Alumni Weekend Delivers Memorable Moments, Glorious Weather and a Few Delightful Surprises

The Gunnery was quiet after an Alumni Weekend of class get-togethers, campus tours, curricular samplings, and some well-deserved accolades. And the weekend was surely one to remember with the historic groundbreaking for the Thomas S. Perakos Arts and Community Center, the annual presentation of the Hall of Fame Awards, the announcement of the Alumnus of the Year, and the revelry surrounding a second Triple Crown winner in the Belmont Stakes in just three years (one of only 13 in the last 100 years).  While pausing only briefly following the annual gathering of our far-flung community, the campus is once again a flurry of activity, with the hue and cry of sports and jazz camps, and the din of new construction - a harbinger of the school’s most exciting new project.
We could forecast coming success when the alumni took home the Bourne Cup in the Friday afternoon golf tournament against members of the Washington Club; definitely not an every-year occurrence. In high spirits, the golfers, representing the Class of 2008, enlivened the evening cocktails and food truck spread on Koven Terrace for all but the 50th Reunion Class of 1968 (which was happily ensconced at The Hopkins Inn) and the Wykeham Rise contingent, which took over the G.W. Tavern terrace.

It was a year to celebrate the arts with Emma Wang ’18 giving her Gunn Scholar talk (one of three Scholar presentations) on the evolution of the music curriculum at The Gunnery. Emma’s research covered more than 160 years, from Civil War songs around the campfire with Mr. Gunn’s melodeon in the 1860s to today’s multi-faceted offerings in the performing arts, which will soon have a new home base in the Arts and Community Center. Saturday afternoon, Visual Arts Chair Andrew Richards P’20 offered alumni the opportunity to express their creativity during a “Paint and Sip” activity in the art studio. The Wykeham Rise alumnae continued their sponsorship of The Gunnery arts with a silent auction of members’ works on the library terrace.

Anniversaries were also a weekend topic since 2018 represents the 40th anniversary of the reintroduction of coeducation at The Gunnery (after a 57-year hiatus, coed classes once again graduated, starting in 1978) and the 70th anniversary of the introduction of crew in 1948. Head coach Lincoln Turner offered a champagne toast at the boathouse on Lake Waramaug before the traditional Alumni Row. An exhibit in the Krimsky Archives highlighted the two anniversaries and alumni who gathered in the “Gunnery Detective room” pored through old photos of students from the crew programs and female students on campus in hopes that they could help identify the year or the names of the subjects for archival filing.

The Alumni Parade and the annual meeting of the Alumni Association in the Meeting House provided their customary stories. The Class of 1943 (their 75th reunion!) had two-thirds of its members present with John Speaks and Ed Sheppard. They spoke glowingly of the time a radio was wheeled into The Gunnery’s dining hall on December 8, 1941, so that all the boys could listen to Roosevelt’s “Day of Infamy” speech as it was originally delivered. Thomas Perakos ’69 accepted his induction into the Arts and Letters Hall of Fame with an inspirational speech about realizing your dreams and giving back. (He went on to the Tony Awards the next night where he picked up a few more awards!)  Robert Griffin II nominated his classmate, Robert Gilmore III ’68 to the Athletic Hall of Fame with a moving account of his lifelong friend, who took up cycling after a successful high school and college athletic career only to develop cancer in 1983. Gilmore has engaged in many aggressive clinical trials in his battle against the disease. In 2005, he joined the Tour of Hope, becoming one of 24 out of 1,000 applicants chosen to raise money to fight the disease on a nine-day, 2,300-mile journey across America. He continued to organize and ride in the Audrey Prouty Annual Century Ride. The third inductee, Sean Stellato ’97, has accrued many community awards in his post-high school and college athletic ventures, as founder and president of Stellato Sports, which represents many NFL clients including members of the last four Super Bowl teams.  In 2017, he was named one of Boston’s “Ten Young Leaders” by the Greater Boston Chamber of Commerce. Steve Baird ’68 was named Alumnus of the Year moments after joining classmates Rick Bernard and David Coburn in presenting a check for $500,000 to the school as a gift towards the Arts and Community Center.

You can catch up on many of the wonderful stories of Alumni Weekend camaraderie in the Class Notes section of the fall Bulletin. Suffice it to say that your school is alive and well and brimming with good cheer, and your schoolmates are supportive of the students, the faculty and the administration.  If you haven’t been on campus in a while, come back and see us. Add your story to our ever-growing history of this very special place.

The Gunnery

gps address: 22 Kirby Road, Washington, CT 06793
mail address: 99 Green Hill Road, Washington, CT 06793
tel: 860-868-7334
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Founded in 1850 by abolitionist, educator, and outdoorsman Frederick Gunn, The Gunnery is a coeducational college preparatory boarding and day school for students in grades 9 through 12/post-graduate. Dedicated teacher-mentor-coaches challenge students to reach their full potential in a home-like setting where character and citizenship are valued as much as intellect and achievement. Individualized attention and high expectations help young learners develop not only the skills and confidence they will need in college, but also the moral compass and love of learning that will serve them well in life. The school attracts ambitious, academically curious students who will both shine as unique individuals and thrive as contributing members of a deeply connected community. By the time they graduate, Gunnery students have become well rounded, grounded young adults with a sharpened sense of who they are and who they want to become.