79 graduate from The Gunnery on Memorial Day
Updated 11:07 am, Wednesday, June 1, 2016
WASHINGTON - Seventy-nine seniors at The Gunnery school in Washington received their diplomas on Monday, May 30.
Ed and Peg Small who organized the event, were recognized, along with the maintenance department who set everything up, teachers, and students’ families.
Headmaster Peter W.E. Becker presented The Gunnery’s three top awards: Tessa Rose Lord Mackey won the Brinsmade Prize for unselfish and sympathetic interest in people with a purpose for citizenship and social responsibility; Hildy Caitlin Maxwell won the Head of School Award for constant excellence and dependability in studies and extracurricular activities; and Samuel Sobrepeña Joslin won The Gunnery Cup, the school’s highest honor for the student whose character and achievement has contributed most largely to the success of the school year.
Head Prefect Ataman Ugur recounted his opening of his freshman “letter-to-self” at the four-year-senior dinner the week before. “I hadn’t included goals and expectations,” he said. “I advised my future self to ‘Be kind, Be happy, and Never be afraid to love and dream.’”
Head Prefect-elect Matthew Danner ’17, spoke about the individuals in the senior class who had made a difference for him and the legacy of caring the class of 2016 was leaving. He talked about the comfort level of a small community that allows its members to try new things and supports each one through successes and failures.
The commencement speaker was Chris Baudo, assistant head of school and dean of students, whose fifteen-year career at The Gunnery will be ending this year as he moves on to upstate New York to be closer to his and his wife’s families. “This is a man who has recognized that the students’ roads are not linear, but full of zigs and zags,” Becker said about Baudo. “… there is none better to address moral ambiguity with confidence and caring in the middle of the night.”
Baudo talked about the Class of 2016 as leaving “an understated legacy of caring and commitment, for each other, for the community, and for the greater world.” He marveled that not one week had passed when some member of the school had not enquired after the health and happiness of his young twins and wife, managing most of the week alone in Rochester, N.Y., while he worked at The Gunnery. That quality spoke volumes to him of the value of the community he was leaving.
He told the story of his career start at The Gunnery and the supportive value of his first mentor, Tommy Adams, director of admissions, (now the new head of school at Grosse Point Academy) and the importance of following your heart as the key to achieving success in your own terms. He spoke of the initial years in the foundation of the very successful hockey program. He then quoted the words of longtime Athletic Director Hugh Caldara who said, “We bleed Red and Gray.”
“For you (the new graduates) The Gunnery is now your home and a permanent part of your story,” he said.
He left his audience in tears when he told the story of his 4-year-old daughter, Connie, who was constantly telling stories in her Rochester nursery school of the wonderful place called “The Gunnery.” She had so effectively pictured the place for her classmates that they too began to tell stories about their own time at “The Gunnery.” However, only Connie was sure that the Statue of Liberty was firmly planted on The Gunnery campus.
Board Chair Gerrit Vreeland ’61, gave the approval of the board of trustees for the granting of the diplomas. Becker joined Assistant Academic Dean Amy Paulekas in handing out the diplomas to the seniors. Evan Michael Johnson from Huntington Beach, California, received the honor for top scholar in the class.
The graduates then processed out of the church into a cheering circle of their teachers and underclass schoolmates on the Green.