Writers Daisy Fried and Roy Kesey Work with Gunston English Students

On March 6 and 7, Gunston hosted Daisy Fried and Roy Kesey as part of the spring installment of In Celebration of Books, the school’s visiting writers series. Fried, a poet and critic, currently serves on the board of the National Book Critics Circle. Kesey is the recipient of an NEA grant for fiction as well as a PEN/Heim grant for translation.

A public reading of their work was held on Monday, March 6 in Gunston’s Field House. After that, Fried and Kesey visited Gunston’s English classrooms over the course of two days as they led students in writing exercises and craft discussions.

Daisy   Kesey - Copy

Photos: Daisy Fried and Roy Kesey

Poet and critic Daisy Fried is the author of three books of poetry: Women’s Poetry: Poems and Advice (University of Pittsburgh, 2013), named by Library Journal one of the five best poetry books of 2013, My Brother is Getting Arrested Again (University of Pittsburgh, 2006), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and She Didn’t Mean to Do It, (University of Pittsburgh, 2000), which won the Agnes Lynch Starrett Award. For her poetry, she’s received Guggenheim, Hodder and Pew Fellowships, as well as a Pushcart Prize and the Cohen Award from Ploughshares. Recent poems have been published in the London Review of Books, The Nation, The New Republic, Poetry, The Threepenny Review and Best American Poetry 2013. She reviews books of poetry for The New York Times, Poetry and The Threepenny Review, and won the Editors Award from Poetry for “Sing, God-Awful Muse,” an essay about reading Paradise Lost and breastfeeding. She is on the faculty of the Warren Wilson College MFA Program for Writers.

Roy Kesey’s latest books are the short story collection Any Deadly Thing (Dzanc Books 2013) and the novel Pacazo (Dzanc Books 2011/Jonathan Cape 2012). His translation of Pola Oloixarac’s Savage Theories was published by Soho Press in January of this year. His short stories, essays, translations and poems have appeared in over a hundred magazines and anthologies, including Best American Short Stories and New Sudden Fiction. He is currently a visiting professor at Washington College; last semester he taught a course called “Fire and Ice: How the World Ends,” an anthropological and scientific exploration of the apocalypse, and this semester he is teaching a creative writing workshop on travel writing and a literature course on contemporary world fiction.

Gunston Students Compete in the First Tech Challenge

Eight Gunston students built a robot as part of the First Tech Challenge (FTC) competition which is sponsored by the FIRST robotics program. The Gunston Team was one of twenty teams from all across Maryland and nearby states that competed at the Naval Academy on January 22 and thirty two teams that competed at Oakland Mills High School in Howard County on the 29th of January. At these events, the robots perform complicated tasks such as pushing the correct button on a beacon, shooting balls into goals, and manipulating a large yoga ball. The game was divided into two phases. First, the robot had to perform tasks autonomously by sensing and reacting to its environment; next three students were able to control the robots using game pads.

As a team they created an engineering notebook that described their strategy, proposed designs, and problems that the team overcame along the way. At the competition the students had to describe and defend their design in front of a panel of engineers. Real world engineering challenges like FTC teach students to follow the engineering processes that they will use in their future careers.

team photo

Team Photo L to R: Sutter Phillips ’17 of Stevensville, Sam Wargotz ’17 of Grasonville, Nikki Blades ’17 of Trappe, George Bowie ’17 of Still Pond, Ryan Redding ’17 of Galena, Garrett Rudolfs of Centreville, Jamie Caron ’17 of Chestertown.

Eight students built the robot during the fall semester during their robotics course and nine building sessions over the holidays. Suter Phillips worked on design, Nikki Blades on documentation and organization, and Sam Wargotz and Ryan Redding worked on construction. Jamie Caron was the rules and strategy expert. Garrett Rudolphs and George Bowie programed robot and Alli Webb helped with diverse tasks. During the matches, George, Sutter, Garrett, and Sam took turns as acting as robot drivers and team coaches. The group was mentored by Gunston physics teacher Dr. Ken Wilson and Gunston director of technology Joe Thompson. Gunston student Sophie Cooper worked with Nikki Blades to design the team logo of a Heron built of gears.

This is the third year the the team 9530 “the Herons” participated in the FTC competition and each year the robot design has improved. Mentor Dr Wilson commented that the basic design of the robot body was the best that the Herons team had produced. Compared to their earlier efforts, this year’s robot, affectionately dubbed “Steve” by the students, was robust, easy to work on, and very nimble on the playing field.

The competitions always produce unexpected challenges and the students in the pit crew have to work out the kinks in real time under stressful conditions. The students learn how to work together as a team to systematically find and solve problems. The Gunston team performed especially well at teamwork in the pit: they were calm and focused which allowed them constantly improve their scores as they participated in a total of 10 matches across the two events.

This year’s team was primarily composed of seniors, some of whom have participated in the robotics team for several years. They bequeath to the 2018 team programs, design, and a working robot. Dr Wilson said that he is sorry to see them go but confident that the program that they have built will continue to improve over the coming years.

The Gunston School Announces Second Quarter Academic Honors

Congratulations to the following students for earning High Honors or Honors for the second quarter of the 2016-2017 academic year. To earn a place on the High Honors list, a student must have an A average and effort grades of “S” or above. To earn Honors, a student must achieve a B+/A- average and effort grades of “S” or above.

gunston honorsHigh Honors

Grade 12—Lauren Covell, Evan Donohue, Annie Herron, Xinying (Elaine) Jiang, Emma Johnson, Lizhi (Cliff) Peng, Rachel Pettit, Maddy Romberger, Tong Shen, Huixin (Emily) Teng.

Grade 11—Minto Aono, Yuxuan (Ciara) Chen, Rongjie (Rose) Fan, Steven Goss, Lila Ingersoll, Hope Murphy, Henry Parkhurst, Ryleigh Paskoski, Lily Phipps.

Grade 10—Kejing (Karen) Chen, Katie Easter, Nicholas Lee, Paige Murphy, James Pratt, Megan Prochaska, Caroline Roser, Yifan (Michael) Shen, Haorui (Davy) Song, Elena Sherman, Si-tong (Vicky) Zhou.

Grade 9—Andrew Amygdalos, Frankie Fisher, Emily Gray, Lynsey Hildebrand, Grace Holmes, Lily Judd, Junlin (Thompson) Leng, Will Newberg, Isabella Santoboni.


Grade 12—Alice Agee, Chad Angelini, Nikki Blades, Ethan Boone, George Bowie, Ben Byerly, Nuobing (Amy) Fan, Tim Hesford, Drew Hightower, Nick Mosner, Greg Panor, Sutter Phillips, Kane Powell, Ryan Redding, Eli Schut, Olivia Sherman, Tianqi (Stacey) Shi, Jason Staley, Sam Wargotz, Junchen (Kevin) Zhao.

Grade 11—Rick Archambault, Simon Cawley, Tirza Enriquez, Gillian Felton, Susie Fordi, Yohanes Gray, Emma Hottel, Sam Johnson, Xinqi (Crystal) Liu, Mary Macmillan, Jack Morrison, Mitchell Naumann, Chris Newberg, Dutch Nickerson, Brennan Paddy, Neel Patel, Alli Webb, Baoyi (Betty) Zhou, Li (Cubby) Zhou.

Grade 10—Brooks Armstong, Nick Basham, Anneliese Clair, Shiloh Clark, August Clarke, Becky DeFino, Cora Duncan, Cole Evans, Malachi Graham, Menel Harris, Yanni Harris, Griffin Hecht, Leah Hellwege, Phin Howell, Claire Johnson, Camy Kelly, Nick Lee, Ellie Merton, Michell Pagan, Marisa Pisapia, Samara Pyfrom, Zhenghao Ren, Drew Seaman, Nellie Stup, Sam Umidi, Will Urquhart, Anna Wolf, Yong (George) Yan, Fuji (Cynthia) Yang.

Grade 9—Eileen Ashley, Logan Cameron, Michaela Campbell, Nina De Angelo, Cedar Foster, Wyatt Howell, Nick Kellogg, Michael Nickerson, Erica Reece, Max Scott, Abigail Silva, Shuai (Bob) Tong, Qirui (Allen) Wang, Owen White, Yaxuan (Joey) Zhuo.

Gunston Coders Return to Dartmouth Lab

Gunston Coders

L to R: Claire Johnson of Church Hill, Will Urquhart of Queenstown, Nick Basham of Trappe, Brynne Kneeland of Stevensville, Cliff Peng of Centreville, Cora Duncan of Centreville, Katie Easter of Grasonville and James Pratt of Chestertown.

The Gunston School sent a group of Computer Science students to visit Dartmouth College’s DALI digital arts lab over the weekend of January 19-22. The students took part in coding and prototyping activities provided by the lab, had an opportunity for questions and answers going both directions, and showed DALI staffers projects that they have been developing at Gunston.

“It was great to see that the DALI lab staff have chosen to extend and broaden our working relationship”, said trip leader and CS teacher Joe Thompson. “This year, in addition to the planned ‘hacktivity’, we were invited to both a Design Resident workshop in the software Sketch for Dartmouth undergrads, and were given a tour of a digital music production facility with a DALI staffer.”

The trip was led by Thompson and Gunston College Guidance Counselor Kellee Webb. “DALI is my kind of facility”, said Webb after the visit. “Their heavy emphasis on collaboration and creativity are excellent fits for our school’s methods and mission”.

“Once we were invited,” said Thompson, “we built a weekend around our visit, as we did last year.” Arriving late Thursday evening, the students toured the campus Friday morning, lunched in the undergraduate Dartmouth Commons, then headed to the DALI lab for a full afternoon of coding, including working with the lab’s new VR (virtual reality) gear. “They are doing interesting VR work with NASA to help astronauts on long-duration missions deal with stress,” said Thompson. “We were very lucky to get a look at that equipment and software, to see where VR is headed”.

“I have gotten used to the idea that our visits are not just welcomed but useful to this lab,” said Thompson. “CS education at the high school level is rare, and we take their suggestions for tweaks to our program very seriously. They can see their suggestions in our students’ work.”

This year’s students included 7 sophomores and one senior. Katie Easter, Claire Johnson, Brynne Kneeland, Cora Duncan, Will Urquhart, Nick Basham, and James Pratt, all Gunston ’19, made the trip, as did Cliff Peng ’17.

Thompson, Meyerhoff Set to Join Gunston Coaching Staff

Thompson, Joe

Joe Thompson Gunston’s new Associate Head Coach.

The Gunston School is pleased to announce the hiring of two highly-accomplished athletes, Mr. Joe Thompson for the sailing program and Cole Meyerhoff for the boys lacrosse program.

Mr. Thompson will assume the role of Associate Head Coach of the sailing program. Having competed at the US Olympic trials, Thompson was a member of the US Sailing team in the FD class as a crew member for four years, and it was on this team he competed on the international stage throughout Europe and portions of Canada and the United States.

“Speed matters,” Coach Thompson said. “I plan to bring an emphasis on the fine points of boatspeed to our team. (We) won’t ignore tactics or rules, but to win (regattas) you have to accelerate your boat speed as well as anyone, and you have to be consistently fast.”

Thompson has also competed and finished in the top-ten of multiple sailboat classes as a crewman and helmsman for the 505 and J35 divisions in races including the European Championships and Block Island Race week. In addition to Coach Thompson’s competitive success as a racer, he oversaw numerous summer sailing programs. The wealth of experience brought by Thompson to the program should lay the foundation for many competitive seasons ahead.


Cole Meyerhoff (on right) playing for St. Mary’s College joins TGS as Assistant Coach for Men’s Lacrosse.

Cole Meyerhoff returns to Gunston after a four-year career at St. Mary’s College as a defenseman. At a strong Division III program, during his tenure at St. Mary’s, Meyerhoff was a member of the 2013 Capital Athletic Conference (CAC) championship team, logging his first career appearance in the playoffs of that year. Additionally, the Easton (MD) native made the CAC All-Academic team his junior and senior years, while serving as team captain in his senior campaign.

Meyerhoff, a graduate of Gunston, was the 2011 recipient of the Gunston Award, exemplifying his commitment and service to the school community. An avid sailor and artist, Meyerhoff’s varsity lacrosse experience and affinity for the Gunston community will make an immediate impact on the 2017 boys lacrosse season.

Near Space Balloon Launch


Corsica River

On Friday, Nov 18 The Gunston Science and Engineering Club successfully launched and retrieved a near space balloon. This high altitude balloon, dubbed “Heron 4” as it is the fourth in a series of balloon missions launched by Gunston students, reached an altitude of 18.5 miles above the Earth’s surface. At that point the balloon burst as planned and the instrument package was delivered safely to Earth via parachute. The instrument package contained tracking equipment which reported the balloon’s position every 60 seconds to the tracking team at Gunston and to a chase and retrieval team that was following Heron 4 from below.

The goal of the mission was to photograph the Chesapeake Bay area from an altitude “near space”, above 95% of the Earth’s atmosphere. At these altitudes the sky becomes black as there are few molecules to scatter the sun’s rays. The curvature of the Earth is also notable in our photographs, although the wide-angle camera lens exaggerates the effect. The instrument package returned to earth after its 2 hour journey at Hooper’s Landing, a golf course in Seaford, DE. The package landed in a small pond.


Delmarva Peninsula

Dr. Ken Wilson and Dr. Mariah Goodall mentor the Science and Engineering Club and Mrs. Alison Vooris lead the chase and retrieval team. Freshman Owen White prepared the payload. Twenty-four student are participating in the club this year including President Ryan Redding ’17, Vice president Alli Webb ’18, and Secretary Garrett Rudolfs ’18. Dale Wegner, father of Gunston Alum Jay Wegner, also provided invaluable assistance for this launch.

Goals of previous missions:

Heron 1 mission: high altitude photography
Heron 2 mission: measurement of pressure and temperature changes at the boundary of the ozone layer.
Heron 3 mission: measurement of cosmic ray radiation above the Earth’s atmosphere.
Heron 4 mission: high altitude photography

Twenty-Five Gunston School Students Honored at National Honor Society Induction

On November 15, twenty-five students were inducted into the National Honor Society at The Gunston School. The National Honor Society (NHS) is a prestigious organization for juniors and seniors, which requires them to hold a grade point average of at least 88 and to exhibit four core values—leadership, character, service, and scholarship.


Photo: Members and inductees of the 2016-17 NHS
First row L to R: Lizhi (Cliff) Peng, Baoyi (Betty) Zhou, Simiao (Grace) Dai, Kangcheng (Max) Cao, Jo Wanner, Sophie Cooper, Lauren Covell, Rachel Pettit, Ryleigh Paskoski, Maddy Romberger, Lily Phipps. Second row left to right: Gillian Felton, Lila Ingersoll, Shiqi Xie, Tong Shen, Tianqi (Stacey) Shi, Nuobing (Amy) Fan, Rongjie (Rose) Fan, Natalie Prochaska, Alice Agee, Joey Smith, Olivia Sherman, Mary Macmillan. Third row: Heidi Barcus, Emma Johnson, Steven Goss, Chris Newberg, Huixin (Emily) Teng, Ben Byerly, Henry Parkhurst, Tim Hesford, Nick Desai, Susie Fordi. Top row left to right:Ben Jones, Ethan Boone, Abigail Miller, Ryan Redding, Sutter Phillips, Sam Johnson, George Bowie, Neel Patel, Alli Webb, Nikki Blades
Missing: Chad Angelini, Jamie Caron, Xinying (Elaine) Jiang

The morning began with the inductees and their parents, and current NHS members attending a breakfast in the Ryan Library. The induction ceremony followed in the Field House with welcoming remarks made by Headmaster John Lewis. Mr. Lewis spoke about the importance of the word “honor”, and noted that “we are only defined by certain terms, if we allow ourselves to be; and, we have the power to control the terms we use to define ourselves.”

Following Mr. Lewis’ remarks, the keynote address was delivered by, Robert J. Etgen. Mr. Etgen has been the Executive Director of ESLC since October 1990. Etgen congratulated the students on excellence, doing more than the expected. All students at Gunston participate in athletics and complete community service, but to be selected for NHS requires academic excellence and greater engagement in all areas of scholarship, leadership, service, and character. He concluded his address stressing the importance of land conservation and how every individual can make a difference.

To highlight the core values of NHS, four candles were lit by current members, as senior and NHS president Olivia Sherman spoke about the meaning of each value. As inductees were called up one-by-one, they received a certificate, pin, and rose, and signed their names into the NHS registry. To make them official members of the society, current members pinned the inductees with a pin bearing the NHS logo and the pledge was recited, led by Natalie Prochaska. To conclude the ceremony, Mr. Michael Kaylor, the NHS advisor, shared words of wisdom and high praises to the students for their accomplishments.

Congratulations to this year’s inductees! Grade 12: Sophie Cooper, Nick Desai, Tim Hesford, Xinying (Elaine) Jiang, Lizhi (Cliff) Peng, Rachel Pettit, Jo Wanner. Grade 11: Heidi Barcus, Kangcheng (Max) Cao, Simiao (Grace) Dai, Rongjie (Rose), Fan, Gillian Felton, Susie Fordi, Steven Goss, Lila Ingersoll, Sam Johnson, Mary Macmillan, Chris Newberg, Henry Parkhurst, Ryleigh Paskoski, Neel Patel, Lily Phipps, Joey Smith, Alli Webb, Baoyi (Betty) Zhou.

The Gunston School Hosts Panel of Experts on 2016 Presidential Election

On Friday, October 28th, a distinguished panel will gather at Gunston for “Electing the President: A Conversation,” a special election edition of its annual In Celebration of Books program, which will begin at 8 a.m. in the Field House. Headmaster John Lewis, who teaches American Government, will moderate as guests weigh in on the history, politics, demographics, and theater of presidential elections in the United States.

Panelists include Adam Goodheart, Director of the Starr Center for the American Experience at Washington College and New York Times bestselling author for 1861: The Civil War Awakening; Dr. Melissa Deckman, Chair of Washington College’s Political Science Department and a specialist on women in politics and author of the recently published Tea Party Women: Mama Grizzlies, Grassroots Leaders, and the Changing Face of the American Right; political historian Dr. Matthew Dallek, Associate Professor at George Washington University and author of Defenseless Under the Night: The Roosevelt Years and the Origins of Homeland Security; and Dr. Michele Volansky, Chair of the Department of Theatre and Dance at Washington College. Volansky recently attended the campaign rallies and events of six presidential candidates to research the dynamics of the candidates’ interactions with audiences. Her article, “All the World’s a Campaign,” was published in American Theatre magazine.

After the panel concludes at 9 a.m., students will break out into smaller “Election 101 Seminars,” where they will have the opportunity for further conversation with the panelists in a town hall format. Other seminars will focus on campaign advertisements, polling and voter turnout, and the Electoral College and gerrymandering. The morning program will conclude with a public forum-style debate by members of Gunston’s Debate Club, who will be addressing the following resolution: “Resolved: On balance, it is more important to vote for a candidate based on their policy positions rather than their personal conduct.”

In the afternoon, members of Gunston’s Model United Nations Club and Debate Club will lead a variety of teach-in sessions for students on a wide range of issues, including climate change, trade policy, immigration, third party candidates, and healthcare, among others. The day’s program will conclude with a mock election.

The morning panel is free and open to the public. For more information on this event, please contact Amanda Newell at anewell@gunston.org.

Gunston Crew to Compete at Head of the Charles

This past May at the Scholastic Rowing Association of America’s National Regatta, Gunston’s Boys Varsity 4+ advanced to the semi-finals for the first time in program history, placing them in the top 12 nationally.


Gunston’s Boys Varsity 4+

As a result of the boys’ success at Nationals, they were invited to Boston to compete at the Head of the Charles Regatta. The Head of the Charles is the world’s largest two-day regatta (October 22-23) with 11,000 athletes rowing in over 1,900 boats in 61 events. It attracts tens of thousands of spectators during regatta weekend.

Representing Gunston will be Coxswain / Coxswain Captain Lauren Covell (Annapolis, MD), Stroke Ben Jones (Chestertown, MD), 3 Seat Garrett Rudolfs (Centreville, MD), 2 Seat Alex Papadopoulos (Townsend, DE), and Bow / Boy’s Captain Ethan Boone (Centreville, MD).

“Strides like this are made through a collective effort from our entire team,” said Gunston’s Head Coach Nicole Stimpson. “The success of one boat is thanks to countless hours spent on the water and practicing with their counterparts in the JV and Girl’s crews. Having one boat competing at the Charles this year will open the door to future Gunston crews.”

Gunston Debaters Excel at Georgetown

At the recent two-day Georgetown Public Forum and Congress held at Georgetown University, Gunston School debate team members Elaine Jiang and Sutter Phillips advanced as octa-finalists in a competitive international field of 41 teams. The Gunston team competed in the Public Forum category, which focused on the question: “Resolved: In United States public K-12 schools, the probable cause standard ought to apply to searches of students.”


The Debate Team left to right: Andrew Amygdalos ’20, Cliff Peng ’17, Headmaster John Lewis, Sutter Phillips ’17, Ben McBride ’19, Elaine Jiang ’20.

During their six rounds, each lasting 50 minutes, Sutter and Jiang went 4-2, eventually losing to the category champion in the playoffs. Also competing were Gunston senior Cliff Peng, sophomore Ben McBride, and freshman Andrew Amygdalos. During their preliminary rounds, they won three of the six rounds.

“It was an impressive performance against some of the top debate teams in the country,” said Gunston’s Headmaster and coach John Lewis, “and the students did a great job of preparing and competing. Debate is a new ‘sport’ at Gunston, so we expect ongoing improvement.”