Class of 2020 Commencement

Commencement Program:

  10:00   Official Start of Program

  • Invocation by Christie Grabis
  • Senior President Greeting by Isabella Santoboni
  • Congratulations from the Board by Jim Wright
  • Senior Quotes with an introduction by John Lewis
  • Middleton Award Presentation by John Lewis
  • Valedictorian Address by the Middleton Award Winner
  • Introduction of Commencement Speaker by John Lewis
  • Commencement Address by Rita Baghdadi ’03
  • Introduction of Senior Tributes by John Lewis

11:00    Senior Tribute Videos

12:30    Benediction & Closing by Christie Grabis

Diploma Parade Video

Brick Laying Ceremony

Diploma Parade Photos


Photo courtesy of

Commencement Speaker

After graduating from Gunston in 2003, Rita Baghdadi went on to graduate Summa Cum Laude with a degree in Film from Columbia College, Chicago before moving to Los Angeles in 2007 where she began her career in international film sales.

In addition to running her own company, Baghdadi is a member of Free the Bid, Brown Girls Doc Mafia, Film Fatales and the International Collective of Female Cinematographers. When she's not in the field, Baghdadi is dedicated to empowering girls and women through film training. She is an Advisor for the Sundance Co//ab Documentary Film Course, co-founder and organizer of the group Women in Documentary Filmmaking and an active mentor with Global Girl Media

Her character-driven work has been supported by Sundance, Tribeca, Netflix, BBC, CNN Films, A&E, International Documentary Association, Film Independent and Technicolor, and has screened in top festivals worldwide. 

Recently, Rita was hired to produce and direct City Rising. The film was earned three Emmy awards including Best Social Issue Film. Her documentary My Country No More won Best Feature at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival and was picked up for broadcast on Independent Lens in 2019. Baghdadi is also an accomplished director of photography, having shot on features including Served Like A Girl (SXSW 2017 / Independent Lens), Circus of Books (Tribeca 2019 / Netflix) and On the Record (Sundance 2020 / HBO Max) to name a few.

Baghdadi has directed and lensed commercial content for major brands including Beats by Dre, Gatorade and Bud Lite among others. Currently, Rita is in production on several new features including Sirens, a coming-of-age story about the first all-female metal band from the Middle East. 

This bio has been excerpted from


Congratulations Class of 2020


Andrew Amygdalos

Bound For: George Washington University
Eily Ashley

Eileen (Eily) Ashley

Bound For: University of Maryland - College Park

Yuntian (Areopl) Bai

Bound For: University of Rochester
Annie Bamford

Annie Bamford

Borghardt, MacCallum (Mac)

MacCallum Borghardt

Bound For: St. Mary's College of Maryland

Mark Bourdin

Mark Bourdin

Bound For: Drexel University
Stephen Brown

Stephen Brown

Bound For: George Mason University

Cotter Buckley

Cotter Buckley

Bound For: Hobart William Smith College
Campbell, Michaela

Michaela Campbell

Bound For: Champlain College
Casiello, Jianna

Jianna Casiello

Bound For: Palm Beach Atlantic University
Katherine Chen

Ni (Katherine) Chen

Bound For: University of Syracuse

Chen, Ruwen (Sona)

Ruwen (Sona) Chen

Bound For: University of Connecticut
Dalton, Zaria

Zaria Dalton

Bound For: Denison University
De Angelo, Nina

Nina De Angelo

Bound For: Catholic University of America
Dieterle, Kate

Kate Dieterle

Bound For: Appalachian State University
Evans, Keller

Keller Evans

Fisher, Francesca (Frankie)

Francesca (Frankie) Fisher

Bound For: High Point University
Cedar Foster

Cedar Foster

Bound For: Towson University
Gillespie, Annabelle

Annabelle Gillespie

Bound For: Elon University
Hightower, David (Gabriel)

David (Gabriel) Hightower

Bound For: Palm Beach Atlantic University
Hildebrand, Lynsey

Lynsey Hildebrand

Bound For: University of Maryland-College Park
Holmes, Grace

Grace Holmes

Bound For: Guilford College
Howell, Wyatt

Wyatt Howell

Bound For: University of Maryland-College Park
Kellogg, Nicholas (Nick)

Nicholas (Nick) Kellogg

Bound For: Embry-Riddle University
Li, Xingyi (Liz)

Xingyi (Liz) Li

Bound For: SUNY University at Buffalo
Liu, Zeyu (Sage)

Zeyu (Sage) Liu

Bound For: Gap year, followed by University of Amsterdam

Lord, Payton

Payton Lord

Bound For: Towson University
Mansfield, Hunter

Hunter Mansfield

Bound For: Appalachian State University
Newberg, William (Will)

William (Will) Newberg

Bound For: University of Virginia
Nickerson, Michael

Michael Nickerson

Bound For: Washington College
Pettit, John

John Pettit

Bound For: United States Marine Corps
Provance, Daphne

Daphne Provance

Bound For: Virginia Commonwealth University
Reece, Erica

Erica Reece

Bound For: Florida Institute of Technology
Rudder, Madison (Madi)

Madison (Madi) Rudder

Bound For: Salisbury University
Rudolfs, Mason

Mason Rudolfs

Bound For: Virginia Military Institute
Santoboni, Isabella (Izzy)

Isabella (Izzy) Santoboni

Bound For: University of Amsterdam
Scott, Maximillian (Max)

Maximillian (Max) Scott

Bound For: Juniata College
Sharpless, Peter

Peter Sharpless

Bound For: University of Maryland-College Park
Silva, Abigail (Abby)

Abigail (Abby) Silva

Bound For: High Point University
Talbott, Jackson

Jackson Talbott

Bound For: Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Wang, Qirui (Allen)

Qirui (Allen) Wang

Bound For: University of Rochester
Owen White

Owen White

Bound For: Rochester Institute of Technology
Xiao, Hansheng (Leo)

Hansheng (Leo) Xiao

Ye, Shijie (Daniel)

Shijie (Daniel) Ye

Zhao, Jiamin (Jimmy)

Jiamin (Jimmy) Zhao

Bound For: University of Arizona

Zhuo, Yaxuan (Joey)

Yaxuan (Joey) Zhuo

Bound For: The Ohio State University