pu bl i c at i on of ge orge scho o l, ne w tow n, pennsy lvania
Inside August 2012
pe r s pe ctive s
a c e ntr al m e eti n g plac e
Embracing Religious Diversity
For People of All Faiths
Beautiful Weather Set the Stage
Dedicating Cougar Track and Cougar Field
alu m n i we e ke n d
h o n o r thy c oac h e s
Table of Contents
Vol. 84 | No. 02 | August 2012
PHOTOs: Inside Front Cover: Ejigayehu Diriba ’14 and Nene Diallo ’14 examine the organ systems of a squid they dissected in biology class. Front Cover: Sunlight streams through the 200-year-old meetinghouse moved to George School’s campus in 1973. (Photos by Bruce Weller)
20 Campus news & notes
13 A Central Meeting Place for People of All Faiths
21 alumni tell us
15 Beautiful Weather Set the Stage for Alumni Weekend
43 In memoriam
Embracing Religious Diversity 02 Spiritual Progress 04 Acting on Faith 08 Creating Global Citizens 10 eQuiz Highlights
19 Dedicating Cougar Track and Cougar Field
Nancy and Jack Starmer
JI M INVERSO
welcomed guests for the Volunteer and Leadership Donor Reception held at Sunnybanke during Alumni Weekend.
Perspectives edited by Dina Mccaffery
Embracing Religious Diversity During George School’s five-year curriculum review, we expanded our religion curriculum to offer an opportunity for students to deepen their understanding of Quakerism and to be exposed to the diversity of the world’s religions, while continuing to nurture the core values of a Friends educational community. In the process, we also reaffirmed our commitment to encouraging students to develop sensitivity to “that of God” in all individuals, to actively explore their own spirituality, and to increase their commitment to serve others. For George School students and faculty, no matter their religious or spiritual identity, weekly meeting for worship remains at the heart of the George School experience. Within the walls of the meetinghouse, generations of seekers have discovered what it means to “Mind the Light” and to follow it in their personal and professional lives. Daniel R. Heischman, former director of the Council for Religion in Independent Schools in Washington, D.C., describes the importance of
“ritual gatherings that evoke a sense of continuity with the past and give a community its identity.” He reports, “A school is religious no longer simply in terms of courses offered or instructional areas covered. Its spiritual dimension is fostered and gleaned [through these rituals and] through the interplay of relationships in the school and how people treat each other.” This Perspectives will take a look at spirituality and religious diversity in today’s world, in the classroom at George School, and in the lives—both spiritual and professional—of a few of our alumni and students. It is my hope that within these pages, you will hear stories from people who, in the words of our mission statement, “let their lives speak.”
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Spiritual Progress By Michelle Ruess Though difficult to quantify in the traditional sense, spirituality is not an amorphous topic for John Templeton Jr. ’58. As president of The John Templeton Foundation, Jack spends his days working with a staff of experts to evaluate proposals for identifying, understanding, and promoting the concept of the reality of “Spiritual Progress.” A renowned pediatric surgeon at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, Jack has spent more than a decade leading one of the world’s most generous philanthropic foundations. The John Templeton Foundation, founded in 1987 by Jack’s father, has awarded more than $540 million worth of grants to spark discoveries related to freedom and its essentials, human and Divine purpose, and timeless virtues. In addition, the Foundation sponsors the annual Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities, which exceeds $1.5 million. The Foundation’s motto, “How little we know, how eager to learn,” reflects the intellectual curiosity of both Jack and his father, as well as the commitment of the Foundation to supporting proactive inquiry and advancing human progress through breakthrough discoveries in the Big Questions of the Mind, the Spirit and the Cosmos. Jack’s original reason for enrolling at George School had little to do with spirituality. When his father recommended boarding school as good preparation for college, Jack asserted that “If I have to go to away, I want to go to a co-ed boarding school.” At that time, George School was one of the few co-educational boarding schools in the area. “Once I got here,” Jack says, “I began to feel a community-wide spiritual framework—which in a hundred different ways focused on ‘the other(s).’”
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Indeed, Jack credits George School with influencing his approach to spirituality, specifically Julius Laramore and Walter Mohr. George School became an emotional haven for Jack and a place where he came to see how a life of noble purpose can be transformative and a blessing for others. “George School was critically important in “the shaping of that transcendent essence of ‘that which is of God within every person’,” Jack says. “Mr. Laramore…taught me that human nature never changes, but that the mind is one of our greatest gifts, both to open one’s heart and also, to promote constructive skeptical stewardship,” Jack says. “…He made it clear that Truth is Real…that there are timeless Truths to study and to emulate and that what counts in life is not necessarily “being smart” but “being wise.” During his time at Orton, Jack recalls how Julius Laramore would quietly, but firmly, invite a student for “some guidance” which often became a life discussion. Although Laramore was not Quaker, Jack says, “He had a great clarity about spiritual issues, in contrast to the normal day-today world where the spiritual was often vague and fuzzy. But he was somebody who knew explicitly that there were Truths, timeless Truths—which he in turn tried to share with every Latin student (like the Latin motto of the University of Chicago) and his Orton boys, “I know that in your heart you have something to say at next week’s Orton’s meeting for worship.” Mr. Laramore set the example that led Jack to develop the framework of “constructive skeptical stewardship”—the practice of asking deep, probing questions for a positive purpose—including trying to get at the root of an issue and evaluating different hypotheses using the scientific method. Today, he applies those lessons when evaluating Foundation projects.
“O ur beliefs and values are our most important assets because they define our worldviews and therefore our behavior.”
John Templeton Jr ’58 developed the framework of constructive skeptical stewardship to evaluate Foundation projects.
In the same way, Dr. Mohr deeply influenced Jack’s thinking about duty and gratitude—both aspects of spirituality. “Dr. Mohr had such a love of America, not as perfection but as a journey trying to fulfill the concepts of the Declaration of Independence, and the precious gift from God of Freedom.” Jack recalls. “As a Quaker, he never would have been a combatant, but I could easily think of several circumstances in which he would have given his life for America.” Jack hopes that today’s George School community retains a similar sense of gratitude for the personal liberty we each enjoy and for the opportunity through freedom to do good in the world. “Our beliefs and values are our most important assets,” he notes, “because they define our worldviews and therefore our behavior.” Jack is dedicated to promoting a habit of thanksgiving. One helpful step is to appreciate our families, our loved ones, our homes, and our communities. Jack suggests that expressing praise and appreciation for someone or something is, in fact, bestowing a blessing on him or her, as well as acknowledging their divine origins. This attitude is reminiscent of the Quaker axiom—and George School motto—“Mind the Light,” that is recognizing and appreciating the light of God in each person.
“In one sense, we can, in so many ways, give thanks for so many—even small blessings—as gifts from God,” Jack says. “Have you ever thought of praise as a form of prayer?” Indeed, one of the Worldwide Laws of Life attributed to Sir John Templeton states “Our job is to say what is good and to give forth blessings, knowing that the moment we have spoken gratitude we may begin higher service.” Gratitude is the driving force behind The Templeton Prize for Progress Toward Research or Discoveries about Spiritual Realities. This prestigious award is the Foundation’s way of recognizing each year one special innovative leader in breakthroughs critical to “Spiritual Progress.” This year, the Foundation honored the Dalai Lama during a ceremony in St. Paul’s cathedral in London. The announcement, posted on the Foundation website, praised the Dalai Lama for his life’s work in building bridges of trust in accord with the yearnings of countless millions of people around the globe who have been drawn by the charismatic icon’s appeal to compassion and understanding for all. “With an increasing reliance on technological advances to solve the world’s problems, humanity also seeks the reassurance that only a spiritual quest can open the door to the essence of “Ultimate Reality,” Jack is quoted as saying. “The Dalai Lama offers a universal voice of compassion underpinned by a love and respect for spiritually relevant scientific research that centers on every single human being.”
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Acting on Faith By Sandra Pilla At first glance, it wouldn’t be easy to see what a real-estate mogul, a psychotherapist, a cultural-organization manager, a filmmaker, and a funeral director would have in common. Look closer and you’ll find the connection—community. There’s a thread that ties these alumni. It’s a spiritual approach to life and community that was so ingrained in them during their time at George School that it has seeped into their careers. It would have been easy enough for Nick Segal ’79 to capitalize solely on his real-estate career. A founding partner and president of Partners Trust Real Estate Brokerage & Acquisitions in Beverly Hills, California, Nick and fellow employees deal in high-end properties in the Pacific Palisades and other affluent Los Angeles environs. Sales translate into healthy paychecks for employees. Yet, says Nick, the company’s unofficial credo, “No deal is worth more than your integrity” applies in every situation, “even if it means walking away from a $25,000 commission check.” “You walk away if it doesn’t feel right,” he tells his associates. “And really, no one wants to be around deceit of any level. If I tell the truth, there’s a wind at my back. That, I learned early. And that’s what I love about the Quaker [philosophy]—it’s not this dogmatic push; it’s finding the good in everyone.” Nick is also an ordained minister in The Movement of Spiritual Inner Awareness Church
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and holds a master’s degree in spiritual science. “A sense of morality, equality, honesty, and integrity—all those things were certainly core principles that I saw practiced on a day-to-day basis at George School.” For Marguerite (Culp) Kearns ’60, the George School experience hit especially close to home. Marguerite, who hails from the earliest of Quakers—some of her ancestors arrived on the ship with William Penn—remains an active Friend in New Mexico, where she now resides. Although she has worked as a teacher, a community organizer, and a community journalist, she has found her true vocation in documenting, on film, social and cultural communities, with a goal of creating awareness. She is wrapping up her first film, Quaker Kringlas, about the membership and ancestry of the Santa Fe, New Mexico, Monthly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. The twenty-five minute solo effort, a film-school project, is billed as an educational piece for Friends and non-Friends for summer distribution. Marguerite says she derived more inspiration from two service learning experiences, principally a summer trip to Germany, by ship, in 1960. “Berlin was still a divided city then, and it was just a broadening experience for me,” she recounts. “It was a window on the world that led me to working as a leader in the American Friends Service Committee.”
George School Alumni: Nick Segal ’79, Marguerite (Culp) Kearns ’60, Faith Mason ’67, Edward Cohen ’82, and Jennifer Rogin Wallis ’88
“A sense of morality, equality, honesty, and integrity—all those things were certainly core principles that I saw practiced on a day-to-day basis at George School.”
Faith Mason ’67, found herself questioning organized religion while she was a student. All these years later, she holds steadfast to the idea that God is in everyone, “even if I see ‘God’ differently now.” “Often people are confined by their old religious beliefs and need to find a way to reframe or expand those,” she explains, adding, “My job as a psychotherapist is not to disagree with their beliefs; it’s not my agenda we’re following here. But my job is to help people find their own inner Light, their own authority.” Faith began to find her own ground on the George School campus, where, she says, she experienced faculty members “letting their lives speak as examples of love in action.” “It was the faculty going far beyond their job description, doing something because it’s the right thing to do,” Faith recalls. “They really set the example.” While Faith realized her calling is to guide people through life, Edward Cohen ’82, found his vocation in transitioning people through death. As a funeral director, Edward says, “my role really is to ensure that people reach their final destination.” And although he identifies as Baptist, he performs funerals in churches of various denominations and even has arranged Muslim and Hindu services. A family tragedy changed Edward’s career path from accountant to funeral director. His uncle was murdered, and Edward accompanied his
mother to the funeral parlor to make the arrangements. “And that’s when I got my epiphany,” he says. Edward eventually became licensed as a funeral director, and worked at three other parlors before arriving at Fletcher H. Townsend Funeral Home in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia, where he has been for seven years. He plans to open his own funeral service in a few years. Edward aims to provide a consoling experience, not unlike how he felt during meeting for worship back in high school. “Going to worship twice a week was a nice break. I found it soothing and comforting. I never got up and said anything, but it was nice to sit for an hour and reflect on your week.” When Jennifer Rogin Wallis ’88, transferred to George School in junior year, the warmth and comfort level of her new environment went a long way in banishing homesickness. “It was probably the best two years of my life, and really made such an impact on me,” she says. “I grew up Jewish and I knew nothing about meeting for worship. I loved it. Overall, I was in the moment. I was present. I liked the collective stillness.” The fact that she was raised Jewish in no way hindered her assimilation to the school’s Quaker philosophy, as the ethos is similar, she notes. “The qualities I liked about Quakerism are what I liked about Judaism, like doing good things for your neighbor, seeing the Light in other people, seeing the goodness.”
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Alumni Profile: The Rev. David Wright
A Pastoral Culture “G eorge School was a safe place to explore my sense of vocation outside of the church environment where I was raised. It allowed me to explore gifts and relationships in a safe and spiritually fostering environment.” By sandra Pilla When the son of a preacher himself becomes a preacher, it is easy to conclude such a career choice was preordained. And, for The Rev. David Wright ’00, family tradition naturally was an influence. But, he says, his vocation as a Christian pastor was very much an individual calling— one that was informed and inspired by his connection to his George School community. “George School was a safe place to explore my sense of vocation outside of the church environment where I was raised,” he explains. “It allowed me to explore gifts and relationships in a safe and spiritually fostering environment.” The school served as David’s launching pad. After graduation, he went on to earn a bachelor of arts in classics and religion from Amherst College and a master of divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and enter parish ministry, where he remains entrenched in his mission. Now the pastor of Panther Valley Ecumenical Church in Allamuchy, New Jersey, David credits every aspect of the George School environment for his sense of worth and openarms approach. He acknowledges several particularly influential experiences and supportive faculty members. For starters, he found peace at meeting for worship and teachers and
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coaches who took students under their wings and supported them in the classroom and in the social environment. “In the church, we call this Ministry of Presence,” David explains. Another example of that ministry was Carolyn Lyday, “a wonderful and comforting source of pastoral care and support,” especially at a tragically pivotal moment in 1998, when David’s friend and classmate Carter Waghorne ’99 died suddenly. “Life stopped on campus, and for good reason…mourning happens on its own time,” he says. Faculty members canceled classes because they wanted to comfort their students. English teacher Stephen Murdock, ffac, opted to have students plant a tree in Carter’s honor. “It’s more than being professional,” David notes. “It is understanding the needs of your community.” Thanks to that understanding, he says, classmates who have gone into professions like law and banking are no less spiritually inclined than his brethren in religious ministry. “Students are going to graduate from George School with a different attitude toward their peers and their world, in large part shaped by the school.”
Former Faculty Profile: The Right Reverend Geralyn Wolf
A Bishop’s Life
By Sandra Pilla The spiritual journey under taken by The Right Reverend Geralyn Wolf ffac is certainly one for the history books. She was only the second woman in the history of the United States Episcopal Church to be ordained a diocesan bishop. Before that, she was the first female dean of an Episcopal cathedral. Before that, she was the vicar of a mission in Philadelphia. Before that, she was a physical education teacher, and coach of hockey, basketball, tennis, and lacrosse in the 1970s at George School. Having competed in tennis at the national level, and played on the U.S. Field Hockey team, Geralyn was the perfect assistant for George School’s legendary teacher and coach Anne LeDuc. Geralyn credits George School’s Quaker style of worship for leaving an indelible mark on her own evolving spirituality. “I still have vivid memories of some of those who rose to speak, at meeting for worship,” she says. “The gift of feeling comfortable with silence continues to be formative in my spiritual experience. Alternatively, the power of the Spirit to disrupt that silence has been equally life-giving, setting me on pathways that I would not otherwise have taken.” The bishop’s path to Christianity and subsequent service in the Episcopal Church began
during her time at George School, when she was baptized at St. Andrew’s Church in Yardley. But, she says, the journey really started when she was just five years old, “when I stood outside a Catholic church and had an experience of Jesus’ embracing and enveloping presence.” Geralyn embraced her spiritual mission in 1977, when she was ordained to the Episcopal diaconate, and entered the priesthood in 1978—a time when women priests were still new and controversial. She later served as the vicar of an inner-city mission in Philadelphia for six years, then was named Dean of Christ Church Cathedral in Louisville, Kentucky, where she remained for nine years. She was consecrated into her history-making role as Rhode Island’s twelfth Episcopal bishop in 1996, serving as a leader of some sixty parishes and missions. The bishop, who recently turned sixty-five and celebrated five years of marriage to Rhode Island businessman Tom Bair, is preparing to retire later this year. She will be remembered for more than her history-making gender role or her global service missions. One of her most eminent missions took place right under the noses of her own congregation, in Providence, Rhode Island, when Wolf infiltrated the streets of Rhode Island’s capital in 2003 to experience first-hand the plight of the poor. She lived as a homeless person for one month, calling herself “Aly Wolf ” and disguising her appearance as she frequented soup kitchens and churches where her own priests and congregants served and worshiped. Her resulting book, Down and Out in Providence: Memoir of a Homeless Bishop, was published in 2005. As the bishop’s official religious service starts to wind down and church budgets everywhere continue to tighten, she predicts a renaissance of the faith. “I like to think that we are ‘reorganizing’ our expectations and discovering a faithful remnant from which a new church will emerge,” Geralyn says.
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Creating Global Citizens By Dina McCaffery Yaseen Lotfi ’13 welcomes the diversity of the George School community, especially when it comes to his religion. While he identifies as a Muslim, Yaseen’s decision to come to a Quaker school didn’t take too long to make. “Islam is a religion that focuses on community and integrating religious belief and practice into daily life. That is one thing I saw with George School immediately,” he says. “Quakerism has a strong foundation on community and I think the exceptional community here is due to its Quaker background.” George School embraces religious pluralism, currently offering twelve courses in religious studies that emphasize service, social action, and experiential learning. Religious education at George School was originally a required extracurricular activity. It wasn’t until the 1920s that it became part of the four-year curriculum. Most recently, as a result of a curriculum review process conducted from 2004-2008, religious studies have expanded to include major world religions. For Yaseen being exposed to the diversity of the world’s religions is a critical component to a high school’s course offerings. “I think too many of the misconceptions about religion originate from either a prejudiced environment or a lack of experience learning about other religions,” he contends. “Understanding various religions is critical to understanding the world in which we live today. At the very least, a general world religion class should be commonplace in most high schools. Yet, the only way a religion class can be taught accurately is if it is taught in an unbiased and truly openminded environment.” “We tell students that this is not Sunday school. You are not here to be persuaded to believe anything that you are not convinced of,” explains Religion Department Head Tom Hoopes ’83. “You are not here to become Quaker or any other religion. We are an intentionally diverse community founded on the spiritual insight that there is that of
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God in every person. And what that means to each member of the community will be personal and different.” During the last curriculum review, thenReligion Department Head Maria Crosman said that it was important to increase course content about major world religions and to “provide new students with a more extensive introduction to core Quaker principles such as integrity, simplicity, equality, and service.” Thus the course entitled Essentials of a Friends Community, a required course for freshmen and new sophomores, was born. It uses a combination of classroom activities and experiential learning to educate students about living responsibly in a Quaker community. The course also includes a valuable introduction to the school’s service program. In addition to three years of coursework in spiritual practices and religious studies, students must complete at least sixty-five hours of service during their junior or senior year. The service project is accompanied by a reflective journal that “creates an opportunity for them to personalize and deepen whatever the life lessons may be,” says Tom. The religion curriculum is designed to encourage students to develop sensitivity to “that of God” in all individuals, to develop tolerance, to explore their own spirituality, to improve their self-worth, and to increase their commitment to serve others. “Tom asks questions to spark our deeper thoughts,” says George Long ’13, referring to Tom Hoopes’ class Faith Traditions, a course requirement for freshmen. “The people at George School believe that the world can be better and society can be different. By coming to George School, I knew that after I left I would be able to make the world a better, kinder place.” Realizing that it is “normal, natural, and healthy for teens to question everything,” Tom explains that students are invited to challenge their minds and nourish their spirits throughout their time at George School. “Students really want to be part of something bigger than themselves.”
BRUC E WELLER
In Faith Traditions class Raoul Thuroff ’15 and his classmates discuss the basics of Quaker faith tradition with teacher Tom Hoopes ’83.
For Deanna Roepcke ’14, who identifies as a “Bible-believing Christian,” having options for religion courses has opened a new world for her. “It’s important to understand where people’s viewpoints come from. People’s views are based off their beliefs, which are based on their religious upbringing. When you understand where others get their ideas you can really get to know a person and understand why they may have an opinion that is different than yours.” By offering a broad range of electives, students like Deanna can be exposed to other viewpoints. For example, students in Carolyn Lyday’s Cosmology class can question their place and role in the universe, while those in Chip Poston’s Peace Studies class can study Dorothy Day’s experience with poverty. Still others can explore topics and theology and spirituality through a feminist lens in the newly-offered course Feminist Spirituality. Topics of ecological sustainability and stewardship through the lens of spirituality can be explored in Spirituality and Sustainability. And, the traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism can be compared in the Wisdom Traditions of Asia course. “It’s such a privilege to teach here and to be able to challenge students to consider their spiritual
lives and to find ways to grow them,” says Carolyn, who is in her thirty-third year teaching at George School. “What’s great about George School, is that you find a wide range of beliefs in the students and teachers, and people seem more willing to share them here,” says Rosie Robinson ’12. “I learned about Buddhist peace and meditation, Islamic traditions, deep Quakerism, and Orthodox Judaism. It’s one thing to read about other religions and a whole different experience to be friends with people who practice those beliefs.” Chip Poston, who has been a George School religion teacher for twenty-seven years, believes that a solid and diverse curriculum nurtures “religious literacy” for students. “To be educated in today’s world one should understand the basics of faith traditions. You have to have some sense of religious origins and beliefs so that you can understand what you are seeing in the world.”
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eQuiz Highlights Our most recent eQuiz asked alumni to share their thoughts on religion and religious diversity in their lives now and when they were in the classroom at George School. Some of their responses are highlighted here. Thank you to the 245 alumni who participated.
1946 | Carlos D. Luria As a CIA agent I had to be sensitive to the religious beliefs and customs in the countries in which I worked. As a Hospice volunteer, it was not unusual for the Afterlife to weigh heavily on the minds of the terminally ill.
1949 | Jean A. ( Thompson) Sharpless Wilhelm Hubben made an indelible impression on me. He wrote on the blackboard the connected letters, “HEISNOWHERE,” and asked a student to separate them into words. The first student delineated “HE IS NOW HERE;” the next uncovered “HE IS NOWHERE.” Mr. Hubben then explained the many translations the Bible has undergone throughout its history. That lesson was both liberating and empowering for a literal-minded yet questioning 13-year-old, and very instructive about how people can discover different meanings from the same text, whether it be religious, literary, fictional, or journalistic.
1954 | Eloise F. (Clymer) Haun Knowing belief systems is important to appreciate how important careful diplomacy really is... Reading Koran, Book of Mormon, Talmud, etc. should be required.
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1986 | Chuck Snow The phrase “inner light” has stuck with me throughout my adult life, and I have shared with my children the notion that spirituality does not need to come from a book or a building.
2001 | Sarah T. (Schaaf ) Adams Religion is an important area of study, both to encourage understanding of others, and in order to have a choice in your own views and beliefs. Most important, in my view, is for students to come to understand that everyone has a worldview—the agnostic as much as the atheist as much as the fundamental Muslim. We have different beliefs about the world, but we all base our decisions and opinions on our underlying worldview; I think it is impossible to be truly tolerant of others without understanding this.
2009 | Oliv ia K. Burns Before I went to GS, I really knew nothing of religion in a broader, or more importantly, an academic context. Now, when I study political economy and history, I can recognize that religion provides extremely important historical context. And more modernly, understanding religion is key if one hopes to understand anything that is going on in our world currently.
2011 | Louis T. Gentilucci The Essentials of Spirituality class was an absolute favorite. I still have the book and greatly appreciate being introduced to it. It was a magnificent class and I have tried to put those lessons to use in my life. Religion and Work
1956 | Mart y J. (Paxson) Grundy
1960 | Jane A. (Hurbanis) Ensminger
Teen years are when many people can begin to understand and accept paradox, when they can question authority, observe others beyond their more immediate family, and develop an ethical framework. Providing opportunities to examine one’s own beliefs, encounter challenging questions, begin to develop one’s own path through the moral and ethical conundrums that face humanity can be offered in a variety of classes.
I learned the principle that we are a community and as such we work together as a family. For example in the preparation and serving of meals—in the kitchen and dining room, instilled in me that the efforts of one are magnified by working together. In my memory, all had a job to do to serve each other. The idea that each person has a role in society—in community—has become a cornerstone of my faith and my daily life.
1962 | Sally W. ( Wislar) Farneth
1974 | John B. Hoffman
As a teacher, I was guided and influenced by experience in Quaker education. How I conducted my classroom, and the topics that I discussed with my students were greatly influenced by my Quaker beliefs.
While I don’t teach religion, or act as a priest, pastor, chaplain, minister, or rabbi, I believe that, as an educator, I’m profoundly influencing the lives of children I work with in my school. Children learn by example and guidance. I believe that by living and acting honorably, I positively affect the lives of the children I work with every day.
1970 | John Rarig I did not pursue a religious career, but I’ll take this opportunity to say that GS did inspire me to do good works rather than to value money over everything else.
1977 | Pamela (Howard) Goffman I am a psychotherapist, and spirituality is needed in my work. I often use meditation as a tool for
bonds and foster good will towards one another. I recall attending meeting for worship during times of great loss (passing of students/alumni, teacher retirements, etc.) and using that space as a part of the healing process. We came together to share and let go of some of the emotional and spiritual burden that comes with loss. We gathered, we shared, we mourned, we celebrated, and we reflected. Awesome healing.
Alumni Profile: Abdul-Qawiy Abdul-Karim ’01 How do you religiously or spiritually self-identify? Islam How did George School’s Quaker roots manifest themselves through the interplay of relationships and sense of community while you were a student? The Quaker principle of equality was certainly pervasive during my time at George School. I would even say George School went beyond that and sought to be inclusive. As a student I sat on the Discipline Committee, the Middle States Evaluation board, I was a prefect, and was in the SGA. I certainly felt like my voice mattered and was witness to direct results manifest from the conversations and decisions that I was a part of. How did attending meeting for worship impact you? It helped me connect with a sense of stillness; a principle that I see at the core of all religious practices. In difficult times we came together as a community, which helped to strengthen
Do you think religion is an important area of study in the high school curriculum? In the past decade there has been a resurgence of values-based education inside the public school system; we call it “emotional intelligence.” Essentially it opens the conversation of what are appropriate emotional responses to life experiences. This at its core is a values-based discussion, which in large part is informed by spiritual practices and beliefs. I believe having these values-oriented conversations are critical to healthy identity development particularly in the twelveto twenty-year-old age range. Formalized and comparative conversations of religion/spirituality should kick in around age 15, and expand to a universal conversation about morality and human conduct. It is conversations like these that bore the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. If we want the principles from which these global standards were founded to flourish in our future they most remain relevant and deliberate in our present day discourse. Abdul-Qawiy was a senior trainer for The Posse Foundation and founding math teacher at Achievement First Brooklyn High School. He currently is an educational consultant.
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Alumni Profile: Carroll Stephens ’72 How do you religiously or spiritually self-identify? Calvinist, but Presbyterian and Deist. My religion is intellectualized, social-activist Protestantism. Whether or not God even exists is not of much concern to me because I believe that the ethics of progressive Protestantism do not rely on the presence of a God. How did attending meeting for worship impact you? I loathed meeting. I just didn’t grasp the purpose; paradoxically, I felt silenced—although now I realize that attending meeting was the very opposite of silence. I remember on Yom Kippur [in 1970], a Jewish student talked movingly about the notion of atonement in a manner that was generalizable across religions as well as to atheism. [That student], who was at least as committed to his non-Quaker religion as I was to mine, had the maturity, which I did not, to see beyond sectarianism and speak about the importance of acting on one’s values to create fair communities and societies. Did your time at George School affect your decision to pursue a career in religion? Absolutely it did. Although I knew that I was going to be a professor, Dan Frederick’s class on alienation in literature gave me a sense of what field I would go into. It was one of the best courses I took, and that includes courses in college and grad school. Dan helped me to identify my own sense of alienation at George School and also showed us, through literature, how societies and communities can be made more or less alienating by deliberate choice of their members. My goal, as a sociologist, an ethicist and an activist, is to create such societies and communities. Do you recall any particularly influential experiences from your time at George School? In the 1969-70 school year, I lived in a hall with housemother Dorothy Detweiler. She had each student pick a student’s name out of a hat to give gifts. [A student named] Lakeeta Harrington, whom I didn’t know very well, bought me a compendium paperback book on existential philosophy—and I used that book to teach my own students all these years later. It’s a gift that is by my bedside to this day. Carroll is an Associate Professor Emeritus of Management at Virginia Tech. Before joining the Virginia Tech faculty, she taught in the Sociology Department at Duke.
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anxiety. Religion is a big part of many people’s lives and beliefs about themselves and the world, so it is important that I understand it all.
1988 | Jeff K. Mann Without understanding religion, you can’t understand history, literature, human societies—the very people around you every day. There may be no greater influential force in human history. I am a religion professor.
1990 | Melissa (Harper) Jones Religion is the foundation of my life. I grew up in the church, in the choir, in bible study, etc. As I got older I got further away from the Sunday service but always felt a sense of peace around being close to God. It guides me daily and I am constantly seeking answers and praying to be the best person I can be. Meeting for Worship
1991 | Tony Guerrera Meeting for worship gave me a chance to gather my thoughts and to put life into perspective. It was a designated time to prioritize the different things in my life and reflect on my actions.
1999 | Robyn Esancy Being able to appreciate silence for more than just quiet, but for reflection and thought has carried with me throughout my life. Where many people are uncomfortable in those “awkward” silence moments, I am able to enjoy and bring purpose to the silence. Talking can be overrated, and there are a lot of words that are said to fill silence that have no purpose or meaning. Silence allows us the time to think about what we are going to say before we say it.
2007 | Rachel A. Wells Looking back, MFW was my favorite part of my week. It gave me a time to just sit and think. During the hustle and bustle of daily life as a very busy person, I was thankful for the opportunity to find a moment of peace in my life. I think that MFW is one of the reasons that I did so well at GS.
BRUC E WELLER
Outside the George School Meetinghouse, Jake Kaplan ’12, Jacob Fisher ’14, Sophie Myles ’14, Tali Eldering ’14, and Brian Guerin ’12 enjoy spending quiet time together.
A Central Meeting Place for People of All Faiths At the heart of the George School community is the meetinghouse, where students and staff sit side-by-side for meeting for worship each week. All those present are welcome to stand and speak if they feel so moved or inspired. It is through this quiet reflection and communal sharing that people of all faith traditions worship together. Rosie Robinson ’12, a practicing Roman Catholic, finds meeting a place to notice the details about others in her midst. “It helps me to see what is wonderful in other people. George School has taught me that silence can be a practical form of prayer, that in the midst of the day it can center us and bring us back to what matters.” Stephanie Weinstein ’13, who is Jewish, likes the time spent in meeting to “center myself and to find some time to calm down and think. I have not
had any true religious or spiritual experiences in meeting, but I have come to some understandings about myself.” For Marilyn Baffoe-Bonnie ’12, who is Presbyterian, meeting for worship is a chance to reflect on personal issues, or to “just enjoy the presence of friends.” Members of the community came together at a number of events this year to celebrate this spiritual center of campus and to mark the 200th anniversary of the meetinghouse, originally built in Philadelphia in 1812. “These events were a wonderful opportunity to celebrate the Quaker principles that ground our mission and, at the same time, reconnect with other members of the extended George School community,” said Head of School Nancy Starmer.
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Robin Zawodni Bird ‘62 carefully chipped cement grout from one historic brick, an action that was repeated thousands of times during the move of the 1812 Meetinghouse from Philadelphia to George School.
The first official event shared the history of the Twelfth Street Meetinghouse in a workshop presented by Margaret Sanford on Grandparents and Special Friends Day in April 2012, based on a paper she wrote for her graduate course at the University of Pennsylvania. To give a current perspective, teacher and registrar Laura Kinnel shared the spiritual role the meetinghouse has played in the past decade or more. “George School is a transformative place and the heart of the transformation is meeting for worship,” said Laura. “We are deeply grateful for this sacred space.” The annual meeting of the Friends Council on Education was also held at George School to honor the relevance of the Twelfth Street meetinghouse to Quaker education. The conjoined event was especially meaningful because the idea to create an organization to connect Quaker schools throughout the world—via an organization ultimately called the Friends Council on Education—was conceived on the balcony of the meetinghouse eighty years ago. Nancy reflected on the occasion, saying, “It’s an honor to share the long history of this important building with our colleagues and with the Friends Council.” During Alumni Weekend, community members enjoyed two events on Friday afternoon to recognize the meetinghouse, celebrate its role in the day-to-day life of our Quaker community, and honor the people who made its presence on the George School campus possible. At an early afternoon master class Religion Department Head Tom Hoopes ’83, religion teacher Carolyn Lyday, history teacher Norm Tjossem, and
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former history teacher Betsy Crofts, shared their impressions in a panel discussion. At the following rededication ceremony many individuals acknowledged the importance of the meetinghouse in their personal lives and in the life of the community. Nancy honored the important role Charles Hough ’44 played in being the architect who brought the meetinghouse to campus. George School Committee member Ted Nickles talked about the feat of moving and rebuilding the meetinghouse and revealed the complexity of the effort through a show-and-tell exercise in which an audience member slowly and carefully chipped cement grout from one historic brick, an action that would have been repeated thousands of times. Jim Alden talked about his grandmother, who convinced the George School Committee that the presence of the meetinghouse would enrich the school community, and his son Campbell Alden ’13 talked about his experience with the meetinghouse, calling it “an intrinsic part of his life that feels like home.”
“It helps me to see what is wonderful in other people. George School has taught me that silence can be a practical form of prayer, that in the midst of the day it can center us and bring us back to what matters.” Alex Ulin ’13 shared how much she cherished the peaceful, counseling presence of the meetinghouse, describing it as “being the bookends of a student’s experience at George School, an experience that begins with singing ‘George Washington Bridge’ as an accepted student and ends with commencement meeting for worship.” Carolyn spoke about the spiritual aspect of the meetinghouse’s presence on campus and led the group in silent worship to rededicate the space. “The meetinghouse draws my sight upwards to the rafters,” she said, “It hushes me, invites me to be quiet as light moves across the empty space in the center.”
SHOWSTOPPER PHOTOGR APHY
class of 1962 celebrates their 50th reunion during Alumni Weekend 2012.
Beautiful Weather Set the Stage for Alumni Weekend Under sunny skies, a record number of alumni, current students, and families turned out to celebrate the 2012 Alumni Weekend at George School. “It’s like coming home every time I am here,” said Ginny Zerega Lloyd ’44. “I have seen the face of George School change literally and figuratively over the years. It’s wonderful.” The weekend was filled with community-wide events designed for all alumni—not just reunion classes—as well as current students, parents, and faculty. This year’s weekend festivities featured new and exciting events, including an Instrumental Music Open Rehearsal on Friday. Also new to the Friday calendar was a Live Music Concert hosted by the Class of 1982 and student music group Goldfish ’n Java on the Hallowell Patio. The festive weekend started with an allschool assembly featuring a presentation by Benno Schmidt ’87, a news correspondent, anchor, producer, and host of the weekly show dLife on CNBC. Later, visitors gathered in the meetinghouse for a presentation A Center of Welcoming, Wisdom, Light, and Connection: The George School Meetinghouse Turns 200, which was followed by the rededication of the meetinghouse. Saturday, May 12 was packed with non-stop events throughout the day beginning with the Alumni and Faculty Breakfast in the Mollie Dodd Anderson Library, memorial meeting for worship,
master classes, and the All-Alumni Gathering in the meetinghouse. Head of School Nancy Starmer recognized retiring history teacher John Davison, presented alumni awards to Anne Culp Storch ’67 and Ernie Wong ’77, and the Distinguished Service Award to Leon Bass, a former George School teacher and parent of two George School graduates. The afternoon began with lunch and reunion class photos followed by alumni games. Later, the crowds joined the Cougar Tailgate for a party preceding the eagerly anticipated dedication of the Cougar Track and Cougar Field. Legendary George School coaches Anne LeDuc, Dave Satterthewaite ’65, Bob Geissinger, and John Gleeson ’65 were joined by fans for the formal dedication and a first lap around the track. In addition to Saturday’s daytime events, those not celebrating a five-year reunion were invited to join the “Not My Reunion Party” at LaStalla in Newtown that evening. On Sunday, the morning began with meeting for worship, followed by brunch in the Main Dining Room. “Alumni weekend is for everyone in the community,” said Director of Alumni Relations Karen Suplee Hallowell. “We hope alumni, parents, and friends of the school all felt welcome, enjoyed being back on campus, and had a chance to renew old friendships.”
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Alumni Award Recipient:
Anne Culp Storch ’67
By andrea lehman “It’s all about the relationships you build with people,” says Anne Storch, summing up the source of her tremendous success as a fundraiser. George School honored Anne for her achievements, especially her commitment to the financial sustainability of several educational and Quaker institutions. As Nancy Starmer said in describing her selection for the Alumni Award, “Your commitment to caring for others is intrinsic to who you are.” After graduating from George School in 1967, Anne earned a bachelor’s from Ursinus College and a master’s degree from Villanova, both in psychology. She then worked as a counselor, mostly in infant intensive care units, including fourteen years at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. There she saw the strength of the human spirit and the caring of families who came back to help others. Though she found the work incredibly rewarding, it took its toll. Next Anne went to the Restaurant School in Philadelphia, became a chef at Deux Cheminées, and worked on a cookbook with a food writer. But then, fatefully, former head of school David Bourns asked her to serve as the volunteer chair for the school’s centennial. What he described as “a few committee meetings” became a major undertaking in which more than 400 volunteers supported by the Advancement Office put on four major events. At its conclusion, Anne was offered a job as a major gifts officer and later became director of development.
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At the same time she was leading the George School development efforts, Anne volunteered on the development committees of Mercer Street Friends (a Quaker social service agency in Trenton, New Jersey) and Chandler Hall (a Quaker nursing home in Newtown, Pennsylvania), for which she also sat on the board. Then, after fifteen years at George School, she moved with her husband Jay Storch ’68 to sunny Vero Beach, Florida, where she became director of advancement at Saint Edwards School. She has since helped the school erase its debt and build its endowment. In her different George School roles, Anne has seen the school evolve while maintaining its prime strengths, rooted in relationships. As a day student in the mid-1960s, she felt first hand “the amount of attention and nurturing the teachers give to students.” In the 1990s, she saw it through her children, Brad Farran ’96 and Kate Farran-Martz ’98. “They are two different people,” explains Anne, “Katie was a strong student and athlete and Brad was a thespian. George School brought out the best in each of them. They both loved George School and they made lifelong friends there.” While working in the development office, Anne saw the strength of different George School ties. “I really enjoyed the relationships I had with alums,” she says. “I still stay in contact because they’re my friends.” One dear friend was the late Barbara Dodd Anderson ’50, who made her historic gift to George School while Anne was development director. “People give to a school when they get to know teachers and students,” explained Anne. “They give to people they know and trust.” “I’ve loved everything I’ve done,” Anne declares, summing up her many jobs and volunteer endeavors and linking them to the core of both her satisfaction and success. “I have been very blessed with some wonderful relationships.”
Alumni Award Recipient:
Ernie Wong ’77
By andrea lehman Ernie Wong ’77, an internationally acclaimed award winning landscape architect, received the 2012 Alumni Award on Saturday, May 12, 2012 during Alumni Weekend. Ernie was recognized for his outstanding creative vision and design contributions to his city of Chicago and for his devotion to community as is evident by his leadership of the Chinese American Service League. “Ernie exemplifies the qualities that the Alumni Award seeks to recognize—he lives his life in a way that embodies what George School values,” said Alumni Director Karen Hallowell. “Striving to do his best, serving others, making the world a better place—Ernie does all this with the sense of humor that was very much in evidence while he was here as a student.” Ernie has helped change the Chicago landscape, literally and figuratively. Whether in his professional capacity as a landscape architect who creates new public spaces or in his personal role as a champion of not-for-profits and advisor to the city, he is committed to strengthening communities as a means of giving back. “George School changed how I looked at the world—to a much gentler way,” said Ernie. “The faculty cared about you. The students were open to who you were. It was a very welcoming atmosphere, which I was not accustomed to.” He remembered “sitting out on Red Square and watching people and how they used space. Maybe that’s what got me started doing what I do and understanding the importance of it.”
Today, Ernie owns Site Design Group, a landscape architecture and urban design firm that has been responsible for most of Chicago’s new parks. It is important to him that the parks he designs are public places, where everyone—of different races, ages, ethnicities, and genders—can come together and feel welcome. Several of his firm’s parks have helped turn rough neighborhoods around, becoming safe havens and beautiful spaces that impact people’s lives. Ernie spends about as much time at what he calls his “extracurricular activities” as he does at his work. On the board of several not-for-profit organizations, he is particularly involved in the Chinese American Service League, a social service agency devoted to the Asian community. It serves 17,000 clients a year through programs such as chef training, day care, and senior services. Ernie also sits on the mayor’s landmark and cultural affairs commissions. The common denominator is improving the Chicago community in which he believes so passionately. “George School ingrained in me a sense of social responsibility,” said Ernie, who has spent his life determined to contribute “to a community greater than yourself.” Also on Saturday during Alumni Weekend, Ernie conducted a master class, “It Takes a Village: The Design of Public Urban Spaces,” about his parks, their design, and neighborhood impact.
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Distinguished Service Award Recipient:
Dr. Leon Bass P ’72, ’77
By andrea lehman Dr. Leon Bass, a former George School teacher and parent of two graduates, received the Distinguished Service Award in recognition of his long career as an educator on Saturday, May 12, 2012, during Alumni Weekend. The Distinguished Service Award honors people who are not George School graduates for their “distinguished service both to the George School community and the world as a whole.” Leon led a master class on that Saturday titled “Good Enough: Confronting Racism, AntiSemitism, and the Holocaust” in which he shared lessons learned as an African-American soldier in World War II and his experiences at the Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald shortly after its liberation. Leon encouraged students to use education and the power of love to stand up for what they believe is right. Leon knew bigotry firsthand. Though he experienced some racism growing up in the Philadelphia area, it wasn’t until he joined the U.S. Army in 1943 and traveled to the segregated South for basic training that he experienced its full force. In Europe as part of the 183rd Engineers Combat Battalion, he was a self-described “angry young man,” unhappy to be fighting for a country that would deny him basic rights at home. His perspective changed in April 1945, when he and others from his unit were sent to the justliberated Buchenwald Concentration Camp. “From that day, I realized I wasn’t the same anymore. I understood that human suffering affects not just me. It affects all of us,” he said.
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Back in the United States, Leon used the GI Bill to attend West Chester University. He later earned a master’s and doctorate in education from Temple University and had a distinguished career in the Philadelphia public school system. He taught in an all-black school with forty-nine students in a class. He served as principal, first at an elementary school and later at the all-boys Benjamin Franklin High School. Influenced by Martin Luther King Jr. and his message of nonviolence, Leon realized that “kids needed more than skills. They needed hope for tomorrow.” In 1971 a Holocaust survivor came to his school to talk to students. When Leon confirmed her story with his own, she urged him to speak out. Since then, he has traveled around the world, talking to young people, to teachers, and to churches. Leon has spoken to several generations of George School students, feeling a particular kinship to the school his children, Leon Jr. ’72 and Delia Marie ’77, attended. Leon also served on the George School Committee, the school’s governing board. His George School audiences, he said, “are wonderful. They ask good questions, and you can hear a pin drop.” Leon recently published his memoir, Good Enough: One Man’s Memoir on the Price of the Dream. In it Dr. Bass asks, “Is the price too high?” The price to realize the dream, he explained, is to stand up and be counted by doing the right thing, whether large or small, every day.
Dedicating Cougar Track and Field Thanks to gifts from generous donors, Cougar Field was dedicated to John Gleeson ’65, Bob Geissinger, and Anne LeDuc, while Cougar Track was dedicated to Dave Satterthwaite ’65 (far right).
Surrounded by fans of all ages, Anne LeDuc, Bob Geissinger, John Gleeson ’65, and Dave Satterthwaite ’65 had plenty to cheer about as Cougar Track and Cougar Field were dedicated in their honor on Saturday, May 12, 2012 during Alumni Weekend. “We gather to formally dedicate this venue to these coaches, each of whom has inspired decades of George School athletes,” said Ashley Garret ’76. “These coaches pushed us to do our best. They taught us the value of practice, practice, and more practice. They taught us the importance of teamwork, of working together to achieve a common goal. And, they taught us how to be good sports
when we lost and even better sports when we won.” The advantages of the new track and field for teams and athletes are significant. But the benefits to George School extend well beyond that—to include greater use, pride, and community spirit. “The field is a wonderful statement to our students that what they do is important,” said John. “It says that we value the growth potential that sports offer them. By bringing the community together, the whole school benefits.” As students played a pick-up game of soccer on the field, the four coaches took a ceremonial first lap around the track in golf carts. “I feel so blessed to be a part of something so wonderful,” said Anne.
; Russ Weimar ’48 Saturday, September 15, 2012 at 1:00 p.m. Luncheon at Washington Crossing Inn
; Paul Machemer ’65 Friday, October 19, 2012 at 7:00 p.m. Crowne Plaze Trevose (after the Boys Varsity Soccer game).
Honor Thy Coaches 2012-2013 Three beloved George School coaches and educators will be honored for their dedication to our student athletes. Soccer coaches Russ Weimar ’48 and Paul Machemer ’65 will be celebrated in fall 2012. Girls’ Athletic Director and coach Nancy Bernardini will be recognized in spring 2013.
; Nancy Bernardini Friday, May 10, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. Alumni Weekend. Venue information will be announced at a later date.
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HOLD THE DATES
Visit the alumni website at georgeschool.org/alumni to stay connected. Submit a class note, find friends, update personal profiles, check out upcoming events, and much more.
Saturday September 15, 2012
Friday May 10, 2013
Russ Weimar ’48 Luncheon
Nancy Bernardini Dinner
Friday October 19, 2012
Friday – Sunday May 10-13, 2013
You also can see what is happening at George School by visiting our Facebook page facebook.com/georgeschool and following us on Twitter @GeorgeSchool.
Paul Machemer ’65 Dinner
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PHOTOs: Inside Back Cover: Brennan Kinnel ’14, Ceinwen Klaphaak ’14, and Rachel Brimmer ’14 enjoy lunch together in the dining room. Back Cover: As part of the Junior State of America Debate-a-thon on Red Square, Julian Strachan ’12 and Tali Eldering ’14 debate whether people should be required to provide immigration status along with drivers licenses and registrations at routine traffic stops. (Photos by Bruce Weller)
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