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Distinguished Alumnus Award

Distinguished Alumnus Award Mission Statement:

The Distinguished Alumnus Award recognizes a deserving alumnus who has achieved distinction in his professional career, humanitarian endeavors, or other areas of his life. This award honors an individual who has embraced the core values emphasized at Avon Old Farms. By celebrating the accomplishments of the recipient, Avon Old Farms nourishes the strong sense of pride within our school community and acknowledges the inherent value in recognizing excellence among our alumni.

The prestigious Distinguished Alumnus Award is bestowed based upon the selection and recommendation of the National Council of Avon Old Farms School and in consultation with the Headmaster.

2012 Distinguished Alumnus Awards

In 2012, four alumni received the Distinguished Alumnus Award: Kristian Bush ’88, Kevin McKernan ’91, Brendan McKernan ’89, and Seth Mendell ’52.

Kristian Bush ’88-- musician

Because of his performing schedule as a member of the award-winning country duo Sugarland, and hence his inability to be present for the ceremony on Reunion Weekend, Kristian Bush received Avon Old Farms School’s Distinguished Alumnus Award March 2, 2012 when he visited campus with his son. A talented song-writer, musician, singer and performer, Kristian Bush of Sugarland has won multiple awards including Grammys.

Kevin McKernan ’91-- scientist and entrepreneur

Having been honored at the White House for his part in mapping the human Genome at the Whitehead Institute at MIT and having spoken at Parliament, UK in 2008, Kevin McKernan has designed and built robotics that were integral to the process of DNA sequencing. Kevin has been blazing a remarkable trail in the rapidly expanding field of Genomics---virtually a new science driving major biological and medical research innovations in the 21st century. As a consequence of his work and that of others, science is now harnessing the powers of genetic testing, drug research, and gene therapy in attacking various diseases while accelerating toward a world of personalized medicine. Soon you may be able to ask realistically the question: what medicines and even foods will work effectively for you personally, and which ones should you avoid-as determined by your unique genome? Two successful companies, Agencourt and Agencourt Personal Genomics, were created and sold by Kevin and his two older brothers. Most recently, Kevin is founder and CEO of Medicinal Genomics, which was then acquired by and is now a research division of Courtagen Life Sciences, a company focused on the sequencing of patients’ mitochondrial genes, and where Kevin continues to be Chief Scientific Officer. This last company reunites Kevin with his older brothers Brian and Brendan McKernan, who founded Courtagen.

Brendan McKernan ’89-- entrepreneur, investor, mentor

Brendan McKernan, President of Courtagen Life Sciences, besides playing a major role in the creation of the above three companies and sale of the former two, is also a guest lecturer at Rensselaer's and Babson's School of Management and a mentor and investor to early stage companies through Boston Harbor Angels.  A member of Rensselaer Lally School of Management’s Advisory council, while at Rensselaer for graduate school, Brendan received the Delmar W. Karger Award in Management for outstanding academic and leadership achievements, and was named the 2006 William F. Glaser '53 Rensselaer Entrepreneur of the Year. Brendan is also a member of Avon’s Board of Directors.

Seth Mendell ’52-- educator, historian, community servant

Seth Mendell has devoted his life to Avon. A graduate of 1952, he came back to work at Avon, teaching history, coaching soccer and riflery, heading dormitories, leading the Nimrod Club, heading the first development office at Avon, and being a class agent continuously.  Seth not only taught the boys, but also mentored the younger teachers. In retirement, he has continued to attend Avon board meetings (in an ex-officio capacity) and National Council meetings in an effort to provide stability to Avon, since he has worked with decades of Headmasters from Don Pierpont to George Trautman and Ken LaRocque. Retired to Massachusetts, he has continuously given back to his community, partnering to raise $1.4 million for the expansion and renovation of the 100-year-old Mattapoisett Free Public Library and being named a Standard-Times Man of the Year for Mattapoisett, Massachusetts in 2003.


The Avon Old Farms School Distinguished Alumnus Award is to be bestowed again in May 2014. We encourage and welcome nominations from within the Avon community for this prestigious honor. Anyone interested in nominating an individual for the Distinguished Alumnus Award is invited to submit a written nomination to Anne Black P’99, Avon Old Farms School, Avon, CT 06001 or click here for the online nomination form.

2012 Award Recipients

Kristian Bush ’88

Kevin McKernan ’91

Brendan McKernan ’89

Seth Mendell ’52

Nominations, Please...
The Avon Old Farms School Distinguished Alumnus Award is to be bestowed in May 2012. We encourage and welcome nominations from within the Avon community for this prestigious honor. Click here for an online nomination form.

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