P.O. Box 991 Groton, Massachusetts 01450-0991
Change Service Requested
Non-profit ORG. U.S. POSTAGE PAID North Reading, MA Permit 140
Groton School Quarterly
Groton School Quarterly Spring Spring2010 2010| |Vol. Vol.LXXII, LXXII,No. No.2 2
Above: Form of 2010 members of the Girls varsity basketball squad have made it to NEPSAC post season play for five straight years and every year they were on the team. Left to right: Jillian Howe, Paige McDonald, Jenne Battaini, Kimmy Mitchell, and Elizabeth Small. Below: Varsity squad before Senior Day game. Left to right:Yoon Hae Ahn ’11, Kate Lapres ’11, Jillian Howe ’10, Paige McDonald ’12, Marissa Garey ’13, Emma Peabody ’11, Jenne Battaini ’10, Kimmy Mitchell ’10, Molly Lyons ’12, Elizabeth Small ’10, and Adriana Pulford ’11.
Spring 2010 • Vol. LXXII, No. 2
C i rc
In this Issue: Gallery News ~ On the Stages: Winter Productions ~ Chapel Talks
Digital art by Ariana Bedrossian ’10.
What Are Your Plans?
otivated by all the School had done for him and meant to him, George L. Peabody ’39 originally intended to leave a bequest to Groton School. In 1999, he redirected his intended gift to a charitable gift annuity that provided guaranteed income for him for the remainder of his life. That way he could watch his gift to Groton grow with the School’s endowment, take an immediate tax deduction, and enjoy the certainty of receiving quarterly income for life.
Spring 2010 | Vol. LXXII, No. 2
Contents Circiter | Featured on Campus 4
George served with distinction in the military, was ordained as an Episcopal priest, and had a long, successful career in management training. When George died in January 2010 his charitable gift annuity enhanced an endowed ﬁnancial aid fund, giving future generations of students access to the Groton education that he valued so much.
Gallery News: Spring Exhibits De Menil Gallery Christopher Brodigan Gallery
On the Stages: Winter Productions Inherit the Wind The Little Prince Elements / Life
Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle 13
Creating Healthy Communities A Chapel Talk by Polly Reeve ’78, P’07, ’09 ’11, Trustee
Who Holds the Power to Teach A Chapel Talk by Carol Santos, Assistant Head of School
Questioning Faith A Chapel Talk by Georgie Brinkley ’10
Circumstances change, and like George did, you may want to periodically review your will to ensure that you are addressing current wishes and goals for the distribution of your estate.
Circle, Open Understanding the Circle: Perspectives on the Circle as metaphor
With a Groton School Gift Annuity you can: • Earn guaranteed income for life • Receive an immediate tax deduction • Avoid capital gains tax on stock that has increased in value • Make a meaningful contribution to Groton School
Sample One-Life Annuity Rates Age 85 80 75 70 65
Payout Rate 8.1% 7.1% 6.3% 5.7% 5.3%
Total Annual Payment $810 $710 $630 $570 $530
Allowable Charitable Deduction* $5,647 $5,022 $4,416 $3,814 $3,190
*Based on a $10,000 gift, quarterly payments, and a 3.2% charitable federal rate.
To conﬁrm current rates or learn more about how this giving option could ﬁt into your plans, please contact Rachel Silver, Director of Major Gifts, email@example.com or 978-448-7584. 16
Front cover: St. John's Chapel in spring by Art Durity.
Groton School uarterly
Grotoniana | All Things Groton 36
NEASC Update: Groton's Self-Evaluation
School News Alumni Games Day, GWN, GSAA
Book Review In Other Rooms, Other Wonder, Daniyal Mueenuddin ’81
In Memoriam | As We Remember 53
Homer Pine Smith ’25
Frank Polk ’54
R. Nicholas Gimbel ’69
Notabilia | New & Noteworthy 59
Marriages, New Arrivals, Deaths
The Schoolhouse courtyard in spring.
Groton School uarterly
FROM THE EDITOR
Spring 2010 | Vol. LxxII, No. 2
The Circle as metaphor
his February the mail brought to my door my own graduate school alumni magazine. A brief article in it identified a man named Larry Smith, who a few years ago created an online magazine dedicated to a project called the six word memoir. Intrigued by this idea, Middlebury Magazine asked students at the college to “tell the college’s story—or their story at the college—using just six words.” Some of the student responses went like this: “Arrived by accident; can’t imagine leaving” “Came hungry for answers. Leaving hungrier.” “Running out of woods, into books.” “People, intriguing. Classes stimulating. Sleep, optional.”
The article reminded me of the exercise Groton initiated just two years ago, as it conducted a marketing study aimed at developing language that described Groton in deeply authentic, compelling and differentiating ways. The study sought to define one simple thing about Groton that when mentioned or presented in print would lead one to want to know more about the School. Our project had the same challenge of brevity and truth as does the six word memoir, while also seeking an idea that was authentic to Groton, compelling and differentiating. The piece in this issue titled “Circle, Open” found in the “Voices on the Circle” section describes where we are in this project which combines the Groton Circle and the notion of openness into a metaphor for Groton’s aspirations and the student experience at the School. Several student responses in the article show sixth formers working with the metaphor, while Mr. Gemmel’s thoughtful article (presented as a Chapel Talk this winter) provides a broader context. I would welcome submissions from Quarterly readers willing to explain or describe their Groton experience, using the circle as the central metaphor. Feel free to use the six word memoir frame, or as many words as you would like! We hope you enjoy this issue of the Quarterly, depicting a very busy winter here on campus, and I thank all contributors, editors, designers and printers for their efforts helping to produce the issue. John M. Niles, Editor Quarterly@Groton.org
Editor John M. Niles Graphic Design Jeanne Abboud Contributing Editors Julia B. Alling Amybeth Babeu Elizabeth Wray Lawrence ’82 John D. MacEachern Andrew M. Millikin Melissa J. Ribaudo Rachel S. Silver Photography All photography by Arthur Durity unless otherwise credited. Editorial Offices The Schoolhouse Groton School Groton, MA 01450 Phone: 978-448-7506 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Other School Offices Alumni Office 978-448-7520 Admission Office 978- 448-7510 The views presented are not necessarily those of the editors or the official policies of the School. Groton School of Groton, Massachusetts 01450 publishes the Groton School Quarterly three times a year in late summer, winter, and spring, and the Annual Report once a year in the fall.
2 | Quarterly Spring 2010
Circiter | Featured on Campus WINTER SHOWS | SPRING EXHIBITS
Quarterly Spring 2010
Gallery News The de Menil Gallery SPRING
Deliquescence and Other Transformations: Large-scale botanical prints by photographer Robert Creamer April 6th through June 6th
obert Creamer has a deep respect for change—its subtle palette and patterns, the surprising structure of decay, and the integrity that graces every stage of life. In a Creamer photograph a browning petal becomes as glorious as the newly opened bloom. The numbered museum specimen transforms into contemporary sculpture. The arresting detail and Baroque luminosity of these photographs are the result of a lifetime behind a camera and a recently discovered technique—the flatbed scanner. Creamer’s careful use of rich blacks or negative space helps emphasize the light of the subjects and allude to the mystery of an ever-present dark. —From the exhibit hosted in 2006-07 by the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of Natural History. The works now are on display at the de Menil Gallery as part of the Smithsonian’s Traveling Exhibition Service. The Artist’s Comments “Photography has been very good to me. Photography most of all has given me the opportunity to explore, be curious, and allowed me an avenue to interpret the world around me as an artist, a teacher and as a professional architectural photographer. “This new work, which is on tour as a Smithsonian Traveling Exhibition, concentrates on a blend of interests in technology and the aging process. These images were captured using a scanner as a camera. The work began as ‘look what technology can reveal’ to my present command over technique to have it work for me and reflect my intentions. Digital technology is a vital and integral part of this process but is not what interests me most. The scanner is a tool that enhances my ability to observe. These images are about time, transformation and transitions. The new beauty of my subject twists its way out of the familiar. The expansive surrounding deep black becomes graphic shapes that isolate yet allow the subject to merge towards the viewer. It is that, teamed with my imagination that allows me to search, analyze, observe, speculate, and capture the true essence of my interpretations. Working with a flat bed scanner is not without limitations. New procedures and techniques push the artwork and demands growth as an artist. My imagination and determination in conjunction with a new understanding of patience constantly gives birth to new ideas. Concepts of composition and the decisive moment provide new rules to break.” You can see some of Mr. Creamer’s work at www.creamerphoto.com.
4 | Quarterly Spring 2010
Christopher Carey brodigan Gallery SPRING
Unreal Estate: The Art of beth Van Gelder Mixed media on paper, canvas, and board April 12 – May 28, 2010 Artist’s reception: May 2, 2-4 p.m.
his series began seven years ago when I was searching for a subject to paint that had significant resonance for me, and the word “house” kept reappearing. The word “house” was loaded with more meanings than I could possibly address, and the opportunities for visual associations were unlimited. House, as an image, could be portrayed literally, symbolically, imaginatively. I began to research the subject of house as a concept, both psychological and physical. There are two books in particular that I found especially illuminating. In Psychology of the House, Olivier Marc commented that, “… architecture was perhaps the first of all the arts” and “… the house was the most perfect expression of the self.” In The Poetics of Space, Gaston Bachelard says, “The house shelters daydreaming, protects the dreamer, and allows the dreamer to dream in peace.” A house can be so many things—a cave, villa, hut, castle, nest, palace, tent, cottage, igloo, yurt, apartment—to name a few. A house is a sanctuary, a refuge, a dwelling place for the body and the mind. It is a container for rituals, traditions, and cherished possessions. It holds memories, secrets, grief, joy, fears, and fantasies. It can be a place for solitude and camaraderie. It has been compared to the mother’s womb, a place where we can listen to our own heartbeat. Although I have had the good fortune to live in beautiful homes throughout most of my life, I have never lived in a house that I have owned. Since we are so often told that home ownership is synonymous with the American dream, this subject is one that has weighed heavily on me for quite some time. One of the most wondrous things about being a painter is that painting is like magic: you can make things appear and disappear; you can create dialogues and relationships by merging the shapes, tones, and colors; you can invent whole worlds. So I began to paint houses, real and imagined, mostly imagined—hence the title “Unreal Estate.” The colors in these paintings are reminiscent of houses in my life, past and present. Many of the patterns refer to textiles I have collected. Some of the shapes are recognizable decorative objects; others are personal or universal symbols. Since this body of work was produced over a seven-year period, there is a great deal of stylistic variation. I have enjoyed playing with ideas as well as materials, while attempting to give a poetic voice to a lingering preoccupation.
Quarterly Spring 2010
InherIt the WInd Groton theater students brought the timeless classic, Inherit The Wind to the stage this winter to a host of enthusiastic audiences. The company of 25 young performers included Groton stage veterans Bubba Scott ’11, Charlotte Bullard-Davies ’11, Robert Black ’10 and Daniel Rodriguez ’11 as well as newcomers Connor MacKenzie ’10, Marston Smith ’12 and Walter Hawes ’10. Dressed to period perfection in costumes created by Kathryn Kawecki ’96 the actors graced a stage designed by Sarah Sullivan and lit by Erik Fox. Director Laurie Sales stood by proudly as the final moment of each performance was greeted by a thunderous standing ovation indicative of the show’s dramatic impact and overall success. Clockwise from top: henry Drummond (Connor MacKenzie ’10 left) puts Matthew harrison brady (bubba Scott ’11) on the stand in the climactic moment of Act Two as the court bailiff (Matthew Clarida ’12) watches intently. howard (David belsky ’12) contemplates Darwin’s theory of evolution as it applies to a worm. The townsfolk of hillsboro gather around to meet Matthew harrison brady (bubba Scott ’11) and his wife (Morganne Richer La Fleche ’11) on the day they arrive for the trial of the century. Reverend Jeremiah brown (Robert black ’10) leads a rousing evening prayer meeting condemning Darwin and local schoolteacher, bert Cates.
6 | Quarterly Spring 2010
Inherit the Wind
Clockwise from top left: The reverend's daughter, Rachel brown (Charlotte bullard Davies '11) looks to Drummond (Connor MacKenzie '10) for guidance. brady's wife (Morganne Richer La Fleche '11) prepares brady (bubba Scott '11) for a chilly evening. Robert black '10 as the passionate Reverend Jeremiah brown. henry Drummond (Connor MacKenzie) reflects on the difficulty of standing up for what one truly believes. Robert black '10, Morganne Richer La Fleche '11 and bubba Scott '11 as Reverend brown, and Mr. and Mrs. brady. Matthew harrison brady (bubba Scott) is grilled by defense attorney, henry Drummond (Connor MacKenzie)
Quarterly Spring 2010
The Little Prince, a charming story of a young prince from a far off planet was brought to life this winter in the McBaine Studio Theater. A true “company” show, Alice Stites ’13 as the Little Prince and Eliza Fairbrother ’12 as the Aviator, led a talented cast of actors who were able to show off their acting (and dancing!) skills by each playing a multitude of the crazy wonderful characters that the Little Prince meets upon his journey. Perhaps the most exciting element of the production was the opportunity that Fifth Former Zoe Silverman had to design and construct the costumes for the production. The results were visually stunning!
8 | Quarterly Spring 2010
Opposite page: Eliza Fairbrother ’12 as the Aviator. Insert left: The Rose (Carly Margolis ’12) and the Extinct Volcano (Likhitha Palaypu ’11) on the Little Prince’s planet. Insert right: The Little Prince (Alice Stites ’13) tries to get the attention of the Conceited Man (Likhitha Palaypu).
Clockwise from top: The Little Prince (Alice Stites) is charmed by the Snake (Elizabeth Melampy ’12). The King (Denia Viera ’12) holds court on her Throne (clockwise from left— Marianna Gailus ’13 , Elizabeth Melampy, Likhitha Palaypu, and Indira Cabrera ’12.) The Business Man (Indira Cabrera) tallying the stars. The Aviator (Eliza Fairbrother) flies her plane over the desert. The Aviator (Eliza Fairbrother) and the Little Prince (Alice Stites) journey through the desert. The Aviator (Eliza Fairbrother) explains her story to the grownups. We are Roses! (the company)
Quarterly Spring 2010
lements /Life Circiter | Featured on Campus
winter dance performance
he Hall stage in the Schoolhouse was the venue for two electrifying and captivating dance performances this February. The winter dance ensemble consisted of twenty-four students, boys and girls, lower and upper formers, who began investigating and exploring the world of dance in December. In the developmental stages of the winter performance, the elements (fire, water, earth, and air) were immediate favorites as the beginning source from which students began to create ideas and movement stories. Along with the natural mystique of the elements, the seven deadly sins were also introduced to provide the emotional content to the movement stories that were being created. Six diverse dance pieces titled, Primal Scream, Moving Parts, excuse me, Mic Check, Fatal Milonga and Winters End made up the elements/life performances. The audiences were impressed with the return of the Groton dance program. The huge success of these performances has established dance among the performing arts again at Groton. Coming this spring, Under the Stars, an Evening of Dance.
Clockwise from top right: Photo 1: Title of Piece: Winters end Dancers Shown: becca Gracey, Sofi LLanso, Carolina Mejia, Emma Paine, Reed Redman, Margaret Zhang (Junior Co-Captain) Photo 2: Title of Piece: Mic Check Dancers Shown: Nya holder (Co-Captain), Elizabeth MeLampy (Captain), Reed Redman, Denia Viera Photo 3: Title of Piece: Moving Parts Dancers Shown: Alice Gauvin (Junior Co-Captain), Nya holder (Co-Captain), William holley, Sofi LLanso, Carly Margolis, Carolina Mejia, Elizabeth MeLampy (Captain), Lauren Mullins, Reed Redman, Rushi Thaker, Denia Viera, Margaret Zhang (Junior CoCaptain) Photo 4: Title of Piece: Mic Check Dancers Shown: Alice Gauvin (Junior Co-Captain), Nya holder (Co-Captain), Carly Margolis, Elizabeth MeLampy (Captain), Reed Redman, Denia Viera, Margaret Zhang (Junior Co-Captain) Photo 5: Title of Piece: excuse me Dancers Shown: Sofi LLanso and Rushi Thaker
10 | Quarterly Spring 2010
the Show Stages Elements / Life On Dance
Clockwise from top left: Photo 1: Title of Piece: Mic Check Dancers Shown: Alice Gauvin (Junior Co-Captain), Nya holder (Co-Captain), Carly Margolis, Elizabeth MeLampy (Captain), Reed Redman, Denia Viera, Margaret Zhang (Junior Co-Captain) Photo 2: Title of Piece: Moving Parts Dancers Shown: Reed Redman, Denia Viera, Margaret Zhang (Junior Co-Captain)
Photo 3: Title of Piece: Moving Parts Dancers Shown: Nya holder (Co-Captain), Carolina Mejia, Elizabeth MeLampy (Captain), Denia Viera
Photo 4: Title of Piece: Primal Scream Dancers Shown: Aria Kopp and Reed Redman Photo 5: Title of Piece: Moving Parts Dancer Shown: Elizabeth MeLampy (Captain) Photo 6: Title of Piece: Fatal Milonga Dancers Shown: Michael Cassidy, Caroline Coughlin, Dominique Fequiere, Alice Gauvin (Junior Co-Captain), becca Gracey, Nya holder (Co-Captain), Aria Kopp, Sofi LLanso, Carly Margolis, Carolina Mejia, Lauren Mullins, Emma Paine, Reed Redman, Denia Viera, Julia Wood, Anita xu, Margaret Zhang (Junior CoCaptain)
Photo 7: Title of Piece: Mic Check Dancers Shown: Elizabeth MeLampy (Captain) and Margaret Zhang (Junior Co-Captain)
Quarterly Spring 2010
Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle
Some 40 years ago, weekday Chapel Talks became regular occurrences at Groton. They are now an ingrained tradition at the School, and parents, trustees, alumni, faculty, and students continue to address the School four times a week in Chapel. The talks have become the centerpiece of services that enrich the Groton experience by virtue of the points of view, ideas, experiences, and opinions expressed in this more formal setting. Over 100 speakers present at Chapel each academic year, adding to the voices on the Circle. We offer several examples from the winter term here.
12 | Quarterly Spring 2010
Photo by Andrew Fulham â€™08
Creating Healthy Communities A Chapel Talk by Polly Reeve January 22, 2010
We are genetically wired to seek companionship and community. For 99 percent of our species’ history, we lived in small bands of hunter-gatherers. In order to have a reasonably good chance of finding dinner and of not becoming someone else’s dinner, our ancestors lived together and took care of one another.
couple of years ago, a writer named Bill McKibben came to Groton to give a lecture. (Editor’s note: see “A Night With Bill McKibben” in the February 2008 issue of the Groton School Quarterly.) Many of you were there, and I was too. Although I remember that it was difficult to hear him, he said something that has stuck with me—something along these lines: “You here at Groton are really lucky, because you are living the way that human beings are meant to live.” In his book Deep Economy, McKibben discusses why so many people look back on their college years as the best years of their lives. He writes: “Usually it’s not because their classes were so fascinating. More important is the fact that they lived more closely and intensely in a community than ever before or ever since (college is the four years in an American life when we live roughly as we’ve evolved to live).” 1 We are genetically wired to seek companionship and community. For 99 percent of our species’ history, we lived in small bands of hunter-gatherers. In order to have a reasonably good chance of finding dinner and of not becoming someone else’s dinner, our ancestors lived together and took care of one another. People knew each other well, and since selfish cheaters were easily discovered and punished, there were tremendous incentives to behave well. Cooperation was an effective system for getting the tangible things we need to survive as individuals: food, security, shelter from the elements. Darwinian selection favored those who had a tendency for cooperation, and companionship and contact with others became an essential part of being human. When, in the last few thousand years, we human beings invented agriculture and the hunter-gatherer was mostly replaced by the farmer, our physical security improved quite a lot, but we still lived, more or less, in close-knit communities where people knew one another and worked toward shared goals. Life was far from perfect—hunger and disease remained an ever-present threat, and small communities can certainly be petty and stifling and discriminatory. But the social structure was understood, and people knew and looked out for their neighbors. With the development of the steam engine in 1712 and the industrial revolution that followed, things started to change pretty quickly. We could grow much more food and make many more things with less labor, so we were freed up to pursue other activities. This liberation changed the ways we live and the goals we live for in radical ways. We became much more mobile, and our quality of life shot up, doubling every few decades. Life was much better, but we lost something too. The need for those material things that were so scarce for most of our history was no longer as closely connected to our need to live in cooperation and community.
1 Bill McKibben, Deep Economy: The Wealth of Communities and the Durable Future, (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 2007) p. 109.
Quarterly Spring 2010
Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle For many centuries, people have been struggling to find the ideal way to structure society, where the interests of the individual and the interests of the community are in harmony. In 1516, Sir Thomas More coined the word “utopia” in his book by the same name. Stemming from the Greek, the word comes from “ou” (meaning no or not) and “topos” meaning place. No place. Also, it refers to the Greek “eu,” which means “good.” Good place, but also impossible place. More’s book is a fictional account of a place whose perfections contrast with the ills of existing society. And there are many actual, on-the-ground attempts at perfection as well. When I was a sixth former at Groton, I took a course taught by Ann Tottenham called “Utopias and Communes,” which dealt with the various ways that people have, over the centuries, tried to create more perfect ways of living together. We read Thomas More, and we also learned that in the wake of the Industrial Revolution, utopianism became practically an epidemic in America, as it was again in the antiestablishment commune movement of the 1960s and ’70s. While each community we studied had its own distinctive features, each was based on the premise that humans could live more perfectly in small, cooperative societies, where property and work were shared. Virtually all of them involved returning to the land to grow food together, share community meals, and find a balance between intellectual and manual labor. The 1840s were a busy time for utopian communities, with 60 formed in the United States in that decade alone—four of them right here in Massachusetts. One that is particularly interesting was Brook Farm, in West Roxbury, then just outside of Boston. It is probably the best known of the 19th century societies, not because of its success— it lasted only six years—but because of the remarkable cast of characters it attracted, including some of the leading intellectuals of the day. The Unitarian minister George Ripley was its founder, and Nathaniel Hawthorne was one of the original members. Ralph Waldo Emerson never joined but was a frequent visitor, as was Henry David Thoreau, Horace Greeley, and Margaret Fuller. The Brook Farm community made special efforts to include people from all social classes. Everyone participated in physical labor, in farming and carpentry, in cooking and cleaning. And in theory, everyone also had time for writing, reflection, discourse, and creativity—although not enough for Hawthorne, who complained vehemently about having to shovel manure all the time. People lived together in close quarters, coordinating the rhythm of their days and sharing property, work, and rewards. They gathered for meals, held poetry readings and dramatic presentations, and the dinnertime conversations must have been pretty amazing. Although squabbling, financial instability, and finally a devastating fire led to its premature demise, the yearning for the communal ideal it was attempting to realize hasn’t gone away. Today, our culture is vastly wealthier in material terms than it was in the 1840s. We have lives that are faster, bigger, and busier than anything the Brook Farmers could imagine. As a nation we own more, buy more, eat more, and throw more away than any people before us. But we are paying for it—environmentally, in our public and personal health, and in individual happiness. Since 1970, the average size of a new home in this country has doubled, and our much larger houses are filled with fewer people and many more belongings. These belongings are not distributed evenly, of course, with a few people having lots more goodies than many others, but on average, Americans have more stuff than they did a generation ago. Despite population growth, each one of us also takes up more space: in 1920, in towns and cities, the average density was ten people per acre. In 1990, this number was four people per acre and in today’s new housing developments the average is two people per acre. 2
Detail of photo by Seppi Colloredo-Mansfeld '09.
14 | Quarterly Spring 2010
McKibben, p. 97.
Creating Healthy Communities You might think that with all this personal space and all these belongings, we’d be happier, but study after study indicates that this isn’t the case. In very poor countries, improvement in material well-being does quickly lead to increase in personal satisfaction, but in developed nations, over the past several decades there has been only a very modest upward trend in life-satisfaction even though average income has grown substantially.3 In America, the data show that we are growing less happy, both in comparison with previous generations and with people in other parts of the world. Why is this? Well, there are lots of factors, but it seems that part of the answer lies in the fact that recently the relationship between ownership of things and membership in community seems to have fallen out of balance. I think that the utopian reformers of the 1800s saw this coming. Maybe Endicott Peabody did too. Today, we Americans have significantly less meaningful contact with our extended families, neighbors, and other fellow citizens than we did just a short time ago. We are more geographically mobile, so it’s harder to put down roots. Suburban sprawl means we spend more time alone in our cars and that we don’t interact with as many people each day as previous generations did. Three-quarters of Americans admit they don’t even know their next-door neighbors.4 We are living more isolated lives, and despite all our electronic ways of connecting, studies show that people today are lonelier and more depressed than their parents and grandparents were. Nothing seems to replace real, face-to-face contact. Research shows that joining even one group—it might be a book group or a congregation or a volunteer effort, it doesn’t really matter—can bring enormous improvements to individual happiness and even physical health. That’s how starved we are for a sense of belonging. At Groton, you live differently than the average American, and McKibben is right, you are very lucky. In 1884, Groton’s founders created a community here, not quite like the utopian communities established nearby 40 years earlier, but similar in some ways: here people live closely together, and engage in both intellectual and physical pursuits. Individual accomplishments are celebrated, but within the rules and customs of the community. Meals and diverse opinions and even clothes (from what I’ve observed) are shared. People are expected to take care of one another. Service to others is woven into the fabric of the place. Seen in a certain light, Groton is actually counter-cultural! No, it’s not quite like the communes of the 1960s (at least your parents hope not!), but here the lives of individuals and the life of the community are tightly woven together. Think of the School’s motto: the concepts of service to the common good and individual reward merge in four efficient words. For communities to be healthy, people need to be personally invested. We will all need to work together and care at least as much, if not more, about the common good than we do about our own comfort if we are to solve the challenges that face our society today. The good news is that the sense of belonging and self-worth that comes from investing your time and energy in community is deeply satisfying on a personal level. When you leave Groton and make your way in the world, it will take more of an effort than it does here, where the culture places such a high value on the common good. Make that effort, though. You don’t need to start your own utopian society, but do what you can to know your neighbors, participate meaningfully in your local community, and work for something larger than your own welfare. You’ll be happier if you do, and the world will be a better place.
Laza Kekic, “The World’s Best Country,” Economist (November 17, 2004). McKibben, p. 117.
Polly Reeve has been a trustee of Groton School since 2007, and is the mother of Nate ’07, Adam ’09, and Hannah ’11. Mrs. Reeve is a 1982 graduate of Harvard, and a 2004 graduate of the Landscape Institute of the Arnold Arboretum/Harvard University. She is currently director of development at The Food Project in Lincoln, Massachusetts.
Research shows that joining even one group—it might be a book group or a congregation or a volunteer effort, it doesn’t really matter—can bring enormous improvements to individual happiness and even physical health. That’s how starved we are for a sense of belonging.
Quarterly Spring 2010
Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle
Who Holds the Power to Teach? A Chapel Talk by Carol Santos, Assistant head of School January 11, 2010
Mrs. Santos works with students in her Algebra 2 class.
16 | Quarterly Spring 2010
his holiday season could have been no better. First thing Christmas morning, I had the great joy of watching my children open presents with many of our extended family, and then lounging in my pajamas against the backdrop of a marathon of Lifetime and Hallmark movies. I also had the luxury of settling into a holiday read courtesy of Mr. and Mrs. Commons—Teacher Man. Teacher Man, which chronicles the life of an Irish immigrant and career teacher who, rather than teaching traditional academic lessons to his American public school students, told many a tale of his own “miserable” Irish school-hood and upbringing. And, oh, the memories that ensued from each tale that I read. One summer morning when I was 12 years old, I exited my apartment and noticed a suspicious circle of children who lived near me in the housing project. As I joined the circle of my neighbors and friends, I saw that an older boy in the neighborhood was reading a newspaper article, which reported that our community’s predominately black middle school was closing its doors permanently. While this news was of some concern to us, that information alone did not raise any eyebrows. However, after hearing that we would all be bussed to the predominately white, middle class, suburban middle school on Hilltop, silence and fear drowned the group. From that morning to the opening day of school, our morning debates of whether it would be more fun to play kickball, double dutch or tag took a backseat to our tense and outraged discussions of the newspaper articles reporting almost daily of the Hilltop parents’ protest of our attendance in their school. I remembered the morning we all waited for the bus to pick us up and drop us off in the enemy territory we all agreed would never be our school. So, we planned our attack. Armed with double dutch ropes, boom boxes, and cardboard stages for breakdancing (the signs of the time, it was the 80s), we planned to seize our own section of the playground and do our thing. We agreed not to talk to any of them or even look at any of them. We had a purpose—stick together, play our games, listen to our music, present a tough attitude to them at all times, speak to them only when necessary, and, most importantly, go home! Determined to keep our little world intact, we were armed and ready for the first day of school. During that bus ride, the normal first day of school exchanges took place, and, of course, everyone had to know if any of their friends (and, under these circumstances, if anyone from the neighborhood) would share the same class as they would. I remember vividly the relief I felt when two other kids on the bus announced that they too had “the teacher whose name began with B and was impossible to pronounce.” I also remember how frighteningly self-conscious and isolated I felt one hour later when one-by-one those two kids and the only other black students in the room were called out of Mr. Bruciati’s classroom and led across the hall to Mr. Bobrowski’s classroom. I thought
Who Holds the Power to Teach? to myself, “don’t worry, I’m next.” But as Mr. Bruciati finished taking attendance and began to present the first day of school lesson plan, I realized that I would remain the only black kid in the class and so would be seated at this two-person desk alone for an entire school year. Recalling our purpose, I thought: “Stick together, but where are the rest of us; present a tough attitude to them at all times, but all I see is them; speak to them only when necessary, so when will I speak?” And so began what I envisioned would be the loneliest and most demoralizing year of my life. Every day for months, I sat in class by myself, ate lunch by myself (since we also ate lunch in our classrooms), and completed my assignments in silence, by myself. I looked forward to recess, because at least then I had a connection. I could play our games and listen to our music. But soon, that area of the playground we had seized to do our thing had been opened up to them. As members of racially and geographically integrated classrooms, the other kids from my neighborhood were developing friendships with the kids from Hilltop. Within weeks, us and them became we, and their school became our school. While my neighborhood friends were teaching their new classmates how to play double dutch and breakdance, I envied the friendships that were developing around me and wondered why I was the only person still living in the world of them versus me. For me, school had changed from a place I loved to one that I detested. Eventually, I learned that my class was purposely arranged as the “high group” among the seventh grade classrooms. However, instead of taking pride in this academic achievement, I continued to learn in silence and wish that I earned grades in the same range as those of my neighborhood peers. When I think back on that school year and recall how silently miserable and alone I felt, I realize that I would have never made it through that horrible phase to a more pleasant stage in my educational career had it not been for a classmate named Tracy. Tracy, who had lived in the Hilltop community all of her life and held membership in the “high group” during all of her school years, belonged to a circle of friends in our seventh grade classroom. Daring to venture into my world of the unaccepted, unpopular minority, one afternoon Tracy boldly joined me at my desk for lunch. From that moment forward, we steadily grew into a friendship that lasted beyond our high school years. It was this relationship that rejuvenated my spirit in and about school and encouraged me to continue thriving academically and socially. Without Tracy’s friendship, I doubt that I would have developed as strongly as I did during my middle and high school years. When I think about how her courageous move to my desk that afternoon affected my development, I realize that Tracy in that moment had changed the direction of my life. Although Tracy and I continued our close friendship as we transitioned to high school, I had not completely recovered from the trauma of isolation and low self-esteem experienced as a new member of the “high group.” Still longing for any chance to share classes with my neighborhood friends, I used the freedom of choice that high school afforded students to gain more control over my social environment in school and to regain that long past feeling of connection and self-assurance in the classroom setting. Continuing in that pursuit, I skated through the first year or so of high school selecting the least challenging courses whenever I could, until one day when a teacher broke away from school culture to redirect my experience. I went to Ansonia High School. In Ansonia High, teachers and students lived in different worlds within the same school building. Teachers and students did not interact outside of the classroom or organized athletic programs. As a matter of school culture, students and teachers regularly passed each other in the hallways, parking lots, and sports fields seemingly oblivious to each other’s existence. Noticing Mrs. Christon walking down the hall one day, I was reminded of my decision not to take her Shakespeare class, an honors level course. Feeling protected by the invisible wall which separated students and teachers, I remarked to my friend, “I am not taking her Shakespeare class. It is too hard, and she gives too much work!” To my complete astonishment, Mrs.
As members of racially and geographically integrated classrooms, the other kids from my neighborhood were developing friendships with the kids from hilltop. Within weeks, us and them became we, and their school became our school.
Photo by Matt Luk '08
Quarterly Spring 2010
Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle
Photo by Annabel Walsh '09
Mrs. Christon’s unwelcomed nosing into my business did not win her any points with me. So, when she called me into her classroom on the last day of school my senior year, all I could think is, “What now? haven’t you done enough damage?”
Christon barged right into our world, stopped me in my tracks, and responded, “And if you don’t take my class, I am going to call your mother. Alrighty?” Mrs. Christon ended almost every sentence with a nose-down, eyes-over glasses stare and crackling of “Alrighty?” as if there were no other response but the affirmative. Needless to say, I took the course vowing that I would not like it nor do well in it. Mrs. Christon and now my mother, however, had different plans for me. Not only was I taking every honors level English course offered through my graduation, my entire course schedule was changed—goodbye bookkeeping and life science, hello trig, calculus and physics. Mrs. Christon’s unwelcomed nosing into my business did not win her any points with me. So, when she called me into her classroom on the last day of school my senior year, all I could think is, “What now? Haven’t you done enough damage?” Her odd response to the questions in my head was to hand me a nicely wrapped box as she told me of her desire to give me a present before I went off to college. Inside was a hip navy blue skirt and matching sweater made by a very popular, pricey designer of the time. Muffled by bewilderment, my expression demanded an explanation. She explained, “Very often as you talked with your classmates before the start of class. you would say how you did not like any of your clothes. I want you to have an outfit that you like and feel proud to wear in your college classes. And I hope in some small way it will add to your confidence and keep you from avoiding challenges while you are there. Alrighty?” Uttering simply “thank you” did not come close to expressing the gratitude I felt towards her for breaking with culture to show a sincere care for me and my future development. From that moment, for sure, that connection between Mrs. Christon and me ignited my thirst for higher education. It has been a number of years since I have communicated with Tracy or with Mrs. Christon, yet both remain heroes in my heart. Without question, the care shown to me by both of them set my life on its right path. They were both brave enough to take steps outside of school culture and reach out to someone in need. Tracy and Mrs. Christon demonstrated the importance of caring relationships in an educational environment. They proved that, young or old, we all have the innate power to help others reach their true destiny in life; we all hold the power to teach, and that is by word and by deed to bring people closer to where they ought to be.
18 | Quarterly Spring 2010
QUESTIONS A Chapel Talk by Georgie brinkley ’10 January 26, 2010
When we ask questions, we take our hands off the wheel and relinquish control. Questions require admitting that you don’t know everything and that you don’t have complete control or complete understanding— the goals we strive for.
hen I think of a Chapel Talk and its purpose—to bring up thought provoking questions and ideas, I am reminded of a similar task that another teenage girl such as myself was asked to complete. The task was deceptively simple, but the stakes were great. At a point in the recent Miss Teen America pageant, a contestant was required to answer a question from one of the judges to demonstrate her ability to answer a thought-provoking question. She chose a number out of a jar. Judge number five. The question was asked. “A recent poll says that a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a map. Why do you think this is?” When I first watched this young woman’s response on YouTube, I broke into tears. I was laughing just that hard. Yet, as I stand in front on you all, frightened out of my mind, a weakness in my nature tempts me to babble in a similar manner as the nervous contestant, mimicking Miss South Carolina’s fateful response that went something like this: “I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some people out there in our nation don’t have maps, and I believe that our education like such as South Africa, and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and I believe that they should our education over here! In the U.S., should help the U.S., should help South Africa, and should help the Iraq, and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future. Thank you.”1 Sadly, Miss Teen South Carolina, for all her strengths, did not make the cut. In front of the cameras, the live audience from around the world, she had her thirty seconds to say something, to make her mark, and she failed. So here I am, given the opportunity to say something of importance—possibly the only time in my life when I have the chance to say what I think and have people listen. So, if you’ll give me a chance (I was nominated for prom queen after all), I would like to use my ten minutes to discuss something other than the dangers of removing geography from the nation’s curriculum. I want to talk about the question. At Groton, I have seen the question misused, abused, ignored, and almost entirely forgotten. Perhaps this is so because we view the question in the wrong way. For example, on one end of the spectrum are the people who ask questions by stating a piece of information they know to be true and then ending with the word “right”? For instance, oh hey, look at this esoteric fact I know, I’m really smart, right? On the other end of the spectrum are those who don’t ask questions at all. They see the signs around them, one piling on top of the other, creating some mysterious formation that beckons them, begging to be voiced. But they silence it. Why? When we ask questions, we take our hands off the wheel and relinquish control. Questions require admitting that you don’t know everything and that you don’t have complete control or 1
Quarterly Spring 2010
Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle complete understanding—the goals we strive for. At Groton, we want to be on the side of the answer, not the question. We even base our self-worth on what side we are on. So most of us sit in silence, guilty of this last, more sinful abuse of the sacred question. And in our silence, we are perfectly comfortable, content, and stagnant. We bask in our familiar truths without venturing into the unknown, without engaging in the struggle that occurs there in order to find the greater truth. Mostly we are satisfied with these unquestioned truths. We lean on the false stability they provide, comforting but unsubstantiated, empty and useless. When we cannot see the answer in the distance, we back away from the question entirely. We reject the real questions, the ones that need to be asked, but whose answers are not handed to us on silver platters. We are afraid to engage in the struggle because we might not find the answer. Instead, we come into a building like the Chapel nearly every morning. We listen to readings and Chapel Talks and sing religious hymns. We are surrounded by famous stained glass depicting religious scenes. But how many of you have asked yourself truly, “What is faith?” This seems to be the question that beckons us when we sit here in the morning. But, individually, so many of us make the conscious decision to push it under the table, to ignore the presence of such a discussion, because we would rather not engage in the struggle and even if we did, there might not be an answer. And so, we sit in silence. * * *
Georgie brinkley (second from right) with Girls Cross Country team mates.
“What is faith?” This seems to be the question that beckons us when we sit here in the morning. but, individually, so many of us make the conscious decision to push it under the table, to ignore the presence of such a discussion, because we would rather not engage in the struggle and even if we did, there might not be an answer.
20 | Quarterly Spring 2010
I sat in a similar silence in the choir stalls one night this fall. I met with Mr. Fidler and a group of kids each Thursday for confirmation class. This was our last meeting before Bishop Shaw confirmed us that Sunday. It was pitch dark outside, and in the Chapel, too, a dark navy pierced through the windows where the sun now shines. The only lights, few as they were, shone over our group in the choir stalls. The whole atmosphere facilitated a sharp focus. To end the meeting, Mr. Fidler asked us to consider where we were in our religious journey. Then he asked us if we had any questions before our confirmation, the affirmation of our faith. And then came the silence. Questions? I was caught off guard. My personal view of faith was not compatible with questions or discussion at all. I rigidly believed that the purest, most natural relationship with God arose directly from the individual, with no intervention from the church or even other people. I believed that it was impossible to reach God through a church or through worship with others. Instead, such things actually kept you from God, bogged you down with earthly matter when the goal of the relationship with God was not to be earthly, but heavenly on earth; it was to transcend the imperfections that people and institutions are prone to, in order to find the ultimate truth. Discussing and questioning something so personal was unnatural and almost unholy. My rigid and slightly extreme view of faith solidified during my fifth form year. That year was also full of uncompromising extremes, most clearly seen in my unattainable expectations, sleep deprivation, and overall lack of sanity. My fifth form year, packed with stress, high stakes, responsibilities, and the work, left me desperate for stability. And yet, that year was so blissful because I was filled with an unstaggering belief that I
Questions could do anything, reach any goal, and do it by myself. Yet, I let my rigid view of faith go unquestioned so I could believe in its false sense of strength and constancy. Questions would cause disturbances in my daily schedules, in the tasks I had to complete. My faith didn’t reflect truth, it was just practical—which explains why it did not last. Yet, I knew something had changed when I was at that confirmation meeting—in fact, that change is why I decided to get confirmed. I realized during fall term, one of my most trying, that my faith, as I had approached it, no longer sustained me. The hollow pillar I relied on so heavily had now collapsed and shattered beyond repair. My faith needed more substance, I needed to question my faith and engage in the struggle, I needed to take the bait Mr. Fidler cast out to the group, even if the hook would be painful. So that night in the chapel, I broke the silence. I could hear my voice ask question after question, doubting what for years I held sacred in silence. I had never spoken openly about faith, and I could not believe that the voice speaking was mine. But, as many of you have experienced, it would not stop speaking! When I finished, Mr. Fidler and the group answered some of my questions with personal experiences, and for other questions they shared my doubts. After the meeting, I felt calm—not because my doubts and questions were answered, but because for the first time, they were expressed. Instead of being a personal struggle, they became a collective burden. Through asking questions, relinquishing control, I felt relief. My relationship with God and my purpose for confirmation became clear—not because I abandoned doubt, but because I embraced it, engaged in the struggle. During my confirmation that Sunday, I felt closer to a higher being and a more integral part of a larger community than I ever had before. It was then that I truly understood faith, stepped into the fog and smoke, and embraced the struggle. As I processed down the aisle of the Chapel that day, and I barely felt the weight of my feet touch the tiles, I cried, because it was freeing.
After the meeting, I felt calm—not because my doubts and questions were answered, but because for the first time, they were expressed. Instead of being a personal struggle, they became a collective burden. Through asking questions, relinquishing control, I felt relief.
* * * There are many ways to mark your length of time at Groton. I could do it by my forms; I could mark my time by the dorms I was in; I could mark the time by my journey with classics, when I read Thracymachus, Somnium Scipionus, Virgil, Horace, and Homer; I could mark the time by my friendships, coming and going, as unsettling and inconstant as this teenage time. But what about the questions? The ones that brought the slow and painful exiting from the fog, the gradual self-awareness and self-discovery? Some questions were easily answered, and some I think I will never find an answer to, which is almost sweeter. And those questions, like cool stones in the palm of my hand, have come to define me as much as the simple facts do (i.e. I am blonde and tall; I like to read and play squash; I believe in God and I doubt). These questions have existed long before I have; and yet, I could mark my five years by my recognition of these cool weights in my hand, already present but without my knowing. Before we sing today’s hymn and listen to Sage play “These Days” by Nico, I would like to leave you with a quote from Jane Hirshfield’s “Woman in Red Coat:”
“Some questions cannot be answered. They become familiar weights in the hand,
Georgie brinkley in Dante class.
round stones pulled from the pocket, unyielding and cool.”2
Quarterly Spring 2010
Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle
22 | Quarterly Spring 2010
EN Quarterly Spring 2010
Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle
Understanding the C ircle Derived from a January 7, 2010 Chapel Talk entitled “Thinking in Circles” by Craig Gemmel, Director of College Counseling
had the good fortune of traveling on behalf of the School to San Francisco last month. One of my several tasks was to attend an admissions reception at a day school, and it was there, in the moments prior to the arrival of prospective students and families, that I was able to consider the beautiful materials our admission office produces. I loved the profiles of faculty members contained within two small booklets and appreciated the message implicitly contained therein: the adults are interesting and committed parental proxies—the sort of people with whom we would all love to have our kids spend their adolescent years. I also became totally absorbed in the bigger book—Groton’s 2009-2010 prospectus. In addition to the pictures—mostly of kids, all of whom I know by name and in many cases know very well—I was absorbed in the message. It tells the story of the defining qualities of this place, using the Groton Circle as the primary frame. A quotation from Emerson’s Circles stands as the epigraph: The life of man is a self-evolving circle which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outward to new and larger circles, and that without end.
Director of College Counseling, Craig Gemmell
24 | Quarterly Spring 2010
I’ve long been a sucker for the transcendentalists because the likes of Thoreau and Emerson entreat us to transcend our own myopia and view matters from new perspectives. They give us license to squint our eyes and look outward as a way of looking in to our own recesses where meaning is made. In the midst of my musings in a middle school library in San Francisco—the site of the reception—I was interrupted by a prospective parent, who had walked in unnoticed. Seeing me studying the Groton School materials so intently, he asked a reasonable question: do you have a child looking at Groton? No, I teach there, I responded. And after this prospective parent and I exchanged pleasantries, Barbara Eghan started her road show about Groton. While Barbara gave a really wonderful presentation, I listened and scanned the large crowd. She was, as I could tell, on her game. The Circle was, again, a central frame, and I was impressed by how well she knew the School given her relatively short tenure here. Among the various slides she showed, one stood out from the rest for me: a picture of the Circle from above captioned “the open circle.” Walking back from the reception the dark mile to where I was staying, I was struck with the notion of the open circle. I contemplated it thereafter as my mind drifted during pleasant meals, conversations with college representatives about Groton and Groton students, during my flight back to Boston. And I wondered: can a circle be open? Can the Circle be open?
The Groton Circle As Metaphor Sixth formers interpret their experience at Groton.
Virginia Walsh 2010 Groton is a circle, open.
his seemingly paradoxical statement epitomizes a Groton education. One of Groton’s strongest attributes is the fact that we are built around a circle; this architecture itself encourages faculty and students alike to look inwards to each other. In turn, this leads to a vibrant, flourishing community of people supporting and caring for each other. Yet, at the same time, Groton’s motto, Cui Servire Est Regnare—roughly translated as “to serve is to rule.” - is deeply engrained in the very fiber of the institution, and it beckons the community to look out past the gates to be of service to others. As a result, the notion of the circle as a closed object is challenged; instead, students and faculty alike face outwards from the Circle, each looking from a different perspective, but all in the pursuit of learning more about those surrounding them, on the Circle and past the gates.
According to Wikipedia, a circle is a simple shape of Euclidean geometry consisting of those points in a plane which are equidistant from a given point called the center. The common distance of the points of a circle from its center is called its radius. Circles are simple closed curves which divide the plane into two regions, an interior and an exterior. In everyday use, the term “circle” may be used interchangeably to refer to either the boundary of the figure (known as the perimeter) or to the whole figure including its interior. However, in strict technical usage, “circle” refers to the perimeter while the interior of the circle is called a disk. Can a circle “be” open? Can it exist in a state of openness? Not according to Euclid. But somehow, I think the tagline dredged up from the recesses some unresolved tension with which I needed to grapple. And the rare circumstance of travel allowed me to do so. You see, when I’m busy in the midst of a routine day, I tend to take things at face value, and doing so is adaptively significant: I do not spend unnecessary time contemplating the nature of reality when class is in ten minutes and I’ll find myself unprepared if I stand in front of the men’s room and ask myself, “am I really a man?” But I was away from Groton and the routine and the familiarity and the phones. Traffic jams on the Bay Bridge, meetings, breakfasts alone in coffee shops filled with college students and beatnick wannabees gave me space and time to wander about in this question. And as I thought about it, I realized that the central question—whether or not the circle is open—couldn’t be answered in a simple yes or no. Based upon how I thought about it, answers ranged from yes, to no, to sometimes. And as I recognized and basked in the complexity of the question, I realized that the question was functioning as a koan for me.
And as I thought about it, I realized that the central question—whether or not the circle is open— couldn’t be answered in a simple yes or no.
Quarterly Spring 2010
Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle Movement around the Circle defines a day at Groton.
Those of you who studied sacred texts or Eastern religions surely have heard of koans. They’re anecdotes, stories, dialogues, questions, or statements used to help students of Zen Buddhism to realization and help them achieve enlightenment, which is the complete elimination of all negative aspects of the mind and the perfection of all positive qualities. Many of you have heard one of the most common koan: if a tree falls in the forest and no one is there to hear it, does it make a sound? At first, everyone thinks the same thing: of course a tree makes a sound! But lingering in the question thrusts the thinker deeper into the realm of reason: I have heard trees fall, and they make a sound when I hear them. But if I, as hearer, am not there, can I be sure that the tree makes a sound? No. koans help us recognize that sometimes the only thing about which we can be certain is uncertainty–that sometimes the answer to a question is “yes” and “no” simultaneously.
Harsh Govil 2010 Circle, Open
remember the first time I stepped foot on the Groton campus. The first thing that struck me was the visual unity of the buildings – arrayed around a circle, there was a curious sense of purpose and community. Another oddity was the lack of movement across the circular expanse in the middle. Students and faculty alike walked around, creating memorable encounters. It took me a few weeks to adjust to this unique layout. I had always attended schools where the buildings were planned out in a grid, leaving limited room for interaction. Starting my days with a “good morning” or “hello” was a pleasant change. Movement around the Circle defines a day at Groton. One starts in the dormitory before heading to the Dining Hall for a usually quick breakfast. Daily Chapel follows, and is located adjacent to the Dining Hall. A stream of students can be seen meandering from breakfast to Chapel each morning in the minutes leading up to eight o’clock, when the service starts. The next stop is the Schoolhouse, Groton’s academic center. This cyclical pattern, one which I have followed religiously every day, has grown increasingly endearing. I am the one now, along with my form mates, who makes the conscious effort to reinforce this time honored tradition with new students. The Circle is a tangible notion, one I acutely feel as I serve this year as a third form prefect on the other side of the Circle from the Upper School dorms and McCormick Library. Each part of the Circle has a different personality and function, and one’s progression around it is not simply a reflection of daily life but of intellectual and personal growth. 26 | Quarterly Spring 2010
Circle, Open Koans thus thrust us into a strange intellectual space in which binaries dissolve and we are left grasping for meaning—space in which “yes” and “no” can be simultaneously true. Sometimes funny, sometimes tragic, sometimes poetic in the broadest sense, koans are expressions of paradox and force us to question our own natures, allowing us to make sense of our experiences on our paths to understanding. They help us to see the world as it is and as it could be. As I cast through my feelings about this particular koan—the circle, open?—I moved quickly beyond Euclidean reason and then confronted my initial sense of this place prior to my working here. And if you ever saw the wonderful Wayne’s World skit on Saturday Night Live, my screen blurred and I was thrust back in time twenty-five years prior when I first became aware that Groton even existed. I was, for my part, a fairly tame, provincial, underprepared college student. I teared
The Circle teaches us that leadership and growth is continuous—that many of the lessons you learn from those who come before you are worth passing on to those who come after you.
Sarah Norodom 2009
roton School’s Circle has brought me from Brooks House, as a new third former, to Hundred House, and finally back to Brooks House as a prefect in a third form dorm. I have indeed gone “full circle.” The lessons I have learned as I have made my way around the Circle—the lessons that come with growing older, the lessons learned from prefects, dorm-heads, and teachers that took the time to teach them—I now strive to pass on to the third formers I am in charge of. The Circle teaches us that leadership and growth is continuous—that many of the lessons you learn from those who come before you are worth passing on to those who come after you. It is this Circle that each year allows us to welcome and include many new faces, as gradually they too become part of this Circle of leadership and growth. It is this Circle that takes students in and teaches them so that in turn they can teach others. In many ways, Groton School’s Circle embodies its motto of cui servire est regnare, as students move around the Circle learning from each other, and as they get older striving to set an example for the younger students. The Circle is continuous without being restrictive—it expands and welcomes new arrivals each year so that they too can learn and eventually teach the lessons that come with moving around the Circle. Caption
Quarterly Spring 2010
Ripley Hartmeyer 2009 The Open Circle
roton can appear to be a school that is very private and elitist, solely focusing on what happens around the Circle and neglecting to broaden that focus, unwilling to branch out. The “Open Circle” is a contradictory thought that conveys both the unity of Groton and its willingness, in my opinion, to embrace all people and ideas. You become more enveloped into the community than you think. Students find they are very different when they leave Groton, not just because they are older than they were when they first arrived, but because aspects of the School have shaped who they are. While at times it feels difficult to escape the “Groton bubble,” what you learn around the Circle you carry with you for the rest of your life—managing time, dealing with pressure, going beneath the surface, making connections, learning to form close and abiding relationships, getting involved with the community, pursuing interests—all have lasting impact. As you progress through your years at Groton, you mature and you more fully understand the noteworthy attributes of the Circle: its continuity and how it offers different perspectives have a rippling effect. Grotonians will always have a place on the Circle. Groton is the focal point, sending students off in so many different directions and preparing them for the active work of life.
The “Open Circle” is a contradictory thought that conveys both the unity of Groton and its willingness, in my opinion, to embrace all people and ideas. You become more enveloped into the community than you think.
28 | Quarterly Spring 2010
up when my folks dropped me off at school after making the quiet 45-minute drive north from home. I wore my high school varsity letter jacket when it got cold because it was my sole winter jacket, and I labored in the library for hours on end to selfremediate my spotty academic preparation. There were five Groton graduates in my college freshman class. I saw one of them a fair amount. He was good-natured and fully involved. Another was as absent as the first was ubiquitous at Trinity. Rumor had it that she spent most of her time at her folks’ house ten minutes from campus, and this was much to my chagrin because she was the most beautiful girl at the school. The other three were referred to widely as the Grotties and, then, as “the Grottie” because they seemed so inseparable. When my friends and I saw them approaching from the opposite direction on the main walkway on campus, we would start quietly humming The Clash’s London Calling because they mostly wore long dark cashmere coats and looked decidedly more sophisticated than the rest of us. While the rest of us lived in the newer, cinderblock dorms down the hill, the three Grotties took up residence together in what was effectively a small castle erected by their exclusive predecessors. In four years at my small college, I never spoke to any of the three of them even though our entire graduating class was a mere 450 students. Watching this small sample of Groton graduates move through their undergraduate years, I was struck by their apparent selfsatisfaction, their smugness, and their apparent desire to keep to themselves. They became for me the stereotype of Groton School—a place I had never seen.
Circle, Open Several years later, while working at Pomfret School, I watched The American Dream at Groton along with the rest of the faculty, and this was my second view of Groton. For those of you who have not seen it, The American Dream at Groton is a documentary that tells the story of Joe Vega, a Latina Groton student who struggles to make sense of the relationship between her past and present realities, embedded class structures and merit, conformity and individuality. The film painted a picture of Groton as a wellintentioned school stuck at a strange place in its history. Did the Circle seem open based upon these glimpses? It was because of my prejudice that I hesitated before coming to interview at Groton seventeen years ago this week. But I came because, as Nancy and I reminded each other, we did not have jobs and meager graduate school stipends had dried up. What I found when I came still exists in a flurry of images embedded somewhere in my recesses. Blue skies and cold wind, yeasty, warm cinnamon bread and perfectly cooked carrots at lunch, sockless faculty members wearing stained sweaters, polished floors, the sea shell collection in Charlie Alexander’s office, Mr. Belsky’s impish smile, lots of dogs laying about, students and faculty utterly absorbed in the moment where ever I saw them—in Chapel, in Roll Call, in class. A resounding and abiding impression met me when I interviewed on that day and has not left me: the purposeful warmth of this place bowled me over more powerfully than the cold wind blowing steadily from the west. This was and is a hive of activity, and the energy of this place seemed welldirected and suggested it was the sort of place I would love to join and find my way in for my year as a sabbatical replacement. Sixteen years later, it seems that no one has quite figured out that I am a one-year hire. And sixteen years later, I can see that my impressions while interviewing presaged at least much of what I have come to understand to be the truth about this place:
A resounding and abiding impression met me when I interviewed on that day and has not left me: the purposeful warmth of this place bowled me over more powerfully than the cold wind blowing steadily from the west.
Craig Gemmell responds to a question in his Natural history science elective.
Quarterly Spring 2010
Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle Additionally, a circle is flat, bringing students of widely varying social, cultural, and economic backgrounds onto a level playing field. There is no dominant position on a circle: all are equal,
Groton’s intensity and intimacy make for a powerful cocktail, and all included in its gravity are changed by it and might just forever be drawn to others who understand its defining qualities. The affection graduates feel toward the place and their formmates appears to be lifelong—and I saw these emotions expressed when the Form of 1984 celebrated its 25th Reunion in the barn adjacent to our campus home last spring. As a sort of host, I was able to watch the proceedings from a detached perspective while fetching extension cords and re-filling the chip bowl. In the time since they had graduated from Groton, I had gotten to know a few of the sixty-odd returnees. Remember the Groton graduate I knew? He was there and the same wonderful person I had remembered from college. Remember the most beautiful girl at my college? She was there, and when I was introduced to her, I told her that we had gone to college together. At that, she just tilted her head, looked at me quizzically, and said “really?” Of all the people in the barn from the Form of 1984, I surely knew
Jack Carter 2009
see the Circle as being open to anyone who would benefit from it. Somebody who is incapable of handling the work will feel excluded, as will anyone who refuses to become a part of the community. But as long as prospective students are up to the challenges Groton offers, the Circle will welcome them, expanding to fit them in, enclosing and nurturing them through their education and maturation. In addition to this idea of becoming a part within the Circle, Groton students’ lives will revolve around it, both literally in their daily routines and metaphorically as they indulge in the stimuli it provides. These include not only academic aspirations, but athletic conditioning and social interaction as well. On a circle, all of these aspects are well balanced; on our Circle, they are arranged in the form of various buildings on the periphery, each of which contributes to our lives at Groton. Additionally, a circle is flat, bringing students of widely varying social, cultural, and economic backgrounds onto a level playing field. There is no dominant position on a circle: all are equal, as are the opportunities provided to Groton students. More importantly, we at Groton treat our peers as equals, regardless of their backgrounds. There is no sense of hierarchy or separation, even among people of widely disparate cultures and wealth. Everyone at Groton gets to know people they otherwise would not have known. Making friends, playing sports, or even just studying together with someone who has a unique history that you would not otherwise be exposed to is something special that happens every day here. 30 | Quarterly Spring 2010
Harling Ross 2010 A Circle, Open
y expository English class had just finished up a night of consuming delicious Indian food, and it was now time to head back to our respective dorms. We shuffled our way along Joy Lane, reliving moments from our dinner and finishing up bottles of root beer from the local grocery store. In five minutes, we came to the juncture where the path looped in to join the Circle. As we continued to walk, members of our group splintered off to their rooms until I was the only one left. I stopped for a moment; from where I stood I could see every smooth turn of the Circle, yet I was intensely aware of the fact that what I saw was only a fraction of what the Circle actually encompassed. I carefully took note of each path that joined with the Circle but branched off into a different direction—the road to Joy Lane I had just walked, the path to the Boathouse and the Nashua River, the trail to Groton’s town center, and all the other tiny pathways that reached different parts of the campus and roads leading beyond the Circle. Groton is, indeed, centered around a Circle, but this Circle is only the crux of the web-like network that from Groton stretches outward. In this way, the Circle is much more than its geometry: it is open. The Circle’s openness is not only formed from the literal conduits that feed out from it but also from the diversity of the people who live around it. Groton welcomes students from all around the globe, and each person at this school represents a path to a unique place and background. The Circle is the center of this complex, where each student finds many paths to connect with the world.
best the one who asked if we would host—after all, he married my wife’s best childhood friend, and we saw each other several times during a typical year: he had become a good and valued friend to me. And it turns out that he was one of the three cashmere-coated Grotties I encountered first in college. Because of our marriages, I met him ca. 1992, years after we had graduated. In the intervening time, we have spoken more than once about the shadow he cast in college, about the shadow he felt over himself there. And it is my sense that after the warmth of Groton, college was a rather lonely place for him, a place where he never allowed himself to feel at home. During the course of the evening in the barn, I was able to watch and listen to these people reconnect with each other. And in the course of the evening, I was fascinated to see that groups were forever recombining—there was no cliquishness, no apparent hierarchy in the crowd, none of the typical reunion posing I would have expected. Most people talked about the same stuff I talk with my friends about: family, work, politics, etc.
Groton is, indeed, centered around a circle, but this circle is only the crux of the web-like network that from Groton stretches outward. In this way, the Circle is much more than its geometry: it is open.
Quarterly Spring 2010
Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle
Seppi Colloredo-Mansfeld 2009 A Circle, Open
onsider a normal high school experience: four years with the same classmates you’ve had since grade school. A Groton experience: four years spent with students from all over the country and the world, from all different religious and ethnic backgrounds, from all different political affiliations and cultures. Groton strives to create an environment where students learn not only in the classroom, but also from each other. New students will join a community often referred to as “the Circle.” The Circle affords students a plethora of new opportunities—a chance to broaden their horizons through new experiences made possible not only by Groton’s facilities and curriculum but also from its diverse student body—360 degrees of education. As a senior looking back on my Groton experience, I feel that I have learned as much outside the classroom as I have inside. I have made friends with people I had essentially nothing in common with other than our acceptance to Groton. My fifth form year, I found myself living in a dorm where I was the only Massachusetts resident. My roommate was from a farm outside of Pittsburg and played the bagpipes. Down the hall were two French Canadians, a boy from Taiwan, two Californians, and a number of kids from all over the South. The dorm was the closest community I have ever been a part of. It was an experience that I only could have had at boarding school. So, what makes Groton different from any other New England boarding school? I feel that the relationships we build here with our peers and faculty members set us apart from all other schools. Groton’s size and the structure of our lives around the Circle is such that we get to know one another in the class room, on the playing fields, and in the dorm, fostering a sense of community and trust unparalleled by any other school. The Groton Circle is a community made up of different perspectives and backgrounds—a community that allows students to grow and mature. into responsible, open-minded young adults ready for the challenges outside the Circle.
32 | Quarterly Spring 2010
Standing at the confluence of yes and no, I came to see through the koan and into the paradoxes of Groton: open and closed, welcoming and forbidding, elite and elitist, meaningful and demeaning.
Photo by Sidney Wood ’09
I was interrupted in the midst of my voyeurism by a person I hadn’t met. He looked at me flatly and held out the ice bucket. “More ice,” he said, and it was phrased as a directive. Rude sort, I thought to myself, but since I try never to get my shorts in a knot over such things, I grabbed the ice bucket and filled it up. Seeing me do so, the iceman who had barked at me came over to apologize. Walking over, he offered that he did not know I was the host—he thought I was the help—and he was sorry if he had seemed rude. In the next second or two, my mind casted about for an apt response, but I fogged a bit at the complexity and dismissed the situation with a deftly-manufactured laugh. Standing at the confluence of yes and no, I thought back to my year’s sabbatical during the 2004-2005 academic year. I spent the year on campus, writing my dissertation and playing with my young sons. Every once in a while, I would walk over and meet Nancy for lunch. Heading to the Dining Hall or away after lunch, I was happy to see students I had taught walking around the Circle. We would exchange pleasantries, and they would catch me up on their lives. When, however, I encountered a new student, it was, as far as I could tell, a 50-50 prospect. I would say “hi” or “how you doing?” and would only receive a response about 50 percent of the time. I was 0-4 with one boy even though he was extremely polite when I helped him with the college process two years later. Standing at the confluence of yes and no, I came to see through the koan and into the paradoxes of Groton: open and closed, welcoming and forbidding, elite and elitist, meaningful and demeaning. Groton is all of these things simultaneously because of the many ways students and graduates alike use what they learn here to shape their movement through the world. For some, the intimacy of this place causes them to move into the world and build inclusive communities where ever they are. Others move into the world and cling to the vestiges of a safe and comfortable past in the face of a less secure present. For some, the outstanding preparation they receive renders them eager to work on behalf of others; others use the same preparation for self-aggrandizement.
Quarterly Spring 2010
Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle be mindful of the small things that reflect underlying attitudes: greet everyone you see, thank those who work on your behalf—your teachers, the School’s staff, your prefects, be grateful for the challenges before you, want less and give more. Let your joy come from expressing your best self—through your making and joining larger circles of humanity.
As we think of the sort of place we want the Circle to be, realize that it is ours together to resolve the paradox of Groton’s identity. Remember Emerson? The life of man is a self-evolving circle, which, from a ring imperceptibly small, rushes on all sides outward to new and larger circles, and that without end. For this Circle to be open, it’s got to open outward through your actions, through our actions. Start now. Be mindful of the small things that reflect underlying attitudes: greet everyone you see, thank those who work on your behalf—your teachers, the School’s staff, your prefects, be grateful for the challenges before you, want less and give more. Let your joy come from expressing your best self—through your making and joining larger circles of humanity. Practice these things now, for doing so will render you adept at this mode of living by the time you leave here. Here’s your invitation: Please come back and stand in a dusty, poorly lit barn 25 years after you graduate and tell your peers (and me if I’m still breathing) about what you have done. For the Form of 2010, that will be in the year 2035—a few blinks of the eye from now. And as you stand in that barn and meander around campus and meet old friends again, I do hope you find as you reflect on the first forty-some-odd years of life that you are proud of the ways in which you have shaped favorably the lives of others and that you see the critical role this small place has played in shaping your path. Every one of you that throws your self humbly yet powerfully into your life, every one of you who goes to college and finds and shapes community, every one of you who moves into adulthood with the courage to take the harder, less certain path, invalidates any negative stereotype of Groton and simultaneously plays a role in helping the School to realize its great promise.
Liza MacEachern 2010 Circle, Open.
n a sense, these paradoxical terms create a complete idea, one that incorporates the internal drive of Groton (the Circle) and the external drive (openness). Groton is a place that takes students and faculty members from a myriad of backgrounds, and prepares them to go into the world, and have an influential effect on other’s lives. Groton opens doors to opportunities throughout the globe through its strong network of graduates, and its open gates allow for ideas to be presented which change the School for the best. Groton educates the whole-being. From the classrooms to the playing fields to the dorm rooms, students and faculty are constantly being challenged in intellectually stimulating environments. The friendships made, and the goals reached by every member of the School are carried well beyond the gates of the Circle, opening a world of possibilities.
34 | Quarterly Spring 2010
Photo by Sidney Wood '09.
Grotoniana | All Things Groton
Quarterly Spring 2010
Grotoniana | All Things Groton
Groton’s Self-Evaluation “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?”
A Chapel Talk by John Conner Thursday, January 29, 2010
Are we fulfilling our mission? In 2010, does our mission statement say exactly what we want it to say? Could it be better? These are among the questions we are asked to ponder.
o you recognize this line? Well, of course you do. These are the words of the evil queen from Snow White, based on the Grimm Brothers fairy tale. Most of you can actually picture her, thanks to one of the seminal films from the Disney franchise. There she is, standing in front of that mirror, asking the probing question: “Who is the fairest of them all? How do I stack up against the competition?” As you know, a mirror can only tell the truth. And, in this tale, for a while, at least, its answer was music to her ears: “Thou, O Queen, art the fairest of all.” But as time passed, a little girl in the kingdom grew more beautiful by each passing day, and when Snow White turned seven, the Queen was in for a rude awakening. For when she went back to the mirror and asked her signature question: “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who is the fairest of them all?” the mirror had a new answer: “O Lady Queen, though fair ye be, Snow White is fairer far to see.” In her ritual of self-reflection, the Queen cemented her place as the patron saint of all self-evaluators. In homage to her, I stand before you this morning as the self-study coordinator for Groton School’s ten-year NEASC evaluation. NEASC stands for the New England Association of Schools and Colleges, and every ten years, schools like Groton must become reaccredited, that is, we need the stamp of approval from this organization saying that we are fit to conduct business as a secondary education institution. The purpose of this whole process is quite important, I think—we are encouraged to take an honest look at everything we do here, measuring ourselves against 14 standards outlined by NEASC: from all our programs to our resources, from our faculty and staff to our student body, from our residential program to our administration, from health and safety to our mission statement. On your way out today, take a close look at the NEASC tree, the artistic symbol that Groton has adopted for this multi-year process. On each branch hangs the name of one of the 14 standards we must embrace. Fittingly, at the top of the tree stands our mission. As currently written it says: “Groton School is dedicated to educating promising students in a diverse and intimate community that fosters intellectual, moral, and spiritual character and physical development in preparation for lifelong learning, leadership, and service to others.” Are we fulfilling our mission? In 2010, does our mission statement say exactly what we want it to say? Could it be better? These are among the questions we are asked to ponder. I thought it would be interesting for all of you today to get a brief update as we pass the half-way point on this odyssey of self-evaluation. It all began on a cold evening in January 2009, when members of the faculty and staff gathered in the living room of the Headmaster’s House and were regaled with a potent PowerPoint presentation by an executive from NEASC. (By the way, I have always been a little suspicious of PowerPoints—the giant font, the landscape page setup, the colorful
36 | Quarterly Spring 2010
Sen˜or Conner in class with his spanish students and the breaking the barrier Series of textbooks.
banners and company logos. PowerPoints are frequently used by consultants who charge outrageous hourly fees. Truth be told, I have always secretly wanted to be a consultant.) Anyway, later last Winter Term, faculty and staff were divided into 12 sub-committees meeting on the squash courts for discussion groups. I am convinced that when that facility was built, we somehow knew that we would one day need twelve identical rooms, with great lighting, terrific acoustics, and proximity to a tiered pyramid for bringing all the groups back together for debriefing. This concept was repeated in the Spring Term with another squash court jamboree. Do not think that the only challenges during those meetings were cerebral! For those sixth formers who lifted logs during your orientation boot camp last September, know that your teachers, too, were pushed to the breaking point as they had to figure out, through an elaborate series of mind-numbing clues, which courts they were assigned to and exactly what their task entailed. Also last spring we launched a series of surveys, completed by over 90 percent of students, faculty, staff, and parents. The percentage of you who participated in these surveys was absolutely extraordinary, as was the fact that so many of you voluntarily took the time to add detailed thoughts about how we could make Groton better. Then last summer, we hibernated as the seeds of this information settled in, germinated, and took root. This past fall, under the shadow of our self-evaluation tree, the faculty and members of the staff reconvened before Labor Day—can you imagine that? Before Labor Day! I wonder what Endicott and Fanny Peabody would have thought, as we formed 14 all-new committees, one for each standard, and began the task of preparing reports analyzing how Groton School measured up against each. Groups met all fall—including at special dinner meetings called “The Taste of Self-Evaluation,” hosted at faculty homes all around campus. Drafts of reports were due before Christmas. So what is happening now? We have in hand hundreds of pages of data and analysis. A new committee has recently been formed, editing and studying these pages, trying to make sense of all the information we have. Together with a group that works closely with the headmaster, we will prepare a list in the early spring of our top recommendations. While we will not lose sight of what we are doing well, we will prioritize what we can be doing better. Trustees are simultaneously crafting a strategic plan—a process that is informed by a lot of what we are doing. There is a healthy, cooperative spirit amongst us—we even
The "NEASC Tree" with its branches: holding the "standards", areas which the School will study and evaluate including, Residential Life, Student Experience, Evaluation and Assessment, Program, Resources, Infrastructure, health and Safety, Governance, Faculty, Enrollment, Communication, Administration, and Mission
Quarterly Spring 2010
Grotoniana | All Things Groton
You know, dare I say, I think that this has actually been quite fun so far! Working together on a common task truly has the potential to bring out the best in all of us.
Spanish IV class with Sen˜or Conner.
38 | Quarterly Spring 2010
lured the trustees to the squash courts in November. It is almost as if our campus were a giant ballroom, and two teams from Dancing with the Stars were on the floor simultaneously. Our challenge is to have the faculty and staff ’s tango mesh effortlessly with the trustees’ waltz, to have our lambada and their foxtrot coexist. You know, dare I say, I think that this has actually been quite fun so far! Working together on a common task truly has the potential to bring out the best in all of us. And then comes next fall. For those of you thinking about graduating this spring, take a PG year instead! For those of you on sabbatical or retiring, postpone it please! If you do not, I am sorry to report that you will miss out on something quite extraordinary. For in early October, a team of nearly ten teachers and administrators, from schools all around New England, will descend on our campus for four days. They will live in a nearby hotel, come to Chapel, go to classes, to dinners, to sports practices, to rehearsals, to the dormitories. They will talk to students, staff, faculty, parents, graduates, administrators, trustees, and probably even campus dogs. They will have read every page of our selfstudy report as well as countless supporting documents. They will then prepare a report themselves. I am hopeful that they will find that we have looked at ourselves honestly. They will likely endorse many of our recommendations and perhaps help us to look at something we may have missed. They will encourage us to move boldly ahead with our ideas. I think that what this process does is actually something quite powerful and profound. You know, helping to organize this self-study has helped me to think a bit about my own life. It is easy for all of us at different stages to become somewhat complacent, to go with the flow, to try not to think too much about who we are and where we are going. But sometimes it is just worth it to slow down and take stock. It was actually during an exercise of self-analysis for Groton School some fifteen years ago that I became inspired to write a textbook. A faculty/trustee group held a brainstorming session off campus focused on the theme of how Groton School could better help to shape American education. That got me thinking. Shortly after that, a close friend gave me a little quote from a professor, which I still have up on the wall in my office. She said: “When I stopped teaching, I realized you have a captive audience in an institution. People are stuck listening to you. It’s easy for me to stand up and talk to students at Harvard, but try doing it in the marketplace. If you only speak to people who know you, who like you, who understand you, you get nowhere, you learn nothing.” While students at Groton have always been very enthusiastic about the Breaking the Barrier textbook series, was that because they liked me, my great jokes,
Groton’s Self-Evaluation or because I held a grade book? I believe that the fact that these books have found fans well outside our school gates has meant that my texts have stood up to a more objective analysis. Ideas I have gotten from students and teachers around the country—whom I do not even know—have helped me to make these books better. One reason I like traveling abroad is that I have the chance to meet people who know nothing about me. They do not make associations with me because I am a Groton School faculty member. In the village in Spain where I usually go each year, no one has even heard of Groton School or Amherst College, let alone Breaking the Barrier. There they hold up different mirrors with which I am judged and accepted. I think my point is that in life one can benefit from first thinking about what one does, and then seeking out a wide range of opinion and thought. That in a nutshell is what we are doing collectively here in the NEASC evaluation. When an individual takes stock, there are myriad folks who stand ready to offer advice: parents, siblings, teachers, coaches, doctors, nurses, psychologists, relatives, life coaches, trainers, friends, and, of course, consultants. I would recommend periodically seeking out many opinions—have folks hold up mirrors to you. At times, it is helpful if you can feel confident that the advice you get is objective. Sometimes the truth will set you free. Let me close with a story that is somewhat of a classic in the Conner family which goes back to my days as a seventh grader. In the fall of 1968, I was a candidate in an election to become treasurer of my class at Nichols Junior High School in Evanston, Illinois. We actually had campaigns then with speeches, bumper stickers, and posters. I had decided that I would keep the theme of my campaign a top secret from almost everyone until the very last second. Only my dad was on the “inside.” But little did I realize what I was up against. My best friend, Steve Krafft, was my main rival. His father was in advertising, and I remember the day I walked into school and saw Steve’s beautiful, colorful signs of a bright red, juicy apple. Underneath was the tag line: “The time is ripe—vote Steve Krafft for treasurer.” Meanwhile, my dad, a Methodist minister who was also a pretty good artist, assured me that he had a sure-fire idea for success. The day before the election, he brought me up to his office to unveil the secret strategy. He had drawn a likeness of a comic strip character from the 1940s named Snuffy Smith. Snuffy was a hillbilly who wore overalls, had a huge nose, a scraggly moustache, a giant felt cap, and he carried around a bamboo fishing pole. The morning of my big speech, I plastered the school walls with my campaign signs. On top a giant picture of Snuffy, below my tag line: “SNUFFY SMITH says: “Vote Conner for Treasurer.” When my classmates saw my sign, they could barely contain their laughter. When my own brother saw it, he just shook his head and said: “Oh my gosh, John, what were you thinking?” Needless to say, I lost in a landslide. To this day, my friends still make fun of my ill-fated campaign. Though it pains me to admit it now, sometimes your parents do not offer you the best advice. If I had only sought out a wider range of opinions ahead of time, I might have become treasurer of my class—and, who knows, maybe today I would be a business manager instead of a Spanish teacher. “Mirror, mirror on the wall, who’s the fairest of them all?” What do you see? How do we look on the outside? More importantly, how do we look on the inside? Come next fall, our visiting committee will answer back. Stay tuned. It has all the makings of a fairy-book tale.
Photo by Christopher Ahn '08.
SNUFFY SMITH SAYS: Vote Conner for Treasurer!
Quarterly Spring 2010
Grotoniana | All Things Groton
WINTER SPORTS All photos of winter sports are by Vaughn Winchell, Insight Studios.
boys Varsity basketball | 6 –13
he boys carsity basketball team completed a very competitive season by playing improved and exciting basketball at both ends of the court. Led by Senior Captains Andrew Daigneault and Tanner Keefe, the team represented Groton School with honor and integrity throughout the season. The team won six games and lost thirteen; however, six defeats in the competitive ISL were lost by fewer than four points! The team won both games in the holiday tourney: with an intense defense and a solid passing game, the team defeated both Berwick and Thayer. After the long vacation, the team continued to practice with plenty of energy and learned the value of playing team basketball with wins over Berwick, Dexter/Southfield, St. Paul’s, and Roxbury Latin. Assistant Coach Matt Westman provided much energy in working the team into shape and making sure the team played hard fundamental basketball. Once the team realized the value of playing with tremendous energy, passion, and positive communication, the Groton varsity was very hard to defeat, and many competitors walked off the court with much respect for our team.
Captain and scoring record holder, Drew Daigneault drives for another basket versus Roxbury Latin.
40 | Quarterly Spring 2010
Co-Captain elect Michael Corkrum puts back an offensive rebound in the Roxbury Latin game.
Senior Co-captain Andrew Daigneault set the school scoring record with 1088 points. As a four-year starter, he played 75 games for an average of 14.5 points per game. Named Drew Most Valuable Player by the team, Drew was selected to the ISL AllStar team. Mike Corkrum, a 6’5” junior, played in 17 games and scored 169 points for a 9.9 average per game. Mike led the team in rebounds and was voted Most Improved Player by the team. Senior Mike Bianco received the Coaches Award for his unselfish play and loyalty to the team. Coach Ron Mazzaferro praised the work of his seniors by saying: “Our senior leadership from Bianco, Daigneault, and Keefe will surely be missed next season; all three have helped provide to our returning players the type of character and focus needed to play consistent, good basketball.” The Groton School basketball team looks forward to the future with Tri-Captains Mike Corkrum, Alozie Erondu, and Matt Hennrikus leading the way for another exciting season. Both Corkrum and Hennrikus were named honorable mention to the ISL All-Star team. Also getting much playing experience this season were returning sophomore impact players Ray Dunn, Evan Hansen-Bundy, and Joe MacDonald, along with freshman Adam Hardej. Most Valuable Player: Andrew Daigneault ’10 Most Improved Player: Mike Corkrum ’11 Coaches Award: Mike Bianco ’10 2010-2011 Captains: Mike Corkrum ’11, Alozie Erondu ’11, and Matt Hennrikus ’11 ISL All-League: Andrew Daigneault ISL All-League Honorable Mention: Mike Corkrum and Matt Hennrikus
boys Varsity hockey | 15 – 7 – 1
ompiling a 15-7-1 record, the boys varsity hockey team had another successful season. There were many changes this year, not the least of which was a new coach, Bill Riley, who took over when former Head Coach Mike Mastrullo joined his hometown Billerica High School program. Riley came to Groton having coached the last four years at Bowdoin College, and with him came a whole new playing style similar to the Swedish Torpedo. More change was in store for the 36th annual Lawrence Academy-Groton School Holiday Tournament and Showcase. The eight team Division I tournament consisted of Cushing, Culver, Pomfret, Proctor, North Yarmouth Academy, Hill, Lawrence, and Groton. The Zebras were the only team in the tournament to go 3-0 in the first round, beating Proctor, Pomfret, and NYA. They would eventually loose 3-2 in the championship game in a rematch against Pomfret. In January, Groton stumbled when it lost to Milton Academy, St. George’s, and Dexter, but they rebounded by winning eight of their last 10 games, including an 8-2 win over Buckingham Browne and Nichols and a 4-3 overtime win against long-time rival St. Mark’s. Groton missed out on the eight-team small school Division I tournament by one game and finished in 9th place. Post-season All-League First Team honors went to Goalie Dale Adams ’10, Defenseman Dennis Cottreau ’10, and Forwards Nils Martin ’11 and Michael Doherty ’12. Defensemen Charles-Eric Boutet ’10 and Scott Fronsdahl ’10 received Honorable Mention accolades. Next year’s team will be led by Co-Captains Remy Knight ’11, Nils Martin ’11, and Garrett Sunda ’11.
Co Captain elect Remy Knight '11 sets up for a slap shot in holiday tourney game.
First team all ISL defenseman Dennis Couttreau '10 controls the puck in game versus Pomfret School.
boys Varsity Squash | 7–4
any decades ago, my high school football and baseball coach was fond of saying, “We’re small, but we’re slow.” This year, I was fond of saying, “We’re strong, and we’re deep.” And though beset by a series of injuries and illnesses, we had more competitive matches against a number of strong teams than any year in memory, and we won more than our share. We were strong, but we were deep. It didn’t take long for the tone to get set and for the boys to believe in themselves. Our opening match against Deerfield was a close 2-5 loss, including two five-game matches. What the boys had believed, they now knew: this was no building year. In the very next match, just after Christmas, we took down 5-2 a strong Hotchkiss team, a team that had previously beaten Deerfield 6-1. If we had harbored any doubts, no more—we were on our way. Decisive wins over Andover and Brooks followed, and then we were playing three of the top teams in New England: St. Paul’s, Belmont Hill, and Exeter. We lost two of those 2-5, the other 1-6, but our competitive play against some of the region’s best only strengthened our resolve. In our next two-league matches, St. George’s could not play because of a brutal illness that shut down the school, but we took care of Middlesex 7-0. Then came the set of three encounters, strong but beatable teams from Milton, Nobles, and St. Mark’s. Unfortunately, illnesses and injuries to some of our top players made those matches doubtful at best, except for one thing: we were strong, but we were deep. When the dust had settled, our boys had emerged victorious in all three very tight contests. Quarterly Spring 2010
Grotoniana | All Things Groton
Playing at #4, Steve Cho '11 executes back hand rail.
Individually, the boys each had their moments in the sun, and these came in a variety of ways. In the New England championships, Jamie Conner vanquished his Deerfield opponent in three decisive games, the same lad who had bested him in the early season match. James Fulham ended our season, and his own, with a wonderful 11-9 fifth-game victory to earn our only individual trophy in the tournament for fifth place in his bracket. Gage Wells and Alex Southmayd each played superb matches to beat their Rye Country Day opponents, boys they had lost to at the team nationals. And Walker Evans won his last match of the season against the Westminster number one, a boy who had defeated him when they had played early in January.
Earlier in the winter, Tripp Kaelin had a huge win in our first victory over heavily favored Hotchkiss, and Steve Cho, playing six rungs higher on this year’s team than on last year’s, took out the number 4 at Nobles in our very tense 4-3 win. At numbers 6 and 7, Will Stankiewicz and Will Bolton each had crucial victories in those nail-biting final three wins of the season, all on the road against other A-level teams. There was also a not so hidden hand that played an enormous role in our last match of the season at Milton. That morning, Steve Cho came to me with a totally locked-up stiff neck. He went immediately to Cheeks, who worked his magic and indeed got Steve mended and into the line-up. Since we were without three other players due to the aforementioned illnesses and injuries, we had no hope of success without Steve. And though he didn’t win his tough five-game match, the three boys behind him did, and with Walker’s victory at number 1 the team victory was ours. Thank you, Mr. Cheeks! The team’s final dual match record was 7-4, we came in 14th in the U.S. National Division I Team Championships, 10th in the New England Class A Championships, and tied for second in the ISL, and the team graduates but a single senior, Will Stankiewicz, our admirable captain. Congratulations to Walker Evans for being selected All-League and to Will Bolton, the 2010-2011 captain.
#1 and all ISL team member, Walker Evans '12, stretches for a forehand winner.
Gage Wells '11 controls the "T" in match against Andover.
42 | Quarterly Spring 2010
Girls Varsity basketball | 11 – 9
Defensive leader Adriana Pulford '11 scores in transition against Lawrence Academy.
he Lady Zebras earned their 5th straight post season playoff berth, finishing with an overall 11– 9 record, and an impressive fifth place finish in the ISL rankings. Our team had quite a journey this season. From losing handily in our first game against the 2009 Class B champion Rivers School, to then executing a five game win streak ending with a thrilling overtime finish against Brooks, and then upsetting St. Georges here at home to push us into the top 4 ISL team rankings at that point in the season. The Zebras then continued with their fast-paced, disciplined style of play by taking on Class A powerhouse Worcester Academy at home. With a huge team effort and a heroic last second 3-point shot from Adrianna Pulford, the epic battle came down to a defeat by two points at the buzzer 54 – 52 (so close, so close!). Although, the Lady Zebras came up just shy of a win, that game personified our team, and sent a message to the league that we could compete with anyone. Then, our road schedule struck, and we lost some focus, dropping the next four out of five games, putting us into a freefall in the ISL standings. With our chances for a playoff berth slipping away, our team came together, and a defining moment of leadership was born. Our group of dedicated seniors, Jennessa Batainni, Jillian Howe, Paige McDonald, Kimmy Mitchell & Elizabeth Small, put the team on their backs and with grit, heart and determination, ensured our team captured wins in the next four of five contests. With huge wins against Middlesex, Kimball Union, Milton, and St. Marks, our entire Lady Zebra team earned their rightful place in New England Prep Class B playoffs, as the eighth seed. This was our 5th straight year of NEPSAC tournament appearances, which means our seniors have gone to the post season every year of their careers. This achievement requires true leadership and
commitment to both their teammates and each other, especially facing a schedule with close to half our games against Class A opponents with much larger enrollments. The Lady Zebras faced an undefeated (25 – 0) Pomfret School team in the first round of playoffs, and were able to defensively contain an extremely talented, big team to only 19 first half points. Finding themselves down by only single digits at the break, the Lady Zebras continued their tenacious defensive play and smart offensive execution with good shot opportunities, only to come up to short to the eventual undefeated 2010 Class B Champions of Pomfret. Our Groton school Lady Zebras would like to express a heartfelt thanks to those who supported us behind the scenes and were essential to our success: to our trainer and fill-in player coach Art Cheeks, to our equipment manager Jim Lockney and to our Athletic Directors Bob Low and Sarah Mongan who were tireless in their efforts in scheduling practices, games, & transportation. Special thanks as well go to Cathy Lincoln for being our consummate representative for clock and scorekeeping duties. Coaches Award: Elizabeth Small ’10 Liz established herself as our team’s undisputed leader and Captain on the court, elevating her teammates to play at the highest level in every contest by placing team before self. Offensive Player of the Year: Paige McDonald ’10 Paige led all scorers with 12.7 points per game and was our leading 3-point field goal shooter. Defensive Player of the Year: Adrianna Pulford ’11 Adrianna earned “best defensive” player status by leading her team in blocks, and she was our second leading rebounder. First Team ALL-ISL/NEPSWBCA All-Star: Paige McDonald ’10 Honorable ISL Mention: Elizabeth Small ’10, Adrianna Pulford ’11
Senior guard and co captain Liz Small slashes to hoop in Lawrence Academy game.
Quarterly Spring 2010
Grotoniana | All Things Groton Girls Varsity hockey | 3-17-1
any words can be used to describe this year’s ice hockey team. Determined, resilient, courageous, selfless, and fun are just a few. The season started off with an exciting win over Holderness which gave a boost of confidence to the team as they headed off into the heart of their schedule. The team showed all who were lucky to see them compete that victory comes in many forms. It did not take long for the captains of our team to set the tone and show their teammates the true essence of “team first.” Michele Murphy ’10 and Grace Bukawyn ’10, both two-year captains, have lead our team in ways people may never see. Their on-ice abilities will be hard to match in the years to come, but it is more what they did away from the rink that leaves an indelible mark. Grace will graduate from Groton in the spring having spent five years walking around the Circle. There are few people on campus that would dispute she is one of the most influential leaders on campus. One of her teammates said this about her: “She brought our team together and kept our team together. We all love her and will miss her in more ways than she can expect.” It is safe to say she will be missed, but we are confident she has left part of herself in the hearts of those who will return to the ice next season. Michele has stood side by side Grace for the past two years. To those who watch Michele on the ice, the first word that often comes to mind is grit. She is relentless both on offense and defense, which makes her nearly impossible to replace. She knows that nothing replaces hard work, which is why she was never one to ask for a break or a shift off. Our team was better because of the example she set, and we will all miss her presence both on and off the ice. Maeve McMahon '13 controls the puck against Vermont Academy.
hope Cutler '12 shoots on breakaway against Vermont Academy
44 | Quarterly Spring 2010
We also must say goodbye to two coaches who have given much of themselves to this program. James Covi has spent three years behind the bench offering his careful analysis as well as providing incomparable feedback to the players. Mr. Covi was the first to make each player smile, and his focus on speed and agility allowed our team to make great strides throughout the season. Keri Ann Alan also departs from the Groton coaching staff after five wonderful years with the team. She knows more about each player than perhaps they know about themselves. Her selfless manner and light-hearted approach to the game and to life gave all our players bursts of strength and energy when they needed it most. Michele, Grace, Mr. Covi and Ms. Alan will be missed, but their mark will be felt for years to come. The future is extremely bright for this program, and much of that is due to the hard work and unrelenting dedication of these four people. As we all look forward to next year, we say thank you to those who will leave us and welcome to those who will join us. We all look forward to next season and hope to see many of you in the rinks next winter.
Girls Varsity Squash | 7-5
he Girls varsity squash team played a strong season, finishing with a winning regular season record of 7-5. In tournament play, the team won the Consol Plate in Division B at the High School National Championships and finished 11th at the New England Division A Tournament. Highlights of the regular season included a hard-fought and narrow loss to a much higher ranked Nobles team and a tough season finale win 4-3 against Milton. The depth of talent on the Groton team was responsible for strong wins against Exeter, St. Paul’s, Andover, and St. Mark’s. Senior Co-captains Georgie Brinkley and Hilary Evans did an exemplary job leading the team. While the team loses three of its veterans this year (our two captains and Harling Ross ’10,) the future looks bright with promising young talents Maeve Hoffstot ’13, CC Ho ’13, Chloe Fross ’12, and current team #1 Lizzy Ross ’12 returning next year. The mantle of leadership passes to rising seniors and Co-captains Kirsten Craddock and Whitney Hartmeyer.
Co Captain elect, Whitney hartmeyer '11 goes cross court versus Andover.
#1 player Lizzy Ross '12 hits backhand in her match against Andover.
Cloe Fross '12 controls the "T" during home match against Andover.
The "hidden hand" behind much of the winter's success in athletics, Art Cheeks, Director of Sports Medicine stands with student athletes.
Quarterly Spring 2010
lumni Games ay
lumnae and Alumni returned to the Circle in early January, to engage current varsity team members in Alumni Games Day contests in basketball and ice hockey. Taking to the ice and hardwoods for their annual contests were scores of spirited harriers and pucksters. As always, the reunions were spirited, the games were competitive (dare we say intense) and fun, with participants getting solid work outs and plenty of sass and support from teammates and spectators.
Clockwise from top left: headmaster Commons talks with Rob Emmons ’78 (left), and brian Rogers ’81 (right) before the hockey game. basketball competitors assemble after the game. Rehman Khan ’95 (right) defends against Justin Conroy ’99. Chris Toms ’99 works against #31 Mike Corkrum ’11 for a rebound. before the game alumns L to R James bayley ’05, Jessica huang ’06 and Nick Karwoski ’06 catch up. Alumni goalie, Rob Emmons ’78 makes a save.
46 | Quarterly Spring 2010
Alumni Games Day
• Clockwise from top left: L to R: brothers Carter harwood ’12 and Gus harwood ’07 joke with their father Terry ’81 between periods at the hockey game. Alumni and varsity pucksters assemble for a group shot. Chris Toms ’99 congratulates Steve hill ’80 and Justin Ifill ’02 on the sideline. Angela harris ’80 and Kevin Griffiths ’80 talk strategy before the game. brian Rogers ’81 controls the puck. Rudy hersch ’04 goes up for a lay up against Drew Daigneault ’10. Eden Self McManus ’00 and hugh harwood ’09 select hockey Jerseys before the game, assisted by Peggy Gelina from the Alumni Office. Rhinelanders all, L to R John ’81 , Tom ’87 and Jack ’12 stand for a family shot after the game.
Quarterly Spring 2010
Grotoniana | All Things Groton
SCHOOL NEWS GWN
ervice, safety, music, and savories were all components of some recent Groton Women’s Network events that were enjoyed by many alumni, parents, and friends of the School. Ann Bakewell Woodward ’86 and Sarah Fitzgerald ’95, the city chairs for the the Westchester and Fairfield counties, coordinated a cooking demonstration at La Panetiere restaurant in Rye, New York, where Groton alumnae and moms learned to make crab cakes. The event also allowed
to introduce Impact: Model Mugging, a program Groton has offered to senior girls each spring since 1991. The highlight of the evening was hearing the remarks of the three alumnae speakers, Mary Murphy ’95, Emily Spiegelman ’93, and Katie Whitters Vaughn ’93, who explained why Model Mugging was important to them and what they got out of it. The audience, in rapt attention during the alumnae comments, learned much about the program, including, said Sixth Former Emily Caldwell, “how it
Also in March, the New York GWN group coordinated a shopping extravaganza that featured Verdura jewelry and gifts, courtesy of Nico Landrigan ’97 and his family, and Paola Quadretti clothing, thanks to Caroline Costin ’96. The event was made even more special as guests sampled Italian wines from Castello Poggiarello, the family vineyard of Jem Macy ’87, and delectable hors d’oeuvres artfully prepared by food52 and Merrill Stubbs ’95. A number of events, some commnityservice related and others more social or with an educational theme, are in the works for the next few months in D.C., Los Angeles, and New York.
Jen Field '97, Merrill Stubbs '95, Nico Landrigan '97, and Caroline Costin '96 at the New York GWN event in March
time for guests to get to know each other and to catch up during a gourmet lunch that highlighted the chef’s version of the crab cakes and other menu selections. The Boston city chairs hosted two winter events and one in the spring. The first was the seventh annual community service day at On The Rise, a women’s shelter dedicated to helping women who are homeless or in crisis. In addition to sorting clothing donations and cleaning closets, volunteers sponsored one of the shelter’s frequent visitors, Elisabeth. To help her in her transition to a permanent home, the Groton guests brought a variety of gently used and new household items including a toaster, sheets, and cleaning supplies. Another Boston-sponsored gathering was in late February when women faculty, GWN committee members, the Sixth Form girls, and several alumnae guests gathered in the Webb Marshall Room for a dinner
48 | Quarterly Spring 2010
can positively influence a girl’s self-confidence even though she may not (hopefully) need to use a lot of what she learned for physical self-defense.” The final Boston event was a wine and cheese tasting at Formaggio Kitchen in Cambridge, where alumni and parents joined together to learn some nuances of pairing cheeses with select wines, all while catching up and learning of Groton connections. Groton alumni are a talented group, and five alumni had the opportunity to help the GWN by showcasing their talents. Thanks to executive director and alumnus Parker Monroe ’77, San Francisco area Grotties were able to attend the New Century Chamber Orchestra at a discount. The program included Benjamin Britten’s Serenade for Tenor, Horn, and Strings and a piece by Dvorak. Because of the great feedback, City Chair Teebie Bunn Saunders ’93 hopes to offer a similar event in the future.
pring is here, and as May turns to June a new group of Groton alumni prepare to enter the workforce with their college diplomas in hand. After four (and sometimes more) years at their respective institutions, this group of Grotonians will no doubt be eager to land their first job in the “real world.” They may need help finding just the right fit, and that is where you can help by volunteering as a career advisor. As a career advisor, you can assist a fellow Grotonian by sharing your experience in your chosen field. You may also be able to provide industry insight, interview tips, and contacts. In doing so, you will be helping your fellow Groton alumni find success away from the Circle. To become a career advisor, send an email to Drew Millikin at dmillikin@ groton.org with your job title, employer, industry, and contact information. You can also designate yourself a career advisor on the Alumni Portal. Visit http://www. groton.org/portal, update your information, and check the “Career Advisor” box under the “Edit Profile” and “Edit Member Info” sections. If you yourself are looking for career advice and contacts, email Drew with the industry and location you are interested in.
Groton School 2009–2010 Annual Fund
CUI SERVIRE EST REGNARE
Groton School circa 1884
Groton School 2009
Groton students enjoy many of the same traditions since the School’s founding in 1884. In honor of the School’s 125th birthday, please give to the Annual Fund. All gifts help to ensure that traditions, old and new, continue for today’s students. Thank you.
To make a gift or complete a pledge, please go to www.groton.org and click on Giving to Groton; send a check to the Annual Fund, Groton School, P.O. box 991, Groton, MA 01450; or call the Development Office at 800-396-6866 to make a gift of securities.
Quarterly Spring 2010
Grotoniana | All Things Groton
Book review In Other Rooms, Other Wonders W.W. Norton & Company, 2009 by Daniyal Mueenuddin ’81
Review by Brian Rogers ’81
are supported by the inertia of what was once a significant base aniyal Mueenuddin ’81’s widely acclaimed debut of power and prestige. Throughout the collection there is an collection of short stories In Other Rooms, Other underlying tension between the past and the future —with the Wonders (W.W. Norton & Company, 2009) was landed classes maintaining the status quo, while increasingly recently chosen as a finalist for the National Book aggressive and chaotic forces erode the foundations that have Award. David Remnick, the editor of The New Yorker, which has supported the owners—and all those who find “order within the published three stories from the collection, compares Daniyal disorder” while serving their masters. favorably to J.D. Salinger and Philip Roth, while It’s not just the quality In the opening story, “Nawabdin the Miami Sentinel considers him Pakistan’s Electrician,” we are presented with a uniquely Chekhov. In Other Rooms, Other Wonders of the writing and story talented and indispensible man who, like was on most major publications’ top fiction telling, it’s the fact that many characters in the stories, bends the rules lists for 2009, including Publisher’s Weekly, The New York Times, and The Economist. Daniyal has afforded us a to best survive a difficult life, which, in his case, includes 12 daughters. Nawab has an Daniyal writes with a confident, underwindow into the lives of almost mystical talent for slowing electrical stated, and minimalist style that one would meters, thereby transferring wealth from the normally expect from an artist who has been people at virtually every utilities to his clients, the most important of working at his craft for many years. His level of society, in what which is K.K. Harouni. This “ubiquitous man choice of language remains skillfully balanced and subtle throughout, with one sparingly many have come to believe … tended the household machinery, the air rendered scene moving fluidly to the next. to be the most dangerous conditioners, water heaters, refrigerators, and water pumps, like an engineer tending the And while the context for the stories, set in the country in the world. boilers on a foundering steamer in an Atlantic Punjab region of Pakistan, may be completely gale.” foreign to most Western readers, one cannot Harouni buys Nawab a small motorbike so he can traverse help but be fascinated by this ancient culture, bound by its natural the landowner’s Punjab farmland and attend to his family. “The beauty, slowly changing tribal customs, and stubborn class motorcycle increased his status, gave him weight, so that people hierarchy. began calling him ‘Uncle,’ and asking his opinion on world It’s not just the quality of the writing and storytelling, it’s affairs, about which he knew absolutely nothing.” the fact that Daniyal has afforded us a window into the lives of In the dramatic conclusion to the story, Nawab stops to help people at virtually every level of society, in what many have come a man on the road who turns out to be a reluctant armed robber, to believe to be the most dangerous country in the world. And interested in the treasured Honda 70. In the confrontation Nawab despite his thoughtful and economic use of language, we are almost is shot six times and lays wounded in the road. “When he first surprised to discover such depth and insight into the feelings got shot it didn’t hurt so much as sting, but now the pain grew and motivations of his characters. We come away both newly worse. The blood felt warm in his pants. In the distance dogs kept appreciative of our shared humanity and deeply sympathetic to barking and all around the cicadas called …. In a mango orchard the sad, often desperate, and sometimes brutal life of the humans across the canal some crows began cawing, and he wondered why he portrays. they were calling at night. Maybe a snake up in the tree, in the Each of the stories is connected to a central figure, K. K. nest. Fresh fish from the spring floods of the Indus had just come Harouni, an aging feudal patriarch with extensive agricultural into market … . As the pain grew worse he thought of that, the holdings in the Punjab region. Most of the characters, including smell of frying fish.” Harouni’s extended family and a phalanx of tenured servants,
50 | Quarterly Spring 2010
Book Review Villagers discover the assailant and mortally wound him with a shotgun. At the clinic the robber ends up in the bed next to Nawab, where he is left to die without treatment or forgiveness. “They just said that I am dying. Forgive me for what I did. I was brought up with kicks and slaps. Please, please, please,’ more softly each time, and then he stared up at the ceiling. After a few minutes he convulsed and died. Nawab’s mind caught at this, looking at the man’s words and his death, like a bird hopping around some bright object, meaning to peck at it. And then he didn’t.” Most of Daniyal’s characters nakedly calculate each relationship’s bearing on status and comfort. Unfortunately, even the marginally successful gambits are rewarded with only temporary satisfaction, making eventual reversals of fortune all the more tragic. In three of the stories, young women of paltry means take older married men of higher stature as lovers— including, in the title story, Harouni himself. In all three stories the eventual tragedy far surpasses the disturbing circumstances in which earlier decisions were made. In these people’s lives suffering remains constant, while happiness is a fleeting surprise that one may only hope to prolong. In “Saleema,” a daughter of “blackmailers and bootleggers,” who is married to a decaying heroin addict, finds work in the Lahore mansion of K. K. Harouni. After concluding a palateenhancing affair with the cook, Saleema moves on to find greater comfort with one of Harouni’s most long-tenured servants, Rafik, who is considerably older—with a wife of 50 years and grown children. Rafik and Saleema find an oasis of happiness in their Predictably, Rafik’s wife and one of his grown sons eventually life together; and because Rafik is such a senior and powerful come to Lahore to reclaim Rafik. “The baby and her love had made servant, he openly displays his affection and spends his nights him gentler and more philosophical … with the young mistress. “She would but the same gentleness would bend fold him into her body and stroke his With this collection of stories, him toward his duty …. He would thinning hennaed hair while he slept.” punish himself … for loving Saleema so In one of the most tender passages in Daniyal stimulates his readers much and so carnally.” the collection, Saleema watches Rafik to feel what life is like in a part Finally, with no one to protect her, bond with their newly born son. “Rafik of the world where resources are Saleema and her son are irreversibly played with the little baby, which held cast into the chaos and deprivation of his finger in its tiny hand. He clapped scarce, fundamental religious Pakistan’s forgotten. “The well inside and made a crooning sound, till the baby dictatorships fill the void left by her stirred, all the sorrows of her life, laughed, showing its red toothless gums. ‘His teeth are like yours. Plus, you two corrupt governments, and people the sweet thick fluid in the darkness, which always lay at the bottom of her think alike.’ She saw that Rafik really (especially women and children) thoughts, from which she pulled up the did think like the baby; he would sit all afternoon playing with it and seeing the are forced to make choices, which cool liquid and drank.” With this collection of stories, world through its eyes.” most of us hope never to make. Daniyal stimulates his readers to feel In an amusing bit of irony, Harouni what life is like in a part of the world himself meets the newest member of where resources are scarce, fundamental his household. “The master touched religious dictatorships fill the void left by corrupt governments, the baby with the flat of his hand. The baby, which had been and people (especially women and children) are forced to make sleeping, smacked its lips. Rafik always dressed him too warmly, choices, which most of us hope never to make. In Other Rooms, a knitted suit with feet, a floppy hat. ‘I must say, he’s the spitting Other Wonders is truly an important piece of literature that one image of you,’ Harouni said, teasingly. ‘What can I say, Hazoor, should savor, not only for the beauty of the prose, but also for life takes strange turns. These are all Your Honor’s blessings.’ the exercise of better understanding the world and the context in Harouni shouted with laughter. ‘There are some blessings that which others live. you shouldn’t attribute to me!’”
Quarterly Spring 2010
Grotoniana | All Things Groton
NEW RELEASES Peter P. Bundy ’68 Robert W. Spearman ’61 Contributed one of 17 chapters to
A Quality Education for Every Child: Stories from The Lawyers on the Front Line Institute For Educational Equity & Opportunity, (September 2009)
unique look at some of the most important school finance and educational equity cases in this country from the viewpoint of the lawyers who litigated the cases with the goal of securing a quality education for every child. Seventeen of the nation’s most outstanding lawyers in the field of school finance and educational equity wrote the articles. This book is an important and thoughtful resource for the public and policymakers as the nation focuses anew on how to provide every child with the quality education to which every child has a right. – From IEEO web site Dr. Edward C. Green ’63
AIDS, Behavior, and Culture Left Coast Press, (May 2010)
bold challenge to the prevailing wisdom of “the global AIDS industry,” AIDS, Behavior, and Culture offers an alternative framework for understanding what works in HIV prevention. Arguing for a behavior-based approach, Green and co-author Allison Herling Ruark make the case that the most effective programs are those that encourage fundamental behavioral changes.
The Wild Garden: A Journey of Loss and Renewal North Star Press of St. Cloud (June 2009)
n the sequel to Finding the Forest Forest, forester Peter Bundy talks about disturbance in the forest and its effects on his life. A lyrical and practical book, filled with insight into environmentalism and nature.
Brian H. Johnson ’84
Myra Roberts: Retro Images From the Florida Coas Coast Signature Book Printing 2009
his book introduces Myra’s stunning new paintings of famous personalities who came to Sanibel & Captiva, such as Anne Morrow Linbergh, J.N. “Ding” Darling, and Thomas Edison, as well as historic places such as ’Tween Waters Inn, Jensen’s Marina, and Casa Ybel Resort.
Jessica B. Theroux ’97
Rabbits & Wrinkles: Cooking with Italian Grandmothers Welcome Books (September 2010)
John H. Wulsin, Jr. ’68
The Spirit of the English Language Lindisfarnes Books (September 2008)
ohn Wulsin’s collection will inspire English teachers, new or seasoned, and will charm poetry lovers of any age. Biographical sketches show how poets help to create the culture and consciousness of their particular historical times. To open Wulsin’s book is to open the door of a lively classroom.” –Gertrude Hughes, Professor Emerita, Wesleyan University
52 | Quarterly Spring 2010
abbits & Wrinkles features the histories and menus of 15 grandmothers, each of whom welcomed Ms. Theroux into their kitchens and pantries and shared both their favorite dishes and personal wisdoms. Readers will journey through Italy’s most diverse regions and seasons, to discover the country’s most delectable dishes, from the traditional to the unexpected, and meet the storied women who make them. Part travel diary, part photo essay, part cookbook, rabbits & wrinkles features over 100 time-honored recipes, from the perfect panna cotta to the classic meat lasagna.
In Memoriam I N
M E M O R I A M
homer pine smith ’25
1 January 1, 1908 — February 22, 2010
Excerpts from the eulogy given by his cousin, the Reverend Betsy Aldrich Garland
aking the world into his arms was something Homer did, from childhood on. He was fully engaged in the world, noticed and remembered everything, showed an appreciation for people and places, and had a wonderful, dry sense of the comic. Homer was born on New Year’s Day 1908 in a three-decker at the corner of Early Street and Prairie Avenue in South Providence. His early childhood was spent in Kingston, New York, gateway to the Catskills, where his father did construction work. Among his memories of those days was a parade “with four Civil War veterans in Grand Army uniforms riding in a horse-drawn buggy at the very end.” It puts not only the span of Homer’s lifetime in perspective, but also the kind of change he witnessed in his 102 years—and took in stride, as he did everything. His remembrances recount the joys of a boyhood spent on the water, taking the trolley to school in Apponaug, and learning important work skills and discipline that would serve him well later. Those were the days when boys could earn money selling clams and quahogs house to house, two quarts for a quarter, or setting up duck pins at the Riverview Casino. When he was 13, Homer graduated from Old Warwick High School in Apponaug, but because he was too young to go to college, he was tested and accepted at Groton School for four years. Although he was interested in electing chemistry in his second year, the headmaster overruled him with the decision, “You are in the top third of your form, so you will take Greek.” So, as Homer says, “I got a classical education.” The goal of Groton School was to equip students for a life of accomplishment. There he played sports and gradually got rid homer in 1924 of a terrible shyness. He was a good blocker, once throwing a classmate head over heals into a rain puddle. Upon graduation, 16 students went to Harvard, 16 to Yale, and Homer, the oddball, to Brown University—where tuition was $125 for the first semester. Homer was able to pick up his interest in chemistry at Brown. In 1925, chemistry was a growth profession as it had been remarkably productive during World War I. “When you showed an interest in it,” Homer recalls, “the faculty treated you as though you were joining a club.” He remembers that the professor was a “master entertainer, with simple and spectacular illustrations of first principles. There were about three explosions per lecture.” But chemistry was a dangerous occupation. A few years later at Woods Hole, he noticed his fingers were turning blue: mercury poisoning. He left that job for U.S. Rubber Company, later Uniroyal Research Center.
Quarterly Spring 2010
In Memoriam | As We Remember I N
M E M O R I A M
Homer did well at Brown. One time he was enrolled in a math course for engineers. For some reason, he missed a slew of classes. Several of the engineering students helped him cram the night before. Homer got a C, while the students tutoring him got Ds. After earning a bachelor of arts specializing in chemistry at Brown in 1929, he continued with graduate work, eventually earning his doctorate. Following Brown, he worked at Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute on the Cape. On the research vessel Atlantis may have been the same scientific expedition in the Caribbean where he learned to plot the ship’s position with a sextant. He had asked if he might try; perhaps he was bored or curious. When Homer reported the ship’s position to the captain, he was told he was only 10 miles off—but the captain excused him because this was his first try. So Homer calculated the coordinates again. It kept coming up 10 miles off. Later, Homer overheard the captain yelling at the navigator when he had discovered that Homer was right the first time. My brother remembers asking Homer if he were smart. “No,” Homer replied, “but I’ve worked with some smart people.” Well, I guess “smart” is a relative term. David Carter shared the following story about Homer: “One night that he was over for dinner, it must have been the early to mid-1990s, I had a basketball that my grandfather Lew had inflated in the cold garage in the kitchen on the heating pipe. Well, one great science experiment later, the entire overnight bag it was on blew up. I thought that a bomb went off, and Bill and Lew were checking their ears. “Homer just leans over, picks up a portion of the basketball and says, ‘They used an inferior product’ and proceeds to point out to Bill and Lew how the strands of rubber are not the best quality. After Bill wrote a letter to the maker, quoting Dr. Smith, they sent me the best ball they made, free of charge. He was one of the smartest men I will ever know.” homer at his 80th Reunion Homer married Virginia Bissell Walker in 1937. Over the years, he lived wherever work took him—Woods Hole, Harvard Square, Wheeler Avenue in Cranston, Pilgrim Drive in Norwood, and New Jersey where he worked for Uniroyal. After retiring in 1973, Homer came back to Strathmore Road to live with brother Phil. Homer traveled much, enjoyed hiking and camping, had a prolific garden, read voraciously, and was active in the Warwick Historical Society. When he was 92, he was still doing all his repairs on Strathmore Road. Homer needed to fix a gutter, so he and Bill were up two ladders, carrying heavy gutters—and the measurements were off. Furthermore, they had to lean out away from the house because of the overhang. Precarious. It took all day. They finished at 8 p.m. Bill said he would never try to repair a gutter on his house—but that wasn’t Homer’s way. Homer lived a long life, full of adventure and good times. He was always a gentleman, insisting on holding the door open for a lady even if he was holding onto his walker, insisting the staff bring a chair for me when I visited him at Kent in January. And he was always patriotic. One rainy Gaspee Day parade, Jane wrapped him up in plastic so he wouldn’t get cold. Every time the flag was carried by, Homer took his hat off and held it over his heart. Homer’s death marks the end of an era, the end of what has been called “the greatest generation,” the passing of the oldest member of this family. We will miss him, but we know that he died as gracefully as he lived. And it was time. He wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
54 | Quarterly Spring 2010
In Memoriam I N
M E M O R I A M
Homer at the December 1999 reading of “A Christmas Carol”
William M. Polk ’58, Former Headmaster During my years at Groton, Homer Smith missed only two Services of Lessons and Carols, one due to the flu and one due to a trip with his nieces. Neither rain nor snow nor ice would deter him. Well into his 90s, he would drive to Groton from his home in Warwick, Rhode Island, and, in keeping with his natural modesty and despite my protests, would park his old, well-maintained car behind the Schoolhouse. Carrying his suitcase to the Headmaster’s House, he would arrive in time for the reading of Dickens’ “A Christmas Carol.” He always wore a three-piece suit and a bright red vest. At the receptions after the reading and the service, he engaged students, faculty, and parents with ease. He especially enjoyed telling people stories about his experiences at the School in the ’20s, about his travels, which were extensive, and about his work as a chemical engineer, all told with a lively wit and a glint in his eye. Laughter, his own and that of those with whom he was chatting, is a vivid memory I have of Homer. On the day after the service, Homer would attend Chapel, Roll Call, and classes, primarily science classes, his special interest. After lunch, he would bid us farewell and get in his car for the trip home. On Alumni Day each year, he would reappear on campus. I can picture him so clearly now in the afternoon sitting on the top row of the stands in his suit and fedora watching the baseball game and chatting with those around him. Homer was personally frugal. Well into his 80s, he would still climb on the roof of his house to make repairs, and he always bought his hearing aids secondhand. But in his modest ways he was very generous, especially to Brown University and to Groton School, two institutions he loved for what he experienced at them so many years ago.
Quarterly Spring 2010
In Memoriam | As We Remember I N
M E M O R I A M
FRANK L. POLK, JR. ’54
1 April 24, 1935 – November 15, 2009 by William M. Polk ’58
uring the past month, I have been remembering how lucky I am to have had Frank as my oldest brother. At the hospital 14 years ago during our family intervention when I was choking on my words, he squeezed my hand to help me get through my statement. How often in my life has he squeezed my hand, figuratively, to help me get through difficult situations. I remember too how he loved to dance, especially the charleston. For his smoothness on the dance floor, a Groton formmate nicknamed him “tea dance.” At School, in addition to football, hockey, and baseball, Frank played the trombone in the band next to his close friend, John Parker. And, of course, he was on the dance committee. The funeral service was a wonderful celebration of his life and of his many contributions to the community. His eldest son remembers his father this way: As I’ve grown older I’ve realized that the most valuable commodity in life is time. And my father gave his time to this community in abundance. When we were first learning to skate, he took up coaching at Beaver Dam. He coached the Mini Mites hockey team who had the first ice time of the day, which was at the crack of dawn. My brothers and I rejoiced at this until we realized that there would be no favoritism under his drill sergeant tutelage, and we had to get up extra early to be there with the coach. Long after we had hung up our skates, Dad continued to coach the Mini Mites for another 20 years and work on the board for 35 years. His goal was to make sure the club was run well, that everyone enjoyed it; and he hoped to leave it in better shape than when he found it, which he accomplished. My father was on the board of Portledge School for 33 years. Although we are a big family of five, and each of us got through our education at our own pace, I am confident that it didn’t take 33 years for us to graduate. True to form, Dad continued to work hard for a place he believed in. He wore many hats at the school, including auctioneer at the annual fundraiser. He would have done anything for the school. My father got involved with the Boys Club of New York right after he graduated from Yale in 1958. On his second date with my mother, he showed up at her apartment with eight boys of all colors, shapes, and sizes. I still laugh when I picture the look on her roommate’s face when she opened the door and saw that picture, then yelling to Nancy that her dates had arrived. Thanks to Dad’s encouragement this was the first organization that I got involved with for many years. And following Dad’s success story, on one of our early dates I took my future wife, Hilary, skating with 10 highly energetic boys from the Boys Club. It worked like a charm! His actions spoke volumes to me. If you find something or someone you love, commit 110 percent. If you accept someone’s offer to get involved in an organization, you make a difference—you set an example. It is a lesson he taught me that has served me well through my life. Piping Rock was one of his favorite places in the world. As head of the Buildings & Grounds Committee, he worked very hard and played very hard there. He was always so excited to show me his latest project. He and his partner in crime, Richard Spear, were always looking for ways to improve the grounds. However, my brothers and I will forever swear at Dad and Richard for adding those darn bunkers on the right side of the fairway that come into play on your tee shot on the second hole. The Fourth of July was his favorite time of year. Our family would consistently gather from all parts of the world year after year to play golf and have a family get-together at the Liberty Bell golf tournament. One year when Dad and Bucky were paired together, they were at the top of the leader board. On the 16th hole at Meadowbrook, Bucky
56 | Quarterly Spring 2010
In Memoriam I N
M E M O R I A M
sunk a very long putt for a birdie. We smelled victory! It was short lived because my Dad pointed out that the caddie didn’t pull the pin out since he thought that Bucky was off the green, which he wasn’t. This resulted in a two shot penalty that my dad called on himself and Bucky. They ended up missing first place by one stroke. This is a terrific metaphor for how my dad lived his life: have fun, work hard, be with family as much as possible, and always try to do the right thing. His ethos, generosity, and love had a compelling influence on his children and many others. The place that meant the most to him, however, was our home, which he affectionately called the Polk Zoo. Unlike Beaver Dam, the Boys Club, St John’s Parish, Portledge School, and Piping Rock, the constituents were much harder to control! His chief operating officer, my mother, although a steadfast worker, had a very pliable relationship with time and order. At its peak, the Polk Zoo had five kids with different interests, three donkeys, a pig, five dogs, three cats, a bird, and several houseguests who came for dinner and stayed with us for a few years and eventually became part of the family. It sounds chaotic, and it was. But with my father it was organized chaos. My father was SO generous to all of us with his time and his love, and for that we loved him. In his memorial sermon, at St John’s Church, Lattentown, New York, the Reverend Simon Forster remarked: For me, Frank was many things. He was—and you may smile at this, but I can’t think of a better word—he was a statesman, an elder statesman, an ambassador of the best sort for this parish church. He worked like a Trojan here over the years, as he did in all other areas of his life. There were not many jobs or events he had not been involved in, and always so actively. Frank didn’t do sidelines or on the edges of things, did he? Why? Because he was a leader, a leader of this congregation, par excellence. People looked to him and dear Nancy for leadership. Frank was the embodiment of commitment and the embodiment of faithfulness for the rights and dignity of all people, rich or poor, gay or straight, black or white. His phenomenal courage, his sense of justice and fairness, and his desire for equality showed through in many ways. I loved Frank’s humor, the twinkle in the eye. He did not know how to be pretentious, it seemed to me. He was down to earth and real, and it was a gift to me and a gift to all of us. I happened to tell Frank that I was frightened of birds when I first came to the parish. So very early on, he and Nancy asked me to the zoo. Picture the young associate I was then as I sat on the sofa, and all of a sudden, this giant pterodactyl appeared from nowhere and landed on my shoulder. I couldn’t speak. But Frank, being Frank—and it says it all about our working relationship as priest and rector and friend—he popped the photograph in the post and said: ‘Simon, with one of your flock.’ On Sunday evening, November 15, surrounded by his wife, children, and grandchildren, Frank, with their help, removed his oxygen mask, kissed Nancy, smiled, and closed his eyes.
Quarterly Spring 2010
In Memoriam | As We Remember I N
M E M O R I A M
R. Nicholas Gimbel ’69
1 July 25, 1951 – November 19, 2009
by Stephen McG. bundy ’69
ick Gimbel was a humane, passionate, and loving man. At Groton, he was an unapologetic intellectual, who gravitated to the most demanding teachers. He had a notable relationship with Bob Parker—their awkward intensities were well-matched. Nick pursued his love for language as editor in chief of the Grotonian, for theater as one of several prosecutors of Joan of Arc in The Lark, and for music as a singer and gifted student of the clarinet. Nick spent little time on the playing fields, but he was a fiercely competitive practitioner of Roofball. Personal relationships were not always easy. But to those who were fortunate to earn his trust, Nick displayed a wonderful emotional honesty and sweetness of character, while opening the door to extracurricular cultural treasures as diverse as Don Giovanni and the Marx Brothers. Nick’s chosen career was law. That choice allowed him to express himself in many dimensions, including intellect, scholarship, fine writing, theater, craftiness, combativeness, and public service. Nick was a gifted trial lawyer, and a nationally recognized expert on insurance coverage law, who taught the subject at both Temple and Rutgers law schools. At the heart of Nick’s passion for law, though, was its character as a public calling. He deeply loved his government service in the United States attorney’s office. In later years, he was happiest in representing the underdog, whether it was Philadelphia rowers unfairly excluded from the Olympic trials or an accused cop-killer on death row. Nick was exceptionally fortunate in his marriage and family. He was deeply devoted to his wife Marty. In Bryn Mawr, they created a home filled with an unimaginable variety of books and music, with spirited conversation and laughter, and with a series of splendidly unruly dogs (with whom Nick felt a special bond). There they raised their two dear daughters, Martha and Anne. Along the way, Nick found time to serve as an enthusiastic trustee of the Agnes Irwin School and to sing in several productions of Gilbert and Sullivan operettas. When Nick became ill with Lou Gehrig’s disease, he vowed to “continue the practice of law until he finally got it right.” And even as the disease immobilized him, he did so, orchestrating the prosecution of an epic coverage case from a chair set in the middle of his kitchen. As his illness advanced, he and Marty faced it together, with courage, strength and love that all who knew them will long remember. Nick as the prosecutor of Joan of Arc in the 1969 Nick was forever pressing gifts on family and friends that reflected his production of The Lark. own deepest enthusiasms—a new recording of Die Walküre or of Leonore (which he proclaimed “much better than Fidelio!”), a new edition of Shakespeare, a new history of the English bar. He provided wise and supportive legal and emotional counsel to many of us in times of hardship and need. He inspired us with his devotion to excellence in all things, and filled us up with the sweetness of his personality. We miss him terribly even as we rejoice in his life.
58 | Quarterly Spring 2010
R Form Notes are now password-protected. Members of the Groton community may read them online by signing in at www.groton.org/myGroton.
Groton School Quarterly, Spring 2010