Imagine holding a 19th century letter about an escaped slave in 1843 or a newspaper describing one of the first NY style baseball games in 1848! Be the first to answer one of your own questions about the history of your school.
That is the role of the Gunn Scholar, a senior chosen through his/her efforts and character to pursue a topic of his choosing in the Gunnery archives as a yearlong course. It’s an endowed program so there are opportunities to research in other archives such as the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, the National Archives in Washington DC, or the Beinecke Library at Yale. Over the past 13 years, our scholars have researched their topics, published their illustrated papers (which are then used by other scholars), and presented their findings to the school in the form of lectures, documentaries, exhibits and plays and to various public groups such as the local library consortium.
Each and every scholar has unearthed something new either in our own archives or in others, sometimes answering questions we have not even asked…. Debunking myths, clarifying events, and contributing to our ongoing story. Come add your piece to our lively mosaic!
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The 2017-2018 Gunn Scholars
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Mark Choi and student government
Following up on an independent study in the spring of his junior year, Mark Choi is looking into student government from the school’s inception when the founder called it “family meetings” to today’s leadership initiatives on the part of the senior prefects. For comparison he will also look at a city public school and a smaller Catholic high school. He is particularly interested in the impact of the adult/student relationships on the development and success of student leadership and the development of citizenship in the student body.
Julie Petrillo and women's hockey at The Gunnery
As a passionate participant in the topic of her study, Julie Petrillo will trace the development of women’s hockey at The Gunnery. Her topic is less historical than most projects, in the sense that it is relatively new on boarding school campuses; but she is interested in capturing the groundbreaking effect on the players and the struggles to establish parity with male sports. Julie will also explore a new approach to the Gunn Scholar project with the introduction of a blog about the research process. She had experimented with this more modern approach to the information in her humanities class last year.
Emma Wang and music curricula
Having chosen a difficult subject in terms of the availability of archive material, Emma Wang is interested in the changing emphases of music curricula and performances at The Gunnery over time. She will look at how popular culture in society has changed the musical environment and whether the student preferences are reflected in the offerings. She is also examining the solo versus group performances. She plans to interview past performing arts directors at The Gunnery for a contemporary comparison.
Rooted Research Conference
On Sunday, April 29, The Gunnery will sponsor an inaugural “Rooted Research Conference” featuring illustrated, place-based and primary-sourced history papers about the local area. A call for papers was issued in January to local schools, museums, and historical entities. There will be four lectures as well as a luncheon round table presented by “Witness Stones” of Guilford, Connecticut, that will show the development of lost histories with the help of regional gravestones.
Students will present on the institution of musical curricula in schools from the 1700s through the present; the development of student government in independent and Catholic high schools and its reflection of the power distribution between adults and students; the expression of conflict and compromise in the establishment of Sarah Pierce’s Female Academy in Litchfield in the 1790s; and the rise of women’s hockey in the 1990s. There will be opportunities for questions.
The conference will be held in The Gunnery’s Tisch Family Library from 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday, April 29. The public is invited and admission is free. For planning purposes, reservations are required. Please email email@example.com.
The Gunn Scholar presents his or her completed research to the school community in May each year in the form of a lecture, exhibit, play or other public display. In addition, a generous 50th reunion gift of $27,000 from the Class of 1957 has assured the publication of Gunn Scholar research.
Questions? Please feel free to contact The Gunnery’s archivist, Misa Giroux.
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.