The Gunnery, a private school in Washington, held commencement exercises for the class of 2017.

Eighty-six students graduated, of which 15 are from the New Milford area, graduated.

Establishing a new tradition at the school, Senior Master Ed Small, with 40 years’ experience on Gunnery’s faculty, led his colleagues and the graduating class of 2017 into a tent, seating close to 1,000 people, erected on Wersebe Field for the event.

After the invocation, Head of School Peter W.E. Becker requested that the seniors thank the faculty and their parents for the privileges of their education and that the assembly remember the soldiers honored on Memorial Day for having paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect the country.

Head Prefect Matthew Danner and Head Prefect-Elect Kenyon Kay spoke of the legacy the graduating class was leaving and the unique gifts a Gunnery education bestowed which seniors were taking with them.

Becker gave the commencement address, drawing on the spring term English course on the popular Broadway musical “Hamilton,” written and directed by Lin-Manuel Miranda, which he co-taught with Tim Poole and retired headmaster of Westminster Graham Cole.

The traditional awarding of the three top prizes followed the address.

Becker presented The Gunnery’s three top awards: Brendon Vejseli won the Brinsmade Prize for unselfish and sympathetic interest in people with a purpose for citizenship and social responsibility; Matthew Stephen Danner won the Head of School Award for constant excellence and dependability in studies and extracurricular activities; and Dana Ross 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.

Other awards were announced the night before.

Before the awarding of diplomas, Becker paid special tribute to Matt Semple, a member of the graduating class who died just 16 months into his education at The Gunnery.

The school presented to his parents an honorary diploma acknowledging his completion of all that was asked with kindness and goodwill.

The awarding of diplomas including that of the class’s top scholar, Anh Quoc Pham, was followed by the celebratory circle outside the tent with umbrella wielding parents and well-wishers.

Local graduates and awards include Patrick Parks Mullen of Bridgewater; Gabrielle Anne Bruck, who graduated cum laude with a MVP soccer award, the Vreeland Rogers Athletic Award, the Mary Ritter Prize for Excellence in Design, the Michael post Award for Excellence in English and the Russell Sturges Bartlett Award for Excellence in Science; Cordelia Jane Schoen of New Milford; Eva Margaret Jones of New Preston, who received the Jerome F. McCarthy Arts Award and the McClellan Citizenship Prize; Marguerite Jewel Bolger of Roxbury, who received the MVP girls’ tennis award; Thomas Finn Bolger of Roxbury, who received the MVP boys’ tennis award; Geraldine Tess Elsinga of Roxbury; Jack Thomas Kenney of Roxbury, who received the MVP golf award; Chelsea Anne LeMoine of Roxbury; Claire Veronica Lee of South Kent; Andrew Forman of Warren; Grace Miranda D’Amico of Washington, who received the MVP girls’ basketball award and MVP girls’ lacrosse award; Margot Winema Gaggini of Washington, who received the MVP girls’ spring crew award; Ryan Edward LaMay of Washington, who received the MVP baseball award and the Pamela Taylor Award for Excellence in English IV; and Grace Louise A van Tartwijk of Washington, who received the MVP field hockey award and the MVP girls’ tennis award.