The Gunnery kicked off the holiday season with local friends at its annual town party in mid-November. Head of School, Susan G. Graham, Gunnery administrators, and faculty members were on hand to welcome the Washingtonians for an evening of celebration, acknowledgements, and holiday cheer. The evening’s highlights included the honoring of a town institution, Steep Rock Association and a tribute to Washingtonian, Kirsten Peckerman whose philanthropy and community service has greatly benefitted both institutions.
Ms. Peckerman was the recipient of 2011 Friend of The Green Award in recognition of her contributions to both The Gunnery and the Steep Rock Association. She serves on the Board of Trustees for both organizations as well as The Gunn Memorial Library and Museum, The Washington Garden Club, and The Weantinogue Heritage Land Trust. Mrs. Graham and Edmund White, President of Steep Rock Association’s Board of Trustees and former Gunnery parent, collaborated to honor Kirsten whom Mrs. Graham described as “a dear friend, a trusted colleague, and a kindred spirit.”
“I was absolutely surprised,” said Ms. Peckerman. “The Gunnery and Steep Rock are very important to the lifeblood of the town of Washington. The Gunnery has been in existence since 1850 and has left a mark on the town of Washington. Steep Rock has kept the character of Washington what it was so many years ago.”
Recently, The Gunnery established a town party tradition of celebrating distinguished neighbors. Previous honorees include The Town of Washington, The Washington Club, and The Gunn Memorial Library and Museum. “This year, we have chosen to honor Steep Rock Association and its historic relationship with The Gunnery,” said Mrs. Graham. “I have been impressed throughout my twenty-one years here in Washington by the Steep Rock board’s dedication to and preservation of this precious land in its nearly natural state. And I remain ever grateful that Gunnery faculty and students have always been welcomed.”
The Gunnery has a long history with this local organization. Founder Frederick Gunn’s belief in the empowering attributes of nature was communicated to his student Ehrick Rossiter, class of 1870. Rossiter purchased the riverfront property in 1889 to save it from clear-cutting. In 1925, when he established the trust which would govern the gift of the land to the town, two of the nine original trustees were The Gunnery’s Head of School Hamilton Gibson and The Gunnery’s first board chair, Victor McCutcheon.
Over the years, the Steep Rock Association and The Gunnery have benefitted from each other’s interest and assistance. For example, in 1969, Gunnery students discovered, 10,230 year old Indian remains, then the oldest known remains in New England.
From the late 1800s to the present day, Gunnery students adopted Mr. Gunn’s intense love of nature and used Steep Rock as a place of learning, saunter and self discovery. Mrs. Graham said, “Recently, members of the school’s biology and environmental classes frequented Steep Rock studying its wild areas, conducting water studies, and learning about the town’s hard fought legal battle with Waterbury to increase water flow in the river and avert the environmental catastrophe of a dead river.” The Gunnery community also celebrates Mr. Gunn’s birthday with an 8.5 mile school walk from campus to the pinnacle above the clamshell in Steep Rock.