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summer 2012


the perfect blend Breck and China PG. 28




a stellar not exactly education. rocket science.

give it up for breck.

Even though the Annual Fund is not quite over, there is much to be thankful for and to celebrate about this year’s generous support of Breck. Here are some notable achievements:

overall parent participation was 84% as of june 21.

Every grade at Breck (Preschool – 12th) achieved 80% or more parent participation. Three grades achieved more than 90%. The students celebrated with ice cream socials.

alumni giving

To-date, Alumni giving is the highest ever with more than $235,000 in gifts.

tour de breck

This year’s race raised more than $3,000—a new record. And 100% of the class of 2012 contributed to the Annual Fund via the event.

a new milestone

100% of Upper School faculty contributed to the Annual Fund this year— a great vote of confidence in the plans for the Upper School transformation.

thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success of this year’s annual fund. Stay tuned for the final numbers.

and since the annual fund is a yearly activity, we look forward to your renewed participation next year.


summer 2012 TODAY AT BRECK 1

FEATURES 18 | T  ransforming the Upper School


The project now underway will provide the finest Upper School facility in the Twin Cities—supporting our students, our faculty and our mission.

22 | S  tudent Blogs from Spring Trips See China, Cuba, New York City and Thailand through the eyes of student travelers.

28 | Our Good Fortune


cover story A strong connection to China is one of Breck’s most enduring

traditions. Read reports on just a few of the alumni who have studied, lived and worked there.

38 | T  our de Force The Class of 2012 was off to the races with a record-setting Tour de Breck.

40 | P  eak Performers Alumni make their mark on stage, on screen and on video.Hegg: Developing a


New Service Curriculum 28 | Bobbie Tonkin, Jenny Bennett, Marie Murphy: Helping First Graders Become Confident Writers 30 | Lois Fruen: Enhancing Scholarship and Scientific Study Cover photo: Jack Sheehy ’14 picks tea at the Guilin Organic Tea ­Company in March. Photo by Charlene Jundt, Breck parent (pictured here)



summer 2012

TODAY AT BRECK Today at Breck is a publication of

Breck School, 123 Ottawa Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55422 email: communications@

Head of School




Departments 4 | 20 Questions

42 | Alumni News

We asked, and they answered:

A brief report on alumni events,

Katie Jundt ’14, Alex Darrow and Brad

our new alumni website, an

Searl ’95

­electronic time capsule and more.

7 | 123

44 | C  lass Notes

Activities, accomplishments, awards,

Alumni share recent news.

Jill Field

from Spring 2012 at Breck.

50 | Sports News


7 | Who Knew?

Breck athletes had a wonderful winter

Fun facts, both current and historical


Edward Kim

Director of Advancement Meredith Cook VanDuyne

Editor and Chief Writer

ThinkDesign Group:

Linda Henneman, Claire Moyle, Corey Sevett

Writers Erin Strong

Photographers Karyl Rice, Sara Rubinstein, Elliot Dodge deBruyn ’08, Jill Field,

announcements: here are some items

(no, there won’t be a quiz!)

16 | Ten Things You Didn’t Know About… Arranging schedules for Breck sports

season, and we’ve got a complete

52 | In Their Own Words She loves to teach, and she loves to

cook. Margaret Wong shares a favorite recipe.

takes mental athleticism. Know the score.

Charlene Jundt, Matthias Orfield

Printing Bolger Vision Beyond Print

MISSION Breck is an Episcopal, coeducational, college-preparatory day school enrolling students of diverse backgrounds in grades preschool through twelve. Breck’s Mission is to:

Prepare each student for a college whose culture is compatible with the individual’s needs, interests and abilities. Help develop each student’s unique talents and potential to excel by nurturing independence and self-worth. Instill in each student a deep sense of social responsibility.

Breck School is committed to environmental stewardship. This publication is printed paper manufactured with electricity in the form of renewable energy (wind, hydro, biogas) and a minimum of 30% postconsumer recovered fiber.

3 The National Association of Episcopal Schools (NAES), on whose board I serve, has just released its Strategic Plan 2012, which I encourage you to read online at One of the things that struck me as I looked at the final document (and remembered the deep discussions that led up to it) is how well it reflects both the mission of NAES and the mission of Breck School. Both are organizations that are proud to celebrate an Episcopal heritage but do so without excluding other faith traditions at the same time. This welcoming and inclusive spirit, so omnipresent at Breck, is a source of incredible strength. The document lists the pillars of Episcopal identity, which resonate profoundly at Breck. They include the following: • A commitment to high academic standards, reflecting the crucial role of reason as a companion to faith; • Clear and visible statements about and programs for service, as well as the promotion of the values of justice, equity, and respect for the dignity of every human being; • Exemplary models of leadership and governance; • Being places of hospitality and inclusivity, honoring the creeds and convictions of all members of the community. During these exciting times at Breck, I am proud that we are planning for an inspiring future without losing sight of the past. As the transformation of our Upper School moves forward, it’s gratifying to know that our school remains both firmly rooted in its Episcopal tradition and an institution that proclaims and affirms the faith traditions of our entire community. The NAES strategic plan document is meant to guide and support Episcopal schools through challenging times. It says, “Current economic realities can force schools to question whether or not their missions are too focused; diverse opinions and traditions can bring into question a core identity and tradition of a school; relationships with parishes or diocese can be strained.” As you read the articles in this edition of Today at Breck, you’ll see that our commitment to our mission is strong and growing ever stronger. As the NAES document observes in words that could be written about Breck: “Our vision…is one that builds upon both the compelling mission of Episcopal schools as well as the freedom they possess to respond to new challenges with both a flexibility as well as adherence to a core tradition.” Enjoy the summer.

EdWARD Kim Head of school


summer 2011

questions 4

katie jundt ‘14: BRECK sophomore 1

What’s on your iPod?

Anything from “Countdown” by ­Beyoncé, to “Oblivion” by Grimes, to my current favorite band, Spoonboy, to my Chinese dialogues 2

What’s one of the last books you


Best decision?

Going on the Breck China trip 9

What advice would you give to

yourself 10 years ago?

Twist and Shout, by Little Richard 15

Favorite website?

on my homework until it was PERFECT.

Amir Blumenfeld in action

Looking For Alaska, by John Green. His

being a little kid with no huge respon-

books are amazing, and his character

sibilities yet.

What’s your favorite time of year?

would it be?, where you can see

So, I would like to tell myself to enjoy


If you had a theme song, what

At six, I would spend all night working


development is wonderful.



What do you remember from


Three people, living or dead,

you’d have over to dinner? It would be a picnic lunch in Minnesota in August, and I’d invite Amir


Blumenfeld and my cousins Grace

Early fall. Everything is still growing,

Being so excited to have my preschool

Erlandson and Steven Batho.

but it isn’t hot and sticky anymore.

teacher Mrs. Kraabel for two years in a


What’s the most thrilling/adven-

turous thing you’ve ever done? Going on the Breck China trip 5

What’s your favorite Breck lunch?

Pasta with red sauce 6

Who is your personal hero (and

why)? Amir Blumenfeld, a comedian who is doing what he loves, and it makes people’s days! 7

row when she moved up to kindergarten 11

What is the most important room

thing that involves drawing or painting.

Best trophy/award you ever won?

A small piece of clay indented with a thumbprint and hanging on a rainbow

in your home?

piece of string from a traveling art

My bedroom. That is basically where

show/competition held in Japan

I live. 12

What’s your favorite place on the

Breck campus? Mrs. Sagar’s art room. There are always plenty of places to sit, plus the natural light and controlled chaos of art makes a really good study/social area.

Dream job?

I’d like to live in China and do some-



Favorite comfort food? Szechuan green beans


If you could travel anywhere,

where would you go? China, again 19

Pet peeve?

When people preface their opinions by making a reference to the person before them. 20

What keeps you up at night?

Excessive homework and letting the stress of the day and anticipation of the next day’s stress carry into the night.

questions 5

alex darrow: upper SCHOOL english 8


What’s on your iPod? The Blues, Hip Hop, good old Rock ‘n Roll, and some lectures on meditation 2

I fathered two human beings. What’s your favorite Breck lunch?

I’m all over the salad bar every day. 4

Who is your personal hero (and

why)? I don’t have one (because I draw on many sources of inspiration). 5

Dream job?

Buddhist Monk 6

Best decision?

Not becoming a lawyer 7

What advice would you give to

yourself 10 years ago?


Best trophy/award you ever won?


First Place in the 1979 Cranberry Street

Flipping my coat on with a fancy new

Bog Jog—a one-mile race

style. 9

What is the most important room


If you could read anyone’s mind,

whose would it be?

in your home?

My older daughter’s—she’s got a lot

The living room: tricycles, puzzles,

churning around in there these days.

books, and a couch to nap on. What’s the most thrilling/

adventurous thing you’ve ever done? 3

What do you remember from


What’s your favorite place on the

Breck campus? The chapel when no one else is around 11

Favorite comfort food?

Dark chocolate 12

If you had a theme song, what


If you could travel anywhere,

where would you go? 49 states down, 1 to go: North Dakota 18

Pet peeve?

I think my pet peeve might be the idea of pet peeves. 19

Unfulfilled wish?

would it be?

To draw, paint, play music, and write

“Way On Over In the Minor Key (Ain’t

to my satisfaction

Nobody Who Can Sing Like Me)”— Woody Guthrie 13


What keeps you up at night?


Favorite line from a movie?

“The dude abides.”—The Big Lebowski 14

Three people, living or dead,

you’d have over to dinner? Plato, Picasso, Einstein

New York City is not the center of the universe.

Alex Darrow was chosen by the Class of 2012 to give the faculty Commencement address. The speech is posted online:

questions 6

Brad Searl ‘95: PRESIDENT, BRECK alumni association 1

What’s on your iPod?


What do you remember from

One of my favorites right now is


Vampire Weekend.

The funny safety scissors and glue


What’s one of the last books you

read? Sadly enough, The Hunger Games! 3

What’s your favorite time of year?

Summer on the lake 4

What’s the most thrilling/

adventurous thing you’ve ever done? Zip lining in Costa Rica 5

What’s your favorite Breck lunch?

I’ll just take the chocolate chip cookies. 6

Who is your personal hero (and

why)? My father, because he was able to start

sticks 11

What is the most important room

in your home? The kitchen. My wife and I love to cook. 12

Samuel Salas Commons

Pet peeve?

Minneapolis traffic 15

Favorite line from a movie?

and successfully run a company for

“Oh, this is the worst-looking hat I

almost 30 years.

ever saw. What, when you buy a hat


Dream job?

Coaching cross-country and hockey 8

Best decision?

Marrying my wife 9

What advice would you give to

yourself 10 years ago? ? Invest in Facebook

like this I bet you get a free bowl of soup, huh? Oh, it looks good on you though.”—Caddyshack 16


If you could read anyone’s mind,

whose would it be? Favorite comfort food?

Definitely pizza 14

Best trophy/award you ever won? While at Breck, it would be getting named captain for track, cross country and hockey.

What’s your favorite place on the

Breck campus? 13


Favorite website?

Whoever is the current President at the time—there has to be some crazy stuff. 19

If you could travel anywhere,

where would you go? New Zealand 20

What keeps you up at night?

My dog!


TODAY AT 123 OTTaWA ave. North

Gennie Weiler, Libby McKenna and Gigi Gunderson sing the Annie, Jr. finale, “Tomorrow.”

Mock Trial Finishes Third at Nationals After Three-Peat as Minnesota State Champs The Breck Mock Trial team captured third place at the 2012 National High School Mock Trial championships May 4-5 in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Forty-six teams from 42 different states and U.S. territories competed in the two-day tournament. Congratulations to the entire team: seniors Chris Erickson and Nicole Simpson, juniors Joshua Stillman, Sarah Koop and Marielos Cabrera, sophomores Taylor Finken and Lorelei Lange and freshmen Nicole Miller and Simon Parish. And special congratulations to Marielos Cabrera for being named an All-American Outstanding Witness, a distinction awarded to only the top 5% of witnesses in the tournament. The Mockstangs are coached by Associate College Counselor Chandra Joos deKoven, attorney coach Ross Hussey ’97 and volunteer attorney coaches Jeff Paulsen and Maya Tester ’81.

Who Knew?


of the Class of 2012 applied either early action or early decision; 42% of applications submitted were either EA or ED.


summer 2012

TODAY AT 123 OTTaWA ave. North

Stampede Robotics Competes at Nationals The Stampede, Breck’s small-but-mighty FIRST robotics team, finished 23rd out of 100 teams in their division at the national championships in late April in St. Louis. It was a great season for the Breck squad in only its second year of existence. On May 18 and 19, the Stampede competed at the Minnesota State robotics championships and made it to the semifinals. And at the University of Minnesota invitational tournament over spring break, the Breck team won two very special awards: a volunteer of the year award for coach and mentor Gene Jasper and the Chairman’s Award for the team. The Chairman’s Award, the region’s highest honor, is presented to “the


team that, in the judges’ estimation, best represents a model for other teams to emulate, and which embodies the goals and purpose of FIRST.” The Breck coach is Director of Computer Education A.J. Colianni.

National Spanish Exam Honors 43 From Breck Forty-three students attained national recognition for

Bronze medals went to Sara Carle, Amanda Gillen and

excellent performance on the 2012 National Spanish

Lewis White (Level I); Parsa Najmaie and Sophia Schon-

Examination. Breck students earned a total of six silver

wetter (Level II); Julia Florey and Clarissa Martin (Level

medals, eleven bronze medals and 26 honorable mentions.

IV); Robert Aldrich (Level V); and Omead Eftekhari, Karin

This year, more than 140,000 students from across the U.S.

Fujioki and Anna Hendrickson (Level VI).

took the exams.

For a complete list including the honorable mention

Silver medals went to Brianna Bruggeman, Prashant

winners from Breck, check the news blog on the Breck

Godishala, Madeline McCue and Ingrid Thyr (Level I) and


to Evie Mackenzie and Nick Thyr (Level V).

Breck Hosts School Chess Association Tournament

Seventh Graders Head to History Day Nationals

At the late April School

Two teams of Breck seventh graders have qualified for

Chess Association

national History Day—the 15th consecutive year in which

tournament held at

a project from Breck has gone to nationals.

Breck, two of our teams placed well. In all, more than 500 students, representing 16 teams, competed. Breck’s

The two projects, both group displays, are as follows: • Brittany Blazar and Elena Berman, who won first place at the Minnesota state competition for their project on the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory Fire of 1911, and • Melanie Blazar, Halcyon Brown and Cassidy Yueh who

Primary team took sixth place in the competition, and our

won second place at the Minnesota state competition for

Intermediate team took tenth.

their project on the Anesthetic Revolution. This year’s History Day theme is “Revolution, Reaction, Reform in History.”

Who Knew?


Our robot’s shooting percentage from the free-throw line

Eighth Graders Win Junior Division in National World Savvy Competition Congratulations to the team of Claire Cousineau, Charlie Gamer, Kendall Kozikowski, Everett Naylor and Seamus Walsh, whose sustainability solution won the national World Savvy competition. The team devised a plan to

Great Success for Advanced Science Research Team Senior Taylor McCanna won second grand prize in electrical and mechanical engineering at the International Science and Engineering Fair for her project titled “Engineering an Inexpensive Mobile Electric Field Mill to Measure Changes in the Global Electric Circuit with the Goal of Tracking Global Climate Change.”

combat air pollution by installing solar panels on the

Seniors Alejandro Fenn and Andrew Engel won fourth

Fieldhouse and implementing an incentives program to

grand prize in materials and biomedical engineering at

encourage more people to carpool and ride the bus.

the International Science and Engineering Fair for their

The World Savvy competition challenges students to propose solutions to global problems and is now part of the curricu-

project titled “Engineering an Optical Cell to Improve Lithium-ion Battery Safety.” Junior Caleb Kumar and senior Roshny Vijayakar were

lum (replacing History Day) for Breck eighth graders. A number of projects from Breck qualified for nationals after the regional competition, created by students Justin Bergerson, Robert Christianson, Christopher DeMaris, Logan Denzer, Sid Eswarachari, Atlas Finch, Prashant Godishala,

selected as finalists in the BioGENEius competition. This means that they will be two of just 15 students who entered the United States’ open-competition who will be going on to the national BioGENEius competition in Boston in June.

Griffin Groethe, Tait Helgaas, Taylor H ­ endrickson, Megan

Robby Dorn, Alejandro Fenn, and Caleb Kumar were

Johnson, Max Jundt, Joshua Langendorf, Spencer Larsen,

named Scholars of Distinction in Science by the Minnesota

Madeline McCue, Elizabeth McKenna, Nate Nys, Miles

State Department of Education while Anna Hendrickson,

Olowu, Erykah Starr, Ellen Vroege, Olivia Weiner and

Claire Simpson, and Jessica Ryvlin earned Meritorious

Austin Wong.

Performance. Caleb was also named a Scholar of Distinction in Mathematics.

Two Students Honored for Artwork Senior Sarah Mevissen

And sophomore Claire

has earned national

Drysdale’s drawing,

recognition in the

“Fledgling in the Forest,”

Scholastic Art and

won two awards. As winner

Writing Awards. Her

of the Minnesota Fifth

ceramic piece, entitled

Congressional District

“Spiked,” won an

competition, her piece will

American Visions

hang in the U.S. Capitol for a

medal—equivalent to a

year. It also won the Judge’s

Best of Show—and her

Choice Spotlight on the Arts

portfolio also earned a national silver medal. The Scholas-

award at the 2012 Minne-

tic contest is the nation’s longest-running and most

sota State Visual Arts High

prestigious program for teenage artists and writers.

School exhibition.


Temporary Upper School ­classrooms to be constructed in the Fieldhouse

15 cubic yards

Amount of compost made from Breck organic recycling, returned to the school by Hennepin County for our use in landscaping



summer 2012

TODAY AT 123 OTTaWA ave. North

Cum Laude Society Holds Annual Induction The 2012 inductees into the Breck

and Nicholas Thyr.

chapter of the Cum Laude Society

They join the following seniors who were inducted last

are seniors Christopher Erickson,

year: Andrea Farley Shimota, Alejandro Fenn, Halle

Robert Jacob, Christian Law-

Gustafson, Anna Hendrickson, Madeleine Holker, Abby

rence, Austin Lommen, Clarissa

Kirshbaum, Zequin Charlie Li, Rexroad Simons, Roshny

Martin, Taylor McCanna, Hayley

Vijayakar and Eva Wallack.

Rosenfield, Noah Rubin, Eva

The speaker was Lizzie Nelson ’01, who works at the

Wang and Chandra Yueh and juniors Daniel Bergerson,

White House as a deputy scheduler for the President.

Greer Bingham, Paige Dempsey, Sarah Koop, Joseph Kuhns, Eden Motto, Emma Quirk-Durben, Jessica Ryvlin

Dina Wolkoff ’84 Joins Advancement Staff

In Memoriam The Breck community notes with sorrow the passing of

On June 1, Breck welcomed Dina

parent Dorset Penick, who died on February 16. She is

Wolkoff ’84 as our new director of

survived by her husband Randy Kurth and children Liam

development. In that role, she has

Kurth (grade eight), Willem Kurth (grade six) and Julia

responsibility for our major and

Kurth (grade four).

planned gifts programs and special

The community mourns the


tragic loss of kindergartner

Returning to Breck and Minnesota

Nicholas Janzen, who

after her most recent experience as a development officer for

drowned accidentally on June

her undergraduate alma mater, Middlebury College, Wolkoff

1. He was six years old.

says she’s excited and a bit humbled to be here.

Nicholas was a bright and

“What I know about Breck today makes me value my own Breck education even more,” she observes. “I am grateful to the many teachers who helped shape my life, the alumni who came before me, and especially to my parents for making the choice to send my brother and me to Breck for the entirety of our childhoods.” Wolkoff says that her time in higher ed has heightened her awareness of the importance of the kind of education Breck

curious young man with a passion for learning and a zest

Judah Dueck


for life. His teachers and classmates will long remember his big smile, his ability to organize games on the playground, his many friendships, and his high-fives. Nicholas’ memory was honored at Baccalaureate, which was dedicated to him, and at a memorial service the

provides—“not only for students, but for the communities

­following day.

they inhabit and the world we all share.”

We send our heartfelt condolences to his parents, Hawona Sullivan Janzen and Mark Janzen, and his sister Anna Lee Janzen, a Breck fifth grader.

Who Knew?

178 lbs

Birthday supplies donated by the Lower School to STEP for children’s birthday parties

Spring Ceremonies Honor Members of the Breck Faculty and Staff Two All-School Chapels: Trustee Day in late April and

Ernest Campbell Award

Faculty/Staff Appreciation Day in early May featured special

Voted by faculty and staff to

recognition for Breck faculty and staff.

a colleague who has displayed “self-giving love for

Master Teacher Middle School history teacher Sarah Flotten ’85 became Breck’s newest Master Teacher, a title

Breck,” the award is named for the Rev. Ernest Campbell, a chaplain and religious studies teacher on the River Road campus. The 2012 award went to Upper School language 11

teacher Paul Lundgren.

considered to be

Yearbook Dedication

the highest

The editors of the 2012 Mustang

honor accorded to a classroom teacher. She joins six current

Yearbook announced that the

Master Teachers: Carol Harrison, Tom Hegg, Jacob Miller,

yearbook has been dedicated to

Karen Pape, Ruthanne Swenson and Alice Wright.

Upper School teacher and coach

Faculty Chairs

Brian Wright.

Faculty Chairs are three-year

Service Awards

appointments that provide

Members of the faculty and staff celebrating significant

the recipient with funds to

milestones in their Breck careers in 2012 are as follows:

use on a professional development project of his or her choice. This year’s winners are Lower School art teacher Carol Grams, who received the

Ten Year: Silvia Del Villar, John Gray, Steven Heim, Rodney Hillstrom, Angie Kritta, Leighton Ladd, Lisa Lokke, Chris Ohm, Mark Ryks, Kim Schafer, Michelle Summer, Larry Thompson, Jean Wang

Ralph and Peggy Burnet

20 Year: Karen Kaverman

Family Faculty Chair, and

30 Year: Stephen J. Berg, Frank Eustis, James Magnuson,

Upper School science teacher

Joyce McCann, Sharon Stallworth-Rogers, Judith A. Stenwick

Dr. Jacob Miller received the Wallace and Mary Lee Dayton Family Faculty Chair.

Wigley Award for Excellence Middle School Chaplain Alexis Kent received the Jean Wigley Award for Excellence in Teaching, an award established by the Wigley family to recognize exceptional faculty members.

Faculty Awarded Grants for Summer Study and Travel Head of School Edward Kim has announced that three faculty members have been awarded grants for summer study. Chelen Johnson will conduct field research in Kauai, Hawaii, Elizabeth Powers-Dempsey ’82 will travel to Italy to investigate a concept integral to the kindergarten multicultural curriculum, and Jean Wang will visit schools and make connections for Breck students with students in Tianjin, China.


sets of twins in  the Class of 2018


Number of light bulbs replaced on campus every year


summer 2012

TODAY AT 123 OTTaWA ave. North

WithU iShine Event Raises Funds for Breck Technology The event formerly known as Applause was a creative, social and financial success in mid-April. Led by co-chairs Molly Engelsma, Candace Randle and Missy Swiller (in top left photo, below), the evening featured performances by Upper School musicians, actors and more, music from BATO BATO!, silent and live auctions and plenty of opportunity for enjoying each other’s company. In all, the event raised more than $150,000 to support academic technology needs at Breck.


Event chairs Candace Randall, Missy Swiller and Molly Engelsma with Head of School Edward Kim

Dave Sampsell, Kathy Heafy, Carrie Lichtenberg, Jim Lichtenberg

Director of Admissions Scott Wade, Sarah Wade, Stacey Crosby, Mike Crosby

Marv Richardson, Terry Richardson, JoAnn Golla, Warren Golla

Lew Zeidner, Tara Clark, Nicki Zeidner, Keith Engel, Polly McCormack

Tom Hoffman, Kim Hoffman, Amy Paster, Howard Paster

Who Knew?

147 Facebook “likes”—highest total to date—of the Girls Hockey Championship team photo

Off Campus: Eva Wallack ‘12

Briefly Noted

Ballerina Eva Wallack ’12

Eighth grader Thomas Dickstein participated in the North

says her mother was

Central ACDA (American Choral Directors Association)

determined to expose her to a

Middle School Honor Choir.

wide range of activities, but when she found ballet it was love at first sight. “It’s such a combination of extreme athleticism and art,” she observes, “which very much appeals to me. The endless quest for precision really matches my personality, and so does the room for individual expression.” She’s had success on an international scale, last year winning the Prix de Lausanne, the preeminent ballet competition for girls her age. “There were 80 girls all together,” she explains, “competing for scholarships to the top European training schools. That was a really big moment for me.” Eva trained locally with the Minnesota Dance Theater until she was 15 and enjoyed the Balanchine-trained dancers and coaches, but in her desire to expand her experience switched to the Bolshoi-style coaches at the Metropolitan Ballet. Along the way, she discovered a new passion in neo-classical ballet and a renewed dedication to the grueling practices that are necessary for continued success. This summer, she’s earned a place with the San Francisco ballet company, and she’s looking forward to the experience. “The ballet world can be cutthroat,” she admits. “And I know I can be hard on myself, too. But there’s nothing wrong with

Tri-Metro Arts Festival participants from Breck were Daniel Bergerson, Darius Bieganski, Joe Miller, Nick Thyr and Michael Burwell (Honor Band) and Nyasia Arradondo, Mackenzie Byrd, Drew Doering, Alejandro Fenn, Halle Gustafson, Justin Lee and Taylor McCanna (Honor Choir). Kate Schipper was named a Star Tribune athlete of the week on Feb. 28 for her performance as the leading scorer in the state girls hockey tournament. Advanced mathematics research student Omead Eftekhari, presenting his work at the national service learning conference (along with fellow researcher Nick Thyr), had the opportunity to meet and speak with Nobel Peace Prize Winner Shirin Ebadi. It was especially meaningful for Omead, who did work on behalf of the Foundation for the Children of Iran, to meet Ms. Ebadi, the first Iranian woman ever to win a Nobel Peace Prize. Both of our National Merit Semifinalists, Anna Hendrickson and Ellen Soskin, achieved Finalist status in the 2012 competition. Third and fourth graders raised $10,705.22 for the American

striving for perfection.”

Heart Association during the annual Jump Rope for Heart

Students Honored at Year-End Ceremonies

leader with $950 pledged.

At Middle School Closing Exercises on June 5, the following

organizations that serve missing and exploited children.

eighth graders won special recognition: Academic Awards: Ingrid Thyr, Tait Helgaas Effort Awards: Thomas Dickstein, Claire Cousineau Leadership Awards: Cecily Nordstrom Sportsmanship Awards: Peter Lillehaug, Kendall Kozikowski And at the annual Upper School Academic Awards ceremony on June 1, top awards were as follows:

event. Fourth grader J.J. Harrington was the fundraising

BATO BATO!, our marimba band, performed numerous concerts including one at the Dakota Jazz Club that benefited

Art instructor Kat Corrigan has received two awards for her own work: from the Northern Lights Juried Art Exhibition and the WARM Members Juried Art Exhibit. Donald Bell’s tenth-grade advisory has won Volunteer of the Year honors from the Salvation Army’s Harbor Lights, their service site.

Haupt Cup: Elizabeth Castle

Congratulations to the following members of the faculty and

Aarthun Award: Halle Gustafson, Joshua Luger

staff on new additions to their families: Leah Malec (Adeline

Alumni Award: Daniel Bergerson

Beatrice on March 17), Stacy Moore (Sabrina Grace on April

McCall Academic Award: Anna Hendrickson

13), Craig Dodson (Carter Bjorn on April 21), and Tara Van

For a complete list of Upper School award winners, check the Breck website.

De Wynkel (Casey Vilas on April 23).



summer 2012

TODAY AT 123 OTTaWA ave. North

Class of 2012 Future Plans


Yvonne Aberg Sarah Lawrence College Robert Aldrich Santa Clara University Conor Andrle Miami University, Oxford Nyasia Arradondo University of St. Thomas Prentice Basten Providence College Samantha Bell Eckerd College Caleb Bonderer Iowa State University Mollie Borer University of North Dakota Bridget Bradley American University Nathaniel Breitenfeldt Washington and Lee University Alexander Brown University of Colorado at Boulder Michael Burwell University of Denver Mackenzie Byrd Denison University Elizabeth Castle Colby College Abigail Chapman St. Olaf College Talia Childs Loyola University New Orleans Samantha Cosgriff University of Minnesota, Twin Cities William Creasey Grinnell College Natalie Dallas Whittier College Samarth Damania University of Chicago Drew Doering University of Minnesota, Duluth Mackenzie Dolan University of North Dakota Robert Dorn Whitman College Omead Eftekhari Santa Clara University William Andrew Engel Bowdoin College Christopher Erickson Northwestern University Andrea Farley Shimota Purchase College Alejandro Fenn Williams College Rebecca Freeman University of Denver Adriana Goldenberg Central St. Martins College of Art & Design Victoria Goldstein Boston College Shirdon Gorse University of St. Thomas Halle Gustafson Middlebury College Saeed Hakim-Hashemi Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Andrew Headrick Middlebury College Anna Hendrickson Brown University Geoffrey Hibbs Furman University Kirsten Himle University of Kansas Jake Hoehne University of St. Thomas Sarah Hogg Hobart and William Smith Colleges Madeleine Holker Williams College Georgia Horstman University of British Columbia Tyler Hudson Lafayette College Wesley Iverson junior hockey Robert Jacob Boston College Yan Jiao Mass. Institute of Technology Madeleine Joern Colby College John Kenney Jr. College of the Holy Cross Nina Killingstad University of Southern California Taylor Kirkham Loyola Marymount University

Abby Kirshbaum Brandeis University Nicholas Kleidon Babson College Christian Lawrence Yale University Elizabeth Lee Goucher College Justin Lee Luther College Zequn Li St. Olaf College Austin Lommen Boston College Joshua Luger Brandeis University Michael Mahalich Regis University Karina Marette University of St. Thomas Clarissa Martin Gustavus Adolphus College Gabrielle Mashaal Sarah Lawrence College Taylor McCanna Purdue University Milica McMillen University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Robert McQuillan Miami University, Oxford Sarah Mevissen University of Minnesota, Twin Cities Joseph Miller Fairleigh Dickinson University Taylor Neisen University of St. Thomas Keegan O’Connor University of Denver Joseph Oesterle University of Denver Grant Opperman Dartmouth College David Parrin Jr. Fordham University Michele Pikovsky University of St. Thomas Aris Prince Columbia University Gaia Ramsdell Indiana University at Bloomington Mitchell Ritz University of Denver Kasey Robinson Drake University Hayley Rosenfield Rhodes College Noah Rubin Cornell University Austin Rudnick Alternate plans (junior hockey) Carly Schaeder Middlebury College John Schmidt University of Wisconsin, Madison Nina Schonwetter Chapman University Sarah Short Colby College Rexroad Simons Stanford University Nicole Simpson Washington and Lee University Anina Smith Sewanee: The Univ. of the South Ellen Soskin Duke University Evan Spence University of Denver Camilla Sweeney University of Vermont Benjamin Tegtmeyer Miami University, Oxford Trae Vaillant Rollins College Roshny Vijayakar University of Southern California Hans Vroege University of Puget Sound Eva Wallack Stanford University Eva Wang Georgetown University Xinzhu Wang Connecticut College Peter Wear Kenyon College Younghyun You University of Wisconsin, Madison Chandra Yueh Cornell University


Seniors and first-grade buddies have some pre-Thanksgiving fun this year. Later in the year, the first graders serenaded the Class of 2012 with a song called “Live Your Dream� at Baccalaureate.


summer 2012

Ten Things You Didn’t Know About…



athletic scheduling

The process starts early. Schedules for the

following year are often set immediately after the

current season ends. Football is actually scheduled five years in advance.

For a school of our size, offering 27 sports and scheduling games for all of them is a major undertaking. Breck has eight sports


each fall (five girls teams and three boys), ten each winter (five girls, five boys) and nine each spring (four girls, five boys).


Within the Tri-Metro conference, each sport is assigned a schedule coordina-

tor. Breck’s Brett Bergene is the coordinator for boys hockey.


Being part of a conference is helpful because it provides a structure for the majority of

games to schedule, says Bergene. It’s especially helpful when there’s an even number of teams in the conference so schools can easily alternate home and away games.

Sports that aren’t part of a conference, such as gymnastics and lacrosse, really depend on their coaches to set the schedule.


“The coaches know their own world,” Bergene explains, “so they’re best able to determine the kind of schools we should compete against.”


Our old rivalries are important considerations. In lacrosse, a non-conference

sport, the coaches generally begin by scheduling both a home and away game against Blake. The Minnesota State High School League bylaws set 13 games as the season for lacrosse, so each year we start with the two Blake games and then call eleven other schools.

Scheduling for non-varsity sports has to be flexible enough to accommodate fluctuating team participation. “If 30 students


sign up for basketball, we might add a ‘C’ squad in addition to a JV in order to give as much game experience as possible,” Bergene says. “But we don’t often know about signups all that far in advance.”


Facilities availability is often a consid­ eration. Breck is fortunate to have good choices

for our sports, and we sometimes host other schools’ games to lend a hand when our gym or one of our fields is open.


Middle School Athletic Director Robin Fondow works hard to make Breck teams part

of a youth athletic association, which is like a conference for Middle School sports. Many Breck Middle School teams are part of the South Suburban Youth Organization (SSYO). Even so, scheduling is challenging because enrollment is so variable.


Breck’s athletic office still uses a football scheduling program that was created by

former Athletic Director John Thiel.




summer 2012

Up, Up and Away

Transforming the Upper School Experience s the school year came to an end, there was more than the usual excitement in the air—not to mention the usual cleaning, sorting and packing. Students, faculty and administrators were preparing for a project that will transform the Upper School landscape. “What makes this project so meaningful,” says Head of

2011 with a Logistics committee made up of administrators

School Edward Kim, “is that it’s not just a renovation. When

and faculty, and the plans were announced to the commu-

it’s done next year, we will have a facility that helps us

nity in late April. The Breck Board of Trustees, satisfied that

realize our mission. We’ll have the opportunity to maximize

financial covenants had been achieved, voted to authorize

opportunities for collaboration among students and faculty,

the project at its April 23 meeting. And the following week,

better support both curricular and co-curricular activities,

the Golden Valley City Council unanimously approved it.

utilize the entire building both inside and outside the classroom as learning spaces, and enhance our ability to attract and retain high-caliber teachers.”

Breck will be working with several partners, including McGough Construction, Holabird and Root Architects, and the Tegra Group, our owners’ representatives. Says Kim, “We

The project began in earnest immediately after Commence-

were especially impressed with McGough’s track record of

ment and will be completed in time for the opening of the

completing projects in institutions that needed to be

2013-14 school year.

completely operational, and we’re confident that they

Behind-the-scenes planning meetings started in the fall of

understand that the 2012-13 school year has to be as


focused, safe, secure and as ordinary as possible.”

group of generous donors has put us in the position to move forward now.”

An Evolving Plan When we first announced plans to move forward with

Among the highlights are the following:

Breck’s Master Site Plan in last spring’s issue of Today at

• Accommodations for current—and future—needs. This

Breck, the first phase consisted of new facilities for science,

four-story, light-filled structure will be home to the most

new classrooms and an expansion of the Lower School

advanced approaches in learning and teaching, and the

Dining Room. As the Breck team and our architects studied the situation more closely, however, the plan evolved into a complete rebuilding of the Upper School. “The Upper School is the oldest part of our building, dating from

We came to realize that it didn’t make sense to do piecemeal renovations when we could undertake a complete approach in just about the same amount of time.

1956,” Kim explains. “We came to realize that it didn’t make sense to do piecemeal renovations

architecture will incorporate the flexibility to accommo-

when we could undertake a complete approach in just

date future needs in both academics and co-curricular

about the same amount of time. And, fortunately, a small



summer 2012

•E  very space a learning space. The long, dark hallways will disappear, replaced by open areas full of natural light that invite students and teachers to converse and collaborate. •M  odern support for science, technology and mathematics. Breck’s STEM facilities will be second to none in the Twin Cities, making our dated 1950s-era laboratory space a thing of the past. •C  lusters for collaboration. Our new Upper School will


• New hubs for innovation and community involvement. Our groundbreaking new Melrose Family Center for Servant Leadership (about which you’ll be learning more in future issues of Today at Breck) will be a place where students will develop and oversee programs to help our surrounding communities, improving the quality of life in Breck’s neighborhood.

Exciting Times for the Upper School

cluster academic departments so that teachers can interact,

Says Upper School Director Melissa Soderberg, “The time has

exchange ideas and research topics of common interest

come to build a new Upper School that’s as innovative as our

and students can share resources that entice them to delve

educational programs and as inspirational as our Chapel of

more deeply into the subjects that interest them most.

the Holy Spirit. In truth, our facility was already aging when

•S  paces for signature programs. The plans provide appro-

Breck moved here in 1981.”

priate spaces for students to explore their full range of

And while Soderberg and her fellow administrators are

interests, from advanced research programs to modern

keeping their eyes firmly focused on the future, they’re also

language to co-curriculars such as our national powerhouse

spending considerable time and energy on making sure the

Mock Trial and FIRST robotics programs or innovative BATO

Upper School has a good—and as close to normal as possible—

BATO! marimba band.

year in 2012-13.

New third level of the Upper School

All activities, including all current sports, will continue to

Other temporary moves include the following: Upper School

take place (although room and gym scheduling will be

Media Center to the Glass Balcony in the Upper School

challenging, Soderberg admits).

Dining Room, Upper School administrative offices and

Twenty-six temporary classrooms are being built in the Fieldhouse to hold Upper School classes next year. Students and teachers who tested them out in early May, and parents who were invited to see for themselves, gave good reviews to the rooms’ general quality and comfort. In addition to the classrooms, there will be some open space in the Fieldhouse, and students will still have full access to the Samuel Salas Commons, which will not be affected by the construction.

College Counseling offices to the Advancement offices, and Advancement offices in the current science teacher offices near the science classrooms.

Special Considerations for the Class of 2013 As you might expect, the members of next year’s senior class are thought to be viewing the project with mixed emotions. They won’t have access to the former senior hallway or senior lounge, but they’ll have their own space on the Fieldhouse

There will be a covered walkway for students to move

balcony. Soderberg promises that the Class of 2013 will have

between the Fieldhouse and the rest of the building so that

unusual latitude on making decisions about traditional

they can easily get to visual and performing arts classrooms

events like Homecoming, for example, and Senior Weekend.

and the Chapel and so that Lower and Middle School

And there will be a number of surprises along the way.

students can get to PE classes in the Anderson Gym.

“We all deal with change in our own way,” she observes. “But

Science classes will stay in their current homes until the new

there’s a lot of excitement over this project—one that will

facilities are built, but they’ll be torn down and rebuilt into

benefit Breck in so many ways in the years to come.” JF

humanities classrooms in the summer of 2013.

Renderings courtesy of Holabird and Root Architects

New Upper School Commons is flooded with natural light

Upper School Library

View of Commons outside library



summer 2012


photo by Elliot Dodge deBruyn ’08

Far From Home: Breck Students Blog About Their Experiences on the Road

A funny thing happened to May Program trips this school year. Most of them took place over spring break. Upper School Director Melissa Soderberg explains that moving the trips away from the end of May makes sense for a number of reasons. The College Board scheduled AP tests a week later than usual, pushing forward Breck’s exams as a result. Absences for trips had long had a regrettable effect on spring sports. Holding trips at the end of the school year meant there was little opportunity to use them to curricular advantage in a timely fashion. And holding trips over spring break gives sophomores an opportunity to take them as well. So far, the change has been well received. We thought you might like a glimpse into our ­students’ experiences with “May Program” trips to China, Cuba and Thailand—as well as a late April optional art history class trip to New York City. Following are some brief excerpts from student blog posts. We’ve posted them and many more online. To read more, go to and follow the links.

Cuba with BATO BATO!


iva la revolución!” I swear I heard it. Twenty-five minutes after departing from the Miami airport, I am 24,000 feet high

sunlight. This is the first of one million seconds—eleven and a half days—of BATO BATO!’s trip to Cuba. Daniel Bergerson ’12

and halfway to Havana, wondering if it was that little boy up in 22D who shouted the iconic phrase. As I gaze out the window, I see the Florida Straits, a 90-mile water wall separating Florida and Cuba, and I think about the hundreds of thousands of Cubans who have found freedom through these waters in their escape to the United States… and the thousands who have died trying. My eyes drift up to the magnificently strange landscape of wildly shaped clouds. I


here is a certain comfort in holding hands, and all twenty-three of us felt the need of this as we ran across the ten-lane chaos that divided us from the famous

Plaza de la Revolución. After running for our lives we left the negotiating of ticket prices to our inebriated tour guide, Luis, and took in the view from the very place where Pope Benedict

wonder if Cuba will seem as foreign as this.

XVI administered communion just ten days later. Six people

Even on the airplane, I start to sense the differences. I see the

to Havana’s version of the Sears tower; needless to say it was

man on my left is reading a newspaper in Spanish. I hear the

bit shorter. Once at the top, we all marveled at the view. All of

pilot announce that Cuba does not observe Daylight Saving

Havana could be seen, including the ocean, and several places

Time. I notice the entire flight crew is attractive Cuban men,

throughout the city we had already visited or planned to in

and when they offer me a beverage, there are only three

the days to come. It was breathtaking.

choices: kola, límon, and naranja, known as “los refrescos

at a time entered into the rickety elevator that then took us up

nacionales”. The evidence is everywhere.

Amanda Zeidner ’14

The coastline comes into sight, and the contrast between


Miami and my destination is even more apparent. The

white, worn-down buildings of Havana quickly give way to an agricultural countryside of earthy browns and rich reds, a big change from the artificial green and blue of golf courses and pools that stretch out from Miami.

rt is everywhere in Havana. From the revolutionary billboards proclaiming the dominance of socialism and the demise of the United States to the amaz-

ing sculptures of Che Guevara, Fidel Castro, and Jose Martí in la Plaza de la Revolución, art is an essential part of Cuban culture. El Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes, the national art museum, reminded me of the Walker. As one of the few stu-

Farmers are burning the remnants of the ongoing sugar cane

dents who actually spent time enjoying the art, I was struck

harvest to return nutrients to the earth, dotting el paisaje

by how similar modern Cuban art is to modern American

with plumes of smoke.

art, even though the two countries have been sealed off

It seems as if I’ve gone back 50 years in 50 minutes. We start to descend; the faces and conversations of passengers become increasingly animated. The excitement—to return to the homeland, to see family, to reconnect—is palpable. The moment the plane touches down, a riotous burst of applause, whistles, and shouts erupt from everyone around me. An overly eager man jumps to his feet as soon as the plane stopped moving, but he reluctantly takes a seat when a handsome flight attendant yells “Oye, muchacho! Sientete!” In a few minutes we’re at the gate of Havana’s bright orange and blue José Marti Airport. “Ahora,” says the pilot. We stand, grab our bags, and step into the blinding

from each other for 50 years. Havana is an architecturally amazing city. With architecture dating back to colonial times and extending to modern day, the architecture is incredibly diverse. Old Havana, the former center of the city, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site because of its architectural and historical beauty. Some of my favorite buildings in Havana included the Capitol, built in the 1920s to exactly half the scale of the United States Capitol (except for the sculpture on the top, which our tour guide Viviana was quick to point out), the seventeenth-century cathedral in la Plaza de la Catedral, a beautiful, double spired building, is reminiscent of European churches (I spent the whole trip pining to go inside, but we never made it in), and the UNESCO World



summer 2012

Heritage Site of Trinidad, a preserved colonial town that hasn’t

perience and bring it back to Breck. Following these meetings,

changed since the 17th century. We were in Trinidad as the sun

if we didn’t break into Ninja, our favorite game, we would

was setting, a Cuban band was playing, and I was eating my

have intense group discussions. The best was when we spent

first hamburger in seven days. Who could ask for more?

hours and hours talking about dreams and the universe—

William Naylor ’13


what could (or couldn’t) happen in those parallel universes. Tucker got too excited and had to take a break. For some

ne of my favorite memories from Cuba will always be how it brought BATO BATO! together in such a unique way. Since our days were full of lessons,

less intellectually exhausting fun, we straightened Tucker, William, and Darius’ hair while in Cienfuegos. But the best

was when we did Michael’s makeup! It was hilarious. This

where Ms. Sirianni, Al, and Dr. Miller would give us the plan

trip brought new inside jokes, distinct memories, and invaluable friendships that we will never forget.

for the next day and lead a reflection on our time thus far,

Melissa Clark ’13

touring, and traveling, the evenings became the best time for


and parallel universes, and infinite parallel universes, and

group time. We usually had a meeting at 9:00 pm each night,

allowing us to think about how we can take our amazing ex-

china China


skyline, towering over perilous scaffolding and half-construct-


ed shells of buildings. Quite literally, in any direction one looks,

air. It seems busier here than in America. Our first morning

at least a couple skeletal yellow construction cranes will be

in Shanghai, I realized the extreme traffic congestion that

reaching into the usually hazy, but occasionally blue-grey, sky.

included not only cars, but bikes and pedestrians as well;

f there’s one constant anywhere we go in China—from Shanghai to Guilin to Xian and now in Beijing—it’s the cranes. They are an ever-present sight in the sight in the

I’ve been to numerous locations around the globe, but nowhere outside of China are the signs of progress so obvious, even in the world’s other booming economy of India. And really, that’s the thing that’s most surprised me about China: just how developed it really is. Of course, it still acts much like the 2nd world country it is, with its small middle class and large rural population. However, it could certainly pass for a 1st world country at a glance, and definitely in the ultra-modern cities of Shanghai and Beijing. And it’s

eing a born and raised American, it is extremely difficult for me to get used to the culture and the different variables that come along with it. As soon as

we landed in Shanghai, I felt a slightly different feeling in the

the total population of Shanghai is around 26 million. Not only does Shanghai have 26 million people but it seems as if Shanghai has 26 million lit cigarettes in every second of the day. This is one of the biggest nuisances that we have to face in the individual day because America is not a very smokeinfested country. The Chinese way of life allows smoking in public places, which also isn’t allowed in America. It is difficult to only assimilate to this culture for 14 days because many of our viewpoints are closed to America. The Americans and the

in these sprawling metropolises that the cranes are most abundant; the government’s frantic attempt to accommodate the rapid urbanization of the population.

Chinese definitely carry out a different philosophy of life that

All in all, China has been a trip of surprises. It’s at the same

capitalistic society at the grassroots level than the United

time more modern and more developing than I think anyone

States. These vendors are very aggressive and are always

of us expected. Mixed with the signs of progress are constant

wanting to make a sale to Americans. I haven’t bought a lot of

reminders that China is not yet perfect, limbless beggars

these things yet thankfully except I did buy a pair of fantastic

alongside super-rich businessmen. However, if one thing is

Ray Ban knockoff sunglasses. China isn’t easy for an American

sure, it’s that China is building, not only high rises and office

the first time but similarities are becoming more and more as

buildings, but its reputation as a true global nation.

we learn more about the Chinese history.

Jack Sheehy ’14

Blaze Beecher ’14

in the end possibly could dictate the entire 21st century. The Americans tend to live a more corporate lifestyle with little to no street vending enterprises, while China is heavy on these street vending enterprises. This arguably makes China a more


verall, we were all able to adjust to the time difference quite quickly, and thus far with few illnesses. We have been very busy, so much so that we find

it pretty special if we have 30-60 minutes of free time in the hotel. Nonetheless, it has been a wonderful time, and among it all, Yangshuo has been my personal favorite city.


n March 25, Madison, Emily, Zach, Katie, Sophie, and I biked 9 kilometers along a 600 year old city wall in Xi’an. That wall was actually so bumpy I

thought people would fall off of their bikes. The six of us started together but soon we split into two groups. Madison, Zach, Emily, and I kept biking in front of Katie and Sophie. Zach and Madison raced and Madison won by a little bit.

Something that has come to be a big surprise to us all has

The entire group almost rode our bikes down some stairs

been the driving. Yes, we knew it would be crazier than we

but at the last minute we saw them and went down a

Then for us students, I think we are all surprised to realize

kites, people, potholes, cameras, and other bikers made for an awesome day. We took loads of pictures and talked

how we really do know enough Chinese to get around and

about where we would be in 20 years and about how when

make conversation. That in itself has been so cool, rewarding,

we are all old and grey we will come back to China to bike

and very exciting.

the wall again.

We have all had some good laughs, frequently asking what a

Samantha Thomas ’13

are used to, but it never fails to shock us to see just how close all the motorcycles, cars, and buses will get to each other.

ramp. Dodging

dish is at dinner, and really just coming together as a group. A couple of the more interesting dishes we have had are snake and—wait for it . . . dog meat. Yep. Enough said there, don’t you agree? Emily Colwell ’14



n late April in New York, we were able to experience

steps of the Met. That night, we ventured by subway into Chi-

spring, summer, and winter all in three days, but despite

natown/Little Italy to have an Italian feast at Forlini’s. From

the changing weather we made the most of our short

Forlini’s we went back to Magnolia Bakery, where we got to

time there. On Friday, we embraced our inner tourist and

meet up with two Breck alumni, Max Berman (who now goes

went on the Staten Island Ferry before heading to the Mu-

by David... so college), and Reuben Parish (sporting his new

seum of Modern Art. While there, we saw amazing modern

tattoo... also so college).

art from some beautiful Pollocks to some . . . interesting Cindy Sherman photographs. After taking a break with some mango lemonade at the café, we jumped on the subway to the play Chicago on Broadway. Upon finishing the play we embarked into the tundra of the New York nighttime, and ran through the streets in an effort to get to the Shake Shack as fast as possible. It was well worth it, though, and we even met Mr. Colianni’s British twin.

The next morning, we packed up, and after waiting hours for the elevator, went to the Frick museum. Even though we had to wait in a really long line to get in, it was worth it because we got to see a Renoir exhibit that was visiting the museum. After the Frick, we explored Grand Central Station, and made a second stop at Magnolia Bakery for more cupcakes. On our final trip back to the hotel, we stopped at yet another cupcake shop, as well as a warm nut stand and a Halal stand (we

The next day, we walked through a beautiful park and went

really made the most of the street food!). We finally headed

to the Cloisters museum, where we saw the Unicorn Tapes-

back to the airport, exhausted and filled with delicious food

tries along with some other religious art. We then got back

and a lot of intellectual art-history thoughts. All in all, the

on the subway and walked through Central Park to get to the

Breck AP Art History class took New York by storm—the city

Metropolitan Museum of Art. We spent a few hours looking

will never be the same.

around the Met as well as exploring the Upper East Side, and even let out our inner Gossip Girl with frozen yogurt on the

Maddy Holker ’12



summer 2012

Thailand thai


fter breakfast we took an hour long bus ride with

they saw us coming down the hill in the dark and how will-

the 20 kids from the children’s home, which was

ing they were to play even though we were all exhausted.

absolutely amazing. The kids had so much fun and

Seeing them was a great way to end the day. That, and the

felt so comfortable sitting with teenagers and adults they

cool shower and pineapple smoothie I got to enjoy when we

have only spent around three hours with. Our first stop was

returned to the guest house.

a weaving studio that was also a safe house for women and men refugees that cannot take care of themselves once

Leslie Hayes ’14

they cross the border. They create different bags, scarves, 26

etc. to sell and make a profit for the medicine and care the refugees can’t get on their own. Seeing some of the people living there was a little hard for everyone, especially me, and it made me think about how big our world really is and how many different types of people there are with different situ-


leepy greetings once again from an exhausted crew here in Ban Chang, Thailand. The extent of today’s adventures however, consisted of a not-to-be-dimin-

ished, nine-hour bus ride with our core ten travelers, two

ations that we may never imagine without seeing it with

house mothers, Naam, and 26 children.

our own eyes, which is what we did today. After, we enjoyed

Moment of silence to imagine the everything-but-silence

a yummy, but spicy lunch with all the kids at the house, including our new favorite drink, iced milk tea. Our next stop was the house that the mother of the children’s home, Naam, is currently building. The kids were so excited when we pulled up to it and although most of them don’t speak English, I could tell they knew this was going to

experienced on the bus. After lots of singing, sleeping, reading, and multiple games we finally arrived at our much-anticipated destination. And what a surprise it held in store. Please examine the attached photo to get a feel for our lovely beach...

be their new home and how ready they were to move into

So we’re digging deep to enjoy the time, manage the young-

it. Naam has fabulous plans for the house but construction

lings, and keep spirits high. Not to worry, alternative plans

has been stopped because of lack of funding. The group is

have been set in place and we are looking forward to a fun

currently thinking of ideas to help fundraise for the house so

afternoon with the children on a quite different beach. And

our new friends can finally move in, so if you have any ideas

really, the less immediate view of the ocean here is actually

please let us know!

rather beautiful.

After, we went swimming with all of the kids. Swimming

On a different note, I’ve found our interaction with the chil-

with them was one of the funnest things I have done in a

dren very interesting. If you’ll recall the last email I wrote,

long time and it felt great to be able to bond with the kids

it was camp day and our duty was to lead simple games for

even more although there was still the language barrier.

the students there, who we later discovered were of our age

They even took the time to teach me how to skip rocks, one

and older. They were very accepting to our childish games

of my life long dreams. We played games, jumped off of trees

and genuinely seemed to enjoy the activities. Naam’s chil-

and ate snacks, all while being in one of the most beautiful

dren have been different.

places I have ever seen. By the end, we were all worn out,

all needed. The massages caused a lot of us to step out of

As many of you have probably heard and gathered from the little we’ve been able to share with you about our experience here, Naam is an incredible woman. As I learn more about her responsibilities and

our comfort zones, something we have had to do a lot of

motives, I am quite blown away. (And not to speak for the oth-

during this trip and I believe it helped us to bond as a group

ers, but I’m doing so anyway, I believe the other girls are too.)

even more. After massage, we enjoyed a nice dinner at Toy’s

I’m sure you probably learned from Kylee that she co-founded

house and went to say goodnight to the kids. It made me so

the Children of the Forest foundation, and currently man-

happy to see the kids all smiling and jumping around when

ages her 20 kids, runs the school, oversees the Single Mother’s

dirty and wet but we all left with smiles on our faces. Once we dropped off the kids, we learned how to give/ receive Thai massages, which is some relaxation I think we

­Project, all the while responding to individual calls like helping

care of the program. Medical assistance is provided under

out a lost girl in Bangkok.

this foundation as well, for, as refugees from Burma, the chil-

With all of this, it’s easy to see that Naam’s children are wellraised and are quite intelligent, surprising me now and again with comments unfitting to their age. It makes sense then that the older ones are much more reluctant to accepting us, talking to us, etc.—which, of course, doesn’t phase the little munchkins. They, on the other hand, can’t seem to get enough of us. Madi Lommen ’15 and Crew 

dren are not officially recognized by the government; while the hospitals might not withhold medical help, it would also carry a price tag that these children would not be able to pay. As part of the tour, we were able to see Naam’s office, which was swamped with folders and storage all labeled in Thai with Sharpie. A picture of the king and queen look down on her work and, in my mind, I took as a sign that Naam was doing well for her country, not to mention all those from Burma who have no place back home.


ur morning began with a breakfast from our hotel that was quickly eaten, as we had early morning arrangements to see the headquarters of the Children

of the Forest Foundation. After a short walk to the children’s home, children in tow, we piled once again into the bumbling school bus and waited to see where it would take us. Pulling onto the dirt street lined with “open concept,” thatchroofed classrooms might present an unassuming image far different from any school in the US. Despite

Around 3:00 we all met up at the children’s home to play with the children and paint a sign for the bus we’re riding tomorrow. Trust me, it’s the best Thailand has to offer—a bright red and silver, shining behemoth that lifted the spirits of our haggard crew. An hour later we picked up forty cupcakes that we had ordered for the children. Grace was struck by the idea a few days ago, and the bakery was nice enough to take such a large order. For such delicate cupcakes, drizzled in almost a dark fudge icing, lightly sprinkled, and made

any belief that diligent, influential work can only come from a large corporation or over-institutionalized nonprofit, the work that is done in these classrooms is miraculous. Not only does the foundation house these

from such a small local kitchen, the price equivalent to six US

children, but it provides schooling for them no matter if they

Kylee Grant ’13

dollars seemed pretty sweet! Right now it’s another misty dusk here at the village. A golden temple is softly shining across the placid lake. Soon we’ll be going to dinner at the Tea House.

are eight or eighteen. Daniel, the cofounder with Naam, watches over a majority of the teenagers who are under the

Are you LinkedIn? Over 450 Breck alumni and parents are LinkedIn. Are you?

Visit to connect.

Breck’s Online Photo Gallery Visit our online Zenfolio Gallery to see what we’ve been up to so far this year. Browse, download, print, enjoy!



winter 2012

Our Good Fortune:


Alumni Build a Strong Breck–China Connection by Jill Field


mong Breck’s many distinctions is that Mandarin Chinese has been part of our curriculum since 1979. It was expanded to Middle School in 1991, to Lower School in 1998 and to preschool in 2011. Part of the amazing legacy of this continuous curricular program— still a model for other schools even today—is the number of Breck alumni who have chosen to pursue higher education, work, and life in China.

Their motivations for studying Chinese are all different. Their post-Breck educational and career paths are all different. Their interest in living abroad ranges from short-term to long-term and everywhere in between. But there’s something amazingly similar about their stories. For many alumni whose interest in Chinese language and culture has influenced their post-Breck lives, there’s a deep sense of gratitude: to the school for offering Mandarin, to their parents for encouraging them to study or keep up with it, and to the force of nature that is longtime Chinese instructor and Director of International Students Margaret Wong (referred to in this article as “Wong Laoshi,” the traditional Chinese honorific for a teacher). We caught up with some of those alumni via email, when they were visiting family in Minnesota, and when we joined the Breck student trip to China in March. Here are their stories.


summer 2012

the-scenes analysis aimed at helping advise U.S. multinational corporations) and everyday life in the very active city of Shanghai. “My father always insisted that studying Chinese

Adam Jones ’01 Investment Consultant, Shanghai After leaving Breck, Adam Jones ’01 has spent three of the last five years in Asia—with a break to get his MBA from the Tuck School at Dartmouth 30

was the most important class I was taking,” he recalls. “So I continued to pursue the language no matter how difficult it became. Now, after living in Shanghai for two years, I realize why he felt this way. I mean, can you even look at the front page of a major daily without seeing a headline about China?”

College—and he’s back in Shanghai

Over his time in Shanghai, O’Hagan says he was originally

as part of a boutique investment

blown away by the infrastructure: airports, subways, road-

management consulting firm called Z-Ben Advisors. He vividly remembers his first exposure to Chinese as a fourth grader given the opportunity to sit in on Middle School language classes as a preview. “I sat in on a Chinese

ways, tall buildings and high-speed rail network. But he’s come to be even more impressed with the way things have become more refined as the people of China develop along with all the building.

class and was immediately hooked,” he says. “That day

His thoughts often take him back to his time at Breck. “I’m

opened up a whole new perspective for me and literally

quite certain my time with Wong Laoshi prepared me for

changed my life. People come up to me now and say, ‘Wow,

the rigors of Division I football as much as any practice or

you had such great business foresight to study Chinese,’ but

game with Coach Thiel,” says the former Harvard quarter-

in reality I chose it as nothing could seem as different to a

back. “She demanded so much from us, and we all learned to

ten-year-old kid from suburban Minneapolis.”

stretch for our full potential.”

Jones studied in Harbin during his junior year at Middlebury,

And he also has high praise for Middle School teacher Yang

lived in Shanghai from 2007-2009, returned to the States for his

Laoshi, whose satisfaction with O’Hagan’s progress will stay

MBA, spent nearly a year in Hong Kong and has now returned

with him forever. “Throughout my Breck experience, I was

to Shanghai. How does he characterize his life there today?

blessed to have teachers who invested themselves in each

“To be perfectly honest,” he observes, “life in China has its ups and downs…but it is rarely boring. Even a trip to the supermarket can be adventure as you play Frogger to cross

and every student and had a visible passion for their work. Now, living and working in China, I am very grateful and feel very lucky to have a front row seat.”

streets and look through items stocked on the shelves that you have never heard of but are intrigued to try. There are certainly times when you become homesick, and it can be tough to maintain connections with people due to the distance and time differences. But I wouldn’t trade my time here for anything.”

Meghan Kiesel ’09 International student, Beijing Meghan Kiesel ’09 didn’t even start Chinese at Breck until her sophomore year, but she was enthusiastic from the beginning. “The characters were so

Liam O’Hagan ’04 Banking Analyst, Shanghai Working for a boutique merchant banking firm called ChinaVest, Liam O’Hagan ’04 balances business, (behind-

mysterious,” she recalls, “and it wasn’t until I really started hearing the sounds that it started to click. But now that I understand so much more about the relationship between the language and the culture, it makes so much sense.”

Heading back to finish her undergraduate education at Williams College, Kiesel says she wants a career in journalism, either back in China or with an American company with interests there. She’s especially appreciative of Breck for providing her with her first trip to China, during May Program of her senior year.

Fred Railsback ‘04

“I was surprised at how much we were able to see in such a

English teacher, Chengdu

short time,” she says, “and even more surprised at how much

Fred Railsback ’04 didn’t really envision

I remembered when I went back. It was wonderful to find

a career in education, but he’s having the

out that I knew more than I thought I did!”

time of his life as a teacher (and also as a student of the Sichuan dialect spoken in his new home of Chengdu). He loves his students, his colleagues and his opportunities to hike and ride his bicycle in the Chinese countryside. “It can be hard to adjust to cars on my trips back to Minnesota,” he explains,

Whitney Clark ’02 Entrepreneur, Chengdu

“which is pretty funny when I think about how much I wanted to have my own car and drive to school when I was a student at Breck.”

Asked about how he chose to

As a teacher, Railsback says he’s ever more appreciative of the

begin studying Chinese in Middle

firm foundation in Mandarin he got as a student at Breck and,

School, Whitney Clark ’02 says it

later on, at Cornell College in Iowa. “Learning radicals [roots of

was a happy accident. “I remember

characters] was really hard on us in Wong Laoshi’s class,” he

thinking that everyone else was

remembers. “But it made reading so much easier, and it would

going to continue with Spanish, so I

have been so much harder to pick up later on.”

should try Chinese,” he says. “It very quickly became the class I was most interested in, and I’ve

And he’s enjoying his immersion in both the culture and the

never looked back.”

language. “People are really blown away that an American can speak Mandarin, let alone Sichuan dialect,” he says. “But

Today, married to a Chinese woman and starting an education-

they still want to practice their English on me.”

al business venture in Chengdu, Clark appreciates the wealth of experiences he’s already had. As a student at USC, he spent a semester abroad in Nanjing. After graduation he worked for a Los Angeles-based sports and entertainment firm that set up Chinese tours for basketball teams, helped the LA convention and visitors bureau work with its office and Beijing and realized he wanted to head back to China himself. After an internship with Matt Fish ’95 in Shanghai, Clark took the suggestion of a former boss and decided to try teaching English in Chengdu as a way to get a work visa and stay. “I was thrown to the wolves,” he laughs. “But I think my experience learning (and sometimes struggling with) Chinese really helped me work with Chinese ESL students.” And when he met his future wife and fellow English teacher,

Stefan Krasowski ‘98 Insurance executive and world traveler He’s been in every province in China and found something to love in them all (“Each one is a country in itself: the food, the language, the geography”), lived in Shanghai, Hong Kong and Beijing, and traveled extensively in South America

Kelly, he realized how completely at home he’d begun to feel in

and Europe. Based in New York City for now, Stefan Krasowski

China. Currently working on an entrepreneurial venture con-

’98 says of China: “There’s no country more welcoming to

nected with teaching English online, he says, “It’s wonderful to

people who want to learn their language and culture. But you

now have a Chinese family in addition to my American one.”

should do it while you’re young!”



summer 2012

With both an East Asian studies undergraduate degree and

attracted to studying Chinese from the very beginning,” he

Wharton School MBA from the University of Pennsylvania,

says. “It’s wonderful that it developed into my career.”

Krasowski says he is forever grateful for the start he got in Middle School Chinese at Breck and the taste he developed for traveling on the May Program China trip. He attributes his early success to Wong Laoshi’s “force of personality and stamina” in helping him with what he now describes as “for better or worse, an addiction.” Krasowski admits that Chinese tones are especially challenging because he’s “not musical,” but appreciates how much computers have helped with written communication. 32

And no matter where he works and travels, he seems to find

Tommy Wellvang ‘04 Senior Consultant with IBM, Beijing and Shenzhen

Chinese people to talk to. “The Chinese diaspora is huge,”

After studying Chinese and economics

he observes. “I deal with Chinese people all over the world.

at Hamilton College, Tommy Wellvang

Having such a global skill is so important and tremendous

’04 knew he wanted to use the lan-

currency wherever I go.”

guage for a job, but he didn’t originally plan on working in China. “I started out in IBM’s Washington, DC, office,” he explains, “and was transferred to China in the fall of 2010. I can’t believe how much I love it!” He credits his ongoing relationship with Wong Laoshi for

Ed Dunn ‘98 U.S. Department of State In addition to China, Ed Dunn ’98 has been posted in Pakistan, Washington, DC,

helping him arrange an internship with Matt Fish ’95 that really helped him identify his interest in the electronics and telecommunications industries. “It really opened a lot of doors,” he says. “And was a real gateway to helping me find opportunities and people who do what I wanted to do.”

and soon Indonesia. He’s been a teacher

Originally relocated to Beijing, Wellvang now spends most of

and student in China, worked for a French

his time in Shenzhen, which is an eye-opening experience in

NGO and American media companies,

and of itself. “The city didn’t even exist 30 years ago,” he states.

and he says that he owes it all to Wong

“Now it has a population of ten million, and they’re almost all

Laoshi. “Without her I wouldn’t have my

young people. It’s hard to imagine a more exciting life”

career, no question,” he states. “Everywhere I go in the world I use Chinese. With China as such a rising power, that’s just the way the world is.” Dunn believes that learning Chinese so young—he began in Middle School at Breck—gives him a huge advantage compared to others trying to learn non-Western languages as adults. “At the State Department, we study for a year or two before being posted overseas,” he explains, “which includes

Julie White ‘07

rigorous classroom time and comprehensive tests. I truly

Art gallery associate, Beijing

think I can assimilate it faster because of my experience

When we caught up with Julie

learning a tonal language when I was so young.”

White ’07 in Beijing, she was working as an associate for the presti-

With an undergraduate degree from Emory University (inter-

gious Pace Gallery and contemplat-

national relations major and Chinese minor), Dunn has long

ing a move. “I’ve loved my work

had his sights set on the expatriate life. And as a State Department employee, he’ll be abroad two-thirds of the time. “I was

and being in what’s called the 798 gallery district,” she explains. “It’s been a really exciting place to be.”

But she caught the travel bug young, and she was then looking

the University of Michigan, and then carved out a career in

at opportunities in Hong Kong and Taipei. “I love exploring

China, Singapore, Japan, and, for the past three years, Hong

other cultures,” she says. “And there are so many places to see!”

Kong. “I didn’t really plan it this way,” he laughs. “But it just sort of snowballed.” He says it isn’t his language skills that have made him successful (“I wouldn’t even call myself fluent,” he admits) but his early introduction to an extraordinary life beyond the usual expectations. And, for that, he says he has profound gratitude to Wong Laoshi: “I wouldn’t be here if not for her, and I certainly wouldn’t be doing the work I’m doing. She IS

Skip Simonson ‘85 Banking Advisor, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Hong Kong

Breck in China.” Skip, his American-born Chinese wife Christine and their

Skip Simonson ’85 traveled to China

twin daughters have enjoyed life in Hong Kong and their

for May Program his senior year, and

ringside seat for the vast changes in Asia since he first en-

has, in some ways, never come back.

countered it in 1985. He appreciates keeping up with Breck

He stayed on at the end of that trip

through Wong and his brother-in-law, Middle School science

and graduated from Breck in absentia,

teacher Dan Ratliff and says he wishes his daughters had

returned to the States for his un-

more teachers like the two of them.

dergraduate and MBA degrees from

As for the Breck-China connection, he marvels at how many

Peaches and Plums Now, as I look back on 33 years of teaching Chinese to kids at Breck, I am mindful of a Chinese proverb referring to the rewards of teaching: “Peaches and plums all over the world.” “Peaches and plums” refers to the hundreds of students I have taught who are now doing interesting and meaningful things all around the world. Who are they? When they started Chinese, they were always asked the difficult question, “Why are you taking Chinese? What good will it do you?” If I didn’t ask them myself, I knew that sooner or later parents or friends or great aunts would challenge them. I have answers for them, of course. You couldn’t teach such an “exotic” subject for all these years without having some answers to those questions. But the truth is that my answers are provisional and temporary because each student really discovers the answers on his or her own. So many peaches and plums! But let me tell you about a student who brought me special pride. I remembered “Charles” as a difficult student, somewhat rebellious, always testing the limits of acceptable classroom behavior and not especially diligent in his studies. I keep up with many former students, but I was a little surprised when Charles telephoned and suggested lunch. He had just

graduated from college with a double major in Chinese and English. We had a pleasant chat. I asked him what he planned to do next. He replied without hesitation: He had thought about it a lot and had decided that he couldn’t think of anything more worthwhile than teaching. He waned me to know that. “Green comes out of blue,” says the old Chinese proverb. The mark of a good teacher is to be surpassed by your students. And so, in the Chinese expression, I have often had the satisfaction of watching students bathed with the teacher’s “blue” light slowly begin to emit their own light in the “purer” and more intense green. Excerpted from A Passion for Teaching by the Geraldine R. Dodge Foundation, 1999



summer 2012

dots are now connected through the Wong Laoshi network.

“But I wouldn’t trade the experience for

“There must be six or seven hundred of us by now,” he says.


“She never forgets a detail. She’s like our own personal LinkedIn.”

She didn’t start Chinese until she came to Breck as a freshman, but she was instantly excited and motivated to get ahead quickly. She worked hard to skip a year and was thrilled to be accepted into the University of Oregon’s Flagship Chinese program for college and its education program for a master’s degree in teaching with a


Katie Hektner ‘04

Chinese emphasis.

Logistics coordinator, Singapore

“Looking back on it, I think starting Chinese was a somewhat

Katie Hektner ’04 has enjoyed almost

random choice,” she recalls. “I remember [former Dean of

everything about her life in Singapore

Studies] Mr. Ruby telling me what languages I could choose

… except the weather. “It’s really hot,”

among. Little did I know how much that choice would

she explains, “which, in addition to

change my life.”

the spicy food, can be really hard physically. We’re right on the equator, so going from air conditioning inside to the heat outside can be a challenge.” A Chinese major at Washington University in St. Louis,

After returning to the Pacific Northwest, which she fell in love with during college, Simons plans to prepare for a career as a high school Chinese teacher. “I don’t just want to appreciate Wong Laoshi,” she laughs, “I want to be her.”

Hektner says she really wanted the experience of living abroad. She began in Shanghai as a translator for a medical device company, came back to Minnesota to look for something new, and ended up finding a position with a different medical device company with facilities in Singapore. It’s a great base for traveling, both professionally and personally, and a place where she can use her Chinese with coworkers. And it’s exciting work. “I deal with regulations for export,” she explains, “which is very complicated, high-

Andrew Upjohn ‘06 Teacher and Entrepreneur, Nanjing With his academic background of

risk stuff. There are big penalties for doing it wrong.”

international studies, sociology

But, like every other alum we interviewed, she volunteers that

and Chinese at Kenyon College and

she couldn’t be more appreciative of the start she got at Breck.

international economics at the Johns

“I am so fortunate to have had the opportunity to study Chi-

Hopkins University Nanjing University Center for Chinese and Ameri-

nese for 13 years at Breck. It’s the reason I’m where I am today.”

can Studies, a musical ear from years of playing the viola, a strong Chinese foundation from Breck and an entrepreneurial streak, Andrew Upjohn ’06 says China is right where he wants to be. In a few short years, he’s already been an AP English teacher, a college admissions consultant for Chinese students want-

Maggie Simons ‘07 Graduate student, Nanjing Finishing up a stint as a teachers’ assistant at Nanjing Uni-

ing to study in the U.S., a translator for entities including Jaguar and the Nanjing Police Department, and the published author of an article about commodity pricing (written in Chinese) and a textbook on the TOEFL English test.

versity when we met her in March, Maggie Simons ’07 was looking forward to life back in the States, at least for a while.

When we met him in March, he was contemplating a move

“I don’t know if I’ll ever come back to live in China,” she says.

to Shanghai to pursue some entrepreneurial opportuni-

ties and looking forward to whatever lies ahead. “I’m here [in China] long-term,” he says. “There are excellent career prospects everywhere. I miss the cleanliness of home, and American food sometimes, but I love my life here.” Upjohn says he feels lucky to have studied Chinese at Breck—even with all the dialogues he dreaded memorizing

Matt Fish ‘95

he laughs. “I remember feeling like I was memorizing so

Managing Partner, New Pacific Consulting, Shanghai

much—and now I wish I had memorized more.”

“No teacher has ever had so much of an impact on me,” Matt

at the time. “I remember about half of them even today,”

Fish ’95 says of Wong Laoshi. “To be here and build the relationships I’ve built—it’s entirely because of her.” 35

Reflections on Breck in China by Jill Field I’ve had some truly extraordinary experiences at Breck, as a Breck parent from 1988-2005 and its director of communications since 1998, but being part of the China trip this spring clearly tops them all.

we flew south to Guilin and Yangshuo, where my highlights included our

As an observer, reporter and embarrassingly language-

tour of the tea

ignorant tourist, I’m not certain what I added to the group.

plantation and

But I know the following for sure.

the amazing

First and foremost, I was blessed with spectacular

“Illuminations” show done by the producer of the Beijing

traveling companions. Our group of 24, evenly divided

Olympic opening ceremonies and featuring a cast of 700.

between students and adults, was terrific. I enjoyed

Next we went to Xi’an, an amazingly fast-growing city

meeting so many wonderful Breck alumni who are living

where we rode bikes around the 600-year-old city walls,

and working in China and I certainly enjoyed watching the

saw the famed Terra Cotta Warriors and got to visit a

masterful Margaret Wong lead us with such care, skill and

village school whose students enjoyed “Row, Row, Row

genuine joy. Faculty chaperone Charlie Grossman was full

Your Boat” almost as much as the candy we brought along.

of unexpected observations and enthusiasm, the parents

And we finished in Beijing, where we were able to see in

were terrific, and our guides in each city were thorough,

person so many places I’d only seen in photographs—from

interesting and indispensable.

the ancient Forbidden City, Summer Palace and Great Wall

But, most of all, I enjoyed spending time with Breck

to the very recent Bird’s Nest Stadium and Water Cube.

students. They were intelligent, observant, articulate,

And we were treated to extraordinary hospitality by the

funny, inspiring and altogether delightful. It was fun to

parents of Breck international students Amy Yin ’14 and

watch their confidence in speaking Chinese grow through-

Ruskin Li ’13 and got to visit their amazing school in Beijing,

out the trip and heartening to see how kind they were to

which were very special off-the-beaten-path experiences.

each other. They tolerated early wake-up calls, very full days, not always identifiable foods and even the constant presence of so many adults (provided we stayed in the front of the bus and left the back to them).

Along the way, I learned that noodles make an excellent breakfast, that it’s fun to follow a Breck flag thousands of miles away from Breck, that it’s hard to remember not to drink the water, that you get to know a lot about your

We started in Shanghai, a city whose modern architecture

traveling companions when you share lazy-susan meals

dazzled me, and where one night’s hot pot dinner will be

with them twice a day for two weeks, and that Breck’s

a memory (if not a taste) I’ll treasure forever. From there

Chinese program is an extraordinary legacy for us all.


summer 2012

Fish moved to Shanghai in the fall of

ing there for an extended period of time,” she observes. “I’d love

2000 after his San Francisco consult-

to go back, but I guess that’s at the whim of the government.”

ing firm sent him for what was supposed to be a yearlong assignment. “I guess no one will take me back now,” he laughs. He has now built a successful consulting business and travels frequently but often thinks of the start he got at Breck. “I actually met Wong Laoshi in the hallway on my very first tour of Breck as an admissions candidate for ninth grade,” he recalls. “I remember thinking there was no way I was up for 36

Elliot Dodge deBruyn ‘08 Soon-to-be English teacher, Shanghai

that kind of academic challenge. But she took me under her

Elliot Dodge deBruyn ’08 says he

wing, and made a huge change in my life.”

was very anxious when his plane landed in Beijing at the begin-

And he’s enjoyed meeting fellow alumni, offering internships

ning of his semester abroad from

to many Breck graduates interested in getting a foot in the

the University of Vermont. “The

door in China. “I am so happy to be able to support the Breck

mixture of jetlag and culture shock hit me hard,” he recalls,

program in any way I can,” he explains. “It’s an amazing pro-

“but I soon learned that the best way to get over the feelings

gram—the best in the nation—and I’m just sorry that every

of isolation and being lost was to start exploring the neigh-

Breck student doesn’t have the same opportunity.”

borhood with as open a mind as possible.” The result? He returned to Burlington to finish his degree— and couldn’t wait to get back to China again. One of the things he came to love about China was the feeling of density. “It was overwhelming at first,” he explains. “China is roughly the same size as the lower 48 states but

Genna Andreas ‘06

has four times the population. The environment produces

Graduate student

the world.”

Graduating with a master’s degree in East Asian language and cultures from Stanford University this June, after her East Asian studies degree from Haverford College, Genna Andreas ’06 says Chinese has “always been on my radar as a thing I’d like to spend the rest of my life doing” ever since her introduction to it as a Breck kindergartner.

some of the most interesting and diverse urban settings in

And as he looks forward to a teaching position in Shanghai that will begin in the fall, Dodge deBruyn says he’s gained more appreciation for his time at Breck. “Studying Chinese at Breck was the best preparation I could have asked for,” he says. “It definitely wasn’t easy, and at the time I couldn’t have seen the benefits. But I realize now how truly valuable it was. Those dialogue exercises really did pay off, much as it pains me to admit it!”

She has vivid memories of studying with Wong Laoshi, especially her enthusiasm for teaching and “how much she cared whether or not we really learned what we were studying. She didn’t just teach out of the textbook!” Andreas enjoyed her semester-abroad time in Beijing and traveling throughout the country and thinks she might well want to return there to work. She’s currently preparing to take the Foreign Service exam and hopes to start a career with the U.S.

Brian Hammer ‘84

State Department, where she’d hope to be posted in China.

Asian Studies Center Associate Director, Rice University

“There’s definitely a difference between visiting a place and liv-

Associate Director of the Asian Studies Center at Rice Uni-

versity in Houston, Brian Hammer ’84

before college were the primary reasons I decided to

has lived in Beijing, Nanjing, Harbin and

continue studying Chinese and ultimately major in East

Shanghai (where he served as director of

Asian Studies during college [at Yale],” he says.

two new study-abroad programs, one at Fudan University and the other at Shanghai University). Hammer took French at Breck, but he chose to study Chinese as a freshman at Washington University in St. Louis because of Wong Laoshi’s influence, he says, even “over people like me who never stepped

His experience at Breck was fulfilling, he says, because of the passion that Wong Laoshi and the rest of the Chinese teachers put into each and every class. McCarthy observes that China is a “wildly diverse and ever-changing place. A dumpling in Beijing is different from

into her formal classroom.”

a dumpling in Shanghai. A young billionaire entrepreneur

Since he first lived in China in 1986, Hammer says he’s seen

both be named communist party members. If you under-

dramatic changes. Considering the now broad array of

stand one side of China, explore another and know that

consumer choices and the dizzying pace of growth compared

there are at least 1.3 billion different versions of a story.”

can sit with an elderly man who was once a Red Guard and

to life in the U.S., “the tables have turned in a truly amazing way in just a few decades.” Asked what he thinks Americans should know about China, Hammer says it’s a question of overcoming perceptions of China as intimidating, unfriendly or even oppressive. “I’ve spent most of my life so far in education, so perhaps I tend to see everything as a learning opportunity,” he states. “With an open, self-reflexive mind, almost anything is possible and will happen with a little perseverance. And this includes whatever you might have in mind with respect to China. Learning the language helps, but it’s only part of the story.”

David Brooks ‘02 Sales Manager, Ecolab Sanya, South Sea Island Unlike some of his fellow alumni, David Brooks ’02 says he didn’t initially intend to continue studying Chinese when he left Breck for college. “I needed to add an extra course my freshman year,” he recalls, “so I signed up for a Chinese class, with no intention of making it a major or minor. From then on I was hooked and ended up majoring in

Patrick McCarthy ‘04

East Asian Studies with a minor in Chinese.”

Medical student, University of Minnesota Fulbright Scholar, Kunming

He says his usual answer, when people ask why he lives in

As a Fulbright Scholar in 2010, Patrick McCarthy ’04 conducted a research project

China, is, “because it’s never boring. You see something new here every day. And although Little Sichuan and the Tea House are fantastic, you will quiver with delight (and sometimes fear)

focusing on infant nutrition and maternal

over how extraordinary the food can be in China!”

health access in a series of mountain

As for his Chinese studies at Breck, which began in fifth grade,

villages between Kunming and the

Brooks says he has gained a great deal of perspective over the

Vietnamese border. It was one of many

years. “If Wong Laoshi ever caught me roaming the hallways

experiences he’s had living in China, including a year in

during tutorial, she would make me come to her classroom to

Beijing with School Year Abroad, and he says he can easily

complete any unfinished or unacceptable work,” he recalls. “I

trace his interest to his time in Lower School.

wasn’t thrilled about it at the time, but I am grateful to have

“Somewhere between Chinese cooking classes and singing

had such a passionate and encouraging teacher.”

“One Big China” in tenth grade, I was hooked. The combination of my years learning Chinese at Breck with the best language teachers and my great experiences visiting China



summer 2012


Photos by Karyl Rice

Class of 2012 Organizes a Record-Setting

Tour de Breck

The eighth annual Tour de Breck event was a lot of fun, a tremendous fundraiser and an unprecedented success thanks, in large part, to the extraordinary efforts of organizers Halle Gustafson and Josh Luger. The two seniors, who were selected by their classmates to be the Class of 2012’s alumni class representatives, were determined to accomplish something never done before: achieve 100% participation by their class. 39

The race winners

The fundraising champs

Senior Connor Andrle is in the lead

Says Halle, “We had it in mind from the start. We just ex-

at him, and Blake Creasey opened his guitar case and played

pected it.” Adds Josh, “It would have felt wrong if we hadn’t

for tips in the senior hallway.

gotten everyone involved.”

The result was a record-breaking total of more than $3,000.

Conceived in 2005 by Tony Jewett ’94 and Jimmy Beltz ’95, the

The top fundraising team was Team Yearbook (yearbook edi-

Tour de Breck is a race among teams of three senior students

tors Nina Killingstad, Nick Kleidon and Michele Pikovsky with

and a member of the faculty or staff using 20” mini bikes. To

their advisor Chelen Johnson), and the race winners were

raise awareness of the Annual Fund among the soon-to-be

Team #10 (Mike Mahalich, Noah Rubin and Austin Rudnick

alumni, the event requires teams to raise money which is then

with Associate Director of College Counseling Craig Dodson).

donated to the Annual Fund on the class’ behalf.

To encourage participation, Alumni Coordinator Erin Strong

The race, which takes place either on the McKnight Stadium

worked with the students and administration to create some

track (weather permitting), in the Anderson Gym or the

special incentives, including a catered lunch, a dress-down

Fieldhouse, is a raucous affair in which the students cheer-

day, and an afternoon on a Slip’n Slide at Natchez Park.

ing from the sidelines have almost as much fun as the riders themselves.

Strong says the Class of 2012 was a delight to work with and she was delighted to help them collect their rewards. “Halle

In addition to achieving 100% participation—and fielding

and Josh were such great partners,” she observes. “They’ve

16 teams—the Class of 2012 went the extra distance to as-

set an amazing precedent for the classes that follow!”

sure that each team contributed much more than their $50 minimum participation fee. “People had some really creative ideas to raise money,” say Halle and Josh. For example, Caleb Bonderer and Hans Vroege baked chocolate chip cookies and sold more than 50 for $1 apiece in just one morning. Halle’s team delivered coffee and smoothies to her sister Carlie and her non-driving freshman friends. Mike Mahalich charged a fee to let students throw water balloons

As for the ride itself, it’s not so easy. “Practice really helped,” laughs Halle. Both Halle and Josh say coordinating the event was a real labor of love—and a chance to prove themselves at the same time. “Mr. Ohm said we’d never get $2,000, and it was really fun to prove him wrong,” Josh observes. Adds Halle, “It means a lot to know our grade broke a record. The underclassmen were so supportive, and they know their turn is coming.” JF


summer 2011

Alumni in the Arts:

Three Breck Grads Make Their Mark on Stage, on Screen and on Video


Sara Marsh ’98 Founds a Twin Cities Theater Company When she left Breck, Sara Marsh ’98 had dreams of a long

time to discuss and

career in the movies—and her dreams nearly came true. She

interact about what

moved to Los Angeles, landed a number of parts including a

they just saw, then

major one in the film “Sugar and Spice,” became a member

offer live music from a

of the Screen Actors Guild, and gave it her all.

local band to make the

Rethinking her choice, she moved back to the Twin Cities to finish her degree at the University of Minnesota, got involved with local theater including Park Square, the Jungle, and the Old Log—and then rethought her choice again and returned to LA. After finishing work on a film called “Lumpy,” starring Shelley Long and Justin Long, Marsh finally came to the realization that she wanted to return to the Twin Cities and make her own opportunity for success. Today, she’s the founder and artistic director of a theater

evening more special. The shows themselves will often be by new, young playwrights, performed theater-inthe-round style to be up close and personal with the audience. The first production will open on August 18.

company called Dark and Stormy Productions (darkstormy.

There’s a strong Breck connection running through Marsh’s

org), with a goal of making theater more relevant and ap-

career, starting with her training from Drama Director Tom

pealing to young people.

Hegg. “He was so influential in helping me prepare for this

Marsh says theater attendance among 18-35-year-olds is poor, and she believes that part of the reason is that productions are often too long and don’t provide opportunities for socializing (“It’s get in, watch and get out,” she observes, which is completely wrong for a generation that’s so socially connected). Dark and Stormy will produce one-act plays, give audiences

difficult business,” she says. “I would never have had the moxie to do this if it weren’t for him.” Her classmates Kevin Cannon and Ted Korsmo are members of the Dark and Stormy board of directors, and Breck friends and family have offered her “incredible” support. “I rely on that network,” she says. “Breck is like no other family I know.”

Melisa Wallack ’86 Finds ­Success as a Hollywood Screenwriter About twelve years ago, Melisa Wallack ’86

probably is,” she laughs. “But I love it. I love

decided to pursue a career as a screenwriter,

the solitude of writing. I love the endless

so she started work at a production company

possibilities of characters and stories. And

doing coverage. “The job paid nothing,” she

I love the way screenplays are like puzzles:

says, “but I read about a hundred scripts and

all the pieces have to fit, and you really have

had to break them all down for the produc-

to constantly be deconstructing the story to

ers. I learned a lot about plot and structure,

make it work.”

which helped me when I started to write my

Wallack says many teachers at Breck changed

own scripts. If you want to write for film,

her outlook and were very influential. “I will

you have to learn structure—and it’s a lot

forever have a special place in my heart for

more difficult than one would think.”

Mrs. Jacoby, who really turned me on to lit-

She has never regretted her decision, and

erature, and to Mrs. Fruen and Dr. Miller who

she’s becoming involved in bigger and bigger

really turned me on to learning in general.

productions all the time. She got screen story

They really flipped a switch for me.”

credit for “Mirror Mirror,” a take on the Snow White tale starring Julia Roberts released earlier this year, and she’s now working on several projects including a movie

She also admits to basing several characters on people she knew at Breck (but we didn’t press her for details!).

for Universal, an animated movie for Dreamworks and a re-

Asked for advice for Breck students today—including her

write on a movie she sold over ten years ago which is finally

niece Eva Wallack ’12—she suggests the following. “Embrace

getting made this summer.

your years at college and learn everything you can from

“I know having that many projects sounds crazy, and it

everyone you can. Follow your bliss, find what you love and don’t listen to anyone who says you shouldn’t do it.”

Davy Greenberg ’05 Fuses Hip-Hop and the Corporate World on Video “It’s been a crazy couple of years,” observes Davy Greenberg ’05, founder of a video production company called Elephilms that has relocated from Chicago to Los Angeles. “Business has really taken off.” He began with music videos for local artists in Chicago, where he was attending college, and began collaborating with them on other video features such as “day in the life” productions. Being in the right place at the right time earned him the notice of several large corporations who were looking for ways to reach out to urban markets.

professional philosophy, and he says that’s what helps drive his run-and-gun filmmaking style. “The idea is that it’s all about performance, having fun and being able to offer fans

He began a relationship with Nike that started with a docu-

a glimpse of the brands and artists they love in a new and

mentary about the Air Yeezy, which bears the nickname of

exciting light.”

recording artist Kanye West. Since then, he’s become a consultant on a variety of projects for Nike and other companies including Sony Erickson, Vitamin Water, Grey Goose and Belvedere vodka. “It’s a fusion of the hip-hop and corporate worlds,” Greenberg says. “Companies want to know what’s cool and up-and-coming in the urban world.” Greenberg considers “Attitude is everything” to be his

But it’s the process more than the end product that he enjoys most. “Trying to create something great from raw material, a song or a creative brief is the most exciting part for me. In today’s world of viral content and quick turnaround rates, this method of filmmaking is what keeps me going,” he says. You can find out more about Greenberg’s portfolio and his future projects at his company’s website, JF



summer 2011


A Whole New Way to Connect We’re delighted to announce our new alumni website. You’ll find it, along with all the latest news and information from Breck, on the school website, Just click on alumni on the top of the page and follow the instructions to register and then log in. You’ll have access to our full alumni directory, career mentoring information, class notes, updates about reunions and other events and more. We hope you’ll find it to be convenient, informative and easy to use—and we know you’ll let us know if you have questions or comments. Email us at

Contribute to Our Electronic Upper School Time Capsule The transformation of the Upper School has already begun. And while we’re focusing on all Breck has to gain from this wonderful new facility, we want to make sure some things aren’t lost—namely, our collective memories of the building that’s being replaced. We’re inviting all Golden Valley Campus alumni to share stories and pictures for our electronic time capsule. So, whether you have memories of the library, a classroom, the senior lounge or any other part of the Upper School, send them in and be a part of this fun project. Email us at, or share your stories and pictures on the Alumni Association Facebook page.

Save the Date for Homecoming/Reunion Weekend Homecoming Week is September 24-29. In addition, we’ll be celebrating six reunions on Saturday, September 29: Class of 1947

65-Year Reunion

Class of 1952

60-Year Reunion

Class of 1982

30-Year Reunion

Class of 1987

25-Year Reunion

Class of 1997

15-Year Reunion

Class of 2007

5-Year Reunion

Hope to see you there!



summer 2012

1995 Matt Fish is managing partner of a consulting firm in Shanghai. Read more about him on page 35.


class notes reunion year

1984 Brian Hammer is associate Director of the Asian Studies Center at Rice University. Read more about him on page 36.

Baugus on September 29, 2011. They also have four-year-old twins, Carson and Ella, who love being a big brother and sister to “their” baby Mila.

Brendan Taaffe is living in Vermont,

Rori Coleman-Woods recently gradu-

working as a musician and a composer. He travels, both around the country and the world (Ireland, Scotland, France, Zimbabwe, New Zealand), leading harmony singing workshops

ment Team at Breck in June as the new

free time and rides his bike a lot. Last

Director of Development. For more on

year, he released an album of original

Dina see page 10.

choral works with his group The Bright

Teacher—the highest honor Breck can

welcomed their daughter Mila Grace


for adult singers. He keeps bees in his

Sarah Flotten was named a Master

Scooter and Theresa Cha Baugus


Dina Wolkoff joined the Advance-



Wings Chorus (folks can find it at his website: He feels very lucky to live as an artist, and says “it’s pretty darn fun.”

ated again with a M.B.A. from the ­Minnesota School of Business. Her business project created a Dual Language English-Spanish pilot degree program in the business administration career field, for online adult learners. While continuing to work on implementing the pilot program within the Globe Education Network, Undrea (Dre) and Rori will celebrate 15 years together, and just passed their fifth-year wedding anniversary. Dre is directing two different bands, teaching, producing and working

became Breck’s seventh current Master


Teacher, joining Carol Harrison (Raths),

Caryn Mead Kelly and Cally Morrison

degree in music business. Their boy

Tom Hegg, Jake Miller, Karen Pape,

Norris are planning the class of 1992-

Ruthanne Swenson and Alice Wright.

20 Year Reunion for the weekend of

bestow on a faculty member. Sarah

Skip Simonson works for PriceWaterhouseCoopers in Hong Kong. Read more about him on page 33.


August 17-19.

1994 For a note about Chloe Caplan, see 1999.

on new ventures while pursuing his Merrick is five years old and started kindergarten this year, and Mason is two and growing faster than they can keep up!

1998 Ed Dunn, with the U.S. Department of

In February of this year, Liz Mullin

State, is about to be posted in Indone-

Melisa Wallack had a major motion

Fedele was sworn in as Magistrate

sia. Read more about him on page 32.

picture released called Mirror Mirror.

Judge of the Superior Court for the

She is the creator of the original screen-

District of Columbia. Previously, she

play based on the Grimm fairy tale of

had been a lawyer with the DC Public

Snow White. The film stars Julia Rob-

Defender’s office. Liz is a graduate of

erts. Read more about her on page 41.

Georgetown and NYU Law School. She lives in Washington with her husband, John Fedele, a lawyer. They have twoyear-old twins, Mason and Zoey.

Simone Hardeman married Christopher Jones at Round Hill Resort and Villas in Montego Bay, Jamaica, on April 28. Simone currently works as Education Policy Advisor to Senator Kay Hagan of North Carolina and Chris, a native of Kingston, Jamaica,

is completing a degree in marketing. In attendance were matron of honor and twin sister Rachel Hardeman, bridesmaids Sasha Walley and Didi Ugboajah, and guests Anna Otieno



Adam Jones is working for a boutique

Katie Hektner is working for a medi-

investment management consulting

cal device company in Singapore. Read

firm in Shanghai. Read more about

more about her on page 34.

’99 and Semonti Mustaphi ’99. Simone

him on page 30.

and Chris’s wedding was recently

Lizzie Nelson returned to Breck in

at the U. of M. Read more about him

featured in the Washington Post “On

May to be the Cum Laude Speaker.

on page 37.

Love” column: <http://www.wash-

Lizzie is currently working in Wash-

ington, DC, as the deputy scheduler for


President Obama.

Patrick McCarthy is a medical student

story.html>. The couple resides in

Ellie Wilkinson, Claire Bretzke, and

Washington, DC.

Kate Fischer were featured in the February edition of Metro Magazine and attended the introduction of the chef at Gather in the Walker.

Sea Island), China. Read more about him on page 37.

Sara Marsh has formed a production company called Dark and Stormy Productions to produce theater in the Twin Cities. Read more about her on page 40.

1999 Alyssa Caplan and her sister Chloe ’94 are part of the team launching the Twin Cities’ premiere blow dry bar, The Wow Bar, at 50th and France this summer with renowned hair stylist Jason Deavalon. Alyssa and Chloe are excited to join forces in this fun new endeavor after working in New York in law and at CNN, respectively. They can’t wait for fellow Mustangs to come visit the Wow Bar!

Fred Railsback is teaching English in Chengdu, China. Read more about him on page 31.

in Shenzhen, China. Read more about

David Brooks is living in Sanya (South

about him on page 31.

page 30.

Tommy Wellvang is working for IBM


Alumni in China article. Read more

boutique merchant banking firm in Shanghai. Read more about him on


Stefan Krasowski is part of our

Liam O’Hagan is working for a

Whitney Clark is living in Chengdu, China. Read more about him on page 31.

him on page 32.

2005 Jane Bartel is the marketing director for 2 Gingers Whiskey, a new product founded by Kieran Folliard, who start-

Ashley Kokal McCarthy, Matt Bartel,

ed Twin Cities restaurants Kieran’s,

Amy Stark, Natalie Burns Furst and

The Local, Cooper and The Liffey. Since

Keelia Fannon Ciernia planned a

the product launch early this year, 2

great class of 2002—10 year class

Gingers is gaining great reviews and

reunion on June 2 at the Golden Valley

is being served at places including the

American Legion.

brand-new 2 Gingers Pub at Target Field. As marketing director, Jane is


managing promotional events and Kelsey Banyan Gamblin and

projects as well as ongoing brand development.

Dave Gamblin

Rob Galloway, finishing up his stint

were wed in

with the Peace Corps in Mongolia, has

Chicago on

a blog about his experiences. Find out

September 10,

more at http://sonofthemidwestinthe-

2011. The two met in London in 2006 during their undergraduate study abroad semester and moved to Chicago together four years ago. Elaine Yang stood with the couple as the Maid of Honor and classmates Celine Kitzenberg, Lauren Nazarian, Meg Teckman, Melanie Thomas, Emily Van Brunt and Ashley Wynne joined the couple to celebrate the nuptials. Davy Greenberg has moved his video production company, Elephilms, from Chicago to Los Angeles. Read more about Davy on page 41.



summer 2012

2006 Genna Andreas has just received her master’s degree in East Asian languages and cultures from Stanford. Read more about her on page 36. Katie Brattain won the Teacher of the Year award at TJ Rusk Middle School in Texas. This award was voted on by staff, administration, and students. She says she is extremely surprised 46

and excited!


hoping to find a job by the end of the




Rachel Altom-Wright will graduate from Pacific Lutheran University this

Jessica McVay was named an observer

year with a double major in Chinese

for the upcoming Broadway production

Studies and Globalization/Trade and

of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man. Jessica is

is moving to China in June to work at

working with director Michael Wilson

the American Chamber of Commerce

as the second assistant director, and

in Shanghai.

has been doing the dramaturgical work for the production whose cast includes James Earl Jones, Angela

Nick Balay will be graduating in June from the University of Chicago with a degree in Economics and Islamic

Drake Herd announced his engage-

Lansbury, Eric McCormack and John

ment to Ivy Funk. Drake graduated in

Larroquette. Jessica graduated from

2011 from Hamline University in St.

UCLA where she received the Fine Arts

Paul with a bachelor’s degree in busi-

Trust Award for her directing work,

ness administration and economics.

with a degree in Theater concentrat-

He is the owner of Renegade Manufac-

ing in Directing and a minor in Asian

Andrew Cutler will be graduating

turing LLC and H&H Fishing Guide Ser-

Humanities and is now living in New

from the University of Chicago in June

vice. He is also a supervisor for United

York City.

with a dual B.A. in Theater and Perfor-

Parcel Service. Ivy is a registered nurse at United Hospital in St. Paul. A July wedding is planned in Alexandria. Brendan LynchSalamon

Emily Neal was an alumni award presenter at the Upper School Awards on June 1.

History. He will be moving back to the great state of Minnesota so that he can start working as an analyst at Target HQ starting in August.

mance Studies/English Language and Literature. He is closing his first professional acting gig in Chicago called The Artistic Home and hoping to pursue

Andrew Upjohn is in Nanjing. Read more about him on page 34.

more acting after graduation. Siddharth Damania is graduating from Stanford in June with a B.A. in

“Since the



Marcus Hill played in the NBA Philip-

in Public Policy this summer. Sidd­

wrapped up, Warm Weather—myself,

pines typhoon relief basketball game.

harth was a four-year member and

Justin Lerman (another Aire), and

Marcus is currently looking for op-

captain of Stanford Basmati Raas, a na-

Ryan Pollie—finished off our second,

portunities to play basketball interna-

tionally award-winning Indian dance

self-produced EP: “Looking Through.”


team. With Basmati Raas, he com-


With a couple releases under our belt, we started developing our live show, gigging around the Los Angeles area. We actually just got back from a tour of the northeast (Philadelphia to Mon-

Economics and will complete his M.A.

Maggie Simons has just returned to the Pacific Northwest from her time in Nanjing. Read more about her on page 34.

peted at the nation’s most prestigious dance competitions and was invited twice to the Raas All-Stars championship. He graduates as a recipient of the Stanford Award of Excellence, award-

treal), and we’re heading back into the

Julie White has been working for an

ed to the top students in the class for

studio soon to develop new material.”

art gallery in Beijing. Read more about

demonstrating a sincere commitment

You can find all of their music

her on page 32.

to the university through involvement,

at, and they’re on Facebook ( and Twitter (@warmweatherband). The photo was taken by Matthew Marcinowski at our Philadelphia show for his music blog, Beat the Indie Drum


r g numbe -setti n Record notes! s as cl of

Becca Alper is graduating in May from

leadership, and extraordinary Stanford spirit. This fall, Siddharth will begin work as a management consultant for Oliver Wyman in New York.

Cornell with a B.S. in Policy Analysis and Management. This summer she

Nick Derrico was offered a summer

is moving to Washington, DC, for

research job at Massachusetts General

an internship at a think tank and is

Hospital for the next two years. He

will be working in the bone-scanning

chemistry with minors in biology and

lab of the Endocrine research unit and

music. Tara recently received a 2012

will also be allowed to shadow doctors

MIT Chemistry Research award for

while they are on service and even at-

publication of her research paper in

tend grand rounds outside of work.

the Journal of Inorganic Biochemis-

In December Elliot Dodge deBruyn graduated from the University of Vermont, and decided that he wanted to move back to China. He got a job teaching art in a Shanghai primary school starting in August, and then will be doing freelance video and photojournalism in his free time. Read more about him on page 36.

try, â&#x20AC;&#x153;Platinum(IV)-chlorotoxin (CTX) conjugates for targeting cancer cellsâ&#x20AC;?, that presented her work with the Lippard Laboratory at MIT. She was also recently recognized for outstanding academic achievement by Pi Beta Phi sorority, and received the 2012 David Epstein Prize as well as the 2012 Ragnar and Margaret Naess Certificate of Distinction from the Music Depart-

related to Search and Rescue. Sarah Weisman feels honored to have graduated with such a tremendously inspiring group of people in the class of 2008. She is graduating this spring with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Global Health Studies. Her current goal is to become a Certified Child Life Specialist, which is someone who works in hospitals with kids and their families, helping to promote positive coping and development during traumatic life events. She will be applying for internships for next fall in both Minneapolis and Chicago.

Andy Green is a junior at Carleton Col-

ment for her contributions to the MIT

lege, studying Chinese and preparing

Symphony Orchestra and the Cham-

for medical school. In his sophomore

ber Music Society. This past year Tara


year he co-founded a non-profit in Chi-

was a finalist for a Rhodes Scholarship,

Meghan Kiesel is back in school after

na called China Leprosy Outreach, for

and will be starting Stanford Univer-

a semester in Beijing. Read more about

the purpose of providing basic medical

sity School of Medicine in August.

her on page 30.

Along with a couple friends, Erik Rice is running a music and poetry collec-


tive out in Portland, OR. They became

Ava Mokhtari finished her second

a small press late last year and are

year at Wellesley College as a Bio-

gearing up right now for the release

chemistry major and was named to

of their second and third books in the

the 2011 Academic All Conference

upcoming months.

Soccer Team. In addition to her athletic

care to approximately 300 people living in leper colonies in southwest rural China (near Kunming). Andy led fundraising initiatives, recruited volunteers, coordinated service trips with the medical team, managed website content, and oversaw financial and general managerial duties. He said the work is rewarding. He, along with

Allison Sisk will be graduating this

some Chinese friends at Johns Hopkins

Fall with a B.A. in Individualized

and Penn, just finished planning/

Studies: Communications, Biology,

organizing a healthcare conference at

and Sustainability Studies from The

Wharton Business School.

University of Minnesota. She still plays

Sophie Harris is graduating with B.A.s in urban studies and political science. She is planning on moving to New Orleans for a year-long fellowship, working in non-profit affordable housing development. Emily Leutgeb graduated from St. Olaf with a Nursing degree and China Studies concentration. She will be at home studying to take her nursing boards this summer and job hunting in the cities.

lacrosse for the U, and they went to

activities, Ava conducts stem cell research in nerve regeneration in the Langer Laboratory, Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research at MIT and is a member of the Wellesley AGORA Society.

Nationals in May to fight for a top

Daniel Mokhtari was recently

ten spot in the country. She currently

awarded the 2012 MIT Department of

coaches two varsity sports, but plans

Chemistry Sophomore Achievement

on taking a position with the DNR in

Award for outstanding achievement

the fall or returning to school in the

in academics, research and service to

College of Veterinary Sciences.

the Chemistry Department. Earlier

Mary Katherine Southern will be researching in Nagoya, Japan, this summer. She is just finishing up her first year as a Ph.D student at the University of Minnesota, and very excited that she has already received a fellow-

Tara Mokhtari will graduate Phi Beta

ship for research. She will be working

Kappa from MIT in June, majoring in

in Artificial Intelligence on a project

this spring, Daniel was also named an MIT-Sabenci Scholar . During this past year, Daniel continued his research with the Dannheiser Group at MIT for a second year, and now works on his own project in organic synthesis. Additionally, he was selected to be a student liaison of MIT Med Links, had the



summer 2011

assists and a +21 rating, which ranked

the pediatric hematology department

third on the team. In 2013-14, Miami

at Boston Children’s Hospital, and has

will switch to the National College

been selected as a Resident Advisor

Hockey Conference, which will also be

for next year. Daniel continues to play

home to Colorado College, University

­Upper School Awards on June 1.

viola in the MIT Symphony Orchestra

of Denver, University of North Dakota,

and the MIT Chamber Music Society.

University of Minnesota Duluth and

Eric Laorr and the Middlebury golf

This summer, Daniel will teach chem-

University of Nebraska Omaha.

istry in China as a member of the MIT China Education and Technology Initiative (CETI) program. 48


opportunity to shadow physicians in

After a year in the North American Hockey League (NAHL) Alexandria Blizzard, Michael Mooney has committed to attend Miami University in Ohio and play for the Division I RedHawks. During his season in Alexandria, Michael had two goals, 20

Annalisa Tester and Nathan Yueh served as an alumni presenters at the Upper School Awards on June 1.

Max Berman and Steven Kiesel served as alumni presenters at the

team won their conference in May and qualified for the Division III ­national championships in Florida. Eric was the only freshman on the squad going to nationals.

The National College Mock Trial Tournament was held in Minneapolis April 13-15 and three alums competed in it! Adam Stillman for the University of Michigan, Kristina Tester for Harvard and Max Berman ’11 for Columbia.

IN MemoriAM Donald Clifton Boyd ’44 was born in Grand Forks, ND to the

Edward S. Wegrzynowicz ’72 grew up in North Minneapolis.

late Clifton and Edna (Salt) Boyd. He attended Central High

After Breck, he then went to school for one year at West Point

School and graduated from Breck Military Academy in 1944

Military Academy. He received his B.A. from the University of

in St. Paul. Don joined the Navy following Breck and was

St. Thomas, St. Paul, MN and his Doctorate of Medicine from

honorably discharged. He attended Duluth Teachers College.

the University of Minnesota Medical School. He did his in-

Don worked as a civil engineer for the City of Duluth, Reserve

ternship and residency at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine

Mining, United States Steel and most recently as construc-

in Rochester, MN, specializing in anesthesiology, critical care

tion superintendent building Lake Superior Paper Mill. He

medicine and pain management. He held appointments

He owned and operated Brimson Sand & Gravel as well as

and privileges at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clin-

B&B Aggragate of Two Harbors. In 1959 Don incorporated

ics, Iowa City, also held an Academic and Clinical Teaching

Seaway Engineering in Duluth. He was later appointed the

appointment. The U.S. Veterans Administration Medical

director of the Northern Minnesota Small Business Develop-

Center, Iowa City, including a three year research assistant-

ment Center for the State of Minnesota developing tourism,

ship. Diplomat of the American Board of Anesthesiology

solar and biomass energy, and forest products. Don loved

since 1985, Certificate of Special Qualification in Critical Care

the wilds of Minnesota, whether it was guiding at Sawbill

Medicine and Certificate of Special (additional) Qualification

lodge in his youth, surveying the railroad between Silver Bay

in Pain Management. He completed three trips to Brazil for

and Babbitt or finding lost section corners in the Boundary

Esperanca, giving anesthesia for repair of congenital defects,

Waters for the Forest Service. He is survived by his compan-

and one trip to Poland. Dr. Ed as commonly known to many

ion of 30 years, Susan Malley, his sons, daughter and many

in Aberdeen began employment in Aberdeen in August of


1997. Ed was full of life and enjoyed sharing a laugh with others. Dr. Ed had a very large heart. Cooking was a great interest of his and he couldn’t be happier than to share his feast. He was a continuous student, learning as much as he could about various subjects.

Breck students and parents at the Great Wall on a crisp March day.


summer 2012

One for the Record Books Girls Hockey Wins Its First-Ever State Championship; Boys Place Third; Boys Swimming Takes Third, and Girls Gymnastics Finishes Seventh as It Competes at State for the Sixth Consecutive Year

Alpine Ski

Boys Hockey

As one of the “youngest teams on the hill,” the Breck squad is

The boys had a great season

full of promise for the future. Led by Peter Kiesel, who

that included a win away at

returned to the state tournament for his third consecutive

Shattuck-St. Mary’s and an

year, the Breck team also saw some great performances by a

exciting 7-5 section final

number of freshmen.

victory over Blake. They lost the state tournament

Boys Basketball The season ended with a four-game winning streak and included the first win over Minnehaha Academy in five years. The future looks bright for this young team that

semifinal 1-0 to eventual state champion St. Thomas Academy and went on to defeat Thief River Falls 4-3 for third-place honors.

benefited from great senior leadership from Peter Burwell,

Girls Hockey

Tyler Hudson, Austin Lommen and Noah Rubin, who will all

The team won the Class A state championship in a double-

be missed.

overtime thriller against South St. Paul. It was the first double-overtime championship in girls state tournament

Girls Basketball Our girls team started their season with three consecutive wins and prevailed over rival Blake both home and away (thanks to a dramatic last-second shot). Nina Killingstad was the only senior on the team.

history. Milica McMillen (who played all 70 minutes of the game) and Kate Schipper were named to the All-Tournament team. (As an aside, the photo of the girls with their trophy became Breck’s most-liked item ever so far on Facebook.)

Nordic Ski

Gymnastics Competing both as individuals and as a team at the state tournament, the girls made their fifth consecutive trip to state as

Though the Minnesota winter did not provide optimum conditions this year—there was more cross-country running than skiing—the Nordic skiers were motivated, enthusiastic and are poised to improve. They’ll miss the leadership of Sarah Short, a six-year letter winner who had a great career.

a team. Breck finished

Boys Swim and Dive

seventh in team competi-

The Bearstangs (combined Breck-Blake team) won their

tion, and among the individuals, our highest scores came

section championship en route to a third-place finish at the

from Nicole Lee, who finished fourth in the vault, and Niara

state meet. Mitch Foster broke his own state record in the

Hill, who finished 11th in floor exercise.

100 backstroke, and the team took first with an All American automatic in the IM relay.

Featured Athlete:

Milica McMillen ’12 The hugely talented McMillen, a six-year letter winner, has been synonymous with Breck girls hockey for her entire career. She represented the United States on the U17 team and is expected to be a serious contender for the 2014 Winter Olympic team. With her drive and incredible work ethic, she has been a role model for her Breck girls hockey wins the state championship.

teammates, and she’s likely to do the same as she moves on to the University of Minnesota in the fall. Says Athletic Director Brett Bergene, “I’m so happy she’s staying close to home so I can still watch her play.”

The Bearstangs place third at state.

VISIT THE BRECK ONLINE GYMSTORE Apparel · SPIRIT GEAR (choose “Breck Store” at the bottom)

Check out our new reusable shopping totes!



summer 2012

In Their Own Words

Kung Pao Chicken*, a recipe by Margaret Wong


Gong Bao was a palace guard in ancient China. One day, when he passed by the kitchen, he wanted to play a trick on the imperial chef, by throwing some dry red peppers into the hot oil. By the time the chef noticed what had happened, it was already too late to do anything about it, and so he finished cooking the dish. When the dish was served, the Emperor remarked that it was the best dish that he had tasted. From that day on, any dish with dry red peppers has come to be named after Gong Bao. *In pinyin spelling, it should be Gong Bao Ji Ding


Preparation phase:

1 pound of chicken tender breast meats (remove the

Cut chicken into “ding” form. Marinate in marinating sauce

tendons), cut into “ding” (nail-head size) ½-inch cubes (Other options: shrimp or pork)

for about 30 minutes. Prepare all ingredients and have within easy reach: dry red

6-8 dry red peppers

peppers, peanuts, marinated chicken, red/green peppers,

½ cup raw peanuts (without skin)

seasoning sauce.

2-3 springs of green onions, chopped, set aside 1 T for garnish 1 cup of red and/or green peppers, chopped into ½-inch cubes (optional, for color) ½ cup corn oil

Stir-fry procedure: Heat ½ T of corn oil in wok until almost smoking. Stir-fry peanuts until golden brown (this takes very little time, and stir constantly, so peanuts don’t burn). Remove, drain oil through a slotted spoon and let cool. Set aside.

Marinating sauce for chicken:

To hot oil, add dry red peppers, which will turn black quickly.

1 T soy sauce

Next, stir-fry the chicken quickly until all pinkness is gone,

1 T rice wine or cooking sherry

stirring quickly. Remove, drain oil through a slotted spoon

¾ tsp. – 1 T ginger root, grated

and set aside.

1 ½ T cornstarch

Stir-fry the red/green peppers for about one minute. Next add the seasoning sauce, stir until thickened, and add

Seasoning Sauce:

green onions.

2 T soy sauce

Turn off the heat.

1 T rice wine or cooking sherry

Place cooked chicken (oil drained through a slotted spoon) on

1 T brown vinegar (cider vinegar is ok)


1 T white sugar

Garnish with browned peanuts and chopped green onions.

½ tsp. salt

Serve with steamed white rice.

1 tsp. sesame oil 2 tsp. cornstarch

To serve: As a meal, add a vegetable side dish. Will serve four people. Warning: Don’t eat the dry red peppers unless you can really take it hot. Like Gong Bao, you can play a trick on your friends by encouraging them to eat them!

If you try the recipe, let us know! Post your comments on Breck’s Facebook page at

discover the benefits of giving wisely You can make a difference in the lives of future Breck students and faculty by making a gift through your will,

estate or financial plan and becoming a member of the James Lloyd Breck Society. Individuals who have made a

commitment to the school with a planned gift are leaving an important legacy. At the same time, their planned gifts may also be beneficial to their families in a number of ways. For example, planned gifts may help: • Reduce or avoid taxes, including income, capital gains, gift and estate taxes.

• Transfer assets to children or grandchildren who will receive financial support estate-tax free and on a predetermined timetable.

• Augment retirement income. We gratefully acknowledge those who have generously made a planned gift commitment to the school and are members of the James Lloyd Breck Society: Penny and Lee R. Anderson ’57

Warren and Patricia Hall

Marilyn and William C. Ryerse ’47 *

Bea Baumgardner *

Ruth and Paul Hauge ’50 * Richard A. Hegener ’62

Andrea Kmetz-Sheehy and Robert J. Sheehy

Bruce E. Jacobson ’66 *

Helene Z. and Jeffrey C. Slocum *

George R. A. Johnson ’59 *

John M. and Deta Stafford *

Hamilton and Mildred Kellogg **

Linda Tapsak and David Pote

Joyce McCann *

Jerry Wells

Jill E. and William G. Bartel * Bruce and Lisa Blazar

Dr. Paul ’69 and Mary Cederberg

Susan F. and Albert J. Colianni, Jr. * James E. Comer ’40**

Charles M. Converse ’49 Katherine D. Doerr *

Sarah Ehlen Haecker Julie Elam

Rolf and Nancy Engh

Mark B. Evenstad ’87 * Michelle Ewald

Dr. Frank T. Fifield **

Clarence G. Frame **

Shannah R. and Douglas D. Gillespie * Bryce Tinker Gillespie ’98 *

Myra and Roger Greenberg ’50 Alex Haecker

John and Alice Harrison

Susan and Michael Seeland *

Stephen A. Helland ’66 *

Anne Larsen Simonson

Thomas R. Johansson ’86

Patrick and Julie Spangler

Brenda Kallstrom **

Ervin Stockwell III **

Warren Kelly and Chelle Stoner *

Gerald and Margaret “Peg” Wellik *

Kendrick B. Melrose *

Sara and Bruce Monick *

Suzie Woodrich ’73 and David Knoblauch

Lucinda Pratt *

Lew and Nicki Zeidner *

Jody and Octavio Portu *

Brett G. Wyard ’88

The Rt. Rev. Brian Prior and Staci Prior

Anonymous (3)

Karyl A. and Byron A. Rice *

* Founding Members ** Deceased

Thomas Rash III ’88

Hugh H. Roberts ’69

if you would like more information and/or a confidential conversation about joining the james lloyd breck society, please contact dina wolkoff ‘84 ( or check the breck website.

123 Ottawa Avenue North

Minneapolis MN 55422-5189

Parents of Alumni: Please forward this publication. If your daughter or son no longer maintains a permanent address at your home, please notify us (763-381-8230 or of the new mailing address.

SHINE ON Best wishes to the Class of 2012.

Non-Profit Org. U.S. Postage

PAID Permit No. 2995 Twin Cities, MN

Today at Breck - Summer 2012  

Breck's magazine, Today at Breck

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