GSA Matters Spring 2023

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News for Our Families and Friends

George Stevens Academy
Your Window into ISIP Spring 2023

ISIP a Model of the Best Kind of Learning

The most powerful learning comes from the selfdirected pursuit of one’s own interests, and the greatest commitment I know of by any school to this kind of personal, impactful educational experience is GSA’s signature Independent Study and Internship Program.

This year, as for decades past, juniors and seniors worked with faculty advisors and professional mentors to design their own projects to explore possible careers, or to immerse themselves in interests old or new. Though many students worked with local experts, some traveled (sometimes great distances) to undertake the unique projects they had designed. To get an idea of the range of projects, see pages 6-9. Though our students’ projects were as one-of-a-kind as our students are, there are some broad observations I can make about the results of their projects. Many improved at an activity they enjoy, something they will carry with them their whole lives. Many affirmed their interests in a particular career. Some realized that what they thought they were interested in just isn’t for them. And some did not have the experience they had hoped for due to circumstances beyond their control. But learning to deal with setbacks can be a valuable lesson.

One lesson we hope all ISIP participants learned is the importance of pursuing their interests and exploring new ones as they strive to become who they wish to be.

Thank you for all the ways you support GSA and our students.

Matters is a publication of the GSA Advancement Office.

On the Cover: Clockwise from top left, a drawing done by Phillip Ciampa ’23 for his ISIP with Nick Patterson; Lily Jaffray ’23 (with Mike) worked with large animal vet Dr. Dennis Ruksznis; Johnathan Crosby ’23 rebuilt a Camaro with Jason Billings; Caitlin Tobey ’24, who worked with Lt. Tim Cote ’86 of the Hancock County Sheriff’s Office, handcuffs Makallie Jenkins ’24.

Interim Head Search Underway

Dear GSA Community:

Tim Seeley will step down as Head of School at the end of June. Accordingly, the GSA Board of Trustees has formed a Head of School Search Committee comprised of trustees (past and present), GSA faculty and staff, and members of the community at large. The committee’s immediate task is to recommend an interim candidate to the board. To that end, we advertised the position in February and are currently reviewing applications and conducting interviews.

Once the Interim Head of School is in place, we will begin the search for the new Head of School with input from the wider GSA community. We will keep you apprised of the process along the way through email and the GSA website.

We thank Tim for his dedicated service to GSA and wish him well in his future endeavors.

Thank you,

3 4 Coming Events 5 Reaccreditation Update 6 ISIP Exhibition Night 10 Gift Boosts DNA Research 11 Seniors Speeches 12 9th-Grader in College Course
13 Join Us on Giving Day 14 Alumna in Mongolia 17 Ultra-Running Alumnus 19 Alumni Reunions 20 Visual & Performing Arts 22 Winter Sports In This Issue

Events at a Glance

Friday, April 7:

Saturday, May 20:

Monday, May 29:

Sunday, June 4:

Sunday, June 4:

Tuesday, June 6:

Friday, June 9:

Saturday, June 10:

Sunday, June 11:

Friday, June 16:

Sunday, July 9:

Sunday, July 23:

BHPL Student Art Reception, 4-6 p.m.

Class of 2012 Reunion

GSA Band in B.H. Memorial Day Parade

Andy Collier ’98 Golf Tournament

GSA Spring Concert, 1 p.m.

GSA Giving Day

GSA Alumni Association Banquet, 6 p.m.

Class Night, 4 p.m.

Commencement, 2 p.m.

Deep Space at Wilson Museum, 6 p.m.

Class of 1998 25th Reunion

Classes of 1981-1984 Reunion


Above, GSA students speak and Steel Revolution performs at Middle School Family Welcome Night, one of several Admissions events this year. Our admissions professionals have been very busy showing prospective day and boarding students and their families what life is like at George Stevens Academy.

Learn about Day Admissions and Boarding Admissions at GSA.


Reaccreditation a Work in Progress

Every ten years, George Stevens Academy undertakes a rigorous process of self-examination required by our accrediting body, the New England Association of Schools & Colleges. Accreditation by NEASC is “a globally recognized standard of excellence” and “attests to a school’s high quality and integrity.”

The accreditation process calls for self-assessments of eleven standards of excellence comprising GSA’s mission, governance, educational programs, professional development, community relations, facilities, support of students, and more. Committees made up of teachers, administrators, staff, trustees, and community members identify the school’s strengths and challenges and propose ways to become better. NEASC teams then visit campus to discuss “whole school improvement.” While earning reaccreditation is an important goal of this process, the results of self-examination are internally useful for strategic planning.

The accreditation process is in two parts: Foundation covers mission, governance, and infrastructure, while Program covers the experience of students. The process began in spring 2022 and concludes in late 2023.


ISIP Exhibition Night 2023

Lab Research

3-D Modeling

Chiropractic Tech


Law Enforcement



Clothing Design

Tennis Politics

Leadership Skills

Equine Health


Sustainable Clothing

The Law


Lobster Trap Repair

Film Photography Architecture

Coaching Track





Makallie Jenkins ’24, with Pip, did her ISIP on equine health. Cyrus Blake ’23 worked with mentor Chris Doyle on street photography and film.
7 Triage Nursing Real Estate FinancialLogistics Advising Auto Rebuilding CosmetologyTugboat RetailingMedicine Fish CourtroomAutoHatcheryRepair Value Investing Right Whales Mini-Chopper Restoration French Immersion Boat Rebuild CreativeVeterinaryWritingMedicine RV Model GeologicalRocketry ID Boat Repair Crocheting & Knitting Victim’s Rights Sculpture Motorcycle Repair
Coby Reynolds ’24, Cameron Walden ’24, Cameron Charette ’23, Emmett Allen ’24, and Wyatt Allen ’24 worked with Ed Jarvis on a business plan for a Peninsula Basketball Clinic. Anaïs Brosset ’23 studied photography with Chek Wingo. Sebastian Petrak ’23 sits in on a hearing during his politics ISIP with State Rep. Nina Milliken.

Hair Styling

CulinaryBoatbuilding Arts

Video Game Development

Spanish Immersion



Bass Building

Day Care

AnimalVideography Care

Music Production


Dental Hygiene


StockDevelopment Market

Occupational Therapy


Digital Art

SurfboardWelding Making

Outdoor Bouldering

Interviewing CAD



First Responder


Mattea Black ’24 learned book illustration from Rebekah Raye. Kaiden Shaw ’24 restored this minichopper with Cody Taylor. Alexon Astbury ’23 shadowed teacher Jess Conrad.

This year’s Independent Study & Internship Program was a success!

Thank you to EVERYONE who helped, from the organizers, mentors, advisors, and students who worked on the program, to the staff, students, and volunteers who helped plan, promote, and set up ISIP Exhibition Night, and clean up after.

Learn more about ISIP and see more pictures on our website HERE.

9 IT & Hardware Repair Candle Making DrawingWoodworking Swimming Physical Therapy Jewelry Making ElectricianCarpentry TeachingWritingArt
& Tattoos Journalism Book Illustration
Lance Kennedy ’24 rebuilt his boat with mentor Roger Kennedy. Ava Surgal ’24 built this electric bass with mentor Matt Donovan. Sayer Bramblett-Williams ’24, seen here, and Emmett Watters ’24 practiced outdoor bouldering with Adelaide Brandt.

AP Bio Students Test DNA

The GSA Science Department now has equipment to give students hands-on experience with DNA testing thanks to a $1,950 grant from the Toshiba America Foundation.

“This is an exciting opportunity for science classes at GSA,” teacher Sara Bushmann said. “The hope is that students gain a better understanding of genetics research and increased interest in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) careers.”

Sara’s AP Biology students were the first to use this equipment, in a lab designed to detect the presence of genetically modified organisms (GMO) in food. Two corn products were tested: a popular corn chip and corn meal.

Toshiba America Foundation is dedicated to helping classroom teachers make STEM learning fun and successful for K-12 students in public and nonprofit private U.S. schools. Visit:

Noel Da ’23 pipettes a solution into a test tube held by Tommy Norgang ’23.

Senior Speeches Build Rhetorical Skills

Seniors in Erin Wenal’s Senior English and AP English Language and Comp classes made speeches to family members, friends, and others this winter.

Success in our civic, professional, and personal lives depends on our ability to persuade others, and this assignment helped students boost the skills and confidence needed to make their voices heard.

Our students hold diverse opinions, and their speech topics reflected that diversity. Here are just a few of the subjects presented: the importance of the lobster fishery, animal overpopulation, social inequality in America, internet safety with children, saving the internal combustion engine, violence against children, inequality in the workplace for LGBTQ individuals, lowering the drinking age, access to healthcare, medically-assisted suicide, and the need for more people in veterinary medicine. Well done, all!

Clockwise from top left, Hannah VanSpronsen, Emery Leach, Alyssa Ladd, Joshua Williams, Jenna Blodgett, and Logan Leach.

Kenzee Taylor ’26

Ninth-Grader Enrolled in College Course

In addition to GSA classes, Kenzee Taylor of Blue Hill is taking the University of Maine at Presque Isle’s online Criminal Justice course. The ninth-grader’s interest in crime and the law began when she was “a little kid,” she said. She was fascinated by crime and horror movies, especially the psychological aspects. “I love

trying to figure out why people do the things they do.”

Kenzee hopes to be a lawyer in the future, perhaps a prosecuting attorney. The course, which started in January, is a first step toward achieving that goal. Among the topics covered early on were crimes involving the elderly and mentally ill, and victims of sexual assault, which “was kind of hard to read.”

“The whole class is based on notes, so you read the notes, jot them down, and practice them,” Kenzee said. “Then you take your exam, which is 50 questions, and you have 45 minutes to answer them.”

She took the first exam several weeks into the course. “I try so hard in all my classes,” she said, but her first grade was not as high as she had hoped. Like any good student, Kenzee will adjust her study routine. She plans to process her notes more and spend more time taking online quizzes.

Passing the class means Kenzee will earn college credit AND credit at GSA. She will continue to explore her interest next year by taking UMPI’s online Criminology course, and she has signed up for Forensics at GSA. And Kenzee has already asked her advisor, Caroline Richards, to be her mentor for an ISIP project related to the law and criminal justice in 2025.

When asked if she has any advice for GSA students thinking about taking college courses while in high school, Kenzee said “make sure it’s what you want to do and that you’re really focused and prepared to sit down and write a lot and practice a lot, to put a lot of time in the class.”

Kenzee is one of about a dozen George Stevens Academy students taking college courses this year through the University of Maine System’s ExplorEC program or through other institutions. Students can take up to four free courses per year through ExplorEC. They also can design their own GSA Alternative Courses. Anyone interested in pursuing their passions beyond GSA’s extensive curricular offerings should contact Dean of Curriculum & Instruction David Stearns.


Alumni, Parents, and Friends!

George Stevens Academy celebrates our 10TH ANNUAL GIVING DAY on Tuesday, June 6 from 8am to 3pm

Join us on the front lawn to chat with GSA friends & teachers, catch some entertainment, and enjoy coffee and tasty bites from alumna Kara van Emmerik’s Honey & Lace Baking Co.

If you can’t make it in person, join us virtually online.

Support our students by making a gift to the GSA Fund !


More details coming about this amazing challenge created by generous donors, as well as other GIVING DAY 2 023 events.


latest updates,

Fulbright Gives Alumna Extraordinary Opportunity

Leigh Brooks ’18 in Ghorki-Terelj

National Park, east of Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, where she works as an English language teaching assistant.

Mongolia is known as “the land of the eternal blue sky.”

Photo courtesy of Leigh Brooks.

Leigh Brooks loves languages.

The 2018 George Stevens Academy graduate excelled in French while at GSA, and after graduating last year from Wheaton College in Norton, Mass., she is “comfortable” in Russian, Mandarin, Spanish, and Turkish, and knows “bits and bobs of others,” she said.

Leigh can’t say for sure where her interest comes from, but “different languages have always been around me,” she said, “and somewhere along the line, I discovered that I found them captivating and beautiful.”

They are puzzles to be solved, she added. “You pick them apart and figure out what’s going on and put all the bits and pieces together. And they’re also just really fun to say.”

She must be all smiles, then. In January, Leigh left the relatively balmy Maine for Mongolia, where she is now a Fulbright English teaching assistant in the English Department at the National University of Mongolia. She arrived in the capital city Ulaanbaatar in the coldest part of winter, when temperatures typically range from a low of -20° F to a high of -4°. She came prepared with everything she thought she’d need for the cold, but also knew she could buy winter gear in-country. “Wool is a big business,” she said. “They have tons of wool-producing animals, so you can just go buy enough wool to wrap yourself up like a little Michelin man.” Leigh also arrived academically prepared for the post. At Wheaton, she triple-majored in linguistics, Russian language and literature, and European history, and she had firsthand experience with a Fulbright language teaching assistant.

“In college, we had an agreement with Fulbright to get a Russianspeaking person to work with our Russian department,” she said. “Russian and English are not very similar, so having somebody help you with things like pronunciation and slang terms is really helpful.”

That’s one way she is helping people in Ulaanbaatar. “Because Mongolia is fairly isolated and there are not a lot of people coming from Englishspeaking countries to Mongolia, we’re kind of a valuable resource just by the virtue that we are native speakers of the English language.”

While Leigh helps students in Ulaanbaatar master English, she is pursuing her own language goals. She hopes to be fluent in Mongolian within six


months so she can take a history class in the language. She also hopes to work on her Russian, which is spoken by a lot of Mongolians because of historical Soviet influence, she said. “Besides the languages, I’m really excited to get outside into all the wilderness areas and stuff,” Leigh said. “I like hiking, bird-watching. Mongolia has some really cool geologic features that I really want to get a good look at. There’s a national park nearby, and you can get there pretty easily by bus.”

So how is it going? “It’s wonderful,” she said. “I really love the city, and the people I’m working with are amazing.”

Why Mongolia?

“The language itself is super interesting,” Leigh said. “It’s really pretty. It’s got really cool sounds and very interesting patterns, and therefore, I’d really like to speak it.”

And Mongolia was a natural fit considering her academic interests. Leigh’s senior thesis at Wheaton was about specific aspects of “relations between Russia and China in the Communist period,” she said. Living in Ulaanbaatar, she is in the perfect place to learn how Mongolia, which sits between Russia and China, fared at that time, “especially in terms of language.”

But ultimately, she chose the landlocked nation more than 6,000 miles from home “because how else are you going to get there, you know? The Fulbright makes it easier to get to places you couldn’t really get to otherwise. It would be too difficult to try to settle in a country like Mongolia as a single person with no support system.”

Leigh Brooks ’18 signs her contract at the National University of Mongolia. Embassy photo courtesy of Leigh Brooks.

Ultra-Running Alumnus Leans into Pain

Mac Jackson, a 1999 George Stevens Academy graduate, “was never a runner,” he said of his high school days. “I hated running for the sake of running. I would do it to be in shape for the sport I was in.”

If you had told him early in life he was going to run a hundred miles, he said he would have replied “There’s no way in hell.”

Yet Mac is now three years into his ultra-running journey. In January, he ran his first 100-mile race, the Long Haul 100. In March, he competed in the Georgia Death Race, a nearly 75-mile course with 32,000 feet of elevation change, he said. And later this year, he plans to run in the Ocean 100K that he said “is almost all swamp, often in knee-to-waist-deep water.”

So how did he go from not being a runner to this? “Over time, with slow, steady progress,” he said. “What once seemed unfathomable now seems like going out for a 5K to me.”

And Mac has learned to enjoy the sport. “You don’t do it unless you actually love it, unless you love running, being outside.”

But the real reason he competes is to push himself far past his comfort zone. “The only certainty is that at some point in the race, you’re going to feel pretty miserable. You don’t know when it’s going to happen, but you go to a dark place. When you come out the other side, it’s just an incredible feeling.”

“I think we spend way too much of our time being comfortable. In the 21st century, we as humans are just creatures of comfort. I don’t like to live that way anymore. I think a certain level of discomfort offers a lot of growth.”

Mac’s ability to push himself came in part from having Dan Kane as a coach and teacher at GSA.

Mac Jackson ’99 competes in the Long Haul 100. Photo courtesy of Mac Jackson.

“When you grow up in Downeast Maine, having a good work ethic is important,” he said.

Coach Kane “worked us hard, we understood why, we bought into that, we looked up to him, and we respected him. We weren’t necessarily the most skilled soccer team out there, but we were going to be the most fit.”

Best Experience: Mac’s first 100-miler, the Long Haul 100. “I had a plan and I executed it really well. When a little situation popped up, there was a solution to it. That’s one of my mantras ‘There are no problems, there are situations.’”

Worst Experience: The Trident Ridge to Nowhere, a 3.3-mile loop every hour for 12 hours. “It’s all in sugar sand. You’re just spinning your wheels constantly. The ground temps were about 120 degrees at the start of the race. I couldn’t keep anything down. My legs locked up as I was trying to go out on the tenth loop. It was the most excruciating cramping I’ve ever experienced.”

Last Word: “A big piece of why I run is that I’m in recovery. I’ve been sober for about 10 years. I’m a recovering alcoholic. Everything about running mirrors the recovery process. They are so closely intertwined that it’s hard to tell the difference between the two.”

Mac Jackson lives in Florida with his wife, Hillary, and his children, Maisie (7), Stella (5), and Raife (2). He is the Director of Annual Giving and Alumni Relations at Palm Beach Day Academy.

Fun Facts

Mac gets 350-400 miles out of running shoes. That’s about six pairs a year.

He generally takes in 100 calories every half hour during a race.

Skratch is Mac’s go-to electrolyte mix, but he turns to GU Roctane Summit Tea when his “stomach starts to twist.”

He makes his own training food, such as rice balls wrapped in seaweed, avocado sandwiches, peanut butter and jelly, and “this sort of oat, date, peanut butter cookie.

Ultra goal: “build his resume” for the Badwater 135 through Death Valley.

Mac Jackson ’99 celebrates his JW Corbett 50K win with Maisie and Stella.

2023 Alumni Reunions

The Class of 1973 will hold its 50th reunion at the home of Joan and Ed Wardwell on Saturday, July 29, from 12-8 p.m. Joan will send out details by mail. Have questions? Call (207) 326-4198 or email

The Classes of 1981-1984 will hold a multi-class reunion on Sunday, July 23, from 3-6 p.m. The gathering will take place under the tents at Hinckley House on Tenney Hill. Interested in helping with planning? Email Craig Berry ’83 at or Margie Gray ‘81 at

The Class of 1993 is planning a 30th class reunion. Mary O’Malley Tobey, Kelly Young Galvin, Leslie Pelletier Burnette, and Jackie Grindle Snow are organizing the event. Find out more from Jackie at (207) 4794676 or

The Class of 1998 will hold its 25th class reunion at Strong Brewing Co. & Kitchen in Sedgwick on Sunday, July 9, at 2 p.m. Bring your families for lawn games and catching up with old friends. Order food and drink as you wish from the restaurant. We will encourage everyone to make a donation either to the GSA Fund in memory of Kami Proud and Jessica Grindle or to the Alumni Sports Fund in memory of Andy Collier. You are invited to come at 1 p.m. to hike the neighboring Bluff Head trail. If you have questions or would like to reach out, email Chrissy Beardsley Allen at

The Class of 2012 will hold an on-campus reunion on Saturday, May 20. Kara van Emmerik, Adam Hatch, and Nicole Bakeman are planning the event, which will include a jam session in the Esther Wood Music Room. Save the date! We’ll share more details on our website once we have them.

The GSA Alumni Banquet will be held in the GSA cafeteria on Friday, June 9, at 6 p.m. The Classes of 1963 (60 years), 1973 (50 years), and 1998 (25 years) will be honored. The GSA Alumni Book Award recipients will be announced. Anyone with questions about the banquet or the GSA Alumni Association can contact Treasurer Jackie Snow ’93 at (207) 479-4676 or


Silver & Gold for GSA Jazz

GSA’s honor combo Deep Space performs at the MMEA State Instrumental Jazz Festival. The combo brought home a gold medal.

CLICK HERE to read more about the festival on our website.

Phoebe Carter ’26, Ian Bowden ’23, and Fred Coit ’25 of GSA’s The Morning combo blow their horns at the festival. The combo brought home a silver medal.

Jenna Blodgett ’23 sings as Phelan Gallagher ’02 directs the GSA Jazz Band at the state festival. The band brought home a silver medal.

The Blue Hill Public Library will host a Student Art Month reception on Friday, April 7, from 4-6 p.m. Art by students across the Blue Hill Peninsula, including GSA students, will be on display during library hours through April. Learn more HERE.

Thespians Join Forces

Aiden Young ’24, right, rehearses with Natalie Esposito ’25 and Matilda Sorich ’25 for a Threadbare Theatre Workshop production of Shakespeare’s Macbeth with five other schools. Erin McCormick ’00 has been helping prepare the young actors for the April 1 performance at the Reversing Falls Sanctuary. Thea McKechnie ’24 and Anna Snow ’24 also are in the troupe.

Art Exhibit Reception

Winter Sports Teams


Indoor track
varsity basketball Girls’ varsity basketball Boys’ swimming with Harbor School swimmers
Girls’ swimming

Athletics Honors

All Academic (seniors)

Alexon Astbury, Robbie Bennett, Ira Buchholz, Austin Chandler, Cameron Charette, Thea Crowley, Elijah Doyle, Andy Hipsky,

Alyssa Ladd, Regan Libby, Sol Lorio, Brockett Muir, Azaiah Nanson, Blake Nason, Tommy Norgang, Jack Sullivan.

All Academic McDonald's All Star

Azaiah Nanson ’23

Senior All Star Game

Alexon Astbury, Azaiah Nanson

Anne Norton Sportsmanship Award for Indoor Track

Thea Crowley ’23


Basketball 2nd Team

Patrick Dagan ’24

Basketball 3rd Team

Azaiah Nanson ’23

Indoor Track 1st Team

Thea Crowley ’23: 1 Mile, 2 Mile

Kathleen Stephens ’24: 400M Dash, High Jump

Indoor Track 2nd Team

Thea Crowley ’23: 800M, 4x200 Relay

Andy Hipsky ’23: 400M Dash, 55M Hurdles, 4x200 Relay

Sayer Bramblett-Williams ’24: 55M Dash, 4x200 Relay

Iris Kimball ’24: 4x200 Relay

June Page ’24: 4x200 Relay

Maranda Pert ’24: Shot Put

Ben Baldwin ’25: 55M Dash, 200M, 4x200 Relay

Maddison Damon ’25: 4x200 Relay

Jake Lepper ’25: 2x400 Relay


Our Mission

George Stevens Academy is a town academy on the coast of Maine. Founded in 1852, we are the high school for nearly all students from the seven towns in our rural community. We also enroll private-pay day and boarding students from around the world. Our students’ interests, talents, and aspirations reflect the diversity of the communities from which they come.

GSA provides a comprehensive and challenging education for all students, for those who will build futures in surrounding communities and for those who will make lives elsewhere in the world. Our many academic and experiential programs foster a love of knowledge, inspire creativity, instill self-confidence, encourage good character, and prepare each graduate for a purposeful life in a changing world.

Our 2022-2023 Board of Trustees

Our board is dedicated to supporting the academy, its mission, and its vision. Read about GSA, our mission, vision, and more HERE on our website.

Sally Mills ‘85, Chair, Blue Hill

Terry Moulton, Treasurer, Blue Hill

Bill Case, Clerk, Blue Hill

Sara Becton Ardrey, Blue Hill

Amy Baker, Blue Hill

Alden Blodgett ‘78, Penobscot

Kenelm “K.” Guinness, Blue Hill

Prudy Heilner, Blue Hill

Mark Hurvitt, Blue Hill

Tyler Knowles, Blue Hill

Sue Loomis, Castine

Robyn Sealander, Brooklin

Zoë Tenney ‘93, Sedgwick

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