 and Chloe Li ’25

Play Reading
Alex Wilson ’23 (second place)
Callum Hegarty ’25 (honorable mention)
Fernando Paiz ’23 (honorable mention)

Original Oratory
Omar Hamoda ’24 (top novice)

Novice Oral Interpretation
Callum Hegarty ’25 (third place)

Extemporaneous Speaking
Elliot Smith ’22 (second place)
Tyler Tjan ’22 (third place)
Neha Modak ’22 (fourth place)

Duo Interpretation
Alexa Burton ’24 and Jack Burton ’22 (second place)

Diane Asiedu ’24 (second place)
Melvin Joseph ’24 (fourth place)

Dramatic Performance
Talia Sherman ’22 (state champion)
Jack Burton ’22 (third place)
Alexa Burton ’24 (sixth place)

Centre Connection

Centre Connection, Milton's online newsletter for parents, is published five times each year through the efforts of the Milton Academy Communication Office and Parents' Association volunteers.

Communication Office

Greg White
Marisa Donelan
Esten Perez
Sarah Abrams