pu bl i c at i on of ge orge scho o l, ne w tow n, pennsy lvania
perspe c t i v e s
Inside the Writerâ€™s Mind
fr o m b i g box to d e s i g n that r o c ks
g e o r g e s c h o o l c h o r ale s h i n e s at car n e g i e hall
Fitness and Athletics Center
A Joyful Performance
Come back to campus May 9-11, 2014
alu m n i we e ke n d
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Vol. 86 | No. 02 | APRIL 2014
PHOTOS: Inside Front Cover: Independence Chairholder Terry Culleton, Laramore Chairholder Molly Stephenson, and Price Chairholder Meredith Alford ’01 gathered on Main South Porch. Thanks to generous donors who supported these funds, George School is able to honor outstanding teachers and provide competitive salaries and enrichment opportunities for faculty. Front Cover: Rosie Wood ’13 reviewed her writing assignment for English class. (Photos by Bruce Weller)
01 PERSPECTIVES Inside the Writer’s Mind
22 FEATURES 22 From Big Box to Design that Rocks
02 Breaking into Television
26 George School Voices Share Stories
04 Three Writers Watch, Listen, and Publish
28 Stickney Endowed Scholarship Fund Helps Students Thrive
06 Five Habits from a Pro
30 George School Chorale Shines at Carnegie Hall
08 Emerging Writers Find Their Voices 11 A Rich Tradition of Writing 13 IB English: Writer’s Focus 16 eQuiz Highlights
40 CAMPUS NEWS & NOTES
36 Alumni Weekend
• Schedule of Events • Alumni Award Recipient Lael Brainard ’79 • Distinguished Service Award Recipient John Streetz
42 ALUMNI SHOW US 48 ALUMNI TELL US 63 IN MEMORIAM
HEAD OF SCHOOL NANCY STARMER poses for a photo
in Mollie Dodd Anderson Library. The library is filled during evening study times and throughout the day students can be found reading and writing for assignments and pleasure.
EDITED BY LAURA LAVALLEE
Inside the Writer’s Mind Writing has always been a core part of George School’s curriculum. Today our students continue to be exposed to, and to practice, both critical and creative writing throughout their four years of English study. All of our history students write research papers, students write journals in religion classes, lab reports in science, and essays for college admission. George School sophomores are using writing to make connections between two distinct subject areas for the new TAD (Thinking Across Disciplines) project, and all of our more than one hundred IB Diploma candidates will complete a 4,000 word extended essay exploring a topic of their choice to be submitted to a grading panel in Wales that will assess their writing against that of students worldwide. It isn’t surprising, then, that among George School’s graduates are poets, textbook writers, journalists, script writers, children’s book authors, novelists, speech and song writers, nonfiction authors, and increasing numbers of blog, Twitter, and web-based writers. Among numerous other distinctions, George School graduates have earned Pulitzer Prizes, won Scholastic Art and Writing awards, and been published in some of the world’s most prestigious journals.
In this “Perspectives” section we will explore the writing that just a few of our graduates, students, and teachers are doing across a variety of genres. You’ll learn about screenwriting and the sometimes difficult Hollywood machine, explore the fascinating work of a poet, a children’s book author, and a songwriter, and read a brief history of faculty authors at George School. You’ll read about a member of the Class of 2014 and her Editor’s Choice Award winning poem, Citrus, learn Emmy Laybourne’s five essential tips for writing, and finally read all about the IB English: Writer’s Focus course and explore the work our students are doing in that popular class. As Henry James, an American-born British writer, once said “it takes a great deal of history to produce a little literature.” The history of writing at George School is rich—and we invite you to explore it with us in this edition of the Georgian.
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Perspectives SAM LAYBOURNE ’93, on the set of The Michael J. Fox Show, shares lessons learned in the television industry. Here Sam is pictured with Christopher Lloyd from Back to the Future, a guest star in an upcoming episode.
Breaking into Television SAM LAYBOU RN E ’93 TALKS ABOUT G EORG E SCHOOL, TH E TE LEVISION I N DUSTRY, AN D TH E M ICHAE L J. FOX SHOW.
BY LAURA LAVALLEE “Do stuff.” That’s the maxim Sam Laybourne ’93 offers to those trying to break into the television industry. “There is so much learning you can do without being a part of the bigger Hollywood machine,” said Sam. “Study [television] shows, learn how to analyze scripts, and learn about structure—those are all things you can do on your own to just learn. Shoot a web series, short film, or pilot and stop spending all your time looking for employment. The best way to figure this industry out is to just start doing stuff.” “Doing stuff” is how Sam got his start in the industry nearly twelve years ago. After earning a master’s in English from Columbia University and spending a few years teaching at the Beacon School in New York City, he set off on a whirlwind adventure that would eventually find him back in New York as executive producer and co-creator of The Michael J. Fox Show. “I wanted to try my hand at writing so I moved out to Los Angeles. I wrote my own material, worked on improv teams, and did just about anything that allowed me to work in the creative space.”
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With the help of a few friends, Sam worked his way through the Hollywood ranks. He ghost wrote for R.L. Stine, wrote an episode of Scout’s Safari for NBC, and was eventually hired by Will Gluck as a writer’s assistant for the show Luis on Fox—a great opportunity for someone who was just starting out. Despite these opportunities it was still several years before he finally had the chance to move from an auxiliary position to a staff position. “I put in my time and learned from all the great writers I was working with and through that I got friendly with another writer, Tom Saunders,” said Sam. “He recommended me for a job working on Arrested Development and that was my first big break.” After a stint on Arrested Development, Sam spent some time bouncing around between shows, a common occurrence for writers early in their careers. Eventually, he landed a job writing and producing for Cougar Town where he spent three years honing his skills. When Will Gluck reached out to Sam to find out if he was interested in partnering to create The Michael J. Fox Show, everything fell into place. The pair spent time developing the show, meeting with Michael, and pitching the show to networks.
MICHAEL J. FOX, playing Mike Henry, and Anne Heche, playing
SAM LAYBOURNE ’93 reviews the most recent filming
Susan Rodriguez-Jones, headed to Sochi to cover the Winter Olympics in Season 1, Episode 15.
of a scene on set.
Luck and talent were on their side. When Sam and Will pitched NBC, the network responded with an amazing opportunity—they ordered twenty-two episodes of the show outright. Sam had no choice but to hit the ground running—something his experience at George School had prepared him for. “George School teaches you and encourages you to focus on as many aspects of your creative and social lives as you can,” he said. “You’re really empowered to try your hand at everything—sports, creative writing, musical theater, chorus. It’s like cross-training for leadership—you have the opportunity to do all these creative things but you also have to work on your ability to express yourself and be a leader.” This cross-training in leadership and time management was instrumental in helping Sam develop skills that have come in handy this year as executive producer of The Michael J. Fox Show. “Early on George School gave me a lot of help in thinking about leadership and how to take that on as a point of pride,” he shared. “I see that in the work I’m doing now and the way that I treat the people that I employ, with care and kindness.” Among those he employs is a group of writers that Sam worked with to develop each episode of the show.
“We rely on group writing almost exclusively,” he said. “Typically, you come up with a germ of an idea as a group and you outline a show. Then one writer will spend a week or so developing that idea and writing a first draft.” Once the first draft is written the script will come back to the group where they will work on clarifying ideas and punching up jokes before it’s sent to the studio and the network for comments and approval. “Working with Michael has been amazing; he’s every bit as generous, thoughtful, fun, creative, and fearless as billed. It is inspiring to work with him.” Though the show has struggled during its first season, Sam is hopeful that they will gain traction with the remaining seven episodes of the show— some of the best episodes of the season in his opinion. “Our ratings haven’t been that high—we’re on a tough night of television with a lot of competition. It takes a while to get used to the tone of a show but we’ve really heard rave reviews lately and it feels like we’ve finally figured this thing out,” said Sam. “I’m really hopeful that we’ll get to keep doing it. There’s a lot of positive energy on the set, so we’ll see.”
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GEORGE SCHOOL ALUMNI Ann Herbert Scott ’44, Jaki Vincent Shelton Green ’71, and Dennis Tafoya ’77 share their insights about the craft of writing.
Three Writers Watch, Listen, and Publish BY ANDREA LEHMAN You couldn’t pick three more disparate forms of writing than children’s books, crime fiction, and poetry, varying in length, topic, and audience. And yet, three George School alumni, authors all, have more in common than teenage years spent in Newtown. “I always wrote,” says Ann Herbert Scott ’44, recalling her first published poem in an elementary school letterpress booklet. “And I always had a sense of wanting to write.” As a senior at George School, Ann was the editor of the George School News. “We taught ourselves,” she says. “I learned how to write editorials in the bathroom after lights out.” Ann remembers Stephen Sondheim ’46, “one very bright sophomore, who brightened our George School News with crossword puzzles about the life of the school” and her column of comments and verse inspired by the The New Yorker “Talk of the Town” that she continued in the weekly paper at the University of Pennsylvania. After a bachelor’s in English from the University of Pennsylvania and a master’s in social ethics from Yale, Ann worked in low-income housing projects in New Haven. There she discovered that “there were virtually no books for children of color. So I, and other people, began thinking of books that might be of interest to those children and to the children of the world.”
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After marrying a theoretical physicist, William Scott, and moving to Nevada, Ann found time to write. Her first book was Big Cowboy Western, “because fifty years ago that was what a small boy with a cowboy hat in a project had called himself.” Many other books followed, most of them coming “from listening to children” and “all about children and emotions and adventure.” On Mother’s Lap, about making room for a new baby, was inspired by her son and illustrated with an Inuit boy. A girl she encountered in a post office, whose voice got softer and softer as no one responded to her greeting of “Hi,” led to the appropriately titled Hi, another book with a multiracial cast. Brave as a Mountain Lion tells of a Native American boy afraid to perform in a spelling bee. Ann considers the stories presents from the children who inspired them. “They come from the voice of a child, and I’ve had the good luck to hear the child and to have an excellent artist to illustrate them.” Along the way she also found time to help her husband with his scholarly writings and to pen a history of the US census. “I get interested in things,” describes Ann, who now lives at Friends House, a retirement community north of San Francisco. To hear her tell it, her greatest skill as a writer is the ability to watch and listen. Poet Jaki Vincent Shelton Green ’71 also draws inspiration from the voices of those around her. Growing up in the rural South, she based much of her early writing on “the civil rights movement,
being in a rural community, and witnessing the beautiful ordinariness of everyday life.” But all was not beautiful in her Southern life. After protesting racism in her high school, Jaki was expelled and, upon her return, shunned by both whites and blacks. Reading and writing became her solace. “Books have been my friends since I was a very young child,” she recalls. “Books and my writing sustained me before I went to George School.” At the urging of a family friend, Jaki came to George School for her junior and senior years. It was an extraordinary change. “It didn’t matter that I was different. I was honored for being different. I was encouraged to question, to look at things that were not just, and to articulate displeasure with things that affected disenfranchised people. I had never been in classes that had let me speak openly and write openly about what I wanted to write about.” Armed with “a dozen or so journals,” she wrote voraciously. “I would go to the pond or down to the fields and write for hours. George School was a very interesting cultural shock for me, but it was there that I really discovered my writing voice.” Jaki worked in community economic development for more than twenty years, all the while writing and drawing on the people she encountered. “I’m sitting there working with this woman, listening to her story, and she’s a poem,” says Jaki, whose poetry covers a range of topics—the South, family, nature, identity, political consciousness—all with a “decidedly female voice.” She is the author of several books, including Dead on Arrival, Masks, and Conjure Blues, and her work has appeared in numerous publications, including online. Jaki also creates and facilitates cultural programs. “I’ve been very intentional about how writing and the arts empower and transform lives,” she explains. She got her first taste at George School through a community service project tutoring students in Trenton. Over forty years later she still works with people in “marginalized communities who are also writing and have powerful stories to tell.” These include the incarcerated, the homeless, the mentally ill, survivors, and the elderly as well as teachers, hospice care providers, and substance abuse counselors. It’s a desire that “comes from family and community and was nurtured at George School.” Today Jaki has retired from her full-time job so she can spend more time on her writing and artistic residencies. She is also coping with an aggressive inflammatory rheumatoid arthritis that has severely limited the use of her hands—but
not her voice or her spirit. In October she will be inducted into the North Carolina Literary Hall of Fame, adding to a list of distinctions that includes being the first Piedmont Laureate in 2009. Dennis Tafoya ’77 was also a prodigious reader and writer, but aside from some pieces he submitted to electronic journals, he wasn’t expecting to write for more than himself. Getting published was a happy accident. A producer saw some of his stories on the web and asked if he had a novel. “I had about two-thirds of one,” he concedes, “so I got it finished, and she helped me get a manager in L.A., who helped me get a literary agent, who got me to St. Martin’s—actually Minotaur, the crime division of St. Martin’s.” Dope Thief was published in 2009. “I didn’t know I was writing a crime novel. I thought I was writing a literary novel with criminals,” admits Dennis. “I enjoy writing about people who are in extreme situations.” “My education as a writer came largely from reading,” he adds. “I love to read, and teachers were instrumental in that, particularly John Gleeson ’65, who got me thinking about literature and the job that books do. I’ve always been a very eclectic reader.” Dennis’s education as a writer of crime fiction, however, comes from “a ton of research. I have no background as a newspaper writer, cop, or parole officer.” In fact, Dennis is in business-to-business sales. “So I read obsessively about these subjects.” He sees the humor in his situation. “I live in Lambertville [New Jersey]. I drive a Camry. I’m a suburban guy with a dark imagination who writes about criminals and junkies and inmates. I hear from them once in a while. They’ll give me updates on prison slang. I spend a lot of time trying to get all the details right, and they seem to think I do a good job.” Dennis counts himself lucky to have gotten some great reviews and to have a publisher who is giving him time to develop and to build his audience. His second book, The Wolves of Fairmount Park, like his first, has been optioned for a film, though he knows it may never get made. A third novel, The Poor Boy’s Game, is due out this spring. As exciting as this is, “The biggest thrill has been meeting and spending time with fellow writers.” Ultimately, whether these writers had their first piece published five years ago or fifty, they are united by a desire to read, to write, to capture authentic stories by listening carefully, and to take part in a broader community of artists.
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Five Habits from a Pro BY EMMY LAYBOURNE ’89
I had the privilege of coming to George School and speaking about the Monument 14 trilogy and my life as a novelist last year. I spoke with several students about the habits I have put into place that help to keep me humming along in my daily work. Here’s a little recap.
I only write if have at least two hours in front of me.
Most days, it takes me at least forty-five minutes to calm down my mind and get ready to write. It’s a horrible forty-five minutes, during which time the temptation to check emails and answer phone messages is nearly unbearable. But if I can wait it out, I will eventually find my way into the core of my own creativity. Now, if I do all that suffering and finally get there and the words start to flow and then all of a sudden I have to stop because, say, it’s time to pick my kids up from school, or I have a dentist appointment, or I have to go have lunch with some dearly beloved friend—it makes me want to gouge my heart out. Sorry, dearly beloved friend, I’m hating your guts for a moment. That’s why I leave myself at least two hours to write—preferably six.
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I write five days a week.
When I am working on a novel, if I do not give it a certain amount of my bandwidth, I lose momentum. I think of it this way: I’ve asked a group of characters to come and hang around me while I tell a story about what is happening to them. I owe them my company. It’s sort of like inviting guests to a party—if I don’t pay attention to them, they get bored and wander off. Now, this is not to say that I write five days a week every week! No, I have to take weeks off at a time when I need to prepare for a book launch. And during the editing process, I find I can work in fits and starts. In fact, when I’m editing, I prefer to work for shorter lengths of time—it helps me to have a fresh eye when I sit down again. But if I’m focusing on drafting a novel, I try to clear my schedule as best I can so that I can not only write five days a week, but also follow habits 3, 4, and 5.
I write at the same time each day.
That way the party guests know when to show up! I used to know a comedy improviser who did eight shows a week in a big Off-Broadway improv company. He said that at 7:55 p.m. every night, whether he was working or not, he’d start to get an adrenaline rush and his mind would suddenly sharpen up. You can train yourself to work that way too. Come 9:00 a.m. your ideas will start flowing if you’ve started writing every weekday at 9:00 a.m. for a month. I also happen to like writing in the morning. That’s when I have the most juice. I try not to do “office work” like answering emails or writing newsletter articles in the morning. I don’t want to spend my best stuff on emails and witty tweets!
I act like a professional athlete. Sort of.
I don’t like, you know, work out.… But I do eat three meals a day with protein and I get at least eight hours of sleep a night. Writing is hard. It takes brain power! I need to eat the right foods and get plenty of rest if I’m going to perform at my desk.
I don’t judge until it is time to edit.
When I was working as an actor and rehearsing for an audition, I used to reserve a chair for my inner Critic. (Yeah, with a capital C.) I would rehearse the scene and then I’d sit down in the chair and review the scene as the critic, “Wow, you’re never going to get this part! You’re too old for it and why are you making your voice all dopey like that? They’d be crazy to hire you and your pants are horrible.” Then I’d stand up and turn and face the Critic chair and defend myself. “Screw you!” I’d shout. “I could totally book this and my voice sounds great and I’m only twenty-eight and these pants are awesome!” Then I’d go change my pants and ace the audition. I don’t let that creepy Critic sit down with me when I start to write. My desk chair just isn’t big enough for the two of us. You cannot create and judge at the same time. It’s like trying to drive a car while slamming on the brakes. And when you take your foot off the brake— when you allow yourself to relax and trust your internal creative engine—you’ll fly.
Emmy Laybourne ’89 is the author of the Monument 14 trilogy which tells the story of fourteen kids from Monument, Colorado who are trapped in a superstore as civilization collapses outside the gates. Her third book in the series, Savage Drift will be released on May 9 by Macmillan. She’s delighted to connect with present, past, or future George School students on Twitter (@EmmyLaybourne) or Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/EmmyLaybourne).
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Emerging Writers Find Their Voices BY ANDREA LEHMAN
What does it mean to write in 2014? Unlike the generation before them, today’s young writers are inhabiting a creative landscape in which you don’t need a publisher or an agent or even your words printed on paper. You can simply write and get your words out there in the form of your choosing. The media for three recent George School graduates vary. What is constant is their need to capture the human experience through art.
ALE X A HORNBECK ’10
Alexa (Lexi) Hornbeck ’10 is a traditional writer in the sense that her words are intended to be read. From her first piece of fiction—a ten-page story about a raccoon family, penned or, probably more accurately, penciled in first grade—to the in-progress cult novel Death of a Thousand Paper Cuts, Lexi has known that, “I was born to be a writer. I have no choice. I’ve always needed to write and have felt it’s a natural part of my day, a natural part of life.” Lexi is quick to explain that her writing and her dream of a writing career were nurtured at George School. “My freshman year I had EWo [Eric Wolarsky], and he is still one of my big inspirations. I always knew I wanted to write, but he made me think I could be a writer. When I started reading the kind of fiction I wanted to write, when I realized the
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complexity of these writers’ minds, I realized I had so much more to do to get to that point.” She appreciates not just how Eric teaches literature, but how he incorporates a love and understanding of art history. “He would talk about these works of art in a poetic, story way, and he showed me how important it is to document cultural consciousness, to be an artist who can catalog the emotions of the world.” English with Terry Culleton, film class with Scott Hoskins, and being on Argo, George School’s literary magazine, also helped Lexi hone her craft. She loved critiquing her peer writers’ work (anonymously) and receiving their critiques in return. A “more adult version” of that process unfolded in the writing seminars of New York City’s Eugene Lang College, the New School’s liberal arts college. There she has churned out twenty-five-page stories weekly and served as the art director and fiction editor for the university’s literary journal, Eleven and a Half. She will graduate this summer with a major in literary studies, a focused concentration in fiction writing, and a minor in poetry. “Most days you can find me cataloging imagination beneath a light bulb in my five-bedroom warehouse loft in Brooklyn,” Lexi says. She writes at least 1,000 to 1,500 words a day. “My goal is to create fiction that cross-breeds a number of genres and narrative voices, and cleverly speaks to culturally important issues—mental illness, diversity in America, and the interpretation of art—without giving readers a prescription for how to view the
world.” She especially loves to write characterdriven fiction with a postmodern perspective. Meanwhile, she works a full-time internship for Breakthru Radio and TV, writing weekly op-ed pieces and interviewing people on the street. “It has kept me connected to what is really happening in the world. Writing fiction allows me to hide, where writing journalism allows me to understand what I’m hiding from.” Or, as she puts it, “Life is just lousy fiction, and I’m its witness hiding in the margins.”
One thing Lexi won’t write is a blog. “There’s too much blog writing that’s bad, that’s destroying writing itself. Readers are looking to be entertained more than informed.” Though she ultimately envisions grad school, for now Lexi is content to soak up life experience with “five roommates from all different states and countries and all walks of life” and a love-hate relationship with the city. “Once you understand what it truly means to be a starving artist living in New York, you realize how unromantic it really is. Despite the chaos, I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
K ABIR CHOPR A ’09
Kabir Chopra ’09, on the other hand, wants you to see what he writes. Also living in New York City, he is primarily a filmmaker, having graduated from New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts with a bachelor of fine arts in dramatic writing [screenwriting] and minors in South Asian studies and the business of entertainment, media, and technology. Kabir thinks in—and cranks out—short films the way Lexi turns out short stories. “I can make a whole film in a week,” he admits. Many of the films he’s written and directed have been screened at New York film festivals or are available on the web (on YouTube and kabirchopra.com). “I like romantic stories, dating stories. I’ve lived in New York for five years. All I’m hearing is dating, marriage, divorce, infidelity. It’s what I see every day.” But his rom-coms have a decidedly millennial edge: Strangers (about internet dating), Addicted—
the Series (a dark comedy about video game addiction), The Dating Sim (about mobile gaming and online dating), and Love, Bearly (a teddy bear’s-eye view of a relationship). They don’t tend to end happily ever after. Kabir readily admits that the foundation for his life in film was laid at George School—and in more than his film class. “Being at George School opened my mind to all the possibilities of art. I learned how to write. I learned storytelling and not just through writing, but through photography as well. Visually that helped hone my skills.” (It is also helping him make a living photographing parties, events, and actors’ headshots.) In addition, Terry Culleton’s “fantastic” IB Higher Level Writer’s Focus course “kicked my butt about being a writer and having an eye for stories. But George School’s biggest contribution was that it helped me believe in myself as an artist and gave me the confidence to go out there and make my mark.” Kabir’s goal is to write and direct his first feature film. He’s writing a script “in the same vein as My Best Friend’s Wedding” and then plans to shoot it as a short and send it to film festivals. If he can get funding, he’ll make it full length. Until then, he continues to make shorts. “The technology has made it so easy to film your work, put it online, email it out, and let it be out in the world. Anyone who has an iPhone or computer can see what I wrote. That’s the best part of being a writer: you can create characters in a world and have people experience it. Isn’t that what every writer wants?”
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JACOB F OLK ’11
The words that Jacob Folk ’11 writes are meant to be heard. Since he was eight, he has written music. As part of the Zealots, a George School band, “I wrote songs about women and drinking, because that’s the kind of music that I listened to,” Jacob admits. “It wasn’t until I graduated high school that I started to find my own voice as a songwriter. I stopped trying to copy my favorite artists and started writing what I felt.” Today he is writing material that is more jazz-influenced and experimental, “a brutally honest, emotionally charged suite that is unlike anything I’ve ever done before.” Jacob’s goal is to keep writing so that he can keep writing better. “I heard Ira Glass (of NPR) say that a true artist is defined by good taste, not good art,” he explains. “The ability to distinguish between good and bad art objectively, even your own, is what ultimately makes a successful artist.” To help him achieve that success, Jacob is studying music technology at Philadelphia’s University of the Arts. “I’m spending most of my
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time either in the school’s studio or in my aptly named studio apartment. The recording process captivates me because it allows me to sculpt my songs. Post-production is an exciting new dimension for me with infinite sonic possibilities. Listening to what I have recorded also allows me to analyze my music more objectively.” So, too, did the critiques he received at George School, an experience with which Lexi and Kabir are also familiar. “The IB program helped me to develop a unique writing style and to approach education creatively,” Jacob says. “Terry Culleton was very influential. In his senior creative writing course, students brought in original pieces of creative writing to be critiqued by the rest of the class, in whatever format they chose. I think it’s extremely important to make constructive use of external feedback.” These days, putting work out there for feedback is theoretically easy, but reaching the right audience may not be. “The digital revolution has made it a breeze for anyone to upload their music to the internet and release it without the help of a label,” Jacob points out. “This is great in many ways, but it also makes it difficult to sort through the massive amounts of material out there. Independent musicians are taking over, but it’s harder than ever to get noticed.” What these three are discovering is that developing as a young writer in 2014 involves exploring emotions, refining their worldview, finding their artistic voice, letting their imagination go, maintaining a critical eye, and living life. Unlike their predecessors, today’s young writers have the benefits and the obstacles of technology. They may very well find it easy to speak and hard to be heard.
A Rich Tradition of Writing BY EMMA FOLK ’09
From Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist and former George School English teacher James Michener to our newest faculty author, ceramics teacher Amedeo Salamoni, whose book Wood-Fired Ceramics: 100 Contemporary Artists was published in 2013, George School has a long history of faculty who have published works across a variety of genres. You might expect to see that kind of academic output from a college or university, but such scholarly achievement from a high school is rare. It speaks to the intellectual richness of which our community is so proud. Poet and George School English teacher Terry Culleton has been writing poems about a delightful assortment of quirky fictional saints for almost a dozen years. That collection, A Communion of Saints, was published by Anaphora Literary Press in 2011. “They just began appearing in my brain,” said Terry, who described the creative process involved in writing the book as “much like channeling their voices and lives. I still feel like they are independent entities living their own lives. I just happened to render them into verse.” There’s St. Anorexius, an ascetic who feasts on the thoughts or the remnants of food, hoping to reduce himself to a beam of pure light. St. Apneus sleeps himself into a Godmare-like death but with his body mysteriously preserved. St. Concentrata, a prominent figure in the book, endured abuse and abandonment before being sent to a convent as unmarriable, probably because she preferred women. A former Bucks County Poet Laureate and the faculty sponsor of Argo, George School’s literary magazine, Terry has also published poems in
The Amherst Review, The Birmingham Review, The Cumberland Review, Edge City Review, Janus, and The Schuylkill Valley Journal. He has appeared on TV and radio, including NPR. Chris Odom, who teaches George School’s robotics and programming classes, authored a very different kind of work—a robotics textbook, BasicX and Robotics: The Art of Making Machines Think— inspired by the feedback he received from students in his computer programming and robotics course. “I’m always driven by my students,” Chris said. “Their questions and innovations are very exciting.” If a student came up with a particularly interesting breakthrough or solution in class, he included it in the book. Formerly a rocket scientist at Clemson University in South Carolina, Chris wrote BasicX and Robotics because he perceived a need for a textbook that provided a complete curriculum for robotics at the high school or college level. Existing instructional books on the topic, he said, provide projects for students without teaching the computer programming skills that would allow them to progress to advanced robotics work later. His book builds from simple explanations to complex challenges, teaching students BasicX, which he described as a “subset of Visual Basic, the world’s most popular programming language.” Students benefit from learning BasicX, he said, because they can apply it to further work in robotics or to computer programming in any field, including consumer electronics, physics, and biology.
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Chris is currently writing another book along the same lines as BasicX and Robotics, the working title of which is Physical Computing and Robotics with Arduino. The book, which students in his Computer Programming and Robotics class are testing out for the first time this year, is written around the powerful, up-and-coming Arduino Due and Teensy 3.1 microcontrollers. Former English and history teacher Susan Wilf, translated poems and essays included in No Enemies, No Hatred: Selected Essays and Poems, by Chinese writer and human rights activist Liu Xiaobo who was awarded the 2010 Nobel Peace Prize, despite being imprisoned for “inciting subversion of state power.” The goal was to get Liu’s writings into English quickly “to raise the level of worldwide awareness of his situation, of what he stands for, and of the quality of his writing and ideas,” said Susan. Susan translated two poems including “Your Lifelong Prisoner,” a love poem for his wife that alludes to his imprisonment and their forced separation, and “My Puppy’s Death,” with his childhood perspective of the Cultural Revolution. She also translated “Elegy to Lin Zhao, Lone Voice of Chinese Freedom,” an essay about a young woman executed for her political beliefs, and “On Living with Dignity in China,” an essay about the erosion of the moral fiber of Chinese society and Liu’s commitment to follow in the footsteps of nonviolent martyrs like Jesus, Gandhi, and Martin Luther King Jr. George School ceramics and sculpture teacher Amedeo Salamoni became George School’s most recently published author with his book Wood-
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Fired Ceramics: 100 Contemporary Artists. The book includes over 500 color photographs and features the work of 100 ceramic artists who still use the sometimes unpredictable method of wood-firing. During the two year process of writing and editing the book, Amedeo spent months traveling to visit artists living on the east coast from Pennsylvania to Maine. “I put a call for artist submissions out to the ceramics community and received an overwhelming response to the call,” said Amedeo. “I then spent the next six months sorting through the submissions, narrowing them down first by my initial feeling of the quality of the work, then by how I wanted the book to be formed. I labored over keeping a balance of work from functional to sculptural and work that utilized the many firing styles and kilns that are out there.” Terry, Chris, Susan, and Amedeo join the ranks of many more George School faculty authors, like former English teacher James Michener who wrote the Pulitzer-Prize-winning Tales of the South Pacific that inspired a Broadway classic and launched his career as one of America’s most beloved storytellers, Kenneth Keskinen who wrote an epic poem entitled “Iron Roses,” a memoir called The Taken and the Had, and a novel called New Bedford Boy, and former English and history teacher W.D. Ehrhart who has published a number of works, many of which are inspired by his experience serving in the Vietnam War, including Vietnam-Perkasie: A Combat Marine Memoir. In the classroom and in the literary field, our faculty members continue to set an example that inspires other writers.
IB English: Writer’s Focus BY ANDREA LEHMAN George School has always taught students to write well, with “writing” defined as essay writing. Students write early and often, primarily in history and English, and they develop skills that prepare them for college and its multitude of papers. Until recently, however, young people interested in creative writing had to write on their own time outside the curriculum. Then in 2007, the English Department launched a Writer’s Focus version of its senior Higher Level International Baccalaureate (IB) World Literature course. Developed by teacher and writer Terry Culleton, it has been a huge success, growing from one section to three and expanding the definition of “writing well” at George School. As befits a course that leads to both the Higher Level IB English and AP English Literature and Composition exams, Writer’s Focus students are bright and accomplished. In fact, they must have received at least a B+ in their junior IB English course—reflecting well-developed critical essaywriting skills—to be eligible. But the students who choose this course are also interested in pursuing their creative side. As Terry puts it, “They like to put things together rather than dissect them.” And many of them like to do both. About half of the Writer’s Focus course is spent reading and analyzing literature and writing
papers to prepare for the spring IB and AP exams, on which students typically get high scores. “Many could take the tests in September and do well,” Terry says, attributing their solid essaywriting skills to the English curriculum’s wellthought-out vertical sequence. It transitions from freshman year’s concrete descriptive and narrative essays through the increasing sophistication of sophomore year’s compare/contrast and persuasive essays to critical essays that require analytical and abstract thinking, beginning junior year. The other half of the course is spent on students’ creative writing, with the first term focused on drama and dialogue, the second on poetry, and the third on prose. Two of four weekly class periods are devoted to workshopping classmates’ work. In a typical workshop period, the class addresses two or three pieces. They are read aloud, and then their writers remain silent while their peers offer critiques about what does and doesn’t work. Critiquing is not criticizing, Terry explains. “The group learns how to critique. They are really marvelous in that regard. They’re respectful and supportive but also honest. There’s always an interplay between what the kids would call harsh and what they’d call being too nice. It’s all calibrated to give writers outside evidence of how well they achieved what they thought they achieved.”
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ENGLISH TEACHER Terry Culleton often meets with students outside of his classroom, cultivating a community of writers at George School.
“I love talking with kids about their writing. I keep it focused on them, but I feel I can bring my hard-won experience from years of doing my own writing.” For the writer, workshopping provides valuable input, and Terry encourages students to bring pieces they don’t think are working in order to improve them. But the exercise also teaches writers to become their own best judges. Since Terry typically does not offer his opinion, they must learn to sift through class comments to find for themselves what’s useful. They must also “develop a little bit of rhino skin,” as Terry calls it, as they grow from being “so narcissistic they don’t want others to read a piece” to being confident enough to “put it out there in the world. You want your pieces to have a life of their own. Part of the development of young writers is getting outside of themselves a little.” It’s a process that helps them develop as young adults as well as young writers. Workshopping benefits the critiquer as much as the critiqued. Students hone analytical skills as they focus on the details of each piece. This prepares them for the passage commentary section of the IB exam, in which they analyze text they have never seen. “It’s what they do in workshop every week,” Terry says. Even though the IB exam does not assess the creative writing directly, he believes that all the skills these student-writers learn are useful for the IB, since it is a skills-based rather than content-based assessment. The benefits of what students develop in Writer’s Focus—language and writing skills, self-
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discovery, maturity, professionalism, and creative thinking—extend well beyond the IB and AP tests, however. As Terry sees it, the course serves as a counterpoint to the demands of getting into college. “One of the things students learn in school is how to evaluate a teacher and what he or she wants or doesn’t want. They learn to shape their work to the teacher to maximize their grade. That’s so uncreative. Writing is non-reducible. The more you try to reduce it to a grade, the more you lose it. It disappears. Everything else in their life is a to-do list. That makes it hard for them to be exploratory and to take risks. But the heart of creativity is to take risks. It’s a risk not to take risks. You’ll write something predictable and formulaic.” Terry loves his Writer’s Focus classes. “The best part of my day is when I walk into the classroom,” says the 1992 Bucks County Poet Laureate and author of A Communion of Saints. “I’m a writer. It’s what I do. I love talking with students about their writing. I keep it focused on them, but I feel I can bring my hard-won experience from years of doing my own writing.” Students love the class, too, each for different reasons. For Sophie Myles ’14, “This has been the most rewarding class I have taken at George School by far. The workshops allow you to get to know and understand your classmates in an entirely different way. Reading what they produce allows for an insight into the way their mind works, the way they perceive the world.”
Peter Ryan ’14 values “the diversity of opinions and the fact that all stand as equal peer critics in the workshops.” For Katie Rodgers ’14, “The most important thing I ever learned from Terry is that ‘a story starts when a boundary is crossed.’ This revolutionized my approach to both reading and writing literature.” By opening themselves up and taking risks as a group, the class becomes a “we’re-all-in-thistogether quasi-family,” says Terry. With Writer’s Focus a success, Terry would like to cultivate a community of writers at George School, “a core of students who see writing as central to their existence.” A public reading series that the English Department hopes to initiate would play into that. These plans and the long-term impact of the class are yet to be determined. Some of the young writers profiled in this issue of the Georgian are Writer’s Focus alums, and doubtless other students feel as Jackson Sizer ’14 does: “This class has reinforced my dream to one day be a published writer. It has taught me that with the right guidance, anyone can write beautifully.” It may be too early to know how many writing careers the course sparks, but it is certainly fostering creative spirits.
“Writing is non-reducible. The more you try to reduce it to a grade, the more you lose it. It disappears. Everything else in their life is a to-do list. That makes it hard for them to be exploratory and to take risks. But the heart of creativity is to take risks. It’s a risk not to take risks. You’ll write something predictable and formulaic.”
BY SOPHIE MYLES ’14
I yearn for the half forgotten lavender days, when our hearts were only as heavy as the lace of a honey bee’s wing – when we would press fallen petals to our quivering eyelids and stare out through the impossible center of chrysanthemums so everything looked lovely. But of course it did not take long for our flowers to wilt. Like orange peels, our eyelashes fell from our fingers, carried on a breath of a wish – but keep in mind, even dandelions are unwanted wildflowers. I want nothing more than to forget the way your name tasted like tangerines, like the blood oranges and sweet limes we sucked between our teeth, while standing at the kitchen sink in the heat of that vivid afternoon. I will never understand the perishable nature of memory – that can spoil as those same fruits – whose juices we let roll down our chins and stain our hearts. “Citrus” written by Sophie Myles ’14 was selected for the 2013-2014 winter issue of Just Poetry, published by the National Poetry Quarterly and received the “Editor’s Choice” award and scholarship. Sophie’s poem was chosen from a pool of national submissions for inclusion in the journal.
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eQuiz Highlights The January eQuiz asked alumni to reflect on the writing they do in their personal and professional lives. From their responses we learned that writing is woven through all facets of a person’s life. From holiday letters to grant writing to fiction and literature, there are certain similarities in the writing process that prevail no matter the genre. Explore those similarities in the responses to the eQuiz that are highlighted here.
Writing for Life 1958 | Carol Park DiJoseph Compare the value of writing to the tools found in an ordinary household toolbox. Angry that you can’t resolve an issue? Use the hammer of declarative sentences, vivid adjectives, no-nonsense verbs. You’ve nailed it. Want to please and flatter? Use the pliers of sweet nothings and gentle nudging. You’ll have twisted and turned your way to success. Want to persuade a board of directors? Use the screwdriver to secure the most salient points with facts, figures, and cogent arguments that leave no doubt of your ability. Your confidence will be contagious. Word of caution: tools can be dangerous too. Treat them with respect.
1962 | Sally Wislar Farneth Writing is a survival skill, no matter what your occupation.
modern trend to abbreviate everything. It’s both a release from tension and a channel for creativity.
1977 | Debra Gross Balka I love to write. Especially over the last twenty years. I take time and care to write just about anything and everything, whether it’s a birthday card to my dearest friend or my father’s eulogy....I say what I want to say “just right.”
1980 | Paul M. Stafford Writing is how I communicate, sometimes with myself. It’s cheap psychotherapy and a great way to collect thoughts and have a richer inner life. If you don’t belong to a book group, you can explore your reaction to books by writing about them, and also keep track of what you’ve read.
1994 | Jen Onyx Oryn I work with children in the hospital to help them understand what is going on while they are there and make it less of a traumatic experience for them. Part of my job is to write books to use with children as a teaching tool. Sometimes the books simply have photographs of what they might see in the hospital, but often there is a story that I integrate with the photos, to make the book more engaging for children and families. 2013 | Jake Kaplan Being able to clearly express myself is critical in all aspects of my life.
1964 | Kathryn McCreary Daily writing is as important to me as drinking coffee is to other folks.
1970 | John D. Nepley As an industrial engineer working in factories, it is my job to look for ways to improve the process. This means communicating with people at all levels of an organization. Clear, concise communications with appropriate use of data is paramount to gaining acceptance of change. 1972 | Barbara Winn Email has replaced letter writing, but I often use it the old-fashioned way, reporting news in anecdotal form to family and friends and resisting the
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GS ALUMNI WRITING TOOLS
91.8 % 45.4 % 14.4 % 8.2 % 3.1%
computer/laptop notebook/pad other (many of the other responses included smart phones) tablet (iPad, Samsung Galaxy, etc.) typewriter
Alumni Profile: Ethan Devine ’96 inspiration at George School was Terry Culleton. Terry was Bucks County Poet Laureate when he taught my freshman English class. He suffered a family tragedy the year before and read us a poem about it. It was wrenching. Gorgeous. This was a real writer following his calling. He drove a taxi in Philly before teaching at GS, which I always imagined like Faulkner working as a night security guard, minus the drinking.
How has writing played a role in your career? I manage an investment fund, so I don’t write nearly as much as I’d like to. I write a letter to my investors twice a year, and I write a memo to myself for each investment in the fund. I’ve also written a couple long-form articles. They are a lot of fun and a lot of work. Op-eds are more approachable, though it’s not often that my opinion is in demand. What does the writing process look like for you? Writing isn’t easy for me—it never has been. I want to say everything at the same time. Great writers glide from idea to idea, keeping you right there with them. I can’t pull that off, so I normally end up saying about 10 percent of what I set out to. John McPhee outlines his writing process in the Spring 1994 issue of “Writing on the Edge.” I’ve tried to adopt some of his techniques, with the addition of iAnnotate and Evernote for marking up and collating source material. Did a particular teacher at George School inspire your career choice? I should say two things about writing and my time at GS. First, bless Adriana Rosman-Askot for teaching Julio Cortazar’s short stories. Second, my sincere apologies to anyone who was stuck in an English or Spanish class with me. I’m not sure that my adolescent literary analysis made any sense, but I know I thought it did at the time. My biggest
What advice would you give to students interested in writing? Before I give any advice to anyone on writing, I should say that it is a craft, and I’m a hack. You can tell straight away when you are in the hands of a great writer, and if you want to write anything like them you have to read them. The best writing I’ve read recently is Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan, John McPhee’s Assembling California, and my friend Mac Funk’s new book Windfall. If students read just one writer, I’d suggest M.F.K. Fisher. Google her name, “minestrone,” and “huggermuggery” to see why. Or read Consider the Oyster (and David Foster Wallace’s Consider the Lobster while you’re at it). I’d also suggest working with as many editors as possible—I’m always floored by what a good editor can do. My recent piece in the Atlantic was really struggling until the editor asked, “Isn’t this what you really want to say?” And my mother has always been my secret weapon—she’s a close reader and an ace condenser. One other piece of advice is to try to think in complete sentences. I grew up on computers, where editing each sentence as you go is easy, maybe too easy.
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Sources of Inspiration 1956 | Briant H. Lee I was influenced by William Cleveland to go into theater, my writing developed as a result of that exposure and my own self guidance afterward.
1956 | Natalie Scull Adventures large and small, travel, music, the outdoors.
1958 | Maris Clymer Langford Ernestine Robinson. She is why I received a master’s degree in English.
1963 | Kathleen Neal Cleaver Many times it is reading; sometimes it is conversations; other times it just is a flash of imagination.... 1964 | Judith McIlvain Love for my subject matter, the art of sharing, and life experiences. My historical fiction focuses on a Quaker family in the 50s, which is how I grew up.
1976 | Nancy Leson From the time I was a kid, I wanted to write for a living. At GS, I wrote for the school paper and the literary magazine. Then I graduated and spent seventeen years waiting tables. I got a journalism degree in my early thirties and used that and my work experience to launch a successful career as a restaurant critic, food writer, and radio personality.
1977 | Eric Hellman Walt Hathaway planted a seed by telling me I could be a writer, but I went and did science instead. Thirty years later... I took up blogging, and that has led to what I’m doing now, which is finding ways to support authors who want their work to be free. 1979 | Tod Rutstein I do a lot of writing as part of my profession as an educator. I also find that I do a lot of personal, reflective writing. Expressing myself in writing is perhaps the thing I approach with greatest confidence.
1986 | Kif Scheuer 1965 | Wayne Parsons All the English classes. My three teachers were Walter Johnson, Edward Ayers, and Arthur Brinton. All the classes required writing assignments. These good basics prepared me for the more advanced work at college. 1969 | Holly Gross Kruse A face on the sidewalk, a fragment of conversation, a memory, the indigo of the early morning sky, almost anything.
1972 | Pamela Suppa Dalton John Gleeson ’65 helped me understand the importance and value of being able to tell a story in written form. My success as a scientist depends on being able to tell my story convincingly and interestingly enough that people will want to fund the research.
Creativity comes from a compelling problem, a great story to tell, a personal passion for the issues. Grant writing (my most consistent type of writing) is a funny business. You have to absorb yourself in the issue and convince yourself for the moment that your proposed approach is the be all and end all solution and convey that passion, while also having your written response conform to often absurd formats or poorly articulated prompts.
2003 | Katheryne Kramer I think my creativity is sparked when I am given a structure, whether it’s the legal or regulatory framework underpinning a problem or the rhyme scheme of a sonnet.
2004 | Daniel Suchenski Many of my George School teachers and a supporting and encouraging environment in which to adequately express myself.
1973 | Anne Stearns Pardun Words themselves. A simple rhyme that tickles me and leads to other turns of phrase especially in moments of inspiration for children’s stories! Often this happens at night before I fall asleep when my mind is winding down and sorting through random thoughts.
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2006 | Amanda Darby Ralph Lelii, reading a poem to kick off every IB English class session.
Alumni Profile: Keita Erskine ’13 on the page. I’m very competitive, so when I sink my teeth into a new activity, all I want to do is be the best. Between ambition and connection, I have enough motivation to write until my fingers fall off.
You’re double majoring in Journalism and Creative Writing at Northwestern. Did your George School years influence your university studies? My newspaper teacher, Gretchen Nordleaf-Nelson, and the rest of the staff of the Curious George pushed me to be a better journalist and a better writer. With each new edition, they gave me encouragement and support. Now, I push myself because of them. As far as creative writing goes, I owe Terry Culleton much of my confidence in that. In his Writer’s Focus class my senior year, I honed my voice as a writer and am more comfortable in every piece I write because of him. How are you hoping to pursue writing after college? Ideally, one day you’ll see me on ESPN and read my articles in Sports Illustrated. But truth be told, the journalism came after the poetry and prose. I used to read a lot as a kid, and that love for literature grew into a love for creating as much as it was a love for consuming. In my mind, though I have a tremendous passion for journalism, I really see it more as a way of paying the bills and supporting my dream of being a great fiction writer/poet.
What does the writing and editing process look like for you? A big mess! I work very hard to write and edit. But my mind moves at a thousand miles an hour and I often have trouble keeping up. Sometimes I delete entire works and just start over, rather than deal with editing. Other times I meticulously comb through each and every sentence. There is no right way to edit. All I can say definitively on the subject is an old cliché; writing is rewriting. I rewrite everything. Sometimes all at once, sometimes in little pieces. What sparks your creativity? Small things. Little interactions. Seeing a snowflake land gently on a pretty girl’s nose. A pleasant smile from the old lady that works in the local CVS. A nice cup of tea. I know that’s boring, but that’s reality. All it takes is for something to affect me, and I never know what it’s going to be or where it’s coming from. What advice would you offer current students interested in writing? Tell a lot of stories. You never know when a story you tell will inspire you to something brilliant. And write everything down. Harry Potter started on a napkin. That doesn’t mean it’ll happen like that for you. But if you don’t write it down, then it definitely won’t.
What about writing motivates you? There’s nothing better than when I see the look in someone’s eyes when they really identify with the words I put on a page. They light up as some deep closed chest is unlocked and love pours out. It’s a way of connecting, because I always put my heart
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Sources of Inspiration (continued) 2009 | Olivia Burns Everything that deals with the Middle East; I read the news, I read fiction about it, I read academic papers, and I’ve been lucky enough to travel there and see it firsthand, which is the best way to get a sense of the region, and is subsequently very inspiring.
2013 | Justin Becker American Literature, Terry Culleton Writer’s Focus class. Ralph Lelii’s Theory of Knowledge, Fran Bradley’s Economics, and all of my religion classes at George School. The experiences I had were so free and loving and accepting of the written art that it made me want to peruse it more and more, my teachers were all so inspiring and brilliant.
Battling Writers Block 1961 | Richard L. Brown A sort of writer’s block occurs to me where I begin to go down a path and realize, reluctantly, that it leads nowhere. I have learned to get up and take a short walk. I have also learned to be suspicious of sentences, words, and concepts with which I fall in love. They can be hard to erase even where logic tells me that they are leading me astray, sort of like romance?
1986 | Emmy Laybourne Podunovich I find that when I’m blocked, it’s usually because there’s something wrong in my work-in-progress. Either I’ve tried to force a plot turn, or a character is acting in a way against his or her true nature. Once I fix the problem, the block dissolves. 1989 | Christopher Horner If I can’t write, I write more. Even if the result is garbage and has to be removed later, for me the process of forcible writing tends to get me back on track.
Advice and Encouragement 1953 | Dave Steward Any GS student who wants to write should listen to the smart teachers and read voraciously. 1955 | Richard Grausman Don’t write a cookbook unless you know your subject extremely well. Don’t write a cookbook to become rich and famous. Other than novels, don’t write a book until you have a publisher. 1967 | David Miller The challenge is to get “the story behind the story.” Anyone can write banal blather. How do you get someone to want to read the entire story? There’s always something if you are willing to dig deep enough and ask the right “open-ended” questions.
1971 | Elizabeth S. Taylor I don’t believe in blocks. I believe in Tillie Olsen’s explanation that sometimes we need times of silence just as a field must be allowed to stay fallow for a season or two so it can regenerate its essential nutrients.
1972 | Valerie Kester Morrissey I most certainly have suffered from writer’s (and artist’s) block. I used to get upset about it but not anymore. I find something else to do or a change of scene. I take a short trip or go to a museum.
1979 | Laure Kemper Crooks Doing something completely unrelated (often either involving exercise or being outside).
1986 | Kirby W. Rosenbluth Walk away! Get away from the assignment and clear my head. Then come back and start fresh.
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1984 | Harold Buck The advice I have heard is: Set up a four-hour block each day for writing. You don’t have to write but you can’t do anything else if you aren’t writing.
Alumni Profile: Anne Thompson ’57 a sinking star, beyond the utmost bounds of human knowledge.” His faith in me inspired me as a writer and teacher and I owe him a huge debt of gratitude.
As an English professor at Bates, what did your research primarily focus on? I am a medievalist, which means I study the Middle Ages. I’m particularly interested in the earliest vernacular writing of the late thirteenth and fourteenth centuries. By the end of the thirteenth century, the Catholic Church became concerned with teaching Christianity to those who were illiterate, so they wrote the scriptures, as well as more popular stories, in simple poetic form so they could be taught to the people. Because much was lost from the early years of Greek and Roman civilization, people in the late thirteenth century knew very little historical information, but they did know these stories. And when they didn’t have stories, they made them up. I wrote a book and many articles about the kinds of narratives they constructed and relied upon to explain the things they knew very little about. The book was called Everyday Saints, for the way the saints in the narratives were made to sound like people in their everyday lives. Did a particular teacher or class at George School inspire you to study medieval literature? When I was taught by the wonderful Evan Jones in ninth grade English, he came in on the first day of class reading Beowolf and it blew me away. I was so fascinated by this wonderful old language. I didn’t immediately know I would be a medievalist, but it was in that class that I became inspired by lighting the flame of the knowledge of the past. I recall him once writing a Tennyson quotation at the bottom of an essay I wrote that said “to follow knowledge like
What is your writing process like? I write at my computer, which I never thought I would do. I was a traditionalist and thought I would always write my first draft by hand. I try to sit down at the computer for an hour every morning, when I have the psychological energy, and just write. When I have written a sufficient amount, often over the course of a few days, I print it out, read the hard copy, make notations and then return to edit on the computer. Before I’m done I will have done that more than once. It’s very important to me to do the editing on the hard copy, to really look at and sit with what I’ve written. When people ask me about the writing process, I’ll sometimes tell the following story. I was on a hiking trip once with a former student of mine, when, at the end of a long hard day when we were all exhausted, I asked her, “Stephanie, do you like hiking?” She said to me, “I like having hiked.” I often feel that way about writing. The initial process is often really hard, but once you’ve got the work down on paper, finishing it becomes a joy. What other advice would you give to current students interested in writing? Read, read, read. I sometimes worry that, with all its ways of capturing our attention, the media has made it so that people are much less likely to just sit down with a book. But reading is how you acquire a voice and sense of style. The best way to be a writer is by reading good writing.
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From Big Box to Design that Rocks BY LAURA LAVALLEE In Design: Intelligence Made Visible, author Terence Conran wrote that design “comprises 98 percent commonsense and 2 percent of a mysterious component which we might call art or aesthetics.” He also importuned that to be successful “a designer has to research his subject before he puts pen to paper or mouse to computer.”
The final design assimilates architectural details from around campus including the west entrance portico to Hallowell Arts Center and metal clad windows.
Nearly every academic and residential building on campus features brick similar to the red and coventry bricks chosen for the new Fitness and Athletics Center.
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Research was certainly a crucial part of the design process for the Fitness and Athletics Center. Without discernment, a very different building might have been built on the south end of campus. “First we held a charrette, to determine what was needed in the building and what the most important things were,” said Ted Nickles, Physical
The limestone belt, pictured here on Retford, is seen on numerous buildings across campus.
Plant Committee member and former member of the George School Board of Trustees. “We got written proposals from a number of different architectural firms and from there we chose three architects to interview. After the interviews, Bowie Gridley Architects, the same firm who had designed Mollie Dodd Anderson Library, was chosen for the project.” Initially, the goal was to incorporate the Worth Sports Center into the design, making use of the existing pool and gym and saving the building from demolition. After extensive work to
explore this possibility it was determined that both the building and the pool had structural issues making the cost of renovating them almost as expensive as building a new facility. With this in mind, the Physical Plant Committee began exploring alternative options. “There was a quick, two-to three-month effort in the spring of 2011 to study locating the proposed athletic center on other sites to allow the existing facility to remain until the new facility was completed,” shared Stuart Billings, Bowie Gridley Architects associate and project manager for the
The northeast corner of the Fitness and Athletics Center features a window wall much like the northeast corner of the library. The windows provide abundant natural light during the day.
Terrazzo flooring was chosen for the central corridor because it is a historically durable and resilient flooring made of mostly recycled materials.
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George School held a charrette—an intense period of design or planning that brings together all interested parties— to plan the Fitness and Athletics Center in March 2010. More than thirty-five members of the community including parents, students, faculty, staff, and board members came together to discuss plans.
George School Fitness and Athletics Center. “The most logical site was across the street in the existing parking area; however the design studies determined that this site would entail very costly site work and impact the tennis courts, the parking lot, and the softball field.” It was back to the drawing board again, this time with infinite possibilities. After much discussion and exploration it was determined that a new building would be erected on the site where Worth Sports Center stood. “I think function always drove the design,” said Stuart. “Critical design issues for us were to reduce the mass of the facility and understand the views of the building from Main Building, South Lawn, the Mollie Dodd Anderson Library, and the meetinghouse. We also wanted to integrate sustainability—maximize daylighting of the spaces and energy efficiency—and to respect the campus context, not be too modern or rigidly historic or traditional.” With this in mind, Bowie Gridley created a number of designs, all incorporating a “central street,” a design element that still exists in the final building. The wide corridor leads visitors from the entrance doorway past the window wall of the pool, directly back to the two gymnasiums. Partway down the walkway visitors have a choice of ascending to the second floor by elevator or by a wide, substantial stairway, edged on one side by a partial wall of glass.
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“The first drawing didn’t have the character that the building ended up having, it had more flat roofs and a ‘big box store’ look,” said Head of School Nancy Starmer. “Gyms are essentially ‘big box’ buildings, but the fact that it blends in as well as it does—as a much as a 100,000 square foot building can—is impressive.” The Physical Plant Committee members Jen Parker Holtz ’89 and Ted spent many hours working with the architects to ensure the building would fit in aesthetically with the meetinghouse, Mollie Dodd Anderson Library, and the other campus buildings. And a walk about campus reveals these aesthetic threads. Most academic and dormitory buildings are red and conventry brick, carefully selected for color and texture. The classical look of Hallowell’s west entrance is mirrored in the Meetinghouse Lane entrance to the Fitness and Athletics Center, albeit about twice as tall. The walls of windows along the north wall of the new Marshall-Platt Pool are similarly significant in size to the window-wall in the Anderson library, and for the same reason… to let in energy-saving natural light. The new design “rocks,” both figuratively and literally. The flooring in the main corridor will be terrazzo, a flooring material invented more than 1500 years ago that is quite literally made of rocks—and marble, granite, and other age-old materials.
The popularity of terrazzo flooring has waxed and waned over the years, including at George School. For instance, an area of dark green terrazzo existed in the food service area of Main dining room until 2012 when it was removed during the dining room renovation. “We chose terrazzo because of its life cycle benefits,” explained Stuart. “It lasts for 100 years, uses recycled materials, and is extremely easy to maintain. No need for waxes and other finishes and it cleans up with soap and water, so it’s green both intrinsically and in maintenance.” Not surprisingly, the terrazzo flooring will contain rugged materials tumbled together in tones of green and white, the school colors that replaced buff and brown in 1999. Three lounges—one near the Meetinghouse Lane entrance on the first floor and two on the mezzanine corridor—will bring a softer aspect to the building with furnishings that
FIT FOR THE
are both colorful and comfortable. The new Fitness and Athletics Center, like the terrazzo that will ground the central corridor, will blend function, design, and sustainability with beauty, strength, and conviviality. To quote Anne LeDuc, former girl’s athletic director and hockey, lacrosse, and basketball coach and a stalwart supporter of this project, “a recent behind the scenes tour of the new Fitness and Athletics Center has left me speechless. The exterior is overwhelmingly handsome and the inside design—containing the state-of-art pool, gymnasiums, wrestling room, recreational space, locker rooms, showers, meeting rooms, spacious hallways, window views, etc.—is downright exciting. It will help change the lives of countless students, faculty, parents, and friends as the Mollie Dodd Anderson Library and meetinghouse did when they were built.”
FUTURE $1 MILLION CHALLENGE
The Snave Foundation has issued a challenge. When we raise the next $1 million for the Fitness and Athletics Center, the foundation will add $150,000 to our initiative.
HELP US MEET OUR GOAL. MAKE YOUR GIFT TODAY at georgeschool.org/challenge.
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George School Voices Shares Stories George School Voices, our new blog, is a website that is designed to give you a behind the scenes look at George School through the eyes of our students, faculty, staff, parents, and alumni. You can find it at georgeschool.org/voices. The blog includes limericks, thoughts about the Theory of Knowledge class and gratitude, and even a post about life after George
School from a member of the Class of 2012. It is fun and funny, cerebral and thought-provoking, warm and inviting; just like George School. Since its launch in early December 2013, the blog has had more than 30,000 views by visitors from more than sixty countries.
EACH CHILD IS DIFFERENT This post was written by Rebecca, mom of Quin ’09 and Faith ’17.
Each child is different, I was telling myself, taking a nostalgic walk around the George School campus. Be the best mother you can be and allow them to follow their own hearts. I was back in Newtown for a revisit day with my youngest child, Faith. She was weighing the pros and cons of enrolling as a boarder at George School, just as her older brother, Quin, had seven years ago. Quin, now 22, started at George School in the fall of 2006. He was a dispirited 14-year-old, given to wearing the hood of his sweatshirt up so that his face was hidden. While he had never known failure, he had also never known ease in school. Overmeasured, frequently-tested, quantified and profiled, he had all but disappeared under that hood. I knew my boy was in there, my
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magical and quirky child who could figure out how to take apart my Kitchenaid mixer and fix it, my marvelously funny kid who could read a room better than he could read a book, but I couldn’t quite find him. Leaving him at George School was a leap of faith for me and relief for him. Quin discovered himself during his years there, somewhere between that third floor room in Orton and Carter’s woodshop. The hood came down, the smile was easy on his face. He grew tall and winsome; he made a lot of jokes. He hijacked the Westtown moose head. I got comments from the Admission Office, where his co-op was to be a tour guide. “We love Quin. We just wish he wouldn’t give tours in his pajamas.”
“What?” he asked when confronted. “It makes people realize they can be comfortable here.” He also had his struggles. I became more intimate with the Dean’s office than I wished. I sought solace on the porch of Main with Jenna, his advisor who quickly became mine, too. Between the struggles, he was encouraged. He learned that he would be valued after making a mistake, maybe even more so for having fallen down, gotten up, and dusted himself off. He found himself to be a gifted artist, a valued friend, a trusted ally. His senior year, he took an unfinished hunk of wood and made it into a glowing bowl with a deep curve to the rim. When he gave it to me, he explained that the weight of the bowl would settle into the shape of my palm, making the heavy thing almost weightless. He found, in this elegantly articulate way, the marriage between form and function, between the prosaic and the lyric, the beauty in the every day. And he did it without words. Now Faith, his sister, was thinking about coming to George School. Her brother was on the west coast in design school, distant enough in time that only a handful of faculty would describe her as “Quin’s sister” rather than Faith. Still, as the youngest of four, she wanted her own place, her own story, her own adventure. She didn’t want to walk in anyone’s footsteps.
I wanted her to have the same revelatory experience her brother had; I wanted her to learn there are many different paths, all equally valuable, to finding your gifts. I wanted her at George School, where I knew she would be seen and heard, not just measured and tested. I wanted to take her by her slim shoulders and say “This is your place, not just your brother’s.” I knew I couldn’t pick a school for her; I knew I had to let her choose for herself. So on that revisit day, I took one last long walk around George School, stopping where Quin had graduated, so dapper in his jacket that day, all the white of the girls’ dresses, the green of the grass, the light so kind and sweet and soft after those dark first days. I said a silent thank you to George School and got into the car with Faith, ready to hear she had decided to go to a different school, a new place where she could make her own way. I started the car and drove the long way out, past the barn. “I’m going to George School,” Faith said before I had pulled out into traffic. “I feel like the people here are good to each other all the time, not just when other people are watching.” And so it begins. A new path.
READ MORE AT WWW.G EORG ESCHOOL.ORG /VOICES
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Stickney Endowed Scholarship Fund Helps Students Thrive When George Stickney, Jr. ’34 and wife Valentina decided to establish the George H. Stickney, Jr. ’34 Endowed Scholarship Fund, they were planting figurative seeds. The fund would help bright students who couldn’t otherwise afford George School to attend the school George loved. In the years that followed, the couple caught glimpses of the saplings those seeds were becoming through letters from scholarship recipients. Though George would not live to see the trees mature, Valentina carried her husband’s plans forward and dramatically increased the scholarship’s reach, planting a forest for the future. At George School, George was a member of the Boys’ Glee Club and Mixed Chorus. A threeseason athlete, he was a member of the varsity wrestling team, the varsity football team, the varsity soccer team, and the varsity track team. After graduating from George School eighty years ago, George earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and owned a successful New Jersey real estate firm. In 1986, the Stickneys made their initial donation—$23,000—to endow the Stickney scholarship fund, with no restrictions apart from the need of the students. To date it has funded eleven of them. “I want to thank you for the George H. Stickney, Jr. ’34 Endowed Scholarship Fund that your husband gave to George School,” wrote Zauraiz Syeda ’15. “Without it, I never would have had this amazing opportunity to be a student here and benefit from the George School community… I would never have had this chance at letting my life speak.”
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Similar sentiments were voiced by other recipients in regular letters to the Stickneys and, after George died, to Valentina alone. Students shared not only their gratitude but also their enthusiasm for George School. Their notes included a look into their lives at school and the impact that their ability to attend George School has had. “This being my senior year and pursuing the IB Diploma, I have a very demanding workload. I find that all of my classes are highly invigorating and full of depth, requiring me to work harder and think more deeply than I ever have before…. In the fall term I ran cross-country. Although cross-country appears to be an individualistic sport, it is actually very team-oriented and I love being a part of such a unified whole,” wrote Arya Mazanek ’11. “This year is my second year in George School’s IB program. It has been both a challenging and exhilarating ordeal…. The public school near me does not offer any courses that come close to the intensity of the IB classes. Thank you for the opportunity to expand my mind,” shared Arun Blatchley ’08. “Including monologue performances, I will have been involved in fourteen George School productions by this spring. Without the support of the George School community, I may not have chosen to pursue a career in acting…. But the aspect of this experience I cherish most of all is the simple act of living here.” These letters and others like them had their own impact on the Stickneys. Shortly before George died in 1997, they received a letter from Jason White ’98 that read, “I would not be at George School, but would be stuck in Brooklyn without this scholarship.” George told Valentina that he wanted to do more for the school, so in 1998, happy to hear that Jason was doing well at Brown University, she honored her husband’s wish and made a second gift to the fund. After Valentina herself passed away in 2013, the school learned that
ZAURAIZ SYEDA ’15, ARYA MAZANEK ’11, AND ARUN BLATCHLEY ’08 are among the many students that have benefitted from the generosity of George ’34 and Valentina Stickney.
she had bequeathed an additional $830,000 to its financial aid endowment. Hearing this news, some recipients have reiterated their thanks, including Jarrad Packard ’04. The Georgetown University graduate and member of the Yankton and Oglala Sioux feels that his life working on the Management Policy and Internal Control Staff at the Indian Health Service in Washington DC is due in large part to George School: “I loved George School. I often wonder where my life would be if I wasn’t afforded the opportunity to go there. Being a George School student opened up a world of opportunity I wouldn’t have been exposed to living in South Dakota,” said Jarrad. “The only reason I was able to attend George School was because of the scholarship provided for me. It was amazing meeting other students from different parts of the world and from a wide range of economic backgrounds. I was able to relate to people and see myself in them. Another important outlook I gained while at George School was the feeling that I could be anything I wanted to be. I attribute my passion for working with Indians with my positive experience of being a George School student.” Jason White, the young man whose letter influenced the Stickneys sixteen years ago, is currently getting his master’s in civil engineering in Perth, Western Australia. “I am glad that what I wrote in my letter inspired the Stickneys to help more students go to George School,” he said. “I was very happy to have an opportunity to succeed in whatever I wanted through George
School. The Stickneys’ generosity allowed me to be in an environment that opened my mind and my heart to possibilities and emotions that would help me later in life that I could not foresee back then. I’m very thankful for that and I hope their generosity helps many others to do the same.” George’s late niece, Mary (Molly) Stickney Hobson ’61 said, “My uncle impressed me with his lifetime of generous gifts, without fanfare. He seldom let others know how generous he was, and it was only through brief glimpses we were able to see the true George, who did so much so that others would not have to suffer.” With their latest gift, the Stickneys have ensured that many, many more young people will thrive.
“W ithout the Stickney Endowed Scholarship, I never would have had this amazing opportunity to be a student here and benefit from the George School community…. I would never have had this chance at letting my life speak.”
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George School Chorale Shines at Carnegie Hall
THE GEORGE SCHOOL CHORALE performed at Carnegie Hall on Monday, March 24 under the direction of master conductor Dr. Brad Holmes of Millikin University.
Since Carnegie Hall opened in 1891, the renowned Manhattan concert venue has played host to countless exceptional performers. In March 2014, members of the George School Chorale headed to New York City to live out their dreams and perform on one of the most well-known stages in the world. It was magic. They delivered an unforgettable performance at the iconic music hall. “Just seeing them walk onto the stage was thrilling, but the sound—oh, my, the sound—was full of joy and beauty and energy and purpose,” said religion teacher Carolyn Lyday, one of the many members of the George School community in the audience that night. “It made me feel glad to be alive.”
On the Road to Carnegie Hall The road to Carnegie Hall began about five years ago when Chorale Director Jackie Coren first learned of the three-day residency program at Carnegie Hall offered by Manhattan Concert Productions. The program, known as the “Octavo
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Series,” invites qualified ensembles to “collaborate with other high school choirs from across the United States to perform [an] exciting repertoire— a distinctive variety of six shorter works.” “Last year it seemed I had the group that could possibly do that,” said Jackie. “So I put together a short audition CD and sent it to them, and we were accepted.” “We all thought she was joking when she told us,” said Alie Tomlin ’15 from Levittown, Pennsylvania. “This is a dream for all of us. To be selected for this program, to train in New York, and sing at Carnegie Hall is really an honor.” “The simple thought of going and performing on that stage brings joy to my heart,” said Travin Williams ’16 from Fairburn, Georgia, when Jackie shared the news with the Chorale members. “Being able to sing at Carnegie Hall is a gigantic deal for me. Singing for me is second nature. I’ve always been able to sing in front of crowds, but at this magnitude—it’s just unbelievable.”
DURING THE PERFORMANCE of “Noel,” Jermaine Doris ’15 and Christian Sparacio ’14 gave solo performances and members of the full choir stepped forward to emphasize the power of the song.
“Our students were committed and worked very hard all year,” said Jackie. “They rehearsed and yes, practiced, practiced, practiced. To sing at Carnegie Hall is an opportunity of a lifetime. It allows students to broaden their horizons, and that setting and achieving of goals is important.” Their music included “Misericordias Domini K. 222” by Amadeus Mozart, edited by Michael Gibson, “And the Heart Replies” by Brad Holmes, “Heartland” by Gary Fry, “Noel” by Todd Smith, arranged by Brad Holmes in Kituba, and “Thou Gracious God Whose Mercy Lends” arranged by Mack Wilberg. “I am amazed by their progress,” said Jackie. “We worked with music they normally wouldn’t experience and arrangements that can be difficult to learn. Our students made great progress and gained confidence at every practice. Clearly there was a lot of singing going on outside the classroom.”
New York Residency Program After practicing inside and outside of their classroom, members of the Chorale traveled to New York City to meet their master conductor— Dr. Brad Holmes of Millikin University—and the students from three other high school choirs from across the United States who were also accepted into the program. “It was pretty overwhelming. Together we were more than 140 chorus members in one room,” said Colin Chewning ’16, of Morrisville, Pennsylvania. “The power of all of our voices was a different experience but one that was really, really awesome.” The students from all four schools came well prepared and Dr. Holmes was a master conductor in every sense of the meaning. He was very personable and quickly made the students feel like it was
an honor to work with them. Singing during the rehearsals was a whole-body experience, one that was challenging, fun, and inspiring. “Our rehearsals with Dr. Holmes were beyond amazing,” said Jackie. “Very quickly he was able to pull the four choirs into one group that seemed to have been singing together for a long time. He not only raised the level of their musicianship but of their love of music.” “It was wonderful to work with Dr. Holmes and we were able to meet and interact with students from around the country, all of them with different backgrounds,” said Jewel Fort ’15 of El Dorado, Arizona. “It was not only a musical connection, it was also a connection with new friends. To me that was an important part of the whole experience.” “I don’t know many high school students that can perform at this level of singing,” said Dr. Holmes. “The looks on our student’s faces beaming with pride were worth every minute they spent rehearsing,” said Arts Department Head Maureen West, who traveled with the students to Carnegie Hall for the rehearsals and performance in New York. “I am so proud of them. Their dedication and hours of learning and practicing with Jackie all year were inspiring.” The students spent more than ten hours in intensive rehearsals over the three-day residency program. In addition to the rehearsals, they enjoyed a Broadway show and the sights and sounds of New York.
On the Stage Finally it was Monday night. Parents, teachers, and other George School community members settled into their seats, buzzing with excitement. Backstage, students from four high school choirs
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chatted and laughed together, tugging cuffs and smoothing skirts. Then it was time to take the stage and shine. Tom Hoopes ’83, head of the Religion Department, and his wife Beth were among the audience. “We held George School Chorale members in the light as they walked onto the stage,” said Tom. The combination was luminous. Beth said, “Imagine what it would feel like to be not just a teacher or advisor but to be a parent of one of the singers.” Dr. Holmes raised his baton and the performance began. The opening song, “Misericordias Domini K. 222” by Amadeus Mozart, filled the concert hall and the hearts of the audience. Each song, performed in the acoustically perfect hall, built upon the success of the last. Too soon the beautiful music was over. The students ended their performance to thunderous applause and a lifetime of special memories to share with family and friends. “It was an honor to be invited to perform at Carnegie Hall,” said Linh Phan ’16 of Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam. “Being on this stage has strengthened my love for music and performing,” enthused Daisy Noe ’16 of Newtown, Pennsylvania. Two members of the Chorale have even bigger bragging rights. Jermaine Doris ’15 of Passaic, New Jersey and Christian Sparacio ’14 of Marlboro,
New Jersey were selected during a special audition process to give solo performances during “Noel” by Todd Smith, in Kituba, a language from Central Africa. “I was mulling it over all day—how would I fill up this whole hall with just my voice,” said Jermaine. “It’s nerve-racking, but incredible.” “Going up on stage at historic Carnegie Hall, alongside my peers and representing George School—having a solo and singing with Jermaine—and then hearing all the applause,” said Christian at the end of the performance. “There is nothing better. It was the best experience of my life.” “Be proud. Be joyful,” Maureen told George School faculty and staff in an email the day of the concert. “These wonderful musicians and students are our legacy and great ambassadors for our entire community.” “Singing at Carnegie Hall was an amazing experience. I became very close with the other members of our Chorale because we spent so much time together rehearsing for the concert over this past year,” said Min Kyu Lee ’14 of Seoul, Korea during meeting for worship at George School when he stood to speak a few days after the performance. “The concert was a high point in my life. It not only changed my life, it changed who I am.”
WHEN NOT REHEARSING or performing, members of the chorale had the opportunity to explore New York City. They saw a Broadway performance of “Wicked” and visited the Top of the Rock observation deck at Rockefeller Center.
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William L. Haar ’00 and Annemarie Haar ’98
Submit your George School sweetheart story and photo to our website We launched a new feature called “Sweetheart Stories” and we can’t wait to hear from you. Did your eyes meet across a crowded classroom? Was it love at first sight? Maybe you found the love of your life at a reunion. To share your sweetheart story and add a photo, just go to future.georgeschool.org, and click the “Share Stories & Photos” tab on the far left of the home page to share your own photo and story in the George School Compendium. It’s simple to do. If you have questions, call Tessa Bailey-Findley at 215.579.6572 for help.
William knew from the beginning that one day Annemarie would be his wife. When he told her that in 1998 she laughed it off. Just a year later they were dating. It wasn’t long before William had moved to California to be with Annemarie during her undergrad career. In 2003, Annemarie realized what William had known since the beginning. She proposed, spontaneously, in the parking lot of a Home Depot. A year later they were married. After an extended honeymoon which they spent traveling and working internationally, they returned to the states for the birth of their first daughter. Now they are happily settled in California and their second daughter was born last year. In 2014 they will celebrate their ten-year anniversary, by dropping the kids off at grandma’s and heading to South America for a short trip.
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Remembering the Fun at
2009 W E LO V E G E O R G E SCHO O L!
Me mb ers of the Cla ss of 1999 se reunite d outside of the meeting hou to sha re the ir fon d mem ories of Ge org e Sch ool.
Alumn i learne d more about the new Mollie Dodd Anderson Libra ry and curren t construction progress.
The Class of 1964 posed for their 45th reunion picture on the steps of South Main.
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e Two new tw in fac ult y hom es wer d O. dedicated, one in mem ory of Ric har Sm ith ’36 and the oth er in hon or of Joh n and Jac kie Streetz, former fac ult y and sta ff mem bers.
The varsit y boys’ lacros se team challe nged the alumn i lacros se team in a competitive game for bragg ing rights .
Th e da nc e depa rtme nt pres en te d a tribu te in me mo ry of Ca rter Wag ho rn e ’99 on Re d Sq ua re .
The varsit y girls’ lacros se team (in tie-dy ed shirts) welco med the alumn i team back to the field.
Alumni Weekend MAY 9, 10, AND 11, 2014
Alumni Weekend 2014 will be here before you know it—and we are looking forward to welcoming back alumni and friends from the classes of 1939 to 2004 (and everyone in between). The celebration will be filled with community-wide events designed for all alumni as well as current students, parents, and faculty. So make your plans, pack your family, and join us for a fun-filled weekend reconnecting with friends and classmates. “Alumni weekend is for everyone in the community,” said Director of Alumni Relations Karen Suplee Hallowell and parent of a 2007 graduate. “We hope alumni, parents, and friends of the school will all feel welcome to come back to campus and renew old friendships.” This year’s celebration will include an Instrumental Music open rehearsal on Thursday at 3:00 p.m. Orchestra alumni are invited to join for “Pirates of the Caribbean” and “Radestky March.” On Friday May 9, the events kick off with assembly at 10:25 a.m. featuring Lael Brainard ’79, a nominee for Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. At 11:15 a.m. join student tour guides for a campus walking tour and see how things have changed in the last few years, followed by lunch in the dining room. At 1:30 p.m. hear the George School Chorale perform the repertoire from their recent performance at Carnegie Hall then finish the day cheering on the Cougars as the
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varsity boys’ tennis team takes on Solebury School at 4:00 p.m. and the varsity boys’ baseball team takes on Solebury School at 7:00 p.m. under the lights at neighboring Northampton baseball field. On Saturday, May 10 join current and former faculty for breakfast at 8:00 a.m. in the Class of 1983 Café in the Mollie Dodd Anderson Library followed by memorial meeting for worship in the meetinghouse at 9:00 a.m. At 10:00 a.m. head over to the tennis courts for open tennis or attend one of two master classes—“Thirty Years of IB Program Success” with Ralph Lelii or “A Conversation with Lael Brainard ’79.” At 11:00 a.m. honor Lael, John Streetz, former George School faculty member and the first African-American teacher at George School, and our retiring faculty—Maria Crosman and Fran Bradley during the All-Alumni Gathering. At 2:00 p.m. find your way to Marshall Center Lawn for a tree dedication in memory of Nate McKee ’79 and at 3:30 p.m. the All Community BBQ will kick off along Farm Drive after the alumni games. Round out your weekend with meeting for worship and brunch on Sunday before departing for home. Visit www.georgeschool.org/alumniweekend to see the full event details. Questions? Contact Meg Peake ’03 at 215.579.6564.
ALUMNI WEEKEND 2014 SCHEDULE OF EVENTS
T H U R S D AY, M AY 8
S ATU R D AY, M AY 1 0
8:00 a.m.-2:00 p.m. Welcome Center
Instrumental Music Open Rehearsal
F R I D AY, M AY 9
8:00-9:00 a.m. Alumni-Faculty Breakfast
10:2 5-11:10 a.m. — seating begins at 10:00 a.m. All-School Assembly: Economics in Challenging Times Lael Brainard ’79
Class of 1983 Café, Anderson Library
Auditorium, Walton Center
11:15 a.m.-Noon Campus Walking Tour
10:00 a.m. Tennis – Alumni and Students Welcome
Admission Office 11:3 0 a.m.-12:3 0 p.m. Lunch with Students, Faculty, and Alumni
Dining Room, Main 1:3 0 p.m. Carnegie Hall Redux
Meetinghouse Join us in celebrating the students of the George School Chorale as they perform selections from their recent Carnegie Hall debut. 4:00 p.m. Varsity Boys’ Tennis vs. Solebury School
Tennis Courts 7:00 p.m. Varsity Boys’ Baseball vs. Solebury School
Northampton Baseball Field
9:00-9:4 5 a.m. Memorial Meeting for Worship
Tennis Courts by Hallowell Arts Center 10:00-10:4 5 a.m. Master Classes Thirty Years of IB Program Success Conference Room, Anderson Library International Baccalaureate (IB) Coordinator Ralph Lelii shares his perspective on this rigorous academic program that aims to create a better and more peaceful world through intercultural understanding and respect. A Conversation with Lael Brainard ’79 Auditorium, Walton Center Join Fran Bradley as he interviews Lael Brainard ’79, economic advisor during the Clinton and Obama administrations. Her areas of expertise include competitiveness, trade policy, international economics, US foreign assistance, and global poverty.
11:00 a.m.-Noon All-Alumni Gathering
Meetinghouse Join us in honoring economist Lael Brainard ’79, former science teacher John Streetz, and retiring teachers Fran Bradley and Maria Crosman. Noon-1:00 p.m. Buffet Lunches 1:00-2:3 0 p.m. Reunion Photos 2:00 p.m. Alumni Games Boys’ Baseball, Boys’ Lacrosse Girls’ Lacrosse
Playing Fields 2:00 p.m. Tree Dedication in Memory of Nate McKee ’79
Marshall Center Lawn 3:3 0-6:00 p.m. All Community BBQ
Tent along Farm Drive, above baseball field Evening Off Campus Reunion Events
S U N D AY, M AY 11 10:4 5-11:3 0 a.m. Meeting for Worship
Meetinghouse 11:3 0 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Sunday Brunch
Dining Room, Main
10:3 0 a.m.-2:3 0 p.m. Children’s Moonbounce
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Alumni Award Recipient: Lael Brainard ’79 The distinguished résumé of economist Lael Brainaird ’79 provides a hint as to why George School chose her for its 2014 Alumni Award. She has served in both the Clinton and Obama administrations, most recently as the Treasury Department’s top financial diplomat, and has been nominated by President Obama for the Board of Governors of the Federal Reserve. (As of this writing, she awaits confirmation.) But the Alumni Award is not intended to reward career prestige as much as to honor graduates who have used their talents, expertise, and personal commitment to make a positive impact on their communities and the world. Determined to help forge economies that improve lives, Lael has and will continue to make a profound impact. It’s hard to say which experiences most influenced her life’s work, but Lael’s global perspective certainly started young. The child of a foreign service officer, she grew up largely abroad. “George School was really the first time I’d lived anywhere for four years,” she admits. “In a way, it was my first home in the States.” When not at school, she lived in Cold War Poland, in what she saw as “a Communist country dominated by an oppressive state.” Meanwhile, at George School Lael was both “adventurous and mischievous, flirting with the edges of the world” and inspired by her teachers. She cites the intellectual vibrancy of English teacher Ann Renninger and the positive support of French teacher Claudie Fischer, “who always made connections between what we were doing in the classroom and how we could use it in the world.” She also loved how Fran Bradley brought his work in Central America into her economics course. “He not only taught economics as an academic discipline,” she remembers, “but he also was really motivated by how the economy was working for people in the world. I had no intention of becoming an economist at the time, but it animated my feeling about how the economy could be innovative for social mobility.” Though neither her George School teachers nor she herself could have predicted her varied jobs or economic influence, she can in hindsight see seeds sown thirty-five years ago. After attending
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Wesleyan and Harvard, where she received a master’s and doctorate in economics, Lael was an associate professor of applied economics at MIT’s Sloan School of Management. “I spent a long time in academia and loved it,” she says, “in part by being inspired by teachers like Ann Renninger.” The French she’d learned in Claudie’s class became vital when she worked on micro-enterprise in Senegal. In the Clinton administration, Lael was deputy national economic adviser and deputy assistant to the president for international economics. From there she became a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, a Washington DC think tank, and served as vice president and director of its Global Economy and Development program. Before her nomination to the Federal Reserve, she was undersecretary for international affairs at Treasury, where her job included negotiating on economic issues with global financial leaders. Among her areas of expertise are competitiveness, trade policy, international economics, US foreign assistance, and global poverty. “Right now the greatest focus for me is the way that the economy is working to provide opportunity. The power of our economy has been to bring people of disadvantaged backgrounds up, to unleash the power of their ideals. But it is no longer providing those kinds of opportunities. The questions that I’ll be confronting at the Fed, after the huge financial crisis, concern how we can renew our economy so it provides for social mobility and dynamism. That’s where I see a connection to Quakerism. We see potential in everybody, that everybody should have an equal possibility to make a contribution. We need to keep working so that the economy is a strong foundation for our society and an inspiration for people in other countries.” If she is appointed to the Fed, George School’s Alumni Award may not be the biggest accolade Lael receives in 2014. But she still finds it “a wonderful surprise and a huge honor.”
Distinguished Service Award Recipient: John Streetz With his wife Jackie, John Streetz integrated George School in 1950, when he became the school’s first faculty member of color (and she the first office staff). John’s impact goes beyond being a trailblazer, however. Long after his sixteen years as a science teacher, student counselor, and dean, he continued to give to the school as an advisor, committee volunteer, and fundraiser. Now the school is giving back to him, honoring him with its Distinguished Service Award, for non-alumni. To hear John describe it, it’s not the first gift he’s gotten from George School. John received a rigorous science education from Lincoln University in the 1940s, but he still couldn’t get a job with local industry giants. Instead he found work as a playground manager for Media Friends School and over time taught natural science and shop there. Meanwhile, students at George School were lobbying hard for integration. With the support of then-head Richard McFeely, John was hired. Between 1950 and 1966, John, Jackie, and soon-to-arrive daughter Pamela called George School home, even “taking it with us wherever we were.” John taught biology and chemistry, was a class sponsor and day-boy counselor, coached track and the new cross-country team, and in his last year served as acting dean. While helping countless students to grow, he was growing himself. “I was lucky enough to have several mentors, Dick McFeely and Bill Burton, head of the Science Department, among them,” John remembers. “They spent lives giving of themselves and giving to learning.” The school helped him secure a GE fellowship to get his master’s from Wesleyan University, and he was supported in developing new science curricula. Students, too, were “part of my learning curve.” In 1962 he and Jackie took their first international trip when they supervised a three-month work camp at an orphanage in Lahr, Germany—“very hard work and very rewarding.” It’s a testament to the love his former work camp students feel for him that John is still in touch with so many of them, including both George
School and European students. In fact, a German member was the first person to contact John after an earthquake hit California, where he now lives. (From George School, he went on to be assistant headmaster at Oakwood Friends School, in New York, and then to California, where he worked at the Athenian School and the California College of Arts and Crafts.) Jackie passed away in 2013, and John had surgery soon after. But he still enjoys an active lifestyle, bicycling, birding, and seeing many George School student and faculty friends. Other testaments to John’s impact can be seen on campus. In 2009 the school named new faculty housing, a duplex, for the Streetzes—one side for John and the other for Jackie. For its 50th reunion in 2011, the Class of 1961 raised funds for an endowed scholarship in tribute to their class sponsor and his wife. And in more subtle ways, George School has benefited from John’s service on its advisory board, centennial campaign committee, and, for about a decade, Resources Committee, which assessed and ensured the school’s educational quality and financial stability. As Head of School Nancy Starmer put it in describing why the committee selected John for the award, “As a beloved teacher and courageous pioneer at George School, [he remains] an important figure in the heart and soul of this school and the extended George School community.” For John’s part, he is “honored by an institution that is spiritually and emotionally fulfilling and that stands for values. It has been a place of support and nurture for Jackie, Pamela, and me. In a word, it’s our home.”
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Campus News & Notes
Students Explore 3D Printing One of today’s hottest new technologies, 3D printing and rapid prototyping, is being explored by George School students in their classrooms. While 3D printing is still in its early stage, robotics and physics teacher Chris Odom predicts that personal manufacturing, like personal computing, is about to become mainstream in a big way.
George School Brings Jane Austen to Life The George School production of Pride and Prejudice packed Walton Auditorium for two consecutive nights on February 21 and 22, keeping the audience laughing and engaged throughout the two hour show. With a minimalist set and simple period costumes, the show relied on the acting abilities of cast members to keep the audience riveted.
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Students Spend Spring Break in Service More than thirty students spent their spring break doing more than soaking up the sun and sleeping late. Groups of students participating in schoolsponsored service trips traveled to Nicaragua, France, South Africa, Washington, DC, and Mississippi. They built houses with Habitat for Humanity, worked as teaching assistants, repaired schools and health clinics, and supported food banks and food kitchens. Learn more about their work at georgeschool.org/voices.
New Program Offers Math Support The George School Mathematics Department offers students a new way to seek help if they are struggling with homework problems or need clarification on particular math concepts. Monday through Thursday evenings in the library students can seek help from math teachers and student tutors who are available during study hall.
Live Music Weekend Rocks Marshall For two nights, George School’s Marshall Center became a black-lit, jam-packed club that pulsed with music and dancing. The 2014 Live Music Weekend, a longtime George School tradition run by student organization Goldfish ’n Java, was held on February 7 and 8, and was by all accounts a huge success. About twenty-eight acts, ranging from acoustic duos to rock bands, rappers, and rhythm and blues artists, took to the stage to entertain the masses for a total of ten hours on Friday and Saturday nights.
CAMPUSALUMNI NEWS &TELL NOTES US
IB Students Participate in Weekend Science Retreat Students in IB Science classes at George School participated in a pirate themed IB science retreat on January 17 and 18. Working in small groups, the students wrote a hypothesis, designed an experiment, ran trials to test their experiment, and created a poster that was presented at a science fair on January 23. Drayton Wins Green Cup Over four weeks from January 15 through February 12, George School students have been closely monitoring their electricity usage as part of the national Green Cup Challenge organized by the Green Schools Alliance. The challenge encouraged
students to decrease their electricity consumption by lowering heat, turning off lights, taking shorter showers, and finding other ways to conserve energy. Despite the difficult winter, the boys of Drayton Dorm were still able to lower their average electricity consumption by 8 percent during the competition, winning the challenge.
Athletics News Jerrica Bauer ’16 has earned a spot among the top runners in the country this year with her recent success at the Pennsylvania State Championships on March 1. Breaking her own school record by nearly twenty-two seconds in the 3,000 meter run, she earned a sixth place medal overall and joined the top ten runners in the state. Her
Student Photographers Exhibit at Drexel Four George School photography students had work selected for the 2014 Drexel University High School Photography Contest Exhibit. The images are among 125 chosen from more than 1,350 photographs submitted by high school students across the United States.
sixth place win also earned her a ranking among the top fifty runners nationally, no small feat for a sophomore. The boys’ varsity swim team took second place at the Friends Schools League Championship on February 8. The boys finished strong beating out a number of competitors including Westtown, Shipley, Moorestown Friends, Abington Friends, and Friends Select. George School’s varsity wrestling team captured third place in the Friends Schools League Championships at Westtown School on February 8. Aidan Greer ’14 placed sixth in the 132-pound weight class at the Pennsylvania Independent Schools Wrestling Tournament and qualified to compete at the National Prep Wrestling Tournament. Maggie Cherney ’14, Emily Dave ’14, Nicole Frenock ’14, and Brittany Mokshefsky ’14 have been named to the 2013 Gladiator National Academic Squad by the National Field Hockey Coaches Association.
Exhibition Honors Student Art The Phillips’ Mill Youth Art Exhibition honored eleven George School students at its inaugural show. “Purple Lake” by Maggie Chen ’15 was one of the award winners selected by the show’s juror, Marcia Weikert. Other George School artists included in the exhibition are Kailin Dong ’15, Jacob Fisher ’14, Christina Gummere ’16, Scott Hoang ’14, Virginia Johnson ’14, Ceinwen Klaphaak ’14, Sophie Myles ’14, Katie Rodgers ’14, Emily Sohn ’14, and Esther Tang ’15.
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Alumni Show Us EDITED BY TIFFANY OLSZUK AND MEG PEAKE ’03 Thanks to our alumni who shared the following photos with us.
1947: Arthur C. Henrie ’47 was photographed on his bike for the cover of a Pennswood Village publication.
1954: E. David Luria ’54, founder and director of the Washington Photo Safari.
1947: Gouverneur (Gouv) Cadwallader ’47
1959: Robert C. Schmidt ’59, Robert (Bob) B. Dockhorn ’59, and Joan Postlethwaite Longcope ’59 gathered for their 50th college reunion at Oberlin.
1957: Elizabeth (Liz) New Weld Nolan ’57 and Judith (Judy) Talbot Campos ’57 at the wedding of Judith’s son Jim in February 2013.
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1956: Marty Paxson Grundy and several George School grads gathered for a reunion in New Mexico last September.
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1961: Margaret Uehlein Suby Dorney ’61 posed for a photo after successfully completing a twenty-seven-mile bike for hunger fundraiser for the Jamaica Plain MA food pantry in September.
1962: Clifford B. Heisler Jr ’62 celebrated his seventieth birthday.
1965: Margo Vitarelli ’65 shared photos of the botanical gardens and cultural site at the Manoa Heritage Center in Hawaii, where she works, and a personal photo taken in 2013.
1967: Roger K. Eareckson ’67 (ffac) was honored by the Maryland State Athletic Directors Association by being voted into its athletic director’s hall of fame. Roger (in the back) displays his award.
1970: Roger L. Kay ’70 wrote, “Here is a screenshot of me from a client’s teleconferencing system. It was cold in the Northeast, and, after telling the people at the other end (who were in California) that I had been wearing a hat before the conference started, they encouraged me to put it back on. They also wanted an expression of optimism for the photo, which you see in the window inset on their huge conference-room display.
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1979: Jennifer Keller ’79 celebrated with her daughter Susanna, who made the 7th/8th grade lacrosse team at Belmont Day School.
1970: Wendy L. Talbot ’70 and her dog, Spirit, in August 2013.
1987: Andes Van Syckle Hruby’87 and her daughter enjoy spring lacrosse.
1975: Pamela J. Holberton ’75 holds her new puppy, Lucy B. Goosey.
1994: Abe Forman-Greenwald ’94 and Anna Forman-Greenwald ’98 posed for a photo at Lake Tahoe in their George School attire.
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1987: Sara Shepperd ’87 , sister Carrie Shepperd Butler ’90, and Carrie’s daughter Emily Stephens, were featured on an ABC News special about local dog rescue groups.
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1984: Pictured from left to right are: Tamis E. Nordling, Randi Mittleman, Laura Goldberg Saluja, Jennifer Kasirsky, Elizabeth Eggleston, and Wendy L. Margulies.
From left to right in the second photo are: Laura Goldberg Saluja, Jennifer Kasirsky, Tamis E. Nordling, Isabelle Fest—a French exchange student our senior year at George School, and Wendy L. Margulies.
1985: Jennifer Muth ’85 and her husband successfully navigated a swing bridge and some difficult terrain to take in the beautiful sights at the Wainui Falls in New Zealand.
1985: Tanya Y. Wright ’85 just launched ‘HAIRiette of HARLEM,’ an interactive series for women with naturally textured hair.
1986: Scott A. Sharp ’86 posed with a motorcycle that won second place in show at the Santa Clara CA Motorcycle Show after he restored it.
1994 & 1999: The family of J. Charles (Chuck) O’Neill ’94 take a break while decorating his memorial tree at George School in December 2013.
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1995: Andrew L. Levengood ’95 married Barbara Heymann at the George School Meetinghouse in September. Andrew and Barbara are pictured here on the swings just below the girls’ soccer field.
2000: Howard C. Lin ’00 posed with his family.
2002: David L. Waldman ’02 got engaged to Marian Leitner in November.
1992: Jessica Miranda ’92 married John Punsalan in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico last summer.
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1985: Lane J. Savadove ’85 married Melanie Julian in July 2013. GS friends Kurt G. Leasure and M. Kelly Rayel were there.
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2001: Stephen P. Lunger ’01 (far right) performed with his company, Hip Hop Fundamentals, during a TED talk in Bermuda.
2006: Hannah B. Kane ’06 recently traveled to Chile, Bolivia, and Brazil. Here she is overlooking Ipanema Beach in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.
2003: Nicole I. Greenbaum ’03 performed on “Aerial Silks” in Melbourne Australia.
2003: Cristina (Tina) Rysz DiSabatino ’03 met Dominique Cherebin Martinez ’03 and Meredith Gluck ’03 for brunch in New York City. 2005: Morgan C. Siem ’05 performed on “Aerial Silks” as part of her work as a circus performer.
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The Georgian is the official publication of George School.