Journal Volume XII | FALL 2014
Veronica Meyer, Class of 2020
Guided by the Quaker belief
that there is a Divine Light in everyone, Brooklyn Friends School cultivates an intellectually ambitious and diverse community that celebrates each individual’s gifts. We challenge our students to value and embrace difference as they develop critical thinking skills and apply their knowledge and intelligence both in and out of the classroom. In this rich learning environment, we inspire all members of our community to voice their convictions, to discover and pursue their passions, and to seek truth. Our graduates are compassionate, curious, and confident global citizens who let their lives speak in the spirit of leadership and service.
2 Message from the Head of School 4 College Prep at Its Finest 6 Shakespeare on the Page
Founded in 1867, Brooklyn Friends School (BFS) is one of the oldest continuously operating independent schools in New York City. In the 2014-15 academic year, BFS enrolls 803 students in preschool through 12th grade and an additional 54 children in the Family Center at Brooklyn Friends.
and on the Stage
8 Science Students Join the
Aquaculturati of New York City
10 It Was a Very Good Year 12 Alumni Class Notes 14 Alumni Profile: Lawrence James ’97 16 Checking in with Horizons Service Learning and Community Perfect Together at 18 Building: Brooklyn Friends School
BROOKLYN FRIENDS SCHOOL JOURNAL is published annually by the Advancement Office of Brooklyn Friends School for alumni, parents, grandparents, and friends. 375 Pearl Street • Brooklyn, NY 11201 Tel: 718.852.1029 • brooklynfriends.org Joan Martin, Editor
Journal Volume XII | FALL 2014
A MESSAGE FROM
Dr. Larry Weiss Head of School
“Brilliant and dedicated teachers daily bring ideas, facts, ideals and values alive for the 857 students who fill our halls and classrooms this year with curiosity, intelligence, inquiry, and challenge.”
In last year’s Journal message, I was able to announce that a fullyexecuted 49-year lease for 40,000 square feet of space in a building at 116 Lawrence Street, which is part of the Metrotech campus, had been signed with the intent of building our new Upper School building. I’m now most pleased to let you know that construction on our new building is well underway, and BFS is on-schedule to open our free-standing Upper School, built for a capacity of 240 students, in time for the upcoming 2015-16 school year. For at least 15 years, the physical growth and development of the Upper School was subordinated to the expansion needs of other divisions. We are now in a position to right the balance of our ship and place our high school students and their faculty in the lead positions they deserve. We can, at last, provide the Upper School with a worthy facility. Upper School construction comes on the heels of the successful completion of three major peer-review accreditation visits over the past two years. In the early months of 2013, we learned that BFS was enthusiastically approved for continuing membership in the Friends Council of Education (FCE) as one of the first schools to participate in FCE’s Membership Renewal Process. A comprehensive Quaker SelfStudy, completed the previous year, was one of the central requirements of the process. Preparation for an even more important accreditation, our Decennial Accreditation Review by the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) required a Self-Study that was far more complex and involved every constituency in our community. After the
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At the groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility, from left, Eve Bromberg '15, Airenakhue Omoragbon '15, Larry Weiss, Jonathan Bach '15, and Board Co-chairs Bradford Mulder '83 and Lara Holliday
Finally, this October, an examination team from the International Baccalaureate (IB) organization reviewed the performance of our IB Diploma Program in the Upper School over the past five years. While we still await their final written report, the oral exit report they gave at the end of their visit was exceptionally positive.
D ivision heads, from left, Sara Soll (Family Center); Bob Bowman (Upper School); Jackie Condie (Lower School); Barry Davis (Middle School); and Maura Eden (Preschool)
Decennial Visiting Committee, chaired by Richard Wade (the recently retired, long‑time Head of School of Germantown Friends School), visited BFS from April 6-9, 2014, we received a very positive written report in May that indicated officially that our Pre-K through 12th grade accreditation has been renewed for the next decade.
D irector of Enrollment Karine Blemur-Chapman (left) with Capital Campaign Chairs Allison Dunn and Mark Dunn
During a year in which the strength of our identity as a Friends school was affirmed and celebrated, it is appropriate that we let our institutional life speak forcefully about our commitment to the continuous improvement of our academic program, our deep engagement with Quaker values, and the pursuit of excellence and humanity in every aspect of the work we do with our students and their families. The pages of the Journal that await your perusal contain evidence of the marvelous variety of our students’ work and dreams, as well as descriptions of brilliant and dedicated teachers who daily bring ideas, facts, ideals and values alive for the 857 students who fill our halls and classrooms this year with curiosity, intelligence, inquiry, and challenge. These students and teachers – supported by administrators, staff, coaches, and parents – form the loving learning community about which our accreditation teams have been so laudatory.
COLLEGE PREP at its Finest by Lekeia Varlack Judge ‘99
Early in the 2014-15 school year, I attended an Upper School Coffee Hour that formally introduced Senior Class parents to the College Counseling Office. As the Director of Alumni, I went to show my support of BFS’ college team as well as to connect with parents and students before they become alumni to show them support during this critical period in their high school lives. As I sat in the BFS Quaker meetinghouse, waiting for all of the senior parents to file in, I had a brief flashback about my own college application process and how many anxiety-producing thoughts I had such as – Where do I begin? What do colleges look for in an applicant? Where should I apply? The questions were endless. Luckily this senior class has new Director of College Counseling Terry Kung and Associate Director Tiffany Huggins to help them navigate this daunting process. After their introductions, Terry and Tiffany’s vision for the college guidance program was described in detail. Then guest speaker Peter Johnson, Director of Admissions at Columbia University, shared his expertise as an experienced admissions officer. Following the presentation, they addressed the questions and concerns of the upper school parents. Peter Johnson, an admissions expert and former judge on ABC’s 2005 academic competition show The Scholar, provided valuable information from an insider’s perspective, which helped to alleviate some fears and concerns. By the end of the presentation, we had all been thoroughly educated on the application process, both the basics and the changes, based on the trends in education. It is this type of pre-college preparation and access to seasoned professionals that reinforce the confidence parents and students have in the Brooklyn Friends College Counseling Office.
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No matter the challenge, they know their children are in the right hands. If there was one underlying concept of Peter’s presentation, it was “find the school that best suits you and focus on your path, for that is where you will excel.” This message mirrors the Quaker philosophy of discovering and celebrating the inner light of each individual. Adopting this bespoke approach to the application process ensures that each institution the students decide to apply to will be thoughtfully selected to fit their individual academic and social needs. I can personally attest to the importance of tailoring your college choice to your personality. Part of the reason why I loved my alma mater Wesleyan University so much was because I felt like it was not just a great school but also the right school for me. I know if any of the variables changed, I wouldn’t have benefitted as much from my educational experience. After the Coffee Hour, I had the opportunity to speak with Director of College Counseling Terry Kung about the vision of the College Office “I would like to add that it is my imperative as the Director of College Counseling to innovate our programming. There is so much information surrounding the college process that it’s easy to be overwhelmed and be misinformed,” she said. As such, it’s my goal to help BFS families be empowered by good and useful information, not just during the junior and senior year but also throughout high school and middle school. Inviting experts in the field to share experiences and information is just the start.” This was a great start to what is sure to be a successful year of college guidance and placement. I genuinely look forward to seeing the colleges our senior class will attend, even if it’s not Wesleyan.
From left, seniors Samantha Liebeskind and Bianca Rhea with Tiffany Huggins, Associate Director of College Counseling
“Find the school that best suits you and focus on your path, for that is where you will excel.” PETER JOHNSON DIRECTOR OF ADMISSIONS AT COLUMBIA UNIVERSITY 5
hakespeare on the on the PAGE
by Elizabeth Heck, BFS English Department
It’s been said that the key to understanding and appreciating Shakespeare is great teaching. How lucky for BFS students. Their English and theater teachers not only love Shakespeare and teaching, but they were recently trained by acting professionals to bring the Bard from page to stage. Teachers love teaching; it’s why we do what we do, and English teachers, so the stereotype goes, love Shakespeare. This proved true during the English Department’s professional development day with The Acting Company on October 8, 2014. The Acting Company extended this invitation after Brooklyn Friends School students attended performances of their production of Hamlet at The Pearl Theater with our 11th and 12th graders last spring. English department chair, Rachel Mazor, eagerly accepted The Acting Company’s invitation to provide a free interactive workshop for teaching Shakespeare’s 6 Journal · Fall 2014
plays to middle and upper school students with enthusiastic support from the school’s administration, Rachel gathered the 7th-12th grade English and Theater teachers together at the same time and same place – not an easy feat with busy schedules and commitments. We spent a full day happily camped out in the third floor conference room sharing teaching strategies for engaging students with the language and characters of Shakespeare. It was an amazing opportunity to spend quality time with each other discussing what we love about our craft and subject; too often our regular meetings can get eaten up by important logistical conversations, and this was time dedicated solely to improving our understanding of Shakespeare, as well as our teaching of it. Actively learning from each other, as well as from the two excellent facilitators from The Acting Company, teacher Paul Fontana and actor/teaching artist
Christian Conn, the workshop examined the myriad ways to make Shakespeare accessible and appropriately challenging for students of various ages. We had a truly great time sharing lesson plans, theories about theme and character within the plays, and activities that get students (and us!) up and acting out the language and stories. For some of us, this was an effective deepening of an already long history of teaching Shakespeare. For others of us, this was the perfect introduction to a new topic; Kathleen Clinchy (5th and 8th grade English teacher) reflected, “The Shakespeare workshop was really enlightening and exciting to me since I don’t have a huge amount of experience teaching Shakespeare. I am really enthused about introducing the drama with the games we played at the start of the day. I think it will help students feel that Shakespeare is not an overwhelming read, that much of what is written is up for your personal interpretation, and this will allow 8th graders to feel more confidence in reading and analyzing drama! I also can’t wait to do close readings of small excerpts-word by word analysis; there’s not much better.”
This company has staged a lively and innovative version of this classic; the students were delighted by the performance, and captivated by the talk-back with the actors and director following the show. Our students engaged with the Titan Theater Company members in conversation about how various choices in presenting characters and staging scenes are made to convey a particular interpretation and vision of a given play. It also happened to be a beautiful day and the 9th graders chatted, skipped, and laughed as we walked through the park to the theater, and enjoyed lunch in the park after the show. As this fantastic class of bright and creative young adults gets to know each other, they are sharing not just who they are with each other, but how they learn and see the world as well. And the English Department has, once again, experienced that bringing the resources of New York City to us, as well as venturing with our students out into all corners of the boroughs, deepens our study of literature, as well as heightening our joy in that study.
After this energizing day of professional development, Sidney Bridges, Megan Schumacher, Vanessa Ehler (Upper School Spanish teacher), and I were able to extend our Shakespeare immersion as we had serendipitously (as often happens in Shakespearean comedies!) planned to take the entire 9th grade to The Queens Theater in Corona Park to see The Titan Theater Company’s production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream on Thursday, October 9.
Bringing the resources of New York City to us, as well as venturing with our students out into all corners of the boroughs, deepens our study of literature, as well as heightening our joy in that study. 7
Science Students Join the
AQUACULTURATI of New York City
by Jeffrey Stanley
On a beautiful New York City day in early October, eighth grade science students and their teachers – Janet Villas, Kevin Cooney, and Science Chair Blake Sills – made their first trek of the school year to Brooklyn Bridge Park to hoist up one of several cages of live oysters to examine and report on them. This very hands-on field trip was made possible by the Billion Oyster Project, a 20-year environmental and educational plan to restore a billion oysters to New York Harbor. The habitat restoration project aims to “make our city a healthier and more resilient place to live,” according to the organization’s website. Partners include the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. “All of the middle school will participate in this project,” explained Ms. Villas, “starting with the eighth grade, and then advisory by advisory down to the 5th grade
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in May. We skip January and February due to the cold killing the oysters if they are taken out of the water.” Every science class will take turns and make the trip multiple times. “We’re monitoring their health and growth as well as sea conditions. If a site is toxic to the oysters, they will be moved.” Oysters are the keystone species and original ecosystem engineers of New York Harbor. Oyster reefs once covered more than 220,000 acres of the estuary and hundreds of miles of shoreline. At this scale, oysters provided massive ecological benefits including continuous water filtration, habitat for thousands of marine species, and wave attenuation.” If the large-scale project succeeds, our students can look back on these photos in 2033 while they’re frolicking with their own kids in the Hudson on one of Manhattan’s lovely new beaches, and know they played a small part – along with the oysters – in the water’s restoration. “Oysters are filter feeders and a billion oysters would clean all of New York Harbor three times
a day,” said Ms. Villas, an environmental systems specialist. Until then, incorporating the Billion Oyster Project’s offerings into a Middle School science curriculum has other, more immediate goals. “Our students will learn to love the waterfront instead of fearing it,” said Janet. “They’ll learn to do real science and real field work which means careful, repetitive work. They’ll feel like they have made a difference in their environment.” And perhaps most importantly, “Oysters are cool.” Did You Know? Oysters also have a connection to the name of the street that BFS calls home. Before landfills left it several blocks inland, the area that is now Pearl Street in Lower Manhattan was the shore of the East River, referred to by locals as “the strand.” At that time, it was virtually paved with oyster shells that washed up from the water, which gave off a beautiful shine from the mother-of-pearl inside them. Pearl Street in Brooklyn was named after Pearl Street in the borough of Manhattan.
BFS students hit a home run – make that a grand slam – in the 2014 National Latin Exam. More than 60 scholars received awards in categories ranging from Introduction to Latin to Latin Poetry IV. Three students had perfect scores on their exams, with advanced students Cindy Chen ’14 and Maya Kaul ’15 earning Gold Summa Cum Laude honors.
The annual dance concert, three major stage productions, as well as winter and spring chorus, jazz, and orchestra concerts celebrated the vitality of the BFS Performing Arts program and showcased student talent and exemplary teaching and learning. Students presented the Jonathan Larson musical Rent, Sophocles’ tragedy Antigone, and Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing, which time-traveled to the 1940s. International Baccalaureate (IB) students presented music concerts, original plays and Oscar Wilde’s comedy, The Importance of Being Earnest.
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It was a very The Upper School Model United Nations delegation was in top form at the Ivy League conference in Philadelphia and at the Dalton Model UN, where the BFS team won the Best Large Delegation award. Six of the nine BFS delegates received individual commendations at the two conferences.
In addition to transforming the school’s corridors and walls into art galleries on a daily basis, the Visual Arts Department organized a stunning All-School Art Show and the International Baccalaureate (IB) Visual Arts Show.
Students had a terrific showing in the 2014 Scholastic Art and Writing Awards with writers and artists winning six gold keys, 13 silver keys, and 15 honorable mentions; Elinor Hills ’14 earned a coveted National Gold Medal in Photography. Works in this nationally renowned program are judged on originality, technical skill, and the emergence of personal vision or voice.
And We’r a Great Star • Groundbreaking for the new Upper School building on Sept. 17 • BFS participation in the People’s Climate March on Sept. 21 • Newbery Award-winning Author Paul Fleischman at BFS on Sept. 24 • Mandarin in 8th grade as part of the World Languages curriculum
• New iPad Program in the Lower School – 160 iPads deployed in every Kindergarten-Grade 4 classroom • STEM and Programming focus in technology classes in the Middle School • Dan Zanes Concert for the Lower School on October 24
• Launch of One Book/One BFS community reading in the Upper School
• U NITE Mentoring Program for Alumni and Upper School students
• New 10th Grade Computer Programming elective and a new Computer Programming “After 3” class
•G uys and Dolls, the middle and upper school musical in November
y good year! Fifteen Upper and Middle School students participated in the NYC Scholastic Chess Championship in May and student leaders organized the first Family Chess Night at BFS in the spring. (Chess is played before school begins, at lunchtime, and during afterschool hours at BFS.)
Twenty-five fourth graders worked together and succeeded as team members of Destination Imagination, a projectbased educational pro gram fostering creativity and innovation in students. BFS won the instant challenge and placed 2nd in competition with other peer independent schools at a local tournament.
re Having rt to 2014-15 • Fourth, Fifth and Sixth grade overnight trips to Nature’s Classroom (new venue) • New 10th grade Service and Justice Seminar: Exploring Parallel Struggles with C.A.R.E. • First Upper School “Community Issues Conference” on Nov. 6 • New Upper School Writing Center • Kindergarten and First Grade Author Visit with Tad Hills (BFS parent) and creator of Duck and Goose and Rocket book series on Oct. 9
• The Middle School’s division-wide theme of Stewardship with a focus on stewardship of the school building, planet Earth, and the people in our community and world. • A Brooklyn-themed Winter Fest, Craft Fair and Book Fair on Dec. 6 • Four athletic championships in the Fall 2014 season: Girls Varsity Volleyball, Girls JV Volleyball, Girls Varsity Soccer, and Boys Varsity Soccer, and home soccer games at the magnificent Brooklyn Bridge Park on the NYC waterfront.
NBC-TV Nightly News came to BFS when journalist Rehema Ellis presented a report, “Dear Mom, Here’s What I Want You to Know.” The May 9th Mother’s Day story was a celebration of Brooklyn Friends School kindergarten students and the ways in which they honored their mothers for the holiday; it may be viewed on the BFS website (brooklynfriends.org/ community)
A group of eighth graders represented BFS in a Brooklyn MATHCOUNTS competition, a national mathematics program that promotes mathematical thinking and achievement through a series of challenging and engaging contests. Third and fourth graders participated in the Lower School’s annual Math and Science Day, working their way through 24 different problemsolving stations managed by Middle School students.
The Athletics program had an extraordinary year, beginning with championships for the Girls Varsity Soccer team and Girls JV Volleyball team, and continuing through the spring with an unprecedented season and championship in the inaugural season of the Boys Varsity Volleyball team. The Friendly Flyers youth running club (grades 3-6) had 60 runners, and the PE Plus and Athletics Plus skill-building programs trained students in soccer, squash, swimming, and gymnastics.
ALUMNI Class Notes by Lekeia Varlack Judge ’99
1960s & 1970s Former FDA Chief Scientist Dr. Jesse Goodman ’69 was recently appointed to Georgetown University Medical Center as the founding director of its Center of Medical Product Access, Safety and Stewardship, which focuses on both US and global health practices and procedures. His medical expertise has led him to be one of the top voices on the international Ebola crisis, with insightful features on CNN, USA Today, and most recently participating in the WTOP-FM radio live town hall meeting, held in Washington, DC. They say a picture is worth a thousand words, and alum Eric Drooker ’77’s New Yorker cover illustration depicting the events in Ferguson, Missouri, proved that point. As a veteran illustrator, Eric’s works have been featured on dozens of covers of the popular magazines, but his powerfully striking portrayal on the September 1st issue captured the important and urgent matters we face as a nation. E-mail your news to email@example.com or telephone 718-852-1029 x208
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The school year began for the Upper School with a special discussion about the summer reading assignment, Anne Fadiman’s The Spirit Catches You and You Fall Down led by alum and class agent Stephen Magagnini’ 72. Stephen shared his experiences with the Hmong people in order to further our knowledge and appreciation for their culture. His personal story helped shed light and added contextual value for the readers of the book. Thanks Stephen!
Summertimes are made for weddings and this one was no different. On a hot day in July, Lekeia Varlack married Kyle Judge, her boyfriend of 10 years, on a beachside ceremony in Barbados, WI. The beautiful wedding was attended by plenty of friends and family, including a few BFS alums, her sister Lisa Varlack Betts’ 87, nephews Justin and Jordan Betts ’23 and friends Samia Zahran’08 and Hannah Janal ‘99. It was truly a dream come true! In other wedding news, congrats to Ginseng Torres- Chae ’01 on her recent nuptials. Her wedding was attended by several alums including Jasmin Rosario’ 01, Anand Vora ‘01 and Heather Freudenthal ‘01. Best wishes for the newlyweds!
1980s, 1990s, 2000s
Activism at it best! BFS Alums Jazelyn Montanez ’98, Claudia Lewis ’88, Aleshia Anthony ’01, and Brad Albert ’86 gathered with an impressive group of current students, faculty and parents to show strength in numbers for the People’s Climate March. The BFS group joined the other 300,000 participants from all over the world to march in the name of Eco-awareness and change. Raising awareness about an important issue, fellow alum Gardiner Comfort ‘98 cocreated and performs in the one man show, The Elephant in Every Room I Enter, which details his experience traveling to Washington, DC to attend the Tourette Syndrome Association National Conference and what happened when he encountered others who share the same neurological disorder. Featured at the legendary theater company Mabou Mines, Gardiner’s performance is described as an “erratic and energetic performance style (a nod to Tourette’s itself)” where he shares his life as an actor with Tourette Syndrome. Great work Gardiner!
In sports news, Shelby Cummings ‘07 and Edson Elcock ‘03 continue with the BFS athletic program this year as soccer coaches. Edson also teaches Physical Education classes at BFS. It’s always great when alums get involved – let’s bring home the victory!
It has been a busy summer for Asha Boston ’10 and it seems like she’s just getting started. Between co-founding the UNITE Mentorship program at BFS, interning at VIBE magazine and producing her own film, The Dinner Table Documentary, this aspiring media mogul is on her way to greatness! We look forward to see what’s next!
Let’s congratulate Amara Granderson ‘13 for her stand-out performance in Romeo and Juliet at the Classical Theatre of Harlem. Described as “creative” and “invigorating” by The Huffington Post, this production was a refreshing, modern day take on the Shakespearean classic. Those who were lucky enough to see Amara’s performance said it was reminiscent of the times she graced the Brooklyn Friends stage. Congrats Amara!
IN MEMORIAM Lewis Rutherfurd Morris (former teacher) James Bawden ‘47 Robert A. McMillian, 57 Debbie Fox Diamond ‘72
Lawrence James ’97 by Jeffrey Stanley
“If you have a dream or If you believe it, Philadelphia-based Internet entrepreneur Lawrence James ‘97 entered BFS in 6th grade as an admittedly rowdy kid. The future dot-com innovator discovered computers, literally inside and out, and that knowledge carried him to places he never imagined at the time. “I came in 6th grade from public school. I was born in Flatbush. My father passed when I was three. It was a very tough neighborhood. People were getting killed literally in front of our house. When my father died he left us with some money, so we bought a coop in Park Slope when I was about six.” Lawrence James ‘97, today an innovative and successful web entrepreneur, joked that he switched to BFS because, he said, “My mom said she wanted to calm me down and smooth me out.” At the time, though, he was not amused. “I was completely unhappy. It was a different subculture. It was cool to be disruptive in the school I had come from. At BFS it was cool to get good grades and be smart. It took me about a year and a half to make that transition,” he said. “Finally, I became competitive about the right things.” By the end of 7th grade, Lawrence was thriving at the school. “Director of Technology Greg George would be number one,” he said when asked to name some particularly influential teachers here. “I had a keen interest in computers when I got to BFS but I didn’t have a computer yet. I hugged Greg George’s hip. I learned about hardware; I learned how to build my own computer from him. I became a programmer because he got me started in the field with an independent study. He was my first and only technology mentor, and it lasted from 6th grade through the 12th grade.” Lest you get the idea that Lawrence was a computer nerd, he’s quick to point out his other passion while at BFS. “I was captain, point guard, and I’m still very much into playing basketball,” he said. “I remember I was a freshman and played some varsity games. I used to be,” he confided, “really good. I played on JV and varsity at the same time. Basketball and computers were my life entirely.”
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a passion, then all things are possible. there’s nothing that you can’t accomplish. LAWRENCE JAMES ’97 After graduation, this computer and hoops wiz kid attended Drexel University, well-known for its computing and IT programs, to major in Computer Information Systems. “[Upper School Science teacher, now faculty alum] Hyacinth Foster put that in my ear as a school to consider.”
Word spread. “It doesn’t have to be my church. It doesn’t have to be a church at all. It can be anywhere.” Naturally the Internet lends itself well to the “anywhere” component of his international prayer group concept. Today Lawrence is working in his spare time on expanding Prayerconnexus to a Facebook platform.
During his third year at Drexel, Lawrence got antsy. Graduation seemed an eternity away. His entrepreneurial spirit took over and he started his first company, onstreets.com. “We built an online web portal for business districts in Philadelphia. They could log in and create their own web pages, post events. It was all geared toward driving economic traffic to a given community.” Mind you, this was back in 1999 when web portals were a new concept and the Internet wasn’t literally an arm’s length away for everyone.
Since graduating from Drexel he has continued to live in Philadelphia. “I love my son, my wife, and my newborn baby daughter,” he boasted. “I love to go camping and to experience the world with my family.” A longtime fan of flight simulator video games, he’s now taking the passion into real life. “I’m working on getting my pilot’s license.”
“When I graduated from Drexel I ended that and started another company,” he explained. “I like where my feet hit the ground.” That company, Connexus Technology, LLC, [connexustechnology.com] today has two divisions. “One focuses on IT staffing for healthcare. We support Blue Cross, hospitals, and pharmaceutical companies. On the other hand, we have a product called Healthtrack. It’s a disease management tool, a portal that allowed coordination of care between specialty pharmacists [those who treat specific, chronic ailments], patients and doctors.” A third element of the company resides quietly in the background; this is prayerconnexus.com, a group prayer management tool. “In my early 20s I joined a church in Philadelphia and I joined the prayer team,” he said. “I’m a believer, I’m a Christian, I believe in Jesus. I observed how the prayer team was sharing prayer requests with each other by email. And they couldn’t keep track of, ‘Mary Sue’s in the hospital and we want her to get better,’ and lots of other requests going back and forth. So I got in touch with the team leader and offered to build a portal.”
Do so-called “Quaker values” still have a place in his life? “I was kind of a rowdy, interesting kid,” he reflected. Even before BFS his mom thought Quaker education might be the right path for him. “My mom sent me to a Quaker camp in third grade. The Quaker theme has been with me for a long time. I love the peace, the forgiveness, the love, the reflection that emanates from those Quaker values that I think mankind could do so much more with. When I think of Quaker values I think of nonviolent social justice and equal rights – those are all things that I’m about.” Lawrence’s advice to the current generation of BFS students: “If you have a dream or a passion, then all things are possible. If you believe it, there’s nothing that you can’t accomplish. I see that resonate in my life every day: the start my mother and I had after my father died, how far God has allowed us to travel at this point. We have big visions and we believe that nothing is impossible. Follow your dreams.” He also offers a piece of practical advice. “Realize that your relationships at BFS are not going to end, even if you don’t keep in touch through college. I’ve very recently been in touch with BFS alums and we’re making plans to work together. You’re going to be able to reconnect and do big things together. Value and cherish those relationships now. They’re worth more than gold.”
CHECKING IN WITH
by Rachel Webber, Executive Director and Caroline Segarra, Program Director
Horizons at Brooklyn Friends School recently completed its seventh summer of academics and enrichment. Our exemplary staff of independent and public school teachers worked in conjunction with teaching artists and reading specialists to provide 102 Horizons students in grades K-6 with an unparalleled, comprehensive summer learning experience. They were assisted by a group of 15 volunteers, comprised of BFS upper school students, alumni of the Beginning with Children Foundation, and members of the local community. Committed to meeting the academic and social-emotional needs of all our students, we are continually striving to strengthen the various curricular elements of Horizons at BFS. This summer our program-wide theme focused on Healthy Living and Healthy Lifestyles, which allowed teachers and students many opportunities to collectively create healthy recipes, exercise, play whole group games, cook with healthy ingredients, and learn a great deal about how our body works and is affected by what we consume. In addition to our healthy unit studies, teachers used data collected at the start of the program to inform their literacy and math instruction and to design targeted, instructional groups that addressed specific skills in literacy and math. Novel studies, read alouds, close reading of non-fiction, and literacy games were incorporated into our teaching, and with the support of two reading specialists, 16 Journal · Fall 2014
Ellen Cookson and Kamauru Johnson, those Horizons students for whom school is most challenging were afforded even more targeted support in a small group, separate setting. An exciting addition to our program offering for middle school Horizons students was a focus on STEM-based learning, funded by the Heckscher Foundation and supported by 6th Grade teachers Chris Guidarelli and Soledad Maurice. Students in our 6th grade class benefited from STEM-based learning opportunities, which included KNEX engineering, Computer Coding, and an in-depth study of the digestive system and germ transfer. Fieldbased learning opportunities inspired by the STEM initiative were also present in our younger grades, where 2nd Graders visited the Brooklyn waterfront and tested water samples and K, 1st, 3rd, and 4th graders visited the Children’s Museum of Manhattan’s “Eat, Sleep, Play” exhibit. Healthy cooking was heavily incorporated into our learning as well, with 4th graders shopping for natural ingredients at Brooklyn Fare supermarket, K-2 trips to local Farmer’s Markets and opportunities to taste-test and share honey, fruit kebabs, trail mix, hummus, quinoa salads, kale, basil, and pesto all made by Horizons students. Horizons at BFS has a rich and varied selection of enrichment opportunities for our students. Students in Kindergarten, 1st and 2nd Grades were exposed to West African Drumming, Dance through the Mark Morris Dance Group and Visual Arts classes. Our 3rd,
to get in the water are now diving gracefully off the diving boards, and participating in relay races in the pool.
4th, and 5th Graders enjoyed specialty classes such as Scratch Animation, Chorus, and Visual Art, and for the first time, our 6th Graders were given specialty options to choose from: Visual Art or Hip-Hop Songwriting, and Dance or Team Sports. For our veteran Horizons students, Jazz band is their culminating musical experience, who begin with dance and drumming, move on to chorus and recorder, and then begin jazz band when they enter 5th grade. The jazz band program started with “instrument picking day” in May, where each student received a short tutorial from our instructor, Jennifer Theilacker. During the Horizons program, students participated in band practice two times weekly during the regular Horizons day, as well as four times weekly during Horizons Plus, for a total of between four and six hours per week of instruction and practice.
After just six short weeks, our 5th and 6th grade band members expertly performed three songs for friends and parents at our Closing Ceremony. Students will continue band instruction and practice once a week during the school year in the Horizons Afterschool program at BFS. In addition, swimming continues to be one of our students favorite activities. Our oldest group of swimmers, who started out several years ago too afraid
We had many exciting visits this summer by our ardent supporters; new foundations as well as those who have supported us for several years and individuals who strongly believe in the good work we are doing at Horizons at BFS. Most notably was a visit from Carmen Fariña, NYC schools Chancellor, and Barbara Freeman, District 13 Superintendent. Both were duly impressed with the overall program and observed children who were fully engaged, productive and happy in their classrooms. Ms. Fariña actively supports the plan for expansion of Horizons programs at other Independent schools and colleges, with a focus on expansion in the borough of Brooklyn. She sees the Horizons model as a tremendous opportunity for both NYC public schools and Independent schools to share equitably, so all children have the same educational advantages. We thank all of our supporters and partners who have helped to make Horizons at BFS such a dynamic and thriving program: The Altman Foundation, The Heckscher Foundation, The Pinkerton Foundation, The Shoolman Foundation, The Snowflake Foundation, The Walentas Family Foundation, Brooklyn Community Foundation, Deutsche Bank, Horizons National, Forest City Ratner Companies, Topspin Charity, Long Island University Aquatics Dept., Mark Morris Dance Company, PS307, PS67 and PS8 and The Horizons at BFS Board of Trustees. Most of all we thank the entire BFS community, its parents, students, faculty and staff, with special thanks to Head of School Larry Weiss without whose commitment and support, Horizons at BFS would not be possible. 17
Service Learning & Community Building:
Perfect Together at Brooklyn Friends School by Jeffrey Stanley Maura Eden, a member of the BFS faculty for 12 years and parent of alums Daniel ’06 and Anna ’10, begins her fourth year as the Head of the Preschool in the 2014-15 academic year. One of her primary initiatives thus far has been to connect Preschool learning with younger kids in the Family Center and older kids in the Lower School. “I’m seeking a unified, one-school vision consistent with our Head of School’s vision,” she explained. “We often talk about the school in terms of divisions – Lower School, Middle School, Upper School. I don’t think we should be using the word division. We’re one school.” This year, Maura hopes to build upon this communitybuilding effort by using it as a foundation for stronger service learning. She explained that the two concepts are inextricably linked. A stronger sense of community creates an environment for service learning. To accomplish this, she’s urging the expansion of ideas 18 Journal · Fall 2014
that originated with her own teachers. “We’re moving on having the ideas of the teachers come more fully to life. We’re actually looking to take things out of the curriculum to give more time for building community.” Maura explained that the preschool teachers successfully add more and more exciting community building projects each year. “They incorporate projects they have designed themselves, or learned from teachers in previous years, or learned from colleagues in other schools. This has caused the curriculum to be very full. Sometimes it seems rushed, so we are now examining why we do each unit and each project. How do we get to know the kids in the best way possible?” The solution? Slow down, and dive more deeply into selected topics. As part of that endeavor, Preschool Fours Head Teacher Lisa Ventry spent time in July in Rensselearville, NY attending a workshop led by Cathryn
"The first step is learning how to take care of each other with knowledge and empathy.” MAURA EDEN HEAD OF PRESCHOOL Berger Kaye, MA, author of the acclaimed book The Complete Guide to Service Learning: Proven, Practical Ways to Engage Students in Civic Responsibility, Academic Curriculum & Social Action.
in the evolution of schoolwide service learning,” said Natania. “We have faculty representatives from each division.” Last May, author Berger Kaye also came to the school to advise this newly formed committee.
Berger’s Summer Service Learning Institute: Meeting the Needs of 21st Century Youth, was a three-day course. “It focused on the ways in which educators can integrate service learning into their classrooms,” said Lisa. “For example, we talk a lot about the classroom community at the beginning of the school year. The conversation usually extends to include the broader school community.”
“Service learning in the Preschool starts in the classroom,” stressed teacher Laura. “We do a lot of community-building through a social-emotional lens, which is an important developmental area in young children. We remind them to take care of each other by respecting one another, learning how to maintain and sustain a community by being inclusive, working together in taking care of the classroom and cleaning up as a team, and taking a small amount of a snack at a time to make sure everyone gets enough.” Preschool teachers also spend time acknowledging everyone else in the BFS community, not just the adults in their own classrooms. For instance, they learn to greet the maintenance staff when they see them and learn their names. Maintenance staff are also invited into the classroom to read to and talk to the children. Activities like this help achieve this idea of acknowledging everyone in their community and expanding their view of the school environment and the world they live in.
Preschool Head Maura Eden with children taking care of Clowny Arthur the fish
Lisa and Maura are currently considering ways of diving deeper into that unit. “After exploring the idea – identifying who is in our school community, selecting people to interview and finding out what they do – the class might decide to create an informational book about the people in our school to give to incoming families.” Meanwhile Preschool Assistant Teacher Laura Obuobi and Preschool Afterschool Head Teacher Claudia Lewis are working closely with BFS Director of Service Learning Natania Kremer on other ideas for the Preschool, and both teachers will serve on the new schoolwide Service Learning Committee spearheaded by Natania. “We’re bringing together a group to be engaged
As part of this emphasis on community awareness, Preschoolers engage with Lower and Middle School students through the Buddy Program. “They get to learn and interact with older kids, and it’s another opportunity to expose them to other people outside their usual realm of interaction,” explained Laura. Preschoolers then return the favor, as it were, by engaging with the even younger students in the Family Center through the Room to Grow project. “Every year in the fall the Preschool children donate books, toys and clothes they no longer use or need to a women’s shelter in New York City,” said Laura. “They help decorate the collection boxes which are placed in the main floor of the Preschool so they can see the boxes fill up with the things they donate. It makes it concrete to them.” The situation is similar when Preschoolers join with Lower School students for the annual Penny Harvest, in which the children bring in coins and pour them into a huge jar to see it they can fill it up. “They’re usually 19
partnered up with their Buddy class to make it more exciting and feel like a communal effort.” Maura elaborated more. “What do we mean by service in the Preschool? We think about empathy, sharing, creating community. For young children it begins with their own environment. It used to be believed that young kids don’t feel empathy but that’s now been discounted.” She gave a precise example from the curriculum. “Let’s say we’re doing a unit on trees. We teach the kids that trees are important but we also link it to the Quaker values of care and stewardship. But what we’re asking ourselves right now is, are we going deep enough, giving them more time to explore? We talk a lot about community at BFS but that sounds a little touchyfeely,” said Maura, “and it’s not clear how it relates to academics. Fundamentally, students learn when they feel comfortable exploring and forming relationships.” Aside from the Buddy Program there is also some academic crossover with the Lower School, especially with community-building in the 4th grade curriculum. “This idea of deepening children’s understanding of needs and perspectives in our community, continues to expand,” said Lower School Head Jackie Condie. “For instance, teacher Bea Bartolotta’s leadership and implementation of the Heights and Hills program has been terrific.” The fourth graders began working with Heights and Hills, a Brooklyn-based nonprofit serving the elderly, several years ago. “Their Volunteer Director, Betsy Guttmacher, initially came to BFS and conducted a lesson with the kids where they were able to experience some of the challenges that people face as they age,” explained Bea. “The kids were partnered up and given an ‘aging kit’ – it included glasses smeared with Vaseline, a child-proof pill container filled with Tic Tacs, and a change purse filled with coins they needed to sort. Two of their fingers were also taped together to simulate arthritis. Following the activity, there was a discussion of the experience that allowed the kids to have a more genuine understanding of the day-to-day struggles of older people.” As this unit became a regular part of the curriculum it also evolved, with students making personalized birthday cards for elderly members of Heights and Hills, and a pen pal program. “It was a great opportunity to engage in the lost art of letter writing,” Bea added, “Learning how to 20 Journal · Fall 2014
Fourth graders with their friends from Heights and Hills
read carefully and respond to what the person is telling you about themselves, and writing a thoughtful response is an important lesson.” At the end of last year, the 4th grades hosted a “meet and greet” during the annual BFS student art show for students to meet their pen pals in person and visit the art show together. “It’s challenging to get them all here, and many couldn’t make it, but many did and it’s a pretty special day for all involved. This year we’re thinking about how to best move forward.” On a more global scale, community-building in Social Studies takes the form of what the fourth grade faculty informally call “the explorers unit.” It usually starts with the “discovery” of New York by Henry Hudson in 1609, Bea explained. “Culminating in our year-end study of the settling of New Amsterdam, we look at various explorers, starting with Marco Polo and moving through time to cover Columbus and several of the Spanish Conquistadors,” she said. “Given the time period we’re studying, the focus is obviously very European and we make sure to not just present this side of the story, but also give the kids a sense of the native peoples these explorers encountered and the impact they had.” Such explorations have led to study of the Aztec and Inca civilizations obliterated by European contact. “This year we’re making a conscious effort to include non-European explorers, including the 13th century Moroccan Muslim explorer Ibn Battuta.” Maura summed up her overall vision for the coming years in the Preschool, and the entire school community: “Across the board kids are under a lot of pressure. It’s important that they learn in an environment where they are relaxed. The first step is learning how to take care of each other with knowledge and empathy.”
Brooklyn Friends Fund Committee 2014-2015 Parent Committee Chair Sabrina LeBlanc Vice Chairs Amanda Atlas Michael Farkas Megan Hertzig-Sharon Ty Kaul Isa Moneypenny Ingrid Restrick Daniel Schorr Eric Sillman Mary Ann Adolf Monifa Bandele Mark Baillie Ellen Barker Andrea Basham Mary Beech Steve Burwell and Heidie Joo-Burwell Andrea Compton Tara Consi Mark and Allison Dunn Markos and Domingue Emmanouel
M. Salomé Galib Stefan and Katie Gerard Lara Holliday Macon Jessop David Kim and James Logatto Jody Kipper Sam Laybourne and Herran Bekele Howard Levitt and Nathalie Sommer Ron Lieber Jeffrey Moore and Monica Vaughn-Moore Jocelyn Morse-Farmerie Matthieu McAuliffe Brad Mulder ’83 Danae Oratowski Jake Ottman and Lauryn Small Robert Restrick Matt Rogers Brian Schmidt and Laura Frerer-Schmidt Bill Siegmund and Lucy Hart Liz Sipes-Liebeskind Andrew Stoll Eisa Ullen-Richardson Ilse Werther
Kay Wilson Stallings Alumni Committee Niel Isbrandtsen Rising ’43 Lawrence Blum ’47 Barbara Rothenberg ’63 Edward Teter ’64 Ellen Ritz ’66 Mechele Flaum ’68 Richard Reiben ’71 Stephen Magagnini ’72 Mitch Zeller ’75 Dana Stone ’76 Muriel McClendon ’77 Jeremy Epstein ’78 Roger Best ’83 Elizabeth Maher ’84 Tomas Antony ’85 Betsey Calaman Cohen ’86 Susan Price ’86 Rachel Maurer ’87 Karim Camara ’88 Derek Lynch ’89 Asia Williams ’92 Meredith Erickson ’95 Crystal Backus ’96 Lawrence James ’97
Hannah Janal ’99 Lekeia Varlack ’99 Artesia Balthrop ’01 Anand Vora ’01 Alap Vora ’03 Kira O’Brien ’05 Alex Wallace ’05 Leah Krieble ’07 Michael McManus ’08 Shericka Campbell ’09 Ryan Ladouceur ’09 Asha Boston ’10 Krystal Smart ’11 Zoe Babian ’12 Jacob Ginsberg ’12 Spencer Morenko ’12 Faculty Committee Vanessa Ehler Camille Hewitt Fobbs Peta-Gaye Grey Karima Hassan Elizabeth Heck Ed Herzman Maricarmen Moreno Deborah Richman
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Board of Trustees
Lara Holliday, Co-Chair Bradford Mulder ’83, Co-Chair Margaret Bary Sarah Clarke Richard Cutler ’62 Raphael Davis Ed Herzman Seamus Henchy Dan Holton-Roth, Secretary Macon Jessop Hildemarie Ladouceur Mitch McEwen Catherine Ramey Shelley Ullman, Treasurer Barbara von Salis '07 Larry Weiss, Head of School, ex-officio Karen Edelman, Director of Advancement, ex-officio David E. Kleiser, Chief Financial Officer, ex-officio
Larry Weiss, Head of School Karine Blemur-Chapman, Director of Enrollment Bob Bowman, Head of Upper School Jacquelyn Condie, Head of Lower School Barry L. Davis, Head of Middle School Karen Edelman, Director of Advancement Maura Eden, Head of Preschool David Gardella, Athletic Director Greg George, Director of Technology David E. Kleiser, Chief Financial Officer Natania Kremer, Director of Service Learning Joan Martin, Director of Communications Mary Osorio, Executive Assistant tot he Head of School Lesly Pierre, Director of Facilities Sara Soll, Director of Family Center Orinthia Swindell, Acting Director of Diversity Whitney Thompson, Assistant Head of School/Dean of Faculty Rachel Webber, Executive Director of Horizons at Brooklyn Friends School
Violet Reimer, Class of 2020
Cameron Glassman, Class of 2019
BFS Fall 2014 Journal