Senior Honored With Courage Award


McDonogh senior Archer S. was presented with The Irvin S. Naylor Courage Award on Friday, September 16, during an Upper School Assembly. (See the presentation here.) The award, which was a surprise to Archer, was established in 2004 by classmates of Irv Naylor ’54 on the occasion of their 50th Reunion.

The Irvin S. Naylor Courage Award is presented to a member of the McDonogh Family who has, during the past year or over a number of years, and through his or her outstanding courage and exemplary persistence in overcoming adversity or personal challenges, inspired our admiration, our respect, and the courage to grow more fully toward our better selves. To date there have been two recipients, Vicki McMillan and Libet Ottinger.

Naylor joined Headmaster Charlie Britton on stage for the announcement of the award and members of Archer’s family were on hand for the occasion. Prior to presenting him with a pewter bowl inscribed with the name of the award, Britton gave the following remarks:

Archer, you are an inspiration to us all.

Last year at this time, Archer’s situation was precarious. Following his accident in Cape May on August 5, he spent almost a month in the intensive care unit at the Atlantic City Regional Medical Center before being transferred to the Shepherd Center, a spinal cord injury rehabilitation center in Atlanta, Georgia. There, he worked on his recovery until mid-November when he was transferred to Baltimore’s Kennedy Krieger Institute. After nearly three months at Kennedy he was headed home, but not before a quick visit to his beloved McDonogh.

From the moment he was injured in the surf, Archer has been fighting. And, he continues to fight each and every day. For anyone who has followed his story on his mother’s blog, you have seen the struggles and the triumphs.

Most recently she wrote, “He’s come such a long way. Archer Senft is on fire. Intellectually and creatively he is a dynamo, and it’s just beginning.” She reminds us that Archer was labeled as a respiratory failure and a ventilator failure by the first two institutions and told by a pulmonologists that he simply ‘would not be coming off the ventilator.”

She continues, “He wanted to breathe. He was intentional about wanting to breathe. And now he is not only talking, he is running his own medical meetings. And, breathing beautifully on his own.”

Archer’s courage, fight, and determination have been an inspiration to the McDonogh community and to the thousands of people across the country and around the world who now know his story.

As one teacher recently noted, “He is an incredibly unique human being who brings joy and wonder into the lives of all of those who know him. Archer has always had the unique ability of taking a misstep and turning it into something beautiful…viewing it as something from which to learn and grow.”

We saw his drive when he completely reinvented his artistic practice -- adopting digital media as his new creative outlet. Shortly after, he launched his own t-shirt design company.

Another teacher says, “Archer never makes excuses and never settles for ‘good enough.’ He always finds a way to look at the positive side of things.”

Those who know Archer best can’t help but comment on his dry sense of humor. They remark that he never lost his ability to laugh and to make everyone around him feel better… qualities he has always had and that are now appreciated so much more.

Archer’s teammates, friends, coaches, teachers, and family all say, without question, he is the same person today as he has always been. Yes, his daily life is different because of the accident, but that has not changed the intellectual, emotional, or spiritual gifts he was blessed with. Archer’s faith brought him through the challenges he’s faced during the past 13 months. It has given him the courage to fight and more importantly the courage to live, love, and to inspire those around him.

Archer, we could not be more thrilled to have you back at McDonogh for your senior year. It is an honor to recognize you as the recipient of The Irvin S. Naylor Courage Award.


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McDonogh School | 410.363.0600 |
8600 McDonogh Road | Owings Mills | Maryland | 21117