The Gunston School Celebrates 108th Commencement


This past weekend Gunston’s campus was filled with family, friends, and faculty as they joined the Class of 2019 in celebrating their achievements and marking the end of their journey at Gunston.

On Friday, June 7, the Green & White Awards Ceremony was held in the Field House. Headmaster John Lewis offered a brief remark about each of the 47 seniors. Lewis ended his address to the Class of 2019 stating “It has been a privilege to work with you, and you have conducted yourselves with class, camaraderie, and grace during your time here. On behalf of everyone in this room, we wish you the best!”

Valedictorian Davy Song addressed his classmates “1368 days ago, we, the Class of 2019, embarked on a flotilla of boats bound for Gunston. Aboard, as we gazed into the blues of the Corsica River, Gunston meant nothing but seven white letters on a background of dark green in the distance. When we alighted from the boats and stepped onto the dock, we were oblivious to what lied ahead of us, and we could never imagine that we were to spend the next four years of our youth in a magical place, a place where we would forge deep friendships with classmates and teachers, where we would explore our raison d’êtres, and where we would transform from the innocent freshmen into the confident young adults that we are today. Four years ago, no one fell into the Corsica River during embarkation. Four years later, we are still, fortunately, intact and whole. Yet, one thing has changed: a collective experience has brought us closer together, and stronger together…We remember because of the blood, sweat, and tears that we shed shaped who we are today. Just look at how much we’ve achieved throughout our high school careers. Class of 2019—today is the day to proclaim proudly—We did it!”

Photo: From left to right, front row, Kejing Chen, Cameryn Kelly, Cora Duncan, Michell Pagan, Megan Prochaska, Claire Johnson, Elyssa Merton, Katie Schiwy, Anna Wolf, Paige Murphy, Fuji Yang; second row: Si-tong Zhou, Rebecca Defino, Anneliese Clair, Shiloh Clark, Marisa Pisapia, Caroline Roser, Elena Sherman, Morgan Smith, Leah Hellwege, Brynne Kneeland; third row, President of St. John’s College Peter Kanelos, Headmaster John Lewis, Catherine Easter, Yanni Harris, Luke Stehle, William Urquhart, Phineas Howell, Andrew Seaman, Grafton Howard, Nick Basham, Katie Staley, Board of Trustees Chairman Jim Wright, Assistant Headmaster Christie Grabis; fourth row, Menel Harris, Haorui Song, Dolan Carella, Philip Ashley, Griffin Hecht, Zachary Goss, David Armstrong; back row: Yong Yan, Zhenghao Ren, Nicholas Lee, Samuel Umidi, Ryan Evans, William Gibson, James Pratt, Juan Cordero. 

The awards ceremony was followed by the Brick Laying Ceremony and Senior Disembarkation. Four years ago the Class of 2019 arrived on campus by boat, where they were greeted by outstretched hands and smiling faces of the upperclassmen and faculty. On Friday, the 47 members of the class of 2019 once again walked through the receiving line, but this time they said farewell to their friends, family, and faculty as they disembarked from Gunston to start their next journey.

On the morning of June 8th, The Gunston School held its 108th Commencement, graduating the largest class in history—47 members. The longtime tradition of an outdoor ceremony along the banks of the Corsica River was greeted with sunny skies and warm smiles. Bagpiper Robert Wallace led the procession, as the girls in white formal dresses carrying flower bouquets and boys in blue blazers and khakis processed.  Class President Claire Johnson delivered the opening greeting, followed by each senior presenting a favorite quote.

This year’s commencement speaker was Peter Kanelos, President of St. John’s College in Annapolis.  Kanelos composed his remarks around the key concepts of Confucius’ moral philosophy: the pursuit of dao (truth), the ethical system of jen (love and benevolence), The moral ideal of chun-tze (the man of high moral achievement who constantly tries to improve and cultivate himself to achieve various stages of perfection),  and the wu-lun (five basic human relationships). Kanelos bestowed these parting words to the seniors “It is often the ambition of young people to make a difference to build a better world. This is admirable but you must begin from the inside out. The world is composed of individuals each with boundless capacity. How you cultivate your freedom will determine whether you are self-seeking or selfless. The latter path is the path to nobility. To be noble is to light the world with your love. And if enough souls shine forth in this way the world will not only be better but brighter. You are both the spark and the flame. Shine forth and shine on.”

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