Oak Leaves ABINGTON FRIENDS SCHOOL
What is leadership? Cultivating leaders for a better world.
“In this edition of Oak Leaves, we focus on the question of leadership in the 21st century and reflect on education for leadership at AFS..” - Rich Nourie
LETTER FROM THE HEAD OF SCHO OL n
this edition of Oak Leaves, we focus on the question of leadership in the 21st century and reflect on education for leadership at AFS. When I was in graduate school studying child development, some of my coursework focused on cross-cultural studies of parenting. It raised, for me, the naive question of which parenting practices are best? The answer of course is that it matters what you are raising children for. Similarly, we must ask what world are we educating children for? And how does that influence our thinking about leadership? The world that children are growing up in is more uncertain, dynamic, diverse and interdependent than perhaps at any time in human history. It is also an era of unprecedented opportunities and daunting challenges. Modern education came of age in the industrial era, a time of standardization and mechanization, and education has been slow to make key shifts for the post-modern world that we live in today. Schools were traditionally places of limited resources, the curriculum a short shelf of books to be read and textbooks of standardized knowledge and skills to be mastered. The motif of the factory was reflected in students working at their individual desks, taking timed tests and relying on memorized facts, facts that would presumably remain true over time. Education has yet to evolve from this early model and that ethos is deeply etched in the standardized test culture that still dominates public education. The world today is a resource-rich world, with unlimited access to information, expertise, people with whom to collaborate and with whom to share complementary skills and perspectives. The ways we perceive the world are changing rapidly and demand ongoing, resourceful learning in any area in which we hope to be active and make a contribution. These conditions have to affect our concepts of leadership. Quaker educator Sam Caldwell has said that Friends education seeks to develop a certain “personhood”, a way of seeing and being in the world, that transcends the important skills and knowledge that schooling provides. This concept of personhood, of a broader orientation to the world rather than a narrow set of technical skills alone, seems right for the dynamism and uncertain pathways of the 21st century. Here are some of the elements of this personhood that I believe to be excellent preparation for leadership roles both large and small, now and into the future: Reflection. A grounding in stillness in the center of a noisy world is essential for maintaining perspective, for being able to zoom out from the urgent so as to see the meaningful, the valuable, that which is worthy of investment and nurture. Quakers would say that silence allows us to see the world rightly-ordered. Discernment. In a world of complexity, finding clear meaning and sturdy truth require disciplined thinking, skilled collaborative inquiry, comfort with ambiguity and an uncompromising integrity and honesty.
Social intelligence and deep cultural competence. The skills of empathy, conflict-resolution, collaboration, compassion, reserved judgment, humility and friendship are foundational to building strong communities and places where people can thrive. We know too that complex issues are best understood and addressed by diverse groups of people. The welldeveloped experience of navigating, understanding and leveraging the strengths of a deeply diverse community is rare and necessary for the increasingly diverse communities and workplaces of the near future. Resourcefulness. Never, have more resources been available to more people for turning ideas into reality. The ease with which individuals, communities and institutions can partner, extend each other’s reach and collaborate on mutual interests is unprecedented today. We believe that our most successful learners, and the most successful leaders of the future, will be oriented to seeing the possibility of leveraging shared talents, knowledge and perspectives from a wide group of available resources. Systems thinking. In our approach across the disciplines, from the arts to history and the sciences, we seek to honor the wholeness and interconnectedness of complex ideas and systems, emphasizing the interplay of parts to the whole. Many of the world’s most challenging problems, from the environment to urban poverty, stem from an inability to see the far-reaching effects of single-minded action. Cultivating a systems mindset is excellent preparation for leadership. Values. An AFS education cultivates a deep connection to the spirit at the heart of each one of us. That spirit is a source of direction and a way of knowing what is right and what is wrong. It encourages in us a reverence for the light in ourselves and in others, for the miracle of the natural world around us and orients us to the work ofbuilding peace, justice and care in our communities. This grounding in values is the essential starting place for worthy leadership.I am heartened that these qualities are deeply embedded in every aspect of the day-to-day environment of AFS, from the classroom to the Meeting House. And I am encouraged that AFS alumni are bringing the light of this kind of education in leadership to their lives and the lives of those around them. May the future of our world be changed for the better by this well-developed personhood and orientation toward growing the common good in our midst.
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Reflections on Leadership COVER STORY
AFS IN PHOTOS
O N T H E C OV E R
Illustration by Michael Grills Richard F. Nourie, Head of School Devin Schlickmann, Assistant Head of School for Institutional Advancement Bonita Huggins, Director of Communications and Editor of Oak Leaves Lisa Budd, Director of Alumni Engagement and Special Events Melissa Calder, Director of Marketing King Design LLC, Publication Design Oak Leaves is a publication of the AFS Communications and Development Offices.
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P H OTO G R A P H Y Photography by David DeBalko, John Flak, Bonita Huggins, Michael King/King Design LLC, Rosanne Mistretta, Ryan Samson â€˜07, Maria Young Abington Friends School main switchboard: 215.886.4350 For more photos and news, visit us online at abingtonfriends.net
32 Alumni Leadership in the Professional Arts
Alumni Camp Counselors
Tales From Our Past
W H E N S C H O O L’ S OUT CAMP’S IN!
LETTER FROM THE HEAD OF SCHOOL
6 M I L ESTO N ES 40
E N D N O T E A Lea d er Find ing Th eir Voice 5
O A K L E AV E S M I L E S T O N E S
ICE CREAM FOR BACK-TO-SCHOOL
Abington Friends opened its doors for the 322nd year in fall 2018 to 108 new students, marking the fourth year in a row of enrollment growth at the School. Ninth grade experienced a major growth spurt with 35 new students joining the community! Several days of stormy weather got in the way of the yearly Back-to-School Family Barbecue, so students, faculty and staff were
AFS CELEBRATES CAPPIES WINS
SCHOOL COMMITTEE WELCOMES NEW MEMBERS
The AFS spring production of “The Diary of Anne Frank” was honored at the 2018 Cappies Awards, a national program that celebrates extraordinary achievement in high school theatre and critical writing. AFS garnered 11 nominations, and wins in 7 categories (listed below). The nominations and wins for The Diary of Anne Frank included:
Abington Friends School is under the care of Abington Friends Meeting, which oversees the School through one of its standing committees, the School Committee. Comprised of members of Abington Monthly Meeting, alumni, parents and alumni parents, the School Committee works tirelessly to support the mission of the School and to keep it healthy and viable for centuries to come. The School Committee welcomed four new members this year (P=Parent):
Best Play (win) Lead Actress/Play (win): Kaiya Case ’18 Lead Actor/Play (win): Jack Sutherland ’18 Featured Actress/Play: Isadora Barnett ’19 Comic Actor/Play: Drew Jacobson ’18 Supporting Actor/Play (win): Michael Carpenter ’18 Creativity/Dramaturgy: Kaitlyn Arms ’19 Ensemble in a Play: “The Inhabitants of the Annex” (Jack Sutherland ‘18, Halle Jacobson ’20, Emma Cameron ’20, Kaiya Case ‘18, Michael Carpenter ‘18, Naandi Jamison ’19, Zach Ford ’20 and Drew Jacobson ‘18) Sound (win): Sydney Smith ’18 Props (win): Seri Fleming ’18, Kat Odoms ’18 Lighting (win): Ben Goldstone ’20
instead treated to a special lunch to celebrate the new school year this September. Chef Chris Dantonio served the food intended for the barbecue including hamburgers, veggie burgers, pasta salad and watermelon. After lunch, everyone headed outside to an awaiting ice cream truck to pick from a selection of ice cream novelties.
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Cindy Ingerman Balick P’13 P’19 P’19 Carl Hemenway P’04 Tracy Sandmeyer P’08 P’11 Adam Schorsch ’03
Fifty-six members of Abington Friends School Class of 2018 walked across the stage to receive their diplomas in June. The Commencement ceremony was a momentous occasion for students, with faculty, family and friends joining together to joyfully celebrate the bright futures ahead for our graduates.
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ABINGTON FRIENDS SCHOOL
The Center for Experiential Learning program encompasses a school-wide approach to learning that connects students in substantive ways to hands-on experiences and extended learning in the outside world. For two days in September, fourth graders made the Biden Environmental Training Center at Cape Henlopen State Park in Lewes, Delaware their home base for community building and a variety of lessons revolving around marine ecology. The Global Travel Program creates opportunities for Upper School students to explore the globe. Upper School students traveled to Hurricane Island in Maine for an outdoor education trip in June.
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ABINGTON FRIENDS SCHOOL
Scrapbook Also through the Center for Experiential Learning, MedEx is a group mentoring program in which Upper School students apply to work alongside doctors and medical professionals over the course of a full year. This year, the group got hands on experience with surgical techniques at Abington Jefferson Hospitalâ€™s simulation Lab and worked with MedEx doctors, who volunteer their time, on a sheep heart dissection.
ABINGTON FRIENDS SCHOOL
More than 80 alumni returned to the AFS campus for Homecoming 2018 on November 21. Everyone gathered for breakfast at the Meeting House where classmates reconnected and were excited to catch up with one another. The group then joined the Upper School students and sat together for silent reflection in Meeting for Worship. The day wouldnâ€™t have been complete without the annual musicianâ€™s jam in Stewart lobby or the RooPRIDE seminar, which brings together faculty and current and former students to engage people of color and their allies in conversation.
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ABINGTON FRIENDS SCHOOL
Scrapbook Field Day 2018 was filled with sunshine and laughter. AFS students, faculty and staff poured onto the athletic fields for a thrilling day of friendly competition. The day ended with the traditional tug-of-conflict face-off between faculty and senior students. Faculty were victorious, yet again!
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ABINGTON FRIENDS SCHOOL
After months of anticipation, the opening of the AFS Upper School Production “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown” was met with amazement by an audience of all ages. The lively musical was heartwarming and funny, and the entire cast dazzled the crowd with their impressive acting, singing and dancing abilities.
The AFS community donned all shades of pink for Breast Cancer Awareness Month in October. Everyone from students, to faculty and staff supported “Pink Out” by dressing, some from head-to-toe, in pink. As head of the community service council, Isa Barnett ‘19 oversaw a successful bake sale and face-painting to raise funds for cancer research. All the proceeds went to Living Beyond Breast Cancer (LBBC).
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ABINGTON FRIENDS SCHOOL
Scrapbook The Annual AFS Halloween Parade tradition continued on October 31. Many of the younger grades dressed in thematic costumes according to grade, while older students and faculty used their creativity to come up with impressive ensembles. For the youngest Roos, Harvest Fest was a perfect fall celebration complete with pumpkin painting and mask-making on the Redbud playground.
ABINGTON FRIENDS SCHOOL
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The Abington Friends School athletics program develops students as athletes, builds a sense of community and develops individuals who are successful at all levels of play. The fall athletics season includes soccer, cross country and girl’s tennis. Five AFS student-athletes were selected by Friends Schools League coaches as worthy of post-season recognition for their strong play during the fall season. Kai Haynes ‘20 earned All-Friends Schools League First Team honors for his performance for AFS’s Varsity Boys Soccer team. Grace Sousa ‘22 received FSL honorable mention recognition for her strong debut season for AFS Varsity Girls Tennis. A trio of AFS runners claimed FSL Honorable Mention honors for their impressive accomplishments on the crosscountry course this season: Chase Balick ‘19, Jack Balick ‘19, and Rory Erlich ‘20.
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LEADER SHIP ABINGTON FRIENDS SCHOOL STUDENTS AND FACULTY WRITE ABOUT WHAT LEADERSHIP MEANS TO THEM AND HOW AFS HAS PUT THEM ON A PATH TO LEAD.
Teaching Is Leadership By Rich Nourie, HEAD OF SCHOOL When I began my career in teaching, school leadership was not even a remote interest for me. I was drawn by a deep interest in child development, a love of mathematics that blossomed even more for me
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as a teacher than it had for me as a student, and the joy of having middle school students at the center of my life (seriously!). After 25 years now in leadership roles, I see clearly that teaching is leadership and is also an excellent foundation for leadership outside of the classroom.
A misconception common when thinking about both teachers and leaders is to confuse the persona for the work itself, to believe that personal traits and qualities define the role. Indeed, itâ€™s how I thought about teaching when I started. You start by playing the role. I wanted to be
an amalgam of my favorite teachers - kind and encouraging like this person, funny like that favorite teacher, smart and engaging like another. But excellent teachers make a shift in their first year or so. They go from watching themselves teach to watching their students learn. As teachers become fully engaged with the developing ideas and skills of our students, with thinking creatively about the learning environment
begin to see the wide diversity in any group of students, in their past experiences and prior knowledge, in their ways of thinking, in how they feel about the subject, in how they experience the social dynamic of the classroom and in myriad other variables. Learning to plan for, communicate with, engage in and create a sense of common purpose and mutual commitment to the enterprise is the hard and authentic work of excellent classroom
“After 25 years now in leadership roles, I see clearly that teaching is leadership and is also an excellent foundation for leadership outside of the classroom.”
and dynamics of the classroom, we undergo true growth. It’s when our personas disappear and our students, in all of their variety and differences, come into view that the real work of teaching begins. Teachers and leaders alike are grown from the lessons they learn, the skills and wisdom they acquire, as they are immersed in the work of helping classrooms, communities and people flourish. Here are some of the lessons I learned in the classroom that I think are great lessons for leaders as well: Most people are not like you. As a beginning teacher, I thought that teaching meant transferring my well-developed ideas about math to my students so that my understanding would become their understanding. This misconception dissipates very quickly as you
teaching and a foundation for all successful leadership. There is little actual power in positional authority. Assertion of power or the threat of poor grades is completely insufficient to create a productive, thriving classroom. Authority must be conferred by the students themselves and therefore genuine in its roots. It is earned by trustworthiness, thoughtful navigation of issues and problems, real care for students and their success, investment in one’s discipline and demonstrating an investment in the work and in the students that inspires real respect. The same is true for institutional leadership; you have to do the work to build genuine authority and trust.
Teaching, like leadership, is responsive, iterative and experiential at heart. Teaching is setting students in motion and then reflecting each day on the next best steps, all in the context of long-term goals. Each day in the classroom gives you direction and valuable information about what is needed to be effective tomorrow and in the long run. And the constellation of kids in your classroom is not generic but specific at any particular moment, just like a larger community or institution. The work has to span the full spectrum, from an overarching vision to the everyday details of planning and preparation. Teaching and leadership share the same deep sense of purpose, as well as a clear sense of direction. Great teachers know that beyond simply teaching useful skills, they are drawing students into a more expansive sense of themselves and their ways of knowing the world around them. They are attuned to that purpose as much as they attend carefully to all the details of managing classes day to day, from planning to record-keeping to organizing. The breadth of the work is good preparation for larger leadership roles. Finally, both teaching and leading are deeply enriched by a grounding in spirit. This is work of the heart and work that draws deeply on one’s inner resources of compassion, patience, essential goodness and wisdom. A grounding in spirit helps engender the long view, keep perspective and more clearly see the potential in both individuals and communities. We are so fortunate to have Quaker faith and practice as a foundation for our work in Friends schools. I am grateful for the lessons of leadership I learned in the classroom and for the everyday 25
leadership of our faculty in and beyond the classroom at AFS.
An Amplifier Carves Her Own Path By Echo Li ’19 I do not think of myself as a leader in the traditional sense. I consider myself a representative of voices that haven’t yet been heard. I endeavor to make those voices louder. In short, I am an amplifier. What does it mean to be an amplifier at Abington Friends School? I am encouraged to represent the unheard voices. I came to AFS as an international student in ninth grade. Since that time, I have represented both my international community and my class each week at the Agenda Committee. The committee
functions as a representative body for students at various meetings, such as the one that plans for Spirit Week. The School tasks and trusts us to make informed decisions that have the best interest of the entire community in mind. My role in meetings is to reflect the opinions of international students and the class of 2019, as they are equally important and need to be taken into account. I am supported to pursue my own initiatives. With help from Rosanne Mistretta, the director of the Center for Experiential Learning, I had the opportunity to go to a Quaker-led environmental work camp in Mexico during the summer following my sophomore year. At a secluded eco-village in Mexico, I became more aware of the concept of sustainability and the root causes of environmental issues. I returned with motivation and enthusiasm to make
changes, starting at AFS. Rosanne and my then-English teacher Sheila Pai provided encouragement for me to start the Environmental Action and Justice club. They supported me in uncountable ways with love and care. The help I received was as big as setting the agenda and mission for the club to move forward and as small as preparing me to make a successful morning announcement and publicize a letter-writing event. My experience of starting a club here is an example of how AFS is unique. My teachers aren’t only planting seeds, they’re also continuing to water and nurture them. I am prepared to continue my own growth. At AFS, I am an integral part of the community, and my personal growth is part of the effort that drives the community to collectively grow. Several teachers encouraged me to apply to the the Telluride Association Summer Program at Cornell University. I was selected and participated this past summer. I completed college-level seminars, practiced self-governance and had the chance to build a community outside of AFS with a group of students who are deeply curious about intellectual inquiry. The experience, together with preparation from the AFS English and History Departments, kindled my interest in the humanities, which is an area that I want to further explore in college. The core of being an amplifier at AFS is being reflective, which ties deeply to Quaker values. Through sitting in the silence of the Meeting House and the brief moment of silence before classes, I found the beauty and formed the habit of introspection. Quietly examining my daily observations, my successes and failures and the impact of my behavior on others keep me open to allowing others to shape my understanding. I gain tremendously
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Members of the Robotics Team: David Dai, Joie Li, Kevin Tang
from constant reflection because it makes me a more conscious person and allows me to shape the world, too. At AFS, we are amplifying for change. Every step I took during my high school years, big or small, was supported by the AFS community. Now, as I am graduating, I will take what I learned with me. The legacy will continue to lift me up in empowering and magical ways, and I continue to do the same for others.
Collaboration in Robotics By Joseph Rotella ’20, David Dai ’20, Josh Eisen ’20 and Joie Li ’20 Members of the Robotics Team Step into the classroom that houses the robotics program at Abington Friends School and—after donning the requisite safety goggles—you’ll see students designing intricate three-dimensional mock-ups of a
robot, carefully cutting a piece of wood on the bandsaw and furiously typing lines of multi-colored code. Weeks of this hard work culminate every year in the electric atmosphere of an international high school robotics tournament, where we and hundreds of other passionate Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) students from around the country and the world engage in an intense, yet fun-spirited competition. Though mentors with industry experience provide guidance, the AFS Robotics team student leadership is the guiding force throughout this endeavor. So is collaboration. Building a robot draws upon diverse disciplines, from electrical engineering to computer programming to computer-aided design (CAD). Each individual’s unique expertise and perspective inform the process and the product. This has been especially true for the four of us. 27
Josh began his journey with the Robotics team in ninth grade. He was broadly interested in robotics as a whole and has since developed a passion for electrical engineering and driving the robot, areas in which he has become a leader. David, meanwhile, joined Robotics specifically seeking experience in, and greater knowledge of, mechanical engineering. However, he noticed limitations caused by a lack of detailed designs prior to building the robot. He took initiative, assuming leadership of the CAD and prototyping process and greatly advancing both. Joie was drawn to Robotics because of its supportive and inclusive environment, and as a leader in the CAD and robot fabrication processes, she strives to continue fostering this welcoming atmosphere. The team also seeks to promote STEM throughout the AFS community. Joseph was offered the chance to work with software on Robotics as a middle school student and has since led efforts to develop educational materials to teach rising and current Upper School students alike about computer programming in robotics. Our journeys to leadership on the AFS Robotics team have been unique, and it is only through the input and inclusion of diverse perspectivesâ€”whether a programmer designing controls with a driver or an electrical engineer determining wiring placementâ€”that we can effectively design and build a robot in just six weeks every year. And when we are not building robots, we are teaching community members about robotics or lending our expertise to other groups within AFS. Collaboration and problem solving is constant in the robotics room.
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Speaking and Walking in Truth as a Diversity Leader By Mikael Yisrael, DIRECTOR OF DIVERSITY & INCLUSION I was attracted to Abington Friends School because of its renowned reputation for being a leader in diversity, equity and inclusion. Now, as a member of the AFS community and Director of Diversity and Inclusion, it is a tremendous honor and privilege to have the responsibility of stewarding such important work. I am acutely aware of, and truly thankful for, the opportunity to serve as a thought leader and diversity practitioner at an institution with a rich history and a bright future, particularly in a challenging and constantly changing world. This key administrative role and all of its responsibilities require not only knowledge, but also humor, heart, humility, honesty, humanity and hope. And of course, leadership. Leadership is both an art and science. It is analytical, emotional, experiential and ethical “CrossFit” training.
Claire Rosenwinkel and Jamie Williams
Student Diversity Clerks “My leadership in the diversity program has influenced my perspective on what it means to be a leader and the ways I display leadership in various settings. I have become more conscious that there is a deeper level to others than what I see at first glance. I harness this consciousness to remind myself that I don’t know what everyone is going through or what they have experienced.” Jamie Williams ’19
“ Leadership is fluid and not finite; it is a process, not a position. ”
“I feel that my voice in this leadership role of being a Diversity Clerk has been heard by adults in the community, and I think AFS is very unique in how adults and students collaborate with each other [in] making student voices feel heard. Because of the leadership opportunities that AFS has given me, I feel like I have a voice that the greater world needs to hear.” Claire Rosenwinkel ’19
Like art, I believe leadership evolves from being vulnerable, transparent, reflective, candid, imaginative, informed and openminded. Like jazz, leadership requires spontaneity, creativity and improvisation. Leadership involves taking risks and not being afraid of failure and in the process, learning more about oneself in order to communicate effectively and honestly with others. Moreover, successful leadership requires self-reflection. Leaders who ask themselves critical questions tend to be more intentional and deliberate about building organizations and empowering followers. Leadership is fluid and not finite; it is a process, not a position. Leadership is neither self-serving nor self-righteous; rather, it is a call to service, a commitment to a greater purpose and responsibility. Being a leader at AFS is to embody Quaker pedagogy and practice, realizing that every voice should be valued and that wisdom comes from the group. It is an acknowledgement that multiple truths can exist simultaneously and that an answer may not always be immediately apparent. Furthermore, leadership is achieved through inquiry, reflection, collaboration, service and respect. At its core, leadership requires authenticity. Diversity practitionersâ€” and by extension their respective institutionsâ€”must live their lives out loud for others to see. Diversity practitioners must not only speak truth, but also walk in it. Indeed, leadership is synonymous with courage, and to be courageous is to be free. Leadership is to be liberated and to liberate others. It starts internally and then extends externally; we must first lead ourselves before we can lead others. As leaders, we are called to move from selfish to selfless, from aspiration to action, from 30 oak leaves winter 2019
theory to practice, from rhetoric to reality and from judgment to justice. It is through deliberate and bold leadership that we can effect change and leave an indelible mark on the world.
The Evolution of an AFS Leader By Ajae’Lyn Price ’22 Leadership is deeply cultivated at Abington Friends School in a myriad of ways. At AFS, you are taught how to be a leader. Our school prepares students for the outside world by discussing real-world problems within our safe community. Students are taught how to use their leadership knowledge and to know how to gracefully take charge, not only for the benefit of ourselves but for others as well. As a sixth-grade student entering AFS, I was amazed by the culture of the School’s community. It opened
discovering my passions. By the second half of my sixthgrade year, teachers approached me about forming a PRIDE group. In PRIDE, it was our mission to discuss and solve real-world problems surrounding diversity, student identity, immigration and more. Together, teachers and students collaborated in planning the way this group should be run. It was astonishing. Teachers wanted me to help them plan! This allowed us to take ownership over this process. I was surprised how students were granted a voice in this community. PRIDE launched when I was in the seventh grade, and I attended my first diversity conference as part of the group. At the Middle School Diversity Conference I learned and shared with students from all across Philadelphia. Without the preparation from AFS, I would not
“AFS looks to lift up what makes someone unique. This allows different perspectives to influence the culture. ”
a new world for me. Beyond the enriching educational environment, I felt immediately welcomed. In just a few months, I knew I was home. At my old school, I was only exposed to one way of thinking. AFS has taught me about different cultures and perspectives. I have learned that there are multiple truths. This feeling of security and belonging allows me to take risks and move toward
have been able to participate in a conference like this. The experience led me to feel empowered and important. I felt that I could affect change not only in my school community, but also in the world around me. By eighth grade, I hit the ground running in my leadership of PRIDE at AFS. I began to learn
how to facilitate activities in large groups. My voice grew in its strength and influence. One of my proudest moments was having a hand in planning our “Many Voices Day.” This day encourages AFS students to share their unique perspectives and participate in many activities. Many schools focus on rules and academics, but AFS looks to lift up what makes someone unique. This allows different perspectives to influence the culture. It also ensures that all students can become the leaders they want to be and take pride in themselves. AFS allows its students to create their own clubs and activities based on their interests and passions. Activities and clubs can range from passions like Harry Potter to addressing issues like division and equality, such as my work with PRIDE. By uniquely putting students in positions of leadership, our school prepares us for the world. Within our clubs and activities, Quakerism is always present. In a Quaker approach to leadership, everyone has a say in how things get done. We always strive for consensus, if possible. Here at AFS, no one’s voice overpowers another— everyone’s voice is heard. All leaders at AFS take in other perspectives and do not rely on their own inherently biased opinions. AFS has given me the tools I need to lead, and it has taught me the true meaning of diversity and leadership. I have always been a young woman who voiced my opinion and spoke my mind, but AFS community norms taught me to share the space and time and to respect the opinions of others. The most important values are peace and inclusion, and with those things, AFS is creating effective leaders.
Reflecting Values On and Off the Field Chase and Jack Balick ’19 The two of us came to Abington Friends School from public school in fifth grade. The first difference we noticed was how much this community emphasized the importance of inclusion. Our old school was much larger, which at times could make us feel small. At AFS, we have always been given a voice and made to feel that our opinions matter. Whether in the classroom or on the sports field, teachers and coaches have continually shown interest in our ideas and progress. The atmosphere here has made our future goals seem attainable. At AFS, we’ve had many opportunities
Chase and Jack Balick
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to grow our capabilities as leaders through academics, through leading clubs such as DECA (an association of marketing students), Men’s Group and Filmmaking Club and through sports, captaining the cross country, wrestling and track teams. In these leadership roles, we’ve both made a conscientious effort to continue to promote the values of the school. Remembering the support we’ve received from those who came before us reminds us how important it is for us to let others know they are valued and heard. By respecting our peers, we see that we can set a positive example for younger teammates and students. Whether it’s being stewards of the community or meeting with our Lower School buddies, leadership at AFS is not about asserting dominance, it’s about helping and
encouraging fellow students to find their way to success in whatever they choose to do.
Leadership as Service in Honor of Dr. Martin Luther King By Andrea Emmons, LOWER SCHOOL DIRECTOR Great leaders have a strong sense of humanity. They lead with the goals of empowering communities while creating a better world for them to inhabit. Their legacy is one of service. I’m reminded of this when I wake early on the third Monday of January every year. My heart flutters with anticipation as I drink coffee and get ready for a joyful day of community and service in honor of a great leader. I have the honor of helming the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther
King Jr. Day of Service at Abington Friends School. When I was first charged with the King Day of Service in 2008, I had only a vague notion of what I hoped the day might be and how we might emulate Dr. King’s vision of a “beloved community.” My concrete goal was to increase the number of participants, which had historically hovered around fifty. We had a small but dedicated committee tasked with reinventing the way AFS celebrated the King Day of Service. When the day finally arrived, I recall looking around the Meeting House during the opening program and feeling overwhelmed by the energy and enthusiasm that filled the room. We nearly tripled the number of participants and hosted five different projects that year. In the years since, the King Day of Service has grown and evolved. Students and community members joined the planning committee. They helped develop new projects, allowing participants to match their interests and talents with the
needs of community organizations. A stand-alone day of service grew into long-standing, mutually beneficial community relationships. Last year, we welcomed more than 600 participants, hosted 25 projects and partnered with 15 community groups. I used to worry about whether or not enough people would sign up. Now, I know that service cultivates their leadership. The challenge of our committee is no longer how to expand the King Day of Service, but how to ensure the work that is done is meaningful. The King Day of Service is not really about how many meals we cook, the number of hats and scarves we make or the amount of winter care kits we assemble. It is about getting to know others, making connections and carrying forward the spirit of Dr. King’s work. It is about inspiring people to move beyond fear and
prejudice and challenging them to call out inequity and injustice. It is a celebration and a call to action. The planning for the next King Day of Service has begun, and on the third Monday of January, I will get up early and have a cup of coffee. I will try to anticipate any challenges the day may bring and make space for the joy of celebrating Dr. King with the AFS community. On that day and all other days of the year, I will carry the beloved community in my heart and endeavor to make it a reality.
“My heart flutters with anticipation as I drink coffee and get ready for a joyful day of community and service in honor of a great leader. ”
Nicole Kurtz ’14 Nicole is a Los Angeles-based freelance illustrator and industrial designer. You can follow her artwork and view her website at nicolekurtz.com and Instagram @nkkdesigns
“As an AFS ‘lifer,’ my identity as an artist and a thinker and an athlete was formed at AFS, where duality is welcome.”
34 oak leaves winter 2019 Najah Ali ’12
Allison Carl ’13 Allison is currently an assistant computer-aided design designer on the Anthropologie print team. She assists the print team in developing prints for apparel and digitizing/archiving vintage fabrics. She’s also a freelance illustrator with an interest in children’s books and background/environment design for animation. You can follow her artwork and view her portfolio at allison-car.com and Instagram @allisonncarl.
“At AFS I had the pleasure of studying with Barb Handler and Amy Newman for drawing/painting and AP art. They were both incredible artists and teachers. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their support and guidance during high school.”
Martin Luo ’15 Martin is a documentary photographer. Currently, he’s an engineering student at New York University. His photographs are available on his website: awemartin.com and Instagram @awemartin.
“At AFS, I learned how to use a camera, but most importantly I realized I belong to the art world. The education at AFS also helped me foster an interest in diversity and culture, and I want to document that.” 35
Najah Ali ’12 Najah is an actor and teaching artist in Atlanta, Ga. Her next performance will be in Love’s Labour’s Lost at Shakespeare Tavern Playhouse and The Hundred Dresses at Birmingham Children’s Theatre. More information about her work is available on her website: najahmail.com.
“While my artistic self did not start at AFS, my journey as an actor did, and I am immensely grateful. I was given opportunities to experience all aspects of my art form with supportive faculty, incredible resources and advantageous opportunities like Cappies and professional theatre performances.”
Russell Nadel ’01
A variety of ensembles and organizations have commissioned original compositions from Russell, including the Organization of American Kodály Educators (OAKE), ARTSEDGE and the Washington Master Chorale.
He is currently a middle school music teacher at The Potomac School in McLean, VA. Detailed information about purchasing CDs including Russell’s work and his teaching and professional development workshops are available on his website: russellnadel.com.
“My musical training at AFS under Leandra Strope (Chorus) and especially the inimitable Chris Buzby (Band, Jazz Band and so much more) enabled and encouraged me to pursue a broad and eclectic set of music electives during my time in Upper School, and were instrumental (so to speak) in encouraging me to be a composer, arranger and director as well as a performer.” 36 oak leaves winter 2019
Emily Botel-Barnard ’06 Emily is a violinist, performer and teacher. She’s the co-founder of One Found Sound, first violin in the Amaranth Quartet and a member of the San Francisco Chamber Orchestra. She’s also recorded music for many films, most recently Jinn, which is available on iTunes, Amazon and elsewhere. You can watch her on YouTube under Emily Botel.
“AFS gave me many leadership opportunities and helped me develop a strong voice and sense of self.” - Emily Botel-Barnard Miles Orion Butler ’09 Miles is a professional musician and founder and director of Songs in the Key of Free, which brings composers and musicians into Pennsylvania prisons and correctional facilities for workshops. He’s also the owner and operator of Germantown Espresso Bar and a member of Gobble Ghoul, an indie rock band, alongside fellow AFS alumni Luke Butler ’06, Gabe Greenberg ’09 and Nick Manta ’09. More information is available on his website at songsinthekeyoffree.com
“I often reflect on how my time at AFS has shaped me. For me, Abington Friends School instilled a great sense of community and stewardship for the greater world. I was also deeply involved with the performing and musical arts where I grew my ability on and off stage. While working with people who are incarcerated or caught in the opioid epidemic, I often come back to the idea that there is an eternal light in each of us. That we are all deserving of love, patience, and redemption. AFS not only allowed for my artistic self to flourish but also solidified roots bound in Quaker philosophy.”
The photography used in these pages were submitted by AFS alums and are the property of the artists.
AFS ALUMNI CAMP COUNSELORS
When school’s out camp’s in! For the children and young teens who enter Abington Friends Summer Camps (AFSC), that motto marks the beginning of pool time, archery lessons and the tradition of the Camp Show. For the counselors, coordinators and camp staff, it marks the challenges— and rewards—behind every creek walk and snack break. AFSC is their opportunity to lead. More than 200 families each year enroll their children at AFSC. It’s a make-or-break moment for around 25 counselors and camp staff each year, most of whom are Abington Friends School students or graduates taking charge of one of their first major real-life responsibilities. Camp Director Rusty Regalbuto often watches them shine in a way that even he doesn’t see during the academic year as an Upper School history teacher. ”Our counselors hear the message. They hear the call,” Rusty said. “And the call is always to be better than you are, that you can be better than you are.” As counselors lead, day after day, the experience develops their innate leadership qualities. Some are recognizable by their booming voices. Others resemble a quiet captain helming a ship. All are leaders. Ryan Samson ’07 was a shy AFS student. That changed after he graduated and began working as an AFSC counselor a year later. “Overall, the growth was quick because Rusty has an amazing group of mentors to help you out. There’s always support if you need it, but even more when you ask for it,” Ryan said. That kind of institutional support empowered Ryan over his next decade at camp, and he still adds to it today. “As an older coordinator now, it’s come full circle because I always appreciate those young counselors who come to me for questions over those who try to hide their challenges.” Rusty described AFSC’s long-standing philosophy that kids learn best when they’re having fun. His philosophy is that campers are learning important social lessons—how to get along with each other on the playground and how to solve problems with their words—that transcend the classroom. In the summer, camp leaders become the teachers. 38 oak leaves winter 2019
And the teachers are having fun, too. Jesse Belcher ’92 said his experience in the counselor ranks didn’t feel like work. It was, in fact, such a positive experience that he dedicated his entire career to youth programs. The path led him to Chestnut Hill College, where he’s currently the director of athletics and recreation. “Now that I look back, it was the beginning of me learning to lead by example,” he said. Leaders may evolve to fill different roles over the years. Bianca Adams ’14 began AFSC as a camper. She’s since advanced from junior counselor to senior counselor to sports coordinator and camper support specialist, a position that Rusty created to utilize her skills as a West Chester University graduate student in school counseling. The new position allows her to support campers who may be struggling socially or emotionally. Bianca appreciates how AFSC’s top leaders encourage camp staff to grow. She’s developed into a confident, proactive decision maker, thanks to the desire to be a role model for campers, who have “probably been my biggest teachers.” As a counselor, Anna McPeak ’12 similarly embodied leadership for her campers, particularly for the young girls who might feel pressured to fit a certain mold. She identifies with AFSC campers because she was one of them throughout her childhood. She plans to return in 2019 for her tenth year of work. Most recently, she and Bianca coordinated the camp’s sports activities, setting an example of women at the top of traditionally male-dominated activities. “I thought that was really important, especially for the kids to respect us the way they would with the guys,” she said. Team AFSC learns from each other and from each unique camper. Camp will be in again this June. But it’s as much a leadership academy as “the best camp ever.” - Bonita Huggins, www.afssummercamps.com
Anna McPeak and camper
Rusty Regalbuto and AFS Director of Counselor and Coordinator Development Tony Houston ‘90
Bianca Adams, Ryan Samson, and Isabel McPeak ‘14
Camp Director Rusty Regalbuto and camper
Bianca Adams and campers
CLASS NOTES 1952
EVELYN STEELMAN DOANE writes, “I am enjoying selling real estate in Chatham, Mass., and the surrounding towns on Cape Cod…yes, STILL! This is such a beautiful and historic area with activities of all sorts to enjoy—golf, fishing, beaches, boutiques and the freshest seafood anywhere. I am fortunate to play as much golf as possible at Eastward Ho, a special course with water views from almost every hole in Chatham. In the winter, I go to Naples, Fla., for a few months. Last winter, I had my second hole in one here! Wishing you all Happy Holidays!”
SUSAN SAELSKY RUDIN writes, “My big news this fall was that my oldest granddaughter, Stella Rose Dee, married Frederik Baumgardt on Monday, October 22, in Cambridge, Mass. They met 5 years ago when they were both working for the same professor at the University of Leipzig.”
ANNE EBERT of Jacksonville, Fla., writes that she puts her retirement to good use “by ushering at the Jacksonville Symphony Orchestra, making Ms. Ritz proud. She especially likes the very young whose feet do not yet touch the floor! It brings back memories of student concerts with the Philadelphia Orchestra that we attended while at AFS—in particular, riding on the bus into the city and the superb seats. Anne remembers her mother commenting that she liked our student programs better than her subscription series!”
BETSY MAYERS of Asheville, N.C., recently achieved Gold Life Master status in competitive duplicate bridge. A Gold Life Master must have at least 2,500 qualifying masterpoints recorded. Congratulations, Betsy!
BETH EBERT BENVENISTE writes that “the Class of 1966 will be having a reunion on the Eastern Shore of Maryland April 26-27, 2019. Please contact Beth Ebert Benveniste with questions. Most classmates have been notified, but if you did not receive information, please ask for Beth’s email via the AFS Alumni Office. 40 oak leaves winter 2019
SUSAN BURICH REDDING writes that “in early September, my youngest daughter and I visited classmate Carol Burpee for three days at her historic home outside of Ashland, Ore. Such a lovely place! Our last rendezvous occurred during Reunion Weekend in 1997, so our recent get-together featured lots of conversation, catching up on 21 years of our lives.”
CHRISTIANE SECHER TRZMIEL writes, from France, “I still keep very good memories of my exchange year at AFS.”
BART HEMMERICH AND NANCY L. BARTO write, “About a year ago, some mild hip discomfort quickly morphed into serious pain. I (Bart) was able to get a new hip at New England Baptist (THE place to go for any replacement) by late February. By mid-June, I was ready to cycle my 21st Trans N.H. Bike Ride for Muscular Dystrophy, completing the 220-mile, three-day ride with zero issues. We biked from northeast Vermont to Montreal for a really nice mini-vacation, enjoying the incredible fireworks, botanical gardens and vibrant nightlife. In September, we hosted friends in Whitefish, Mont., and hiked all the best local peaks, then headed to the Big Island of Hawaii for a week. The moral of the story is, don’t delay in getting a joint replacement if you are in pain and unable to do the things you love. Bart, Laura and Robin are starting to plan our 50th reunion for two to three days in August or early September 2019, possibly at Robin’s in Harrisville, NH. We would love to hear from all your ‘69ers so we can plan for optimal participation. Please contact Bart (Nancy Barto) at firstname.lastname@example.org. ROBIN BECKER’S new collection of poems, The Black Bear Inside Me, came out in 2018 in the Pitt Poetry Series. Robin retired from Penn State University as liberal arts research professor of English and women’s studies. She will spend spring semester 2019 as visiting writer at Westminster College in Salt Lake City, Utah. She’s looking forward to gathering AFS classmates for the 50th reunion in 2019.
LYNDA ANN MARTIN PAQUETTE writes that she “will be launching the initiative ‘ReCreate the USA’ in January 2019. While we can’t get a solid third political party off the ground before the 2020 national elections, we can work to unite our divided parties. This initiative is designed to bring us together using our shared and common values. Stay tuned for more information or sign up for alerts by sending an email to lyndalamp@ lyndalamp.com.”
SUSAN BOLCH p is an attorney specializing in energy and environmental law. The Philadelphia native is a magna cum laude graduate of Barnard College of Columbia University and Georgetown University Law Center, where she received a fellowship to teach legal research and writing and served as editor of the American Criminal Law Review. She is from a family of lawyers and currently resides in Naples, Fla., with her husband and maintains homes in Atlanta, Ga., and the Blue Ridge Mountains of North Carolina. She is the proud mother of three children. Susan is a 30year board member of Camp Sunshine and chairman of the board of the Boys & Girls Club of Collier County. Susan is a co-founder and member of the board of the Bolch Judicial Institute at Duke University School of Law. She’s also the author of the acclaimed children’s book Cousins and the novel The Cufflink. New York Times Bestselling Author Anna Quindlen called The Cufflink “a unique journey of love and self-realization,” and Fordham University law professor Carol Basri added that it is “a unique journey of love and self-realization.” The Cufflink is now widely available through outlets including Amazon, Kindle, Apple iTunes, Barnes & Noble and Goodreads.com.
u PETER J. TAYLOR writes that he and Roger SaintLaurent have happily relocated to the south shore of Nova Scotia, Canada, where they are building a house on a bluff overlooking Rose Bay and the Atlantic Ocean.
u WENDY GOLDBERG writes, “2018 was a year in which many from the class of ‘86 made the Big 5-0! I have really enjoyed reading and seeing Facebook posts about how my fellow classmates celebrated this special occasion. I’m happy to report that I got to celebrate Jeanie Engelbach’s fab 50 with her in Charleston/Folly Beach, S.C., in the spring. Well, I had so much fun that when I got back, I told Michelle (Ferman) Simmens and Dawn (Weiss) Penner that we could not let the summer pass without doing a little getaway to spend time with each other and celebrate ours. As you can see by our smiles, we thoroughly enjoyed exactly that in St. Michael’s, Md. I want to take a moment now to wish all of my classmates a Happy 50th Birthday. Whether you’ve already had yours or it’s still on its way, Happy Birthday! I can’t believe we’re 50.”
uJULIE UFBERG WEBB writes, “My husband, Chris, step-daughter, Isabella, and I welcomed our new addition, Olivia Pearl, to the world last year on August 28. She is walking, talking and adds light and joy in our lives.”
ERIC BECKER ’99 Eric Becker ’99 is as much a student as an educator. After graduating from the University of Southern Maine, he enrolled in its Extended Teacher Education Program. The Oakland Charter High School assistant principal has again returned to school—the Reach Institute for School Leadership, where he’s studying toward a Master of Arts in Instructional Leadership. After all the years and credentials, the framework that still guides Eric is Abington Friends School’s Quaker values. “Quakerism and meeting for worship—if it doesn’t teach you how to reflect, there’s a problem,” he said with a laugh. Reflection is an important part of Eric’s instructional coaching, in which he works with teachers to help them become thoughtful practitioners. Another Quaker value, stewardship, has been a guiding force in “not just paying lip service to honoring diversity, but actually looking at the vulnerable populations in our communities.” Eric described how the School’s ideals produce visionary leaders. “You have a vision of how you want the world to be, how you want people to interact with each other and the compulsion to do good and try to bring out the best in others,” he said. He still thinks that way after 11 years at Oakland Charter High School in various roles, from teacher to administrator, always a leader. But his ultimate vision is that of a husband and father. He and his wife of 14 years have three children, ages 9, 7 and 5. “They are amazing,” he said. “They’re just my greatest achievements.”
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u JOSH SIEGEL writes, “After more than a decade in New York City, this past February my wife, Julie, and I moved to Elkins Park, Pa., with our daughter, Adelaide, who we welcomed in November 2017, and our dog, Mathilda. We miss our New York City friends, but we love being back home, making Philly friends and being able to get a decent hoagie.”
uRYAN ALISON FOLEY graduated from Oxford University in November with a Doctor of Philosophy in Social Anthropology, the culmination of nearly 10 years of post-graduate studies that began with an MSc in Comparative Law, Economics and Finance in Turin from 2009-2011, followed by an MSc in Social Anthropology. Ryan’s DPhil dissertation focused on the management practices of Italian social cooperatives. She writes, “I’d be happy to chat about Italy, cooperatives or anthropology with any students or alumni who may be interested. My email is ryan.foley@ anthro.ox.ac.uk.”
JONATHAN HOYLE and his wife, Blair Wagenblast, welcomed their first child, Theodore Oscar Hoyle, into the world on August 12. In addition to being a new dad, Jon has spent the past 10 years working for The Lighting Practice, an architectural lighting design firm with offices in Philadelphia and New York. His work can be seen at The Franklin Institute, in the Library of Congress, on the façade of the Empire State Building and at hundreds of other sites throughout the country. He also races mountain bikes.
u RUSSELL NADEL AND TARA NADEL celebrated the birth of their second son, Milo Bram, on June 3. Current habits include smiling, enjoying trying new kinds of foods and ferociously resisting naps. His older brother Ari (now every bit of 3 years old) dotes on him constantly! Russell and Tara also celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary on November 2, 2018. u BRIAN WOLK writes, “Hi AFS Alumni! I hope everyone is doing well! This year there have been a lot of changes in our lives. I went full time with my own business in real estate development in the Bay Area, and my wife, Corinne, and I welcomed our daughter Madelynn Olivia Wolk on October 23. Sadly, we are unable to make it back for Homecoming this year, but we hope to see everyone next year. Happy Holidays!”
u MICHAEL COHEN and his wife welcomed Joey Meadow Cohen on May 18, 2018.
RACHEL GITLEVICH writes, “Still at it, making cartoons! I am working on an educational mini series for amaze.org and continuing to animate on shows for Cartoon Network, Adult Swim and Netflix. Forever grateful for AFS and its values. Can’t wait to see what everyone is up to!”
MILES BUTLER writes, “A lot has been going on in my life these days. I recently got married to my best friend, Katie! I am the owner/operator of a coffee shop in Germantown called Germantown Espresso Bar. We focus on offering coffee, community and culture as well as a safe space for all people who come through our doors. In addition to the coffee shop, I am the founder and director of Songs in the Key of Free, a non-profit that brings musicianship and songwriting workshops to prisons in the area. Additionally, we have concerts and events to bring the humanity of those with whom we work to those on the outside, working to educate folks about mass incarceration through song and story.” uKALIA NICOLE BAKER writes, “After 5 years of anchoring and reporting between Wisconsin and Georgia, I am the newest anchor at the CBS-owned and -operated local news station in Baltimore, Md.! Thrilled to be back on the East Coast waking up viewers in the morning and afternoon with the news of the day that impacts them.” u ROSANNE MISTRETTA writes, “This was Evan Aamodt’s wedding in June. Andrew Miano officiated. From left to right: Danny Basch, Andrew Miano, Evan Aamodt, Cesar Wycoff, David Contosta, John McGlynn, Jamie Wolf and Nick Bryant, all members of the class of 2009. Laying in front is Jonah Aamodt ‘15 and the brother of the groom.”
ADRIENNE SHEARES ’05 As a college student, Adrienne Sheares ’05 wasn’t sure what career to pursue. Her skill set didn’t make sense, she told an Abington Friends School teacher during a visit to her alma mater. “Has it occurred to you that your career doesn’t exist yet and that you’ll create your own?” the teacher asked. Adrienne didn’t know how to reply back then. The women’s studies major graduated from Spelman College and earned a Master of Arts in Communications from Johns Hopkins University. The economy was struggling. She turned to social media, then in its nascent stages. Soon, she was creating and leading strategies for The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl, Issa Rae’s web series before the writing and directing powerhouse landed Insecure on HBO. Adrienne now has a decade of experience in social media. “I do digital strategy to help businesses perfect their social media,” she said. She runs her own boutique digital communications agency, ViviMae Labs, and works with her own impressive roster of clients. “Has it occurred to you that your career doesn’t exist yet and that you’ll create your own?” Adrienne’s career ultimately answered her teacher’s question. She credited her AFS education with empowering her to carve her own path. “AFS does a really good job of identifying your strengths and helping you find more opportunities that way,” she said. And now, she’s trying to help others do the same. “I try to be the leader and mentor that people at AFS were to me.”
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uRYAN LUQUET married his wife Samantha in October. He writes, “We had a small ceremony near the Blue Ridge Mountains of Virginia with our immediate families. We currently reside in West Philadelphia.” uETHEN OSTROFF writes, “I cannot believe that it has been almost eight years since I graduated from AFS. I have AFS to thank for helping me learn my true potential academically and how to be a true professional. Some professional highlights that have happened in my life thus far include graduating from Penn State University in May 2015, graduating from Drexel University Thomas R. Kline School of Law in May 2018, passing the Pennsylvania bar exam in July 2018, entering my family’s personal injury law practice with my father, Jon Ostroff, and starting a design and development company within the blockchain industry. As a result of my experiences in life, I now know that it is OKAY to think differently and not to be afraid to stand up for what you believe in.”
KELLY MCGLYNN AND NATHALIE GOYKHMAN Half-lifers (attended AFS for half of their years of schooling) are living in West Philadelphia and aspire to one day successfully make Cacio e Pepe. Kelly is currently attending law school at the University of Pennsylvania and is a mentor for Mighty Writers. Nathalie earned a Masters in Dance/Movement Therapy and Counseling and is a psychotherapist at a behavioral health hospital. Please reach out if you have any troubleshooting tips for sauce emulsification! ALEXANDRA HARLEY writes, “I recently moved back to the Philadelphia area after college in Minnesota and a miserable first job experience in Annapolis, Md. I realized that I couldn’t work another job that didn’t fulfill me, and so I left Maryland. As I stepped into the realm of discomfort, I did not know what would happen next. I came home feeling scared of what others would think of me for quitting, but I was instantly welcomed back by my family. I worked to pay the bills, improved my physical and mental health and searched for opportunities to build on my volunteering experience. I started volunteering as an English as a Second Language (ESL) teacher in February 2018, and by July, I was hired by a nonprofit organization as a full-time ESL and family literacy instructor. I still volunteer at my first organization. I say all this to encourage others to find what makes them happy, and to not be afraid of stepping into discomfort. I am the happiest I have ever been since graduating college, and I can’t wait to see what the future has in store for me. I am also open to discussing my experiences in more detail if anyone wants to reach out!”
TAYLOR WITTER-GUZMAN writes, “On October 21, 2018, I married my true love, Ramon Guzman, in a beautiful private ceremony followed by a dinner celebration with friends and family. We are expecting our first baby in April 2019. Best wishes to 315.”
TORI GINGRICH writes, “Hi! I am currently living in Washington, D.C., finishing up my last year of graduate school with a degree in art history from American University. I have fond memories of AFS and I hope my sister, Callie, will once she graduates in 2021. Hope you’re all well!”
u JESS WILLIAMS writes, “For the past two years, I have been working at Universal Music Group in Manhattan as a photographer. I have had the pleasure of working with artists like Demi Lovato, Post Malone and Alicia Keys, among many others. I recently photographed the grand opening of Whitney Houston’s retrospective exhibition at the Grammy Museum in Newark, NJ, and the images are published in the book commemorating the exhibit that is currently on sale at the museum. Being so close to Whitney Houston’s Grammy Awards was an opportunity I never thought I would have!” u SEAN HYLAND writes, “I am currently serving as a Peace Corps youth development volunteer in Morocco. While I have only just begun my service, I have already had many exciting and challenging experiences learning about my home for the next two years. I continue to draw upon the many lessons I learned at AFS, including the importance of patience and active listening. In my Peace Corps application essay, I stated that ‘through my Quaker school education, I was taught to quiet my voice so that I might better understand the perspectives of others.’ I have often found that it is more difficult to quiet my voice when speaking with others about controversial topics. While quiet listening may be difficult in these moments, it’s a practice that has allowed me to better understand the people with whom I live. I have continued to draw upon this lesson and others as I navigate the many challenges that come with adapting to a new culture.”
CLASS NOTES 2016
t RACHEL YAOBUSHVILI’S MOTHER writes, “Rachel ‘16 is currently taking a fall semester in Prague as part of her study abroad program at The George Washington University. During her break in October, we went to Ireland to explore the nature, the culture and the history of this beautiful country. The people there reminded us of the AFS community—hospitable, calm, friendly and supportive. Here are some pictures.”
DREW JACOBSON was cast in the dance show, a mainstage production, at Ithaca College in his freshman year.
A LUM N I FA C U LT Y A N D STA F F A S S O C I AT I O N ( A F S A ) N O T E S September 4 through October 14, AFS hosted an exhibition of art created by Alumni Faculty and Staff (AFSA). The AFSA Art Showcase featured photography by Lynne Mass G’ 20, (pictured right), monotype/ink on paper by Barb Handler P’08, (pictured left), quilts by Emily Paar, tree pods and acrylic on wood by Sally Fenley P’93, oil on canvas by Gail Fox and ceramics by Donna Haines P’90, Samantha Matlock, Randy Schwartz and Betsy
q LYNNE MASS, AFSA writes, “I will be exhibiting three of my photographs at a gallery in Delray Beach, Fla., from November through mid-January. I am also submitting one piece to a show at the Ft. Lauderdale Library for an exhibit that will run from December through January. Here is the photograph that will be in the library in Ft. Lauderdale.”
p APRIL TVAROK, AFSA writes, “I’ve gone from stay-athome dad to being the new theatre technical director at Germantown Friends School. I’m very excited to be back working in Quaker education, but I miss AFS dearly.” 46 oak leaves winter 2019
TA L E S F R O M O U R PA S T The Party is Canceled. The Reason: WWII Director of Libraries Toni Vahlsing found these letters from 1943 in a binder in the AFS Archives Room that was titled â€œMinutes of the Room Mothers Committee of Abington Friends School Home and School Association.â€? The artifacts are evidence of a small way that World War II impacted those at home. A handwritten copy of a letter sent from AFS to then headmaster at Germantown Academy.
s Photo: The Class of 1945 graduation photo, likely participants in the referenced party. A return letter to AFS, with plans to continue the engagement after the war.
IN MEMORIAM ELISABETH BREWSTER POTTS BROWN Betsy Brown, 78, died on July 6, 2018. Her final days had been spent at her beloved summer home, Riverbrink, at Pocono Lake Preserve, Pa., during a weeklong family reunion. A birthright Friend, Betsy was raised in Southampton Monthly Meeting, attended Abington Friends School and graduated from George School. She met Allan Brown through connections from attending Swarthmore College, and they married in 1962. From 19631965, they lived in Vietnam, working at the American School in Saigon—Betsy in the school library and Allan as a teacher. After returning to Philadelphia, Betsy and Allan raised their children, Jonathan Wistar Brown, Rebecca More and Sarah Elisabeth Brown, at their home on School House Lane and in Germantown Monthly Meeting. Once the children reached school age, Betsy earned a Bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania and a Master’s degree in Library Science from Drexel University. She worked in the libraries at the Medical College of Pennsylvania, the American College in Bryn Mawr and Springside School before serving as the Haverford College Library Quaker Collection Bibliographer for the final twenty years of her career. She also served for many years as Secretary of the Friends Historical Association and as a member of the School Committee of Germantown Friends School. After divorcing in 1988, Betsy moved to Tanguy Homesteads and lived in that intentional neighborhood until she retired in 2002. She moved to Seattle, Wa. in time for the birth of her first grandchild and belonged first to University Friends Meeting and then South Seattle Friends when it became a Monthly Meeting. Betsy was a conservationist and lover of nature, whose Quaker values influenced all aspects of her life. She was devoted to her family and community. She lived a spare home life but was generous with her possessions, her time and her love. She loved fast cars and in an alternate life would have been a racecar driver; the Mini Cooper she owned near the end of her life was a dream come true and a nod to that other self. She will be remembered as kind, cheerful, caring, intelligent and straightforward, with a ready smile and a bit of a silly side that made her endearing to all. HELEN SCHUESSLER SCOTT ROBINSON ’49 Helen Schuessler Scott Robinson, 85, passed away peacefully on June 27, 2017 at Fellowship Village in Basking Ridge, N.J. In her youth, Helen cherished her summers at Beach Haven on Long Beach Island, N.J. and was an ardent junior sailor at the Little Egg Harbor Yacht Club. She was a top athlete at Abington Friends School and valedictorian of the Class of ’49. At AFS, she formed lifelong friendships. Helen graduated from Mount Holyoke 48 oak leaves winter 2019
College in 1953, received an M.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 1954 and attended the University of Edinburgh in 1955. She returned to AFS to teach history before marrying Andrew L. Robinson Jr. in 1956. Helen enjoyed a long and distinguished career in publishing with Gordon Publications/Reed Elsevier (the RELX Group) and was president of the American Business Press. She retired in 2001. She served on the Junior League of Morristown, Fosterfields Historical Farm and various Fellowship Village committees. She was a longtime member of Morris County Golf Club and enjoyed tennis, golf, bridge and was an avid reader. Helen was not only a dedicated friend to many, but also treated everyone she met with courtesy and kindness. She always fostered the spirit of intellectual curiosity and a drive to succeed. She is survived by two children, Helen R. Cleaves (Robin) and her husband, Alfred Cleaves, of Olympia, Wa., and Andrew L. Robinson III (Drew) and his wife, Martha, of Lynchburg, Va.; her brother, David Alexander Scott, of Philadelphia, Pa.; and her beloved seven grandchildren, Roger, Stuart, Stephanie, Garrett and Alanna Cleaves and Clair and Tice Schenkel. She was predeceased by another brother, Jack Vincent Scott Jr. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to Mount Holyoke College, 50 College Street, South Hadley, Mass. 01075. Note: Adapted from an obituary published in The Daily Record. JAMES JERRY CLARK James Jerry Clark, 63, died on June 28, 2018. As a young child in Jasper, Texas, Jerry was passionate about learning and was instinctively committed to fighting for social justice in a place where that was often difficult. His teachers recognized his brilliant mind and open spirit, and one in particular arranged for Jerry to leave high school when he was 15 years old and attend Shimer College near Chicago, Ill. It was there he discovered a community of others who lived to talk about history, philosophy, literature, music and political science through the lens of the world’s greatest writers and thinkers, and who wanted to create a more just and compassionate world. After graduating, Jerry taught at Shimer and eventually became its youngest dean. Jerry met Jim Moritz, a gifted choral director and teacher, at “His and Hers” bar in Chicago in June 1984 and immediately knew he had found his life partner and soul mate. Jerry and Jim spent the next 36 years together, creating a home that drew a wide circle of dear friends wherever they lived until Jim’s death in 2012. Jerry was, first and foremost, a master teacher. He could take any subject and any group of children, teenagers or adults and instruct them not only the subject matter at hand, but also a way to see life more clearly. Over the course of his career, Jerry taught English, history, mathematics, political science, education, philosophy and many other academic subjects at various
schools, including Abington Friends School from 19952000. As his work became more and more devoted to his lifelong passion for fighting systemic oppression, racism and bigotry of all kinds, Jerry found myriad ways to use his incredible teaching skills. Over the last two decades of his life, he facilitated programs with young people, educators, health professionals, businesses and law enforcement agencies to help them create more inclusive approaches to their learning and their work. Jerry’s legacy lives on in his students and in his family and friends, who are devastated by his loss but committed to continuing his work. Jerry is survived by his parents, Nell and Jim; his sister, Cheryl; his beloved nieces, Ashlee and Rachel and her husband, James McCommon; his son Henry, and grandson, LJ; his dear friend and housemate, Dale; and a loving circle of close friends. Amanda Scheiner McClain ’97 recalled Jerry’s lasting impact in her 2018 AFS commencement speech: “My graduating class was small, only 36 people. For a small group, it felt like there was a high percentage of LGBTQ students. Our class dean was Jerry Clark, who spoke openly of his partner Jim and their life together. Jerry was much beloved by my class and his behavioral model of acceptance was emulated by all. He taught us to speak our minds, treat everyone equally, and to be more than tolerant—to be respectful and accepting. So, if you want to have pink hair to be YOU, do it. You be you and broadcast that to the world. More diversity makes a stronger community. Respect yourself and others. Don’t pretend to be someone you’re not; be yourself and that’s how you’ll find someone who loves you for being you. Find a meaningful way of engaging in the world as the person you are.” CHRISTA I. SCHWARTZ Christa I. Schwartz, 92, of Dresher, Pa., died on July 31, 2018. She was the loving wife of Heinz Schwartz. Christa was a nursery school teacher at Abington Friends School starting in the 1970’s. Along with her husband, Heinz, she is survived by her daughter, Karin Czaplicki (Daniel), her grandchildren, Michael and Alina Czaplicki and her brother, Peter Steffen. Donations in Christa’s memory may be made to AFS, So Others Might Eat (SOME) or Janet Weis Children’s Hospital. Obituary originally published by Ciavarelli Funeral Homes. EVIE SWIERCZYNSKI Evie Swierczynski, 15, died on October 30, 2018. She and her brother, Parker, were Abington Friends Students from 2008-2012. According to her family, Evie was super glue. Not in the arts-and-crafts sense, though she loved creating things and used plenty of adhesive (and tape and paper and colored pencils) in the process.
No, Evie was the glue that connected family and friends in a way that was not always visible, but deep and powerful nonetheless. When Evie was 11, she created a pop-up store with handmade purses and wallets and little sculptures. She’d join her father at small comic book conventions and sell her wares right next to his comics and novels. And she’d outsell him by a wide margin. But her motivation wasn’t money (she was always donating the lion’s share of the proceeds to St. Jude’s Hospital). She simply wanted to bring a little joy into people’s lives. Evie called her venture “The Fun Store.” She’d even put out a container of free toys and candy for anyone to take, just so that no one would ever feel left out. That was the thing about Evie; she always gravitated to the outsiders. Her favorite stuffed animals were oddball creatures: rats, ostriches, pot-bellied cats…any kind of cat, really. If you were at a party feeling awkward and alone, Evie would bring you into the fold, introduce you around. She had her own dreams and plans (following in the footsteps of Alexander Hamilton and attending Columbia University so that she could teach history). But she always took great joy in whatever you wanted to do. And no matter what you were doing, she’d make you laugh. Evie was born with incredible comedic timing, a gift that would show itself at the most surprising moments. During her first round of chemo, the painkillers made her act a little…goofy. “Wow, we haven’t seen you this silly since you were four,” her parents noted. Evie replied, “But when I was four, did I do this…?” Then gave us the finger. She gave cancer the finger, too. When that struggle became too great she retreated to some other place, and only then did her parents realize the truth: Evie had been supporting them just as much as they’d been supporting her. A mischievous smile; a deadpan retort; a peace sign; rolled eyes; an exaggerated selfie pose; a hug. These were the things that kept them going during an epically frightening time. Her family and friends are heartbroken and grieving her loss, not sure how to proceed, afraid that this new world will come flying apart. But Evie showed us the way, by example of her life. In the face of loneliness or fear or adversity, you laugh. You create. You blow bubbles. You hug. You make up stories about stuffed animals. You give to those who have less. And sometimes, you give fear the middle finger, because it’s funny. Evie will always be super glue. And she will forever bind together those who love her. Donations in Evie’s name may be made to Children’s Hospital, Be The Match and The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. Note: Adapted from DignityMemorial.com. 49
END NOTE A Leader Finding Their Voice BY REE BOTTS ‘11 My leadership development began as a new eighth grade student in Señora Cyndi Silverman Abington Friends School classroom, where she invested in ensuring that Black students like me felt safe, valued and affirmed. From the way she decorated her classroom walls with pictures that celebrated our accomplishments, to the warm energy I felt as soon as I entered her room, I knew I had a home. She taught me the things I felt most ashamed of were, in fact, the things that made me a profoundly unique leader. I was not too loud or too passionate to be an organizer and an activist. I could and should lead with my whole self. By my sophomore year, I started the Black Student Union with my friend Alexis Anderson‘11, and we used that platform to host assemblies, events and gatherings that educated the community about the realities of our experiences as Black students. Wherever I was at AFS, I was always in the community. Our adult advocates, like Marc Thompson, Shakita Green and Cyndi did not restrict our movement or presence, even when some asked the question that Beverly Daniel Tatum echoes in her book, Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together at the Lunch Table?, failing to acknowledge how crucial it is for students of color to have a place where they can be their entire selves. Every moment of safety, inclusion and affinity made my leadership possible. Within those sacred spaces, I was allowed to stand firm in my power as a Black girl coming into her own voice. When I wasn’t organizing, debating or socializing, I was tucked away in a corner with Upper School English teacher Mary Lynn Ellis, whose mentorship cultivated my voice as a poet. With her support, I performed poems about African diasporic historical and contemporary struggles both inside and outside AFS. 50 oak leaves winter 2019
Her belief in me was a constant reminder that I had something important to say, and the world needed to hear it. I entered Spelman College in 2011 with a strong sense of myself and a radical belief that I was worthy of taking charge. I took the helm of a number of community projects, including HBCU’s for Peace & Love and Street Scholars. In 2015, I founded The Self.o.lo.gy Movement, an initiative designed to support Black women and girls in their journeys to self-love and healing. I have traveled across the globe, speaking to and learning from Black communities about how to center our collective voice. The core concepts I lead with in my work and in my world are the result of my five years at AFS, and my seven years away from it, in which I have come to appreciate deeply all the ways the School has shaped me. Today, as a PhD student at the University of California, Berkeley, I research Black women’s healing spaces and their potential for communal empowerment. During my visit to AFS Homecoming in 2017, I spoke in Meeting for Worship about how the space my mentors made for me planted the seeds for my research and my approach to life. The poet, scholar and activist I am today grew from these places of care. My life always seems to come back to the Quaker principle of inner light. I still recall my class’s final Meeting for Worship, in which Rich Nourie exclaimed that each of our individual lights, kindled by our time at AFS, would go out into the world and make our planet a little brighter. As a proud AFS graduate who has taken up that call, I am honored to be a part of the legacy of leaders who first flourished in the School’s hallways and have since found their voice and place in the world.
The FUND FOR AFS and the NOW MORE THAN EVER CAMPAIGN
help us flourish now and into the future. Together as families, alumni, faculty, staff and friends who understand the difference AFS makes in the world every day, we are taking bold steps forward to strengthen our school and mission.
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AFS Alumni Day is Moving! Starting this year, Alumni Day will be held in the fall instead of the spring. Class years ending in 4 and 9 are invited to return to reconnect at the Meetinghouse with events including an alumni Meeting for Worship, interscholastic athletic games and an evening reception in the new Richard N. Berman Athletics Center.
Save the date for Saturday, October 5, 2019! Register to attend at: http://www.abingtonfriends.net/alumni-day/ If 2019 is a milestone reunion for your class, join your Class Reunion Committee and help with outreach to fellow classmates. Contact Lisa Budd, Director of Alumni Engagement, at email@example.com for more information. To connect with the AFS alumni community and get regular updates, join Alumni of Abington Friends School on Facebook.
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