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TASIS Faculty Honors Three Juniors for Commitment to Service

Each spring TASIS presents three Junior Awards, two of which were established by alumni in the early 2000s and one that was established by the faculty in 1997. Voted on by the entire High School faculty, each of these awards recognizes an 11th-grade student for exemplary dedication and involvement in community service, which has always been an integral part of a TASIS education. TASIS Founder M. Crist Fleming advocated for this from the very start and would later declare, “I believe we are put on this earth to make some contribution, to try to leave it a little better place than we found it.”

Associate Director of Alumni Relations Michelle Arslanian Naroyan presented the 2022 Junior Awards at the High School’s farewell assembly on May 23 and delivered the citations below.

The J. Michael Horak Award

The J. Michael Horak Award was created in 1997 to honor a departing faculty member who had provided inspiring service to the student body, and who was often able to galvanize the entire school into believing that what can be attempted can be achieved. This award—conceived, organized, and voted on by the faculty exclusively—recognizes a junior who gives spontaneously and tirelessly of himself or herself to the many and varied needs of the student body.

This year’s recipient is the epitome of Mrs. Fleming’s advice to “stretch yourself.” One of her dorm parents writes, “She is the go-to girl in the dorm. She patiently listens to each of the girls and helps solve their problems in a positive and encouraging manner. When I cook on Saturday or Sunday, she always volunteers to help. She is doing the IB and never says she is too busy to fulfill her role in the dorm. She manages her time well and is a good role model for the girls.” 

One of her teachers adds, “She can bring groups together from different parts of our community. She is a proctor for ninth-grade girls and relishes the role and the responsibility. She embodies this award. I have known her since 9th grade, and what we see now is what she was from the moment she arrived at TASIS: selfless and always there to listen, learn, and help.” 

Her advisor writes, “As a new teacher this year, she helped me far beyond my expectations in understanding boarding student life at TASIS. She lives her life at TASIS with enthusiasm and always comes to advisor meetings with an open mind and a positive attitude. We all appreciate her contributions to our discussions and activities.”

This student demonstrates all of the best qualities that a TASIS student should embody. As a junior proctor, she has facilitated community in every way possible. She gives so much of her time to her fellow proctors, ALWAYS lending a listening ear and offering never-ending hours of advice and guidance. She is selfless with her time, making a point of taking several groups of students downtown throughout the first semester to help them acclimate to their new home. She is approachable, kind, and considerate and acts as a bridge for the student body. 

It is a pleasure to present this year’s J. Michael Horak Award to Helga Gradeci.

The Cathy Clark Memorial Scholarship

The Cathy Clark Memorial Scholarship recognizes and rewards a student who, in the judgment of the TASIS community, demonstrates exceptional dedication to community service. The award comes in the form of scholarship aid to assist in covering tuition expenses or educational travel.

The award was established by alumni parents Lt. Colonel Robert and Mrs. Ann Clark to honor the memory of their daughter, Catherine, who attended TASIS for six years, graduating in 1987. After attending George Mason University, she served in the headquarters of the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF), in Washington, DC. Known for her unfailing cheerfulness and compassion, Cathy was also cited for her distinguished service and for developing an outstanding AIDS awareness program. She died in a tragic automobile accident at the age of 26 while driving across the country from Virginia to her new duty station in California. Cathy believed that TASIS had provided her with some important life lessons and her parents established this $3,600 scholarship award in her memory to reward and inspire other TASIS students to follow her commitment to public service.

The recipient of this year’s award signs up for many of the TASIS experiences and gives it her all while staying under the radar with genuine humbleness. One of her teachers writes, “She is adept at balancing between academics and everything else. She had an injury during the winter that took her away from physical activities; however, she used that time to volunteer on line for the Duke of Edinburgh Award, aiding the visually impared. She simply does what is asked of her, plus a bit extra, without complaining.”

Another teacher writes, “From the beginning of the course, she stood out for her respectfulness and amiableness. What most distinguishes her is the clarity of her ideas, her altruism, and her intelligence; all are combined within a humble but very self-confident character. She is the student that all teachers would like to have in their class.”

Her science teacher adds, “She is as smart as a whip, humble, compassionate, mature, perceptive, multifaceted and, most importantly, kind. She is the standout student of her year group. She is not satisfied with securing sufficient understanding to achieve a solid pass; rather, she is determined to understand life science examined from every angle. She is the student who asks the connect-the-dots questions when she sees potential links between different topics. She turned up for our first meeting to discuss her extended essay in Biology with a clutch of already well-researched ideas and seized the mettle to turn those ideas into well-executed experimental protocols. She is typically the first of her class cohorts to submit research assignments, and her work is simply a joy for a teacher to evaluate, given her precise nature and her clear fascination with the material. She is one of those precious students who perceives her scientific education not as a class of facts to to be memorized and regurgitated by rote but rather as a portal to an exciting world of knowledge still waiting to be discovered and explored. She is a person who consistently strives for intellectual ‘closure’ and pushes herself to a level of understanding in science that often goes well beyond the boundaries of the syllabus. Beyond her academic excellence, which has placed her at the top of her contemporaries, she has also shone athletically, playing for a local club volleyball team and winning championship medals for the TASIS Varsity Track and Field team.”

This student is the model of consistency and understated confidence. She exemplifies this in her classes and on the track as she confidently but unassumingly puts in the required work to get better each day, without ever complaining, while supporting her teammates endlessly. 

It is a privilege to present this year’s Cathy Clark Memorial Scholarship to Claudia Clarke Gosalvez.

The Pritzlaff Leadership Award

The Pritzlaff Leadership Award was established in 2001 by alumnus John Pritzlaff '72, who has been a loyal friend and donor to the School while also serving on the Board of Directors. The award recognizes a junior who takes a leading role in community service outside the School, encouraging the involvement of other TASIS students in the public service ideal. It comes with a $2500 award that may be used for educational expenses or donated to a non-profit organization of the recipient’s choice. 

This year's recipient is a unifier, a passionate voice, a leader, and a philosopher. She is tireless in her efforts to enhance the lives of the students and people around her. A new student, she is already very involved at TASIS, most notably attending the Global Service Program trip to Thailand and performing in both of the major High School theater productions. She is strong academically and is a role model for her friends. She does not shy away from addressing topics of pressing concern and is always looking for ways she can contribute. She leads by example. 

She gives interminably to the TASIS community through her friendships and her service to programs beyond graduation requirements. Currently, she is working with Elementary School musical students to help them prepare for their upcoming performance. She consistently goes above and beyond to help organize show logistics and inspire these students to perform their best. She clearly demonstrates a passion for community building and connection. 

The Global Service Program Director writes, “She traveled on the trip to Thailand over the spring holiday and was insightful in conversations, invested in the communities, and generous with her work. She always supported the group with a resounding ‘Yes, queen’ when someone complained of being tired, dehydrated, or overheated. She is a true global and service-minded leader whose infectious attitude inspires those around her.”

I have had the personal privilege of participating in kickboxing classes alongside this student this year. She was always one of the ones flicking her foot the highest and with the most force and delivering the tightest, most incessant right and left hooks. We spoke from time to time, and I once suggested that she take this instruction back to her home country and teach these skills to girls there. She said that she’d planned on it. We both agreed that kickboxing was an important skill for all girls to have. She recounted how her father had taught her that people will not always be there to protect you in life, and that it is each individual’s personal obligation to take care of themselves. Her gentle smile and well-mannered, quiet demeanor go hand in hand with the punishing blows to the bag from this young lady.

Mrs. Fleming once wrote, “I had this dream of starting something that was outside and beyond the narrow frontiers people draw around themselves.” This year’s award recipient honors Mrs. Fleming’s vision by daring to dream big and always working as a force for good. 

I am honored to present this year’s Pritzlaff Leadership Award to Nitya Dalmia.

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