FB pixel
Close this search box.
Close this search box.
David Hemingson speaks at private school fundraiser

David Hemingson ’82 Is Guest of Honor at fundraiser for Grace Scholars

Oscar-nominated screenwriter David Hemingson ’82 spent the day on campus on April 9, 2024. He attended classes, spoke at All-School Meeting, and in the evening was the guest of honor at a fundraiser for Grace Scholars at Watkinson. Watkinson School is grateful to Mr. Hemingson for his generosity of time and attention to our students and our community. 

David Hemingson is a veteran television writer who in 2023 made one of the most astonishing feature film debuts in recent memory as screenwriter and producer of Focus Features’s widely acclaimed The Holdovers, directed by Oscar winner Alexander Payne.

During his day on campus, Mr. Hemingson spoke at All-School Meeting, led a two-hour masterclass with Creative Arts Program diploma students, and attended 10th- and 6th-grade Humanities classes. In the evening, Watkinson held a fundraiser for Grace Scholars at Watkinson, which consisted of a VIP Dinner followed by a conversation between Mr. Hemingson and Head of School Teri Schrader, for which attendees could submit questions in advance.

About Hemingson’s visit, Schrader says, “A day like this feels like a once-in-a-lifetime gift. David was so extraordinarily attentive with all our students. During his time with our CAP Diploma Students, he shared generously in responding not only to the rich and thoughtful questions the members of the class had prepared, but also asked our students about their work. With our sixth graders, he gratefully received the poems they crafted for him, but also asked them about their hopes for their future. When one student shared their intention to make animated films, Dave and the student had a real conversation about that. He was, for us, a guest artist who honored our students’ intentions and questions, and spoke with them as though they were already “in the field,” never speaking down to them.”

Much of the day and evening conversation focused on Hemingson’s extraordinary success with “The Holdovers.” Following its world premiere at Telluride, The Holdovers earned five Academy Award® nominations, including Best Original Screenplay for Hemingson’s work and Best Picture. Hemingson’s screenplay has been a focal point of the film’s considerable acclaim, netting him a staggering 37 nods from critic associations and awards bodies, including a BAFTA nomination for Best Original Screenplay and winning the National Board of Review’s Best Original Screenplay award.

All of these events provided the means to lift up and shine a spotlight on Watkinson’s scholarship program called Grace Scholars at Watkinson, a fund created in 2018 by founding donors Janice and David Klein and designated to enable 8th grade graduates of Hartford’s Grace Academy to enroll at Watkinson for high school.

Both Grace Academy Head of School Princess Hyatt and Grace Scholar Maria D. ’24 spoke at the event, with Maria extolling, “As a Grace Scholar at Watkinson School, I have been given every opportunity in the world. I’ve met leaders, speakers, and mentors that have dedicated themselves to shaping the world around them. It has inspired me to put myself out there and make a difference. This is one of the many ways Watkinson has pushed me to be the best version of myself.”

Princess Hyatt added, “Watkinson and Grace Academy are not just providing an education; we are nurturing the holistic growth of youth, fostering intellectual, spiritual, moral, and social development. This partnership is a beacon of hope, illustrating what can be achieved when two great institutions come together with a shared vision of empowerment and transformation.”

Schrader adds, “Over the past nine years, seven young women from Grace Academy have come to Watkinson, with a total financial aid amount, including Grace Scholars at Watkinson grants, of $918,100 — almost a million dollars of Watkinson funding. This is an extraordinary amount of support from a school of our size and evidence of how we so cherish our relationship with Grace Academy, our sister in Hartford. We look forward to continuing to enact our commitment to the students we share. We know Grace girls make our school a better school and we look forward to continuing to grow our commitment.”

More than 150 guests registered for the April 9th event, which raised crucial funds for the Grace Scholars at Watkinson fund. Watkinson gratefully acknowledges Fiducient as the sponsor of the VIP Dinner and “Evening with Mr. Hemingson”; thanks to Fiducient, all funds raised will go directly to scholarship support.

Want to know more about Grace Scholars at Watkinson? Contact us.

Share this post

Yes! Save me a spot.

Register for Info Session

"*" indicates required fields

Tell us how to contact you.


Tell us about your student.

How did you hear about Watkinson?