CA Magazine Spring 2020

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CA

CONCORD ACADEMY MAGAZINE

THE A I REV OLUTION THR OUGH A HUM AN LENS

SPRING 2020


CA Labs and the Main School Lobby at dusk.


FEATURE S

SPRING 2020

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The Promise and Perils of Artificial Intelligence

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Alumnae/i in the field see the AI revolution through a human lens

Editor

Heidi Koelz Associate Director of Communications

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Design

Concord Academy in the Age of Coronavirus

Aldeia www.aldeia.design

How CA is maintaining community and mission across physical distance

Editorial Board

Ben Carmichael ’01 Director of Marketing and Communications Alice Roebuck Director of Advancement and Engagement

One of CA’s recent virtual community meetings. Learn more on page 24.

Sarah Yeh

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Message from the Head of School

Alumnae/i news, profiles of Naomi Ko ’91 and Ben Mirin ’06

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Assistant Head and Dean of Faculty

Campus

News about students, faculty, arts, and athletics

Contact us:

© 2020 Concord Academy

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Opening Remarks

Hilary Rouse Director of Engagement

Concord Academy Magazine 166 Main Street Concord, MA 01742 (978) 402-2249 magazine@concordacademy.org

DEPARTMENTS

28 CA has a new Innocence Project Club. Read about it on page 13.

Centennial Campaign

What if finances didn’t have to factor into admissions decisions?

Alumnae/i

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Creative Types

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Class Notes

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Then & Now

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End Space

Library Director Martha Kennedy O N T H E C OV E R A human lens on artificial intelligence. COVER ILLUSTRATION BY CHRIS GASH IFC PHOTO BY ANTON GRASSL BACK COVER PHOTO BY BEN CARMICHAEL ’01

M I SS I O N We are a community animated by love of learning, diverse and striving for equity, with common trust as our foundation. Honoring each individual, we challenge and expand our understanding of ourselves and the world through purposeful collaboration and creative engagement. We cultivate empathy, integrity, and responsibility to build a more just and sustainable future.


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A Mentor’s Words ON ZOOM CALLS AND IN WECHAT

“ Mrs. Carter once said simply, ‘There is so much to be done in the world. Find your place and do what you can. The world needs everyone.’”

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conversations, I see the faces of our students, and I reassure and guide them the best I can. I find myself thinking of the people who did the same for me when I was our students’ age. I have been exceedingly fortunate — to have received encouragement when I most needed it, to have had opportunities that allowed me to learn and grow as a person and as a teacher, and to have met the people who continue to shape my life. I grew up in a small town in what was then rural southern New Hampshire. Life in Pelham was centered on labor: farming, logging, dairy, and factory work a few miles across the state border. Starting when I was 10, I worked on farms, weeding cornfields, joining a haying crew, then laboring for a landscaping company when I turned 14. That’s when I met Edith Carter, a woman about 60 years my senior who became one of my most important mentors. At 75, she was more energetic than most of my co-workers. Moreover, unlike our other clients who, if they noticed us at all, did so from the safety of their homes or patios, Mrs. Carter often worked alongside us, kneeling in the cold morning to weed the perennial beds, or mucking out leaves from the frog pond, or pruning apple trees in the orchard. She once brought us tomatoes and cheese and water, saying she had tramped across England years ago fueled only by those three staples.

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I got the chance to collaborate with her to reclaim a narrow strip of land in Nashua that she, a longtime city benefactor, had purchased beside the new library. For three weekends, I steered a battered ’61 Chevy pickup to the vacant lot and climbed the slope for the day’s work, driving my shovel into that stony ground, the sound like a repeated complaint — hard, bone-jarring labor. We cleared trash, broken glass, and pieces of old asphalt and added yards and yards of fresh loam. We planted saplings the size of chopsticks, dozens of them; rolled and seeded the slope; carved out a curving perennial bed that we would cultivate the following spring. The object was simple: to create a little green space where people could read or simply sit for a few minutes, a small oasis amid the asphalt and concrete of downtown Nashua. Over the next several years, Mrs. Carter and I had many talks — about gardening, about school, and about my future. At the time, I had no real idea what I wanted to do or even could do. She once said simply, “There is so much to be done in the world. Find your place and do what you can. The world needs everyone.” There will be tough days ahead, but we can help each other through this crisis. We are here for you. If you are in need, please let us know how we can help. Stay safe. Stay healthy. Take care.

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Community and Equity Wise words from speakers in our assembly series

During the 2019–20 school year, a series of Community and Equity assemblies explored the theme “journeys to the self.” In addition, CA’s 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Day programming engaged students, faculty, and staff in workshops and conversations about personal and systemic ways to build a more just world.

“ Practice this idea of radically loving yourself, loving yourself in a way that defies a world that tells you every single day that you should not.” S O N YA R E N E E TAY LO R poet and founder of The Body Is Not An Apology Read more: www.concordacademy.org/sonya-renee-taylor

“ Gender does shape our lives, no matter if we’re transgender or cisgender. It’s one of the strongest forces for social control that we have.” A L E X M Y E RS writer, speaker, teacher, and transgender rights advocate Read more: www.concordacademy.org/alex-myers

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“ For many native people, self is secondary to community. … To confront our common enemies of climate change, hate, and intolerance, we all have an obligation to work together.” GYAS I ROSS author, speaker, storyteller, member of the Blackfeet Nation Read more: www.concordacademy.org/ gyasi-ross

“ Invisibility fails to acknowledge your presence and personhood. It’s why visibility, and naming people, is so important.” WA N DA M . H O L L A N D G R E E N E head of the Hamlin School, 2020 Martin Luther King Jr. Day speaker Read more: www.concordacademy.org/ mlk-day-2020

“ Standing up for equity means disrupting and fighting inequality everywhere you see it, including in yourself.” E R I CA P E R N E L L director of inclusion and multicultural practice, Shady Hill School Read more: www.concordacademy.org/ erica-pernell


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WHAT’S NEW IN THE MAKER SPACE? This year in CA Labs, DEMONs (Dreamers, Engineers, Mechanics, and Overt Nerds) constructed a mesmerizing wave-chain machine, turning physics into art. Among other notable projects, musician-DEMON Adam Winograd ’21 began building a stringed instrument. And in the Alley, three students teamed up to learn to weld for their senior projects — Lucian Sharpe ’20 and Liam Campbell ’20, who worked to electrify a minibike, and Jackson Philion ’20, who used the technique to repair a one-cylinder diesel engine.

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At the end of February, Winterfest gathered CA students for food and fun, including a raffle and talent show. As part of CA’s work to help students understand their impact on the world and the local community, Winterfest supported a nonprofit organization selected by the All School Council: Gaining Ground, a Concord, Mass., farm that donates all of its fresh produce to local meal programs and food pantries with the help of volunteers. The CA community was proud to raise more than $4,000 for Gaining Ground, a cause that seeks to create a more just and sustainable future.

FAC U LT Y/A RTS

SCREENWRITING SUCCESS

CA film teacher Justin Bull’s screenplay A Banquet won the Filmaka Screenplay Competition, which will put the film into production in the coming year. Bull’s work on the project — a supernatural psychological horror story that tackles religious faith, mental health, and the boundaries of maternal love — was partially supported by funding from Concord Academy’s Katherine Carton Hammer ’68 Endowed Faculty Chair, which he held from 2015 through 2018.

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CAChef MPU S I Lo ’84 gives a cooking Anita demonstration, preparing cauliflower chaat for CA alumnae/i at the Boston Public Market in January. Right: Lo talks with CA English teacher Nick Hiebert during a visit to his class.

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Food, Culture, Community Anita Lo ’84 shares her story and her inspired cooking

Chef Anita Lo ’84 has appeared on Top Chef Masters, Iron Chef, and Chopped. She was the first female guest chef to cook for a state dinner, in the Obama White House. Annisa, her Michelin-starred restaurant of 17 years, earned three stars from the New York Times. In her 2020 Hall Fellow Lecture at Concord Academy in January, though, Lo chose to speak about her career in terms of creating communities where people can belong. As an Asian American growing up in Birmingham, Mich., Lo was taunted. Junk food and candy were social capital, and the contents of her lunchbox stood out. “Food is identity,” Lo said in her talk. “Food is a text you can read.” After attending CA, where “you could be who you were,” Lo said, she found being closeted at Columbia University “crushing.” A French major, she studied in Paris, where she took a few cooking classes and discovered she was good

enough to land a job after graduation as garde-manger at a French restaurant, Bouley, in New York. Later, Lo returned to Paris to train at the École Ritz Escoffier before stepping into her first executive chef position. Lo didn’t gloss over the industry’s difficulties — grinding hours, low pay, and the harassment women face. “The restaurant business chooses you; you don’t really choose it,” she said. “It can be incredibly rewarding, but you have to be obsessed.” To gain creative control, Lo opened Annisa (“women” in Arabic) in 2000. “We were there to celebrate diversity,” she said. “I was trying to present food that would reflect cultural relativity, that no one culture is better than another.” She also wanted to make Annisa “a place where everyone was respected,” she said. “That was like Concord Academy — that’s what I based it on. I wanted people to feel like they were heard and respected.” What Lo called her “crowning achievement” came from one of her lowest lows. In 2009, a kitchen fire shuttered Annisa for nine months. When all her employees returned to reopen it, she knew she had “created a place that people would believe in enough to come back,” Lo said. “You create an ethos, and that’s much bigger than you are.” Now at a turning point, having closed Annisa two years ago, Lo helps host culinary tours with an organization called Tour de Forks. As the 2020 Centennial Hall Fellow, she treated the CA community to cooking demonstrations in Boston and New York, and alumnae/i and students lined up for her to sign her newest cookbook, Solo: A Modern Cookbook for a Party of One. — Heidi Koelz For more than 50 years, the Hall Fellow Endowed Lectureship has brought distinguished individuals to Concord Academy to share their work and wisdom with the CA community. Established in 1963, it was named in honor of Elizabeth B. Hall (CA’s headmistress, 1949–1963). W

Learn more and see photos: www.concordacademy.org/anita-lo

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STUDENT ART SHOW

Student works created during the fall 2019 semester were on display at the January 9 opening reception of the Fall Visual Arts Show.

1. Dog painting by Izzy Larsen ’20 2. Audience at opening reception 3. Figure drawings by Nathaniel Coben ’20 4. Visual arts teachers Peter Boskey ’08 and Monica Ripley at the reception 5. Fiber art by Sara Goldstein ’20 6. Sculpture by Sam Marquis ’21 7. Clay Tiffany box by Joshua Lamothe ’22 8. Skeleton drawing by Cherie Jiraphanphong ’21 9. Detail of a Photo 2 book by Patricia Plunkett ’22 10. Glass painting by Izzy Larsen ’20 11. Photographic diptych, part of a departmental study, by Katherine Stirling-Ellis ’20 12. Fiber art by Mika Iwasa ’21

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Origin Stories Alumnae/i photography In February, a gallery at the Concord Free Public Library displayed recent and retrospective work from 22 CA alumnae/i, all of whom were students in CA’s photography program and now work as professional artists. For the show, Origin Stories, Cynthia Katz, who has taught photography at CA for 33 years, reached out to former students to learn about the professional practices they now embrace. The exhibition paired photographs and books that these alumnae/i created as CA students with recent works, including landscape and portrait photographs, paintings, mixed media prints, architectural renderings, film stills, and more. “We talked so much in those classes — about looking and seeing, about how we made photographs, not shot them, about how images were ideas. What I first learned in that basement classroom about images, about people and community, has become a central part of my life.” — Lee Fearnside ’92, photographer

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Zandy Mangold ’92 talks with CA photography teacher Cynthia Katz at the Origin Stories exhibition.

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MAGIC AND MISCHIEF

In November, the CA community was treated to one of Shakespeare’s great comedies, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, directed by theater teacher Megan Schy Gleeson. CA’s Green Club led a pre-show discussion about climate change before both performances.

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SEE MORE www.concordacademy.org/midsummer

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Identity Matters in Language Learning CA introduces a Spanish class for heritage speakers

When Kezia Almonte ’20 arrived at Concord Academy as a freshman, she tested into a level-3 Spanish class. The New Jersey resident had learned the language by spending summers with her grandparents in the Dominican Republic, but she had never studied it. Entering a fast-paced classroom filled primarily with sophomores and juniors was, she recalls, “super overwhelming.” “I had never taken a Spanish class before coming to CA,” she says. “I had no clue how to understand any of it.” Topics like verb tenses were unfamiliar, while some of the cultural information felt like a repeat of what she already knew. So as she moved on to upper-level electives, Kezia was excited to learn that Spanish teacher Carmen Welton was designing a new Spanish course aimed at “heritage speakers,” students who grew up W COLLABORATORS speaking or hearing WELCOME the language at home. CA community connecSpanish for tions could enhance this class! If you’d like Heritage Speakers to collaborate, contact launched in fall 2019, Spanish teacher Carmen Welton at with nine freshmen carmen_welton@ and sophomores, plus concordacademy.org. Kezia as a teaching assistant. The course offers students language instruction tailored to their specific needs. “I’ve always been aware of the different nature of teaching a

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heritage speaker than a student who learned Spanish in the classroom,” says Welton, also a house faculty member and cross-country coach in her fifth year at CA. “Heritage speakers typically haven’t had formal instruction in the language, and so the flexibility to incorporate cultural content at a greater rate, to address a more specific set of linguistic struggles, and to differentiate the learning to suit individual relationships to the language is of paramount importance in supporting these students.” Late one January afternoon, the class is studying irregular verb forms. As Welton projects new questions from her laptop onto the smartboard, students nod in recognition. Traer, ir. They murmur conjugations aloud as the lesson progresses. In some ways, the class is indistinguishable from others taking place on the bustling language hallway that overlooks the quad. But Welton’s focus is on helping her students acquire the skills of formal language study and gain

confidence in daily conversation. The texts she assigns, ranging from essays and short stories to poems and song lyrics, reflect the experiences of bilingual and bicultural authors. Juan Matos — a celebrated Dominican poet, currently the poet laureate of Worcester, Mass., and a veteran public school teacher — inaugurated the course in the fall while Welton was on parental leave. Matos says his main goal was to help students get comfortable speaking and seeing connections between the language and their cultures. “Many understood the language but didn’t feel comfortable speaking it,” he says. He used songs, food, and folklore from different Spanish-speaking cultures to help students connect their identities with the language. Students say that approach, which Welton is continuing in this yearlong course, is helping them gain confidence in their language skills as they forge relationships with both peers and community members — within CA and

Carmen Welton leads a discussion in her Spanish class for heritage speakers at CA.


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“ I’ve always been aware of the different nature of teaching a heritage speaker than a student who learned Spanish in the classroom.” CA R M E N W E LTO N , CA S PA N I S H T E AC H E R

beyond — who share heritage-based experiences, journeys, and goals. “We get to relate and get to have fun,” says Mathew Gutierrez ’23. “We get into very cultural things like tongue twisters. It’s having fun while also learning at the same time.” The students say they appreciate having teachers who are either native Spanish speakers, like Matos, or grew up hearing the language from family members, like Welton. “In past Spanish courses, I was taught by teachers who weren’t of Latino heritage, and it was harder to relate,” says Ashton Mota ’23. “Having teachers like Carmen and Juan, it is easier to connect to what they are teaching.” Students are also making connections with the larger school community, says Welton. One assignment this year asks them to interview Spanish-speaking staff — many of whom work in dining services — and record the interviews as podcasts. In future years, Welton hopes to invite Spanish-speaking alumnae/i and friends into the classroom as well. As a teaching assistant, Kezia enjoys serving as a mentor to younger students (including her sister, Kayla Almonte ’22) and learning how teachers plan and structure lessons. “I always find it to be a really fun class,” she says. “I wish I’d had it at their age.” — Alison Lobron

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A NEW INNOCENCE PROJECT CLUB CA students who heard from exoneree Christopher “Omar” Martinez on International Wrongful Conviction Day in October were moved by his struggles — following police and prosecutorial misconduct, he was sentenced to life in prison at 19 for a crime he didn’t commit. Isaac Bediako ’20 knew he wanted to be part of the solution. He was well-versed in the U.S. system of mass incarceration from history teacher Stephanie Manzella P’14 ’17 ’18 in her Crime and Punishment class as well as her evening W seminar this fall, the 1619 Project, which confronted LEARN MORE the enduring legacies of slavery in American life. That about Wrongful month, he and a small group of student co-heads Conviction Day at www. concordacademy.org/ formed the Innocence Project Club. wrongful and the 1619 The club’s initial goal was to increase awareness of Project Class at www. the problem of wrongful convictions. “Lots of people concordacademy.org/1619. don’t know that most people don’t get a trial,” Isaac says. Assigning themselves research papers equivalent to an additional class, the co-heads worked to educate their peers. Then they got involved in a successful appeal to stay the execution of a Texas death-row inmate, Rodney Reed, until evidence of his innocence could be presented. “I hope the club will turn into a place where students can take action,” Isaac says. “Knowledge is so important, but once you have it, as Toni Morrison says, ‘If you are free, you need to free somebody else.’” Following the three seniors co-heads’ graduation, the club is likely to have staying power at CA: Carter Wood ’22, daughter of Martinez’s defense attorney Chauncey Wood P’22, is a co-head.

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Go Green! CA sports teams had fantastic fall and winter seasons, with several performing at the top of the Eastern Independent League (EIL) and representing the school with distinction in New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) championships. More importantly, they demonstrated their character while pursuing excellence on the field, mat, and slopes. BY THE NUMBERS

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outright NEPSAC championship for the boys varsity soccer program

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Staying the Course

Boys and girls cross-country hosted the EIL championships at Great Brook Farm State Park for the second consecutive year. The boys finished a close second. Reza Eshghi ’20 won the individual title, and five CA runners earned league all-star honors by finishing in the top 15. The girls finished sixth, with half of the runners setting personal bests. In the NEPSAC Division III championship, the boys finished third out of 20 teams, and the girls ran a strong race as well, with all six runners setting personal bests.

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Grappling for a Strong Finish

The coed varsity wrestling program continued to grow, with 24 athletes contributing to a 9-4 regular-season record and a second-place finish at the EIL championship meet, with five wrestlers finishing in the top two of their weight classes. Four went on to represent CA at the NEPSAC championship.

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NEPSAC individual championship win for varsity Alpine skiing, by Tory Adams ’23

Setting Up a Solid Season

The girls varsity volleyball team rallied after a slow start by winning eight of its final nine contests, including the decisive match at Pingree in the Chandler Bowl, falling just short of a NEPSAC tournament bid.

Slopeside Success

4th consecutive Chandler Bowl victory for CA

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The girls varsity Alpine ski team dominated the Central Massachusetts Ski League (CMSL), earning the league championship after winning every race. The regular-season momentum carried into the NEPSAC championships at Waterville Valley, where the team earned an impressive second-place finish in Class B. The boys ended second in the CMSL and represented the program well with their efforts at NEPSAC.

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Playing Hard, Playing Kind CA’s boys varsity soccer team captures EIL and NEPSAC titles On November 17, the Concord Academy boys varsity soccer team traveled to Windsor, Conn., to do what many students dream of doing: compete on behalf of their school for a regional championship. With 15 minutes left to play, CA was tied with two-time New England Preparatory School Athletic Council (NEPSAC) champions Holderness School at 2-2. Following a corner kick from Charlie Apolinsky ’22, cocaptain Taha Kina ’20 literally rose to the occasion, heading in what would become the game-winning goal. CA held strong, earning the first outright NEPSAC Championship in the program’s history. (The 1998 team shared the title after a weather cancellation of the championship game.) “It’s the culmination of all the hard work we’ve put in these last four years,” says Taha, who was named the Player of the Year for both the Eastern Independent League (EIL) and NEPSAC Class C and will play for the Division I Brown University team next year. “We’ve been close to achieving this goal in the past, and to finally do

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Boys soccer celebrates the program’s first outright NEPSAC championship.

it is really special. Winning this year was especially exciting because it’s my senior year and now we know we’ve left a lasting legacy on CA soccer. It was by far the best day of my soccer career, and I’m so thankful to have been a part of such a historic season.” This was the third NEPSAC championship title in the past four years for CA, following recent championship wins for girls squash and boys cross-country. The boys varsity soccer team has advanced to the NEPSAC tournament in five straight seasons, seven times in the last eight years. It won EIL titles in 2017 and 2019. Longtime coach Adam Simon, who came to CA in the 1990s but started

coaching soccer in 1999, was hopeful at the season’s start. “We knew we’d be right at the top of the league — we have such a strong group of players,” he says. “We thought we had a good shot at the league, but to win New Englands? It’s just really special.” Simon’s focus as a coach is not on “X’s and O’s,” as he puts it, but on team culture. “As I said in the huddle that day, our goal is to come together as a group, and if we can accomplish that, the rest will follow — and it did,” he says. “We have a very strong team culture that is really consistent with the school’s values. We support each other — that’s the foundation for everything. And we’re kind. I’m

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always proud of our boys when they pick their opponents up off the grass, and they do it all the time. I like to think that those lessons translate beyond soccer.” CA Athletics Director Sue Johnson proudly says the team’s “commitment to training hard, selfless play, and team soccer led them to attain the highest level of achievement possible for CA teams.” “This doesn’t happen without the entire community,” Simon says. “I honestly feel so grateful. From my heart of hearts, I think the whole community takes part in that trophy. It does take a village, and this village is so special.” — Ben Carmichael ’01

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CA athletic teams arrived at Pingree intent on retaining the Chandler Bowl for Changing Lives trophy the school had held for the previous three years. JV volleyball, boys varsity cross-country, boys JV soccer, boys varsity soccer, and girls varsity volleyball combined for the five wins needed. In the final contest, the girls varsity volleyball stormed back from a 2-0 deficit to win a thrilling come-frombehind five-set victory, to the delight of the large CA crowd. Together, the CA and Pingree communities raised funds for Hurricane Dorian relief efforts.

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Intelligence <subhead>

Alumnae/i in the field see the AI revolution through a human lens

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You might encounter artificial intelligence (AI) a dozen times a day — talking with a chatbot, using a voice assistant, unlocking a smartphone with facial ID, or seeing a targeted ad. The dizzying rate of AI’s adoption, mostly behind the scenes, has meant that wariness has accompanied increasing public awareness. The AI almost all companies are developing today is not artificial general intelligence spanning multiple domains but rather artificial narrow intelligence focused on specified tasks: predicting equipment malfunctions or aiding a diagnosis, managing loans or driving a car. The industry is still young and largely unregulated, but AI has already proven its business value. Here, four Concord Academy alumnae/i discuss the technology’s potential, as well as the urgency of considering human outcomes and unintended consequences as it develops. Cam Crary ’03 remembers as “transfor-

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<cap tion> Top: Cam Crary ’03, who works for the driverless car company Waymo. Bottom: Alex Ocampo ’10, at IBM Watson.

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mative” the first time he stepped into one of Google subsidiary Waymo’s driverless vehicles. “You’re waiting on the side of the curb, you’ve hailed your ride, and when you get in it’s just you in the back,” he says. “You take off, and the car is stopping at traffic lights and yielding to pedestrians. It’s pretty magical.” The appeal of fully automated cars surpasses the novelty of the ride. Crary considers them “one of the most compelling use cases for AI,” given the stubbornly high incidence of highway fatalities. “It’s an example of taking an incumbent technology that is inherently unsafe and improving safety by having machines do a task that humans don’t do very well,” he says.

Crary has worked for Waymo, in Mountain View, Calif., since 2009. Hired to help establish safety and driving policies for test operators, he now works with cross-functional teams to determine performance specifications, define test methodologies, and review code health and engineering and risk-management processes. Waymo has spent many more hours than its competitors test-driving its vehicles. “My team and I craft a narrative for why we believe the system is ready for safe operations on public roads without a driver,” Crary says. In 2017, the company rolled out several hundred fully automated vehicles to “early riders” within a small test area of Phoenix. What Crary regarded until recently as “a fascinating research project”


<caption> Google subsidiary Waymo has already launched a fleet of fully automated vehicles within a small test area of Phoenix. Below: Participants in Waymo’s Early Riders Program experience a driverless ride.

A L E X O CAMPO ’10

will soon, he predicts, be in broader use as public rides start to become available. “It will be a huge growth experience to take that step into having real accountability for people’s lives,” he says. Within his industry, he expects to see expert development of regulatory and safety standards catch up soon. Crary knows trust is paramount. “It will determine the success or failure of the technology,” he says. “What we really want to see is, does this car drive like a human and do you trust it as you would a human driver?” In considering other AI applications, though, Crary is more cautious. “For example, when people want to use AI to help determine when incarcerated people get released, the hope is that it’s a less biased decision, but it doesn’t take much to imagine that every unjust bias of the builders is going to be built in,” he says. “That’s a problem that may be better solved through structural changes and policy solutions.” THE_PURPOSE_OF_AI

In 2011, as a sophomore at Tufts University, Alex Ocampo ’10 watched IBM’s Watson trounce two all-time Jeopardy! champions — precisely what the supercomputer had been designed to

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<quote>

AI is not magic. It’s advanced computer science and advanced math, and there are people behind it. do. Just three years later, Ocampo and a cohort of other recent college graduates joined IBM’s Watson Group, soon after it formed in 2014. “We were all ready to use AI to change the world and solve big problems,” he says. By then, Watson had grown into a cloud utility system that learns from experience through an array of artificial intelligence techniques spanning speech, vision, language, and data analysis — one depended on around the globe and in virtually every industry. Ocampo has developed public-sector AI applications for national security, law enforcement, social programs, and education. Now he helps all sorts of clients at IBM Watson Experience Centers in San Francisco, New York, and Cambridge, Mass. understand AI’s potential. He addresses a common fear about automation: “A principle I really believe in

is that AI is meant to augment human ability, not replace it,” he says. (Ocampo prefers the term “augmented intelligence” to “artificial intelligence.”) “The purpose of AI is to extract meaning from unstructured data,” Ocampo explains. Strong tools, such as Excel, can understand structured data, but unstructured information — descriptions, audio, video, or images that get relegated to catch-all “Notes” spreadsheet columns — “that’s data that our machines haven’t historically been good at understanding and reasoning around,” he says. AI can understand that crucial context, to better support the human strengths of high-level, creative thinking. “AI can help us make decisions based on more complete information,” Ocampo says. Take a practicing physician with limited time to read studies.

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SCOTT A R M S T R O N G ’ 9 6 <quot e >

The good thing is that people are still figuring this out, and it’s earlier than you think it is. There are opportunities right now to put processes in place to make it a more regulated industry. “Doctors might see a treatment work once and come to rely on it, but they’re making assumptions without looking at the full picture of that patient or recent developments,” he says. “So bringing AI into this situation can result in improved treatment, more personalized treatment, instead of routines that rely on habits and biases.” One bias he’s referring to is data bias: over- and underrepresentation in the data upon which decisions are based. Take a fuller data set into account with AI and you’re making better-informed decisions, in less time. Legal clients using Watson, for example, have reported spending only a few hours on contracts that previously took them days or weeks to review. Ocampo cautions, however, that the quality of AI is only as good as its data. “If there isn’t enough representation in use cases, you won’t get good output,” he says. “Two of the biggest obstacles to good AI are access to clean data and the transparency of what’s being done with it.” Lack of transparency leaves AI vulnerable to another type of bias: social prejudice. A 2018 MIT Media Lab study showed that, across three major commercial facial recognition applications, accuracy in identifying gender varied wildly, with an error rate of less than 1 percent for light-skinned men and nearly 35 percent for dark-skinned women. Skewed data sets were found to be a factor.

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But in monitoring for bias, AI can help too, Ocampo points out. IBM, for example, created the Watson Open Scale platform to test every variable input for bias while decisions are being made, highlight risk factors in data sets, and recommend adjustments. The goal: an explainable model. “AI is not magic,” Ocampo says. “It’s advanced computer science and advanced math, and there are people behind it.” He’s encouraged by an increasing focus on ensuring unbiased data through such corrective feedback. Ocampo has advice for AI developers: “Look around the room. Who’s represented, and who’s not? Get other people in there — that’s how you protect yourself from these shortcomings in data.” LIFTING_THE_LID_ ON_THE BLACK_BOX

In his 10 years working on the business side of the AI industry, including at Domino Data Lab, DataRobot, and now Texas-based SparkCognition, Scott Armstrong ’96 has seen AI’s tremendous value for customers. Predictive maintenance solutions, for example, can anticipate up to two weeks in advance when machinery will break, eliminating costly downtime. And one financial client recently saved $100 million by implementing an AI product. “It’s astonishing how much this is worth,” Armstrong says.

There’s also real human value, he adds. Recent studies have demonstrated increased accuracy in mammography interpretation and lung cancer detection when AI is used in conjunction with radiologists. Or consider sepsis, which kills almost 7,000 children annually in the U.S., according to the Sepsis Alliance. Early treatment can save lives, but it’s notoriously difficult to diagnose. In November 2019, a team at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus developed an algorithm that predicted septic shock accurately in 90 percent of its study’s pediatric cases, and earlier than existing models. “Having a machine take variables on a chart and get an accurate diagnosis is doing something that is beyond our human capacity right now,” Armstrong says. With ransomware attacks a growing problem, cybersecurity is another major focus for AI solutions. Typical security products create thumbprints of code anomalies, and there could be a lag of a day or a week before fixes are pushed back. But with SparkCognition’s homegrown AI built in, “the fix is already in place,” Armstrong says. “If anything abnormal is going on, it will just stop,” even in air-gapped computers that, for security, aren’t connected to the internet. The implications are great for national security and defense. Armstrong explains that AI products require access to historical data “so that models can be trained for accuracy on known outcomes before they’re deployed.” AI applications have surged as the costs of analyzing, storing, and processing data have plummeted. While many possibilities are promising, he says that how that data is being gathered and handled should bear scrutiny. The data scientists who create predictive algorithms work on separate teams from the developers who put them into production. “Data scientists are thinking about how to make money, and they aren’t necessarily concerned with compliance or how to explain a model to, say, someone whose loan was not approved,” Armstrong says. “They don’t start with those parameters upfront.” He considers


the current focus within the industry on “explainable AI” a positive development in response to the problem of “black-box solutions”: complex AI models whose decisions can’t be questioned because the process is concealed. “The good thing is that people are still figuring this out, and it’s earlier than you think it is,” Armstrong says. “There are opportunities right now to put processes in place to make it a more regulated industry.” SPEAKING_THE_ SAME_LANGUAGE

Andrea Cross ’90 wanted to work for

the Partnership on AI (PAI), she says, because “AI touches almost every single aspect of society today.” She joined the San Francisco-based nonprofit organization in June 2019, bringing her passion for sharing stories about science and her experience as a film producer to help figure out how AI can be used effectively and appropriately. PAI is a coalition of more than 100 partners, including six of the world’s largest tech companies — Amazon, Apple, DeepMind, Facebook, Google, and IBM — as well as academics, media companies, and nongovernmental organizations such as the ACLU, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. Although PAI doesn’t regulate or lobby, its multistakeholder process produces resources for policymakers as well as industry practitioners. Open dialogue, in the same physical space, is central to PAI’s approach. “It’s about listening and coming to understand what the problems are,” Cross says. “This is a unique organization that has this combination of industry partners and civil society organizations in the room at the same time, with the goal of bringing voices from underrepresented communities directly to computer scientists and programmers, to make sure that they’re aware of the unintended consequences of AI and how to improve the transparency of how AI is developed and implemented.” Last year, PAI documented the serious shortcomings of relying on algorithmic

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risk assessment for criminal justice decisions, such as whether to detain suspects or extend prison terms. Its report outlines 10 requirements for responsible deployment by jurisdictions, which are largely unfulfilled. “Although the use of these tools is in part motivated by the desire to mitigate existing human fallibility in the criminal justice system, it is a serious misunderstanding to view tools as objective or neutral simply because they are based on data,” it states. This February, following the release of the European Commission’s plan to regulate artificial intelligence — which includes banning black-box systems, requiring AI to be trained on representative data, and calling for broad debate about facial recognition technologies — PAI published a paper intended to help policymakers and the public use the same terminology in understanding how facial recognition systems work. Cross produced an interactive infographic for the PAI website that explains the systems’ mechanisms and demonstrates how altering parameters can result in false positive or false negative facial matches.

<caption> Top: Scott Armstrong ’96, at SparkCognition, sees AI’s tremendous business value. Bottom: Andrea Cross ’90 supports the Partnership on AI, which convenes stakeholders from industry and civil society organizations to improve AI and benefit people.

A N D R E A CROSS ’90 <quote>

AI is becoming more and more integrated into everyday life, so how do we think it through? We need to be thinking in a more human framework. “What we’re saying is, let’s have a baseline for how we can talk about the issues so there can be a productive discussion about the roles of these systems in society,” Cross says. Decisions about corporate accountability, privacy, and informed consent ultimately reside with regulators. For now, PAI will continue offering information so that governments, businesses, and in-

dividuals can see a fuller picture — much like the one AI itself aims to provide. That broader view encompasses both the great possibilities AI is opening up and its real consequences in people’s lives. “AI is becoming more and more integrated into everyday life, so how do we think it through?” Cross says. “We need to be thinking in a more human framework.”

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Concord Academy

IN THE AGE OF CORONAVIRUS

How CA is maintaining community and mission across physical distance 24

C O N C O R D ACA D E M Y M AGA Z I N E

T H I S S PR I N G, much of the world stopped. With the global spread of the novel coronavirus (Covid-19), travel ceased, economies faltered, and many around the world sought shelter in their homes. This historic moment required CA to adapt quickly (one of our strengths, as the chameleon teaches us), and we have benefited from being guided by our mission during a time of fear, sorrow, and great uncertainty. The U.S. response to the virus was just beginning as our school entered spring break in early March. For CA, a warning had come late in January, when a Model UN conference at Yale, attended by some of our students, was suddenly closed due to what turned out to be a false suspicion of a Covid-19 case. The month and a half before spring break allowed us to plan for the new conditions this pandemic would create and to prepare faculty and students for the possibility — and later, reality — of being unable to reunite in person for the rest of the academic year. In our transition to distance learning, we have relied on our community’s ingenuity, humor, and exceptional capacity to care for and support one another, even through computer screens. Our goals have been simple: to maintain the culture we all love so much and to reimagine our shared educational and social experiences, despite physical separation. CA’s distance-learning plan has focused not only on academics but also on social connection and our foundational values. As our community has leaned into unfamiliar forms and structures, we have all been called upon to steer by our love of learning, our commitment to pursuing equity, and our rootedness in common trust. We have found some unexpected grace and insight in our adaptations. As CA has had to make a series of unprecedented decisions — to move to online learning, to close our campus, to reimagine our Commencement and reunion ceremonies — the outpouring of support has been inspiring. From simple patience and understanding to generous offers of social and financial support, we have been reminded of how profoundly grateful we are for CA’s extended community of students, families, faculty and staff, alumnae/i, board members, and friends. What follows is a summary of our actions to maintain the CA experience through the end of this academic year. This snapshot in time reflects our efforts as of press time. A future issue of this magazine will devote more space to how our school has responded as well as to members of our community who have been on the front lines in various roles. In the meantime, we hope you will find strength, solace, and hope in your connection to our remarkable and resilient CA community, as we have. R I C K H A R DY

Head of School, Dresden Endowed Chair FAY L A M P E RT S H U TZ E R ’6 5

President, Board of Trustees


CA faculty and students connect virtually throughout the spring. Clockwise from top: Science teacher Kiley Remiszewski; English teacher Nick Hiebert; English teacher Sabrina Sadique; Archie Daffner ’23 demonstrates a beautiful bow hold during an individual viola lesson with Jenny Stirling; Student Head of School Vedika Sharma gives her chapel talk; mathematics teacher George Larivee guides geometry students’ exploration using kusudama paper models; and Ava Grzeszcuk ’23 and Esmee Decola ’23 (via phone) take part in a long-distance, online improv scene for theater teacher Shelley Bolman’s Improvisational Play class.


CA’S PLAN

Community Meetings

In This Time of Distance, CA’s Guiding Spirit Is More Important than Ever

When setting out on any new journey, a guide can be invaluable. Laura Twichell ’01, interim academic dean, and Sarah Yeh, assistant head and dean of faculty, provided just that service in drafting Concord Academy’s distance learning plan for the remainder of the spring 2020 semester. Their plan is thorough, clear, structured, and sensitive to the varied needs of our students and faculty, and it beautifully articulates why CA’s values matter so much in this moment. Here is an excerpt: These plans for distance learning are guided by the mission. They also center the physical, social, and emotional well-being of each member of our community; create structure for an invigorating and rigorous academic experience for all students; and maintain relationships to support students at an uncertain moment. This distance learning plan is not just about covering the curriculum while we are apart: It is just as much about providing connection and structure in uncertain times. While this may not be our ideal learning environment, we continue to strive to deliver on our mission and to create a challenging and supportive environment for our students. We acknowledge that the distance-learning experience won’t replicate the CA classroom experience, yet we seek to maintain as many of the features that students and teachers value as we can: personal connections, the development of higher-order thinking skills, creative and thought-provoking assignments, individual choice and student-driven inquiry, and collaborative and cooperative work. In this model, teachers and students will continue to be in close communication and productive engagement. Indeed, there is opportunity in an unfamiliar setting to imagine and reimagine in partnership. Students and teachers will be learning together, a powerful, and empowering, model of education.”

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Laurence Vanleynseele teaches an English class.

A DAY @ CA: SPRING 2020

Scheduling for Learning Across the World

With CA students now spread across the globe, CA’s daily routine has altered to allow for participation from various international time zones. The resulting schedule enables both synchronous and asynchronous learning and supports the well-being of CA students through regular opportunities to check in with one another and with adults. Amy Spencer, Performing Arts Department head, was touched that, even though her Dance 1 class was scheduled at the earliest possible time (8:30 a.m. Eastern, not a popular choice for teenagers) to accommodate one student in Asia, every single member logged in exactly on time on the first day. “It was so clear to me how much they needed this connection,” Spencer says, “and I was fired up and ready to go.”

CA students and (bottom row, from left) Sally Zimmerli, dean of students, and Sarah Yeh, assistant head and dean of faculty.

Taking the place of our usual announcements, CA’s weekly community meetings now anchor our schedule. Held via virtual meeting software, these gatherings provide an opportunity for students to hear updates and reflections from administrators and other CA adults, as well as from one another. To date, meetings have included National Poetry Month readings, faculty discussions about the importance of social distancing, and even a tour of the Elizabeth B. Hall Chapel, which James Gow Jr. ’20 and Connor Dayton ’20 recreated in Minecraft.

The First Corinthians carving in the Elizabeth B. Hall Chapel, lovingly recreated in digital form in Minecraft by James Gow Jr. ’20 and Connor Dayton ’20.

Chapels

Chapel talks, CA’s singular rites of passage, still hold our collective attention. Through virtual meeting software, this significant experience for seniors and the community has been reshaped for video, complete with virtual friend benches and email hug lines. Faculty member Justin Bull created a Chapel background so that seniors can appear on video as if standing at the podium, write their initials on the chalkboard behind them, and display decorations from friends. Some students have chosen an alternative approach and recorded their talks elsewhere; one senior did so on the stone wall outside Concord’s Old Manse, editing in videos of her friends dancing during musical interludes. While we are unable to sit together beneath the Chapel’s soaring ceiling and beams, CA students have embraced this opportunity for creativity and


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STAY UP TO DATE www.concordacademy.org/ coronavirus-covid-19-update

Amy Spencer (left), dance teacher and Performing Arts Department head, leads a ballet workshop class with several students, including Kelly Zhang ’22.

expression. Music is still played, arms are still raised, and seniors continue to enrich us all by sharing their stories. Classes

CA’s approach to academics for the remainder of the year has been to create a supportive structure to contribute positively to a healthy new normal for students. With equity and support as the school’s aims, CA has moved to a grading system of pass/no credit for all courses for the spring semester, and

teachers have approached assessment of students’ work with compassion and flexibility, with the goal of helping every student demonstrate proficiency. Some classes, such as English literature, have continued largely unchanged; others, including science labs and hands-on arts courses, have required more reconceiving. Accelerated Physics students collected data in an online laboratory, worked in lab groups to graph it in a shared spreadsheet, and used the graphs to empirically determine the

V I R T UA L C H A P E L TA L K T R A N S C R I P T

S K Y C O L E ’20 In the first video chapel talk of the spring semester, Sky Cole ’20 shared stories from her life and dispensed some senior advice.

“ I am, and you are, more than capable of doing truly anything you put your mind to, but something always gives in exchange. Make sure you’re sacrificing an amount of time or energy that’s OK for you. I encourage you to demolish boundaries and expectations, but don’t do the same to yourself in the process. You are your most important project.”

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equation for the period of a pendulum. Advanced ceramics students, now without access to clay or a wheel, considered vessels in their homes, designed cups on paper, and talked with CA adults about their projects. Beyond the Virtual Classroom

So much of what distinguishes CA has continued, albeit in altered forms. Advisors and advisees meet just as often. Individual music instruction continues virtually, and ensembles continue their music education. Directors’ Workshop plays are preparing scenes to perform at the end of the year, and senior projects have been reimagined for an off-campus context. Coaches have engaged their teams in weekly workouts, focusing on supporting movement, health, and wellness. Clubs and affinity groups continue to meet, now at daily lunch hours set aside for students to gather and socialize online. Dinner Docs even continues its weekly tradition of evening documentary film viewings!

TOGETHER AGAIN

When will we be able to be together again? It is a question we are all asking — of our family, our friends, and, here in Concord, our CA community. As of this issue’s press date, we have decided to hold some virtual events on the original dates for Baccalaureate, Commencement, and Reunion Weekend, but we are postponing the physical events until it is safe to gather. While our desire to come back together remains strong, we live with the uncertainty about how our lives will resume or be altered, and also the knowledge that, whatever new approaches may be required of us, we will come through this together.

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I

CA Seeks to Remove a Great Barrier What if families’ finances didn’t factor into admissions decisions at all? As its recently renewed mission statement makes clear, Concord Academy is a school “striving for equity.” But what does that statement mean? In considering the language that conveys CA’s values, a question arose for CA leaders: “Can we imagine a time when the financial barrier to attendance is removed entirely?” It’s time for CA to take steps toward joining the few independent schools able to offer need-blind admissions — and to lead the way for others by showing it can be done. Though considerable work will be required to reach this goal, CA is willing to take it on because this aspiration is essential to the school’s identity, and its future. Although tuition doesn’t cover the entire cost of CA’s unique education for any student — a strong Annual Fund and investment income from CA’s endowment fill the gap — the fact remains that boarding tuition is higher than the median U.S. household income. Despite that difficult reality, CA is committed to composing a student body that reflects a full range of talent and ideas in students of every background. Concord Academy’s financial aid model is held up as a bellwether in independent education. The school’s insistence on experiential equity for all students means that CA offers a limited number of students comprehensive grants based on their families’ actual need, so students receiving financial assistance don’t have to worry about being unable to afford sports equipment to play on a team or about missing a student trip to Boston’s Theater District. A movement is building to set CA on a course to become need-blind in its admissions process. Only a bold investment in CA’s financial aid program will enable the school to increase the number of deserving students it can support, while also ensuring that all students will have every opportunity to mature into engaged and confident citizens, with paths determined by passion rather than financial capacity.

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BY THE NUMBERS 2019–20 CA day tuition was

$51,455

.

CA boarding tuition was

$64,240

.

The median U.S. household income was

$60,293

* . CA’s average aid award for boarding and day students was

$51,780

.

26%

of the total student body of

399 received a total of

$5.1

M I L L I O N in aid;

27%

of the incoming class of

100 received financial aid.

This number is likely to increase. * Source: United States Census Bureau, 2014–2018 American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates.

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LEARN MORE www.concord100.org

“ At CA, I had the opportunity to interact with people of all backgrounds and walks of life. I learned a great deal about my own privileges and my own multifaceted identity. I am grateful for this opportunity; I am able to see myself as both an individual and a part of the larger social dynamic on both a national and a global scale.” A N M O L G O R AYA ’1 8


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H E L P U S C E L E B R AT E CA’S C E N T E N N I A L CONCORD ACADEMY SEEKS YOUR STORIES AND MEMORABILIA Concord Academy’s 100th birthday is fast approaching! Planning is now underway for a full year of centennial commemorations beginning in spring 2022. We’re in the process of crafting a book that we hope will capture in stories and images the character and spirit of the school throughout its first 10 decades. And we hope you’ll help us create it. How did CA, as its founding families envisioned, “develop qualities of initiative and self-reliance, stimulate intellectual curiosity, and offer a thorough preparation for college” in an era when educational opportunities for girls were limited? How did the school both evolve and retain its identity and values after the bold decision to become coeducational in 1971? What qualities have endured? How is CA continuing to build on its longstanding commitment to inclusiveness? Stories from every era will also be told in other formats, such as videos, slideshows, and podcasts. We hope you will contribute your voice and your memories to our preparations for this milestone year. We’re especially eager to hear stories that illustrate the frequently heard comment, “That’s so CA!”

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Here are a few ways you can participate: • Record a video recollection of your time at CA. • Send us a note with a story or memory you’d like to share or an answer to this question: What did you carry with you into the world from your CA experience? • Let us know if you have a photo or memento of your time at the school that you’d be willing to lend. Please send your notes and ideas to centennial_project@concordacademy.org. We look forward to hearing from you!

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D O N O R P RO F I L E S

CA is grateful to the many generous individuals and families who are committed to bridging the 10 percent budget gap between Concord Academy’s income from tuition and endowment and the total funds necessary to ensure the daily operations of the school — the actual costs of CA’s distinctive educational program. These donors explain why they continue to give to Concord Academy’s Annual Fund every year. BY ABIGAIL JENNEY

MARGARET ERHART ’70 AND STEPHEN M. ERHART ’79

JOAN AND ENIS KONUK P’12 ’16

Margaret Erhart ’70 and Stephen M. Erhart ’79 both treasure their Joan and Enis Konuk P’12 ’16 have been a part of the Concord connection to CA, so much so that last spring, the siblings estabAcademy community since 2008. Over the past 12 years, they lished the endowed Erhart Family Fund for Financial Aid, as well have seen the school grow in many ways, from the addition of as the Erhart Family Fund for Professional Development, which the Moriarty Athletic Campus and the CA Labs and CA Houses will support CA’s faculty over the next four years. renovations to a willingness to expand, experi“Diversity is important to me,” says Margie. “It is ment, and adjust to reflect the needs and interests a huge asset to the CA community, and we need of the community. They believe in the power an endowment to support it. I know how incredibly of education and, as a result, they have loyally hard the faculty work, and I want to support them supported CA’s Annual Fund and financial aid as in their endeavors, whatever they are.” well as the CA Labs project. Together, they joined Margie and Steve grew up in Manhattan — and CA’s Centennial Campaign Steering Committee for Margie, a major draw of Concord was the locabecause of their belief in CA’s mission and desire tion. “I was very outdoorsy and wanted a place to help strengthen the school’s endowment. “If I Margaret Erhart ’70 and with grass and trees, and clean air to breathe,” am going to have an impact, it is going to be in Stephen M. Erhart ’79 she says. She found that, and so much more, at education,” Enis says, “and CA is leading the way. CA. Margie considered house life “delightful.” Something special is happening here, and we She appreciated the school’s academic rigor and want to be a part of it.” embraced the freedom she and her peers were Joan grew up in Ipswich, Mass., where she given — in particular, she says, the ability “to grow attended public school. Financial aid allowed her without horrible consequences for our mistakes.” to attend both college and graduate school, Joan Margie now lives in Arizona, but she still visits says, “but also to attend schools I would othercampus when she can. She enjoys seeing CA wise not even have considered.” Enis, a native of through the perspective of her good friends, house Turkey, attended a private school as a child. When parents and faculty Kim Crawford Harvie and he was growing up, he says, “education was a Joan and Enis Konuk P’12 ’16 Kem Morehead. Steve, who lives in California, challenge for so many — there was a big gap stays connected through Margie and his Concord between those who had access to it and those friends. “Today, so many of my dearest friends are fellow alumwho did not.” Having witnessed that disparity, Enis considers nae/i,” he says. “As a part of the first generation of CA coeds, education “a huge differentiator in the world.” After working in we were never afraid to think outside the box and look beyond tech for many years, he founded a software company dedicated tradition; we still share these same values.” to providing hands-on learning to people who want to work with Both say that CA influenced them the most of all the schools leading cloud platforms and software. they attended. Margie, who has written four novels as well as The Konuks appreciate CA’s unique approach to education. travel essays and book reviews, spends her time writing, teachAs they observed their children’s paths at CA, Enis says, “we ing adults, swimming, hiking, and “doing a lot of yoga.” Steve saw how much each one got out of the freedom to explore, the is a physician, but in the past two years he has transitioned to diversity of things they could do, the cross-disciplinary approach, part-time work so that he can pursue other interests — some and their advisors.” Joan adds that as parents, “we were a part developed at Concord. of the experience as well — through dinner table conversations Their joint gift is a way to honor “the old and the new,” Margie and talking through their schoolwork at home, we all benefited says. “Steve and I were each shaped by this school in so many tremendously from what they were learning.” positive ways. I have so much respect for him, and it means Joan and Enis are motivated by the idea of access. “CA helps so much to me that we were able to give this gift together, to a kids see themselves in a different way; it helps them be the drivschool that means so much to both of us.” ers of their own narrative,” Enis says. “We want to ensure that every qualified student is able to afford a CA education if they want one.”

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alumnae/i CA alumnae/i gathered in New York in February for an evening of cooking and conversation with acclaimed chef Anita Lo ’84.

P H OTO BY B RU C E G I L B E RT


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A LU M N A E / I

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Treating the Whole Person An oncologist works toward more equitable health care outcomes Naomi Ko ’91, P’21, M.D.

\

SEE MORE Visit www.concord academy.org/alumnaei for more recent stories about CA graduates.

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Growing up in an immigrant household, Naomi Ko ’91, P’21 observed what it meant to her Chinese-born parents to be American: hard work and a steadfast commitment to integrating into American culture. As a senior at Concord Academy, Ko took a class with Kevin Jennings called American Culture and Identity. “Kevin, and that class, changed my outlook on what I wanted to do and who I wanted to become,” she recalls. “I was inspired by a sense of social justice and wanted to go into the field of law to fight for the underserved, for all the people who don’t usually get a voice at the American table.”

C O N C O R D ACA D E M Y M AGA Z I N E

Her plans changed, however, when she took a paralegal job after college and found the work both tedious and staid. In a swift course correction, Ko signed on with Teach for America and taught 33 second-graders in East Oakland, Calif., in an area plagued by crime and drugs. “It was the hardest job I’ve ever had,” she says. “What a rude awakening that was. I realized I’d been in an ivory tower, thinking about American studies and racial inequality. It was very different to actually be in the midst of it.” Ko also took on a volunteer position in Oakland, as a community health worker at the Berkeley Free Clinic. “It’s a place that takes care of people with nowhere else to go,” Ko says. “We treated homeless teens, individuals with STDs, women who had never had gynecological care.” There, she found the opportunities to address inequality that she had long sought. Recognizing the patients’ vulnerability, she understood that the care they were receiving was “essential to their well-being,” she says. “I realized this was my passion.” After returning to school to fulfill her medical school prerequisites, Ko earned a medical degree and then a master’s in public health at Johns Hopkins and went on to a residency at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston. Fortunate as she felt with the placement, that hospital didn’t have the clientele she most wanted to serve. “Our patients were generally well-resourced,” she says. “That population was not why I went to medical school.” She found her calling at Boston Medical Center (BMC), the city’s public hospital. Its motto, “exceptional care without exception,” seemed to embody her values and her desire to serve those who needed her most. At BMC, Ko started her fellowship training in hematology oncology, integrating an expertise in cancer diagnosis and treatment with her lifelong passion for justice, in part by focusing on the issue of inequity in health-care outcomes. “Black women are 40 percent more likely to die of breast cancer than white women,” she says, citing a paper she published earlier this year in JAMA Oncology. “That racial disparity has been growing and worsening over the decades. This


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is a social justice issue, and it has innumerable causes: lack of access to care, language barriers, inability to pay co-pays, illiteracy around breast cancer awareness, lack of knowledge about self-exams, insufficient access to research trials.” Sometimes the first challenge Ko faces with a patient is simply winning over the trust of someone who has long been failed by institutions. One way she does this is by promoting BMC’s Patient Navigator System. Ko describes a patient navigator as “basically a buddy who can help you get through the cancer treatment.” But what that means varies dramatically from patient to patient and among different socioeconomic groups, she says. “For my patients at BMC, it’s likely to involve helping them find transportation to their appointments, helping them access short-term disability benefits, even working with them on approaches to homelessness and food insecurity.” “I care so deeply about all our patients and their stories,” she says. “They are victims of racism, both overt and covert, conscious and unconscious. For a lot of my patients, institutions have worked against them their whole lives. I have the privilege every time I walk into my clinic to be able to give them the reassurance that I see you, I care about you, and I’m going to do the best I can to fight for what you need and deserve in your medical care.” — Nancy Shohet West ’84

“ I have the privilege … to be able to give [my patients] the reassurance that I see you, I care about you, and I’m going to do the best I can to fight for what you need and deserve in your medical care.” N AO M I KO ’9 1

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L AU R A M C C O N AG H Y ’0 1 Alumnae/i Association President

BUILDING LIFELONG CONNECTIONS Over the past few years, the Alumnae/i Association has renewed its commitment to strengthening the lifelong connections among alumnae/i and with CA. I must say that, particularly during this most challenging of times, these connections are inspiring. We’ve seen dispatches from alumnae/i who are medical personnel fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. Many others have continued to offer their time, expertise, and energy to engage current and prospective students during a period of unprecedented disruption. From so many of you who have told us how you have been supporting one another, we can see that our ties are enduring. Our class secretaries have been keeping the lines of communication open. The resilience and vibrancy of CA rely on this lifelong partnership between the school and all of us, and the continued involvement of so many alumnae/i is proof of both. This is a time to take strength from our community. I encourage all of you to join us online at the second annual Alumnae/i Assembly, an opportunity to hear from school leader@ ADD YOUR ship and alumnae/i volunteer leaders and to be part of VOICE the conversation about CA’s future. Organized by the www.concord Alumnae/i Steering Committee, the assembly will take academy.org/ place via videoconference this spring. This year’s virtual centennial-survey assembly may be easier than ever to attend! Look for details in a forthcoming email. As difficult as it is to look ahead right now, CA’s centennial is just two years away. We are looking forward to a series of events that will bring our community together again! The celebration will begin in spring 2022, continue through the 2022–23 academic year, and conclude during the June 2023 reunion. As we craft a fitting CA Centennial experience, we believe that just a single event will fall short for our extended community. Rather, we envision a collection of moments that, taken together, convey the unusual breadth and depth of this unique school. This past fall, we sent all alumnae/i a survey asking for ideas and recollections, to allow us to meet this milestone by honoring CA’s history and traditions as well as its mission and vision for the future. If you haven’t already responded, this is your chance to contribute to planning for this very special celebration. Thank you for your input, and for your steadfast belief in our school and our community.

MISSION The Alumnae/i Association fosters lifelong connections between Concord Academy and its alumnae/i community. The association facilitates meaningful opportunities to preserve and promote a love of learning, service to others, and a commitment to diverse perspectives and backgrounds. Through involvement in the life of the school, within the community, and through service to the greater world, the association strives to renew and affirm the core values instilled while at CA.

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I AM CA Michael Lichtenstein ’94 is CA’s first class secretaries chair Coming to Concord Academy from southern Alabama at 15, Michael Lichtenstein ’94 was struck by how teachers related to students as individuals and supported their growth. Now that he’s parenting three boys, he says, “I try to remember that you get a lot further by being an active listener than by lecturing.” An attorney, Lichtenstein advises nearly 500 municipalities in Maine, where ordinary citizens run most small towns. “It’s rewarding to walk them through complicated legal problems,” he says. “I also really like dealing with enthusiastic people.” He finds those among CA graduates, too, in his volunteer role as class secretaries chair. “Working with class secretaries reminds me of what I noticed as a student — how motivated and interested in learning everyone was.” Lichtenstein is impressed by alumnae/i from earlier generations, whose enthusiasm for reaching out to their classmates is undiminished, and by recent graduates, who, far from considering class notes anachronistic, eagerly await them. “This is about reaching people in an unobtrusive way,” Lichtenstein says. “It’s an opportunity to go beyond a circle of close friends.” His own classmates’ updates usually begin with qualifications that they haven’t been doing anything interesting. Lichtenstein hopes to reset expectations: “Even if you’re just married with two kids and still practicing the piano, I never get tired of reading about what’s going on in people’s lives.”

On the Front Lines CA would like to honor graduates involved in the fight against Covid-19 These days, the word “hero” conjures an image of someone in a mask: an emergency-medicine physician, nurse, paramedic, or any of the specialists and retired health care workers who have been enlisted to help critically ill patients in a time of great fear and uncertainty, in many cases without sufficient preparation or protective equipment. Many in health care prefer not to be called heroes; they feel they are simply people doing what they’ve been trained to do. Still, their dedication and selflessness give us hope. Here at Concord Academy, we would like to honor the individuals in our community who are rising to the challenge of fighting the Covid-19 pandemic in their communities. We look forward to sharing their stories, online and in a future issue of CA Magazine. EL IZ A MIL L E R ’94 On Twitter, Eliza Miller ’94 appears as “Dr. Eliza ‘Stay Home Save Lives’ Miller.” A vascular neurologist and clinical researcher, she is an attending neurologist at New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan and an assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center. After a quarantine at home with Covid19 symptoms, Miller returned in early April to her telemedicine clinic. When we spoke with her shortly afterward, she anticipated being assigned to work at the hospital soon. “The neurological intensive care unit and stroke units are filled with Covid-19 patients,” she said. “Neurology residents, fellows, and attendings are being redeployed to various parts of the hospital. We are all Covid-19 doctors now.” Connecting with colleagues is what keeps Miller going. “The best thing about academic medicine is that the people who practice it tend E L I Z A M I L L E R ’94, M . D. to be really interesting, smart, dedicated, creative, collaborative, and funny,” she said. “And it’s not [ just the doctors. It’s also the scientists — epideSHARE YOUR STORIES miologists, bench researchers, and clinical research- We are aware of several CA alumnae/i physicians, nurses, and first ers. It’s phenomenal how the entire mammoth responders who are serving their research operation at Columbia has spun on a dime communities, and probably unaware of many more. Are you a medical proand suddenly everyone is researching Covid-19. vider who has been treating Covid-19 I know we are going to solve this problem, and patients? Do you know CA alumnae/i whose work should be recognized? I want to be part of that.”

“ We are all Covid-19 doctors now.”

W Read more at www.concordacademy.org/eliza-miller.

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Send an email to communications@ concordacademy.org to let us know.


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LISTENING TO THE MORE-THAN-HUMAN WORLD A musician-scientist combines his passions to support conservation A scientist, artist, educator, presenter, and National Geographic Explorer, Ben Mirin ’06 travels the globe recording animal sounds for research, which he also samples to make music that inspires conservation. In addition to creating and hosting the digital and television series Wild Beats on National Geographic Kids and Nat Geo Wild, he is a graduate research fellow of the National Science Foundation and a graduate student at Cornell University. When did you realize you could merge your interests in nature and music into a professional path? I’ve been a passionate birder and naturalist since I was 4 and have played music since I was 7. At CA I participated in five different singing groups, played guitar in bands, and gave my first performance as a beatboxer. My chapel talk was about how much I loved birding. While birds and music were both lifelong passions, they didn’t really overlap. But after college I moved to Japan for two years. I didn’t speak Japanese and had never been to the country before. Although I was there to work for the Japanese government, soon I was also collaborating with artists in the local hip-hop scene and conducting field research with ornithologists from my office. I’d moved halfway around the world, yet those two interests had come with me. That opened my eyes to their importance in my life and the recognition that I had to find some way to fuse them. What experiences at CA led you in this direction? In John Drew’s environmental science class, I monitored bird migration patterns in Concord and Mexico, and during that time I also traveled to the Gulf of

P H OTOS : K AT I E GA R R E T T ( TO P ) , RYA N L AS H

Mexico and took pictures of the effect of hurricanes on migratory birds’ habitats. My passion for birds became a gateway for me to connect with that part of the world. I wrote a 50-page paper assessing the impact of hurricane damage on critical habitats where birds stop to refuel during migration.

Ben Mirin ’06.

What have been some of your most exciting moments in the field? I’ve made a number of unique scientific discoveries, and that’s newly exciting each time. Perhaps most interestingly, in the cloud forests of Honduras I recorded a sound that could be the voice of a frog no one has heard before — we’re still exploring our results. While that in itself was thrilling, even more significantly, we could use the recording of this frog’s vocalization to save its species from extinction. Frogs respond to each other’s voices by becoming more competitive about reproducing. By playing my recording back to this species, we could help rebuild the population in the only forest where it lives. I tell this story in my film, Sounds of Survival, which can be viewed in bioGraphic magazine, National Geographic, and on YouTube.

What do you hope CA students and other young people learn from your story? CA gave me the opportunity to nurture interests that seemed unrelated until I was able to figure out how to make them one. I feel extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to experiment until I found a way to do that. That’s a gift I want to give to others: the idea that they too can ask themselves what they really love and how to make it their life’s work. We are all lifelong learners, and I hope that students of any age can feel encouraged to apply their passions to the world and see what comes back. Share yourself; share who you are; be an ambassador for what you know. If we could all be explorers of the planet and ourselves, the world would be a better place. — Nancy Shohet West ’84

“ That’s a gift I want to give to others: the idea that they too can ask themselves what they really love and how to make it their life’s work. ” Ben Mirin ’06

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COMPILED BY LIBRARY DIRECTOR MARTHA KENNEDY

Creative Types

Why I Never Finished My Dissertation Laura Foley ’75

Headmistress Press, 2019 In this, her seventh collection of poetry, Laura Foley conveys deep gratitude for ordinary delights cast among the certainty of life’s grander traumas and tribulations. Whether delving into long-past memories or recounting the here and now, her poems bestow meditative offerings accessible to a wide range of readers. One Day I didn’t read the news, I raked a rainbow of pungent autumn leaves, played abroad with happy dogs, held my granddaughter in my arms, and sat beneath an amiable maple, attentive to current events.

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Hate Inc.: Why Today’s Media Makes Us Despise One Another Matt Taibbi ’88

OR Books, 2019 Is it any wonder that Americans feel irrevocably driven apart when rampant political partisanship in tandem with the explosion of media silos seem hell-bent on keeping us ill-informed and constantly angry? Matt Taibbi posits that the preoccupation with monetary bottom lines and market share motivates news outlets more than providing consumers with accurate and unbiased reporting. He draws upon his decadeslong relationship with journalism, including his own culpability in peddling news as entertainment, as he examines how we arrived at this point.

[

CALLING ALL CREATIVE TYPES Have you published a book or released a film or album within the past year? Please email Martha Kennedy at martha_kennedy@ concordacademy.org, and consider donating a copy to the J. Josephine Tucker Library’s alumnae/i collection.

The Fifth Domain: Defending Our Country, Our Companies, and Ourselves in the Age of Cyber Threats

Knake, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, served in the Obama administration as director of cybersecurity policy at the National Security Council.

Penguin Press, 2019

Foundations of Agnostic Statistics

Robert K. Knake ’97 and Richard A. Clarke

Cyberspace, considered the fifth domain by the U.S. military, is a far different battlefield than the familiar quartet of land, sea, air, and space. It is, however, an area of active and ongoing attacks, whether on nations, companies, or individuals. Richard Clarke and Robert Knake offer realistic concerns and recommendations for combating election interference as well as more general solutions to defend against all types of internet hacks and other cyberassaults.

Benjamin T. Miller ’08 and Peter M. Aronow

Cambridge University Press, 2019 Peter Aronow and Benjamin Miller address modern statistical theory in this groundbreaking text designed for graduate students across a range of quantitative disciplines. By offering new ways of looking at data gathering and empirical research, they inform future social and health scientists using real, credible data and not false assumptions.


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Then: The Academy garden in the late 1940s or early 1950s, prior to the construction of the Elizabeth B. Hall Chapel in 1956. Now: Looking down the Senior Steps across the Chapel lawn after the campus closed during the spring 2020 semester.

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01. C lay skull: By Sean Kwon ’12; it’s wearing “100” glasses in my stead — I’m part of the school group planning CA centennial celebrations. 02. P ottery: The two pots on the left were made by my advisee Hadley Allen ’12. Traditional Korean celadon vase on right, from advisee JiYeon Ku ’99. 03. B ox: From the estate of former French teacher Ron Richardson. I inherited a lot of his books, many by alumnae/i and inscribed to him. 04. D ogs: At left are Maisie (black Lab, 2 here, now 15) and Hancock, who belonged to

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Steven Binzel ’07. At right is Jessie, my first dog; she spent a lot of time at the library. 05. Librarian action figure: It’s modeled on librarian and critic Nancy Pearl of Book Lust fame. A gift from former English teacher Cammy Thomas P’08, she comes with shushing action! 06. The Zen of Zombie: Advice for “better living through the undead” from my advisee Mike Pappas ’10. 07. Coaster and Edward Gorey cards: I’m a huge Gorey fan. Former CA Latin teacher Liz Penland ’89 gave me these

and the chameleon coaster, a replica of a Roman tile. 08. M ouse silhouette: A cutout used here in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee musical a few years ago. 09. C hicago Manual of Style: Yes, Chicago. That’s my personal copy. 10. Postcards: I collect these on my librarian’s holiday visits to other libraries. That’s Faulkner and Hardy’s manuscript of Jude the Obscure. 11. Architectural sketch: This Bradford House plan includes a Volvo 240, just like the one

I used to drive. The fisheye picture below, of alumnae/i books, was used for a CA Magazine cover in 1999. 12. Cowbell and cows: The bell is from Ariele MartinezBugay ’09, who spent a summer in Switzerland. And those are my uncle’s cows — my grandfather took the picture in the late 1950s. 13. Paperweight: A gift from an early 2000s softball team. 14. C hameleon vase: I’ve wondered for years who made this. Anyone know?


THE CA ANNUAL FUND CA’s mission shapes our community every day. In times of uncertainty, that mission serves as a touchstone for our students, our families, our alumnae/i, and our faculty and staff. Each of us can rely on this school for support, reassurance, and inspiration — and we keep CA strong by giving back. We need CA, and CA needs each one of us. Every gift matters. Every dollar counts.

2019–20 Budget: $29 Million

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MILLION Annual Fund Goal

Summer Camp and Auxiliary Income

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78%

Tuition and Fees

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Endowment Draw

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General and Administration

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