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Theatrical Adventure: Scaling ‘Sweeney Todd’

Tom Hyland ’95: Capitalism for A Better World

Winter Sports: Squashing Competitors

Brunswick times of

Spring 2013

A Healthy

A Brighter Future

[ Strengthening Science, Technology, Engineering & Mathematics Education ]

A DELICATE PROCEDURE Brunswick science students Ashish Ramachandran ’14 (left) and Reed Schultz ’14 were introduced to the science and practice of mending a broken forearm under the supervision of renowned orthopaedic surgeon and sports-medicine specialist Kevin Plancher, M.D. Plancher invited the students to his offices to gain hands-on experience in tackling the challenges orthopaedic surgeons face every day.

A Healthy

A Brighter Future B y Ka t h e r i n e O g d e n


times of Brunswick • Spring 2013

Strengthening STEM Education

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math — STEM education holds promise for Brunswick boys who will enter a world awash in technology. The School is adding resources and rigor to the field like never before.


E X P E C TED TO GRO W 1 7 %

T H ROUG H 2 0 1 8.

pper School Science Department Chair Dana Montanez found a science muse in her sliding glass door.

It came in the form of an orb weaver spider, kept alive by a careful husband while Montanez was gone

for eight weeks on a summer jaunt.

On a whim last fall, Montanez collected the spider,

along with its friend, and introduced them to the students in her Honors Science Research course. The move proved inspirational to her students. Spider silk is a prized but poorly understood material that holds incredible promise for its combination of strength, elasticity, and eco-friendliness.

Fascinated by its silky assets, one team of ’Wick boys

focused on its properties in their science project, which took them all the way to the Connecticut State Science and Engineering Fair, winning accolades for their efforts to synthesize this high-performance biomaterial, which is coveted by industry for use in everything from bridges to paper. g

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Limited to just 16 students per year, Montanez’s twoyear course is a major underpinning of Brunswick’s commitment to STEM education in the new century.

STEM j o b s.

pay i n g j o b s a r e

21 of the 25 top-

Upper School science teacher and department chair Dana Montanez directs the work of Brunswick students, left to right, Alex Montinaro ’15, Chase Stitzer ’15, Christian Tanner ’15, and others.

For Montanez, science education and hope for the future begin with almost childlike bursts of imagination. A voracious reader, her goal in the unique Honors Science Research course she created two years ago is to first provide the spark of an idea to her students, and then to lead them through a rigorous scientific process to test out their notions.

imited to just 16 students

science students visited the nearby Orthopaedic

per year, Montanez’s two-year

Foundation for Active Lifestyles Lab.

course is a major underpinning of

Brunswick’s commitment to STEM

drills, plates, and screws. The boys enjoyed a hands-on

education in the new century.

opportunity to learn the skills needed to repair broken

That commitment is demonstrated

bones. To that end, students had the chance to bolt, pin

in everything from new course

together, and insert supportive plates into a model of a

offerings in science, engineering, and computer science

broken forearm, all under the supervision of renowned

to an award-winning Middle School robotics club and

orthopaedic surgeon, sports medicine specialist, and

to a new Coding Club at the Lower School that has

Greenwich resident Kevin Plancher, M.D.

the youngest ’Wick students beginning to learn the

language of computers.

Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, Inc., in Tarrytown, New

York. There, the boys learned about the business side

Similarly, older students are enjoying new

times of Brunswick • Spring 2013

Another terrific field trip was an April trip to

opportunities for enrichment as far away as Peru and as

of biotech, as well as the discovery and development

nearby as Cos Cob.

of antibody-based drugs. Students toured the research

labs, the cloning facilities, the vivarium, and the

This spring, for example, ’Wick boys played sports-

doctor-for-a-day when a group of 22 Upper School


The lab features actual surgical equipment, such as

bioreactors that create and purify the drugs.

Strengthening STEM Education

“The boys were outstanding,” Montanez said. “Before

we left, our guide pointed out that our boys asked the most questions of any group that has come through in years. It was fantastic.” Even more enrichment for top-level science students is planned for later this spring, when Montanez will lead a field-research trip to the Pacaya-Samiria National Reserve in Peru.

The trip is being made available to ’Wick research

students in order to expose them to an entirely new branch of science education: Field Research. Organized by the worldwide biological and conservation research group Operation Wallacea, the program gives students the opportunity to collect and monitor data on the biodiversity of the Amazon rain forest, as well as information about the sustainability of forest-resource use by indigenous people living on the reserve.

But there are plenty of opportunities for science

research right on Maher Avenue, thanks to a newlyrenovated Upper School science lab. That room, Montanez says, originally functioned as the “Black Box”

For Parents’ Association, STEM is Fashionable This spring, the STEM endowment initiative is enjoying support from the whole ’Wick community.    For the first time ever, all proceeds from the Brunswick School Fashion Show and Luncheon and its sibling event, the Golf Outing at Winged Foot, will support a new, Brunswick Parents’ Association STEM Endowment Fund.     This is the first year that BPA events will benefit the STEM endowment. For the next three to five years, all BPA fundraisers will benefit this effort, with the goal of raising $1 million.      The Fashion Show has been a spring calendar staple for Brunswick families since its inaugural event in 1943, which raised $800 for the school.     This year’s ticket sales for the event exceeded all

Overall, the renewed commitment to STEM is already paying dividends for Brunswick students: ’Wick boys earned multiple honors and awards at the Connecticut State Science & Engineering Fair held at Quinnipiac University in March.

expectations. The show was a fantastic start to the BPA’s quest to provide a solid foundation for the STEM endowment. 02

for the theater program. It was later called into service as a practice room for the jazz band and, after that, became a study hall.

Thanks to gift from Bodas family, the room was

gutted and renovated during the summer of 2011,


just before Montanez joined the ’Wick faculty. It now

01 H  arry Hefffernan ’14 takes a

careful measurement as he works to complete a science exercise in Brunswick’s science lab, renovated in 2011, thanks to a gift from the Bodas family.

serves as a space to nurture budding scientific thinkers.

“It’s a beautiful, bright space with cutting-edge

equipment, along with staple equipment that allows the kids to explore,” she said. “If a kid gets into something

02 R  yan Hardin ’13 prepares a physics


we don’t have, we do what can to get it.” She added:

03 S  tudents in Montanez’s Advanced

“Sometimes we have to say no. It’s evolving.”

Science Class include, left to right, Vikram Bodas ’14, Reed Schultz ’14, Matt Mayfield ’14.

Overall, the renewed commitment to STEM is

already paying dividends for Brunswick students: ’Wick boys earned multiple honors and awards at the Connecticut State Science & Engineering Fair held at Quinnipiac University in March. 01

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Strengthening STEM Education


’Wick projects were initially culled from a field of 10,000 applications and were among the 448 invited to participate.

“They did really, really great,” said Montanez, who

Honored were: Kevin Pendo ’15, Mahesh Raman ’15,

chairs the Brunswick Science Department just two

Spencer McDonough ’14, Ashish Ramachandran ’14,

years into her tenure here. “They worked so hard.”

Reed McMurchy ’15, Alex Montinaro ’15, Christian

Tanner ’15, Chase Stitzer ’15, Jake Fields ’13, Vikram

The boys had been working since November,

developing experiments for the fair, testing out

Bodas ’14, Matthew Mayfield ’13, Reed Schultz ’14,

everything from the use of nanomagnets to retrieve

Sivan Sud ’14, Cooper Robinson ’15, and Tommy

spilled oil to the insulating properties of different kinds

Tranfo ’14.

of roofing material to the possibilities of synthesizing

spider silk for use in industry.

team that studied spider silk and was inspired by the

creatures that his teacher carefully carted into the

’Wick projects were initially culled from a field of

Tenth grader Alex Montinaro was part of the

10,000 applications and were among the 448 invited

classroom in a used wonton soup container.

to participate.

new home, the boys worked hard to provide a habitat

Fair organizers called the invited projects the “cream

Though the spiders didn’t live very long in their

of the crop.”

for them as they began to consider the unique material

these creatures spin as part of their daily routine.

From Brunswick, 13 boys making up seven teams

from Montanez’s Honors Science Research course were

The boys learned, for instance, that a gown made

named finalists. The boys defended their work before

entirely of spider silk has recently gone on display at

the judges and were among roughly 200 selected for

the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The gown

honors and awards.

took five years to make and is made from silk harvested

In ’Wick Math, the Numbers Add Up It’s a whole new, data-driven world out there, and the ’Wick Math Department is keeping pace by beefing up its teaching staff, particularly in one area that has a trendy new name: “Big Data,” or as it’s more commonly known, statistics. A March article in The Wall Street Journal showed that, nationwide, demand for statisticians has surged in recent years as more businesses try to take advantage of the huge quantities of data made

Mathematics department chair Michael Allwood notes that students are electing to take AP statistics in record numbers. A decade ago, only four students enrolled.

available through technology.

Enticed into the field by

the growing demand for number crunchers, students


are signing on to take statistics

enrollment stands at 36, and demand in

the 11th grade, although nearly all

said. “We don’t necessarily have

in record numbers.

this area is so great that an additional

students opt to continue with the

people who can think for themselves

math teacher will be added in

subject up to graduation.

and solve problems.

of the ’Wick Math Department,

September to ease the burden on

has seen the trend right here

the department’s existing staff.

Problem Solving are offered for those

ematics is — answering a question

on Maher Avenue.

students who wish to supplement

by analyzing it mathematically.”

quantifiable,” Allwood noted.

their mathematical studies.

students enrolled in Allwood’s

AP statistics class. Today,

is required at Brunswick through

Michael Allwood, chairman

A decade ago, only four

times of Brunswick • Spring 2013

“The world has become so As with science, mathematics

AP Statistics and Honors Math

“We have plenty out in the world

who can follow instructions,” Allwood

“That’s essentially what math-



from a million Madagascar-born female orb weaver

and learning in science, mathematics, and technology,

spiders — all of them captured by morning, mined for

and to create a separate endowment to support an

silk during the day, and released by evening.

Upper School Science Research Fund.

The story is amazing, but even more so for the

A broad-based resource, the STEM endowment

qualities of the material that was so laboriously

will enable Brunswick to unite and build on current

gathered. Spider silk is said to be as strong as steel and

initiatives, adding integrated mathematics, science, and

yet also as forgiving as rubber.

engineering programs to the curriculum at all levels.

Long-term, the goal is to define and support the kind

“It’s basically like a miracle of nature,” explained

Montinaro. “It has practical

of excellence that will place

uses. It’s biodegradable.”

the School’s STEM initiative

on par with, or well ahead

“I love science,” he said,

adding that Montanez’s class is especially wonderful because it gives students some “freedom to play around with ideas.

“That’s why I love this class

— you make it what you want.”

Montinaro, along with

teammates Chase Stitzer and

The STEM endowments will enable Brunswick to unite and build on current initiatives, adding integrated mathematics, science, and engineering programs.

of, Brunswick’s independent school peers.

By creating these new

funds, Brunswick recognizes that all students, regardless of their chosen concentration, gain significant and important thinking skills, as well as educational and professional

Christian Tanner, ended up project, which they called “A Novel Approach to the

the requirements for proficiency in mathematics and

Synthesis of a High-Performance Biomaterial.” The

the sciences.

team also earned Medalist status for three awards:

Even more, by providing resources to enhance

the Barnes Aerospace Applied Technology Award, the

student achievement, the STEM Endowment Fund

Alexicon Biotechnology Award, and the Pfizer Life

will ensure that every ’Wick graduate possesses the

Science Award.

knowledge and skills needed to pursue a baccalaureate

or higher degree in mathematics, engineering, or

Montanez and Brunswick’s award winners at the Connecticut Science & Engineering Fair, held at Quinnipiac University in March: left to right, Spencer McDonough ’14, Tommy Tranfo ’14, Dana Montanez, Kevin Pendo ’15, Ashish Ramachandran ’14, Jake Fields ’13, Vikram Bodas ’14, Matt Mayfield ’13, Reed Schultz ’14, Reed McMurchy ’15, Mahesh Raman ’15, Alex Montinaro ’15, Christian Tanner ’15, Chase Stitzer ’15, Cooper Robinson ’15, and Sivan Sud ’14. 02 R  eed McMurchy ’15 won 1st Honors

and was a Medalist for the Dominion Physical Science Award for his project, “Discovering the Most ‘Invisible’ Geometric Shape: The Future of RadarEvasive Technology.” 03 J  ake Fields ’13 (left) won 1st Honors

and was a Medalist, as well as winning a Special Award from the Office of Naval Research, for his project, “The Effects of Bovine Serum Albumin on Restriction Digestion and Analysis of Lambda Phage DNA.” Reed Schultz ’14 (right) won First Honors and was a Medalist for his project, “Nanomagnetic Crude Oil Recovery Systems: Electro v. Permanent Magnets.”

technological innovation.

shows high school students lose interest in STEM as

they move toward graduation, despite the promise of

students much more than just a seat at the table of

the well-documented growing job market in the field.

innovation. The field, she says, provides opportunities

to be a hero in a world that sorely needs them.

As Montanez sees it, STEM education offers

a key initiative for Montanez and for the school-wide

Earth, she notes, faces obvious problems, from

“Above All Else...” Capital Campaign. A major campaign

pollution to energy supply. STEM careers, she says, offer

goal is to create an endowment to strengthen teaching

hope for solutions, particularly in the form of engineering.


global economy increasingly defined by scientific and

Nationwide, a report in U.S. News & World Report


the sciences if they so choose, as well as to thrive in a

attracted to important, and rewarding, STEM careers.


a coast-to-coast trend that sees fewer young people

But at Brunswick, STEM education is thriving. It is

01 S  cience Department Chair Dana

opportunities, by satisfying

winning 1st Honors for their

Such success shows Brunswick is already bucking


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“The most encompassing and worthwhile project would be to have our students build amusement parks and explain the physics involved,” said Max Kennedy.

Taking a Roller Coaster Ride through Physics


One Brunswick 8th grader’s roller coaster project tested the classical mechanics learned in the classroom.


times of Brunswick • Spring 2013

es, it’s true: Science is fun!

final product had to fit through the classroom door once

That’s the physics lesson learned when

fully assembled.

Brunswick 8th graders collaborated on creating

their own amusement park. The boys in Max

curriculum enjoyable for our students,” Kennedy said. “We

“Matt and I are all about making the 8th grade science

Kennedy’s and Matt DuCharme’s science class spent the

wanted them to realize that even though science can be

first four months of the school year studying classical

challenging and intimidating at times, applying and learning

mechanics — motion, forces, machines, energy — and

science is a fun, valuable and rewarding endeavor.”

the next few reviewing that material by building and

presenting a small-scale amusement park ride.

with creating two presentations. The first was an in-class

The project was twofold, and the boys were tasked

“The most encompassing and worthwhile project

group presentation in which they shared their amusement

would be to have our students build amusement parks

park ride creation with their classmates and teacher while

and explain the physics involved,” said Kennedy.

explaining the physics behind the ride. The second was a

The two teachers split each of their classes into groups of

Middle School-wide presentation that gave the boys an

four. Each group was responsible for designing its own amuse-

opportunity to have more fun with their projects.

ment park ride that would eventually be joined with the other

groups’ rides to create an amusement park.

But what’s even more fun is the fact that students, based

on their level of success in making an interesting ride, had

The rides and parks could be built out of any available

Science is fun and amusement parks are clearly fun.

products and the boys had a large amount of autonomy

the opportunity to earn five bonus points for the entire

in what they designed. The only stipulation was that the

class to apply to a future examination. So fun!


Strengthening STEM Education

Engineers, Montanez says, design solutions to

as the science research course, the engineering class will

everything from toxic landfills to inefficient solar

offer students the luxury of time to tinker with new ideas

panels. These are the innovators who will be dreaming

and pursue their own interests.

up fixes for the developed world for the next century

and the one beyond.

she said. “They invent things that solve our problems

and help us live better, cleaner lives.

Montanez is in the process of developing

“We need engineers because they are the solvers,”

Brunswick’s first-ever engineering class and hopes to

debut it within the next few years. Cast in the same vein

Montanez predicted. “(But) it might not be for 200 years.”

“It’ll be the engineers who solve the energy crisis,”

Though the ’Wick science program has clearly caught some of the limelight in recent months, similar upgrades are in the pipeline for the School’s Computer Science Department. Technology has revolutionized the world during the last 20 years — it now permeates every aspect of economic and personal life, from medicine to education, from government to manufacturing and beyond. ut the medium will only

advancement and economic activity. Unless the kids

become more powerful in the years

have a more meaningful understanding (of computers),

to come. According to one Brunswick

they will be at a disadvantage in the workforce. We are

teacher, the ability to operate a PC is

no longer a manufacturing society. It’s a knowledge-

only the beginning of an education

based, service economy which requires innovative,

in computers.

problem-solving skills.”

Sunil Gupta, director of technology and chair of the Computer Science Department, notes

Gupta notes the reasons to learn computer science

that technology is one of the fastest-growing and

are as practical as they are abstract:

highest-paying sectors of the economy, and young

• Eight of the top 10 growth jobs in the next decade are

people need to learn more than just how to use a web browser and a word-processing program. Learning the language of computers, Gupta says, develops logical skills and abstract thinking and, in the end, the knowledge and the tools needed to program computers to solve problems.

“Computing is driving innovation in almost every

field,” Gupta said. “It’s the foundation of scientific

Sunil Gupta, director of technology and chair of the Computer Science Department


technology-related. • Many college majors at top-ranked universities now require students to take some Computer Science courses. • Of the most sought-after careers listed by, computer-related fields have the highest median salary. • Learning one programming language makes it easier for students to master other programming languages, as many share similar syntax commands and logic.

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While students are introduced to technology in the Lower and

Middle School, the actual language of computers is taught only in the Upper School. One course is an Introduction to Computer Science and the other is an AP computer-science course. Both are in Java. Michael Pastore ’20 writes about his experience as a member of Brunswick’s Middle School Robotics Team, The New Mind Mavericks.

Changes are afoot. Gupta said Brunswick is looking to add a

Middle School computer programming class, possibly as soon as September 2013. Lower School offerings may follow, though these young students are already enjoying an after-school opportunity that explores the basics of the language that web pages are built on.

At the suggestion of a parent, a new Lower School Coding

Club was formed in January. Open to third and fourth graders, the Club uses an online website to tutor ’Wick boys in the most

Robots, Robots Everywhere!

basic elements of HyperText Markup Language, or HTML.

By Michael Pastore ’20

Lower School technology guru Timothy Coupe said the idea is to get the boys to think about the “language” they need to

This school year, I’ve had the privilege of being on the Brunswick Middle School

speak to get computers to perform tasks.

Robotics Team, the New Mind Mavericks.

students,” said Coupe. “This gives them an opportunity to

It’s a great team, consisting of 10 members: Ian Murray, Eric Meindl, Jamie

Meindl, Robert Sprung, Charles Heath, Will George, Cedric Lafleur, Will Frauen,

innovate, and lets them experiment.”

Jose Riera, and me.

the second, meets once a week for almost an hour.

It was really fun and exciting to work with Drew Dawson, our robotics teacher.

At first, we just brainstormed ideas, and later we designed our robot.

The New Mind Mavericks

The club, which drew 18 boys in the first session and 12 in The boys work in

The robot was medium-sized, about the

teams at their own pace,

size of a shoebox. It had LEGO walls

and learn to recognize

surrounding it, making it very hard to

the rules and patterns

break. It also had motors to make it move.

of HTML. The goal is

It was very impressive.

not to create a website,

Aside from building a robot, we also

but instead to focus on

constructed a device to help senior

the process and language

citizens. We made an original, state-of-the

of programming.

art cane with retractable tripods on the


Coupe said the online

bottom, for support if you were standing in a long line, that were triggered by a button

tutorial program provides

located beneath the handle. The cane is made of metal and is extremely sturdy.

instant feedback, which

Finally, after weeks of preparation and testing, we headed to the Connecticut

allows the boys to know

state competition. The competition started in the morning and went all the way into

if what they are doing is

the afternoon.

right or wrong.

At the competition, teams were testing and making adjustments to their robots.

The boys work in teams at their own pace, and learn to recognize the rules and patterns of HTML’s language. The goal is not to create a website, but is instead to focus on the process and language of programming.

“There’s lots of trial

We walked around the large room, looking at robots of all shapes and sizes: Small

and error,” he said. “I work with two other teachers to help

ones, large ones, wide ones, thin ones. Robots

support the boys, and we are all learning together.”

were everywhere.

demonstrated by a Brunswick student who will graduate this

When the time came to present our cane, we

The need for this kind of education has already been

walked in another room to the judges who, before

spring and who, as a junior, launched a successful tech business.

asking us for our presentation, challenged our whole

team to work on a puzzle to test our teamwork. I

’Wick junior and has already leveraged the skills he learned

think we displayed fine teamwork and impressed the

there to launch Sibyl Vision. The company was one of the first

judges. We then showed the benefits of our cane.

to mine the ‘Twitterverse’ for sentiment about the presidential

In the end, our team did very well and won three

trophies. I really enjoyed working with The New Mind Mavericks.


“We’re looking at what we can do with our youngest

times of Brunswick • Spring 2013

Peter Kazazes ’13 took the AP computer science class as a

election and has since offered up its high-tech analysis to Robert Sprung ’20 displays his robotic creation.

everyone from big-name entertainers to cookie manufacturers.

Strengthening STEM Education

Other ’Wick students are seeing success in related STEM fields. In a Brunswick first, for example, a team of Middle School boys won the award for HighestScoring Robot at the FIRST LEGO® League (FLL) state championships held in December in New Britain.

the bugs that enjoy a permanent stay-of-execution and her children, Montanez has a husband, a 17-year-old Cockatiel named Charlie, an orange corn snake she has kept alive for more than a decade, and a German Shepherd named Nino.

A certain pair of spiders was among the critters to win

a recent Montanez reprieve, and in this came a powerful opportunity to serve as inspiration for a teacher trying to plant the seeds of science in young minds.

Says Montanez: “I just brought them in because I

thought they were interesting.”

Brett Martell, science coordinator at the Pre and

Lower Schools, tries to offer ’Wick’s youngest students a similar opportunity to discover.

Science, he notes, is an integral and important part of

the day for all Pre and Lower School boys, and the learning HE FLL, a global robotics competition in which students aged 9 to 14 are asked to research and solve

“This is a true competition and a bit

of a cutthroat one at that,” said Coach Drew Dawson.

’Wick boys were first out of a field of 48 teams

statewide. It was the first time a Brunswick team has even made a showing at the state level, let alone won a statewide award.

“It’s exciting,” said parent Cosby George.

Calling themselves The New Mind Mavericks, the

10-member Brunswick FLL team had earlier won Best Project in a field of 24 at the regional tournament in Shelton, Conn. The boys designed a special multifunctional cane that senior citizens can use to stay indepen-

For the youngest students, science offers a

chance to sharpen thinking skills while considering everything from the space program to electricity to crime scene investigation.

And here too, it’s all led by curiosity.

“By inspiring curiosity and risk taking, collaboration

Stem is the

NXT Mindstorms robot.

g a t e way t o

findings, and build a working LEGO®

that comes later at the Middle and Upper Schools.

i n n o va t i o n.

a real-world problem, present their

that happens there provides the foundation for everything

and perseverance, our youngest boys are already learning skills they need to tackle open-ended and complex problems,” said Lower School Head Katie Signer, who holds a Master’s Degree in teaching with a focus on math and science and thus counts those subjects especially close to her heart.

“Hands-on and interactive by nature, science

is a place where many boys feel at home and come alive,” she said.

Jamie Meindl ’20 was one of Brunswick’s team members at the First LEGO® League state championship, held in December in New Britain. The team garnered top honors for highest-scoring robot.


dent as they age.

Members of the team are Will Frauen, William

George, Ian Murray, Robert Sprung, Eric Meindl, Jamie Meindl, Jose Riera, Cedric Lafleur, Mike Pastore, and Charlie Heath.

Clearly, Brunswick can be proud of its boys for their

recent achievements. But with all the emphasis on building skills for the future, Montanez and her spiders remind us that in life and learning, inspiration has its clear place in the equation, too. Like every home, the Montanez house has its share of creepy-crawlies. Unlike at many homes, however, no one is allowed to squish the critters that make their home at the Montanez manse. Family members there can often be found scooping them up in a Bug Wrangler that this mom-of-three found at Toys-R-Us.

You might call it a Montanez Menagerie. Aside from

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A Healthy STEM, A Brighter Future (Times of Brunswick excerpt)  
A Healthy STEM, A Brighter Future (Times of Brunswick excerpt)  

A Healthy STEM, A Brighter Future (Times of Brunswick excerpt from Spring 2013)