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The Far Hills Graduate.. an empathetic leader and sets a courageous example. He acts thoughtfully and inspires positivity and action from his peers. He understands the impact of his voice and stands fearless before his classmates in presentation and performance. Her dynamic thinking is hardwired. As an academic explorer, she asks thoughtful questions and seeks to understand the world that is and the world that could be. She embodies a love of learning and engages with her coursework, teachers, and classmates with energy and curiosity.

As a responsible citizen, he has a sense of duty to his family, school, and community. He is fulfilled by serving others and seeks out opportunities to do so. He is a force for good in the world. The Far Hills student is prepared to tackle any challenge. She is a resilient innovator. Her instincts are to question, to tinker, and to collaborate with peers. She considers different viewpoints and confidently offers her own ideas. She is tenacious in pursuit of a solution and never gives up.

The Far Hills journey is distinguished by ninety years of traditions, enriched opportunities, and valuable relationships that bind our community. Students’ experience here as scholars, artists, athletes, friends, and mentors prepares them to unlock their true potential and exceed their aspirations as their journey continues. Adventures Await. GO FAR.

ON OUR COVER: On June 7, 2019, Head of School Tom Woelper conferred diplomas upon Grade 8 students, including Paige Brucker. This was the 89th Commencement Ceremony at FH. During the 2019–20 school year, FH will celebrate 90 years of academic excellence.


HEADLINES “Our students graduate with a driving curiosity to try new things, the resilience to rebound from setbacks, and the altruism to make a difference in our world.” —Tom Woelper, Head of School

On the morning of June 7, families and friends of the Class of 2019, faculty, staff, alumni and special guests gathered in the Performing Arts Center for the 89th Far Hills Commencement Ceremony, replete with all the customary grandeur, and tailored with our own time-honored traditions and music.

As the Class of '19 crossed over the white-picket bridge for the last time, I felt a rush of emotion myself. Sad? No. But surely wistful. What I felt most strongly, though, was excited because I knew we would see them again here, soon, as alumni. I knew this because I know Far Hills is forever—of this I am certain.

The FH commencement ceremony, by our own design, is as much an opportunity for our faculty and staff to express to our eighth-grade students how much we love them, how much we truly understand them, and how very proud we are of them as it is for the students’ families and friends.

Just a week before, I had the opportunity to spend time with the Class of '84 at their 35th Reunion (see page 19). As I watched the former classmates greet each other with bear hugs and handshakes, I was struck by the deep friendships that still bonds them, motivating some to travel from as far away as California and Florida for this occasion.

When the first regal strains of “Pomp and Circumstance” signaled the procession of our pride and joy—our graduates, a hush fell over the room. This particular piece of music is very powerful because it embodies nostalgia and sparks powerful memories that stream together with real-time emotions often resulting in a few tears.

The group toured the expanded school building to see “new” significant large-scale spaces—the Performing Arts Center, the Athletic Center and the Upper School wing, for example, were built after 1984.

of teaching and learning at FH has also evolved, the end result remains the same. As our alumni eagerly embraced a design thinking challenge in the Brain Space, they were the picture of FH academic explorers. To be sure, their sense of adventure and good humor certainly had not waned as they slid down banisters and raced to the Ropes Course. When they burst into “Hey, Look Me Over,” from the Lower School Closing Ceremony, it felt like time stood still. Much has changed since the Class of 1984 crossed the white-picket bridge, but the essence of Far Hills, the very heart of Far Hills, lives within them still. Far Hills is truly forever. The Class of 2019 like the others before them, will remain champions for the school, remain true to the green and white, and will always be Falcons at heart. I know we will see them soon. Far Hills is forever. Of this I am certain.

It was evident that while the nature PAGES | GRADUATION | 1


This year, a record-breaking 95% of our graduates were admitted to their first choice of secondary school. The Class of 2019 will matriculate to the following schools this fall:

Academy of St. Elizabeth

Morristown-Beard School

Avon Old Farms School

Newark Academy

Berkshire School

Oak Knoll School of the Holy Child

Blair Academy

Oratory Preparatory School

Delbarton School

Phillips Academy Andover

Gill St. Bernard’s School

Phillips Exeter Academy

The Hotchkiss School

Rutgers Preparatory School

Immaculata High School

St. Andrew’s School

Kent Place School

St. Paul’s School

The Lawrenceville School

West Morris Central High School

Middlesex School

West Morris Mendham High School





Celebrating the Far Hills journey and the beginning of the next chapter with grandeur and glee


























ABOUT PAGES: Executive Editor & Design | Stacy Ducharme PAGES is published bianually for the alumni, parents and friends of Far Hills. Please direct comments or questions to To contribute notices of weddings, births, and personal and professional accomplishments to Alumni News, please send an email to Many thanks to Bedrosian Photography and Laura Clare Events.



“The journey of a thousand miles begins with one single step.” —Lao Tzu

Aakriti Caprihan,

Student Government President

Think back to your first steps at Far Hills. Mine were filled with warmth and happiness, the confidence in knowing that this is where I belong. I remember Mrs. Cirelli’s smile as she opened the door to the car, the handshake with Mrs. Frustaci, and the warm hug from Mrs. Wang as I stepped into 2nd grade. I remember the bell-ringing ceremony and the tote bag assembly, watching the kindergarteners and my brother with mild jealousy, wishing to partake in these traditions. I also remember seeing the 8th graders and envisioning myself as one of them in the years to come; it seemed so far away then. But here we are at the end of this journey and the beginning of the next, a moment to pause and a moment to celebrate. It is because of our past, these moments and everything that Far Hills has embodied in us, that we are who we are today. I am surrounded by a community that is warm, safe, supportive, inclusive, kind and one that thrives on each other’s successes. There are countless moments that I can recite, whether it was one of you removing the tick from my forehead, wiping my tears while I tried to mask them, giving me that much-needed hug, or inviting me back to previous classes to see just how far I’ve come. And I know that every one of my classmates can find such moments within their journey. As Dalai Lama said, “When educating the minds of our youth we must not forget to educate their hearts.” So we thank you, parents and Far Hills faculty for educating our hearts. 4 | FAR HILLS MAGAZINE | GO FAR

Over the 13,000 hours that I have spent here, yes I did calculate, we have forged lifelong friendships. In thinking about what defines us as a grade, I found that there was no one thing. We are unique, special, and we may come from a mile down the road or 7,000 miles across an ocean. We have all come together for 1 year or 11 years and together we have found the courage and support needed to take risks. Together we set goals and then reach far beyond. From the numerous bus rides, shared sickness after Adirondacks, and giving saran wrap a whole new meaning, we will forever cherish these memories made. And tomorrow brings a new journey. We may no longer eat together in the Cafe, proudly wear our green and white jerseys, or sit on the steps of the commons, but I do know that our friendships will keep us connected as we travel down different paths. So that when we do meet, we will have amazing stories to share. Today is a moment to take pride in how far we have come and have faith in just how far we will go. So to this crazy grade, the grade of firsts, to each individual, think back to the place you call home and the people who you call family and take your next step. Class of 2019, we have made it!

Thank you!




MIMI McDONNELL AWARD Marissa Mikosh and Evan Samaro





Mimi McDonnell was one of 9 siblings who attended FH. Sadly, Mimi passed away when she was a teenager. The Mimi McDonnell Award was presented by Diane Frustaci, Mimi’s mother Peggy McDonnell and Mimi’s best friend Patti Bellis this year. PAGES | GRADUATION | 5


Timothy James Andersen

Daniel Brennan

Porter Brown




Google “What’s that graduation song?” and “Pomp and Circumstance” will appear at the top of your screen. Here’s a brief history of how the song came to rule this rite: Sir Edwin Elgar composed a series of five military marches in 1901 that included the piece we now know as “Pomp and Circumstance.” When played at the coronation of King Edward VII, the regal tune was an immediate “hit” on the ceremonial charts across Great Britain.

The rise to graduation music immortality in the States began in 1905 in New Haven, CT. Sir Elgar was invited to Yale University to receive an honorary doctorate degree in music. As the graduates left the stage, “Pomp and Circumstance” was played in his honor—as the recessional. So striking was the melody, Yale claimed it for their processional the next year followed by Princeton University, University of Chicago, Columbia University, and the rest is history.

John Paul “JP” Augustine Cafasso

Aakriti Kumar Caprihan

Paige Elizabeth Brucker

The profound impact of music during a FH student’s experience is undeniable. As the ceremony began, Pomp and Circumstance struck the perfect balance of grandeur and nostalgia—a truly captivating opening. Later, the students chose to perform several special songs that held significant meaning for them. The program’s tone shifted from grandeur to glee as their loved ones heard them “sing so proud and strong” one final time.

Mary Victoria Carter


Ian Channer

Ryan Patrick DeKuyper

Luke James Donovan

Samar Gaglani

Chandler Beth Glickman

Benjamin Macario Felix Hartmann

Hollis John Humphries

Rohini Hope Kandasamy

Jackson Schofield Ketterson

Matthew Kolakowski

Christopher “Chris” Lee

Willamina Merton PAGES | GRADUATION | 7


Marissa Anne Mikosh

Torata “Tora” Mishima

Emma Grace O’Hare

Emily Reece Pardilla

Claire Elise Phillips

Anthony Robert Reale

Skylar Elizabeth Reale

Taylor Paige Repollet

Robert Russo

Madeleine “Maddie” Grace Rygh

Vikram Varma Samanthapudi

Evan James Samaro


Emma Michael Sameth

Megan Shi

Shelton Tyler Shieh

Sam Logan Sommer

Samantha Takacs

Gracie Turnbull

William Daniel Turner

Evan Alexander Wortman

Eric Zhang

Far Hills Alma Mater We stand together in these happy halls, We sing so proud and strong. Our education has instilled in us, a love of learning lifelong. Words and music by Amy Burns, Callie Shafto, and Maedean Kramer.

All hail Far Hills! Dear Green and White, We lift our hearts to you. We will cherish all our mem’ries true At Far Hills Country Day School. PAGES | GRADUATION | 9

Jumping This just got real. By mid-spring, members of the Class of '19 had accepted an invitation to enroll at the secondary school that was perfectly suited to them. The preparations for the graduation ceremony and all of the customary events surrounding it had begun. The FH staff, Upper School faculty, and advisors spent countless hours planning the graduation ceremony. The students themselves also had input, including the choice of a class song to perform during the program.



“Don’t Stop Believin′” by Journey The Class of '19 chose to sing “Don’t Stop Believin′” by Journey as part of this year’s graduation ceremony. The popular power ballad conveyed the perfect message for this pivotal moment in the lives of our resilient graduates.


During the eighth-graders’ performance, many of their friends and family members in the audience were moved to sing along sharing the words of encouragement that inspired the original songwriters. Johnathan Cain, keyboardist for Journey said “Don’t Stop Believin′” were the words his father used to encourage him to not give up on his dream of becoming a successful musician during a tough time when he thought about following an easier path. An encore performance. The class also chose to sing “We are the Young” by Mary Donnelly during the ceremony.

“We are the Young” is traditionally sung at the closing exercises for the Lower School. As a tribute to the early part of their FH journey, the students believed it was most appropriate to include the song that held a special place in their hearts as well as the hearts of their parents. They performed it one last time as an ensemble on June 7.

“We are the children, we hold tomorrow in our hands. We are the promise, the future waits at our command. Teach us well, teach us how to care Give us love, love that we can share.”

for Joy The FH community always brings the joy. Our Commencement Ceremony, like the Holiday Concert, draws Falcons back to campus to share in the joy and reconnect with their Far Hills family. Former Student Government President Jack Reale '18 took part in this year’s ceremony by conferring the alumni pins on the graduates and congratulating them on their new status as FH alumni. Far Hills is forever. Left to right: Matthew Turner '17, Scott Takacs '17, and Jake Brennan '17

Jack Reale '18 and Linda Houghland, PE Teacher and Department Manager




Current Director of Upper School and Assistant Head of School Georgia Zaiser will now serve as the full-time Assistant Head of School.


In April, current parent Marie Dye joined Director of Teaching and Learning Jennifer Phillips and faculty members Dan Kramer, and Christina Sopko at the annual NJAIS conference, “Equity and Inclusion in Our Schools” this year. This conference serves to unite independent school community members in order to collaborate and inspire each other to build and support inclusive educational communities.


Grade 4 Teacher Peter McBride is also now serving as our Mind, Brain, & Education Coordinator. He attended a three-day seminar at the Center for Transformative Teaching & Learning in Maryland. Entitled “Principles and Strategies of Neuroeducation” and run by the All Kinds of Minds Institute, this learning experience develops educators’ understanding of applied neuroscience and builds their expertise on how students learn deeper and better.


Grade 2 Teacher Kathy Rubin earned certification in Mindful Educator Essentials over the winter. By implementing these mindful practices, educators report strong improvements in students’ emotional regulation, focus, and engagement. Grade 5 Teacher Lindsey Heit took Yale’s most popular course offering and is very happy about it. The Science of Well-Being promises to bring more happiness in one’s daily life. Coursework included strategies to identify authentic strengths and negative perceptions of one’s self that could hold one back. She believes her training will enable her to build positivity in her students.


In April, Amy Burns was interviewed on the podcast MusicFirst: Profiles of Teachers Teaching with Music Technology by host Dr. Jim Frankel. The following month, two of Amy’s students in Grade 2 won a music technology award (see page 14.)


Ed Thompson, former Director of Enrollment and Placement, is now the new Director of the Upper School. Most fittingly, the Class of ΄19 voted to dedicate the yearbook to him this spring.

In June, 29 faculty and staff members participated in a 30-hour intensive Orton-Gillingham (O-G) training program and became certified O-G Classroom Educators by the Academy of Orton-Gillingham Practitioners and Educators. The Orton-Gillingham approach is a direct, multi-sensory, and structured method to teach literacy skills when reading, writing, spelling, and vocabulary development do not come easily to students.


Spanish Teacher Señora Rosario Bernabeu reviews text books for other Spanish language educators in her spare time.


SALUTES Far Hills Country Day School for Outstanding Support of Music Education Enriching the Lives of Children and Advancing Student Achievement


Far Hills was recognized by the National Association of Music Merchants for Outstanding Support of Music Education. This is the third year in a row that our music program has, under the leadership of Performing Arts Department Manager Amy Burns, won this award.


I HOPE YOU DANCE A touching farewell to Diane Frustaci, retiring Director of the Lower School

Lower School students, faculty and staff were moved to tears as they celebrated Diane Frustaci during a Lower School community meeting. Here, Diane hugs Trent “T” Miller, '24.

It was September 1994—a new third grade teacher enters Far Hills Country Day School for the first time. Little does she, or her class of 15 students (5 girls and 10 boys!), know that she will remain at Far Hills for nearly three decades and create a lasting impact. That teacher was beloved Director of the Lower School, Diane Frustaci. Mrs. Frustaci’s career at Far Hills took her from the classroom to her position as Director of the Lower School, a role she’s held for the past 17 years. Her remarkable legacy was celebrated on May 22–23 as she was fêted by the students, colleagues, and families she has touched over the course of her career. Our Lower School students held a special community meeting in the Piazza to honor their leader, each grade level presenting her with a special gift that represented their class and yearly course of study. A necklace of handmade clay beads from the Prekindergartners and Mrs. Frustaci’s Adventure Around America, a book

outlining all of the places she should visit during her retirement from third grade were among these treasures. Together, all of the Lower School students then serenaded Mrs. Frustaci with her favorite song, “I Hope You Dance” by Lee Ann Womack. The following evening, the Piazza was once again filled with music, memories, laughter, and love, as over 180 members of our extended community gathered for an evening reception in Mrs. Frustaci’s honor. Current and past parents, grandparents, Board members, alumni, and current, former and professional colleagues joined with Diane’s family for a light-hearted reception and remarks from those who have had the

“I hope you never fear those mountains in the distance, never settle for the path of least resistance...”

privilege of knowing her well. Each spoke from their own perspective about the unwavering support Diane has provided to teachers and families throughout the years and, most importantly, her unconditional love for each and every child that has come through the Lower School. As the evening came to an end, Diane’s husband, Pat, twirled her across the Piazza floor, to “I Hope You Dance,” as the crowd, including their son Michael ’00, daughter-inlaw Evelina and granddaughter Emmi Mae, watched. It was the perfect send-off for an educator and administrator who has long stood at the very heart of Far Hills. The Weil girls sang “For Good” from Wicked, the lyrics capturing the moment beautifully, “...Because I knew you, I have been changed for good.” We certainly have been changed for the better because we have known you, Diane. We wish you many adventures in your retirement! Far Hills is forever indeed. We’ll see you again soon! PAGES | GRADUATION | 13



Fifth-grader Hannah Castiglione won first place in the 2019 Letters About Literature State Competition presented by the Library of Congress. Nate Lawton was acknowledged with distinguished honors. Teachers: Gemma Keremedjiev (L), Natalie Young (R).

FIELD DAY 2019 The Green Team won this year’s Field Day Contests


Grade 2 students Elliot Kalafer and Graydon Dziadzio received the TI:ME (Technology in Music Education) Blue Ribbon for their remix of “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star” composed with Noteflight, a music writing app, and Soundtrap, a cloudbased sound studio.

Amidst the countdown to graduation, Grade 8 students William Turner (L) and Chris Lee (R) competed in’s first annual worldwide math championship for middle school students. The organization hosted the event in San Jose, CA in April.



The Essex Horse Trials and Car Show Sponsorship Trifecta Helping out and horsing around. Students, faculty, and staff pitched in with the school’s sponsorship of the June event in three ways. The students decorated a horse jump with painted horseshoes wishing “Good Luck” to the Class of 19, they helped with Car Show preparations (above) and the Technology and Marketing Departments hosted a green screen photo booth. The Essex Horse Trials and Car Show benefits LifeCamp.

A WHALE of an Adventure!

In May, FH Grade 5 students took their first Adventure Trip, a 3-day whale-watching expedition to Cape Cod. On the first day, they toured the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Later, they climbed the iconic jetty, explored beaches and then set off to observe the magnificent mammals in their habitat.



June was a busy month for Far Hills Alumni. We welcomed back Falcons from four different decades!

Good News! Please share your good news with us, so we can share with our community.

• • • • The Class of 1969 celebrated their 50th reunion over an eventfilled weekend in early June. Front row, left to right: Chip Robison, Graham Hone, Day Rust Bank Second row: Lisa Smith Lawrence (in pink), Maria Farnstrom DeLalla (in blue), Lucy Dillon Rastetler (in blue scarf) Third row: Leslie Hyde, Sally Lee Swift (in grey), Megan McDonnell Kyle (in pink) Back row: Dean Durling, Geoff Hirsh, Edwin Warfield, Roger Mellick and Anne Dillon Gallagher.

The Class of 2015 returned to FH one last time before heading off to college. Fourteen alumni spent an evening reminiscing with former teachers and relishing in each others company.

Birth Announcements Wedding Announcements Professional Advancements Falcon Friendship Photos

And, to honor our 90th Anniversary, we’d love to receive your favorite memories and photos from your journey at FH. Please send your good news and memories to

GO FAR This fall, the FH Class of 2015 will matriculate to the following colleges and universities as their journey continues.

Front row: Brendan Bucceri, Jake Hall, Sterling Shieh, Ross Klipp-Kaplan, Matt Innamarato Back row: Meredith O’Neill, Kade Iervolino, Jillian Brennan, Burton Fricke, Kaity Bednarski, Michael Vessa, Alison Wolf, Kevin Sansone, Emily Walker 16 | FAR HILLS MAGAZINE | GO FAR

Babson College

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Bowdoin College

Rutgers University

Bucknell University

Saint Michael’s College

Carnegie Mellon University

Smith College

College of Charleston

Tulane University

Elon University

University of Denver

Lafayette College

University of Miami

Muhlenberg College

University of South Carolina

Northeastern University

Ursinus College

Notre Dame University

Vanderbilt University

Penn State University

Wake Forest University

Quinnipiac University



The Class of '84 enjoyed time together both on and off campus at a marathon reunion that took them from the classrooms to the Ropes Course and beyond!

The Class of 1984 returned to celebrate their 35th reunion that same weekend. Alumni came as far as California to stroll down memory lane—a slide down a banister or two may have happened! After exploring the halls and participating in MBE (mind, brain, and education) activities in our new Brain

Space, alumni geared up and headed outside to enjoy the beautiful day and belay on our Ropes Course. Their reunion, spearheaded by Chris Allen '84 and Dana Cataldi '84, culminated with a party that included many FH alumni from the past three decades at LifeCamp in Pottersville.

Left to right: Charlie Beyer, Paul Ferrara, John Taggart, Alix Diana, Dana Cataldi, Vinny Dotoli, Elizabeth Powell, Toby Hartz, Chris Allen, Peter von Dyck Kneeling in front: Laddy Merck '64

The Class of 1984 collaborated to find creative solutions to a design thinking challenge in the Brain Space. Left to right: Lindsay Hartz, Laddy Merck '64, Toby Hartz '84.


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NEXT UP Mark your calendars for these exciting alumni events at Far Hills Country Day School! 3rd Annual Far Hills Trick or Trot and Family Color Run Sunday, October 27, 2019 | Campus Trails You read it here first! Our fun run is becoming colorful this year! Join us at this family-friendly 5K trail race and color run over the stunning grounds of the FH campus. Our rolling hills are easily accessible to jogging strollers, walkers and runners alike! Post-race, families are invited to join us for a carnival full of games and prizes. Watch your inbox for more details and to register as a 5K runner and/or a color run team. Reunion for Classes of 2016, '17, '18 and '19 Tuesday, November 26, 2019 | Athletic Center We can’t think of a better way to start the Thanksgiving holiday! Young alumni are invited back for dinner, games and plenty of time to reconnect with former classmates and teachers. Invitations will be mailed to your home in October.

Far Hills is Forever. Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Instagram to keep upto-date on our plans to celebrate our this momentous occasion with special events throughout the year!

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Far Hills Alumni Magazine | Graduation 2019  

Read about the pomp and circumstance at this year's 89th commencement ceremony and catch up on Far Hills alumni news. Far Hills is a co-educ...

Far Hills Alumni Magazine | Graduation 2019  

Read about the pomp and circumstance at this year's 89th commencement ceremony and catch up on Far Hills alumni news. Far Hills is a co-educ...

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