Helicopters, Courtrooms, and Oyster Hatcheries: Not Your Average Senior Internship Program

Helicopters, Courtrooms, and Oyster Hatcheries: Not Your Average Senior Internship Program

The internship program is a longstanding tradition at Gunston that allows students to gain work experience in lieu of final examinations.

By Henry Shifrin ’21

Jack Pigman'21 interns with Maryland State Police.

Jack Pigman ’21 interned with the Maryland State Police Department. 

On day ten of the Gunston School’s Senior Internship Program, Jack Pigman ‘21 found himself in a completely different environment than the standard classroom. Here he was,10,000 feet in the air, soaring in a helicopter with the Aviation Department of the Maryland State Police over the city of Baltimore. The internship program, a longstanding tradition at Gunston that allows students to gain work experience in lieu of final examinations, is back with a bang for the class of 2021. 

Gunston's Senior Internship Program is student-focused, allowing participants to create and define the internship experience that they want to do. The creation of these individualized internships is supported by the assistant head of school, who throughout the year helps to find programs, make contact, and formulate communications with local businesses. During this process, students learn to better communicate, as well as how to advocate for themselves and what they want to see during the program. This beloved program is extremely helpful to give students experience in a field that they want to know more about or are considering pursuing post-graduation. 

For Pigman, he chose to do his internship with the Maryland State Police because “I have always had an interest in law enforcement and to learn more about the justice system. I’ll be studying criminal justice and minoring in intelligence studies [at Mercyhurst University], so I thought it would be perfect to see if this field would be a good fit.”

Over the course of two weeks, Pigman rode along in troopers’ cars, explored the forensic science lab, and met with the SWAT team. “I got to see things that the average person doesn’t get to see. I gained a lot of respect for all that law enforcement does.”

Reagan Gessford '21 interning at an oyster hatchery.

Reagan Gessford ’21 scrubs out a large tank at Horn Point Oyster Hatchery. 

Reagan Gessford ‘21 spent her days at Horn Point Oyster Hatchery scrubbing out large tanks to prepare them to house young oysters in their next phase of development.

Gessford said “I’m glad that I get to do this to wrap up my senior year. Each day I get to do something new in the lab. Today we graded oysters. We sort them and then look at them under the microscope to see if they are ready to be moved to a setting tank.” Gessford will be attending the United States Merchant Marine Academy to study maritime logistics and security this fall.

Kenneth Bonuccelli ‘21 (not pictured) worked at Maryland State attorney Lance Richardson’s office reviewing cases and watching the state’s attorney perform in court. Bonuccelli found the experience to be extremely valuable, commenting that it is “fast and exciting. You’ve got to be on your toes the whole time out of fear of missing some important details.” He has found that during his internship he is working at a pace that he believes he cannot find anywhere else. “Many kids and adults who go to law school lack courtroom skills because it’s about experience and exposure. Being able to see some of the best lawyers in the state has taught  me the fundamental ways to look at cases.”

Emma McClary'21 interned at Kent School.

Emma McClary'21 spent her internship in a kindergarten class at Kent School. 

Emma McClary ‘21 spent two weeks in a kindergarten class at Kent School in Chestertown, where she assisted with reading stories and learning what life as an educator would be like. Head of School Nancy Mugele said “I am so grateful to have Emma McClary, Kent School '17, back on campus for her Gunston Senior Internship. We loved having Emma, who will study Elementary Education at Bucknell University in the fall. As our kindergarten intern, she helped with our traditional Red White Team competition, Play Day!”

“The Senior Internship Program began decades ago when Gunston was a girls' boarding school,” explained Assistant Head of School Christie Grabis.

“The purpose of the program remains the same now as it was at that time, which is to give seniors an opportunity to gain first-hand experience in career fields of interest to them. Over the years, students have worked in a myriad of locales including the Smithsonian, government offices, private and public schools, hospitals, state agencies, financial institutions,  private businesses, newspaper offices, and radio stations. The program affords students a glimpse into professional life and reinforces essential life skills such as punctuality, personal responsibility, effective communication, and collaboration.”

Recent Internship Locations:

  • Chestertown RiverArts
  • YMCA of the Chesapeake
  • Scout Bags
  • Jane Mruk Photography and Business
  • RC Berntsen Associates LLC
  • Chestertown River Arts
  • YMCA of the Chesapeake
  • Office of the QAC Public Defender
  • Gunther McClary Real Estate
  • Soul Candy Media
  • Sultana Projects
  • Rasin, Wooton, and Hurd Law Firm
  • Horn Point Laboratory Oyster Hatchery
  • Tidewater Physical Theraphy
  • HighStarr Inc.
  • Tru-UV
  • Coldwell Banker Realty
  • Senior and Youth Social Services Inc.
  • Kent School
  • Cardinal Thread
  • Spurry-Curren and Associates
  • Aquaculture and Charter Business
  • US Sailing Level 1 Coaching Course
  • Community Animal Hospital
  • Maryland State Polic
  • Compass Marketing
  • IT TechDirect, LLC
  • Ryon Wealth Strategies
  • TechOps Specialty Vehicles
  • Rock Hall Yacht Club Sailing School
  • HearthStone Health and Fitness
  • Warner Construction
  • River Arts
  • The Gunston School (Athletics, Technology Department, Communications, and DEI)
  • internship
  • senior internship
Jane Photography Intern Hannah Beckman'21 and Emma McClary 21