The Alumni Achievement Awards, one dedicated to a distinguished alum and one for a young alum, were established by Wilson School’s Alumni Leadership Committee to recognize and honor the accomplishments of Wilson alumni who continue to bring pride and inspiration to the Wilson community.
Congratulations to this year's recipients, Amber Draper, who received the Young Alumni Award and Katie Vagnino, who received the Distinguished Alumni Award.
Amber Draper graduated from The Wilson School in 2007 and from Westminster Christian Academy in 2013. Says Amber, "I still keep in contact with many Wilson teachers. They helped me so much and I was happy to see them at the auction to thank them in person for all that they've done for me."
Amber is currently a senior at Truman State University, studying broadcast journalism. Since starting at Truman, Amber worked for the campus new station, working her way up to holding positions as a reporter, anchor, videographer and producer. During her junior year, she launcher her own talk show entitled "Rising from our Roots," which she wrote, hosted and produced. She currently serves as executive producer.
Amber participated in the Alpha Phi Alpha Black and Gold pageant, in which she was crowned the queen. She spent a semester abroad in San Jose, Costa Rica at Universidad Veritas and created a documentary about her experience. She has volunteered for Convoy of Hope and the St. Louis Area Food Bank.
Following her college graduation, Amber plans to pursue a master's degree in public relations.
Katie Vagnino graduated from The Wilson School in 1993, then graduated from MICDS in 1999.
In 2003, she graduated with a degree in English from Yale University. In 2008, Katie moved to Boston to get her M.F.A. in Creative Writing at Emerson College. Her thesis, a poetry manuscript titled "The Speed of Skin," was a nominee fro the Dean's Prize and earned a commendation from the Academy of American Poets.
Since 2010, Katie has taught creative writing, composition, research writing, and rhetoric at various secondary and higher education institutions including Emerson College, Roosevelt University and St. Paul's School. She has also led poetry workshops at the Cambridge Center for Adult Education and the Newberry Library. Currently, she is a Visiting Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin in Eau Claire.
As a freelancer, Katie has contributed to the "Minneapolis Star Tribune," "Time Out New York," "Time Out Boston," "Time Out Chicago," "Role Reboot," and Smithsonian's "The Torch". Her poetry has appeared or is forthcoming in a number of journals including Poetry Quarterly. She hopes to publish her first book of poems in the near future.
"I am a better human being because of the empathy Wilson cultivated in me, and I move through the world grateful for the nine years I spent at 400 De Mun Ave.," says Katie. "Wilson taught me to be curious, to be creative, and to be kind."
It was an affair to remember...a French Affair! The 33rd Annual Wilson School Thistle Auction, themed A French Affair, celebrated a special first for the school's community. Two alums, Victoria Williams and Margaret van Bakergem, were honored with inaugural Alumni Achievement Awards, one for Young Alumni under the age of 30, and one for Distinguished Alumni, for individuals 30 years and older.
Steve Shepley, Wilson's Alumni Leadership Committee Chair, former trustee and Wilson alum, presented the awards. The honorees and/or their family members accepted their recognition with touching remarks crediting Wilson's warm, nurturing environment and exceptional educators for setting them on their paths to success. Accepting the award on Victoria Williams' behalf were her parents, Connie Wagner and Doug Williams.
“Like many children who attend Wilson, Vickie would tell you how much she loved going to The Wilson School every day of the nine years she attended,” Connie and Doug explained. “It is hard for us to name a school other than Wilson where the teaching is so consistently excellent, so thoroughly dedicated to the children, so supportive of the children’s diverse talents, and so attentive to their needs.”
Young Alumni Achievement Award recipient, Victoria Williams, shared, "I loved my time at Wilson and I will never forget my wonderful teachers and how much they helped me."
Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award Recipient, Margaret van Bakergem, shared, "The Wilson School was a vital place to spend my elementary years. The solid educational foundation, incredible support system and creative freedom prepared me not only for an academic career, but catalyzed my commitment to social justice and responsibility. When I was in pre-k, my 6th grade buddy helped me write a story about traveling throughout the solar system in a rocket ship. Even at that young age I was curious and eager to explore, and while I haven't yet ventured as far as space, the work and research I do everyday carries the same sense of adventure to create a better world. I know my experiences at Wilson fostered my independence, curiosity and my love of learning. Words of advice for current Wilson students: be adventurous, be courageous, be a bit daring and always keep a nugget of childhood with you!"
MEET THE 2016 HONOREES
ABOUT THE ALUMNI ACHIEVEMENT AWARDS
Founded by The Wilson Alumni Leadership Committee, the program recognizes and honors the accomplishments of alumni who continue to bring pride and inspiration to the Wilson community. Founded in 2015 by The Wilson School Alumni Leadership Group, this is the inaugural year of the program. Nominations now are open for the 2017 awards. Learn more...
ABOUT THE THISTLE AUCTION
The Thistle Auction is the largest fundraising event of the year, raising as much as three percent of the annual operating budget. Parents, board members, faculty and friends enjoy a lovely evening together dining and bidding on a wide variety of donated items. Local businesses and families also support the auction with messages in the auction program book. Learn more...
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