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Vol. 85

No. 01

pu bl i c at i on of ge orge scho o l, ne w tow n, pennsy lvania

Inside March 2013


perspe c t i v e s

The Universal Language of Math


fitn e ss an d ath leti c s c e nte r

Construction Scheduled



The Smiths’ Lasting Impact

Two Alumnae Share Stories

a fam i ly tr ad iti o n

alu m n i we e ke n d


Table of Contents

Vol. 85 | No. 01 | March 2013

PHOTOs: Inside Front Cover: Mary Dart reviews test answers with Chinue Ellis ’15 during her Geometry with Proofs class. Mary plans to retire at the end of this academic year after twenty years of stellar work and compassionate service to George School. (Photo by Jim Inverso) Front Cover: This drawing of our new Fitness and Athletics Center is a bird’s eye view of campus looking northwest. (Drawing by Bowie Gridley Architects)

01  perspectives

15 features

26 Campus news & notes

The Universal Language of Math 15 On Learning Algebra and Geometry 02 David Fraser: Renaissance Man 04 Mars, Venus, and Math 06 Beyond Number Crunching

18 Fitness and Athletics Center Construction Scheduled 22 A Family Tradition: The Smiths’ Lasting Impact

08 IB Math and Statistics Classes 11 eQuiz Highlights

24 Alumni Weekend: Two Alumnae Share Stories

28 alumni tell us 43 In memoriam


bruce weller

Nancy Starmer talks with Cyrus Vakili ’13, Arielle Haug ’14, Jessica Malerman ’13, Dan Kim ’13, Tanzie Thomas ’13, and Susannah Perkins ’13.

Perspectives edited by Susan Quinn

The Universal Language of Math “When am I ever going to use this?” is a refrain that math teachers have heard for generations. In this edition of Perspectives, we hope to persuade our readers that far from being an esoteric and largely impractical discipline, math is a pervasive presence in our lives and in the lives of our graduates. You will hear from many of the latter here— a few of whom are mathematicians, others who are computer programmers and engineers, some doctors, some natural and social scientists, and others who are artists. You will also hear from some of the many, many graduates who look back to their George School math teachers as major influences. In one particular instance of coming full circle, the issue includes stories about David Fraser ’61, son of beloved math teacher Grant Fraser, and two relatively new courses whose development was made possible by a fund in Grant Fraser’s honor.

Albert Einstein said “mathematics is, in its way, the poetry of logical ideas.” At George School today, the study of math not only provides a concrete foundation for those interested in related careers, but it also provides our students with a vital exercise in logic, rational argument, and making connections. It is a universal language in a school bubbling with different tongues, asking fundamental questions about what we know about our world and how we prove it. And it continues to be a vehicle for superb teachers to ignite a passion for learning in their students. I hope these stories will capture some of the “poetry of logical ideas” for you, as mathematics has clearly captured our contributors.

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March 2013

David Fraser ’61 was first an epidemiologist for the Centers for Disease Control and then the president of Swarthmore College. He also ran the health, education, and housing programs of the Aga Khan and later a network of international medical schools. In 2002 he started making finger-woven baskets, an example of one is shown above.


David Fraser: Renaissance Man and Mathematician By Andrea Lehman “I like to find order in chaos, discerning patterns that allow me to extract meaning from what would otherwise seem like noise.” This is the closest David Fraser ’61 comes to his own unified field theory, an explanation of what links his disparate vocations and avocations, including renowned epidemiologist, college president, and basket artist. It also explains how a man who has achieved so much in medicine, education, and the arts is also part mathematician. David comes by his mathematical bent honestly. Son and student of Grant Fraser, a beloved George School math teacher, David spent his earliest years in Orton Dormitory and his sophomore through senior years in his father’s classroom. In those days, teachers often kept the same class from year to year. David remembers both the thirteen exceptional students in that AP math track—three of whom, including David, would go to Harvard

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Medical School—and his father’s superb teaching. Grant had just written a book on a modern, axiom-based approach to algebra. So despite having had Algebra I the old way as freshmen, the class relearned it the new way before moving to geometry. By the time he graduated from Haverford College, however, David had tried and discarded math, physics, and lab sciences as possible careers. Instead he opted for medical school, “while I figured out what I wanted to do,” he says. In his second year, “a class in epidemiology caught my imagination.” He finished medical school, did a residency in internal medicine, and joined the Epidemic Intelligence Service, a two-year training program at Atlanta’s Communicable Diseases Center (now the Centers for Disease Control). Training forty to fifty epidemiologists a year, the program creates a cadre ready for national emergencies. David describes it as an amazing and lifechanging experience.


David had definitely caught the epidemiology bug, as it were. The field “threw problems at me that were pressing, important, and unclear and that could be approached in a systematic, mathematical way,” he explains. “Why do some people get sick and some don’t? Epidemiology is about rates. You set up hypotheses and compare them.” In his second year, David went to Sierra Leone for a Lassa fever outbreak. He recalls flipping pennies to select a random sampling of the town’s houses to map, as the team hadn’t brought a random number table. They examined each house’s living arrangements and infection rates, what the occupants ate, and where they got water. Returning to Atlanta, they analyzed blood tests and crunched numbers and concluded that the disease was carried by a species of mouse. David became a CDC staff epidemiologist and returned to Philadelphia in 1976 to lead the field investigation into the infamous Legionnaires’ disease outbreak. It was a huge operation that took years to resolve, and, to this day, it is what David is best known for. As much as he loves epidemiology, David is not the type to keep doing the same thing. When given an opportunity to reinvent himself, this Renaissance man generally takes it. And so, after a stint with the Office of Management and Budget “doing numbers and learning about the federal budgeting process,” he became president of Swarthmore College. His first task was to convince the faculty that a physician could be a good college president. His solution was to give a lecture, detailing his use of inductive, deductive, and analogical reasoning— precisely the skills taught in a liberal arts college— in his research. As David puts it, “I have to use the tools that I know to analyze the problems that I face. Quantitative tools are the ones I feel comfortable with. In epidemiology, I was using not just numbers but ways of thinking that resonated with a range of disciplines.” It set the stage for nine successful years at Swarthmore’s helm. In the 1990s, David turned his attention internationally, first running the health, education, and housing programs of the Aga Khan, the Muslim religious leader, and later a network of international medical schools using epidemiology to improve health care. In 2000, however, he gave up his impressive day jobs and delved into the world of textiles.

“I have to use the tools that I know to analyze the problems that I face. Quantitative tools are the ones I feel comfortable with.” “Most people don’t look closely at textiles,” David explains. “They have an emotional reaction to the appearance. I want to see how the yarn moves through and understand the coherence of the structure. From time to time, it veers to the mathematical.” He and his wife Barbara Fraser wrote a book about traditional textiles of the Chin people, who live in the hills of western Burma, northeastern India, and Bangladesh, and he returned to making finger-woven baskets. “As I’m working, I think of mathematically-related issues, how I can extend a principle, but,” he adds, “I come to basketry not solely mathematically. I also like handwork.” Among the beautiful baskets he’s made— and exhibited in the Class of 1956 Gallery in the Anderson Library—are those that represent solutions to mathematical challenges he sets for himself. One set comprises variations on the “Eight Queens” problem: If a “chessboard” of side length “n” is folded into a cylinder, for which values of “n” is it possible for “n” queens to be placed on the board such that no two queens can take one another? It’s a complicated problem from which David derives elegant basket solutions. Ultimately, there is coherence as well as consequence to David’s life work. “As an epidemiologist, I use probability theory all the time and have published papers on new statistical approaches. As a textile enthusiast, I have written on the application of diagnostic test mathematics to the analysis of the structure of certain textiles as well as basketry constructions that illustrate solutions to a novel mathematical problem.” Newton’s apple does not fall far from the Fraser tree.

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March 2013

Kevin Lewis ’99


spends half his professional time on Mars and the other half on Venus, while working all of his time on terra firma.


Mars,Venus, and Math: Rover Scientist Kevin Lewis Kevin Lewis ’99 spends half his professional time on Mars and the other half on Venus, while working all of his time on terra firma. As a postdoctoral scholar in geosciences at Princeton University and a member of the Curiosity rover team, NASA’s latest Mars mission, he blends a prodigious understanding of science and math with a desire to learn what scientists don’t understand about the evolution of Earth’s neighbors. Kevin came to see science and math as “two sides of the same coin” during his senior year at George School. “I had AP calculus with Sam Smith and AP physics with Ed Youtz ’57 and loved it. Taking them at the same time, you understand how calculus is inextricably linked with gravity and time concepts. Together they elegantly reveal so much about how the world works.” Kevin went on to earn a bachelor’s in physics and math from Tufts and a Ph.D. in planetary science from Caltech, before pursuing his postdoc and exploring how other worlds work.

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In fall 2011 Kevin was one of about twenty American researchers selected to join the Curiosity team, operated from the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California. Then in August 2012 the rover landed in Mars’ Gale crater and began its two-year (or longer, if its energy supply holds and the project is extended) investigation of the Martian climate, geology, and the likelihood of habitable environments. Kevin has been examining the crater’s sedimentary rock layers, which repeat at regular intervals (about every three meters), in order to reconstruct the geologic record. To do so, he uses geometry. “You measure the angle at which a layer is tilted and project that under the surface to figure out how layers are related,” he explains. In addition to geometry, Kevin uses statistics and signal processing to justify the results mathematically. “Our best guess is that the layers are related to the same kind of climate cycles we see on Earth. They’re governed by slight shifts in the tilt of Mars’

NASA /JPL- Caltec h


The Mars Science Laboratory Curiosity rover examines a rock on Mars with a set of tools at the end of its arm, which extends about 2 meters (7 feet) in this 2011 artist’s rendering. The mobile robot is designed to investigate Mars’ past or present ability to sustain microbial life.

“S cience is the natural application of many branches of mathematics. In science it’s key to always be skeptical. Often science cannot be proven without the use of mathematics.” axis, the shape of its orbit, and the angle of the pole during its orbit. We know that a cycle is about 120,000 years. That’s pretty exciting, because often on Mars we have no idea what time scales we’re looking at.” At time of writing, Curiosity was preparing to make its first drill sample, the team’s first look at the planet’s interior. They will analyze it using the mass spectrometer and x-ray diffractometer on board, looking for signs indicative of past life. Kevin’s work on Venus is worlds different. Here the question is: how strong or flexible is the planet’s crust and how large a load can it support? Without the kind of information that the Mars rover makes possible, this research team is correlating two sets of satellite data—topography and gravity—to better understand the crust and, by extension, Venus’ history. Applying a few new mathematical techniques and a lot of statistics, especially maximum-likelihood estimation, they are hoping to help answer what happened on Venus

a half billion years ago, what created what’s there today, and, as Kevin suggests, “what could have happened on Earth.” As for those new mathematical techniques, he says, “For the Venus project, we had to develop mathematical algorithms and computer programs to analyze data specifically for this problem.” He sees it as an extension of what scientists like Newton did—developing mathematical concepts like calculus to help explain scientific phenomena. For Kevin, science and math still spark an enthusiasm which he got from his father and from George School teachers, especially Kevin Moon, his cross-country coach and advanced algebra teacher. “Science is the natural application of many branches of mathematics,” reflects Kevin. “In science it’s key to always be skeptical. Often science cannot be proven without the use of mathematics, and I certainly couldn’t do my job without a hefty amount of math.”

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March 2013


Beyond Number Crunching George School Alumni Thrive in Mathematics

By Karen Doss Bowman For Loren Cobb ’66 mathematics is more than number crunching. The research professor views mathematics as not just something he does; but rather, a way of thinking that defines who he is and how he sees the world. Mathematics, he says, is the “skeleton of reality.” “My whole personal philosophy revolves around the idea that everything we see, hear, smell, taste is illusion, and the only true reality is mathematics,” says Loren, a research professor in the Department of Mathematical and Statistical Sciences at the University of Colorado, Denver. “You cannot sense it directly. It’s out there, it’s inside and it informs everything, but it’s not part of our sensory experience. Becoming a mathematician is gaining access to that level of reality.” After an early career in academia, Loren worked twenty years as an applied mathematician, developing sophisticated mathematical models. His work provided analytical support for nations attempting to overcome devastating socioeconomic conditions, such as poverty, governmental corruption, civil war, starvation, and ethnic conflicts. He has authored numerous simulations of war, conflict, and the evolution of peace in Third World nations and has been instrumental in guiding United Nations training of civilians and military officers from all over the world in peacekeeping operations.“A lot of people have no idea that math can be applied to social problems,” says Loren, who earned his bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees at Cornell University. “Mathematics often shows you things that you were never aware of— things that you have a mistaken idea about.” Many past and current George School students have found that one or two teachers sparked their love of mathematics. For Loren, that teacher was Grant Fraser, who was adept at teaching basic skills through the window of concepts such as predicate logic (better known as “new math,” which was popular in the 1960s), combinatorics, and probability

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theory. Loren says Grant was enthusiastic and precise, teaching every day with “rigor and clarity.” “I’m afraid an awful lot of people have no idea how to be truly precise,” says Loren. “In mathematics, you can learn it, especially with teachers like Grant.” The opportunity to take advanced math courses at George School was a springboard for Phil Eschallier ’83 who studied math and computer science at Tulane University. Like Loren, Phil says that mathematics colors his worldview. “Pretty much everything I see in life is some kind of pattern, and patterns are math,” says Phil, who was inspired by George School math teacher Sam Smith. Phil reads voraciously about the universe and theories of the eleven dimensions of time and space. “It’s just amazing the way math can be used to describe almost everything. It’s like the glue that holds us all together, even if you don’t realize it. If it were just a bunch of numbers and equations and had no meaning or context, I’d probably be bored with it. But since it’s inescapable, I haven’t escaped it.” A software engineer for 10Types Inc., in Wilmington, Delaware, Phil has been focused most recently on the support of pharmaceutical research and development—primarily oncology initiatives in genomics and next generation sequencing. He builds high-performance engineering software for processing data and works closely with research scientists to help them design and implement methods for processing data. “My world really is about how to take problems and either automate or streamline them,” says Phil. “One of the things I like about solving problems is doing something different on a regular basis. There’s always a new technology coming out, so if you’re not on the leading edge—especially in life sciences research—then you’re nowhere.” An avid scuba diver, Molly Kramer ’05 enrolled at the University of Miami to major in marine biology. She soon discovered that math was calling her, so halfway into her first semester,


GS alumni Loren Cobb ’66, Phil Eschallier ’83, Molly Kramer ’05, and Eve Aschheim ’76 share their insights about mathematics.

Kramer switched to civil engineering with a concentration in structural engineering. An engineer for WSP Mountain Enterprises in Sharpsburg, Maryland, Molly describes her work as “building real-world LEGOS,” creating steel connections for structures and preparing installation instructions. Using 3D modeling, Molly designs steel connections for joining beam to beam, beam to column, and column to column—as well as the bracing and truss connections—to ensure that the various fasteners (bolts, plates, or welds, for example) will be strong enough to carry a building’s required load. Her job also involves designing each attachment and fastener so that construction workers in the field are physically capable of putting the pieces together while working some forty feet up in the air. Molly has worked on a number of prominent projects, including the Barclays Center, the new home of the Brooklyn Nets; the International Gem Tower in Manhattan’s “Diamond District;” and Columbia University’s new Jerome L. Greene Science Building. “I’m a huge fan of math, and engineering is an applicable way to use math in the real world,” says Molly, who was inspired by the vivid stories George School math teachers Bill Enos and Kevin Moon told to explain math concepts. “How I design every connection is based on math-based formulas and how math applies to physics, and how things move in relation to mathematical equations.” Artist Eve Aschheim ’76 has been fascinated with mathematics for years. When she began teaching at Princeton University in 1991, she regularly visited renowned mathematician John Conway, learning about mathematical concepts (such as hyperbolic space, Riemannian curved geometry and N-dimensional geometry) and their visual representations. Eve has created several bodies of work using these geometrical ideas as a starting point.

“Artists have thought about math and science for a long time,” says Eve, a Guggenheim fellow whose interest in math was inspired by George School math teacher Paul Machemer ’65. Eve sees mathematics as a pure thought. “In painting, subject matter changes, style changes, but the fundamental structure of pictorial space and organization are the most important principles—and they have evolved slowly over time. The crossover between math and art is vast territory, as a concept like ‘infinity’ is something that artists think about when they make a horizon look like it is infinitely far away.” “Mathematics is valuable in all of its forms, in its applied manifestations and also as pure research,” says Eve, who earned a bachelor’s degree from the University of California-Berkeley and an MFA from the University of California-Davis. “Mathematics is an aesthetic investigation based on logic, which also has a strong imaginative component.” “The study of math does not have to lead anywhere or become something practical for one’s life or society,” she adds. “It can be a purely philosophical investigation, a way of thinking about the world and about the nature of numbers, surfaces, and space.” Eve encourages current George School students to hone their knowledge of mathematics and to consider the wide variety of careers available to those who pursue academic studies in mathematics. “If you study math, there are so many different places you can fit in and it doesn’t necessarily have to be in a field directly related to mathematics,” says Eve. “Mathematics could lead to new innovations, including technological advances, in a variety of fields. Much of the exciting work being done now is at the intersection of different disciplines.”

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jim inverso

March 2013

math teacher kevin moon works with seniors Clement Bohr, Yuan Shen, Evan Clinton, Tony Chang, and Nick Gonzalez to find an elegant and efficient solution to a problem in IB Math HL 2.


IB Math and Statistics Classes Challenge Students By Andrea Lehman A decade ago, advanced math students had only a few upper-level options. Since then International Baccalaureate (IB) and Advanced Placement (AP) courses have been added that challenge George School’s best and brightest math students and prepare them to excel in rigorous college programs. When George School hired former Educational Testing Service (ETS) statistician Valerie Folk in 2003, it was to reintroduce statistics to the math lineup. With help from the Grant Fraser Fund (and the Denoon family), she developed first Statistics and then AP Statistics. “The courses expose students to applied mathematics as opposed to more traditional theoretical mathematics,” she explains, “and the AP course is a challenging alternative to calculus. Statistics provides a different way to look at math—showing how sophisticated mathematical techniques are used to address real-world problems.”

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The courses’ current teacher, Julia Nickles ’03, agrees. During the lead-up to the fall election, she rearranged the topics covered in the Statistics class to tackle the real-world topic of sampling and its application to presidential polling. When assembly speakers cite statistics, students often bring questions about their appropriateness to class. “It’s exciting,” she says. “Students learn something in class and the next day see how it can be applied to their lives. It makes them great information consumers.” Julia admits, however, that when students start, “there is a tendency to be overly skeptical. Every graph is misleading. When they get more discerning, they come to see that some are good and some not.” AP Statistics covers not only the descriptive statistics taught in the regular course—including exploratory data analysis, sample and experimental design, and probability—but also the more abstract subject of inference (drawing conclusions). The


course moves quickly, and, not surprisingly, George School students do well on the AP test. More surprising is the variety of students and their reasons for taking the course. Some want an advanced math class but don’t see calculus as part of their long-term plans, perhaps medicine or the social or natural sciences. Some may be stronger in reading and writing—a plus for statistics—than traditional math. And still others want to take as much math as possible, taking both AP statistics and calculus (AP or IB). Seniors Clement Bohr, Tony Chang, and Evan Clinton, for example, took AP statistics as juniors and are now among the students in Kevin Moon’s IB Math Higher Level (HL) 2 Calculus course. This second year of the higher level sequence was added as part of the curriculum review goal of making IB accessible to students of all interests. According to IB program coordinator Ralph Lelii, the IB HL math test is “the hardest exam anywhere in the world for any student in mathematics. It’s very broad, and we have far fewer instructional days to cover the material than most IB schools.

Student Profile: Tony Chang ’13 In a group of outstanding math students, Tony Chang stands out a little further. In addition to the Higher Level calculus-focused exam, he is preparing for a second IB math test, called Further Mathematics, for which he is working independently with four members of the math department. Further, while 25 percent of George School students take part in the American Mathematics Contests (AMC) every year, Tony’s results qualified him to complete in the second level, American Invitational Math Exam (AIME), and was one of the 215 students nationwide whose results on the AMC and AIME tests qualified him to compete in the Mathematical Olympiad. What have you liked about AP statistics and IB HL 2? AP Statistics and HL 2 are very different. AP Statistics has easier content and is taught much

I’m so proud of what Kevin has done. Some schools don’t even attempt to teach HL.” Preparing students to take the Higher Level test wasn’t simply a matter of adding a class, though. The whole math curriculum had to be retooled so that some HL topics, including statistics, could be broached as early as the ninth and tenth grades. Like the five-hour HL test, the class is fast and furious, and, as Ralph describes, “The students who take it are math beasts. It’s a fabulous class, and the students have great insights.” Kevin concurs. “Usually they interrupt and complete my sentences. We’re always looking for the most efficient method of doing a problem to save time, to be more elegant. They’ll start to argue. They can be competitive, but they have a lot of respect for one another. There’s real camaraderie and support.” “I knew I was going to take HL2 math from the moment I discovered its existence,” Clement Bohr says. “It has a legendary reputation as something out of the extraordinary, not just out of the

more according to the AP exam. Julia prepared us really well. IB HL 2 targets the test less directly, and we move through the material at a very fast pace. Like other math courses, the material is effectively taught to us, but because IB HL 2 has only five very capable and passionate math students, we have some interesting discussions and tangents about the material. What inspires you about math? There is the feeling of accomplishment when I solve a long, difficult problem or proof. There is also the awe at the clever tricks used here and there in math and how the numbers, however complicated, eventually work out. I have been working with advanced material in math since second grade. Do you think you’re going to major in math or make it part of your future? Math is one of my major options, but currently I’m leaning more toward computer science or computer engineering. Regardless, math would definitely be a useful tool in my future career.

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jim inverso

March 2013

Abby Harrison ’14 completes her IB Precalculus worksheet during class with teacher Autumn Thayer.

ordinary. It is a difficult class for even the brightest math student, not because of the concepts covered, but because of the sheer pace. We are bombarded with new information every day.” “HL math with Kevin is indeed an adventure,” Yuan Shen ’13 agrees. “The materials and tests are hard, but Kevin gives us ample examples until we understand, and the class is very fun.” “HL2 has been perhaps my favorite class at George School. If you stop thinking for even a minute, you fall behind. It’s very exciting,” Nick Gonzalez ’13 explains. “My favorite aspect is the community feel. With only five students, we experience the math together and try and solve problems as a group, often seeing multiple ways to solve them.” In fact, each year the class sets a group goal for everyone to score in a certain range. In 2012 they all scored in the 4-6 range (out of 7, with 7s extremely rare). But regardless of college credit, HL2 graduate Nathan Small ’11 says that “IB HL math is a great introduction to the rigor required for mathematical

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proofs, something most students don’t see in high school. Many students who placed into the Honors Calculus class here at the University of Chicago had never seen a proof before and had difficulty grasping how they worked. Considering that proofs, and not computation, are the real basis of mathematics, IB HL math certainly gave me a head start.” As impressive as these courses are, Kevin is quick to point out that the road leading to them has grown more interesting, too. Drop-in help sessions with faculty and advanced math students are offered during study hall at George School. More than 25 percent of the student body took the AMC (American Mathematics Competitions) test last year, showing a marked upswing in interest and performance (see Student Profile of Tony Chang ’13 on page 9). “What makes George School special,” Kevin says proudly,” is that at all levels bright kids sit in class next to other bright students, creating cohorts of similarly talented, interested, and motivated students. The math tide is rising.”



eQuiz Highlights Our most recent eQuiz asked alumni to share their experience with mathematics in their lives now and when they were in the classroom at George School. Some of their responses are highlighted here. Thanks to the 136 alumni who participated.

1971 | Richard E. Johnson I remember Dottie Detwiler telling me/us to keep plugging away doing algebra proofs even though we didn’t understand how, that one day doing them would “click in” and we would understand them. And that was what came to pass.

1977 | Beverly J. Bromberger Catchpole I had Sam Smith and we did amazing things like find the area of objects in 3D space. I had a real leg up when I went to college by learning calculus as a senior at George School.

1953 | Gabriel Garber

1985 | Susan Wilson Baron Jim Grumbach’s probability and statistics was one of the best classes I ever took, including in college.

James Tempest was my teacher. I was doing C work and he told me he was going to fail me if I did not work up to my capacity. I did not, and he gave me an “F” for the fall term. Needless to say I improved my performance for the rest of the year.

1989 | Osvaldo Oyola Math was never even near my strongest subject, but Bill Enos made it interesting and fun, and kept us engaged.

Memories of Mathematics at George School

1958 | Carol T. Park DiJoseph If it weren’t for Russ Weimar ’48, I would still be at GS trying to get out of algebra.

1961 | Lee N. Price Grant Fraser was illustrating the use of calculus to determine the area of a four leaf clover made by drawing semi-circles starting at each corner of a square. I suddenly visualized flopping the semicircles out the other direction and determined the area without using calculus. Grant immediately understood what I was saying and complimented the insight. One gets few enough such compliments that his has stayed with me.

1962 | Barbara L. H. Hires Dottie Detwiler had a major influence on my continued interest in math. Math in some form is a part of everyday and we need to understand and appreciate the importance of its influence.

1965 | Frank A. Fetter All hail Dottie Detwiler. She was able to make math interesting and exciting for a typically uninterested teenager (me).

1969 | Barbara A. Robbins Simanek Walter Evans was one of the best teachers. He taught me that math could be learned and gave me the confidence to take math in college.

1992 | Susan C. Crosman Waterhouse I remember when Brad Cook taught my geometry class about how to calculate Pi using polygons inscribed in a circle. It was complicated and many of my peers got lost, but I was fascinated. 1996 | Melicia Escobar Mary Dart’s patience and way of breaking things down, with exercises that helped us discover the principles at hand (instead of having us simply memorize equations), really helped this social science girl enjoy math for a semester. 1996 | Ezra E.S. Rosser It is hard to overstate the teaching skills of Paul Machemer ’65. Classes reflected a great mix of professionalism, preparation, and high expectations. But my favorite classes were when Paul told the Odyssey-based story of taking care of the “I” first and the Guy Fawkes based story of dealing with radicals in the basement. Paul served as a great role model, and I am still trying to live up to his example of quiet strength.

2008 | Will N. Asheshov Abstract Geometry taught by Kevin Moon showed the kind of subjects and topics required to pursue a more pure mathematics, and search for truth in numbers, structure, and patterns.

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Alumni Profile: Kevin Edwards ’97 Was there a George School math class that you found particularly enlightening or inspiring? I can never forget algebra with Dottie Detwiler. By the time I had her in 1993, she had been on the job for about forty years. Her mind was so sharp it was incredible. I wonder if there is a correlation between studying and teaching math for so long and keeping a sharp mind into old age. How did math—and George School math, in particular—impact your choice of studies and career? I majored in mechanical engineering at Duke because

Alumni Profile: Saul Rosser ’97 How did George School math affect you and your future studies? Paul Machemer’s freshman algebra class was really defining for me. I was under-prepared coming to George School, so I struggled at first. By the end of the year I had mastered the material, which showed me that I could get math. Though George School didn’t influence my career choice—I always knew I wanted to be an engineer and build things—George School mathematics made math the easy part of my first two years of college engineering studies. I saw a lot of friends drop out of engineering because they weren’t prepared. I never had that problem and am grateful for the preparation that George School math provided. (Ed. note: Saul received a B.S. in mechanical engineering and computer science from Yale, an M.S. in ocean engineering from M.I.T., commercial diving certification, and an M.B.A. from the French business school INSEAD.) How does math play a role in your career? I am Operations Director for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s underwater hab-

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I loved math. Today I work in the fixed income division at Morgan Stanley, trading credit derivatives. Like those on the equity side, who use mathematical modeling to help forecast the future performance of companies as part of their investment decision process, we on the fixed income side do a similar analysis. I can’t imagine I would have made either choice if I didn’t enjoy math at George School. What advice would you offer current students interested in mathematics? At the very least, minor in math in college. After reading and speaking, it has to be the most important skill set. With the technology of today, one could argue that it’s more important than writing. The concept of logical problem solving is rooted in math. Thus while math teaches you to solve problems with numbers, it also teaches you a way of thinking that can be applied to so many other things.

itat Aquarius. Located in sixty feet of water off Florida, it’s the world’s only undersea research station. Previously I was an engineering team leader for Divex in Scotland, building dive systems capable of going to one thousand feet. Math is central to what I do. It is logic, and the motivated application of logic to our world is how we deliver amazing engineering marvels. As an engineer, it is my job to logically organize mountains of information to come up with a solution. Yes, a little creativity is required to design and build new things, but the basis of all engineering success is the relentless application of logic—and of math. As I also manage a staff and budget of approximately $2.5 million annually, the ability to handle financial information and related math, even if it is simple math, is critical to my job. What advice would you offer current students interested in mathematics? There’s no magic to math. It’s pure logic. Learn at your own pace. If you don’t get it, slow down and take it step by step. I never was a good class learner and always fell behind, especially in college. But curling up with a math textbook and methodically walking through it almost always brought it together for me, and usually more quickly than I expected. My career has been a wonderful of example of how math and science can open some really exciting doors and of how focusing on math and science in high school and college can be a wonderful thing.


2009 | Nefertiti N. Roy Autumn Thayer’s Precalculus and AP Calculus classes were some of my favorite classes at George School. They set me up for math in college so well that college math has been a breeze.

2010 | Kenishea Donaldson Dorothy Lopez was by far the most inspiring teacher whose lessons definitely prepared me for my current college math courses.

1962 | Thomas Duncan Nichols I pursued a BA in chemistry and physics, although I actually had enough hours for a major in math. Quantum mechanics and X-Ray crystallography require lots of advanced math. I still read the articles. 1965 | Philip T. Lynes As a computer programmer for most of my career I was always looking for elegant heuristic algorithms to solve the engineering challenges.

2012 | Melissa J. Huester Lawrence Valerie Folk’s IB Math Studies class was exceptionally entertaining and easy to follow. She helped us understand the relationships between calculus and trigonometry as well as how to apply financial math to the real world.

2012 | Bryce T. Miller Travis Ortogero taught us the Gorilla Parable, which in summary is: “Sometimes, the status quo is pretty screwed up out there. Question it.”

1970 | John B. Bennison Math is a language for describing the subtle structure of physical reality and even abstract or imagined realities. It continues to be the quintessential tool for problem solving and it cultivates intuition through successively finer glimpses of reality and its alternatives. 1973 | Lucy W. Welsh DeFranco

Perusing Mathematics after George School

I am a weaver and knitter, so I use math all the time. If I want to dye something in a precise, repeatable way, I need to pay attention to math.

1954 | Art E. Cohen Math has been useful in my field of public health, where it is used extensively in epidemiology and biostatistics. I think often in quantitative terms, and have found this useful for the ever-present need to be able to make estimates of all kinds.

1974 | Barbara S. McAnerney Kohout We use math in applied behavioral analysis in the field of psychology. We use empirically-based methods for behavioral assessment and treatment of individuals with intellectual disabilities and Autism.

1956 | Briant H. Lee, Sr. I used math constantly for electronic and electrical engineering with Kliegl Stage Lighting. My master’s thesis was a study of and description of the electronic developments of high power lighting control apparatus in the theater.

1977 | Kathryn Smith I teach high school mathematics at a magnet school in Philadelphia. I am also the coach of the high school math team and the faculty sponsor of our FIRST robotics team.

1958 | Geoff Baldwin Mostly I work on the “Enigma” puzzles in New Scientist. This involves being clever in math and logic, and also at programming.

1978 | Robert D. Keever I taught high school level math in Sierra Leone, West Africa with the Peace Corps and now teach in the math department at SUNY Plattsburgh. 2002 | Matt J. Groden

1960 | Nils A. S. Pearson I studied meteorology at post graduate school which required a good foundation in mathematics as we used numerical models for weather prediction. My master’s thesis was creating a workable numerical model of a hurricane.

The rigor and “push your pencil” mantra of Paul Machemer ’65 prepared me very well for undergraduate studies and my current career. Math allows me to problem solve in facets of life that do not include mathematics. As a math teacher, it also allows me to show my students how to learn. Responses might be edited due to space limitation and Georgian style guidelines.

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Alumni Profile: Cat McIntyre ’94

Alumni Profile: Kenny Kao ’08

How does math play a role in your career? I have spent the past thirteen years working in wetland systems, developing expertise in wetland plant identification, soil taxonomy, wetland condition assessments, amphibian ecology, and geospatial analysis. Currently I’m working on large-scale wetland restoration projects on several Superfund sites in Montana. As a wetland ecologist, I use math on a daily basis whether it is conducting statistical analyses on species data, using differential equations to understand community assemblages, calculating planting densities and soil amendment volumes for restoration projects, or establishing project budgets. I consider math to be critical to my science.

Did your George School years influence your university studies and career path? I was always pretty interested in mathematics and science. I really enjoyed Math Seminar taught by Travis Ortogero. I found it challenging, and the homework problems required me to think hard. I also took AP Physics as well as Computer Programming and Robotics with Chris Odom. And I spent the summer before my senior year in Stony Brook University’s Simons Summer Research Fellowship Program, conducting research on PEM fuel cells, an emerging technology with great potential as a clean, efficient future energy source. For that work, I was named one of forty finalists in the 67th Annual Intel Science Talent Search, which certainly influenced my future.

Did George School classes affect your career choice? I attribute my interest in ecology and environmental chemistry to classes that I took at George School, including a chemistry class where the teacher had students volunteer for the Delaware Riverkeeper Network in Lambertville, New Jersey. Math was not a topic I was particularly interested in during high school. I was probably more concerned about whom I was going to sit next to in class than what was being taught. In fact, math has never come easy for me. It wasn’t until I started applying it to subjects that I am passionate about that it started to make more sense and the purpose of math became more obvious. What about mathematics motivates you? Math is the backbone to any science. I hated math until I figured out how it could be applied in real life. Math can be used to form hypotheses and answer questions. Statistical math validates scientific studies and helps us understand patterns in the world.

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How has math been part of your life since graduating George School? I majored in electrical engineering at Stanford and work in computer science. Computer science is, in essence, applied math. In that sense, all the algorithms and code I write are mathbased. During my summers, I interned at tech companies, both in hardware and software engineering. All of them required math. What about mathematics motivates you? Push your limits. Math is the foundation to most of the technology of the future. Understanding the fundamentals of math will allow you to move on to a wide range of advanced concepts.


Laura Taylor Kinnel teaches mathematics and serves as George School’s registrar.

On Learning Algebra and Geometry By Laura Taylor Kinnel Andrew Hacker’s opinion piece in The New York Times in July 2012 titled “Is Algebra Necessary?” generated lots of conversation about why we teach algebra (and other traditional high school math courses) and whether we should continue to do so. Hacker’s thesis, as I understand it, is that “making mathematics mandatory prevents us from discovering and developing young talent” because algebra is so difficult that requiring it prevents large numbers of students from finishing high school, enrolling in college, or finishing college, and that requiring it is unnecessary because only a very small percentage of people actually use algebra after they are done taking math courses. “Certification programs for veterinary technicians require algebra, although none of the graduates I’ve met have ever used it in diagnosing or treating their patients,” he argues. “Medical schools like Harvard and Johns Hopkins demand calculus of all their applicants, even if it doesn’t figure in the clinical curriculum, let alone in subsequent practice. Mathematics is used as a hoop, a badge, a totem to impress outsiders and elevate a profession’s status.” At George School, we require the math courses to which Hacker objects. Though I disagree with Hacker’s answer to his title question, I am grateful to him for the challenge. We should be able to

answer these questions about anything that we require of our students. I teach math because I find the subject endlessly fascinating, but that is no justification for why everyone should take it. Rather, people need a high-quality education in algebra and geometry in order to develop habits of mind and frames of reference that enable them to think more creatively about issues they encounter on a daily basis, to acquire tools and develop quantitative perspectives that are useful in exploring and solving problems related to these issues, and—for the same reason that they need an education in the arts—to deepen the sense of what it is to be human and to strengthen our sense of connection with that which is greater than ourselves. I suggest that Hacker’s rejection of the necessity of algebra for all high school students is based on a flawed understanding of algebra. Judging from the arguments he makes, my sense is that he sees algebra as the manipulation of apparently meaningless symbols according to seemingly arbitrary rules for purposes which have no use except in professions which require algebraic manipulation on a regular basis. And, in Hacker’s defense, it is probably easy to come away from many algebra courses with this perception. I have been determined in recent years, however, to find ways of teaching algebra (and advanced math classes based in algebra) which help

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students to see algebra more as mathematician and philosopher Bertrand Russell described it in his 1902 essay, “The Study of Mathematics.” “The fact is, that in algebra the mind is first taught to consider general truths, truths which are not asserted to hold only of this or that particular thing, but of any one of a whole group of things,” he writes. “It is in the power of understanding and discovering such truths that the mastery of the intellect over the whole world of things actual and possible resides; and ability to deal with the general as such is one of the gifts that a mathematical education should bestow.” Advances in technology over the years have been useful in my quest to help all students see “the forest” of algebra as an ability to deal with the general for “the trees” of symbolic manipulation. It is clear to me that this evolution in technology, incorporated thoughtfully into the classroom, makes it possible for many more people to see fundamental concepts in mathematics; concepts that were previously accessible only to those who either became skilled at algebraic manipulation or had been blessed with particularly good mathematical insight. Now, however, students can use computers, calculators, smart phones, and iPads to move easily among algebraic, numerical, and graphical representations of mathematical situations, thus enabling them to see—at an educated glance— solutions that previously emerged only after many lines of algebraic manipulation, or in some cases, were simply too complicated to discover with “by hand” algebra. To get a sense of what I mean, try visiting the website and typing “x^3-5x^2=2x” into the search box. You will see a graph, alternate forms of the equation, exact solutions to the equation (with options to show all the steps in the algebraic solution and to show decimal approximations), and the locations of the solutions

C a n Yo u D o th e M ath? Travis Ortogero recently asked his class:

What is the remainder when 2012 2012 is divided by 11? Email your answer to

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on a number line. Most students who see this output become curious about how the graph shown is related to the equation. Close observation yields some quick answers and further exploration yields more. Students can observe how the graph changes as they vary bits of the equation and, even though the equation needn’t represent any particular thing in the real world, all of a sudden there’s something concrete, accessible, and relevant about it. Students start to ask all kinds of questions, such as how to get those exact solutions, and this leads naturally into some well-motivated traditional algebraic work and the concept of proof. Further, in addition to making algebraic ideas accessible to a wider audience, today’s technology gives a gift similar to that given in the early seventeenth century by John Napier’s introduction of logarithms which, as Pierre-Simon Laplace observed, “by shortening the labors, doubled the life of the astronomer.” While facility with algebraic manipulation is less important now than it was in the past, algebraic ways of thinking are more important than ever. I agree with Andrew Hacker that few people encounter situations in which they are explicitly told to “solve for x” after they have left school. If they understand algebra, however, they think to ask how a certain problem they’re faced with might be reframed as “solve for x” or “find the equation of the line.” As an example most of today’s high school graduates will either need to use or could be helped by using a spreadsheet. Certainly, those who understand some basic tenets of algebra are more likely to think of a spreadsheet as a potentially useful tool and will be able to do an awful lot more with it than those who do not. Still, not everyone will need to use spreadsheets, and, at the same time, people will need to use tools that haven’t even been imagined yet. In this rapidly changing world where our graduates do such a wide variety of work, it would be impossible—even if we wanted math education to be purely vocational—to teach all of the mathematical topics, technological skills, or particular contexts that each person or even most people will need. Instead, we teach algebra as a way of thinking and a way of doing. We teach students to ask questions, and we teach them that there are tools—in their minds and all around them—that they can use to help answer these questions. Then, when they find themselves faced with finding marginal cost, velocity, or the rate of population growth,


they remember the fundamental concept of rate of change that they first met in algebra, they strip away the context, and they solve the same mathematical problem, because they have harnessed Russell’s power of understanding truths which hold for a whole group of things. Like algebra, geometry provides plenty of opportunity for discovering general truths. Because it is by nature so visually accessible, however, geometry is even better suited to what Russell defines as “one of the chief ends served by mathematics” which “is to awaken the learner’s belief in reason, his confidence in the truth of what has been demonstrated, and in the value of demonstration.” This may be the most compelling rationale for why we require our students to study geometry, where the exploration of shapes—something even small children can do—leads naturally to the formation of interesting questions which students discover that they can answer definitively for themselves or by collaborating with others. The three geometry courses that we teach at George School require different levels of abstraction and precision of discourse, but in each class students explore spatial relationships, generate questions, figure out how to answer them, and work to communicate their ideas in a way that will compel others to agree, yes, you’ve proven this. Through geometry, students come to understand that which is at the heart of mathematics, the proof, while also developing an appreciation for the importance of clearly identifying assumptions and developing and communicating a rational argument based on those assumptions. Geometry is also a key area of mathematical study because it helps students to develop a deeper and more nuanced understanding of beauty. If, as Hacker advocates, the only required study of math were in concrete contexts (such as how to calculate the consumer price index and how math was used in early cultures) in an attempt to eliminate most of the need for the difficult training in abstraction, students would be deprived not only of the opportunities to consider general truths and to discover the power of demonstration, they would lose the chance to experience “the true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence,” and, according to Bertrand Russell, “is to be found in mathematics as surely as in poetry.”

If they haven’t appreciated Russell’s sentiments in earlier mathematical studies, students may begin to get a sense of what he means when they do compass and straight-edge constructions, or when they realize how many wildly different ways there are to prove the Pythagorean Theorem. And, if they stick with math through a calculus course, they will almost certainly agree with Russell when they find that 2 3 4

ex = 1 + x +

x x x + + +… 2! 3! 4!

and then use this, together with their knowledge of trigonometry, to discover that the five fundamental constants in mathematics combine with the three most fundamental operations (addition, multiplication, and exponentiation) into the astonishing equation e iπ + 1 = 0 . Indeed, “the true spirit of delight, the exaltation, the sense of being more than man, which is the touchstone of the highest excellence, is to be found in mathematics as surely as in poetry.” And, yes, algebra is necessary.

ex 1+x+

x 2 x3 x4 + + 2! 3! 4!


x 2 x3 + 2! 3!


x 2 2!


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Fitness & Athletics Center Construction Scheduled This spring George School will break ground on its latest capital project, a state-of-the-art Fitness and Athletics Center, to be located where the Worth Sports Center currently resides on the south end of campus. The new facility will be situated across from the Mollie Dodd Anderson Library and diagonally to the George School Meetinghouse. The unanimous decision to begin construction was made by the school’s governing board, the George School Committee (GSC), based on generous early gifts in the “quiet” phase of a capital initiative for fitness and athletics. “We are confident that the greater community will commit the remainder of the funds necessary to build this much needed facility,” says GSC Clerk Richard Segel. This project follows the successful opening of three other major facilities in the past few years including Anderson Library, a Gold LEED-certified green building, McFeely, a state-of-the-art classroom building that originally housed the old library, and Cougar Track and Cougar Field, a new all-weather running track and synthetic turf field. The new fitness and athletics facility was designed by Bowie Gridley Architects of Washington, D.C., the same firm that designed

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the Anderson Library. The project construction manager is R.S. Mowery & Sons, Inc. of Mechanicsburg, Pennsylvania. “The world has undergone a revolution in its approach to athletics and fitness in the past thirty years, catching up to what we at George School have always known—that physical fitness should play a central role in the lives of all our students,” says former GSC clerk David Bruton ’53 who serves as clerk of the Fitness and Athletics Capital Committee. “Providing the facilities to support this is an integral part of our mission as a school. We owe our students nothing less.”

Continued Leadership in Environmental Sustainability The design, construction, and operation of the new Fitness and Athletics Center are intended to earn certification under the U.S. Green Building Council’s Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green Building Rating System, the national standard for environmentally friendly buildings. One of the key green components of the building design is a vegetative roof over a portion of the Fitness and Athletics Center. Besides the


George School will construct a spectacular 100,000 squarefoot brick and glass Fitness and Athletics Center in time for the fall 2014 sports season. The new eight-lane, twenty-five-yard pool has an advanced filtration system. The 12,600 squarefoot performance gymnasium, will host both boys’ and girls’ basketball and volleyball.

aesthetic and psychological advantages, green roofs commonly offer ecological and economic benefits including the recovery of green space, improved storm water management, water and air purification, and a reduction in energy consumption. The green spaces surrounding the center will creatively integrate storm-water management areas with aesthetically pleasing native-plant gardens and the enlarged parking lot will contain several rain gardens to promote greater drainage. The building is designed to maximize daylighting to reduce lighting electrical demands. Solar hot water collectors will pre-heat water for boilers. In addition, radiant flooring in the field house and central corridors will provide an energyefficient heating system in areas of high use. The

new pool design will use an air dehumidification system to heat the pool and the shallower depth means less water to heat. It also means that there are fewer chemicals needed for treatment. “I am excited about the new pool design,” says former George School varsity swimmer Tom Hoopes ’83, who also is the head of the Religion Department. “George School has been a leader in environmental sustainability for a long time. I hope our new pool will be a model for what swimming pool construction can be and should be, both in terms of visual aesthetics and in terms of the sustainable features of how the water is filtered and heated, and how the chemicals are managed.” “Green buildings save energy and water, produce fewer carbon emissions, cause less waste,

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The 4,000 square-foot, glass-enclosed fitness center will be air conditioned and staffed to serve the needs of students, faculty, and community members.

The central corridors of the building, on both the first and second floors, are ideal locations for gathering with friends, and give easy access to spectator seating.

“T he world has undergone a revolution in its approach to athletics and fitness in the past thirty years, catching up to what we at George School have always known—that physical fitness should play a central role in the lives of all our students.” and create healthier environments for the communities they serve,” says Head of School Nancy Starmer. “This new project is another step towards our goal of a leadership position in environmental sustainability.” “I am very excited about what this building project will mean for the well-being of our students, teachers, and coaches,” Nancy continues.

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“Athletics and physical education—like science, mathematics, the humanities, meeting for worship, arts, and service—are integral parts of the complete educational experience at George School. Our curricular commitment is to provide all George School students opportunities to discover their talents, to deepen their understanding, and to strive for excellence.”


FIRST floor

Fitness & Athletics Center Features


The new LEED-certified Fitness and Athletics Center will be ready for occupancy in fall 2014 and will include a number of key components:


• P  erformance gym with a floating, cushioned, mapleplank floor (A)




• S tate-of-the-art pool with eight lanes, as well as room for nearly two hundred spectators (B) • F  ield house with two courts and seating for over four hundred spectators (C)


• F  ully-equipped, 4,000 square-foot fitness center (D)

SECOND floor

• Wrestling room (E) • Yoga studio and exercise room (F) • Training suite with wet and dry treatment areas (G)


• L ocker rooms for students, faculty, staff, and visiting teams, with more than 600 lockers (H) • Classrooms, offices, and a conference room for the Athletics Department (I) F


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The smith family has made a lasting impression on George School through their care and generosity.

A Family Tradition: The Smiths’ Lasting Impact When June Corey Smith passed away in June, five years after husband Richard O. (Dick) Smith ’36, it ended a chapter in a lengthy and impressive story. In the 1930s Dick was a George School boarding student, earning money by cleaning fellow students’ ties and pressing their pants. In the ’50s and ’60s he and June were enthusiastic parents, driving an hour and a half to see their sons (Corey ’61 and Doug ’64) play sports. Over more than three-quarters of a century, they were stalwart George School supporters, attending reunions eagerly and contributing generously, repeatedly, and diversely—for the benefit of students, faculty, and a school they loved. Dick was born and raised a Quaker and had several family members—siblings, sons, grandchildren, and even a grandnephew—follow in his George School footsteps. From George School he went on to Swarthmore College (another Quaker institution) and an investment career that included a stint as chairman of the Philadelphia-BaltimoreWashington Stock Exchange. Along the way he married June, who became a Quaker and a George School fan, too. “Over the years my mother was exposed to his feelings for the school and to many of his George School friends,” Corey explains. “Together they valued the school and its many aspects.” It was

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this appreciation for the school’s many aspects— spiritual and social, academic and athletic—that led Dick and June to support a range of projects. Having been a boarder and the father of boarders, Dick understood the value of the residential experience. In 1992, early in the school’s Second Century Campaign, the Smiths contributed to the renovation of Drayton dormitory, which created the first-floor lounge and basement recreation space that junior and senior boys still energetically use today. “Dad was very big on the social aspects,” says Doug. “He felt that a place to relax and socialize with your classmates was very important.” Another aspect that mattered was the school’s Quaker core. As Doug describes, “That George School was a Friends school and that you went to meeting for worship, was important to both of them.” In a 1997 interview Dick said, “Throughout the years, the school has been able to impart a solid sense of principles—the emphasis on simplicity, respecting the opinions of others, encouraging diversity and meeting for worship, along with a very fine education.” It was a large part of why the couple had decided to endow the Richard O. ’36 and June


mic helle ruess

JUNE SMITH met with Smith Scholars Maggie Ellis ’13, Jeremy Tyson ’12, Ceinwen Klaphaak ’14, Campbell Alden ’13, Elise Riley ’12, and Rosie Wood ’13 at Sunnybanke in May 2012.

Corey Smith Scholarship that year to help Quaker students, a financial aid fund that has benefited dozens of students since. Though most Smith Scholars never met their benefactors, seven got together with June in 2011, a gathering she very much enjoyed, according to Corey. Keith Irwin ’09 expresses the feelings of many, “Going to George School is the greatest thing to have ever happened to me. But it wouldn’t have been possible without the generous aid I received, a good deal of which came from the Smiths, whom I sadly never met.” “The first time I stepped on the George School campus I was 13,” Annessa Graebener ’06 writes. “Throughout my tour and interview I chewed on the sleeves of my oversized black coat, quietly answering questions, and rambling on about my favorite boy band. Despite my overall shyness, I really enjoyed my George School visit. The obstacle preventing me from attending the school of my dreams was the cost of tuition. The Smith scholarship made this possible. My four years at George School allowed me to truly discover and become comfortable with myself. From an educational standpoint, I was much more prepared than many students when I first attended college. Because of the Smiths’ generous gift to someone they didn’t even know, my life was changed for the better.” In 1999, the Smiths decided to help fortify George School’s “many aspects” once again, this time by establishing a charitable lead trust supporting areas of highest need. As Corey, who served on the George School Committee, remarks, “It was a meeting of their interests and the school’s needs.

The best gifts are those that benefit the school in perpetuity.” Though the areas of greatest need have changed over the years, the Smiths’ impact has not. Dick and June spent their last years at White Horse Village in Newtown Square. Several George School alumni lived there, including the man across the street, who had lived across the hall from Dick at George School. After Dick passed away in 2007, June made a gift in his memory for badly needed faculty housing, and she attended the 2009 dedication of the duplex now called Smith House. Resident Pippa Porter-Rex describes, “When we first moved to George School we lived in the unrenovated basement of Orton with our bedroom under the stairs. Smith House is the first real home we have had in twenty-two years. Its location close to three dorms is great for a dean. My neighbor and best friend, Kathleen O’Neal [who, with fellow teacher and husband Chris Odom, lives in Smith House’s other half], and I love to sit on the porch with our dogs and watch the parade of kids stroll by. It is a great place to live and to be! We are very grateful.” The Smiths gave in ways that directly benefited faculty and students and indirectly benefited every segment of the community. “Dick and June Smith made a lasting impression on George School through their care and generosity,” says Nancy Starmer, head of school. “Future residents of Smith House, the students who receive Richard O. and June Corey Smith Scholarships each year, and the generations of students and teachers who will continue to benefit from a George School education because of the strength of our endowment will have this extraordinary couple to thank.” “They did everything in moderation except giving to George School, which is great,” says Doug describing George School’s effect on his parents. “It was near and dear to their hearts and to the whole family’s—and still is.”

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Looking Forward to Alumni Weekend Emma Rowan ’08 and Eileen Mattis O’Brien ’38 have much more in common than meets the eye. Besides sharing a common birthday with the likes of Jane Austen and Ludwig van Beethoven, these two women have discovered that they share a sense of George School sensibilities, treasured friendships, and vibrant interests that resonate across the seven decades between them. Recently Emma met Eileen to share stories about George School and to talk about their plans for Alumni Weekend, May 10-12, 2013. We hope you will join Emma and Eileen this year too!

ble dates and he would manage my allowance. At that time, the school would tell your parents to give you five dollars per month, and you would keep it in the bank at school and take some out when you wanted a new notebook or you were walking into town to get a Buff and Brown, vanilla ice cream on a brownie with chocolate syrup and crushed peanuts. Everyone was told to bring the same amount of allowance and clothes. I liked that. You never knew whether someone was a millionaire or there on scholarship.

Eileen Mattis O’Brien ’38, will celebrate her seventy-fifth reunion this year. She was born in Riverton, New Jersey, and has been, as she describes it, a “devout Quaker” all her life. She spent much of her childhood in Atlantic City, as her grandparents owned a bathhouse on the boardwalk, and during the summers she attended Camp Dark Water, a Quaker summer camp in Medford, New Jersey. She attended Westfield Friends School and later followed her brother, Walter Mattis ’36, to George School. Eileen attended Colby Junior College for two years and then the New Jersey College of Commerce. After college, Eileen worked at the DuPont Exhibit in Atlantic City giving lectures on new products. “That’s where I met my husband,” she says. “I took his job. When all the men went off to fight in the war, DuPont had to hire women to take their places. I got a job there, and when he came back, there weren’t any positions left giving lectures, so they gave him a job building displays in the workshop. Then we met and started dating.”

What is your favorite George School memory? I was always getting into trouble. I still remember one report card that said, “Eileen is a follower, but she follows in the wrong direction.” Two or three friends and I snuck down to the kitchen on Sunday and stole some sticky buns. We got caught and all got demerits. In those days, a demerit meant you had to walk in a circle around campus. A teacher would sit with a list and check your name off as you went by. But people were walking in different directions, so you could write a note to your boyfriend, fold it up, and quickly pass it to someone walking in the opposite direction to give to him.

What did you like about George School? I loved being there with my brother. He was a year older than me, so the boys I dated were usually in his class. They had to go to my brother to ask permission to take me out. We would often go on dou-

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Do you plan to come back for your reunion? I hope so. I enjoyed going to many reunions in the past, and I kept up with many friends from George School in between reunions, too. My husband and I went on vacation every year with about six couples, mostly from George School, and invited them to stay at our house as well. John (Johnny) Campbell ’41 had a house up at Skytop, and we would go skiing together. We would also go boating with my roommate from George School, Helen Powell Brown ’38, and her husband, Millard (Brownie) Brown ’37, near Annapolis every summer. And I still write to my classmate Miquette Miller Cox, who lives in Pennsylvania. I loved my four years on fourth Central. I am very fortunate to have been able to get together with my friends many times over the years, and these joyous memories are those I cherish most.


Emma Rowan ’08, is a Jersey girl (from Trenton) and a Quaker too, though she did not become a Friend until she was at George School. Like Eileen, she also attended Friends schools and camps—Newtown Friends, George School, Camp Onas, and Princeton Friends Camp, where she worked for many summers, enjoying its creative atmosphere. A course in Mandarin Chinese her senior year at George School sparked an interest that became an East Asian studies major at Oberlin College. After graduating in 2012, she returned to George School to work in the Advancement Office. What did you like about George School? I had some really wonderful teachers. They treated us like adults, guiding us in class discussions, but letting us share ideas and think for ourselves. And they were available outside of class to help or to

just have a meaningful conversation. Now that I’m back at George School, it’s great to continue the relationships. What is your favorite George School memory? I loved being in the musicals, especially being Lucy in Snoopy my senior year. It was an ensemble show, so even though some people had more lines, it was more about the group than individuals. The cast had a real camaraderie, and as an added bonus, my sister, Willa, was in it. I really enjoyed sharing a little bit of George School with her. Do you plan to come back for your reunion? I’m very excited about our fifth reunion. I’ve kept in touch with close friends and saw some when I was home on college breaks, but there are plenty of people I haven’t seen since graduation. Working in the Advancement Office, I have connected electronically with some classmates, but I’m looking forward to seeing them in person and to planning fun events for us with other members of the reunion committee. And if I’m as lucky as Eileen, I hope to be back for our 75th reunion in 2083.

Students, alumni, faculty, and staff are busy making plans for a community-wide celebration for Alumni Weekend. Online registration is open to all alumni, parents, students, and friends and a full schedule of events is posted at




10:00 a.m. All-School Assembly

8:00 a.m. Alumni/Faculty Breakfast

10:45 a.m. Meeting for Worship

11:30 a.m. Lunch 12:30 p.m. Campus Walking Tour 1:30 p.m.

Master Class

Worth Sports Center, Marshall Platt Pool Celebration 3:30 p.m. Student Athletic Contests 6:00 p.m. Nancy Bernardini Celebration Dinner

9:00 a.m.

12:00 p.m. Sunday Brunch

Memorial Meeting for Worship

10:00 a.m. Master Classes Tennis Round Robin 11:00 a.m. All-Alumni Gathering 12:00 p.m. Lunch 1:30 p.m.

Reunion Photos

2:00 p.m.

Alumni Games

3:30 p.m.

Cougar Tailgate


Off-Campus Reunion

Class Events

Note: We are in the planning stage for Alumni Weekend 2013 and these events and times may change between now and May 10, 2013. Please visit our website at alumni for the most recent schedule and to register online. You also may call the Advancement Office at 215.579.6564.

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March 2013

Campus News & Notes by Susan Quinn

National Merit Finalists and Commended Students Announced George School is proud to announce that Evan Clinton ’13 and Dan Simon ’13 were selected as finalists in the 2013 National Merit Scholarship Program based on their performance on the 2011 Preliminary SAT/National Merit Scholarship Qualifying Test (PSAT/NMSQT), outstanding scholarship and citizenship, and continued high performance on standardized tests. In addition, Max Balka ’13, Ethan Carpene ’13, Linlin Chen ’13, Alexi Kessler ’13, Susannah Perkins ’13, and Emma Wells ’13 were high scorers on the test and received letters of commendation in recognition of their outstanding academic promise. Students Present Keeping the Dream Alive On Monday, January 21, 2013, George School students honored Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and his work through a series of events which were planned and led by the Martin Luther King Jr. Day Student Executive Committee. George School and Westtown Sing Together George School and longtime athletic rival Westtown School joined together to present “Harmonious Rivals” in the George School Meetinghouse on Sunday, January 20, 2013. The concert featured “How Can I Keep from Singing” and “Let your Light Shine.”

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Forensic Science Class Studies DNA Fingerprinting Students in Becky Hutchins’ Forensic Science class are doing more than just reading about forensics in a textbook. Throughout the course of the term they study the science of DNA fingerprinting, handwriting analysis, forensic entomology, how to estimate postmortem interval, the importance of insects at the crime scene, blood typing, blood spatter analysis, and hair and fiber analysis. Students Attend Student Diversity Leadership Conference Fatima Akbar ’14, Paolo Alighierei ’13, Qudsiyyah Collings ’15, Arne Nelson ’13, Miranda RiccardiCoon ’15, and Maia ValdepenasMellor ’15 attended “Energizing Our Future through Refining Our Shared Sense of Community,” a conference hosted by the National Association of Independent Schools in Houston, Texas on December 6-8, 2012. “This conference is important because it gives students from a wide variety of backgrounds and experiences the opportunity to come together for a few days in a safe place to self-reflect, form allies, and build community,” said Marion Wells, librarian and international student co-sponsor.

A Midsummer Night’s Dream Delights All A stellar cast of George School students under the direction of Maureen West, head of the Arts Department,

performed Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream on November 2 and 3 to a packed house. From the sophisticated set design to the welldelivered lines, every aspect of the show delighted the audience. “That was the best performance I have seen recently…and the last one I saw was on Broadway,” remarked one attendee.

Varsity Boys Soccer Captures FSL Title George School defeated Friends Central and became the 2012 Friends Schools League soccer champions on Thursday, November 1, 2012. After the two teams went 110 minutes without a goal, the Cougars prevailed over host Friends Central, 3-1, on penalty kicks. Timofei Kharisov ’15, Kostas Panagiotakis ’14, and Zack Kimelheim ’13 scored for George School. “Aidan Greer ’14 dove to his right and knocked the ball out of the air,” reports Rick Woelfel of phillyBurbs. com. “Aidan made thirteen saves before stopping three more shots in the shootout.” Beekeepers Club Harvests First Honey When George School’s Beekeepers Club started in April 2011, they had two hives and no honey to call their own. The club now manages six active hives and just collected its first two batches of honey, concluding their first successful season.

Alumni Tell us

The Dedication of WeimarMachemer Soccer Field Five decades of alumni took part in the soccer game preceding the dedication of Weimar-Machemer Soccer Field on Saturday, October 20, 2012. After an intense 3-2 game, the players joined coach Paul Machemer ’65 and former coach Russ Weimar ’48 for the dedication of the field. Between them, Russ and Paul have coached fifty six years of soccer at George School, and represent two of the five men who have coached varsity soccer since 1923. The Curious George Wins Gold The Curious George, George School’s student newspaper, received Gold Medalist standing from the Columbia Scholastic Press Association (CSPA).

Gold is the highest level awarded as part of the association’s Scholastic Print News Critique process. In addition, five students received awards for their work. Maddy Sweitzer-Lamme ’13 won an award for outstanding editor, Ayushi Kokroo ’15 received recognition for outstanding newswriting, Mahek Singh ’15 and Ilya Timofeyev ’13 earned page design prizes, and Keita Erskine ’13 was celebrated for having the “most thoughtful contributions” in his page editing class. Alumni Artwork Featured at School Opening George School held its first Alumni Art Show of the academic year, featuring artists Sara Rhodin ’02, a photographer, Liz Weiler ’07, a painter, Todd Piker ’70, a sculptor, and Sam Moyer ’93, a woodworker, from September 4 to October 12 in Walton Center. “These artists have an immediate connection to our community that enriches the experience for our students and deepens their appreciation for the artwork itself,” said sculpture teacher and gallery coordinator Amedeo Salamoni.

George School Launches Expanded YouTube Channel George School launched its expanded YouTube channel, GeorgeSchoolVideo, in September with the posting of Opening Days, a short video about the beginning of the new 2012-2013 school year. To date, more than one thousand community members have watched the channel. The most watched video was the Holiday Greetings from George School video in which members of the community came together to express their thanks in words and pictures at the beginning of the holiday season. Featured playlists include Athletics, Performing Arts, Campus Life, Robotics, and Student Videos. Visit the channel at georgeschoolvideo.

The Honor Thy Coaches series has celebrated six legendary George School coaches since its launch in winter 2012—Robert Geissinger, John Gleeson ’65, Anne LeDuc, Paul Machemer ’65, David Satterwhwaite ’65, and Russ Weimar ’48. Join fans, friends, alumni, parents, and colleagues to celebrate Nancy and her dedication to coaching and George School.

Honor Thy Coaches 2012-2013 Join us for the final event in the 2012-2013 Honor Thy Coaches series as we say thank you and celebrate Nancy Zurn Bernardini whose dedication has made athletics such an important part of the history and life of our community. Nancy has coached lacrosse, field hockey, basketball, and served as girls’ athletic director, a resident in the dorm, an advisor, and a physical education teacher.

Nancy Zurn Bernardini Friday, May 10, 2013 at 7:00 p.m. Sheraton Bucks County Hotel Visit for more information or to register now. If you are unable to attend but would like to make a gift to honor your coaches or to share team memories or photos, contact Colleen Hasson by email at or by phone at 215.579.6572.

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Georgian, March 2013  

The Georgian is the official publication of George School.

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