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AVON OLD FARMS SCHOOL Established 1927 Headmaster Kenneth H. LaRocque

Provost John T. Gardner

Editor Morgan C. Cugell

Director of Development Daniel Seiden ’00

Designer 2k Design

Alumni Notes Lizabeth Abramson

Photographer Seshu Badrinath

Printer Benchemark Printing, Inc., Schenectady, NY.

Contributors Thanks to everyone who contributed to this magazine. Special thanks to Lizabeth Abramson, Seshu Badrinath, Cheryl Benoit, Michael Dembicer, Susan Haile, Carol Ketcham, Ken LaRocque, and Dan Seiden ’00. The Avonian is published for the alumni, parents, and friends of Avon Old Farms School. It is distributed to approximately 8,000 readers. All rights reserved.

Avon Old Farms School 500 Old Farms Road Avon, CT 06001 (860) 404-4100

Admissions (800) 464-2866

Alumni We enjoy hearing from you! Please send us your latest news and notes: Email: Phone: (860) 404-4268 Fax: (860) 404-4631

Email Members of the administration and faculty can be emailed by using the following formula: last name + first initial The directory on the school website also includes email links. Avon Old Farms School admits students of any race, color, national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs, and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national or ethnic origin, disabilities, or sexual orientation in the administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship and loan programs, and athletic and other school administered programs.

Scenes of the Season



18 The Renaissance Man by Morgan C. Cugell

Dear Readers,

54 The A5 Alumni Group


55 The Last Word by Cristina Pinton SPOTLIGHTS



Featured Artist: Max Prybyla ’14 by Morgan C. Cugell

12 Athletic Spotlight: Stephen Thibault ’16 by Morgan C. Cugell 28 Student Spotlight: Jas Spearman ’14 by Morgan C. Cugell 30 Faculty Focus: Joe Lampe by Morgan C. Cugell


36 Alumni Spotlight: In Memoriam: Pete Seeger ’36 by Morgan C. Cugell DEPARTMENTS


2 Headmaster 4 Village Green 12 Athletics 34 The Elephant Remembers 36 Alumni 40 Class Notes Cover photo: Avon Old Farms School remembers Pete Seeger ’36.

p55 Find past issues of The Avonian online at

Avon Old Farms School has long proclaimed its mission to be the best school for boys; to be a place where boys become men. And here at Avon, we hope they become Renaissance men; citizens of the world who value and excel in not just one discipline, but several. We have many young men who meet this description, and you’ll read about their many achievements in this issue: the poetry recitation contest winner; the scholastic art award honorees; the All-American wrestler; and many more. Be sure to check out pages 24 to 27 to meet the Class of 2014 and see some of their best works. Also in this issue you’ll meet the men behind Avon’s A5 group, the AOF African American Alumni Association, and learn a bit about their mission. You’ll remember our squash team’s historic national title, and one young wrestler’s winning season. You’ll also get to know English teacher Joe Lampe, a running man who has celebrated triumphs and overcome challenges to become one of Avon’s best—and busiest—faculty members. One of our Avon family’s most highly regarded Renaissance men was Pete Seeger ’36, who passed away this winter after filling his life with music and activism. Take a look back at Pete and his weekly newsletters on page 34. He will truly be missed, but his life’s work will continue to be celebrated at Avon—and around the world—in the years to come. As always, I welcome your feedback. Aspirando et perseverando,

Are you following us? /AvonOldFarms @AvonOldFarms

Morgan C. Cugell 860-404-4239

/AvonOldFarmsSchool Search Group: Avon Old Farms School Alumni Association

Cert no. SW-COC-002935

From the Headmaster by Kenneth H. LaRocque


A theme of this issue of The Avonian is the Renaissance man, which is an aspirational goal we hold for all of our students. In a world of increasing specialization in which young people are encouraged to determine their extracurricular focus early and to pursue it passionately and exclusively, honing their skills and exploring their potential in order to achieve excellence, the concept of a Renaissance man is almost an anachronism. Across the independent boarding school world, educators grapple with the issue of specialization. At Avon, we strive to help our students develop their talents and embrace their passions, but we also want them to explore their universe of choices fully and to discover the rewards of scholarship, service, creativity, competition, and brotherhood. We understand that our world of specialization makes the three-sport varsity athlete an endangered species and that our performing artists struggle under enormous pressure to choose early on between vocal and instrumental paths. Avon Old Farms remains a liberal arts-

based school that requires boys to look at the world through the lenses of an author, a historian, a mathematician, a scientist, an athlete, a community servant, a painter, an actor, and a variety of other perspectives in hopes of providing them with a broad foundation of knowledge and experience from which to continue to grow in college and beyond. In the coming years, schools like Avon will need to change with the times and adapt to the world of specialization by allowing our students to focus more within their scholarly, athletic, artistic, civic, and other pursuits. However, we must always encourage our young men to taste the richness of the world by discovering the joy present in the wonderfully diverse cornucopia of life. Our mission is to develop young men who honor wisdom, justice, service, inclusion, and the pursuit of truth. What has transpired at school over the past several months tells me that our school culture is mission-focused and encourages our students to explore their unique gifts while building a model of masculinity

“Our mission is to develop young men who honor wisdom, justice, service, inclusion, and the pursuit of truth.� -KENNETH H. LAROCQUE


Spring 2014 The Avonian


based upon our values of scholarship, sportsmanship, integrity, and brotherhood. The changing landscape of our classrooms, characterized by a deliberate move towards blended instruction, allows students to spend more class time as active learners and produces more independent, confident scholars. Visiting our classrooms inspires me and reaffirms my belief in the powerful impact effective teachers make on the lives of young people. Strong student leadership from our student council, dormitory monitors, team captains, and club presidents has helped us enjoy a rich co-curricular life this year. Our teams have competed fiercely in all sports and our football team won a share of the Erickson League title, helping Coach Driscoll put an exclamation point on the end of his coaching career. Winning a national championship in squash was a first for Avon in any sport! Representing the state of Connecticut at the American Choral Directors Association conference in Baltimore, our Riddlers sang beside other groups like the Harvard College Glee Club and the Penn State Glee Club. Winning, for the second time, the Green Cup Challenge in the boarding schools category of the Green Schools Alliance by effectively cutting our energy costs more substantially than other similar school was noteworthy on several fronts. For the 31st year, we raised thousands of dollars prior to the holidays to provide over 500 children in Hartford with gifts that allowed them to celebrate the season appropriately. This winter we “Pinked the Rink” to support the fight against breast cancer, and in early spring hosted a successful blood drive on campus. This fall we returned to the Riddle Refectory to produce Macbeth, and this winter enjoyed How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. This year’s poetry recitation competition again produced impressive performances,

and challenged our students to develop their creative spirits. And our visual artists were honored with various medals from the Scholastic Art Awards; two were recognized nationally with gold and silver awards and will receive their medals this June at Carnegie Hall. The 2013-14 school year has been a time of challenge, accomplishment, and growth. Some 410 students from 22 countries and the same number of states, with a wide diversity of skills, styles, and perspectives, joined together this year with a shared purpose. They sought to be better men, and, in this quest, succeeded in growing in myriad ways. Each Avonian possessed his own passion and was supported by us in addressing it, but he was also forced to engage in a variety of other activities which enriched him and those around him. Certainly I would be remiss not to mention Pete Seeger, an alumnus from the Class of 1936 who passed away in February. Pete represents the quintessential Man of Avon. He used his life’s passion—music—to encourage us to take care of our world and each other. He was a man who honored wisdom, justice, service, inclusion, and truth, and he will be sorely missed.

We’d like to hear from you! Do you have any special Avon anecdotes? Memories of your time at the Farm? Please send in any thoughts on your Avon experience for possible inclusion in future publications.

The Avonian Spring 2014


Village Green

Village Green

Going, Going, Green! Avon wins the Green Cup Challenge


or the second time in five years, Avon Old Farms School has been named the champions of the Green Cup Challenge, amassing an astonishing 16.9 percent reduction in total energy usage to win the New England Boarding School division. That’s a total energy savings of 28,313 kilowatt hours! Katy Perry of the Green Schools Alliance presented Headmaster LaRocque with the Green Cup Challenge trophy on February 28, noting that Avon Old Farms School is the first school ever to win the title twice. Avon first won the challenge in 2010.


Spring 2014 The Avonian

During the course of the month-long challenge, the environmental club and Director of Sustainability Wendy Burki, along with the facilities department and dormitory parents and monitors, examined Avon’s energy usage with surprise dorm raids. When the residential students were away—for instance, at morning meeting—seven students from the environmental club acted as dorm raiders and would spontaneously raid the eight dorms on campus, counting how many student rooms had lights on or appliances plugged in. The winning dorm for the week was announced the following week at morning meeting; each student

in the winning dorm received a small prize. During the four-week challenge, the results improved progressively, from only one dormitory with 100 percent lights out the first week to five dormitories at 100 percent during weeks three and four. Also being monitored several times a week were three of our campus-wide energy meters, the readings from which were submitted to the Green Schools Alliance. To begin the Green Cup Challenge, Mrs. Burki and the environmental club members initiated a campaign to encourage students, faculty, and staff to consciously pay attention to their energy usage on campus, asking them to simply

Village Green pause before leaving their rooms, and turn off lights and monitors and unplug appliances when not in use. Mr. Volo and WAOF were enthusiastically involved, as well, producing two Green Cup Challenge videos, with the first focused on a water bottle campaign to reduce the use of plastic disposable water bottles, and the second video focused directly on reducing energy consumption. Additional support from Headmaster LaRocque, Mr. Callaghan, and Facilities Director Ted Brennan proved crucial, as well. The Green Cup Challenge is a month-long, inter-school competition that empowers students and builds community, while raising awareness about climate change and the importance of resource conservation. In total, 237 schools competed nationally, in nine geographical divisions, including 19 in the New England Boarding Schools division. Avon joined the Green Schools Alliance in 2009, the same year we installed a 672-panel solar array covering almost the entire south roof of the Jennings Fairchild Rink. In its first full year of operation, the 200-kilowatt array produced 247,000 kilowatt hours— about seven and a half percent of the electricity used by the school that year. Avon was able to acquire the array in a power purchase agreement that involved several parties. Avon does not receive any renewable energy credits (RECs) for the array, because the school does not own it; however, by simply hosting the array on campus, Avon is helping the state of Connecticut reduce its carbon footprint, an impressive endeavor supporting carbon-free sources of energy. The inspiration to install the solar array came from former faculty member Michael Stradley, the driving force behind Avon’s earliest sustainability efforts. In 2005, Mike began working with his classes to research the potential for harnessing solar energy on campus; in

2007, he presented the idea to the Board of Directors, and two years later, he finally saw one of his greatest professional aspirations come to life. Mike sadly lost his battle with pancreatic cancer one day after the solar array went live, but his family discovered soon thereafter that he had been working on a ‘Commitment to Sustainability’ for Avon, which was focused on a widespread culture change in how the school approached its energy usage. Undoubtedly, it was Mike’s determination to make a difference that set Avon along its path for environmental Director of Sustainability, Wendy Burki

advocacy. The solar array was dedicated to Mike Stradley in the fall 2009, and his memory and ambition have served as inspiration to all who have championed the cause in the days since his death. In 2010, following the installation of the solar array, Avon scored an impressive 18.72 percent reduction in electricity consumption on our campus and as a result, won the Northeast Boarding School Division of the 2010 Green Cup Energy Challenge. Significant efforts continue to be made and progress towards greater sustainability on our campus evolves, as we move forward in our mission towards achieving an even greener campus. Leading the

charge has been Mrs. Burki, along with Jas Spearman ’14, president of the environmental club. “I’m proud of my school for being the first school to win the Green Cup Challenge twice,” commented Jas. “It speaks to the dedication in our community to be environmentally friendly. “The environmental club has been able to take a collaboration of student ideas and put them to action this year,” he continues. “During meetings, we sit down and discuss opinions of what could be changed, and we try to target the main causes of our carbon footprint. This year, we focused on recycling plastic bottles, and how many bottles were being found in trash cans instead of in the recycling bins.” Avon has a campus-wide recycling program in place and actively practices single stream recycling, which includes all dormitories, academic buildings, campus offices, the library, the student center, and the Refectory; our 34-yard compactor is hauled on average once per month and brought to the nearby Capitol Recycling Facility. The school purchased 250 new recycling bins in November 2013, and added individual bins to each dormitory room on campus, a technique designed to make recycling as convenient as possible for students. At the same time, new and innovative signage was added to bins in central recycling corridors within each dormitory, as well as on most recycling and trash bins around campus. The school added two compost barrels outside of our community garden area, as well as built a larger three-tiered composting unit inside the garden area for convenient garden waste disposal. The barrels accommodate fruit and vegetable scraps, as well as non-weed garden waste, and are rotated several times per week by student or faculty gardeners; the soil from the compost is added to our 19 raised beds and additional garden areas within the community garden, as well as the five garden rows inside our existing hoop house. We have created compost piles outside of the community garden to be used in the same garden spaces: one pile contains fresh leaves collected from autumn 2013 cleanup around campus, CONTINUED ON PG. 6

The TheAvonian Avonian Spring 2010 2014



which will be left to “cure” over the year. A second pile contains already cured leaf compost, which is used to create new gardens and fertilize existing ones. We have eliminated the use of Styrofoam campus-wide, and our environmental club sponsored the purchase of new aluminum water bottles for each student on campus. These bottles were given out at the end of the Green Cup Recycle Challenge, free of charge, to continue promoting our message of using reusable water bottles instead of disposable water bottles. Additionally, in November of 2013, we purchased and installed a new bottle filling station for the Brown Student Center. This unit is a retrofit to the existing water fountain and provides an alternative to disposable water bottles. It has a green ticker feature that keeps track of bottles saved from waste. It saves consumer/student spending on plastic water bottles; the environment from plastic water bottle pollution; energy used to produce plastic water bottles; and energy used to recycle plastic water bottles. The considerable progress made in our sustainability efforts comes at the hands of the environmental club and the new Director of Sustainability Wendy Burki. Wendy is the former EEO director for the State Department of Education, and a former college instructor with a background in law and writing. 
She received her bachelor’s degree from DePauw University, studied in Greece, and then returned to the States to study law. She is involved in various community organizations, including the Farmington Oral History project, Clean Up Farmington, the Cub Scouts, the Hill-Stead Museum, the Connecticut Horticulture Society, and the Connecticut Herb Society, and served as the coordinator for the Amistad Tours. After completing her Master Gardener certificate at UConn in 2010, Wendy got involved in botanical work at the Channel 3 Kids’ Camp and Mark Twain House, where she continues to volunteer. In 2011, she was recognized as one of the “Outstanding Women of Farmington” by the Farmington Historical Society.


Spring 2014 The Avonian

Poetry Recitation Contest Charlie Carpenter ’15


elcoming the audience with the promise of the annual poetry recitation contest as the very first sign of spring’s arrival at Avon Old Farms, Mr. Brad Carpenter, chairman of the English department, introduced this year’s competition with a recollection of the boys’ earliest experiences with poetry. “Go Dog Go; Old Hat New Hat;” he said. “Before you could read or write, you were hearing poetry. That’s what I mean when I say poetry predates literacy. “Since the beginning of human history, men have been reciting poetry as a way of remembering their history and culture. Poems ensured that what was known would stay known, so culture could advance. “You have participated in an exercise in which you have been asked to do that most ancient of things: to learn and recite a poem. This puts you at the end of a long line that starts almost 3,000 years ago, with Homer reciting the story of Odysseus to audiences, capturing their imaginations with its opening lines.” All Avon students furthered that tradition this winter, as is customary, with the all-school poetry recitation contest. Every year, students in each English class section select poems to memorize and then recite in front of their classmates. A winner is decided for each section; those section-winners then compete against the other section-winners from their grade. The four grade-winners then compete again in front of the entire

school community during the last morning meeting before the spring break. Faculty members from the English department convene following the contest to decide the winner. This year, the judging was enhanced by including the student body in the decision-making process. Following the presentation, students received an email ballot to cast their vote for the winner. The poetry of Shane Koyczan ruled the day, with three of the four competitors choosing works from the popular spokenword poet; ultimately, Charlie Carpenter ’15 was declared victorious, with his moving, impassioned performance of Koyczan’s “To This Day.” Also performing “To This Day” was runner-up Andrew Waltzer ’16, who opened the competition. Nate Newman ’17 followed with “Rigged Game” by Dylan Garity, and Jamie Thorington ’14 delivered Koyczan’s “More Often than Sometimes.” Once again, Mrs. Crocker faithfully served as accuracy judge throughout the course of the entire contest. The poetry recitation contest is one of many diverse traditions at Avon designed to help young men flourish into wellrounded, outstanding citizens, and as Mr. Carpenter noted, “Memorizing poems doesn’t just earn us a grade or demonstrate our ability to memorize. It keeps history and culture alive and vital. You keep history and culture alive and vital.” Hear, hear!

Village Green

Featured Artist Max Prybyla ’14


four-year day student from Farmington, Connecticut, Max Prybyla ’14 may as well be a boarder for the amount of time he spends on campus. As editorin-chief of the Winged Beaver, Avon’s award-winning yearbook, Max oversees every step of the process of creating the yearbook, and has a hand in every part of it. It’s a dedication that costs him roughly three to four hours a day, on top of his class work and his other commitments: he is also the president of the investment club; a member of the chamber ensemble, which meets in the evenings; and a part-time employee at a local coffee shop. Max decides what will be featured in the yearbook, then either writes the article himself or assigns a writer. He creates a layout for the page, inserts the copy and pictures he has captioned, and then does a final edit of the pages, checking for grammar as well as consistent graphics such as borders, margins, and font sizes. “My job is quite literally neverending,” he explains. “I’m constantly running around interviewing, photographing, and attending the different events that need to be written about in the book.” From his post in the yearbook office in Avon’s art studio, where he heads every day after classes and remains until dinner, he handles his many tasks with efficiency and time-management skills that rival his faculty counterparts, yearbook advisors Ms. Cristina Pinton and Ms. Kate McSpadden, who assist with photo and copy editing as well as graphic design. “Generally each day I tackle a slightly different task, and they vary from deadline to deadline,” he notes. “The fall consists mostly of planning; it’s weeks of discussing possible themes and titles, picking out what events we’ll cover, choosing deadline dates, creating layouts, and designating the number of

pages devoted towards each section. Then as the year progresses, the hard work begins: organizing team, club, dorm, and day boy photographs; attending various games and social activities where I take photographs; interviewing students; and writing articles. In the winter I attend different classes and club meetings to photograph and interview students. “Usually I end up working on my schoolwork during enrichment and then when I get home, which leads to frequent late nights of studying, or I go to bed early and wake up at 5 or 6, do homework for an hour or two, and then head off to school. My free period is almost always used for homework and studying.” “Max is an ambitious natural leader who brings excellent writing and editing skills, a strong work ethic, an intrinsic sense of good design, and a great deal of passion, humor, and creativity to an incredibly labor-intensive job,” observes Ms. McSpadden. “He pays meticulous attention to every detail of the process. “Certainly it will be the most original yearbook Avon has had in many years: not one to take the easy road, Max forwent templates, fashioning each and every page layout himself. He is endlessly curious and willing to take risks; he understands when to delegate; and above all, he cares about producing excellent work, and that dedication is registered in the enormous amount of time and energy he has expended—he never stops learning

or wanting to make something better.” Max may juggle well, but even he is quick to note that the busy life of yearbook editor comes with some drawbacks, most notably missing class due to what are likely stress-related illnesses. “Your days are full at Avon,” he says. “The challenge is figuring out how to remain productive while not overworking yourself. It’s incredibly easy to pile on too much or to do too little; it’s the perfect balance that’s tricky to find.” Max’s time spent on the yearbook will serve him well in the future; he plans to study English in college and hopes to pursue a career in publishing. “I’d love to work on a magazine or a newspaper, perhaps become an editor of novels, or even write one of my own,” he comments. “I’m not entirely sure on the specifics, but I can figure that out through dabbling in college. “I just know, from working on the yearbook, that I want to write.”

The Avonian Spring 2014


In Endless Song… Winter Musical and Concerts The Avon Old Farms Theater Company returned to the stage in the Adams Theater this February to present the annual winter musical. Talented thespians from Avon Old Farms, along with girls from Miss Porter’s School and the Evjen Academy in Farmington, delighted audiences with the musical comedy How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying. Saagar Sinha played the starring role of J. Pierrepont Finch, supported by Jackie Chen, Alex Papadopoulos, Jamie Thorington, Jake Rochford, Jas Spearman, Carty Caruso, Seamus Donovan, Terence Durrant, Jacky Chu, and Zach Sweedler, while Liz Hammond of Farmington High played Rosemary Pilkington. The show was directed by Mrs. Rebekah Hawkinson, while musical direction was provided by Mr. Bryan Zaros and choreography by Ms. Olivia Wilcox. Set design and technical direction came from Mr. James Kassel. Also warming spirits during the bitter winter cold were the annual concerts, featuring our many talented musical groups. The chorale, honors chorale, the Riddlers, and the Sing-ed Beavers all performed during the first of two concerts, followed by students from the chamber ensemble, the Avon Big Band, Super G Jazz, and the New Avon Sound.


Spring 2014 The Avonian

Village Green

The Custer Legacy Continues

Club Spotlight: WAOF Live from the Beatson Performing Arts Center!


ince its rebirth in 2007, with the opening of the new Beatson Performing Arts Center, the student radio station, WAOF, has seen a few evolutions. This year, the club is back and better than ever, with a new, expanded multimedia agenda that focuses mainly on video documentation of student activities, special events, concerts, plays, guest speakers, and home sporting events. Club advisor and Chairman of the Performing Arts Rob Volo serves as the executive producer of the video productions, but the club is primarily student run. Since September, the group has produced more than two dozen videos, with plans to produce another dozen before the end of the school year. Students are assigned specific events to cover; they then produce short, highlight-style reels, which are often broadcast at Morning Meeting, in addition to being tweeted via the club’s official Twitter feed and uploaded to WAOF’s YouTube channel (follow along at www. Students also do a bit of original work, mostly comic shorts, that deal with everyday life at Avon. From beginning stages to final editing, all productions are student run, as WAOF members have control over the entire project; Mr. Volo merely gives feedback as requested, and manages what gets posted and broadcasted. Because students join the club in lieu of participating on a sports team, its members will consistently rotate throughout the year, giving many students the opportunity to get involved. Students are chosen based on ability and desire to work, so no real experience is necessary if a student is willing to learn. Typical afternoons are spent planning for future shoots, as well as brainstorming new ideas. Students also use the time to work on editing current projects; they try to put out at least one production every week. So far this year, the club has collaborated with Mr. Zaros to make a mini documentary on the origin of the school song, “Men of Avon,” in addition to making a video for alumni to watch at a reception in New York City. In between, they are making highlight reels for athletic contests, recap videos from school events, and short, comical videos portraying the minutiae of everyday school life. The club is also hard at work on a promotional video to be shown to alumni and prospective students. The digital arts are thriving at Avon. For information on how you can help support WAOF, please contact Dan Seiden ’00, director of development.

This winter, the New England Regional Assembly of the College Board honored longtime Avon Old Farms faculty member Art Custer with the Dr. Carlene Riccelli Assembly Leadership Award, recognizing “an individual who has continuously advanced the mission of the College Board and contributed to the New England Regional Assembly through high-quality service at the regional and national levels.” The award recipient must inspire others, foster outstanding team membership, and participate in College Board forums, workshops, and conferences. At Avon since 1982, Art has taught a large number of history courses, including A.P. U.S. history, A.P. European history, Asian studies, criminal law, and the Civil War in film and fiction. He has also served as chair of the history department, associate director and then director of college counseling, and dean of faculty. He is currently serving as dean of curriculum and instruction. Over the years, he has won AOF’s Lanier, Fanning, and Swan Awards. Art sits (or has sat) on a number of regional and national College Board committees and serves as a table leader at the annual reading of A.P. U.S. history exams.

The Avonian Spring 2014


Scholastic Art Award Winners Chair of the Visual Arts Department Cristina Pinton announced in early 2014 that several Avon students have been honored with Scholastic Art Awards. Avon was represented with four Gold Key Awards, for artwork that went on to compete at the national level, as well as two Silver Key Awards and three honorable mentions. Avon received more recognition, with only three full-time Jihua Chen ’15 teaching faculty offering 15 different courses, than many of the other artistically competitive preparatory and public schools. Liam Gilbert ’14 took the trifecta with a Gold Key Award, a Silver Key Award, and an honorable mention. Nick Birnie ’14 received a Gold Key Award as well as a Silver Key; Jihua Chen ’15

Eui Hyun Cho ’14


Spring 2014 The Avonian

earned a Gold Key as well as an honorable mention; Eui Hyun Cho ’14 was given a Gold Key Award; and Graham Welter ’14 received an honorable mention. In March, it was announced that Jihua Chen and Eui Hyun Cho had been awarded National Scholastic Art Awards. Jihua won a gold medal with his black and white mirror self-portrait drawing, while Eui Hyun won silver with his image entitled “meat factory.” Both boys will collect their medals at a ceremony at Carnegie Hall this June 5-7. As a gold medalist, Jihua’s drawing will be on exhibit at the Parsons School of Design. He will also be recording both audio and video about his work, which will be showcased online. The National Scholastic Art and Writing Awards are the highest in the country for the visual arts, and this year received more than 255,000 submissions, with only 1 percent of applicants receiving national recognition. “It seems, at times, that our boys get pegged as either an athlete or an intellectual, but I think they prove otherwise,” commented Ms. Pinton. “I think we’re beginning to really surprise people with how well-rounded our boys are. I’ve often talked about the multi-faceted diamond in my drawing classes: exposure to the arts gives them an opportunity to cut another facet; to shine brighter and be more unique. I’m so proud of the work these guys do. They play hard and they also draw, print, and sculpt what they dream up. “To me, that’s intellect: being able to visualize what doesn’t exist; to dream up an idea and then mold it with your hands until it becomes tangible; to brainstorm solutions to an issue that has no precedent; to reflect on your life, and other’s lives, and make a bold or subtle statement in your artwork.”

Village Green

Nick Birnie ’14

Extra, Extra! Mock Crime Scene Thrills Forensics Students Blake Forkey ’09 is one of this year’s new science teachers—and he’s not afraid to shake things up. “During the hair and fiber chapter, I decided I was tired of lecturing for 20 to 30 minutes every class period,” he recalls. “I took a student survey about different ideas of what they would want to do in the class, and a mock crime scene was one of the ideas we brainstormed.” Improvising the entire process of setting up and executing the scene, Blake relied on his own research—and time—to design and plan for the event, which included several pieces of evidence, including fiber, hair, a handwritten note, plastic cups, and salt disguised as cocaine. Two of his underclass biology students volunteered to be dead victims for extra credit. “As well as reinforcing what they were learning in class about

hair and fiber evidence, it also gave them a firsthand look at how to properly process a crime scene,” he explains. The project didn’t end with students searching the scene, collecting the evidence, and taking photographs; the next day they had to perform a lab comparing the hair they collected from the crime scene to standard reference samples from a suspect under a comparison microscope. Once the students had documented and analyzed all the evidence, they organized all the information into presentations, acting as expert witnesses presenting their evidence in court. Finally, the students each had to write a news article with the point of view of a news reporter, including quotes from the “investigators” summarizing what happened in the case, as well as their own hypotheses for a scenario. To continue the immersive educational experience, Blake is considering designing a senior project that would ask students to design their own crime scenes to use in filming mock television shows in the vein of “CSI.” How’s that for a hands-on learning experience? The Avonian Spring 2014


Athletics “I train vigorously every day to become better; it is a grind that has taught me discipline and to be mentally tough.”

Stephen Thibault ’16 For the second year in a row, Stephen Thibault ’16 was crowned a New England champion as a member of the varsity wrestling team. At this year’s New England championship tournament, Stephen defeated David Crosby of the Brooks School to win the title at 126 pounds, and out of close to 300 wrestlers, was also named the outstanding wrestler of the tournament, an honor selected by participating coaches in recognition of the tournament’s best wrestler. The following week, Stephen traveled to the Prep National tournament, held at Lehigh University, where he placed 8th overall. Last year, in the 120-pound weight class, Stephen became Avon’s first New England champion in over a decade. At the National Championship level, he placed 5th overall, qualifying as an All-American, also the first All-American at AOF in more than 10 years.


Spring 2014 The Avonian

A Headmaster’s List student, Stephen is a sophomore class representative for the student council, a member of the young conservatives club, the theoretical science club, and the model United Nations. Last year, he was awarded the Christopher R. Hetherington ’91 Cup, a prize reserved for the top athlete in the ninth grade. He is also a part of the baseball and strength and conditioning programs. Despite having to battle homesickness and time management, Stephen’s successes reflect his work ethic and dedication to improvement. “What I put in is what I get out,” he states. “I train vigorously every day to become better; it is a grind that has taught me discipline and to be mentally tough.” And while his time on the mat might prove to be the source of many of his most memorable moments at Avon Old Farms, Stephen is quick to cite how Avon has helped him in other aspects, as well. “I have learned to speak my mind and not be afraid to go against the norm,” he says. “I’ve learned to be myself all the time and have no shame in who I am. “Avon is teaching me to become a leader.”


National Champions Winged Beavers squash Brunswick School Avon Old Farms School has a new national championship under its belt! The Winged Beaver squash team defeated Brunswick School, 4-3, to capture the first U.S. High School Team Squash Championship in program history. Entering the division I tournament as the top-seeded team, Avon also bested Germantown Friends School 5-2, Taft School 4-3, and the Haverford School 4-3 along the way to the title. The final matchup was unsurprisingly Avon’s toughest of the season so far. Karim Tarek ’15 pulled off an unbelievable 3-2 win at number two deep into the fifth game, while Abdelrahman Mahmoud ’14 and Atticus Kelly ’14 each won 3-0 at numbers three and four. But it all came down to Avon’s number one, Seif Attia ’14, who dispatched his Brunswick opponent in three straight games to secure the national title.

The semifinal matchup against Haverford also proved to be a pivotal performance for Avon’s seniors, as the Winged Beavers trailed 2-3 in the overall match score before Atticus Kelly and Seif Attia stepped up to seal the deal, defend Avon’s number one seeding, and send the group to the finals. At 6-5 in the first game, Atticus, on the back end of a brutal rally, threw in a full layout and opened up his knuckles on the floor, but won the point as a result. Despite spending a considerable amount of time with the athletic trainer following that point, he returned to the court and closed out his match 3-0. Meanwhile, Seif secured the team’s 4-3 victory by defeating Haverford’s young and promising number one in three hard-fought games. Coaches Josh Cardwell and Peter Deckers ’90 commented that other notable performances throughout the weekend included a tie-breaking effort from Atticus Kelly in the quarterfinals over Taft, and standout play in the semifinals from freshman Henry Smith who, despite losing his match, played his best squash of the season.

Each of the eight boys on the roster contributed to the group effort in invaluable ways, explains Coach Cardwell. “As a whole, these boys worked tirelessly to achieve the goals we set at the season’s start, and were an absolute pleasure to coach and get to know as individuals,” he observes. “Over the course of the season, they grew as individuals, but excelled the most when together as a team. It wasn’t a few individuals or any one player who won the national title and took out the Founders League; it was a combination of the boys as a whole.” The U.S. High School Team Squash Championship is the largest squash tournament in the world. This year, 151 schools and 1,403 players, representing 16 states, traveled to Philadelphia for the historic weekend event. Nearly 2,100 individual and 300 team matches were carried out across 10 divisions at six venues: Episcopal Academy, Fairmount Athletic Club, Springside Chestnut Hill Academy, The Philadelphia Squash Club, Drexel University, and the University of Pennsylvania.

The Avonian Spring 2014


In Memoriam:


Pedro Vega ’12

n December 2013, Avon Old Farms mourned the sudden passing of Pedro Vega ’12. This winter, Headmaster LaRocque and the varsity basketball team recognized and honored Pedro’s outstanding contributions to the Avon community with a touching ceremony during halftime of the AOF-Canterbury game. Pedro’s family was presented with his framed No. 5 jersey, a replica of which also hangs in the Brown Student Center, where it inspires students every day. All who knew Pedro described him as goal-oriented—a person who aspired and persevered through challenges to become the outstanding gentleman he was at the time of his death, and a true man of Avon. Sue Nentwig, Pedro’s college counselor, captured Pedro’s extraordinary spirit in his college recommendation, describing him as a charming, sincere, and truly charitable young man. “In all that he does, Pedro is guided by a kind heart and bedrock values,” she wrote. “It is his dedication to others that we have come to expect from him; he will support all worthy causes and it is unimportant to him whether he is in the limelight or behind the scenes; he will work to see it through.” Pedro worked hard to adjust himself to the rigors of academic life at Avon, utilizing enrichment hour and the Learning Center, to build his confidence, find his classroom voice, and earn higher grades, culminating in his receiving the Award for Outstanding Improvement in the Academic Area his senior year. All the while, he was also immersing himself in the Avon way of life. Pedro devoted himself to many community

service projects; he was a three-year member of the radio station, WAOF; he worked on the school newspaper for two years; he played varsity basketball; and he was an admissions ambassador for three years, a testament to his stature as an exemplary Avonian. Pedro was also a talented and passionate vocalist, and a two-year member of Avon’s elite singing group, the Riddlers. Director of the group Bryan Zaros was close to Pedro, and expressed his profound grief with a beautiful tribute: “It is hard to find the words that fully express the loss I feel after the passing of a former student, a friend, and a brother. Pedro, you were a beautiful human being; a gentle spirit, a loving heart. You were a dreamer, a believer, a man of promise, a man living with destiny. I will always remember your voice resonating with sweetness and a humility that gave me pause. There was a special power in your voice inspired by the true sincerity of your heart. You lived your days full of gratitude and understood, with a maturity beyond your years, the gift we are given in every moment of our lives. I, too, find myself grateful for I was given the rare opportunity to witness you live this gift fully, embracing it with unbridled enthusiasm, determination, and passion. I will miss you dearly, my friend and brother, and I will remember you.” The Avon community remembered Pedro with a moving memorial service in the Brown Auditorium on December 19th, when more than 300 family members, alumni, teachers, and friends celebrated his life and joined together to support one another through memories and music. Rest in peace, Pedro.

The Vega family remembers Pedro ’12 at a basketball game this winter.


Spring 2014 The Avonian


Mamadou Diouf ’10

Papa Diouf ’14

The Brothers Diouf: Mamadou ’10 and Papa ’14 Mamadou Diouf ’10 and his younger brother, Papa ’14, will undoubtedly go down as two of Avon’s most talented alumni of the soccer program. Their skill with the ball can only be matched by their infectious smiles, but their journey to Avon Old Farms wasn’t always easy. Originally from Senegal, Mamadou and Papa battled cultural barriers—from language, to weather, to food, and everything in between—that could have proved debilitating to their Avon careers. But each persevered with characteristic gratitude, humility, and the inherent talent that made them showstoppers on the field as Winged Beavers—and beyond. After a phenomenal postgraduate year at AOF, ‘Doudou’ matriculated to the University of Connecticut and enjoyed an extraordinary career as a four-year starter, scoring 36 goals and notching 10 assists. A two-time first-team All Big-East Selection, he also earned second-team All American honors in 2012. A skilled forward who can change the dynamic of a game, Mamadou was drafted by the Vancouver Whitecaps this winter,

as the 30th overall pick in the Major League Soccer draft. After the draft, he took to his Facebook page to thank Avon Old Farms, along with his family and friends, for the support he’s received over the recent years. Papa, meanwhile, arrived at Avon Old Farms as a sophomore; he made an immediate impact on and off the field, scoring goals, racking up assists, and troubling defenders for three years, all the while improving his English-speaking abilities, studying hard, and improving his test scores—not to mention charming his teachers and fellow students with his good nature, much like his older brother. This Jaunary, he was recognized at the Connecticut Soccer Coaches Association All-State Banquet; he earned All-State status for a second consecutive year, in addition to being the only prep school player to garner All-New England honors. Papa has committed to play soccer at the University of Louisville.

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Spring 2014 The Avonian

The Avonian Spring 2014





Spring 2014 The Avonian

Village of Old Farms is a diverse one, with myriad personalities, passions, and cultural influences melding into one community ripe with talent and seemingly limitless possibility. And yet while there are those who specialize and excel in one discipline, there are many who can—and do— flourish and thrive in so many facets of school life. Avonians are Renaissance men. Unbridled in their willingness to explore all that the school—and the world—have to offer, our students, our alumni, and our faculty members go above and beyond to achieve greatness and give back, not just to the school, but also to society. Take a look at the Class of 2014.

The Renaissance Man



Avon Old Farms, our goal is to be the best school for boys. Every aspect of our school program is engineered to enable boys to be successful, and since 1927, we have been providing young men with the tools necessary to achieve in their scholastic, athletic, and artistic endeavors. Everything that takes place on campus—in the classroom, in the dormitories, on the athletic fields—is specifically designed with the educational and developmental needs of boys in mind. We prepare our boys to be valued citizens who know how to set and attain high personal and professional goals. At Avon, we understand boys. We appreciate their sense of humor, their energy, and their unique learning styles, and we believe that our dedicated, focused approach is critical to helping boys realize their full potential. Avon Old Farms is a place where boys become men. 20

Spring 2014 The Avonian

THE COMMUNITY Ask any Avon student what he values most about our school, and the answer is typically the feeling of community we have created here. Students, faculty, and staff know each other well, they respect the diversity of origins that characterize us, and they enjoy spending time together. At Avon, a boy’s friends are not limited to just the students in his grade. Our vertical housing system in the dormitories integrates freshmen, sophomores, juniors, seniors, and post-graduates together, facilitating connections between students of all ages. Furthermore, the entire school meets together twice on a daily basis—early in the day at morning meeting, and again later in the Refectory for lunch. This regular, school-wide interaction fosters the sense of brotherhood that all Avonians feel, and eliminates the sometimes-rigid distinctions between older students and younger students that can be prevalent at other schools.

When Avon was founded in 1927, it was very much the rule for boarding schools to be single-sex. While single-sex education has become more an exception than the rule, we at Avon are convinced that this educational approach makes more sense now than ever. Current research indicates THE TRADITION that coeducational classrooms can actually reinforce gender stereotypes, and that many boys are significantly lagging behind girls in terms of high school and college graduation rates. Single-sex classrooms serve to break down stereotypes. It has been shown that in a single-sex environment, girls are more likely to take classes in math, science, and information technology, while boys are more likely to pursue interests in art, music, drama, and foreign languages. As any teacher will tell you, boys and girls at this age have very different needs, learning styles, and approaches to life. A single-sex setting, free of the distraction of social pressures and anxieties, allows boys to stretch themselves, try new things, and make important strides toward a strong and secure manhood. Here at Avon we hold onto our all-boys tradition not as a nod to the past, but as a way of bringing sense and order to the challenging times in which we live.


Simply put, Avon boys like being here. They like it because they are in an environment where people clearly care about them. They like it because they are free to be themselves, unencumbered by the fear of embarrassment or compulsion to show off in front of the opposite sex. They like it because every boy here is truly a member of the community. Men of Avon forge relationships that last a lifetime with their classmates as well as faculty members. The frequent visits to campus by alumni as well as high turnouts at class reunions are telling of the memorable and meaningful experience that boys have here.


Let me learn not by sitting still but by moving. Let me investigate my surroundings. Let me meet new people with open eyes. Let me not be scared of our differences, but instead be enthralled by them. Let me remember that answers come from Everywhere, From everyone, And out of everything. Let me stand outside with a friend talking Learning everything about him. Let me stand outside with a foe talking Understanding everything about him. Let me ask questions that challenge all notion Of decency only to discover that Being vulgar allows for beauty. Let me fall in love quickly and fearlessly Trusting humanity. Let me purge myself of criticism and Substitute it for curiosity. Let me give my whole being to each moment Respecting its singularity. Let me share my experiences with those Around me struggling, in hope that It will grant them a friend on the dark Street they’re walking down. Let me seek people out that love me, and Not be bothered by those who don’t. Let me share my opinions in hope that I can create empathy and understanding, not in the pursuit of proving that I’m right. Let me try new thing remembering that mastery Takes time and passion. Let me share my passions with my friends Trusting that they’ll help me in my Pursuit of that passion. Let me find joy in those things that are not my passions, but that I must do in The undertaking. Let me afford myself the opportunity to change my mind (I say this knowing that it will happen) Let me learn from, but not dwell on my past I have forgiven myself, I hope you can forgive me too. Let me remember I will make mistakes Some of which I will not be able to fix. Let me learn from mistakes. Let me learn from success. Let me learn from life. Let me learn from death (Which I must remember is a part of life). Let me learn from the rich The poor The strong The weak. If my experience of life is unique to me then it must also be true that his life is unique to him, and her life is unique to her, and each one’s life is unique to each one. Therefore everyone has the opportunity to teach and to learn. This is how I want to learn.

The Renaissance Man


The Avonian Spring 2014


The Renaissance Man THE CLASS OF 2014

RYAN PHILLIPS Looking for Ryan Phillips ’14? You’ll probably find him behind a camera— or on his computer, editing footage. Ryan, the vice warden of the student body, head monitor in Pelican dormitory,

and media editor for the Avon Record, is known for his wildly inspirational YouTube productions, often shown at morning meeting or broadcast to the world on Avon’s Twitter feed. As a threeyear member of both the varsity football and varsity baseball teams, Ryan is often behind the pre-game pump-up videos and post-game highlight reels that make their way through cyberspace, much to the delight of students, faculty members, 24 24

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parents, alumni, and friends. Despite his clear natural talent for film production, Ryan had never actually picked up a camera before coming to Avon Old Farms from Atlanta three years ago. “Because of the warm embrace the community gave me, it has become my passion,” he says, noting that his newfound discovery doesn’t come without its own learning curve. “I’ll be honest, there are some late nights working on projects from time to time,” he admits, “but generally speaking, I get my work done during my free periods, then work on the videos.” Despite the challenges, the benefits are beyond worth it—such as when he received heartfelt thanks from the football team this year after he put together a poignant tribute film for Coach Kevin Driscoll ’72, who stepped down after last fall’s season. “It really touched me to see how much they appreciated what I was doing for them,” Ryan recalls. Ryan is also a dean’s list student and an admissions ambassador. Last year he received honorable mention for the environmental science book prize, and was a recipient of the Louise B. Adams

Award. And though he is now known on campus for his penchant for technology, he has been equally captivated by the great outdoors, winning the Woodwell Leadership Award his sophomore year. The award, given annually to a rising junior who demonstrates leadership potential and a desire to give back to the Avon community, sent Ryan on a 10-day Outward Bound trip to the wilderness of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. He spent the trip learning to master mountaineering skills, such as how to properly tie in, belay, and climb rock walls, as well as how to rappel off the face of cliffs with 1,000-foot drops. The trip was just one of many ways that the Avon experience has transformed Ryan. “Avon allowed me to find my voice,” he observes. “I came to Avon confused and lost, but I am leaving as a strong, confident leader ready to take on anything life has to throw at me. Avon has stretched me and beat me up these past three years, but because of it I’m a better man.” Ryan is unsure of his career plans right now, but plans to continue film production in college and cites a producer role at ESPN to be the “dream job.” No matter what he chooses to do, though, he’ll be sure to give back to the school that helped him find his way. “The first big paycheck I get is coming right at AOF,” he jokes. “This place needs some video equipment!”

JOHN RHYNE A few years ago, John Rhyne ’14 was just “the kid in the bow tie.” As a new student, John introduced the bow tie club, a group started at his first school, to Avon Old Farms, and it has since taken hold. Now, over the course of the last three years, the group has sold boxes of bow ties to raise money for the Toys for Tots initiative. Incidentally, John has also taught “roughly 300” boys how to tie a bow tie! John is also a talented athlete, contributing to both the varsity football and basketball programs, and a gifted vocalist who has been a member of the Riddlers since he arrived at Avon from North Carolina three years ago. He also helps lead the student-run small singing group, the Sing-ed Beavers. And after serving as a monitor in Diogenes dormitory his junior year, he was elected to

the head monitor position this year. “With all of these extracurricular activities, I have to use my time here at Avon very sparingly. Grades are by far the most important,” John, an honor roll student, admits. “The great thing about doing so much on campus is that teachers help the students to learn time management, and without those lessons I would not be able to pull everything off.” Although he’s found much success and personal growth at Avon, John’s time on campus hasn’t always been easy. “The hardest challenge I had to overcome was the death of my grandfather,” he recalls. “Being away from home during his passing was difficult, but the friends made here at Avon helped me to be strong.” Ultimately, John’s father and grandfather have gotten him through the

tougher days, and inspired him to pursue his education to the fullest. “I want to walk across the stage on graduation day knowing I did everything I could to get the best experience at Avon.”

SAAGAR SINHA As a singer, actor, and athlete, Saagar Sinha ’14 has been privileged to take advantage of many of the diverse opportunities Avon Old Farms School affords its students. Although he has found much success, and integrated himself seamlessly into the student body, it hasn’t always been easy for Saagar. He came to Avon midway through his sophomore year, transferring from the local public high school after realizing that he wanted the opportunity to become a more self-reliant student and hoping to challenge himself and grow his independence in and out of the classroom. “At first, all the new faces and the academic time commitment overwhelmed me. I was not used to such long academic days and Saturday classes,” he recalls. “This change was difficult from the beginning, but I persevered and started to find academic success. I worked closely with my teachers and learned compensation strategies. I was thrilled that I could do what everyone else was doing. I may have to work longer and harder, but at the end of the day, I get all my work done.”

While he is involved in many areas of student life, Saagar is primarily a vocalist, and he credits much of his success at Avon—and his work ethic, in general—to the overwhelming and transformative power of music. “When I was four years old, I was diagnosed with a speech and language disability,” he explains. “I had a very limited vocabulary and could only say a few words. The only way I was able to communicate was by pointing at the items I needed. A few months before my fifth birthday, I started singing and dancing. Singing helped increase my vocabulary and improve my speech. “ A three-year member of the Riddlers, Saagar is also the music director of

Avon’s small student-run singing group, the Sing-ed Beavers, and is a member of the National Honors Chorale. He has also acted in the fall play and the winter musical. And while he has enjoyed much success as an Avonian, Saagar’s musical accolades have extended into the professional arena, as well. In the summer of 2012, he began working with Grammynominated music producer Tim Coons, who has produced music for ’N Sync and the Backstreet Boys. “I soon found, in the process of recording, that my ‘never-give-up’ attitude served me well, and within a few months I released my first album,” Saagar explains. He has since recorded three music videos in addition to his first EP recording. “Balancing my recording and life at a prep school is challenging,” notes Saagar, “but I am happy to say that I am able to continue with my music career while maintaining good grades.”

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The Renaissance Man AARON ARYEE Aaron Aryee ’14 may be a star athlete— a tri-varsity veteran member of the football, basketball, and track and field teams—but his three years at Avon have shown him he’s so much more than that, too. As a two-year monitor in Brown House dormitory, Aaron is able to contribute in a unique way, and it’s a role about which he is extraordinarily passionate. “I like being a big brother to the younger kids,” he explains. “I enjoy being the person they can come to if they need help sorting things out. I really look forward to it.” Aaron’s position as a role model is just one of the way’s Avon has helped him to step out of his comfort zone and, seemingly,

into a leadership role that will likely extend into the future beyond just an education. “My first impression here was, ‘this can’t be a high school;’ it was something that I had never seen before, and I wondered if I would be able to handle it all,” he recalls. “This changed when I was welcomed to this community by upperclassmen and other

returning students. Avon began to feel more like home, and I was proud to be a part of it.” Giving back that support—not just to the community or his dorm mates but also to his mother, his greatest influence—is at the top of Aaron’s agenda after graduation. “She has faced a lot of adversity,” explains Aaron. “I want to be involved in a field where I can provide help to others. I want to be sure I can provide a stable home for a future family, and help support my mother like she helped support me.”

model United Nations and the young conservatives club, and also helps out with the Special Olympics sports program. He is also the head of peer tutoring, a role he enjoys because it allows him to help his fellow students find academic success. Though their busy academic, athletic, and service schedules rarely overlap, Brad and Gavin do share one major passion: both are members of the Riddlers, Avon’s elite singing group, and both claim this commitment to have been life-changing. “As part of the ensemble I’ve learned about the true meaning and power of music, and also been able to take advantage of opportunities such as performing at Lincoln Center and traveling to Argentina and, next, to Greece,” Brad explains. “I’ve truly enjoyed my time singing and have come to appreciate its effect on my personality; it has helped me find passion from something besides athletics, which is something that I truly appreciate now.” Gavin agrees, recalling last year, when he broke his collarbone twice and spent

most of the year sitting on the sidelines of his athletic contests. “It forced me to focus more on the other ways that I contribute to the school,” he says, citing the Riddlers as an undiscovered passion he revealed only through exploring the many options Avon has to offer. The bond between brothers is undeniable. And while Brad appreciates his closeness with Gavin, and the opportunities they’ve been able to share while attending school together, he has been more surprised by the extended “family” he’s made as a student. “Avon has given me 400 more brothers,” he says. “I understand that these friendships that I forge now are going to be intact throughout my life, and that is truly priceless. My friends and I flourish and suffer together; we help each other get through the most stressful times together, and we enjoy our limited free time together. The strength of the brotherhood at Avon is evident everywhere. It has made me a better young man by teaching me how to be a productive and beneficial part of my community. I will forever cherish my time here and will always be a man of Avon.”


Brad and Gavin Touponse ’14 are just one of 11 sets of brothers at Avon Old Farms School. Four-year seniors from Thomaston, Connecticut, they set themselves apart with the many ways they have dedicated themselves to life as Avonians. Brad is the head monitor in Jennings dormitory and a three-year admissions ambassador. He is a member of the varsity soccer team, the varsity B hockey team, and the varsity lacrosse team, and is also involved in the Special Olympics sports program. Gavin is the head monitor in Elephant 3 dormitory, as well as a member of the 26

Spring 2014 The Avonian


Arriving at Avon Old Farms School as a freshman from Seoul, Korea, Sam Kim ’14 was already a strong student, but quiet, reserved, and reluctant to get involved. “When I first came to Avon, I had

a difficult time adapting to the new atmosphere. The cultural differences have made me an introvert,” he explains. “However, as I became used to the environment, I became more outgoing and took several leadership roles to get fully involved in the Avon society.” Indeed, over the course of the last four years, Sam has become an integral part of his class, most notably for his technical skills, both with a camera and with a rifle. The photographer for the Winged Beaver yearbook, Sam was also awarded the photography book prize last year. In addition, he is a two-year co-captain of the varsity riflery squad, a team that this year won its first-ever Prep School Gallery Rifle Championship, breaking Suffield Academy’s five-year winning streak in the process. Sam shot a personal best 196 at that meet to lead his team to victory. In addition, Sam is the president of the international club, which organizes the always-popular annual international food festival event; vice president of the AMC club; and a member of Avon Outreach, the

environmental club, and peer tutoring. Beyond his extracurricular success, Sam has excelled in the classroom. A four-year Headmaster’s List student, Sam has been awarded the Spanish 1, 2, and 3 book prizes; the pre-calculus book prize; the chemistry book prize; and the educational technology book prize. His immense success is reflective of his beliefs in the Avon experience. “I first thought of Avon as a typical prep school just like any other high school,” he recalls. “Now, I see Avon as a special institution, where we learn to become independent and active men in society.” Though Sam claims to rely heavily on his parents, who have offered him unconditional support to pursue his dreams, he also notes that his time as a Winged Beaver has encouraged him to push forward into a more independent life, one that he hopes includes a career as a medical researcher or a physician. “Avon has taught me to become a pioneer and an independent young man,” he explains.

Nimrod Club, which this spring is restoring, on its own, the Nimrod Pavilion in the woods adjacent to Beaver Pond. Liam’s dedication to the Nimrod Club, which he describes as a “profound experience,” has been inspirational for him, as it has been a mainstay throughout both his happiest and most challenging of times—including the death of his father last year, after which, he says, “The Avon brotherhood really helped to pull me through. “My time at Avon has been a rocky and complicated climb to where I am now,” he explains. “I am, and will always be, glad that I stuck with Avon and decided to stay here. When I first came here I merely tried to slide by unnoticed. Then I began

to find things that I enjoyed doing, like Nimrod. Now I find myself involved in many different activities, staying active, and trying to help my Avon brothers enhance themselves. “When I first came to Avon I thought I wouldn’t fit in. Now I find that I have friends who do many different activities and I feel that I finally found my niche here at school.” Liam uses his skilled hands in many other ways, as well; he is a member of the varsity riflery team, and assists with construction and design of the set for the theater productions. He is a monitor in Jennings dormitory, and a member of Avon Outreach. Last year, Liam received the Louise B. Adams Award and the Dartmouth Book Prize, in addition to the award for excellence in technical theater. Next year he will attend Bucknell University, where he hopes to pursue a career in the sciences.

LIAM GILBERT Liam Gilbert ’14 has made quite a name for himself—and for his hands—throughout his four years at Avon Old Farms School. His significant talents in woodworking and woodturning recently earned him recognition with an impressive trifecta: a Gold Key Award, a Silver Key Award, and an honorable mention from the Scholastic Art Awards. He is also the president of the

The Avonian Spring 2014


Student Spotlight

Jas Spearman ’14 By Morgan C. Cugell


s a scholar, an athlete, a musician, and a community servant, Jas Spearman ’14 has exemplified the meaning of a Renaissance man on campus. A Dean’s List student, Jas was awarded the Dartmouth Book Prize last year. He was also granted the Richard and Dee Gordon Scholarship, Avon’s only merit-based scholarship, and is a National Junior Honor Society member. He is an admissions ambassador for a second year, and a monitor in Diogenes dormitory. He is a three-year starter on the varsity football team, a two-year member of the varsity lacrosse team, and was on varsity diving his sophomore year, placing 5th in New England. Jas is president of the environmental club, which has been working hard to make the school more sustainable, and it is a role about which he feels passionate. One of the group’s projects has been the purchase of new aluminum water bottles for each student on campus alongside the installation of a bottle-filling station in the Brown Student Center. A retrofit to the existing water fountain, it has a green ticker feature that keeps track of bottles saved from waste. “I hope these solutions will help stop students from buying

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cases of bottled water because that is the main problem,” he explains. “Half of the battle is convenience for students; the other half is awareness. If we target those two areas we’ll get some green results.” As president of the Sing-ed Beavers, a member of the Riddlers, and a performer in the winter musical, Jas is able to enjoy another one of his passions: music. He has made the regional choir for the past two years, and as a Riddler has been able to perform on a tour of Canada as well as in Lincoln Center. He notes that the Sing-ed Beavers won best all-male group at the Choate a cappella festival last spring, and are hopeful to repeat that performance this year, both at Choate and at Kingswood-Oxford. Jas’s dedication to so many of his passions may keep him busy, but they are also reflective of the philosophical approach he believes all students should take at Avon. “One of the things I tell prospective families in the Admissions office is that one of my favorite things about Avon is the opportunity to try new things without anyone judging you,” he explains. “Everyone has many talents, and at Avon they’re able to do more than just that one sport. Football players get cheers for playing a trumpet solo.

“…One of my favorite things about Avon is the opportunity to try new things without anyone judging you…”

A varsity lacrosse player can sing a solo in the Riddlers, be a monitor, win visual art prizes, act in a play, or even play another sport. Avon’s a place where you can explore multiple talents. It’s important that students broaden their comfort zones and explore new interests, because you never know what you’ll end up being passionate about—or talented in.” Jas’s father, Jake, is a faculty member at Avon Old Farms; Jake and his family arrived at Avon in 2011, and Jas repeated his sophomore year. Jake describes Jas’s transition to life at AOF as a difficult one: “Given a choice, he might have preferred to go to another school, but we did not give him that choice,” explains Jake. But Jas found sudden success, earning spots on the varsity football team and on the Riddlers; unfortunately, notes Jake, “He went into ‘cruise control’ academically and found himself in a bit of a hole by the end of the first quarter. He spent the rest of the year clawing his way out of the mess he had made, and dedicated himself to improving. “When junior year started, he had a new attitude. He seemed by now to have really bought into what Avon is and what it offers. He applied himself academically, athletically, and artistically. He maintained his efforts for the entire year and

achieved some terrific results.” Jake also observes that some of his proudest parenting moments have been due in large part to sharing the school with his son. “I have been able to watch him make his mark in so many different ways here at AOF,” says Jake. “While he might have come here reluctantly, this school has been everything I hoped it would be for him. I am extremely proud of him and what he has done. He has not been perfect (thank God) but he has done a terrific job of taking advantage of his opportunities while here—much better than I did back in my prep school days. “The best part is that I have had the chance to see him sing, perform, play football and lacrosse, lead his peers, and conquer some challenges. Once upon a time, whenever I did something noteworthy, my father used to say, ‘I bask in the reflected glory.’ That pretty well sums up how I feel about Jas. I have been extremely lucky to be present through these years and to see Jas grow, mature, and contribute.” Jas will attend Kenyon College next year, where he will play football and lacrosse and hopefully join their a cappella group. He is debating between majors in theater, English, and environmental science.

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Faculty Focus

Joe Lampe By Morgan C. Cugell


or Joe Lampe, the old adage, “Life is about the journey, not the destination” rings pretty true— especially if that journey is 26.2 miles long. Joe’s journey has been, quite literally, a marathon, not a sprint, and the course has taken him through music, film, theater, the culinary arts, academia, and family, and across many impressive finish lines. Born and raised at Kent School, where his father was a teacher of classics and an administrator, “My background is steeped in boarding school life,” Joe says. “I grew up attending sit-down dinners, and shagging balls for the varsity soccer team during their home games.” After graduating from Kent, Joe spent a year in the United Kingdom at Radley College, outside Oxford, on an English Speaking Union scholarship, a tradition that many boys at Avon Old Farms have come to enjoy, as well. “My year at Radley was enormously influential on me,” Joe recalls. “I expected it to be a year off before college in which I would see a little bit of the world and study in a new environment without any of the pressures of getting into college hanging over my head. In most ways it was exactly that, but it was much more. “In some ways it was very challenging. In many ways this experience forced me to ask myself who I really was, and what I stood for. For example I had to decide if I was going to be the kind of person who was going to say something when someone

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Spring 2014 The Avonian Spring 2014 The Avonian

around me made a racist joke, or if I was just going to pretend I hadn’t heard it. I grew up a lot that year.” After Radley, Joe headed to Wesleyan University, where he was thrilled to be able to explore and pursue passions that lay outside the realm of the heavily scheduled tri-varsity athlete he had been in high school. He majored in film studies, and sang in the Wesleyan Spirits, one of the premier single-sex a cappella groups at the college. But his gratitude for Wesleyan doesn’t stop with its myriad opportunities; it’s also where Joe met his wife, Sophia, who was also singing a cappella at Wesleyan. “For the record, Sophia is a better singer than me. I had skated by in my musical career primarily on my ability to hit a low D,” admits Joe who, despite his self-deprecation, was in four different choral groups at Kent, and, after Wesleyan, was invited to join the Vineyard Sound, a semi-professional singing group located on Martha’s Vineyard. Joe continued to explore the arts after college, when he went to New York as part of the page program at NBC, giving tours of the studios, ushering studio audiences, and taking on temporary assignments around the company. After the year-long stint was up, Joe hoped to capitalize on his film degree, and ended up working for a talent agent in the young talent division of Innovative Artists Talent Agency, a job he ultimately left to pursue an acting career. “It tied me to a desk and a phone helping others do creative and interesting things,” he explains. “I wanted to do creative and interesting things.

“Still this job gave me a rich insight into the industry that I had chosen,” he continues. “I saw many truly gifted artists struggle and even fail while others with half the talent flourished. I also saw how the happiest and most successful actors were those who worked steadily in minor roles; the character actors, those whom you would recognize, but whose name you would never know.” While waiting tables and taking acting jobs in “tiny off-off-off-Broadway shows,” Joe was also developing an interest in food and wine, working at the wellknown eatery Inoteca on the Lower East Side. “It was a dirty job, but I loved it,” he says. “There was a time when I seriously considered making a career in restaurants. To this day, food is one of my great passions.” Joe is the “head chef” in the Lampe kitchen, with his signature Bolognese headlining his repertoire, and homemade bread baking all summer. “I consider cooking to be one of my primary creative outlets,” he says.

When Joe and Sophia decided to get married, he notes, he began to realize his priorities were changing. “What I actually wanted out of life had little to do with a successful film career,” he explains. “I decided to become a teacher, because I realized that what had drawn me to acting and film was my love of stories. As long as I could have stories in my life I would be happy, and I could work with stories in the classroom.” Fast forward a few more years, and he and Sophia made their way to Avon Old Farms in 2008. They welcomed their first daughter, Vera, in 2009, and Joe returned to his alma mater to earn a master of arts in liberal studies from Wesleyan in 2012. Since joining the Avon faculty, Joe has taught a plethora of courses, and currently teaches English 4 and 4 honors; public speaking; and sight and sound: explorations in film studies, a course he created. He has spent time expounding upon his diverse body of experiences, helping out with the theater program, as an

“…I love nothing more than sitting around with my students talking about books. I have the privilege of leading an academic life, a life of the mind. That is what teaching is for me.”

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Faculty Focus

“…I see my little girl, not her diagnosis. I didn’t get here easily. It was a journey, and one that continues. I have had to change and grow to get to where I am now. Like most change it was painful, but I honestly believe that I am a better person now than I was before.” assistant coach of both the swimming and track teams, assisting with the literacy club, and as the faculty advisor to Avon’s student newspaper, the Avon Record. “My single greatest love here is teaching. I love the classroom,” observes Joe. “Some days are better than others, certainly, but I love nothing more than sitting around with my students talking about books. I have the privilege of leading an academic life, a life of the mind. That is what teaching is for me.” He may feel most at home in the classroom, but it was at Kent School where Joe discovered what seems to be his next greatest passion—running—spending four years on the varsity cross country team and even running in races on the Old Farms campus (see photo!). He abandoned the sport after high school, however, and didn’t return to it until being named the head coach of Avon’s varsity cross country team, a position he still enjoys today. “I got back on the horse, and I haven’t looked back,” says Joe, who two years ago ran in his first marathon in Providence, Rhode Island. He has also run in a local half marathon, and each summer runs at least a couple of sprint triathlons, as well. Though currently sidelined with a sports hernia, Joe plans to return to the road as soon as possible. “I am definitely going to run another marathon,” he states, also


Spring 2014 The Avonian

noting, “I have for a long time held the secret and truly insane ambition of one day running an Ironman triathlon. We’ll see.” For Joe, running is more than just a competition. “Running is meditation,” he explains. “Running is about stripping away everything but the road in front of you. It is the time to myself that gives me the energy to make time for all the other things I have to do.” Running, perhaps, then, has been one of the more calming influences in a somewhat chaotic recent few years, when the journey became more difficult than ever before. In 2011, Joe and Sophia welcomed their second daughter, Sasha, who was diagnosed unexpectedly with Down Syndrome. “The birth of a child is supposed to be a moment of unmitigated bliss, but Sasha’s birth came with a crippling family trauma,” he recalls. “We struggled with the diagnosis for a long time. We still do. “It is easy to be resentful, and angry. It is easy to envy all the other parents whose kids are healthy and normal,” explains Joe, citing Sasha’s many corresponding medical problems, including asthma, recurring croup, and heart surgery at 18 months old. “What has been hard, and the reason that this event has been so important in my growth and development as a human being, is finding the room in my heart to be proud of Sasha. Especially early on, it was hard not to dwell on the hardship of this diagnosis. Lately, I have come to live in a different place. I see possibilities more than limitations. I see my little girl, not her diagnosis. I didn’t get here easily. It was a journey, and one that

“Running is meditation. Running is about stripping away everything but the road in front of you. It is the time to myself that gives me the energy to make time for all the other things I have to do.”

continues. I have had to change and grow to get to where I am now. Like most change it was painful, but I honestly believe that I am a better person now than I was before.” Joe spoke of this transformation in his chapel talk in 2012. “As I began to pull it together, I came to realize that I had a real problem. The way that I felt was the worst grief that I had ever known. It felt like the worst thing that could have ever happened. That grief was directly connected to her diagnosis. “I sought counseling. The counselor framed the question for me in an interesting way. He said that dealing with this was about changing my perceptions about what it means to have a daughter with this diagnosis. It’s about understanding not only what can’t change, but what things can. My perceptions were the problem, my attitude. It was that initial conclusion that this was the worst thing that could ever have happened that needed to change. The truth is that Sasha is a rare and precious gift. “Don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can’t change how you feel. You can; it’s one of the few things in this life over which we have any real measure of control. More than that, there are times in this life when you must change, whether you want to or not. Something happens; life throws you a curveball, and if you are going to move past it you must make an adjustment. Either that or be miserable. It’s important to realize that it is up to you. It’s your choice.” Despite those curveballs, Joe somehow manages to have a hand in just about every facet of life here at Avon Old Farms,

and he has made the choice to do so with unrivaled dedication, but he is quick to credit the many people around him, especially his wife, Sophia. “I don’t think I could be the kind of teacher, or father, or man that I am without her in my life,” says Joe. “On the one hand I would have to say that it is certainly a challenge to make it all work, especially with two young kids,” admits Joe. “In truth I don’t spend as much time on any of my commitments here as I would like. For now I make it work as best I can with the help of my colleagues, and my students. In none of my pursuits am I alone. I have help. Avon is a community, and we look out for one another. “Avon is certainly unique. What I really love about it, though, is the people. What makes any boarding school great is the cast of characters that populate its hallways. How many unforgettable people live and work here?” Indeed, there are many—including, of course, Joe Lampe.

The Avonian Spring 2014


Elephant The





Compiled by Carol Ketcham, Archivist

From The Deed of Trust: The Founder believes that a boy who has never known the hardship of work on a farm… and has never experienced the joy of completing a task, even though it meant enduring physical discomfort, has been deprived of one of the most valuable experiences that life can offer for the development of character.

“A week a year we went down to live, sleep for seven days on a small farm, an old-fashioned farm. It had some pigs, it had some sheep, it had some cows, it had some chickens, an apple orchard. Usually about seven or eight students at a time went there. And we slept at the farm. We got up at four or five o’clock in the morning to do our chores and then were driven up in a car or a bus to school and attended our classes. And right after class went back there to do more chores and do some homework before we went to sleep.” —An Avon Old Farms School interview with Pete Seeger, May 2006 While he was at Avon,

Pete Seeger ’36 created the Avon Weekly News-Letter.

“The Avon Medal for devotion to duty should certainly go to Mr. Sperry, who, over the vacation faithfully kept Mme. Mendel, the pig, alive. Every day he went around to the back doors of other masters’ houses and collected garbage to feed her!” –From Avon Weekly News-Letter, January 14, 1935

“Several weeks ago a boy at the farm was non-plussed to find that after milking some time, the entire product, including the pail, weighed only three ounces. But he was knocked cold, figuratively, when he emptied the pail and found that alone it weighed four ounces! With the help of the quantum theory and Newton’s law of Gravity he is still trying to figure it out.” –From Avon Weekly News-Letter, March 11, 1934

“I collected the news, wrote it up, typed the stencils, turned the crank of the mimeo, collated and stapled the pages, and sold the copies for a nickel and kept the money. Free enterprise.”

“Mrs. Riddle has again given expression of her willingness to promote the agricultural and the farm side of the school by presenting 100 Rhode Island Red chicks to be distributed to any boys that are interested in poultry and would like to take care of chickens.” — From Avon Weekly News-Letter, April 8, 1934

–From a note from Pete to the school in May 2001

“Sometime within the month the Biology Department will butcher the hog. Mr. Sperry hopes that they will be able to get a state man from Storrs to come and show them really how to do it.” –From Avon Weekly News-Letter, January 14, 1934 The Avonian Spring 2014


Alumni Spotlight

Pete Seeger ’36 By Morgan C. Cugell

In Memoriam

Pete Seeger ’36 1919-2014


n January 27, Avon Old Farms School mourned the loss of one of its finest men: legendary musician and activist Pete Seeger ’36. An American icon in the areas of music, political activism, and righteous causes, Pete was the living embodiment of America’s traditions in folk music and made an extraordinary contribution to 20th-century American history. For more than 70 years, Pete exemplified the true spirit of folk music, and the songs he wrote offered not only beautiful music, but also social commentary and historical preservation. His political activism on behalf of both social justice and the environment encouraged generations of American citizens and musicians to stand up for change, and to do so through song. Pete’s talent and tremendous social influence earned him a Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award, a Harvard Arts Medal, the Kennedy Center Award, the Presidential Medal of the Arts, and membership in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. He was also recently honored posthumously as the inaugural recipient of the Woody Guthrie Prize, an award to be given annually to the artist who best exemplifies the spirit and life’s work of folk singer/songwriter Woody Guthrie, by speaking for the less fortunate through music, film, literature, dance, or other art forms, and serving as a positive force for social change in America. In 2008, Pete Seeger was unanimously selected as the first recipient of Avon’s Distinguished Alumnus Award. He visited campus, spoke to the community, performed with his trademark banjo, and was recognized with a plaque outside the Village Green in front of a tree named in his honor. In


Spring 2014 The Avonian

introducing Pete to receive the award, faculty member, historian, and lifelong Seeger fan Art Custer spoke of Pete with poignant words that, today, remind us all to celebrate and remember the life of this incredible man: “For more than 60 years, Pete Seeger ’36 has been saving lives and changing minds with music. There is no one who has been more prominent or more important to American folk music. If you don’t know him, you know and have sung his songs: “Where Have All the Flowers Gone?,” “If I Had A Hammer,” “Turn Turn Turn.” For the students here, perhaps I can give some little sense of his significance in music generally by telling you that Pete was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. I know many of you listen to Bruce Springsteen, so it should matter to you that The Boss is so inspired by Pete Seeger and his music that he made his own folk album entitled We Shall Overcome: The Seeger Sessions. Indeed, the list of prominent musicians who cite Pete Seeger among their major sources of inspiration is a veritable ‘Who’s Who’ in 20th- and 21st-century music. “Pete’s music has always had a social conscience. In his early years, he sang the songs of the Labor Movement with the Almanac Singers and then The Weavers. He has also consistently lent his voice (and his banjo) to the struggles for civil rights (with “We Shall Overcome”), peace (“Bring ’Em Home”), and environmental responsibility (“Sailing Down My Golden River”). For many, his Vietnam-era songs such as “Waist Deep in the Big Muddy” are particularly poignant today. “Frankly, however, the category “Things To Admire In Pete Seeger’s Life” contains much more than musical brilliance and socially conscious songs. Throughout his life, Pete has demonstrated extraordinary courage and commitment to justice. In the ’50s, Pete stood up to the House Committee on

“But I confess it was the 3,000 acres of woods that I really loved. I tracked animals there. I slept overnight in my teepee without anybody knowing it, because I could go there after lights were out and walk a half mile with a flashlight. And I could cook my own breakfast in the teepee.”

Un-American Activities, a notoriously Inquisition-like arm of the post-World War II Red Scare, telling the committee, ‘I am not going to answer any questions as to my associations, my philosophical or religious beliefs or my political beliefs, or how I voted in any election, or any of these private affairs. I think these are very improper questions for any American to be asked, especially under such compulsion as this. I would be very glad to tell you my life if you want to hear of it.’ You must understand that this was an extremely courageous stand to take. The House Committee on Un-American Activities, like Joe McCarthy in the Senate, had already ruined the lives of a number of entertainers and foreign service workers suspected of Communist leanings. Pete did

not, however, invoke the 5th Amendment as you might imagine. Instead, he essentially invoked the 1st Amendment, reminding the committee that as an American he has a right to his beliefs and to associate freely with others and letting the committee know—though I doubt they got the message—that it was their work that constituted an Un-American Activity. For that moment alone, he would be remembered as a great American. A Just Man living in an Unjust Society, Pete was ultimately convicted of contempt of Congress, sentenced to a year in jail, and blacklisted for 17 years.

“Think one man can’t make a difference? Just look at the life of one Avon Old Farms graduate. Pete Seeger has changed millions of lives with his music and his activism. He has done it without compromising his values and without fear for his own reputation or safety; he has done it with boundless optimism and the conviction that there is nothing the people cannot accomplish, and he has done it by bringing people together, recognizing the value in each of us and in all of us, and by inspiring us with his commitment, his vision, and his song.” –Art Custer

The following interview, about his student days at Avon Old Farms, was excerpted from a conversation Pete Seeger had with Avon Archivist Carol Ketcham when he and his wife, Toshi, visited the campus in 2006. AVONIAN: How did your parents come to pick this school, a brand new, very progressive school, for you?

My parents were split, and the three sons had to go somewhere. The oldest son got a scholarship to Loomis. And the next oldest son, with scholarship help, went to Kent…[My parents] knew a family whose son went to Avon, and they scraped up enough money to get me here, at least the first few months. But they ran out of cash, so they hoped I would get a scholarship. And I did eventually, as you know—an unusual kind of scholarship. SEEGER:

AVONIAN: One of the things that encouraged the school to give you that scholarship was the wonderful newsletter that you began.

Yes. I first tried to get a little allowance money by shining shoes, but at a nickel a pair, it was slow going. And I found that I could use the school mimeograph machine and pay for the paper and pay for the wax stencils, and somewhere I got a typewriter. I gathered the news with pencil and paper, typed up the little articles, and published a three-page Avon weekly newsletter. It came out every Tuesday right on time for three years. And that was why I was allowed to stay at the school, because Mrs. Riddle liked the gossip that I put in my newspaper, where all she got were formal reports from the Provost.


AVONIAN: What about the faculty? Did they get copies of your newspaper, too? SEEGER:

If they paid for them.

AVONIAN: Was there a person, an Avon faculty member or a student, who was particularly encouraging to you in terms of developing your skills as a musician or as a writer?

I attempted to write for my English teacher, Harold Louis Cook. And I liked music…I was in the glee club. Enjoyed singing. Tried to join the jazz band, but I wasn’t very good. Painted pictures in Mr. Child’s art class. Tried to do a little sculpture. But I confess it was the 3,000 acres of woods that I really loved. I tracked animals there. I slept overnight in my teepee without anybody knowing it, because I could go there after lights were out and walk a half mile with a flashlight. And I could cook my own breakfast in the teepee.


“In the ’60s, Pete decided to launch a campaign to clean up the Hudson River. Using the sloop Clearwater as his platform, he has succeeded to a remarkable degree—mostly by calling attention to the problem and by inspiring a grassroots movement in response. Along the way, they have had to get past some formidable obstacles—General Electric, for example, was dumping PCB’s into the river—but Pete has always believed in the power of the people—and of song. “Think one man can’t make a difference? Just look at the life of one Avon Old Farms graduate. Pete Seeger has changed millions of lives with his music and his activism. He has done it without compromising his values and without fear for his own reputation or safety; he has done it with boundless optimism and the conviction that there is nothing the people cannot accomplish, and he has done it by bringing people together, recognizing the value in each of us and in all of us, and by inspiring us with his commitment, his vision, and his song.”


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TOSHI SEEGER: That leads right to when he married me, and by the time we’d had two children, he decided that we were going to move out to the wilderness. SEEGER: Summers, I spent all my vacations up at my grandparents’ house in the country. I really thought cities were a big mistake. They’re too noisy, and too dirty, too crowded, and unhealthy. And now I think that if the human race survives, the cities will teach us some of our most important lessons. Mainly how to live with somebody, next to you or on the next block, who speaks a different language and has a different name for God. In Queens, there’s a newspaper store that sells newspapers in 182 languages. Can you imagine it? AVONIAN: Amazing. So you spent a lot of time in Avon’s woods; isn’t it interesting that you had the time to do that as a student here. You went

Alumni Spotlight

to class during the day, and then there was time to work on the farm… One week a year we went down to live for seven days on a small farm… It had some pigs, some sheep, some cows, some chickens, and an apple orchard… And we slept on the farm. We got up at four or five o’clock in the morning to do our chores, and then were driven up in a car or a bus to school and attended our classes. And right after class we went back there to do more chores and do some homework before we went to sleep.


AVONIAN: There is a lot of information and misinformation that floats around about Mrs. Riddle. What were your impressions of her?

It’s interesting that she was very conservative in some ways and very liberal in others. In fact, those two terms are almost meaningless, I now feel, because they mean such different things to different people. After all, the opening sentence in her charter is, “Avon is a school for the sons of the gentry.” Then she went on to have a student council elected by proportional representation. One of these years, the United States of America will get to be better with that. I did a double take on her when I came back to visit the school in the ’50s and ’60s and ’70s and realized what truly extraordinary buildings these are. In person, she was not that impressive. She didn’t put on any social airs. Didn’t smile much. She was really very concerned with her buildings, and she was concerned with the school. But at that time, I saw her as an old woman… I think she was in her 50s or 60s. To a child, that’s getting old. And I felt she was an old woman who had more money than anybody should have.



So you were a socialist even then.

I was getting drawn into the socialist movement at that time.

AVONIAN: Mrs. Riddle made it clear in her deed of trust that she wanted the boys to experience a simple, more rural America. Do you think that experience gave you any insight that you might not have gotten elsewhere, and do you think any of the things that you learned here in the woods and the fields affected your music?

Not directly did it affect my music, but indirectly, all my life I’ve been very concerned about the relationship of cities to country, and I tell people I’m a very conservative person. Before I came here, I was a disciple of Ernest Thompson Seton, the nature writer who held up the American Indian as a role model… When I got here, I graduated to reading Henry Thoreau, and I got into politics more. I graduated from reading Henry Thoreau, who went to jail rather than pay taxes to help send escaped slaves back to the South. When his


older friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson, comes to jail and says, “Henry, what are you doing in there?” Thoreau says, “Ralph, what are you doing out there?” And then I graduated to reading the autobiography of Lincoln Steffens, who was a socialist and a muckraker… He’s the one who got us the famous statement, “I’ve seen the future, and it works.” In the 1950s, I was singing for the veterans of the Abraham Lincoln battalion, and we were in an elevator, and one of them said, “I’ve seen the future, and it doesn’t work…” But I’ve seen the good and bad, side by side, in all different parts of the world. The Third World and the First World and what they call the Second World, at times. And now the Internet is pulling together this world like never before. I think there’s a chance; I’m more optimistic now than I have ever been in my life, that if we use the tools of communication, which technology has given us, we may be able to keep the human race from wiping itself off the face of the earth, given the terrible tools that science has also given us. Nuclear weapons. Biological weapons. Chemical weapons. And so on. AVONIAN:

After Avon, you went off to Harvard. Did you stay there?

I left in April of my second year. I got so interested in politics that I let my marks slip, and I lost the little scholarship I had. About a quarter of the money I needed came from a scholarship, and then I worked for another quarter of the money, and my older brothers, who had jobs now, took care of the other half… So when I lost my scholarship, there was no more money available, and I left. I remember the dean, who later on became a friend, said, “If you ever decide what you really want to study, I hope you’ll come back.” But I was disillusioned by the cynicism of some of my professors, who said, “Oh, you can study the world but don’t think you can change it. What is going to happen is going to happen…”



What kind of technology do you have at home now?

I’m still living in the 19th century in many ways. I write longhand now.



And he uses a regular IBM typewriter.

But no computer?

I don’t know how to use a computer… My local politician said to me, “Pete, if you don’t grow, you die.” At one o’clock in the morning, I thought, “If that’s true, doesn’t it follow that the quicker we grow, the sooner we die?”


The Avonian Spring 2014


Please send us your personal notes! Class Notes can be submitted to Lizabeth Abramson at: The deadlines for Class Notes submission are: Fall issue: September 1, 2014 Spring issue: March 1, 2015

Class Notes 42 RUSSELL HUNTER, Head Class Agent

PO Box 22, Farmington, CT 06034-0022


Headmaster Ken LaRocque trav eled down to Midland, Texas, to visit several alumni, including John Kimberly ’55 and Robin Brown ’93.

HARVEY RUBIN, Head Class Agent 102 Barbour Cir., Newport News, VA 23606-2201


30 Tellidora Ct., Fort Meyers, FL 33908-1618

Seth recently talked with DICK WALKER, who was in Florida with his wife. They had been in the Caribbean and were en route back to London. He also talked with FRANK LEAVITT, who actually enjoyed the winter in Maine as he got out every day on his cross-country skis. Frank joined Seth on the Avon campus for Reunion Weekend in May. Also over the holidays, Seth heard from two other classmates, JOHN NICHOLS and TONY ANTOVILLE, who both reside in California.

SETH MENDELL writes from Fort Myers, Florida, that he and Alice are settling into their new quarters on the banks of the Caloosahatchee River. From their porch, they see dolphins jumping and pelicans fishing—a far cry from shoveling snow.

Seth reports that when he and Alice were in Hopkinton, Massachusetts, at daughter Margaret’s for the holidays, they spoke with BILL MAHER ’82 and at a different time, TIM KELLEY ’81. Both had been students of his and it was fun to reminisce.

51 WARREN FORD, Head Class Agent

115 Center St., Wolcott, CT 06716

52 SETH F. MENDELL, Head Class Agent


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405 Dranes Tavern Dr., Fairfax, VA 22030-4603

59 CHARLES W. DAVIS, Co-Head Class Agent

6905 West 99th St., Overland Park, KS 66212 DOUGLAS B. MARSHALL, Co-Head Class Agent

2 Berkshire Rd., Bloomfield, CT 06002

60 RICHARD L. WILLIAMS, Head Class Agent

PO Box 218, South Orleans, MA 02662-0218

Balfour Walker ’65 and his wife, Leslie, enjoyed the Tucson rodeo last winter.

Knick Curtis ’63 and his wife, Lynn, spent a week at Las Ventanas in Cabo San Lucas with several friends in late January. Knick wrote, “It was a nice break from the cold that was sweeping the country at the time. The whale watching was incredible!”

Perry Benson ’65 during his 230-mile ride in Arizona in February

61 GEORGE F. HENSCHEL JR., Head Class Agent

101 Seminary Rd., Bedford, NY 10506

62 ALAN D. ROZINSKY, Class Agent 13620-B Via Flora, Delray Beach, FL 33484

63 THOMAS K. CURTIS, Head Class Agent 4306 Pomona Rd., Dallas, TX 75209-2822

64 W. B. HARWOOD III, Head Class Agent 24 Overhill Ave., New Britain, CT 06053

65 PERRY BENSON, Head Class Agent 2135 Naudain St., Philadelphia, PA 19146-1218

67 Plan now to attend our 50th Reunion May 15-17, 2015. It will be a great time to reconnect with fellow members of the Class of 1965!

JAMES W. CORRIGAN, Co-Head Class Agent 826 Gould Hill Rd., Contoocook, NH 03229

PERRY BENSON rode in RAGBRAI, the Register’s

WILLIAM F. ROBERTS, Co-Head Class Agent 786 Brownsville Rd., Sinking Spring, PA 19608

Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa for the 9th time last July. The 450-mile ride crosses the state in seven days. Then in February, after escaping the winter in Philadelphia, Perry rode over 230 miles in the warm sun of Arizona. While there, he went with Leslie and BALFOUR WALKER to the Tucson Rodeo, aka La Fiesta de los Vaqueros [see photo]. Last September, HANCE THROCKMORTON flew from Des Moines, Iowa, to visit TERRY HESS in NYC. Terry emailed, “I have not seen Hance since our 40th reunion eight years ago. We had a great time talking about our past. We have known each other for 50 years, and speak to each other almost every day.”

66 MICHAEL D. BARKER, Head Class Agent 139 Kirkwood Rd., West Hartford, CT 06117-2835

68 GEORGE L. PURNELL, Head Class Agent 4822 Brighton Lakes Blvd., Boynton Beach, FL 33436

Last fall, MARK SHARMAN wrote, “My wife, Dianne, retired from teaching in June so we spent two months crossing the country in an RV loaned to us by a good friend. Our grandkids live in Colchester, Vermont, so that was our turnaround point. At Avon we read Travels With Charley and I often thought of that book as we met wonderful people throughout our journey. We just arrived home last Tuesday. I even had a chance to play a few rounds during our trip!” Mark also wrote, “I could not make it back for the Pierpont Celebration in October due to a family obligation. However, I

The Avonian Spring 2014


Class Notes Ralph Palmer ’71 is a member of the Blackwater Pyrates Crew, a group that raises money for charities in Milton, Florida.

Joseph Vecchiarino ’71 and Allis on suppor ted the troops at a holid ay fundraiser for Soldier Socks.

wanted to share with you some memories and how Dr. Pierpont changed my life. I struggled through junior high school and had very poor grades for a boy looking for a prep school. Avon was a last resort for me, and as I sat in Dr. Pierpont’s office, I assumed I was facing another rejection. Instead, he said words that changed my life: ‘Mark, I believe you will make a good student here at Avon, but I will only accept you on one condition. You need to go home and write me a letter stating that no matter how hard things may get, you will never give up. If I hear you are not working to your potential, I will have you read that letter to me so we can discuss your effort.’ Thankfully I never saw that letter again. When it was time to visit colleges, he hopped on a plane with MICHAEL STEWART and me to visit Miami of Ohio. My vivid memory is Dr. P. reciting limericks on the flight! It was a rare chance to see another dimension of this wonderful man. He died my freshman year at Miami, about the same time I lost my AOF ring. Bad year. His passing hit me hard because he was the one person who saw something in me that allowed my growth, my success, and my future. When I received the Order of Old Farms, he was very proud of my accomplishment. As I grew


Spring 2014 The Avonian

older, I better understood the incredible opportunity Dr. P. offered when he opened the door for me at Avon. I felt I should share these memories with you so you could understand how one student’s life was profoundly shaped by Dr. Pierpont.”

STEVE HIGGINS has been involved in seeking creative reuse ideas to save the historic Tennessee Brewery Building in Memphis, Tennessee.


snow plowing, during this record-setting snowfall in Connecticut, having to plow his half-mile long driveway that winds up a hill to his new lodge-style home.”


35 Adelaide Ave., Barrington, RI 02806


JOE VECCHIARINO emailed “Got snow? TIM BEEBLE has become an expert in

Follow the adventures of Nico, grandson of HANK COONS, on Hank’s Facebook page.

HARRIS H. BUCKLIN III, Head Class Agent 3004 Margaret Jones Ln., Williamsburg, VA 23185

TONY AMENDOLA has studied Chicano art since


JOHN SPENCER spent six months in Brazil


O Box 2103, Westport, CT 06880 JIM HAZEN has become an expert on military

reenactments and classic armed forces military equipment from the Civil War through World War II.

1976 and has posted a great article on Chicano art on his Facebook page. diagnosing leprosy in school children in poor cities. He examined almost 2,000 children in three towns. Those found to have leprosy will get free treatment.

72 KEVIN DRISCOLL, Class Agent

500 Old Farms Rd., Avon, CT 06001

Family of Coley Bookbinder ’81: Eileen, Quinn (10), Coley, and Gracie (8)

rld resented at the Wo Avon was well rep -16, 13 b. Fe s hip ns pio Pond Hockey Cham , Canada. ick sw un ck, New Br 2014, in Plaster Ro , ’79 ke ’79, Tony Gray From left: Scott Lin . and Todd Lady ’93





JORGE E. CONSUEGRA, Head Class Agent


415 East 52nd St., Apt. 4HC, New York, NY 10022-6482

5 Andrews Rd., Greenwich, CT 06830

Wells Fargo Advisors LLC, 30 South 17th St., Suite 2000, Philadelphia, PA 19103-2707

74 GEORGE J. GIANNONI, Co-Head Class Agent

36 Twilight Dr., Granby, CT 06035-1212 EDWARD P. MOLLOY, Co-Head Class Agent

6 Winhart Dr., Granby, CT 06035

75 TOM BYRNE, Head Class Agent

31 Helena Rd., Avon, CT 06001-3433

76 ALEXANDER N. WORLEY, Head Class Agent

20 Shore Grove Rd., Clinton, CT 06413

78 JOHN M. GARVEY, Head Class Agent

389 Haines Ave., Long Beach, CA 90814

79 ANTHONY M. GRAY, Co-Head Class Agent

6212 Wagner Ln., Bethesda, MD 20816 SCOTT B. LINKE, Co-Head Class Agent

116 Eleven Levels Rd., Ridgefield, CT 06877-3011


82 GREGORY T. FISH, Head Class Agent 56 Blue Ridge Dr., Simbury, CT 06089

83 WILLIAM E. ESCHERT, Co-Head Class Agent

24 Westlands Rd., Avon, CT 06001-3197; RICHARD C. GREGORY, Co-Head Class Agent 30 Walnut Farms Dr., Farmington, CT 06032

THOMAS E. DAVEY, Head Class Agent

4816 Sandestin Dr., Dallas, TX 75287

The Avonian Spring 2014


Class Notes

Class of ’84 Avon lacrosse teammates Dean Graham, Mark McGinley, Chris Hennessey, and Brett Jefferson met at the 2014 Tewaaraton Dinner in New York City in February. This special first-ever reception announced the 2014 Tewaaraton Watch Lists and raised money to help support the non-profit Tewaaraton Foundation and college scholarships for Native American high school lacrosse players.

Bill Young ’85 with his wife, Inger, an d their children: Johnson (19), Margo (16) , Gunner (13), and Emmett (10). The Youngs make their home in Chillic othe, Missouri.



JOHN GORDON, Head Class Agent


246 Nacoochee Dr. N.W., Atlanta, Georgia 30305

13 Smith Ln., Burlington, CT 06013-1201



SAM L. RUBENSTEIN, Head Class Agent

HAROLD R. BEACHAM JR., Class Agent 263 Western Ave., Sherborn, MA 01770

2640 Endsleigh Dr., Bloomfield Hills, MI 48301 RAYMOND LOEWY emailed, “I continue to be the ‘jingle king of New York.’ My lavish musical masterstrokes grace the finest television advertising, from ambulance-chasing law firms to cat litter to toilet cleansers. Tonefarmer’s music makes the difference every time. I also enjoy taxidermy, cribbage, and long walks along the beach.” SAM JAMROG announces the birth of his granddaughter, Aurora Lynn.


Spring 2014 The Avonian

88 SHAWN E. ATKINSON, Co-Head Class Agent PETER REED, Co-Head Class Agent

91 Butternut Ln., Southport, CT 06890

DAVID COOPER and his wife, Simoneé, announce the birth of Dakota Savannah Hazel Cooper, born on November 2, 2013. Dakota weighed 7 lbs. 4 oz. With his update, David wrote, “I just shaved off my Red Sox beard!”

89 ROBERT WILEMAN, Head Class Agent 7425 N.E. 97th Ter., Oklahoma City, OK 73151-9121 ROB WILEMAN visited his daughter, Alex (19), for Dad’s Day last September at the University of Arkansas where Alex is a freshman. His son, Blake (16), is a freshman in high school.

Chad Hopson ’85 married Jennifer Chang on October 4, 2013, in Denver, Colorado. Ushers for the wedding included Brett Anker ’85 and Shaun Shattuck ’85.

Dan Seiden ’00 and Kevin Drisc oll ’72 capped off a gr eat visit to the Dominican Republic with th e best host ever , Federico Schad ’88, and lunch at Neptun es.

Steele Pollard ’92 with his wife, Lauren, and daughter, Alexandra.

Kevin Francisco Schad ’89 and off game Driscoll ’72 were at a play c to cheer in the Dominican Republi on Los Leones.

Rob Wileman ’89 watched Alan Weiner ’89 pick up his first win at Hallett Motor Speedway in Jennings, Oklahoma, on October 7th.



PETER J. DECKERS, Head Class Agent

DAMIEN J. EGAN, Head Class Agent

500 Old Farms Rd., Avon, CT 06001

52 Brookview Ct., Groton, CT 06340-5528

Plan now to attend our 25th Reunion May 15-17, 2015. It will be a great time to reconnect with fellow members of the Class of ’90!

After 20 years working in restaurants and various hotels in New York, DOUG KOOLURIS found his true love to be wine and people. This passion is brought to the forefront in his shop, which serves the community as both a place for connecting to other wine lovers as well as an educational and tasting venue. Doug wrote, “Our shop is the truest example of a friendly, old world boutique.”

91 MICHAEL M. MULLIN, Head Class Agent

8 Nickerson Ln., Darien, CT 06840

STEELE POLLARD and his wife, Lauren,

announce the birth of their daughter, Sidney Alexandra Pollard, born on January 27, 2014 [see photo].

The Avonian Spring 2014


Class Notes

Robin Brown ’93 and Headmaster LaRocque in Midland, Texas

ue’s call for Best admaster LaRocq Responding to He in his wedding nt se r Rozas ’93 Man alumni, Xavie ith the bowtie), vier Rozas ’93 (w photo: groom Xa ter) honored en (c d an yer ’94, best man D.R. Dw igi Sartori ’93. wedding guest Lu Kyle Youngquist ’97, his daughter Bella (2), and Tim Stay ’97 met up at the inaugural Harvard-Yale alumni hockey game in New York City on January. 11, 2014.




ANTHONY D. SILVESTRO, Head Class Agent 3 Beech Cir., Andover, MA 01810-2901

23 Church St. Apt. A, Flemington, NJ 08822


JASON MILLER married Whitney Shaffer-Rais in

GRAHAM C. FULLER, Head Class Agent

2937 Morris Rd., Ardmore, PA 19003-1832 PAUL M. GOZZO, Reunion Chairman 1221 12th Ct., Jupiter, FL 33477-9041 PAUL GOZZO was instrumental in leading the

Class of ’94 to the highest alumni participation rate in the February Faceoff.


Spring 2014 The Avonian

Rye, New Hampshire, in June of 2013 [see photo] and enjoyed a fantastic honeymoon in Barbados. Jason wrote, “My daughter, Isabella, moved in with us more than two years ago and is a freshman in high school. She’s attending TC Williams High School (you may remember the school was highlighted in the movie Remember the Titans). However, a nearby prep school, Episcopal High School, has expressed interest in her volleyball skills. This past week we visited the school for a tour and interview. We were very impressed and we’ve

started the application process. It certainly took me back to my very first visit to Avon and some really fond memories I had of my two years. I’ve said it before, but I routinely think back to my time with Avon and am so thankful for the support, guidance, and leadership I received there. I know I wouldn’t have attended the Academy or be where I am now without it.”

96 MARK A. CARUSO, Head Class Agent

124 Westminster Rd., Chatham, NJ 07928-1364 BRIAN EMERSON, his wife, Ashley, and daughter,

Morgan (2), announce the birth of identical twin boys to their family. After a complicated pregnancy, the boys were born on January 10, 2014. Patrick Brian weighed 3 lbs. 4 oz. and Parker Stewart weighed 2 lbs. 11oz. While a NICU stay was necessary, both boys and Mom are doing well.

The wedding of Jason Miller ’95 to Whitney Shaffer-Rais

Jordy Jayson ’94 visited campus last fall and was given a tour by Dean Peter Evans.

Nik Paleologos ’94 and his wife, Lindsay

an ’97 rock E. Dor Paige and B 20, st gu d on Au were mar rie anical ot B ai K na Ai 2013, in Na ai, Hawaii. K au Gardens in

97 TIMOTHY B. STAY, Co-Head Class Agent

2024 Upland Way #201, Philadelphia, PA 19131 KYLE R. YOUNGQUIST, Co-Head Class Agent

2 14th St., Apt. 321, Hoboken, NJ 07030 TIM STAY and KYLE YOUNGQUIST met up

this year in early January at Chelsea Piers in NYC as Tim was playing in the Harvard-Yale alumni hockey game, prior to the Harvard-Yale game at Madison Square Garden.

98 GEOFFREY R. BARLOW, Co-Head Class Agent 500 Old Farms Rd., Avon, CT 06001 J.A. CORRIGAN, Co-Head Class Agent

300 North State St #3508, Chicago, IL 60654 CRAIG EVANS and his wife, Claire,


announce the birth of daughter Camille Anne Evans, born April 3, 2014.

The Avonian Spring 2014


Class Notes

William Patrick Dowling III, son of Patrick Dowling ’00, sports an Avon tee!

Drew ’98 and Ashley Widger were married in Boston on January 11, 2014.

September 6, Bobby Falaguerra ’03 married Samantha Bain smen were groom the g Amon cticut. 2013, in Westport, Conne ’04, Ryan Sheflott ’04, best man Ryan McCoy ’03, Jared DeMichiel Stamford, Connecticut, and Mike Arciero ’04. The couple resides in for CRT Capital. Sam and where Bobby works for

99 GREG KRACZKOWSKY emailed, “I’m back in

town as of last July 2013, doing a dental residency at St. Francis Hospital in Hartford and looking forward to working in private practice starting this summer. Hope all is good.” DREW WIDGER married Ashley Sullivan on

January 11, 2014, at the State Room in Boston. Ashley is originally from Cheshire, Connecticut, and the couple was engaged July 4, 2013, on the Connecticut shore. Drew emailed in February, “We just returned from our honeymoon in French Polynesia in the South Pacific. JASON COSCIA ’99 was at the wedding and we see each other regularly in Boston.”


Spring 2014 The Avonian

DAVID R. GRYBOSKI, Co-Head Class Agent

101 South Bay Blvd., Suite B-3, Anna Maria, FL 34216-0732

Since 2008, BRAD STEWART has worked at the National Counterterrorism Center, a U.S. government agency tasked with combatting terrorism at home and abroad by analyzing the threat, sharing that information with our partners, and integrating all forms of national power to ensure unity of effort. “Most recently, I was named the center’s New England representative and for the next 18 months will be based in Boston. If anyone at Avon would be interested in hearing about the work I do and more about the center, please let me know. I am a short drive to Avon from Boston and would be delighted to speak with folks,” he writes.


ANDREW M. KUNISCH, Co-Head Class Agent 1431 33rd St. NW, Apt. 2, Washington, DC 20007-2851

DR. MICHAEL J. O’NEILL, Co-Head Class Agent 2 Saltaire Dr., Old Lyme, CT 06371

STEPHEN A. ZAPPONE, Co-Head Class Agent

DAN SEIDEN, Co-Head Class Agent

20 Dudley Rd., Litchfield, CT 06759

59 Fox Hollow, Avon, CT 06001

JOHN HABERLAND, his wife, Laura, and their daughters, Isobel (3) and Eleanor (5 months), live in Anchorage, Alaska, where John is a captain in the JAG Corps and Laura is in the reserves. Both John and Laura are lawyers.

CHANDLER MOUNT and his wife, Christina, announce the birth of their daughter, Fiona Elisabeth, born on February 5, 2014. Chandler emailed, “Fiona clocked in at 8 lbs. 9 oz. and 20 inches. She and Christina are doing beautifully.”

”) Callsen Gilman (“Alex Lucius n so s hi ’04 with . s) th on m (4

In Cooper Landing, Alaska. From left: Shayla and Adam Swain ’02, Amanda and Kevin Klemenz ’02, and Pat Hornbrook ’02 and his wife, Jess.

Steve Wysocki ’01 and his wife, Nailde Lima, with their son, Jack, born on September 2, 2013. The family of Mike Warner ’00: Mike, Mickey (2), Ashley, and Maggie Rose (2 weeks).

JOHN BECK coaches at TMI- The Episcopal

ALEX DEAN and his wife, Elizabeth (EB),

School of Texas in San Antonio. They won the San Antonio District championship and John was named coach of the year. John and his wife, Lindsey, welcomed home Owen Vaughn Beck, born on November 18, 2013.

are spending another Christmas in Hohenfels, Germany, with their three daughters. Victoria Ross, the newest addition to the family, was born in March in Bavaria.

CRAIG EIRING and his wife, Stephanie,

announce the birth of their daughter, Stella Rose, on December 13, 2013. Stella weighed 8 lbs. 2 oz. and was 22 inches. CHRIS GLEASON and his wife, Tara, announce

the birth of their son, Ronan Christopher, on January 17, 2014. MICHAEL WARNER and his wife, Ashley,

announce the birth of their daughter, Maggie Rose Warner, on February 15, 2014. Maggie weighed 7 lbs. 15 oz.

01 CHRISTOPHER D. COLEMAN, Co-Head Class Agent 3801 39th St. NW #E83, Washington, DC 20016 NICHOLAS H. LAROCQUE, Co-Head Class Agent 2151 Williams St., Palo Alto, CA 94306-1417

MARIO BARCENAS and his wife, Anna

Cristina, announce the birth of their son, Sebastian Ernesto, born on January 21, 2014.

Marek Joseph Krowka ’03 and Mariella Zahia Soussou were mar ried on Saturday, July 6, 2013, at Saint John-Ma rc Church in Byblos, Lebanon.

02 WILLIAM N. PALMER, Head Class Agent 736 Terrace St., Kansas City, MO 64112

Since they could not make the actual wedding last winter, KEVIN KLEMENZ and PAT HORNBROOK celebrated the marriage of Shayla and ADAM SWAIN in Cooper Landing, Alaska, with a BBQ last August [see photo].

03 JAMES TANG, Head Class Agent

300 East 84th St. Apt. 2A, New York, NY 10028

04 MATTHEW H. MORAN, Head Class Agent

4114 Manayunk Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19128 Katrina and ALEX CALLSEN announce the birth of their son: “Lucius was born on the 28th of September! All’s good. 8 lbs. 1 oz., with a full head of black hair (see photo).”

JONNY HOAK and his wife, Jacque, announce the birth of their daughter, Tucker O’Hara Hoak, on March 9, 2014.

The Avonian Spring 2014


Class Notes

Mr. and Mrs. Jackson Oakes Howard ’05 celebrated their wedding in Hawaii last October.

the knot Erik Kapchus ’05 tied n on nso pki Ho with Elizabeth December 29, 2013.

Lindsay and Griffin Leahy ’04 were married at the Chicago History Museum October 12, 2013.




DANE G. LEMERIS, Head Class Agent

KEVIN T. DRISCOLL, Co-Head Class Agent 241 Marin Blvd., Jersey City, NJ 07302

1763 Second Ave., Apt. 3N, New York, NY 10128 JONATHAN QUICK and his wife, Jaclyn,

announce the birth of their son, Carter, born April 10, 2013 [see family photo]. JACKSON OAKES HOWARD married Roxana

Beatriz Alvarado Mendez on October 26, 2013, at the Lava Lava Beach Club on Anaeho’omalu Bay, on the Kohala Coast of Hawaii [see photo]. The officiant, Timothy Beneski, was the groom’s English teacher and soccer coach at Avon Old Farms School. Mr. “B” is now a teacher at the Hawaii Preparatory Academy in Waimea, Hawaii. The best man was SAM HOWARD ’11, the groom’s brother. The new Mr. and Mrs. Howard reside in Washington, D.C., where they work in the diplomatic field.


Spring 2014 The Avonian

JOSHUA P. PAVANO, Co-Head Class Agent 77 Fieldstone Run, Farmington, CT 06032

07 CASEY R. COONS, Co-Head Class Agent

132 West 8th St. #3, South Boston, MA 021272536 TYLER C. HADDAD, Co-Head Class Agent

150 Huntington Ave. #1, Boston, MA 02115 JONATHAN R. HASPILAIRE, Class Agent

111 Portland Rd., Atlantic Highlands, NJ 07716

CANNING are roommates in Brooklyn, New York [see photo]. Ben has been working for the past seven months at a non-profit organization that supports charter schools in Newark, New Jersey. Chris has been working at Patagonia and is preparing for another summer season of white-water raft guiding in Moab, Utah.

08 WILL HENDRICKS, Co-Head Class Agent

117 NW Trinity Place #31, Portland, OR 97209 KEVIN SISTI, Co-Head Class Agent 64 Pinnacle Rd., Farmington, CT 06030

09 JOHN (BEN) BEATH, Head Class Agent 12229 Prince Towne Dr., St. Louis, MO 63141 ABRAHAM J. (BRAHM) WACHTER, Class Agent 200 East 72nd St., New York, NY 10128

Ben Kimmer le ’06, Chris Canning ’07, and Dan Cardon ’06 on the Willi amsburg Bridge in March. Dan came for a visit to Brooklyn from Bur lington, Verm ont, where he wor ks and lives.

Sam Marvin ’10 with Casey Coons ’07. Sam is co-captain for the St. Lawrence University lacrosse team. The Saints beat Babson 15-4 at Yale University. Casey and Sam were teammates during the 2011 Saints season.

Jonathan Quick ’05 with Madison (4), his wife Jaclyn, and Carter (1)

Will White ’13, Brandon Moore ’08, Wilson Meyer ’13, and Jason Lally ’11 proudly represent AOF at the United States Military Academy.

11 OLIVER K. ROTHMANN, Head Class Agent 10 Ardsley Way, Avon, CT 06001

12 JOHN D. SHAMBURGER, Head Class Agent 4345 Brookview Dr., Atlanta, GA 30339


The school has learned of the deaths of the following alumni: INDIRA NARSIPUR Past Faculty

WILSON P. MEYER, Head Class Agent

CHARLES L. HANSCOMB ’80H Past Director

2 Torrey Pines Ln., Newport Beach, CA 92660


MICHAEL NICOLIA has been working with

the producers of Emerging Comics to bring his stand-up comedy act to multiple stages in New York City. He was featured in the Clayton Fletcher Show on January 10th at the Greenwich Village Comedy Club. He also performed at the Broadway Comedy Club on February 13th. Check out his Facebook fan page! Facebook. com/mikenicoliacomedy


The Avonian Spring 2014


Avon Move on the

Chevy Chase

At the Chevy Chase Club

Dominican Republic

52 52

Spring 2014 The Avonian Fall 2010 The Avonian



At the home of Wendy and Wade McDevitt ’82

At the University Club

The Avonian Spring 2014


Class Notes

Left: Warden Mickoy Nichol ‘14 looks on as Zay Jenkins presents his Toys for Tots contribution. Below: President of the A5 group, James Jennings ‘99, and his father visited campus last fall.

The AOF African American Alumni Association Our alumni are always up to great things to help support their alma mater. From participating in an Annual Fund challenge, to hosting an alumni reception, to returning to the field in a reunion match-up, our passionate alumni care about Avon Old Farms and go to great distances to make it an even better place. The latest group of Winged Beavers on a mission is the A5 group, the AOF African American Alumni Association. James Jennings ’99, the president of the group, along with Stratford Dennis ’00 (vice president) and Arthur Andrews ’98 (treasurer), recognized the power of the Avon Old Farms School experience, and hoped to pass that on to potential students who might not be able to attend without financial assistance. “We grew up together at Avon Old Farms,” explains James. “It’s different than going to school together. We were teammates, roommates, brothers, cousins, co-workers, best friends…you name it. AOF shaped our sense of discipline. We wanted to make sure exceptional students, who couldn’t normally afford a private education, were able to pass that sense of community along—as it’d been passed to us.” The group currently hosts about 90 members on its Facebook page, and has a board of directors consisting of five Avon alumni. The group is open to anyone interested in helping—from current students, alumni, and faculty members, to parents, siblings, and board members. They maintain communication via the group’s Facebook page, and meet twice a year in New York City, with many more informal gatherings throughout the year, including trips to Avon Old Farms. This past October, members of the group visited for Parents Weekend, as well as for the last game of the football season, marking the end of the coaching era of Kevin Driscoll ’72, when they sponsored a dinner for the entire team. Throughout the year, they mentor current Avonians, coordinate alumni events, and fundraise, and are all involved in other non-profit initiatives, as well. In December, at the close of Avon’s monumental Toys for Tots campaign, the A5 group posted a message on the group’s Facebook page to help spread awareness about the types of students and mentality they hope to continue to embrace. Seventh-grader Isaiah ‘Zay’ Jenkins, who visited Avon as the 54

Spring 2014 The Avonian

last stop of his prospective high school tour, had the chance to sit down with Mickoy Nichol ’14, Avon’s warden. The two had a lot in common: both are great students, both are stars on their football teams, and both were on their way to New England championship football games. However, it was Mickoy’s leadership of the annual Toys for Tots program that stuck with Zay after his visit to campus. Mickoy’s commitment to helping others, even while preparing for the biggest game of his career, inspired young Zay to do the same. After winning his New England championship, and while raising money for his team to attend the national championships in Orlando, Zay also managed to collect 225 toys from several businesses and individuals for less fortunate children in New Britain! He attended the final morning meeting of 2013, when Avon’s Toys for Tots efforts were displayed on stage, and added his contribution. “This is the chain of inspiration that our A5 organization is here to cultivate,” explained Arthur at the time. The group’s primary objective has been to establish and implement the A5 scholarship, a program that has grown tremendously in a very short period of time, with last year’s fundraising goal of $3,000 increased this year to an astounding $25,000. A5 scholars are selected jointly by the A5 board of directors, the director of financial aid, and the director of admissions, with additional identification of exceptional minority students to receive merit-based scholarships. “The A5 scholarship fund honors the Avon Old Farms African American Alumni Association. We fundraise so that competitive, young students can get the best education possible,” James notes. “The A5 scholarship is based on the same ideals—aspiration and perseverance—that have inspired and continue to inspire fellow Avonians today. Our mission is to equip A5 scholars with a high level of aspiration and perseverance and catapult them towards attaining their dreams. “We wanted to make sure students who could truly benefit from Avon got the opportunity. We all know education is vital to growing minds. Our goal from the beginning was to find inspired young leaders, who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford a private institution, and make a way for them. That’s it.”

The Last Word By Cristina Pinton

The following chapel talk was delivered in January by Chairman of the Visual Arts Cristina Pinton.


very day of my very first teaching job after I got my bachelor’s degree, I wore an alarm on my belt that would send guards running to me within seconds if needed. My students wore dull, lifeless khakis. I distinctly remember several of these students; one, a round-faced and light-hearted man, probably around the same age as me, who often spoke about his mother in broken English, and another who rarely spoke at all, his head shaved to reveal a deep scar that ran from his left eye, across his dented skull, to the base of his tender neck covered in tattoos. My classes changed often. I saw them—the men, the boys, the inmates—come and go. I often cried in the copy room during break. They didn’t speak about the drugs, or the guns, or their dead cousins and fathers, or the details of their crimes. In my better classes, we practiced the type of handshake with which to begin an interview, though most of them would face a lifetime of prejudice the moment they checked the “convicted” box. So we found verbs in simple structured sentences and read about current events. They laughed and felt empowered. Or, I might be in a cold, fluorescent-lit room of 15 older men, in prison for a variety of reason, who many days would take their anger or frustration with life out on me in their words, and in their gestures. In the worst of days, I felt humiliated, at times fearful, and helpless. This was Willard-Cybulski Correctional Institution in Enfield, Connecticut. Move ahead almost eight years, across the ocean. Piazza del Duomo. It’s about 50 degrees out; my scarf is comfortably wrapped around my neck. A motorino zooms by along the cobblestones, a little too close for comfort, so I give the guy a flick of the hand, and I feel dignified in my response. I already

stopped to get a caffe macchiato and a brioche at the counter at Caffe Donino. I skipped the post office line; I will get to them later when I have some patience, since it will take two hours to stand in line to pay my phone bill anyway. I move briskly around the Florentine women working in Rinascente in their high heels, selling perfumes and leather bags. They stand outside smoking in a way only Italian women can make look sexy. In place at 9 a.m., I’m standing on huge gray stones set in the 1600s and staring at a church that was begun more than 700 years ago. I’m waiting for my students to gather. Today we will study the marble façade and discuss Brunelleschi’s genius use of herringbone patterning in the brick structure of the dome of the Duomo. We’ll spend a few minutes discussing the building, while pigeons coo and fidget at our feet. A gypsy (zingaro) will poke at one my students but I give

The TheAvonian Avonian Spring 2014


her a stern “Lasciaci stare vecchia zingara,” and she, most likely cursing me, wanders away to find a group of tourists that won’t bother to push her advances away. Our group takes out charcoal and pads of paper and I help each one find a bench, settle down, and begin drawing the tremendous glory of the Renaissance under the Tuscan sun. This was Florence, Italy. A few years later I’m travelling to my fiancé’s homeland for a cousin’s wedding. We leave from Bari, a port city in Puglia. It is 9 p.m., August, and about 80 degrees. I’m one of about 1,000 people and around 500 cars about to board a ship that will bring us to Albania, just west of Italy, across the Adriatic Sea. We spend two hours crowding in, sweating in the heat and heaviness of a humid night. We are five people to a room with two bunked beds. The boat rocks slowly—just enough to make me queasy. It will take about eight hours to arrive but we still have two more hours before the boat pushes off. Some people don’t have the correct documents. Someone somewhere has my passport. It’s an American one. They go for a lot of money. We are exhausted, all 1,000 of us. But I’m the only tourist. This is the immigrant boat. This is the ship that takes the men and women back to Albania, after having worked and lived most of their working days in Italy. They are a proud people. Albania is a land of paradox. In Albania the iron curtain lifted in 1992, but the society collapsed again in 1997, with severe and deep corruption. My husband’s family survived communism, dodging the violence all around them. There was supposed to be safety under communism: no drugs, no violence, and everyone guaranteed an education. A woman could walk down the street alone in the evening. But their lives were isolated, the books censored, and the food dispensed evenly and sparingly. When I visited in 2007 I saw the homes, bullet holes in white cement walls. I had to watch my steps as we walked along the main street, which had no street lamps. Have you ever thought about that? The convenience of streets lit at night? Bomb shelters dotted the rolling hills around Tirana, the birth city of my husband. Many streets are still dirt and there is garbage piling up behind homes. We only get water in the house twice a day, and one of those is at 3 a.m. I go back to Albania again years later. I know the food now; I even know how to roll out byrek, a dish made of many layers of filo dough and meat and onion filling. I know how to make yogurt, and that cheese can be eaten with watermelon. There are leaves in those hills, that when picked and dried successfully, make the most healing tea. There are both ruins and beautiful fruits for sale along the streets. I see the mosque; can dance the traditional dances. I see beyond the bombed walls and wild dogs, and I see the people and the places that made the life of my husband, and therefore enrich me. So that’s it. That is what this is about. Enriching life. Pieces of stones that are added one by one to create the mosaic of your history and your past. Stories to tell friends; memories to rekindle, and memories from which to learn. Images and places, smells and tastes, visions and adventures: they are all woven into the fabric that you live. The more you


Spring 2014 The Avonian

live, the more beautiful the weave. When was the last time you saw a beautiful sight, were uncomfortable but determined, mesmerized and humbled, inspired or frightened? No? A shame. Your fabric is being woven now, right now. So get out there and do things you’d never expect to do. It’s time to begin. If you haven’t followed my more philosophic statements just now, let me make one a little closer to home at Avon Old Farms. A lieutenant from the U.S. Marines called me a month or so back. One of your Avon brothers was being assessed for acceptance. His grades were good and he was a good athlete. But do you want to know what the lieutenant really wanted to know? He asked me about this student’s work with the yearbook. He told me this was one of those pieces that made your brother stand out, be a little different, make a different mark; a move outside his comfort zone, a way to demonstrate diversity and variety in his interests…another stone in the mosaic that is his life. Another thread in his fabric; a richer life.

Reconnect and stay connected

The AOF Alumni Community App is a great way to: Connect safely with alumni nearby and around the world Access a mobile version of the Avon alumni directory Network with fellow Avon alums through the built-in LinkedIn partnership Search alumni by name, graduation year, or company Search by location and view results on an interactive map

Here’s how:

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Add the AOF Alumni Community app to your iPhone or Android by searching for and downloading “EverTrue.” Once you download the app and open it, you will be prompted to search for your community. Type in “Avon” and select the correct community.


The AOF Alumni Community app requires a valid email address that matches the email on file with the Alumni Office at Avon. This address will serve as your log-in to the app. To update your email address, email Want to opt out? We hope you don’t, but if you wish to opt out of the app, please email Cheryl Benoit, director of advancement services, at Your information will be deleted from the AOF Alumni Community.

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Avon remembers

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The Avonian — Spring 2014  
The Avonian — Spring 2014  

Te Renaissance Man — Remembering Pete Seeger ’36, The Green Team and Scholastic Art Awards