Gunnery School Changes Name to The Frederick Gunn School to Honor Abolitionist Founder

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Image via SmugMug, the first ever virtual convocation and the first convocation as The Frederick Gunn School.

By Katherine Cortese

On July 25th, The Gunnery community was informed of a groundbreaking change; the school name we have all known for years was being changed to honor our founder: Frederick Gunn.

The Gunnery, now called The Frederick Gunn School, announced its name change over social media this summer. With an email and video attachment along with social media posts on Instagram and Facebook, it was impossible for a current student, alum, or parent to miss the news!

As expected, the change has raised some controversy. Within our community, there is a mix of supportive and unsupportive feelings on the adjustment. Caroline Marich ‘24, a new freshman and faculty kid, has been a part of The Gunnery community for years. When asked her feelings on the name change, Caroline stated, “When I first heard about the name change I was super surprised and confused and a little bit annoyed. I had waited nine years to go to The Gunnery and now everything was changing. However, I’ve now realized that a name is just a name and it will not change the fact that The Gunnery/Frederick Gunn School is the same place and community that it was before.” Caroline is not the only one with an initial disappointment in the name change, but after some time and explanation, the change became a positive impact on the school. 

Ksenia Korobov, a four-year senior and co-president of Gunn Society, was asked a few questions about her opinion on the name change. “When the name change was first announced, I was really shocked and upset (as a lot of us have been). I didn’t really ever think that the name of the whole school would be changed, and I was really worried about the implications for my senior year, and especially graduation,” she said. “But, the name change really made me stop and reflect on my three previous years at The Gunnery. Mr. Gunn had distinct, transformative ideas for education, and it’s only right that action be taken to enhance how we bring out his vision and ideals today and in the future. Changing the name can and will ensure his legacy will last for years to come!” As a long standing member of the community, Ksenia is aware of the reasoning behind the change and is nothing short of supportive. 

Current students are not the only ones talking about the name change! Maddie Aitken, a member of the Class of 2019 and former Head Prefect, said, “Initially, I was really surprised. I never would’ve expected The Gunnery to change its name, but it wasn’t a negative surprise. Honestly, The Frederick Gunn School will always feel like The Gunnery to me and I’ll probably always call it that. However, I totally understand the reasoning behind the name change, and I think it makes a lot of sense. Frederick Gunn was always a huge part of what we talked about and valued at Gunn, and I think it’s fitting to honor him more directly with the new name.” 

Maddie’s positive input on the name change reflects the way she felt throughout her experience as a student and Head Prefect at FGS. “Being Head Prefect was rewarding and really fun, but there was also a lot of work that went on behind the scenes. I think this made me recognize the work that many members of the community put in all the time (teachers, administration, etc) to keep things running smoothly that most people didn’t even notice.”  

Along with recent alumni, Ms. Rimany, a member of the Class of 2014 and now an English teacher here at the Frederick Gunn School, has been a part of this community for years. “I was surprised when Mr. Becker told me about the name change” Ms. Rimany stated. “My first thought was, ‘Half my wardrobe is Gunnery gear,’ and then, ‘How can I get one of The Gunnery signs to hang on my living room wall?’” 

Being a member of the Gunn community for so long can make this change seem even larger. Ms. Rimany said, “Ultimately, I feel that the name change is a positive one. We are more closely aligning ourselves to the founder of our school, Mr. Gunn. His values are ones that I think we could all use more of today.” Ms. Rimany is super excited and grateful for the in-person opportunities the Frederick Gunn School gets this year!

Mr. Becker, our Head of School, has been an important part of our community for years. When asked his opinion about the name change, he said, “I am the person who brought the idea of the name change to the table, however even before I became Head of School, questions about the name came up all the time.” 

Becker explains that the faculty, alumni, and parents would ask whether the school would ever consider changing its name. The meaning of the name “The Gunnery” is not known outside of our community until you become a student here, so the new name is more inclusive. “Feedback on the name change has been overwhelmingly positive. Of course, there have been current students, alumni, and critics that have been upset, but they are only a small portion.” Mr. Becker is very excited about this change for the school this year and in the long run as well!

Even though The Gunnery’s change has sparked controversy, the members of the community all come to an understanding of the importance of highlighting our founder, Frederick Gunn’s, values.

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