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Valedictorian Inji Hwang is congratulated by Head of School Paul Perkinson after receiving her diploma. Partially visible behind them is Melissa Mattes, President, Board of Trustees. At left are Jane O'Connor, Assistant Head of School, and behind her, Gail Strehan, Executive Assistant to the Head of School.
Tess Lameyer, First Honor Essayist, receives her diploma from Melissa Mattes, President of the Board of Trustees. Behind her, partially hidden is Head of School Paul Perkinson. Commencement speaker Buzz Moore is seated behind them.
Head of School Paul Perkinson moves the tassel on the cap of Mariah Leach, the first student to receive her diploma. Behind her are Melissa Mattes, President of the Board of Trustees, and Assistant Head of School Jane O’Connor (behind podium).
View from behind the graduates, showing some of the decorated mortarboard hats.
Valedictorian Inji Hwang delivers her remarks.
The George Stevens Academy Band, led by Steven Orlofsky, plays for the audience prior to the ceremony.
Tina Allen (left) photographs graduate Wen Wen (Wendy) Xu, standing with her parents, Liyan Fang and Zhenghuan Xu, who recently arrived from China to see their daughter’s graduation. Tina Allen and her husband Jeffrey Allen have been host parents to Wendy for two and a half years as part of the international student program.
Head of School Paul Perkinson (left) gestures to someone in the crowd after presenting the first Headmaster’s Award to Debbie Davis. At right are Melissa Mattes, President of the Board of Trustees, and commencement speaker Buzz Moore.
Courtney Koos, Second Honor Essayist, delivers Farewell remarks.
Class Marshal Gavin Rogers (class of ‘13) leads the graduating seniors to their seats.
Salutatorian Quinn Mitchell delivers his remarks.
by Jonathan Thomas
The sun shone down from a bright blue sky as 59 graduating seniors received their diplomas on the front lawn of George Stevens Academy Sunday afternoon, June 10.
The four honors graduates with speaking parts in the program were Valedictorian Inji Hwang, Salutatorian Quinn Mitchell, First Honor Essayist Tess Lameyer, and Second Honor Essayist Courtney Koos.
Hwang spoke of the differences between her country of origin, South Korea, and Blue Hill, and the adjustments she has made. She said she has grown close to her American family, and can “proudly say, ‘I come from George Stevens Academy. My home is Blue Hill.’”
Mitchell also invoked a sense of place in his remarks. He said when he was supposed to write his speech he instead took a walk, sat on a dock and looked at the rocks and noticed things he had not seen before.
“Now when it’s time to leave [to attend college in California], I appreciate it more than ever. … I really am going to miss this town,” he said.
Mitchell said he was pleased and excited by the education he had received, the transition he is going through, and how he hoped the friends he had made would come and visit him.
In her welcoming remarks near the beginning of the program, Lameyer described a life lesson about “process” that she had learned at her summer job at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory. She described the difficulty she had at first in adjusting to that situation. She told of the breakthrough she felt when she became a part of that work community, and compared it to other situations where one becomes “part of a class, part of a family, part of school, and part of community.” Lameyer said such a process includes failure, struggle, and misunderstanding. She urged her classmates to remember and appreciate their experiences at GSA in this context as they go forward in their lives.
In her words of farewell, Koos celebrated the fact that “We did it!,” but also cautioned her classmates “not to forget why we came here.” She noted the metamorphosis that they had all experienced while at GSA that included intellectual, emotional, and physical changes. Koos also recalled the various mentors and guiding philosophies she had encountered as she urged her classmates to go forward and make the best of their lives.
The commencement speaker Harearl “Buzz” Moore had become acquainted with GSA students as a substitute English teacher and study hall monitor. In July he will become the Interim Assistant Head of School. He said he has known these students for barely more than a year and now was wishing he had more time to get to know them better.
Moore said he was not sure why he had been invited as commencement speaker, noting that he was neither famous nor wise, but “just a study hall monitor.” In his remarks, he cited the “little” and “unimportant” things he had learned about the graduates in the short time he had known them. He said that these things make him wish there would have been more time for him to know them better.
In his closing, Moore said that as these graduates begin the next phase of their lives, that they not change the “little things” about themselves that that make each of them “unique,” and make him and their families love them so much. He said he didn’t know if such a plea “is very wise, but it certainly is from the heart.”
The surprise event in the afternoon program was Paul Perkinson’s announcement that he was creating a Headmaster’s Award, to be given annually. It would recognize “an individual whose service to the school, and whose many gifts to the community are both inspired and exemplary.” This person could be a student, a teacher, a staff member, a parent, a trustee, or a friend of the school.
The award was such a surprise that when he announced that it was being given to Debbie Davis, and she was called to the platform, it was learned that she had left the campus.
Davis was contacted and able to return to receive her plaque before the program ended and to hear Perkinson praise her for “her tireless service to George Stevens Academy” and her commitment to excellence. Davis has worked at GSA since 2002, and is front office manager and attendance officer.
Near the end of the program, Mia Bogyo, Amanda Moir, and Kara van Emmerik announced the class gift: two granite benches for the front lawn.