|16 Jun 2021
Some of you will remember Spencer Hanson (ISP’s class of 2013) with his bright smile, charismatic energy and fascinating art work. Those of us who do remember him are likely to also know about the tragic traffic accident that ended Spencer’s life only a few months after graduation.
For his two-year IB Diploma programme Spencer had chosen the Visual Arts course, during which he developed a strong passion for creativity and acquired solid skills as an artist. In light of this success, Spencer’s parents, Deborah Shennette and Barry Hanson wanted to celebrate their son by generating a special award to be given to an ISP graduate each year.
The Spencer Hanson Memorial Award is for the graduating student who, over the two-year IB Diploma programme, has shown the most improvement in the creative arts. The award recognises endeavour, engagement and achievement, as demonstrated by a sustained focus on self-improvement; personal fulfilment in the creative process; and a final portfolio of thoughtful, technically successful, pieces. The award also celebrates the power and responsibility of art to bring positive change, to the lives of both the audience and the artist, and this award goes to a student who has demonstrated this understanding most clearly in their journey through the IB Diploma programme.
Spencer's parents have also regularly attended the graduation ceremony to present the award. Last year, due to the COVID-19 travel restrictions they sent in a video greeting but this time we were pleased to be able to welcome them to the event in person again.
This year, the award was shared with two artists, Alannah Stein and Annaka Boucher. Both are delighted and proud to receive this special recognition. Here’s how they describe their feelings when their names were announced:
The speech that Spencer's parents gave about his life and his years at ISP was wonderful and very touching. When Spencer's parents talked more about this art award and the challenges in the IB diploma, the more I started thinking about possibly receiving it. When my name was announced I was happily surprised! I didn't really expect to be the one standing in front of my class being congratulated, until it happened! Annaka and I spoke to Spencer's parents at the graduation ceremony where we showed them our art work and got to know them better. It was very heart-warming to speak to them. I am very grateful for the award and for Spencer's parents attending the graduation. Being in Visual Arts in the IB diploma has taught me life-long skills as an artist that I will keep with me, moving forward in my artistic career.
The morning of the ceremony, Mr Kerr briefly explained that there would be an art award awarded that afternoon. While I didn’t know what the exact criteria was to be the recipient of the award, a part of me hoped I would get it, but I also didn’t want to get my hopes up. When Spencer’s parents walked on stage and began to tell Spencer’s story and the reason behind the creation of this award, I was moved. I recognized a lot of myself in it having myself had a tough move to Paris from Canada in Grade 10 and enjoying my art classes in the diploma above all else. As they announced our names, I felt so proud. Not only did I feel proud of myself for my own artistic accomplishment, it also felt oddly full circle to receive it alongside Alannah, someone who I’ve been taking art classes with since my move to ISP. Alannah and I did speak to Spencer’s parents after the ceremony, they were friendly and warm people who reminded me a lot of my own family back in Canada. It was lovely to be able to show them our art via the virtual vernissage, sharing with them the work behind the award this year. I’m honoured to have received the Spencer Hanson Award alongside Alannah for the Class of 2021.
Deborah Shennette, Annaka Boucher, Alannah Stein and Barry Hanson at the Class of 2021 Graduation Ceremony.
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