Gerstell Academy Celebrates Commencement

On Friday, June 7th at 10:00 a.m., Gerstell Academy celebrated the accomplishments of the Class of 2024 with commencement exercises. The ceremony was a culmination of hard work and significant achievement designed to honor and acknowledge the 45 graduates. These students set a high standard and made a positive difference in the lives of one another and the community.

A large crowd of parents, friends, and alumni gathered to witness the momentous occasion.
Dr. Frederick G. Smith, Founder, Chairman of the Board of Trustees, and President Emeritus led the opening procession comprised of board members, administration, and faculty through the picturesque center of campus accompanied by “The Sounding Brass”. The graduates followed, accompanied by their advisors and led by a solo bagpiper.
Mr. John Polasko, President, opened the ceremony with a brief introduction, and welcome.
Ms. Jenna Daly, Chair of the Music Department, sang the National Anthem.
Remi Logue, student body president, led the invocation, followed by Mr. Brian Abbott, Head of Upper School who provided opening comments.
Valedictorian Matthew Finkel spoke to his classmates about the growth he has witnessed over the past four years and surprised the audience by sharing that his opening comments were generated through artificial intelligence. He shared that artificial intelligence will never replace the need for human connection and emphasized the importance of maintaining lifelong friendships with classmates and faculty.
Madison Donovan, President of the Class of 2024 presented the Senior Class gift of furniture for a future student lounge to Dr. Frederick G. Smith, and Mr. John Polasko.
Mr. Brian Abbott, presented the Norm Smith Leadership Award to Bode Yelland.
Dr. Frederick G. Smith, along with Mr. John Polasko, President, presented The Stephen Olszewski Excellence in Teaching award to Jennifer Shields beloved upper school faculty member, and science teacher.
Dr. Frederick Smith addressed the graduates and presented the Christopher A. Poklemba Award to Lexi Larson. Dr. Smith also presented the Gary E. Slyman Leadership Scholar Award to Bode Yelland. Monetary prizes accompanied the awards.
Diplomas were presented by Dr. Frederick G. Smith, Mr. John Polasko, Mr. Brian Abbott and Dr. Venice Paterakis, Vice President of the Board of Trustees. Dr. Ashok Krishnaswamy and Ms. Suchi Krishnaswamy, members of the Board of Trustees were also in attendance.
President Mr. John Polasko offered closing remarks, and the ceremony closed with the singing of the Gerstell Alma Mater, written by Deborah Paterakis.
2500 Old Westminster Pike
Finksburg, MD 21048-1823