2018 Commencement Preview

May 29, 2018


Gould’s end of year is rapidly approaching. Here’s a Commencement preview of what’s to come for our 2018 graduates this weekend.


Commencement Weekend begins Friday, June 1 with a baccalaureate ceremony and concert, and is followed by the school’s commencement ceremony on Saturday, June 2 at 10:30 a.m.


The baccalaureate ceremony will take place in Bingham Auditorium and is open only to faculty, students, and their families. The ceremony will begin with former faculty member, Holly Christine Clark, delivering the invocation, after which elected student speaker, Huanjun (Valentina) Liu ’18 of Shanghai, China, and faculty speaker, Jeff Candura, will address the class.

Commencement Concert

Following the ceremony, the Gould Academy Performing Arts Department—under the direction of chair James McLaughlin III P’16, ’20 and Edison Quinatoa—will present its annual commencement concert in Bingham Auditorium. This student concert featuring both vocal and instrumental selections is free and open to the community and begins at 7:30 p.m.

Stream the concert here!

182nd Commencement Ceremony

On Saturday, Gould Academy’s 182nd Commencement ceremony will take place—rain or shine—under a tent on Alumni Field outside of Ordway Hall. Faculty and Seniors will march, led by bagpiper Hilary Anderson ’07, from Hanscom Hall to the venue. Along with the awarding of diplomas, the ceremony features an elected student speaker, Andrew Gray ’18 of North Reading, Massachusetts, a valedictory speech by Donovan McKee ’18 of Amesbury, Massachusetts, and a commencement address from three-time Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative journalist, David Barstow.

The ceremony is open to the public, seating is plentiful, and tickets are not required to attend. We ask that attendees not reserve seats by leaving items on chairs if a family member is not present. While there is no official dress code for guests, most choose to arrive in business casual attire appropriate for the weather.

If you need more information on the ceremony or accessible seating or other accommodations are required, please contact Destiny McClure at mcclured@gouldacademy.org or 207-824-7703 in advance. Accessible parking will be available in the lot adjacent to Ordway and Gehring Halls. Other parking is available along Church Street and in campus lots.

Stream Commencement here!

Speakers & Honorees

David Barstow
Commencement Speaker

David Barstow follows a long line of distinguished commencement speakers including Portland City Councilor, Pious Ali, inaugural poet and Bethel local, Richard Blanco, and founder of Partners for World Health, Elizabeth McLellan ’69.

A native of Concord, Massachusetts, Barstow attended Northwestern University and began his career with the Rochester Times-Union in New York and the Green Bay Press-Gazette in Wisconsin. While at the St. Petersburg Times in Florida, Barstow was the finalist for three Pulitzer Prizes. In 1999, he moved to the New York Times, where he has become one of the country’s leading investigative journalists.

“Because of family connections to Bethel, I’ve had the opportunity over the years to meet some of Gould’s incredible students and faculty,” says Barstow. “I’m both honored and excited by this invitation to speak at Gould’s commencement.”

David Barstow accepting his Pulitzer Prize in 2009

In 2004, Barstow and Lowell Bergman won the Pulitzer Prize for Public Service for a series of articles that exposed employers whose violation of basic safety rules led to the injury or death of hundreds of American workers. Five years later, Barstow won his second Pulitzer for “Message Machine: Behind TV Analysts, Pentagon’s Hidden Hand” which uncovered the Pentagon’s use of retired military personnel to influence news coverage of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. In 2013, Barstow again won, along with Alejandra Xanic von Bertrab, the Pulitzer Prize for Investigative Reporting for multiple reports on how Wal-Mart used bribery to fuel its rapid growth in Mexico.

Barstow has also been the lead byline on several other major stories, including an article that profiled the last hours of those aboard the Deepwater Horizon offshore drilling rig. That article was adapted for the screen and became the feature film “Deepwater Horizon.”

Barstow is also the recipient of three Polk Awards, the Peabody Award, the Goldsmith Prize, the Alfred I. du Pont Silver Baton, the Bartlett and Steele Gold Medal, a Loeb Award, the Sidney Hillman Award, the Daniel Pearl Award for Investigative Reporting, two Sigma Delta Chi awards for distinguished service, the Mirror Award, an Overseas Press Club Citation, and two Society of American Business Editors and Writers awards.

In 2010, Northwestern University honored him with a Distinguished Alumni Award and he was inducted into the Hall of Achievement at the university’s Medill School of Journalism in 2015.

Donovan McKee ’18

Valedictorian Donovan McKee ’18 is the son of Andrea and Brady McKee of Amesbury, Massachusetts. Donovan attended the Gould Winter Term program as an eighth grader, came to Gould Academy full time as a tenth grade student, and has been a top student athlete since.

Donovan is a member of the Cum Laude Society (2017) and has received the Sophomore English Book Award (2016), and the English Scholar Shelf Award (2017), as well as induction into the National Spanish Honor Society (2016). Over his three years at Gould, Donovan took seven Advanced Placement (AP) courses and an additional five honors courses.

Donovan training at Sunday River

In addition to his success in the classroom, Donovan is one of Gould’s most decorated alpine ski racers in the past several years. As a tenth grader, Donovan qualified for the U16 National Championships where he placed 3rd in Super-G and 10th overall. The same year he was also invited to a US Ski Team Developmental camp. This year, Donovan qualified for both the US Junior Nationals and the US Alpine Championships. Donovan is the manifestation of Gould’s mission to provide elite level on-snow training with top-notch academics. Donovan is soft-spoken, determined, and leads by example. He is highly respected by his peers, coaches, and teachers alike and will be missed.

Luckily, Donovan will not be going far. He has deferred his admission from Boston College to continue his racing career as part of Gould’s gap year program led by former US Ski Team coach, Parker Gray ’97.

Benjamin Alford ’18

Salutatorian Benjamin Alford ’18 is no stranger to Bethel or to Gould. A day student and son of Math Department Chair, Andee Alford and World Languages faculty member, Doug Alford, Ben has grown up on the Gould campus and will graduate as a highly decorated scholar.

Ben’s academic honors are many. He is a member of the Cum Laude Society (2017) and has received Book Awards in Music (2016 and 2017), Mathematics (2015 and 2016), Mandarin (2017), History (2017), and English (2015 and 2017), as well as the Dartmouth Alumni Club Book Award (2017) and the Rensselear Award (2017). He has taken an impressive nine AP courses and eight honors courses.

Ben performing a solo at Yulefest

In his time at Gould, Ben has proven himself to be a renaissance man. Ben is an extraordinary choral singer with a smooth baritone voice. Ben has been selected to attend the District II Choral Festival and the Maine All State Music Festival each of his four years at Gould. This past year, he was selected for the National Association for Music Education All Nationals Honor Choir. The audience at Gould’s concerts will miss Ben’s voice.

Ben is also a highly accomplished endurance athlete. In the ninth grade, Ben qualified for the New England U16 Nordic Skiing Championships. He also qualified for the Eastern High School Championships in each of his last three years at Gould. Ben has been a top contributor to Gould’s cross-country running team, which won the New England Prep School Championships in his eleventh grade year.

Ben is a leader in the classroom, on the snow, and on the stage. His kindness, thoughtfulness, and gentle demeanor will be missed here at Gould. Ben will be attending Dartmouth College next year, but we look forward to many visits home.

Huanjun (Valentina) Liu ’18
Student-elected Baccalaureate Speaker

Valentina, or Val, as she is known to many of her classmates and teachers, is a four-year senior from Shanghai, China and the daughter of Hui Hu and Hao Liu. Val will be remembered for her kindness, her competitiveness and tenacity on the slopes and the turf, and her leadership on campus.

Val has pursued a demanding academic track during her time at Gould, including six AP courses and an additional four honors courses. Val also distinguished herself as an athlete. She played field hockey and was a member of the prep alpine race team during the winter. She starred on the lacrosse team, however, where she served as a co-captain this past season.

Val attacks the goal for Gould

For the past year, Val has served as Head Proctor of Gehring dorm, a demanding position that requires her to work closely with both classmates and faculty. Her election as Baccalaureate speaker is more evidence of how highly Val is regarded by her peers. Val will continue her studies this next winter at Boston University.

Andrew Gray ’18
Student-elected Commencement Speaker

Seeking rigorous academics and competitive alpine skiing, Andrew Gray ’18, the son of Janice and Daniel Gray of North Reading, Massachusetts, joined the Gould family as an eighth grader as part of our Winter Term program.

In addition to Andrew’s demanding academic schedule, which has included three AP courses, Andrew has battled various injuries to compete as an alpine skier and a member of the Varsity Lacrosse team. Andrew will likely be remembered for his gregarious personality, his sense of humor, and his leadership on campus. Andrew has been a Blue Key Admissions Ambassador for three years and, this year, was elected by students and faculty as the Head Proctor for Holden Hall. In this role, he served as a liaison between faculty and students, mediated conflict between roommates, and helped oversee day-to-day activities. Andrew’s pride in Gould Academy is palpable and his positive attitude is infectious.

Andrew, showing intense focus during a break in Boys’ Varsity Lacrosse action

Andrew is well respected by the entire Gould community and was elected by his classmates to deliver this year’s student speech during commencement. Andrew is deferring his admission to St. Lawrence University to pursue an additional year of ski racing while training with Gould’s new gap year program.


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