As an incentive for the EHS 24/7 Giving Day this year, the class that provided the most individual gifts was awarded the opportunity to name one of the two boats. The Class of 2018 almost lapped the field, as 51 of them stepped up with a gift, besting the second place Class of 2006 by 15 donors in a year that saw a record number of gifts.
Last year’s seniors sent in nominations and voted on the winner, which the girls’ crew team announced during a community meeting on April 16. After the team hoisted the shell front and center onto the Pendleton stage, coxswain Noelle Weaver ’19 had the honor of delivering the news and included a quote from the original nomination by Bryan Peterson ’18, who wrote, “The way she connects with students and takes the time to understand their points of view while also giving them a real and honest answer is something that others can learn from.”
The student body rose quickly for a rousing standing ovation as Berlinda Mensah’s name was called. In her fourth year at Episcopal, Mensah can most often be found running the snack bar in Stewart in the afternoons and evenings. She is a trusted friend and confidante to many students.
At the meeting, the crew team showed videos made by several members of the Class of ’18 congratulating Mensah on the honor, after which Chaplains Betsy Gonzalez and Timothy Seamans blessed the boat.
In May 2016, Juliet Faris ’19 and a few of her freshman classmates were preparing for a mid-season race at the Sandy Run Rowing Facility on the Occoquan, their first year as members of the girls’ crew team at Episcopal. As they readied for their launch, they noticed a man standing on the dock holding a rose, visibly upset.
The girls approached the man, and a serendipitous and lasting exchange followed as he told of his daughter Linmarie Concepcion, a former accomplished George Mason rower who had died of germ cell cancer only two years prior. He felt drawn to the water every year to remember his daughter and her love of rowing. Jorge Concepcion gave them the rose and asked if they would place it in the shell with them as they rowed that day. That encounter, and Linmarie’s story, took lasting hold in their hearts and memories.
Fast forward to Spring 2019 and the purchase of the two new boats. The crew team was granted the privilege of naming one, and as they pondered a number of possibilities, the four-year seniors shared the story of Jorge Conception and the rose for his daughter with their teammates. Enthusiasm escalated swiftly.
In a moving ceremony over Spring Family Weekend, with over 100 students, parents, and others in attendance, including the Concepcion family, The Rose was christened as Episcopal’s newest crew shell. Juliet and Noelle Weaver ’19 shared their memories of that initial encounter. Head Coach Dave Collins and the Concepcion family also spoke briefly before Episcopal’s chaplains formally blessed the shell.
The following day, the girls Varsity 4 team took it onto the water for its first race, the Darrell Winslow Regatta.Photos from the dedication are available in the Spring Family Weekend album on Flickr.