Local students among Gunnery graduating class

The Gunnery in Washington recently graduated 84 students, representing 13 states and nine countries, in the Class of 2019 at its 169th commencement exercises.

Five students from the Greater New Milford area were among the 84 graduates. They are Julian Aviles of Kent, John Leonard of New Preston, Wyatt Cicarelli of Roxbury, Michael Kassis of Washington and Alexandra Noeding of Washington Depot.

The commencement address was given by Wanji Walcott, vice chair of The Gunnery Board of Trustees and senior vice president and General Counsel of the PayPal Global Legal Team.

Her daughter, Layla, was among the students in the graduating class.

“There is such value in having been a part of The Gunnery community and what it has taught you about the importance of inclusion and tolerance, mutual respect and meaningful dialogue,” Walcott said. “Having this experience early and taking these lessons to heart will inform the rest of your life and the role you play in every community that you become part of.”

“As people who have now learned and lived in the richness and connectedness of a values-based community, you can be positive leaders of influence, making a difference in, and contributing to, every community you become a part of throughout your life, whether at home, in college, at work or in the places you live,” she said. “But you must be more than just a beneficiary of the community.”

“The knowledge and opportunity you have been afforded creates some level of obligation wherever you are to share with others what you know about how to build, strengthen and thrive in a community,” Walcott said. “This, after all, is what heals and creates positive change in the world.”

Following Walcott’s address, Head of School Peter Becker awarded diplomas to the graduates as their names were called.

He also awarded the school’s three top prizes.

Additional prizes for academic excellence and other honors were presented the previous evening during the school’s annual Prize Night ceremony.

Julian Aviles received the Athletic Cup Award, which is awarded to students who have contributed most significantly to the success of athletics during the school year through consistent achievement and sportsmanship.

Aviles also received The Percy B. Wightman Prize for outstanding leadership in “things of the spirit” during this year at The Gunnery.

Michael Kassis of Washington received The School Poetry Prize.