Founder’s Day, senior recognition ceremony honor founders, alumna, seniors


Photo credit: Anna Entin

Sophia Altemus, Azel Al-Kadiri and Noor Afshar wave their white roses as the Unaccompained Minors, Archer’s upper school a cappella group, performs the school’s song “Within the Walls of Archer.” The annual Founder’s Day and the Senior Recognition Ceremony celebrated the women who established Archer and the women who will soon step into the world beyond Archer’s walls.

By Maia Alvarez, Features Editor

Founders gazed at seniors dressed in gray blazers holding white roses and saw their vision coming to life once more. The Archer community of students, faculty and the parents of the Class of 2023 gathered in the courtyard Wednesday, Nov. 16, for this year’s Founders Day and senior recognition ceremony.

To celebrate 27 years since Archer’s founding, founders Diana Meehan, Victoria Shorr and Megan Callaway were honored with a series of speeches and student musical performances. Additionally, this year’s celebration was the first to include alumnae awards, which recognize Archer graduates who have achieved highly in their careers while also giving back to the school.

Brooklyn Cohen from the Class of 2014 won the Alumna Award for Rising Star for her work leading the team at NASA dedicated to the adaptive catching assembly of the Mars 2020 Perseverance Rover. Additionally, Cohen oversees the spanning robotics systems and mechanical engineering on the sample transfer system of the Mars sample return lander that will be responsible for returning rock samples collected by the rover to Earth. Ebony Ocean King, Class of 2004, won the Alumna Award for Professional Achievement for her work as a board-certified family medicine physician specializing in geriatrics.

“My dreams were all within these walls, from manifesting my early childhood dreams to becoming a doctor [and] getting into Brown [University],” King said in her acceptance speech. “It was here that I created a foundation that I, as a woman, especially as a black woman — if with good intent, and sincerity and passion and compassion — I really could do anything.”

Following the awards, Student Body President Rose Chuck (’23) spoke about how small aspects of student life — hallway conversations, sports events and socratic seminars — are what makes Archer truly incredible.

“None of the beauty we see here today and the things that I believe to make Archer what it is would have been possible without the determination and resilience of our founders Diana Meehan, Megan Callaway and Victoria Shorr,” Chuck said. “It’s [because of their] belief in an all-female education and drive to make it a reality that we sit here today.” 

Both Meehan and Callaway attended the ceremony and spoke about how their vision for an all-girls school has grown to 27 years of educating and graduating capable women.

“You have to be willing to have your world shaken, to have your beliefs put into question and to let yourself be transformed by your discoveries,” Callaway said. “I wish you grace and courage and wisdom that’s been imparted to you from the force of this shared vision that is Archer.”

During the celebration, the upper school orchestra performed “Entrance of Queen of Sheba” written by G.F. Handel and arranged by H.B. Fisher. The upper school choir performed “Kiss the Rose” by Seal, arranged by senior Piper Rutman. The ceremony was then followed by a speech from senior dean Stephanie Nicolard about the Class of 2023’s hard work, dedication and magic.

“There is magic here that is embedded in this place, to be sure, but look around,” Nicolard said.”It was contagious, and the strongest magic is within you.”

The Unaccompanied Minors, Archer’s upper school a cappella group, echoed this statement by performing the school song, “Within the Walls of Archer” by Marilyn and Alan Bergman as a conclusion to the event. The Class of 2023, their parents, the founders and other guests attended a reception in the courtyard after the ceremony.

During Meehan’s speech earlier in the ceremony, she ended with a story of hope and responsibility. In the story, Meehan described an Archer graduate who was experiencing the loss of her mother and contacted one of her Archer friends. Meehan used the story to encapsulate the focus of the ceremony: celebrating alumni and senior Archer sisters that brought the founder’s vision to life and ensuring they cherish the final months they have together.

“She said, ‘I just wanted to confide in you because I’m scared I have to do this funeral by myself,'” Meehan said. “That girl had her mother’s funeral in the bonds her Archer sisters. They helped with the music, they helped with the site, they helped with the service and they helped to get through one of the hardest things anyone can do. It’s not only important. It’s not only a bond or responsibility…but it’s a blessing.”