Onward: Founders Day 2018

The 115 members of the Class of 2018 marked their high school graduation on a stormy Sunday, June 10. The rain held long enough for the graduates to pose for their traditional class photograph on the steps of Carey Hall while families, friends, and faculty members, arrived at Redmond C. S. Finney Arena for the 121st Founders Day exercises. 

Valedictorian Matthew Ziwen Mu reminded his classmates of the life lessons they collectively learned, citing among them the curiosity and perseverance of the debate teams and the hydroponics club, the independence they learned from parents and peers, the classmates’ ability to reach out to each other in times of need, and the connections they made during Senior Retreat. 

He thanked the faculty for being teachers, coaches, mentors, and friends. Mu also thanked parents “for being out there, cheering on the sidelines, for all our games, for being there for both our highs and lows, allowing us to drive out to some of those parties on the weekends, and for even letting us be those stupid teenagers we sometimes want to be.”

Mu concluded his remarks by imploring his classmates, as well as all Gilman underclassmen, to be both doers and dreamers, to “dream big, and do great.”

“I’ve truly realized the importance of being both a doer and a dreamer,” Mu remarked. “To those who find themselves constantly foregoing the final destination, it never hurts to sometimes look up and really see what lies out in front of you. And while it’s great to be a dreamer, out there seeking what’s at the forefront of our imagination, sometimes we overlook the day-to-day challenges which serve as stepping stones to a greater goal.” 

Headmaster Henry P.A. Smyth, in his remarks, told the boys that graduation celebrates both what they have accomplished thus far in life and that they are ready for the life road ahead. He recalled a theme that rang twice in the previous evening’s baccalaureate service: Keynote speaker Michael Beatty spoke of his own realization that success in life is defined by being “of value” to family and to others, and School President Piper Bond read “What Do You Think,” a Carl Sandberg poem that implored readers “to get dirty and be actually useful once in a while, if not twice.”

Smyth told the boys that to be useful, to be of value, they must see the world around them, to see whom or what they might be able to serve. They must identify what the world around them needs, viewing this world through a lens shaped by universal values and common purpose. Each graduate has talents to share, value to add, and light to shine. And when one knows what needs to be done, he must tap into his own talents in order to accomplish the task.

“Gilman has helped you to hone your individual gifts, some of which you knew you had when you arrived, and some of which you discovered while you were here,” said Headmaster Smyth. “We’ve asked you to pursue excellence. But we’ve also asked you to act honorably, to have integrity, to demonstrate respect, to practice humility.” 

Yet, “when talent is paired with character, when gifts are shared with others, then ability is an altogether more powerful force.”

Smyth sent the graduates out into the larger world knowing that Gilman has helped them develop their abilities, has given them companionship in their classmates, and has given them the capacity to love. “We send you out into that larger world knowing that you will useful,” he concluded. “I am excited about what lies ahead for you, and because of you.”

Board of Trustees President Scott Wieler asked the boys to consider a question posed by New York Times writer David Brooks: should you live life for your resume or for your eulogy? He further explained that the boys will build their resume and eulogy virtues in a world vastly different from, yet created by, their parents. They are part of a new American aristocracy, as suggested by a recent Atlantic Monthly cover.

“Anything is truly possible for you; your talent is essential, and your outcomes are a function of your own genius, efforts, persistence and, yes, luck,” Wieler said. 

Before the graduates received their diplomas, several students won awards for scholarship, athletic performance, and community service (see below). The Headmaster presented several faculty members with awards and recognized those who had completed 20, 30, and 40 years of service to the School (see below). Smyth also recognized three retirees, whose combined years of service total 119: Donald L. Abrams, Jerome Latimer, and Robert D. Smith. 

In what has become a tradition,  the Traveling Men, featuring four members of the graduating class – Nicholas Jeffrey Auen, Barrett Thomas Crawford, Mekhi Onaje Jonathan Johnson, and Michael Thomas Melvin, Jr. -- sang "The Parting Song," a song of departure based on a 17th-century Scottish song. To conclude the ceremony, pairs of graduates left the stage with a special handshake, hug, selfie, or in the case of the last single graduate to exit, Sean Thomas Mills, a final bow.

Faculty/Staff Awards

Apgar Award for Teaching Excellence
Sarah J. Miller

Broadus-Hubbard Award
Donell Thompson Jr. ’91

Class of 1947 Fund for Meritorious Teaching
Peter H. Lander

John K. and Robert F. M. Culver Chair
James Stith Bolling Spragins 2017-2019
Elizabeth Ann Knapp 2018-2020

Edward K. Dunn Faculty Fund and Award
Lower School: Teresa (Tracie) Mays
Middle School: Bryn Holmes
Upper School: Matthew Baum

Dawson L. Farber, Jr. Award
Marian S. Xanders

Robert F. Greenhill ’54 and Gayle G. Greenhill-Ruth W. Williams Distinguished Teaching Chair for Mathematics 
Donald F. Rogers Jr.

May Holmes Service Award
Daniel Christian

Gilman Advisor Fund and Award
Lower School: Nicholas Schloeder
Middle School: Christopher K. Bendann ‘03
Upper School: Matthew Herman

Walter Lord Middle School Teaching Prize
Jonathan M. Seal

Edward T. Russell Chair
Ellen Rizzutto

20-Year Recognition
Pamela F. Abruzzo 
Cecilia Lobato Eppler 
Amy K. Huntoon

30-Year Recognition
Timothy Holley, Jr. ’77 

40-Year Recognition
Joseph Nathaniel Duncan, Jr. 

Student Awards

William S. Thomas Scholarship Prizes and Valedictorian
9th Grade: Heath Spencer Otenasek
10th Grade: Justin Bai
11th Grade: Noah Alexander Jun
12th Grade: Michael Bradford Johnson
Valedictorian: Matthew Ziwen Mu

Wm. Cabell Bruce, Jr. Athletic Prize
Brandon Trey Madison

Edward Fenimore Award
Joshua Caleb Fitzgerald
Purnell Bernard Hill

Peter Parrott Blanchard Award
Nicholas Jeffrey Auen
Earl Thomas Booker IV

Redmond C. Finney Award
Julian Grant Arrington
Mekhi Onaje Jonathan Johnson

Daniel Baker, Jr. Memorial Award
David Robert Gushue

William A. Fisher Medallion
James Piper Bond, Jr.