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Success Starts Here

A publication of The Elisabeth Morrow School



Spring 2017

APPLETREE Spring 2017

APPLETREE is a publication of The Elisabeth Morrow School 435 Lydecker Street Englewood, NJ 07631 www.elisabethmorrow.org Articles, images and other contributions from the extended Elisabeth Morrow community are welcome. Contact the communications office at jabernathy@elisabethmorrow.org or 201.568.5566 x7208. All submissions are subject to review and submission does not guarantee publication. Editor Jan Abernathy Director of Marketing and Communications Design Erbach Communications Group Content Contributors Aaron Cooper Tricia Eickelberg Phyllis Kesslen Keith Wiggs Photography and Photographic Contributors Nancy Dorrien Stephanie Massaro Stephanie Nebel Kelvin Ward

On the Cover Our Chilton House students are always looking ahead — and our early childhood education is focused on the skills they will need in the future. Our Mission: The Elisabeth Morrow School pursues the highest educational standards in a supportive, creative environment. We challenge our students’ intellects, promote academic excellence, encourage independent thinking and cultivate individual talents. Our dedicated, experienced faculty fosters moral growth and social responsibility. Within our diverse community, we value tradition, innovation and the joy of lifelong learning.

in this issue 2


Appletree News

Bright Ideas in parent education, accolades earned by our students, second annual Maker Day and more.

Chilton House: Serious Minds at Work

Director of Early Childhood Programs Tricia Eickelberg takes us inside Chilton House, where the

seeds for student success are planted.

12 My EMS Story

History teacher Amy Man, parents Shabri and Prashant Mitta and Julia Stewart-Wood ’14 share their special connection to EMS and the many ways the school has influenced their lives.

hello from Aaron As we approach the last days of school, it is natural to look both forward and backward.


The rush of year-end

Our seventh and eighth grade thespians Mikayla, Matthew and Melisa casting a spell in In into the Woods, staged in the Cohen Center in March.

events reminds us of all that has gone before. Concerts, assemblies and wonderful traditions such as the Kindergarten Circus, Morrow House Field Day or Chilton House Campfire SingAlong create memories and reinforce our feeling of community. For many of our families, their time here begins in Chilton House, and we know that more than ever, our students need the skills and habits of mind that they develop in our early childhood program to succeed in later schooling — and in life. In this issue, we invite you to discover how we build the so-called “soft skills” in demand in today’s society. We also feature first-person accounts from an alumna, a faculty member and an EMS family about their own EMS journeys. We hope that whether your family is joining us next year or you have long graduated, you will see your experience reflected in their words. There are many people who make the EMS experience what it is, and we were delighted to honor two at our recent gala. Sandy Malko, parent of two alumni who served the school for 38 years as a faculty member, and Rosemary Mills Russell, parent of three alumni, past Board member and President, have had a great impact on our school. Finally, we bid a fond farewell to two employees who will be retiring, Angela Sinisi, PNP, Morrow House nurse, and Jan Keshishian, Assistant Director of Admissions. Angela will be deeply missed for the personal care she devoted to our community. Jan, the parent of

14 Advancement

A new stewardship campaign featuring alumni, Innovation Alley ribbon-cutting and the 2017 Auction Gala honoring Rosemary Mills Russell and Sandra Malko.

16 Athletics All-American Caleb Shaia ’13 on

his early days of running at EMS, plus a roundup of winter and spring athletics.

17 Class Notes

Legacies Live On, EMS alums give back, Look Who Came to Visit.

three alumnae, will be remembered for being the first face to greet almost every prospective family and for her sense of humor, good cheer and endless support of EMS. We wish them both well wherever their journeys take them. My best, Aaron Cooper, Head of School APPLETREE 1

appletree news

Bright Ideas


“We know that families increasingly turn to schools today to help them sort through all of the information that they are receiving from a variety of sources, including their friends and families and the media,” says Aaron Cooper, Head of School. “With so much information available on virtually any topic, now more than ever, families need someone to help them separate signal from noise.” This year alone, EMS’ Parents Association has sponsored

by Jan Abernathy, Director of Marketing

presentations from the Child Mind Institute, an organization

and Communications

dedicated to providing information about children’s mental health,

Acknowledging that parenting today can be

as well as a screening of the acclaimed film Screenagers, about the

an increased commitment to parent education

PA also sponsors a book club and book talks during the annual

of the curriculum and childrearing, and providing

the lens of the book under discussion. “We try to be on top of our

about how to raise healthy and happy kids.

Rowbottom, Parents Association President. “Our partnership with

challenging, The Elisabeth Morrow School is making

impact of screen time on children’s health and development. The

through presentations that focus on various aspects

Book Fair, where families can offer one another advice through

answers to the burning questions that families have

members’ concerns and give them practical information,” says Fran the Child Mind Institute has been particularly well-received, as those discussions revolve around thorny issues such as technology use, anxiety, calm parenting and resilience in children.”

Dr. Kristin J. Carothers, PhD, clinical psychologist with the Child Mind Institute, speaking to families about building resilience in children.

Families also attended back-to-school sessions on social and emotional development for third and fourth graders, as well as a session geared toward younger children about creating and sustaining friendships. Recognizing that even families of very young children are curious about life after EMS, we provided a panel discussion with our alumni and a talk about applying to high schools with our secondary school placement team. And to show how our students grow through the early childhood years with each activity building upon the next, we created “A Chilton House Journey,” a parent education evening designed to “connect the dots” between our early childhood program and later school success. In every school year, there are curriculum evenings, grade-specific orientations and coffee mornings, but this year’s sessions at EMS were improved through surveying families to better serve their needs. “When families take time out of their busy schedules to attend our programs, we want to make sure it’s worth their while,” says Phyllis Kesslen, Director of Parent and Alumni Relations. Both the administration and the Parents Association will continue to look for ways to ensure that parents are getting information that they can use to make their family life even better. “Part of the reason that EMS is such a strong community is because our families know that they can rely on the school to help provide a roadmap on how to raise their children,” says Mr. Cooper. “Providing pertinent information on all facets of their children’s development is an appropriate role for our school, and it’s one we are happy to have.”


News, facts and events from The Elisabeth Morrow School

More Ways Our Middle School Students Shine!

Seventh graders are the youngest presenters at Chem Expo at Liberty Science Center each year, an annual event for hands-on chemistry explorations.


Only the top one percent of student entries are

regional awards and two National Silver Medals

recognized at the national level.

at the 2017 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards. In addition to Latin, foreign language students take top honors in the National Spanish Exam.

100% Some middle school mathematicians earn perfect scores in the Continental Math League.

Aaron Cooper, Head of School, said, “In the

Taking home the National Silver Medals for

last few years, our school has had over 100

their memoirs were Niki Eckert and Annabelle

regional winners in this competition, as well

Xing. This year’s competition was extremely

as winners at the highest national levels. The

challenging, with a record-breaking 330,000

dedication of our students to these and many

art and writing pieces that were submitted by

other creative pursuits speaks volumes about

seventh through 12th grade students across

a passion for learning and exploration that

the country, Canada and U.S. schools abroad.

extends far beyond the school day.”

EMS Students Shine in Language and Math Competitions Among EMS students’ many academic accolades were two students with perfect scores in this year’s National Latin Exam. More than 149,000 Latin students from all 50 states participated this year, as did students from 16 foreign countries. Similarly, in the National Spanish Exam, Elisabeth Morrow students attained distinguished placements in this year’s exams, which had a subscription of over 157,000 participants. Twelve of our students from seventh and eighth grade were among the ten highest scores in

Seventh and eighth graders achieve regional and national recognition each year in the Scholastic Art & Writing Awards.

New Jersey in their respective categories. In April, our team won first place at the New York City Regional Latin Certamen for Level 1. Our scholars competed against Brooklyn Latin School, Stuyvesant High School, Hunter College High School and other New York area magnet schools. Additionally, four students (two in third grade, one in fourth and one and fifth) are eligible to compete in the National Math League competition this summer. They competed against hundreds of students in the regional and state level competitions to achieve this honor.


appletree news


Left: Jan Keshishian Right: Angela Sinisi, PNP

At the end of the school year, two of our long-tenured staff members, Jan Keshishian, Assistant Director of Admissions and Transportation Coordinator, and Angela Sinisi, PNP, Morrow House nurse, will retire.

Second Annual Maker Day Welcomes Community to Campus Bright skies and bright smiles were seen in the courtyard outside of Innovation Alley as children from across the area attended EMS’ second annual Maker Day on May 6. There were over 30 activities to choose from, featuring slime creations, rainbow structures, a variety of active robotic systems, catapults and eclipse viewers. Over 100 people made at least one project, with over 40 percent of the booths run by an EMS family or student. “We are delighted to open our campus to the community for an event that sparks creativity and showcases the kind of active learning that we see in our students every day,” said Aaron Cooper, Head of School.

Mrs. Keshishian, a 19-year veteran of the admissions office, first came to our school as a parent. Her three daughters, Laura ‘94, Rachel ‘96 and Sarah ‘98, all graduated from EMS, and Mrs. Keshishian was the Parents Association President from 1996-1998. She has been a warm and welcoming presence who has greeted generations of families. Mrs. Sinisi, who was recently featured in these pages celebrating her 20th anniversary with EMS, has helped countless families navigate the management of their children’s health concerns while at school and has always ensured that our school remains at the forefront of providing a safe and appropriate environment for students. We here at EMS will miss Mrs. Keshishian and Mrs. Sinisi deeply and wish them well on the next phase of their journey.


News, facts and events from The Elisabeth Morrow School

Little School Salutes Soldiers

Our Little School students

EMS Conducts Diversity Survey

wrote to First Lieutenant Dani Ullman and her soldiers while they were deployed in Afghanistan. As a thank you, she came to campus to present a flag flown in EMS’ honor on her base.

Middle Schoolers in Music Video for NPR Program

Ian Maloney (seventh grade) and Harmony Zhu

song “Stressed Out.” Ian also performed on

(fifth grade) spent Valentine’s Day in YouTube’s

From the Top with host Christopher O’Riley on

New York studios filming a music video with

March 12 at the New England Conservatory.

Project Trio for NPR’s From the Top featuring

Both students were chosen separately to

Twenty One Pilots’ Grammy Award-winning

participate! Good job, Ian and Harmony!


This spring, Arts Department Chair Amelia Gold was appointed to the New Jersey Cultural Trust, which supports the arts throughout the state. “I am deeply honored to be appointed by the governor to this position,” Ms. Gold says. “As a parent of EMS students, I am aware that not all children get the holistic education that our students do. I will work tirelessly with the state to fill the void that many families have without an arts education.”

This winter, members of the EMS community completed the AIM (Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism) Climate Survey. The survey, provided by the National Association of Independent Schools, is designed to measure the school’s climate and approach to diversity and inclusion, as compared to other independent schools. “We participated in this survey as a means to assess how every member feels about these issues, which are so important to the strength of our community, and reflect how we bring our mission and the 4 C’s to life every day,” says Aaron Cooper, Head of School. The survey was followed by focus groups with families. EMS is also in the process of creating a trustee/ employee committee that will examine hiring practices. “We will use the takeaways from the survey to continue to make EMS the best place for children to grow as thinkers and leaders.” APPLETREE 5

appletree news

An Artist, Rediscovered by Keith Wiggs, Director of Development Throughout modern history, countless examples exist of neglected artworks “discovered” in attics, abandoned to the elements or forgotten under layers of debris. While The Elisabeth Morrow School has never found a Rembrandt, Michelangelo or Titian, we were fortunate enough to find and conserve a bit of our school’s history when we cleaned out the classrooms in preparation for the recent renovation and addition of Innovation Alley. Many of you will recall the short article in our last edition of Appletree about discovering the charming painting of Little School and Chilton House that now hangs in the Head’s office. After a very short period of inquiry, we identified the artist as none other than Katherine Robinson McCabe, whose children — Elsie ’66, Caroline (Coco) ’68, Robert ’70, Ruth ’71 and Katherine (Kay) ’73 — attended EMS in the 1960s. Although Mrs. McCabe passed away in 2012, after retiring to Vermont with her late husband, Dr. Robert McCabe, she left an indelible imprint on family and friends who remember her through her works on paper and canvas, and in wood, clay and stone. Mrs. McCabe was a near legendary presence in our community, living just down Lydecker Street, known for her remarkable energy and seemingly boundless creativity. In fact, we received several calls about her from classmates of her children who remembered her well. As noted by her daughter, Coco, their mother “had more drive, more energy, more focus than any woman or artist I have ever known. She was a master of many media: sculpture, printmaking, pottery, painting. She had a printing press in the basement of our house, and paints and brushes on every floor. She used power drills and chainsaws to wrestle huge chunks of stone and wood into shape before tackling them with finer hand tools.” Despite getting on in years, Mrs. McCabe’s interest in the arts never waned. Her daughter continued, “The arthritis [in my mother’s hands] made it painful for her to do what she had always loved. Inspired by David Hockney, she bought an iPad and learned how to paint with one finger.” Even at the age of 80, Mrs. McCabe remained more active than many people half her age. In one family story, Mrs. McCabe was discovered by her grandson “peddling away on her stationary bike, reading a book propped open on the handlebars, while her hands worked steadily on a clay pinch pot — all at the same time.” At EMS, we hold stories and artifacts like those of the McCabe family to be precious. We hope our alumni will continue to share their memories of The Elisabeth Morrow

Class of 2017

Once again, EMS eighth graders were offered admission to selective independent and public secondary schools in New Jersey, New York and beyond. Academy of the Holy Angels Avenues: The World School Bergen Catholic High School Bergen County Academies Bergen County Technical High School Blair Academy Calhoun School Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Dalton School Dwight-Englewood School Dwight School Foote School Friends Seminary Hackley School Hewitt School High Tech High School Hopkins School Horace Mann School Immaculate Heart Academy Kent Place School Kent School Lawrenceville School Loomis Chaffee School Masters School Montclair Kimberley Academy Newark Academy Paramus Catholic High School Phillips Academy Riverdale Country School Saddle River Day School Spence School Trevor Day School Trinity School

School with current and future generations of students.

MYSTERY ART This majestic eagle devouring a serpent adorns the gate to what is now the Morrow House playground. A symbol of Mexico and a depiction of the founding of Mexico City, it could have ties to the time when Dwight Morrow was Ambassador to Mexico and lived in the house. Perhaps one of our intrepid friends or alumni knows the rest of the story and can help us fill in the blanks? Please email jabernathy@elisabethmorrow.org if you can shed some light on this fascinating architectural detail. 6 APPLETREE

News, facts and events from The Elisabeth Morrow School





different weaving techniques are taught to students, a collaborative learning activity that fosters curiosity and imagination.

Lower School Art pounds of clay were used to create pinch pots on Colonial Day. Part of EMS’ integrated curriculum, the making of functional 18th-century pottery puts the historical and cultural period into more meaningful perspective for students.


STEAM collaborations between specialists and faculty members to enrich teaching and learning.


students at EMS have learned “Canon in D” by Pachelbel since the instrumental program began in 1996.

21 48

Kidtown buildings constructed by first grade students in the in-depth study that tackles a big question, “What makes a functional and productive community?”

Middle School Music


musical genres are studied each year, including western, classical, jazz, funk, rock, blues and international folk music from around the globe that mirrors our student population.


onstage appearances by the EMS Orchestra at Carnegie Hall. Why are our students invited back so frequently? Practice, practice, practice!


students created original ideas for the Doodle4Google art contest.

student-musicians participate in the EMS Orchestra.


concerts performed for community organizations during the school year, instilling a desire to serve others as part of the 4 C’s.


cover story







Students waiting their turn to explain their structure to the teacher, moving onto the next task or learning to incorporate the ideas of others into their own views may appear to the casual observer to be routine classroom interactions but are, in fact, a very complex system of prosocial behaviors that will help them achieve success throughout their lives.


Imagine yourself in the middle of a brainstorming session at work. Ideas are coming from everywhere, but people are talking over one another as they jockey to push their thoughts to the forefront without considering how to incorporate all suggestions. You start to think to yourself, “There’s got to be a better way.” There is, and that’s what students are learning every day in Chilton House. by Tricia Eickelberg, Director of Early Childhood Programs When you enter a classroom in Chilton House, it is very noisy

children practicing the oral presentation skills that they will

and busy. This is an environment where serious minds are

need to defend their ideas in the workplace decades later. They

at work. At the art table, a group of students is arranging

are watching the teacher write and beginning to understand

cardboard tubes and pieces into a building. You hear a child

the basics of literacy and the mechanics of what will become

say, “No, I don’t want it there — put it here,” followed by

a lifetime of putting thoughts into words. The teacher notices

another asking, “Okay, but I need something here — what do

the height or length of the structure and asks, “How can we

you think?” In that exchange alone, these children are learning

measure it? What tool can we use? How do we graph this?”

the art of compromise, while working to build upon an idea.

All excellent questions to develop nascent math skills. And the

They are simultaneously becoming more creative and critical

spatial experience of building is physics at its basic level as

thinkers, and taking risks (What if the new piece doesn’t

children manipulate the material until it stands on its own.

work? What if my friend gets angry at my suggestion?). They are experimenting and testing hypotheses that fail, only to try again. These intellectual skills are every bit as crucial to success in later life as any of the three Rs.

Picture the social skills that students are soaking up in these moments. Waiting their turn to explain their structure to the teacher, moving onto the next task or learning to incorporate the ideas of others into their own views may appear to the

Once that same cardboard structure is finished, the teacher

casual observer to be routine classroom interactions, but are,

transcribes the children’s ideas about their project. Each

in fact, a very complex system of prosocial behaviors that will

student takes turns sharing their thoughts. Here, we see the

help them achieve success throughout their lives. APPLETREE 9

classroom discussions. The teacher uses the written morning message or the activities and songs during the meeting to further promote social development. Additionally, the fast pace of change today demands that professionals be well-organized, with good executive functioning skills. As early childhood educators, we know that young children thrive on routines

Solid communication skills are an important aspect of social

and that school day routines are excellent for strengthening

skills and there, too, early childhood education in Chilton

these skills, allowing our students to exercise self-control

House supports future growth. Working in the dramatic

and flexibility.

play area, chatting with friends on the playground, resolving conflicts and dictating stories promote this important aspect

Typical examples of executive function skills in action are

of development. Following the tenets of Responsive Classroom,

learning where to hang up their coats and how to prepare the

a research-based approach to education that promotes social-

table for snack. They are fostered even when the youngest

emotional competencies in children, faculty model strategies

students learn to wash their hands before eating. Those skills

and communication skills for conflict resolution and problem

are further strengthened when students take care of their

solving. Morning Meeting, a core feature of Responsive

class pets or help clean up after a project. That these are all

Classroom, provides the structure for children to participate in

multi-step processes means that students have to understand



“While in Chilton House, we celebrated holidays from all religions and learned about each others’ cultures. From such a young age, we were taught to respect everyone regardless of their religion, ethnicity or any part of their identity; it’s central to the 4 C’s. In middle school, as part of the diversity elective, we come together to talk about differences and the ways in which we can educate our peers to keep EMS a safe place for everyone. Going into high school and into my adult life, I will absolutely continue working toward a safer, more inclusive world.” — Ella Toback ’17, Dalton School ’21

cover story

the timing and sequence of when to do what, and often collaborate with friends to get the job done or wait their turn while someone else is doing what they need to do. These are the very basic skills needed to collaborate with others in a

We also know that as experienced early childhood educators, it is very hard work being three, four, five or six years old. Yet there is no better time to instill the essential skills that will carry them through healthy, happy and successful lives.

variety of situations or see a tough work project through from beginning to end. In a nutshell, this is the early childhood program at EMS. Every day, our students come to school, ready for a funfilled time in their classrooms. We are witnesses to this joyful learning and it is truly what makes our jobs as teachers equally as delightful. However, while we happily let the good times roll in school, we also know that as experienced early childhood educators, it is very hard work being three, four, five or six years old. Yet there is no better time to instill the essential skills that will carry them through healthy, happy and successful lives. While some adults remain skeptical about classes that seem like too much fun and suggest that school should be more like the world of work, more and more companies are analyzing how to make their employees more creative, encourage risk-taking and foster better collaboration and communication. In an ideal world, if more people were intentionally taught those skills over a sand table rather than trying to master them on the fly across a conference table, then maybe those workplace brainstorming sessions wouldn’t be quite so frustrating.

“I think that learning the 4 C’s in Chilton House will help me succeed in life. Whether they help me work well in a group or make me a more empathetic person, I truly believe the 4 C’s are essential to good character.” — Garo Amerkanian ’17, Horace Mann School ’21

“I learned that by working as much as possible on my part as the magician in the Kindergarten Circus, I, as well as my classmates, contributed to the overall project. That is something that I learned in Chilton House that I definitely will apply to high school and beyond.” — Peter Staphos ’17, Trinity School ’21 APPLETREE 11

my EMS story


Amy Man, EMS history teacher

Like many of our families, history

Before EMS, Ms. Man was on the faculty

she says. She also notes that because

teacher Amy Man heard about The

at Friends Seminary in Manhattan and

it ends in eighth grade, “the middle

Elisabeth Morrow School long before

Kent Place School in Summit, but had

school is incredibly empowering for the

she started working here. “My kids were

never before taught Asian history to

students. Having worked at K-12 schools

in a preschool program in Fort Lee, and

middle school students, since, as she

or even at a 6-12 school, I know that the

people started telling me about EMS,”

notes, “that’s typically a high school

EMS middle school truly does not get

she says. “Coincidentally, my brother

elective.” She has been impressed by

lost in the shuffle. It is remarkable to

also worked with (Head of School Aaron

how engaged EMS students are in the

witness the growing sense of confidence

Cooper’s wife) Kara Cooper, and he

nuances of the topic. “Even during

in students as they move through the

was always telling me about this great

my demo lesson during the interview

seventh and eighth grades. That’s what

school that she was a part of.”

process, I was so impressed with our

sets us apart and one reason I chose

students,” she says. “They were eagerly

EMS for my own kids.”

At that point, Ms. Man had been out of the workforce for a few years, raising her two daughters, Riley and Brynn,

making connections between the history of North Korea and the current regime.”

Wearing her “parent hat,” Ms. Man says, “I have been so pleased by the

in Edgewater. “In the spring of 2014, I

Ms. Man, who also has a master’s degree

strength of the overall program and I

started to work with headhunters, just

in education from Stanford University,

appreciate learning about what’s going

seeing what was out there,” she says.

is now teaching seventh grade history

on in Chilton House and Little School,

She soon came upon an open position at

and leading a student diversity elective

which prepares our students so well for

EMS where she would be able to teach

in Morrow House. Her daughters are in

the challenges of middle school.” She

Asian history, a “dream job” for the

the first grade and the fours. During her

adds that it’s been a pleasure counting

Wellesley College graduate who double

time at EMS, she’s come to appreciate

so many colleagues among her fellow

majored in Chinese history and Chinese

the many ways in which the school puts

parents. “It’s great to be so emotionally

language and literature. She started

its students first. “What makes EMS

and personally invested in where you

working at EMS in the fall of 2014.

so special is that it’s student-centric,”

teach,” Ms. Man says.




Shabri and Prashant Mitta planned to move to the

Being able to communicate

suburbs and send their child to a top-ranked public

easily with teachers and ask

school. Then friends suggested EMS.

for help is an important skill for any student to master.

“We absolutely fell in love with EMS on the tour.

For Hackley School junior

I remember walking through the hallways and seeing

Julia Stewart-Wood ’14, it

children practice the violin and it just seemed magical,”

was one that she learned

says Shabri, now an active PA member who most recently

from her earliest days in

served as co-chair of the Book Fair.

Chilton House.

The Mittas moved

“One of my earliest memories

to Tenafly and enrolled their son, Raman, in the fours. Their daughter, Krithi, followed in her brother’s footsteps. “It’s really Krithi and Raman Mitta

interesting to find how the

same teachers can react to my two different children and stretch them in a unique way,” says Shabri. “Both Raman and Krithi are so confident in their own strengths and it’s due to the leadership of the teachers here.” The Mittas also have marvelled at their second and fourth graders’ development through the music program. Both kids play the cello, and Shabri still remembers a Morrow House concert when Raman was still in his first year at school. “For that entire concert, I was in tears thinking about what a fantastic privilege it was to be a part of this environment that is so rich in talent and culture.” Prashant notes that the traditions at EMS also play a role in his family’s love for the school. “Both the Kindergarten Circus and the Peter Rabbit Assembly were highlights, and last year, it was nice to see both Raman and Krithi in the Cello Rockdown concert together.” Shabri and Prashant say that it’s important that their kids be happy and in a safe, warm and nurturing environment. “I want them to be confident about who they are. They need to have good values and be positive people and the rest will follow,” Prashant says. Adds Shabri, “This school is the entire package.”

Julia Stewart-Wood and Gail Weeks, EMS science teacher who ran Chem Expo

at EMS is the cocoa party with Mrs. Rubin, the Chilton House librarian at the time.

Although this was not academic help, the cocoa parties introduced me to the importance of being comfortable with your teachers,” she says. “The realization that I could seek out help and that my teachers would want to help me began at EMS in Chilton House.” Fast-forward to eighth grade and Julia was struggling with the concepts on a math quiz. Again, she was able to turn to a faculty member for support. “My teacher, Ms. Toth, recognized that I needed help with the material before I took the test on that unit, and she encouraged me to seek out help outside of class,” Julia says. “I saw her often and by the end of the year was well-prepared for high school math.” Like most EMS students, Julia also had the opportunity to discover new passions in middle school. The self-described “not athletic person” found a love for cross country. “Once on the cross country team, I didn’t feel like a klutzy girl with little stamina anymore,” she says. She now calls cross country practice at Hackley one of the favorite parts of her day. Julia, who also has a brother, Callum, currently in seventh grade, credits EMS with helping her find the right secondary school. Hackley, where Julia lives during the school week, was a good fit because students there “had many of the same values of the 4 C’s.” Julia, who hopes to become a research scientist, says that EMS’ varied science courses allowed her to explore different fields. “The science teachers at EMS are passionate about what they do and worked hard to provide opportunities for us, such as the Chem Expo. I have gone on to study chemistry at a higher level in high school and am considering continuing these subjects in college.” APPLETREE 13

FIRST EMS STEWARDSHIP CAMPAIGN FEATURES RECENT ALUMS Being able to say thank you to our donors by showing them the importance of their contributions is paramount when launching a stewardship campaign. For its first-ever campaign, EMS chose to profile several recent graduates speaking on what education at EMS meant to them. Produced as postcards as well as digitally, the EMS Success campaign featured the Class of 2016’s Anaya Gandhi, Chelsea Hall, Ava Merker, Kate Muntzner, Jonathan Park and Carly Skop. Now all attending prestigious boarding and day schools, the graduates spoke fondly of EMS’ warm community, committed teachers and focus on academic and organizational skills that continue to serve them well in their secondary school careers.

“EMS has greatly contributed to the success of these young people, and our donors’ philanthropy contributes directly to EMS’ success.” “EMS couldn’t be the school that it is without the commitment of our donors, and we are happy to be able to demonstrate the benefit that our students receive from their generosity,” says Keith Wiggs, Director of Development. “EMS has greatly contributed to the success of these young people, and our donors’ philanthropy contributes directly to EMS’ success.”




GRAND OPENING: INNOVATION ALLEY In early February, the EMS community gathered for Innovation

“It’s fascinating to see how the physical environment can

Alley Live, a celebration of, and ribbon-cutting for, our

positively impact learning,” says Aaron Cooper, Head of School.

new STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and

“Innovation Alley created the kind of environment where our

mathematics) facility in Little School.

students can do their most creative and challenging work.”

A NIGHT IN THE TROPICS On Thursday, May 11, 2017, the EMS community honored longtime faculty member Sandy Malko and former Board President Rosemary Mills Russell at the annual gala at Alpine Country Club. Gala co-chairs Jen Cordover, Christy Danforth and Dana Romita were joined by more than 275 parents, alumni, faculty and friends to enjoy cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, raffles and a live auction of exciting experiences and luxury items. In keeping with the theme of the evening, “A Night in the Tropics,” dinner included a fusion-inspired menu and dancing to the Latin beats of the Mark Sganga band. The live auction, expertly led by EMS parent Paul Danforth, included a special challenge gift from the Russell Family that matched dollar for dollar, up to $25,000, all gifts made that evening to the faculty endowment. The evening grossed more than $250,000 to benefit the students and teachers of The Elisabeth Morrow School.




For Caleb Shaia ’13, running wasn’t love at

at nationals by running a leg of 1:57.9. He is a

first sight.

captain of the track team this year.

“In seventh grade, when I was required to do

Caleb’s success is attributable, at least in

a fall sport, I decided to run — and I thought

part, to his discipline. “The summer between

it was terrible! I was so used to sprinting, but

junior and senior year, I trained from the

had probably never run more than a quarter

end of June to the end of November for six

mile. I would run until it hurt, and then I

days a week, 45 miles a week, with no weeks

walked and then I ran again.”

off. That was a lot of training for a long time

Caleb, now a senior at Bergen Catholic High

that gave me a strong base from which I

School and an All-American in track, got better quickly. By his eighth grade season, Caleb, who was training for hockey by biking over the summer, noticed that the cardio really helped his running times, too. “I was running and I

am still benefitting,” he says. Caleb finished the winter track season as First-Team AllLeague, First-Team All-County and earned All-American honors by anchoring the 4xMile team to a sixth-place finish at the New Balance Nationals.

was winning, and as a competitive person,

Now, as a senior in high school, Caleb looks

that really lit a fire in me.” In his freshman

back on his time at EMS as foundational to

year at Bergen Catholic, Caleb set the

getting him to where he is today. “When I

freshman cross country record with a time

first started running, I hated it, and now it’s

of 8:49 for 1.6 miles. “It just grew from there,

the best thing in my life. EMS gave me the

and I knew that by sophomore year, I would

ability to make great choices about where I

be on the varsity team.”

am going to spend the next four years,” he

By his junior year in cross country, he was winning varsity races, and toward the end of the spring track season, he started breaking

says. “The teachers made sure I had good work habits and study habits so that I could succeed wherever I go.”

two minutes in the 800-meter and running

As Caleb looks forward to track season at

4:26 in the mile. “I was pouring myself into

Georgetown University, the pleasure he takes

learning about not just how to run, but how

in his sport is unmistakable. “Running is just

to win at running,” he says. As a junior, he

one of those things that you develop a love

was the number one runner on the team,

for over time. It’s an acquired taste, but it’s

and led Bergen Catholic’s 4x800-meter relay

well worth it,” he says.


The girls basketball team had a rebuilding year, as the coaches worked to teach a large group of new players how to play the game. We saw lots of improvement in the sixth graders and the A team worked hard to build their motion offense and get into good shooting position. Their defense excelled in the zone by the end of the season, as they were able to stop shots from the inside against many strong teams.


The team’s record this winter was 10 wins and five losses, and players improved their skills and understanding of the game. The team competed hard and always gave 100 percent. Our first four games resulted in wins, with the fourth win being in overtime versus Alpine School, where the team came back from 10 points down to tie the game with two minutes left. The season high point was the team going up to Tuxedo Park, where we split the squad and both teams won their games played. As an added sports offering in the winter term, students had opportunities for fencing, skating, squash and yoga.

class notes


One of the hallmarks of a school as a community is that membership is passed down through the generations. The students on this page share a legacy of membership in The Elisabeth Morrow School community with their parents, and we are proud that they have made attending our school a family tradition! Mr. Joseph Agresta, Jr. ’78 and Mrs. Kelli Agresta . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joseph ’18. . . . . . Abigale ’24 Mr. Victor Alvarez ’93 and Mrs. Gia Alvarez. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Greyson ’25. . . . . Gemma ’25 Mr. Gregory J. Amerkanian and Dr. Natalie Capan Amerkanian ’84. . . . Garo ’17. . . . . . . . Saro ’27 Mr. Stephen Borg ’80 and Mrs. Monica Borg. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . William ’21 Mr. Brian M. Cohen and Mrs. Elizabeth J. Cohen ’88. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Aiden ’21 Mr. Conrad Roncati and Ms. Alexandra Thayer Don ’97. . . . . . . . . . . . . . Portia ’26 Mr. Andrew Escala ’83 and Mrs. Meredith Escala . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Garrett ’17 Mr. Yoshimasa Tada and Mrs. Nancy Fujita ’86 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Olivia ’22 Mr. Adriel Gonzalez ’94 and Mrs. Candace Gonzalez ’94. . . . . . . . . . . . . Camellia ’27 Dr. Joshua Hyman ’75 and Ms. Elizabeth Corsini. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .Charlotte ’20 Mr. Ron Insana and Mrs. Melinda Insana ’82. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Anna ’17 Mr. David Oropeza ’75 and Mrs. Michelle Oropeza . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Charles ’18 Mr. Saumil Parikh ’86 and Mrs. Saloni Parikh. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Shanaya ’23 Dr. Rajnik Raab ’78 and Dr. Jennifer Marcus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Benjamin ’22 Dr. Anil Ranawat ’86 and Dr. Dana Ranawat. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Cooper ’22 . . . . . Viviana ’24 Ms. Dana Romita ’84. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Alexander ’17 Dr. Michael Rudelli ’92 and Mrs. Gleice Rudelli. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Arthur ’25 Mr. Jon Rustin ’93 and Mrs. Ivana Rustin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Isaac ’25. . . . . . . . Conor ’27 Mr. Joseph Mauro and Mrs. Katherine Maria Schlatter ’86. . . . . . . . . . . . Maria ’21. . . . . . . Marco ’24 Dr. Joseph Chikvashvili and Dr. Fara White ’94. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Samuel ’21 Mr. Jonathan Miller and Ms. Carey Blaine White ’86 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Shira ’25 Mr. Peter Maloney and Ms. Felicia A. Zekauskas ’74. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ian ’18 APPLETREE 17

class notes


COLE KNIE “SOCKS IT” TO HOMELESSNESS by Phyllis Kesslen, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations


CLASS NOTES We welcome news from alumni. Please email Phyllis Kesslen, Director of Alumni and Parent Relations, at alumni@elisabethmorrow.org.

Socks are something that most of

When asked what inspired him

us take for granted. But, as Cole

to create this organization, Cole

Knie ’16, and his older brother, Jace,

attributes much of his motivation

learned, socks are the most needed

to “the strong emphasis on giving

and the least donated article of

back to the community that was

clothing to homeless shelters.

instilled upon me at EMS, where we

This led the brothers to create

had many opportunities to volunteer

Sock It To Homelessness, a nonprofit

for charities or to donate food and

organization that conducts and

clothing through drives.”

supports sock drives in Northern New Jersey. They work with schools and community groups, as well as businesses, to collect new socks to deliver to homeless shelters. Sock It To Homelessness will provide logistical and creative guidance, as well as support materials, to help an organization maximize the impact of its drive. They will even pick up and deliver the donations. Cole, a freshman at the Bergen County Academies, came back to EMS

Sock It To Homelessness has collected and distributed 2,000 pairs of new socks to eight different shelters and service organizations in our area. In addition to the website CollectSocks.org, you can follow

Matthew Marco ’95 Matthew recently enjoyed a visit from fellow EMS classmates Robert Agresta ’95 and Jonathan Schwartz ’95 at his home on Paradise Island in the Bahamas. Matthew divides his time between Paradise Island, New York City and Geneva. His development company, Aristo, is now the leading residential developer in the Bahamas, building more than 100 units per year. Matthew reports, “I still keep in contact with friends and teachers from my EMS days and reminisce about the formative years I was lucky enough to enjoy there.”

the organization on Instagram @collectsocks or email Cole at collectsocks@gmail.com. You can also visit Amazon’s Wish List to purchase socks and have them shipped directly to the organization.

earlier this year to present his concept

In January, Cole was awarded the

to our students. Afterward, our middle

President’s Volunteer Service Award

school students held a sock drive and

by former President Barack Obama for

donated more than 400 pairs of new

his organization. But his giving back

socks. Cole’s longtime friend, Kassidy

doesn’t end there, Cole told us. “When

Todisco ’16, also held a drive at her

we go to New York City, I often throw

school, Saddle River Day School,

some socks in my mom’s bag just in

where she collected 371 pairs of

case I see someone who needs them.”

new socks.

Our hats, and socks, go off to Cole!


Robert Agresta ’95 Robert is a partner at The Agresta Firm PC, a leading corporate litigation firm based in Englewood, NJ. In addition, he is an owner, along with his family, of Benzel-Busch Motor Car Corporation.

(L to R) Robert Agresta, Matthew Marco and Jonathan Schwartz

Jonathan Schwartz ’95 Jonathan is a partner at TAO Group, America’s premier hospitality company, with restaurants and nightclubs such as TAO, LAVO, Marquee and Avenue.

Amanda (Blumenstein) Beckwith ’03 Amanda lives in Guilford, VT, with her husband, Scott, and two pit bulls, Willow and Buddy. She recently completed her master’s degree in social work at the University of New England and works at the Brattleboro Retreat as a therapist in the adult inpatient psychiatric unit. Amanda extends her best wishes to her fellow EMS classmates, as well as “the amazing teachers who helped shape our lives.” Adam Kirsch ’07 Graduating from Cornell University’s Johnson Graduate School of Management last May, Adam would love to connect with other EMS alumni in the startup and venture capital world. Email him at adamkirsch5@gmail.com.



Director of Alumni and Parent Relations Two years ago, upon learning that an elementary student was killed by a car on his way to school, an idea came to Alexander Philliou ’14: why not convert unused train tracks into a pedestrian and cycling path? Soon,

as well as a plan to lease the tracks

Alexander published a petition on

back from CSX.

Change.org to request a feasibility

When asked what inspired him,

study on replacing a portion of CSX’s

Alexander says, “The Elisabeth Morrow

unused Northern Branch train line

School, along with my family and high

with a greenway running through

school (Dwight-Englewood School),

Tenafly, Cresskill, Demarest, Closter,

instilled a great sense of giving back

Norwood and Northvale, eventually

to the community. When you see

connecting with the Joseph B. Clarke

something wrong, do something to

Rail Trail in Tappan.

fix it.”

In the petition, Alexander, an avid

Head of School Aaron Cooper says,

cyclist and runner, cited the many

“We couldn’t be prouder of our

benefits of a greenway to the Northern

graduates and students who

Valley community and quickly gained

create positive change. Alexander’s

800 signatures. He was contacted

thoughtful approach, research and

by local mayors, Rotarians, business

perseverance exemplify the 4 C’s

Rachel Hur ’16 After bumping into Middle School Head Paul Baly at the Bergen County Academies, Rachel was extremely reflective about her time at EMS. She said, “I realized that there is truly no place like EMS; the environment is unmatched at any school. There are so many things at EMS that I took for granted while I was there.” Rachel wants to extend her thanks to all her teachers for her wonderful EMS experience.

owners and assembly members.

in action and the true meaning of

The petition now has more than

positive leadership.”

Gabi Skinner ’16 A freshman at Immaculate Heart Academy, Gabi plays violin in the school’s orchestra, is a member of Bridget’s Honor Society (making honor roll every marking period) and a varsity-lettered swimmer on the school’s state championship winning team.

Young Alumni Reunion

Lindsay Hirschhorn ’09 Lindsay is a senior at Duke University majoring in engineering. After graduation, Lindsay is moving to New York City to work as a data analyst for Deloitte. Carter Hirschhorn ’12 One of the highlights of Carter’s freshman year at Washington University in St. Louis was volunteering at the presidential debate held on campus. This summer, the political science major will be an intern at CASES, an alternative-to-incarceration program that is part of the New York City Criminal Court.

1,300 signatures.

To support Alexander’s greenway

As of March, the towns individually

project, visit Change.org, sign his

voted to proceed with the study. Once

petition (Northern Valley Greenway:

the results of the feasibility study

Convert Unused, Unsightly, Dangerous

are analyzed, the concept will need

Rail Tracks to Trails) and share it on

governmental approval and funding,

social media.

Save the Date!

Wednesday, June 14, 2017 Noon to 1:30 p.m. The Russell Berrie Music Room APPLETREE 19

class notes



It was a festive evening as alumni

Andrew Thompson

gathered to reminisce and reconnect

We are profoundly saddened by the loss of Andrew Thompson, father of kindergarten student Henry, 6, and Matthew, 3, and husband of Wendy Hoeben. Mr. Thompson was killed in a car accident in Walton, NY, last February.

at Sofia Englewood in late April. With a record turnout, multiple generations of EMS alumni were in attendance. “Numerous people told me how much EMS means to them and their families.

Born in Independence, MO, Mr. Thompson, a partner at Cravath, Swaine & Moore, graduated from Brown University, where he earned an A.B. magna cum laude and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa, and Columbia University Law School, where he was a Harlan Fiske Stone Scholar.

There is no greater satisfaction for a head of school than knowing that their institution has positively impacted the lives of so many,” said Aaron Cooper, Head of School.

Charitable donations in honor of his memory are being collected by his firm. Checks may be made payable to “Fidelity Charitable” (please note Andrew R. Thompson Foundation in memo line) and sent to Cravath, Swaine & Moore LLP, 825 Eighth Avenue, Room 4370, New York, NY 10019. Our hearts and sympathy go out to Wendy, the children and the entire Thompson/Hoeben family.

LOOK WHO CAME TO VISIT! We always love when our alumni come back to see us. Emily Gruber ’11 dropped by to say, “hi.” Emily is a sophomore at Columbia University majoring in history and classics. She interned at Gracie Mansion last year. Academy of the Holy Angels sophomores Alis Tokatlioglu ‘15 and Olivia Lopez ’15 had a great visit with Ms. Dorrien, among others, as did juniors Veronique Dhont ’14 and Sara Rivoir ’14.

Emily Gruber ’11

Alis Tokatlioglu ‘15 and Olivia Lopez ’15

Veronique Dhont ’14 and Sara Rivoir ‘14

So Young Jang ’12 and Dr. Day

Jakob ’10 and Isaac Solheim ’13 in 2010

Jakob ’10 and Isaac Solheim ’13 in 2016

Dr. Day had a lovely visit with So Young Jang ’12, who is a senior at Parsons School of Design. Jakob ’10 and Isaac Solheim ’13 sent us great “then and now” shots after visiting EMS on break. Jakob is a junior at the University of Chicago and Isaac, a high school senior, is heading to Scotland this fall to attend the University of Edinburgh.


OUR STUDENTS GO ABOVE & BEYOND. SO CAN YOU. A gift to the Apple Tree Fund helps EMS — and our students — go above and beyond what tuition alone can provide. That’s because the Apple Tree Fund supports innovative academic programs, excellent teachers, character education and every seminal educational experience from Chilton House to Little School and on to Morrow House. Your participation, at any level, is an investment in preparing critical thinkers, conscientious doers and resilient leaders who make our EMS community proud.

Our fiscal year is coming to a close. Make your donation to the Apple Tree Fund by June 30, and your gift will be counted in the 2016-17 total. Corporate matching gifts enable you to double or even triple your gift to EMS. To learn if your company is a matching gift participant, contact Director of Development Keith Wiggs at 201.568.5566 x7222. To make a gift online, visit www.elisabethmorrow.org/giving.

The Apple Tree Fund

The Elisabeth Morrow School 435 Lydecker Street Englewood, NJ 07631




TIONS EXPLORA The Elisabeth Morrow School

Summer Explorations June 26–August 11

Summer String Festival 2017

Summer String Festival August 14–18

First Day of School September 6

Profile for The Elisabeth Morrow School

Spring 2017 APPLETREE  

Spring 2017 APPLETREE  


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