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2021 School Walk Continues Tradition, Celebrating Mr. Gunn and his Love of Nature

On October 7, faculty and students gathered on the Koven-Jones Glade for the All-School Walk, a beloved Frederick Gunn School tradition, begun by Mr. Gunn in 1861. The weather for this year’s walk was sunny and warm, with a slight, intermittent breeze that sent the first yellow leaves fluttering from their branches. The Shepaug River was running fairly high and during quieter moments, one could hear the sound of the water rushing along. It was, in the words of Dan Fladager, Director of Outdoor Programs, “a beautiful day to gather as a school and celebrate our founder’s birthday and the beautiful area we call home by walking together in fellowship and community.”

Happy birthday Frederick Gunn

October 4th marked the 205th birthday of abolitionist, outdoorsman and school founder Frederick Gunn. In 2016, the school commemorated Mr. Gunn’s 200th birthday with a grand celebration that included an exhibit at the Judy Black Memorial Park & Gardens. This year, Head of School Peter Becker marked the occasion at School Meeting by sharing an excerpt from the eulogy the Rev. Henry Ward Beecher delivered on October 4, 1882, a little over a year after Mr. Gunn’s death. Friends and alumni gathered at the school the night before, and in the morning, filled the Meeting House on the Green. 

Kathy and Tom King '60

The Frederick Gunn School will have a new endowed faculty chair beginning in fall 2022, established through the leadership and generosity of Trustee Tom King ’60 and his wife, Kathy. The gift of $1 million to the School’s endowment was given to honor esteemed Frederick Gunn School educators in the fields of science, technology, engineering, math and entrepreneurship.

Cleve Gray Exhibit

When parents visit campus on Parents Weekend, they will have an opportunity to view three paintings by American Abstract Expressionist painter Cleve Gray in the Perakos Family Cares Art Gallery, dedicated in honor of Wallace H. Rowe III H'57 P'77 '79. The paintings were acquired through the Cleve Gray Foundation and the school’s Visual Arts Advisory Council. Its purpose is to guide the school in its acquisition of works of art to ensure a positive outcome for the school, the potential donor or lender, and the work intended for donation or loan.

Marc Morial

Speaker Series Welcomes National Urban League President Marc Morial

On September 23, The Frederick Gunn School welcomed Marc Morial, who since 2003 has served as President and CEO of the National Urban League,  the nation’s largest historic civil rights and urban advocacy organization, as the first featured guest in our 2021 Speaker Series. Morial was introduced to the school by Trustee and former Board Chair Jonathan S. Linen ’62, who formerly served as Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the National Urban League, and whose father, the late James A. Linen III P’62, was the National Urban League Board President in the 1960s. 

ead of School Peter Becker delivers the welcome address at Convocation in the Tisch Family Auditorium of the Thomas S. Perako

The entire community gathered together in person for Convocation on September 11, formally marking the beginning of our 172nd year as a school. “A new year in a boarding school is an incredible opportunity to recreate our community based on our history, our mission, and our Core Values,” Head of School Peter Becker said in his welcome address. “It is the same as when Mr. and Mrs. Gunn welcomed about 12 students into their home in 1850 to create a learning community – a learning ecosystem –  out of the diverse group of people living and learning in close proximity to each other.”

Seth Low speaking at the 911 memorial service

Students and faculty gathered in Bourne Garden early Saturday morning for a memorial service to mark the 20th anniversary of the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Several faculty members shared personal stories, readings and poems intended to keep the stories and memories of 9/11 alive, particularly for a new generation of students.

Ron Whittle P'80 '82

Beloved faculty member Ron Whittle P’80 ’82, who served for over a decade as History Department Chair, a teacher, librarian, and coach, passed away August 17, 2021, from complications of Parkinson’s disease, according to his daughter Sarah Stoffel ’82.

Top Scholar Yolanda Wang accepting her diploma at Commencement, May 30, 2021

Yolanda Wang ’21 of Tenafly, New Jersey, was named the Top Scholar for the Class of 2021 at Commencement on May 30. This was the second consecutive year she earned Top Scholar honors in her class. The achievement was one of many for the 18-year-old Wang, who was also the Top Scholar in the school for the 2020-21 academic year, and plans to study information science and minor in music at Cornell University this fall.

Frederick Gunn standing, circa 1860 from the collection of the Gunn Historical Museum

The Gunn Historical Museum’s Guest Lecture Series resumes on Monday, September 13, 2021, at 6:30 p.m. with “Frederick Gunn: An American Original.” This presentation is being co-sponsored by the Gunn Historical Museum and The Frederick Gunn School and will be presented by Head of School Peter Becker, Bart McMann, Director of the Center for Citizenship and Just Democracy, and Emily Gum, Associate Head of School for Teaching and Learning.

Poster for "Almost, Maine"

This past weekend The Frederick Gunn School Drama Society brought home three Halo Awards for this spring’s production of “Almost, Maine,” a romantic comedy written by John Cariani. The awards, which honor high school students’ achievements in all aspects of theatre, were presented by Seven Angels Theatre in Waterbury via YouTube on July 10. The cast and crew of “Almost, Maine,” earned a total of seven nominations. Congratulations to our 2021 Halo Award winners!

Sandrine Baker P’96

Sandrine Baker P’96, a beloved member of our school community, who served for 26 years as the receptionist in the Admissions Office, passed away on July 2, 2021, at Saint Mary’s Hospital in Waterbury, according to her son, Doug Baker ’96, a member of the U.S. Marine Corps. “She always loved working at The Gunnery,” he said.

Drew and  Audrey in "Almost, Maine"

Congratulations to the cast and crew of “Almost, Maine,” who garnered a total of seven Halo Award nominations. Presented annually, the Halo Awards celebrate the best in Connecticut high school theater. This year’s Halo Awards will be presented virtually on Saturday, July 10, at 7 p.m. Tickets are free and may be reserved online through Seven Angels Theatre. You must register in advance to view the online awards presentation.

Maynard Webb '74

The Alumni & Development Office officially inducted the Class of 2021 into the Alumni Association at the annual Senior Dinner on May 28. The 87 seniors are the first to be inducted as graduates of The Frederick Gunn School, following the name change last July honoring founder Frederick Gunn, noted Sean Brown P’22, Chief Development Officer. It seemed fitting, then, that Maynard Webb ’74, an alumnus who has modeled Mr. Gunn’s entrepreneurial spirit throughout his career, was selected as the keynote speaker for the event. A 40-year veteran of the technology industry, Webb serves as a board member, investor, philanthropist and mentor to young entrepreneurs. He spoke to the graduating class about his business experience, the importance of mentorship, and taking risks.

Student Earns a Top Score in National PhysicsBowl

Alice Pan ’21 earned the second highest score in the New England region on the 2021 National PhysicsBowl exam.

The National PhysicsBowl includes two divisions: one for students who are taking AP or regular physics for the first time, and the second for students who have completed one year of physics or more. Pan achieved the second highest score in our region on the Division 2 test, which is the more difficult of the two exams, according to Steven Bailey P’09 of the Science Department faculty – and she wasn’t even taking physics this year!

Varsity Baseball vs. Millbrook April 17, 2021

Student-athletes were honored at School Meeting on May 28, when Athletic Director Mike Marich P’23 ’24 presented the spring team awards in the Tisch Family Auditorium. “Mr. Gunn knew that character was developed and honed in co-curricular activities. Athletics may look very different today than it did back in his time but the lessons learned are largely the same – lessons like, hard work, confidence, discipline, teamwork, sportsmanship, trust, and being part of something bigger than yourself. It is my hope that all of you experienced many of those lessons in your athletic experiences,” Marich said, congratulating all of this year’s award recipients.

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.

English Department faculty

Roderick M. Theobald P’09 ’14 of the English Department faculty delivered the Baccalaureate Address on May 25, using his backpack as a metaphor for memory, as he spoke about the "picture memories" that ground us and guide us forward through life. Theobald is retiring at the end of this month, after four decades of teaching, including 23 years at The Frederick Gunn School. In keeping with tradition, as the Baccalaureate speaker he selected the readings for the all-school program, which included the Walt Whitman poem, “I Hear America Singing,” read by Ed Surjan, Educational Technology and Library Director, and Mary Oliver’s poem “Wild Geese,” read by Kara Gritti of the History Department faculty. Theobald also selected a piece of music, “The Road Home,” by Stephen Paulus, which was performed by four senior vocalists: Erin-Elizabeth Ryan ’21, Drew Sutherland ’21, Yolanda Wang ’21, and Maggie Xiang ’21.