T H E S TAY I N G P O W E R O F A B R O O K LY N F R I E N D S E D U C AT I O N
Journal SPRING 2018
Middle School thespians presented an outstanding adaptation of the classic fantasy story, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis on February 9 and 10, 2018. With a large cast featuring four adventurous siblings, a good and brave lion, and an evil and cruel witch, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe told a timeless story of love, faith, courage and giving. Photos and article at brooklynfriends.org/lionwitch
< P E R F O R M I N G A R T S AT B F S >
2 Message from Head of School Larry Weiss 4 Bringing Friends Together for 150 Years Why I Volunteer and Why I Give to the 8 Brooklyn Friends Fund 12 Natural Born Role-Models 15 Alumni Class Notes 16 Tribute to Mechele Plotkin Flaum ’68 17 Alumni Events 18 Alumni Profile: Burke Fitzpatrick ’72 20 From Tower to Table BROOKLYN FRIENDS SCHOOL JOURNAL
is published by the Advancement Office of Brooklyn Friends School for alumni, parents, grandparents, faculty, and friends. 375 Pearl Street • Brooklyn, NY 11201 Tel: 718.852.1029 • brooklynfriends.org Joan Martin, Editor Jeffrey Stanley, Staff Writer Karen Edelman, Director of Advancement Lekeia Varlack Judge’99, Director of Alumni Anna Ferber, Director of the Brooklyn Friends Fund Emily Cowles, Special Events and Digital Marketing Manager Peter Mackie, Advancement Assistant
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.
C O V E R : The Class of 2018 “Lifers” are ten students who have spent
all of their school days since early childhood at Brooklyn Friends. Clockwise from top left are Nia Lowe, Devante Dunbar, Lucy Smith, Molly Rosenbloom, Niamh Henchy, Joy Freund, Isabel Ullman, Michaela Guy, Amanda Becker, and Sophia Lipkin. Photo by Maxine Simons ’19.
A scene from the March 2018 Dance Concert, Deconstructing Ballet — An annual school tradition going back 39 years, the Dance Concert has the largest number of performers of any student production at the school. Photos and article at brooklynfriends.org/dc2018.
Journal SPRING 2018
A MESSAGE FROM
Dr. Larry Weiss Head of School
On March 6, 2018, the Board of Trustees announced that Head of School Larry Weiss would be retiring as of June 30, 2019 and that a search for a new Head of School would commence soon. Dedicated, determined, and with indefatigable energy, Larry has led Brooklyn Friends to new heights of excellence in every area of school operations since 2010. His overriding concern for what is best for students, his keen financial stewardship of the school, and his personal delight in being part of the Brooklyn Friends community, have been manifest throughout his tenure. With the Board’s announcement, Larry sent a message as well to the school community, which is printed at right: 2 BROOKLYN FRIENDS SCHOOL JOURNAL Spring 2018
With my deepest gratitude to the Board of Trustees and the BFS community, I was given the opportunity to return to Brooklyn Friends School in 2010 after a 31year absence. I offer my most profound thanks to those students, graduates, faculty and staff members, parents, grandparents, and Trustees with whom I had the special pleasure to work over the past eight years to achieve fulfillment of the highly ambitious goals of the 2008 and 2009 Strategic Plans for BFS. The Strategic Plans called for massive, school-wide growth and improvements in facilities, financial condition, enrollment, curriculum, working conditions, student support, diversity and inclusion in student, faculty, and administrative constituencies, and the institution-wide commitment to strengthen Quaker values and practices. The fulfillment of such ambitious goals would allow, and has in fact allowed, BFS to move from an environment of survival-mandated growth and development to long-term sustainability as a valued and respected member of the New York State Independent School, Friends Council on Education, and International Baccalaureate Organization constituencies. The challenges of achieving simultaneous enrollment growth (increasing more than 40% over the past eight years); comprehensive facilities improvement; and dramatic increases in capital and operational fundraising, all proved enormous. So, too, did the development of new academic initiatives. These included, to name just a few, K-12 Spanish language instruction and adding Mandarin to the curriculum; moving from Community Service to a nationally-recognized Service Learning and Civic Engagement program; expanding our Family Center for 2-year olds while quadrupling enrollment;
“Any accomplishments could never have been achieved without the prodigious commitments of faculty and staff talent, energy, and followthrough along with the strong support of a generation of generous, supportive, and welcoming parents.” and making a full commitment to the International Baccalaureate course curriculum for all 11th and 12th graders. Such accomplishments could never have been achieved without the prodigious commitments of faculty and staff talent, energy, and follow-through along with the strong support of a generation of generous, supportive, and welcoming parents. Having met such challenges, the BFS stage is now set to move from rapid expansion and growth to long-term sustainability. Such sustainability will require continuous improvement of school-wide academic programs and their delivery; a strengthened and endowed capital base; a comprehensive ongoing commitment to inclusion and social justice; and a student/faculty/parent culture that welcomes evolutionary change in a friendly and Friendly manner. In my own life, as I embark on a new decade when I retire from my Head of School position in 2019, sustainability will mean returning to my greatest sources of joy: my growing family that now includes three grandchildren, and the profession of teaching that I have continuously practiced since 1973 at the secondary, undergraduate, and graduate levels. The life of the mind, and the love of working with creative, challenging, and dedicated student hearts and minds, will always beckon. In friendship,
BFS at 150 Gala and Alumni Weekend
A celebration of our legacy of light
Friday, May 11, 2018 Anniversary Gala at the Brooklyn Museum with special guest Ken Burns, acclaimed documentary filmmaker and historian
Saturday, May 12, 2018 Alumni Day Activities at Brooklyn Friends School Learn more about supporting this milestone celebration, including leadership sponsor opportunities. Visit brooklynfriends.org/150gala ￼
Spring 2018 BROOKLYN FRIENDS SCHOOL JOURNAL 3
Bringing Friends Together for
150 YEARS A Sesquicentennial Celebration at the Brooklyn Historical Society by Joan Martin 4 BROOKLYN FRIENDS SCHOOL JOURNAL Spring 2018
BROOKLYN FRIENDS SCHOOL
150 Years of Light
There is something very special
about an educational institution that exhibits staying power for 150 years. On Monday evening, Jan. 29, 2018, that was very evident when Brooklyn Friends School held its third major Sesquicentennial event of the school year at the Brooklyn Historical Society, located at Pierrepont and Clinton Streets in Brooklyn Heights. There, some 200 members of the school community gathered in friendship to reconnect with one another, take part in the launch of a new school history book, 150 Years of Light, and view a museum exhibit with oral histories called “All That Dwell in the Light.” The 120-page book, Brooklyn Friends School: 150 Years of Light was a two-year labor of love for the author, Melanie Rehak, and the designer, Helene Benedetti. Both are longtime Helene Benedetti, Melanie Rehak, and Karen Edelman Brooklyn Friends parents. Another Friends parent, archivist Katie Bednark, was instrumental in professionally organizing more than 100 years of archival materials that became primary source materials for the book. Susan Price, ’86, assisted as the school’s first historian and Lekeia Varlack Judge, ’99 reached out to alumni. From the BFS Advancement Office, Emily Cowles and Karen Edelman coordinated all of the resources to make the book a reality. There’s another special community connection with the cover of the book. It is a watercolor painting of the first school building of Brooklyn Friends of the meetinghouse at 110 Schermerhorn Street continues on next page
Our keepsake Sesquicentennial history book, Brooklyn Friends School: 150 Years of Light, is a must-have for all who love history, the borough of Brooklyn, and Brooklyn Friends School. The book may be purchased online with a secure credit card payment at brooklynfriends.org/150-book; by mail (addressed to Advancement Office, BFS, 375 Pearl Street, with a check payment); or in person at 375 Pearl Street or at the May 11 Gala and May 12 Alumni Day. Notecards with the painting of the cover of the book are available for purchase too. Painted by Susan Greenstein, the cover and notecard depict the first school building of Brooklyn Friends, located at 110 Schermerhorn Street – a historic site still used by our community for Meeting for Worship. The cost is $25 per book and $10 for a pack of 5 notecards. Add $10 per book and $2 per pack of notecards for shipping. (There is no extra charge for books and notecards when purchased in person). A preview of the first chapter of the book is available at brooklynfriends.org/150-book. Spring 2018 BROOKLYN FRIENDS SCHOOL JOURNAL 5
Bringing Friends Together for 150 Years continued
by Susan Greenstein, an accomplished artist and longtime BFS Visual Arts teacher.
Salma McLaughlin ’20 and Lily Edelman ’20
Carl Petrosyan and Rebecca Krucoff
BFS Sesquicentennial Committee Chair M. Salomé Galib with Camilla Church Greene ‘60. Alumni Sesquicentennial Committee members Freddi Brown Carter ‘73, Karim Camara ‘88, Crystal Backus ‘96, Lekeia Varlack Judge ‘99 and Cassie Broadus Foote ‘01 were also in attendance.
“All That Dwell in the Light,” the museum exhibit, represented two years of planning, labor and collaboration. It began when students Lily Edelman ’20 and Salma McLaughlin ’20 conducted research and oral histories with five celebrated Brooklyn Friends School alumni representing five decades in the history of the school. Museum educator/historian Rebecca Krucoff guided the students, and designer Carl Petrosyan created the museum panels. The stories of the five alumni were told in video interviews conducted by the students, and in museum panels on display that evening. The alumni represented are Henry Altman, Class of 1940; Charles Rosenthal, Class of 1953; Camilla Church Greene, Class of 1960; Freddi Brown Carter, Class of 1973; and Dena Douglas, Class of 1983. The School was thrilled and honored that Camilla, Freddi, and Dena were in attendance at this special event.
Julie Jorsling, Julie Smore-Ehrlich, and Kelly Ault
Savitha Reddy, Marjorie McKinley Bhavnani ‘57, Seth Phillips ‘81, and Raoul Bhavnani
There also was a great turnout of alumni from the 1950s through the 2000s, with the group meeting beforehand at a local gathering hosted by Director of Alumni Lekeia Varlack Judge ’99. Quaker representation was strong as well, while both alumni parents and former faculty joined with current parents and teachers to celebrate. Other highlights of the evening included an impassioned speech by Head of School Larry Weiss about the strength of the school, its enduring Quaker values, and its robust standing in the community; a journey down memory lane with the Brooklyn Borough Historian, Ron Schweiger, acknowledgements from Director of Advancement Karen Edelman, and the beautiful music of the student Chamber Ensemble, led by their teacher Elvira Sullivan.
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Vivian Freund, Jill Holder, and Hi Song Kim
Elvira Sullivan, Breyten Neill ‘23, and Maya Holtham ‘20
, located in Downtown Brooklyn, was founded in the
Quaker tradition in 1867. The resolution from the Women’s Preparative Meeting to start the school was passed two weeks after John Roebling was given his commission to build the Brooklyn Bridge, Head of School Dr. Larry Weiss told the large crowd. A longtime student and teacher of history, Dr. Weiss drew connections between earlier generations at BFS and the school today. Despite numerous changes in political, social, and economic conditions, Quaker values live on, Dr. Weiss said.” Mary Frost
When BFS opened in the basement of the Brooklyn Meeting House on Schermerhorn Street, tuition was $12 per quarter for younger children and $15 for the older ones, both boys and girls. The school expanded from 1877 through the beginning of the 20th Century to the adjacent lots at 112, 114, and 116 Schermerhorn Street and incorporated a new high school building. From the 1920s through the late 1920s, the school owned and used Friends Field in the Midwood section of Brooklyn, which still operates as a NYC park. In 2015 BFS opened a 40,000 square foot facility for the Upper School at 116 Lawrence Street in MetroTech.”
From the Class of 1983, Bradford Mulder and Dena Douglas
Raymi Ramseur, Freddi Brown Carter ‘73, Camilla Church Greene ‘60, and Debra Edwards
Timothy O’Donnell, Minako and Ronald Haskins, and Lil Amatore
Steve Burwell with Michael Phillips
Lower school students viewing and listening to the oral histories
Sabrina LeBlanc with Cindy McBennett
From the Class of 2001, Desiree Tull, Anand Vora and Cassie Broadus Foote
Spring 2018 BROOKLYN FRIENDS SCHOOL JOURNAL 7
WHY I Volunteer to the Brooklyn
This year, the School is fortunate to have 45 parents who have dedicated their time and expertise to volunteering on behalf of the Brooklyn Friends Fund. Their fundraising, stewardship, and fostering of a Brooklyn Friends School education is essential to the success of the program and BFS. Learn more from a group of volunteer stewards about their motivation and the rewards of participating in the Fund.
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making BFS the best it can possibly be. I give to BFS, because I want to help, even though sometimes it is not easy.
Our family has loved being part of the BFS community the last two years. We are happy to support all that makes the school so special. I’ve also really enjoyed getting to know some of my fellow parents via my work as a volunteer with the Brooklyn Friends Fund.
I serve on the Brooklyn Friends Fund Committee, because I trust fully the money we raise goes to
Our world is sorely in need of the values Brooklyn Friends School imparts to our children. This has always been true, but I cannot think of a time in my lifetime that it has been more true. To lend a hand to the Brooklyn Friends Fund is to support the School’s work teaching equality, simplicity, peace, integrity, community, and stewardship. These values are a beacon in dark times and a guiding light for our children and the future generations.”
r & WHY I Give Friends Fund
Compiled by Anna Ferber and, specifically, in its quest to develop as inclusive a community as possible.
Matt and Clare McAuliffe
Clare and I have served as co-chairs of the Brooklyn Friends Fund for the past two years. Previously, I was a member of the Committee for a number of years. Clare and I believe strongly in the Brooklyn Friends School philosophy and ethos. We believe it is critical for young people to understand the world around them and the implications of their own decisions on others. We believe Brooklyn Friends is a place where our children can gain that perspective, and develop the skills and confidence to make a difference in their lives. The Brooklyn Friends Fund is an essential element in creating a community where this can happen for each and every student at the school. Every child benefits from the Fund every day, and we are proud supporters.
Many of our Friends would not be a part of our rich, diverse, wonderful community without the Brooklyn Friends Fund. I serve on the BFF to ensure this tapestry created here continues to exist.
Peter Rothberg ’85
In less than two years, Brooklyn Friends has done a lot for my son. I volunteer with the Brooklyn Friends Fund because I want to give back, but also because I believe deeply in the school’s mission, in its priorities,
As a business leader, the financial pressures that come with operating with a gap between the cost of a BFS education and the BFS tuition are tangible for me. So is the importance of community participation in something as critical as our annual fund. As a working mom, serving on the committee allows me to give back to the school, the students, the faculty, the administration, and the community in a way that works with my schedule and utilizes my skills. Asking people for money is never easy; but asking for money for something for which I have enormous passion and that is so critically important is something I am honored to do. continues on next page Spring 2018 BROOKLYN FRIENDS SCHOOL JOURNAL 9
Why I Volunteer and Why I Give continued
Maximizing our children’s education and securing BFS’ ability to bring sufficient resources to bear for all its students is dependent upon filling the “tuition gap.” Without the hard work of dedicated Brooklyn Friends Fund volunteers that simply won’t happen, so I’m happy to do what I can to assist in this most important effort.
I serve on the committee and give to the fund because I want the best for my children. In my mind, the definition of best goes beyond the obvious of academics, arts and athletics. I believe the best learning occurs within as economically diverse a student body as possible.
Why do I volunteer for the Brooklyn Friends Fund, that’s easy! The money we raise facilitates Brooklyn Friends being the best institution it can be, it supports our amazing staff and it serves to enrich our children’s scholastic lives. Brooklyn Friends is our investment in our children’s future and the future of our community. I am proud to raise funds for Brooklyn Friends.
Heidie and Steve Burwell
This is our sixth year as parent volunteers and our tenth year as contributors to the Brooklyn Friends Fund. Quite simply, we serve as volunteers and contribute to the Fund because we believe in the school. As parent volunteers, we know that each contribution to the Fund is an essential part of maintaining the wonderful learning community that is Brooklyn Friends. In this sesquicentennial year, we have the opportunity to reflect upon our school’s illustrious history and we want to do our part to ensure that our school continues to thrive for years to come.
I love that BFS creates an atmosphere where my son feels comfortable bringing his “whole self.” Not only are his intellectual curiosities fed and critical thinking skills developed, but his values and social consciousness are appreciated. From discussions about environmental justice and animal rights to lessons about change makers, my son is becoming an intelligent and thoughtful member of society.
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I like to help each parent get a chance to give their gift to BFS and feel good about it.
Simply put, I feel that supporting the Brooklyn Friends Fund as a parent and volunteer is one of the best ways I can help enrich the lives of our children. Because the Fund bridges the gap between tuition and the actual cost of educating a student at Brooklyn Friends - a gap that exists in virtually all independent schools - it is a key component that empowers BFS to provide a rich and meaningful experience that is in line with our values and that we all want for our children.
every day.lives. Analisa Barrett
I serve on the Brooklyn Friends Fund Committee, because I know the fund is an essential part of the school’s financial picture. It supports the programs that make BFS a special place for my boys and enriches the experience of all the students. It takes work to fund raise, and this is my way of helping out.
For me, serving on the Brooklyn Friends Fund Committee is a really powerful way to be involved in the school. I love the team effort, camaraderie and most importantly, seeing the direct impact the gifts have on our kids’ lives.
I volunteer for the Brooklyn Friends Fund because I value the experiences our daughter has with our school’s caring, committed faculty. They give all they can.
GRATITUDE AND FELLOWSHIP at Leadership Gift Gathering Every year a group of leadership donors and volunteers gathers for a reception in which the school recognizes their vital contributions to the success of the Brooklyn Friends Fund and their significant role in the community. Thus far in 201718, more than 100 stakeholders have made gifts of more than $1,867 to the Fund. The School especially thanks parents Matt and Clare McAuliffe, who hosted the gathering at their home on March 14, 2018. Among the many guests, in photos, from left to right: Top: Shaw Joseph, Liza Joseph, Ashley Williams and Jodi Utz; Middle: Matt McAuliffe, Kevin MacLeod, and Sharon Reid; Bottom: John McGuire, Vanessa McGuire, and Jason Factor.
Spring 2018 BROOKLYN FRIENDS SCHOOL JOURNAL 11
ROLE-MODELS The Class of 2020 and 2021 Upper School Merit Scholars by Jeffrey Stanley
Every year at this time we take a moment to check in with the newest BFS Merit Scholars to see how they’ve fared in the Upper School. The Class of 2020 scholars, now in their sophomore year, are Ben Rosenfeld, Betsy Allen, and Sage Gordon. Representing the Class of 2021 are Jack Donnellan, Jazz Hart, and Laila O’Neal. Next September, another stellar group of current 8th graders will be joining the ranks of BFS Merit Scholars — Lily Boyd, Justin Hohn, and Meghan Henry. (More on them next year!) BFS awards up to three merit scholarships annually to eighth graders who are continuing into the Upper School. These scholarships are worth $10,000 for each year the student is enrolled as long as they consistently demonstrate strength in scholarship, service, and behavior. The Class of 2020 and 2021 Merit Scholars certainly seem to be off to a strong start in living up to that ideal.
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While tenth grader Ben Rosenfeld admits to a tough start to his first year in the Upper School last year, he has definitely found his way. “I’ve made new friends, learned new things, and I am having fun. My favorite part has been the people.” Ben, who has been at the school since fourth grade, is particularly fond of Math. “I like using logic to solve equations in new ways,” he said — so much so that he’s a member of the Mathletes student club. Visual arts class is another favorite and helps serve as a pressure valve, because, as Ben said, “I can just be myself and do whatever comes to mind.” He also plays on the soccer and baseball teams. The young scholar became active during his first year in the school community at large, attending the Student Led Activities (SLAs) Model UN and the Youth Action Project. Parents announced in 2017 that their Senior Legacy Gift would be funding to continue and expand SLAs at the school. The endowment was meant as a meaningful way for parents to recognize their child’s achievements and to honor their place in BFS history. Model UN and the Youth Action Project are but two SLAs among many others. “My first year in the Upper School was the complete opposite of what I predicted it to be,” said sophomore scholar Betsy Allen. “Throughout the summer I feared the great increase in work and comprehension. I feared judgmental upperclassmen and the new students entering the grade. What I met in return was an extremely welcoming, and loving community, same as the Middle School.” She included her “unbelievably supportive” teachers in that praise. “They manage to give undeniable support and care while still being strong, respected and admired leaders,” she said. “I’m pushed and encouraged to reach my fullest potential, yet receive leniency when the change from Middle School to Upper School becomes overwhelming.”
She was also effusive about her host of new acquaintances. “I’ve made the closest friends I’ve ever had and continue to improve my relationships every day,” Betsy said, although she laments the palpable distance among the grades. ”Upperclassmen and freshmen do not interact often. However, whenever I’ve spoken to an upperclassman they’ve been kind and welcoming.” Betsy is particularly passionate about her English, History, language courses, and Humanities electives. “I’ve always loved English and history and I’m excited by the continuation of complex thought that goes into each book we analyze and each event we discuss,” she said. “I love how our thoughts and perceptions are heard and considered, whether being completely different from one another or exactly the same.” This year, Betsy’s favorite electives have been Modern Latin America and International Relations. “First semester, I was introduced to facilitated discussions, a form of assessment which seemed daunting, yet I loved this activity and find it important in developing communication, public speaking and oral skills. It was an eye-opening experience and definitely pushed me out of my comfort zone, a very important piece to my growth as a student.” Betsy is also an Honors Math student. “Although I there are times when I struggle,” she admitted, “I’m challenged to think in a way I never have before.” She is also enjoying Physics this spring, “which includes quite a lot of math. It’s so rewarding to finally understand a concept in either of these subjects, and I’m so glad to be taking these classes.” Sage Gordon, who entered BFS in sixth grade, described her first year in the Upper School as “a positive experience that gave me the opportunity to develop my independence as a student. My favorite part has been my unscheduled periods that I have each day, because I have more time to finish work before the day is done. This lessens the workload I have to deal with at home.” Sage also served as a ninth grade student senator, and is a committed athlete who played JV volleyball in the continues on next page
Spring 2018 BROOKLYN FRIENDS SCHOOL JOURNAL 13
Merit Scholars continued
fall and squash during winter of both her ninth and tenth grade grade years. Sage is also on the track team this spring for the first time. As far as the academic program, Sage said, “I really enjoy History, even though it can be very challenging. I’m enjoying it even more so this year because I got to choose the subject for each semester.” This fall she took Genocide in the 20th Century, and she’s currently taking Modern African History. Although she’s not formally involved with student government this year she remains outspoken on issues of importance to the community. “There has been a lot of conversation in the high school about diversity and support for students of color,” she said, “and I think a very important part of working towards change is changing what students are taught. I don’t think there is nearly enough representation of people of color and their contributions to the world incorporated in our curriculum. I am hoping that will change soon, and I am going to try my hardest to help advocate for this.”
The Class of 2021 Scholars
Jack Donnellan, Jazz Hart, and Laila O’Neal
First year student Jack Donnellan, who entered BFS as a sixth grader, is an actively engaged student who stated that he has “really been enjoying ninth grade.” He especially appreciates the increased opportunities to join in school events and to take community action. “I signed up to be a part of school’s Honor Council and ran lights for the school musical and the IB Dance Showcase,” he said. “I also was stage manager for the Middle School play and I’m going to be stage managing the Upper School play, Love and Information, this spring.” He plays cello in the school orchestra and is on the JV squash team. “The expectations for us as students are higher and we definitely have a bigger workload,” he said of the difference between BFS middle and upper schools. “However, we also have more time during the day to work on these assignments and meet with our teachers.” He’s particularly passionate about his, Math, English and History courses. Ninth grader and BFS lifer Jazz Hart has become fond of the newfound independence that comes with being an upper schooler, explaining, “I enjoy the necessity of being more organized and self-motivated.” What is the least favorite part of the school year thus far? Jazz took a broad view of the school community and answered, “Trying to get the school to focus on providing an education that is culturally competent,” adding that she hoped the school would move forward to find a suitable place for students of color to feel safe. In the academic realm, this thoughtful and empathetic student said, “I adore math class.” Another highlight of the year has been working on the tech crew for the school’s theater productions, a favorite being co-stage managing the fall musical La Cage Aux Folles, with senior Sophia Lipkin. Laila O’Neal, who began at BFS in kindergarten, has an older brother and a younger sister also attending Brooklyn Friends, and their family is very involved in the life of the school. A diligent and ambitious student, she has a full academic load this year, with two courses in world languages — Mandarin and Spanish — along with English, History, Biology, and Math. Laila is an accomplished visual artist who has excelled in her Design and Technology class as well as her Printmaking and Alternative Processes classes. Laila is just as busy outside the classroom this year and is learning to balance her social life, academic agenda, and extracurricular activities. “I participate in soccer, softball, piano and dance,” she said.”I have danced and played soccer since I was four years old, and in third grade I began learning piano. I hope that these will always continue to play a role in my life.”
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A L U M N I Class Notes by Lekeia Varlack Judge ’99
Emily Andrews ’60 recently retired from an international career at the World Bank and Millennium Challenge Corporation (MCC). At the Bank, she worked in former Soviet and Eastern European countries on social protection issues. At the MCC, she worked on economic analysis and program evaluation around the world. She said, “It was a great career but I am now happy spending more time with my husband and our cats in Washington DC and Empire, Colorado.” Enjoy retirement, Emily! Robert Fox ’75 and his wife Nancy moved to Yardley, PA
in October. Although they have lots of boxes to unpack, they are enjoying the new place. Robert would love to hear from former classmates who live in the area, so feel free to contact the BFS Alumni Office if you are a classmate who lives nearby.
Kamal “Victorious” DeCosta ’95 is the director of the
forthcoming film Digging for Weldon Irvine, a documentary about Composer and Activist Weldon Irvine, who served as Nina Simone’s music director and was a mentor of jazz greats, Lenny White and Marcus Miller and of Hip Hop legends, Q Tip and Mos Def. Weldon Irvine also wrote the lyrics of the civil rights era anthem, “To Be Young, Gifted and Black.” Visit the website weldonirvinefilm.com to learn more.
Congratulations to Mathew Kennedy ’03, on his marriage to Alicia Wang in New Orleans on April 15, 2017. Mathew is currently an English teacher at Manhattan International High School in NYC. We wish the happy couple all the best. Alum Josh Vogel ’05 was married to Hilary Burditt over the summer in front of family and Friends. Josh had a BFS banner specifically made to represent him and his alumni friends of mostly 2005, and some 2006 and 2007 graduates that were in attendance. Congrats Josh! (photo, above right) Cheers to Scott Gentile ’07 on his recent engagement. We wish him and his fiancée the best of luck!
Sam Donahue ’07 is now a graduate student at Columbia in the Sociology department and is working with a couple of colleagues on a project explores how teenagers in urban environments perceive and define nature. His research methods include conducting short interviews with participants with approval from the NYC Department of Education and the Columbia Institutional Review Board.
A graduate of The Art Institute of Chicago, Amina Ross ’11 is currently curating a performance festival and exhibition in Chicago, IL that excavates issues related to identity and power. She credits BFS as the first platform she was given to engage these issues and is grateful to Brooklyn Friends for helping to get her to this point in her life. If you read the New York Times, you might have seen a profile of alum Patrick Morales ’12 and his hip hop group Ratking. The article chronicles Patrick’s career beginning with his days at BFS in 2011 up to his latest project, a group called Secret Circle. We wish Patrick continued success in his music career and beyond.
Amara Granderson’s ’13 performance of A Raisin in
the Sun at University of California San Diego received rave reviews. According to the school newspaper, The Triton, Amara “stole the show in nearly every scene she was in.” This compliment comes as no surprise considering Amara’s long list of theatrical accomplishments. Brava!
IN MEMORIAM Mechele Flaum ’68 (See tribute on page 16.)
former teacher and assistant principal (A remembrance will be published in the next Journal.)
Spring 2018 BROOKLYN FRIENDS SCHOOL JOURNAL 15
Mechele Plotkin Flaum ’68
Mechele Plotkin Flaum ’68, the recipient of the Brooklyn Friends School George Fox Award in 2008, has always been known to our school community as an exemplary alumna, trustee, volunteer, and friend. She was superlative in every area of life: at home with her husband, stepchildren, grandchildren, her sister, nieces and extended family; as a marketing professional, consumer trends expert, brand manager, and book author; as a hardworking trustee and generous donor to BFS; and as a friend to hundreds of people who knew her as gracious and giving, fun-loving and optimistic. The Brooklyn Friends community mourns her loss on Nov. 12, 2017, after a long journey with cancer. At left, Mechele with her husband Sander. FROM
Julie Schwartz McDowell ’68
Mechele was a very important part of my time at Brooklyn Friends as a newcomer to the Development world. As a trustee and chair of the Development Committee, she taught me how important it was to tell a story to capture people’s interest in our institution (and then asking them for money would be a breeze she said!). She guided me as a newly minted Director of Development, and introduced me to the wonderful world of Brooklyn Friends School Alumni. Not many individuals match up to the person she was, but I know that many try.
Most of you won’t know this, but Mechele was a twin. Actually, she was the third twin to me and my twin sister Elsa. We met Mechele when we were all of 11 years old and taking the entrance exam for Brooklyn Friends School. Our mothers had coffee together while the three of us took the test. It was the start of a deep and special friendship among the three of us.
Director of Advancement:
as shared at Mechele’s funeral service:
Her impact was wide, and her classmates, independently, continue to call her the “glue” that held their class together. As evidenced by the number of BFS alumni I saw at her service, I know she will be tremendously missed at her 50th reunion this coming spring. We are so grateful for Mechele’s presence in our community over the last 50+ years.
For the last 56 years we participated in major and minor events in each other’s lives, shared joys and consoled each other on losses. We have spent a lot of time together laughing so hard that we couldn’t speak. What a privilege it has been to have Mechele’s friendship, to experience her love, support and generosity, to be buoyed up by her enthusiasm and optimism. Sander [Mechele’s husband] said to me the other day that Mechele is irreplaceable. She is irreplaceable to so many of us. A few months ago Mechele spoke to me after coming home from a family party, telling me how much she enjoyed the laughter, the banter, the love that was expressed. “These are the memories I want people to have,” she said, “I want them to think of all the good and happy times.” As usual, Mechele was thinking of others. How lucky we have been to know Mechele. In our grief at her passing, we will remember her wish and cherish our memories of happy times with a rare and special person, our beloved third twin.
Michael Nill, Head of School, 2000-2010:
“She simply was the most generous person I have ever known.”
Find Something Meaningful; Leave Something Better In her commencement address to the Class of 2008, Mechele recalled that her own graduation occurred on the night of Senator Robert Kennedy’s assassination and that this event — and the murder of Dr. King just two months prior — had galvanized her generation into social activism, something very familiar to the 2008 graduates as well.
“Brooklyn Friends has taught you the kind of learning and questioning and balancing skills you just don’t get everywhere. You have been exposed to the struggles of peoples in many places, both home and abroad,” she told the graduates. “And — with your opportunities and your abilities and most importantly, with your concern to make things better, you are part of a change-agent generation that can make something meaningful and positive come to be.” At BFS, we were taught to ‘do the right thing.’ It still ranks as the best lesson ever. You know, when you visit Africa and you go into the natural, still unspoiled habitats of the Bush, there’s an expression, ‘Take nothing, leave nothing.’ Well my wish for you, as you take on the many challenges of your future is, “Find something meaningful, leave something better. I know you will.”
Events A Gathering of Friends
Before heading over to the Brooklyn Historical Society for the 150 Years of Light exhibit on Jan. 29, a group of alums gathered at the neighborhood restaurant, The Custom House, for cocktails and conversation. Although the alums represented classes from 1950 all the way to 2001, they quickly bonded over their common experiences at BFS. This was a great way to kick off the night of such a distinguished celebration of 150 years of Brooklyn Friends.
Every year in January, recent graduates come back to BFS on Young Alumni Day to visit Friends and their favorite teachers. This year was no different. The morning began with a panel of young alums that offered up words of wisdom to our current seniors about what life is like after BFS. They gave advice about college life, time management, making and saving money and so much more! After the panel, our young alums were invited to have lunch with us and visit throughout the school. In the evening, the Enrollment Office hosted an alumni panel for prospective students and families. This collaborative effort provides potential students with firsthand accounts of the pride and prestige of a BFS education from people who know it best. Year after year, this event is a success and makes us proud of our awesome young alumni.
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Burke Fitzpatrick ’72 Easy Rider, Parachutist, and Raconteur with a Distinguished Career in the Public Sector by Jeffrey Stanley Burke Fitzpatrick ’72 was never one to sit still, nor to stay in one place too long. An experienced parachutist, he literally has had a unique perspective on the world around him. For example, when he entered the BFS Kindergarten, the classroom and play yard looked gigantic to him. When he visited recently, he looked out of the Meetinghouse window onto the play yard. “How did it shrink so much?” he asked. Burke had a geographically stable home life in Brooklyn. “My family bought a house in Cobble Hill in 1960 — the era before gentrification,” he recalled. “Our house on Amity Street was about seven blocks from school so, rain, sleet, or snow, it was a walk back and forth every day.” Having had no exposure to public or parochial schools, he thought that “everyone went to Morning Meeting, everyone took naps on the Meeting House benches, and all schools had about 350 kids.” Another Friends School distinction was that “Everyone in my class went off to college – this was the early 70’s and no one wanted to live with their parents.” Prior to that college adventure, Burke and classmate Steve Magagnini ’72 lived their own version of Easy Rider, seeing the country not on motorcycle but a beat up old Rambler station wagon. “Our parents thought it was a great idea — a 17 and an 18-year-old with $1,500 between them for the summer, no cell phone, an old car, and a paper map. What could go wrong?” 18 BROOKLYN FRIENDS SCHOOL JOURNAL Spring 2018
That inglorious road trip is a story unto itself, and a snapshot of that divisive time. “We were constantly hassled by cops,” he said. “Long hair and New York plates were a giveaway. We had our wallets stolen at a campsite in Colorado and had to go to the Denver police station for new IDs. This being 1972, we came away with, literally, six feet of green computer paper with DOS computer coding sent from Albany. We couldn’t wait to get pulled over after that. We’d whip out these long reams of paper and push them toward the cop and go into a long spiel about how they were computer documentation from New York. Inevitably they would throw up their hands and tell us to move along and not come back.” The friends had memorable stopovers in New Orleans and Las Vegas and miraculously ran out of gas only once, but in a perfect spot — California’s Highway 1 overlooking the Pacific. “I still remember the sunrise and the hippies who gave me a ride in their old bread truck to the nearest gas station the next morning.” That August, Burke made it back to Cobble Hill — poorer but wiser with $7.50 in his pocket. He entered State University of New York at Oswego in the fall, majoring in Psychology and Criminal Justice. After graduation he remembers “knocking around Chicago a bit pretending to look for a job but mostly just going to jazz clubs. I ran out of money, again, returned to
“Quaker values should be part of everyone’s values. Our country and the world would be a kinder, more compassionate and more just place.” Brooklyn, again, and stumbled into a job with the Legal Aid Society as an investigator in Manhattan.” He continued: “The same week, I got an offer for a parttime job interviewing arrestees for release without bail. That was in Brooklyn and the hours were midnight to 7:00 a.m. I also took a job working as a janitor for three apartment buildings. So, all I did was work and sleep and prepare for more work. No girlfriend, no parties, no fun and not much money.” After a year back home, Burke headed south to earn a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice from the University of South Carolina. Was there any BFS influence on his decision to focus on a career in law enforcement? “No,” he answered candidly. “My only focus on law enforcement when I was in school was avoiding them. Remember, this was the late 60’s and early 70’s. We were all about protesting the Vietnam War. The Society of Friends were the first major organization to come out and oppose the war and we were all so proud of that.” There were, in fact, a number of Friends teachers he remembers well, expressing gratitude to his third grade teacher Ms. Shade, fourth grade teacher Ms. Watkins, and fifth grade teacher Ms. Heath. “I finally got a home room teacher who was male in sixth grade, Mr. Nisson,” he said. “He was a cool dude who could rock some Ray Bans. However, the teacher who had the most influence on me, the teacher who taught me how to write, was Martin Norregaard.” Burke remembers Middle School English this way: “It was tedious and painful and I hated it. But, I owe my entire career in state service to Mr. Norregaard. Especially in the public sector, if you want to advance, you have to know how to read and write and that means grammar and sentence construction. He gave me those skills and for that I credit him with being the most influential teacher of my life.”
That firm academic foundation has been responsible for a number of career highlights in the public sector. “I’ve spent the majority of my working life administering federal grant programs in South Carolina for law enforcement, and victims of crime and juvenile justice,” Burke said. “I’d like to think I did some good in improving people’s lives. I also take great pride in the approximately 3,000 first jump skydiving students I have instructed. They all survived their first jump and some went on to be national champions. It’s a nice legacy to leave to the sport I love.” How has his Quaker school background influenced him — 46 years after graduation? “Following the Friends tradition of civility and compassion for others is an accomplishment of sorts,” he answered. “A recent highlight involves my coming out of retirement. I retired in 2016 and I think most folks are forgotten when they disappear from the workplace. Soon afterwards, however, I was put on a study team by the Governor’s Office to move victims of crime grants out from my old agency and into to the State Attorney General’s Office. A few months later, I got a call from the Governor’s Office saying the situation couldn’t wait and it was the unanimous request from the victim-provider community to step in and right the ship immediately. It has been a gratifying cap to my career.” Burke added that as a secular-minded individual, “Quaker values should be part of everyone’s values. Our country and the world would be a kinder, more compassionate and more just place.” He recalled that BFS taught him many things, but first among them was a dislike of bullies in all forms, including those cops during their Easy Rider summer. “Whether they be in the schoolyard or a government, bullies are a bane on civilization and the values of decency and community. BFS and the Society of Friends knew this and gently taught us to stand up to injustice. I hope the kids at BFS today still see things that way.”
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FROM TOWER TO TABLE Preschool Head Maura Eden and Administrative Assistant Joy Roberts have added a multidisciplinary dimension to the curriculum through Greenie, the Preschool’s aeroponic garden tower. The children harvest lettuce, peas and herbs from Greenie, using the bounty for their own home-grown salad at snack time. Science, nutrition and math (counting and measuring) are incorporated as the children see firsthand how tiny seeds grow into delicious greens with the help of air, water, and light. 20 BROOKLYN FRIENDS SCHOOL JOURNAL Spring 2018
WINTER SPORTS TEAMS AND RECORDS Boys Varsity Basketball 17-7 League Champions; qualified for the NY State Finals Girls Varsity Basketball 8-13 Boys JV Basketball 18-5 Boys MS Basketball 11-5 Girls MS Basketball 3-9 Indoor Track Indoor Squash Indoor Swim
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DIVERSITY Makes America Great
In teacher Tina Piccoloâ€™s 6th grade studio art classes, students learned to combine the power of protest art with the skill of painting from observation to create outstanding works of art. Read more about this successful project in a BFS website article, brooklynfriends.org/grade6art