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A JOURNEY OF EXCELLENCE PROVIDENCE DAY SCHOOL


A JOURNEY OF EXCELLENCE P R O V I D E N C E

D A Y

S C H O O L

Providence Day School exists to inspire in its students a passion for learning, a commitment to personal integrity, and a sense of social responsibility.


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A JOURNEY OF EXCELLENCE P R O V I D E N C E

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A JOUR N E Y O F EXCEL L ENCE P R O V I D E N C E D AY S C H O O L Copyright © 2021 Providence Day School All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from Providence Day School.

5800 Sardis Road Charlotte, North Carolina 28270 704.887.6000 www.providenceday.org Head of School Dr. Glyn Cowlishaw Board Chair Dr. Chris Mullis ’90 Editor Leigh Dyer ’88 Bookhouse Group, Inc. Editorial Director Rob Levin Project Management Renée Peyton Design Rick Korab

Bookhouse Group, Inc. Covington, Georgia www.bookhouse.net

Printed on SFI certified paper.

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As part of a strong run of nominations in Charlotte’s Blumey Awards, the 2015 production of “Into the Woods” was nominated for Set Construction, Costume Creation, Choreography Execution, Supporting Actress (Katlyn Gonzalez ‘18) and Best Actor (Thomas Laub ‘15).


Dedicated to all who learned, taught, and guided us over the past fifty years.

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During Grandparents and Special Friends Day, a tradition that originated at PD in 1980, Lower School students (led here by Dr. Grace Morris) perform musical numbers for special guests.


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50th Anniversary Art Panels | VIII Foreword | XIII Introduction | XV T H

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Preface | XVII

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Early Experiences Built a Lasting Foundation

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Building a Community from the Ground Up

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A Life in Medicine—Thanks to PD

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Everything is Within the Bounds of Possibilities Looking Out for Us More Than We Ever Imagined Including Everybody at the Table Acknowledgements

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Appendix

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A Challenging Assignment, a Fulfilling Memory When given the opportunity to create art celebrating Providence Day School’s fifty-year history, my thoughts centered around campus growth and its remarkable architecture. Both panels feature structures that visually represent academic, artistic, and athletic growth. Eight small portraits of individuals appear in the two panels, representing the many administrators, teachers, staffers, and students that have generously contributed to fifty years of inspiration and success at Providence Day. A special thanks to Coral Helms for painting four of the small portraits—great job! My concept for the first panel emphasizes academic commitment and the fulfillment of graduation. The “dear old house” hovers in the right half to commemorate the early days of PD. Images in the second panel recall students having more playful experiences at Providence Day, from the lower school playground to participation on a varsity team.

Lukie Rousseaux, page 18

Gene Bratek, page 40

Thomas Tarrant , page 8

Dr. Stephanie Eichenbrenner Vanderford ‘95, page 62

Many hours were spent on these paintings, most of which were delightful for me. Determining the composition and arrangement of images was very challenging, but in retrospect, was the most enjoyable part of the process. Rendering the buildings realistically but placing them in unrealistic settings was a fun problem to solve. Lots of memories surfaced as I sought old photos of Gil Murdock, Gene Bratek, Thomas Tarrant, and others to work from. My hope is that viewers will enjoy the anniversary panels as much as I enjoyed creating them. Wow—fifty years! Long live Providence Day School! Golden Charger Chris Wallace taught at PD from 1986-2020 and is an alumni parent.

Gil Murdock, page 30

Sam Caudill, page 20

Saundra Robbins, page 29

Ben Topham, page 20

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Part of the sixth-grade class at Camp Cheerio, a traditional annual field trip destination, in 2016.

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A Transformational Journey Still in Progress I may be a little grayer than I was when I arrived a decade ago, just after

that has enabled us to not just survive, but thrive during one of the most

Providence Day had celebrated its fortieth anniversary. But I am no less

challenging years we have ever experienced together.

proud to be a part of this school’s journey of excellence. And so, it is this journey that we celebrate now. We hope that no matAs we embarked on efforts to commemorate this milestone anniver-

ter which era you joined Providence Day, you will find some treasured

sary two years ago, we could never have foreseen that our fiftieth year

memories among these pages. We thank each and every one of you for

would find us in an unprecedented chapter in history: a global pan-

being a part of the PD family.

demic which changed every aspect of how our world, community, and school function. It was coupled with a reckoning that put fresh eyes on

Dr. Glyn Cowlishaw

both the origins of our school and the ongoing need to work toward

Head of School

anti-racism today. Dr. Glyn Cowlishaw has led

Both of these factors, intertwined as they are, bring reason to reflect on

PD since 2011. His tenure has

our school’s fifty-year journey. At its humble beginnings, our school was

seen dramatic growth in both

founded in order to offer a neighborhood-based alternative to busing,

enrollment and diversity;

with little or no public acknowledgement of the context historians now refer to as “white flight.” And yet, early on the school made its commitment known to serving the community around us and to inviting diverse perspectives. Our journey has been no less than transformational, as we celebrate a student body of more than 1,780 students and a faculty, staff, and administration who collectively devote themselves every day to working together to make our world a better place. It is this vibrant community

a doubling of the school’s endowment; the nation’s first Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School hosted by an independent school; membership in the Round Square international network of schools; and construction of more than 90,000 square feet of new learning spaces.

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Astrophysicist Dr. Chris Mullis ‘90 and physics teacher Dr. John Makous (not pictured) led students to the roof of the Academic Center in 2018 to try out a Horn Antenna Radio Telescope.

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Finding the Balance that Sparks Passion At this writing, it has been three decades since my graduation from Providence Day School in 1990. And yet the memories are still in sharp focus: Friendships with fellow students, faculty, and staff forged through the joys and the challenges of learning in the classroom and on the playing field during thirteen foundational years. Coach Gil Murdock, who equally encouraged all of his scholar-athletes, from the star quarterback to the just-trying-to-make-the-cut guy, a.k.a. me. Science teacher Bentha Johnson, who in seventh grade launched what would become my first career, when she brought us to the observatory of the Charlotte Amateur Astronomers Club. Looking out into the universe through that telescope was a watershed moment that sparked my love for astronomy and set me on a laser-focused path to become an astrophysicist. Flash forward to today, with PD science classes mapping the Milky Way galaxy using a radio telescope on campus! As alumni, we have to watch the arc of our lives unfold for a bit past Providence Day to fully appreciate the magnitude of our experience and gift that we have received in our education and our formative years growing up as a Charger. It’s that appreciation that led me to return to the school to become Chair of the Board of Trustees (the first alum to hold this position, I’m told), during the school’s 50th anniversary year.

Providence Day has retained its steadfast commitment to excellence, and has always sought improvement. PD has always emphasized finding a balance in life, between academics, athletics, the arts, and any other interest that cultivates a passion. The school’s overarching mission will continue to be creating alumni who are happy, successful, and well-prepared for life and to play a positive role in the communities they cherish. We hope that as you read through the memories on these pages, you will be inspired to become a part of Providence Day’s future, looking ahead to the stories that will be told. Always a Charger, Dr. Chris Mullis ’90 Providence Day School Board Chair Dr. Chris Mullis ’90 has a PhD in astrophysics from the University of Hawaii. He is the first alumni chair of the PD Board of Trustees, financial planner, and founding partner at NorthStar Capital Advisors, a wealth-management firm in Charlotte, and volunteers with science outreach.

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Parent volunteers Sue Hooks and Donna Hodgkins serving lunches in the 1980s; students in the 1995 Lower School Heart Project; the original house where Providence Day started.

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A Fifty-Year Journey of Excellence On September 28, 1970, 112 students and five teachers gathered in a converted house on a former horse pasture at the intersection of Sardis and Rama Roads, near the Olde Providence neighborhood. The parents who gathered throughout 1970 to create Providence Day —amid busing that had begun in the 1969-70 school year—said publicly that the busing was their motivation, and they wished to preserve a neighborhood school and avoid the disruptions that long bus rides brought to their children. They were part of a trend, both locally and nationally, of independent schools founded during this era. Within a year, this new school received approval from the state Department of Public Instruction and began adding grades. A new headmaster, Dr. William Townsend, and new athletic director and coach, Gil Murdock, soon rounded out the school’s launch. The hardworking group of founding parents oversaw the construction of first the Williams Building, then Providence Hall, completed by 1973. The first senior class graduated in 1975, marking a tradition of top-notch college preparatory education, and backed by the school’s new accreditation by the Southern Association of Independent Schools. In the 80s, the school’s growth took off, with the addition of a neighboring athletic complex and hundreds more students. By 1990, a fine arts complex and dining hall finally brought respite to the hundreds of parent volunteers who had been serving lunches to students in a “multi-purpose room” for years. A technology building, library, and new athletic center followed.

The 2000s brought the introduction of the nation’s first Global Studies diploma at an independent school, and ever-growing diversity to the school’s students and faculty. In the 2010s, the school continued growing in both reputation and size, adding a new gateway center, parking deck, and four-story Academic Center. Providence Day also became the first independent school in the nation to host a Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School site each summer, helping to combat summer learning loss in children below the poverty line. Almost from the beginning, the school adopted a bedrock philosophy of service to its community, later described as social responsibility in the school’s mission statement. The determination from its earliest days to nurture connections to the larger world around it helped the school grow to become the most diverse major independent school in Charlotte. Providence Day in 2020 counted more than seventy countries of origin among its student body, and more than 30 percent of students who are Black, indigenous, or people of color, along with 22 percent of the faculty. The school also established an early philosophy of never being satisfied, and always striving to do better. As Bill Hester, one of the twelve original founders of the school, said in a 2019 interview: “I don’t think any of the Boards [of Trustees] have ever reached what you call a level of comfort. Each one has taken Providence Day to a new level.” Among the achievements: Membership in internationally recognized independent school organizations; faculty and students who earn top national honors; milXIX


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lions of dollars in merit scholarships each year; and alumni who attend leading colleges and universities around the globe and become leaders in their fields. The journey that began fifty years ago is still underway. The school recognizes it has much work to do in order to create true equity, both within the school and in the world into which the school sends its alumni. The school’s mission to inspire in its students a passion for learning, a commitment to personal integrity, and a sense of social responsibility has never felt more timely. Everyone who has been a part of the Providence Day family over the years has been called on to reflect on the school’s past, celebrate the successes of its present, and consider the role they wish to play in its future—for the next fifty years, and beyond.

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Early Experiences Built a Lasting Foundation By Roman Davis ’79 I came to Providence Day in 1971 for fifth grade. Many of my friends who had attended Lansdowne Elementary were there as well, so there wasn’t much social adjustment. It was neat to see the physical growth of the campus while I was there. A favorite event was probably the Outward Bound trip at the beginning of senior year. We had always been a pretty tight class and that cemented it. n Outward Bound was a great bonding experience for (nearly) our entire grade. We took morning runs to jump in a freezing lake, sat as a group around the campfire at night, and hiked. The most impactful thing for me

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personally was the day we went rappelling. I inherited a fairly strong case of acrophobia from my dad and was terrified at the prospect of me dangling off the side of a mountain. With strong support from my classmates, I completed something I thought I could never do. When I started, we still had bare concrete in the Williams Building. There was a refrigerated cart that had a couple of sandwich options and we ate in our classrooms. There was no gym until the next year. We really did start out with just the bare necessities, but we had great teachers, which has always been the strength of Providence Day in my mind. Now the facilities are all top notch, but the family atmosphere and strong faculty remain unchanged. The teachers made a big difference for me. College was a breeze after going through seven years of instruction at Prov-

We really did start out with just the bare necessities, but we had great teachers, which has always been the strength of Providence Day in my mind. —Roman Davis ’79 2

idence Day. When we were looking at sending our oldest, Hannah, to Providence Day, I noticed that many of my favorite teachers and administrators were still there, including Bobbie Hinson, Anita McLeod, and Ben Topham. There was much more social pressure for my kids, but I think that’s largely a product of how society has evolved. All three of our kids have told me that the teachers are the best thing from their experience at PD as well. There is constant financial pressure and the largely middle-class student body from my time has become more a mixture of affluent kids and kids on financial aid, with a smaller group in between. I hope we can find a way to better reflect the economic spectrum of society as a whole. Beyond that, the fact that so much of the faculty has stayed for decades and many on staff are alumni gives me confidence that the special atmosphere that has always been at PD will continue. Roman Davis ’79 went on to UNC Chapel Hill, where he earned a business degree, and returned to Charlotte, where he became active on the Providence Day Board of Alumni. He and his wife Kim became parents to three legacy Providence Day alumni — Hannah ’08, Stephanie ’13, and Hayden ’15.


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1971: Approved as an independent school by the state Department of Public Instruction. First headmaster, William Townsend, was hired. Construction began on the Williams Building. First sports teams established.

First graduating class, 1975.

1973: Providence Hall completed.

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1970: Gilbert Bell, Reid Caldwell, Joe Conrad, Charles Graves, Charles Harper, William Hester, John Locklear, Wilton Parr, Charles Reed, Thomas Ridenhour, Preston Sizemore, and James Williams established Providence Day.

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1972: Douglas Eveleth hired as second headmaster. New gymnasium hosted its first basketball game.

1970: One hundred and twelve students and five teachers convened in a converted house on a former horse pasture at the intersection of Sardis and Rama roads.

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1975: Overcash Hall completed. First accreditation from Southern Association of Independent Schools. First state championship won in golf. First graduating class.

The iconic doorknob of the original house. 205 alumni graduated this decade.

Providence Day’s first state championship team, Varsity Golf.

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Setting a Trajectory to Grow By Bill Hester That first day of school, I remember there was a caution light (at the then T-shaped intersection of Rama and Sardis). I lived two blocks from this very busy intersection. So, I stopped on the side of the road and got out and tried to help direct traffic a little bit. After probably about ten or fifteen minutes I left because I figured I was going to get run over, but it was horrible. We called the city and asked for a crossing guard and their statement was that it was too dangerous of an intersection for a crossing guard. Later they put a traffic light there which helped a lot. Original founders (L-R): C. Preston Sizemore; Wilton L. Parr; Gilbert C. Bell; William G. Hester; Charles F. Harper; Thomas L. Ridenhour. Not pictured: Joseph E. Conrad; Charles E. Graves; John P. Locklear; and Reid Caldwell.

I think there’s two things that have made Providence Day succeed. Number one is there’s an esprit de corps at Providence Day, and when you go there, you feel like you become a family member. There’s just a very strong relationship with the students, the parents and the faculty. And the other thing is that I don’t think any of the boards have ever reached what you call a level of comfort. Each one has taken Providence Day to a new level, be it in education, facilities, or both. And I think those two things are what has made it grow and continue to be successful. And needless to say, the campus is almost unbelievable, based on when we started. Bill Hester was among the twelve original founders of Providence Day School, and took charge of helping the original “house” pass the city’s inspection process, as well as leading the committee overseeing the construction of the Williams Building and Providence Hall. He enrolled his daughter in fifth grade in 1970, and has returned consistently for school events ever since.

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The signs marking the campus entrance have evolved over the years, culminating in the gift from the Class of 1995 that stands at 5800 Sardis Road to this day.

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“We’re Here for the Future” By Clara Ellen Peeler The twelve men of the first board, and their wives, were outstanding. I give the success of this school to parents. To us, it was trying to get through and do the right thing from day to day. From the first year, these twelve men tried to impress upon the five original teachers, We’re here for the future. The first chairman of the board of directors, Charles Graves, spoke for the board when he said in a press release, “The primary interest of Providence Day is to provide quality education. From the beginning, our board has placed a great emphasis on the concept of permanency. We feel the school will . . . grow and develop into one of the finest schools in the area.”

And that you have done. It is the same spirit, the same goals, and I think this school has been fortunate in hiring administrators and staff who have become very dedicated and have a great love for this school. Clara Ellen Peeler was one of the five original teachers when Providence Day opened in 1970, and remained on the faculty for fourteen years. Interviewed in late 2019, just under a year before she passed away, she recalled the dedication of the founding families who came together

[Doug Eveleth] did an excellent job. He worked very hard to keep parents all involved with the school. I thought he was a great leader. He definitely planned for the future. — Clara Ellen Peeler

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A Half Century Later—“I Still Love to Come Here” By Thomas Tarrant I can remember the times that we didn’t have a dining hall. We’d have hot dogs and tater tots for lunch. Parents would prepare the food. It was amazing how they did things. They were just trying to get started out, and look where we are now. I learned a lot from Providence Day. I learned from the parents. More than anything, I miss Douglas C. Eveleth, the headmaster. He showed me a lot. He did a lot with me and we worked together. He was a real good guy. We’d go places when he wasn’t in the office and had time. He practically raised me because when I came here, I was right out of high school, just nineteen. I still love to come here. That’s why I stayed here as long as I (did), because I enjoy being around good people. Thomas Tarrant was Providence Day’s longestserving employee when he retired in 2019 after fortyseven years.

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Gene King (center, top row) and the Board of Trustees in the 1970s.

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Smoking in the Classroom— And Creating a School By Gene King We were one of the original families that started at the school from day one, and a good friend of ours from high school who was here in town, Charlie Graves, was one of the original twelve founders. Charlie was with a company that moved him to St. Louis the first six months after the school was open. And when he did, there was a vacancy and I became the person that filled the vacancy. We Providence Day School’s 2019-20 Board of Trustees. had a full board of sixteen people, including four ladies. If everybody showed up, and we met in a room with four of us, including myself, smoking pipes. And in this day and age, fifty years later, people could not imagine that four leading trustees smoked through a meeting, but we did. In a classroom! [During my time on the board], I enjoyed speaking to the new parents every year as they entered the school and sat on the sides of the gym while we told them what the goals were and what they might do to participate in our programs and be more involved. That was my job. I can remember when the first annual tuition was $700. It’s changed a little bit. Gene King, namesake of the King Room in Thompson-Jones Library, became an early member of the board of trustees in 1971. After his daughter Gail passed away in a 1985 auto accident with fellow student Kristen Duren, he and his wife Helen established a financial aid fund for students in her name which lasted through 2009, providing aid to more than one hundred middle school and upper school girls. 11


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Building a Community from the Ground Up By Matthew Heyd ’88 Dad called recently and said it was time for me to pick up my stuff. For three decades, my parents kindly curated artifacts of my childhood that were carefully packed into twenty-two boxes. Those boxes show a clear picture of the debt I owe to our school—because I grew up at Providence Day. n At the bottom of one box was my yellowed 1976 admissions letter. I now have the experience of searching for the right schools for my own children. I recognize the enormous trust that choosing a school requires. Our son has special needs. As a first grader, I did, too. As it happens, PD was just the school that I needed.

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At Providence Day, I never felt like “the kid with the speech defect.” Instead, I was asked to speak at parent assemblies and nudged to take risks. I was the un-athletic sixth grader whom Coach Gil Murdock asked to run cross country. Because of the kindness of the PD family—both teachers and students— my childhood was defined by aspiration and by not by limits.

In the boxes, I found piles of hand-written notes from teachers for every conceivable occasion. I’m floored they found time to write since I know they weren’t just writing to me. I’ve kept all those notes. As an adult, my day job is creating community. I understand how belonging feels because I had the privilege of growing up in a school where I was both loved and challenged.

Matt Heyd ‘88 and friends in the 1980s.


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I also grew up in a school that was being built all around us. We created traditions together. Parents ran the lunchroom. Ask any alum from the 70s and 80s and they can recite the menu: Monday, pizza; Wednesday, hot dogs. (In the fourth grade, there was a brief noble experiment with frozen burritos on Tuesdays.) We ran around the front field and picked wild strawberries in the woods behind the house. We had front row seats as our parents and teachers created a school and community. As students, we were co-creators too. Our history teachers—Ruth Sensenbrenner, Sam Caudill, Roy Garrison, and Linda Murdock—reminded us that we can shape the institutions that shape us. The boxes also contained all my Student Council files. We relentlessly petitioned to change the dress code to allow jeans on days other than Mondays (you’re welcome), and in 1987 eight rising seniors decided to create an honor code. I grew up in a great school where we knew we could shape the future.

I found piles of hand-written notes from teachers for every conceivable occasion. I’m floored they found time to write since I know they weren’t just writing to me.

—Matthew Heyd ’88

That belief is important to remember now. I’m proud of Providence Day’s growing commitment to diversity and inclusion. Racism served as subtext to my Charlotte childhood and my time at PD. Especially early in my time at PD there was quiet but explicit racism, even by people I loved. I don’t love them any less but I now see differently. That’s part of growing up, too. And what I’ve learned about community in the years since my graduation helped me confront my own racism. There is Ghanaian word—sankofa—which means “usable history.” I’m confident our school’s aspirations can overcome its limits and can help us to meet this moment. Racism just isn’t worthy of the school we love. I know we can continue to make PD better. Providence Day now belongs to current students, families, and teachers. As an alum and a trustee, I hope the school that cared for me will continue to grow in its ability to love and to challenge a next, more diverse generation of students. It won’t be easy. The work of creation has always been hard. But I believe that it can happen—because I grew up at Providence Day. The Rev. Matthew Heyd ’88 is the rector of Church of the Heavenly Rest in New York City, and is on the Providence Day School Board of Trustees. 15


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1981: The school held its first “Super Saturday” celebratory event on the front field that later became home to McMahon Fine Arts Center.

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1980: The school held its first Grandparents’ Day, later named Grandparents and Special Friends Day.

553 alumni graduated this decade.

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1981: The school purchased 14 acres behind its original tract, known as the Pharr property. Construction began on additional parking and athletic fields.

1986: Rupal Naik (now Romero) became the school’s first Morehead Scholar.

1983: Extended Day started with 13 students in a single classroom.

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1986: Gene Bratek became the school’s third headmaster.

1988: The school held its first TK Circus, a tradition that endures today.

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1987: Students wrote and adopted the school’s first Honor Code and established the Honor Council.


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As Providence Day grew, new temporary classroom structures started going up on the west side of campus in the late 1980s. The area would later be named the West Wing.

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A Tradition Begins and a Generation of Students Love It By Lukie Rousseaux The first year that I was teaching in fourth grade, Providence Day sent me on a learning experience with a group of teachers from around North Carolina, through N.C. State, the Sea

Grant program, to Puerto Rico. The following summer we met in North Carolina and we did a ‘water to the mountains’ trip with those teachers so that we could see how important water is in the growing of a community. We went to Carolina Beach, we did a salt marsh study, we did a study of the maritime forest. I came back and I said, ‘We’ve got to do this with our kids.’ That year, 1985-86, was the first year that we did the Fort Fisher trip with fourth graders, and we’ve been doing it ever since. Many times, most days I was driving the bus. The teachers would drive a van if we needed a van. Oh, we had so many experiences. It’s probably one of my favorite memories because that was really very, very special. And it’s still special today. And I think probably the fourth graders today have just as much fun as we had that very first time. Lukie Rousseaux worked first as a fourth-grade teacher, then as head of lower school, from 1984 to 2001, returning for another year as an interim in 2006-07. She launched the legendary Fort Fisher field trip for fourth graders, long recalled as a favorite PD memory.

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The field in front of Ridenhour Gymnasium and Providence Hall would give way to construction on the McMahon Fine Arts Center by the late 1980s, with the building opening in 1990.

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A Great School is Made of Great People

Teachers as Human Beings—Imagine That

By Sam Caudill

By Ben Topham

I would hope Providence Day continues to build on the personal stories of the great people who have added a plank to the foundation of the school’s history and to those who continue to add to its strong foundation of educational excellence. Progress has been made, programs have been developed, long-range plans became reality, and all have been vital to the Providence Day of today. But when we sit down to talk about the history of a great school like Providence Day, we talk about the people. Their stories—past and future—will live forever.

I loved environmental science. We took students down to the Okefenokee Swamp. That was a great way to learn environmental science and is one of my fond memories. While I was upper school head, the class trips were some of the best times. What I liked about that is students got a chance to see us in a different light, and they realized we were human beings, and not just their teachers. We were allowed to hire teachers that we thought were the best teachers out there. What I remember really well is that the faculty that we had in place really embraced change and always were looking for better ways to teach. As we move forward, I would hope that we always remain a very forward-thinking school, and not be complacent, but continue to make decisions based on the mission of the school, and what’s in the best interest of kids. Ben Topham’s tenure at Providence Day began in 1974 as a science teacher. He be-

Sam Caudill’s career at PD spanned from 1981 to 2016 and involved many

came head of upper school,

roles both in and out of the classroom, most notably as the longtime head

then assistant head of school

of middle school.

for academic affairs until his retirement in 2012.

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Providence Day’s campus has grown exponentially since this 1980s view.

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A Life in Medicine— Thanks to PD By Erika Proko Hamilton ’99 My mom was diagnosed with breast cancer when I was in middle school at Providence Day, and later recovered. By the time I was in upper school, I was on the pre-med plan and it was something I felt passionate about. I was one of those obnoxious children who said I was going to be a doctor, and then actually never changed my mind. n I thought [the annual Breast Cancer Luncheon] would be a fun opportunity for all the girls to get together. Also, there is an educational message because there are a lot of misperceptions around breast cancer. At that time, I had no idea the Luncheon was going to be

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On the last day we got to dissect the frog’s brain because I was so persistent. The 2019 Breast Cancer Luncheon.

That was very special, and a turning point for me.

—Erika Proko Hamilton ’99

continued for years after I left. But that’s pretty cool. I didn’t go into medical school knowing that I necessarily wanted to be an oncologist. I thought maybe I wanted to be a neurosurgeon. I worked at St. Jude in the pediatric neurosurgery department, and it wasn’t for me. Then I started thinking about oncology, and ultimately decided that I really liked adult oncology the best. I really liked the conversations with patients, explaining their options and figuring out what was important to them and incorporating that into a treatment plan. I really enjoyed educating and empowering people to make decisions that were right for them. And adult oncology, and then breast cancer, was kind of a natural choice. So, I’m sure my mother’s diagnosis influenced me along the way, but it wasn’t the plan all along. My most influential teacher was Doug Burgess. It was the year that we dissected the frog and we had the whole lesson planned out and I said, ‘We have to dissect the brain.’ And he said, ‘The brain’s not on the lesson plan.’ I was really into neurosurgery at that point. And so sure enough, on the last day he had altered the plan and we got to dissect the frog’s brain because I was so persistent. That was very special, and a turning point for me.


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In another biology class, we did a trip down to the Everglades. That was a pretty good memory, too. We all got in two-person canoes. And I remember thinking it was the first time I’d ever been given so much independence. ‘OK, it’s 8 a.m., meet back at this place at noon. Here’s your map.’ That was just a really cool trip as far as love of science and independence and preparing to go out on your own. You learn to be internally driven and self-motivated. You had to learn time management and organizational skills at Providence Day. And if you can do those things, you’re going to do fine in college. You have to be able to regulate yourself. I think

Providence Day does a great job of offering advanced classes and kind of stretching you to your max and balancing athletics and academics. I’ve been really impressed with how willing they’ve been to change, as far as always thinking of ‘What program do we need to strengthen, what’s going to be our next building, what do we need to do as far as social media, how do we stay current with the times?’ Sometimes the organizations that are too set in their ways get pushed to the side a little bit, but it’s always seemed that Providence Day is forward thinking and not afraid of change. They evolve as things evolve. My hope is that Providence Day continues to instill in their students critical thinking skills and a good value system. If you give people those fundamentals of wanting to do good and being responsible, people are set up for success. And I think that’s something that Providence Day has always done. Erika Proko Hamilton ’99 launched a Providence Day tradition, the annual Breast Cancer Luncheon for seniors and women on the school’s faculty and staff, in 1998. She returned virtually as the speaker at a socially-distanced

Due to pandemic precautions, students attended a distanced version of the luncheon in October 2020.

luncheon in 2020. She is a medical oncologist in Tennessee.

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1990: McMahon Fine Arts Center and Dining Hall opened. School purchased adjoining property for its Extended Day program.

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1996: First Young Alumni College Forum brought back recent alumni to speak of their college experiences.

1992: The Kids Voting program started on campus.

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1992: The Extended Day program received the first of several national recognitions, beginning with Working Mother magazine.

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1995: As part of its 25th anniversary celebration, the school established its Charger Hall of Fame with the inductions of Reggie Clark ‘87 and Norman Schellenger ‘79.

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1999: The School won its first Wachovia Cup, a regional recognition of athletics success.

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1998: Following the Silver Memories, Golden Dreams campaign, the Dickson-Hemby Technology Center opened. 1998: The new Alumni/ Development House opened.

680 alumni graduated this decade.

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THE 1990 S

TK artist John Hunting ‘12.

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Providence Day’s Extended Day program has received multiple national recognitions for excellence since the 1990s.


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Placed Here for a Reason

A Master Teacher Award in Honor of a Master Student

By Saundra Robbins

By Doug Henry

For five years, I was the only AfricanAmerican teacher. My third year here, they did not hire one African-American teacher, not one out of twenty-one open spots. I was taken aback, and that was a trying year for me. It really was. But lo and behold, the answer came to me that I was placed here for a reason. I was teaching lower school and middle school physical education at that time and coaching varsity volleyball and a couple of the younger students would come up to me and just touch my skin. I don’t know if they wanted to see if the color would rub off, or just the softness of my skin. Whatever reason, that was my answer. That was why I said I need to be here because time will bring on a change. I was looking forward to that change and I just wanted to be here when it changed. I wanted to be at least a light for others. And I’m still proud to say that it’s still good to be here.

I thought the world of Brian Eichenbrenner. I remember him saying he was going to run for president when he turned thirty-five, and I said I would vote for him. I used the award that next summer to go to a workshop at the University of South Carolina to learn to use a music notation program called Finale that had just been introduced that would allow the user to write music on the computer. It was much faster than doing it by hand, plus you had the ability to edit music without the aid of Wite-Out. Remember that? It was very advanced technologically at the time. The Eichenbrenner award is just one example of the many wonderful things PD does to support the faculty. The twenty years I spent there were great and the support from the administration, faculty, parents, and students was amazing. Doug Henry was the first winner of the Brian Eichenbrenner Master Teacher Award upon its inception. Brian Eichenbrenner ’97 graduated as valedictorian

Saundra Robbins joined the PD faculty in 1990 as one of its first Black

and died in a car crash

teachers. Thirty years later, she reminisced about her experiences with Kaila

just days later. Henry re-

Dawkins ’20. In 2020, 22 percent of PD’s faculty and staff were Black, indig-

tired from PD in 2011.

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Coach Murdock often, and I certainly feel honored to have taken over the program that he created. Ben Hovis ’96 teaches fourth grade at Providence Day and coaches the varsity cross-country team.

Kids Voting—PD’s Incredible Civics Lesson In fall 1992, history teacher Ted Dickson attended an organizational meeting for Kids Voting in Charlotte and then organized PD students to participate. This was the beginning of a long and continuing association between PD and one of the best community civic organizations in the United States. The project both educates young people about the voting process and has been proven to increase adult voter turnout. Dickson later brought in students from longtime club SPAM (Students for the Political Advancement of Mankind), which celebrated its twenty-fifth

Gil Murdock—The Coach Who Cared By Ben Hovis ’96 I have many memories of Coach Murdock, as he was certainly a father figure to me while I was at Providence Day as a student and even when I came back as a teacher/coach. One thing that was always very clear to see was how much he cared about his athletes and students. As an athlete, I always wanted to perform well for him because I knew how much care he put into coaching me. Coach was all about teaching the basics and making personal connections. I was fortunate to come back to PD and get to work side by side with him. I coached with him in 1999, and he always had my fourth-grade class for PE. I think about 30


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Almost since its inception, Providence Day has valued a global perspective among its students.

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THE 1990 S

or during breaks just to share a silly moment or to get advice on an issue they had. Like many PD teachers, I taught and did “extras”—advised the newspaper, led the Model UN program, coached basketball and tennis—and I loved seeing students shine in new ways in those contexts. Providence Day had a huge impact on the rest of my career. After graduate school, I started a charter school which eventually became a large network. My fundamental belief was that the high expectations for academics and character that PD had for students should be the same for the students in the public charter schools I led. More than anything, though, I remember (and miss!) the family spirit of Providence Day. Douglas McCurry ’90 was PD’s third Morehead scholar and the first alum to

anniversary in 2020, to join Kids Voting activities. Dickson has served in leadership positions, won national and local awards, and has helped evolve the local group into Generation Nation, which continued its mission into the 2020s.

return to PD to teach, which he did for three years in the 1990s. He began a rich tradition of PD alumni who have returned to join the faculty and staff.

I Couldn’t Imagine a Better Place to Start By Douglas McCurry ’90 I loved returning to teach at PD. It was funny at first because many of my former teachers—Mr. Garrison, Ms. Murdock, Mr. Topham, Ms. Steimer, Ms. Taylor—became Roy, Linda, Ben, Patsy, and Kathy. It was my first teaching job, and I couldn’t imagine a better place to start my career in education. What I loved most was the relationships formed with students. I remember students stopping in before or after school 33


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Everything is Within the Bounds of Possibilities By Reggie Love ’00 My strongest bonds probably come from the athletic field, but my strongest memories probably come from the academic side. I would say that Cathy Bard is probably my strongest memory. Even though she didn’t know me at the time when I started ninth grade geometry, she was telling me, ‘You just have to take your time, you can do this.’ I remember her communicating to me that it was always within the bounds of possibilities. n Former varsity football coach John Patterson was by far the most influential person in terms of my athletic career. Coach Patterson had such a distinct way about looking at how

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work should be done, and how you need to prepare every day, not just for what would happen on the field but also things that happen off the field, and how preparation began not just the day of, or week of, but that it starts a year before in the summer. It was how the things you do all year impact whether you end up being champions. I think all the coaches there were inspirational to me. I think there was this culture of, academically and athletically, that anything’s possible, and you can go on to do great things from the platform. The families that are connected to Providence Day are also a big part of the culture. My social, emotional, and psychological development was not only from what happened on the field and in the classrooms, but also at the birthday parties and the sleepovers and all the stuff that happened around that community and that world. I don’t think the Providence Day community ends once you get onto Sardis Road; I think it extends all the way into the homes and into the parents, alumni parents, and alumni grandparents, all the way down the chain.

I don’t think the Providence Day community ends once you get onto Sardis Road; I think it extends all the

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I joined the board of trustees because if you want Providence Day to continue to grow, people who are alumni of the school have to continue to give and participate in order to keep the ethos of the school alive. When I started, it was a much younger school, so that culture didn’t really exist of having alumni participation on the board. Also resonating with me was the fact that Providence Day is a big partner to the Charlotte community, and I think what they are able to do with their community not only has an impact on the people who go to the school, but it also has an impact on people who are future students, people who live in the neighborhoods. Everything they do has an impact on the entire city and the state. I look at Providence Day as a global leader in community and education, in bringing content and energy to the education field to help develop community partners and future leaders, not only for Charlotte but across the world.

way into the homes . . . all the way down

Reggie Love ’00 was team captain for Duke University’s NCAA championship

the chain.

dent Barack Obama from 2009-11. He served on the Providence Day School

—Reggie Love ’00

team, and in his post-college career he worked as a personal aide to PresiBoard of Trustees from 2014-2020.


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2001: Following the $15.5 million Tomorrow Begins Today campaign, the school opened the Thompson-Jones Library in May and the Mosack Athletic Center in October.

2001: PD launched its first Office of Multicultural Affairs. In 2005 it became a full-time position devoted to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and by 2020 the Office of Equity & Inclusion had three fulltimers and six part-timers.

2009: The senior class revived the “bus photo” tradition. 2009: School held its first annual Gil Murdock Turkey Trot to collect donations of food and household items for Charlotte families.

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2000: Mandarin Chinese was added to the school’s language curriculum.

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2005: Eight relocatable buildings replaced with modular buildings known as the West Wing

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2007: First Global Studies Diplomas and first Global Educator Certificates awarded. 2007: Dr. Jack Creeden became Head of School.

1,047 alumni graduated this decade.

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Saundra Robbins (left) and Kristie Oglesby.

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The PD Mission Statement— Putting Meaning to the Words By Gene Bratek One year, we had a trustee retreat and the facilitator of the retreat said “Does your school have a mission statement?” At that retreat, they drafted something which sounded very corporate. And I said, “What I suggest we do is have a committee that represents different constituencies in the school. We need teachers, parents, and students, and let’s review this and see if we can make it as accurate as we can to reflect who we are.” The mission statement should not reflect what you want to be, but who you are, why you exist. Not just, ‘that’s who we are this week.’ All they needed to do is to be given permission to come up with what the school’s mission was and what values we stood for. So, the committee took it to the board, they endorsed it, and that became the official mission statement

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of the school to this day. It’s good to know that some things last. All the accomplishments that happened during my time here were accomplishments of the community. We just had the greatest community, and I’m probably proudest of the fact that we had a system for hiring teachers and administrators that was very thorough and had lots of success. I’m proud of the faculty and folks we were able to bring in during this time. They were just terrific and, let’s face it, they made the school. They’re the ones who are in the trenches every day with kids. Gene Bratek was headmaster (later head of school) of Providence Day from 1986-2007. The campus doubled in size and the student body doubled in head count during his tenure, which saw the launch of the Honor Code and Global Studies as well as the construction of McMahon Fine Arts Center, the section of relocatable buildings known as the West Wing, Dickson-Hemby Technology Center, Thompson-Jones Library, and the Mosack Athletic Center.


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In 2008, the school launched the annual Gil Murdock Turkey Trot, which endures into the 2020s. Each year students and adults run around the track and collect food and household items for Charlotte families.

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In a tradition unique to PD, seniors gathered in front of a school bus to celebrate their chosen colleges beginning in 1976. In the 1980s, the tradition faded, with seniors posing in front of the buses readying to take them to Senior Venture instead. In 2009, the school decided to revive the annual “bus photo” and seniors have gathered for it ever since. During the 2020 pandemic, students remained masked and in small groups who were edited together by photographer Mike McCarn in sixty-seven Photoshop layers.

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9/11 at Providence Day—“Time Seemed to Stop” By Katie Kirkland ’03 I was a junior at PD, sitting in AP U.S. History class, when the planes crashed on 9/11. I remember Mr. Dickson coming into our classroom right before the period changed, and he told us what was happening on the news. Classes started emptying into the hallways and students and teachers couldn’t believe what was happening. For the rest of the day, time seemed to stop. Everyone was glued to TVs and radios around campus. Some students went home.

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I was a photographer for the yearbook and student newspaper at the time. I think it was instinct as an early photojournalist to pull out my camera and document scenes around campus that tragic day. I’m not sure I knew at that moment exactly how big the day would become in our history, but I was drawn to capture the students, teachers, and administrators. Looking back, photographing that day probably gave me a sense of purpose, a distraction from the horror, and a job to do. Katie Kirkland ’03 has had a career in international education and is now back at PD as a project manager and program development specialist.


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A Small School in a Good Way By Jay Barron One of my first memories at PD was the late, great Kris Brockmeier greeting me LOUDLY from across the ferryboat on my SECOND day. She remembered my name, something I’m still not very good at with people I’ve worked with for, um, years. I remember thinking that this was a small school in a good way, a place where people knew each other. As we’ve grown, that’s become more difficult, but in the mid-2000s, I knew most of the faculty in all three levels and many of the students, whether they were in my classes or not. Jay Barron joined the World Language faculty in 2003. Dr. Kristina Brockmeier, who passed away in 2009 from cancer, was PD’s beloved Head Librarian for thirteen years.

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Looking Out for Us More Than We Ever Imagined By Brooks Aker ’10 One of my favorite memories is from senior year. The student/faculty basketball game was re-introduced pretty close to when I was reaching that time as a senior, and five of us ended up on varsity basketball. And we beat the faculty after what I would call an unsuccessful season. I had the best game I ever played in Mosack Athletic Center. We played against teachers, most of whom I had class with, and people like (Coach) Freddie Cotton, who you see every day and chat with. I had a blast doing that.

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From left: Kyle Perry ‘10, Michael Starr ‘10, and Brooks Aker ‘10 in AP Biology.

I think the most distinct memory I can pull from Lower School is probably Fort Fisher. Ben Hovis ’96 was the teacher in our cabin. And it was ten, you know, fourth-grade boys. We definitely had a little fun and had a little mischief. One of the days, a friend just took off on a beeline for the water and he took two steps into the water. And then on the third one, he disappeared. He just went straight down because there was a steep grade. He went under and came back up and was just soaking wet. It’s probably the epitome of a fourth-grade boy thinking they know everything, not listening to instructions, and then quite literally going under water when they didn’t follow them. 48

I was an extended day kid all the way through lower school. As a first grader, I broke my collarbone at my birthday party. I had to wear this really uncomfortable brace to keep my shoulder in place so that it healed up correctly. And Kathy Goessel was one of our extended day teachers for the entire duration of my time as a lower schooler. She’s like five feet tall, in excellent shape, could chase us all around the playground. I wasn’t supposed to be running around or throwing anything. I was probably well behaved for the first fifteen, maybe thirty minutes if I’m being generous. And then I saw some friends playing, just throwing a football around. And I couldn’t

sit out anymore. I ran down there and then I can remember Ms. Goessel seeing me, coming from wherever she was on a sprint, “Brooks, what are you doing? You’re not supposed to be playing.” And I had to go sit on the brick wall for ten minutes of timeout and discipline. That was the longest ten minutes of my life. I think Providence Day and the faculty and staff and teachers always had our best interests at heart and were looking out for us way more than any of us ever really imagined. Dr. Kris Brockmeier was diagnosed with cancer and ultimately passed away when I was in high school and my class


THE 2010 S

established the Brockmeier Endowment Fund as our class gift. I’m very grateful that we had the wherewithal to think of something non-tangible that would make a difference. She was the most outgoing, generous person with her time. You know, you think librarians are quiet and then you meet Dr. Brockmeier and it’s the total opposite. I think some people kind of took for granted what it was like to have someone who really cared about students that much. I just remember every time when I walked in there to the library and was greeted by her that it was just such a welcoming place. She just really was so passionate and caring about the students and about their experience and was willing to do whatever it took to help. Providence Day is already trending and moving towards the kind of things I’d like to see. I think this past summer in particular, the school stepped up in a big way to address the school’s history and context. Seeing the school and Dr. Cowlishaw and the alumni AFIRM (Alumni Fostering Inclusion, Respect, & Multiculturalism) group, all of what’s come out from the productive discussions, that has been definitely heartening to see.

Providence Day is already trending and moving towards the kind of things I’d like to see. There’s never a wrong time to do the right thing.

—Brooks Aker ’10

There was a specific call to address the Swann vs. Board of Education case and explain its impact, and explain Providence Day’s existence in the context of that. Hopefully that’s something that will be integrated going forward. There’s never a wrong time to do the right thing. One thing that has been important to me as an alumni board member is the service aspect of continuing that mission and commitment to serving the community, whether that’s locally down the street hosting Freedom School, or larger scale with the food drive in spring 2020, in the midst of an unprecedented global pandemic that jeopardized food security for a lot of people that don’t live far from Providence Day. There are certain challenges that the school is going to face. And I think continuing to bring a creative problem-solving mindset to those challenges with the school’s mission in mind is important. Brooks Aker ’10 made his mark as a scholar, athlete, and leader, serving as vice president of his senior class. After graduating from Virginia Tech, he made his way back to Charlotte and onto the board of alumni, where he served as president during PD’s fiftieth anniversary year.

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2020: The global COVID-19 pandemic caused a campus shutdown in March, led to an outdoors Commencement ceremony in July, and brought a new learning model for the school in the fall. 2020: PD familes raise more than $150,000 to feed more than 4,500 via Loaves & Fishes as part of the school’s mission of social responsibility.

2010: Steve Barker served as interim Head of School.

2012: Renovations completed on the new Overcash Stadium.

2010: As part of its 40th anniversary celebration, the entire student body created a giant “40” on the floor of Mosack Athletic Center.

2010

2011

PD Athletics teams won the Wells Fargo Cup (formerly Wachovia Cup) six of the ten years of this decade.

2012: Providence Day became the first independent school in the nation to host a Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School.

2012

2011: Dr. Glyn Cowlishaw became Head of School.

2013

2014

2015: First crop planted in the Charger Gardens.

2015

2016

2014: Upper School Musical “Little Shop of Horrors” led to the school’s first Blumey nomination, a local theater recognition bestowed by N.C. Blumenthal Performing Arts. 2014: Timothy McGinnis ‘08 became the first PD alum to be named a Rhodes Scholar.

2017: The school cut the ribbon on its new DeMayo Gateway Center, parking deck, and four-story Academic Center, thanks to the Charging Forward campaign which ultimately reached $27.8 million.

2017

2018

2019

2020

2019: The school established its first endowed faculty chair position, naming Susanne Reid the inaugural Downing/Williams Endowed Faculty Chair of Excellence. 2018: Providence Day hosted the Round Square Regional Conference with 100 students from eight countries.

1,369 alumni graduated this decade, with another 297 in the classes of ’20 and ’21.

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New buildings transformed the campus entrance in 2017.

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Figuring Out the History By Bobbie Hinson

Charchives—New Treasures Every Day By Neely Porter Gutierrez ’92 I was volunteering one day at the Alumni House (that’s what we used to call it) and noticed a room upstairs that was filled with boxes and boxes of memorabilia and photos. Kind of a dumping ground. At that point it was called “archives.” Several hours a week I would head over and the sorting began. Once Glyn Cowlishaw started, he and Jeff Appel agreed to send me to a summer institute at The Taft School. It hit me that what we needed and desired for our school was different from an official archives. We needed something more user friendly. We wanted to be able to lend out materials and use them for events. From then on, it was Charchives. I love connecting with Bobbie every week and finding new treasures every time! I wish people had been better about dating their documents and photos! Neely Porter Gutierrez ’92 joined PD as an eighth grader in 1987, then returned to join the faculty in the 2000s. Currently a member of the Math Department, she is also the parent of two lifers in the classes of ’21 and ’23. 52

When you’ve been here forty years, it’s hard to let go. I really didn’t want to sever my ties completely from Providence Day, and Neely Porter Gutierrez was a student and then became a colleague. I felt like between Neely and my history here, we could pretty much cover the whole story. She knows the current students, and together she and I can usually figure out the old history. It’s really been very rewarding not only to work with her, but I find myself spending a whole lot of time going through photographs and reminiscing, and telling her stories, or taking snapshots of pictures and sending them to former students or colleagues when I find something interesting. Bobbie Hinson retired from the faculty in 2015 after forty years, thirty-two of them spent as chair of the Science Department.


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By 2019, a record thirty-one alumni worked as faculty and staff at Providence Day.

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Charger Gardens—Good Food for Good Things Faculty and students planted the first crop in Charger Gardens in 2015, thanks to support from the Brinley Family Endowment which provided the all-division service-learning project. All produce is donated to the Friendship Trays organization. The area also includes a milkweed garden for migrating Monarch butterflies.

A Freedom School Partner In 2012, as an extension of its mission of social responsibility, Providence Day School partnered with Freedom School Partners to become the first independent school in the nation to host a Freedom School site each summer. The program serves low-income students and helps prevent summer learning loss. As of its ninth year in 2020, PD remained the only independent school hosting its own site. PD and its families work all year to collect school supplies to benefit all Freedom School scholars throughout the city.

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The Deven Sawyer Memorial Award, honoring his strong moral character, compassion, kindness, and gentle spirit, represents his impact on the familial culture at Providence Day. Deven’s legacy serves as a reminder to students and faculty to live their lives with his exemplary qualities. Receiving this award encourages me to commemorate Deven’s genuine qualities, and strive to exemplify them in my own life. Benjamin Joyner ’19 is a PD lifer who was active in football, wrestling, track, and Honor Council.

Paying it Forward on Deven’s Behalf In the summer of 2018, a tragic auto accident during a PD global trip to Argentina took the life of rising senior Deven Sawyer. In tribute to his memory, his classmates and loved ones established the Deven Sawyer Memorial Award. Its first recipients were two juniors and two seniors who were members of Deven’s class. The Class of 2019 also experienced another tragic loss in 2017 of classmate Nathan Kocmond.

Deven—Compassion, Kindness, Spirit By Benjamin Joyner ’19 Deven and I were in the same Kindergarten and second-grade class. Some of my first memories at Providence Day include Deven at field day or in class activities and sports. His actions created a well-known and valued presence at Providence Day. 56

By Clare Steigerwalt ’19 Deven was so easy to talk to and was always making our friends laugh! I was shocked that I was chosen for the award, and it truly is one of my proudest moments. I keep the pin that I received with me at college as a reminder to pay forward the kindness and goodness for others that Deven would have shown. I hope that PD continues to grow and create a community that is so strongly bonded. I would hope that, in addition to being a leader in global awareness and local causes, PD continues to take time to personalize the experience of each student who is fortunate enough to attend this school. Clare Steigerwalt ’19 came to Providence Day in the seventh grade and was active in golf, Charger House, Big Brothers Big Sisters, and Freedom School.


IN

MEMORIAM

Providence Day School has established these endowments in the name of beloved community members.

The Rob Eck Memorial Scholarship Fund – 1978 Kristen Duren Academic Excellence Award – 1985 The Whitten W. Scholtz, IV Memorial Awards – 1996 The Brian Eichenbrenner Master Teacher Award – 1997 The Paula C. Freeman Financial Aid Endowment Fund – 1998 Pamela C. Wilson Endowed Teacher Enrichment Award – 2003 The Robert C. Hollmeyer Endowment Fund for Economics and Technology – 2006 The Gilmer L. Murdock, Jr. Endowment Fund – 2007 The Kristina C. Brockmeier Endowment for Financial Aid – 2010 The Deven Sawyer Memorial Fund – 2018

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Including Everybody at the Table By Kaila Dawkins ’20 I feel like we weren’t really talking about the founding of Providence Day. I feel like there wasn’t a conversation about it happening soon enough, at least on a student level. I don’t think I have ever done anything where I was taking a critical eye to something I could potentially change, or something that I experience every single day. It definitely helped me know how to have conversations about things that are sensitive. As you can imagine, reflecting on my time at PD is a mix of emotions. Part of it is joy because now I’m moving on to a new chapter. Also, thorough confusion, because I think with COVID-19,

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it felt like there wasn’t closure. I was just shuffled out of school on a Thursday afternoon. That was really the last time I got to go to class on campus and got to walk around. There were random things I didn’t realize I’d miss. I miss driving to school in the morning and parking in the senior parking lot. Who knew? I was usually trying to get to class on time, so it’s just weird to think that I won’t ever get to do that again at Providence Day, especially not with classmates. It’s just something that was there and was a sense of normalcy and now it’s no longer there. My strongest memory from my time at Providence Day was my middle-school experience and the partnership with Bruns Academy, which is now a partnership with Wilson STEM Academy. It is a place where I really got involved in diversity, equity, and inclusion work and that was the start of me interacting with people outside of the PD community. Of course, I had friends at other schools and people who are not involved in the PD community, but I think that that program really encouraged me to try to find ways to help the Charlotte community. Help as in, trying to form bonds with people who are not in the south Charlotte area or who don’t go to PD. I still think about it all the time. I loved the arts aspect, the creativity, because

It’s just something that was there and

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just like food, it’s a way to bond with people, and it’s usually some type of common point. I always hold that partnership dear. My hopes for Providence Day’s future? I think numbers and statistics are important, but the number one thing we should focus on is how your students feel. How do your students of color feel? That percentage-of-students-of color number is meaningless if they do not feel like their voices are heard, if they feel like they’re not represented, if they feel like the curriculum doesn’t include them, if they feel like they’re being ignored in the hallways, not invited to social spaces. I think the inclusion aspect and the equity aspect is equally if not more important than the diversity aspect. You can get caught up in, ‘Do we have this group of people? Let’s be sure we check all of our boxes.’ Which is important, for representation, making sure you have everybody in the room. But if everybody’s at the table, and no one feels like they can speak, then what’s the value of the group at the table? I’m hoping that PD is going to take a more active stance to become more anti-racist. I’m looking forward to seeing PD follow through with that social justice initiative, in tandem with the global education initiative.

was a sense of normalcy and now it’s no

Lifer Kaila Dawkins ’20 was part of Providence Day’s historic

longer there.

pandemic. She was tthe first person to write her Global Leadership paper

—Kaila Dawkins ’20

Commencement ceremony in July 2020 in the midst of the COVID-19 about Providence Day.


A JOURNEY O F EXCEL L EN C E PR OV I D E N C E DAY S C H OOL

Teacher of the Year—A Bittersweet Experience By Dr. Stephanie Eichenbrenner Vanderford ’95 A colleague mentioned how relieved I must have felt to receive the Teacher of the Year honor in a year when I didn’t have to stand on stage and tearfully make comments to the whole upper school community. But that’s not how I see it. While I do think I mostly shy away from the limelight, this is a once-in-a-lifetime honor, and I definitely experienced some grief over it not being a normal process. I can only imagine that all the Teachers of the Year before (and after) me will always be able to visualize the student body standing in celebration of them and will always be able to hear their cheers and applause. At PD, I teach with a school full of dedicated, innovative, and caring teachers. Collaborating with them over the past fourteen years has made me a better teacher. The support of my family makes my commitment to my job possible. And of course, I love my job because of the students. It was bittersweet to be honored in a year when we realized so clearly how much we needed to support one another—but then not get to look 62

out at the sea of their faces when I received the award. Although I am happy beyond belief, I am also feeling the pain of lost events a bit more poignantly now. Perhaps it is just another way we are 2getheras0ne in this strange spring. Isn’t it crazy that it was twenty-five years later to the day from my graduation? It truly was great and special in its own 2020 way. Dr. Stephanie Eichenbrenner Vanderford ’95 was valedictorian during the school’s twenty-fifth anniversary year. She returned as a teacher in 2006 and teaches AP Macroeconomics, and was named Teacher of the Year for Upper School, during a ceremony held virtually due to the global pandemic.

Dr. Vanderford with fellow alumni teacher John Compton ‘04.


THE 2010 S

The senior class gift in 2020 was a new college directional sign, replacing this one from the former Counseling Center in the mid-2000s, and created using bricks from the original house where Providence Day started.

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P A N D E M I C

L I F E


T H E

A R T S


A T H L E T I C S


A JOURNEY O F EXCEL L EN C E PR OV I D E N C E DAY S C H OOL

C L A S S

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O F

2 0 2 1


THE 2010 S

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ACKNOWLED GEMENTS

The gift from the class of 1988 remains to this day in Thompson-Jones Library.

In 1988, I was one of the senior class officers tasked with designating a gift from our class to leave a lasting reminder of our years at Providence Day. Many worthy ideas were considered, but one rose to the top as the most personalized tribute: We elected to commission a member of the school’s visual art faculty, Chris Wallace, to create a sculpture commemorating the evolution of a PD student. That sculpture was installed on campus and remains in Thompson-Jones Library to this day. When I returned to the school and was tasked with compiling this book, naturally I once again decided to turn to the same artist, who was then preparing to retire after thirty-three years on the school’s faculty. So for the second time, I commissioned a work of art from Chris Wallace symbolizing life at Providence Day. I now thank Chris, with an invaluable assist from longtime art teacher Coral Helms, for their work immortalized here on these pages. They are the first of many who must be thanked here for their help with this book; I wish I could adequately represent all of my gratitude here, and I apologize to any I may have inadvertently left out mentioning by name. —”Charchivists” Bobbie Hinson and Neely Porter Gutierrez ’92, who were the sources of most of the photos and important facts on these pages; we quite literally could not have created this book without them. —The many figures from PD’s history who so graciously sat for interviews, including founder Bill Hester; charter faculty member Clara Ellen Peeler (who was my first English teacher when I arrived at PD, and who I was so grateful to have the opportunity to interview just a few months before she passed away); founding board member Gene King; longtime Lower School head Lukie Rousseaux; longtime headmaster Gene Bratek; longtime Head of Upper School Ben Topham; Erika Proko Hamilton ’99; Reggie Love ’00; Brooks Aker ’10; and Kaila Dawkins ’20. —Additional historical figures who shared their recollections in writing, including Roman Davis ’79; Rev. Matthew Heyd ’88; Dr. Stephanie

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ACKNOWLED GEMENTS Eichenbrenner Vanderford ’95; long-serving teacher Saundra Robbins; the school’s longest-serving staff member Thomas Tarrant; teacher and podcast host extraordinaire Jay Barron; Golden Charger Doug Henry; longtime Head of Middle School Sam Caudill; Doug McCurry ’90; and Dr. Chris Mullis ’90.

Special thanks to the 50th Planning Committee:

Any errors of fact or transcription in these accounts are mine, not theirs.

Middle School: Amy Bynum ‘88 and Doug Burgess

—Dr. Glyn Cowlishaw and Jeffrey Appel for hiring me; giving me the honor of compiling this book; and for providing support along the way.

Lower School: Amy Glosson ‘92 and Anita McLeod

—The MarComm team for support and assistance with photos, facts, and time: Sara Riggsby, Sean Johnson, and Jen Duvall. —Golden Chargers Coral Helms and Joanne Soporowski for their willingness to volunteer. —My colleagues Lynette Allison and Kacie Sullivan for their leadership of the fiftieth anniversary commemoration.

Chairs: Lynette Allison and Kacie Sullivan Upper School: Jay Barron and Roy Garrison

Staff: Lynn Mayhew ‘92 and Robbie Miller Charchives: Neely Gutierrez ‘92 and Bobbie Hinson Golden Chargers: Elaine Foster and Betty Oelhafen Ex Officio: Dr. Glyn Cowlishaw and Jeff Appel

—Steve Bondurant ’98 for invaluable help identifying and tracking down fellow alumni. —Photographer Mike McCarn for his decade-plus of breathtaking photos documenting our school. —The PD classes of 2020 and 2021 for your steadfast determination to replace the traditions cancelled by the pandemic with new traditions and memories of this historic era you have endured with grace and resilience. —My Providence Day teachers, each of whom played a part in who I am today.

Leigh Dyer ’88

Leigh Dyer ‘88, Chris Mullis ‘90, and science teacher Mary Liske.

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A

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X Michael Magno Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs

2020-21 Board of Alumni Mr. Brooks Aker ’10 (President) Mrs. Mahari Conston Freeman ’12 Mr. Steve Goldberg ’75 Ms. Christina Mauney ’09 Mr. Dewey Norwood ’92 Mrs. Debbie Hyde Ricks ’02 Mr. Christian Rautenstrauch ’09 Ms. Jocelyn Ruark ’09 Mrs. Jennifer Parnell Smith ’98 Mrs. Amanda Golmont Schneider ’04 Mr. Shawn Smith ’88 Mr. Derrick Thompson ’03 Mr. Will Walton ’11 Mrs. Shelley Miracle Wilfong ’97 Mrs. Marianne Schild Wilmoth ’06 Mr. Aaron Zucker ’07

Todd Swartz Assistant Head of School for Human Resources Lee Tappy ’94 Head of Middle School Volunteer Leadership PA President: Givin Van Dam Charger Club President: Amy Alt Annual Giving Chairs: Jim Kaspar, Elaine Largen, Bill Swayne, Will Walton ’11, Marianne Schild Wilmoth ’06

2020–21 Board of Trustees Dr. Christopher R. Mullis ’90, Chair Mr. William R. Lorenz, Vice Chair Mr. Robert C. Ziegler, Treasurer Mrs. Kimberly I. Paulk, Secretary Mrs. Monique Allen Mr. Rajnish S. Bharadwaj Mr. William C. Blank Mrs. Kelly R. Brooks Mr. Richard K. Brown Dr. Abigail S. Caudle ’92 Mr. Kieth Cockrell Mr. Mohammad Daher Mr. Chad M. Hagler Rev. Matthew F. Heyd ’88 Ms. Joy M. Hord Ms. Kara Ruth Killough King ’90 Dr. Sunita Przybylo Mr. James J. Ratchford Mrs. Lynn Nesta Reeves ’86 Mr. Thomas Seddon Mr. Edward Yu

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Faculty and Staff with 25+ Years of Service

Senior leadership team 2019 2020-21 Leadership School Leadership: Dr. Glyn Cowlishaw Head of School Jeffrey Appel Associate Head of School for Institutional Advancement Nancy Beatty Director of Athletics Erin Harper Head of Lower School Eric Hedinger Head of Upper School

Dr. Nadia Johnson Director of Equity & Inclusion Lisa Knight Director of Admissions & Enrollment Management Kristen Kral Assistant Head of School for Finance & Risk Management

Mrs. Kimberly C. Alix, 35 Years Mr. Doug Burgess, Jr., 29 Years Ms. Catherine E. Carmichael, 25 Years Mr. James F. Cerbie, Jr., 34 Years Mr. Edward M. Dickson, 30 Years Mr. John R. Erb, 30 Years Mr. William R. Finneyfrock, 31 Years Mr. Roy C. Garrison, II, 38 Years Ms. Barbara P. Gregory, 27 Years Mrs. Joyce G. Harris, 25 Years Ms. Pamela T. Heacock, 27 Years Mr. Eric W. Hedinger, 25 Years Mrs. Jennifer H. Huffstetler, 26 Years Mrs. Sarabeth Keniry, 31 Years Mrs. Geoffrey A. Lucia, 36 Years Dr. John L. Makous, 29 Years Mrs. Roberta H. McKaig, 46 Years Mrs. Anita H. McLeod, 49 Years Ms. Cheryl D. Miller, 36 Years


A Mrs. Kimberly M. Nooe, 30 Years Ms. Ann C. Parker, 25 Years Mrs. Saundra D. Robbins, 31 Years Mr. Randall R. Sienkowksi, 30 Years Mr. Brick D. Smith, 37 Years Mr. Matthew B. Spence, 25 Years Mrs. Anne A. Williams, 34 Years

Golden Chargers The Golden Chargers recognizes retired faculty and staff from PD along with those who have worked at the school for 20 years. We celebrate their years of service and their impact at our school by providing meaningful opportunities to stay engaged with our community. Mrs. Charlain Allen, 15 Years Mrs. Betty Jo Steele Anderson, 13 Years Mrs. Sonia Barber, 15 Years Mrs. Barbara F. Bodycott, 24 Years Mrs. Jenny C. Bolt, 10 Years Ms. Valerie G. Bookholt, 13 Years Ms. Janet M. Boyce, 10 Years Mr. Eugene A. Bratek, 21 Years Mrs. Rhea Caldwell, 24 Years Mr. Samuel D. Caudill, 35 Years Mrs. Nancy D. Cochrane, 34 Years Mrs. Joanne W. Compton, 34 Years Mrs. Jane Cook, 20 Years Mrs. Kathleen B. Cox, 22 Years Mrs. Judy S. Degernes, 6 Years Mrs. Elaine K. Edelman, 19 Years Mrs. Brenda C. Fisher, 16 Years Mrs. Debra J. Fisher, 24 Years Mrs. Elaine Foster, 22 Years Mrs. Barbara T. Fricke, 28 Years Mrs. Phyllis Gill, 32 Years Mrs. Guadalupe Grier, 30 Years Mrs. Janet W. Haines, 21 Years Mrs. Karen W. Hambacher, 26 Years Mrs. Patricia D. Hamlett, 11 Years

P P E

Mrs. Ann W. Hannah, 19 Years Mrs. Coral R. Helms, 29 Years Mr. W. Douglas Henry, 20 Years Mrs. Janice K. Henshaw, 25 Years Mrs. Barbara S. Hinson, 40 Years Mrs. Susan B. Hopper, 10 Years Mrs. Vicky R. Hovis, 29 Years Mrs. Patricia Howe, 16 Years Mrs. Sara T. Hunter, 31 Years Mr. Paul Ibsen, 19 Years Mrs. Amy Iverson, 16 Years Mrs. Carol F. Johnson, 27 Years Mrs. Nancy N. Johnson, 32 Years Mrs. Donna K. Jordan, 24 Years Mrs. Toni P. Karnazes, 8 Years Mrs. Nora H. Lalinde, 30 Years Ms. Sandra Lambeth, 24 Years Mrs. Betty Lane, 25 Years Mrs. Ann Lathrop, 15 Years Mrs. Mary Liske, 29 Years Mr. Lee C. McRae, 17 Years Ms. Melanie Merriam, 28 Years Mrs. Kay L. Montross, 29 Years Mrs. Jane B. Moore, 28 Years Mrs. Lora Morris, 5 Years Mrs. Christiane Mountcastle, 11 Years Mrs. Debra J. Nagy, 34 Years Mrs. Betty T. Oelhafen, 23 Years Ms. Cynthia L. Osborne, 20 Years Mrs. Roberta L. Palombit, 14 Years Mrs. Vicki S. Pleasant, 18 Years Mrs. Elizabeth B. Poore, 21 Years Ms. Kenna Powell, 30 Years Mrs. Claire Putterman, 16 Years Mrs. Elizabeth C. Ralston, 25 Years Mrs. Janet S. Reece, 12 Years Mrs. Debora L. Reiser, 19 Years Mrs. Lynn Reynolds, 17 Years Mrs. Nita R. Robertson, 8 Years Mrs. Jacquelyn H. Robinson, 27 Years Mrs. Janis P. Roten, 32 Years Mrs. Lucrecia Rousseaux, 18 Years Mrs. Betty Lynn Scholtz, 11 Years Mrs. Carol L. Sharkey, 24 Years

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Mrs. Ann C. Shaughnessy, 21 Years Mrs. Marsha S. Small, 13 Years Mrs. Nancy Smith, 23 Years Mrs. JoAnn M. Soporowski, 18 Years Mrs. Nancy E. Stark, 20 Years Mrs. Jeanne H. Steele, 15 Years Mrs. Patricia M. Steimer, 21 Years Mrs. Susan N. Stiefel, 21 Years Ms. Nancy S. Stockton, 25 Years Ms. Patricia M. Strungis, 13 Years Mrs. Alice M. Sutthoff, 30 Years Mr. Thomas Tarrant, 47 Years Mr. Ben A. Topham, 37 Years Ms. Elizabeth T. Wahls, 10 Years Mr. Christopher L. Wallace, 33 Years Mrs. Laurel E. Warfield, 12 Years Mrs. Jane Warwick, 14 Years Mrs. Mary J. White, 9 Years Mrs. Debra C. Wilhoit, 33 Years

Valedictorians

1996 Jennifer Fisher 1997 Brian Eichenbrenner 1998 Catherine Yurachek 1999 Travis Menk 2000 Lisa Cassani 2001 John Brewer 2002 Donald Banks 2003 Monica Magnuson 2004 Jeff Hussman 2005 Ginny Crowder 2006 Courtney Patterson 2007 Christine Solitario 2008 Tim McGinnis 2009 Jonathan Fischer 2010 Michael Starr 2011 Nathaniel Bruns and Emily Holway 2012 Emily Stewart 2013 Jenna Comisar 2014 Cameron Love 2015 Eddie Cochell 2016 Andrew Swann 2017 Victoria Xu 2018 Ronak Bhagia 2019 Victor Chu 2020 Robert Veres

1975 Kathy Poplin, John Sensenbrenner 1976 Lisa McNoldy 1977 Janice Rae Golden Chargers Betty Oelhafen (left) and Patsy Steimer 1978 Marjorie Hubbard (right) with the late Betsey Ertel (center) at their 1979 Caroline Massey retirement in 2005. 1980 Michael Turner 1981 Melissa Scharnberg 1982 David Lackey, Jr. 1983 Abigail Hollowell 1984 Charles Palermo 1985 Alice Grant 1986 Rupal Manu Naik 1987 James Eric Dishman 1988 Leigh Dyer 1989 Christy Cochran 1990 Christopher Mullis 1991 Scott Harrington 1992 David Efird and An Ly 1993 Elizabeth Maples 1994 James Bowen 1995 Stephanie Eichenbrenner

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The 2020 pandemic delayed Commencement until July and became the first-ever outdoors, masked, and distanced ceremony for seniors.

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Profile for Bookhouse Group

A Journey of Excellence: Providence Day School  

On September 28, 1970, 112 students and five teachers gathered in a converted house on a former horse pasture at the intersection of Sardis...

A Journey of Excellence: Providence Day School  

On September 28, 1970, 112 students and five teachers gathered in a converted house on a former horse pasture at the intersection of Sardis...

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