Gunston grads encouraged to make world a better place
CENTREVILLE — Forty-two students were graduated from The Gunston School in Centreville on June 10. Commencement exercises were held beneath a white tent on the lawn of the school alongside the scenic Corsica River. Members of the Class of 2017 were led in their processional by Robert Wallace playing bag pipes.
Wishing his fellow classmates great success in the future, Lizhi “Cliff” Peng, class president, greeted students, faculty, parents and supporters in both English and Chinese — the address in Chinese in honor and recognition of the international families who had traveled so far to attend with their graduates.
The seniors were invited to each share a memorable quote with the guests. To paraphrase a quote from Socrates, one senior said, “What screws us up the most in life is the picture in our head of what it’s supposed to be.”
Others shared witticisms and life lessons from Winnie the Pooh, Bilbo Baggins, Dr. Suess, and Peter Pan. Others took a more serious note, “The true soldier fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him,” G.K. Chesterton, quoted one graduate.
The address to the graduates was provided by W.W. “Buck” Duncan, president the Mid-Shore Community Fund — a philanthropic organization serving the region. Duncan promised he would keep his remarks brief, recalling on the day of his commencement he was hoping they would “just give me my diploma and get me out of there.”
However, there were a few life lessons Duncan hoped he could impart with the graduates. Be thankful, Duncan said, don’t take your good health for granted and take control of your mental, physical, and spiritual health. Develop your talents and share them with each other and those you meet along the way, Duncan told them.
Be thankful for your education, your family, your support system that has led you to where you are today. Gunston has prepared you to become ethically and environmentally minded leaders, he said, “You are ready for those challenges.”
The world is a very different place now, said Duncan, “Take responsibility, think carefully about the choices you will make.” Duncan encouraged the students, be thoughtful of yourself and others, but seize opportunities. Work hard, but work smart, he said.
There is no substitute for a positive attitude, said Duncan. It is critical for success and negativity is contagious, he cautioned. Make your own luck, be in the right place at the right time, and be prepared, he advised.
Lastly, be thankful for everything that is worthwhile in your life. “Go show the world what you can offer, it is much,” said Duncan. “Make the world a better place for all of us.”
The students were presented with their diplomas by Susan Dillon, chairman of the board of directors, and John A. Lewis IV, Headmaster.
A final benediction was offered for Class of 2017 before their departure from the grounds and their embarkment of higher education. Assistant Head of School Christie Grabis told the class, embrace this moment, and as you look back thank those mentors, friends, and family who have supported you always, “Go and be well.”
The Gunston School’s Class of 2017.
The Gunston Chorale performs “Count on Me” during commencement exercises.
Class President, Lizhi “Cliff” Peng greets guests in both English and Chinese.
Nicole Sheridan Blades, National Honor Society member, receives her diploma from Headmaster John A. Lewis IV.