The Class of 2019 enjoyed a two-day celebration of their time at Gaynor beginning with a Graduate/New Alumni Breakfast on Thursday, June 13, followed with a formal graduation ceremony on Friday, June 14.
Veteran faculty member Chris Meyer welcomed the graduates, their family and friends, and Gaynor faculty and staff members to the breakfast with a heartfelt message to the students who will be leaving Gaynor and joining the Alumni Network. He urged the graduating students to keep in touch, and to “make sure you advocate for yourselves, use the strategies you’ve been taught here, and always, always strive to be the best person you can be.”
Student speaker Ava Kimmel spoke of her time at Gaynor and how she views her dyslexia as “a gift that makes me special.” She continued, “All of us are talented in our own way… I know that I will never forget Gaynor or what it taught me.”
Steven Binder ’74 welcomed the students to the Alumni Network with his thoughts of what it has been like to be a “Gaynor kid” forty years after graduation, with a life and career filled with success. He spoke directly to the students when he said, “What all of you have in common, that I share with you, is that you care a lot, and you are extremely motivated to do well.”
Later that same morning, graduating students Charlie Keimweiss and Aly Ferdinand shared advice from their Gaynor experiences with the entire school at the closing assembly.
The honoring of the graduating class culminated in the graduation ceremony itself on the morning of June 14, held for the first time in the new Performing Arts Center.
Board of Trustees Co-President Grant Duers, father to graduate PJ and Red Cluster student Anna, welcomed the graduates, family, friends, and faculty members to the ceremony. “I think that each of our graduates has developed a superpower during their time at Gaynor. It’s the power to recognize and embrace the unique challenges that each of our students face. I call this superpower ‘grit.’ Grit to me, stands for ‘Gaynor Realized I’m Talented.’”
Dr. Scott Gaynor introduced student speakers Ronan Sennott and Emily Zaretsky, both of whom had inspiring words for their fellow students and the audience.
Rehana Uehling, parent of graduating student Zia and Green Cluster student Zen, described how Gaynor impacted their entire family. “[Coming to Gaynor] was the beginning of a rebirth for all of us. We learned how to have faith in Gaynor and Zia. Needless to say, Gaynor has helped prepare Zia for the next chapter in her life… To the graduating class, may your time at Gaynor remind you that your abilities and your place in this world is valid and valuable.”
Alumni speaker Murphy Bright ’01, a Captain in the U.S. Marine Forces Reserve, told the graduates, “Every day in life I use the skills that I learned from Gaynor to accomplish my goals. One valuable lesson I learned … was that in order to become an effective leader in life one has to first learn to be a team player. As a Marine Corps infantry officer, I was able to adapt that skill into effectively leading my men into combat, not only recognizing the individual strengths of my men but utilizing their experiences… We all have something to bring to the game.”
As he invited the graduates to walk across the stage to receive their diplomas, Dr. Gaynor remembered the Blue Cluster’s trip to Washington, DC. After reading a quote from Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dr. Gaynor told the graduates, “While at Gaynor you have demonstrated the ability to be an advocate for others. You have also demonstrated that you can be an advocate for yourself. You faced these challenges head on, and you have proven that through perseverance and a growth mindset you can find success. Congratulations!”
In addition to those watching in the Performing Arts Center, the graduation ceremony was live-streamed for the first time ever to over 160 viewers from around the United States, the UK, Israel, and Canada.
2019 Award Winners
President’s Education Award
Lucia Dammert Duenas
Comptroller Community Service Award
Helen Rosenthal City Council Award
Gordon Gaynor Award
Lucia Dammert Duenas