Gunston School graduates 39
CENTREVILLE — The Gunston School in Centreville held its commencement for the Class of 2016 on Saturday morning, June 11. The Maryland-certified private school, founded in 1911, graduated 39 students this year.
The Gunston School, as it has been known since 2011, has seen an evolution over the more than 100 years it has existed. First known as Gunston Farm School, founded by Sam and Mary “Aunt Mary” Middleton on their farm along the Corsica River, the school has always focused on two essentials: a strong belief in rigorous academics coupled with the development of character as essential elements of a child’s education. The school changed from an all-girls boarding school in 1991. The school was temporarily renamed Gunston Day School (1995-2011) transitioning to a co-educational day school.
The school currently has an enrollment of 160 students from six Maryland counties and students from Delaware. It also has an active recruitment of international students from Europe and Asia.
Caps and gowns are not part of the commencement tradition at Gunston — young men wear Navy blue jackets with green and silver gray ties — young women all wear white formal gowns and carry beautifully colorful bouquets of selected fresh cut flowers of their own choice. The commencement procession was led by bagpiper Hal Cummings, who played a Celtic march. The administration, school board members and teachers led the procession as graduates followed, girls first, and then the boys.
Upon graduates arriving to their platform seats, prayer was offered by Assistant Head Master Christie Grabis, and a welcome was given by senior class President David Rogers.
Headmaster John Lewis introduced commencement speaker Alan Griffith, 74, of Centreville. He provided Griffith’s distingusihed background, saying, “An alumnus of Lafayette College (1964), Mr. Griffith began a 41-year career at The Bank of New York retiring as vice-vhairman in 2005. A founding member of national board of the ALS Association, where he served for 30 years. He currently serves on the Advisory Board of George Washington’s Mount Vernon. Mr. Griffith is deeply committed to the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, where he has served as board chair.”
Griffith said, “Commencement addresses often have three things in common — they are often delivered by some ‘old guy’ who sound like he’s living in the middle ages. You should know I’m not on Facebook. I think Twitter is the sound some birds make. (audience laughter followed) So no exceptions — you got an old guy, and he does not know how to text.
“Second, the speeches are boring — so probably no exception here, and third, the speaker delivers some advice. So, here comes another address from a boring old guy — a guy that does not have any social media friends.”
Griffith’s message focused on the graduates understanding the direction of their lives is now in their own hands. He describe their lives thus far as a “road” traveling to a destination. One desination, graduating high school, has been achieved. Now, the road, “beginning today is becoming much wider .... A successful trip down your wider road requires personal leadership.”
He told graduates, “Do not be afraid to change your goals — failure to achieve them is not a failure, but a learning experience. Realize that often the best learning experience is making a mistake.”
Griffith thanked the graduates and school for their work in helping restore the Chesapeake Bay watershed, saying, “You also learned that you can have an impact on one of the world’s greatest challenges — protecting the environment. I hope protecting the environment remains a lifelong passion of yours. It’s a challenge, that if we fail to meet, it will have devastating consequences.”
He summarized, “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; and 5. Your commitment to have a strong work ethic ... It’s your road — you decide where it’s going. Congratulation and safe travels.”
As part of the ceremony, each graduate read a meaningful brief quote from a famous person. According to Lewis, the quotes were “un-censored.” The quotes ranged from Winnie the Pooh to Muhammad Ali to Walt Disney. It took less than 10 minutes for all the graduates to share their quotes as a microphone was passed among them.
The school choir, led by Mark Weining, who is also the school’s Dean of Students, sang “The Climb.” A closing prayer was offered, and the program ended with great enthusiasm as the graduates marched out in single file to a informal luncheon served on the lawn next to the headmaster’s home on the campus. The program lasted about an hour.
After the ceremony, Lewis said, “We’re deeply proud of our students; they are an amazingly thoughtful and talented group who reflect great hope for our shared future.”
The female graduates at The Gunston School, all dressed in formal attire, carried fresh cut bouquets of flowers as a colorful part of the commencement ceremony Saturday, June 11.
Gunston graduating senior Daniel Zussman of Grasonville reads his favorite quote during the program at The Gunston School commencement Saturday, June 11. Each senior was permitted to share a brief quote from a famous source. It took less than 10 minutes for all 39 graduates to read their quotes, ranging from Winnie the Pooh to Muhammad Ali to Walt Disney.
Gunston Chairman of the Board Susan Dillon congratulates Kellan Paddy of Centreville during the graduation ceremony, Saturday morning, June 11. Kellan was one of 39 graduates with the Class of 2016 at Gunston.
Gunston graduating senior Aggie Raymond of Easton laughs as she exits the commencement ceremony Saturday morning, June 11, carrying her diploma. She is followed by graduate Claire Schmittinger, of Middletown, Del., and Sophie Showalter, of Centreville.