The Gunnery Commencement – May 25, 2015

Mr. Becker delivered this address to The Gunnery community at the 2015 Commencement….

I want to welcome everyone to this great day of celebration for the class of 2015. 1

Before we continue, I want to recognize that today is Memorial Day, the day that Americans set aside to remember those men and women who have lost their lives in military service for the country. Though I know we are not all Americans here, I do ask that we join in a moment of silence to recognize this important day and the sacrifice of our men and women in uniform.

Last night we had the opportunity to recognize Mrs. Baker, Mr. Hollinger, and Mrs. Lincoln, who have served the school for 87 years collectively. We celebrated them at the board meeting and will at the end of the year faculty meeting and at alumni weekend.

I also want to recognize three alumni in our midst who have a child graduating today: Bob M. ’79, whose daughter, Gabby, graduates today; Melanie K-R ’81 whose son, Ben, graduates today; David K. ’81, whose son, Rafe, graduates today and whose daughter, Jesse graduate in 2013; Frank M. ’77 whose son, Stephen, graduates today and whose other children also graduated from The Gunnery (Francis ‘03, Peter ‘05, Sarah ‘07). 2

And I know of at least two parents who cannot be here today to celebrate their child’s graduation because they are serving in the armed forces to defend our freedom. Nick’s mother, Monika, is serving in the Canadian Navy and Joe’s father, Lt. Col. John, is leading U.S. Marines in Afghanistan.

It reminds us that we are only here because of the generations who have come before us and those who serve abroad to protect and defend us at home. We should never think too highly of ourselves and the degree to which we make the present possible and we can almost never think highly enough about the people who have preceded us and who have made this present moment possible.

To that end, I would like to ask the class of 2015 to recognize two groups of people who made this moment possible. First, seniors, I would like to ask you to stand and recognize the faculty sitting behind me who have lived to serve and to teach, 24/7, over your time here. Now, remain standing, because it’s not just biologically that this moment would have been impossible without your parents and family. They have sacrificed so that we can all be here. So please thank your family members with a round of applause and locate them if you’re able. Continue reading

Meet Ed Surjan

One of the newest members of The Gunnery faculty is Ed Surjan, our Library Director. I asked Ed to introduce himself and his thinking to the broader Gunnery community via this blog. You’ll see that he combines a deep love of learning, of books, and of literacy skills with great experience in the “real world” and innovative thinking about engaging students and using space (broadly defined) to that end. Welcome, Mr. Surjan!

Having started my first company while still just an undergraduate at the University of Chicago, I come with an active, participatory, entrepreneurial, and technology oriented mindset to my school library career.  Prior to appointment as Library Director at the Gunnery this summer, I spent four years in the library at Berkshire School, and am currently a MLIS (Master of Library & Information Science) candidate at Syracuse University.

My approach to librarianship focuses on people, relationships and community, in contrast with the passive methodologies usually associated with libraries in the past.  Today, the focus is clearly on our students and actively facilitating knowledge creation in our school community.  This centers around developing information, research and digital literacy skills that prepare Gunnery students both for college and lifelong learning in a substantive and comprehensive way.  In fact, the critical transition from high school to college is an area of intense personal interest and concentration rarely far from my mind.

The Gunnery Tisch Library will extend well beyond its physical walls as the library staff and I will be a frequent presence in the classroom and around campus.  Enhanced library digital resources will be available to our entire community on or off campus anywhere an internet connection can be found on any device.

A passionate lifelong Chicago Cubs and Blackhawks fan, I live off-campus with my wife, BJ, and our yellow Labrador, Joe.  In my (limited) free time, I remain an avid, omnivorous reader and music lover, especially of blues and jazz.  ​