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Oak Leaves

IN THIS ISSUE A Scrapbook of Photos Alumni Day 2017 Class Notes

ABINGTON FRIENDS SCHOOL

FA L L 2017

Adventures in Learning The World as a Classroom

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LETTER FROM THE HEAD OF SCHO OL

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his past July, I was traveling in Ireland for a week with my 28-year old son, Mike. On a wind-swept afternoon, climbing along the spectacular vistas of the Cliffs of Moher, I heard a far-off, energetic cry of “Riiccchhh!!” Looking farther up the trail, I saw two of AFS’s newest alums, Naomi Grigoryan and Annika Gartner, members of the Class of 2017.

“As a person who loves the life of the mind and who is easily transported by books and ideas, I sometimes forget just how powerful a sense of place can be. But every time I travel, I find my spirit enlarged by new landscapes.” - Rich Nourie

What a joyful reunion in such an unexpected place! I learned that Naomi and Annika were traveling on their own, having arrived just a day earlier. They were still feeling new to the adventure and figuring out their surroundings, but I loved hearing the heightened spirit of their voices in this new place, mixed with pride in their own independence and a little bit of vulnerability and uncertainty as well. After several days in Ireland, they were planning to continue on to Spain. It was wonderful to see them in this world so far from the AFS campus, amid such wild beauty. I truly admired their resourcefulness and courage in taking this trip on their own. As a person who loves the life of the mind and who is easily transported by books and ideas, I sometimes forget just how powerful a sense of place can be. But every time I travel, I find my spirit enlarged by new landscapes — summits above the tree line that are desolate and wind-carved; the rolling power of the ocean; the solitude of a lake at dusk; stars in a cold night sky; mists that float through an early morning campsite. It is as if the wonder of what surrounds me creates a refreshed space within me, one that I carry home and renews me as I return to the familiar. I love the spirit of discovery I feel in cities new to me, with surprises around corners, hidden gardens and parks, the artifacts of previous generations that are found on side streets. It awakens in me a fresh and

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energized curiosity for the life around me that I now realize has been dulled by the routines back home. In this edition of “Oak Leaves,” you’ll find a variety of stories of travel, adventure and rekindled wonder from faculty, students and parents who make up the community of learners on our campus. I love hearing of the intention of these travels, the planning and dreaming ahead of time. I love hearing how the journeys unfolded, each singular and transformative in ways both big and small. For students and faculty, these experiences return to the AFS community with them. For teachers, they provide treasures to be shared in the classroom and a renewed appreciation for what authentic learning feels like. For students, they offer the grounded knowledge that the world is indeed bigger than what is right in front of them and gives a new context to the exploration of literature, history and the arts at school. Direct experience has always been highly prized in Quaker communities as the most reliable and relevant teacher. The world is more accessible to us today than at any other time in human history and we at AFS believe that the walls of school should be thinner. Our Center for Experiential Learning is connecting our students to a wide array of experiences and mentor relationships. Recently, a Global Travel Information Night was packed with parents and students eager to hear of an exchange opportunity with the Friends School in Hobart, Tasmania, and upcoming trips to Costa Rica and Hurricane Island in Maine. We are grateful for the Hope Welsh Makler Travel Scholarship, instituted in 2014 by Jon Makler ’95, which generously supports travel grants for school community and Meeting members. And so, this edition is full of adventure, serendipity and the indelible learning that comes of such journeys. May it inspire your own dreams of travel!

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Adventures in Learning COVER STORY

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Class of 2017 Reflections

Alumni Day

37 From the Archives

Commencement 2017

3 O N T H E C OV E R

47 Benjamin Lay Revisited

LETTER FROM THE HEAD OF SCHOOL

6 M I L ESTO N ES

Photo by Rebecca Barger Richard F. Nourie, Head of School Devin Schlickmann, Assistant Head of School for Institutional Advancement Lillian Swanson, 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 Rebecca Barger, David DeBalko, John Flak, Ryan Samson ’07, Ryan Smith, Lillian Swanson, Maria Young

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CLASS NOTES

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IN MEMORIAM

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END NOTE

Abington Friends School main switchboard: 215.886.4350 For more photos and news, visit us online at abingtonfriends.net

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O A K L E AV E S M I L E S T O N E S

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A BIG BARBECUE CELEBRATES THE NEW SCHOOL YEAR

The Annual Back-to-School Family Barbecue drew the largest crowd in recent memory to the campus on September 8 for a community celebration that felt a whole lot like a family reunion. About 1,000 current students, parents, faculty and staff and School Committee members reconnected with each other after the monthslong summer break and welcomed

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families who are new to the School. The barbecue featured a delicious buffet, danceable tunes, volleyball, cornhole and other games, face-painting and much more. Our new swings got a big workout, the ice cream trucks were popular once again and a magician kept the kids fascinated for hours.

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CEL OPENS STUDENT EXCHANGE AT THE FRIENDS SCHOOL IN HOBART, TASMANIA

WE EMBARK ON A YEAR OF SELF-STUDY

The new Center for Experiential Learning spread its wings in a significant way, expanding and enhancing hands-on learning experiences and opportunities for students at AFS. In July, two rising sophomores, Amira Parker and Jonah Fine, flew to Tasmania for a threeweek, student-exchange program at The Friends School in Hobart. The School, led by Principal Nelson File ’78, is the largest Quaker school in the world with 1,300 students. This winter, two students whose families hosted Amira and Jonah, will attend classes for three weeks at AFS. The Center, headed by Director Rosanne Mistretta, also announced it would offer Upper School students weeklong, education-related trips to Costa Rica and Hurricane Island in Maine this year. The Center continued MedEx, a yearlong grouplearning cohort of doctors and students and launched a new cohort, BizEx, for students with an interest in entrepreneurship and business. The Center also connects students to individual learning experiences such as internships and specialized summer programs.

More than a dozen committees this fall began studying nearly every aspect of AFS as part of an accreditation process conducted by the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools every 10 years. Toni Graves Williamson, Assistant Head of School for Equity and Inclusion, and Director of Technology John Rison are spearheading the comprehensive AFS Self-Study that is at the heart of the process. Every faculty and staff member was assigned to a committee, and those panels are examining the school’s program, mission, governance, administration, financial management, personnel and more. The results of their work will be compiled into a Self-Study report that will be sent to PAIS in the spring. In the fall of 2018, a PAIS committee of educators will visit the school, compile its own report and make an overall recommendation to the PAIS Commission for Accreditation.

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The Upper School spring musical, ‘The Drowsy Chaperone,’ offered audiences a lively parody of stage musicals of the Jazz Age. Michael Carpenter’s lengthy opening monologue in a darkened theater signaled that an unusual musical would soon unfold. Still, the show contained plenty of singing, dancing and over-the-top humorous escapades. Later, Michael Carpenter ’18, Drew Jacobson ’18, Brian Wang ’18, Albert Chen ’17 and Zachary Ford ’20 won CAPPIE awards, honoring the best in regional theatre.

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ABINGTON FRIENDS SCHOOL

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Music is everywhere at AFS, from an informal kindergarten singalong to well-practiced student singers and musicians who perform Upper School and Middle School concerts. In March, Brooklyn singer-songwriter Jean Rohe and her band, The End of the World Show, performed a Marshall Concert and conducted master classes with students. The annual concert is held in memory of Diana Parks Marshall ’61 and her mother, Virda Parks Marshall. One of the most inspiring moments occurred when the Upper School Chorus joined Jean Rohe onstage in singing ‘Arise! Arise!,’ a song she wrote that has been described as an alternative national anthem.

The Lower School spring program, ‘The Chain of Kindness: Saving Hollow Springs,’ told the tale of an imaginary town that began to prosper when citizens left selfish behavior behind and began to look out for each other. Students from Early Childhood classes through fourth grade sang and danced choreographed numbers that they had created. The program ended with students encircling the Muller Auditorium and holding a giant paper chain that contained their messages of kindness toward each other. The audience of parents and grandparents responded with big applause.

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ABINGTON FRIENDS SCHOOL

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Eighth Grade Independent Study (EGIS) Night was a chance for students to show what they had learned over the course of a year as they pursued a variety of interests outside the classroom. With guidance from expert mentors, they studied circus arts, learned how to deliver a stand-up comedy routine, delved into carpentry by building a wooden bookshelf and more. After introducing themselves on the Muller Auditorium stage, the eighth graders headed to Hallowell Gym where they stood beside their display boards and explained where their curiosity had led them.

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Whether it’s leading a poetry night, pitching in on Field Day, celebrating at Commencement or producing a magical China Night, our teachers are right there in the midst of the learning, building lasting relationships with students and guiding them to better understanding. Our commitment to lifelong education runs throughout the School. Seventy-nine percent of our faculty and staffers have advanced degrees, including two who have earned law degrees and six with doctorates.

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ABINGTON FRIENDS SCHOOL

Scrapbook Abington Friends School fields 49 teams that compete in 20 different sports across three seasons. And during the summer, it’s common to see our scholar-athletes in the Hallowell Gym and in the Thode Fitness Center, honing their skills and keeping themselves in shape for fall sports. Leadership, teamwork, discipline and good sportsmanship are emphasized. The Roos represent AFS in Friends Schools League competition.

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At Field Day 2017, the Blues beat the Whites, 440-437, in an afternoon of friendly athletic competition. The students played a full slate of games, including flag football, kickball, soccer and steal the bacon; ran spirited relay races and inched their way down a balance beam. Team assignments were changed this year so that boys and girls played on the same teams in ninth and 10th grades. The afternoon began with a picnic lunch served by parent volunteers. At day’s end, the faculty won bragging rights for the year in a Tug of Conflict against the senior class.

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ABINGTON FRIENDS SCHOOL

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In Middle School, student members of the PRIDE group facilitated a daylong series of workshops focused on diversity issues at ‘Many Voices, One Community Day.’ The theme this year was ‘Home’ and students were invited to consider all the factors that go into making a community feel like a home for everyone. Meanwhile, Upper School students partnered with their peers from the Perkiomen School to facilitate the annual Mid-Atlantic Region Diversity Conference at AFS. Toni Graves Williamson, Assistant Head of School for Equity and Inclusion, oversaw the conference, which drew 280 students and 55 adults from 29 independent schools.

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ADVENTURES

IN LEARNING THE WORLD AS A CLASSROOM

From Early Childhood classes through graduation, our students are encouraged to embrace inquiry as a vital way to deepen their understanding. But they are not the only ones in our community who are learning. Our teachers, parents and alumni are constantly examining and enhancing what they know of the world. And the learning doesn’t end when the school year finishes in June. Instead, it extends into the summer when members of all parts of our community take deep dives into learning in new ways. They gain insights from attending specialized programs, traveling around the globe or simply finding new ways to rekindle their sense of wonder. Their trips this summer were made possible through grants from the Hope Welsh Makler Travel Scholarship, the School’s professional development budget or funds from the travelers themselves.

HERE ARE THEIR STORIES.

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AMSTERDAM A REDISCOVERY ON THE PLAYGROUNDS OF AMSTERDAM By Michael Sperger School Committee Member P’21, P’18, P’15 In April of 2012, I visited Amsterdam for work. I saw playgrounds like I had never seen before — complex, inventive and challenging. I brought pictures back for my kids. My older two kids were already entering their teenage years, and weren’t all that interested. But my youngest, Anna, was captivated. Anna has a strong bent toward engineering and making things. We started talking about how we should make a trip of visiting cool playgrounds in Amsterdam and elsewhere in Europe. In the meantime, we learned more about how unusual Amsterdam is when it comes to playgrounds. The city made a deep commitment to public space for children after World War II. Before the war, there was not a single public playground in the city. Today,

there are 11 playgrounds per square mile in Amsterdam — the densest concentration of play space in any major city in the world. The city planners in Amsterdam seem to have decided that whenever they have an irregular space — a square, a piece of land where streets come together at off angles — they will put play equipment there. This is a generous and impressive way of thinking. Anna and I spent a week in Amsterdam, riding bikes across the city to visit more than 40 playgrounds — about 10 prcent of the total number, within the city center. We met local families on the playgrounds, and we learned about the history, present, and future of this extraordinary resource. We came to understand that Amsterdam’s playgrounds are a symbol of postwar healing, a commitment to stewardship and peace. This trip will be a landmark event in my life, and in Anna’s as well. I knew going into it that we would enjoy c on ti nued on page 2 1

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ANNA SPERGER ’21 ON HALF DOME AT AN AMSTERDAM PLAYGROUND.

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ourselves, and we always enjoy each other’s company. What I had not appreciated was how deeply satisfying the trip would be for me, and how it would resonate with themes that have been present in my life since childhood. When I was 10 years old, I got together with two of my neighborhood friends, and the three of us created an ‘architecture practice’ in my parents’ basement. We had colored pencils and graph paper, and we were designing fanciful houses for our friends. Thirty years later, I found myself sitting on park benches, sketching playground structures in my notebook with colored pencils, and I felt like I had rediscovered something important. The kid in the basement ended up with a career doing abstract thinking, as many of us do. But turning your imagination into something physical and real… that’s a kind of alchemy. Peter Gabriel wrote in his song “Mercy Street”: “All of the buildings, all of the cars, were once just a dream in somebody’s head.” Visiting these playgrounds, built by people who are deeply committed to what they are doing, is like inhabiting a dream world. Anna and I are interested in creating play space for older children at Abington Friends School. In recent years, the School has constructed remarkable new spaces for its Early Childhood and Lower School students. I feel very strongly about the importance of having appropriate space for older kids to be outdoors and physically active during the school day. Unstructured play is important for brain development; after-school athletics are important, but not enough.

a perfect example of why this kind of education is so transformative. We constantly say we live in a world where we are so interconnected, but the truth is there are places that still seem impossible to reach. Cuba is a mere 90 miles from Miami, and yet it feels so far away, so foreign, so much like you had to travel back in time to arrive there. I couldn’t have understood the real impact of this without seeing it with my own eyes.    I traveled to Cuba this summer ostensibly as a science teacher eager to see the different biomes in the island country, and the unique animals that lived there. I hoped to see the smallest bird in the world, the bee hummingbird (I did!), the garish national bird, the Cuban Trogon (I did!); and to interact with organic farmers and see if I could find an answer to my question: If pesticides came back to Cuba, would they start using them again (I did, and the farmers said they wouldn’t). As a biology teacher who focuses on evolution, seeing organisms adapted to their environment in situ enriches my ability to share deeply with students when we discuss the incredible diversity of life on Earth. Knowing about these organisms from the perspective of being literally immersed in their natural habitats is an incredible gift to be able to share. But anyone who travels knows that the truly important lessons one learns from the experience are not predictable. If you are lucky to really interact with people c on ti nued on page 2 2

In my day job, I work in sales and marketing for a software company. I’m not an architect, an urban planner or a maker of playground equipment. Nevertheless, I feel led to work in this domain. I am still discovering all the ways in which I can make this possible.

CUBA SEEING CUBA THROUGH MY OWN LENS By Kristina Denzel Bickford ’93 Abington Friends is deepening its dedication to experiential learning, and my experience in Cuba is

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OUR GROUP’S LAST LUNCH TOGETHER IN CIENFUEGOS, CUBA. 21


COLE LEWIS ’20 (FAR LEFT) IN SÈTE, FRANCE, WITH FELLOW STUDENTS.

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often found ourselves mutually shaking our heads at how complicated it all was, and how simple we found collaboration could be — once bread was broken, a relationship forged. Today more than ever, I think it’s important for us to travel abroad and meet people from all different cultures and communities. Otherwise, we run the risk of blindly believing narratives created by others, without ever having seen things with our own eyes. Resources to learn more about Cuba: “Dreaming in Cuban” by Cristina Garcia; “Cuba: What Everyone Needs to Know” by Julia E. Sweig and the “Cuba Libre Story,” a documentary series on Netflix.

from the place you are visiting, you have the chance to see the world from a different perspective. In Cuba, I also had the opportunity to see my country through the eyes of people who saw the U.S. as an aggressor. Their entire recent history is built on that central belief, much the same way that my entire understanding of Cuba as a forbidden, Communist place was built.  At AFS, we are focused on creating citizens of the world, and that means understanding who we are, but also being open to understanding the perspectives of others. While talk of the flora and fauna I saw in Cuba will certainly make its way into my classroom, perhaps more important is my deeper understanding of a different culture. The Cubans I interacted with were extremely proud of their country, community-minded and hopeful that softening relations between our countries would open the way for economic development and opportunity.  Cuba is a country of color, rhythm, nature and history and is worth learning so much more about. The Cubans I met were open-minded and warm, and as we talked and talked about history and politics, we 22 oak leaves fall 2017

about the customs and cultures of many countries, which added an extra layer of understanding to his experience. “It was through a lens of being in France, but I learned about all these different cultures and people,” he said. “The thing I learned, having these friends from other countries, is this — They are all people. They all have their stories. They are real people you can learn about. They were interesting and kind,” he said. On weekends, he traveled to nearby cities, including Marseille, where he revelled in the adventure of diving off of cliffs into the Mediterranean Sea. “That was crazy fun,” Cole said. That was but one of the many tastes of freedom Cole enjoyed while being away from everything familiar and on his own this past summer. “Something that was valuable to me throughout was the feeling of being independent,” he said.

FRANCE

P E N N S Y L VA N I A

FLUENCY AND A TASTE OF FREEDOM IN FRANCE

A DEEP DIVE INTO THE WORLD OF BUSINESS

Sophomore Cole Lewis wanted to become fluent in a language, and with some help from Rosanne Mistretta, Director of the Center for Experiential Learning, searched for a program that would be a good first step.

Junior Jamie Williams had an opportunity to learn first-hand what it might be like to run her own business, making executive decisions that would help determine her company’s fortunes.

This past summer, he flew from New York City to Paris and then south to Montpellier to attend a month-long immersion program at a program called Accent Francais. Along with other students, he attended French language classes in the morning, and courses on French culture in the afternoon. Cole said he is drawn to the sophistication and flow of the French language and likes the way it sounds as it rolls off the tongue. “There’s something about the French culture that is elegant and proud and sophisticated,” he said. “And you can feel it in the language.” At the program, Cole met people from around the world, including fellow students from Chile, Germany, Mexico and Switzerland. Through class discussions, he learned

Jamie attended a Pennsylvania Free Enterprise Week (PFEW) program on a college campus in Williamsport, Pa., this summer with high school juniors and seniors from across the state. Jamie, who is planning to become a computer software engineer, said the week turned out to be a good introduction to the field of business. “My ultimate goal is to open a business that works on software development, but also have an organization that teaches minority girls how to program and write code,” she said. At the PFEW program, the students simulated running a company, making decisions that affected profit and loss. Jamie took on the role of Vice President of Finance for a coat company and soon found herself making decisions about the cost of inventory storage, how much to reinvest in the company and the amount to be issued in the quarterly dividend. She also learned that she liked having a seat at the executive table, and came away believing that it was important for her to be there. “As a female of color, my voice at the table really matters,” she said. She made a great group of friends among the fellow students, and is still in touch with those from the Philadelphia area. Jamie said she’s a “strong advocate” for continuous learning, and doesn’t mind spending time in a classroom in the summer. In addition to learning the basics of business, Jamie said she learned an important lesson about happiness in life. One of the speakers told the students about starting a business that had made him a fortune. But now, sadly, his wife was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease. “He told us he would give up all his money to go home and have his wife remember him,” Jamie recalled. “Having money doesn’t equate to happiness,” she said.

JAMIE WILLIAMS ’19 (SECOND FROM RIGHT) AT A SEMINAR ABOUT BUSINESS.

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JORDAN BURKEY IN HOPKINSVILLE, KENTUCKY, FOR THE SOLAR ECLIPSE.

As noon approached, I tested my FaceTime connection on an iPad with one of my former students, Jared Smith ’17, who had won a raffle at Post Prom that promised him 20 seconds of live feed from me during totality. Everything was working, which was a relief, considering that extra cell towers had to be installed to accommodate the 100,000 visitors expected to descend upon this town of 32,000 people.

KENTUCKY A FRONT ROW SEAT TO SEE THE ‘DARK HOLE’ IN THE SKY By Jordan Burkey, Upper School Physics Teacher I had been dreaming about making this trip to see a total eclipse of the sun for at least seven years. In fact, I picked out the ideal location — Hopkinsville, Kentucky — way back then after considering the predicted path of the moon’s shadow and where the totality would last the longest. That year, I told students in my Astronomy class to start planning ahead for this “spectacle of a lifetime.” My wife, Ginger, and I even called a hotel in Hopkinsville and tried to make a reservation, but were told the hotel wasn’t set up to take reservations seven years in advance. A solar eclipse occurs when the moon passes between the Earth and the sun and the moon’s shadow blocks our view of the sun. Because the moon’s shadow is so small, compared to the size of the sun, you must be in a precise location to see the sun get blocked out completely, which is called totality. Total solar eclipses can sometimes take 20 to 40 years to visit the same continent again, and there 24 oak leaves fall 2017

‘The fairgrounds had become as dark as late evening and the noticeably cooler air was filled with a joyous sound of thousands of people sharing in this unifying moment.’

are eclipse chasers who spare no expense, chartering planes or ships to see these events when they are in remote locations. Luckily, my wife and I only had to drive 850 miles to Kentucky this summer to see this miracle in the sky. We packed our eclipse glasses (ordered months in advance), six gallons of water, cameras and sunscreen and made sure to get a full tank of gas in case we got stuck in unimaginable traffic. On August 21, the morning of the eclipse, we left our hotel at 4 a.m., taking no chances as we made the final, two-hour drive to Hopkinsville. There, we joined a long line of cars waiting to park on the town’s fairgrounds, and stepped out of the car at about 9 a.m. It was already extremely hot and humid. We walked around the fairgrounds — by now a sea of people, cars, trucks, tents, cameras and telescopes — looking for a perfect spot to witness the eclipse. As we walked, we kept a record of the license plates we saw (last count was 34 states) from California to Florida, Texas to Maine, and even Ontario and Quebec. Around us we heard at least a dozen different languages and dialects. Everyone was sharing their stories, talking of their trek to this dream spot for seeing the event of a lifetime.

While wearing eclipse glasses or using cardboard projectors, people in the crowd began to see the moon slowly slide into the side of the sun, blocking more and more of the sun’s full circle. I could hear the sounds of excitement and giggles coming from all directions. By 1:15 p.m., anticipation was at a fever pitch! In nine minutes, people would be able to remove their eclipse glasses to observe one of the most beautiful sights available on the planet — totality of a solar eclipse. It started (and ended) with the “Diamond Ring,” the last, blazing spot of sunlight shining out from behind the dark circle of the moon, which itself was silhouetted by light-yellow light. We all marveled at what looked like a giant engagement ring floating in the sky. And then, the diamond winked out, and the sun’s gossamer, silvery-white corona appeared, surrounding the solid black circle of the moon with a halo of indescribably beautiful, feathered light. The blackness of the moon’s disk, while blocking out the sun, was so utterly devoid of light, it appeared to be a hole in the sky, teasing those of us watching from Earth to explore the mysteries of the universe. The fairgrounds had become as dark as late evening and the noticeably cooler air was filled with a joyous

sound of thousands of people sharing in this unifying moment. Somehow, I managed to operate an iPad and scream, smile and laugh while trying to share with Jared what I was seeing. I have no idea what I said. And just like that, like the lighting of a candle, totality ended, and the sun re-established its dominance over the sky. By the books, our totality was 2 minutes and 40 seconds, one of the longest of this eclipse. To me, it seemed like 10 seconds, and I could have stared for hours in jaw-dropping fascination. There are so many nuances to this event and experience that will add to how I teach about eclipses in my Astronomy courses. Before, I was always able to show pictures and videos, but now I can explain what it is really like and hopefully inspire my students to look up with wonder, like I still do. But almost more than the astronomy, the thing I loved most was watching so many people from around the country and the world forget their differences and share in the excitement of experiencing something so rare and beautiful together. Something that has been happening for as long as the sun, Earth and moon have been here, and will keep happening for billions of years, hereafter. If we could just concentrate on the beautiful things happening around us each and every day, and share them with each other, maybe differences wouldn’t matter as much as they seem to. One thing is certain. It is easy to see how one becomes an eclipse chaser. We will definitely do our best to see the next one — in 2024! 25


booked the trip with a company that specializes in these expeditions. I love traveling with Roseanne and knew that even though this trip would be challenging, it would be the adventure of a lifetime.

ROSEANNE LIBERTI AND JOHN RISON HIKING HADRIAN’S WALL IN NORTHERN ENGLAND.

We flew from Philadelphia into Glasgow and took a train to Newcastle, where our hike began. Water packs, rain gear, maps and supplies in tow, we set off for our first day on the trail. We hiked out of the city and into the country, covering a staggering 19 miles on the first day. We arrived exhausted at a lovely little B&B on a farm where we were told to leave our dirty boots at the door and dinner would be ready in about an hour. We had a lovely meal and conversation, and went to bed with the sounds of the farm singing around us.  Roseanne: We set out each morning at 7:30 a.m. and walked until 5 p.m. — straight. We hardly ever stopped. Each morning started with an enormous English breakfast, a meal so big it took you through the day without even thinking about food. Instead, we focused on each day’s end point. The map and trail posts were easy enough to follow and only twice did we get lost, once completing a large circle and once upon terrifying roads not meant for pedestrians and open fields with angry bullocks. Those extra 13 miles were the times that challenged our partnership. It would have been all too easy to assign blame, but when lost in the middle of a foreign country, we found it was better to work together.

E N G LA N D LESSONS FROM OFF THE BEATEN PATH

of this journey with my husband John would stay a part of me forever. No souvenirs or tangibles were necessary.

Faculty members Roseanne Liberti and John Rison write about walking across the northern tier of England together, a trek that tested their endurance, taught them about the power of sharing stories and reminded them that kindness can be contagious.

Built by the Romans in 122 A.D., Hadrian’s Wall traverses England, marking the northern limits of the Roman Empire. The path starts in Newcastle on the North Sea, crosses the countryside, and ends in Bowness on Solway on the Irish Sea. I’d been thinking about walking Hadrian’s Wall since reading an article about it 10 years ago. Somehow, I felt drawn to the experience. It felt more like a calling than a holiday. But nothing prepared us for what we encountered and that, in and of itself, is a life lesson.

Roseanne: We left our boots at the end of the trail. After walking 97 miles over six days across northern England, we were exhausted. My boots had served me well in this trek from sea to sea, but they were filthy, worn and always damp. I bid those boots and the hike along Hadrian’s Wall farewell, knowing the memories

John: Roseanne had talked about this trip for years and though she does not like the term “bucket list,” this was at the top of hers. The more she talked about it, the more intrigued I became, and so sometime last December we committed to hiking Hadrian’s Wall in August. We trained, we read books, we bought supplies and we

By Roseanne Liberti, Middle School Science Teacher, and John Rison, Chief Technology Officer

There was a level of endurance that the trip demanded. I was fairly certain that I had broken my foot on the first day of the hike and made the huge mistake of thinking that it would be a good idea to walk across the country. I kept those thoughts to myself since the trip was my idea. We walked, one foot in front of the other, for eight or nine hours a day. John: Each day we stayed at a different B&B and saw different parts of England. As we wound our way into the countryside, we began to see more and more of the wall and by day three we were walking alongside the wall. We met lovely people on the hike and saw a wonderful performance of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” with an ancient abbey as the backdrop. Over dinner with other walkers, we would discuss politics, current events and history. Brexit and Trump would always come up. Roseanne: Each evening we would arrive at a lovely B&B, our bags already delivered. The innkeepers were always inviting, as were the other guests. They, too, were often “wall walkers;” we were like some rogue

group of part-time athletes. The questions were often the same: “What motivated you to do the walk?” “Did you think it would be this difficult?” There was always a curiosity. What is your story? And likewise, we asked that of the innkeepers — “What made you open your home to us ‘walkers?’” The authenticity to connect was charming, and produced a unique relation of spirit. John: The time that Roseanne and I spent walking together was often spent in fairly quiet contemplation, taking in the scenery and occasionally sharing thoughts with each other. There was a pleasant “both on the same page” quality to our journey that made it all the more enjoyable. Roseanne: I loved the emptiness of my mind as I walked. I just looked at the world, took in the smells, the beauty, its presence, and I celebrated it. Even when my feet ached, I thought, “I’m so lucky to have this experience.” Once I asked John, “What are you thinking about?” and he answered with a fairly lengthy list. I thought woefully, “Oh, I wasn’t thinking about anything.” I almost felt bad for not using my time well, but, in truth, I just loved the immense time to think about nothing and be fascinated by everything. John: I learned I can walk a long way and wake up and do it again. The muscle aches subside and the adventure ahead kept me motivated. I learned that there are more sheep than people in that part of the world, and there is a genuine kindness and civility in the way people engaged with us. They were always willing to help, and we always felt welcome. As always, I enjoyed watching Roseanne connect with people. She has a genuine interest in others — who they are, what they did, what brought them here, what their lives are like. This I know: A better traveling companion I will never find.   Roseanne: Britain quite simply exudes kindness. Eventually, what struck me was how catchy it was, and I thought that I, too, could be this kind. I could bring this kindness back to the States. I never did figure out why those we met were so kind, or why they cared so much to listen to our stories and offer their own, but I learned about the power of shared stories. I learned that I want to cultivate more kindness with others and within myself. I learned that I have a remarkable endurance. And I learned that the person, internally and externally, you travel through life with makes all the difference. c ov er stories c ont inue on page 3 1

26 oak leaves fall 2017

27


Erin Timmer

Middle School English Teacher I traveled with my family this summer to Iceland. We drove around what is called the Golden Circle, which is and of itself was wondrous in the sheer beauty of the landscape and geography. Everything we passed was more beautiful than what came before it. We noticed a collection of people standing around a field that appeared to be smoking, so we did what all humans do and joined the crowd. We stood in silence staring at a smoldering hole in the ground for several minutes. Then, without any warning, a huge geyser shot into the air and the crowd went wild. Then as quickly as it began, it was silent again for another five to six minutes. I was blown away by the predictability of this seemingly random event that has been happening, the exact same way and without human interference, for thousands or maybe even millions of years.

Rosanne Mistretta

Director, Center for Experiential Learning I did my second “walking holiday” on the Isle of Wight with a British walking group this summer. My first one was a few years ago in the Yorkshire Dales. I have loved the British concept of getting groups of people together to hike each day, followed by great food and evening activities at walking-holiday houses that are all over the U.K. We had British, American, Dutch, German and French folks in our group this summer, which made for some wonderful conversations. The Isle of Wight is a magical place to walk, with incredible seacoast hikes. Overall, it was a week of making new friends and feeling renewed and refreshed in a very special environment.

Amanda Milz

Lower School Art Teacher Summer usually finds me planning a big adventure far from home, learning something like how to say an expression in a new language or how to make my way around a new city. This summer despite being big on adventure, has been very close to home. After taking his sweet time, my son, William, came barreling into the world on June 11 at an impressive 9 pounds, 11 ounces. So this summer has been a summer of firsts — first breath, first outfit, first car ride, first bath, first smile. Instead of learning something exotic, I’ve been learning something delightfully ordinary, yet none the less miraculous. I have been learning slowly, joyfully, lovingly, how to be a mom.

Justin Solonynka

Middle School Math Teacher Collaborating musically with others has always been a great source of joy in my life, so this summer I decided to really embrace it. I enlisted the help of numerous friends and created a series of videos documenting our music-making, ultimately creating a #summerofmusic playlist. The pieces are diverse, including a penny whistle and ukulele waltz written with a friend in Cambridge, a spoken-word Black Lives Matter-themed collaboration with Kenan Sayers ‘18 and Noah Shufutinsky ‘17, a few live performances from my August show at Musikfest in Bethlehem, Pa., and some quieter solo piano pieces recorded at my home. I am astonished over and over again by the sheer delight of creating music.

Karolye Eldridge

Fourth Grade Teacher I spent a lot of my summer exploring other cultures, countries and friendships. I traveled to Madrid, Amsterdam, Martha’s Vineyard, Oregon, Washington state and Victoria Island in British Columbia, Canada. Amid all this travel, while sitting in airports or driving, I listened to “On Being” podcasts with Krista Tippett. The beauty and wonder that I was experiencing was enhanced tremendously by the conversations I listened to. The discussions centered on personal spirituality and the work of remaining fully present in life to each moment. This summer was a transformative experience as I engaged in finding my own sense of peace and understanding the now of staying present.

Megan Bellwoar Hollinger

Upper School Theatre Teacher My sense of wonder was on fire this past summer when I finally experienced seeing one of William Shakespeare’s plays in London’s Globe Theatre. This is an open air reconstruction of the theatre that Shakespeare wrote his plays to be performed in, and I watched “Twelfth Night” with seagulls and 747s soaring overhead, groundlings jostling for better views in the yard, actors engaging directly with audience members, and rich language mixing with disco jams. I was in heaven.

Around the World and Close to Home Summer Is a Time for Our Teachers to Learn, Refresh Their Thinking and Renew Their Sense of Wonder.


Around the World and Close to Home... continued

Raji Malik

Kindergarten Teacher

Susan Arteaga

First Grade Teacher My boys and I spent eight days this summer at Camp Hope for Kids Teen Camp. It is a rustic and down-to-earth Christian camp in Zieglersville, Pa., where I’ve worked as an aide in the Infirmary for the past few years. This camp honors every kid, and provides time for personal and spiritual growth and daily reflection. My sons, Joel and Drew, saw old friends and made new friends from around the world. I see this experience as a time to serve teens who are striving to be spiritual young leaders in their faith in God. As an adult volunteer, I was able to serve these teens in many ways, from taking care of minor injuries to clean cabin inspections. With over 500 campers, the camp offers me opportunities to make new friends and to catch up with lifelong friends. I was deeply inspired on a daily basis by their courage, passion and commitment to one another and to their personal growth. These young men and women are such a shining light and hope for the future. I call this week my spiritual revival, where there is an overflow of love and compassion for one another and peace that refreshes the soul.

I made nature art with children this summer at Indigo Nature Arts Camp in the Wissahickon. It was a glorious reminder of the deep joy and sense of accomplishment that children experience when creating. If we watch children closely as they play and work, we can begin to notice several areas of competency and sophistication of thought and action. Watch them like an anthropologist studying another culture and see what happens.

Bev Green

Wilf Center Writing Specialist This is my lake in Shohola, Pa., in the Poconos. In the summer, I “patrol” the lake near my house by swimming up and down the shoreline at least once a day. No matter how icy it is (this year 63 degrees) I have promised myself to get in each year before Memorial Day! I use these 40-minute swims to let my mind wander, to plan writing strategies for next school year, to think about journal entries, and if I get really bored, I play an alphabet game by going through the alphabet and naming a book whose title begins with each letter of the alphabet. I just wish I were as graceful and comfortable on land as I am in a 60-foot-deep lake!

Middle School Director Lower School Spanish Teacher I attended the 2017 NAIS Diversity Leadership Institute, which was held on the beautiful campus of Episcopal High School in Alexandria, Va. This professional-growth encounter connected a cohort of skilled leaders with independent school faculty and staffers who are working toward the common goal of a more inclusive and just institution. The workshops, lectures and guest speakers helped me expand my level of understanding diversity and inclusion and also build my resource file. But the most rewarding component was the opportunity to hear the unique and inspiring stories of educators from all over the country. Additionally, I had the chance to reconnect with two of my most influential mentors and great friends (and former AFS colleagues), Crissy Cáceres from Georgetown Day School and Leslie Tran at Marin County Day School. Overall, this was an exceptional and memorable experience for me.

c on ti nu ed from pag e 27

PITTSBURGH

Matt Eskin Alicia Fernández

‘It was the opportunity of a lifetime to be trained in this facility, which houses some amazing historic and cutting-edge robots.’

I’m an inveterate rock climber and I can tell you the perspective is simply different when you’re off the ground. As I climb higher, what I can and can’t see, and even how it looks changes dramatically. With young children and a busy work life (or at least that’s my excuse), rock climbing has taken a back seat. I had the chance to “rekindle” this passion of mine this summer, climbing at Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area in Nevada. And, through it, I’ve been reminded of how one’s vantage point constantly impacts one’s perspective, what we can and can’t see. More casually, it’s also a reminder that there are worthwhile pursuits that are rooted in the moment and in having fun, enjoying special features and the general beauty of our natural world. It’s simply astonishing to walk up to a tower of a rock formation and climb to the top!

A GLIMPSE INTO THE FUTURE, A DRIVERLESS CAR IN PITTSBURGH By Jillian Ma, Upper School Math Teacher I was a passenger on a shuttle bus heading toward another day of learning about robotics at a course in Pittsburgh when I got a glimpse into the not-toodistant future. A driverless Uber went cruising by, sharing the street with my shuttle bus filled with fellow teachers. I’ll never forget how the excited we all were as we cheered and snapped pictures of that robot on the road. This summer, I was thrilled to be able to attend the Carnegie Mellon Robotics Academy at the National Robotics Engineering Center. I signed up for this professional development training because I knew it would help prepare me to teach Robotics, an Upper School science elective, this fall. The Robotics course is a semester-long, project-driven course in which students — even those who are new to the field — develop their programming skills and learn to solve more complex tasks. During the weeklong course for teachers, I learned the intricacies of the EV3 programming language. After only a few days, I was creating programs that commanded a robot to move, turn, use its sensors to capture data, and use that data to make decisions. I learned how to troubleshoot common problems, and took part in brainstorming sessions with other teachers about the best ways to bring what we had learned back to our classrooms.

By attending the on-site training, I was also able to learn about the growth of the field of robotics and what challenges robotics engineers are currently facing. It was the opportunity of a lifetime to be trained in this facility, which houses some amazing historic and cutting-edge robots. The technology surrounding us every day required such security that we were not even permitted to take our own photographs! Our instructors were engineers at the Robotics Academy. In addition to training teachers, they design curricula and teaching methodologies to continually improve how Robotics can be taught. They were excellent teaching models for me. In working with another teacher, I saw first-hand the value of working with a partner. I learned so much more by having to explain my thinking to my teammate. The excitement among the teachers in our training cohort was unforgettable and I’ve brought that back to AFS with me. I’ve also made sure my students are working in pairs whenever possible. The elective I’m teaching this fall allows students with little or no experience in programming to creatively solve complex problems. The programming language they’re learning, EV3, lowers the technological bar, making computer science accessible to more students. The robots my students have built with LEGO Mindstorms kits are commanded by real, abstract programming concepts. After going through my own training as a teacher, I know how much fun this subject can be. Currently, I’m experiencing the exhilaration of trying to craft exciting challenges fast enough to keep up with my quick students! n 31


COMMENCEMENT 2017 Sixty-six seniors graduated from Abington Friends School in a festive ceremony held in The Grove at the Meeting House on June 9. Members of the Class of 2017 received their diplomas and joined a line of AFS alumni stretching back 320 years. The Commencement ceremony, held on a picture-perfect afternoon, was laden with traditions, such as the Daisy Chain, and lifted up by the students’ own happiness at having achieved this milestone. Hundreds of parents, other family members and faculty joined in the celebration. Head of School Rich Nourie and Margaret Sayers, Clerk of the School Committee, led the procession into The Grove, addressed the graduates and joined in handing out the diplomas at the ceremony’s end. The keynote speaker was Dr. Erik Talvitie, a member of the AFS Class of 2000, who received a doctorate from the University of Michigan and is an associate professor of computer science at Franklin & Marshall College. He told the graduates that as he thought about what an AFS graduate brings to the world, he kept returning to the Quaker central principle of “Inner Light” — that every person has the presence of the Divine within them. He noted that this principle is “baked into the very walls of the institution.” “Your teachers see your light. They don’t just teach, they teach you. They know that you have something to contribute that no one else can. They know that they are just as lucky to spend time with you as you are to spend time with them. You are the recipients of a remarkable — and unfortunately rare — gift: You have spent most of your waking hours being told in a million ways, large and small, that you matter, you are important.”

To see a video of the commencement ceremony go to http://bit.ly/2ykoomL

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“AFS is full of amazing, hard-working people who care unconditionally for their students and the school in its entirety. From the day I began attending AFS as a freshman until now, the end of my senior year, I have only seen love and appreciation.” — Nicole Morris ’17 33


COMMENCEMENT 2017

C L A S S O F 2017 REFLECTIONS

When you get to college, what are you going to tell a classmate about your experience at AFS? I’ll tell them it gave me a good education and had a very supportive community. — Annika Gartner It was a very personalized place where every teacher wants you to succeed and will help you if you need it; sometimes even if you don’t ask for it. — Evan Steinberg

“AFS is where learning ‘how’ is valued much more than learning ‘what.’ It’s where students are taught how to be independent, free-thinking adults, inside and outside of a classroom environment.” — Will Durbin ’17 34 oak leaves fall 2017

I’m so fortunate to have gone to a school that is so trusting and caring. — Grant Gilfor AFS was a place where I grew, took risks, and had awesome opportunities. — Desmond Daniels I would tell them that I’m much more aware about issues around diversity and inclusion. — Corbin Outten

What advice would you give to the Class of 2018? As seniors, you have the power to influence and inspire those looking up to you. Use that power for good and use it with compassion. — Cierra Jenkins Be consistent. Stay focused. Never slack, and finish strong. AFS is a great place where they allow you to be you and grow, so just be you. Be a mentor for others and spread kindness. — Jade Young Work hard. Less complaining. — Sifan Wei Take in every moment you have at AFS. Even in the worst moments, take it all in. The time at this special place goes by way too fast. — Carly Shanken Senior year was very rewarding, but also very challenging. There will be ups and downs, but in the end, it will all be worth it. Just think graduation. — Alexandra Slagter

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A LUM N I D AY 2 0 1 7

FROM THE ARCHIVES

On May 6, alumni returned to Abington Friends to reunite and reminisce with friends from their school days. The day began with an outdoor tour of campus featuring a visit to the new Headwaters Discovery Playground and an inside look at the School’s buildings. Then everyone headed down the path to the Meeting House, where familiar wooden benches beckoned alums to settle once again into quiet reflection. An evening reception and a chance for more conversations and connections followed in the Abington Art Center, where all graduates were welcomed, and milestone reunions (classes ending in 2s and 7s) were celebrated.

Above, members of the Safety Patrol gather for a photo on the steps of the Triangle porch in 1956. Below, those are K-4 students covered in smocks and standing at their art easels in 1957.

36 oak leaves fall 2017

37


CLASS NOTES 1954

Wash. The Bitterroot Wilderness, following the Lochsa River, was beautiful, but as we got further into Idaho, finding shade from the fierce sun was a challenge. We quit early at Walla Walla to avoid more high temperatures, strong headwinds and busy narrow roads. The fact that Walla Walla is a wine drinker’s paradise helped us make a rational decision.”

DIANE SHAFFER CASTOR writes, “I celebrated my 80th birthday in February. Bruce and I attended our grandson’s graduation from Duquesne University in June. He will be practicing as an Assistant District Attorney in the Pittsburgh office. I continue to enjoy gardening and playing competitive bridge. Life is Good.”

1957

SUSAN RUDIN writes, “The past year, since my darling husband Jack died, has been the closing of old doors and the opening of new ones. I moved into a new apartment, which has taken me from the West Side of Manhattan to the East Side. For those who know NYC, that is like moving across the country. It is a lifestyle change. I have been traveling a lot to visit my two daughters and five grandchildren. In April, I took a trip to Japan with my 23-year-old grandson. It was an amazing experience for both of us. Besides all the interesting sights and cultural experiences, I saw the world through his eyes and generation and he saw the world through mine. I look forward to continuing seeing the world with my other four grandchildren and pursuing the many interests I had put on hold over the years because of one thing or another. I have learned that life is constantly changing and if you can’t adjust and continue learning, you are going to get old!” LIZ COLE writes, “We had the total eclipse of the sun here in southwest South Carolina on a perfect day. There is always something to anticipate and enjoy!”

1975 1967

s SUSAN BURICH REDDING (left) and CONNI ANDERSON HUNTLEY, in El Cajon, Calif., in August 2017.

1969

ROBIN BECKER wries “After 23 years of teaching at Penn State University (and 18 years at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology), I’ve retired from university teaching to concentrate on my writing, classical and klezmer violin study, travel and friends. My new book of poems, “The Black Bear Inside Me,” will be published in spring of 2018 by the University of Pittsburgh Press.“

1963

JUDITH FUSS writes, “By the time this ‘Oak Leaves’ is published, seven members of the Class of ’63 will have enjoyed our Asheville Adventure. Thanks to the organizational efforts of Betsy Mayers, Alice Atkinson Christie, Anne Ebert, Linda Friedrich Fogel, Judy Chestnut Fuss, Mary Lou Hay Gallucci and El McFarland explored all that Asheville has to offer from October 16-18, 2017. We weren’t able to completely take over the charming Dry Ridge Inn, but we did fill six of the eight rooms. Pictures and perhaps a few stories will follow for the next issue of ‘Oak Leaves.’”

38 oak leaves fall 2017

of a visible impact locally than on the politics inside the Beltway. I recently reprised the role of thespian that I had in high school and at Bryn Mawr. I performed two monologues in ‘The Vagina Monologues’ and sang and danced in a community-theater production, ‘A Tribute to Broadway.’ I am a member of the Beaufort French Club and travel to France as often as possible to maintain my fluency in French and savor the food and wine. I am also a past president of the Beaufort Photography Club, where my images have won many ribbons in competitions. I would write more but I need to go now. I have memorized almost all the lyrics in ‘Hamilton’ and am off to complete that project!”

s BART (NANCY BARTO) HEMERICH writes, “My husband and I just biked the 400-mile section of the Lewis and Clark route from Lolo, Mont., to Walla Walla,

s REBECCA BASS writes, “I have closed the chapter of my life in which I served as an international corporate executive and attorney. My husband and I just celebrated our 40th anniversary. We built our dream house on deep water in Beaufort, S.C., and enjoy taking day trips on our boat, which is aptly named ‘Muttley Crew.’ We delight in taking our two Doberman Pinschers on therapy-dog visits to local military bases, schools and assisted-living homes. Two of our dogs were recently featured in the summer blockbuster movie ‘Baywatch,’ where they were photographed flanking the very buff Zac Efron. I have been training dogs for almost 40 years and recently spent seven months providing training to male inmates and their foster dogs at the Allendale State Prison. The men earn the privilege of having a dog reside with them, and they train the dogs in basic obedience so they will be adopted into families. The best day was when one of my friends adopted one of the dogs I trained there. I am broker-in-charge of my own real-estate firm, “SeaBass Properties” (pun intended!) and enjoy working with clients to buy or sell property in our Lowcountry paradise. Further, I am the cofounder of Citizens Advocating Responsible Education, a community-activist organization that insists on transparency and integrity from our local school board and superintendent. Our efforts are aimed at improving education for local students and fiscal responsibility with taxpayers’ funds. I believe that I can have more

JEFF WILDRICK writes that he retired on July 1 after completing 35 years of pastoral ministry. He and his wife, Kathleen, plan to begin long-term travel this November in a 37-foot-long motorhome (along with their three dogs and one cat). You are invited to follow their adventures via their blog and YouTube channel at www.milesandsmiles.us.

1984

SANDY WEBER MAGEE was recently promoted to Senior Vice President with JLL. She lives in Roswell, Ga., with her partner of more than 11 years, Dianne Patterson. Sandy’s daughter, Jessica, turned 25 in October and lives in Kennesaw, Ga.

1988

DAVID LEESER writes that he is starting a new job as Professor and Chief of Transplant Surgery and Immunology at East Carolina University, Brody School of Medicine, Greenville, N.C. MICHAEL MORRIS writes, “Janine and I celebrated our 10th anniversary this July. Ethan is 9 and excited to start fourth grade. Owen is 4, going on 14, and hates having to wait two more years to be a Cub Scout! I’m looking forward to my third year as Cubmaster for my son Ethan’s pack in Cherry Hill (4th year as a Scout Leader) this fall. In April and May, I completed an advanced BSA leadership course called ‘Wood Badge,’ which involved six days of camping, team building and classes plus a group project with other members of my patrol. In June, I started ‘working my ticket’ — a five-part

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CLASS NOTES

A LUM N I S P O T L I G H T S

NANCY KOENIGSBERG ’45

project designed to strengthen my pack and the other leaders who work with me. I have until November of 2018 to complete these goals, so I will be fairly busy for a while! I’m also starting to noodle around again with a screenplay idea I’ve been thinking about writing off and on for the past decade and a half. I know I will need a strong writing partner who is good with dialogue if I ever want to really make a go of it. Feel free to contact me if you might be interested.”

Graduate School of Humanities at Nagoya University in Japan, where I teach East Asian history (mostly to international students). My first book, ‘Ennobling Japan’s Savage Northeast: Tōhoku as Japanese Postwar Thought, 1945–2011’ will be available in November from Harvard University Press. Among other things, I am working on a second book project, examining the history of school feeding in Japan in a global context, 1920(ish)present. If you’re ever in Japan (or want to study in Japan), Google knows where to find me.”

City: New York, N.Y. Current Job: Studio artist

1. Please tell us about one accomplishment that makes you especially proud. In 1977, along with five classmates from fiber art classes at the New School, I started an informal textile study group for the exchange of ideas and examination of our current work. Others asked to join and now 40 years later, we are an incorporated non-profit group with about 200 members. For the first 20 or more years, I served as president. We evolved from the first five who talked about our work to an organization which meets monthly from September through June with a scheduled speaker in the field of textiles; puts on juried exhibitions in museums and galleries, some of which have traveled to many states and recently internationally. We award a scholarship to a graduate student in the field of fiber arts. Speakers form an international roster of artists in all textile techniques as well as scholars in various areas of textile history. The Textile Study Group of New York consists mostly of members from New York and adjoining states. Membership includes artists from almost every textile discipline as well as historians, critics and enthusiasts. I am happy and proud to say that we are now recognized across the country.  On a personal level, I would also say that raising a daughter to be an independent woman with a wonderful family and a distinguished career creating conferences in art and culture has made me very proud, and helping to raise a granddaughter who is a caring, creative and smart woman in her own right is also a point of pride.

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2. Tell us one thing you learned at AFS that you have carried with you throughout your life. Tolerance. The lessons learned and the examples set at AFS made me aware of the problems and foibles of others and the need to live with it, and help if I can. 3. What would you tell current students about how you have continued to be a lifelong learner? As an artist I have always wanted to learn more about my field — new techniques and its history. I read a lot about my field and arts in general, join with study and exhibition groups, go to conferences, organize lectures and travel. When I want to learn something new, I try to take a class. Through this, I have made many new friends and professional connections. I am a curious person and love to read. Even in a mystery novel you can learn something. I also have friends with other interests and learn from them.   4. When you think of AFS what makes you smile?    Almost everything. Those were two wonderful years for me. The support from classmates and faculty was so different from my former school. When someone mentions field hockey, I think about running to the basement to get my long-buried hockey stick out of a trunk. The senior play “The Importance of Being Earnest” was such fun that I took my husband to see it when it played in NYC early in our marriage.

s Michael’s group, Eagle Patrol, is shown with its patrol flag on the last day of the course at Roosevelt Scout Camp.

1989

NIKKI TOIZER writes, “I just finished writing a book, ‘Digital Photography Basics,’ to help people who are using more advanced cameras get off all the automatic settings. It’s filled with my own photographs, from recognizable local sites to places farther away, like Florida, Colorado and Hawaii. I have been teaching a digital SLR camera class through Mt. Airy Learning Tree for several years. When I saw my students scribble down notes throughout class, I thought an illustrated companion book would be very helpful. But you don’t have to be one of my students to find value here! The book covers exposure, focus, shutter speed, aperture, composition and extras like tripods and filters. It is available directly from me as well as Amazon and Barnes & Noble. (You’ll have to order it online as I don’t think they are stocking it in the stores.) I am currently working on my website, www.Toizer.com, to include a variety of my images and camera tips/tricks.”

1994

NATHAN HOPSON writes, “I was recently tenured in the

1997

s JARED GARTH SOLOMON and Tiffani Lynne McDonough were married on August 26 in Rutherford, Calif. The couple met at Villanova University, from which the bride graduated and from which both received law degrees. Tiffani, 36, is the director and senior counsel for employment and litigation for Louis Vuitton in New York. She also serves as the senior employment counsel in New York for Berluti. Jared, 38, who works in Philadelphia, is a Democratic member of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives for the 202nd District. He is of counsel at Spector Gadon & Rosen in Philadelphia and serves as a captain in the Army Reserves. He graduated cum laude from Swarthmore College. 41


CLASS NOTES

A LUM N I S P O T L I G H T S JENNA ARNOLD ’99 City: New York, N.Y. Current Job: Co-Founder, ORGANIZE; Director of Strategic Engagement, Women’s March

1998

s SHALIMAR REDDY AND JILL KAPLAN report that plans for the 20th reunion of the Class of 1998 are underway! They wrote, “Our hope is to coordinate this event around AFS Alumni Weekend in the spring. Exact date, time and location details will be shared as soon as they are finalized. Please help us update our contact list by sending your current e-mail address to afs98reunion @gmail.com and keep checking our class Facebook page for more information throughout the year. See you in the spring!”

2000

s CHERINE MORSI writes, “On April 23, I married my best friend, Chuck Matthews. We got really lucky and the weather cleared for our special day. Everything went exactly as we had planned. To add to the changes, I recently accepted a long-term substitute teaching position for first grade at Girard College School. Since graduating with a master’s degree in Education in 2012, I have been looking for a full-time, lead position. I’m hoping that by being a lead teacher it will open up other opportunities for me to continue as a lead teacher either at Girard or another independent school in the area.”

42 oak leaves spring 2017

2002

s BECCA BUBB writes that she and her husband, Mike ’03, welcomed their second child, Eliana or “Ellie,” to the family in June. Big sister Cora is excited about her new role and also excited about beginning at AFS this fall in the Early Childhood program.

2004

s MALIA GILBERT NEAL writes that a son, Leo Jonathan Neal, was born on August 12.

2005

MARTIN SINEL writes, “After several years of living in Austin, Texas, I am excited to be back in Philadelphia where I will be teaching in the City Planning and Community Development program at Temple University, beginning this fall.”

1. Please tell us about one accomplishment that makes you especially proud. AFS instilled in me a commitment to service, which is what I’ve built my career around. It has taken me deep into some of the poorest communities in the world and to the podiums of the White House; however, this year has been the most challenging year to date. I was deeply disturbed by the results of the 2016 Presidential Election, and after spending the past decade focused on social improvements, I was demoralized at the thought of having to roll up my sleeves even further to protect what I believe to be basic human rights.   Along with my stellar team at ORGANIZE, an organization I co-founded in an effort to solve the organ-donation crisis, we were able to quickly rebuild our policy strategy to continue to make progress in an Administration with which we had no relationships. HBO’s “Last Week Tonight with John Oliver” featured our products as the call-to-action to end the waitlist for kidney transplants, and outlets like “The New York Times” and Oprah have lauded our work as some of the more significant efforts in social change in the past year.  Additionally, after the election I quickly joined the leadership team that organized the Women’s March on January 21, which evolved into the largest protest in human history. I am humbled to have watched the efforts grow into a global movement. Lastly, I’m proud of my 2-year-old daughter, Ever Alula, for her recent accomplishment — learning to braid — and I’m deeply grateful to my 3-month-old son, Atlas Oz, for his newly discovered talent of sleeping through the night.  

2. Tell us one thing you learned at AFS that you have carried with you throughout your life. That everyone has a gift that meets someone’s need, and it is our individual responsibility to bring that to fruition. I continue to come across people who are “not sure what they can do” to give back. I don’t believe everyone has to run for office, knock on doors or be a vegan (though… the former are all helpful), but everyone could identify what they have to offer someone else in their world to make them feel more dignified. We all have an invisible currency that can be channeled into groundbreaking activism, that of making another feel seen and heard. The gift is simple but powerful. 3. When you think of AFS, what makes you smile? I remember when older alums would visit the school pleading for students to appreciate MFW. Admittedly, I always rolled my eyes at their pleas to “pay attention!” because, naturally, at the wise age of 16, I already knew everything…at least I knew enough to know that MFW was not that big of a deal. Having recently visited MFW and witnessed the students not as “centered” as I’d wish for them to be, all I wanted to do was stand up and proclaim what I’ve now come to learn: What a gift weekly collective silence is. The irony of the message I wanted to send coming full circle made me laugh. It’s clearly a rite of passage, to go from knowing everything about the world to realizing you know absolutely nothing. In that sense, AFS is still teaching me to be humble, and it was a gentle indicator that...I’m now old.  

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CLASS NOTES

A LUM N I S P O T L I G H T S

2007

LIZ KAHN writes “Jeff ’06 and I have recently moved to NYC! Jeff’s working at Gartner as a Data Scientist and I’m teaching Engineering at BASIS Independent Manhattan. We’ve got a great space in Harlem where our Akita, Oki, reigns. Happy to host couch visitors or grab a bite when Roos are in town.”

NAME: SHANE BERNARD ’10    City: Los Angeles

Current job: Business Development Manager at Blavity, a venture-backed technology and media company aimed at building products and experiences for Black millennials.

1. Please tell us about one accomplishment that makes you especially proud: Blavity hosts a yearly tech conference called Afrotech, which is now the largest Black tech conference in the country. I feel very proud to be a part of an event that brings together the best and brightest innovators in my community, while connecting students with employers and startup founders with venture capitalists. On JayZ’s latest album, 4:44, he referred to Afrotech on his closing track “Legacy,” with this, “We gon’ start a society within society / That’s major, just like the Negro League / There was a time America wouldn’t let us ball / Those times are now back, just now called Afrotech.” It was a super validating moment for my team and introduced our brand to a wider audience. Blavity, which was founded in July 2014, has quickly grown to become one of the fastest-growing digital media outlets on the web, reaching more than seven million millennials a month. My role at Blavity includes driving sales revenue and creating strong business relationships with top brands, including Comcast, Warner Bros., Universal Pictures, Amazon and Snapchat.    2. Tell us one thing you learned at AFS that you have carried with you throughout your life. AFS taught me to respect the values of others while remaining steadfast in my own beliefs. During my time at AFS, there was this myth that AFS was a bubble that shielded students from the “real world.” I have learned 44 oak leaves fall 2017

2014 that the world shifts according to the way people see it. If you change the way people view the world, you can transform it. The values of simplicity, peace, integrity, community, equality and stewardship might seem like “pie in the sky,” utopian ideals. However, they can be powerful tools for social change when applied with real seriousness from an institutional level.    3. What would you tell current students about how  you have continued to be a lifelong learner? I’ve always believed that the world is something to be explored and excavated. Philadelphia will always be “home” in my mind, but I never intended to stay there my entire life. When I was a senior at AFS, I applied to 15 different schools across the country (Sorry for the application fees Mom and Dad) because I knew I needed to explore to learn. Once Blavity offered me a full-time position in Los Angeles, it took me all of two weeks to pack my belongings and travel across the country. Living among different communities and different cultures has been the greatest learning experience for me thus far and it’s something I plan to continue in future.     4. When you think of AFS, what makes you smile? I definitely smile at how uncomplicated life was back then. Some of my best memories at AFS include Pretzel Day and then piling into the Farmhouse with my friends during break.   

s MINI RACKER writes, “This summer, I interned in the D.C. office of Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.). I worked closely with her brilliant speechwriter, who let me draft the Senator’s remarks at the Lake Tahoe Summit. The Senator herself was incredible, beaming and saying, ‘Hi, guys!’ whenever she passed us. When we had lunch with her, she asked each of us about our work. When she got to me, she joked, ‘So, what’s my next speech about?’ The whole experience taught me a lot, including what it takes to be a speechwriter, how to craft engaging rhetoric and that Senator Harris is just as cool in real life as she seems on TV.”

2012

s ALEC PEABODY writes, “I got married in June and we are currently residing in Virginia.”

2013

ALEX BOWMAN writes, “I just accepted my first job with St. Christopher’s Children Hospital to help me transition into med school! I am super excited about the next chapter in my life and I can’t wait to get started. I hope everyone from the class of 2013 is doing well and I can’t wait to see you at Homecoming in the fall!”

JESS WILLIAMS writes, “Recently I’ve been pursuing my passion for music photography. I became an editor at a national publication and in June I was at Firefly Music Festival, where I worked closely with several bands, including twenty one pilots, Phantogram and Judah & the Lion. I was recently hired as a freelance photographer for Virgin Mobile and in July I attended the inaugural Formula-E Grand Prix in New York City. I photographed everything from race cars to Richard Branson for Virgin — and we took home the win for both races!”

2015

BRITTANY “REECI” BOTTS writes, “I started my Ph.D. in African Diaspora Studies at The University of California, Berkeley, this fall! Getting a doctorate was always a dream of mine, but I never thought I was smart enough. While I had many teachers at AFS who believed in me and encouraged my academic growth, I still felt hesitant to call myself a scholar because I am a Black girl. I grew

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CLASS NOTES up in a society that told me that girls who looked like me were not smart. It took years of confidence building to get me here. After graduating from Spelman College in 2015 with my B.A. in Sociology and Anthropology, I went on to obtain my M.A. in African American Studies with a concentration in Anthropology from The University of California, Los Angeles in 2017. Being surrounded by intelligent, goal-driven Black women at my Historically Black College (HBCU) shifted my perception of what smart looked like and made me believe that I had a place in the academy. Two years ago, I founded The Selfology Movement, which is an organization designed to support Black women and girls on their journey to

self love and healing through five layers of exploration (body, mind, soul, ancestry and spirituality). My true passion is studying Black women’s healing spaces, which is the focus of my dissertation work for the doctoral program. I feel forever grateful for the impact AFS made on my life. I work daily to bring the light into the world that AFS sparked in me.”

2016

BENJAMIN FORMAN became a licensed realtor this summer in Massachusetts. He works part-time for a real-estate agency while attending Clark University.

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

com. Presently, in Florida, I participate in two invitational critique groups — one weekly and the other bi-monthly — and am also a Boynton Beach Camera Club member. In Pennsylvania, I belong to the Cheltenham Camera Club and a photography study/critique group. I am always ‘looking’ for that next great capture.”

From left, Eric Pierson, Brian Henske and David Bopp on Algonquin Mountain, the second-highest peak in New York.

s JIM PIERSON I had a chance to climb some high peaks in the Adirondacks with three alumni. LYNNE MASS writes, “Since retiring in 2006, I have been enjoying the challenge of being a fine art photographer. I have exhibited in many juried shows in galleries and museums in both Pennsylvania and Florida, have had my work published in ‘Black and White Magazine,’ have been a featured photographer at the Abington Hospital Art Show, and have been invited to be a local camera club competition judge. My photography appears in many private collections in the U.S. and Canada. My photos appear online at: lynnemassphotography.smugmug. 46 oak leaves fall 2017

ELIZABETH UNDERWOOD MOSLEY writes, “I still live at home in Jenkintown, with my daughter and son-in-law using our upstairs as their family apartment when they are here. (He has a job close by, but commutes home to Syracuse, N.Y.) My son lives just a couple of blocks away and my other daughter lives not too far away in New Jersey. So I see much of my children, grandchildren (now 14) and great-grandchildren (now 12) when they can come. Some live permanently in France, some in Texas and some nearby. So, at 94, I am indeed lucky. I still drive at bit during the day and nearby, and spend much time working with and enjoying good f(F)riends at our Quaker Meeting. It is a good life with so much happening and generally good health to enjoy it. My husband of 70 years died a year and a half ago and, of course, I miss him so much. It seems a long time back to Wellesley and the days of missing him during the war. (As a prisoner, he came away with multiple health problems, which he managed with help and love.) So life remains good. I’m called “Liz” now, no longer Betty or Undie.”

THE MEETING HOUSE Benjamin Lay, a ‘Friend of the Truth’ By Lillian Swanson Like a traveler who has come home from a farflung adventure, historian Marcus Rediker was warmly embraced when he returned to the Abington Meeting House to tell what he had learned from his deep study of the life and struggle of Benjamin Lay. Lay, a former member of the Meeting and the subject of Rediker’s latest book, was an early and important voice in the wilderness against slavery. Though he is largely unknown today, he may finally be receiving his rightful place in history.

supposedly going to produce an anti-slavery movement,” Rediker said. Lay’s means of persuasion with fellow Quakers were both unusual and confrontational. For example, he once stood out front of a Meeting House, very possibly the building where Rediker was speaking, and stuck his uncovered left leg into a snow bank. As Quakers arrived for Meeting, person after person offered sympathy and warned Lay he would get sick. “Ah, you express compassion for me,” Rediker said Lay responded, “but you have no compassion for your slaves who go half clad in this very cold winter.”

An audience of about 90 s Oil painting of Benjamin Lay people packed the wooden benches and listened carefully to Rediker’s presentation The story of this remarkable man began in England, and then peppered him with questions long into the where Lay was born in 1682, a third-generation Quaker. October night. It seemed as though they could not hear In 1718, he married Sarah Smith, and the couple moved to enough about the Quaker revolutionary who spoke out Barbados, where they opened a shop on the waterfront. relentlessly and with such clarity against the evils It was there that Lay saw first-hand the horrors of slavery of slavery. and became an abolitionist. Rediker, a University of Pittsburgh professor, has recently In 1732, the couple moved to Philadelphia, and two published an accessible biography titled “The Fearless years later to Abington. Lay, who stood only four feet Benjamin Lay: The Quaker Dwarf Who Became The First tall, lived an unusual lifestyle. He was a vegetarian, The First Revolutionary Abolitionist.” Abington Monthly walked everywhere he went, made his own clothes and Meeting members had helped the author with his eschewed anything made with slave labor. He made his research, and he had presented interim findings at the home in a cave, where he had a library of 200 volumes. Meeting House once before. This night, he told the crowd, he had come to tell “a truly epic story” about an ordinary working man and devout Quaker who condemned slavery, at a time — almost 300 years ago — when it was an almost universally accepted institution. “He doggedly and eloquently denounced slavery and called for its immediate abolition at a time when very few other people were doing that. He became an abolitionist in 1718. That’s a good two and a half generations before the enlightenment was

At the time of the couple’s arrival in Philadelphia, slavery was a significant part of the economy in Philadelphia and Pennsylvania. More than half of the members of the Philadelphia Monthly Meeting owned slaves, Rediker said, and wealthy Quakers owned many slaves. Lay was outspoken and relentless in his opposition, calling out Weighty Quakers who stood to speak during Meeting, saying, “That is a Negro master.” “Benjamin Lay had the courage to attack those wealthy Quakers repeatedly,” the historian said. “He suffered 47


IN MEMORIAM their wrath, he suffered extreme persecution, he suffered repression, but he never backed down.” And over the course of his lifetime, he played a big role in persuading Quakers that slavery had to be abolished, Rediker said. As a result, Rediker added, “Quakers became the first group in modern history to outlaw slavery within their own ranks. That is a great achievement and all Quakers, in fact all people, ought to be proud of it.” The historian said he admired Lay tremendously as a man “who just had this incredible clarity about the immorality of slavery,” though Rediker acknowledged that Lay was “tremendously confrontational” and “a difficult person in every community he was a part of.”

“Smithsonian” magazine, published an article by Rediker based on the book and titled “The ‘Quaker Comet’ Was The Greatest Abolitionist You’ve Never Heard Of,” and the historian has joined a playwright in writing a play centered on Lay’s life. “In my view, he is a visionary,” Rediker said. “He imagined a very different kind of world. We need to honor that.” Closer to home, Abington Monthly Meeting has plans of its own to honor Benjamin and Sarah Lay, who are buried in unmarked graves in the Meeting’s graveyard.

Loretta Fox, Meeting administrator, proposed this summer that a marker be placed in the graveyard near where the couple is thought to be buried. Meeting Member s Top: Historian Marcus Rediker Rosemary Bothwell came The Abington Monthly Bottom: The Graveyard forward and offered to pay Meeting disowned Lay in for the gravestone, which has been ordered and will 1738, but he continued to worship at the Meeting House, be installed. and was much loved by the congregation, Rediker said. The Meeting’s records from that period repeatedly In addition, the Meeting on November 12 approved a included the phrase “love and unity is maintained minute into its record recognizing Lay’s “dedication to among us.” equality, and his willingness to speak his message of Truth So, why is Lay’s courageous stand largely unknown to the to a society that was in denial about the evils of slavery.” American public? The minutes goes on to say that Lay was written out of Meeting membership because of his disruptive actions. Rediker said that Quakers in Lay’s own day did everything “It is now known that at least two of the Friends who led they could to marginalize him. Historians also played a the discernment about writing Lay out of membership role, having little to say about the role he played, and in were slave owners and were likely targeted by Lay’s fact one described Lay as “a demented little hunchback.” anti-slavery activism. But with publication of Rediker’s biography, there is “We now recognize the truth behind Benjamin Lay’s evidence that Lay’s place in history is being reassessed. abolitionist efforts. Although we many not reinstate The author said six filmmakers contacted him about membership for someone who is deceased, we recognize the book after an Op-Ed that he wrote for “The New Benjamin Lay as a Friend of the Truth and as being in unity with the spirit of our Abington Monthly Meeting.” York Times” was published in August. In September, 48 oak leaves fall 2017

VIRGINIA ‘GINNY’ W. HOCHELLA ’57 Virginia W. Hochella, 77, of Stow, Mass., and formerly of Medway, Mass., and originally from Philadelphia, passed away on March 1, 2017. She is survived by a brother, Thomas Wriggins III; a daughter, Mary Hochella Sturtevant; a son, Micheal N. J. Hochella, and grandchildren Harper, Harmon, Hazel, Elijah and Bronson. Ginny was an avid reader who devoted her life to fostering a love of reading in others and she served as a librarian for the Medway Public School system for many years. She loved horticulture and gardening, nature and the performing arts. She was a member of the Medway Historical Society and served on the Medway Open Spaces Committee. After graduation from Abington Friends School, she graduated from Colby College in Maine. Later, she received a master’s degree in Biology from the University of Maine at Orono. She pursued a passion for science and higher learning throughout her life. She was a devoted wife, mother and grandmother who adored her family. Fellow AFS classmate Liz Cole wrote that her best memory of Ginny was the time the two of them drove together to a fabric store in Philadelphia, where Ginny picked out the plaid cloth that would be used on the cover of the yearbook. Liz wrote that Ginny, always a cheerful and energized person, was one of five classmates who began at AFS together in 4-year-old kindergarten and graduated together. STEVE MILLER ’79 Steve Miller died suddenly on May 23, 2017. After graduation from AFS, he graduated from Temple University with a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration. He was entrepreneurial during his 20s and 30s, starting businesses that included an auto aftermarket installation company and a doggie daycare center. For years, he was a trusted dog walker for several families. In his 50s, he made a decision to share the learning from his own life challenges with others who had similar suffering and was employed as a Peer Counselor at Eagleville Hospital, where he was beloved by clients, colleagues and supervisors. It was there that Steve found his calling and did his greatest work — helping others. Steve always looked upon his years at AFS (from seventh through 12th grades) with fond memories of his many close friendships with students and teachers. His family and friends will miss his great sense of humor, passion for cars, kindness to animals and love of dogs. Steve is survived by a son, Jeremy; his mother, Myrna; a sister, Heidi (Miller) Garnick ’82, and his beloved dog, a Besenji named Bashi. ANDRA B. JURIST P’94, P’98 Andra B. Jurist, 68, of Chattanooga, Tenn., wife of former AFS Head of School Bruce Stewart, and mother of Marney

Jurist-Rosner ’94 and Lindsay Jurist-Rosner ’98, passed away on Sept. 23, 2017. She is survived by her husband and daughters, her stepdaughter, Kathleen Hunt; her father, Sumner Jurist and her brother, Elliot Jurist. Andra graduated from Skidmore College and received a master’s degree in Fine Arts from the University of Pennsylvania. Committed to education, Andra taught student teachers for Penn State University, served as Head of School at the former Oak Lane Day School near Ambler, Pa., and chaired the board of Girls, Inc., Chattanooga. The Bruce Stewart and Andra B. Jurist Middle School at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., bears her name, honoring her service there. As a fine artist and educator, Andra believed in the power of public service and was dedicated to fostering democratic ideals, empowerment of women and social justice. Andra’s intelligence, humor and commitment to a better world will be sorely missed. A memorial service was held on October 28 at Sidwell Friends School. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to A Step Ahead Chattanooga.—Adapted from “The New York Times.”

AARON S. PODIETZ ’11 Aaron S. Podietz, 24, of Dresher Pa., passed away on October 20, 2017. He is survived by his parents, Eric and Linda Podietz, and a sister, Emma Podietz. He was the grandson of David Podietz (Eva Abraham Podietz) and the late Lenore Podietz, Isadore Dion and Doris Dion. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that contributions in his memory may be made to Doctors Without Borders. CAROL LECKEY, AFSA Carol Leckey, 71, of Horsham, Pa., who taught second grade at Abington Friends School for many years, passed away on August 5, 2017. She also served as a reading and a math specialist and pursued her teaching career as a professor at the University of Pennsylvania after she retired from AFS. Carol is survived by a son, Jonathan, daughters Anna and Christina ’11, and grandchildren Leah and Mark. Carol loved the AFS community and took great pride in supporting AFS athletics, especially during the years when the girls’ varsity softball team won regional crowns and a state championship. She also was a proud supporter of Kicks for Cancer, an annual charity event at AFS held in memory of her late husband, Ray Furlong. Christina began the indoor soccer tournament during her junior year at AFS with two classmates, Kelly McGlynn ‘11 and Ellen Carney ‘11, in memory of her father, who passed away from metastatic melanoma. The event, held every winter, continues to raise awareness about melanoma and funds for research into the disease for Fox Chase Cancer Center. Carol was very passionate about animals, and donations in her memory may be made to any local animal shelter or to Kicks for Cancer. 49


END NOTE My Own Journey in This Learning Community S C H O O L C O M M I T T E E C L E R K M A R G A R E T S AY E R S Bittersweet is possibly the only word that describes how it feels to be experiencing the last of my 14 years as an AFS parent. My husband, Steve, and I are so grateful to the School for the countless ways it has nurtured our children’s development. They are more curious, more capable, more thoughtful, more spiritual, more outspoken and more compassionate because of their tenure as AFS lifers. As I reflect, a bit tearfully, on my time in this wondrous community, I am heartened that my son’s journey through the Daisy Chain in June will not bring my time here to an end. That’s because Douglas ’16 and Kenan ’18 are not the only Sayers to benefit from membership in this rich and diverse community of learners. My time on School Committee has been filled with opportunities to learn, to grow, to stretch, and to overcome obstacles. When I first joined the Committee in 2009, I knew virtually nothing about serving on a nonprofit board, school finance, development work or strategic planning. The only qualifications I possessed were a profound love for the School, a firm commitment to its mission, a deep respect for the leadership and a willingness to learn. More seasoned members of the Committee mentored me. Even though I had little expertise, in every meeting my voice was valued. The learning curve was very steep, yet it was a challenging and gratifying climb. After three years on School Committee, something happened that took me very much by surprise; I was asked to step into the role of Clerk. Rich Nourie and Carol Frieder, both AFS superheroes in my mind, saw 50 oak leaves fall 2017

leadership potential in me that I did not see. I asked for a little time to think it over, and I did what Quakers do when the way forward is unclear; I hastily formed a clearness committee. There was no time for the members to gather, so I talked to them individually. No one told me what I should do. They simply asked thought-provoking questions that helped me to discern whether I felt called to serve as Clerk. With some trepidation, but knowing that I would be surrounded by a very talented group of School Committee members who shared my passion for AFS and wanted me to succeed, I said yes. So began an even steeper learning curve that has, five years later, mercifully begun to flatten out. And today I see myself as a leader. I suspect that my experience on the School Committee mirrors that of an AFS student. He enters the community at a particular point in his journey as a learner where he is joined by a group of talented and dedicated educators. These adults see the potential and the unique Light within him. They provide opportunities in the classroom, under the stage lights and on the athletic fields to grow and lead and overcome obstacles. They help the student climb the steep learning curves of long division, an EGIS project and a college essay. The community is richer for the student’s presence and more complete because of his voice. He knows he is valued. He is in a place where it is safe to take risks, to say, “I don’t know,” to ask for help, even to fail. And when it is his turn to walk through the Daisy Chain at Commencement, he will have grown into his best self. He will leave AFS with a love of learning that will last a lifetime. How blessed I feel that I can continue to serve this community while also continuing my own journey as a learner.

Growth at AFS Begins with You Double Your Dollars in December

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OA K L E AV ES FA L L 2 0 1 7

52 oak leaves fall 2017

Profile for Abington Friends School

Oak Leaves Fall 2017  

An official publication of Abington Friends School. This issue is all about Adventures in Learning.

Oak Leaves Fall 2017  

An official publication of Abington Friends School. This issue is all about Adventures in Learning.