Gun­ston School grad­u­ates 39

Record Observer - - Arts & Entertainment - By DOUG BISHOP dbishop@kibay­

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.

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