Highlights from Gould’s Class of 2022 Commencement

Gould Academy presented diplomas to 59 seniors at its 186th commencement exercises on a beautiful Saturday morning over the Memorial Day weekend.
Led by bagpiper and Gould alumna Hillary E. Anderson ’07, speakers, faculty, and graduating seniors made their way from the steps of Hanscom Hall across Alumni Field, where several hundred family and friends gathered under the tent to celebrate the Class of 2022.

2022 Commencement Speakers

To begin the ceremony, Emily Drummond ’01, gave the invocation, during which she also held a moment of silence, saying

“We are here today in celebration. Yet we also carry heavy and weary hearts. Our world is hurting in so many ways. We lift up the unfathomable pain and suffering and injustice that is occurring across the globe. Most presently in our minds and hearts, we hold the people of Ukraine, the suffering in Buffalo's east side. And the horrific reality of yet another school shooting at Robb Elementary School. We are tired. We are heartbroken. We are angry. Let us come together in a moment of silence now to honor the sufferings of these communities of our fellow humans.”

Following this emotional moment, Assistant Head of School for Teaching and Learning Dr. Brad Clarke welcomed friends and families on behalf of Head of School Tao Smith. Brad noted the love he has for Gould students and all the growth, idealism and discovery that are part of the four short years of high school. He noted that three of his former students were on stage with him: Chris Brooks ’99, Desiree Plata ’99 and Emily Drummond ’01, all serving a role in today’s ceremony. He then welcomed Chris Brooks to the podium with an entertaining story about their days coaching and playing baseball together.

“What I'm most proud about Gould is the unparalleled dedication and commitment that our faculty and coaches have for their students.”

Chris Brooks '99, Trustee

Alumnus and secretary of the Gould Academy Board of Trustees Chris Brooks stepped to the podium next, acknowledging that “Today is a day of celebration of appreciation, and unfortunately also of mourning. Phyllis Gardiner, president of Gould’s Board of Trustees wanted nothing more than to be here today to introduce our commencement speaker. On Sunday, Phyllis tragically lost her husband, Logan Johnson. Logan always held a special place in his heart for Gould. And all of us hold a special place in our hearts for him.”

He proceeded to introduce speaker Dr. Desiree Plata, noting many of her accomplishments for her research in Environmental Engineering, and her contributions to solving the world's most challenging problems. He pointed to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal proclaiming “Cat litter could be antidote for climate change,” explaining how this simple approach to what is often labeled an impossible problem was an effort led by his friend, fellow trustee, former classmate and the speaker about to step up to the podium.

Dr. Desiree Plata '99

Dr. Desiree Plata, Associate Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering at MIT in Boston, addressed the graduates with passion and empathy, opening her remarks by asserting her belief that people are smart, fundamentally good, and can discern right from wrong if the noise of society can be quieted just long enough. People can see that an investment in some distributed resource may come back to us as a net gain, maintaining that most people have an innate sense of good and bad, and if we can listen to that meter, and trust that others also possess it, then we might be able to make some much needed progress.

She acknowledged the graduates have grown up in a particularly unusual socio-technological transition, in the age of the internet news cycle, which has led to a relentless sense of fear and doom promulgated by the media. Expressing gratitude to her country and her path of privilege, she also expressed indignance toward the United States Congress for the gridlocked system, suggesting term limits could help support a larger variety of ideas, and disempower the propagation of self above community.

“The only logical outcome for a generation raised on a repeated news cycle of fear and doom is just what any human psychologist would anticipate: apathy, total apathy, we disconnect, we give up, we stop feeling on a biochemical level, we stifle the very connection to others that makes us human.” 

Noting the graduating class is full of students with a variety of interests, each individual matters and has a role to play in solving our country’s problems. Time is finite, it’s important to match unique talents and unique interests to make something new, something positive for all of us, now. Appreciate nature, especially the aspects that are being affected by climate change, including glaciers, our precious long New England winters, our coastlines, corals, and the regular weather patterns to which we have evolved our global economies, our food services, and our water distribution.

“Please don't let a feeling of apathy stop you from being part of the solution. Please don't let anxiety paralyze you. Please don't let a feeling of ineffectiveness or a lack of skill stop you. We don't have the luxury of those emotions. And it's a manageable problem if we can maintain our clarity of thought.” 

She closed her remarks by reminding graduates what they were taught at Gould - be strong leaders by engaging in respectful conversation, get to know your peers by talking rather than texting and work to find common ground. Believe and trust in the goodness of others in an effort to make much needed progress for this world.

Zach Schmolka ’22, Class-Elected Speaker

Class Speaker Zach Schmolka then shared his excitement about the Mets vs Phillies baseball game to be played that night, before thanking his parents, family, and dog for their support throughout his Gould journey, as well as his teachers and advisors for their unmatched commitment, guidance, and love.

Zach reminisced about skipping study hall to play spikeball on the upper fields, sitting through long sports assemblies, forgetting his mask in his dorm room, and doing some smart and some stupid things together with his fellow seniors, all while living through a pandemic.

He talked about how he experienced feelings of loneliness over the last two years during the pandemic, believing he was missing something even bigger than not being able to go visit friends or eat in the dining hall with others. He thanked the Covid task force and the nurses in the health center for keeping the community safe through those hard times.

He then noted the resilience of his classmates, that

“despite the obstacles of masks, distancing, and zoom school, we proved our resilience as a class, as we were able to create small but significant threads of connection and spin them into the defining memories of our time at Gould.”

A story about challenges he overcame with help from his friends on his Junior Four Point camping trip was followed by a story about the hamster who lived in the Davidson dorm. He concluded with a reflection on the uncommonly strong bond shared in the Gould community,

“a bond which has empowered us with the resilience to withstand every challenge that life has thrown our way. Over the past four years, we’ve learned about ourselves and each other, and we’ll always be joined by our common experience in the beautiful Maine woods.”

Peyton Hadfield ’22, Valedictorian

Valedictorian Peyton Hadfield told stories of her own Gould journey, arriving as a junior with goals to receive a high level education and also ski at the highest level. She told about how she achieved both, and more, while forming new relationships with a variety of people from other cultures and with different perspectives.

She noted the return this year to a normal sports schedule, congratulating the Softball and Girls Tennis teams for winning MAISAD championships, while also bringing back such Gould traditions as in-person assemblies, Residential Rumbles, Mountain Day, Winter Carnival, and school dances.

Peyton acknowledged the individual accomplishments of many of her classmates, and how those accomplishments will likely inspire future career paths. Part of learning is acknowledging imperfections, and this is part of growth as learners and thinkers. The intelligent and caring support from school leadership, parents, advisors, faculty, and staff made Gould feel like home.

“We are the next generation of scientists, innovators, healthcare providers, and business people. We are the next teachers, artists, coaches, and leaders in global protests. It is now in our hands to care for the planet and the people around us.

Going forward, we must remember to continue to seize opportunities and evolve in our interests. Believe in what we want to do and pursue our passions boldly; this is where success comes from. As we drive off campus today for the final time as students, we must remember to keep all the doors open to new experiences, find joy in whatever we choose to do, and remember we have been given all the skills we need to find success.”

Student Awards for the Class of 2022

The following members of the Gould Academy Class of 2022 also received awards at Commencement.

Members of this year’s senior class elected to the Cum Laude Society:
Peyton Hadfield, Tracy He, Hannah McMillan, Peyton Meader, Paige Mull, Jelena Perovic, Hannah Pierce, Zach Schmolka, Caroline Siekman, Jacky Tse, Allie Waugh, Keiko Yuasa

Academic Book Awards were presented to the following students:
English: Paige Mull; History: Jacky Tse; Mathematics: Peyton Hadfield; Personal Finance: Sunny Cheng; Science: Peyton Meader; Computer Science: Jason Chen; Innovation: Sam Sherwood; French: Ron Tomen; Mandarin: Jacky Tse; Spanish: Marcus Goodbody; Japanese: Jelena Perovic; Theater: Cate Maccini; Visual Arts: Caleb Grammas; Pottery: Hannah Pierce; Art Department Purchase Award: Huntley Blair.

Additional Senior Awards
The Ralph Gould Music Award recipient was Robert Xu in recognition of his improvement, excellence, and contribution to the school in the area of music.

Jelena Perovic received the Francis “Hi” Berry Award, and Tyler Hamel and received the Joe Roderick Award for outstanding competitive spirit through example and overall competence in athletics.
Peyton Hadfield received the William P. Clough III award, which recognizes an on-snow athlete who has demonstrated outstanding character, attitude, and leadership.

Hannah Pierce received the Gould Academy Alumni Association Award, which recognizes the son or daughter, grandson or granddaughter of an alumnus or alumna whose attitude, involvement and contributions typify the ideals of Gould’s alumni and its Alumni Association. Hannah was also the single recipient of the Town of Newry’s monetary gift to graduating seniors who are full time residents.

The Senior Point Award was given to Sam Sherwood whose project involved using a 3D printer to create a prosthetic leg for his dog, and best exemplified the three values at the heart of any Gould endeavor, “the energy to try, willingness to risk, and capacity to tolerate.”

The Jan and Lorenzo Baker Award, bestowed upon a member of the senior class who best exemplifies the qualities that the Bakers fostered: personal courage, an adventurous and creative approach, and a clear vision of themselves and their world, went to Zach Schmolka. He also received the Gayle A. Foster Award for his outstanding work in photography, and the Ouwinga Citizenship Award as the senior who embraces the spirit in which both the Ouwingas live their lives through acts of selflessness and thoughtful humanitarianism.

Hannah McMillan received the Annie Daley Courchesne Award, celebrating the spirit of student involvement in social, political, and environmental causes. The award is in two parts: a monetary contribution to a cause which Annie believed and worked for, and an inscribed cup presented to a Gould Academy student who reflects determination to make the world a better place.

The Linwood “Lindy” Lowell Award, an honor voted upon by the graduating class, is given annually to the member of the senior class whose friendly personality and helpful nature have brightened the lives of fellow students. The Class of 2022 chose to award the honor to Caleb Mitchell.

The MELMAC Principals Scholarship is awarded to a “senior who has made a difference in the lives of others and that of his or her community and is a solid school citizen involved in extracurricular activities; a student who has exhibited a commitment to public service; and an individual with the potential to make a difference in the world.” This year’s award was presented to Madisyn Bean.

Silas Shutty and Sophia Dillon received the Elwood F. Ireland Award, a faculty-voted award given to the boy and girl of the senior class who exemplify service, leadership, and character.

The Headmaster’s Bowl is presented annually to the senior who has exhibited the highest standards of scholarship, character, service to the school, and participation in activities of the school. This year’s award was presented to Peyton Meader.

See more photos from Commencement 2022 at
Gould is a small, co-ed, independent boarding school for grades 8-PG.  We are passionate about preparing academically motivated students for college, helping them to become independent-minded, ethical citizens who will lead lives of purpose, action, excellence, and compassion in a dynamic world.