The William A. Fisher Prize, also known as the Fisher Medallion, is Gilman's highest student honor. The prize was conceived of by Louise Este Fisher Bruce, one of Gilman's founders, in honor of her late father, Judge William A. Fisher. Judge Fisher served as the first president of the School's Board of Trustees from 1897 until his death in 1901. Mrs. Fisher envisioned the prize as a way to reward leadership and scholarship for a member of the graduating class. The prize was first awarded to Lewis Kinney Robinson in 1903, the first year that the School had a graduating class.
The medallion itself was designed by artist Victor D. Brenner, who would become famous for his design of the Lincoln penny a few years later. His signature can be seen in the bottom corner of the medallion. It features a winged woman placing a laurel wreath on the head of a boy. The figure of the boy is based on Mrs. Bruce's son, James Bruce. In an interesting twist, James won the award at Founders Day in 1910.
Through the years, a number of notable alumni have won the award, including former Headmaster Redmond C. S. Finney '47 and author Frank Deford '57.
In addition to receiving a medallion, the winner gets his name inscribed on a plaque in the Carey Hall Common Room.
Five Fun Fisher Facts:
- While the award is now given on an annual basis, that wasn't always the case. There was no Medallion presented in 1909, 1914, 1917, 1922, 1925, or 1928.
- Several sets of brothers held the medallion in its early years, including Douglas (1905) and Beverly (1907) Ober, James (1910) and David (1915) Bruce, and Ridgeway (1918) and David (1919) Trimble.
- While Gilman has seen many family legacies pass through its halls, only three father-son pairs have won the Fisher Medallion. William R. Mueller '35 and William H. Mueller II '70, Robert Mason Thomas '39 and Robert Mason Thomas Jr. '76, and David Jeffrey Rice '71 and Drummond Shipley Rice '04 are the families that have earned this distinction.
- Two current faculty members, John O. Schmick '97, and L.J. Shapiro '16 are Fisher Medallion winners.
- Redmond C.S. Finney '47 is the only headmaster who is a Fisher Medallion winner.