W INTER 2 0 1 4 The Exeter Bulletin
Life Discovery and invention in Exeterâ€™s performing arts
Reunion_Ad_IFC_2014_Final 12/10/13 1:07 PM Page 1
Welcome back to Exeter
Reconnect with old friends
Tour your family around old haunts
Relive the Harkness experience
Visit with your favorite teachers
See changes on campus
CONNECT THE PAST, THE PRESENT AND THE POSSIBLE.
REUNIONS 2014 REUNION DATE
May 2–4, 2014
15th 20th 25th 30th
1999 1994 1989 1984
May 9–11, 2014
10th 35th 55th 60th
2004 1979 1959 1954
May 16–18, 2014
5th 40th 45th 50th*
2009 1974 1969 1964
begins May 15 May 20–22, 2014
For more information visit www.exeter.edu/reunions or call the Alumni and Parent Relations Office at 800-828-4324 ext. 3264.
Around the Table
V O L U M E
C V I X ,
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Principal Thomas E.Hassan ’56,’66,’70,’06(Hon.);P’11 Director of Communications Robin Giampa Editor Karen Ingraham Staff Writers Mike Catano, Alice Gray, Nicole Pellaton, Famebridge Witherspoon
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Features 22 | A LABORATORY FOR LIFE Discovery and invention in Exeter’s performing arts By Karen Ingraham
Class Notes Editor Janice M. Reiter Editorial Assistant Susan Goraczkowski Creative Director/Design David Nelson, Nelson Design Contributing Editors Edouard L. Desrochers Karen Stewart Communications Advisory Committee Daniel G. Brown ’82, Robert C. Burtman ’74, Dorinda Elliott ’76, Alison Freeland ’72, Keith Johnson ’52, Yvonne M. Lopez ’93 TRUSTEES President G. Thompson Hutton ’73 Vice President Eunice Johnson Panetta ’84 Wole C. Coaxum ’88, Flobelle Burden Davis ’87, Marc C. de La Bruyère ’77, Walter C. Donovan ’81, John A. Downer ’75, Mark A. Edwards ’78, Jonathan W. Galassi ’67, David E. Goel ’89,Thomas E. Hassan, Jennifer P. Holleran ’86, David R. Horn ’85, William K. Rawson ’71, Kerry Landreth Reed ’91, Dr. Nina D. Russell ’82, J. Douglas Smith ’83, Della Spring ’79, Morgan C. Sze ’83, and Remy White Trafelet ’88 The Exeter Bulletin (ISSN No. 0195-0207) is published four times each year: fall, winter, spring, and summer, by Phillips Exeter Academy, 20 Main Street, Exeter NH 03833-2460, 603-772-4311. Periodicals postage paid at Exeter, NH, and at additional mailing offices. Printed in the USA by Cummings Printing. The Exeter Bulletin is printed on recycled paper and sent free of charge to alumni, parents, grandparents, friends, and educational institutions by Phillips Exeter Academy, Exeter, NH. Communications may be addressed to the editor; email email@example.com. Copyright 2014 by the Trustees of Phillips Exeter Academy. ISSN-0195-0207 Postmasters: Send address changes to: Phillips Exeter Academy, Records Office, 20 Main Street, Exeter, NH 03833-2460.
28 | SCHOLARS IN RESIDENCE PEA’s new fellowship program supports doctoral candidates By Katherine Towler
34 | THREE MONTHS IN GHANA Exonians embark on PEA’s first term-abroad program in Africa By Sarah Zobel
Departments 4 Around the Table: PEA’s strategic planning initiative, the John Phillips Award recipient, campus life at a glance, poetry unleashed, and more.
10 Table Talk with Christine Walley ’83 16 Exoniana: Help us fill in the lion mascot’s history 18 Exonians in Review: The Mushroom Hunters by Langdon Cook ’85 and The Investigator by Terry Lenzner ’57 40 Big Red Roar: E/A Weekend’s senior spirit squad and E/A Weekend in Review. Plus, fall sports roundup. 46 Connections: News and Notes from the Alumni Community 48 Profiles: Peter Wolf ’53, Lydia Smith ’82 and Alex Rappaport ’98 96 Finis Origine Pendet: Merging Worlds By Albert Chu ’13
10 Visit Exeter on the web at www.exeter.edu. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE EXETER BULLETIN IS PRINTED ON PAPER WITH 10% POST-CONSUMER CONTENT, USING SOY-BASED INKS.
COVER IMAGE BY CHERYL SENTER. COSTUMES BY LORISSA SUMMERMATTER.
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New, Healthful Spaces Renovations were completed last fall on the Lamont Health and Wellness Center. Updates included three dedicated Harkness classrooms for Health and Human Development; separate entrances and exits to create a confined area for ill students and a discreet setting for those seeking services; and a multifunction room for classes, film screenings, yoga practice and more. â€”Photo by Cheryl Senter
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The View from Here
The Exeter Bulletin
What’s new and notable at the Academy
Charting the Academy’s Course By Principal Thomas E. Hassan ’56, ’66, ’70, ’06 (Hon.); P’11 arly in my tenure as principal, I outlined three immediate priorities for the Academy: Intellectu-
al Ambition, Global Exploration and Goodness. These imperatives have served as important guideposts for Exeter—generating transformative new programs like Bio 470, a genetics research collaboration with Stanford University, our first study-abroad program in Ghana (page 34), and the Dissertation Year Fellowship program (page 28), as well as strengthening our commitment to existing programs like the performing arts (page 22), which help provide a balanced Exeter experience. These three priorities remain important to us, and we will now build upon them and expand our approach to how we plan for the long-term direction of this school. I have been examining important and exciting changes in education at the secondary-school level, and it’s clear to me that our ability to succeed in the future depends upon how we remain at the fore—by evolving with, and ahead of, the changing world around us. Exeter has always been an incredible place for many reasons, but we cannot rest upon past accomplishments and assume they’ll serve us as well in the future. Today’s students face rapidly changing external forces: technological innovation, a “shrinking” world and global economic competition. Students are also presented with an increased variety of educational possibilities, from improved public schools and high-quality day or charter schools to online learning programs, which have skyrocketed in recent years. As students and their families are presented with increasing and appealing educational choices, Exeter must continue to be a pioneer among its peers in order to offer our students an unsurpassed education that prepares them not for the past or present, but for the future. With that in mind, I have begun a strategic planning process that will ensure the short- and long-term success of our school, guided by this vision statement:
Our vision is to build on our strong foundation and connect us to the world beyond our campus, ensuring the Academy’s long-term excellence. Exeter will provide a balanced, innovative and unsurpassed educational experience for youth from, for and in every quarter, based on the timeless principles of goodness and knowledge. We haven’t done such a comprehensive assessment since the late 1990s, when we set out to “enroll the finest students, attract and retain the finest faculty, and create the finest learning environment.” We continue to do that, but it’s time we take this opportunity for a bold new look at our future. I am confident that we will define a plan that reinforces many of the values that Exeter has cherished for years and propels us forward as a continuing leader in secondary education.That process is underway and we are taking a hard look at some challenging questions before us: how we maintain our standard of academic excellence, how we react to the flood of online learning options, how our residential platform remains an asset, what focus we give to experiences outside of the classroom, and more. You will be hearing more about this process and how we can use the valuable input of our alumni and parents to help us achieve this vision. As we combine the power of the Exeter tradition with exciting innovation, we begin to form a vibrant future for the Academy. 4
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A Lifetime of Service BOB MUNDHEIM ’50 RECEIVES THE JOHN P H I L L I P S AWA R D Exeter honored Bob Mundheim ’50 with the John Phillips Award at a special assembly in October. Given to alumni who have dedicated their lives to serving others, the award recognizes Mundheim’s career as a lawyer and educator and his unwavering commitment to the highest moral principles. Mundheim is an internationally respected lawyer who helped resolve some of the 20th century’s great challenges, including the Iranian hostage crisis and the collapse of Salomon Brothers. He also served as dean of the University of Pennsylvania Law School and taught at Duke, Harvard, UCLA and the Universität Konstanz in Germany. Under Mundheim’s guidance, Penn instituted a requirement for students to perform pro bono work—a first among the top cadre of law schools. Currently, Mundheim serves as general counsel with Shearman & Sterling in New York City. He also helps guide several nonprofit organizations, serving as president of Appleseed and the American Academy in Berlin and as a trustee of The New School, the Curtis Institute of Music and the Salzburg Global Seminar. In private practice, government, academia and the corporate world, Mundheim’s career is marked by an allegiance to the highest ethical standards. Often called into service to help solve a problem or guide an organization that has lost its way, his work demonstrates Academy founder John Phillips’ ideal of goodness and knowledge united in character and usefulness to mankind.
Principal Tom Hassan, Bob Mundheim ’50 and Trustee and General Alumni Association President David Horn ’85 stand with the John Phillips Award citation, which was presented to Mundheim in October.
Watch Bob Mundheim’s remarks and his commentary on how Harkness influenced him: www.exeter.edu/ bulletinextras.
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Around the Table
T NANCY SHIPLEY
Holiday Non Sibi at Exeter
ust before the holiday break, students and employees joined together in Phillips Church to make handmade cards for area nursing home residents and assemble “surgi-dolls,” which are used to provide therapy to young patients in hospitals. PEA purchased nearly 4,000 food and household items from Market Basket Supermarket to donate to two area pantries serving Exeter, Portsmouth and Kingston, NH; and the Academy’s food supplier, Sysco Corp., contributed an additional 1,600 items. More than 100 student carolers also visited the home of a local child who is battling cancer. Community Service Coordinator Laurie Loosigian said, “They came with Santa hats along with all kinds of caroling gear and bells, and the students just kept coming. Some brought gifts as well.” Other acts of non sibi included student volunteering at the Salvation Army Meal Center, student and faculty gift collection for area families in need, and holiday-card making for troops stationed overseas.
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Students pack up newly assembled surgi-dolls destined for children in hospitals.
he Academy welcomed two new trustees, David Goel ’89 and Kerry Landreth Reed ’91, during the Trustees’ annual fall meeting in October. Over three days the Trustees discussed a number of issues and opportunities for the Academy, including the launch of a strategic planning process that will help chart its future course. Principal Tom Hassan shared his vision for the school and aligned with Trustees on next steps, including how to engage faculty, staff, alumni and students in bringing that vision to life. Another exciting development was in regard to new performing arts facilities, which the Trustees have made the Academy’s top fundraising objective. They agreed on an addition to the current Forrestal-Bowld Music Center for a rehearsal/recital hall and additional classroom, teaching and practice spaces.The Trustees also discussed the concept of a separate facility to house theater and dance. Fundraising has shown early signs of success for both projects, and further planning will continue. A favorite part of returning to campus for these meetings is the opportunity for Trustees to connect with students and teachers and remember what campus life was like.This time, they were able to meet with dormitory heads and talk about PEA’s residential life, and members of the Education and Appointments Committee met with students from a variety of backgrounds to hear about their Exeter experiences so far.Trustees also joined other members of the community in Phillips Church to hear a moving meditation delivered by their colleague and vice president of the Trustees, Nicie Johnson Panetta ’84. The Trustees received a report from the Investment Committee and discussed a letter received from a group of students last year calling for the Academy’s divestment in companies that produce fossil fuels. On behalf of his colleagues, Tom Hutton ’73, president of the Trustees, reported that they had decided not to pursue that as a mechanism for change, but did express his appreciation for the thoughtful way this issue has been discussed within the community, and the Academy’s ongoing commitment to sustainability. A portion of the meeting was dedicated to reports and discussions on various building and grounds projects—75 of which were completed over the previous summer. Trustees took a tour of the renovated Lamont Health and Wellness Center and all came away impressed with the work that had been accomplished and the vibrancy of the medical care, health education and counseling services located in that building. Chief of Planning and Facilities Roger Wakeman P’09, P’11 advised the Trustees of construction plans for next summer, which will include the interior renovations of Webster Hall and Elm Street Dining Hall. Current planning initiatives involving Thompson Cage, the Academy Building and the Academy Library were discussed, as was the strong programmatic priority for an upgraded fitness center. Trustees appreciated the warm welcome they received from staff, faculty and students and look forward to returning to campus in January for their next meeting.
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Faculty Wire T H R E E E N D OW E D C H A I R S A N N O U N C E D
(Top to Bottom) Art Instructor Tara Misenheimer, Mathematics Instructor Joe Wolfson and English Instructor Ellen Wolff.
ean of Faculty Ron Kim announced in November the following three faculty member appointments to endowed teaching positions: Art Instructor Tara Misenheimer has been appointed to the Clowes Chair in Art. Misenheimer’s accomplishments as an artist have been on display at the University of New Hampshire’s Museum of Art, Lawrence Academy’s Conant Gallery, and the Art Fair at New York City’s Gershwin Hotel. She is also the recipient of the 2011 Scholastic Art and Writing Award from the Alliance for Young Artists and Writers in New York. Misenheimer came to Exeter in 1991 as an art collection intern and exhibits assistant in the Lamont Gallery. She returned in a part-time role and then accepted a full-time position in 2006. She is now in her first year as Art Department chair. Misenheimer received her B.A. degree from the University of New Hampshire and her M.A.T. degree from Tufts University and the School of the Museum of Fine Arts. Mathematics Instructor Joe Wolfson is the new George Albert Wentworth Professor of Mathematics. Professor George A. Wentworth, who entered the Academy as a student in 1852, created this endowed professorship in 1897 in recognition of the help he had received from Academy endowments while in school. Wolfson is a respected and admired math instructor, former department chair, former volleyball coach and more. Among other things, he is known for the time he takes and the care he devotes throughout the summer to the careful placement of each math student. Wolfson received his B.A. from Johns Hopkins University and his M.S. from the University of Chicago. He began his teaching career at the Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C., where he taught for 13 years before joining the Exeter faculty in 1987. English Instructor Ellen Wolff P’17 has been appointed to the Thomas S. and Elinor B. Lamont Professorship in English, established in 1967. While Wolff ’s roles at Exeter have been numerous—teacher, dorm adviser, mentor, co-chair of the Curriculum Review Committee, PEAN adviser, and chair of English 110—the qualities that she brings to each role are the same: intelligence, wit, curiosity and selflessness. Wolff received her undergraduate degree from Colgate University, her master’s degree from University of North Carolina, and her Ph.D. from Brandeis University. Before joining Exeter in 1995, She taught at Holy Cross, Boston College and Brandeis.
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In the Assembly Hall A S A M P L I N G O F S P E A K E R S W H O C A M E TO C A M P U S October 8: Dr. Seung Kim ’81 Medical researcher and Stanford professor
October 15: Sam Brown ’92 Film production senior vice president
A senior vice president in production and development at New Line Cinema, Brown—who supervised the creation of such popular films as Journey 2: The Mysterious Island and Horrible Bosses— still felt he was “stuck under a big pile of easy” and decided to challenge himself with a 7 1/2-day hike up 20,000-foot Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, the highest peak in Africa. Brown wanted to reach his self-labeled “uncomfort zone.” Months of difficult training ensued, Brown told students, before his summit bid, which included hours spent in cold and darkness. “Essen8
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October 22: Tom Steyer ’75 Philanthropist, environmentalist
Tom Steyer, founder of one of the country’s most successful investment firms and ardent environmentalist, is telling everyone he knows (and anyone who will listen) about his belief that we need to reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. His latest focus is the Keystone XL Pipeline Project, a proposal to transport crude oil more than 1,700 miles through an underground pipeline across northern Alberta, Canada, to the Gulf of Mexico. During assembly, Steyer charged Exonians to devote themselves to make a difference through environmental concerns, to have high expectations, and stand up for things they most strongly believe. He cited energy, the environment and sustainability as the current generation’s defining issues. “To me, every big generation in the U.S. has had one big challenge . . . that becomes the issue that the general [population] proves itself on. Without finding and utilizing clean energy, all other concerns of the day will be completely forgotten and irrelevant,” he said. In 2009, after Steyer realized the fight against climate change was being lost, he left his investment position and joined forces with former U.S. Secretary of State George Shultz. Together, with other volunteers, they defeated California’s Proposition 23, which sought to reverse stringent laws that required major polluters to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.After outmaneuvering anti-environmental PACs in California, Steyer turned to Keystone. Quoting a 1967 commencement speech, Steyer advised students that when they find themselves “involved in skirmishes on the frontiers of barbarisms” to “strike some shrewd blows in favor of civilization.” NICOLE PELLATON
Dr. Seung Kim, a medical researcher and Stanford University professor of Developmental Biology, returned to campus to give an assembly regarding his lab’s research of pancreatic islet cells and how Exeter’s Biology 470 class is assisting in that research t h ro u g h a p a r t n e r s h i p between Kim and the school. “Bio470 was designed to have experiments with compelling reality, not only mattering in the classroom but in the world,” he said. “This natural move to experimental science demonstrates how science is taught in the real world— through intimate apprenticeships.” Anika Ayyar ’14 helped develop the Stanford-Exeter internship and classroom program, which has fellow students working with biology instructors and Stanford scientists to breed and grow different fruit fly strains in order to extract DNA and study the genetic material. Kim spoke to students about the value of such research and concluded with a life lesson reflective of his own career: “Once you’ve found a problem you think is worthy of your life’s work, lose yourself in it.” He also gave an evening talk for the public entitled, “Curing Diabetes Mellitus and Pancreatic Cancer: A Report from the Research Front.”
tially, it was 12 hours of climbing up to the top of the mountain,” Brown said. “And during the last portion of the climb, I began to ask myself, ‘What exactly were you thinking?’ ” But he kept going. “I just kept telling myself, ‘Just get to sunrise,’ ” he said. It was one of the most arresting experiences of his life.“When I saw the peak for the first time ... I began to cry. And it felt really good—a good that I hadn’t experienced in a long time,” Brown said. He came away a different man and encouraged Exonians to be adventuresome, to bring together the “person that you are and [the] person that you want to be.”
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She promised herself if she were ever in a war zone again, she would be there as a medic, not a journalist. Within a year, she had enrolled in St. George’s Hospital Medical School and went on to train as an ophthalmologist. In 1999, she visited her home country of India and discovered “eye hospital after eye hospital with state-of-the-art facilities and pristine equipment, but no surgeons.” Most surgeons chose to work in the cities despite much of the need being in the villages. Mathen told students that she began to mobilize friends and colleagues in the medical field to give up their vacations and perform surgeries in India. A year later, she launched nonprofit Second Sight. More than 250,000 eye surgeries later, Mathen’s organization continues to deploy teams of volunteer doctors to the most remote and rural villages in northern India to perform cataract removal and lens replacement surgeries.
November 1: Myra Donnelley ’75
Myra Donnelley discovered her love for acting as a PEA lower with her first theatrical role as Holocaust victim Anne Frank.The play provided a springboard for Donnelley’s first career in theater, into which she jumped headfirst. She attended Brown University and earned a degree in theater from Sarah Lawrence College. She later produced Shakespearean plays with troubled youths, led a literacy-enrichment program, and ran a theatrical company that toured in New York, San Francisco and Ireland. Many productions later, Donnelley told students at assembly, she turned her talents to a more global stage. While working for Brave New Foundation, she researched and wrote proposals for veterans’ issues, voters’ rights, health and safety, media literacy and other issues. She learned to leverage the power of issue experts, citizen activists and grass-roots groups through storytelling. Donnelley talked about her career transition, encouraging students to prepare for radical, new challenges in the Digital Age. “You will need to master a level of digital and media literacy unimaginable to your parents’ generation . . . . Fortunately for the human race, we have already invented a way you can . . . surmount these new challenges. It’s called the arts.” Now, as vice president of resource development, Donnelley uses her storytelling skills to find investors for Eniware, the creator of a portable sterilization kit for medical equipment. The arts, Donnelley told students, teaches problem solving and critical thinking, skills that will help them find “the roles of [their] choice, on our world’s global stage.” November 12: Dr. Lucy Mathen
Ophthalmologist, founder of nonprofit Second Sight
“My mother always told me two things: there’s nothing that you can’t do, and . . . if you think someone is not doing something properly or not effectively, always challenge them,” Dr. Lucy Mathen said at assembly. In 1988, Mathen was a seasoned BBC jour nalist filming a documentary in Kabul, Afghanistan, when a frustrated doctor complained to her about his working conditions. His story and what she witnessed had a profound effect on Mathen.
December 2: Rep. Raul Ruiz California congressman and PEA Bragdon Fellow
Global health executive, performing arts advocate
“I want you all to look at the world around you. Look at the realities of suffering and then look at the possibilities for healing,” said Rep. Raul Ruiz, this year’s Bragdon Fellow, at assembly. Elected in 2012 to California’s 36th Congressional District, Ruiz is the son of hardworking migrant farmworkers who shared a bed, the kitchen table, with his brother while growing up. The teenage Ruiz “put on the one suit I owned . . . I went from business to business . . . I said, ‘I’m offering you an opportunity to invest in our community by investing in my education . . . I promise you I will be a doctor and I will come home to service this community.’ ” Ruiz raised $2,000, which helped launch his academic career—UCLA, followed by Harvard Medical School, Harvard Kennedy School: John F. Kennedy School of Government and Harvard School of Public Health. Read more about True to his word, 17 years later Dr. these speakers’ Ruiz returned to the Coachella Valley— visits at www. exeter.edu/bulletin. with real-world experience helping the indigent in Chiapas, Mexico, El Salvador and Serbia—to work as an emergency room physician at Eisenhower Medical Center. In closing, he said, “The real measure of your success will be the lives you touch, the people you change, and the relationships you have with those that change your life . . . . Make service your profession no matter what career you choose and make healing your vocation.” WINTER 2014
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The Human Costs of Deindustrialization TA B L E TA L K W I T H C H R I S T I N E WA L L E Y ’ 8 3 By Daneet Steffens ’82
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hristine Walley’s life changed seismically in 1980. As part of a family whose life and livelihood were inextricably tied to the steel industry of southeast Chicago, 14-year-old Walley witnessed first her father’s job loss and then the extensive repercussions that rippled through her community as all the area’s mills closed one by one. “It was an enormous concentration of the industry,” she says. “The region was completely built around it, so when the industry started to collapse. . . .” She pauses. “People had spent generations assuming that their way of life would continue. It was a very dislocating experience.” Her father, in fact, never held down a full-time job again. Currently an associate professor of anthropology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Walley recognizes that what she perceived as a very local experience was, in fact, part of an extensive, ongoing transformation of America’s social, economic and political landscape. Her ticket out was a scholarship to Exeter. Originally, she says, her parents didn’t want her to go: “Where I came from, sending your kid away to a boarding school was considered being cruel to your kids.” As it transpired, Exeter fueled her curiosity about different worlds and, ultimately, her career choice. “The culture shock was fairly intense, coming from an insular, working-class community,” Walley says. “There’s an American tendency to not talk about class very much, so I didn’t have the language to talk about why everything felt so different, even in terms of small things like how people dressed, or how they talked or how they walked. It was very disorienting.” Her search for a wider understanding led to anthropology. Though she did her doctoral fieldwork in Tanzania, Walley found herself personally and professionally drawn back to those early and continuing effects of deindustrialization. Using her southeast Chicago experience as a starting point through which to examine those effects across the States, she and her husband, filmmaker Chris Boebel, have created Exit Zero, an ongoing project encompassing a book, a documentary and a proposed interactive website. Exit Zero originated as a family affair 10 years ago,
with Walley and Boebel approaching her father, a moment poignantly caught on film: “We were wondering if, before we go to lunch, can we just ask you a couple of questions about the neighborhood?” The camera lingers on a slight, mustachioed man whose “Our history is integral to basic life expectations—work, health, pension, providing for his family—were unceremoniously obliterated. our stories, integral to how The 8 1/2-minute trailer captures a man willing to we will move forward.” speak about the past, but assiduously trying to avoid future disappointments. “How,” asks Walley’s voiceover, “do you make sense of the story? How could things as concrete and seemingly eternal as the steel mills just disappear?” Especially, as Walley points out now, when what takes their place are massive toxic brownfields and chemical plants that pose continuing environmental hazards. She and Boebel began the film at the same time that Walley was writing a book about the subject; they quickly realized that both mediums, sharing a common root, were growing synergistically together. Walley’s family stories drive the anthropologically focused book while her great-granduncle’s 16 mm home movies—celluloid anecdotes that bring 1930s and ’40s southeast Chicago to life—pepper the documentary, mixing with found footage and first-person narrative. “It always seemed right to pursue both the film and the book through a personal route,” Walley explains, “to use family stories as a way to get at larger questions about immigration, deindustrialization, class and gender in America. It felt more honest to do it that way because it was family stories that drove me to think about the project. But I was also hoping that the stories would make the subject more accessible, that they would create a meeting ground for people from different backgrounds to come together. “My childhood experience was that people’s analyses of the world often came out through their stories. When I would talk to my dad about abstract ideas I’d learned in college, he would start his response with, ‘Here, Peanut . . . ’—because that was my nickname—and then he’d launch into a story. So focusing on stories seemed like a great way to go, and the multigenerational structure gives a sense of the trajectory—from the beginnings of industrialization to today’s postindustrial reality, where entire communities have been living with the effects of deindustrialization for 30 years. It’s been very interesting showing the rough cut of the film: People from different backgrounds or experiences, they start relating their own stories, maybe about class in their family or about deindustrialization in an East Coast textile town. So the stories breed more stories. They are a way of creating the conversation.” It’s a conversation that Walley feels people are hungry for. “When I started my work, deindustrialization was kind of a passé topic, but people are really interested in it again. Given the expanding inequality that people are seeing in the U.S., I think they are wondering, ‘What did we lose along the way that we weren’t really paying attention to? What are the long-term implications of that?’ Our history is integral to our stories, integral to how we will move forward.” In anthropology,Walley found her own direction. “It emphasizes listening, more than any other discipline,” says the woman whose Exit Zero project offers a critical platform, encouraging marginalized communities to re-find their voice. “To me, that’s very powerful. Listening is important.”
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Campus Life at a Glance Snapshots from fall term DAN COURTER
(A) More than 1,500 parents, siblings and other relatives turned out for Family Weekend in October for a glimpse into Exeter life. (B) Vive la France! PEA’s annual International Day in October is a chance to sample food, customs and culture from around the globe. (C) O’ Canada! Maple Leaf pride is on full display during the annual Halloween assembly. (D) PEA Model U.N. Club cohead Rohan Pavuluri ’14 speaks to 250 students from around New England who came to Exeter in November for the student club’s Model U.N. conference. (E) Senior spirit dominates the Friday assembly before the big Exeter/Andover Weekend. Keeping with tradition, the class stormed the stage after Principal Hassan had “swept” away Big Blue with a broom.
ERIC KWON ’14
COURTESY OF PEA MODEL U.N. CLUB
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Fresh, Local Fish Makes a Splash at Dining Halls
n one Friday in October,
MIKE CATANO (2)
students and employees were treated to “Red’s Letter Day”: a smorgasbord of dishes featuring locally caught fresh seafood that included Citrus Baked Hake, Baked Dab in Mustard Sauce, New England Fried Clam Strips, Skate Tacos and, this being New England, Lobster Bisque chockfull of lobster chunks floating in a cream sauce. Deemed Dining Services’ “newest and most exciting sustainability initiative ever,” by Director of Dining Services Ward Ganger, the fish initiative adds to a program of local suppliers that has grown from two to 45 in the last 10 years and makes up 27 percent of the overall food budget. Supplied by Red’s Best Seafood in Boston, the seafood is caught and fully traceable from local day boats to harbor, then via truck to Red’s dock facilities in Boston and ultimately to the dining halls of PEA via Sysco Corporation’s regular food distribution system. An assembly held that same day emphasized the students’ role in the sustainability mission at Exeter. During his presentation Jared Auerbach, owner of Red’s Best, told students there is a mismatch between available fish and what’s being served. “You see what we are catching and unloading on the waterfront in Boston, and then see what’s on the menus in local restaurants. They don’t sync up.” He added, “We have to change the paradigm from the consumer always choosing what they’re going to eat to Mother Nature and the fishermen’s catch playing a larger role.” The lunchtime spread of seafood required a good deal of prep work on multiple fronts, including extensive recipe experimentation by the chefs with several pilot menus scattered over the weeks leading to the final launch. “Our chefs like to be creative and this program was a great opportunity,” adds Monica Torrisi, production manager in Wetherell Dining Hall. “They like to put their own spin on our recipes.” Melinda Leonard, associate director of Dining Services, explained the advantages of adding Red’s as a supplier: “The goal is always to look at local product as part of our sustainability mission. We really liked Red’s offerings because of its freshness, accessibility and variety. Plus, it helps to support the local fishing industry and the fisheries here in New England. It’s also an educational opportunity because the fish are not the traditional ones associated with New England. We are introducing those species to students in a delightful way with great preparations.” Since the initial launch, Dining Services has been offering Red’s seafood weekly on the menus for Wednesday lunch and Friday dinner. Leonard says the seafood has become a quick favorite, citing that the Academy goes through 325 pounds of Red’s fish every week.
Monica Torrisi, production manager in Wetherell Dining Hall, and Marshall Lyons, Wetherell’s first cook, prepare the fresh catch for students and employees.
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Poetry Unleashed LY R I C A L E X P R E S S I O N P E R M E AT E S C A M P U S
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oetry was in full view fall term—written on windows and blackboards, on a huge magnetic board outside Lamont Gallery, splayed across Academy Library surfaces and even rolled onto the platen of an oldstyle manual typewriter. This get-the-word-out program, called “Unexpected Poetry,” was sponsored by Lamont Gallery in conjunction with the exhibit “On & Off the Page.” “People were delighted by the appearance of poems in unexpected places,” says Philip Decker ’14, the program’s adviser, a contributing poet and head of Exeter’s Poetry Society. One of the more than 20 poems that appeared across campus in September and October— “Luna,” by Jordan Cynewski ’15—was posted at the entrance to Phelps Science Center. The goal, says Decker, was to post “an emotional and reflective poem…in a location where individuals were either going to study or had just finished studying the most rigorous, demanding and unemotional of subjects, the sciences. Every time I went by, I could not help but stop for a moment.” And, it didn’t stop there. Poetry moved to center stage when seniors Rebecca Nievar and Sahil Singhvi, leaders of the W.O.R.D. (We Only Recite Dramatically) Club, hosted a weekend slam poetry evening featuring Robbie Q.Telfer, director of performances for Young Chicago Authors and nationally known performance poet, and two members of New Hampshire’s Slam Free Or Die: Mark Palos and Mckendy Fils-Aime. Things got inky when students in Art 444: Advanced Studio Art, also in collaboration with the Lamont Gallery, screen-printed poems written by Decker, Cynewski and Lily Friedberg ’16 onto neckties. The art students worked on the ties for several class periods—brainstorming design ideas, exploring techniques and proposing who would wear them. The Exonians “had a terrific time connecting printmaking and studio teamwork to the gallery project,” says Tara Misenheimer, Art Department chair. “This was a meaningful interdisciplinary endeavor, and so many of the art students have a deep interest in poetry. It was unique to combine text with wearable art—and still be in dress code!” Lamont Gallery Director Lauren O’Neal adds,“Poetry is something you can encounter again and again, discovering new interpretations upon each reading.When text becomes embodied by its placement in an unexpected physical location on campus or in wearable art, we have the opportunity to engage with meaning in new, joyful ways.” Lamont Poet Michael Collier, an award-winning poet who is a professor in the University of Maryland’s Creative Writing Program, opened minds and closed out the term poetically with an evening reading and a lively Q-and-A session with the entire prep class. One prep pointed out that Collier’s poem, “The Cave,” about Plato can be deconstructed (through a clever sequence of mathematical operations relating to the number of stanzas, sentences and punctuation marks) to represent the number 216, known as “Plato’s number.” Clearly delighted by the close reading and struck by the student’s originality, Collier laughed, admitted that the result was entirely unintentional and responded, “But that’s what happens with poets.”
Around the Table
(Left page) A poem by Philip Decker ’14 sits in an old typewriter outside the Principal’s Office. (Clockwise from top left) Advanced Studio Art students screen print poems on to neck ties; Lamont Poet Michael Collier does a Q&A with preps in the Assembly Hall; Dean of Faculty Ron Kim sports a poetry tie; and a poem is unfurled above the Academy Library’s Rockefeller Hall.
ART CLASS, MICHAEL COLLIER AND RON KIM PHOTOS: NICOLE PELLATON; LIBRARY PHOTO: COURTESY OF THE LAMONT GALLERY
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Around the Table
Exoniana D O YO U R E M E M B E R ? PEA ARCHIVES
The lion rampant has been used as a symbol of the Academy since the early 1900s, but how long have Exonians been donning fur suits and large lion heads to serve as mascots during E/A games and other events? We need your help to build upon the lion mascot’s history with anecdotes and pictures. Submit your lion tales from years past or identify the mascots and their spirit squads pictured here.
There will be two prizes awarded at random from the responses received. Email us at Exoniana@exeter.edu. Or, send your responses to Exoniana, c/o The Exeter Bulletin, Phillips Exeter Academy, Communications Office, 20 Main Street, Exeter, NH 03833. Entries may be edited for length and clarity.
Answers to the fall 2013 issue:
In honor of PEA’s 233rd opening of the school year, two alumni correctly answered our trivia questions about the Academy’s Deed of Gift, the seal and the lion rampant. The correct answers are: 1. Which curricular imperatives John Phillips cited in his incorporation of the school? b. Music and the art of speaking
2.The designer of the original Academy seal? c) Paul Revere (He first cut a seal for Phillips Academy in Andover, which was then adapted by PEA.) 3.The symbolism of the bees on the seal? a) A group of industrious scholars 4.The co-signer of the original Deed of Gift? c) Elizabeth Phillips 5. What the lion rampant, now PEA’s mascot, first appeared on? c) A book plate designed for John Phillips in 1775.
Our winners are: Alexander J. Frain ’03, Milwaukee, WI, and Emily G. (Fincke) Stone ’03, New York, NY.
Both Exonians received PEA leather luggage tags. 16 The Exeter Bulletin
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Around the Table
Composer Gregory Brown ’93: Story Through Synthesis
felt like I was surfing, like I was part of a wave,” says composer Gregory Brown ’93. This “transcendental” moment in which “my sense of self became part of a greater community,” came to Brown when he performed in a choir as an Amherst College undergraduate.“I got involved in music in a sort of tangential way, and it took over,” explains Brown, who until that time had focused on math and science. As Brown dove deeper into music—adding conducting and composing—he “realized that this was something worth devoting my life to. “For me, the performing arts are what will separate the leaders of tomorrow from even a generation before,” says Brown who recently completed a threeyear teaching appointment at Smith College, where he also is founding director of The Smith College Festival of Sound & Space. “Engaging with groups of people through the creative arts has informed my sense of purpose, and informed my sense of community in a way that I don’t know that any other field does.” Brown teaches his students and the performers he conducts to approach a piece from multiple perspectives—historical, political, literary, musical—then discuss similarities and dissimilarities, all in the interests of “making the material their own in some way.” The importance lies in “synthesizing the information into something useful, into something compelling, into something that tells a deeper story. Even if you’re going to be an economist, knowing about storytelling, knowing about being part of a creative endeavor is something that will help you so much.” Brown returned to the Academy in October to share with students his 2010 composition, Missa Charles Darwin, developed for and performed by New York Polyphony, a four-man choral group. “Their sound is incredible,” says Brown. “Four voices that can and do sing solo quite successfully and yet come together into this greater whole.” In 2010 Craig Phillips, bass singer of New York Polyphony, approached Brown with a question: Would he compose a choral work using Darwin’s writings as the text? “It didn’t take long to realize this was a really strong idea,” says Brown. Phillips took the lead in developing the libretto as Brown worked with the singers— composing music to their individual voices, often challenging them to do “things vocally that not many people can do.” Brown sent sheet music to the New York-based group to test his ideas, sometimes travelling from the Berkshires where he lives to New York, other times listening to recordings, often made on a smart phone. “Sometimes we’d do a table reading, just four guys singing and me,” Brown says. “There are those moments in life, and that’s one…being up close to people who really know how to sing. It’s transformative. It reminds me that I’m doing what I love to do.” Over several months, Brown adjusted the score as the singers and he discovered what worked and what didn’t. “It’s like architecture,” he says. “You draw up a plan, but there’s always negotiation about what’s important and where exactly each element in the design will go.” The end result is a musically complex 25-minute piece in six movements that obliges listeners to think about the contrasts and parallels between Darwin’s words—which Brown describes as “lyrical, insightful and poetic”—and the sacred tradition of the Mass. “By putting these two things I care very much about, science and sacred music, within the same frame, it creates a dialog… That conversation is valuable. It can be cathartic. It can be the first step toward a meaningful conversation about what role religion plays in our lives, what role science plays in our lives.” During the fall 2013 two-day residency at Exeter, Brown and New York Polyphony, sponsored by the Gilbert Concert Series, performed an evening concert and gave an all-school assembly. Brown also conducted a Concert Choir rehearsal, joined Introduction to Music Theory, met with a small group of student composers, and played his electromagnetically-prepared piano in the Academy Library. —Nicole Pellaton
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Exonians in Review
Living as a Wild-Food Forager T H E M U S H RO O M H U N T E R S : O N T H E T R A I L O F A N U N D E R G RO U N D AMERICA, BY LANGDON COOK ’85 A review by Mary Rindfleisch ’73
or generations of PEA students in the last 40 years, the Reporter-at-Large
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ADAM REITANO (2)
Langdon Cook ’85 also wrote Fat of the Land: Adventures of a 21st Century Forager
assignment was a rite of passage during their upper year. Modeled after the profiles featured in The New Yorker magazine, this project required students to observe and interview an adult whose life and work they found interesting and report on the experience at length in one of the major writing assignments of the English Department’s curriculum. I have no idea whom Langdon Cook ’85 chose to profile for his Reporter-at-Large essay, or what grade he received, but The Mushroom Hunters clearly demonstrates his skill at the art form. “I am an eavesdropper,” Cook confesses. “I have always had a tendency to listen when people with unusual occupations talk shop.” And that is precisely what he does throughout this colorful and informative narrative. While he provides plenty of background on his chosen subject, in the manner of Mark Kurlansky’s Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World or Salt: A World History, Cook has chosen mostly to listen to a couple of individuals involved in the wild-food industry, and share with his readers their fascinating stories. Doug Carnell, a larger-than-life eccentric “picker,” and Jeremy Faber, a workaholic “buyer,” are his guides to the world of the wild-food forager, specifically the mushroom hunter. Each is a distinctive character, full of quirks and contradictions, dreams and fears. They adopt Cook and take him along as they go about lives that are cutthroat, dangerous, backbreaking and heartbreaking. The “underground America” cited in the book’s subtitle hints at many things beyond just the fact that mushrooms are typically found hiding under layers of dirt, leaves and other debris, growing up often from underground roots and remains. Cook also chronicles an underground economy and culture that would surprise those whose experience of wild mushrooms begins and ends at the restaurant table. Focusing on the Pacific Northwest region where he makes his home, Cook introduces us to the out-of-work loggers and fishermen, immigrants from Southeast Asia, burnt-out hippies, survivalists and methamphetamine addicts who live a hand-to-mouth existence tracking some of the most expensive and sought-after foodstuffs in the world. They are engaged in intense competition, subject to the vagaries of nature and, often, operate outside the bounds of strict legality.While Cook has evident sympathy for the people he gets to know, he is clear-eyed enough not to hide their shortcomings, which are many and, often, entertaining to the reader. The political and legal environment in which the mushroom hunters live is full of ambiguity, which Cook captures neatly. Regulations for the foraging of mushrooms and other wild foods are contradictory and often baffling, promulgated by dozens of overlapping jurisdictions,
from the National Park Service to local planning boards. It is not easy to parse the cast of environmentalists, timber and mining interests, government officials and other stakeholders into “good” and “evil,” as their actions often have unintended consequences for the foragers. An eager and experienced recreational forager himself, Cook is no passive observer of this mysterious world. His personal involvement in many of the activities he describes adds immediacy to his narrative, without ever veering into the self-importance that can mar participatory journalism. Especially poignant is his account of traversing the inhospitable terrain left by a major fire in the Yukon countryside, weighed down by his pickings and in true fear for his life. Foodies will want to pick up this book for its fascinating background on the exotic world of a highly prized ingredient; naturalists will be drawn to its
exploration of the intricate workings of the natural world. But many readers will find The Mushroom Hunters a gripping read because of the people it portrays. Their stories are surprising and often poignant. Some, like displaced Southeast Asian immigrants, hunt mushrooms because they are unable to succeed at other employment in a strange new land. Some choose foraging because of a strong connection to nature and an urgent need to work in the outdoors. Many of them don’t even eat the products they collect. But, in the words of one picker Cook encounters online, “. . . that is what made that place so damn interesting—the people! That is what kept us coming back year after year too. It wasn’t so much the mushrooms, although of course that was huge, it was more the people.” The same can be said of Cook’s book— readers will find they come for the mushrooms, but stay for the people.
The Most Powerful Private Eye T H E I N V E S T I G AT O R : F I F T Y Y E A R S O F U N C OV E R I N G T H E T RU T H , B Y T E R RY L E N Z N E R ’ 5 7 A review by Kent McConnell, instructor in history
hen reading Terry Lenzner’s The Investigator: Fifty Years of Uncovering the Truth, one is struck by how the author’s life has crossed some of the most significant moments of our nation’s recent past. There is a real Forrest Gump-like quality to this aspect of the story as Lenzner somehow continues to find himself in the key moments of history. And although comparisons to Tom Hanks’ movie character are commonly meant to be derogatory, no such derision is meant here. Like the movie Forrest Gump, audiences of Lenzner’s autobiography will be endlessly entertained and intrigued by the story of the author’s professional life. Within the first 50 pages the reader finds Lenzner attending Harvard University with little direction for his life. Eventually continuing on to Harvard Law School, Lenzner confesses that at the time, he “had no idea what kind of lawyer I would become” and comments on the value of mentors. He pays tribute to his former PEA history instructor Henry Bragdon, who, Lenzner writes, “instilled in his students his love for history and his admiration for public service.” He also credits an attentive senior partner in the New York law firm where he clerked. Lloyd K. Garrison, who had defended poet Langston Hughes and playwright Arthur Miller during the McCarthy hearings, sug-
gested to Lenzner that he apply for a position in the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “That recommendation led to not only an extraordinary first-job experience,” the author writes, “but also shaped my future.” With the die cast as Lenzner suggests, he soon found himself working in Robert Kennedy’s Justice Department. From New England by way of New York, Lenzner was in Philadelphia, MS, in the summer of 1964 as one member of a small army of federal lawyers and investigators looking into the murders of three young civil rights workers, James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner. Initially Lenzner’s work was often pedestrian and seemingly held little relationship to the murders. But his efforts to find African-Americans willing to talk about how they were being denied their voting rights by local authorities and accurately record their stories was essential work in building the government’s case. The Supreme Court in its validation of the Voting Rights Act in 1965 later cited these efforts. Reflecting on this work nearly 50 years later, Lenzner credits this experience as one that “offered lessons in investigative work that I never received at law school nor could have gotten by working at a law firm” and established the trajectory of his career. In closing this chapter of WINTER 2014
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Exonians in Review
his life, the author remarks, “I discovered the good that government action can accomplish.” Considerably more might be said of Lenzner’s experience in Mississippi, but like many elements of this work and in a Forrest Gump-like manner, Lenzner takes little credit for his personal achievements and hypes nothing throughout the book. In this age of autobiography where narcissistic tendencies reign, Lenzner offers readers a refreshing reprieve from such tales of
Terry Lenzner ’57 was once “one of the most powerful and dreaded private investigators in the world.”
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personal glory or tragedy. For all its appeal, however, this minimalist approach sometimes leaves us wanting for more. The author, for example, mentions in passing at the beginning of the book that he was fired by Donald Rumsfeld. When Rumsfeld appears in later pages, readers are offered little more than a glimpse into the author’s feelings or thoughts about this important figure in American history. It was Rumsfeld who appointed Lenzner to head the Office of Economic Opportunity’s Legal Services Division, where Lenzner spearheaded a policy of providing poor people with attorneys to sue underperforming state and local governments, which ran afoul of powers like Chicago Mayor Richard Daley and California Governor Ronald Reagan. Yet to remedy the criticism of there being only superficial personal reflection, as this example alone might suggest, would be a tall order when one pauses to consider the trajectory of Lenzner’s
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career and the paths it has crossed. In the pages that follow his time as a young lawyer working in Mississippi, Lenzner leads his reader through a myriad of legal cases with a cast of characters that his readers will certainly differ in opinion on. Lenzner not only headed the national Legal Services Program, he also pursued and prosecuted organized crime from a unit of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. He defended Philip Berrigan, a former Roman Catholic priest, peace activist, and Nobel Peace Prize nominee, while simultaneously representing CIA operative Dr. Sidney Gottlieb, who headed the mind control program under the direction of Allen Dulles. Gottlieb is notoriously remembered for his administration of LSD and other mindaltering drugs on unsuspecting subjects. During this episode we learn a bit more about Gottlieb’s role in the CIA’s attempt to assassinate the Congo’s Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba, but in lawyer-like prose, Lenzner offers little judgment about his client’s character. More fantastic tales follow as readers trace Lenzner’s involvement as counsel to the Senate Watergate Committee: Our protagonist played a critical role in the investigation of Nixon, following the money trail that led to the Watergate burglary and cover-up. In the end, he was the first lawyer to deliver a Congressional subpoena to a sitting U.S. president. But investigations into government doings don’t stop there.We come to find that Lenzner uncovered cost overruns with the Alaska oil pipeline in the 1970s, helped in the investigation that led to the identification of the Unabomber, and was approached to investigate the circumstances surrounding the death of Princess Diana of Wales. But also let us not forget Lenzner’s founding of Investigative Group International (IGI), his help in clearing Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez of false charges of corruption, or his work with President Bill Clinton’s defense team during the impeachment hearings—work that earned the lawyer his own subpoena before Kenneth Starr’s committee. With so many stories of intrigue, it is hard to image a life so full of riveting episodes. The Los Angeles Times once called Lenzner one of the most powerful and dreaded private investigators in the world. The Investigator gives readers a sense of why this characterization may have been accurate for so many famous and infamous characters on the American historical landscape, but in true investigative fashion, Lenzner doesn’t reveal too many secrets and leaves his audience only wanting more.
Alumni are urged to advise the Exonians in Review editor of their own publications, recordings, films, etc., in any field, and those of classmates. Whenever possible, authors and composers are encouraged to send one copy of their books and original copies of articles to Edouard Desrochers ’45, ’62 (Hon.); P’94, P’97, the editor of Exonians in Review, Phillips Exeter Academy, 20 Main Street, Exeter, NH 03833. ALUMNI 1933—Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and others. The Letters of
Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. [Edited by Andrew Schlesinger and Stephen Schlesinger ’60]. (Random House, 2013)
1967—Pierce McNally and John Reynolds. Overdose:Your Health, My Money. (Charles Pinot, 2013) 1970—Peter von Ziegesar.
The Looking Glass Brother: A Memoir. (St. Martin’s Press, 2013) 1971—Edward J. Crummey III [as Joe Crummey].
Planking on Headstones:Your Future Outside of Time. (School of Eddiness, 2013)
1983—Christine J. Walley. Exit Zero: Family and Class in Postindustrial Chicago. (University of Chicago Press, 2013) 1985—Langdon Cook. The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America. (Ballantine Books, 2013) 1987—David Folkenflik. Murdoch’s World:The Last of the Old Media Empires. (PublicAffairs, 2013)
1972—John T.Young and
ing in the Weave. (Crossroad Press, 2014) 1956—William Peace.
Sable Shadow & The Presence. (Strategic Book Publishing, 2013) 1957—George Gilder.
Knowledge and Power:The Information Theory of Capitalism and How it is Revolutionizing Our World. (Regnery Publishing, 2013)
Winifred (Chapin) Young ’72 [J.W.Yanowitz, pseudonym]. Guns for Judea:The Story of a Boy Soldier in the Middle East During World War One. (CreateSpace, 2013)
1977—Lincoln Paine. The Sea & Civilization: A Maritime History of the World. (Knopf, 2013)
1957—Terry Lenzner. The
Investigator: Fifty Years of Uncovering the Truth, A Memoir. (Blue Rider Press, 2013)
1962—J. Philip Jones [as J.P.
1962—Brian B. Kelly. The
Irish Smuggler. (iBooks, 2013) 1966—Arthur K. “Kirby” LaMotte. Wounded Bud:
Poems for Meditation. (Saint Julian Press, 2013)
eling Fuel Efficiency: MPG or GPHM?” IN Mathematics Teacher. (v. 107, no. 1, 20-27, August 2013) 1993—Gregory W. Brown. Missa Charles Darwin, featuring New York Polyphony [CD]. (Navona Records, 2013) 1996—Alex Myers. Revolu-
tionary: A Novel. (Simon & Schuster, 2014) nine (39) Questions for White People. (DangerDot Publishing, 2013)
Schlesinger, editors. The Letters of Arthur Schlesinger, Jr., by Arthur M. Schlesinger Jr. [’33]. (Random House, 2013) Jones]. A Sense of Loss. (CreateSpace, 2013)
Kevin G. Bartkovich. “Mod-
1997—Naima Lowe. Thirty-
1960—Stephen Schlesinger and Andrew
and others. Anatomy of Steampunk:The Fashion of Victorian Futurism. (Race Point Publishing, 2013) 1983—Chang-rae Lee. On
Such a Full Sea. (Riverhead, 2014)
Heritage of Beauty: ‘From the Minute Man to The Lincoln Memorial: The Timeless Sculpture of Daniel Chester French.’ ” IN Antiques & Fine Art. (AFAnews.com, 2013)
FACULTY/FORMER BENNETT FELLOW
1972—Winifred (Chapin) Young and John T.Young ’72
[J.W.Yanowitz, pseudonym]. Guns for Judea:The Story of a Boy Soldier in the Middle East During World War One. (CreateSpace, 2013)
1985—Dana Pilson. “A
—“From the Minute Man to the Lincoln Memorial: The Timeless Sculpture of Daniel Chester French.” [exhibit catalog]. (Concord Museum, 2013)
Vatican Waltz: A Novel. (Crown, 2013)
1956—William Bayer. Hid-
1974—Joan Wickersham. “The Tunnel, or The News From Spain.” [short story] IN The Best American Short Stories 2013, edited by Elizabeth Strout and Heidi Pitlor. (Mariner Books, 2013)
Molly Bashaw and Janice Olson, cover. The Whole Field Still Moving Inside It [Winner 2013 Washington Prize]. (The Word Works Books, 2014) Elena Gosálvez-Blanco. “Conrado Blanco (1908– 1998): ‘Solo tengo lo que he dado.’ ” IN Revista de Prensa. (August 2013) —“Dream real.” IN Rosebud.
2001—Shelley J. McGuire
(no. 55, 2013)
[S.J. Kincaid, pseudonym]. Allies: An Insignia Novella. (Katherine Tegen Books, 2013)
—[translator]. Si yo fuera un niño de la antigua China [Spanish edition]. (Cricket Media, 2013)
—Vortex: An Insignia Novel. (Katherine Tegen Books, 2013)
—[translator]. Si yo fuera un niño del antiguo Roma [Spanish edition]. (Cricket Media, 2013)
BRIEFLY NOTED 1955—Douglas Bowden
and others, translators/editors. The Psychophysiology of Consciousness, by Eugene Sokolov. (Oxford University Press, 2013)
Ralph Sneeden. “The Class-
room as Big Sur: Notes on the Liaison Between Evaluation and Professional Growth.” IN Independent School Magazine [NAIS]. (v. 73, no. 1, fall 2013) WINTER 2014
The Exeter Bulletin
Laboratory Discovery and invention in Exeter’s performing arts By Karen Ingraham
Hannah MacKay ’17 (above, in “La Bayad`ere”) choreographed “Duplication” (left).
rep Hannah MacKay delivered an unusual request to her biology teacher last October.Would he come to watch the dance she was choreographing and offer some guidance? With a PhD in microbiology, Science Instructor Steffen Poltak knows a thing or two about cellular life, but he admits to knowing nothing about creating a dance routine. Still, he went and was struck by how quickly he recognized the elements of mitosis, when one cell divides into two. “I could see the connections between what she was doing and the biological processes, [and] not just the cells dividing,” Poltak says, “but how the [chromosomes] physically come together and move apart. …To me, it was obvious.” MacKay came up with the idea for the piece when Dance Program Director Allison Duke announced the theme for the Fall Dance Company Concert: “Exploring Scientific and Mathematical Principles through Movement.” Other original pieces evolved alongside MacKay’s, including upper Yasmine Kaya’s interpretation of how sodium and chlorine become table salt and Dance Instructor Sarah Duclos’ exploration of the ethical implications behind atom manipulation.
45 dance performances are held each year.
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ERIC KWON (2)
Rowan Rainwalker ’15 (above) plays viola in the Symphony Orchestra, along with cellist Sam Tan ’16 (right).
Half of the student body is enrolled in private music lessons.
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MacKay’s four-minute “Duplication”—her first attempt at choreography—challenged her to think more deeply about what she was learning in Poltak’s class. “The way a cell can divide and multiply…is truly amazing,” she says. “But then I wondered, ‘What happens if a disease [like] cancer is introduced? Would the disease interrupt the cycle, causing the newly produced cells to be cancer?’ I questioned if there would be a possibility that the cancer can be stopped, or if it will always win.” She framed the dance movements around these questions and turned to Poltak for guidance and to ensure her piece was “factually correct.” “It was unbelievable,” she says of the partnership. “Dr. Poltak actually introduced me to the idea of having cancer beat the normal cells. That led me in a positive direction because it gave my piece more purpose.” For Poltak, “It was really nice to be able to bridge the gap between two very different worlds,” he says. “ ‘Form and function’ is what we do in biology, and it’s obviously what they do in dance.” This interdisciplinary exchange—the potential for discovery and learning in a new dimension—is one example of why Principal Tom Hassan and the Academy Trustees believe strengthening the performing arts at Exeter is the school’s most pressing need. “We must keep an Exeter education rigorous and relevant,” Hassan says, “and the arts must play a greater role in how we foster creativity, innovation and collaboration. With a balanced education in the arts, humanities and sciences, Exonians will continue to be the women and men capable of making great leaps of imagination and leading our global society forward.” To meet this vision, the Academy has launched its most ambitious fundraising campaign yet for facilities: two new performing arts buildings, estimated to cost $49.8 million to construct and maintain through permanent endowments.The proposed facilities include a new Center for Theater and Dance that will be home to state-of-the-art performance venues—including Exeter’s first performance space designed specifically for dance—and the first dedicated Harkness classroom for the Theater and Dance Department, uniquely constructed to accommodate both discussion and performance. The Forrestal-Bowld Music Center will be expanded to include an addition with a recital hall that will serve as the department’s primary orchestral studio and home to most of its recitals and performances. The new building will also house a music laboratory and more teaching and rehearsal studios—all spaces designed to provide greater opportunity for students to test their capabilities and discover ones they didn’t know they had.
‘A Place that can be Mine’ Four years ago, Eleanor Katsman ’14 nearly dropped Exeter from her list after her admissions tour. “My tour guide didn’t know where [Fisher] Theater was, and she didn’t know where the stage was,” Katsman says, still mildly bewildered by it. “I was backstage before she got up the stairs.” Surveying the 225 seats, Katsman did quick math and assumed that with a school of about 1,000 students and a theater space she likened to “a warehouse,” Exeter’s performing arts program wasn’t up to snuff. Luckily, the Academy’s Courses of Instruction and a positive experience with her student host during Experience Exeter (a daylong event when newly admitted students shadow current students) prompted her to enroll.The production of Macbeth during her prep fall compelled her to stay. “It took my breath away,” she says. “The lights, the sets…. They built a trapdoor and an elevator, and it was just amazing!” Katsman’s direct involvement with the Theater and Dance Department began
Learn more about Exeterâ€™s Performing Arts Fundraising Campaign: www.exeter.edu/ performingarts.
CHERYL SENTER (2)
Inventing New Space Scott Hermenau ’15 was on the other end of Katsman’s spotlight last fall, starring as Dr. Victor Frankenstein. It was a consuming character to play, Hermenau says, starring in every scene but one. Like Katsman, he draws from within to “become” the characters he plays. “I try to find aspects of my personality that are small, but that I have in common with the character,” he says. “I eliminate parts of myself or draw on parts of myself [as needed].” He drew on his tendency to “hyperfocus” for this lead, because “Frankenstein is that to the extreme.” The lead role wasn’t, however, one of Hermenau’s favorites. The basis for the play was too much on the fringe of plausibility for his tastes. Scientists, after all, have attempted reanimation in the past. “I’m more interested in theater that completely transcends reality,” Hermenau says.The same might be said of his musical interests, which have long been a “hyperfocus” of his. When he picked up his father’s Gibson electric guitar as a child, Hermeneau had found his muse, something “to experiment [with] and make weird sounds and original noises.” He brought that inspiration to Exeter two (continued on page 110)
Scott Hermenau ’15 (above) played the title role in Frankenstein, opposite Matt Geary ’14 (left), as the creature.
that year when she was one of three preps chosen to be in the ensemble for Sweeney Todd, where she met many of her good friends. It has continued with leading roles in the musicals Beauty and the Beast (LeFou) and Little Women (Jo). Last fall, after having performed in six productions, Katsman decided to stay out of the spotlight. She chose, rather, to run it. “I had never been part of a tech team before,” she says, “and I loved it. I completely took to it.” The lightboard operator for Frankenstein (an adaptation of the Mary Shelley novel ripe with special effects), Katsman volunteered to go to the theater in the evenings to help hang lights from the catwalk. She was soon attending production meetings, “getting to see how they make the magic. …It’s all so clever.You feel so clever.” The experience, Katsman says, was transformative, and she continues to philosophize about the roles of “actor” and “techie”—how each demands something different from a person. “Being on stage, it has to be larger than life,” Katsman says. “I sort of get the satisfaction of ‘being’ because that’s what you’re supposed to do on stage. You’re basically supposed to be able to communicate your soul to the audience. “With tech,” she continues,“no one really notices you’re there, and you’re pulling the strings. …In that way they are very polar experiences.” A member of the ensemble in the upcoming production of the musical Working, Katsman, who is also taking a lighting class this term, says, “It’s going to be a new chapter.” On stage, she explains, “You really have to take part of yourself and decide how to apply it…when you are a teenager and [trying] to figure out who you are. [For instance,] how do I show Jo’s passion for her writing, if I have nothing that I’m passionate about?” As a techie, Katsman applied some of that same soul-searching: “Who am I without acting?”The answer surprised her. “I don’t know if I feel more mature,” she admits, “but I feel more adult. I feel more like there is something that I know what I’m doing.” Another surprise is how her opinion of Fisher Theater has softened over the years. “It’s grown on me as a place that can be mine,” which has less to do with the physical building, she explains, and more to do with the space the theater program has occupied within her Exeter experience.
One-quarter of the students participate in theater each year.
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Scholars in Residence PEA’s new fellowship program supports doctoral candidates on campus By Katherine Towler Photographs by Cheryl Senter
ne of the greatest benefits of an Exeter education in the 21st century is the cross section of society students encounter when they come to campus. Americans from all corners of the country and international students from many cultures become classmates, roommates and friends. This is an important piece of the learning experience for Exeter students. Of equal importance, however, is giving students a vision for how they can take what they have learned from each other and from their teachers out into the world. Providing practical models and connecting students to communities and concerns beyond campus extend the reach of the Harkness table. A new program, the Dissertation Year Fellowship, is designed to support these goals by funding two fellows to live and work at Exeter for a year. Doctoral candidates who have finished their coursework and are working on their dissertations receive a stipend and housing, with the intention they complete their thesis projects during the fellowship year. The program encourages applications from candidates underrepresented in higher education and those who might be considering a career in independent school teaching. The fellows have no formal duties on campus. Dena N. Simmons, one of the two inaugural fellows, is in her fifth year of a doctoral program in health education at Teachers College at Columbia University and is completing a dissertation on assessing teacher preparedness to identify and manage bullying in middle schools. Onaje X. Woodbine, the other fellowship recipient, is a Ph.D. student in the DiviOnaje Woodbine and Dena sion of Religious & Theological Studies at Boston UniSimmons are Exeter’s first versity. His dissertation, “Gods of the Asphalt: Street Dissertation Year Fellows. WINTER 2014
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“I’m able to focus on my dissertation without working several jobs. I’m really grateful for this opportunity and for being part of the Exeter community.” —Dena Simmons
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Basketball, Power, and Embodied Spirit,” brings together philosophy and religion to explore the religious dimensions of street basketball in inner-city neighborhoods in America. Exeter is providing support to these deserving scholars who might not otherwise have that support, but the fellows are giving back plenty in return. “They bring their expertise to campus and connect with departments and students, and share that expertise,” says Associate Dean of Faculty Rosanna Salcedo P’16, who helped develop the program. “It’s a win-win situation. Both of our fellows are passionate about education and working with young people.” The precedent for offering this sort of fellowship was set in 1968, with the establishment of the George Bennett Fellowship, celebrating its 45th anniversary this academic year (see sidebar). The success of the Bennett Fellowship, which brings promising authors who have not yet published a book to reside on campus for a year, prompted Exeter administrators to think about other ways the Academy could recognize those making significant contributions to their fields and, at the same time, enrich intellectual exchange on campus. A key provision of the Bennett Fellowship is the freedom it offers a writer to focus exclusively on his or her work for the year. Although fellows are welcome to participate in Academy life—and many have done so by visiting classes, meeting with students and even coaching—they have no official duties or requirements. Salcedo sees this as an important component of the Dissertation Year Fellowship as well. Allowing these new fellows to concentrate on their writing gives them what they need most: time free of other obligations. In turn, the presence of the Dissertation Year Fellows gives students access to working scholars and models for the life of the mind on campus. “We’re bringing individuals with advanced degrees to campus who can be role models for all our students; it’s particularly important for our students of color to have these role models on campus and to see what is possible in higher education,” Salcedo says.
Working for Social Change Simmons remembers the day her seventh-grade teacher took her aside and said, “Promise me that whatever you do with your life, you will spend at least one year teaching.” That encouragement, and the sacrifices her mother made to send her to parochial school, made education and making a difference the twin poles that would shape her future. Growing up in the Bronx, Simmons says that nothing about her “drug-infested, violent neighborhood” sent her the message that she mattered. But her single mother, an immigrant from Antigua, gave her that message in no uncertain terms by struggling to make sure Simmons and her two sisters got an education. As a result of her mother’s efforts, Simmons was able to attend Westover, a Connecticut independent boarding school for girls, and go on to complete her B.A. at Middlebury College and her master’s degree in childhood education at Pace University. As an education policy intern in the Office of the Mayor of New York City, a position she held after graduating from college, Simmons researched the status of teen mothers and the services for them, and the effectiveness of teen pregnancy-prevention programs. This work inspired her research as a J. William Fulbright Scholar in the Dominican Republic, where she looked at how schools and health agencies collaborate to prevent unwanted teen pregnancies. She surveyed more than 185 teen mothers, with a focus on the interaction between education, socioeconomic status and teen pregnancy. On her return to the United States, Simmons became a middle school teacher at the Urban Science Academy, a public school in the Bronx. She resumed her international work in Antigua the summer after her first year of teaching, working with the Directorate of Gender Affairs to help Dominican sex workers find educational and health resources to improve the quality of their lives. “The Dominican women I met had such interesting lives and stories that amplified how poverty often impacts the decisions one makes,” she recalls.
It was her experience teaching, however, that led Simmons to Teachers College and her dissertation topic: “Every day when I was teaching, there were students who would bring their lunches to my classroom and eat there with me because they didn’t feel safe in the cafeteria. There weren’t enough adults to control the chaos in the lunchroom. My classroom was a safe space. Bullying is so prevalent in our schools, especially in middle school.” Simmons came to see that the social and emotional components of education are just as important as covering the academic basics. If students don’t feel safe in school, they can’t engage in learning as they should. For her dissertation, she has surveyed teachers at schools in the Bronx and assessed the tools they need to address bullying. Simmons sees herself as a practitioner, not a researcher, and hopes her work will help teachers and schools find solutions to the bullying problem. “How do we make bullying prevention part of good teaching?” she asks. “It needs to be part of culture-building in schools.” In addition to her teaching and international work, Simmons has worked with the Corporation for National and Community Service (CNCS) in Washington, D.C. During her appointment as a Harry S.Truman Scholar, she conducted research on sustaining a mentoring program for children of prisoners sponsored by CNCS. She has also taught at a number of institutions while working on her doctorate, including Hunter College and the John Jay College of Criminal Justice. “My work is very diverse,” Simmons says of all she has done. “In academia, you’re supposed to focus on one subject. Diversity isn’t valued. But I’m motivated to do different things by the activist in me and wanting to work for social change. The common thread is the fight against social injustice.”
Studying Ritual Spaces Onaje Woodbine grew up in Roxbury, MA, where, he says, “School was far from people’s minds. School didn’t seem relevant to what we dealt with on a daily basis.” He took refuge from the drug dealers and gangs in his neighborhood on the basketball court. After attending Newton South High School, he completed a postgraduate year at The Lawrenceville School in New Jersey, where he played basketball. He went on to Yale and became the leading scorer on the Yale varsity team and made All-Ivy. During sophomore year, however, it became clear to him that he wanted to pursue another path. He wrote a letter to the student newspaper resigning from the team and explaining why. “I let that identity go and followed my heart,”Woodbine says of his decision to relinquish the goal of going on to play in the NBA. “I felt I had something more important to do. I realized I needed to explore more of who I am beyond basketball.” The Yale alumni magazine published Woodbine’s letter, where it came to the attention of a professor at Boston University who encouraged him to apply to BU’s Master of Theological Studies program.This,Woodbine says, opened his eyes to the possibility of graduate school. “My identity was so wrapped up in being a black male athlete. I think of it as a process of decolonization, throwing off the social roles given to me.” On his graduation from Yale in 2002, Woodbine enrolled in the School of Theology at BU, where he completed his master’s degrees in philosophy, theology and ethics. In 2004, as a Fulbright-Hays Scholar, he traveled to Nigeria to study Yoruba language and culture, and research the Yoruba’s traditional religious healing practices. He was fascinated by their ritual-based religion, rooted in movement, music and dance. This was not a system of belief but a lived and felt experience. The appreciation he gained for the importance of ritual stayed with him, and led to a paper on basketball and religious experience while he was enrolled at BU. “It was easy to make the connection between basketball and religious experience,” Woodbine says. “What I saw happening on the basketball court had some resemblance to what I saw happening in shamanic rituals in Africa. The basketball courts are ritual spaces. The game is a living scripture.” When he decided to continue at BU for his Ph.D., he made this connection the focus of his dissertation research. Woodbine spent four years doing an ethnographic study in Boston of street basketball. In the interviews he conducted and his observation of life on the courts, he found that for many of the players the courts functioned as they had for him, as the one place where the free expression of emotion was accepted. “Basketball was one of the few things young men could do in Roxbury where they felt safe enough to express emotion— grief, joy, or just happiness at being together,” he explains. “On the basketball court, these men could let out the trauma that happened to them on a daily basis. Sometimes they would go straight to the court after a shooting or other crisis.” Woodbine is currently working with a dance choreographer on a theater piece using the interviews he conducted in his research as the basis for monologues. Plans are under way to present the piece in New York and Boston on basketball courts using inner-city youths as actors. At BU, Woodbine has held several positions, including teaching assistant, teaching fellow and senior fellow. He has taught at BU’s Metropolitan College and Roxbury Community College as well. He has taught courses on a variety of topics in religious studies, including Buddhism, Islam, the psychology of religious experience, WINTER 2014
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and African religions. Once he has finished his dissertation and graduated, he hopes to teach at an independent school where he can combine his love of religious studies, sports and working with young people.
Sharing Knowledge with Others
“It’s been so difficult up to now to work and have a family while trying to write my dissertation. ... I’m getting a lot of great work done and great feedback from the faculty.” —Onaje Woodbine
Simmons would also like to teach and is applying for academic positions at the college level. Her dream is to open her own secondary school in the Bronx. “I have seen how education has opened up doors to more opportunities and to a better life,” she says. “Education has empowered my family and me, and because of that, I knew I wanted to dedicate my life to empowering others, especially those in marginalized communities like the one in which I was raised. Being an educator allows me to work from the heart, and that is the type of work that wakes me up each morning.” Woodbine and Simmons have been active at Exeter, reaching out to faculty and students. They have visited classes, met with students and helped chaperone trips. Simmons will be presenting a workshop on Martin Luther King Jr. Day. Both freely admit they are tempted to become involved in more on campus, but they know they need to stay focused on finishing their dissertations. One unintended outcome of the Bennett Fellowship has been fellows who have been hired to teach at Exeter. English Instructor Erica Plouffe Lazure, the Bennett Fellow in 2009–10, was intrigued when a position opened in the English Department. A former newspaper reporter, she was new to boarding school life and teaching, but after a year of part-time work, she was hired full time. She is now in her fourth year of teaching English, living in the dorm and advising the student newspaper, The Exonian. “I love being around young people,” Lazure says. “It’s the perfect job for me. That mother hen feeling, there’s nothing quite like it when you see your students succeed.” She notes that though she does not have much time for her creative work given the demands of teaching, the Academy has been very supportive of her creative writing, providing professional development funds for her to attend writing conferences. Salcedo says that although the Dissertation Year Fellowship may not directly create candidates for faculty positions, it’s a means for the Academy to broaden its reach in the search for qualified candidates and to encourage talented scholars completing advanced degrees to consider independent school teaching. “We realized that we need to get the word out there about Exeter to people outside the realm of boarding schools, who may not be familiar with them,” she says.“We want more people to learn that this is an option if you’re interested in teaching. It’s also a way of opening our network and expanding the connections between Exeter and a community of professionals of color.” Neither of this year’s Dissertation Year Fellows had funding from their universities for writing their dissertations, and both were putting together various teaching positions to support themselves. They express a great deal of gratitude for the gift of time this year represents. “I’m able to focus on my dissertation without working several jobs,” Simmons says. “I’m really grateful for this opportunity and for being part of the Exeter community.” For Woodbine, who has come to Exeter with his wife and 1-year-old son, the timing could not have been better. “It’s been so difficult up to now to work and have a family while trying to write my dissertation. I’m very thankful. I’m getting a lot of great work done and great feedback from the faculty.” “The more you know, the more you advocate for yourself and empower others,” Simmons says. This is a lesson she has tried to impart to her students in the past and hopes to impress on her future students. Through their example and presence on campus, it’s a lesson the inaugural Dissertation Year Fellows have demonstrated in powerful ways for the Exeter community. Katherine Towler is a former Bennett Fellow and co-editor, with former Bennett Fellow Ilya Kaminsky, of A God in the House: Poets Talk About Faith.
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The 45th Bennett Fellow: Putting Rhythm to His Writing
his year marks the 45th anniversary of the founding of the George Bennett Fellowship at Exeter. Named in memory of George Bennett ’23; P’60, a beloved English teacher who encouraged his students to explore their talents in writing, the fellowship supports a gifted writer at the beginning stages of his or her career who has not yet published a book. J. Camp Brown, this year’s Bennett Fellow, comes to Exeter from his native Arkansas after completing an MFA in Creative Writing at the University of Arkansas. A poet and bluegrass musician, Brown is completing a manuscript of poems inspired by the life of Bill Monroe, the father of bluegrass. The first part of the manuscript will be a reimagining of Monroe’s biography and the second an exploration of the birth of roots music, specifically the cultural appropriation of black American music. “I spent many years as a musician trying to be Bill Monroe,” Brown says. “At some point, I realized I could never quite be him, so I started writing about him instead.” Brown explains that he stumbled on bluegrass when he went into a music store in seventh grade and came out with a mandolin. He was jealous of all his friends who were in bands, but he wanted to play something other than the guitar. “I had to figure out what to do with this instrument. I didn’t realize it wasn’t going to make me popular with junior high bands. I fell into bluegrass that way. No other genre of music is so filled with myths. I became really fascinated with the storytelling connected to bluegrass.” Brown sees a natural connection between the music and his writing, and says that sound plays a big part in the composing of his poems. “In bluegrass, all the musicians play rhythm. It’s almost an athletic competition. The music careens. I want my poetry to have that sensation of almost falling apart and then racing to the end.” Brown is living on campus with his wife and two sons. No one in the family had visited New England before their arrival at Exeter, and they are enthusiastic about the warm welcome they have received and the beauty of the area. Brown is also amazed to have so much time to devote to his writing and an office space in the Academy Library’s Corliss Lamont Room, where the walls are covered with signed photographs of the Lamont Poets who have visited campus. “I feel like I’m at some sort of altar. Many of the poets whose portraits are on the wall have been very influential to me. It’s terrifying and inspiring.”
Recent publications by former Bennett Fellows include: 2014 The Whole Field Still Moving Inside It, by Molly Bashaw (2012-13), winner of the 2013 Washington Prize for Poetry
2013 Savage Tide, by Greg Barron (1980-81) A Childhood in the Milky Way: Becoming a Poet in Ohio, by David Brendan Hopes (1981-82) Paper Bullets, by Julie Kane (1975-76) The Night Guest: A Novel, by Fiona McFarlane (2008-09) Wild Thing in Our Known World, by Claudia Putnam ’81 (2011-12)
2012 Trans-Indigenous: Methodologies for Global Native Literary Studies, by Chadwick Allen (1990-91) Gun Dealers’ Daughter: A Novel, winner of the 2013 PEN Open Book Award, by Gina Apostol (1997-98) The Lost Daughter, by Lucy Ferriss (1979-80) A God in the House: Poets Talk About Faith, by coeditors Ilya Kaminsky (1999-2000) and Katherine Towler (1989-90) The Chaperone, by Laura Moriarty (2000-01) Earth Works: Selected Essays, by Scott Russell Sanders (1974-75) Monstress: Stories, by Lysley Tenorio (1998-99) Island Light, by Katherine Towler
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Ghana Exonians embark on PEAâ€™s first term-abroad program in Africa By Sarah Zobel
Last autumn, six Exonians mastered the art
of hand-washing their clothes and hanging them on a line to dry. They grew accustomed to cold showers at 5:30 a.m., to uniforms they were required to iron daily, to pre-breakfast room inspections, and meals composed largely of rice. Stepping away from the Harkness table, they also learned how to contribute to lecture-style classes in a respectful way without dominating discussions. And they discovered the ambiguity of what it means to be American when looking through a different cultural lens. They bartered for beads in a crowded marketplace and tried to decipher homework assignments. A world away from Exeter in many respects, the six Exonians who participated in the Academy’s inaugural term-abroad program in Ghana, Africa, would do it all again, without question.
“When you talk about a cultural experience, what better continent is there to visit?” says program participant Shaquille Brown ’14, of Kingston, Jamaica. Alongside her peers, Brown made new friends from across Africa; studied literature, history and geography from an African perspective; toured Ghana; and routinely took part in community service projects, all while negotiating her role as a global citizen. To leave campus, to reckon with one’s place in the world, and to be challenged by viewpoints and customs entirely foreign to your own is not a new concept or opportunity for Exeter students. A co-sponsor of the 50year-old School Year Abroad program, Exeter began its formal global outreach in 1967 by providing Exonians with the chance to study in Rennes, France. Since then, locations have multiplied, and now more than 50 Exonians leave campus each year to study in 11 countries and two domestic locations. It is a global curricular program unmatched by peer schools, and yet—until recently—it did not include one of the world’s largest and most diverse continents. “We needed a program in Africa to broaden the global outreach of our students by exposing them to the opportunities and challenges that continent presents in this era of globalization,” says Kwasi Boadi P’09, the
Seniors Katharine Callahan, Shaquille Brown, Ade Ajanaku,Tina Safford, Olamide Ogunbambo and Emily Palmer stand with their adviser, Joyce Dzide-Tei (middle).
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Michael Ridder ’58 Distinguished Professor in History, who initiated the Africa study-abroad effort. “Such exposure helps break down the cultural barriers and stereotypes that have been the lot of Africa for the last couple of centuries.” South Africa was an obvious location for an off-campus program, but Boadi says that would have meant “following the bandwagon.” At the same time, a number of other African countries continue to be volatile and unsafe. Boadi’s native country, Ghana, is relatively tranquil by comparison—even in the wake of divisive political outcomes and court rulings, social order remains intact.With the possibility of a program in mind, Boadi traveled to Ghana and Morocco in June 2011 on a faculty professional development trip with nine Exeter faculty members and 14 colleagues from the Punahou School in Hawaii. He was disheartened, however, to find that the public schools, which were quite solid in his youth, had since deteriorated (and were below Exeter’s high academic standards) as a result of the country’s post-independence economic crisis. The solution emerged in April 2012 when Boadi met Titi Ofei, the principal of Ghana’s SOS-Hermann Gmeiner International College, who was at Exeter for an annual meeting of the heads of schools from the world’s leading independent schools. SOS-HGIC—with about 350 students, half of whom are not native Ghanaians—is a college-preparatory school that combines a philosophy of internationalism with a commitment to “uplift Africa” through active community service. It’s part of the International Baccalaureate program, which guarantees strict academic standards and other requirements, with nearly 100-percent postgraduate enrollment in universities and colleges around the world. It is located in Tema, 20 minutes outside of the capital, Accra. Following his meeting with Ofei, Boadi traveled to Ghana to scout SOS-HGIC, and he was “blown away” by the school—its upscale campus and state-of-the-art facilities in particular. Returning to PEA, Boadi wrote a report to the faculty body that was approved, establishing the new ter mabroad program—the first U.S. exchange prog ram at SOSHGIC—for a small cohort of seniors, chosen based upon their application.
“Even waking up at 5:30 every morning was
wonderful —a real change of pace.”
The six pioneers viewed their decision to travel to Ghana —in the words of Tina Safford ’14, of Exeter, NH—as “the beginning of a whole new exploration,” both academically and culturally. “Even waking up at 5:30 every morning was wonderful—a real change of pace,” says Katharine Callahan ’14, of Kirkland, WA, laughing at the implausibility of her own comment. At SOS-HGIC, the days are full, starting with that early wake-up call. Before 6:10 a.m., all students are expected to iron their uniforms, make their beds, clean their closets, and get dressed and ready for classes. A faculty member then makes the rounds, and if the room is not up to snuff—if it’s not swept and tidy, the closets neatly organized—then the student is required to stay back and continue cleaning, risking arriving late to breakfast. All students live in open and airy “hostels” on a campus that’s a 15-minute walk from the aca36
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demic center.The Exonians stayed in hostels that consist of five small houses, with two rooms per house—others are more like large apartments. In pairs, they shared one of the two rooms, with the second occupied by a permanent student. “Living with students there was an important pull factor,” says Safford, and the others agreed that they made good friends in their hostels and classes, and at school-sponsored events that included movie nights, “dance battles,” game nights and talent shows. It was an opportunity to get to know kids from parts of Africa including Uganda, Swaziland and Ethiopia that aren’t always well represented on the PEA campus. “They’re so different,” says Olamide Ogunbambo ’14, of Valencia, CA, of the two schools. “The only things they have in common are that the kids are bright and motivated, and they’re both coed.” Although she has enjoyed her four years at PEA, Ogunbambo, who is half-Nigerian, had originally hoped to attend a secondary school outside the United States. With an interest in African history and modern African affairs, Ogunbambo recognized that the term abroad in Ghana would allow her a unique opportunity to study standard academic subjects “from an African perspective rather than the typical American perspective,” particularly English and history. Brown shared that outlook. In Ghana, she studied slavery for the third time in her academic career and discovered how many sides there can be to one story. Brown says she first learned about slavery in Jamaica, from the West Indian perspective—a victim’s narrative that she initially accepted as the only truth. At PEA in upper-year U.S. History, she examined the economic impact of slavery, which helped her to understand how it had become such an essential component of the American economy, particularly in the South. But in Ghana, Brown considered slavery from the perspective of the people who first lost their sons, daughters and other family members to the slave trade. She learned about the origins of enslavement, tribal rivalries and raids, and the negative role of the slave trade in West African economic development. “It hasn’t been repetitive,” says Brown. “It’s almost like a puzzle, and every country gave me a different set of pieces and clues. Each point of view builds off the others to present a complete picture of what slavery was like. As a history student and an AfroWest Indian, learning about the slave trade in such a holistic way is a quality experience.” Ogunbambo, Safford and Emily Palmer ’14, of Exeter, NH, studied Kiswahili, which Ogunbambo says she hopes to use in future travels to eastern Africa. Otherwise, academic subjects were largely familiar territory, with six classes in science, math, literature and history, each meeting for 80 minutes two to three times per week.Yet, says Director of Global Initiatives Eimer Page, it was not the same old thing. “It was an adjustment, but they entered into it with an amazing spirit,” Page says, noting that one of the six, Ade Ajanaku ’14, of Chicago, IL, even wanted to extend her stay through the winter term. “They gained an incredible perspective looking at some of these events from a different continent and a different teaching method.” They concur that they were acutely aware of the latter. “I appreciate Harkness a lot more,” says Callahan. She knows the lecture style at SOS-HGIC is what she is likely to experience in college, “so it’s good that we had the chance to get used to that, but it also made me appreciate Harkness. I knew that going back, I’d be excited to engage more in classroom conversation.” In October, Brown and Ogunbambo were invited to take part in a conference sponsored by the Universi-
(Left) Each hostel room was shared by two Exonians. (Top) The SOS-Hermann Gmeiner International College. (Bottom) Hostel room closets, which were inspected daily.
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ty of Ghana’s Institute of African Studies, “Revisiting the First International Congress of Africanists in a Globalised World.” The two wrote about their maternal great-great-grandmothers as part of SOS-HGIC’s presentation at the conference. “Being chosen to represent SOS-HGIC as a voice from the diaspora was a great honor,” says Brown. “It was a privilege to share with professors and intellectuals the few African traditions that have been passed down in my family. It also pushed me to really think and dig deep into my ancestry.” For her part, Ogunbambo was grateful for the opportunity to speak with professors at the institute about Pan-Africanism, a movement that began in Ghana and a topic in which she’s deeply interested. Community service is an important component in the SOS-HGIC curriculum. Its Creativity Action Service (CAS) programme, which Brown likens to PEA’s Exeter Social
Service Organization (ESSO), is required of all students, and gives them the opportunity to select from among a variety of projects, which they complete with a grade-level group. Safford’s group’s handsewn brooches and bows were sold to raise money for the community, while Palmer was named editor of the news section of the school’s paper. SOSHGIC students are expected to participate weekly, with supplemental large-scale monthly service trips; in the past, those have included bringing libraries to underserved communities, and building nursery and primary school blocks and latrines. In October, the CAS groups went to two area schools for the deaf, where they helped students practice English grammar patterns in sign language; in November, they all visited the SOS Children’s Village to help young students—the majority of whom are orphans or in foster care—with homework, play games, or do arts and crafts projects. The Exonians also took advantage of October’s midterm break, traveling as a group with other international students on a guided tour of Koforidua, Kumasi, and Cape Coast, before heading to Bonwire, a kente-weaving village; the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana; Kakum
“The identity of being an
American was the thing students questioned us most about.”
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National Park; and Elmina Castle, a trading outpost and the final stop for slaves before they boarded ships and left the country. During their term, they also enjoyed homestays with students during one SOS-HGIC exeat— a Saturday overnight away from school. Safford went home with a student who lives in Accra with her mother, a physician, while Palmer went home with the principal’s daughters. Palmer says the time in Ghana was “eye-opening on so many levels.” During a visit to the market in Accra, for example, Palmer encountered vendors who didn’t hesitate to grab her by the arm to interest her in their wares. And at a girls-only meeting about personal hygiene one evening at school, Palmer observed that students were “brutally honest” in their comments to each other, more so than she would have expected to see at home. While the society, values and role of religion in Ghana had an impact on the Exonians, in return, they tried to share a little about the United States at a couple of schoolwide events: The first was during orientation, where students were separated into groups by native country and asked to perform in a way that represented their culture. A few Ghanaian students were assigned to other countries’ groups, including the United States’, but Safford says no one chose it voluntarily. “So many people wanted to go to America,” she says, “but no one necessarily wanted to be American.” Palmer says the group took the time to discuss with their temporary fellow Americans the concept of the “melting pot,” the importance of the environmental and feminist movements in the United States, and the economic troubles of the last five years. Together they sang “This Land Is Your Land,” but coming on the heels of a presentation by the Jamaican students that mentioned factory pollution from U.S.-based countries, they felt somewhat self-conscious representing the U.S. “The biggest questions were,‘What is an American?’ and ‘What is America?’ ” says Safford of the three months in Ghana. “The identity of being an American was the thing students questioned us most about.” It played out in ways both big—the pollution accusation—and small. Palmer, who kept a blog during her stay, reports a conversation with a male student who asked if movie representations of American universities are accurate, noting that they always include “the football star and the cheerleaders.” (She assured him there’s more to it, a message that was reinforced by campus visits from students at U.S. colleges.) By National Day, a once-a-semester event when students make presentations to the school and cook food representative of their countries, they had some lighthearted answers. Whipping up a “meal” of banana bread, macaroni and cheese, and caramel popcorn, the six Exonians did a mash-up dance that included “Cotton Eye Joe” and “Y.M.C.A.” The students who took part in the inaugural program in Ghana admitted that they didn’t know much about the country and even less about the school before applying, but are looking forward to making a winter presentation to Exonians who are interested in next year’s program.The best candidates are those with some interest in Africa, social justice and travel, with a strong academic record. “This is not just going to Africa and doing community service,” says Boadi. “It’s a rigorous program.” More than anything, however, the term has given these students the chance to reflect, which can only come from stepping away from the familiar. “It was an eye-opening experience personally, in our own growth and maturity,” says Callahan of the time in Ghana, “but also in how we interact with others, and in how we see America and the rest of the world.” And as technology makes the world feel smaller, she adds, the importance of connecting and interacting with other cultures in programs such as this will only continue to grow.
(Left) A cluster of student hostels, located about a 15minute walk from the main campus. (Right) PEA Senior Tina Safford with students at a school for the deaf, where she helped them practice signing in English grammar patterns.
Sarah Zobel is a Vermont-based health and education writer.
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Big Red Roar E / A W E E K E N D ’ S S E N I O R S P I R I T S Q UA D By Famebridge Witherspoon
n the Friday night of November’s Exeter/Andover Weekend, with the bonfire blazing, Red Bandit Yeji Jung ’14 surveyed the mass of Exonians huddled on the edge of the softball field from her perch atop the Muppet-red shoulders of the lion rampant mascot, played by John Kennealy ’14. Jung, who had dreamed of being a Red Bandit since she was a prep, screamed at the crowd, “WHOSE HOUSE?” “OUR HOUSE!” they thundered back. “It was incredible,” she says of the experience, “having the entire crowd respond together—it really gave us a sense of camaraderie. I knew we were all proud members of Big Red Nation.” Nathaniel Moulton ’14 echoes her sentiment. He donned the lion suit on Saturday but said his emotions swelled days before the games. He, Kennealy and Alan Guo ’14 were the three Exonians selected by faculty members to take on the persona of the big cat during E/A Weekend, an honor reserved for seniors in good standing. Moulton, who did double duty as a Red Bandit when not acting as the lion, doesn’t consider himself a loud person, so by game day he was a little worried.When he got before the crowds, however, “loudness wasn’t an issue. I think I shouted louder than I’ve ever shouted before,” he says. During the traditional matchup of the sister schools’ teams, focus is most often on the athletes and their accomplishments. But part of what makes E/A Weekend so special is that Exeter’s tightknit community becomes a little tighter, as students, parents, alums and PEA employees unite under a single banner. This spirited camaraderie is thanks in part to the hard work of the students on the sidelines. Jung was one of five seniors, in addition to the lions, selected to comprise the troupe of Red Bandits,
(Left) Yeji Jung ’14 on the shoulders of John Kennealy ’14 during the Friday night bonfire before the E/A games. (Above) The Red Bandits pump up the crowd in Phelps Stadium during the football game.
Students have donned a lion mascot costume since at least the 1960s, maybe earlier. We are looking for your help to build the lion mascot’s history with anecdotes and pictures.Turn to Exoniana on page 16 for classic lion photos and to learn how you can help our archivist.
PHOTO ABOVE, DAMIAN STROHMEYER; OPPOSITE PAGE,CONNOR BLOOM ’15
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DAMIAN STROHMEYER (2)
(Top) Bandits and fans cheer on the varsity volleyball team. (Bottom) Bandit Niklas Bergill ’14 gets ready for the games.
who paint their faces and dress in Exeter’s colors from head to toe. “Besides being a senior, the only other requirement is unofficial and unspoken: have an insane amount of school spirit and don’t be afraid to get ridiculous showing it,” Jung explains. That can be more challenging for whoever is in the lion mask. Besides it sometimes being hot underneath all that faux fur, the mask provides limited lines of sight. “When I had the lion suit on, it was really hard to see anything,” Moulton says of his role during the E/A volleyball match. “I eventually maneuvered my head…so I could see people’s ankles. That made things kind of difficult, but I heard cheering after a point.” Moulton and the other lions agree that creature discomforts pale in comparison to spectators’ reactions. “It was definitely a thrilling experience,” says Guo. “Being a mascot was like being the face of the school. It was an impersonal experience in an extremely positive manner. People looked at me with respect and weren’t afraid to ask me for photos regardless of how well I knew them. It was as if the whole school united around me.” Moulton adds, “The best part for me was the group of people with whom I was able to spend my Saturday. They’re some of the happiest people I know on campus! There’s something really liberating about getting dressed up in school colors, painting your face, and yelling your lungs out at the football game while jumping…and running up and down the field.” As Big Red football advanced down the field, bandit Niklas Bergill ’14 grabbed the Exeter flag and ran along the sideline, screaming, “Go Big Red!” The ball was snapped, a smooth touchdown was made, and amid the crowd roar, Guo, as the lion, pumped his paws and gave out high-fives to everyone nearby. “To feel the whole audience respond to my shouts was extremely powerful and incredible,” Guo says. That game win would ultimately go to Andover, but the lions and the bandits had done their jobs to buoy the spirit of Big Red Nation.
E/A Weekend in Review H I G H L I G H T S O F A L L T H E M AT C H U P S By Mike Catano
KATE PETRILLO GRAY
xeter/Andover Weekend in November is always an opportunity for PEA’s fall athletes to showcase their hard work on the fields, court and in the pool, and this year was no different. The boys cross-country teams didn’t have the home-field advantage as they competed in Interschols at St. Paul’s School during E/A Weekend, but they didn’t need it. Both the varsity and junior varsity teams took first place. For the varsity team, it was the third consecutive year finishing the season as the New England champions. In the large field of runners, the Exeter team’s top three runners, Tyler Courville ’14, Sam Gray ’14 and Quincy Tichenor ’15, finished in impressive fashion—third, fifth and sixth respectively. The boys’ low point total of 44 was followed by Andover with 92 points and Choate with 112. PEA’s varsity water polo team hosted the Interschols matches. The four best teams competed and were seeded in the following order: Brunswick, Deerfield, Exeter and Andover. It was a day of upsets as Exeter avenged its previous one-goal overtime loss to Deerfield by a score of 87. Meanwhile, Andover washed over firstseed Brunswick with a score of 10-8, setting up the championship final between Exeter and Andover.The scored was tied at 4-4 by the end of the third quarter, but Andover pulled off another upset, beating Exeter 6-5. The varsity volleyball team took on Big Blue three times during the fall season, suffering a loss during the regular season but landing a decisive win (3-1) during E/A Weekend. Fans were treated to a tense battle between the two well-matched teams, evident from the games’ scores: 27-25, 25-21, 14-25, 25-21. “We started all of our seniors and they stepped up to the task,” says Coach Bruce Shang. “We won a very close first game, which was key to the match. Captain Weilin Chan—a four-year senior and three-year starter—played her best game of the season.” The team went on to beat Andover the following week during the Interschols quarterfinals before falling to first-seed Choate in the semifinals.
On the soccer field, the girls varsity team went up against a strong Andover squad. Scoring early, PEA relied on its defense to hold off Andover until late in the game when Andover tied the game for a final score of 1-1. Boys varsity scored two goals against an
Andover defense that had allowed only one team all season to score more than once, but Andover triumphed in the end (6-2). The varsity field hockey team took to the stadium before the football game for what became a close match against its rival. With both offenses fighting hard to score, it was ultimately Exeter’s defense that kept Andover from tying the game, helping to secure a 4-3 victory for Exeter. The Big Red football team went into E/A Weekend on the tail end of a strong season, with only one loss. It was a close game, but in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, Andover scored to put itself one point over Exeter (13-12 final). The undefeated Big Blue team had finally broken an impressive five-year win streak by PEA in the annual game.
Boys varsity crosscountry team captains Sam Gray ’14, T.J. Hodges ’14 and Tyler Courville ’14.
Watch video of the football game and see images from all the competitions at www.exeter.edu/ bulletinextras.
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F A, B: CONNOR BLOOM ’15; C: MIKE CATANO; ALL OTHERS: DAMIAN STROHMEYER
(A) Boys Cross-Country Record: 5-0 New England Champions
Head Coach: Nick Unger ’90 Assistant Coaches: Bill Jordan, Brandon Newbould Captains:Tyler Courville ’14, Sam Gray ’14,T.J. Hodges ’14 MVP:Tyler Courville (B) Girls Cross-Country Record: 1-4
Head Coach: Gwyn Coogan ’83 Assistant Coaches: Dale Braile, Kitty Fair Captains: Anika Ayyar ’14, Valerie Bright ’14 MVP: Christine Hu ’17
(C) Field Hockey Record: 9-7-1
Head Coach: Samantha Carr Assistant Coaches: Liz Hurley, Melissa Pacific Captains: Sammy Attar ’14, Helen Hultin ’14, Hannah Wellington ’14 MVP: Hannah Wellington (D) Football Record: 6-2
Head Coach: Rob Morris Assistant Coaches: Rory Early, Dick Eustis ’57, Gary Guptill, Dave Hudson,Tim Morris Captains: David Ayscue ’14, Matthew Greaves ’14, Joey Hebl ’14, Auggy Roberts ’14 MVPs: Auggy Roberts, Vincent Sansone ’14
(E) Boys Soccer Record: 9-7-2
Head Coach: A.J. Cosgrove Assistant Coach: John Hutchins Captains: Stewart Scott ’14, Henry Stevens ’14 MVP: Henry Stevens (F) Girls Soccer Record: 5-11-2
Head Coach: Hilary Coder Assistant Coach: Alexandra Ellis ’09 Captain: Susannah Gray ’14 MVPs: Susannah Gray, Danielle Sim ’14 (G) Volleyball Record: 13-7 Qualified for semifinals at Interschols
Head Coach: Bruce Shang Assistant Coach: Scott Saltman Captains:Weilin Chan ’14, Kaelina Lombardo ’14 MVPs:Weilin Chan, Brooke Detwiler ’15 (H) Water Polo Record: 12-6 2nd place at Interschols
Head Coach: Don Mills Assistant Coach: Andrew McTammany ’04 Captains: JB Baker ’14, Nick du Pont ’14, Joe Shepley ’14 MVP: Nick du Pont
H WINTER 2014
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P E T E R WO L F ’ 5 3
A New Orleans Native Son Shares His Story
here is an ancient proverb that says, “A man should live if only to satisfy his curiosity.” By this and many other measures, Peter M. Wolf ’53 has enjoyed a wildly successful life. A noted architectural historian, authority on urban affairs, author and investment adviser,Wolf has embraced curiosity throughout his life, following his interests and instincts wherever they’ve led, as we learn in My New Orleans: Gone Away, his recently published memoir. “As things have occurred in my life that were particularly fascinating, I’ve had the courage to pursue them,” Wolf observes. His life has also been informed by his origins in a prosperous business family from New Orleans—circumstances that allowed him access to an array of experiences in a city renowned for its heady mix of culture and architecture. Wolf ’s response to these myriad influences? A willingness to conjoin courage with curiosity that has remained a leitmotif across the years, carrying Wolf through degrees at Yale University (B.A.), Tulane University (M.A.) and New York University (Ph.D.), as well as a Fulbright Fellowship in Paris and a multitude of honors and awards. Wolf ’s arrival at Phillips Exeter provides an early example of this ethos. “The transition to Exeter from Country Day in New Orleans—where I had a girlfriend, was president of my class, and was the champion tennis player in the city—was very tough,” Wolf recalls, “but I adapted…and came away with great affection for the school.” During his time at Exeter, the slight young Southerner indulged in typical local pursuits, learning to ice skate—“I’d never seen hard ice before arriving in New Hampshire,” Wolf recalls with a chuckle—and wrestle. “Wrestling was incredible; it taught me to use my body in a more comprehensive way.” Wolf was also challenged academically. “Darcy Curwen helped me learn how to structure English and appreciate it,” Wolf notes. “I also learned French, much more profoundly than I had in my studies at Country Day. Mr. Curwen was very demanding and very precise, but he gave us the feeling that we wanted to do better than we thought we could do—in fact, he required it.” The author of six previous books about architecture and urbanism, Wolf says of his latest work,“I never set out to write a memoir, or even a publishable manuscript. I set out to write family reflections about my own life—things that I’d experienced, things that I’d enjoyed— as a record for my children.” But everything changed after Wolf shared his writings with editor and New York Times book critic Christopher Lehmann-Haupt. “Christopher read what I had written,” Wolf recalls, “and said, ‘Peter, this is a book! It’s a book about America and about a generation, and I want to be your editor.’ That was the beginning of me seeing what I was doing as something different, something more than I had envisioned.” Unsettled by the prospect of sharing so many intimate details with the public at large, Wolf consulted his dear friend, writer and literary critic William Zinsser. “Bill told me to, ‘Tell the truth and tell what’s individual to your life, or it’s not worth doing.’ ” The resulting book is remarkably vivid and often painfully candid. And much to Wolf ’s delight, responses to his work have been encouraging in both quantity and tenor, including major reviews in the Wall Street Journal and Washington Post. A friend of Wolf ’s who sits on the federal bench recently sent his compliments, writing, “Being in the judge business for over 40 years, I’ve come to have great respect (and appreciation) for those who not only tell it as it is, but who have the grace and ability to write it all down with indisputable facts and figures.You have certainly accomplished that in your painstaking accuracy and straightforward reporting in My New Orleans, Gone Away.” “I thought I was writing a book,” Wolf concludes, “but I’ve also manufactured a mirror for so many across the country. Lehmann-Haupt saw what I could not.” —Lori Ferguson 48
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LY D I A S M I T H ’ 8 2
The Journey Behind Filming a Pilgrimage
ike many people, Lydia Smith ’82 decided to walk the ancient, 500-mile pilgrimage path of the Camino de Santiago in northern Spain at a natural break in her life: In 2008, in between jobs, relationships and homes, she was looking for a bit of breathing space. Unlike most, though, Smith had close ties to the country stemming from her School Year Abroad in Barcelona, ties that had deepened as she returned to live and work there multiple times. She also had a career as a filmmaker, having cut her camera-wielding teeth on commercials and music videos (with names like Beyoncé, Britney Spears and Andre Agassi), as well as working on such Hollywood fodder as Ed Wood, Matilda and Dangerous Minds. While she never planned to make a Camino-focused film, Smith’s walking experience fired her documentarian imagination. “I took something like 3,000 pictures,” says Smith. “It was an extraordinary amount and I spent hours culling them into a slideshow for friends. An inherent part of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages was reporting back to your community, to share what you’d learned and what you went through—telling your story. For me, doing my slideshow wasn’t enough; I realized I was meant to do more.” It was a terrifying moment, Smith recalls, because she knew it would be hard to raise the necessary funds. And, she admits, “I was scared that I couldn’t do the Camino justice.” In Walking the Camino, Smith and her team have captured the spiritual- andgood-vibration sensation of the Camino experience via six very different people whose stories encompass tears, frustrations, joy and, yes, even blossoming romance. Scenic views filled with fields of lavender, medieval villages, wandering cows and babbling brooks rub digital shoulders with the nitty-gritty of blistered feet, the constant washing of sweaty socks and noisy hostels. In one scene, someone cheerfully demonstrates what it’s like to attempt sleep with uneven staccato beats of snores bursting from various corners of a dorm room; in another cheeky aside, as one pilgrim slows her pace, the camera cuts to a glistening snail, inching along in the sun. While contextualizing the pilgrimage and its storied heritage, the film wears its historical mantle lightly, infusing it with a 21st-century approach: People walk the Camino in search of everything from a bit of quiet time, to an unusual travel experience, to more in-depth soul-searching. “It was either this,” says Portuguese Tómas, “or kitesurfing.” Sam, half-Brazilian, half-British and a living definition of chutzpah, who wanted to get away from the paralyzing mess of her life—no job, no relationship, clinical depression—offers simply, “I walk to create some sort of motion.” With the film, Smith has set something extraordinary in motion herself. Filming, editing and postproduction aside, she’s been making her way through the hair-raising world of fundraising, beating a tireless path to film festivals, searching for distribution, running extended showings in the U.S. and showcasing the movie abroad. One of the elements that’s kept her going in both practical and creative terms has been the unstinting support she’s received from Exonians: Former classmates have donated time, expertise and money, funding nearly half of the film’s postproduction budget. Their generous gestures don’t just tie into the giving spirit of the Camino, but strike a personal chord with Smith. Her older brother died when she was 10 and, soon after, she left for Exeter—“I didn’t want to stay and be the girl whose brother died”—partly in search of a new family. She found that family at Exeter and in Barcelona, and those ties have been integral to the making of her movie. The award-winning Camino (www.caminodocumentary.org) has been getting excellent—and sold-out—reception wherever it goes, and, until an official distributor steps in, Smith is determined to keep Walking the Camino in circulation with her own grassroots efforts. “My goal for spring is to show it in a lot of theaters in a lot of different cities,” she says. “I just don’t know how that’s going to happen yet.” Still, as Smith’s film shows, there’s always a way. —Daneet Steffens ’82 WINTER 2014
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A L E X R A P PA P O RT ’ 9 8
Education with a Hip-Hop Beat
he beat sounds like it could be the background to a Jay-Z or Kanye track. Then the rapping begins; rhythmic verses that you can’t help but nod along to. But the song doesn’t exactly cover the topics you’d hear in most hip-hop songs. “The Parrot” is simply about a parrot. After all, the point of the lyrics is to improve the vocabulary of fourth-graders. “The Parrot” is one of the many songs produced by Flocabulary, a Brooklyn-based company co-founded by Alex Rappaport ’98. Described by Rappaport as “the 21st-century ‘Schoolhouse Rock,’ ” Flocabulary provides students and teachers with access to an online library of songs, videos and activities that covers everything from language arts to math and science. When it comes to the benefits of supplementing the traditional K-12 education, Rappaport says that his company’s hip-hop tracks offer a perfect outside-thebox solution. “First and foremost, it’s about student engagement,” says Rappaport. “A motivated student is a more successful student, and kids will be more invested in the learning process if they’re authentically engaged. The second piece of the equation is enabling effective learning. We’re presenting content in a way that leads to long-term retention.” It took a touch of serendipity for Flocabulary, which is currently used by hundreds of thousands of teachers, to come to life. Back in 2003, Rappaport, who graduated from Tufts with a B.A. in music, was living in San Francisco, entrenched in the music world. He paid his bills by doing everything from producing independent artists to working on cell phone ringtones. But everything changed once he met Blake Harrison. Since his high school days, Harrison had this idea of augmenting SAT prep by using rap songs instead of simple flash cards to help with vocabulary. He had shared this concept with others but never found a partner to take it to the next level. Rappaport, however, was sold. Soon the pair began creating music together in Rappaport’s studio. Six months later, they landed a contract with SparkNotes.com to produce two SAT vocabulary rap tracks. And in December 2004, Flocabulary was born. The company currently boasts a diverse staff, ranging from rappers out of the New York City scene to educational consultants and tech gurus. It’s undeniable that the impact of their work cuts deep. Between 2008 and 2009, former International Reading Association president Dr. Roger Farr conducted an independent study on one of the company’s vocabulary programs called The Word Up Project. Farr’s research concluded that the program led to elevated scores on state reading tests and improved vocabulary usage. Beyond that, Flocabulary is committed to keeping costs low and delivering its program to the students and teachers who need it most.The majority of Flocabulary’s subscribers are low-income schools and districts. Last year, Rappaport created another way to reach young minds. He founded an initiative called Big Idea Week, which enabled fifth-graders at a school in Brooklyn’s Dumbo neighborhood to meet with the founders of innovative businesses, visit those businesses on site, and ultimately create a pitch for a product that could solve a specific world problem. “Big Idea Week was designed to expose students to the principles of entrepreneurship,” Rappaport says, adding that the initiative will be expanding to additional schools in the coming year. “It encourages students to look at the world around them and not only see problems but also identify opportunities. It is a way for the students to think critically and creatively.” These days, Rappaport says that Flocabulary’s music reaches 5 million students a week. For the Philadelphia native, there’s something inimitable about having the chance to impact so many people—including teachers. “The most rewarding aspect is hearing directly from students and teachers,” Rappaport says. “We get thousands of emails and tweets. There are teachers who say, ‘You’ve reignited my passion for teaching,’ and students who’ll say, ‘I never understood how cool ancient history really was.’ We’re helping them make connections.This is just the tip of the iceberg.” —Andrew Clark 50
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A Laboratory for Life (continued from page 27) years ago as a new lower but says school by then had become more of a “side note,” second to his guitar and theater work. He adds, “I was not into this place at all because I couldn’t play guitar, and the Music Department wasn’t getting me the way I thought they would.” Theater helped. His lead role as Laurie in Little Women brought him “back to doing something I was comfortable with.” But it was Music Instructor Jon Sakata who helped transform Hermenau’s Exeter experience. Described as “probably the coolest guy around here,” by Hermenau, Sakata teaches music composition, as well as piano and harpsichord. It was in a music composition class, and later in one-on-one lessons with Sakata, where Hermenau finally found the creative outlet he needed to continue his musical experimentation with sound, using his guitar, computer, voice and whatever else offers inspiration. With plans to go to Berklee and study music so that he can later teach schoolchildren and compose film scores, Hermenau has worked with Sakata on a number of “atypical” and “experimental” compositions. One of his more recent works was a piece for Frankenstein’s introduction and inter mission, featur ing altered violin, piano and voice. Currently a co-head of Exeteras, PEA’s male a capella group, and of the Democracy of Sound (Exeter) Club, formerly the Composers Club, Hermenau credits Sakata’s class for being the foundation for the “creative realm” of students he now connects with artistically and draws inspiration from, like DOS co-founder Sean Lee ’14. Their collective brainchild may be the most original and eclectic musical gathering to occur on PEA’s campus. On the afternoon of April 27, DOS, with support from Student Activities, will host the Academy’s first-ever outdoor Soundfest—an event, Hermenau and Lee hope, that will bring together faculty, students and staff on stage to perform and experiment with every possible musical genre and style, from homemade instruments and laptop performances to poetic recitations, folk, funk, punk and underground noise art. This “sonic collaboration” is designed to 110
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not only support Principal Hassan’s efforts to provide opportunities for community connections but also answer a question at the core of the DOS Club’s mission: “How might we simultaneously expand both the notions of sonic creativity and ensemble to new and more open dimensions, understandings, richness [and] possibility?” Like his character, Victor Frankenstein, Hermenau is choosing to ignore the boundaries of tradition—of normal or expected mores—to see what’s possible. And he’s found the space to ask questions without knowing the answers, or knowing even what he is capable of creating.
The Collective Experience A contemporary of Hermenau’s, Rowan Rainwalker ’15 plays viola in Exeter’s Symphonia, Symphony Orchestra and Chamber Orchestra. He began playing the violin, an instrument he begged his mother to get him when he was 4 years old, after watching his older brother play. His first seat in a youth orchestra came when he was 8, and he’s done ensemble work ever since. “I prefer ensemble perfor mance,” Rainwalker says, adding, “I plan on playing in orchestras as long as I can.” For him, it is being part of something larger—one cog working fluidly with others to produce a singular piece of music—that is most appealing. “Being at Exeter,” he continues, “I get multiple, different sounds, even on the same day.” In Chamber Orchestra rehearsal it may be a light Baroque sound. Later, in Symphony Orchestra, he says, Mahler may dominate. “That’s what draws me in; that’s what I’ll continue to do,” even though he expects he will, at most, minor in music during college. “With the expertise many students have here…that mindset I think is really valuable to be around…just to be surrounded by a community of really wonderful people.” That community becomes more intimate, more empathetic, with chamber music when the number of instrumentalists is but a fraction of a full symphonic orchestra. That is the space Rainwalker enjoys inhabiting most.With a full orchestra, he explains, “you only have to interact with the conductor and your section. It’s completely different than playing in a chamber group, where you have to completely mesh your consciousness with others….” There is no conductor to provide direction and tempo; only a group of
musicians on different instruments learning how to create beautiful music together. Rainwalker appreciates this immensely because, he says, not a lot of schools have the student interest and depth of talent to consistently support a chamber music program. Rainwalker has also found moments of connection with audience members through Chamber Orchestra—a tangible exchange of melody and emotion. During the Chamber Orchestra and Concert Choir’s biennial concert tour to Boston and New York City last spring, the students were practicing in the Church of Saint Mary the Virgin in Times Square when they noticed a small audience had formed. “While we were rehearsing, we attracted several people in from the street,” he says. “They proceeded to come back for the concert that night, and they brought several [friends].” It was a moving example for Rainwalker—the orchestra’s collective ability to draw people in, to compel them to return. For Hannah MacKay, choreography provided her with a new perspective on her audience. She says, “I have performed variations for ballet at dance festivals, and I have done what any other young dancer has done, which is make up dances in their rooms. But those were all merely for fun and my own pleasure.With this piece, I am less concerned with how it will make me feel but rather the effect it will have on the audience members.” Director of Dance Allison Duke believes the stage is “a place that can be seen as a laboratory for life, where [students] can experiment and fail, learn from that, try something new and get back up again. In their performances, you really only see success, but behind the scenes there is a lot of trial and error, as well as collaboration.” When that opportunity for experimentation and self-discovery in the performing arts occurs alongside equally transformative educational experiences in the humanities and sciences, students leave Exeter with the confidence and capacity to not only engage with their peers in meaningful ways but to be imaginative, thoughtful leaders in the civic sphere. It is Exeter’s imperative to ensure that every student has the opportunity, the space to play; to try, fail and try again; and to better draw their own spaces within which to live.
Finis (continued from page 112) topics that constantly came up on their LCD TV, like Edward Snowden. She took me to eat a dinner of self-serve málà hot pot. I nearly cr ied—the spicy taste reminding me of the hot pot my mother loved to cook. My host brother threw his arm over my shoulder whenever we were walking, past cranes that stood sentry over building skeletons, past bustling streets, during waits for the bus and then on the bus, and on the last night, through the Big Wild Goose Pagoda Square full of lights and music during the nightly fountain show. The last meal I ate in Xi’an was a dish piled high with dumplings made by my host mom. “These are for good luck,” she said. “It’s a family tradition. We always eat these before a journey.” The SLE group took the China Railway High-speed train from Xi’an to Changsha. Whenever I looked out the window, I was shocked by the natural beauty that rushed by me, especially as we neared Changsha: fields of lush, verdant green stretching out from all sides, brown houses occasionally popping out, some made of brick, some of mud, some crumbling—all with the curved roofs of classical Chinese architecture. Family graves accompanying the houses a little distance away gleamed white. At Changsha, I met my host mother, who lived in an apartment with her mother, her 7-year-old son, his pet turtle who dwelled in a pink, knee-high bucket, and occasionally her husband when he had the time to leave work in another city. She taught at Hunan International Economics University and was also eager to hear about the U.S. education system. After a dinner of dumpling soup, my host mother typed at her laptop, taking an online course to pursue a U.S. higher degree in education, as her son’s declarations that he would grow up to be a chemist mingled with her commands to go take a shower and be less noisy. I met students at the university, busy with preparations for finals or part-time jobs to pay for tuition...but nevertheless willing and eager to spend time with us. I also met two alumni from PEA while in Changsha, one by prior arrangement for dinner (Cherry Zhang ’13) and the other completely by surprise: Steven Lin ’87,
president and CEO, North Asia Operations, of Laureate International Universities, which helped organize the exchange in Changsha. As I talked to Cherry and Steven, I realized that not only did they add much to my picture of U.S.-China relations but they also made me realize the extent of PEA’s alumni community. Over cups of jasmine-infused milk tea, or as we strolled through streets, I would talk with the college students. They told me that since the gaokao, or college entrance examination, determines which public university you attend, generally speaking private universities like Hunan International Economics University are considered less prestigious than public universities in China, though HIE-U is still one of the better regarded private colleges. They taught me which items were bargains and which were not. Even now, months later, we remain in contact with each other.They send me photos of a baby brother or of their family. They tell me about their parents and how they are working hard to pay for tuition, or how they’ve just finished finals and are boarding the train back home. Before I knew it, my SLE cohorts and I found ourselves in Beijing, back to where we had begun our expedition. My host brother took me out on the subway to eat huge 48-inch diameter pizzas, over which he and a friend confessed to having girlfriends they kept secret from their parents. We discussed more serious matters, and my host brother had a surprisingly bleak view of Beijing, labeling the government “corrupt” and “wasteful” on projects that pleased the masses and thus stagnated political change. He predicted a fall in the Chinese “shadow economy” that higher-ups such as his father, working in a state-owned enterprise, already knew was coming. One of the last things that we did was visit the Great Wall of China with our host siblings. The sheer scale of the Great Wall astounded me. It is divided by watchtowers, and each time our group of Chinese and American high school students finished clambering to the next watchtower, we took a break to view the whole valley spread below us.We encouraged each other to keep on moving forward, climbing up and down the uneven stone steps under the heat of the sun. A breeze blew past us, and as I stood there
with my new friends, panting and trying to catch my breath, the wall seemed to stretch out toward infinity on either side of us. There were other moments on this trip that I will never forget. There were the trips to an acupuncture clinic and to the Terracota Warriors. Our too-brief visit to the Dandelion Middle School in Beijing, which teaches children of migrant families who otherwise cannot access public education with the hukou system. The metal toboggan slide down from the Great Wall...and the modified line dance with middle-aged women during their daily, early-morning exercise to American pop music. Events like the televised panels that we had in each city, where we talked with other high school students on a range of issues, and the three forbidden T’s: Tibet, Tiananmen and Taiwan. We went to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and engaged with an official there about U.S.-China relations and topics like limitations on free speech. And on the last night, we went to a screening of Woody Goldberg’s film about an exchange between the U.S. Army Band and the People’s Liberation Army’s Military Band of China. The journey was jam-packed with these moments...moments that shaped my complex understanding of China.The trip put me right into the daily lives of Chinese people, from passersby to parents to peers, and I was able to experience everything from informal debates to classes to karaoke with them. I would often think back to Exeter, to the Harkness skills honed around oval tables that enabled me to listen and to speak and to get the most out of the little time we had with our Chinese counterparts. It was tr uly an exchange—of g ifts, ideas, thoughts and friendship. I was struck by how similar we all are, regardless of where we call home, something that I had begun to understand in my four years at PEA. There are still parts of China that I’m not familiar with or problems that China faces on which I have an unclear stance. I’m eager to continue my exploration of China in college and refine my positions. But on top of this nebulous cloud lies the clear, bright notes of incredibly concrete experiences—the sights, the tastes, the smells, the sounds—of Chinese and Americans, of humans, interacting with one another. WINTER 2014
The Exeter Bulletin
Finis Origine Pendet
Merging Worlds By Albert Chu ’13
The Exeter Bulletin
W INTER 2014
China, mainly through exchange programs and conferences that unite leaders to discuss issues. Since 1966, it has played an important role in U.S.-China relations, such as the 1972 “Ping Pong Diplomacy” exchange. The SLE program is a two-week study trip, where students visit Xi’an, Changsha and Beijing—the capitals of the Shaanxi province, Hunan province and the People’s Republic of China. Students stay with host families, often with high school students at top-performing high schools who also served as hosts to their respective cities. When SLE’s five-pound briefing book arrived in the mail, filled with articles and opeds on China on a wide range of topics, I was a bit overwhelmed. In June, I met the 11 other scholars selected. For two days, we listened to lectures by experts on China at the Mortara Center for International Studies in Washington, D.C.The briefings covered different political, social and economic issues I wasn’t aware of, from the Chinese emphasis on stability and guanxi (“personal relationships”) to migrant workers and the hukou (“household registration”) system, which restricts citizens’ rights by place of birth and denies citizens who move out of their designated area public education, health care and housing benefits. A completely new China was being unveiled, one I hoped to catch a glimpse of during my two-week stay. And wow, did I see so much during that time. That sleepless night on the “soft sleeper” train from Beijing to Xi’an, where restless with anticipation, I watched shadows flit atop luggage packed on the floor and across the sleeping passengers in the double bunk opposite from me. The initial awkwardness after meeting my host family melted as we sat through dinner, talked and made jokes with one another. And that first night in Xi’an, looking out the window, I saw the host high school and a glittering metropolis in the distance. My host mother took me on walks and told me about her job teaching at Xi’an Jiaotong University, about her husband, a fluid dynamics engineer, who had left after dinner for a business trip. She’d ask me about the U.S. edu(continued on page 111) cation system or
chool was almost over. It was my last year at PEA. I’d be starting college at Stanford University in the fall, on the opposite coast, and already I was feeling a sense of nostalgia. There would be that extra-second pause as I left a building or classroom, that slow, unhurried stroll between classes to look around me, to remember my four years at PEA. College applications were done, senioritis was setting in, and I’d just been notified that I was among the 141 high school seniors named 2013 Presidential Scholars when an email arrived regarding the National Committee on U.S.-China Relations’ Student Leader Exchange program, which would be sending 12 Presidential Scholars to China. Seeing the words “application process” and “interview,” I nearly decided not to apply. But this was China. China. The very word seemed to conjure not only images of mist-wreathed mountains or serpentine dragons curling in the sky, but of a brash new emerging superpower with human rights issues. In prep spring, I had taken a class called China: The Last Dynasty with Ms. [Amy] Schwartz, which had provided me with my first in-depth look at the country, focusing specifically on the Qing Dynasty and the Opium War. It sparked an interest in me to learn more about China and my heritage. I was suddenly interested in listening to my grandparents’ stories about their childhoods in China and how they later escaped in fisherman boats to Taiwan. As I learned more, I became more connected to the country, but I had never truly seen China, lived there and breathed in the humid air. My exposure to Chinese culture was limited to my family, the local Chinese community, friends from China studying at PEA, and of course, Chinese food. I wanted to know firsthand what China is, to experience the essence of the country for myself. So, I replied to that email, and last summer I became part of the Student Leader Exchange program. The National Committee on U.S.China Relations is an NGO that encourages constructive relations between the U.S. and