First Day of School – By Boat!


New students and faculty arrive to campus by boat from the Centreville Wharf and are greeted by the entire Gunston community.

On Tuesday, September 5, Gunston held its annual Embarkation ceremony. As a 107-year old school, Gunston has many traditions, but few are as meaningful as Embarkation—all new students and faculty arrive on their first day to campus by boat. Gunston’s sixty-four new students and seven new faculty and staff members departed from the Centreville Wharf, traveled down the Corsica River, and arrived at the school’s waterfront, where they were greeted by the school’s Headmaster, Mr. John Lewis. After shaking the Headmaster’s hand, each student signed the school’s honor code—Responsibilities of the Community, then climbed the stairs of the embankment and proceeded to shake the hand of every member of the student body, faculty and administration. “This ceremony is meaningful and symbolic” commented Lewis, “as it celebrates our unique connection to the Chesapeake Bay watershed, and also celebrates our strong sense of community.” Many of Gunston’s new parents were on hand to witness the event.

The class of 1921, led by freshman Emma McClary, shakes hand with each of their new classmates.

This year, Gunston—a co-educational college preparatory high school–is opening at a historically high enrollment of 195, and welcomes new students from Queen Anne’s, Kent, Talbot, Cecil, Caroline, and Anne Arundel counties, as well as Delaware. Gunston also welcomes a number of students from overseas, with students arriving this year from Switzerland, Japan, and China. Lewis said, “We’re excited to be welcoming such a large and talented class of new students, and with our largest enrollment, we are looking forward to a great year.”

Gunston School Sept 5, 2017

Gunston School began in 1911.  Originally called the Gunston Farm School, it was founded by Sam and Mary Middleton on their farm along the Corsica River near Centreville in order to provide their daughter Emilie, a polio victim, with the highest quality education. From the beginning, the school had a strong focus on academics, coupled with development of character. Important features of the early curriculum included the performance of plays by Shakespeare and an emphasis on French, the international language of diplomacy. The primary athletic activity was horseback riding, a feature that lasted into the 1960s. Students rode day and were responsible for maintaining the house and the stables.

“Aunt Mary” Middleton – long-time headmistress and founder of the Gunston School

Sam Middleton passed away in 1929, but “Aunt Mary” Middleton continued to oversee the school for another 35 years, building Gunston from a small boarding school to one of the more prestigious college preparatory schools for girls in Maryland. The school’s website quotes one alumna’s comments on “Aunt Mary” saying  “Mary Middleton was not a woman who expected accolades. She was a doer, not a talker. She had character and backbone. She was bold and formidable. She was a fighter and a peacemaker, a diplomat when necessary.”

While there were occasional male students through the years, Gunston remained primarily a girls’ school until 1991.  At the same time, Gunston became a day school only with no boarding facilities.  In recent years, the school has been roughly evenly distributed between male and female students. The total number of faculty, both full and part-time, is 29.  The instructional class size averages 10-12 pupils per class. The emphasis is on a highly academic college preparatory curriculum, though sports and community service are also emphasized. In a typical year, all graduates go on to pursue higher education.

The tradition of new students arriving on campus by boat began in 2010 when John Lewis became headmaster. He saw the school’s waterfront location as an important asset and decided to incorporate it into the students’ first day of school. In addition to the embarkation ceremony, he introduced the tradition of older students lining up to greet the new students with a handshake. In the spring, the seniors leave by boat.

Headmaster John Lewis meets new students at the dock on Gunston’s campus.

In mid-may, all students participate in a week of Chesapeake Bay studies, some with overnight trips and some on day trips.  Following Chesapeake Bay week, qualified seniors may serve a two-week internship with a local business or organization or another project of their choice.  Graduation is in early June.

Senior Lila Ingersoll of Chestertown speaks to the assembled school.

For more information visit the Gunston School website.

See more pictures of Embarkation Day below.  All photos courtesy of Gunston School.

New faculty & staff also arrived by boat.











Gunston Students Earned Medals on the National Spanish Exam


Congratulations to world language students from the Gunston School who recently attained national recognition for excellent performance on the 2017 National Spanish Examinations, earning a total of 1 gold, 3 silver, and 6 bronze medals along with 16 honorable mentions.

“Attaining a medal or honorable mention for any student on the National Spanish Examinations is very prestigious,” said Kevin Cessna-Buscemi, National Director of the Exams, “because the exams are the largest of their kind in the United States with over 157,000 students participating in 2017.”

Front row L-R: Ben Byerly ’17, Isabelle Schmittinger ’19, ​Re​ DeFino ’19, ​Emma​ Johnson ’17, Elyssa Merton ’19, Tyler Judd ’18. Back row L-R: George Bowie ’17, Griffin Hecht ’19, Henry Parkhurst ’18, Davy Song ’19, and Spanish Teacher Ms. Avis Wheatl​e​y.

Gold medalists at level 1: Haorui Song
Silver medalists at level 1: Griffin Hecht, Elyssa Merton
Silver medalists at level 5: George Bowie
Bronze medalists at level 1: Rebecca DeFino, Isabelle Schmittinger
Bronze medalists at level 2: Emma Johnson
Bronze medalists at level 3: Tyler Judd
Bronze medalists at level 4: Ben Byerly, Henry Parkhurst
Students receiving honorable mention at level 1: Rick Archambault, Philip Ashley, Tirza Enriquez, Zack Goss, Brennan Paddy, Garrett Rudolfs; at level 2: Chad Angelini, Simon Cawley, Emma Hottel, Hopewell Murphy, Ryleigh Paskoski, Neel Patel; at level 3: Alice Agee, Alex Papadopoulos, Maddy Romberger; at level 5: Abigail Miller.

The students were taught by Spanish teachers, Juan Angarita and Avis Wheatley. This is the fifth year Gunston has participated in the exams.

The National Spanish Examinations are sponsored by the American Association of Teachers of Spanish and Portuguese.

Horizons Welcomes 160 Students to 2017 Summer Program


Horizons Students

Chestertown, MD (June 27, 2017)—Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s—a summer academic and enrichment program for local underprivileged students—welcomed 160 students to its three campuses yesterday—at Gunston, Radcliffe Creek, and Washington College—for the beginning of its 2017 #SixWeeksofHappiness. This summer’s program centers on a water-related theme, with both academic lessons and enrichment opportunities that build upon the learning-rich environment of the Chesapeake Bay. Through this coveted summer opportunity, Horizons students gain not only academic achievements but return to school with confidence, preparedness, and a desire to learn. They also receive breakfast and lunch each day.

“Today, we begin a six-week summer transformational journey for 160 low-income students from Kent and Queen Anne’s counties,” explains Executive Director Bob Parks. “Over the summer, disadvantaged children tread water at best, or even fall behind. But through the Horizons summer academic and cultural enrichment program, these children will instead make academic gains—and return to school in the fall armed with confidence and preparedness that will allow them to achieve academic success during the school year and beyond.”

About Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s

Since 1995, the Horizons summer learning program has served hundreds of Kent and Queen Anne’s County children at or below the poverty level, as part of a growing national initiative to reduce the summer slide. The six-week program headquartered at Radcliffe Creek School in Chestertown and The Gunston School in Centreville serves kids from kindergarten through eighth grade.

Horizons of Kent and Queen Anne’s is one of 51 affiliates of the Horizons National summer learning program. The six-week summer program employs an experiential model of teaching that focuses on reading, writing, and math. Students not only improve academically, but learn to swim and participate in activities that foster creativity, confidence, citizenship, and good health.

To keep up with all the Horizons news, please visit our website and like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.


Gunston Crew Completes Season with Milestone at National Championships


The Gunston School’s Rowing team completed their spring season with invitations to the Scholastic Rowing Association of America’s National Championship Regatta in Cherry Hill, NJ. Competing against the top rowing programs in the country, Gunston was represented in the Boy’s and Girl’s Varsity 4+ categories.

Gunston’s Boy’s Varsity 4+ reached a milestone this year by breaking out of the first round of racing for the first time in this event in program history. Later in the day the crew went on to compete in the Repechage (second chance race) and placed 6th.

“The boys’ performance in their heat was exactly how we had practiced their race plan over the last few weeks. Thanks to their sprint they were able to edge themselves into 3rd place and avoid elimination from the regatta. They eventually reached elimination in the repechage but they were very happy with the way they rowed and left everything they had on the race course,” said Head Coach Nicole Stimpson.

Representing Gunston in the Boy’s Varsity 4+ were Coxswain Lauren Covell ‘17 (Annapolis, MD), Stroke Ben Jones ‘17 (Chestertown, MD), 3 Seat Ethan Boone ‘17 (Centreville, MD), 2 Seat Alex Papadopoulos ‘18 (Townsend, DE), and Bow Garrett Rudolfs ‘18 (Centreville, MD).

Gunston’s Girl’s 4+ placed 6th in their heat eliminating them from the regatta. “With a freshman coxswain, 2 sophomores, and 2 seniors the underclassmen in this crew were able to gain valuable race experience at this regatta,” said Stimpson. “After racing at nationals these younger athletes will be able to pass on their experiences and motivate their teammates this coming fall.”

Representing Gunston in the Girl’s Varsity 4+ were Coxswain Isabella Santoboni ‘20 (Annapolis, MD), Stroke Olivia Sherman ‘17 (Middletown, DE), 3 Seat Elena Sherman ‘19 (Middletown, DE), 2 Seat Katie Easter ‘19 (Grasonville, MD), Bow Maddy Romberger ‘17 (Sudlersville, MD).

A Fond Farewell: The Gunston School’s Class of 2017


Friday, May 19th marked a special day at The Gunston School. An annual tradition, Senior Transition Day and Disembarkation commemorates seniors’ final day on campus. During the day, the seniors enjoyed a walked down memory lane with a slide show highlighting their high school years, were welcomed into TGS Alumni Association, and with family and friends watching, placed a personalized brick on the Heron Walkway adding to the foundation of Gunston. The day ended with a receiving line of students and faculty wishing them farewell as they disembarked the Gunston campus on the Chester River Packet for a cruise down the Corsica and Chester Rivers. We wish the Class of 2017 the best of luck!

Gunston Competes in Academic Team National Championships


For the first time in school history, Gunston’s Academic Team competed in the in the National Association of Quiz Tournaments national championship tournament, held in Chicago at the end of April. Drawing many of the strongest academic secondary schools from across the country, the NAQT tournament is the premier academic quiz bowl tournament in the United States. The Herons finished 20th overall in the Charter and Private division. The team initially qualified for nationals at the Johns Hopkins Winter Tournament, and were led by Seniors Abigail Miller (Easton) and Sutter Phillips (Stevensville), Sophomore Phineas Howell (Chestertown) and Freshman Andrew Amygdalos (Dover, DE).

Pictured left to right: Phineas Howell, Headmaster John Lewis, Sutter Phillips, Abigail Miller, Andrew Amygdalos.

Gunston’s academic team coach, Headmaster John Lewis, said, “The team has worked incredibly hard all year, and it was fun to match wits with some of the best students in the country. They worked well as a team, and though we will miss Sutter and Abby, we look forward to heading back to nationals next year.”

The performance of Freshman Andrew Amygdalos was especially impressive. In a field typically dominated by 11th and 12th graders, he ranked as the 35th overall individual tournament scorer, making him one of the strongest 9th grade academic team players in the country.

Strong Season Opener for Gunston Crew


Gunston Crew opened its season strong taking home two first place medals at the Bladensburg Invitational hosted by DeMatha High School. Other crews participating were Annapolis Junior Rowing, Elizabeth Seton (girls), Walter Johnson, St. John’s College High School, Montgomery Boat Club and Bishop O’Connell High School.

Gunston entered 7 events and came home with 5 wins in the following categories:
Boys Varsity 4 – 1st
Girls Varsity 8 – 1st
Boys Novice 8
Girls Novice 8
Boys 3rd Varsity 4

“It was a great way to start our spring season,” said Head Coach Nicole Stimpson. “Almost all of our boats were able to get in solid racing experience today with two races each. Having a time trial and a final allowed them to review any issues they may have had in the morning and come back out fresh and focused for their final.”

Gunston Crew continues their season this Saturday, April 1 at home with a duel with St. Paul’s Boys and Episcopal’s Girls.

Writers Daisy Fried and Roy Kesey Work with Gunston English Students


On March 6 and 7, Gunston hosted Daisy Fried and Roy Kesey as part of the spring installment of In Celebration of Books, the school’s visiting writers series. Fried, a poet and critic, currently serves on the board of the National Book Critics Circle. Kesey is the recipient of an NEA grant for fiction as well as a PEN/Heim grant for translation.

A public reading of their work was held on Monday, March 6 in Gunston’s Field House. After that, Fried and Kesey visited Gunston’s English classrooms over the course of two days as they led students in writing exercises and craft discussions.

Daisy   Kesey - Copy

Photos: Daisy Fried and Roy Kesey

Poet and critic Daisy Fried is the author of three books of poetry: Women’s Poetry: Poems and Advice (University of Pittsburgh, 2013), named by Library Journal one of the five best poetry books of 2013, My Brother is Getting Arrested Again (University of Pittsburgh, 2006), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and She Didn’t Mean to Do It, (University of Pittsburgh, 2000), which won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Award. For her poetry, she’s received Guggenheim, Hodder and Pew Fellowships, as well as a Pushcart Prize and the Cohen Award from Ploughshares. Recent poems have been published in the London Review of Books, The Nation, The New Republic, Poetry, The Threepenny Review and Best American Poetry 2013. She reviews books of poetry for The New York Times, Poetry and The Threepenny Review, and won the Editors Award from Poetry for “Sing, God-Awful Muse,” an essay about reading Paradise Lost and breastfeeding. She is on the faculty of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers.

Roy Kesey’s latest books are the short story collection Any Deadly Thing (Dzanc Books 2013) and the novel Pacazo (Dzanc Books 2011/Jonathan Cape 2012). His translation of Pola Oloixarac’s Savage Theories was published by Soho Press in January of this year. His short stories, essays, translations and poems have appeared in over a hundred magazines and anthologies, including Best American Short Stories and New Sudden Fiction. He is currently a visiting professor at Washington College; last semester he taught a course called “Fire and Ice: How the World Ends,” an anthropological and scientific exploration of the apocalypse, and this semester he is teaching a creative writing workshop on travel writing and a literature course on contemporary world fiction.

Gunston Students Compete in the First Tech Challenge


Eight Gunston students built a robot as part of the First Tech Challenge (FTC) competition which is sponsored by the FIRST robotics program. The Gunston Team was one of twenty teams from all across Maryland and nearby states that competed at the Naval Academy on January 22 and thirty two teams that competed at Oakland Mills High School in Howard County on the 29th of January. At these events, the robots perform complicated tasks such as pushing the correct button on a beacon, shooting balls into goals, and manipulating a large yoga ball. The game was divided into two phases. First, the robot had to perform tasks autonomously by sensing and reacting to its environment; next three students were able to control the robots using game pads.

As a team they created an engineering notebook that described their strategy, proposed designs, and problems that the team overcame along the way. At the competition the students had to describe and defend their design in front of a panel of engineers. Real world engineering challenges like FTC teach students to follow the engineering processes that they will use in their future careers.

team photo

Team Photo L to R: Sutter Phillips ’17 of Stevensville, Sam Wargotz ’17 of Grasonville, Nikki Blades ’17 of Trappe, George Bowie ’17 of Still Pond, Ryan Redding ’17 of Galena, Garrett Rudolfs of Centreville, Jamie Caron ’17 of Chestertown.

Eight students built the robot during the fall semester during their robotics course and nine building sessions over the holidays. Suter Phillips worked on design, Nikki Blades on documentation and organization, and Sam Wargotz and Ryan Redding worked on construction. Jamie Caron was the rules and strategy expert. Garrett Rudolphs and George Bowie programed robot and Alli Webb helped with diverse tasks. During the matches, George, Sutter, Garrett, and Sam took turns as acting as robot drivers and team coaches. The group was mentored by Gunston physics teacher Dr. Ken Wilson and Gunston director of technology Joe Thompson. Gunston student Sophie Cooper worked with Nikki Blades to design the team logo of a Heron built of gears.

This is the third year the the team 9530 “the Herons” participated in the FTC competition and each year the robot design has improved. Mentor Dr Wilson commented that the basic design of the robot body was the best that the Herons team had produced. Compared to their earlier efforts, this year’s robot, affectionately dubbed “Steve” by the students, was robust, easy to work on, and very nimble on the playing field.

The competitions always produce unexpected challenges and the students in the pit crew have to work out the kinks in real time under stressful conditions. The students learn how to work together as a team to systematically find and solve problems. The Gunston team performed especially well at teamwork in the pit: they were calm and focused which allowed them constantly improve their scores as they participated in a total of 10 matches across the two events.

This year’s team was primarily composed of seniors, some of whom have participated in the robotics team for several years. They bequeath to the 2018 team programs, design, and a working robot. Dr Wilson said that he is sorry to see them go but confident that the program that they have built will continue to improve over the coming years.