Originally published in The Weekly Packet, June 12, 2014
Awards, hugs, diplomas, giant eagle mark GSA’s graduation
Commencement speaker and GSA music teacher Steve Orlofsky spoke about choices as he addressed the George Stevens Academy Class of 2014 on June 8 in Blue Hill, Maine.
by Faith DeAmbrose
Under beautiful clear skies, 63 graduates of George Stevens Academy, led by Marshal Tate Yoder, made their way to the front of the lawn of the school where speeches were made, awards were given and diplomas handed out.
Head of School Paul Perkinson and Board of Trustees president Marion Morris led the 90-minute event, with Assistant Head of School Buzz Moore giving each student a diploma and receiving his share of hugs.
“It is rare that a teacher becomes a legend at a school while they are still teaching,” Perkinson said of commencement speaker and GSA music teacher Steve Orlofsky who came to the podium playing a saxophone.
“You’re about to embark on a long winding road and you might not know which way you are going to go. You may lose your way, you may lose sight of your values, perhaps you’ll try different majors and jobs. And that’s okay; it’s okay to change your direction in life. Eventually I am sure you will find your way; figure out what’s important to you,” Orlofsky said about choosing a path in life.
The class gift, a 14-foot soaring eagle created by Julie Jo Fehrle (class of ’85) under the direction of a 10-member Class Gift Committee was presented by Brionna Blodgett. Blodgett said the “class came up with the idea for the eagle because we missed the eagle painting that was in the gym before.” That eagle, she said, had been painted in 1976 during the school’s annual Arts Fest. It was designed by Joe Dombek, the school’s headmaster at the time. During a 2010 gym renovation, the eagle had been painted over.
Justin Willis, Second Honor Essayist, in a farewell speech to the crowd of more than 100 people, talked about ways of learning, including learning the hard way. Using a book he won at a book awards ceremony called The Dangerous Book for Boys, as the basis for his words, Willis said there were instructions on how to build a tree house or go-cart and that helped to shape his 11th grade year. “This book was a fitting gift to receive at GSA. Very few places that I have been allow you to learn in such a hands-on way as I have learned here.” Besides a problem with a faulty homemade Taser and a go-cart that went off a “nearby cliff,” Willis said he learned an important lesson: “You have to be ready to roll your sleeves up, grit your teeth a little bit and learn.”