On the morning of June 11, 2016, The Gunston School celebrated its 105th Commencement, graduating 39 students from the Class of 2016. The longtime tradition of an outdoor ceremony along the banks of the Corsica River was greeted with sunny skies and warm smiles.
Bagpiper Hal Cummings led the processional, as the girls in white formal dresses carrying flower bouquets and boys in blue blazers and khakis processed slowly into the ceremony. Class President David Rogers opened with a warm greeting, followed by each senior presenting a favorite quote, a long-time tradition at the school.
This year’s commencement speaker was Mr. Alan Griffith, longtime advocate of the Chesapeake Bay watershed. Prior to moving to Centreville, Maryland, with his wife Penny, Griffith retired from The Bank of New York. During his distinguished 41-year tenure he served many roles including president of the bank from 1990 to 1994. During his last 10 years at the bank, he directed the international banking sector, retiring in 2005 as vice chair of the board. Alan’s extensive experience on multiple boards—including Lafayette College, The ALS Association, Chesapeake Bay Museum, Chesapeake Bay Foundation, and George Washington’s Mount Vernon—makes him an invaluable leader with extensive experience in development, communications, and governance of nonprofits.
Griffith’s address focused on the road the graduates have travelled and will travel. Until now their road has been narrow, decisions made with guidance from their parents and teachers. He informed the graduates that their road was now widening, and gave some “unsolicited advice.” “A successful trip down your wider road requires personal leadership—I am not talking about organizational leadership—I am talking about the leadership of yourself—leadership that you must demonstrate by your daily conduct and the decisions you make—it must be mature and thoughtful personal leadership that will ensure your college experience is fulfilling and rewarding—and it prepares you for the even wider road that awaits you after college.” He summarized, “let your decisions be determined by—1. Your visions of what you want to accomplish; 2. Being ambitious—having quiet confidence you can achieve your goals; 3. By always being honest with yourself; 4. By always maintaining self-control; 5. Your commitment to having a strong work ethic.
On Friday, June 10, the Green & White Awards Ceremony was held in The Field House. Student Government President, Kailani Clarke opened the ceremony, followed by Headmaster John Lewis. He addressed the class of 2016 and praised them for their accomplishments, adding what a privilege it had been to lead such an extraordinary group of young men and women. He wished them all the best in their future endeavors.
Valedictorian Abigail Barcus reflected on her years at Gunston, “I remember our Embarkation Day like it was yesterday. Standing at the Centreville Wharf, my name was called first and I hopped into a boat with several of my new classmates. Our boat took off from the dock and we rode along the Corsica River in our pastel button downs. I was in awe of the fact that I was arriving to school by boat. The whole ride, I was thinking, ‘Most kids go to school by bus, but I’m going by boat? This is crazy!’ I will never forget how surreal that moment felt and how truly grateful I was to be going to Gunston. At the time, I had no way of knowing that Embarkation represents something much more meaningful than a simple trip from the wharf to the shores of Gunston. Now that I am here, one day away from graduating, I understand that Embarkation is such a special tradition because it symbolizes the start of the high school journey through Gunston.”
Barcus gave some imparting advice to her classmates, “Class of 2016, take today to enjoy the memories and reminisce about the past 4 years, but when it comes time to embark on your next journey, jump out of the car without hesitation and run to this new, unknown, and exciting adventure called your future. Congrats to the Class of 2016. We have arrived!”
Several faculty members participated in the presentation of awards, which recognized the following students:
Samuel A. Middleton Award (Valedictorian): Abigail Barcus
The Gunston Award: David Rogers
Leadership Award: Kailani Clarke
Moore Award for Improvement: Luke Miller
Marguerite Thomas Award (Community Service): Katie Larrimore
The Faculty Award: Aggie Raymond, Abbie DeFino
Environmental Stewardship Award: Kailani Clarke
Paul M. Long Award: Ethan Boone
Clare Poussard Award: Tim Hesford
Megan V. Batdorf Award: Tong Shen
The Anita Gruss Athletics Award: Isaac Jennings, Kyle Naumann
12-Star Athletes (12 team seasons): Isaac Jennings, Alea Murray
Art Award: Tyler Urquhart
Music Award: Alea Murray
Theatre Award: Jared McLean
Science Award: Claire Schmittinger
Mathematics Award: Ian Jiang
Capt. John P. W. Vest Award (History): Abigail Miller
Sandra Slacum Spears Award (English): Kailani Clarke
Hila C. Ferguson Award (Literature): Abigail Barcus
Junior Symposium Award: Lauren Covell
Senior Paradigm Project Award: Kailani Clarke and Tyler Urquhart
Marie W. Whittico Award (Latin): Abigail Barcus
Spanish Award: Aggie Raymond
The final award, the coveted Green & White Cup for the 2015-2016 school year, was presented to the Green Team! Twice each year, Gunston declares a “green & white field day” as students, faculty and staff divide into two teams and compete in activities that range from canoe races, tennis matches, a pie eating contest and sack races, to math competitions, creative writing challenges, ultimate Frisbee, photography and more. The team accumulating the most points from both days wins the Green & White Cup.