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Posted Thursday, Jul 31, 2014 

Academy is "wunderbar" for Ben Soder '15

In just 25 days, Ben Soder ’15 learned enough German to hold a meaningful conversation. When students return to Wilbraham & Monson Academy in August, he plans to do just that.

Ben, who previously had no experience with the German language, attended the Middlebury College Monterey Language Academy in Vermont June 21-July 16.

“The world is becoming more global so I figured it would be helpful if I learned a language,” Ben said.

“I’m amazed all that I got out of it in three-and-a-half weeks. I’m rated as a German Level 1 student, but I don’t know many people who have taken Level 1 courses who can function in their target country. I could probably get around in a German-speaking environment.”

The Language Academy required all of the students to take a Language Pledge, meaning attendees could speak solely in German for the entire camp, with the exception of two hours on Saturday nights. Anyone who broke the pledge was sent home.

The pledge made for a rough few days, with Ben relying on the German phrase “Was ist das,” meaning “What is that?” In the end, though, the strict language standard paid off, and Ben left knowing more German than he possibly could have imagined.

“I didn’t know what was going on for the first week,” said Ben, a highest honors student. “It was the worst week ever. I carried around a dictionary the whole entire time.

“But by the end of the first week, I was able to understand what was going on and put together small sentences. By the end of the second week I was able to have conversation at the breakfast, lunch and dinner tables. It was awesome to finally be able to talk to the people I had been living with for two weeks.”

And Ben plans to talk to incoming German students when they arrive on the Academy’s campus in late August.

“WMA is a wonderful resource to learn languages,” he said. “There are native German speakers who come to the school. I plan to meet them and practice my German with them.”

Ben plans to major in international relations or political science in college, and also minor in German, with hopes of doing a study abroad in Germany.


Posted Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 

Brian Popovich '15 wins Davison Prize

Brian Popovich ’15 was awarded the Davison Prize at Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s annual Prize Day Ceremony in May. The Davison Prize was created by George W. Davison, of the Wesleyan Class of 1888, in memory of his parents, Robert A. and Emiline Davison. It is awarded each year to the student who is to return to the Academy for the following year and who has shown in his or her school relationships a marked capacity for leadership, cooperation, and helpful influence in school life.

Brian was a remarkable soccer goalie, but after he sustained a serious concussion freshman year, he was unable to keep playing. However, he didn’t let that keep him from his love of sports. Brian has been the manager of Varsity Soccer, Varsity Wrestling, Varsity Lacrosse and Varsity Rugby.

Brian Easler, WMA’s Head of School, said, “Brian quickly becomes the heart and soul of any team, always ready with a helping hand, a positive attitude, a few words of encouragement, and a friendly smile.”

Brian’s involvement on campus is extensive, ranging from his consistent membership on the honor roll, student government, WorldQuest, Harvard Model United Nations, and nearly every student event that takes place on campus. Brian was also last year’s recipient of the Class of 1977 Humanitarian Award for understanding, concern for others, and love for Wilbraham & Monson Academy.

“He is the kind of influence on campus that is an inspiration and a positive example not only for students, but for adults as well,” said Mr. Easler, who also serves as Brian’s advisor. “He is an amazing student. I believe that the student body unanimously regards him as a leader. He is eternally optimistic, positive, and supportive of his classmates.”

“When I found out that I would be receiving the Davison Prize, I was shocked,” Brian said. “The junior class has so many people in it that deserve this award, and I felt so honored to have been distinguished. It was great to receive the award and watch the senior class graduate, and I can’t wait for my senior year at WMA.”


Posted Thursday, Jul 24, 2014 

Jessica Smith '14 earns Bllly Lak Prize

The Billy Lak Prize, which is awarded annually at Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Commencement, was given this year to Jessica Smith ’14. Established in 1976, the prize is awarded to the young man or woman of the graduating class intending to go on to further education who best typifies the personal characteristics of Billy Lak: selflessness in devotion to the Academy and perfection in devotion to duty.

Jessica attended the Academy since the sixth grade, and earned a spot on the honor or high honor roll nearly every trimester, with rigorous honors and AP courses. She participated in both athletics and theater, earning a Coaches Award and playing several leading roles. She was involved in running Wilbraham’s Relay for Life in the middle and upper school. Jessica was a student government representative in her sophomore and junior years, and volunteered consistently as an orientation leader, ninth grade transition mentor, a Gold Key tour guide, and recently the prom committee. She was awarded the Class of 1977 Humanitarian Award for understanding, concern for others, and love for WMA in her sophomore year, and she was awarded the Davison Prize for her capacity for leadership, cooperation, and helpful influence in school life in her junior year. Jessica was also selected as a Global Scholar last year. She will be attending New York University in the fall to study Marketing and Communications.

“It’s a big honor for me to win the Billy Lak Prize, especially after attending the Academy for seven years and living on campus,” Jessica said. “I truly feel like WMA is my home, and winning the award that is given to someone with the most spirit and dedication to WMA was amazing. I was really proud because I feel that I gave my heart and soul to this school, and it gave me everything back. I never would have gotten into my dream school without WMA, and receiving this award was icing on the cake.”

Head of School Brian Easler added, “She has a kind heart, a genuine personality, an honest disposition, and a respectful approach to anyone with whom she interacts. She continually impressed me with her poise and outlook. I’ve heard many members of the faculty and staff proclaim she is always willing to help, no matter the time, place, purpose, or task. She is always the first to volunteer or lend a hand, even on an impromptu trip through the Amazon jungle with nothing but a compass.”


Posted Wednesday, Jul 23, 2014 

Matt Naumec '15 qualifies for U.S. Amateur Championship

Matt Naumec ’15 came to Wilbraham & Monson Academy with a reputation as one of the best junior golfers in the country.

This summer, he proved it.

Matt placed second at a U.S. Amateur qualifying event at Torrington Country Club in Goshen, Conn., July 22. This qualified him for the 114th U.S. Amateur Championship, which is the highest level of non-professional golf in the world.

“Entering the tournament in Connecticut, I knew if I played my game I would have a shot at the U.S. Amateur,” Matt said. “But when I qualified I was still shocked because it’s the biggest amateur tournament in the world. Not many people at the age of 17 or going into their senior year of high school can say they qualified for the U.S. Amateur.

“I was really relieved because all of my hard work paid off.”

Connecticut’s qualifier drew players from throughout the country. Any non-professional with a handicap better than a 2.4 could enter.

In a field of 80 players, sporting his WMA golf bag, Matt shot a 3-under par 69 for his first round to put him in second place. He answered with a second round of par 72, making him only one of two players to finish the 36 holes under par.

“Going into the Connecticut tournament I knew I could shoot a good number, so when I got a 69 it felt good to go low,” Matt said. “But I wanted to shoot a good number for the second round because it could be won or lost there.

“When I came in from the second round I knew I had a good number. I thought it was good enough but I just had to wait.”

Matt waited a little more than an hour for all of the golfers’ scores to be recorded before he learned he had earned one of the two berths at the U.S. Amateur. More than 6,800 golfers competed in 97 qualifying events this summer vying for the 312 slots at the U.S. Amateur, which will be held at the Atlanta Athletic Club in Johns Creek, Ga., Aug. 11-17.

“It’s an honor to qualify for this,” Matt said. “I’m just trying to make the cut. I’m going for the experience, and if I make the cut I make the cut.”

WMA’s Jack Dowding ’15 served as Matt’s caddy.

“Having one of my best friends on the bag was great,” Matt said. “Jack kept me calm. He helped me select clubs and read putts. He was a good caddy. It was awesome having him on the bag.”


Posted Tuesday, Jul 22, 2014 

Katelyn Mercer '15 pitches club team to silver medal

Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Katelyn Mercer ’15 must have one of the most durable pitching arms in New England.

Katelyn pitched in five games in two days, helping her Southington Lightning Softball team to a silver medal at the Nutmeg Games in Connecticut July 19-20. The right-hander went 4-1 in the circle for her team.

“I thought I did alright,” Katelyn said. “On Saturday I didn’t do as well as I usually do, but on Sunday I came back and pitched well.”

Katelyn’s team played three games one day and three more the next. The tournament drew eight teams from throughout Connecticut.

“It was exciting,” said Katelyn, who also batted fifth in Southington’s lineup. “The team we lost to, we beat on Saturday. We knew we could have beaten them in the final but we were tired and missing a few players.

“It was a lot of fun. My team plays tournaments every weekend and they all feel the same, but this was a big Connecticut tournament. It was good competition.”


Posted Tuesday, Jul 22, 2014 

Carly Venditti '16 wins national softball tournament

Wilbraham & Monson Academy's Carly Venditti ’16 played in the biggest softball tournament of her career this summer, and she sure made the most of it.

Carly helped the Connecticut Titans win the 18-and-under division at the World Fastpitch Connection Summer National Tournament in North Myrtle Beach, S.C., July 14-19. The event included teams from Ohio, Pennsylvania, Virginia and Tennessee.

“It was crazy,” Carly said. “There were tons of divisions. There were girls in the 8-and-under division who were amazing.”

Carly and her team were amazing, too. The Titans went 3-1 in pool play to advance to the double-elimination round of the tournament, where they beat a team from Pennsylvania in the final. Carly pitched in four of the team’s nine games, and also played third base.

“The competition was really tough,” Carly said. “Going into the double-elimination tournament we thought there were three teams that we thought could win it: us, a team from Pennsylvania and a team from Tennessee.

“I think I played pretty well. My hitting could have been better, but I felt like I played a solid third base.”

Carly and her teammates received trophies and rings for winning the championship.

Posted Monday, Jul 21, 2014 

Cousins Nicole and Katie Cronin win soccer gold at Bay State Games

There's something special about spending time with cousins, regardless of the venue or situation.

Cousins Nicole '15 and Katie Cronin '17 of Wilbraham & Monson Academy sure enjoyed their time with each other in July, giving themselves and their families a special lifetime memory.

Nicole and Katie helped the West soccer team to a gold medal at the 2014 Bay State Games, rallying the team to a 2-1 victory in double overtime against defending champion Central at the Veterans Memorial Athletic Complex in Waltham July 20.

"Playing with Katie was really fun," Nicole said. "On and off the field, we get along really well. This is my last year I'll be playing with her so it's good to play with her as much as possible, and winning the gold with her was really fun."

"It was great," Katie added. "The only other time we play soccer together is at Wilbraham & Monson, so it was great to spend more time with her."

Nicole and Katie were key figures in the West's run to the gold medal. Katie, who played predominantly forward but also saw time at midfield and defense, recorded four goals and four assists in six games. Nicole, meanwhile, proved to be the team's most reliable defender, starting every game at center back and playing every minute of overtime in the championship.

"Katie played really well," Nicole said. "The game before the final, we had to tie or win. We were down two goals and she came back and scored both of our goals to tie the game and put us in the final."

"Nicole played really well," Katie explained. "She was definitely our strongest defender. She shut everyone down."

The victory was particularly sweet for Nicole, who played on the 2013 team that lost in the final to Central on penalty kicks. The West also fell to Central 2-1 in the first game of this summer's tournament.

"Winning the gold was obviously better than winning silver," Nicole said. "The team worked really well together."

Posted Monday, Jul 21, 2014 

Megan Wells '16 wins medal at Bay State Games

For the second year in a row, Wilbraham & Monson Academy’s Megan Wells ’16 helped the West field hockey team to a medal at the Bay State Games.

After earning a silver medal in 2013, Megan and the West took home the bronze this summer, beating Coastal 2-0 July 20 at Veterans Memorial Athletic Complex in Waltham.

“We tied Coastal 1-1 earlier in the tournament,” explained Megan, a goalie. “But that was on the first day of games and we got a lot better as the tournament went on.”

Megan made five saves in the medal game against Coastal. She also posted a shutout in a 4-0 victory over Metro/Northeast July 19.

“It was a great experience,” Megan said. “Last year was my first year at Bay State Games. I really didn’t know what to expect. I was much more comfortable this year.”


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