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A publication of The Elisabeth Morrow School



Spring 2018

APPLETREE Spring 2018

APPLETREE is a publication of The Elisabeth Morrow School 435 Lydecker Street Englewood, NJ 07631 Articles, images and other contributions from the extended Elisabeth Morrow community are welcome. Contact the communications office at 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 Trish Felix Kara Makohon-Moore Dara Picard Keith Wiggs Photography and Photographic Contributors Nancy Dorrien Rich Formicola Stephanie Massaro Stephanie Nebel Dara Picard Kelvin Ward

MORROW MOMENT Our students participating in the National School Walkout on March 14.

On the Cover Community input was crucial to the development of EMS’ Strategic Plan. Our Mission:

The Elisabeth Morrow School’s shared purpose is to provide exemplary academics and character development in a diverse and inclusive child-centered community, inspiring students to become curious scholars, ethical leaders, and global citizens.

in this issue 2


Appletree News

Families in the Classroom, Maker Day, International Food Festival, the State of Our School and other news.

Farewell, Aaron! Wishing departing Head of School Aaron Cooper and his family well as they enter the next chapter of their lives.


Our Strategic Plan

Our community created a vision for EMS’ future.

14 Advancement A successful Gala honors Ronnee Lipman and the Romita family, an alumni cocktail party and a fun new game night.

hello from Aaron At the Elisabeth Morrow School, we have spent the past school year working on projects that are forward looking and will make our school even stronger than it is today. On the inside front cover of this magazine, you will see our new mission statement, which is a call to action that clearly describes the people who we want our students to become — curious scholars, ethical leaders and global citizens. This new mission statement is but one result of our comprehensive strategic planning process, which concluded in May. In this issue of the APPLETREE, we are sharing the structure behind the process, which was rigorous and inclusive in its scope, and featured many opportunities for community members’ voices to be heard and considered. Also this year, all faculty and staff were engaged in writing a Self-Study for our reaccreditation by the New Jersey Association of Independent Schools (NJAIS). Every 10 years, the NJAIS asks us to take a deep dive into how we are living our mission in our day-to-day activities. The Self-Study (which is about 150 pages long) is largely complete and has been illuminating for all of us. An NJAIS accreditation team comprised of professionals from peer schools will use that Self-Study in the fall when it visits, for three days to get a look at how we are doing what we have described in those pages. It is bittersweet that I will be seeing the fruits of these projects from afar. This column would be more aptly titled “Goodbye from Aaron,” as my tenure as Head of School concludes at the end of this month. The 15 years I have spent in the warm embrace of this community have meant more to me and my family than all of the words in this short column could ever describe. In no small measure, I am the educator that I am because of EMS, and I am buoyed by the knowledge that the

16 Legacy Continuing the tradition of an Elisabeth Morrow School education.

18 Athletics & Class Notes A football dream realized, team updates and greetings from our graduates.

legacy that Elisabeth and Connie started grows stronger with each passing year. I know great things are in store for this community, and I can’t wait to hear about them. With gratitude, Aaron Cooper, Head of School


appletree news

Bright Ideas LITTLE SCHOOL FAMILY SHARES INVITE FAMILIES INTO THE CLASSROOM by Kara Makohon-Moore, Lower School STEAM Chair and science teacher Little School families are witnessing firsthand how EMS’ STEAM approach is changing their children’s education.

In the third grade’s study of Colonial America, students displayed colonies, demonstrating how they grew and impacted their

environment over time, while in their Kidtown unit, first grade

students followed the EMS design thinking process to create buildings with authentic architectural details. Fourth graders used this process

to create a helmet or prosthetic arms and legs as part of their unit on

International Food Festival Adds Charity Partnership

the human body. In art, these students also created healthy menus,

by Trish Felix, Capital Gifts Officer

restaurant advertisements.

This year’s International Food Festival was a

LEGO® WeDo creations illuminated coding, physics and math in the

enjoyed an afternoon of socializing while

following USDA guidelines, after researching and recording data from

second graders’ Forces in Motion Expo, while their Spider Museum

featured the engineering and coding of spiders’ predators and prey.

spectacular success! EMS families and friends sampling a broad range of culinary treats from around the world. The delicious food, vibrant and

“Our Family Share presentations highlight the interdisciplinary

creative décor and unique children’s activities

students both inside and outside the classroom,” says Beth Brennan,

and inclusive community.

approaches teachers use to create meaningful connections for

combined for a true celebration of our diverse

Lower School Head.

“Thank you to all for helping us pull off another extremely successful International Food Festival.

TEACHER LEADERSHIP BENEFITS STUDENT LEARNING Teachers at EMS go far beyond simply leading their students in the classroom; built into the structure of our school are opportunities for faculty members to impact their colleagues’ practice and the larger institution. Working in collaboration with division heads and department chairs, grade-level team leaders, new 2 APPLETREE

News, facts and events from The Elisabeth Morrow School

STATE OF THE SCHOOL Highlights from the annual report to the EMS community, delivered by members of the Board of Trustees and school administration on February 2

Core Values

Academic Excellence Character Development Community Diversity and Inclusion Passion for Learning

Programmatic Enhancements Math in Focus STEAM Teaching Tuesdays Seesaw

The positive feedback we’ve received has been awesome!” says Dimitri Vermès, an event co-chair with Yujie Dong, Joan Toro-Herrera, Pamela Graham

A record-high number of new students enrolled this year.

and Jean Zhang. In addition, as a special charity tie-

315 families

in with this year’s International Food Festival, EMS partnered with charity:


water, a nonprofit organization that

63 towns

brings clean and safe drinking water to

enrolled at EMS.

people in need around the world. For the three weeks leading up to the event, EMS


students collected over 15,000 coins, resulting in a $1,000 donation to the organization.

growth in the school’s endowment in the past three years in Little School this year, guide colleagues

the opportunity to move from an exam that

in making data-driven instructional

surveys the curriculum to a comprehensive

decisions and cultivate a culture of shared

project where students are exploring a

ownership of student progress. Chilton

topic of interest and synthesizing research,

House has gained a new math coordinator

writing and presentation skills in order to

to ensure early childhood students’ smooth

demonstrate their knowledge in a variety

transition into the challenging Math in

of formats.

Focus curriculum in kindergarten.

“Our faculty members’ leadership skills

In Morrow House, teachers collaborate

have been transformative in guiding

across grade levels and disciplines to

curriculum and fostering a culture of

innovate their practices. One example of

continuous improvement at EMS,” says

this was when the science department saw

Beth Brennan, Lower School Head.

Class of 2017 accepted by


secondary schools


of respondents say they are satisfied with multiculturalism at EMS, according to NAIS’ Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism. APPLETREE 3

appletree news

Class of 2018

Once again, EMS eighth graders were offered admission to the finest independent and public secondary schools in New Jersey, New York and beyond.

Welcoming Our Community Onto Our Campus On a bright and sunny Saturday, EMS held its third annual Maker Day attended by 500 children and families from across the area. They participated in over 35 activities in and around our Innovation Alley, the Grace Muller Courtyard and midcampus area. Activities included origami and sewing projects, hovercrafts and an “Innovators Area” for young children. The day also featured a vibrant student-run area, in which EMS students were able to showcase their projects, passion and curiosity of various interests. The event concluded with a community- and studentled Coke and Mentos demonstration. “Maker Day has become a tradition at EMS, and we are delighted to be able to offer this exciting opportunity which showcases some of the amazing work of our faculty and other community members and our curricular commitment to exploration and innovation,” says Beth Brennan, Lower School Head.

Academy of the Holy Angels Avenues: The World School Bergen Catholic High School Bergen County Academies Blair Academy Brearley School Chapin School Choate Rosemary Hall Collegiate School Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School Convent of the Sacred Heart Dalton School Dwight School Dwight-Englewood School EF (Education First) Academy Emma Willard School Ethical Culture Fieldston School Green Meadow Waldorf School Hackley School Hewitt School Horace Mann School Immaculate Heart Academy Loyola School Marymount School of New York Masters School Montclair Kimberley Academy Nightingale-Bamford School Northfield Mount Hermon School Phillips Exeter Academy Pingry School Poly Prep Country Day School Riverdale Country School Sacred Heart High School Saddle River Day School Shadyside Academy Spence School Stuyvesant High School Trevor Day School Trinity School Westover School York Preparatory School

EMS COMING TO A NEIGHBORHOOD NEAR YOU! EMS’ Office of Enrollment Management is on the move, hosting a variety of events throughout Bergen and Hudson counties and New York. “This school year alone, we have hosted more than 25 events, in addition to our regular tours and Open Houses,” says Director Kathleen Visconti.


“These include cocktail parties, STEAM events for children, our large Musical Petting Zoos and our wonderful annual EMS Gives Back event.”

been fortunate to have found partners

Events have been held in the Northern Valley, Washington Heights and many communities along River Road. “We have

communities,” she says. Currently in rolling

like Starbucks, Whole Foods Market, Hudson’s House of Play and Sabor Latin Bistro to help to bring our school to these admissions season, EMS has openings in select grades.

News, facts and events from The Elisabeth Morrow School

Fun and Learning Combine in Summer Explorations! EMS’ Summer Explorations, held this year from June 25 to August 10, will be offering many exciting new workshops, to engage and delight children of all ages. “Families often like a combination of fun and academics and we are going to be offering some new STEAM programs like Cell City, Lego Robotics, Kodu and Photograph: “Wings Over New York City” by Shira Mandelzis


Fun with Physics this year,” says Liza Hards, Director of Auxiliary Programs. Also offered this summer for students

This year, our students ranked up

took sixth and ninth place in third grade

in second through sixth grade will be

impressive recognitions in national

competition and seventh in the fourth

workshops such as Dungeons and

academic competitions.

grade competition. The state competition

Dragons, Sign Language, Boardwalk

involved 100 students participating from

Eats, Backyard Games and Fraction Fun.

In the 2018 Regional Scholastic Art and Writing Awards, a competition in which

nine schools.

Our youngest students participate

over 250,000 entries are submitted, our

In the National Latin Exam, our students

in weekly themed programs, such as

students had seven winning regional

competed with more than 143,000 Latin

Around the World, where they will be

entries in the writing competition. In

students from all 50 states and 16 other

experiencing arts, crafts, music and

the art program, seventh grader Shira

countries. Thirty four of our students

other hands-on experiences.

Mandelzis’ photograph, “Wings Over

received distinctions and medals

New York City,” (pictured above) won a

including a Certificate of Outstanding

National Gold Medal.

Achievement with a perfect score in

In February, 61 students from third to

seventh grade.

For older students, entering seventh through ninth grade, Counselor in Training programs, ISEE Test Prep classes, Visual Arts Explorations, A

sixth grade competed in the Regional

Similarly, in the National Spanish Exam,

Walking Tour of the Life of Alexander

Math League Competition, with EMS

33 Elisabeth Morrow students attained

Hamilton and coding programs,

placing second overall against nine other

distinguished placements in this year’s

including Modding in Minecraft and

schools. Of the fourteen students who

exams, which had a subscription of over

Python, are being offered. Register

advanced to the state competition, EMS

150,000 participants.



feature story

Farewell, Aaron! Upon the departure of Aaron Cooper, Head of School since 2012, we want to thank him for his dedicated service to the school and his exemplary leadership. He oversaw a successful capital campaign and its subsequent facilities build out, strengthened our school’s finances, recruited several key leaders, enhanced our curriculum and helped grow our admissions and development efforts. Aaron accomplished all this and much more with warmth, understanding and dedication to our students and EMS’ traditions and core values. We wish him, Kara, Julia and Charlotte our best in the next chapter of their lives. 6 APPLETREE


February 2018 Wickenden Associates named search consultants; Search Committee members selected.


February 2018 Search Committee and search consultants engage the community to define the requirements for the next Head of School.


Spring 2018 Creation of an “opportunity statement” that profiles EMS and describes the Head of School position for distribution to potential candidates. Begin candidate recruiting.


Summer 2018 Continue candidate recruiting and interviews.


Late Summer/Early Fall 2018 Conduct interviews with semifinalists.


Fall 2018 Finalists meet the community.


Late Fall/Early Winter 2018 Search Committee recommends a final candidate to the Board of Trustees.


July 2019 New Head of School takes office.

Judith Fox, Ed.D., Named Interim Head of School Judith Fox, Ed.D., will become EMS’ Interim Head of School for the 2018–2019 school year. Selected by a unanimous board vote, Dr. Fox will begin working at EMS this summer. Dr. Fox comes to EMS from Presidio Knolls School, a progressive Mandarin immersion school in San Francisco that serves students from preschool through fifth grade. From 2015–2017, she served as Interim Head of the Upper Division at Avenues: The World School in Manhattan. Her prior experience includes serving as Interim Head at La Jolla Country Day School in La Jolla, CA; Head of School at Princeton Day School in Princeton; Superintendent of Schools for the Byram Hills Central School District in Armonk, NY; and Principal of Scarsdale High School in Scarsdale, NY. “EMS is a caring, intimate community of faculty, staff and parents, all dedicated to recognizing, celebrating and developing the unique qualities of each student,” Dr. Fox says. “I feel honored to have been invited to join EMS, where the energy, enthusiasm and obvious love for the school, expressed by members of the search committee and the trustees, portend that we will spend a busy, productive and joyful year together.” Dr. Fox graduated from Cornell University with a B.S. in science education and biochemistry. She also holds an M.S. in science education from Queens College and an Ed.D. in educational administration from Teachers College, Columbia University.


cover story by Jan Abernathy, Director of Marketing and Communications

EMS People Make the Plan

Our Strategic

When EMS kicked off its strategic planning process in the fall, the goal was to create a five-year plan through an open and inclusive process. We wanted to ensure that our school continues to prepare students to thrive in a rapidly changing world, blending the best of the old and the best of the new. “This school is both child-centered and community-oriented,” says Hanita Walia, Board President. “So, in creating a comprehensive plan for EMS, it was essential to have all the stakeholders around the table.” This approach allowed us to engage the community, gain greater clarity on the school’s strengths and challenges, and, with a shared vision, collectively build a proactive plan to shape the future of our beloved school. It is also important that EMS continues to operate from a position of strength, with a solid brand and financial position. The Board of Trustees engaged Christina Drouin of the Center for Strategic Planning to facilitate the planning process. On these pages, you’ll see some of the people who participated in the development of our plan, and read more about the path our school took to develop the vision for EMS through 2023.


Developing an Inclusive Process Board retreat and formation of Strategic Planning Steering Committee The Board kicked off the strategic planning process with a Board retreat facilitated by Christina Drouin, where trustees discussed the school’s mission statement and the overall structure for the strategic planning work. A Strategic Planning Steering Committee, comprised of trustees, parents, administrators and faculty, was formed. Subcommittees of this committee included the Research Group, which gathered information about the school from its constituents as well as information that can impact the school in its marketplace; the Visioning Day Group, which was responsible for the planning of our Visioning Day, during which a broad spectrum of constituents came to campus for a brainstorming session; and the Communications Group, which provides the community with information about the process and its progress. The group met throughout most of the school year to create a five-year plan that the Board approved on April 10. Pictured: Hanita Walia, Board President, Parent, Alumni Parent

Planning Process

Input from the EMS Community

Envisioning the Future

Community survey and presentation of Mission and Core Values The broader EMS community was involved in the plan’s formation from the very start. In November, families, students, faculty, staff and administrators met in small groups for about two hours to participate in small-group exercises designed to elicit thoughts on the school’s core values. Next, surveys were sent to every EMS constituency, including students, parents, alumni parents, alumni, faculty, administrators and staff. Over 630 members of the EMS community participated, lending important and valued input to the development of our Strategic Plan. In February, a new mission statement, created by the Board of Trustees, was shared with the community, and a statement of core values was announced at our State of the School presentation.

Visioning Day There was excitement in the air as over 120 community members, including students, parents, faculty, staff and administrators, gathered for Visioning Day, a full day of facilitated sessions to “dream big” about the future of EMS. Participants, working in small groups, created vision statements designed to inspire the community to stretch beyond its comfort zone. Later, the groups created goals needed to achieve those visions. Pictured: Max Baly, Middle School Student, Faculty Child

Pictured: Amy Man, Middle School Faculty, Parent APPLETREE 9

cover story

Our Process

Drafting and Vetting the Plan

Launching the Plan

Initiative Drafting Day and Initiative Vetting Day After Visioning Day kicked off a process used to create a vision statement and the goals needed to achieve that vision, the Steering Committee recommended that the Board adopt the newly created Strategic Plan. In April, the community came together again for Initiative Drafting Day, in which attendees participated in exercises designed to create initiatives supporting the plan’s goals. In May, the school’s administrators gathered for a fullday retreat to discuss the initiatives presented and create a plan of action to implement them.

Launch of the Strategic Plan The Strategic Plan was formally launched to the entire community at the end of May. The plan will provide a solid foundation for EMS’ growth and continuity through a transition to an Interim Head of School for the 2018–2019 school year and a Head of School for the 2019–2020 school year and beyond. Through this collaborative vision, our school will keep pace with what our students need and achieve the shared purpose of our mission statement: to create curious scholars, ethical leaders and global citizens.

Pictured: Beth Brennan, Lower School Head


Pictured: Jackson Jean Baptiste, Parent

Our Mission The Elisabeth Morrow School’s shared purpose is to provide exemplary academics and character development in a diverse and inclusive child-centered community, inspiring students to become curious scholars, ethical leaders, and global citizens.

EMS Strategic Drivers 2018–2023

Exemplary Academic Program

Sustainable Future

Transformative Student Experience

Engaged Community

These strategic drivers informed the work of the Strategic Planning Steering Committee and the goals of the plan.

Strategic Planning Steering Committee Joseph (J) Agresta ’78 P’18 ’24, Second Vice President, Board of Trustees Gregory Amerkanian P’15 ’17 ’27, First Vice President, Board of Trustees Paul Baly P’20 ’24 ’26, Middle School Head Beth Brennan, Lower School Head

Kathie Kamiel P’22 ’24, Secretary, Board of Trustees Laura Khutorsky P’16 ’22, Associate Director of Admissions Gil Mandelzis P’14 ’19 ’19, Trustee Jamil Myrie P’20 Rurik Nackerud, Lower School Faculty Stephanie Nebel, Ph.D., Middle School Faculty

Aaron Cooper P’20 ’22, Head of School

Dana Ranawat, Ph.D., P’22 ’24, Trustee

Robin Robison Dillard P’20, Trustee

Phoebe Search P’25 ’25, Middle School Faculty

Catherine Ferreira P ’21 ’23, Secretary, Parents Association

Clare Sheridan P’15 ’18, Trustee

Amelia Gold P’15 ’17 ’22 ’24, Arts Department Chair

Hanita Walia P’16 ’22, President, Board of Trustees

Richard Han P’18 ’19 ’24

Melanie Weinraub P’21 ’24, President, Parents Association APPLETREE 11

cover story Our New Vision In 2023, EMS is the premier N-8 institution graduating learners who are creative, empathetic, and inspired to reach their highest potential.

Our Goals ONE In 2023, EMS will be the premier innovative space for empowering empathetic learners and leaders to pursue academic excellence through a growth mindset in a safe and secure environment. TWO In 2023, EMS is a comprehensive and balanced whole-child learning environment.

Our Core Values In a child-centered environment, EMS cares deeply about… • Academic Excellence • Character Development • Community • Diversity and Inclusion • Passion for Learning

Our Goals THREE In 2023, EMS is a fully supportive community that prioritizes understanding of identity, authentic inclusion, and empathy. FOUR In 2023, EMS is a recognized brand leader in N-8 education, with superior physical plant, human, and financial resources.


Successful Gala Honors Ronnee Lipman and the Romita Family On Thursday, May 3, the EMS community came together to celebrate retiring longtime faculty member Ronnee Lipman and generous donors the Romita family at the 2018 Auction Gala. The evening included cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, a silent auction, a Prohibition-inspired dinner, a live auction and swing dancing to the Jerry Kravat Orchestra. The highlight of the evening was the overwhelmingly generous response from the guests who supported the direct appeal. Proceeds from this event support the operating budget and the Endowment for Faculty Compensation.


Game Night at the Amerkanians’ On Friday, February 23, Greg and Natalie Capan Amerkanian ’84 welcomed families from Chilton House who donated to the Apple Tree Fund for an evening of fun and games … literally! A completely new event for EMS, the

company specializing in

Catching Up with Garo Amerkanian ’17

unusual party games.

by Dara Picard, Development

Guests enjoyed cocktails

and Alumni Officer

evening was moderated by Cal’s Game Night, a

and a light supper before

In a recent interview, former Student

breaking into teams for

Council President Garo Amerkanian ’17

some lighthearted and

Congratulations to the winning team, pictured here celebrating its victory.

energetic competition.

looked back on his time at EMS. EMS is a family affair for Garo, who followed his older brother, Shant ’15, to Horace










EMS Alumni Together for Reunion A group of EMS alumni, faculty and administrators gathered on Tuesday, April 17 to catch up with one another at our annual Alumni Cocktail Party. Members of classes from the 1960s to the 2000s spent the evening enjoying drinks, appetizers and good conversation at Sofia restaurant in Englewood. Yearbooks spanning the past 30 years were on display, providing a fun look back at our collective history.

Mann. Younger brother Saro is EMS Class of 2027 and mother Natalie Capan Amerkanian ’84 started the relationship with EMS. Garo says, “The character education I received at EMS, focusing on the 4 C’s, continues to help me today as I meet new people and face new challenges. It has given me a strong foundation — the belief that respect and empathy toward others is so important.” Academically, he also was well prepared. “My favorite classes at EMS were in the sciences, especially with Mrs. Milne, who always kept classes fun while we were learning. Later, in middle school, Ms. Bower led a challenging and lively discussionbased class that prepared me well for the kinds of classes I’m taking at Horace Mann,” Garo says. “My advice for current EMS students is to really enjoy what the school has to offer. Do everything you can that interests you, whether it’s sports, the play, various electives, student ambassador or Student Council. Take advantage of your time at EMS.” APPLETREE 15

legacy A Homecoming for Alexandra Thayer Don ’97 by Keith Wiggs, Director of Development Alexandra Thayer Don ’97 is happy to be

back as a parent is seeing some of

the Book Fair and as fundraisers. Also,

back in her second home. “When Conrad

my old teachers. For example, Gene

I’m delighted that our children are

and I had children, I knew without a

Love was always a really supportive

exposed to community service, like

doubt where I wanted to send them.

gym teacher. I remember, like it was

trips to the Center for Food Action. The

Although he had little experience with

yesterday, Mr. Love cheering me on as I

service projects I performed as a child

independent schools, all it took was a

did the high jump on Field Day. Ronnee

influenced my perspective as an adult.”

tour and he was absolutely sold.”

Lipman was a very special teacher to me

Alex and her husband, Conrad Roncati,

as well, and a great support in my final

are the parents of Portia ’26 and

year at EMS. She instilled such a love of

Bond ’28. Alex’s parents, Berek Don

art and art history through our Greek

and Jill Thayer, sent all three of their

studies. Of course, Amelia Gold was

children to EMS. Alex began her EMS

such a fun teacher who encouraged my

journey in Chilton House, joining her

love of music.”

older sister, Shana ’95. Her younger

“While EMS has changed over the years,

wonderful place … and out of it come

its core values are still evident. It’s great

really caring, well-rounded, smart,

to see how much time parents devote

compassionate kids. And, that’s all I can

to volunteering as library readers, for

ever ask for my children.”

sister, Brittany ’00, joined a few years later. “One of the nicest parts about being

While Alex is encouraged that EMS is adapting to new trends with Innovation Alley, she hopes the school will stay true to its traditions. “I feel so lucky to be able to come back to EMS, my second home. I always think there are many great schools, but EMS is an especially

A Rush of Memories for Liz Pildes Gabbay ’93 by Keith Wiggs, Director of Development When Liz Pildes Gabbay ’93 and her

support. I can still see Germaine DiPaolo

husband, Daniel, returned to the area, they

and my classmates in dress code — skirts

knew they would send their son, Matthew ’27,

and tights for girls and shirts and ties for

to EMS. “We are pleased to see that the

boys! This year, I had fun working in the

school stays true to its core values while

library as a reader, seeing the Valentine’s

it adopts innovations in teaching. My son

Day Post Office (another EMS tradition) and

is being introduced to STEAM disciplines,

attending Amelia Gold’s wonderful music

while learning about the nuances of social

programs. In fact, I had to wipe away a

interactions and good citizenship.”

tear the first time I heard my son singing

Liz says, “I get a rush of memories


the Apple Tree Song.”

walking through the Gymkhana,” and

“I still stay in touch with many of my

she fondly recalls the cocoa parties, the

classmates, and when we get together, we

library, watching the chicks hatch and so

joke that we can pick out the adults who

much more. “One of the most frustrating

went to EMS. It’s great to see so many

moments in my early childhood was

of them here as parents.” Liz continued,

missing the Kindergarten Circus because

saying, “EMS students are confident

of a case of chickenpox. I really enjoyed

asking questions and seeking the answers

sports with Gene Love and Carolyn

they need. EMS supports their learning

Masterson. My fifth grade teacher, Phyllis

while giving them the opportunity to be

Grossman (Kaplan), was someone who

children. My son’s budding confidence is

gave everyone a feeling of caring and

an excellent sign of things to come.”


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. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Joseph ’18/Abigale ’24

Dr. Joshua Hyman ’75 and Ms. Elizabeth Corsini. . . . . . . . . . . . Charlotte ’20

Mr. Victor Alvarez ’93 and Mrs. Gia Alvarez. . . . . . . Gemma ’25/Greyson ’25

Mr. Brent McMicking and Mrs. Paige Van Ness McMicking ’96. . . . Alexandra ’27

Mr. Gregory J. Amerkanian and Dr. Natalie Capan Amerkanian ’84. . . . . Saro ’27

Mr. David Oropeza ’75 and Mrs. Michelle Oropeza . . . . . . . . . . . Charles ’18

Mr. Stephen Borg ’80 and Mrs. Monica Borg. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . William ’21

Mr. Saumil Parikh ’87 and Mrs. Saloni Parikh. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Shanaya ’23

Mr. Michael Camarinos and Mrs. Lauren Camarinos ’96. . . . . . . Nicholas ’27

Dr. Rajnik Raab ’78 and Dr. Jennifer Marcus. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Benjamin ’22

Mr. Brian M. Cohen and Mrs. Elizabeth J. Cohen ’88. . . . . . . . . . . . Aiden ’21

Dr. Anil S. Ranawat ’86 and Dr. Dana Ranawat. . . . . . . Cooper ’22/Viviana ’24

Mr. Conrad Roncati and Ms. Alexandra Thayer Don ’97. . Portia ’26/Bond ’28

Mr. Jon Rustin ’93 and Mrs. Ivana Rustin . . . . . . . . . . . . . Isaac ’25/Conor ’27

Mr. Yoshimasa Tada and Mrs. Nancy Fujita ’86 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Olivia ’22

Mr. Joseph Mauro and Mrs. Katherine Maria Schlatter ’86. . . . Maria ’21/Marco ’24

Mr. Daniel Gabbay and Mrs. Elizabeth Pildes Gabbay ’93. . . . . Matthew ’27

Dr. Joseph Chikvashvili and Dr. Fara White ’94. . . . . . Samuel ’21/Arthur ’27

Mr. Adriel Gonzalez ’94 and Mrs. Candace Gonzalez ’94. . . . . . Camellia ’27

Mr. Gerard Mekjian and Ms. Nadine Yavru-Sakuk ’89. . . . . . . . . . . . Naire ’23

Mr. Eli Hackel ’97 and Mrs. Alyssa Hackel. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Caleb ’28

Mr. Peter Maloney and Ms. Felicia A. Zekauskas ’74. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Ian ’18 APPLETREE 17

class notes

athletics A LOVE OF FOOTBALL FULFILLED What do you do if you’re a big football fan and your school doesn’t have a team? If you’re Itamar Mandelzis ’14, you create one. “I have loved football since sixth grade, when I began to understand and follow the rules and strategies of the sport,” says Itamar, who is a senior at Riverdale Country School. “The next year, I met regularly with Mr. Cooper, Mr. Baly and Mr. Escala about starting a flag football team and I spent much of my free time invested in the planning process. EMS was very responsive and allowed me to play a significant role in creating the team, which I was able to finally join and play on during my eighth grade year.” At Riverdale, Itamar is an offensive guard and tackle. He says the lessons he learned while recovering from a junior year injury cannot be understated. “I had to push through and rehab a severe shoulder tear while also supporting my team,” he says. “It made my senior season even more meaningful because I worked so hard to recover and get back on the field.”

GIRLS BASKETBALL The girls basketball team started the season with an impressive 22–18 win at Montclair Kimberley Academy. Excellent defense, sharp passing, and accurate shooting led to the victory. For the remainder of the games, no matter the situation, the girls were determined to do their best and displayed tremendous sportsmanship. The team continually improved 18 APPLETREE

While he has treasured on-field memories, like Riverdale beating Montclair Kimberley Academy for the first time in school history, during his senior year, Itamar says he values most how sports instill characteristics he will carry with him throughout this life. “Playing on the football team has offered a level of education beyond the classroom, challenging me to manage my time, train my body, and fully devote myself to something greater than myself,” he notes, adding, “I learned to systematically plan my days and weeks, and I also found that practices and training helped me focus more when I sat down to study.” Itamar, who will be attending Cornell University this fall, is also an avid snowboarder, and his twin seventh grade sisters have followed in his footsteps and are currently on the flag football team. “My sisters have never felt confined by gender stereotypes and were excited to be the first girls to play on the flag football team. Since they joined, the team has been declared co-ed, and I could not be prouder of their participation.”

its skills, knowledge of the game, and learned to work as a cohesive unit. The entire squad came to every practice with a positive attitude and accomplished a great deal. The four eighth graders were outstanding role models for the younger players. They set a fine example for the rest of the team to emulate. With many sixth and seventh graders returning, the future looks bright for the girls team.

BOYS BASKETBALL The boys basketball team was comprised of

sixth, seventh and eighth graders who played a mixed schedule of A and B games. All games were competitive and our team worked hard but suffered from injuries and uncooperative weather. The Eagles played their best game against Tuxedo Park School, where all players contributed. Two standout games against Montclair Kimberley Academy and DwightEnglewood School resulted in a one-point loss. Next year should be a great season due to this team’s hard work.



We welcome news and photos from alumni. Please email Dara Picard, Development and Alumni Officer, at

1964 Jane Kaufman wrote to report sad news: “I am enclosing a small donation in honor of Jimmy (James) Feldman ’64, who died this past July. Jimmy loved The Elisabeth Morrow School, and never ceased being grateful for the exceptional early education he received there. Like him, I treasure my EMS memories, and I know he would want to be remembered by his classmates.” 1968 Dr. Irisita Azary writes that she is a retired professor of environmental geography who is living in Heidelberg, Germany, with her husband, two sons and dog. 1985 Tom Puchner is a partner at the law firm of Phillips Lytle LLP in Albany, NY, where he focuses on environmental law. He lives in the area with his spouse and two children. 1988 Ned Puchner writes that he is living with his wife and two children in Greenville, NC, where he is now the Executive Director of the Greenville Museum of Art. As the organization elaborates in its summer 2017 newsletter, “The Greenville Museum of Art is thrilled to welcome Ned Puchner as our new Executive Director! Ned comes to us from the University of South Carolina, where he served as the Curator of Exhibitions for the McKissick Museum. He holds a doctorate in art history from Indiana University and has a real passion for modern and contemporary art from

the South — especially folk art. He is eager to connect with our community and help make the Museum the fine arts hub of Eastern North Carolina.” 1992 Valia Glytsis updates us from Southern California. “I recently moved from New York City to Newport Beach, CA, to expand my leadership development business on both coasts ... and chase the sunshine! My husband and I are merging our passions and talents of leadership and luxury travel to create bespoke corporate retreats across the globe. Fun fact: I went back to EMS about a year ago to give a talk on ‘strength-based leadership’ to the seventh and eighth graders — what a treat! I’d love to hear from any EMS alumni in the Orange County, CA, region!” 2007 Adam Kirsch reports: “I’m living in Englewood and working as a mergers and acquisitions consultant in New York, a job which has enabled me to travel across the country and learn about many interesting businesses. Outside of work, I enjoy fencing, and recently qualified for the U.S. Fencing Summer Nationals in St. Louis, MO.” 2008 Ariana Panbechi shares this news: “I graduated from The George Washington University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in art history, and in 2017 with a master’s

degree in art history. I am currently working at GW as a contractor with Smithsonian Associates, and am preparing to pursue my Ph.D. in art history in 2019. I’m also getting married in October!” David Aghassi reports: “As of 2017, I’ve graduated from Case Western Reserve University and moved to Menlo Park, CA. I’ve started work as a software engineer for Intuit. Intuit is known for its financial software (TurboTax, Mint, QuickBooks), and is used by people around the globe.” 2009 Maxime Menne checked in and writes: “Hi, EMS! I graduated many years ago, and am now living in the East Village and working in commercial real estate at JLL. I graduated from New York University last year and have been enjoying working in real estate for the past few months. I miss my EMS days but still keep in touch with many friends made through the years. I even keep in touch with teachers as well. I look forward to visiting campus soon!” 2010 Samantha Kirsch is graduating from Cornell University in May 2018 with a bachelor’s degree in fiber science and apparel design management. She reports that she traveled to China and India in the past year to look at ethics and sustainability in the apparel supply chain, and is moving to San Francisco in late summer to join Gap Inc.’s Rotational Management Program with its Athleta

brand. She concludes, “I would love to hear from any EMS friends and can be reached at” Andrew Abrahamsen is finishing up his senior year at Carnegie Mellon University, where the Carnegie Mellon Philharmonic recently performed one of his original compositions (; his is the last piece). Andrew made his conducting debut at Carnegie Hall in February, below.

2013 Kelly Yen delivered her annual update in person when she visited EMS in March to see her first grade cousin’s Kidtown. Kelly is a freshman at Rutgers Honors College, where she is enjoying the camaraderie and challenge of a program that focuses on interdisciplinary work and social innovation.

IN MEMORIAM Arnold P. Gold, M.D.

We are deeply saddened to report that Dr. Arnold P. Gold passed away on January 23, 2018. He was the husband of Dr. Sandra Gold, father of Amelia Gold, father-in-law of Dr. Brian Benson; and grandfather of Joshua Gold Benson ’15, Mikayla Gold Benson ’17, Noah Gold Benson ’22 and Rebecca Gold Benson ’24. We want to share the link to his complete New York Times obituary, which details Dr. Gold’s many accomplishments, his devotion to his family, and his incredible legacy to the field of medicine. For more information about how Dr. Gold’s legacy lives on, please visit ——————————————— James Feldman ’64 Paul Fader, brother of Sarah Fader P’11 ’13 Margaret White Dodge, mother of Lee White Galvis ’77, John E. White ’74 and Richard L. White ’72


class notes

UNCOVERING EMS HISTORY ON CAMPUS Rabbits Are A Mystery No More Marion Vermilye Thayer ’48 has written us to help solve the mystery of the importance of rabbits at EMS (including those seen in our last issue). “My mother, Katharine P. Vermilye, taught with Sue Graham in kindergarten for many years, starting in about 1944, I think. She wrote and illustrated stories for the children and one of the favorites was We Have a Rabbit. The school had a large white rabbit, Prince, cared for by Chester, the beloved custodian, and the book tells the story of Prince, who was eventually renamed Queenie for obvious reasons,” she says. “Little School was a marvelous place to begin one’s education, as I am sure EMS continues to be.”



Great teachers love to learn. “Thanks to professional development through the Apple Tree Fund, I’m inspired every day to engage my students with lessons that encourage intellectual growth and reinforce the 4 C’s.” — Rurik Nackerud, Lower School Technology Integrator

Your Gift Helps EMS Grow When you contribute to the Apple Tree Fund, our students, community and school flourish. That’s because annual gifts to The Elisabeth Morrow School go beyond what tuition alone can provide. Your support, at any level, sustains the highest educational standards and ensures that every child who graduates from EMS is academically independent, socially responsible and well prepared for a bright future.

Make Your Gift Today! Contact Director of Development Keith Wiggs at 201.568.5566 x7222 or visit our website: We look forward to seeing you on campus and sharing with you all the ways your gifts help us to grow.

The Apple Tree Fund

The Elisabeth Morrow School 435 Lydecker Street Englewood, NJ 07631




The Elisabeth Morrow School

Summer String Festival 2018

June 18–22

June 25–August 10

August 13–17


EMS Fall Festival (formerly known as Family Field Day)

October 13 • 1 p.m.–3 p.m. (rain date: October 14)

An afternoon of fun for the whole EMS community!


EMS Book Fair & Storytelling Festival Sunday–Tuesday November 4–6, 2018 Featuring three author visits, exciting interactive workshops, a young alumni reunion and favorite EMS traditions

EMS Gives Back November 4 • 11 a.m.–1 p.m.


EMS Spring 2018 Appletree  
EMS Spring 2018 Appletree