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CGPS ALUMNI NEWS Winter 2013 A publication for Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School alumni

An Interview with Distinguished Journalist and Author Alex Kotlowitz ’73


Development Office Update

CGPS Remains the School You Remember . . . With Unmatched Campus Improvements

Whether you graduated 50 years ago or last year, CGPS is still a special place that was so vital to your formative years—and beyond. Today, on the cusp of the school’s 250th anniversary, beautiful and functional new and refurbished facilities have greatly enhanced the educational experience for our Pre-K through Grade 12 students. Without the continued generosity of the CGPS community, including alumni, these exciting capital improvements would not be possible. Please consider supporting your alma mater through a gift to the Third Century Fund. What is the CGPS Third Century Fund? The CGPS Third Century Fund is one fund that supports all of the school’s annual and capital needs. Your contribution will be used to improve the school, never to fill an operating budget gap. Recently Completed Project Highlights: • Enlarged the Grammar School entrance and lobby • Built a state-of-the-art Grammar School Science Center on top of three brownstones on 94th Street • Restored the façade of the 94th Street brownstones • Added new Prep School classrooms to the 36 West 93rd Street building • Renovated a new brownstone at 34 West 94th Street for administrative offices Looking Ahead: Plans include the creation of a consolidated middle school facility for Grades 5-7 with the addition of two floors on top of the 36 West 93rd Street building. To make an online gift to CGPS’s Third Century Fund, please visit: www.cgps.org/secure/donation. Gifts can also be mailed to: Development Office, Columbia Grammar & Prep School, 5 West 93rd Street, New York, NY 10025. CGPS ALUMNI NEWS Winter 2013 A publication for Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School alumni

For more information , please contact Sara Ziff, Director of Development, sziff@cgps.org, 212-749-6200 ext. 220.

On the Cover: Noted journalist and author Alex Kotlowitz ’73, who is interviewed on page 25 On the Back Cover: Reunion celebrants on their festive day in October


CGPS Alumni News Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School 5 West 93rd Street New York, NY 10025 www.cgps.org www.cgps.org/alumni E-mail: aclemans@cgps.org

Editor Alida Durham Clemans Co-Editor Dana Leventhal Graphic Design Regis Scott Printing Capital Offset Company Concord, NH ©

2013 Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School

contents winter 2013 C GPS AL UMNI NEWS 2 Alumni Office Greetings Alumni on Campus 4 Alumni Reunion 8 Mini-Reunions 11 Fencer Nicole Ross ’07 12 Amazing Alumni

CGPS Alumni News, a magazine that celebrates the diverse and vibrant Columbia Grammar & Prep School alumni community, is published annually by the CGPS Development/Alumni Office. We’d love to hear your CGPS memories. Please contact the Alumni Office at alumni@cgps.org.

19 Young Alumni Basketball Tournament

Headmaster Dr. Richard J. Soghoian

21 Arts & Letters

Development Office Director of Development Sara Ziff Director of Communications Alida Durham Clemans Director of Alumni Relations Dana Leventhal Director of Special Events Anna Levine

18 Alumni Law Career Panel

20 In Memoriam: Jackie Long 250th Anniversary Celebration

25 An Interview with Journalist Alex Kotlowitz ’73 28 Nick Perry ’07’s Fulbright Trip 29 Spotlight on Entrepreneurs

Development Assistant Noreen Tyburczy

30 Class Notes

Please send mailing and e-mail address updates to the Alumni Office: alumni@cgps.org.

44 Ninety-Third Street News

For alumni news visit www.cgps.org/alumni

45 From the Archives CGPS ALUMNI NEWS | 1


Greetings from the Alumni Office

A

s we approach the 250th anniversary of Columbia Grammar & Prep School and the community comes together to pay tribute to the school’s bold legacy and bright future, we invite alumni to reconnect with CGPS and with one another. In this issue of the alumni magazine, we have highlighted the many ways alumni are participating in the life of the school, sharing their stories, and making a broader impact. You will also learn about alumni programs and events, from the College Ambassadors Program and Career Internship Program to alumni speaking opportunities and professional networking events. Please stay in touch, send us your updated contact information, and visit us on Facebook, LinkedIn, and the alumni website at www.cgps.org/ alumni. We look forward to hearing from you! Dana Leventhal Director of Alumni Relations alumni@cgps.org 2 | Winter 2013

On February 6 at CGPS, Josh Evans ’03 and Jon Greenberg ’04 served as judges in the national ESU Shakespeare Monologue Competition, which featured the impressive performances of 12 talented Prep School students and was organized by Theater Department Head Ms. Sarah Cusick. Josh Evans is an actor in New York City, and Jon Greenberg serves as the Manager of Programming for Broadway Near You, a startup company that plans to film Broadway shows.

For the second year in a row, singer Adam Carrington ’10 and his a cappella group Shades of Yale performed for Grammar School students. He is pictured above during an assembly for Grade 3.


Alumni on Campus Bart Stein ’05 and Adrian Soghoian ’06 spoke with Prep School students and faculty on February 4, 2013 about their experiences working for Google and Yahoo! They were introduced by Science Department Head Ms. Sue Farnum who helped organize the event. Bart Stein ’05 credited Ms. Farnum, Mr. Dan Smith, and their advanced science research course, which enabled him to develop an electrical and computer engineering research project investigating ultra-wideband with a mentor from Intel in Arizona. He says that the lessons he learned from the project including being a self-starter, networking with smart people, and deep focus served him well as he graduated from Brown University, worked at Google, then cofounded the popular mobile app, Stamped. Stamped was bought by Yahoo! and Bart is now a Product Manager there. Adrian Soghoian ’06 had diverse interests at CGPS before being accepted into the physics program at Columbia University. Upon graduation, he did not know what he wanted to do and cast a wide net of job applications. He also spoke with Bart Stein ’05 and learned that Google receives one million job applications per year, has less than a three percent acceptance rate, and only 15 applicants were accepted into the early career program he was applying to. Adrian beat the odds and now works as a Product Marketing Manager for Google Chrome. He conceived of and spearheaded his own web app, “My Chrome Theme,” that enables users to design and share themes, which has attracted two million users.

If you’re interested in sharing your talents, passions, adventures, and other post-CGPS experiences with current students (and fellow alumni), please contact Dana Leventhal in the Alumni Office, alumni@cgps.org, 212-749-6200 ext. 298. CGPS ALUMNI NEWS | 3


Alumni Return to CGPS for Day of Celebration and Fond Memories

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10•13•12

JOIN US REMINISCE RECONNECT

RENEW ALUMNI

REUNION

2012

The CGPS Alumni Reunion was held on Saturday, October 13, 2012 from 3:00-6:00 pm in the Prep School gym and celebrated the classes of 1943, 1953, 1963, 1973, 1983, 1988, 1993, and 2003. Alumni enjoyed cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, reviewed yearbooks and old photos, and shared their many stories and memories. Mr. Terban conducted the raffle and introduced Headmaster Dr. Soghoian, who welcomed alumni and cut the 50th Reunion cake. Prep School Director Sue Kilmer, Deans David Morss and Monica Markovits, and faculty members Jeni Berry, Joanie Dean, and Sophia Rohde visited with past students. It was a time of warmth and celebration, renewed connections, and fond recollections. Special thanks to the wonderful Reunion Correspondents who encouraged many of their classmates to attend the Reunion including: Stewart Greisman ’73, Judith Neugroschl-Melnick ’83, Melanie (Liss) Cohen ’88, Jena (Cohen) Kingsley and Kimberly (Pace) Messina ’93, and Ali Smolens and Ben Zises ’03. For more information about the Reunion or the CGPS alumni program, contact Dana Leventhal, Director of Alumni Relations, 212-749-6200 ext. 298; alumni@cgps.org.

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CGPS ALUMNI NEWS | 7


Class of 1955 Enjoys Lively Annual Mini-Reunion

In October, alumni from the Class of 1955 met in New York City for drinks, dinner and the retelling of the old stories . . . sometimes with new twists! Dick Blum, Dick Englemann, Jimmy Greilsheimer, Frank Simon, Jay Dengrove, Johnny Levy, and myself met at the Penn Club for a few rounds of spirituous fluids to get the evening going and lubricate our vocal cords. Afterwards, we walked to a Chinese restaurant and after careful study of the extensive menu, we made our choices and Jay Dengrove dutifully recited our preferences to the waiter—in Chinese! (only kidding). We talked about everything. New facts emerged about Cap Field (no “s” please)—did you know he was the world’s leading expert on Dali? Or that he had such an extensive collection of playing cards that it is now in the Columbia University Museum? And there were plenty of stories about J.J. Reynolds, Mickey Contini (did you know that both were teaching at CGS in 1935?), Lawrence P. (Mack) McCormick, and Ernie Wedge. Dick Englemann remembered Cap Field’s 1954 European Tour. The company included Englemann, Becker, Rosen, and one other classmate—but no one could remember who that was. Maybe someone remembers. And, of course, we remembered those classmates that have no forwarding address—I consider them to be in the Eternal Study Hall, proctored by all the teachers we remember. Until we reconvene next year about the same time (or before if the mood strikes) stay well! u Jay Lewis ’55, Class Correspondent

CGPS thanks Jay for organizing this wonderful get-together each year!

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Class of 1976 Get-Together Sitting (left to right): Mark Rosen, Nancy Horowitz Slavin, Tom Karsch Standing (left to right): Scott Capustin, Gerry Gershman, Eddie Borenstein, Paul Woitach, John Rheinstein, David Slavin (Nancy’s husband), and Neil Handwerker

Tom Karsch ’76 sent us this photo of the Class of 1976 Mini-Reunion organized by Nancy Horowitz Slavin ’76 and himself, which was held on August 10 at Lure Fishbar in New York City. Eddie Borenstein and Gerry Gershman left CGPS before high school and had not seen their other classmates in 40 years. Tom Karsch was visiting from Atlanta, Georgia.

A Gathering of Alums at U Michigan From Left: Jon Goldsmith ’09 (Emory), Jackie Matza ’09 (Michigan— left before Grade 9), Michael Yaari ’09 (Michigan), Jillian Marom ’09 (Syracuse), Arielle Franklin ’10 (Syracuse), Josh Kronfeld ’09 (Indiana), Brandon David ’11 (Wisconsin), Steven Bertoldi ’09 (Syracuse), Matt Crowley ’09 (Michigan)

Class Correspondent Arielle Franklin ’10, who is studying journalism and business management at Syracuse University, sent us this photo in October after she had traveled to the University of Michigan to visit her friend from CGPS, Margo Lewin ’10. She was excited to meet up with a group of CGPS alumni from the classes of 2009-2011. CGPS ALUMNI NEWS | 9


Class of 2007 Five-Year Reunion

The Class of 2007 gathered at Traffic Bar on the Upper East Side where they renewed their ties and toasted to five years since graduating from CGPS. Many thanks to Racine Levy for planning this unforgettable event!

EvENT COmmIT TEE

Looking for volunteers to help organize alumni events or offer ideas, space, or resources for events. Please contact Dana Leventhal at alumni@cgps.org 10 | Winter 2013


Fencer Nicole Ross ’07 Shares Remarkable Olympic Journey On December 7, CGPS was excited to welcome back Olympic fencer and alumna Nicole Ross ’07 who delivered a gripping presentation to Grade 8 students and faculty about her amazing journey to the Olympics. With poise and eloquence, Nicole discussed her love of sports that began at Columbia Grammar School and led her to try fencing at the age of nine years old. Nicole then went on to describe a series of stepping stones—from leading the U.S. women’s foil team to win the 2009 Junior World Championships in Belfast to winning the NCAA Championship team event for Columbia University—that brought her growing success. After the heart-stopping win that clinched her place on the women’s Olympic foil team in April 2012, she recounted the phenomenal experience of competing in the London Olympics and representing the U.S. She also remembered her visit to the White House to meet President Obama, First Lady Michelle Obama, and Vice President Biden. Throughout her presentation, Nicole reflected on what has been crucial to her advancement: the drive and the belief that she can achieve a goal she has been working towards all of her life, but also the lessons of fencing, which include “being present in every moment” and learning to be highly focused and mentally prepared. Even though she competes as an individual, she often is part of a team and the team inspires her. She also credits the love and support of her family—including her mother, Aimee Ross, who accompanied Nicole to see the presentation at CGPS. Nicole will graduate from Columbia University with a degree in art history. She plans to compete in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro.

CGPS ALUMNI NEWS | 11


Amazing Alumni from many Eras There are untold numbers of shining stars in the Columbia Grammar & Prep School community. Here, we offer snapshots of a few of the many exceptional CGPS alumni who are making their distinctive marks on the world.

Marc Arnold ’11 Chess Champion

Marc Arnold, a gifted graduate of CGPS’s outstanding chess program, won the 2012 U.S. Junior Chess Championship in July and was featured in the August 20th issue of Sports Illustrated magazine. The write-up read in part, “Marc Arnold, a recent graduate of Columbia Prep, won the 2012 U.S. Junior Championship in St. Louis, ranking No. 1 in the preliminaries before defeating Alec Getz (also of New York City) in a two-match final. His win earned him a spot in next year’s U.S. Championship. The week before, Marc tied for third at the World Open in Philadelphia, the largest tournament in the U.S. Already an international master, he currently holds a 2540 FIDE rating, the 30th best in the world among juniors.” Marc’s accomplishment was also noted included in an article in The New York Times on July 21. After taking a year off to focus on his chess career, Marc started at Indiana University last fall.

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Michael Diamond ’72 Eradicating Polio

Michael Diamond ’72 shares his own inspiring story here: “Among the great experiences at CGPS was building the vest pocket park out of the vacant lot on 93rd Street. This ignited my interest in community development. After college, I lived in Bangladesh and worked for the YMCA with refugees, rehabilitation, and community development. This was the beginning of 17 years with the Y, living in Geneva, Switzerland, New York, and Chicago and building partnerships with YMCAs in over 120 countries together with international organizations including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, UNICEF, and the World Health Organization. While in Geneva, I met my Uruguayan wife, Reina, and our daughter Laura was born. In 1992, I joined Rotary International to manage their humanitarian programs and the global program to eradicate polio. We partner with the World Health Organization (WHO), UNICEF, U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, national governments, and recently with the Gates Foundation to demonstrate what the world can achieve when it decides to work together. From 350,000 polio cases a year in 1985, there are only 205 cases this year, and only three endemic countries: Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Pakistan. Mobilizing Rotary members in 185 countries, forming inter-agency coordinating committees, and raising over a billion dollars, we eliminated polio in three of the six WHO regions. Eradication is close. I also teach global health at Northwestern University and direct a program in global and ecological health engineering. I serve on the graduate faculty of DePaul University in their School of Public Service teaching health systems and global engagement. Along the way, I received my master’s in medical/social anthropology from the New School for Social Research and am currently working on my Ph.D. in Medical Anthropology at Northwestern University.”

CGPS ALUMNI NEWS | 13


Amazing Alumni from many Eras Jeremy Geller ’04 Israel’s Media Specialist

As the Director of Media Outreach for the Consulate General of Israel in New York, Jeremy Geller is responsible for designing and implementing strategies to help improve Israel’s image, with a large focus on social media. The Israeli Consulate was the first government body in the world to join Twitter in 2008, and the Consulate continues to be at the forefront of the latest ways to utilize social media. In addition to managing social media outlets, Jeremy is also the editor-in-chief of IsRealli and Israel Politik, the official blogs of the State of Israel. His work focuses on promoting the side of Israel you don’t hear about in the news every day, from its high-tech sector and medical innovations to its culinary masters and music scene. His op-eds and letters to the editor on behalf of the Consulate have been published in The New York Times, The New York Post, The New York Daily News, and El Diario. After CGPS, Jeremy graduated from Connecticut College with a B.A. in international relations.

Stefan Krawitz ’12 A Gift for Architecture

Stefan Krawitz ’12 offers this summary of his creative trajectory: “I have been sketching the Empire State Building, which I can see from my bedroom window, since I was a young boy. It captured my imagination as a child, and continues to mesmerize me. Sketching buildings and other structures that catch my eye is something I have been doing for as long as I can remember. Since I was 10 years old and throughout high school, every Saturday morning I

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attended classes at the Parsons Pre-College Academy. Eventually, I also began to use photography to capture architectural compositions throughout the city. However, it was not until the summer of 10th grade that I completed my first architectural course at Parsons. Of the many classes I took during my years at Columbia Prep, two were particularly inspiring. Mr. Stole’s photography courses greatly helped me sharpen my skills and shape my artistic identity. Taking Ms. Katomski’s History of Architecture course was also incredibly vital in building my knowledge of the foundation of architecture and in expanding my view of the diverse architectural world. Both teacher’s unrelenting enthusiasm and interest in me as a student helped to encourage my aspiration to study architecture. It was not until I completed an intensive summer college architecture course at Cornell before the start of 12th grade that I knew I wanted to apply to a fiveyear Bachelor of Architecture program. As a Cornell architecture student, I have spent countless hours in the studio, working as part of a team as well as independently. For my first major project, I studied the form and function of a shin guard. Through a great number of models and drawings, I abstracted and embodied its distinct characteristics, continually developing my concept. These studies eventually culminated in the design of an actual structure. Solving the conceptual issues presented to me, while attempting to create something unique and personal, has been challenging and maturing. I understand now, more than ever, that architecture is an all-encompassing process of continuous evaluation and revision.”

CGPS ALUMNI NEWS | 15


Amazing Alumni from many Eras Miri Navasky ’86 Documentarian

An award-winning documentary filmmaker, Miri Navasky joined Frontline in 1991 before forming an independent production company, Mead Street Films, with co-producer Karen O’Connor. Most recently, Miri co-produced, directed, and wrote the film, The Suicide Plan, which aired in November 2012 on PBS and explores the controversial and complex underground world of assisted suicide. Other films by Miri Navasky and Karen O’Connor include The Killer at Thurston High (2000), which examines the life of a 15-yearold school shooter in Oregon and won the Banff award for best social/political documentary; The New Asylums (2005), a portrait of the hundreds of thousands of mentally ill people incarcerated across the country, which was nominated for an Emmy Award and won the Robert F. Kennedy Grand Prize Journalism Award; Living Old (2006), which explores what it means to grow old in contemporary America; and The Undertaking (2007), a look at death and dying told through the perspective of writer/poet and undertaker Thomas Lynch, which won an Emmy Award for Best Arts and Cultural Documentary; and the highly acclaimed film, Facing Death (2010), which explores the difficult choices that Americans now face at the end of life. Miri lives in New York City with her husband, writer David Mizner, and their three sons, Milo, Gideon, and Izzy.

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Vivian Ducat ’73 Filmmaker

Vivian Ducat began working in film and radio during her senior year at Harvard, and hasn’t stopped since. Her first 20 years out of school were spent first in radio and then producing hour-long films for PBS and the BBC, for American series such as The Story of English, The American Experience, and The Prize among others—and for U.K.-only series including Nippon and Locomotion. In the last two years, Vivian has produced an award-winning feature documentary All Me: The Life and Times of Winfred Rembert, about an African American artist who spent time on a chain gang in the 1960s. Vivian has a second short feature film on the festival circuit, Stonefaced, about an African American architect’s obsession with New York City’s building sculpture and gargoyles. In the past year, Vivian, with her production company Ducat Media, has also produced 13 films and two interactives for the current New-York Historical Society exhibition “WWII & NYC” and 11 films for the digital resource association with the Four Freedoms Park dedicated to Franklin Delano Roosevelt on Roosevelt Island. Beginning in 2000, Vivian began working at Columbia University where she learned a greater context for her skills, producing e-learning experiences that included short films and interactive maps and timelines. She then began producing kiosks and other public media for outside museums, leading the effort in creating kiosks for the Malcolm X and Dr. Betty Shabazz Memorial in the Audubon Ballroom as well as producing on behalf of Columbia University Web sites and interactives for the Delaware Art Museum, the Library of Congress, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, and other institutions. Vivian is married to Ray Segal with whom she sometimes collaborates, and has two sons, Hugo and Oscar.

CGPS ALUMNI NEWS | 17


Informative Alumni Law Career Panel & Networking Event Held in December A kick-off alumni business networking event focused on legal professions was held on December 6 at Shiboleth LLP. The evening featured a panel of four leading attorneys and a moderator who shared their insights and experiences. Panelists represented a variety of backgrounds and types of practices ranging from solo practitioner firms to large firm and outside counsel. A legal recruiter also discussed the job market and what it takes to succeed in law. It was a great opportunity for alumni to connect with other members of the legal community and former classmates. many thanks to our wonderful speakers including: Justin Blitz ’96 Partner, Schulman Blitz, LLP Jeffrey Citron ’68 Partner, Davidoff Hutcher & Citron LLP Sari Gabay-Rafiy ’92 Partner, Gabay-Rafiy & Bowler LLP Ari Nissim ’95 Director, Football Administration, New York Jets Adrienne Lavallee, CGPS Parent Recruiter, Triumph Search Consultants A very special thanks to Robert Rosenberg ’96, Of Counsel, Shiboleth LLP for hosting the event at Shiboleth LLP and for moderating the panel discussion. We also thank the eatery Just Salad, owned by Nick Kenner ’99 and Robert Crespi ’00, for providing catering.

Upcoming Business Networking Events

Keep an eye out for future CGPS business networking events. To suggest an event, help organize an event, or host an event at your workplace or an event space, please email Dana Leventhal at alumni@cgps.org. 18 | Winter 2013


Alumni Boys Basketball: Another Electrifying Tournament!

Nearly 50 alumni from the Classes of 1994 to 2012—one of the highest turnouts since the games began eight years ago—returned to their old battleground (the CGPS Gym) on Saturday, January 5, 2013 to compete in the now-legendary Young Alumni Boys Basketball Tournament. Following the high-energy, take-no-prisoners showdown, the players refueled and reminisced at a post-game lunch in the Prep School Atrium. Special thanks to the Boys Varsity Basketball team and Coach Ryan Pettit for cohosting this successful alumni event.

Players on the winning team this year included: Adam Federer ’05, James Capra ’08, Sean Fuoco ’08, Matt Lerner ’05, Dimitri Milionis ’05, Scott Sadin ’08, Adam Yaari ’08, and Wade Yacker ’08.

CLASS OF 2008

We’d love to hear from you! What have you been up to since graduating from college? Email alumni@cgps.org and let us know. CGPS ALUMNI NEWS | 19


In memoriam: Jackie Long Former LRC Coordinator and Teacher

Jackie Long, a much-loved and admired member of Columbia Grammar & Prep’s LRC (Learning Resource Center), passed away on December 4, 2012 after a long illness. She began working at CGPS in 1990 and stayed until 2004. Before coming to CGPS and after her tenure here, she was on staff at the Stephen Gaynor School; most recently, she served as Gaynor’s Director of Admissions. “Jackie loved her work and dedicated her life to helping students with special learning needs succeed at the highest levels,” said Headmaster Dr. Richard Soghoian. “She touched the lives of countless students and colleagues, and her love and devotion to the LRC will serve as a legacy far into the future.” Ms. Long was remembered at a memorial service on December 14; a number of her former CGPS friends and colleagues were in attendance, and speakers included current Grade 5/6 Dean Sue Sortino. Ms. Long is survived by her daughter, Wendy, son-in-law, Billy, and granddaughters, Noelle and Violet. As Ms. Long requested, donations in her memory can be made to the Stephen Gaynor School Scholarship Fund.

250th Anniversary of Columbia Grammar & Prep School 1764-2014 To mark this extraordinary milestone, celebrations will be held next school year from fall 2013 to spring 2014. Save the date for Alumni Day scheduled for Saturday, April 26, 2014. This special day will be a once-in-a-lifetime occasion to reflect upon the meaningful history and shared accomplishments of the school and its community. All alumni are invited to attend. On Alumni Day, the classes of 1934, 1944, 1954, 1964, 1974, 1984, 1989, 1994, and 2004 will celebrate their landmark reunion years. A Golden Reunion will be held for both Columbia Grammar School and Leonard School for Girls classes of 1930s to 1955. Additional festivities will be held throughout the year so look for updates in the months ahead. Also, please share with us your memories of the school. Memories may be published in the commemorative edition of the Columbiana Today magazine and on the CGPS and alumni Web sites. Interested in volunteering for events, as a class correspondent, or on the fundraising committee? Email alumni@cgps.org

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arts & letters • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Arts & Letters showcases alumni in the visual, performing, and written arts. In this issue we feature six accomplished and creative alumni from the 60s, 80s, and 90s.

Photo Credit: Blaine Truitt Covert

Natascia Diaz ’87, Actress, Dancer, Singer Natascia Diaz, the daughter of renowned Puerto Rican opera bass Justino Diaz and Italian prima ballerina Anna Aragno, has performed professionally since the age of nine. Growing up in New York City and graduating from CGPS in 1987, she trained at The School of American Ballet and went on to receive her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University. Her first performances were in The Little Prince and in Lincoln Center’s revival of Carousel. She danced the award-winning role of Anita with the New York City Ballet’s West Side Story. Natascia’s Broadway credits include The Capeman, Seussical, and Man of La Mancha. Off-Broadway, she has performed in Bright Lights Big City, Saturday Night, Tick, Tick…Boom!, Rooms, By the Way, Meet Vera Stark and The Best Is Yet to Come, as well as Savage in Limbo in Washington, DC. Gavin Larsen ’92, Ballet Dancer and Teacher Gavin Larsen, a CGPS student through Grade 8, has enjoyed a distinguished career in ballet. She received her professional dance training at the School of American Ballet in New York, the Pacific Northwest Ballet School, and the New York School of Ballet. In 1992, Gavin joined Pacific Northwest Ballet, where she danced feature roles in ballets by Kent Stowell, George Balanchine, Lynne-Taylor Corbett, and Lila York. Seven year later, Gavin joined the Alberta Ballet and expanded her repertoire to include principal roles in works by George Balanchine, Christopher Wheeldon, Helgi Tomasson, and Mikko Nissinen. Her career has also included stints with the Suzanne Farrell Ballet and the Oregon Ballet Theatre. In 2010, Gavin retired from actively performing to focus on a career as a teacher, coach, freelance performer, and writer. She is currently on the faculty of the School of Oregon Ballet Theatre, where she serves as the children’s ballet master. CGPS ALUMNI NEWS | 21


arts & letters • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Caron Levis ’96, Author Caron Levis is the author of her first picture book for children, Stuck with the Blooz, iIllustrated by Jon Davis and published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Caron, who attended CGPS until Grade 8, lives in New York City and received her MFA in creative writing from The New School. She was inspired to write Stuck with the Blooz after a talk with a self-aware kindergartener who reminded herself, and Caron, that sometimes that sometimes you don’t even know why you’re blue. When the Blooz visits Caron, they take “zigzagging walks, soak in the tub, or make popcorn just to hear it pop, pop, pop.” Visit her Web site at: www.caronlevis.com. michael mao ’63, Choreographer Michael Mao is the choreographer and founder of the acclaimed New York-based modern dance company Michael Mao Dance. His 60 works have toured Europe, Mexico, China, and the U.S. and have been commissioned by Café de la Danse, France; Festival Internaciónal, Mexico; and Tennessee Children’s Dance Ensemble. Michael’s dance Firecracker, his “immigrant version of The Nutcracker,” will be touring North America in 2013. In New York City, Michael’s work has been presented at prominent venues including Dance Theater Workshop, Riverside Dance Festival, Kaye Playhouse, Joyce Theater, Bryant Park, Chelsea Art Museum, China Institute, the Children’s Museum of Manhattan, and Madison Square Garden. Michael trained at the Martha Graham School of Contemporary Dance and the Joffrey Ballet School and taught dance at Jacob’s Pillow, David Howard Dance Center, the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and Princeton University. In addition to performances, Michael Mao Dance offers arts-in-education and outreach programs for immigrants and ESL students. After graduating from CGPS, Michael earned a B.A. in literature from Princeton University and an M.A. in Far Eastern languages from Harvard University. 22 | Winter 2013


David Ludwig ’90, Composer David Ludwig’s music has been described as “arresting, dramatically hued...” (The New York Times), “supercharged with electrical energy and raw emotion” (Fanfare) and that it “promises to speak for the sorrows of this generation,” (Philadelphia Inquirer). NPR Music declared him as one of the Top 100 Composers Under Forty in the world in 2011. Commissions for prominent artists and ensembles include soloists Jonathan Biss, Jaime Laredo, and Jennifer Koh; ensembles like eighth blackbird and ECCO; and orchestras including the Philadelphia Orchestra, Minnesota Orchestra, and National Symphony. Along with numerous awards and honors, he has held residencies with the Marlboro Music School, Isabella Gardner Museum, and MacDowell and Yaddo artist colonies. Dr. Ludwig directs composition programs at the Atlantic and Lake Champlain festivals and is guest faculty at Yellow Barn.

David Ludwig’s choral work, The New Colossus, was performed as part of the 2013 Presidential Inaugural ceremonies during a private event for President Obama, Vice President Biden, their families, the cabinet, and other dignitaries. The work, commissioned by premier choral conductor Judith Clurman, mother of CGPS alumnus Ari Ruben ’04, sets Emma Lazarus’ poem on the Statue of Liberty to music. David’s music, Truman, was also featured on Judith’s 2011 choral collection, Sing Out Mr. Presidents, in celebration of the American Presidency. Ari Ruben ’04, now a student at Harvard Law School, chose the words for the Truman piece. Born in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, David comes from a musical family going back many generations; his great-grandfather is the violinist Adolf Busch and his grandfather was the pianist Rudolf Serkin. David holds degrees from Oberlin, the Manhattan School of Music, The Curtis Institute of Music and Juilliard, as well as a Ph.D. from the University of Pennsylvania. He is on the composition faculty of the Curtis Institute where he serves as the Gie and Lisa Liem Artistic Chair of Performance Studies and as the director of the Curtis 20/21 Contemporary Music Ensemble, joining when renowned alumnus Gary Graffman ’46 was director of the Institute. Visit his web site at: www.davidludwigmusic.com CGPS ALUMNI NEWS | 23


arts & letters • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Leonora Loeb ’93, Artist After graduating from CGPS in 1993, Leonora Loeb studied fine arts at Pitzer College in California, and continued on to receive an MFA from the School of Visual Arts in 2010. She comes from a sculpture background, and now works with photography, video, and installation in her studio in New York City. Leonora is recipient of fellowships and residencies from Mabou Mines, Chashama, and Makor-Steindhart Foundation in New York, and La Llotja in Barcelona, Spain. Her work has been shown most recently at the Perry Rubenstein Gallery, Momenta Art, Front Room Gallery, and Gallery Satori, in New York. In 2011, she curated a group show at Vaudeville Park Gallery in Brooklyn. Leonora is currently working on several collaborations, including a multimedia set for a short film that will be shown as part of No Longer Empty’s special events in February in Long Island City, Queens. Visit her Web site at www.leonoraloeb.com.

CAREER INTERNShIP PROGRAm Invitation to alumni mentors or firms who would be willing to offer internships to current CGPS juniors and seniors or to college-aged CGPS alumni. Please contact alumni@cgps.org 24 | Winter 2013


Award-winning journalist and best-selling author Alex Kotlowitz ’73, who wrote There Are No Children Here, selected by The New York Public Library as one of the 150 most important books of the 20th century, discusses his explorations into race, poverty, and urban issues. By Dana Leventhal CGPS ALUMNI NEWS | 25


Who or what inspired you to become a journalist and writer? My dad had a terrific influence on me. He was a novelist and wrote a number of books and a harrowing memoir about his time in World War II. When I was growing up, he worked for a number of magazines and he then went on to become an executive in public television. Our house was lined with books. My love of a good story was nurtured in the walls of my home. Fundamentally, my journalism and writing comes out of a rather simple notion, that life ought to be fair. Growing up in New York City in the 1960s, it was impossible not to be exposed to the diversity of this nation—by class and race—in a single neighborhood. It was apparent—at least to me—that the playing field wasn’t all that level. Not at all.

What was Columbia Grammar & Prep School like when you were a student? Did CGPS have an impact on your career? There were a number of teachers at CGPS who left their mark on me including Alice Furer, my history teacher, whose class was every bit as rigorous as any college course I took. In high school, I imagined becoming a biologist, and so I took every class I could with Jules Alexander who was, well, a character. With Mr. Alexander’s guidance, a group of us spent afternoons and weekends building a vest pocket park next to the school, probably the first time I really began to think about what we intend by this notion of community.

As a transplant from New York, how did you end up living in Chicago and what made you stay? How are the “messy vitalities”—a term you use in Never a City So Real—of Chicago different from New York? After graduating from Wesleyan University, I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do. I worked on a cattle ranch in Oregon for a year before finding a reporting job in Lansing, Michigan, at a weekly alternative newspaper. It was there that I realized that, hey, if someone was going to pay me to tell stories, this isn’t a bad way to make a living. At some point, I decided I needed some experience at a daily newspaper. After being rejected by a dozen papers, I made one last try, applying to The Wall Street Journal. An editor in the Chicago bureau saw something in my work, and was willing to take a gamble. I ended up as a correspondent there for ten years. Chicago’s become home. You can find all the fissures in the American landscape within the boundaries of this place, and if you were to go to one place to understand the contradictions of this country, this is the place where I’d come.

What draws you to writing about race, poverty, and urban violence? How do you make sense of the complexities of these difficult issues and the lived experiences of them? I find myself drawn to writing about people along the margins in large part because it’s through the experiences of those on the bottom that you can take measure of our social compact. I find inspiration in people who somehow manage to stay erect in an otherwise slumping world. I love a good story, and there’s nothing more exhilarating than knowing you’re telling a story for the first time publicly, that you’re getting people to look at the world and themselves just a little bit differently. 26 | Winter 2013


How do you find compelling stories to write about? I tell my students at Northwestern that looking for stories is like panning for gold. You know what you’re looking for, you know where to look and what tools to use but if you find it, you feel pretty darn lucky. My work pushes me out into the world, into places I otherwise would never have reason to venture.

Have you seen changes in inner-city Chicago since writing your bestselling book There Are No Children Here? In some ways, there have been profound changes, like the razing of public housing and the dismantling of welfare. But I think what’s most sobering is in some ways how little things have changed. I recently spent a couple of years making a documentary film, The Interrupters, about the stubborn persistence of urban violence—and while I came away inspired by the people we followed, it was distressing to realize how much things had remained the same. It’s disheartening that the deep poverty of our cities is still not a part of the public conversation.

Were there any surprises or insights you gained about race relations in researching and writing The Other Side of the River? More than anything, it crystallized for me what I’ve come to realize is the great American paradox: this notion that we’re all in it together, that we’re part of this greater community. And yet as it became clear working on that book, in the end, we live such disconnected lives; we tend to have little to do with those whose lives and experiences are at all different from our own.

In your 2011 documentary film, The Interrupters, you and producer/director Steve James explore the epidemic of violence. Is there anything you would like to add to the recent discussion of guns and violence? In the wake of Newtown, we’re asking all the right questions: How could this happen? What do we do in the wake of all of this? Yet nobody is asking those questions about, say, the 506 homicides last year in Chicago. I fear that we’ve become resigned to the violence in our inner-cities, and I don’t think we’ve begun to understand the incredibly destructive toll it takes on the spirit of both individuals and communities.

Can you tell us about your upcoming projects? I’m working on a two-part series for This American Life. I spent four months at a high school on Chicago’s south side, watching as it grapples with the violence in the community. And I just finished a screenplay about a couple of bank robbers, based on an old New Yorker story of mine.

What is one thing few people know about you? Given my druthers, I’d be canoeing up north. I know that people think of me as a city boy, but my heart is in the north woods.

To read the full interview, visit: www.cgps.org/alumni CGPS ALUMNI NEWS | 27


“I will always especially cherish my time with my students.” Nick Perry ’07 Teaches English and Gains Life Lessons in Malaysia

T

en months ago, I came to Malaysia armed with lesson plans and a sense of adventure to begin my Fulbright English Teaching Assistantship. After a whirlwind of an orientation, I finally arrived at my assigned location, a very rural and religiously conservative town in the Malaysian state of Terengganu. Teaching, at first, was a bit of a challenge. The school where I taught is one of the worst-performing schools in the district—and it shows. Not only did the students seem petrified of English, but they didn’t seem like they had any desire to overcome their fear of the language. I set out right away to try to quell this fear. I started presenting my lessons in a fun but instructional way, using methods such as games, songs, and skits. Slowly, my students started to realize that English wasn’t an insurmountable hurdle but something fun and enjoyable.

The turning point came around my third month of teaching. Suddenly, I started to notice a significant improvement in my students’ ability and confidence to converse in English—in the classroom, on the sport field (I’m also the soccer and ultimate Frisbee coach), and even off duty when I’d meet them off school premises to play some takraw (a traditional game that resembles volleyball but only allows players to use their feet) or sip some coconut water while watching the sunset over the South China Sea. During the rest of my time in Malaysia, I had students competing to be the first one to greet me in English when I arrived in the morning on my motor bike, kids asking me to tutor them privately in exchange for cooking me dinner, and even some of the older students asking me for help on their applications to spend a year in a high school in America. There are countless things that I will never forget about my time in Malaysia—from the beautiful assortment of tropical fruit at the daily market to being woken up in the morning to the sound of monkeys trampling around my roof to walking home from a dinner of freshly caught fish in the warm equatorial heat while listening to the soothing chants of the call to prayer—but I will always especially cherish my time with my students. They taught me so much about life and myself, from learning the value of cultural exchange to helping me step outside of my comfort zone, allowing me to take full advantage of this amazing year. I only hope that the lessons I taught them will remain with them as long as the lessons they taught me. 28 | Winter 2013


Entrepreneurs Spotlight on Enterprising Alumni Dan Shemetoff ’97 and NYC Pooch: Dan Shemetoff has an independent spirit and a creative outlook. These traits were nurtured at CGPS where Russian teacher, Ms. Mairs, and math teacher, Ms. Konikowski (known as “Ms. K”), “inspired him to apply himself and think independently.” Early in his career, he pursued his musical interests as a keyboardist, composer, and DJ touring abroad. When he returned to New York, he created an opportunity for himself by turning a favorite pastime—spending time with his four-legged friends—into a thriving business: dog walking. Dan began walking a few dogs on the Upper West Side to supplement his income in between gigs. He realized not only was there a large market for puppy perambulation in New York City, but lack of professional companies providing personalized care. He and his longtime friend, Shane McEvoy, partnered up and focused on branding their signature service and creating a boutique pet care company. NYC Pooch is similar to a nanny agency, rather than other agencies that walk large packs of dogs down busy city streets. By doing this, Dan and Shane turned a handful of local clients into one of New York City’s leading dog-walking agencies. Learn more at www.nycpooch.com. Adam mir ’97 and Sip Soups: Adam Mir and his business partner, Stefan Ziff (brother of CGPS Kindergarten teacher, Zoe Ziff), are the proprietors of Sip Soups, which delivers handcrafted soups, stews, and chowders to homes and offices. Sips Soups is an inspired collaboration between two food lovers. Adam started cooking professionally at the age of 26, and worked at Oliveto Restaurant & Cafe in Oakland, California, and Cook Brown Public House in Providence, Rhode Island, before returning to New York City for catering and private chef work. Stefan grew up with an appreciation of food and cooking from his family, and his palate has been informed by his travels to both France and the Midwest. Together Adam and Stefan redesign traditional favorites while developing a compelling new menu each week. Currently working out of a commercial incubator kitchen in the Bronx, their products are locally sourced from greenmarkets, and they deliver to wide range of clients in Manhattan and Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Brooklyn. A scalable business, they plan to expand their distribution area and eventually establish a retail store. See them in person on Wednesdays at their pop-up at The Cobra Club, in Bushwick, near the Jefferson L-stop. Learn more at https://www.facebook.com/sipsoups.

COLLEGE AmBASSADORS PROGRAm Looking for recent college graduates who liked their school and would be willing to speak with CGPS parents and students about their college experiences. We are also looking for current students or recent graduates from graduate school, medical school, or law school who would like to speak with other alumni. Please contact alumni@cgps.org CGPS ALUMNI NEWS | 29


Ninety-Third Street News The day-to-day CGPS campus is vibrant, colorful, and full of surprises. Here is a small sampling of the many exciting activities that make Columbia Grammar and Prep such a warm and enriching school for our 1,283 students in Pre-K through Grade 12. Alumni: what was CGPS like when you were students here? A

B

D

C

E

F

G

H

I

J

A) The Columbia on Ice skating party at Wollman Rink is a favorite CGPS tradition for all, with special significance for the senior class. B) In the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, the CGPS community bonded together to aid relief efforts. C) The Grade 7 and 8 play, Cinderella, was a memorable Theater Department production. D) The talented Girls Varsity Soccer team reached the state finals this fall. E) A beautiful new Science Center on the top of the 94th Street brownstones helps facilitate the Grammar School’s interdisciplinary STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) curriculum. F) In April 2012, Headmaster Dr. Richard Soghoian published his much-anticipated book, Mind the Gap!, a captivating financial “how-to” guide for the private-school world and beyond. G) With the help of Grade 4 and Ms. Stephanie Avena, a twice-weekly farmers’ market sold delicious and healthy bounty to parents, students, and faculty throughout the fall. H) Grade 2 students celebrated the culmination of their immigration unit with a family- and food-focused International Festival. I) Grammar School students still take regular swim lessons. J) The actress and comedienne Whoopi Goldberg gave a funny and heartfelt assembly for students in Grades 1-3. 44 | Winter 2013


From the Archives

Offering the CGPS community a rare glimpse into our illustrious past by publishing photographs and memorabilia from the school’s rich archives

Jubilant first graders take a break from their schoolwork to pose on the steps th of one of CGPS’s 94 Street brownstones on a chilly day circa 1970. This block, just off Central Park, is still where our youngest Grammar School students have their classes. Though modern enhancements have greatly improved the accessibility, square footage, and security of the brownstones on th West 94 Street, an old-fashioned elegance endures.

“From the Archives,” which was published in the summer 2012 issue of Columbiana Today magazine (the sister publication of this magazine), featured this hopeful photograph of three graduates on their commencement day in 1961. Nanci Alderman ’61 helped put names to their beautiful faces: Karen Silberstein (center); Judy Greer, now Zoe Stolbun (seated in mirror); and Jacqueline Levy (standing in mirror). Thank you, Nanci.

Send Us Your Photography and memorabilia! As CGPS prepares to celebrate our 250th anniversary, we are looking for old photographs, archival documents, and other historic memorabilia of the school and New York City for exhibitions and commemorative publications. Please contact Alida Clemans, Director of Communications, aclemans@cgps.org, 212-749-6200, ext. 245.


Alumni Office Columbia Grammar & Preparatory School 5 West 93rd Street New York, NY 10025 (212) 749-6200 www.cgps.org/alumni

Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Manchester, NH Permit # 206

Save the Date! Alumni Day, Saturday, April 26, 2014 Part of CGPS’s 250th anniversary festivities

CGPS Alumni News 2013  

Winter 2013 issue of the CGPS Alumni News magazine for Columbia Grammar & Prep School alumni

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