Baccalaureate and Commencement Ceremonies Celebrate and Honor Class of 2019


 Montverde Academy is proud to announce that 223 seniors from 40 different countries graduated on Saturday, May 25. Students were celebrated and honored during the Baccalaureate and Commencement ceremonies hosted in Montverde Academy’s Center for Health and Sportsmanship which featured moving performances by Ben Gulley, award-winning operatic tenor and BMI songwriter/recording artist, Aubrey Connelly-Candelario, Upper School – Choir, Voctave, an a cappella group, and the Montverde Academy Advanced Strings Orchestra, before the packed audience of family and friends.


Students in the Class of 2019 earned academic scholarships totaling $13,342,944, and 43 of our student-athletes earned athletic scholarships totaling $4,976,106. Students are matriculating to schools such as Carnegie Mellon University, Cornell University, Dartmouth College, University of Florida, Vanderbilt University, Wharton School at the Wheaton College, and more.

Yanni “Varina” Zhang, President of the Honor Council and Camilo Moreno Vasquez, 2019 Senior Head Prefect, delivered messages of reflection on the senior year, sharing poignant memories. Varina encouraged her fellow graduates to “take the light Montverde Academy has sparked in us and go after our dreams. Go bright, go big and go Eagles!”



Mr. Warren Delmolino, Dean of the Middle School who retired after nearly 30 years of serving the MVA community, delivered the Homily. He talked about the many tools that one has in a toolbox to face the future as the graduates venture out into the world. Describing how to use basic tools such as a hammer, flashlight, wrench, and a mirror, he concluded his speech by encouraging students “…do the right thing, serve others. Be kind, be caring and be helpful. Do what you know is right. Make every day in your life count.”


Yuxuan “Daniel” Song, the salutatorian, welcomed guests to the Commencement ceremony and shared many of the memories he made during his time at Montverde Academy. Elizabeth Buzbee, the valedictorian, followed him, passionately daring her fellow graduates “. . . to hug as many people as possible. . . I dare you to go into this world and change it.”


Dr. Sidney A McPhee, President of Middle Tennessee State University, delivered the Commencement speech. Since joining MTSU in 2001, Dr. McPhee has enabled MTSU to become a leader in higher education in Tennessee, as well as nationally and internationally, with world-class programs that attract students from around the globe. Growing in both student numbers and facilities, MTSU has benefitted from nearly $1 billion in construction and renovation projects.

He encouraged students to continually strive for excellence in their education. “Go forward, show up and speak up. . . Strive to be a creator of opportunities for those who come behind you. It is important to make the most of these opportunities. You have what it takes to be successful. The world is there for you to conquer.”

Additional highlights included one senior, Mackenzie Woodward, recognized for being the only student in the Class of 2019 who had attended MVA for her entire school career, beginning in Pre-K3. Her parents each received the book, “The Kissing Hand,” by Barbara Bain, which was the first book students read in Pre-K3, with a note from Mackenzie to commemorate the milestone. Vanessa Mills was presented with the H.P. Carpenter Award; Brianna Bayer received the Dalton Monroe Award; Annabella Boardman was the recipient of the Roger R. Ross Headmaster’s Award, and Camilo Moreno Vasquez and Yanni Zhang were each awarded the Trustee’s Leadership Award. Mrs. Lori Treweek, Upper School psychology teacher, earned recognition as an MVA Master Teacher.

To conclude the program, alumnus joined seniors in the singing of the Alma Mater followed by the benediction that was presented by thirty-one students, each representing their native country, sharing the Benediction in their native language.