The Merton Benzinger Prize is awarded to the graduating senior who most exemplifies the indomitable spirit of Merton Benzinger, an exemplary scholar-athlete. During his four years on the track and field team, Merton broke records in five different events, three of which (the Cookie Toss, the Swing Jump, and the Troll Vault) he had invented himself. Merton was not only a stellar athlete, he was also a straight-A student and more importantly, a straight-A human being. Merton’s friends used to joke that he was so generous, he’d give his right arm for a buddy. In his senior year Merton proved them right, when he insisted on becoming an arm donor to help a fellow javelin-thrower who had been sidelined by tendonitis. Tragically, Merton never regained consciousness after the amputation. In honor of his memory, we present the Benzinger prize to the student who, in the judgement of our faculty, best captures Merton’s brilliance, athleticism, and profligate generosity with his body parts.
The Pennstock Ziegler Award is given to a graduating senior who most consistently demonstrates the virtue of persistence. Pennstock Ziegler may have been the hardest-working student ever to attend this august institution. He spent countless hours in the library, grinding away at problem sets, researching and revising his papers, cramming for exams. Pennstock’s efforts were never sufficient to overcome the modesty of his intellectual gifts; his grade point average peaked at a C+. But he soldiered away, tireless, nonetheless. The Ziegler Award is presented to the student who most clearly demonstrates Pennstock’s dogged tenacity in the face of mediocrity.
The Mehlman Prize honors our beloved Suds Mehlman, a member of our janitorial staff from 1956 until his long-deferred retirement in 2015. The Mehlman Prize is presented to the student who best captures Suds’ obsession with germs, preferably expressed through compulsive hand-washing.
The Pennfield Scholarship is given in appreciation of the generosity of the Pennfield family, who endowed the Chip Pennfield Stadium in which we currently sit, as well as the Skip Pennfield Theatre Annex and of course, the Pennfield Field. The Pennfield Scholarship is presented each year to the graduating senior who the faculty deems most likely to make an astounding fortune through vaguely unethical means, and then to use a small portion of those ill-gotten gains to build us a new library.
The Felicity Feldman Fellowship is presented to the student who best captures the passion and commitment of the late, great Felicity Feldman. Felicity was revered for her tireless advocacy for the powerless, particularly those of the non-human variety. Known affectionately as "Auntie Vivisection," it was Felicity who led the annual sleep-in at the biology lab to protest the clinical dissection of harmless frogs, rats and eyeballs--a tradition that Felicity continued for a good twenty years after her graduation. Every year our faculty awards the Feldman Fellowship to the student who most passionately advocates for trivial causes.
The Harmon Exeter Bennington Memorial Scholarship is offered in honor of our present dean, Harmon Exeter Bennington, who has been serving in his current position since 1973, despite the fact that many of his would-be successors have long since given up and retired. The Harmon Exeter Bennington Memorial Scholarship is awarded EVERY SINGLE FREAKIN' YEAR to the senior who most consistently refuses to take a hint, no matter how blatant.
The Baby Bennington Prize honors the memory of Dean Bennington's sixth child, borne after only 18 weeks of gestation, who sadly did not survive the delivery. The Bennington Prize is given to the student who, in the judgement of the faculty, spent the largest portion of his or her senior year in fetal position.
Our last and greatest honor, the Alex D'Urberville Lobachevsky Scholarship, is awarded to the graduating senior who exemplifies the many virtues of the remarkable and much-missed Alex D'Urberville Lobachevsky. Alex was a brilliant student who won science prizes at the state and national levels for her ground-breaking work on using maple syrup to power manufacturing plants. She was a star athlete, leading the school co-ed Curling team to four successive regional victories and even one state championship. Nobody who heard it could forget Alex's brilliant performance of the Vivaldi Concerto for Flugelhorn. And I'm sure most of you have read at least one of the two volumes of poems she published during her tenure here, before she met her untimely end mere days before she would have addressed this very stadium as class valedictorian.
The Alex D'Urberville Lobachevsky Scholarship is awarded, posthumously, to Alex D'Urberville Lobachevsky (as is it was last year, and for that matter, the year before that). Because frankly, no living student could possibly measure up.