Gunnery holds commencement exercises for 82
The Gunnery in Washington recently celebrated its 168th commencement, advancing 82 students from 11 states and 13 countries.
Six students from the Greater New Milford area were among the graduates.
The May 28 ceremony highlighted the words and legacy of school founder Frederick W. Gunn.
Bagpipes played as the students and faculty, led by Ed Small, the Anne S. and Ogden D. Miller Senior Master, processed across campus, from the courtyard of Bourne Hall to the tent on Edward Wersebe Memorial Field, where nearly 600 family members and invited guests were waiting.
Remarks were made by Head Prefect Kenyon Kay of Bridgewater, a member of the Class of 2018.
In his speech, Kenyon quoted from letters written by Gunn, asserting that through their experiences at The Gunnery, the seniors had grown and adopted many of Gunn’s values and philosophies, including his belief that his voice and his principles were worth protecting, his love of fun, and his deep appreciation of nature.
“Mr. Gunn lives on through us all,” Kenyon said. “His ideals and values are now our own, and what he tried to accomplish and create within a school lives on through us all.”
The commencement address was delivered by Head of School Peter Becker, who challenged the graduates with a question he is frequently asked in his role: “What is your vision?”
“The purpose of a Gunnery education is to develop graduates who are courageous, humble and wise citizens of character, who don’t take themselves too seriously and have a sense of humor,” Becker said, noting this was clearly important to Mr. Gunn.
A Gunnery graduate is someone who has “learned how to learn” and is “willing and able to problem-solve, create and improvise in the face of uncertainty,” someone who has developed a healthy sense of competition and self, who lives for purposes greater than their own self-gratification, and who practices gratitude.
Following his address, Becker awarded the school’s three top prizes.
The Brinsmade Prize was awarded to Christian Kummer of Southbury as the student “who best combines unselfish and sympathetic interest in people with a purpose for citizenship and social responsibility.”
The Head of School’s Prize, presented to “a member of the graduating class who, by constant excellence and dependability in studies and in extracurricular activities, has contributed outstandingly to the success of the school year, was awarded to Kenyon.
The Gunnery Cup was awarded to Jinuk “Mark” Choi of Korea, who was also named the “top scholar” of the Class of 2018
The cup is awarded to “that student who, through character and achievement, shall have contributed most largely to the success of the school year.”
Additional prizes for academic excellence and other honors were presented the previous evening during the school’s annual Prize Night ceremony.
Gerrit Vreeland, chairman of the Board of Trustees and a member of the Class of 1961, congratulated the Class of 2018 on behalf of the trustees and approved the conferring of diplomas.
The ceremony was followed by an immediate celebration of the graduates among family, friends and faculty.
Local graduates and their prizes include Kenyon Kay of Bridgewater (Connecticut Head of School’s Prize and Cum Laude Society); Clare Kathleen Costello of New Milford (the Robert Mortell Prize for Excellence in the Performing Arts); John Carter Matthews of Washington; Brett McDonough Matthews of Washington (Boys Baseball Award and the Ultimate Frisbee Award); Eleni Marie Kolpak of Washington Depot; and Lily Alexandra Mandl of Washington Depot (Connecticut Excellence in Biology Award).