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Webb Celebrates the Class of 2023

The Webb School’s 70 seniors graduated during the 153rd commencement ceremony on May 27, 2023. Family and friends joined faculty and staff in honoring the class. Katherine Foutch Layman, a 2003 Webb graduate, was the guest speaker.

Graduation was preceded by Baccalaureate with speaker, Adam Feldbruegge, former Webb science teacher, coach for multiple sports, residential life staff member, and during his final year, science department chair.

(From left to right) James I. Vance Berry ’72, Chairman of the Board of Trustees; Ken Cheeseman, Head of School; Adam Feldbruegge, former Webb science teacher

Head of School Ken Cheeseman welcomed those attending commencement and congratulated the graduates. Recognizing the parents, he added, “As your child’s head of school, I am very grateful to you and for you. You have given us a gift by allowing us to know, love, teach, coach, advise, and mentor your children. We are particularly grateful to you for your support and confidence in us as we led your children and you through some very trying times the last three years. We could not be here having achieved as much as we have without your support, so thank you. Having spoken recently to many of your children about you, I know they are thankful for the opportunity that you have given to them.”

The head of school also introduced James I. Vance Berry ’72, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and other trustees in the audience, Evan Cope ’94 and Webb Follin III ’73.

Addressing the Class of 2023, Cheeseman said, “You are a medley of talents, skills, passions, and paths forward. We celebrate your accomplishments, are grateful for the journey we shared with you, and have great hope for your future. As you have worked hard to reach your academic goals, and you have been leaders in the classrooms, on the courts, and on the stage, we recognize a few individual highlights.”

The College Board's National Merit Program recognized Abigail HaganDavid TranBailey Brock, Carley Byford, Kenneth HouAlisyn Parfait, Beatrix Shealy, Nataja SivaCarter SubletteIrelyn Weaver, and Hayuan Zhong. Abigail Hagan and David Tran each received National Merit Recognition as Commended Scholars.

In addition, the following students are AP Scholars, meaning that they achieved AP scores of 3 or greater on 3 or more AP exams:  Bailey Brock, Alisyn ParfaitCarter Sublette and Hanyuan (Jack) Zhong. Students with an AP score an average of 3.25 or higher on 4 or more AP exams are considered AP Scholars with Honor. Recognized were Abby HaganVictor Shen, and Ruoyan “Daisy” Wang.

“In the arts, we enjoyed a beautiful year; the fall production of ‘Harvey’ delivered in the Black Box theater was outstanding, as well as the spring performance of ‘Radium Girls’ in the Follin Chapel,” Cheeseman said. The fall and spring string concerts were tremendous; the coffee house and Springfest showed both light-heartedness and creativity from many of you that was a gift to many of us. Thank you for showering our school community with your artistic gifts. 

2023 Commencement Speaker

Katherine Foutch Layman '03

Cheeseman introduced the guest speaker saying, “Mrs. Layman is a 2003 graduate of The Webb School. She earned a B.S. from Vanderbilt University, and a J. D. from the University of Kentucky. She serves as a corporate attorney in Murfreesboro. In her free time, she continues to live out the Enduring Understandings at Webb by serving her local community. Currently, she volunteers with the Charity Circle of Murfreesboro, Murfreesboro City Schools Foundation Board, The Webb School Alumni Board, Junior League of Murfreesboro, and serves as a Saint Thomas Ascension Ambassador.”

“You did it,” Layman said. “You survived declamations and your senior symposium. You signed your word of Honor to the Honor Pledge. You have earned your senior blazers (that I see many wearing now). You have survived final exams. You have returned from Senior Survival,” Layman said. “Here you are on graduation day, and I am thrilled to congratulate you. These traditions knit our community together, and you are now officially graduates of this great school.”

Noting that the class experienced the challenges of the pandemic, she said, “It took a lot of ingenuity, grit, and resilience for you to cross the finish line today. Sawney Webb did not endure COVID. Sawney Webb didn’t Zoom or wear a mask. How do we reconcile The Webb School graduates of 2023 view of the school with Sawney Webb’s view of Webb School? I think that we go back to the basics of Sawney Webb’s teachings that have endured for 153 years.

“First, Sawney Webb sought ‘to turn out young people who are tireless workers and who know how to work effectively.’ As you all embark on your college life, the operative word to remember from this quote is ‘effectively.’ As you study, it isn’t enough to just say that you studied to get the A – you must study ‘effectively’ to achieve great results.

“Second, Sawney Webb focused on ‘accurate scholars.’ Know your facts in conversations – be accurate. Learn to try to parse out the facts and truth for yourself in this world of constant information.

"Third, Sawney Webb emphasized turning out students ‘Who know the finer points of morals and practice them in their daily living.’ There is nothing more important than your integrity. The Webb School instills this point with all its graduates … In college and in life, you want to be known as person of integrity, … a person who can be depended on to do the right thing.

"Finally, Sawney Webb wanted to develop students ‘who are always courteous.’ Kindness costs nothing and is greatly remembered by those who receive your kindness.”

Layman closed saying, “While you attended Webb during truly unprecedented times, the foundation you received from these points will remain with you for the rest of your lives. They provide a timeless foundation for you as you embark on college and far into the future.”

Recipient of the 2023 David Newton McQuiddy Award

Samantha Rose, Ken Cheeseman

Also, as part of the ceremony, Cheeseman announced that English teacher Samantha Rose received the 2023 David Newton McQuiddy Award that honors a teacher who has integrity, is loyal to Webb and its ideals, is dedicated to the profession, and who encourages sound character development and academic excellence. The recipient of the award is selected by a vote of the student body. Rose joined Webb full-time in 2020. She earned a Bachelor of Arts in English from Tennessee Tech and a Master of Arts in British and American Literature from the University of the South.

“She has worked with middle school students and seniors directly in the classroom, serving as an inspiration to each one. Her students know that she possesses a contagious love of literature and a keen knowledge of literary analysis and English language skills,” Cheeseman said. “They also know that she knows and loves them. These twin loves are the fuel that ignites the flames of curiosity and discovery. In short, she is an exceptional teacher. Her investment in others reaches beyond the classroom as she currently serves as the Haynes dorm head and has served on many trips with multiple grade levels.”

2023 Senior Board


Awards and Honors

The Head of School’s Award, funded by the J Murray Hill ’75 Endowment, was also announced. This award is intended to be given by the Head of School to fund any appropriate annual expense. For this school year, it was designated to cover the cost of one Portable AED package for the athletics trainer and a permanent AED stationed at Lagler Field. “We are very grateful for Mr. Hill’s generous gift,” Cheeseman acknowledged.


Abigail Hagan receives multiple honors

Abigail Hagan received the highest academic honor in the class, the Anna Landis Hightower Award, which honors the student with the highest grade-point average for four years at Webb and also the John Hardin Highest Scholastic Award as the student who achieved the highest scholastic average in his/her senior year. Additionally, she was presented the Webb Follin Award, in memory of Gerald Webb Follin, as the senior with the highest cumulative English grade average and The Shelvin Brooks Bigger Award given by family, friends, and classmates to honor and perpetuate the memory of Shev Bigger '79 to recognize outstanding achievement in the study of science. Hagan also received the John Lewis Morgan Award, which is presented annually to the student(s) who has maintained high standard of excellence in his or her academic work and who has demonstrated the highest qualities of good citizenship in the service of the school, was presented to Hagan.

Hagan was also selected by seniors to deliver the Student Address during the commencement ceremony. In introducing her, Cheeseman said, “This year, the student speaker serves as the captain of the girls' soccer team, she is a devoted member of Green Feet, and enjoys WILD trips and running. She was recently elected “Miss Webb” as her senior superlative. One teacher noted, ‘Abby is a voracious reader. I’ve never seen her on her phone! Before class starts, after finishing assignments, during any break in class, she immediately tucks back to whatever she’s reading. She is hardworking, kind, and reliable. Can we clone her?’”

Cheeseman added, “She is an ancient guard member of the senior class (students who have attended Webb since the sixth or seventh grade), serves our community by upholding the pillars of the Honor Council, and is a McDonnell-Follin Scholar. She followed up on her Scholar project on native plants last year by planning, planting (with the help of Green Feet) and gained Tennessee Smart Yard designation for a native plant garden outside of the Bradley building.”

Student Awards

As the student who has made significant contribution to the theatre throughout his or her time in high school, Mili Walton received the Joseph Peters Meersman Jr. Award.

The Henry Harrell Mathematics Memorial Award, given to the graduating senior who has demonstrated excellence in all the mathematics courses he/she has undertaken at The Webb School, was presented to Hanyuan Zhong.

Reagan “Bree” Robinson and Xin Victor Shen received the Senior Achievement Scholar-Athlete award, which recognizes two seniors: one male and one female who have excelled both academically and athletically.

The Paul Hunt Award is given to that student who, in the judgment of the faculty, has exhibited particular courage, determination, and cheerfulness during the year. It is my honor to present this award to Reagan Bree Robinson.

David Tran received The Schornstein Award, given by the family of Richard Schorstein, Jr., to the student, regardless of classification, whom the faculty judges to be the hardest worker in the school.

The Dale Hyatt Memorial Award was presented to Gavin McBee, as the student who demonstrates honor, pride, and a genuine love of athletics., exhibits all of the characteristics of good sportsmanship, the athlete who is selfless and generous in helping other Webb athletes excel and shows respect for players, coaches, and officials, and maintains a good sense of humor.  

Evan Robertson received the Outstanding Boarder Award that is chosen by the residential faculty to the student who provides positive leadership and demonstrates responsibility.

The John Freeman Academic Achievement Award, presented by the family of John Freeman to the persevering student who faced initial academic difficulties at Webb, but who began to flourish academically and to realize his or her potential, was presented to Andriy Plakasov.

A listing of recognitions and awards presented during the commencement ceremony included the following.

Community Service Awards

Students who have averaged 50 hours of community service each year they have attended The Webb School. Aaron James Kiser led in service with 613 hours in his four years in upper school. Others were Darius Brandon Frazier, Benson Christopher Harris, Alisyn Jewell Parfait, Andriy Plakasov, Beatrix Shealy-Shuster, Susanna Lynne Smith, Autumn Joelle Swanson, Irelyn Jewel Weaver, John Bennett Williams, Knox Shelton Wimberley.

Honor Council Senior Members

Recognized were Carter Sublette, chair; Alisyn Parfait, vice chair; Abby Hagan and Jahnavi Kameka.

Old Guard is comprised of students who have attended Webb for four or five years.

Included were Zethan Atwood, William Badour, Mikey Dong, Jackson Holland, Yang “Daisy” Liu, Evan Robertson, Mili Walton, Vistor Shen, Amu Calhoun, Ashton Campbell, Kenny Hou, Alisyn Parfait, Beatrix Shealy-Shuster, Susanna Smith, Sarah Beth Smotherman, Fay Tong, Elliott Williams and Lucy Wilson.

Ancient Guard are students who began their careers at Webb in the sixth or seventh grade. Included were Bailey Brock, Carley Byford, Nysa Chaudhary, Rett Davis, Lewey Faour, Abby Hagan, Aaron Kiser, Hailey Simons, Patrick Sissom, Nataja Siva, Carter Sublette, Irelyn Weaver, Knox Wimberley, Koen Edwards, Gavin McBee, Andriy Plakasov, Autumn Swanson and Bennett Williams.


Presentation of Bibles to the Class of 2023

Vance Berry had the honor of presenting the graduation Bibles, other Holy Books, and the Webb graduation certificates to the Class of 2023.

"To the class of 2023, you will leave Webb, your second home, to embrace new endeavors.  Senior survival solidified many of your relationships and pushed you to a new-found resilience and grit many of you didn't know you had.  There are some members of your class whom you may never see again … and there are some who will be closer than a brother or sister for the rest of your lives.  We hope that each you will return often to Webb and share your celebrations with us and support the work we do for the next generation of Webbies.  Webb will always be your home." 

“Wherever you go, remember that you are a Webb lady or gentleman. That honor comes with the great responsibility of living your life with integrity, character, and service to others. These lessons are lifelong; you carry these with you in college and in organizations later in life. Lead a purposeful life, be a servant leader, and always be kind. Godspeed to you all.”

Graduating Class of 2023

Hanyuan Zhong - Summa Cum Laude

Zachery S. D. Young

Boyang Sabrina Xia

Knox Shelton Wimberley

Lucy Wilson - Magna Cum Laude

John Bennett Williams

Elliott Georgeanne Williams - Cum Laude

Irelyn Jewel Weaver - Summa Cum Laude

Ruoyan Wang - Summa Cum Laude

Miliana Jade Walton - Cum Laude

Angelica Velez

David Thai Tran - Summa Cum Laude

Fay Tong - Magna Cum Luade

Allyson Kaye Sweeney

Autumn Joelle Swanson - Summa Cum Laude

Jean Paul Stouse

Sarah Elizabeth Smotherman - Cum Laude

Susanna Lynne Smith - Magna Cum Laude

Nataja Anya Siva - Magna Cum Laude

Patrick Tabor Sissom - Cum Laude

Hailey Brooke Darline Simons

India Alexandria Shirley

Xin Victor Shen - Summa Cum Laude

Beatrix Shealy-Shuster - Magna Cum Laude

Lauren Elinor Rust

Reagan Bree Robinson

Evan Taylor Robertson

Plakasov Andriy Alexseevitch 

Gunnar James Petroka           

Alisyn Jewell Parfait - Summa Cum Laude

Stephen Irase Olowoniyi

Quan Hoang Nguyen - Summa Cum Laude

Theon Terico Missick

Tyler Brianna Miller

Joshua Alexander McDaniel

Robert Gavin McBee

Gustavo Cardoso Pinheiro Machado

Yang Liu

Hector Kwan-Uakay Larsson

Aaron James Kiser

Jahnavi Neha Kameka - Magna Cum Laude

Kenneth Kewei Hou - Magna Cum Laude

Jackson Henry Holland           

Sammeka Hepburn

Benson Christopher Harris

Abigail Lydia Hagan - Summa Cum Laude

Alexander Chance Gibson

Savarna Ghosh - Cum Laude

Zion Alexander Gape - Cum Laude

Darius Brandon Frazier

Lewey Faour - Cum Laude

Koen Kael Edwards

Michael Boxuan Dong

Aalyah Del Rosario

Roen Clifford Davis

Everett Gibson Davis

Catherine Sian Cuthbert

Rhema Collins

Madison Marie Belle Chin

Nysa Chaudhary

Ashton Brock Campbell

Aminatou Augusta Butler Calhoun - Magna Cum Laude

Carley Corrine Byford - Summa Cum Laude

Justin Burrows

Bailey Grace Brock - Summa Cum Laude

William Edward Badour

Zethan Luke Atwood - Cum Laude

Sylvaughn Omar Jamal Armbrister

Nathanael Arena - Cum Laude

Carter Scott Sublette - Summa Cum Laude