Continuing a tradition of student leadership that began with the school’s founder in the 1800s, the 2016-2017 Prefects began their service with the opening of school. Head Prefect, Matthew Danner, son of Mr. and Mrs. Stephen Danner of Oakville, Ontario, a two-sport varsity athlete and head tour guide; Calista Connors, daughter of Mr. Michael Connors and Ms. Veronica Connors of Newtown, CT, awarded the Secretary of State Public Service Award, Residential Advisor, member of the Strategic Planning, Dress Code and Technology Committees, tour guide, and member of Mr. Gunn’s Honor Circle; Eric Hoffman, son of Mr. and Mrs. Eric Hoffman of Jackson, NJ, Residential Advisor and Junior Class Representative; Grace van Tartwijk, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Johannes van Tartwijk of Washington, CT, Junior Class Representative and member of the Dress Code Committee; Oliver Williams, son of Ms. Jennifer Williams of Darien, CT and Mr. David Williams of Norwalk, CT, member of the Future Business Leaders of America and accomplished actor in The Gunnery productions, most recently as Shrek in Shrek: The Musical.
We have included excerpts from their election speeches:
Matthew Danner, Head Prefect: There are two things that I took out of this experience, [going to the Harvard Economics Bowl]: First of all, never be afraid to lose, because in losing you can identify your mistakes and build off them. Secondly, never be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new things. Two years ago before I got to the Gunnery, if you told me that I would be going to an Econ bowl, I would have laughed and thought there was no way, but I did and it was actually a lot of fun. These types of experiences are what make The Gunnery special although going to an unfamiliar place and getting embarrassed doesn’t sound like the best way to spend your Saturday. However, when you’re doing it with people whom you know will pick you up when you’re down, it’s a lot easier to take a chance and stand up to speak your mind.
Calista Connors: “We all will have our own unique Gunnery journey, and in that time we will each evolve and change into our future selves. I believe I can use my experiences to help others on their journey and help them form a meaningful connection to our school. I want to help next year’s shy, intimidated freshmen through their challenges and inspire them to find the confidence they need to make the most of their time here at the Gunnery.”
Eric Hoffman: “I look back at my freshman year during Trainwreck, a game designed to isolate one unlucky kid from the rest of the crowd. Of course, I soon found myself standing in the middle, knowing I had to say my name and something else to make everyone get up and run. Being in that awkward situation was one of the most stressful moments I’ve ever been in. It wasn’t until one of the prefects running the station reminded me I could yell “trainwreck.” Obviously I took the advice of that Prefect and yelled my name and trainwreck so I could quickly get out of the middle. Even though that moment was stressful and awkward for me for that small amount of time, I was grateful for that Prefect who helped me. Ever since then, I knew I wanted to become someone that people can look up to.
Grace van Tartwijk: “With all this said, I learned that nothing gets handed to you; you need to work for something that you want to succeed in. I want to work hard for you, you as the student body and you as the faculty. I even want to make sure the faculty dogs get what they need. I want to help others build a sense of confidence and be their voice if they need change. I am willing to fail [as badly as this portrait] to try and help others find their masterpiece.”
Oliver Williams: “One of the most important jobs of a Prefect is to lead by example and to show how we can all learn from our experiences. I learned [from an experience] that by keeping my composure and showing strength in the face of adversity, I had given both myself and others a sense of confidence. It turned what could have been a terrible situation into a hilarious memory and cherished lesson.”