Thrive Magazine Spring 2024

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THE THREE Rs Plus AI & Computer Science


Senior Interviews

LS Art Teacher


Lee Solomon ’14

Spring 2024 p/32
THRIVE Columbus Academy Magazine


I have always disliked the word academic.

I know that is an odd confession to make for many reasons, not the least of which is that I technically run an “academic” institution, and while the word carries the description of study and intellectual pursuits, it also hammers home a perfunctory-ness or – even worse – a lack of any practical value (“it’s simply academic…”).

At Columbus Academy, we create a culture of thinking and learning; not a cursory one of spitting out facts. Because our teachers are free to create their own curriculum and are not caught in repetitive, state-mandated testing, they focus our students’ minds on “if, why and how” questions that foster critical-thinking skills and value intellectual curiosity. Our students escape a system in which they are more likely to be asked “when, what and where” questions designed for memorization in classrooms with a high number of pupils. Beyond “academics” we work to create habits of the mind – curiosity, creativity, compelling expression – and we cultivate the atmosphere for these habits to be practiced every day.

Just a few weeks ago we learned that two of our graduates from the class of 2022 were awarded a U.S. patent for their robotic glove designed to teach sign language – a project they accomplished while in the Upper School here. And last fall, a 2016 graduate won a national writing prize for short fiction that will be published next year. The beauty of these completely different achievements (writing and robotics) is that these graduates come from the same classrooms, the same teachers and the same core culture of educational expectations at Columbus Academy.

Our version of reading, writing, math – described as the “three Rs” in these pages – and computational thinking are continuously refined, improved and vetted as the core of what we do… as our excellence in action. The care and intention with which these skills are taught individually to our students, over all grade levels, develops mastery and creativity so they can distinguish themselves, like our recent graduates, in their passions.

And as artificial intelligence becomes more prevalent in our world, we are taking steps to prepare students to be AI-native so that they can thrive in and help shape a high-tech future.

We offer so much more than academics. But as you’ll see in this magazine, we put a lot of serious thought and effort into the academic side and – by all measures – have many reasons to be proud.

SPRING | 2024

2023-24 Board of Trustees

President: Tanisha Lyon Brown P’20 ’22

Vice President: Bill Porter ’74

Secretary: Ramon Jones P’22 ’23

Treasurer: Christine Freytag P’18 ’20 ’22

Immediate Past President: Sandy Doyle-Ahern P’20 ’22

Kimberly Allison P’26 ’28

Ted Carlin ’89, P’17 ’22

Ching-chu Hu P’25 ’30 ’32

Karen Jennings P’22

Paul Judge P’33 ’36

Jamie Lewis P’33 ’35 ’35

Kevin Malhame P’28 ’30

Jessica Chi Nimjee P’29 ’33

Niles Overly ’69

Tom Rubey P’22 ’26 ’27

Michael A. Schlonsky ’84, P’17 ’19 ’25

Danielle Skestos P’29 ’31 ’31 ’33

Mary A. Smith P’24

Pankaj Tiwari, MD, P’22 ’25

Trevor Woods P’26 ’26 ’30

Patti Zettler ’98, P’32 ’35

Alumni Board Representative: Kelly Hondros ’06, P’38

PACA Representative: Gabriela May P’10 ’25 ’31


THRIVE magazine is published by Columbus Academy

4300 Cherry Bottom Road Gahanna, Ohio 43230-0745

Phone: 614-475-2311

Fax: 614-475-0396


Editor: Bob Lee P’25 ’28

Contributors: Melinda Church, Erich Hunker ’81, P’16 ’20, Jeremy Morgan, Becky Barger-Amato, Melissa Clarke Beckett, Emily Campbell, Michael Haddock, Suzanne Lucas P’24 ’27, Bryane Roberts P’28

Photographers: Cynthia Wilson P’87, Dr. Andy Morris ’85, P’16 ’18, Colin McGuire, Vicki Miller, Paul Molitor

Proofreaders: Shannon Nelson, Michelle White

Strategy & Design: VENN Growth Collective

Printing: Kenwel Printers




THE THREE Rs Plus AI & Computer Science p/4



Lee Solomon ‘14


Senior Interviews LS Art Teacher


Alumni Updates & Happenings


Sports Stories by Dave Tucker ‘62

In the Fall 2022 issue of Academy’s magazine, a quote from Dave Tucker ‘62 about the positive impact of his time at the school was added to a pair of sports stories about his classmates. We sincerely apologize to Dave for including those two sentences that took the focus away from Bruce Draudt ‘62 and Ted Hoster ‘62, who were the intended heroes of his stories, and for not correcting our error sooner. Please visit page 44 to read Dave’s favorite sports memories.

The Three Rs PLUSAI&




learn to read by a clearly defined and systematic approach through multisensory, explicit instruction.”

Reading, writing and arithmetic. For generations, the “Three Rs” has been alliterative shorthand for essential foundational learning. Today, effective schools have adopted modern approaches to core subjects that promote engaging, fun and innovative learning.

At Columbus Academy, instruction in reading, writing and arithmetic is ever-evolving – with none of them taught in silos. Add a burgeoning number of courses and clubs in computer science and keen interest in AI, and perhaps it’s time for a new acronym.

Here, we highlight how CA approaches learning in reading, language arts, math and computer science/artificial intelligence.

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Lower School Director of Academic Programs Vanessa Taglia


The ability to read unlocks all future potential for children. It opens their eyes to the world around them, broadening their awareness of history, science, art, people, places and ideas. Reading is integral to the ability to lead a satisfying, productive life and to make sound choices for yourself, your family and your community.

Illiteracy – while not necessarily a firsthand concern for families at Columbus Academy – poses substantial challenges. Those who cannot read have higher rates of significant social, economic and health problems. Illiteracy means lost potential at the individual and aggregate level.

Today, teaching strategies in reading are changing across the country, part of a national movement that seeks to raise children’s literacy rates. According to a story in The New York Times earlier this year, more than 40 states, including Ohio, have passed laws to revamp literacy instruction in the past five years.

The Science of Reading

From a distance, learning to read seems almost miraculous.

How is it that young children memorize the language’s symbols and connect them with the sounds they make, understand how certain letter combinations form words and then comprehend meaning from words, phrases and sentences? (All of this while they’re also learning to tie their shoes, ride a bike and share their toys.)

Until recently, teachers and researchers debated the best practices of how children learned to read. Instruction wasn’t guesswork, but neither was it grounded in definitive scientific findings. Educators extrapolated from what they observed, constantly asking the question: “What is best for kids when it comes to learning how to read?”

Now, that question has been answered.

“We now know how this powerful understanding happens,” says Vanessa Taglia, who taught in the Lower School at CA for 13 years before becoming its director of academic programs last fall. “The new research eliminates any need for debate. The findings are that clear.”

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THRIVE | The Three Rs

Recent studies by developmental neuro-psychologists and others have used MRIs to make visible what is happening in a child’s brain when that child is looking at a word, deciphering it and learning to read. One key insight: the brain processes images or pictures holistically – not bit by bit – whereas it processes words by breaking down the letters and sounds.

“We know from an anatomical standpoint what parts of the brain light up as we’re learning how to read,” explains Vanessa. This, she says, means everything to how reading is taught.

This discovery is creating a significant shift across the country. Educators and school systems are moving away from the past generation’s prevailing assumption, which was that children learn to read in different ways. In many classrooms nationally that meant less structured teaching and not sounding out words.

“Children learn to read by a clearly defined and systematic approach through explicit instruction,” Vanessa says. “It starts with hearing and manipulating sounds of spoken English. It’s the idea that rhyming cat, bat and hat can lead to connecting the sounds with written letters.”

CA’s Approach to Reading

When the neuroscience research was presented, CA faculty dug deep into the studies and adjusted how they teach. “Our unique Columbus Academy approach integrates this comprehensive brain research with evidence-based classroom instructional practices,” says Vanessa.

The school combines research-based materials, such as 95 Phonics Core, with lessons developed in-house by CA’s faculty in collaboration with the school’s licensed reading specialists and consultation with literacy experts across the country.

Columbus Academy began using 95 Phonics at the beginning of the school year. The system is rooted in data-driven best practices, with guidance on skill development and progression. “This new program is all about our children and their brains,” explains Vanessa. The conversations about its use have never stopped, with adjustments made continuously based on student needs and faculty insights.

Teaching reading using the principles of phonics is not new at Academy. As Vanessa explained to a group of lower school parents last fall: “We’ve always used a version of this through kindergarten and first grade. What’s new is our foundational learning, extending this throughout lower school grades.”

As with all teaching at Columbus Academy, teaching reading in the Lower School is a team sport. Reading instruction happens in homerooms, co-curricular classrooms, in the hallways and outside on campus. This bell-to-bell teaching is as intentional as the selection of reading materials, lesson plans and curricula.

“All teachers, across content areas, are developing themselves in the research and methods of literacy education,” says Vanessa. “I’ve seen kindergarten students line up for PE class and clap out the syllables of sports-man-ship.”

Columbus Academy’s Approach in Action

Given the insights of research, explicit reading instruction at CA now extends to all lower school grades – in contrast with many other schools that stop at third grade. Aligning the reading curriculum through fifth grade establishes a clear order in which concepts are introduced, enriches learning and sets Columbus Academy apart.

At one end of the experience is discussion of Latin roots such as “mot” (movement) in the word locomotive, and at the other are songs and rhyming word play.

“Columbus Academy knows that the stepping stones and foundational skills acquired as young as Explorers (CA’s program for early childhood) and PreK are essential in developing the mind of a reader,” says Vanessa. “It’s so interesting to see how interconnected the big-picture goal of learning to read is with the nursery rhymes that we engage with even at that young age.”

The progression includes first-graders developing “phonological awareness,” understanding of words’ sounds and structures. Techniques such as finger stretching allow students to physically see how they make connections between sounds and letters. As students move into more advanced grades in the Lower School, they’re introduced to concepts such as prefixes and suffixes.

Faculty are seeing success in this new approach to reading instruction. “Weekly spelling tests reinforce phonics patterns and high frequency words in the English language,” explains Vanessa. “The data we get from that tells us that students are growing in their ability to segment sounds, to read and to spell.”

The other element of CA’s success in teaching kids to read is about the school’s dedication to student wellbeing and thriving. As Vanessa says, “We know that the best lesson plans will fall short if student wellness is not prioritized. Establishing a sense of belonging, significance and fun in class each day is the foundation of all learning – especially learning to read.”

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In the communication-by-emoji age, the art and science of writing might seem to be fading. Yet, we know that those who can communicate their thoughts effectively and persuasively distinguish themselves from the pack in all fields. As journalist William Wheeler has said, good writing is clear thinking made visible.

“As students discover the power of their words, they also discover how fun it can be to ‘play’ with language,”

says April Krabill, who has taught language arts in the Middle School since 2017.


THRIVE | The Three Rs

She describes writing instruction at Columbus Academy as purposeful. “The writing is very intentional and purposefully designed. I am proud to teach alongside colleagues who create meaningful, developmentally appropriate writing experiences at all levels. The depth and variety of writing and the intention behind it is incredible to me.”

Writing Across the Curriculum and the School

In the Middle School, writing assignments typically involve other classes. April cites several examples – all with the goal to reinforce learning across subjects.

One example: “In the fourth quarter, we partner with math on a business fair,” says April. “Students come up with a product that they would like to create, and we go through the process from product ideation to product development.” Details involve developing a cost analysis (both production costs and selling price) and a budget, among other things.

In her class, students write business plans, a business pitch, an elevator pitch and a reflection on their business and how it went.

The students’ Shark Tank-like pitches are three to five minutes. Here, the exercise takes on higher stakes as area business leaders come and listen to students’ pitches. “This is a great opportunity for students to showcase their writing while practicing public speaking skills.”

April and her students delve into persuasive techniques, pacing and how to make the spoken word sing.

“For the pitch, because someone’s not reading along with you, the words you choose are very important,” she says. “If you’re able to use alliteration or figures of speech like idioms, the audience is going to be more engaged in the pitch presentation.”

She describes the project as an excellent way to help students understand the importance of audience and purpose and, as she says, “students learn how to adjust writing to accomplish the goal. They see firsthand what a powerful tool writing is.”

The work students do as part of the business fair project starts in Lower School with rite-of-passage traditions like the third grade’s Wax Museum and connects to courses and projects in the Upper School. The early experience writing for speech is part of the continuum that prepares students for the eighth-grade minispeeches and eventually the school’s revered (continued)

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Junior Speech program. “And if students are really passionate about business writing, they can take the Writing in the Marketplace course in our Upper School,” says April.

That cross-school thinking is part of every aspect of teaching writing at CA. “We work closely with all divisions,” says April. “We meet many times a year to talk about alignment, where we are, what strengths, areas of concern and what different teachers have planned. We all adapt and adjust every year based on the students we have.”

Making It Meaningful and Individualized

Students in Academy’s Middle School engage in a wide variety of writing forms, which is useful for its own sake and also as a means to help kids find their particular areas of interest.

“Right now, we’re focusing on news,” explains April. “We’re learning about feature writing, current events and editorials. We’re also learning about how to keep your opinions out and be unbiased, which can be really difficult.”

Including so many different types of writing in the curriculum increases the opportunity for students to find what suits their inclinations. “I feel like Academy’s strength is making projects that are meaningful for students while also exposing them to types of writing they will see at other points,” says April. “They’re eager to do the writing without it feeling like a chore, even kids who might be a little reluctant to write. They’ll put forth a great deal of effort because it’s so personal.”

In the classroom, writing instruction is highly individualized. “That’s one of the things I love about my classes,” she says. “Because of the size of my classes, I can sit down with students at every stage of the process. They can get immediate feedback. We want students to see writing as a process, always seeking feedback, always working together.”

“One of our sixth grade grammar goals is compound sentences. I have students who come into sixth grade using complex sentences, and then I have students who are still

struggling with sentence fragments and run-ons. By having that individual time with students, we can meet them where they are, and then everybody grows.”

The Quest to Know She’s Doing It Right

Anyone watching April in action would say that she’s a passionate, highly effective writing teacher. But her curiosity and commitment to learning never stops – and it all comes back to her students.

She is currently working on her doctorate at the University of Illinois. Her dissertation, which she’ll begin developing next fall, is likely to compare how students learn using digital technologies with printed materials, pencil and paper.

“One of the things I’m really interested in is reading and writing on the iPad,” she explains. She rattles off a series of important questions, including:

• How does writing on a screen versus writing by hand impact retention?

• Are students using the iPad’s reading tools effectively?

• Should students switch to print under certain circumstances, such as when they’re learning complex scientific topics?

“Do we need to spend time with explicit instruction about those things?” she asks. “I have a sixth-grader of my own as well as two ninth-graders, and I wonder about it all the time.”

“I don’t intend to leave the classroom once I earn my doctorate. I think this is where I’m meant to be, but I want to be able to objectively look at my instruction and planning to determine effectiveness and make adjustments to my teaching.”

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“MR. B, HOW DO WE...?”
THRIVE | The Three Rs

THRIVE | The Three Rs

It’s Monday, early in the spring semester, and students in Chris Bolognese’s introductory computer science class are working on a lab. He circulates among the 14 upper-schoolers, three or four students at each table, asking questions and providing affirmation.

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An all-caps sign on the wall of Chris’s classroom – MATH ISN’T JUST ANOTHER FOUR-LETTER WORD – signals his primary teaching duties: upper school math. Watching him in action, it’s clear he is utterly and completely suited to his profession.

Now in his ninth year of teaching at Columbus Academy, Chris is the George S. McElroy ’32 Master Chair in Math. He was honored as the 2016 Central Ohio High School Math Teacher of the Year and the 2017 State High School Math Teacher of the Year. He founded and facilitates the Columbus Math Teachers’ Circle, a professional development organization.

Chris notes that CA’s upper school math offerings are more extensive than those provided at many other high schools. “We teach a lot of different courses,” he says. “The most advanced class we offer is multivariable calculus, or calculus three. We usually have 10-12 students who take it. Some students even take that as a junior, so they often take an advanced class online through Stanford or Johns Hopkins as a senior.”

Students come to these classes with strong grounding. Math faculty across CA’s Lower, Middle and Upper Schools work together to ensure students are well-prepared. Even more than math skills, faculty are interested in students’ development of key habits of mind.

A Focus on Disposition and Readiness

When Chris served as chair of CA’s math department, he led an exercise with all math faculty to create a shared vision for the school’s mathematics instruction fully across grade levels. The threepart vision they articulated, which continues to be used, is about developing learners who have the following capacities:

• Ability to reason – Can you make sense of math?

• Facility with problem-solving – Given a new, messy problem, what repertoire of ideas and past problems you’ve solved can you use to unpack this problem you’ve never seen before?

• Learning mindset – Do you see that mistakes are valuable when you learn? What do you do when you get stuck? Do you believe in yourself as a mathematician?

That foundational work helps to ensure a clear focus on why faculty are doing the work they do every day, not just teaching specific math skills. “Whether you’re 6 years old or a high school senior in advanced calculus,” says Chris, “all of those things apply.”

With their core purpose clear, faculty give careful thought to how students’ skills progress through the curriculum. One strategy is what Chris calls an “in and out” exercise. Faculty gather and describe their start- and end-of-year expectations of students on large poster-sized sheets, then arrange themselves sequentially to walk the trajectory of a student. Duplications and gaps become obvious.

“What are we teaching in third grade, and what are the fourth grade teachers expecting students to have learned?” asks Chris. “I think of it as a relay race, with the baton being passed on from one runner to the next.” The race is not a one-and-done event; the integration of instructional expectations across grades is a continuous process.

Making Math Fun… No, Really

At every grade level, faculty are keen to make math enjoyable, build confidence and help kids find joy in playing with numbers. In this work, Chris is quick to nod with admiration to his colleagues.

It’s hard to imagine a more enthusiastic proponent of math = fun than middle school math teacher Katie Castle. She radiates excitement when talking about creative ways to engage her students. One approach that is standing the test of time: she teaches sixth-graders about statistics using CA’s varsity basketball teams as the subject. They attend games, get to know the players and analyze scores and other elements of the game.

Years ago, Katie started an afterschool math club that boasts several dozen members. Recently, she organized a Family Math Night for the Lower and Middle School, with upperschoolers helping to plan activities. “That was so popular, they’re now doing a Family STEM Night,” says Chris.

The Upper School also has a math club, which features games, puzzles and guest speakers and not, as Chris says, just math drills to help students ace the AP exam. (continured)

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In the classroom, Chris and his upper school math colleague Emily Dennett, Ph.D., have found success involving students in problem-writing, a teaching technique that puts students in the driver’s seat and deepens their comprehension from another angle.

Unending Curiosity, Learning and Risk-Taking

Chris’ lifelong passion for math was ignited early, by his fifth and 11th grade teachers. At Ohio State, on the way to earning his bachelor’s degree in civil engineering, he took 32 math classes –20 more than were required for his major.

After college, he taught as a substitute for a year and fell in love with the classroom environment and helping students learn. He went on to earn two master’s degrees, one in math education and another in math. He thinks of math as a “playful” discipline, as a form of art and expression.

Not one to stop learning, he is now working on a third master’s degree, this one in data science, which he sees as enormously important for the future. “We have huge datasets. How do you take that messy data and make it something you can analyze? How do you tell a story about what you found?”

He is proposing that CA offer a data science class next year to expose students to these statistical ideas. “I think we can do a lot of really cool projects, like take all of the lyrics from a band or a musician you like,” says Chris, who is also a musician. “What common 10 words do they have in their lyrics, and why do you think that is?”

“A lot of teaching is taking a risk because we want students to take risks,” he says. “I want to be always learning with my students.”

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Artificial intelligence is a hot topic – so hot that some would say it’s generating more heat than light. Ask a cancer doctor about AI, and they’re likely to talk about its huge potential to quickly find the most promising drugs to treat a person’s disease. Ask a friend, and you might hear five-alarm fear about bots taking over the

At Columbus Academy, AI is a frequent subject of conversation. Important questions have arisen about the use of programs such as ChatGPT, the free AI-driven tool that generates essays, images and other content with a simple prompt. The program pulls information from the internet, so user beware. What ChatGPT returns from a prompt is sometimes right, sometimes wrong (including facts and grammar).

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THRIVE | The Three Rs

“We went through each of the questions and the solutions,” explains Chris. “We were the editor of ChatGPT. We found over 10 errors, which demonstrated it’s not infallible. So, the students understand to use this tool with some skepticism.”

AI is cropping up elsewhere across campus. Brent cites several middle and upper school teachers who are integrating concepts of how generative AI tools function into their classes. Thanks to Margaret Fowler, a middle school computer science and coding teacher, students in grades six through eight are gaining insights into how computers work and getting hands-on experience in basic web development.

In the Upper School, the computer science classes include an annual AI bot competition. Each student programs a “player” that competes against other bots in a game such as checkers, Risk or Clue. The best bots are showcased in the dining hall, where everyone can watch and cheer as the bots play against one another to determine a yearly champion.

Student interest in computer science, coding, robotics and AI is growing. A decade ago, roughly 10-15 percent of upper school students took at least one computer science course. Today, that figure is 50 percent. Student-led initiatives include computer science and robotics clubs and an annual hack-a-thon, among other clubs and events.

Having students with such enthusiasm for – and facility with – computers and coding puts a fine point on the need for AI education and guidance. In the near future, Brent envisions providing a simple framework to help CA faculty set clear expectations for students’ use of AI in their coursework. A traffic-light metaphor might work well, he says. Red means AI tools are not permitted on an assignment, yellow is proceed with caution, and green is full-throttle go.

Being able to help spark innovation and curiosity is Brent’s passion and the heart of what pulled him back to CA. As a student here a generation ago, he took every computer course offered and was a summer intern in the technology office he now leads. As he says, “What a great opportunity to help the next generation get excited about technology.” n

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AI Advice from Alumna Leader

How did Columbus Academy help to prepare you for your career?

When I attended CA, cybersecurity wasn’t a well-established domain or something I’d ever heard of. However, I found myself in the domain because I had an unrelenting curiosity to learn how computers worked.

I believe some schools drive the curiosity out of students, focusing on a norm or a standard path. I can gladly say my time at CA emboldened my curiosity and fostered it. That inspired my passion to continue and to work in the newly emerging domain of cybersecurity.

What is most important for Columbus Academy to do to prepare today’s students for college and work in the age of artificial intelligence?

Become AI-native. People who grew up with digital technology from a young age, we consider digital-native, and that technology usage comes very natural to them since they grew up with it. There is an opportunity for this upcoming generation to incorporate AI-based tooling into everyday life so that usage of it becomes second nature.

If you were talking with a CA senior about AI and college, what advice would you give?

For your given field of interest, understand the state of AI in that field. There is a lot of buzz about AI and its capabilities, but there is also a lot of overhype. Understanding the limitations and current contributions AI is able to make in your field of study is really important. AI is really good at some things, and really struggles with others. When you know what AI is good at in your domain, leverage it as a force multiplier for you. And determining what AI is poor at in your field gives you an idea of where humans still play a big role and could be meaningful to your career choices.

Specializing in the things that AI (and software at large) struggles with is a good strategy for setting your career up for success. And knowing how to leverage AI for the things it’s good at makes you a force to be reckoned with.

- Chief Information Security Officer at Canonical, a large open-source software company

- National expert in cybersecurity, sought out for her insights by publications such as The Wall Street Journal and Forbes

Stephanie (Preston) Domas ’05



Ricky Joshi ’97 to Deliver 2024 Commencement Address

Ricky Joshi from Columbus Academy’s Class of 1997 will serve as guest speaker for the school’s 111th Commencement on June 3, 2024.

Ricky is a distinguished entrepreneur and co-founder of Saatva, the pioneering online luxury mattress retailer that has fundamentally transformed the mattress industry since its inception in 2011. Ricky’s strategic acumen and leadership have catapulted Saatva to the forefront of the direct-to-consumer luxury mattress segment, boasting annual revenues exceeding $500 million and positioning it among the top 25 highest-grossing direct-to-consumer e-commerce companies across any sector.

“I am beyond honored to have the opportunity to address the Academy class of 2024,” stated Ricky. “Academy has always held a deep and profound connection to my own life’s journey. The lessons I learned at Academy, both inside and outside the classroom, have served as a launching pad for everything that has come after. I hope my story inspires future graduates to follow their hearts and chase their dreams with passion, integrity and curiosity.”

Under Ricky’s guidance, Saatva has not only achieved remarkable success but has also been a beacon of sustainability and social responsibility by employing recycled, natural and organic materials while mitigating carbon emissions. This commitment is also reflected in Saatva’s sustainable factories and growing retail footprint, currently with 24 stores nationwide and growing quickly.

Beyond Saatva’s success, Ricky’s influence extends across the e-commerce and retail industries through his board roles at entities like Branch Office, Guardian Bikes and Springdale Ventures. His insights and expertise have made him a sought-after keynote speaker and advisor in the e-commerce domain. Ricky’s entrepreneurial ventures also expand beyond e-commerce in fields ranging from consumer branding to real estate development to film, showcasing his pursuit of innovation.

Ricky’s contributions have been recognized with prestigious awards such as being an Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist and Saatva’s inclusion in the Inc. 500 list four times, among other accolades.

In addition to his professional achievements, Ricky is committed to contributing to community growth through various nonprofit board roles. He holds a B.A. cum laude with honors from Dartmouth College and an M.B.A. from Columbia Business School. Ricky and his wife Morgan reside in Austin, Texas.

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Ricky Joshi ’97 leads the largest online retailer of premium, American-made mattresses.

Bradway and Keeran Celebrated at Annual Holiday Luncheon

Columbus Academy alumni and friends gathered on December 22 at The Grand Event Center in Grandview Heights to honor Bob Bradway ’81 as the 2023 Distinguished Alumnus and Debbie Keeran as the 2023 Alumni Service Award recipient at the school’s annual Holiday Luncheon.

The event began with a champagne toast by Head of School Melissa Soderberg with this year’s honorees, past recipients of the Distinguished Alumni Award and members of Academy’s Legacy Society, those who have made meaningful and lasting philanthropic impacts on the school.

“Raise a glass to those who know the value of education in our community, our city, our country and the world, for those who are planners, investors and future forward-thinkers, and – above all else – for those who love Columbus Academy,” said Soderberg to those gathered in the ballroom. “Thank you for your confidence and your devotion to this wonderful school.”

Following a reception just outside the ballroom where alumni from nine different decades greeted and mingled with each other, Alumni Board President Mandy Mallott ’03 welcomed the almost 200 guests at the beginning of the official program.

“We are thrilled to have so many alumni in attendance today,” she stated, “and your attendance here means that we are paying proper tribute to today’s award-winners. One is a graduate and a tireless volunteer in his community and advocate for the school. And one is a former faculty member who has distinguished herself through her commitment to the school through outstanding service to her students.”

After being introduced by her daughter Meredith Kessler ’96, Keeran expressed her appreciation for the gifts Columbus Academy gave to her:

1. Her livelihood

2. An understanding of true professionalism

3. Her well-being and sanity

4. Awareness of diversity and inclusion

5. Lasting friendships

6. An excellent education for her girls

7. A son-in-law

“One last word to the 2024 graduates,” she said to our seniors in attendance, “Academy is your gift, too. You have a leg up because you have this gift of attending Columbus Academy that has a leader in Melissa Soderberg who cares. That’s important. There’s a sense of pride, and I might say a healthy sense of arrogance, that stays with you having graduated or worked at the Columbus Academy.”

When the ceremony resumed after a brief pause for lunch, Soderberg recognized the Academy graduate from the earliest class in attendance, Chuck Loving ’44, who received a standing ovation. She then invited junior Clara Stevens to re-deliver her Junior Speech from earlier this school year. The topic was Clara’s close connection to her grandfather, Academy alumnus Bill McMenamy ’58, who was in attendance and had given his own junior speech 66 years ago.

“Identity is not just defined by someone’s interests but also their personality, their backgrounds, the people they surround themselves with and the choices they make,” Clara said in her speech. “This is also what shapes a career like it did for (my grandfather).”

According to Clara, many of her self-doubts were eased with the realization that it took her grandfather his whole life to discover who he is.

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The 2023 Distinguished Alumnus’ class was well represented at the luncheon by (from left) Mike Crawley ’81, Mike Dehlendorf ’81, Sam Detrick ’81, Matt Crawley ’81, Bob Bradway ’81, Erich Hunker ’81, Michael Jones ’81, Joe Ridgeway ’81, Marty Nesbitt ’81 and Brooke Bethel ’81.

“Despite the seemingly never-ending pressure to know who we are and have our whole lives planned out, nothing needs to be decided today. Even my mom tells that the she still doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up. So as I struggle with similar feelings of uncertainty, I know that career paths as well as identities can change. The truth is I still don’t know who I am or who I’ll become. As I’ve come to learn, neither did (my grandfather)… and even if I don’t know everything about myself right now, he’s taught me that I have time to figure it out.”

The event concluded with the Distinguished Alumni Award presentation to Bradway, who was introduced by his brother-in-law Squire Galbreath ’79

“I journeyed through the Academy with a group of classmates whose support and friendship remain very important to me, and we came together from all different parts of the city,” stated Bradway with nine members of his Class of 1981 joining him at the luncheon. “We had diversity at a time when the public schools around us did not. We were better for it then and now. For all our differences, however, we were brought together by one common thread, and that was our families and the values that they placed on the importance of education and their willingness to make sacrifices of their time and treasure so that we could get the very best possible education.”

As chairman and CEO of Amgen, the world’s leading biotechnology company, Bradway was instrumental in recently bringing a manufacturing plant to the Central Ohio region.

“I’m really excited that we’re building a presence here in Columbus,” he said. “The pace of change in our field right now is extraordinary, and the future is really bright. I’m glad Columbus will be a part of it, and more generally, I wanted to share that I’m optimistic about the future of this city. I say that not just as a native son but also as a California-based CEO who recognizes – as my friends at Google, Facebook and of course Intel know – that Columbus, unlike our communities in California, remains a supportive community for business and a community in which a diverse talent pool is available and suited to the high-tech roles that we’re creating here. I think that bodes well for the next generation of families in Columbus, and what’s good for Columbus must also be good for the Columbus Academy.”

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Debbie Keeran accepted the 2023 Alumni Service Award. 2021 Distinguished Alumnus Bill McMenamy ’58 was joined at the luncheon by (from left) his wife Paula McMenamy, granddaughters Clara Stevens ’25 – who redelivered her junior speech – and Lauren Stevens ’26, daughter Kristin Stevens and son-in-law Jason Stevens. Following the luncheon, alumni spanning multiple decades gathered at Hofbräuhaus for a special “Beers with Block” event with art teacher David Block, who is celebrating his 50th year at Columbus Academy.
THRIVE | In the News

Columbus Academy Honors Its Veterans

In honor of the 498 Columbus Academy alumni and seven current faculty/staff, coaches, facilities and security team members – Neal O’Brien, Ralen Cleveland, Tony DiGiovanni, Paul Molitor and Dan Olexio (U.S. Army) and Dennis Gillman and Matt Mele (U.S. Air Force) – who have served our country in one of the armed forces, the school bell atop Morris Hall chimed 505 times on a clear and crisp November morning as part of our Veterans Day activities.

Academy alumni veterans Bruce Draudt ‘62, Steve Haverick ‘62 and Scott Lawrence ‘75 participated in the ceremony, which also included a moving rendition of “America the Beautiful” by our upper school Camerata and hundreds of small American flags placed by students throughout the grassy quad.

Events started that day with early morning PT – a typical routine of exercises that Army personnel go through as a unit, including a one-mile jog and an array of calisthenics – for students on Hondros Field. Also, television screens around the school featured slideshows of military vernacular and acronyms to test students’ knowledge of military lingo. And at lunch, food options simulated the way service members might eat on a remote base.

First Basketball Coach to Reach 200 Academy Varsity Wins

With a 56-53 victory over Columbus South on February 23, Jeff Warstler became Columbus Academy’s first varsity basketball head coach to achieve 200 career victories for the Vikings. His current career record of 203 wins and 94 losses over the past 12 seasons makes him the winningest coach in the 111-year history of our boys basketball program. During that time, his teams have won a pair of league titles and have reached the district semifinals 10 times with three district final appearances.

The most victories as an Academy basketball head coach, however, belongs to John Exline ’64, who has amassed 396 career wins in 35 seasons leading squads at various levels. In addition to John’s four years as the varsity boys coach – during which time his teams amassed a 37-49 record from 1998-2002 – he also guided for a few years each the middle school girls, middle school boys and freshman boys but his most success and the majority of his time has been in his current role as the JV boys head coach.

Top 10 Most Wins as Academy Boys Basketball’s Varsity Head Coach

1. Jeff Warstler 203-94 over 12 season (2012-current)

2. Jack MacMullan 168-61 over 10 seasons (1977-88)

3. Bill Hunt 131-77* over 14 seasons (1927-41)

4. Chris Jones 130-93 over 10 seasons (2002-12)

5. Phil Hess 100-122 over 13 seasons (1956-69)

6. Chris Durst 55-55 over 5 seasons (1990-95)

7. Jim Stahl 41-66 over 6 seasons (1969-75)

8. John Dodd 37-10 over 2 seasons (1988-90)

9. John Exline 37-49 over 4 seasons (1998-2002)

10. Tim Hildreth 32-36 over 3 seasons (1995-98)

*record unknown for 1941-42 season

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U.S. military veterans (from left) Ralen Cleveland, Paul Molitor, Dan Olexio, Scott Lawrence ’75, Steve Haverick ’62, Bruce Draudt ’62 and Matt Mele participated in the school’s Veteran’s Day ceremony last November. Jeff Warstler has averaged almost 17 wins per season in his 12 years as Academy’s boys basketball head coach.

Chinese Program Takes 46 Students to Taiwan and Japan

Along with three other faculty chaperones, upper school Chinese teachers Dr. Jing Yan and Dr. Hsiao-Ching Yang accompanied 46 students on a 13-day trip to Taiwan and Japan over spring break, providing them with a deeper understanding of Chinese culture while they developed their language skills and expanded their learning beyond the classroom.

Activities in Taiwan included visiting a high school and multiple museums, touring ancient landmarks and a television station, meeting a former Taiwanese president, seeing dolphins from a whale-watching boat and exploring night markets. In Japan, they experienced a kimono and tea ceremony, walked through a deer park as well as multiple temples and shrines, rode bullet trains, ice-skated and played games in an anime-themed amusement park and looked out over all of Tokyo from atop the famous SkyTree tower.

Highlighting a spring break trip to Taiwan and Japan was a school visit in Keelung, just northeast of Taipei, Taiwan.

Columbus Academy’s upper school orchestra and combined choirs posed in front of Niagara Falls on their way to Toronto just prior to spring break.

Academy Orchestra and Choirs Travel to Toronto

In mid-March, Columbus Academy’s upper school combined choirs and orchestra performed at Eglinton St. George’s United Church in Toronto to highlight a five-day trip north of the border. While in Canada, students enjoyed sightseeing and participated in a clinic at Western University, where they had the chance to meet composer Matthew Emery and performed his brand new piece “With My Heart I’ll Sing” for him. The week prior to leaving for Toronto, our combined choirs and orchestra performed the world premiere of the piece as part of an “Ode to the North” concert at First Community North Church in Dublin, Ohio.

Both concerts included an array of songs mostly written or arranged by Canadian composers including “The Bridge Builder” by Eleanor Daley, Tracy Wong’s ”Sehati” that featured junior Chaz Moore on the djembe and senior Adi Sadana as a soloist with lyrics in Malay and English, Katerina Gimon’s “Take This Thread/Le fil que je suis” which featured French and English, “With My Heart I’ll Sing” and “Sleep Now” by Matthew Emery, “New World” arranged by Mark Sirett, “Geometric Dances: Square Dance” by Richard Meyer, “A Beethoven Lullaby” by Brian Balmages, “Lullaby” by William Hofeldt with a solo by sophomore Sophie Wu, and “Heart of Fire” by Lauren Bernofsky that featured solos by Sophie, junior Alisha Arora, senior Irena Alahakoon, junior Harry Liu and senior Abbey Zhao

Concert Band Earns Class B Superior Rating

Columbus Academy’s Upper School Concert Band earned its first-ever superior rating in Class B at the Ohio Music Education Association Large Group competition in early March. In previous state contests, our concert band had competed in Class C.

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In the News

“When looking at the music we chose months before, we realized that our band had surpassed Class C material,” explained Director of Bands and Performing Arts Department Chair Jessica Sneeringer “Going Class B was definitely a challenge for our group but the student musicians in the CA Concert Band really rose to the occasion and earned a superior! This is a very large step for a one-concert-band school. We couldn’t be more proud of our students!”

Opening Doors for Central Ohio’s Most Talented Students

Where children start in life must not determine how far they can go. The belief that intellectual gifts and personal drive exist across socioeconomic backgrounds is part of our country’s founding DNA. What matters is the ability to develop those talents through an excellent education. Columbus Academy has offered tuition assistance for remarkable students for more than a century. Alumni, parents, families and friends invest generously to ensure that Central Ohio’s brightest young people can learn and grow at CA.

Unlocking access to the best education is so important that a national foundation – with no direct ties to Columbus Academy – has recently increased its philanthropic support for our students. In 2010, Columbus Academy received a $2 million endowed scholarship gift from the Malone Family Foundation. The philanthropic support came following an extensive application process, including a two-day site visit by the Foundation’s executive director Cathie Wlaschin, who observed classes, toured campus and talked with students and faculty.

The only Ohio school supported by the Malone Family Foundation, Columbus Academy demonstrated the teaching quality, studentfaculty engagement and alumni success worthy of investment. Malone Scholar candidates are highly motivated students who are among the top of their public-school classes but lack the financial resources to attend CA. As Cathie noted in her 2010 award letter to Academy, “This is not a gift but rather a challenge to find and educate deserving, exceptional students.”

Nearly 30 students at CA have received the Malone Scholarship since 2010. Today, at least one Malone Scholar is in each middle and upper school grade level. Interest from the scholarship endowment meets scholars’ demonstrated need for tuition as well as school-related expenses. After graduating from Columbus Academy, scholars have gone on to attend Princeton, Georgetown, the University of Chicago, USC, Duke, Stanford and CalTech among other top-ranked public and private universities. CA’s first Malone Scholar is now completing medical school.

In the spring of 2023, the Foundation donated an additional $500,000 to supplement its original $2 million gift. This means more superb students will have access to CA’s unparalleled education as well as the lasting benefits that amplify over a student’s life and across generations and communities. As the Foundation’s director says, “This gift is a confirmation of the Foundation’s pride in our partnership and the school’s scholar selection, as well as our eagerness to fund additional scholars at Columbus Academy.”

In 2021, Columbus Academy became the only Ohio school to join the Malone Schools Online Network, a premier educational program open to highly qualified independent school juniors and seniors. Students who are selected to participate take advanced college-style seminars. A few examples: Advanced Macroeconomics, Differential Equations, Introduction to Playwriting and Forensic Science. Head of School Melissa Soderberg serves on the network’s Steering Committee along with peers from other leading independent schools.

The Malone Scholars have clearly proven the wisdom of providing need-based financial assistance to exceptional students. Columbus Academy’s goal is to create similar scholarship programs, enrolling more of our community’s gifted, determined young people from all economic backgrounds. By increasing financial accessibility, we will give Central Ohio’s best students the opportunity to test their abilities, make their mark here and make a difference in the world.

Since 2021, Columbus Academy has been the only Ohio school offering advanced college-style seminars through the Malone Schools Online Network.

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Prior to earning its first-ever Class B superior rating, this year’s upper school concert band hosted a pre-contest performance in February.

Student Internships Build Confidence and Skills

For college students, internships have become table stakes for career readiness. They provide “real world” work experience and often lead to full-time job offers. In Columbus Academy’s Upper School, students get a rare early opportunity to serve as interns with Central Ohio businesses and nonprofits. CA is one of very few independent schools nationally to offer a coordinated internship program. Motivated to explore potential professional paths, Academy students participate in large numbers. Some 25% of all upper-schoolers have held at least one summer internship with the program.

Now entering its sixth year, the program was developed and is run by Jen Conti, CA’s Director of Internships and College Counseling Testing & Data. The initiative is the brainchild of Head of School Melissa Soderberg “She wanted it to be not just shadowing but a lengthier, substantive experience,” says Jen. “When I talk with the employers, I tell them that we want a meaningful experience for the kids, not just stapling and filing.”

Internship hosts must have clearly defined roles that last six to 10 weeks, for at least 10-15 hours a week. Some internships are paid; for those that are not, students can apply for modest stipends from the school. The program’s nearly 60 hosts have included such organizations as Franklin Park Conservatory, Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Stonewall Columbus, the City of Gahanna, and the Center for Human Resource Research at Ohio State. Many employers sponsor interns year after year.

Employers’ praise for students’ work is strong. “He has been an absolute pleasure to work with,” one recent host said about an Academy intern. “He was passionate about every project he was given and ultimately helped us raise over $5,000 through a charity golf outing.” Another said, “She quickly became an integral part of our team this summer. She was given highly responsible tasks, and she performed each one with the highest level of professionalism, efficiency and quality.”

For Columbus Academy students, internships often provide several first-time experiences with relatively low risk. “I talk to a lot of students who have never been in an interview, who have never worked before,” says Jen.

Amiya Tiwari ’22, now a sophomore at Harvard, calls her internship as a Spanish language translator and program developer at the New Albany Food Pantry “transformative.” She worked at the food bank during the summer after both her sophomore and junior years at CA, and she volunteered there during the school year. Amiya translated food bank documents and assisted its Spanish-speaking clients in navigating not only their need for food but also clothing, housing assistance and prospective jobs. And because she was in the process of applying to colleges herself at the time, Amiya identified the need for college advising guidance. With the blessing of her supervisor, she created what she calls a “crash course for the college admissions process” in Spanish.

“To have this direct community impact through Columbus Academy was really helpful,” says Amiya. “I wasn’t just running coffee or spectating in a meeting. I was actually in the community doing something. I was treated like I was a valuable member of the team, and I think that’s given me a self-respect that has carried over.”

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In the News
Academy junior Grace Holbrook attended a bill-signing ceremony by Ohio Governor Mike DeWine during her summer internship with the Ohio Women’s Coalition in 2022.

New League and Pair of State Titles Highlight Fall Season

Along with many of the schools from the former Mid-State League Ohio Division, Columbus Academy began competing in the new Central Buckeye League last fall and won league titles in girls golf, boys golf and girls tennis while our football and boys soccer teams were runners-up. Our girls golf squad went on to repeat as Division II state champions led by individual co-state runner-up Eva Lim and All-Ohio second-teamer Caroline Zeiger, and the senior tandem of Yasemin Bilgin and Arya Chabria brought home the Division II doubles crown from the OHSAA girls tennis state tournament while our team was the D2 OTCA state runner-up.

There was a lot of “Friday Night Lights” excitement as the Academy community rallied around our football program’s 9-0 start to the season that included a 40-0 shutout at Newark Catholic in week 3, a 20-16 home win over previously undefeated St. Charles in week 5 and a 35-13 victory at Bexley in week 7 to give us seven-straight wins over our archrivals. Four players from our squad that finished 10-2 overall earned All-Ohio honors: first-teamer and CBL co-lineman of the year Ryne Whitt, second-teamer and CBL co-back of the year Greyson Thomas, and third-teamers Gabe Davis-Ray and Nick Tiberi

Led by All-Ohio first-teamer and CBL player of the year Lauren Golden, our field hockey squad finished 12-5-1 overall, including 6-2 to place third in the league. In cross country, our boys finished fourth in the CBL and ninth in the district led by regional qualifier Dane Chaky while our girls placed sixth in both postseason meets led by regional qualifiers Clara Stevens and Melanie Qin. In addition to a league title, our boys golf team claimed its seventh-consecutive district championship and finished third in the state for Division II led by CBL player of the year Matthew Fang and fellow all-district firstteamer Jack Woods

Our volleyball squad was fourth in the CBL with an 8-6 record and 11-12 overall. All-CBL honors were earned by first-teamer Kallyn Hennessy, second-teamer Sophia Campbell and honorable mention Eleanor Schroeder. On the soccer pitch, our boys were 12-3-3 overall and 5-1-1 in the CBL, where three players were all-league selections: first-teamer Nick Dunaway, second-teamer Dante Rajaie and honorable mention Ethan Thompson. Our girls, meanwhile, were 8-10 overall and 1-6 in league play led by all-district second-teamer and CBL first-teamer Harper BoninsegnaMullins. Also recognized by the CBL were second-teamers Haidi Schoenberger and Samantha Whitson as well as honorable mentions Allison Frickel and Ella Lowrie

Yasemin Bilgin (left) and Arya Chabria claimed our girls tennis program’s first state title since 2019 (Sydni Ratliff ’21 in singles) and first doubles trophy since 2012 (Andrea Ballinger ’15 and Hannah Wexner ’14).

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This year’s state champion girls golf squad consisted of (from left) Rosemary Jenkins, Caroline Zeiger, Ella Tang, Sydney Fortney, Angela Hu, Eva Lim and district coach of the year Maggie Freytag.

THRIVE | In the

First State Champions in Swimming Since 2018

This past winter sports season was highlighted by a relay state title and two state runner-up performances in boys swimming in addition to three state podium finishes for our AquaVike girls. In the boys 200 freestyle relay, Andy Li, William Duan, Mircea Butnariu and William Harpster won Academy’s first swimming state title since 2018 by topping the field with a time of 1:27.01. The same four also were state runners-up in the 200 medley relay in addition to Harpster placing second in the 100 freestyle and fourth in the 100 breaststroke. Overall, our boys finished third in Division II after capturing the league, sectional and district titles.

Our girls, meanwhile, placed eighth in the state led by a fifth-place result in the 400 free relay and sixth-place finish in the 200 medley relay. In addition to her spot on both of those relays alongside Maddie Esposito, Ella Lowrie and Olivia Lewis, Lillian Bailey also placed eighth in the 200 individual medley and 14th in the 100 butterfly. District diving champion Elle Vahedian finished 10th in the state finals.

In wrestling, both Nina Kim and Ceci Reitter placed at the girls state championships and Parker Knapp recorded the 100th win of his career during a tournament in late January. Nina placed third in the state at 135 pounds while Ceci finished fourth in the 105-pound bracket for the second-straight year. As a duo, they scored 30 points in the state meet to tie for 16th place as a team.

Our boys basketball squad reached the district finals as the central district’s top seed and finished the year with a 21-5 overall record. Point guard Theo Falkenhain earned special mention All-Ohio honors and made the all-district first team while MJ Jackson was third team all-district and Anderson Davis and Jason Singleton were honorable mentions. In girls basketball, the Vikings were led by all-league first-teamer and all-district honorable mention Kendall Owens and all-league second-teamer Eleanor Schroeder, a District 10 All-Star Game selection.

All-CBL second-teamer Adi Sadana and honorable mention Addy Butler paced our bowling teams. In ice hockey, our Vikes combined with players from St. Francis DeSales to form a team that was led by senior captains Joseph Sardo and Eric Schuster

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Standing atop the podium as state champions in the 200 freestyle relay were (clockwise from top left), William Harpster, William Duan, Andy Li and Mircea Butnariu. Nina Kim celebrates after placing third in the state at 135 pounds.

Ceramics Students Assist in Raising Record Amount for Local

Columbus Academy hosted its annual Empty Bowls/Soup for Shelter fundraiser at the Otterbein University Campus Center in December. For the cost of entry, each guest received unlimited soup, bread and a handmade bowl created at our school.

In the weeks leading up to that night, our community (mostly upperschoolers in our ceramics club) trimmed, glazed and fired over 600 bowls for the event. The dinner raised $5,694 for the Westerville Habitat Partnership – which builds homes for families in need around the Columbus area – making it the most successful Empty Bowls to date.

“It is always one of the best events of the year,” stated Ceramics Club Co-President Maddie Martin “Thank you to everyone who participated in any part of the event and for everyone who came out to join us!”

Block Celebrated with Special Exhibit

A mid-February gathering celebrated David Block’s 50th year teaching art at Columbus Academy with a special “Chip Off the Ol’ Block” exhibit featuring dozens of pieces of artwork from over 50 alumni. Over 100 alumni, family members and friends of David attended the event to peruse the exhibit. A special menu of food and drinks was made available in David’s honor while Nicholas Nocera, owner of Rewind Press, hosted a live screenprinting of t-shirts featuring the CA art brush logo and silkscreen work entitled a “Portrait of James Dean” by Alex Freytag ’87

Midway through the event, Head of School Melissa Soderberg took a moment to recognize David’s historic year. “Look at the influence that David has had over so many generations of students,” Melissa stated. “Columbus Academy is really blessed to have teachers who want to stay as long as they want to and do the good work, and he has been an amazing influence.”

David also acknowledged everyone and gave words of appreciation for the turnout and the exhibit itself. “This show really is about the students who I’ve taught,” he said. “I tried to give people the love of art. I love art and I love teaching.”

Buyer Earns Professional Achievement Award

Sharelle Buyer, who has served as controller in Columbus Academy’s business office since 2018, was awarded the National Business Officers Association’s 2023 Professional Achievement Award last fall. Sharelle was one of just 15 people in the United States to receive this national recognition which “is presented to


Participants in this year’s Empty Bowls/Soup for Shelter dinner included (clockwise from top left) Seth Lee, Maddie Martin, Katie Jauchius, Zoya Arnold, Tommy Jauchius, Grace Edwards, Kate Cartwright, Adrianna Belousov, Justin Alpert, Arya Chabria, Angela Bdoyan, Grace Romanelli, Megan Smith, Izzy Miller, Christy Bening and Charity White.

business and operations staff in independent schools who have made significant and lasting contributions to their school’s operations or financial health.”

In a moment of recognition at a faculty and staff meeting, Head of School Melissa Soderberg noted Sharelle’s “incredibly strong work ethic and great background in nonprofit accounting and transaction processing” while pointing out how she is “extremely knowledgeable and always taking on new challenges.” Sharelle holds a B.S.B.A. in accounting from Ohio State University’s Fisher College of Business and completed her M.B.A. at the University of Phoenix.

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David Block poses with Otis Klingbeil ’16 and Jim Klingbeil ’85.

THRIVE | In the News

Prior to her recent awards, Na Li joined over 100 world language leaders in advocating for the World Language Education Assistance Program on Capitol Hill last October.

Li Named Outstanding World Language Educator

Just a few months after receiving the 2023 U.S. Heartland Chinese Teacher Award from the United States Heartland China Association, middle school Chinese teacher Na Li was named this year’s Outstanding World Language Educator by the Ohio Foreign Language Association!

As one of just three honorees for the Chinese Teacher Award, Na received $2,500 for classroom use and student field trips as well as a crystal trophy.

“This award is not just a personal achievement but a reflection of the great efforts and support from the entire school community since my first day at Columbus Academy in 2010,” Na stated. “During my speech at the award ceremony, I expressed gratitude to my dedicated colleagues, amazing administration team, passionate students and their supportive parents.”

Inspiring Upper-Schoolers to Celebrate the Arts

Essayist and poet Hanif Abdurraqib, recipient of a MacArthur Foundation “Genius” grant, was the keynote speaker at Columbus Academy’s ArtsMania in mid-February. He spoke to our students about how art does not just include things like drawing or music, but instead involves living out your interests to create an artistic angle with your work.

“It is good to love what you are good at,” said Hanif. “One thing that art can teach all of us is that there is something waiting for you to love, and there is something that you already love that you can expand upon.” Hanif went on to discuss his career path as a marketing major during his soccer playing days in college to now being an accomplished artist in poetry, writing and mixed media.

ArtsMania happens biannually in our Upper School and celebrates the many different art forms out in the world, including nearly 40 artists this year ranging from Arabic dance to graffiti spray painting to creating multimedia to slam poetry to puppet and jewelry making.

This year’s ArtsMania featured National Book Award finalist Hanif Abdurraqib as the keynote speaker.

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New Director of Enrollment Management Hired

Columbus Academy has hired Adriana Matzke as its new director of enrollment management. She will begin her role in June and will oversee student recruitment, tuition assistance and reenrollment efforts.

“We are so excited to have Adriana join us,” said Head of School Melissa Soderberg. “She brings to Columbus Academy a wealth of experience in a high-powered admissions office and the sensitivity to draw all kinds of students to our school.”

Adriana spent nearly 20 years at The Blake School in Minneapolis serving in a progression of roles culminating in the associate director of admissions position, where she led and managed the middle and upper school admissions process. She has also been the director of K-12 outreach and engagement for a national nonprofit that is the leading provider of global competence education.

“I’m beyond thrilled to be joining Columbus Academy as the director of enrollment management,” Adriana stated. “While visiting Academy’s campus, the strong academic experience that is woven throughout was evident, but it is the warmth of your community from students, parents and employees that excites me the most.”

The director of enrollment management position was created in the wake of John Wuorinen ’80, our present director of admissions and tuition assistance, returning to teach math full-time in the Upper School. After thoroughly enjoying a recent stint as a long-term substitute for one of our math courses, he is looking forward to a full-time return to the classroom after serving our admissions office admirably for the last 16 years.

The search for John’s replacement was led by the Baker Group (a widely regarded search firm specializing in enrollment positions for independent schools) and coordinated by Pedro Mena in his new role as director of hiring and student outreach.

“Adriana’s genuine presence and deep connection to her Latin American heritage, coupled with her passion for lifelong learning – as well as her love for the outdoors and youth sports – will undoubtedly leave a significant impact on our campus and throughout greater Columbus,” added Pedro. “We warmly welcome her as a valuable addition to our school.”

Adriana Matzke will begin leading our enrollment efforts in June.

Campus Benefitting from New Learning Meadow

New to campus this school year is a Learning Meadow on the righthand side of Campus Drive when entering from Cherry Bottom Road. A mix of deciduous and evergreen trees and shrubs encircle two separate council rings where teachers can bring their students to for outdoor learning. Many variations of grasses at mixed heights surround the area, which in total provides 1.2 acres for students to explore for observation and study. Design and installation of the Learning Meadow was handled by Environmental Management Inc. and was supervised by Director of Facilities and Grounds Harland Young

PreK students climb atop logs, collect pine cones and explore the many grasses, trees and wildflowers in the school’s new Learning Meadow.

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How long have you been involved in art?

My mother was an artist. She did a lot of fiber work and watercolor. I grew up in her studio so art was kind of second-nature for me. I started formally doing art in high school. Then I traveled for a little bit, came back and went to art school at Kutztown University in Pennsylvania and finished my B.S. at Ashland University in fine arts with a ceramic minor. I started teaching for Columbus City Schools 13 years ago, and this is my first year here.

Did you always know that you wanted to teach art?

No, I thought I could be an artist. I was doing welding and ceramic pieces together. I sold several sculptures for a few thousand dollars and was thinking, “oh, this is easy.” And then for a while there was nothing and I started to have starving-artist panic. So I went back to school to get my education degree, and I love it. I taught high school and middle school for two years, then went to elementary school and was like, “this is my spot.” I love it, I really do. The kids aren’t too hard on themselves. They’re just fluid and let things happen.

Does being around young kids help bring out your creativity?

Yes, because they’re not stressed and they love making art. When they see me in the hallway they ask “when’s the next time we’re having art class?” It’s like their highlight and they’re excited for art, which gets me excited.

What’s your favorite type of art to teach?

Right now we’re working on a ceramic garden, so my second-graders are making flowers. It’s going to be a beautiful project when it’s done. But my favorite thing to teach kids is realism with shading and value scales. I love hearing them say “oh my gosh, I can do this!” Making it simple enough for them to be able to create something that looks three-dimensional makes them feel amazing. It’s such a fun process because they just feel good about themselves when they realize they succeeded.

What’s your favorite thing about creating art?

I had a hard time in school because of my dyslexia and ADHD. I think it was really hard for me to be successful in a lot of places. Art has such a wide range that you really can be successful in something in the art world, and I think that’s a pretty beautiful thing. I often find that a lot of the kids who are having a hard time in other places come to me and are successful and feel good and have that confidence boost. Art is a place where you can be successful and happy because there’s not a right or wrong answer. It’s a big bubble that you can just be part of wherever you feel good. So my favorite part of art is just the freedom of it.

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CLASS NOTES Alumni Updates & Happenings 36

THE 60s

The Wolfe Foundation commemorated the legacy of John F. Wolfe ’61 – the well-known former publisher of The Columbus Dispatch and chair/CEO of The Dispatch Printing Company – with a $50 million gift to The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center’s inpatient hospital tower, scheduled to open in 2026.

“A great time was had by all,” stated John Exline ’64 after he, Scott Gurwin ’82 and Tom Sexton ’83 were guests of Rob Kaler ’83 at the 2023 MLS Cup in December when the Columbus Crew soccer club won its third Major League Soccer title. Rob, who has been the COO and general counsel of the U.S. Soccer Foundation since 2003, hosted the group for the championship match as well as pregame hospitality at Field. In addition to currently leading day-to-day operations for one of the most successful sports philanthropy organizations in the country, Rob has been involved in legal affairs for the Continental Basketball Association, Women’s United Soccer Association and the NFL Players Association, for which he argued antitrust litigation before the U.S. Supreme Court.

Jim Leeke ’68 released his new book – “The Gas and Flame Men: Baseball and the Chemical Warfare Service during World War I” – in February. This is the fifth book about baseball and the Great War by Jim, who is a retired journalist, copywriter and U.S. Navy veteran.

Jay Baker ’69 and his wife Christiane Hertel translated and published “The Complete Works of Friedrich Nietzsche, Volume 13: Unpublished Fragments from the Period of Dawn” in December. The publication of this book by Stanford University Press is the first complete critical edition of Nietzsche’s works in English.

The book “Messages from the Heart: For Those Who Need It Most” by Dr. Rick Zollinger II ’69 is a vibrant collection of stories and reflections from the retired cardiovascular surgeon now available on

THE 70s —

John Alton ‘70, received the Michael F. Colley Award from the Ohio Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA). The award recipient is chosen for service to the trial bar, leadership of colleagues, extraordinary standard of professional conduct and total dedication to the ideals of preservation of the right to trial by jury.

Michael Hallet, M.D. ’70

commemorated a plaque in honor of his wife’s parents at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in November of 2023.

Trip Lazarus ’72 was featured in a news article last fall about the Drexel Theatre Gala. The November event honored founding members of the Drexel including Trip’s father, the late Bob Lazarus ’45, as well as fellow Academy alumni Don Casto II ’62 and Artie Isaac ’78

Joyce and Michael Hallet ’70

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Rob Kaler ’83, Tom Sexton ’83, Scott Gurwin ’82 and John Exline ’64 John Alton ’70

Over a dozen Columbus Academy alumni showed up on Thanksgiving morning to play in the annual Turkey Bowl on Hondros Field. Organized annually by Jeff Berman ’81, all Vikings who are back in town for the holiday are invited for a friendly game of soccer and in recent years have also chosen to play pickup basketball games on campus.

Jeff Berman ’81 (center) and Turkey Bowl 2023 participants

Amgen’s biopharma packing plant in New Albany, led by CEO Bob Bradway ’81, opened ahead of schedule and began production in January with 240 of an expected 400 employees already hired.

Vistria Group Founding Partner, Co-Chairman and Co-CEO Marty Nesbitt ’81 was interviewed by David Rubenstein on Bloomberg Wealth, a well-known program in business circles. The episode highlighted Marty’s career, including work as campaign advisor for his personal friend President Barack Obama, as well as his perspective on the challenges of finding quality private equity deals in the “current high-rate environment.”

Brad Feinknopf ’82 received an Architizer A+ Award in the Architecture + Photography & Video category for his capturing of the Youngmeyer Ranch, a research site for Wichita State University in Elk County, Kansas. Architizer A+ is the largest awards program honoring the world’s best architecture and spaces, and Team Feinknopf – a two-time finalist – was also named Special Mention for Architectural Photographer of the Year in the Exterior Photography category.

Scott Halliday ’83 and classmates celebrated their 40th reunion in September at the Halliday party barn where they watched Ohio State defeat Notre Dame. “It was a great evening and turnout, which would have been larger if we would have had the guys attending the game,” noted Scott. “See you all at 45!”

“Into the Ancient” – authored by Joe Hess ’83 – will be released in May. According to a Finishing Line Press description, the poetry book “presents America as a post-patriarchal empire rife with entangled narratives erupting outside its conventional dying metaphors.”

E.E. Ward Moving & Storage Co., the United States’ oldest Blackowned business co-owned by Brian Brooks ’87 and his wife Dominique, was featured during Black History Month as part of a national news segment on ABC World News Tonight with David Muir

Dr. Jonathan Feibel ’87 began 2024 as the newly elected president of the State Medical Board of Ohio, appointed by Governor Mike DeWine.

University of Cincinnati Law Dean Dr. Haider Ala Hamoudi ’89 spoke at the ceremony for those who passed the 2023 Ohio Bar Exam including fellow Academy alumni Jon Michael Hilsheimer ’12, Lee Solomon ’14, Sydnie Boykins ’15 and Scott Mackenzie ’15. The overall passage rate was 73%, but the Vikings went 100% for the exam taken last July!

Barton Hacker ’89, president and CEO of the Associated Builders and Contractors, was named an Ohio State Apprenticeship Council Member, as announced in the organization’s winter newsletter.

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THE 80s
Marty Nesbitt ’81 (right) being interviewed by David Rubenstein Lee Solomon ’14, Dr. Haider Ala Hamoudi ’89 and Jon Michael Hilsheimer ’12

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THE 90s —

Vivek Unni ’91 visited Latin teacher Christy Bening for her birthday last fall and enjoyed reminiscing while reading over the ancient quotes adorning her classroom walls.

Rockbridge CEO Jim Merkel ’92 announced in a Columbus Business First article in February the addition of a new 162-room luxury hotel coming to The Merchant Building near the North Market in Downtown Columbus.

Dr. Brittany Bean ’93 is a clinical audiologist in the Ambulatory Care Center at the Department of Veteran Affairs. In addition to her husband Carter Bean ’93 and brother Carter Kistler ’15, Dr. Bean’s ties to Academy also include daughter Harper, a current ninthgrader, and serving on the Alumni Board. She credits all of her science classes at Academy for cultivating an interest in the medical field that would allow her to help others.

Dr. Tyler Denmead ’94 was recently appointed as dean of college at Queens’ College in Cambridge, U.K., and received the award for National Ph.D. Supervisor of the Year. Tyler credits many of his mentors from Columbus Academy for teaching him a commitment to community, especially James Stahl and the late Phil Currier. “Both modeled for me, in different ways, how to be a steward of a community, how to be a mentor, how to commit to others.”

Matt Hyde, the husband of Academy alumna Charity (Barger) Hyde ’95, recently shared his insight about the college search process with our upper school parents and 11th-graders. Matt is the dean of admissions and financial aid at Trinity College in Hartford, Conn.

Laura (Godfrey) Zagar ’95, managing partner at the San Francisco office of the law firm Perkins Coie, was interviewed on PBS News Hour following the death of Sandra Day O’Connor in December. She described some of the barriers women still face in the legal profession decades after O’Connor’s appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court. With 62 percent of its partners women, her office is an anomaly far above the national average of 25 percent.

Ed Carter ’96 is a partner at Jones Day. In addition to volunteering his time to serve on Columbus Academy’s Alumni Board, Ed is president of the Columbus chapter of JDRF, which works to find a cure for type 1 diabetes. He credits his homeroom advisor and Latin teacher Christy Bening for having a positive impact on his time as a student. “Not only did she push us to be our best in the classroom –I still remember the challenge of translating the Aeneid – she was a dedicated mentor and friend.”

Ricky Joshi ’97, co-owner and chief strategy officer of Saatva mattresses, is an executive producer of “The Long Game” which debuted in April. The movie is set in 1955 and focuses on five young Mexican-American caddies who, out of their love for golf, learn how to play the game on a course they created in the middle of the South Texas desert.

After several years in a similar role at the University of Connecticut’s Law School, Jennifer Cerny ’98 is now the associate dean of students at Yale Law School where she oversees the Office of Student Affairs and the Career Development Office. She resides in Connecticut with her husband and three children.

Patti Zettler ’98 was appointed in November as Deputy General Counsel to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. “This appointment is an incredible honor and reflects Patti’s deep expertise, legal and policy acumen, extensive work in food and drug regulation, and her stature in the field of health law,” stated Lincoln Davies, Dean of Ohio State Law, from which Patti is taking leave as a professor while she provides representation and legal advice on a wide range of highly visible national issues for the Biden-Harris administration.

Allison Carpenter ’99, deputy public defender for Arlington County and the city of Falls Church, Virginia, recently received the 2024 Influential Women of Law award by Virginia Lawyers Weekly. The awards program honors women attorneys and judges for their excellent work on behalf of the justice system and for their clients, commitment to their communities and service to the profession. Allison is also part of the clinical faculty for Catholic University School of Law, where she teaches trial advocacy and supervises a public defender externship.

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Allison Carpenter ’99 Christy Bening and Vivek Unni ’91 Dr. Brittany Bean ’93 with Carter Bean ’93, Carter Kistler ’15 and Harper Bean ’27 when Carter and Harper were senior-kindergarten buddies during the 2014-15 school year

THE 00s

Ted Lin ’00 is back in Columbus as the CEO and co-founder of Stonehaven Structures and his daughter Beverly now attends Academy. Ted received a BSBA in finance and international business from Georgetown University and credits his interest in earning that degree to an economics class taught by John Exline ’64 during his senior year. Ted then lived overseas for many years, specifically in Singapore, and his older sister Teresa ’97 lives in New York.

Dean Bring ’01 was promoted to vice president of development at the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption where he leads the organization’s fundraising. Located in Columbus, the foundation is a national nonprofit public charity dedicated to finding forever families for more than 140,000 children waiting to be adopted from foster care in the United States and Canada.

Michael Corey ’01, executive director of the Human Service Chamber of Franklin County, was a guest of our Upper School’s Writing in the Market class in December when he was presented with ideas about how to help Columbus stay on top of the shifting energy landscape in the state and across the country.

Nick Jones ’01, vice president of community wellness at Nationwide Children’s Hospital, was a panelist at last fall’s Central Ohio Workforce Summit where he spoke about the opening of The Residences at Career Gateway on the south side of Columbus which “provide 58 units of affordable apartments along with an on-site career development training center.” Nick pointed out the center’s ability to now reach hundreds of people in that area who apply for jobs.

HOMAGE Bar, owned by Ryan Vesler ’01 (who is also CEO of the vintage clothing brand), opened in late October inside Graduate Hotels in the Short North. The bar features a menu of oldschool snacks and drinks named after recognizable Columbus-area names. HOMAGE also inked a deal with Donna Kelce, mother of NFL stars Jason and Travis Kelce, for the promotional t-shirt “Mama Kelce Rooting for the Offense” to benefit the Heights Schools Foundation in Cleveland where both of her sons graduated high school.

Dr. Ben Bring ’03, recent recipient of the Emerging Leader Award from OhioHealth’s Dublin Methodist Hospital, has also been named Clinical Preceptor of the Year by Ohio University’s Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine and to the “Next Up Columbus” Class of 2023 by CityPulse.

Kevin Curry ’03 has had five different crossword puzzles published by major outlets such as The New York Times and Wall Street Journal. Inspired by an assignment to create a board game in his Chinese class at Academy, Kevin was motivated to start constructing crosswords by hand for family members’ birthdays. After discovering that publications pay people to do this, he eventually learned from colleagues within the community how to construct unique, popular puzzles.

Mandy Mallott ‘03 and Joe Mayer ‘04 were named to the Columbus Business First 40 Under 40 program, which recognizes the region’s best and brightest young community leaders. Mandy is the director of Ohio State early investor network, while Joe serves as principal and senior designer at DesignGroup.

Patty McAvoy ’03 played the role of Mrs. Potts in the Butterfly Guild of Nationwide Children’s Hospital’s production of “Beauty and the Beast” in March at the Palace Theatre.

Avishar Barua ’05 has been named a semifinalist for the 2024 James Beard Foundation’s Restaurant and Chef Awards. Avishar – who won an episode of Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay” in 2023 and also competed on season 18 of “Top Chef” in Portland – is one of two Columbus chefs selected to this prestigious list of 20 semifinalists from the Great Lakes region (which includes Ohio, Illinois, Indiana and Michigan). Joya’s Café in Worthington is the featured restaurant for Avishar’s recognition, and he also owns Agni in the German Village/ Brewery District area. Kent Rigsby ’71 was the last Academy alumni to be selected as a Great Lakes semifinalist for the Beard Awards back in 2012.

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Ryan Vesler ’01 with Donna Kelce, mother of NFL stars Jason and Travis Kelce Nick Jones ’01 Kevin Curry ’03 and his children Patty McAvoy ’03 (right) with other “Beauty and the Beast” characters

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Stephanie Domas ’05 (featured on page 17) recently began a new role as chief information security office for Canonical. Stephanie and her husband Chris also co-authored “x86 Software Reverse-Engineering, Cracking, and Counter-Measures,” a book released in February which details the use of underlying language that most computers speak to manipulate software to do what you want.

Lynanne Gutierrez ’05 was promoted in January to president of Groundwork Ohio, the state’s leading advocacy organization focused on issues impacting the prenatal period to age five. Lynanne joined the Columbus nonprofit in 2017 and most recently served as its chief operating and policy officer. She has been a pivotal figure in Groundwork’s strategic growth and transformation over the past seven years.

Kelly Hondros ’06 is the new Alumni Board Representative on Columbus Academy’s Board of Trustees. As the vice president at Hondros Family of Companies, Kelly serves as president of the Hondros Family Foundation and is also owner of Verdant Creations, Purpose Leaf and Motive CBD. These are all a collection of family owned and operated businesses with a central office in Westerville.

Carly Rodeman ’08 married Kevin McCarthy on September 22, 2023, in Mallorca, Spain, with several fellow Vikings in attendance.

Dr. Anna Askari ’09 became engaged to Vahid Gharibvand on Thanksgiving Day in Newport Beach, Calif., in the same place they originally met.

After more than a decade working with PNC Private Bank and PNC Investments, Mike Brown ’09 joined Buckeye Capital Advisors with Janney Montgomery Scott LLC in Grandview Heights as the vice president of wealth management in December of 2023.

THE 10s —

Nathaniel Sutton ’10 graduated from the University of Virginia Law School in 2021 and is clerking for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett. Sutton previously clerked for Chief Judge William H. Pryor Jr. of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit and Judge Daniel A. Bress of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Ryan Wheeler ’10 has joined Columbus Academy’s Alumni Board. After earning his bachelor’s degree in business management and leadership from Miami University and a J.D. from Capital University Law School, Ryan had a brief stint as the assistant prosecuting attorney in Franklin County before beginning his current role as an associate at Vorys, Sater, Seymour and Pease LLP. He knew he wanted to be an attorney as early as sixth grade and credits the parents of his Academy friends and classmates who worked in the legal profession for offering him guidance.

Emma Harrington ’11 has become a sought-after national expert on remote work for both NPR and the Hoover Institution, the nation’s preeminent research center dedicated to generating policy ideas that promote economic prosperity, national security and democratic governance. Since graduating as the valedictorian at Williams College, Emma earned her Ph.D. in Economics from Harvard, held a postdoc position in the Industrial Relations Section at Princeton University and served as an assistant professor at the University of Iowa Tippie College of Business. She is currently an assistant professor of economics at the University of Virginia and affiliate of JPAL-North America, a global network of researchers based at MIT who use randomized evaluations to answer critical policy questions in the fight against poverty.

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Nathaniel Sutton ’10 Carly Rodeman ’08 (center) with former Academy classmates (from left) Laura (Caplinger) Carlton ’08, Aaron Marbley ’08, Paulina Canini ’08, Ryan Williams ’08, Beau Peiffer ’08 and Sue (Ferger) Fortune ’07 Dr. Anna Askari ’09 and fiancé Vahid Gharibvand Emma Harrington ’11 Lynanne Gutierrez ’05

Liz (Vaziri) Van Koevering ’11 and Carolyn Vaziri ’22 interviewed on 10TV about U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt. George Winger ’36

Liz (Vaziri) Van Koevering ’11 and her sister Carolyn Vaziri ’22 were interviewed by 10TV for a Veterans Day story about the remains of U.S. Army Air Forces 1st Lt. George Winger ’36 being found 80 years after his death in World War II. During her senior year at Academy, Liz produced a documentary about 10 of the school’s WWII veterans, and Carolyn wrote a memorial article about George when she was editor of the student newspaper.

Emily Carlin ’13 is the director of public relations for the American Gas Association, this after previously serving as communications director and senior adviser for U.S. Congressman Jay Obernolte (R-Calif.).

As the coordinator of community development and industry growth for the National Hockey League, Courtney Deena ’13 leads NHL STREET, a program designed to build a new era in street hockey that is fun, relevant and aimed at growing the game. She helped expand NHL STREET to 18 states and seven provinces. According to an NHL post spotlighting her on LinkedIn, Courtney “loves being a part of the Social Impact, Growth Initiatives, and Legislative Affairs (SGL) department. She is passionate about creating a space of belonging and building a welcoming environment for all. Additionally, Courtney is a co-chair of the Hockey in Color employee resource group (ERG). As co-chair, she works with her committee leads to host various programming that educates members and creates a sense of community for all ERG members.”

Tyler Gittins ’13 started teaching biology in Columbus Academy’s Upper School last fall and now also leads the track and field program that he helped to claim Division III team state titles in 2012 and 2013. Tyler concluded his senior campaign by winning a state championship in the 4x400 relay. He went on to compete for Wittenberg University, where he was a two-time Division III national-qualifier and placed third at the NCAA Championships in the 400-meter hurdles. After earning his bachelor’s degree in biology,

Tyler helped coach eight conference champions as an assistant coach for Wittenberg and then – as head coach at Rabun Gap Nacoochee School in Georgia – he mentored six individual state champions from 2021-23. “I am incredibly excited to be coaching at my alma mater,” said Tyler. “Columbus Academy track and field has always had a special place in my heart. We have an incredibly talented group of girls and boys, and I look forward to helping them reach their goals and achieving postseason success.”

Brothers Harry Wexner ’13 and David Wexner ’15 opened Layla Bagels in early 2023 and it has been an instant hit in Santa Monica, Calif., having also been named by the Los Angeles Times as one of the top bagel spots in the area.

Paige Berliner ’14 was named to North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) All-Decade Team for field hockey. During her tenure at DePauw University, Paige collected an Offensive Player of the Year award and was a two-time first team All-NCAC performer.

SueSan Chen ’14 recently joined United Airlines’ Denver art partner on the podcast “Dot Dot Dot” to discuss the role of local art in branding and the built environment. In conversation with NINEdotARTS CEO Martha McGee, SueSan took a deep dive into both of their favorite pieces at the Denver United Clubs and discussed how they incorporate brand values while staying true to artists’ authentic style in the art selection process.

Connor McAfee ’16 is currently stationed at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton as an assistant staff judge advocate. He was commissioned into the Air Force in 2020 after attending Miami University on an Air Force ROTC full-tuition scholarship.

Allegra Solomon ’16 received the 2023 Kimbilio National Fiction prize for short stories. Allegra’s forthcoming book “There’s Nothing Left for You Here” will debut in the coming year.

Rebecca Amonor ’17 has served Columbus Academy this year as a pre-kindergarten associate teacher, middle school writing coach and assistant advisor to The Academy Life student journalism class. Rebecca obtained a B.A. in English and African American Studies from Yale University, where she graduated cum laude, before also earning her M.A. in English and American Literature from Washington University in St. Louis where she is currently pursuing a Ph.D.

Courtney Deena ’13 JAG officer Connor McAfee ’16 Allegra Solomon ’16

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Suzie Frankovich ’17 and Anthony Sugar ’17 became engaged on March 1, 2024. The couple met when Suzie transferred to Columbus Academy during her junior year of high school, and Anthony was one of her first friends before they began dating before prom that same school year.

Briyana Dragin ’18 graduated from Officer Candidate School and is officially a 2nd Lieutenant in the U.S. Army. “Joining was the best career decision I’ve made so far,” Bri wrote to Assistant Head of School for Academic Affairs Dan Olexio, who serves as one of her references. “I’ve learned a lot about myself and met some incredible people throughout my training.” Her unit is the 370th Transportation Company in Brownsville, Texas.

THE 20s —

Ashton Cofer ’20, co-founder of the social platform Fizz and a member of Stanford University’s Class of 2024, was named to the Forbes 30 Under 30 North America.

Camille Reeves ’19 graduated from Princeton University with a degree in astrophysics in May 2023 and currently works as a research assistant for RAND Corporation, where she conducts defense and space policy research.

As a wide receiver for Hampton University’s football team last fall, Dorrian Moultrie ’19 caught 24 passes for 213 yards and a touchdown while appearing in all 11 games. He also had one rush for two yards and 17 kick returns for 241 yards as a graduate student after transferring from Georgetown University.

Five-time All-American Jordan

Skilken ’19, a graduate student at University of Texas, won gold on platform and as part of the Longhorns’ diving trio, plus placed eighth on 1-meter, at the Big 12 championship meet and then finished third on platform at the NCAA Championships.

Annalise Grammel ’20 was named to the North Coast Athletic Conference (NCAC) All-Decade Team for women’s soccer. Annalise was voted NCAC Midfielder of the Year as a junior at DePauw University and was a two-time all-conference first team, alldistrict and all-region selection. She led DePauw in goals (7), assists (6) and points (20) in her senior season last fall.

Sarah Neltner ’20 was a starting defender for the Washington University in St. Louis women’s soccer team that finished as national runners-up in NCAA Division III last fall. In her senior season, she was part of the WashU defense that did not allow a goal for 15-straight games and was named to the University Athletic Association’s All-Academic Squad for the third-straight year.

Ryan Hunker ’20 captured an incredible touchdown catch while operating a camera near the end zone during the Class AA West Virginia State Football Championships last fall. The video was then featured as the top play on ESPN SportsCenter’s “Top 10” thanks to Ryan’s stellar camera work. Ryan is a senior at West Virginia University and is a sports and adventure media major. He regularly works with the WVU athletics department as a videographer while also gaining experience with freelance videography and live action.

In early December, Phil Soderberg ’20 played in the final college football game of his career as an offensive lineman for Johns Hopkins University. Phil – a senior environmental studies major – and the Blue Jays made it all the way to the Elite 8 of the NCAA Division III football championships after defeating Western Connecticut State (62-20) and Union (39-17), before falling short in a 39-36 loss to Randolph-Macon. Johns Hopkins enjoyed an undefeated regular season last fall and finished 12-1 overall.

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2nd Lt. Briyana Dragin ’18 Jordan Skilken ’19 Ashton Cofer ’20 Phil Soderberg ’20 Anthony Sugar ’17 and Suzie Frankovich ’17 Sarah Neltner ’20

Vassar Barney ’21, a junior biology major at Centre College, started all but one game on defense last year for the men’s lacrosse team and helped the Colonels capture the Southern Athletic Association regular-season title and tournament championship, resulting in an automatic bid to the NCAA Division III tournament.

Chloe Gouhin ’21 was selected as a captain for the Columbia University fencing team this year after placing seventh in sabre at the USA National Championships last spring.

Jonah Houston ’21 and the men’s soccer squad from Westmont College won the National Christian College Athletic Association Division I title in December by defeating Campbellsville College 3-1 at the NCCAA tournament in Kissimmee, Florida.

In his third year at the University of Virginia, Cole Leis ’21 is working as an intern at The Sorensen Institute for Political Leadership. In addition to majoring in political philosophy, policy and law while minoring in psychology, Cole is involved in WXTJ 100.1 FM, the Washington Literary Society & Debating Union, and Seriatim Journal of American Politics. According to a post on UVA’s social media, he is interested in fostering ethics in public service and encouraging bipartisan cooperation.

Russell Ahmed ’22, a sophomore at UCLA, published an article on where he discussed the importance of “finding the balance between self-improvement and self-discovery.” Columbus Academy strength and conditioning coach Shelby Reichle is noted in the article for having helped Russell curate an athletic training plan for his senior capstone project in 2022.

Kennedy Jackson ’22, Charlotte Rose ’22, Claire Richardson ’23 and Sophia Costantine ’23 returned to campus recently to participate in a panel discussion with current upper-schoolers about studying STEM fields in college. The event was hosted by Academy’s Women in STEM club and the Student Alumni Board.

Soham Joshi ’22 and Raaghav Malik ’22 were recently awarded U.S. Patent No. 11,919,159-B1 by the U.S. Patent & Trademark Office for their invention of a robotic glove designed to teach sign language through guided manual motions. This promising product started with seed money from Columbus Academy’s QuestWorks program, which provides small grants to students who wish to pursue independent passion projects. Raaghav is currently a student at Yale University while Soham attends The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Both were featured with a prototype of their S.E.N.S.E. glove on the cover of Academy’s Winter 2022 magazine that can be viewed at

Kevin Reeves ’22, a sophomore at Bowdoin College, averaged over nine points and seven rebounds per game this past basketball season as a starter for the Polar Bears and scored a career-high 19 points in the team’s 91-77 defeat of Thomas (ME) College.

Sophie Spolter ’22, a sophomore at Bates College, helped lead the Bobcats to an appearance in the Sweet 16 of the NCAA Division III women’s basketball tournament in March.

Cat Gerst ’23 and Robert Gerst ’23 were featured along with their grandparents on a pair of NBC4 news segments in December highlighting their work with the Mid-Ohio Food Collective, which they have been serving at since Covid hit to help meet the needs of people in the local community.

Gerst ’23 and Robert Gerst ’23

Cami Seymore ’23 has become a prolific writer for The Post, an independent, award-winning student-run news publication on Ohio University’s campus, where she is a freshman journalism major in the Honors Tutorial College.

In Memoriam

We are saddened to share this list of our alumni whom we recently learned have passed.

Robert L. Turton ’47

John J. Davis ’48

Walter “Rusty” J. Mackey Jr. ’60

Adam D. Kaplin ’84

Donald A. Neeper ‘86

Individual obituaries can be found in our alumni newsletters, which are archived at

Cole Leis ’21 Russell Ahmed ’22 Cat

Editor’s note: this piece first appeared on a linked page from our Fall 2022 magazine and is reprinted here to correct an erroneous addition of two sentences at the end of the stories.


I have two favorite memories.

One involves Bruce Draudt who was co-captain of the 1961 football team, being in those days perhaps the best running back in Central Ohio. Bruce also had key roles on the school’s basketball and baseball teams (captain of the basketball team and lettered four years; catcher and shortstop in baseball and stealer of countless bases with his blazing speed). On the side, and with the help of his father and Coaches Hess and Price, Bruce almost singlehandedly launched the school’s first track team in 1961 (Bruce’s junior year) with him running the 100- and 220-yard dashes, the 180-yard hurdles, the 880 relay and, while he was at it, doing field events like the shot put and broad jump. In his sophomore year Bruce won the state title in the 100-yard dash, and over three years he had state titles in the 100and 220-yard dashes and the 880-yard relay.

The other story involved a football game we played senior year (1961) against St. Mary’s High School which in those days was located in the German Village section of downtown Columbus. We were not favored in the game principally because St. Mary’s had a bruising, punishing 230-pound fullback named Jennings who was basically unstoppable. But, by some miracle and with time running out in the fourth quarter, we somehow found ourselves ahead by three points. But that gossamer lead appeared in jeopardy as St. Mary’s achieved a first down on our 2-yard line. That was a real problem because all Jennings had to do to gain two yards was take a handoff and fall down. GULP! Luckily for us but unlucky for St. Mary’s, we had Ted Hoster on our team – a middle linebacker on defense – who was convinced we could stop Jennings four times short of the goal line. Ted, who did everything in his life with unsurpassed gusto right up to his untimely passing several months ago, decided to rally the team against the Jennings doomsday threat. Up and down the defensive line between plays, Ted urged us on with the basic message that we could only stop Jennings if we believed we could stop him. And believe Ted we did, and stop Jennings we did, on about the 4-inch line on fourth down. We ran out the clock and won the game – thanks, in my mind, only to Ted literally cheering us on to an improbable win.

On one spring day afternoon in 1961, as an unsurehanded second baseman with an erratic throwing arm, I was about to take place in a baseball game played after school on a field located on the old Academy campus by Alum Creek just south of the football field. As the game was about to start, Bruce, our best hitter and fleetest baserunner, was not on the field. But in a back-lit scene right out of The Natural, Bruce suddenly showed up at the last minute fresh from a meet where he had represented the Academy as a kind of oneman track team. He was still in his track shorts, but had his baseball uniform under one arm and his baseball glove under the other. We gathered around him near third base as a kind of curtain as he changed from his track suit to his baseball uniform, and he got on the field just as the game started. I have no memory of whether we won that baseball game, but I have a very vivid recollection of that day, that game, and of the kind of athlete – and person – Bruce Draudt was (and is).

Sports to me in the early 1960s at the Academy was about leadership – and Bruce and Ted provided the kind of leadership that, six decades later, is still the north star to a whole lot of geezer Vikings.

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Dave Tucker (Class of 1962) Ted Hoster ’62 Bruce Draudt ’62

Columbus Academy brought out the best of me LEE SOLOMON 2014 45

When I reflect on the years I spent at Columbus Academy, I am always reminded of the lasting relationships I formed with my teachers and classmates. It is no secret that Academy prepares its students for college and beyond better than most, if not all, preparatory institutions in the country. However, what truly sets Academy apart is its continued commitment to building a strong, supportive community.

As a student, I remember feeling as if the “cool” thing to do at Academy was to get involved. From my earliest days at CA, my peers encouraged me to compete on multiple sports teams, play an instrument in the band, write a column for the school newspaper, join the service board, take advanced classes, participate in student government, and so much more. My Academy experience was shaped by my friends and classmates who pushed me to set high goals for myself and cheer on others as they did the same. The culture at Academy is special in this regard.

Even as an alumnus, my former teachers and classmates have been some of my biggest supporters. When I graduated from Academy in 2014, I went on to play college baseball at Lipscomb University. From there, I was drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 25th round of the MLB Draft and spent time competing professionally as a minor league baseball player. I eventually stepped away from baseball, enrolled at the Ohio State University Moritz College of Law, and graduated before passing the bar exam in October 2023. Today, I work as an attorney at BakerHostetler in Columbus.

At every step along the way, the Columbus Academy community has been there to celebrate my successes – as it does with so many of its accomplished alumni. To this day, I find myself regularly checking on my friends from high school to see what extraordinary things they continue to accomplish in their personal and professional lives.

From the time I joined CA in sixth grade until the day I graduated, I was surrounded by people who brought the best out of me. I will always be grateful for my teachers, coaches, mentors and classmates from Columbus Academy who encouraged me to strive for excellence in everything that I do.

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