Gerstell Academy graduates leave legacy as part of school's founding class

FINKSBURG — Billy Bauhof and Nicholas Wilson became fast friends in kindergarten as part of the founding class at Gerstell Academy in 2002.

"We had the same interests at that time and kind of the same personalities — we fit well together," said Bauhof, 18, of Finksburg.


The friends were among the 14 students who received high school diplomas Thursday from Gerstell Academy, a preparatory school for students entering pre kindergarten through 12th grade, at the school's fourth commencement ceremony. Both are part of the school's founding class of seven students who began attending the school in kindergarten when it was just one building. They are the school's only legacy students, according to Mary Louque, director of admissions and assistant to the president at Gerstell Academy.

"They are good friends — it's been great to watch their self-awareness develop," said Heather Lapidario, who taught both students since they were in sixth grade.

Since they first began attending Gerstell the school has grown. There are more than 330 day students who attend school on the 250-acre campus in Finksburg.

"I've really enjoyed watching the school basically be built from the ground up," Bauhof said. "It's been great to see the school grow from just seven kids in a little house to over 300."

Wilson, 18, of Finksburg, will attend John Carroll University in Ohio where he will study business management and play lacrosse, while Bauhof will attend Guilford College in North Carolina.

Teachers describe Bauhof and Wilson as having personalities that complement each other. Bauhof is more reserved and thoughtful, while Wilson is more outspoken and outgoing.

"Billy is quiet and reflective — he will really think before sharing ideas and opinions," Lapidario said. "Nick is much more impulsive... he has much more of a traditional leadership style."

Beth Hand, one of their teachers, echoed Lapidario.

"Billy is very much an introvert — Nick is very much an extrovert," Hand said. "They complement each other."

Bauhof and Wilson say their complementary personalities make them a good team.

"I try and push him to do things he normally wouldn't do in a good way — when I get angry on the sports field, he's the one that always calms me down and says 'don't overdo it,'" Wilson said.

Hand said although their personalities are different, they are both good students who have accomplished quite a bit during their time at Gerstell.

"They've both grown with their leadership and are passionate — especially with their sports," Hand said. "Everyone looks up to them."

Wilson has been a member of the Gerstell Academy Student Government since his freshman year, and served as president his sophomore and senior years.


With hopes of running his father Scott Wilson's drywall company someday, Wilson said, "Hopefully taking charge is what I'm good at, and hopefully I can bring people together in whatever group I'm in, during and after college."

Both have shown leadership as student-athletes, playing soccer and lacrosse together.

"They're a great example of how not everyone has to lead the same way," Lapidario said. "I think both of them have unlimited potential."

Bauhof has been captain of the varsity soccer team his junior and senior year, serving as co-captain of the varsity lacrosse team with Wilson their senior year.

They have been playing soccer and lacrosse since fourth grade.

"We both know at this point how the other one plays — I know he's more aggressive and more physical and gets riled up... I like to stay calm and relaxed when I play," Bauhof said.

Bauhof and Wilson said they will miss leaving the school behind, where they have spent the majority of their time for the past 13 years, although they are excited for what lies ahead in the future.

"I'm a person that likes change so I think it will be good to meet new people, but you'll never forget the teachers that have taught you lessons and all the friends that you've encountered," Wilson said.

Bauhof said it will be hard to leave but he expects he'll return because his younger sister attends the school.

"It will be tough, but some change is good. There are a lot of us going in different directions — some people in our class are going all the way out to Arizona, some people are staying in Maryland, and others are going down south — we'll definitely keep in touch," Bauhof said.