Investiture Marks Transition to New School Year

The Frederick Gunn School flag

On May 31, one day after the school celebrated the graduation of the Class of 2021, underclassmen and faculty gathered for Investiture, during which the new student leaders, including the Prefect-Elects, are introduced. 

This year’s Investiture service was notable in that it featured the presentation of underclassmen prizes and awards that in a traditional year would have been awarded when the whole school gathered for Prize Night. To view the Investiture service in its entirety, including the presentation of these awards, visit the End-of-Year Events page.

“The reason we take this moment, typically, is to really mark the transition, the succession, from the graduating class, the Class of 2021, to the school for next year, which will be comprised I think in the majority of you all,” Head of School Peter Becker said to the students. “We think it’s important – sort of a right of passage – to acknowledge that transition and to prepare you mentally  –  mind, body, spirit, and emotions  –  for taking on the mantle of stewarding the school.”

“This is now your school,” he said, “and I do want you to start thinking now –  today – about what you are going to do to make next year great, including the really important task of welcoming students who are new to the school. You are inheriting the school that the seniors leave behind. You inherit it and can leave it better than you found it. Ideally, that’s what happens. The school gets a little bit better year after year, because of all of us.”

New Student Leaders Named
Prefect Advisor Cassie Ruscz re-introduced the new prefects, who were elected during the spring term for the 2021-22 school year: Eddie Rayhill ’21, Head Prefect, Gavin Brown ’21, Serdar Kaltalioglu ’21, Liam Koval ’21, Ava Marti ’21, Clara Prander ’21, Alex Warren ’21, and Yoyo Zhang ’21. The school opted to delay administering the oath of office and presenting the prefects with their pins until the start of the fall term, when all of the prefects can be together in person.

Greg Swenson, Tour Guide Program Coordinator in the Admissions Office, introduced the eight students who were selected to serve as Head Tour Guides for the 2021-22 school year: Abbey Agrodnia '22, Oliver Chen '22, Kayla Clark '22, Sophia Kapkova '22, Will Marich '23, Theodore Mercier '22, Grace Noh '22 and Kierstin Shelters '22.

Lauren Lord, Assistant Dean of Students, introduced the new Class Representatives, whose mission is to serve their class by actively paying attention to each member of the class and helping to create a sense of community. The Sophomore Class Representatives are Layla Copen '24 and Jay Lee '24. The Junior Class Representatives are Ashleen Hay ’23 and Graham Ince ’23.

Jessica Baker, Director of Engagement & Operations, and Hope Thorn, Director of The 1850 Fund & Special Gifts, introduced the Gunn Society Leadership Team for 2021-22. The Sophomore Class Agents are Caroline Marich '24 and Yoyolet Zhang '24. The Junior Class Agents are Maeren Hay '23 and Emily Chiappa '23, and the Senior Class Agents are Kierstin Shelters ’22, Iris Hubbard ’22, Sophia Kapkova '22, and Anabel Lota '22. Rose  Liu '22 is the Community Relations and Recruitment Manager, Aria Trotta ’22 and Grace McManus ’23 are Co-Vice Presidents and Tori Nichele ’22 and Grace Noh ’22 are Co-Presidents.

Cum Laude Society
The distinguished academic record of three juniors earned them membership in the Cum Laude Society, a fellowship of scholars whose purpose is to recognize excellence in academic work. These three students join six seniors who were inducted into the Cum Laude Society during Commencement: Yoyo Zhang '22, Grace Noh '22, and Serdar Kaltalioglu '22.

“As they pursue their education, it is our hope that they will accept the honor of membership in the society as a responsibility to make some contribution to the ongoing search for greater understanding in the world in which we live,” said Alisa Croft, President of the Cum Laude Society and Math Department Chair.

The 2021-22 Gunn Scholars
Three students,  Grace Noh '22, Phineas Wright '22, and Robin Wright '22, were selected to the Gunn Scholar program for 2021-22. The Gunn Scholars are rising seniors who have been selected based on aptitude, interest, and character, to pursue original research into some aspect of the life and times of Abigail and Frederick Gunn.

Special Awards

  • The award for Freshman of the Year was presented to Mark Pizzo ’24.
  • The Patrick M. Dorton '86 Prize for Excellence in Quiet Leadership was presented to: William Marich '23. 
  • The Teddy Awards, given in loving memory of Edward "Teddy" Bright Ebersol, beloved member of the Class of 2008, who died tragically on November 28, 2004, at the age of 14 in a private plane crash near Telluride, Colorado, were presented to: Emma Eschweiler '24 and Eung Jay Lee '24.
  • The Red and Gray Tour Guides Award was presented to: Theodore Mercier '22 
  • The Edward Fuller Barnes Memorial Award was presented to Ashleen Hay '23.
  • The Yale University Book Award was presented to: Alexandria Warren '22
  • The University of Virginia Jefferson Book Award was awarded to: Edward Rayhill '22.
  • The Smith College Book Award was presented to: Grace Noh ’22.
  • The Trinity College Book Award was presented to: Sedar Kaltalioglu '22.
  • The Harvard Club of Southern Connecticut Book Award was presented to: Yoyo Zhang ’22.

Academic Awards

  • The Robert J. Benham Award for Effective Public Speaking: Lily O'Farrell '22
  • The School Poetry Prize: You "Yoyo" Zhang '22
  • The Stray Shot Award for Excellence in Prose: Maram Sharif '22
  • Excellence in Mandarin Award: Margery McFarland '22
  • The Katherine Kyes Leab History Prize for Moral Leadership: Holli Hay '23
  • The Fenning Prize for Excellence in Debate: Margery McFarland '22
  • The Hillman Award in American History Serdar Kaltalioglu '22
  • The Freshman Mathematics Department Award: Eung Jay Lee '24
  • The Sophomore Mathematics Department Award: Audrey Richards '23
  • The Junior Mathematics Department Award: Edward Rayhill '22
  • Excellence in Biology: Grace Noh '22
  • Excellence in Chemistry: Yoyo Zhang '22
  • The Russell Sturgis Bartlett Memorial Prize for Excellence in Science: Aubrey Barnes '22

The Stray Shot
Perhaps due to the pandemic this year, the present holders of the Stray Shot should be forgiven for being unable to carry on the tradition of hiding the heavy, Civil War-era cannon ball and creating clues for fellow students to take up the hunt to find it. “It is a great tradition,” Becker said, encouraging any students who are aware of the Stray Shot’s current whereabouts to renew the tradition in the new school year. 

Preparing for your moment
In closing, Dean of Students Ashley LeBlanc congratulated students on all they accomplished in this remarkable year. She reflected on a simple phrase the University of Maryland’s women’s basketball coach shared with her team before their first-ever Final Four:  “Be prepared for your moment.”

“As we look forward to the 2021-22 school year, I ask you, ‘How will you prepare for your moment?’” LeBlanc said. “On this day, we formally invest our time to celebrate the coming year, our leaders, and our school. Let’s put ourselves in positions that ask the most of us and demand our best. And let’s think about what we need to do to prepare ourselves for those moments and how we will do this successfully.” 

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