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February 4, 1963

Richard B. Commons

The Dalai Lama’s Bridge to the West

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Farewell to Fred Beams

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Vicky Zhang ’13 worked with photography teacher Christopher Hutchinson on a winter Faculty-Sponsored Activity that focused on recreating vintage photos of Groton. Her series juxtaposed old images of the Schoolroom, Chapel, science lounge, and other areas against current-day views. Above, students doing calisthenics on the Circle, early 1940s. “I see this project as a unique way of recording the beauty of Groton,” Vicky said.

When Martin Luther King, Jr. Spoke at Groton

A Decade of Service, 2003-2013 • Vol. No. LXXV, WinterSpring 2013 •2013 Vol. LXXV, 1 No. 2

St. John’s Chapel filled to capacity three times and fans of the beloved holiday tradition tuned in online from 13 countries and 38 states.

Spring 2013 | Vol. LXXv, No. 2

Lessons and Carols 2012

Winter 2013 | Vol. LXXV, No. 1

PHOTOS BY MIKE SPERLING

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P.O. Box 991 Groton School Groton, Massachusetts 01450-0991 P.O. Box 991 Change Service Requested Groton, Massachusetts 01450-0991

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School Quarterly GrotonGroton School Quarterly

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inding Your ormmates ormmates Just Got uch Easier

Spring 2013 | Vol. LXXV, No. 2

Features 26

Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future: The Schoolhouse Project The planned renovation will include a new science and math addition and improved communal spaces.

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Richard B. Commons A Decade of Service, 2003-2013

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roton School now has an Evertrue app for your mobile phone. Search “Groton School” in the App Store to get started. Only Groton alumni can access the app—be sure to register with the same email that we have on file here at Groton.

Reflections on the headmaster’s accomplishments and how the School has changed during his tenure

With the new Groton School app, you can: 36

Departments 2

Message from the Headmaster

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Letters to the Editor

Circiter | Featured on Campus

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A civil rights panel, a gun control lecture, gumboot dancers, and other happenings on the Circle MADELEINE COHEN ’13

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Search for formmates—hit “Nearby,” put in a location, and all the alumni in the area will pop up with names and addresses (email, snail mail, or both).

Connect with the School and alumni—hit “Social” for Groton’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr pages.

Keep up to date with events on and off the Circle—“News” takes you to our website’s recent news stories. Questions? Contact Drew Millikin in the Alumni Office at dmillikin@groton.org or 978-448-7588.


Groton School Quarterly Personae | People of Note 8

Nicholas Vreeland ’72: Bridging Tibetan Tradition and the Western World by David Porter ’72

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Katharine Wolf ’98: A Different Return on Investment

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Farewell to Fred Beams 8

Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle 53

My So-Called Success A Chapel Talk by Johnathan Terry ’13

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Imagineering A Chapel Talk by marianna gailus ’13

Grotoniana | All Things Groton 60 62 67

Theater: Urinetown Gallery News Winter Sports

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De Libris | About Books 64

Book Review Made in Japan: 100 New Products by Naomi Pollock ’77 review by Sarah Stearns Fey ’85

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New Releases

In Memoriam | As We Remember 71 72

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Henry P. Bakewell, Jr., ’55, P’86 Nicholas Niles, Jr. ’52

Notabilia | New & Noteworthy 76 114

Form Notes Marriages, New Arrivals, Deaths

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Headmasters

Groton School uarterly Winter 2013 | Vol. LXXV, No. 1

Spring 2013 | Vol. LXXV, No. 2

Editor Gail Friedman Editor Design Gail Friedman

Jeanne Abboud Design

Contributing Jeanne AbboudEditors Julia B. Alling Elizabeth Z. Ginsberg Contributing Editors P’16 Julia B. Alling Elizabeth Wray Lawrence ’82 Elizabeth Z. GinsbergP’10, P’16 ’14, ’16 John D. MacEachern Elizabeth Wray Lawrence ’82 Andrew M. Millikin John D. MacEachern P’10, ’14, ’16 Melissa J. Ribaudo Andrew M. Millikin Amy Sim Melissa J. Ribaudo Amy Sim

Photography/Editorial Assistant Christopher Temerson Photography/Editorial Assistant Christopher Temerson

Editorial Offices Editorial Offices The Schoolhouse TheGroton Schoolhouse School Groton School Groton, MA 01450 Groton, MA 01450 978-448-7506 978-448-7506 quarterly@groton.org quarterly@groton.org

Other School Offices Other School Offices Alumni Offi ce 978-448-7520 Alumni Office 978-448-7520 Admission Offi978-448-7510 ce 978-448-7510 Admission Office Groton School publishes the the Groton School publishes Groton School Quarterly in late Groton School Quarterly in summer, late summer, fall, winter, andand spring. fall, winter, spring. The fall issue is the Annual Report.

The fall issue is the Annual Report.

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he opening notes of “Once in Royal David’s City” are indelible in the and hearts of generations of Grotonians, as they are sung MY SENIORears SPRING by a single voice at the opening of every Service of Nine Lessons and Carols. When I hear those notes rising and reaching to the nvaulted these waning time at IGroton, am feeling more and like for our ceilingdays of of themyChapel, always Ihold my breath. Themore soloists a three Sixth Former in the midst of “senior spring,” reflecting on what I will most services this year were Alexis Ciambotti ’14, Charlotte Berkowitz ’13, miss my days on ’13, the Circle. At our recentsang Revisit Days for presenting admitted all of andabout Mariana Gailus and each of them gloriously, students and families I highlighted three key aspects of the Groton experience us in the Chapel (and many tuning in online) with the first true and lasting that will stay with me long after my final Prize Day this June. gift of the season. received andIt lasting gift at the for verya school same time, as I stood in How We IBegin and another End ourtrue Days: is no small thing that prizes the endeavor side aisletoof gather the Chapel, to shoulder with Bill Polk academic in the breath Chapel held, beforeshoulder classes, making primary and sacred and a half-hour silence, prayer, song, sixth and attention to a headmasters. carefully craftedAmesTembaofMaqubela, Groton’s and eighth few weeks sage from a member of the community. The Chapelthese is where gather to educators share before, I had the privilege of introducing two we remarkable to our dearest joys and deepest griefs as a community, and the morning Chapel Talk each other. They have since spent a good bit of time together, andis I know often a topic of discussion around the Circle for the rest of the day. When alumni they will continue to do so in the months and years to come. As Bill, Temba, remember the place that mattered most to them at Groton, they return again and and listenedI to again to theI Chapel. willthose returnbreathtaking there as well. opening notes and prepared to process downimportant, the center aisle with the 17 other readers, I felt that not occur only every a deep and Equally I believe, are the distinct gatherings lling camaraderie, an abiding sense confi dence in ofGroton’s night: fulfi dorm check-in balances but the also formality of Chapel withofthe informality home,past balances and reverence its future.with humor, and balances the full-community gathering with something likefortunate a nuclear family. handshakes and hugs that bring Grotonmore is very to haveThe found Temba Maqubela, who impressed check-in and the long, busy day to a close are, I believe, as sacred as the prayers me from the first moment I met him as a person of tremendous wisdom, offered in Chapel. kindness, and personal grace. On the day after his appointment in October, heLike andBill hisPolk wife, Vuvu, their three sons, Kanyi, and Tebs, Being when Known: before me,and I have made it a primary goal toPumi, know the Grotonasto greet theatSchool, these felt byand everyone on namescame of newtostudents they arrive Groton on the qualities first day inwere September to addresscampus. studentsThe by name, one by one, them. members handshaking linewhenever stretchedI see from the Faculty Schoolhouse to join the Chapel me in and this emphasis everyone known at Groton: they look afterfamily every stulasted forontwo hours,being as every member of the Maqubela shook the dent they encounter every day. At the end of every trimester, Groton’s full faculty hand of every student, faculty member, and staff member. In that ritual, so gathers for three days to discuss the personal and academic progress of every single essential to Groton, everyone noted Temba’s gentle authenticity in making student in the school. That makes nine days a year devoted exclusively to knowing eachstudents—a greeting feel personal, each personofrecognized. all of our significant manifestation our fundamental commitment Groton’s future is very bright, this issue of the Quarterly focuses on (and one I believe is unique among our peerbut schools). a moment in the past, one created by the vision and conviction of another

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Inspiring Lives: When Groton trustees and faculty worked together to recast Groton’s mission statement in 2010, we distilled previous iterations down to 18 words: “Groton School is an intimate and diverse community devoted to inspiring lives of character, learning, leadership, and service.” I can distill the mission even further, to only two of those 18 words: “inspiring lives.” While Groton pays substantial attention to students’ college aspirations, it does not allow preparation for college to be the end goal. Endicott Peabody’s original aim was to prepare Groton students for “the active work of life,” and that concept remains central to the Groton experience today. The lives of students, both while they are on the Circle and in the years that stretch beyond it, are the focus of everything we do, every day. Daily Chapel, nightly check-in, knowing students, and inspiring lives—these key reasons why families should choose Groton, are among the most important memories I will take with me as I join the Sixth Formers in singing “Ave Grotonia” on Prize Day.

Rick Commons headmaster

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2 | Quarterly Spring 2013

MIKE SPERLING

Groton School Quarterly


l e t t e r s to t h e e d i to r rly arteerly uart Qu Groton School Q V, No. 1 LXXV, LXX Winter 2013 | Vol. LXXV

When Martin Luther King, Jr. Spoke at Groton February 4, 1963

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In the Winter Quarterly, John Rhinelander ’51 stated that William Thorndike’s statement in the Fall Quarterly—that Jake Congleton converted the offense from single-wing to T-formation in 1957—was wrong, noting that Larry Noble did that in the 1940s. Actually, both statements are correct. During 1953-6, between Larry Noble and Jake Congleton, the Groton coach was Jack Davison, who had been the fullback of the Princeton team, which used the single wing. So Groton used it during his period as coach, before Congleton went back to the T-formation. Theodore Chase Jr. ’56 * * * I just finished reading this winter’s Quarterly on Martin Luther King and feel so moved that I want to thank you for what might be the most important Quarterly I have ever read—at least the most moving to me! Jack Crocker was my grandfather, and the story of the MLK visit was never terribly clear to me—therefore this series is much appreciated. I plan to share it with my cousins and aunts and uncles, as well as the many great-great-grandchildren in the Crocker clan. And, of course, Mary Crocker was my grandmother, who may have had as much if not more to do with getting Dr. King to the School. “We do what’s right”—what a quote. Thanks so much for great work. It has made me very proud and recommitted to saving the world! Tom Cleveland ’70

* * * I want to call your attention to a recurring grammatical error in the 2013 Winter issue. The Rev. Dr. John Crocker, his formal and proper title, is referred to as “Reverend Crocker.” This is not only bad style, it is bad grammar. “Reverend” is very much like “Honorable”; the former is used for clergy, the latter for judges and others. One would never refer to the Supreme Court Justice as Honorable Ginsburg. The proper style is the Honorable Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Note that the “t” is not capitalized unless it is the first word in a sentence. The title “Reverend” should be treated in the same way. Admittedly, the repeated use of “the Reverend” for Episcopal and other clergy feels somewhat clumsy in a written article. There are several ways around that; Mr. Crocker (which is what we students called him in our day) is one option. On a positive note, my issue of the Quarterly is correctly addressed to “The Rev. Nathaniel W. Pierce.” Nathaniel Pierce ’60, form secretary Editor’s Note: The Quarterly’s style guide does note the need for “the” before Reverend. We regret the error. *

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Given Mr. Crocker’s principled position on social issues, his invitation to Dr. King was not surprising. Fully a decade earlier, Groton had signaled its commitment to integration by admitting its first student of color; pushed back against McCarthyism by welcoming the blacklisted folk singer, Pete Seeger; and provided support to the nascent civil rights movement by inviting activist Bayard Rustin to give a Chapel Talk. As a black, gay, Socialist pacifist, Rustin chilled us with his accounts of prison brutality, jolting many out of an otherwise comfortable complacency. For a school steeped in tradition and normally respectful of the status quo,

these events offered an alternative view of the world and a challenge to our collective conscience to take personal action against injustice. Charles H. Rathbone ’54

bayard rustin

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As a family, we were all involved in the civil rights movement—Marietta in New York, Chub as governor of Massachusetts, and I who worked for the New York State Commission Against Discrimination (SCHD) in the Rockefeller administration. None of us, however, made the impact that my mother, Mary Peabody, did when she went to jail to support Dr. King’s demonstration in St. Augustine in 1964. The demonstration was mounted to generate national support for the proposed 1964 civil rights legislation, which would desegregate public accommodations. Led by the Reverend Hosea Williams and C.T. Vivian, two of Dr. King’s able lieutenants, crowds of blacks from the community were engaged, including large numbers of schoolchildren whom the police were beating up; when the children went into a public pool reserved for whites, the police threw acid at them. Despite this, there was minimal national publicity. The press, having covered Birmingham, Alabama, and other major demonstrations, were taking a ho-hum attitude. Hosea believed they should get whites to come down and demonstrate, Quarterly Spring 2013

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l e t t e r s to t h e e d i to r michael Peabody with his mother, mary, and martin Luther King, Jr., when the Southern Christian Leadership Council board asked Dr. King to visit boston for a fundraising event, which michael chaired.

particularly elderly whites who might attract the needed attention since St. Augustine was a resort that elderly whites favored. Thus a call went out to the various Southern Christian Leadership Conference chapters in the North to recruit such volunteers. Soon after, at a meeting of the Boston chapter, where I was on the board, Mother came to hear the Reverend James Breeden, the chapter’s leader, drum up support for the cause. Spotting Mother in the audience, he approached her afterward and, as I stood by, asked her, “Mrs. Peabody, we need elderly volunteers to help with the demonstration in St. Augustine. Do you know of anyone who might volunteer?” It was a loaded question, but Mother stood up to it and answered, “Would I do?” Needless to say, she would do very well for, as the governor’s mother, she could generate the publicity they were looking for. Following the meeting, Mother had real doubts. She was willing to go but concerned it might hurt my brother Chub’s political career. He was facing a tough primary for the renomination to governor in the Democratic Party. He was governor already, and it should have been a shoo-in, but as a Yankee in a primary dominated by the Irish and Italian electorate, it was going to be a tough fight, and it was well-known that particularly the Irish were hostile to the civil rights movement. Accordingly, Mother

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asked for Chub’s advice before committing and was prepared to ditch it if Chub had asked her to. Despite the grave political risk, Chub did not hesitate and told Mother, “If you think it is right, you must do it.” Chub did in fact lose the primary that year, and mother’s trip and the news she created were definite factors. Mother, who understood the potential impact, thought she might soften it and even divert it if she went not as the governor’s mother but as the wife of a bishop; thus she invited two other bishops’ wives, Hester Campbell and Esther Burgess, and also my mother-in-law, Florence Rowe, to join her. When her trip was announced, members of the Boston press immediately latched onto Mother, and their first question was, “Did you talk to your son about this?” Mother was ready for the question and realized a straightforward answer would hurt Chub, so she neatly sidestepped it by responding, “Do mothers ever ask their sons for advice?” Once in St. Augustine, the group was horrified to see the bloody students return each evening to the church where the demonstration headquarters were located. The women were sent as a group to various restaurants to challenge the city’s ordinance forbidding service to blacks. Esther Burgess was black but very light-skinned, and the foursome was generally seated before someone figured it out, at which point they would be asked

to leave, which initially they refused to do. The city ordinance required the management to summon a police officer if customers refused to leave; the officer was required to read the ordinance and, if after a third reading, customers still refused, he could jail them. Not ready to go to jail and having promised their husbands they would not do so, the group would leave each time after the second reading. This disappointed Hosea, who realized the national publicity they needed would only follow a jailing. He put pressure on the ladies to stay put through a third reading. Horrified by the vicious police beatings the demonstrators were suffering each day, Mrs. Burgess was the first to crack and after refusing to leave was hauled off to jail. This horrified Mother, and the following day she stayed for the third reading, was hauled off to jail, and the national press went wild, flooding to St. Augustine to cover the story, to the deep consternation of the politicos in the South who were fighting the civil rights bill. Indeed, the next day Chub got a call from Governor C. Farris Bryant of Florida. “Governor Peabody, we have your mother down here.” “I know that, Governor,” Chub replied. “She’s in jail.” “I know that too, Governor.” “Well, will you come and get her?” Needless to say, he did not; Mother was freed in three days but the damage had been done. The press kept St. Augustine in the headlines and the pressure was indeed effective in passing the 1964 Civil Rights Act in May of 1964. Malcolm E. Peabody, Jr. ’46, P’82

correction In the Winter Quarterly’s Form Notes, the year of death for Nicholas Niles ’52 was incorrect. The date was correct in the deaths listing on the back page—November 30, 2012.


Circiter | Featured on Campus

William Forsyth ’62, roger Daly ’63, and Jamie blaine ’63, flanked by history teachers rachelle Sam and Tom Lamont

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uring Groton School’s Martin Luther King, Jr., Day celebration, three alumni who fought for civil rights in the 1960s shared stories of their efforts to bring equality to the Deep South. The panel discussion, “Groton School and the Civil Rights Era,” featured James Blaine ’63, Roger Daly ’63, and William Forsyth ’62. All were compelled by a sense of moral obligation to fight for racial equality, and at times risked their lives to do so. The panelists credited their motivation to many factors, including the progressive vision of the headmaster at the time, the Reverend John Crocker, who invited many civil rights speakers to campus, including Dr. King.

Roger took a leave from Dartmouth College to volunteer in Alabama, first observing and writing press releases, then participating in demonstrations. He was arrested four times for spurious crimes such as “parading without a permit,” and he was beaten severely, at gunpoint, by white segregationists. Jamie Blaine traveled to Georgia, where he was whisked away before he even realized the danger, and transported to safety by someone he didn’t know. Bill Forsyth volunteered for Freedom Summer in 1964, then took a leave from Princeton so he could remain in the South, working for the Congress of Racial Equality and trying to register blacks to vote. He described the elation he felt after Congress passed the Voting Rights Act in 1965, when he witnessed lines of people stretching around the block in Madison, Mississippi, waiting to register to vote. He too was arrested for a questionable crime—he spent the night in jail for “littering” because he was sitting with his Coke on the ground. The panel discussion was moderated by history teachers Thomas Lamont and Rachelle Sam; another history teacher, John Lyons, set up the discussion with a brief lesson about what life was like during the civil rights era. Former faculty member Jake Congleton had planned to join the panel, but at the last minute an injury forced him to cancel. Later in the day, students also were moved by the powerful character sketches of Dr. Michael Fowlin, whose presentation, “You Don’t Know Me Until You Know Me,” vividly and intimately brought to life the hurt of discrimination, bullying, homophobia, and insensitivity.

DAViD PrOCKOP P’15, ’17

ViViAN SArNO

Civil Rights Lessons in Honor of Dr. King

STEM in the REAL World

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ayo Clinic surgeon John Sperling ’86 visited a STEM Foundations 2 class in February, sharing with students some of the technological innovations that have improved orthopedic surgery. A shoulder specialist, John explained how engineering and design affect surgery, particularly when it comes to implants. He passed around a ball-and-socket implant so students could see how it would allow a patient to raise his or her arms naturally. John also described how the human body better tolerated a plastic implant after the material had been injected with Vitamin E, a research-driven innovation. The presentation also touched on the business side of health care and some of the ramifications of President Obama’s health care policy.

John Sperling ’86

Quarterly Spring 2013

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From Kliptown to Groton, with Energy

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Circiter | Featured on Campus

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efforts have been recognized internationally; CNN named him one its Top Ten Heroes for 2012. During the afternoon, the Kliptown dancers taught gumboot dancing to a group of Groton students in the McBaine Studio Theater, the CPAC’s black box theater. During the evening performance, those students took to the stage, to thunderous excitement. ViCKy ZhANg ’13

nbridled stomping and chanting rocked the Campbell Performing Arts Center (CPAC) in January, when the Kliptown Youth Program Gumboot Dancers brought their colorful, rhythmic performance to Groton. It didn’t matter that the songs were in Zulu; the energy was electric, and the mood rose along with the noise. Gumboot dancing is traditional in South African mines; the dancers wear boots like miners, but beat them like percussion instruments as they dance. The dancers—including employees, a current student, and two recent graduates of the Kliptown Youth Academy—accompanied their boot-slapping dances with chants and songs, some of them upbeat cheers, others Zulu chants of protest. The Kliptown Youth Program provides educational support and after-school activities to the Soweto township called Kliptown, near Johannesburg. It encourages children to seek education and contribute to the betterment of their community. The group’s leader, Thulani Madondo, exhorted Groton students to appreciate their gift of a fine education, and to thank their parents. He marveled at Groton’s theater building, saying that it would be easier to keep students in school if Soweto had such a facility. Mr. Madondo’s extraordinary

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CANDACE TONg-Li ’16

Summer Science

Immersion

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he Santa Fe Institute (SFI), a top science research center, once again will bring its selective science immersion program to Groton School, July 28 through August 9. The Santa Fe Institute’s Complex Systems Summer Camp, hosted by Groton School, will introduce a select group of high school students from around the nation to the cutting-edge field known as “complexity science scholarship.” Through individual projects, computer simulation activities, analysis of ecological data, lectures, seminars, and related weekend activities, students will conduct research that helps scientists understand the theoretical foundations and patterns underlying the systems most critical to our future—economies, ecosystems, conflict, disease, human social institutions, and the global condition. “Groton School’s partnership with the Santa Fe Institute provides an important connection to the cutting edge of STEM education,” said Groton science teacher and SFI program coordinator David Black, Jr. ’80, P’10, ’12, who will lead the faculty team this summer, along with colleagues from SFI. “Having this program on our campus brings new techniques in math and science instruction to our doorstep, and participation by members of our community pushes these ideas into our curriculum.” The intensive, two-week residential program is designed to broaden students’ scientific horizons and accelerate academic and personal development within a supportive community of scholars. The academic program is demanding: lectures and curricula in complexity science, collection and analysis of ecological data, mathematics, and computer programming are taught at the college level. Enrollment is limited to 20 students, from rising sophomores to rising seniors. A limited number of need-based scholarships are available.

Author Paul barrett

Contemplating Gun Control

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n March, students, faculty, and staff joined veteran journalist and acclaimed author Paul Barrett in the national conversation about guns and gun control. Mr. Barrett discussed his 2012 New York Times bestseller, Glock: The Rise of America’s Gun, then took questions from the audience about the broader issue of guns and gun control. He described the complicated interplay among law enforcement, crime, business, and politics that explains the relatively recent popularity of the semi-automatic handgun, especially the Glock. Mr. Barrett then took care to emphasize the complexity of the issue of gun control, and he challenged his audience to look beyond myths and stereotypes to develop more effective strategies for regulating firearms and preventing tragedies such as last December’s massacre in Newtown, Connecticut. With an impressive grasp of relevant statistics and deep knowledge of the history of guns and gun control in America, Mr. Barrett exhibited an even-handedness despite the topic’s controversial nature; his careful discussion demonstrated to students the importance of objectivity among respected journalists. Before his talk, Mr. Barrett had dinner with Circle Voice staffers to discuss the state of journalism in America today as well as his own distinguished career. Currently an assistant managing editor and senior writer at Bloomberg Businessweek, Barrett was an editor and legal affairs reporter for The Wall Street Journal and a staff writer and editor for Washington Monthly. Mr. Barrett’s earlier books are American Islam: The Struggle for the Soul of a Religion and The Good Black: A True Story of Race in America. —Thomas Lamont P’09, ’12, ’15

Quarterly Spring 2013

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Personae | People of Note

Bridging

Tibetan Tradition and the Western World*

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David Turnley

Nicholas Vreeland’s appointment, April 20, 2012, the Dalai Lama said, *When announcing “Your special duty [is] to bridge Tibetan tradition and Western world.”

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Nicholas Vreeland ’72

A Groton alumnus is the first Westerner to lead a Tibetan monastery.

N SurESh hArTi

by David Porter ’72

Nicholas Vreeland ’72

icholas Vreeland ’72 left Groton after his Fifth Form year to chart a different path. Last June, at the request of the Dalai Lama, Nick was appointed the abbot of the Rato Dratsang, originally a 14th-century monastery in Tibet but now reestablished in Southern India. This was a landmark for Tibetan Buddhism; it marked the first time a Westerner was chosen for such a high honor and central role. Nick arrived at Groton in fall 1967 after several years in Morocco, where his father, Frederick Vreeland ’45, was with the U.S. Foreign Service. Compared to most in our form, Nick was a citizen of the world, even then. His French, one of several foreign languages he knew, was well above the levels taught at Groton, so private instruction was arranged. Nick also distinguished himself with his remarkable photography, learned in part from apprenticing with Irving Penn and Richard Avedon. So his choice to leave the cloistered world of Groton a year early to enroll at the American University in Paris was unconventional but not surprising. In the 1980s, after completing his studies and working as a professional photographer on both sides of the Atlantic, he again charted a very different path. He decided to study to become a Buddhist monk. His good friend John Avedon (Richard’s son) introduced Nick to Tibetan Buddhism, and Nick met a senior incarnate lama living in the New York area, who remains his lifelong guru and teacher. After several promising years of study in New York, the guru encouraged Nick to move to India as one of the first Westerners invited to become a Tibetan Buddhist monk. Though I had not spoken with Nick since he became a monk, we reconnected a few years back through our form’s Facebook page, where he posted photographs of his travels and work. He splits his time between the Rato Monastery and the Tibet Center in New York. We had a simple dinner in his New York apartment recently, and Nick kindly agreed to share with the Quarterly some of his experiences and thoughts about the path he has chosen and his work in India and New York.

How were you first drawn to Buddhism? At left: The Dalai Lama playfully tweaking Nicholas Vreeland’s nose, with actor richard gere looking on

My godfather, who held me at my christening in the Episcopal Church of Geneva, in Switzerland, was an Indian diplomat who was eventually posted as political officer in Sikkim, then a semi-independent country nestled between Tibet and India. I went to visit him for a few months in 1972 and was introduced to Sikkim’s Tibetan Buddhist culture. I traveled through Bhutan and Nepal as well, and my curiosity about Buddhism grew. But it was not until I had finished my formal studies and took off for a year of travel through Central and South America that I began to pursue a serious inner search that eventually led me to the study and practice of Buddhism. Quarterly Spring 2013

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Personae | People of Note How did you first meet the Dalai Lama and come to be what The New York Times describes as his “point man” in the United States? In 1979, I returned to India with a large 5-by-7-inch, wooden view camera to work on a book on the costumes of India. I traveled up to Dharamsala, in the foothills of the Himalayas, where the Tibetan government in exile is located. There, I began photographing Buddhist masters who had escaped to India in 1959, after the Chinese invasion of Tibet. I soon found myself being directed from holy man to holy man, and eventually was able to photograph His Holiness the Dalai Lama. His staff was so impressed by my camera that they asked if I might photograph the Dalai Lama’s first visit to the United States later that same year. I realized that no one had seen a photograph of mine—just the big camera! For a few years, I had been studying at the Tibet Center in New York City, where its founder, Khyongla Rato Rinpoche, taught. His Holiness’ instruction to me when I asked what I could do in return for the enormous kindness I had been shown by his people during my travels in India was, “Study.”

You also translated for a Western audience the Dalai Lama’s thoughts and teachings in An Open Heart: Practicing Compassion in Everyday Life. Tell us about this New York Times bestselling book and its impact. The success of that book was surprising. His Holiness had come to New York in 1999 at the invitation of the Tibet Center and Richard Gere. We rented a theater for the teachings and organized a public talk in Central Park. We had no idea how many people would come to hear the Dalai Lama in the park on a Sunday morning, but planned for 10,000 to 20,000 max. Approximately 200,000 people showed up! We then proposed to a publisher that we take the teachings and the talk and edit it all into a simple little book on the theory and practice of Buddhism. His Holiness instructed me to clearly state that it was a book based upon his teachings, and that I could then, “Go where your nose takes you.” An Open Heart came out two weeks after September 11 and served as His Holiness’ response to that tragic event.

What are the things you miss most about your old lifestyle, or have you moved beyond missing anything in particular? I’m not sure that I miss much about my old lifestyle. I feel pretty fortunate for the lifestyle I have. I love India and am so lucky to spend as much time there as I do. And I’m always happy to visit Europe and America, both of which I feel very much at home in.

What is your daily routine in terms of your meals, prayers and meditations, teaching, writing, and just plain relaxing?

An accomplished photographer, Nicholas Vreeland took this portrait of the Dalai Lama.

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I’m particularly good at just plain relaxing. I do wake up early. In the monastery, we must be up by 5:15, and when there are morning prayers in the temple, the great gong is sounded at 5:25 so that all the monks are in the temple by 5:30. As the abbot, I am then led to the temple by an attendant monk who carries my yellow hat and my tea bowl. When the abbot enters the temple, all the monks are already seated cross-legged on mats in rows facing each other and perpendicular to the main altar. Once the abbot is seated on his throne, the monks sit straight again, and the disciplinarian walks up and down the rows to insure that all are properly seated and chanting. He then comes up to the abbot’s throne and bows. The abbot bows, and their foreheads touch. Soon, a bell goes off and the younger monks stand and run to the kitchen, which is across a courtyard, about 50 yards away. They return, some with baskets full of flat round pieces of bread, which they distribute to each seated monk. Others carry large aluminum pots of tea that they pour into each monk’s mug. Chanting continues until the chanting master starts one of the prayers dedicating the strength derived from the food we are about to eat to helping all other sentient beings. We then sip our tea and eat our bread as the disciplinarian reads the names of the people


who have offered our food, whom we are to remember in our prayers. The chanting then resumes. Meditation is a private matter. Each monk has his own meditation practice. In addition to the contemplative meditation that is an aspect of our study, most monks have more formal meditation practices that might take a few hours each day. I don’t have any formal teaching responsibilities. I do attend teachings by the Dalai Lama whenever I can. I also have teachers in the large neighboring monastic University of Drepung, whom I visit from time to time. When I’m actually engaged in the study of a particular text with one of these teachers, I will visit him at the hour he has told me to come. I will make three prostrations before him and sit on a mat close to the bed he is seated on. The teacher will then proceed to explain the text, line by line. Often the teacher is passing on a lineage, as he has received the teaching from someone who has received it from someone who has received it from someone—back to the person who composed the text. Such unbroken lineages are thought to contain some added potential for understanding the subject of the text. Writing is very difficult. I always struggle when I am faced with the task of writing.

“I realize that one of my personal challenges is to maintain some control over worldly pulls. New York is a good place to practice self-discipline.”

Your photography is still a passion, and I encourage readers to view some of your work on ratodratsangfoundation.org and nicholasvreeland.com. You used sales of your photography on the Internet and at exhibitions in France, Italy, Germany, India, and the U.S. to help underwrite the construction of the Rato Dratsang Monastery. Can you tell us about raising the money and how the plans for building a monastery in Rato came about? I tried hard to give up photography when I became a monk. All my cameras had been taken from me a few years earlier, including the large wooden camera. The cameras were all insured, and I lived on that money for some time. Photography eventually crept back into my life when my brother offered me a camera that I initially kept locked up in a trunk. Though I didn’t document monastic life, every once in a while I would take it out and make portraits of my fellow monks. There was a clean white wall that faced north, providing a nice diffused light and a clear background. I now have a new north-facing white wall against which I am making portraits using a large 8-by-10-inch view camera that a friend recently gave me. I also enjoy taking photographs of India outside the monastery. It was these photographs that friends suggested we edit down to 20 and sell to raise the funds we needed to build a new monastic campus for our ever-growing community of monks.

Your life shows a conscious move toward the simple, the ascetic and spiritual. Much of the heart of Buddhism is to move beyond material and sensual pleasures and beyond the distractions and pains of daily life. Yet our culture seems to have moved in the other direction since we left School. What are your thoughts on this? The whole world seems to have moved in that materialistic direction. I feel fortunate to have spent the formative years of my monastic life in India before the Internet and cell phones had reached there. Now, I realize that one of my personal challenges is to maintain some control over worldly pulls. New York is a good place to practice self-discipline.

You are now an abbot. Have your thoughts about Groton’s Rector changed in light of your spiritual commitment and your new position? Specifically, if you were to design a boarding school in America today, would it be single sex or coed, open to all the wonders and distractions of the Internet and media or more closed? Would you have a dress code? Though of course I didn’t know the Rector, my father still speaks of the influence he exerted over the students in his day at Groton. Our time there was a time of change. Objection to the Vietnam War and the liberation of society in the late ’60s exerted far more Quarterly Spring 2013

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Personae | People of Note influence over us. Cui servire est regnare must have made its way into my psyche, though I don’t remember it ever having been an overt topic of study. I think that coeducation is essential. I would have been so much happier at Groton with girls around. And yet, I do appreciate monastic life. I’m just not sure that it can be imposed on others. A school like Groton must teach students to navigate and manage all of modern life’s distractions. A certain amount of limits is important and helpful. As for a dress code, though I recognize that white shirts for dinner and suits on Sundays are no longer relevant, some dress code can give the learning experience a formal quality that helps to maintain a student’s mindfulness and concentration.

What are your goals for your students and your work as abbot? Nicholas Vreeland, center, with fellow monks at rato Dratsang (rato monastery)

12 | Quarterly Spring 2013

These are challenging times for a monastic institution. The greatest challenge we face today is maintaining a supportive and spiritually inspiring environment for the members of our community. Though most of our monks are in their 20s and 30s, we have monks who are


not yet 10, and we have a few in their 70s and late 80s. We are not a contemplative order. The monks of Rato spend many years studying and debating Buddhist philosophy. The younger monks go to school, where they are introduced to Buddhist logic and rudimentary philosophy along with other more general topics such as geography, history, and math. They eventually devote themselves fully to their Buddhist studies, though recently science was included in the curriculum.

It has been written that the Dalai Lama welcomes your Western perspective and education and has encouraged you to bring a bit of this to your role as abbot at the monastery. His Holiness recognizes that for the survival of the Buddhist monastic tradition, it is essential that we become what he calls 21st-century monks, who are able to navigate the modern world with knowledge of it while not becoming overwhelmed by it. We cannot remain isolated from it. That may have worked in old Tibet; however it is no longer possible, nor is it relevant. A vocation can’t have vitality if it is simply isolated from the world. For a monastic vocation to have meaning, it must exist within the context of present-day reality. There are, of course, extraordinary exceptions—hermits devoted to deep prayer and meditation, who need to isolate themselves from the world in order to delve more deeply into their practice. However, one must approach one’s spiritual journey in a slow and steady manner, starting with small practical steps. When I first joined the monastery I was the only monk there with any experience of the earth being round. I had flown halfway around it to get there, and if I ever had to call America, it was a half-day behind us, time-wise. I might have been the only one who truly believed the world to be round.

“One must approach one’s spiritual journey in a slow and steady manner, starting with small practical steps.”

Skepticism is said to be a cornerstone of Tibetan Buddhism, along with a tradition of and tolerance for debate and critical thinking. Were you able to persuade any of the skeptics that the earth was round through debate? Debate is fundamental in our method of study. We memorize the root text we are studying, and then go to our teachers to have it explained. We read commentaries by different scholars, and then we go to the debating court and scrutinize it. We debate with classmates who are studying the same text but might have a different teacher or have reached a different conclusion about a particular point. We debate in order to explore the logical ramifications of a particular interpretation of a point. Together, the challenger and the defendant discover different facets of a topic that are revealed through the process of debating. Though I was not able to convince the doubting monks that the earth was round by debate alone, I was able to show them Copernican concepts using one light bulb for the sun and the shaven head of a monk as the moon rotating around the skeptical monk as the earth. It was quite effective.

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Theron Tingstad

Personae | People of Note

Katharine Wolf ’98 with members of

am

her microfinance lending team in Vietn

A Different Return on Investment Katharine Wolf ’98

“I was coming at it from the mindset of an investment banker. That was often to our benefit because we were unrealistically optimistic.”

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f all the animals the Vietnamese villagers could purchase, pigs had a particularly high return on investment. A loan of $60 was enough for two piglets (or one piglet and feed) that, if raised well, could sell at substantial profit a few months later. If borrowers could afford to care for them and build their pens, pigs could be a great investment. Katharine Wolf ’98 easily explains this pig-profit dynamic. But before moving to Vietnam, she knew little about pigs or agriculture or even Southeast Asia. After four years handling leveraged finance and mergers and acquisitions for Deutsche Bank, she did, however, know about returns on investment. And Deutsche Bank’s microcredit fund, which lent to microfinance banks in the developing world, intrigued her. Just out of college and working in finance, Katharine would sometimes ponder how she might make a difference without leaving her field: “I thought, how might I use the financial skills I gained as a banker to improve the world?” The opportunity arose after she transferred with Deutsche Bank to Paris. She met the founder of Entrepreneurs du Monde, a non-governmental organization (NGO), who offered Katharine the chance to help build a lending program in Myanmar or Vietnam. Katharine, sister of Jeffrey Wolf ’98 (and two other quadruplet brothers), has never been one to tiptoe into a project. She plunged in, researching the countries. “I was probably overeager,” she admits. But she also recognizes that her enthusiasm helped her take on government ­bureaucracy and other barriers that might have frustrated someone more seasoned and jaded.


DONALD WOLF NAThALiE miLLEr

Of the Wolf quadruplets, Katharine and Jeff (above on Prize Day) attended groton.

Above, Katharine visiting with clients; below, learning to put her hair in a bun, a local custom NAThALiE miLLEr

Katharine first volunteered for two months with Entrepreneurs du Monde’s microfinance program in the Philippines. “I had to get educated and learn how to set up one of these programs,” she said. The night that microfinance clients and their families hosted her in their wooden shanty—illegally constructed over water in one of Manila’s poorest slums—remains one of her most informative and treasured experiences there. From the Philippines, she moved to Phnom Penh, Cambodia, where a microfinance initiative was underway. “I shadowed the director, which allowed me to understand what it took to set up a program,” she said. “I learned about hiring, setting up loans, living on my own, how to get to know customers and earn their trust. It was a deep-dive cultural immersion.” After Cambodia, Katharine traveled to Myanmar and Vietnam, meeting with people involved in microfinance and assessing opportunities for Entrepreneurs du Monde. “Vietnam really chose me,” she said. “I fell in love with the country. In 2005-06 it was just booming; there was a lot of interesting stuff going on in business, in entrepreneurship. But there was also poverty and lack of access to basic credit.” In other words, her skills could make a difference. Before settling in Vietnam, Katharine returned to the States to raise enough funds to support herself and her team for at least nine months. Lacking experience but not ambition, she then headed to Hanoi. She knew only one person—the son of a family friend— but quickly met others. One, a woman with both a Vietnamese and an American parent, stood out. Nathalie Miller spoke fluent Vietnamese, had similar ambitions, and was familiar with regions in the North where the microcredit market was severely underserved. The two co-founded Anh Chi Em, which means the Brothers and Sisters Fund (formerly Chi Em, the Sisters Fund) in Dien Bien Province, under the auspices of Entrepreneurs du Monde. They navigated a cumbersome government bureaucracy, cultivated relationships with the local women’s union, and learned how to structure loans that would most benefit the impoverished area. “Having never done it before, and not really having had much experience in development, I was coming at it from the mindset of an investment banker,” Katharine explained. “That was often to our benefit because we were unrealistically optimistic.” The area was not well served by other NGOs in part because of bureaucratic red tape. “At one point it was not clear if we would get approval from the government to operate. The bureaucracy can take one to two years,” she said. “We got approval after nine months and we started lending, learning as we went.” They connected with farmers through the women’s union (the program now serves men as well). The typical client was a rice farmer who made a little money on the side, usually by raising livestock. “They would buy a baby pig and raise it for six months and sell it and pay us back and make a profit,” Katharine said. Anh Chi Em partnered with the Hanoi University of Agriculture, whose students and professors helped analyze the region and its products “to make sure we created loan products that made sense.” One and a half years after launching the program, Katharine left Vietnam to attend Stanford’s Graduate School of Business and then Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. When she left, Anh Chi Em had about 700 clients. Today it serves close to 4,000. Katharine is more pragmatic about microfinance now than she was when she started Anh Chi Em. She realizes that some clients borrow from elsewhere to repay the loans, that impact is limited if preexisting debt is high, and that good intentions sometimes have unintended results. “Success for me is that the program still goes on,” she said. Since leaving Vietnam, Katharine helped found and run OrganJet, a company that uses private jets to transport organ transplant patients across the U.S. for treatment; it aims to address the mismatch of supply and demand for those in need of organ transplants. Currently she is helping to raise venture capital for a fund focused on investing in “highgrowth, high-impact companies that offer solutions in healthcare, education, and sustainability in the U.S.” For Katharine, a profitable financial endeavor can—and must—go hand in hand with a social mission. “For me,” she said, “there will always have to be a strong social impact or lens.”

Quarterly Spring 2013

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cindy beams

Farewell


Fred and Cindy

LAuriE SALES

29 Years of Memories: Why We’ll Miss the Beamses

Fred and Cindy beams

Long on Enthusiasm (and Eyebrows)

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n late July 1994, having just arrived at Groton School as new faculty members, we were unpacking in our apartment, when we heard a knock on the door. A bearded, shoeless man carrying a tray of food entered, and our life with Fred began. We were both struck immediately by how wonderful a human he was, how free-spirited and generous, and, yes, by how long his eyebrows were! That introductory moment we came to understand as classic Fred Beams. He knew that across the Circle from him, we must be getting tired as we unpacked, that our kitchen supplies would still be hidden in boxes, that we would not know where to procure a meal in our new town, and that the School without students could feel a bit lonely. Every student who has lived in Beams’ Dorm knows that Fred understands that people need to be fed—and fed well. What Fred has offered to students and faculty alike over his many years at Groton is his special menu of basic human nourishment, which includes actual food of course (lots of it), but also simple, gracious friendliness, sincere kindness, and good-spirited fun. On that first day, after dinner, we headed to the pool with Fred and laughed into the night. Because of our time with Fred, Groton School felt less like an unfinished apartment and more like our home. As School began that September, Nancy found herself on the sidelines with Fred, coaching the girls varsity soccer team, and she learned quickly that Fred has an odd and fabulous way of connecting with kids. His favorite drill was to have his team lie on the ground in the center of the field; he would kick balls in the air to land somewhere in the vicinity of the team. The goal was to teach kids not to flinch—to move only if the balls were going to hit them. Though this drill seemed at turns shocking and frivolous to Nancy, it revealed Fred at his core. For in the midst of the screaming and the soaring and crashing balls, players received a critical message from this bearded man with the torn and dirty Middlebury sweatshirt: stay calm, stay connected, and have fun in the midst of all that is flying at you. When Nancy joined Fred in the Deans’ Office, she came to see yet more frequently Fred’s magical way of dealing with students. To Fred, very little was a big deal. (He has seen a great deal in life beyond our precious gates and throughout his career in education.) Thus kids tended to find their way to him instead of to Nancy—deemed the “mean dean”—when they had stumbled. Talking with Fred, they realized that he understood them (and really all adolescents) deeply, and found his words both comforting and directive. Be good. Make mistakes. Learn from them. Laugh at yourself. And now, let’s all move on. Craig, for his part, seemed forever wrapped up in one of Fred’s schemes. Several springs ago, Fred had the wild idea to plant pumpkins on a campus field to produce a crop for Halloween. In his inimitable way, Fred figured out how to organize this endeavor, and six months later Fred and Craig were driving one pickup truckload after another to the Circle, where students waited with knives and spoons and candles. Days later, the Circle was ringed with glowing jack-o-lanterns on a stunning Halloween night. Quarterly Spring 2013

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Cindy beams

Personae | People of Note

Fred during a boma visit in Kenya, part of the global education effort he began at Groton

More recently, motivated by his own work as a Peace Corp volunteer and Outward Bound instructor, Fred, along with his wife, Cindy, saw a need for Groton students to engage in more intensive service experiences, decided that they wanted to start taking students to the high Andes, and asked Craig to join them in what proved to be the first of many Beams-led Groton trips—all of them epic because Fred and Cindy knew what they wanted and pushed hard to make these experiences a reality for our community. Fred and Cindy have since led nine service intensives to Peru, Tanzania, and Kenya, involving more than 150 students and faculty members. These experiences were and are so effective because Fred and Cindy worked from their unspoken strengths. Fred literally works harder on the service projects than any 17-year-old we’ve had in our midst. He can mix and haul cement for hours on end in the blazing heat and still have a light touch with a student who might be feeling overwhelmed or homesick or just plain sick. Meanwhile, Cindy scans the area for meaningful relationships and draws others into the web of connections she weaves. As a result, our work—knowing and helping and building a single community out of two disparate ones—has happened around the globe. Fred and Cindy have helped expand students’ and faculty’s Groton experience beyond the Circle; they have also, not surprisingly, enlarged the very notion of our Circle, as they have connected the Groton community to other communities around the world, feeding all with friendship, kindness, and fun. Since that first impromptu meal in summer 1994, we’ve been so fortunate to share meals with Fred and Cindy—in the Dining Hall, at their kitchen table, and in odd locations around the world. They welcomed us and so many others into their world, one characterized by an optimism, a sense that our work together matters, and a relentless enthusiasm as large as Fred’s eyebrows are long. We will miss them deeply. —Nancy Hughes and Craig Gemmell * * *

Advice, with a side of eggs

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ost Groton students dreaded waking up for classes on Saturday mornings, but for me, it was probably my favorite time of the week. Every Saturday, Mr. and Mrs. Beams would take several advisees out to breakfast at Tiny’s. Over our eggs, we would talk about anything from the afternoon’s hockey game to upcoming national elections. Looking back on these meals, I realize how lucky I was, and more importantly, how lucky generations of Groton students were, to have known the Beamses as teachers, coaches, advisors, mentors, and friends. As special as those breakfasts were to me, whenever I would swing by his office, pop into his classroom, or come knocking on his door, Mr. Beams was having those same conversations with someone else. He knew each student’s name, but more importantly, he cared enough about each student to delve deeper—he knew who had an outstanding game in girls JV field hockey, who was struggling in chemistry, and who was directing that semester’s play. Mr. Beams not only always had his finger on the School’s pulse, but he also always knew exactly what the students needed. Whether it was planning Surprise Holiday, organizing a dorm feed, suspending extended curfew, or motivating a team to a big sports win, as Groton’s pendulum would swing back and forth, Mr. Beams was the one who made sure it never strayed too far from center. Although unwavering in his inherent sense of right and wrong, Mr. Beams was a champion of change and progress, constantly striving to make Groton as dynamic, relevant, and impactful as possible. As the saying goes, behind every great man is a great woman. Mrs. Beams, through her programs around the world, took Groton’s mission and applied it on a global scale. Her Fred beam

s

Cindy with the chief of the Orkeeswa community in Tanzania

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enthusiasm, initiative, and hard work not only changed Groton students’ lives, but also changed lives around the world. The breadth and depth of her impact is truly inspiring. As Fred and Cindy retire, it is hard to imagine Groton without them. Their thoughtful counsel, candid honesty, and genuine kindness have left an indelible impression on decades of Groton students. Whenever I have returned to Groton, my first stop has been at the Beamses’ house on the Circle, where the door was always open, the welcome warm, and the conversation lively. Rumor has it that Fred and Cindy will be spending more time in New York in retirement, and I hope they don’t mind when I join the line of former students who come knocking on their door on a Saturday morning, looking for good advice and great humor, with eggs on the side. —John Zacharias ’07 * * * ART DURITY

Friends for life

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arly on at Groton, I learned my dorm head and his wife made amazing ice cream pie. Graham cracker crust, ice cream, M&Ms—AMAZING. But as a new Fourth Former, sitting on the couch in the Beams’ common room, I never imagined Mr. and Mrs. Beams would become my friends. Mrs. Beams is a world traveler, an adventurer, and always up to something new. Whether learning Spanish or taking up photography, her passion for the world around her is inspiring. Through her involvement with the Orkeeswa School, she has pushed Groton students to explore the world outside the Circle. Mr. Beams has seen it all—the highs and the lows. Victorious St. Mark’s Days and years when the football team didn’t win a game. He has been, for generations of students, parents, and faculty, an invaluable counselor and trusted friend. Ten years later, I still turn to Fred and Cindy (as I call them now!) for advice. Always thoughtful and candid, they continue to encourage and advise their students, not just in the context of Groton, but for the active work of life. Groton is lucky to have had two such inspired and dedicated members of its community. We thank them and wish them all the best as they embark on a new chapter. —Clelia Zacharias ’04

Advisee feed with Suzanna Hamer ’13, Jocelyn Hickcox ’11, Gerrit Lane ’11, Virginia Walsh ’10, Kahlil Stuckey ’11, and Ashleigh Corvi ’09

* * *

For making us who we are

F

red Beams means warm and kind. Just writing about Beamsie and the thought of him leaving Groton makes my face feel hot and conjures up so many emotions. He created a piece of the School for me, an important piece. We all started at 12 years old with Beamsie. The age is so impressionable, and his mentorship will last with all of us for a lifetime. He forced us by example to understand the enormous impact one individual could have on the spirit and character of so many. We knew we could trust Beamsie and find comfort in times of need or crisis. Beamsie would be fair and calm. We all looked up to Beamsie, but we also laughed with him many nights. We waited for his ice cream nights, and we loved his big toothy smile. He is the only person who could give Lorraine Swindells ’94 thousands of table wipes, and they both would smile while she completed them. We never specifically talked about it, but he helped define for the girls among us how we should expect men to interact with us and appreciate our capabilities. He taught us to be confident, not arrogant. We are forever indebted to him for the people he encouraged us to become.

He forced us by example to understand the enormous impact one individual could have on the spirit and character of so many.

—Ann Gildroy Fox ’94 * * * Quarterly Spring 2013

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Personae | People of Note Knowing when i needed a laugh

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Beams’ Dorm was a hub of warmth, hospitality, and kindness, and all who entered, student or faculty, were welcomed and valued.

’ll really miss Fred. He has been a great colleague and a person who was always able to help me keep things in perspective, be it dealing with life’s ups and downs, dealing with adolescent students and athletes, or just coping with the demands of prep school life. He never got down and was always able to make me laugh when I most needed to— for instance, when I broke my squash racquet in one of our therapy squash matches and refused to leave the court and get a new one. Fred understood better than most what it takes to make the boarding experience work, and he was always trying his best to make Groton a better place. When the history of the School and the changes it went through during the end of the 20th century are written, Fred’s name will appear often. Fred, may your future walks on the beach be warm and relaxing ones. —Jonathan Choate ’60, P’85,’88, math teacher * * *

Playing the bad cop

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Suzanna Hamer ’13, Fred, and Aria Kopp ’13

t’s hard to picture Groton without Fred. There aren’t many areas in which he hasn’t had at least a finger in the pie. The fact that he lives on the corner of Brooks House, where nearly every bit of traffic goes past his kitchen, living room, or study window, is symbolic of his involvement and interest in all that goes on here. Yes, he’s taught math, coached, and worked in the Deans’ Office, but he also had a hand in every bit of renovation that happened during his time here, up until the most recent campus master plan efforts: the current dorm appearances are his doing, and, of course, one of his legacies will be the global trips. It is in the Deans’ Office where I have worked most closely with Fred. Years ago, before email, Candy Dearborn, our assistant, was in the mailroom, stuffing mailboxes with those little green notes asking students to come speak to a dean. On the other side of the mailboxes, she heard profanity as one student pulled his note out. A companion said, “Don’t go up there now—Kathy’s there. Wait till Beamsie’s back.” Irate, Candy returned to the Deans’ Office to report. I thought it was hysterical. It was no secret that Fred was the easy dean, and I was the hard dean; we had quickly worked out a routine that made sense for both of us. Every so often, though, we would change roles. Woe to the student who encountered Fred’s wrath while I played the good cop. Usually said cherub did not know how to react, and we, though loving our work and having enormous respect for the students, would chuckle together as we debriefed. —Kathy Leggat, Academic Dean * * *

Beamsie

F

red Beams, Beamsie, unselfish, giving, patient, calm in a crisis, is the quintessential school dean and dorm head. Beams’ Dorm was a hub of warmth, hospitality, and kindness, and all who entered, student or faculty, were welcomed and valued. I worked literally next door to Fred for seven years in adjacent offices and never heard a cross or impatient word from him, but rather Fred listened patiently and always respected the student voice. I have images of Fred that will always remain—coaching girls soccer on the Circle, making a cake for an advisee’s birthday, listening to a Second Former in the Schoolroom explain a mistake, giving extra math help in the Deans’ Office. No matter what, Fred was invariably good-natured and loved all aspects of being at Groton, and together with Cindy made new faculty and students part of the community. Hard to think of Groton without Fred. —Janet Hartwell, former faculty

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Janet also wrote about the the Beamses’ dogs, Cody and Gilly:

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ne of the first sights I remember at Groton was of two plump, chocolate brown labs, sitting like statues outside Brooks House. I soon learned that Cody and Gilly, the Beamses’ dogs, were an integral part of daily life at Groton when one evening, Fred gave me the following account of a day in the life of the Cody and Gilly, who had the Groton schedule down pat, which accounted for their ample girth. Their day began with breakfast in Beams’ Dorm, then on to the Dining Hall for a few treats from the students leaving breakfast. Next came Chapel, or more precisely, the sea of backpacks outside and the bagels that students had tucked away inside them. Cody and Gilly were onto this habit, and each morning they expertly extracted at least one bagel from an open backpack or two. They then took a leisurely stroll over to the Schoolhouse and, with a seriousness of purpose which only food could elicit, Cody and Gilly descended to the mailroom, where the UPS man always had a few biscuits to dispense. The highlight of the morning, however, was milk and cookies; invariably, they received a few handfuls of cookies and the occasional apple. Next, they made a short visit to Fred in the Deans’ Office and the Admission reception room, to charm prospective students and families and eat the occasional admission treat. Then it was time for lunch and back over to the Dining Hall for tidbits, thus concluding an exhausting morning’s work. An after-lunch nap revived Cody’s and Gilly’s energy and appetites, and they went back to Beams’ Dorm for an early dinner, and then of course, onto a real dinner from the Dining Hall. Evening pizza deliveries were frequently the source of Cody’s and Gilly’s late night snack before they settled in for the night to keep watch over Fred, Cindy, and Brooks House. A day well spent. * * *

Boarding school legends

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ArT DuriTy

red and Cindy Beams brought so much to the Circle during their 29-year career. I remember vividly as a much younger bachelor watching in awe as this couple arrived on campus with their wonderful children, Susannah and Maggie. The Beamses found a way to make our campus more humane, more familial, and more a place where I wanted to be.

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CrAig gEmmELL

Personae | People of Note Fred’s work in his dormitory and classroom, on the athletic field and in the Deans’ Office, was the stuff of boarding school legend. A man who always put kids first, he was a walking example of the best in education. He helped to cajole, inspire, and lead kids to a better place. He gave up on no one. And there is not a single student whom I have ever met who did not admire this man. Meanwhile, Cindy gave selflessly to this School in countless ways from the second she arrived here; her artistic vision helped countless renovations of public spaces around campus, her gardening prowess brightened the campus from her position as a key member of the Landscape Committee, and her support for the creative spirit within us made a huge difference for student and colleague alike. It was Cindy who helped launch the vision of the Breaking the Barrier textbook, which, thanks to her, is now becoming a household name in language programs around the country. A photographer, videographer, artist, and brilliant writer, Cindy joined forces with Fred to form a couple who, for me, defined what was possible in great schools like Groton. I will forever keep in mind the image of each one of the Conner children sitting in the Beamses’ kitchen, making those gingerbread houses under the watchful eye of two saints. May schools all around the world be lucky enough to have a Fred and Cindy Beams. —John Conner P’11, ’14, ’16, Spanish teacher, Dean of Faculty * * *

An immediate connection

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Cindy and Fred in Peru’s Sacred Valley

ew people I have known in my life possess Fred’s optimism, warmth, good humor, and kindness, qualities he displays every minute of every day. I vividly remember first meeting Fred in 1994. It was a chance encounter at the top of the stairs in the Dining Hall; with smiles and laughter and warmth, he greeted a nervous teaching candidate, cheering our Middlebury connection, telling me how eager he was to have me here. At that moment, I knew Groton would be a good fit. In the years since, I have spent countless hours with Fred, whether tucked away in his office candidly discussing some School issue, running the trails around this beautiful campus, or enjoying endless laughter on golf courses all over Massachusetts. Few people are as joyful and enjoyable as Fred Beams, and I am profoundly grateful to have shared the past 18 years with him. Groton won’t be quite the same when it reopens its doors next September in Fred’s absence. —John Lyons, history teacher * * *

Qualities i try to model

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never stop looking for role models, and Fred Beams is one I have cherished since I first met him in 2005. His unabashed warmth, his relentless exuberance, his unflappable optimism, and that delightfully raspy voice of his have been powerful sources of support and inspiration to me. Fred epitomizes so many of the qualities that I try to model as a boarding school teacher—and as a human being: generosity, curiosity, kindness, adventurousness. Embracing the commercial cliché “Just Do It” long before it was fashionable, Fred seems to have done just about everything, yet somehow he hasn’t let his countless adventures and accomplishments go to his head. My fondest memories of working with Fred are from the two summers I spent with him in Tanzania. I cannot thank Fred and Cindy enough for creating the opportunity for me and dozens of other Groton people to spend time at Orkeeswa School. Gretchen and I will also miss those magical meals at the Beamses’ home in Brooks House, where spectacular home-cooked food was always accompanied by lively conversation and laughter. We feel lucky indeed to have lived on the same campus for the past eight years. —Peter Fry P’15, ’17, English teacher * * *

22 | Quarterly Spring 2013


Content and resilient

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here is much I could say about Fred, but one story might say it all. When I first came to Groton, I was struck by Fred’s tireless enthusiasm: he could always make even the most dire situation look sunny. For a dean of students, especially, this seemed a remarkable trait. Of course, a positive outlook like this can chafe if it’s insincere or superficial. With Fred, however, I came to see that such a perspective ran right through the core of his being. This was made abundantly clear to me in many ways, but perhaps nothing was as illustrative as the way Fred faced and recovered from heart surgery in spring 2002. A coward to my core, I know I would have been in a fetal position lamenting my plight had I been in his situation, yet Fred smiled, blustered, and headed off to surgery. He never flinched for a moment, and during his recovery, he would walk from his dorm to my house (I lived down Shirley Lane at that point). The World Cup happened to be taking place at the time (in South Korea and Japan, so the games were on in the early morning hours). Fred would arrive with a smile, join us for lemonade, and we’d talk through the morning’s games. He was content with this exercise regimen as he had been running the 20 Miler on Martha’s Vineyard, and rather than speak of any pain or restrictions placed upon him, Fred took delight in the games. Shortly, he was himself again, out running on the trails in the woods, but what stays with me is that he never faltered in his upbeat demeanor. I’m sure that this is the key to Fred’s success and why he has been such an exemplary School person for so many years. —Ted Goodrich, English teacher * * *

I hope that I have half of his energy when it is time for me to retire.

Inspired to teach math

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r. Beams and I both arrived at Groton 29 years ago. As a timid Third Former, I quickly fell far behind in my math class. Mr. Beams realized that I needed help and, along with Mr. Choate, set up individual classes and caught me up by the winter. With this newfound confidence, I would go on to study advanced math and science in college and to eventually become a math teacher myself. I am forever grateful for this intervention and for every other way that Mr. Beams helped me both academically and personally. Mr. Beams was not only my advisor at Groton, but also a father figure. He and his family welcomed me into their home; I often spent evenings taking care of their young girls. These hours as a part of a family helped alleviate my own homesickness. I remember frequent visits to his office without any real purpose; I simply needed that bit of adult advice and encouragement that many of us missed when we left home at such a young age. Now that I have 18 years’ worth of my own former students, I can only hope that a few look back on their time with me and think as fondly of me as I do of Mr. Beams. —Clara Zurn Belli ’88 * * *

Carrot power

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hen Fred and I coached the varsity girls soccer team together, Fred came up with what he thought would put us way ahead of our competition. At halftime, instead of the usual snack of orange quarters, Fred provided the team with carrots. We even had “Carrot Power” T-shirts made for the coaching staff. I don’t think I have ever seen another team eating carrots to give them that much-needed boost before returning to the field for the second half of a game. Fred is like the Energizer Bunny—he always has positive energy and he never stops running. I hope that I have half of his energy when it is time for me to retire. Once, when I asked a member of the Form of 2010, “What do you want to do after college?” this young man responded: “I want to teach history and coach hockey and lacrosse at a boarding school. I want to be just like Beamsie—he’s the man.” —Cathy Lincoln P’07, ’10, math teacher

Fred fed his varsity girls soccer team carrots for energy, and the coaches, including Cathy Lincoln, above, wore his “Carrot Power” t-shirts. Fred also wore the shirt when he ran the New York Marathon.

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Personae | People of Note A special camaraderie

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With Fred, you’re always a good kid. He cares about you and by extension the School cares about you.

t’s hard to put thoughts together about Fred Beams and not be allowed to fill pages and pages of the Quarterly. I don’t know the words that can best describe who this man is and what he means to me and others in our community. He has been a mentor and a friend. I owe Fred so much for giving me an opportunity at Groton. I am fortunate to have worked with him for nine years, and what I learned from him is immeasurable. One of Fred’s greatest qualities is his amazingly consistent positive attitude—each and every day. He never lets even the biggest of issues creep into his upbeat daily rhythm. He works hard to make sure those around him feel his lively energy too. He’s loud and fun with the kids, and he has an innate ability to make everyone feel important. Fred is wise and humble: students, faculty, and administrators alike look to Fred for advice. They also seek him out for a laugh, or just to talk. I admire that Fred could be so personable with students but still command the high level of respect appropriate to the dean of students year after year after year. Seeing Fred daily, enjoying a laugh and the camaraderie we share, and talking about our future adventures are what I will miss most. For nine years, he has played a significant role in my life, and I will always be indebted to him for his mentoring and kindness. I am sure that Fred and Cindy will enjoy many years together in their next phase of life; I hope they both know the impact they have had on so many people and on our community. Having known Fred for only nine years, I’m a newbie compared to more veteran friends. But no matter how long you’ve known Fred, you have heard some advice, you have laughed with him, and you have admired his easygoing demeanor, even during the toughest of times. —Libby Petroskey P’12, Dean of Students * * *

Discipline, with perspective

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A standout lacrosse player and coach, the Fred Beams Lacrosse Jamboree recently was named in his honor.

24 | Quarterly Spring 2013

his is a hard one. How do you sum up Beamsie in just a few paragraphs? I’ll share a couple of anecdotes. Fred was my advisor. For years, I thought I’d just gotten lucky to have him, but then I found out there was more to it. Fred had been my older cousin Peter’s advisor back when he’d taught at Holderness, where Peter attended. During those years, there was a death in my family, and Fred loaned Peter his car so he could drive down to New York for the funeral. Through this episode, or so I gather, Fred became aware of my branch of the family. It wasn’t until 13 years later that I applied to Groton. I didn’t have the same last name as Peter, but having grown up in the same building, we did share the same address. This spare piece of information along with I assume a phone call or two was enough for Fred to connect the dots to a decade before. Who else could have done that? Second anecdote: when I was a Fifth Former I was participating in some “underground activities,” as Mr. Polk would call them, and got caught. This was the first serious trouble I’d gotten into, and so naturally, I assumed my future would be bleak from there on out. I steeled myself the next morning and marched over to the Deans’ Office to meet my fate. Fred knew everything by then of course and opened the door with a big smile. “So, you got yourself in some trouble? Well, look, these things happen, just don’t do it again. How are your parents going to take it, would you like me to call them first?” I was handed down some real punishment as well, but it was done in a precise and delicate way only Fred could have managed, and I ended up coming through the whole experience better off than before. With Fred, you’re always a good kid. He cares about you and by extension the School cares about you, and it makes everything better. It all comes naturally. I’m not sure how Groton goes on without him. He’s irreplaceable. So thank you, Fred! And thank you, Cindy, for sharing him! I hope you’re both headed to New York City; I just got a shipment of microbrews in and have no idea how I’m going to finish them. —John Roberts ’98 * * *


Knowing whodunit—and why

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Cindy beams

s a long-term dorm head, including during those many years when Fred kept the limits of youthful adventurism under his watchful eye, I found him a remarkable and ever congenial resource. Fred was an extraordinary fount of knowledge of how and when anything might take place, and whodunit. So, if by bad luck the fire alarm should go off at 1:30 a.m., and alas a prefect be found wanting, Fred would know where and with whom and would initiate the best course of action (honesty and self-direction). On occasion, a clear warning would precede justified but thorough invasions of private space. Always the combination of good cheer and a firm hand! To meet him, as Eleanor and I did the other weekend very much at home jogging through Central Park, seemed a happy relief from longtime responsibilities! —Hugh Sackett, classics teacher * * *

Beam me up

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red’s toothy grin and bearded visage will be sorely missed on the Circle and throughout the prep school ranks. Thank you for lifting our spirits every day, Beamsie! —Bob Low, athletic director

Fred with boys in Peru

* * *

Thinking globally, acting globally

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A kiss from Lesinet Meevani, a “laigwanaa” or Maasai leader; an advocate of education for girls, he mobilizes support for the Orkeeswa School in Tanzania. Cindy beams

red Beams is perhaps the most important influence I’ve had in my career as an educator. When I first came to Groton five years ago, Fred took me under his wing and shared with me his infectious passion for global education. What Fred was doing at that time seemed revolutionary to me, and I was thrilled that he wanted me to come along. On that first trip, I could see that Fred and Cindy were forging a powerful path, bringing Groton to remote parts of the world to embrace the challenge that is service learning. That summer, I watched Fred change lives, not just the lives of our students, but also the lives of many members of the Maasai village in which we lived and labored. He was then, and will always be to me, “Blue Babu,” the beloved and respected elder of our community. Since that first trip, Fred has not only deeply inspired me, but he has also shaped my personal life path. Fred has become my family. In him, I see a true educator who believes in the spirit of his students and sees in the world a series of connections that can bring young people out of themselves and into a broader context. Fred exudes a passion for exploration that energizes everyone around him. In Fred’s world, there is nothing that is impossible, nothing he would not try. For Fred, the true nature of teaching does not happen in the classroom, it happens while building a classroom, while digging deep into the earth with his own hands, while sweating and laughing and teaching us that the best way to do anything is to do it together. On our global trips, Fred is constantly pulling groups of us together and setting us on missions that not one of us would think we could accomplish. But of course, we do accomplish them—and so much more than we ever thought possible—under Fred’s enthusiastic guidance. Fred believes in people. He is the ultimate coach, cheerleader, advocate, and comrade. Fred moves through the world with an incredible sense of purpose. He knows what he believes, and he moves forward without falter. From that I believe Fred gets his remarkable sense of inner calm. I find it rare these days to meet one who seems so sure. I think it is that calm that ultimately draws people to Fred. We want to be around him because we know that, as if by magic, we are becoming surer, kinder, clearer human beings, all the better for having journeyed with Fred. —Laurie Sales, theater director

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Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future: The Schoolhouse Project By Franz ColloredoMansfeld ’81, P’09,’13,’15

Groton’s Board of Trustees approves a renovation to bring the Schoolhouse into the 21st century and beyond.

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his April, after more than five years of discussion and planning, Groton’s Board of Trustees voted unanimously to undertake one of the most ambitious building projects in the school’s history. Recognizing the Schoolhouse as the heart of the School, a powerful symbol of Groton’s mission and values, the board moved cautiously and deliberately to enhance the role of the Schoolhouse as the center of academic life on the Circle through the 21st century. The improved building will not only endure, but will position Groton to adapt nimbly to the needs of the future. The Schoolhouse project will make the following improvements—all directly related to the broad goals of our strategic plan—to this beloved edifice by September of 2015: Build and integrate a new state-of-the-art STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) facility, satisfying today’s increasing need for quantitative literacy n Renovate many existing classrooms and construct new spaces for the humanities, music, and shop n Create a new, research-oriented library available to students and faculty during the school day n Construct new and improved areas for socializing and individual and group study, and flexible spaces that will inspire learning and creativity—spaces that will foster collaboration, another important 21st-century skill n Reduce energy costs by incorporating sustainable building processes and technology into the Schoolhouse and the addition n Preserve iconic facades and interior spaces: the Schoolroom, Gardner Room, Edward B. Gammons Recital Hall, and many original classrooms n

Undoubtedly, this to-do list will make many sit up in their chairs. Tinkering with the Schoolhouse is not to be taken lightly. Exactly what do all these changes mean?

26 | Quarterly Spring 2013


Commissioned by Groton’s founder, Endicott Peabody, and designed by the famed architectural firm, Peabody and Sterns, in 1899, the Schoolhouse is a superb example of Colonial Revival architecture and is notable for its wonderful references to classical architectural themes. But far more important than its distinguished appearance and pedigree is the place the Schoolhouse occupies in the hearts of all Grotonians. Within its walls, and under its majestic elms, generations of boys and girls, molded by their teachers, coaches, and peers, have grown into young men and women of character and accomplishment. More than just a building, the Schoolhouse is a crucible in which academic rigor and integrity thrive, where community and friendships are forged. It is a symbol of the history, values, traditions, and memories that all Grotonians share. It is no wonder then, that the Schoolhouse is so cherished. It has therefore been with a great sense of responsibility and respect that the board, members of the faculty, and administrators have worked together to create a plan that will preserve what’s best about the Schoolhouse while creating new spaces that will support a 21st-century education. Why undertake such a project? The reasons are compelling. First and foremost, our present science and math wing, designed in the early 1970s for a school of 220 boys, is technologically out-of-date, ill-suited to today’s dynamic teaching, and woefully undersized to fill the curricular needs of some 370 students. The wing lacks the flexibility that the rapidly changing world of science and technology demands. It is not surprising that Groton tour guides steer prospective students away from the cramped science labs and subterranean math classrooms—not to mention the trailer parked outside the Schoolhouse, which for several years has housed David Black’s ’80, P’10, ’12 environmental science class. By contrast, many, if not most, of Groton’s peer schools have recently unveiled state-of-the art science and math facilities. Our math and science departments are not alone in their need for more room and improved facilities. The humanities departments lack sufficient classrooms, while the continuing growth in the number of students participating in musical activities has led to a shortage of practice, performance, and instrument storage areas in the Music Department. Students today are hard-pressed to find comfortable space for casual group or individual study. And finally, the mailroom, the primary gathering space for students during the day, has its underground charms, but is not far from the recycling center, complete with institutional-sized dumpsters and their concomitant trash. This project will address and correct all of these issues as well as others too numerous to discuss in a single article. The project’s costs are estimated at $50 million and have been incorporated into the School’s strategic fundraising plans.

This project is ambitious, exciting—and necessary. The time has come to address the shortcomings of Groton’s physical plant to ensure that our students receive the best education possible.

View from the Northeast: A second “front” will lead directly into the STEM addition and the Forum; the facade was designed to complement but not compete with the primary entrance on the Circle.

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the schoolhouse project

The Forum will have myriad uses, some of which can be predicted— such as arts performances, school dances, debates, and lectures—and others that cannot.

The below rendering provides a rough, preliminary glimpse of the Forum; interior spaces are not yet fully designed. Three current exterior walls—of the 1989 wing, the Hall, and the Edward B. Gammons Recital Hall—will enclose the interior courtyard space.

Some will be surprised to learn that this project will be the sixth to alter the Schoolhouse, beginning with the 1927 addition of the Hall. In 1989, responding to a need for more classroom space, a wing was added, extending north toward the athletic parking lot; the wing is currently home to the Business Office, registrar, and modern language classrooms. The planned new structure will attach to the ’89 addition and the Gammons Recital Hall to form a quadrangle, thereby creating a “second front” on the north side of the building. This new, northern façade will welcome visitors to the school and form an attractive complex alongside the athletic facilities and the Dillon Art Center. The design of the new addition will respect the iconic southern façade (which faces the Circle), echoing many of its architectural elements, and the ’89 addition. It will house the STEM classrooms and include state-of-the-art labs, lecture rooms, and small project spaces. In addition, in order to make library staff and the research support they provide available to students and faculty during the day, the McCormick Library will be relocated from Hundred House to the Hall. Bucking the trend in library design to drastically reduce the number of volumes housed on site, books will continue to be an important component of Groton’s program. As such, our collection will move to easily accessible stacks located below the Hall in what is now the storage area for the shop. The new library will retain the paneled, traditional character of the Hall. The most attractive aspects of the current library—the reading room and the Memorial (periodicals) Room—will be preserved and remain available to Upper School students for study and quiet gatherings at night. The music department, which has seen dramatic growth in participation, will be allocated additional space. The Edwards B. Gammons Recital Hall will continue to be an important performance venue for the orchestra, and a space adjacent to Gammons will be renovated and dedicated to the jazz program. Practice rooms, recording rooms, and classrooms will be located on the ground level of the Schoolhouse. The Campbell Performing Arts Center’s acoustics will be upgraded so the facility can accommodate musical performances and provide a superior experience for listeners. continued on page 32


The proposed view from the northwest shows both the STEM addition and the “second front” to the Schoolhouse on the north side of the building.

What You Should Know n

The aging science wing, constructed in the early 1970s for a school of 220 boys, will be replaced with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) classrooms and labs, suitable for STEM classes as well as more traditional science and math classes.

n

A new wood shop, developed with input from our longtime shop teacher, Doug Brown ’57, will retain its size but move to the northeast corner of the building. A nearby fabrications lab will allow robotic and other high-tech building projects.

n

Many administrative offices will move to the lower level, freeing up room for four new humanities classrooms on the light-filled first floor.

n

n

The McCormick Library reading room, now used minimally during the School day, will move to what is currently the Schoolhouse Hall, making research and study space readily available to students and classes. The new “hybrid” library will combine new and traditional media, and librarians will guide students through both digital and print materials, preparing them to handle research papers as well as assignments requiring more innovative formats.

The outdoor area currently behind the Hall will become an enclosed “Forum,” designed as a community crossroads, useful for social gatherings and casual academic study as well as meetings and small concerts. The mailroom, School store, and a snack bar will draw people to the space.

n

The Schoolroom, Gardner Room, and Edward B. Gammons Recital Hall will not be touched.

n

The back of the building will become a more formal entrance, a second “front,” leading directly into the STEM addition. Looking at the Schoolhouse from the Circle, the addition will not be visible.

n

Part of the current McCormick Library stacks area in Hundred House will house the Business Office; the current reading room space will not be altered by the construction and will become a common area for Upper School students.

n

Library stacks will reside on the Schoolhouse’s lower level, beneath what currently is the Hall. Music rehearsals and performances now in the Hall will move to the Campbell Performing Arts Center and other venues, including a renovated space for the jazz ensemble in the Schoolhouse.

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the schoolhouse project

My Passion for this Project

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By Ann Bakewell Woodward ’86

ast December, when my father, Henry Bakewell, Jr. ’55, died, he was carrying a Groton keychain in his pocket—the same one he had carried around with him for years. A mathematician, engineer, and devoted Grotonian, he knew all about the Schoolhouse project from my constant updates as a member of the New Facilities Committee. He was even a panelist at an on-campus symposium in the early stages of the STEM investigative work. In the days following his death, I couldn’t think of a more fitting or moving way to honor his life and his love of the School than to fund and dedicate the Fabrications Lab (“Fab Lab”) in his memory. The Fab Lab, visibly located within the heart of the Forum’s ground floor, will be the launch pad for robotics and other high-tech engineering projects, a perfect setting to honor my father, who loved to tinker and even had his own Fab Lab—a home base for marine electronics, robotics, metal- and woodworking projects—in his basement. To see the Schoolhouse’s future take shape has been exciting. When I first joined the Board of Trustees three years ago, it was just creating the School’s next strategic plan. I was part of an inclusive community process to refine the key elements of the Programmatic Vision section of the plan, which are to: n

Focus academic and extra-curricular programs on the 21st century skills and qualities that define Groton’s four primary values of character, learning, leadership, and service.

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Make Groton’s devotion to the ideal of service a central aspect of student culture by making a meaningful experience of service an expectation for every student.

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Enable students and faculty to achieve healthier personal balance by more effectively integrating our academic, extra-curricular, and residential programs.

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Create a program for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) that provides all students with a solid foundation in these disciplines and inspires more students toward higher-level work in STEM fields.

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Invest in facilities necessary to a 21st century education, following a campus master plan that improves sustainability and preserves the historic beauty and integrity of the campus.

30 | Quarterly Spring 2013

The Groton keychain that Henry Bakewell, Jr. ’55 carried; his daughter, Ann ’86, uses it now.

The Schoolhouse project directly addresses four of these five goals. The goal that resonated most with me initially was the desire to help Groton students and faculty achieve healthier personal balance. I was asked to lead a group of trustees and faculty members to investigate non-academic student spaces, both at Groton and at peer schools, to see how they enhance the students’ overall experiences. Our group visited more than a dozen schools and learned a lot about how spaces can help create balance and promote healthy energy. As the Schoolhouse renovation evolved, a related focus emerged: to promote more opportunities for casual, organic student-student and student-faculty interactions. The creation of the Forum space—a community crossroads— is a novel concept for Groton: it will combine open, comfortable study and meeting spaces throughout the ground level and first floors of the Schoolhouse, a “grab and go” café for healthy nourishment during the academic day, and an open, light-filled covered courtyard that is inviting and multipurpose. This space will redefine how students and faculty interact during the academic day, encouraging a positive, healthy, and better balanced community. The months working with trustees, faculty, and staff on the New Facilities Committee, alongside our architects at Shepley Bulfinch, have been a breathtaking journey, one that let us both preserve and update our Schoolhouse while incorporating so many aspects of our strategic plan. I truly believe this project will be a “game-changer” for Groton in the best sense of the word, and I am thrilled to see it moving forward, purposefully and thoughtfully renewing the Schoolhouse while embodying at its core the School’s strategic plan and mission. Of course, I’ve been invested in this project because of my own Groton experience and the profound impact the School had on my development as an individual. Clearly my father felt the same. He carried Groton with him in his pocket; I will carry it in my knowledge that our iconic Schoolhouse is heading toward another century of learning and inspiration.


Architecture 101 “

By John Tyler

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conic” must be the most overused word of 2013, but it’s hard to avoid when discussing Groton’s Schoolhouse. Once while a graduate student at Princeton, I was asking directions to the Institute for Advanced Study. “Well, you can’t miss it,” my guide said. “It looks like a New England prep school!” And so it did. The Schoolhouse may echo other older academic buildings built in an Americanized version of English Georgian style—say, the Wren Building at William & Mary or Nassau Hall at Princeton, but Groton’s architects, the leading Boston firm of Peabody & Stearns, reinterpreted a familiar form with an Edwardian swagger, perhaps in the same way a portrait by John Singer Sargent trumps one by Joshua Reynolds. The “Colonial Revival,” the style in which the Schoolhouse was built, became popular after the Philadelphia Centennial of 1876 and can best be described as “Georgian on steroids.” Hipped roofs, symmetry, cupolas, double-hung sash windows, broken pediments, columns, and porches all can be found in late Georgian buildings, but the Colonial Revival mixes all the familiar ingredients together with the bravado and energy characteristic of the Gilded Age and slaps them alla prima, just like Sargent himself, on bigger bolder forms. When I taught ancient history, I used to enjoy taking restless Third Formers on a walk around the exterior so they could spot features of the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian orders all jumbled together in a way that would have horrified Vitruvius or Thomas Jefferson. The Schoolhouse was completed just in time for the opening of School in September 1899. Since then, the building has been altered five times (including the addition of the present science wing in 1975, which the architects separated from the main mass of the building by the glass-

1899 - The Original Building Funds were insufficient to build the Hall and east wing as originally designed.

1927 - The Hall Addition Gift from Clarence Dillon to build the Hall. Architect - Cross & Cross

1931 - East Wing Addition Gift from Gardner to build the east wing. Architect - Unknown

walled science lounge). Peabody & Stearns had called for an auditorium in the space of the present Hall, as well as an east wing projecting toward the back of the Schoolhouse that would house the library, but funds were tight around the turn of the 20th century–understandably so since the Chapel and the school stables on the other side of Farmers Row also went up at the same time. Thus, it was not until 1927 that the Hall with its handsome wainscoting and the wood shop below were actually built, as a gift from Clarence Dillon under the direction of architects Cross & Cross. The east wing appeared in 1932; perhaps the early years of the Great Depression influenced its rather prosaic style? Its huge windows appear row on row, somewhat like a factory building or warehouse in a New England mill town. It’s instructive to compare the utilitarian East Wing with the whimsy and refinement of Peabody & Stearns’s west façade, with its generous proportions of wall to window, the rusticated quoins of its triumphal doorway near the Chaplain’s classroom, and the enormous Palladian window that pours late afternoon light into the Edward B. Gammons Recital Hall. The last significant addition occurred in 1989, when the Business Office, registrar, and modern language classrooms were placed in an addition at right angles to the East Wing, closing off the possibility of further extensions to the north. The architects of the 1989 addition, the respected Boston architects Kallmann, McKinnell & Wood, were instructed to make a rather precise copy of Peabody & Stearns’ earlier work. The genius of the current plans presented by Shepley Bulfinch is that by using a palette of familiar materials and forms, they respect the past while not slavishly copying the old. After all, Peabody & Stearns never had to design a STEM facility for the 21st century.

1951 - Stage & Classroom Addition 1975 - Science Wing Addition Built stage and classrooms. The Hall Built science labs and offices. Architect - Sasaki, Dawson, DeMay converted into Auditorium. Architect - John Bradford Abbot

Architect - Peabody & Stearns

Associates

1989 - Northeast Addition Designed theater to the north of Schoolhouse to create a Schoolhouse Quad. Funding did not materialize. Architect - Kallmann McKinnell & Wood

The current project will be the building’s sixth renovation since its opening in 1899.

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Hilderbrand know the School well: the former recently updated Groton’s master plan and over the decades has worked on the Dining Hall, Hundred House, Brooks House, the school gates, and numerous other projects. Reed Hilderbrand has been Groton’s landscape architect for seven years, seamlessly blending new plantings into Frederick Law Olmsted’s original plan. Throughout the planning process, an active trustee-faculty committee closely guided the work of these two firms. Three faculty members in particular, Craig Gemmell, Bert Hall, and John Tyler, have made significant contributions of time, ideas, and research to the project. Trustee members David Altschuler P’13,’15, Amy Berkowitz P’13,’15, Grant Gund ’86, Jamie Higgins P’02,’06, Ken Irving P’13,’15, Ben Pyne ’77, P’12,’15, and Ann Woodward ’86 have made countless trips to Groton and to Shepley’s offices in Boston to offer invaluable input and to help fine-tune the plans under development. To be sure, this project is ambitious, exciting—and necessary. The time has come to address the shortcomings of Groton’s physical plant to ensure that our students receive the best education possible. Our goal is to create one of the most beautiful, functional, and flexible academic buildings in the country—one that will both respect the history and character of our beloved Schoolhouse and inspire lives of character, learning, leadership, and service throughout the 21st century.

ECOLOGY

EXISTING

Franz Colloredo-Mansfeld chairs the Board of Trustees’ New Facilities Committee. NEW CONSTRUCTION

All other academic departments, as well as the shop, will remain in the Schoolhouse and have the same or, in some cases, additional space, with improved natural lighting for all. By moving administrative offices to the ground floor or to other campus locations, first floor space will be converted to classrooms—the case when the building was originally designed. The Schoolroom will remain untouched, and the Admission Office and Headmaster’s Office will continue in their present locations. On the interior of the building, the quadrangle will create an entirely new space—this “found” interior area will allow for a centrally located, community gathering space, a “Forum.” Such public spaces on other campuses have successfully blended the social and academic, allowing for gatherings of the entire school community and adapting for use by small groups. A coffee and snack venue, a small store, a new mailroom, and the deans’ offices—all services and offices that draw substantial traffic—will enliven the Forum. The Forum will have myriad uses, some of which can be predicted—such as arts performances, school dances, debates, and lectures—and others that cannot. Undoubtedly, students, faculty, and staff will discover, in ways we can’t even imagine, how to enjoy this light-filled, dynamic space at the heart of the building. To assist with the planning and design of these exciting changes, the school has followed the Rector’s example and engaged the talents of two highly regarded design teams: that of the architectural firm, Shepley Bulfinch, and the landscape architects of Reed Hilderbrand. Both Shepley Bulfinch and Reed

STEM PREP

BIOLOGY

LAB / LECTURE

DN

WOODSHOP

LAB / LECTURE

STORAGE UP

UP

NEW CONSTRUCTION EXISTING

DN DN

FOOD VENUE

UP

FORUM

MUSIC

CONFERENCE ROOM

UP

IT / SERVER

UP

DEANS OFFICES

UP UP

FAB LAB COLLEGE COUNSELING

UP

MAILROOM

SCHOOL STORE

STEM FACULTY OFFICES

GROUP STUDY

DN

TECHNOLOGY WORKROOM

REGISTRAR

MUSIC CLASSROOM UP

LIBRARY STACKS

DN

DN

WOMENS

MUSIC CLASSROOM

UP UP

DN

MENS

DN

CHOIR UP

UP

STUDENT ACTIVITIES OFFICES

RECORDING STUDIO

MIXING LAB

MUSIC STORAGE

STORAGE

ELECTRICAL

MECH

STORAGE ADMINISTRATION

Ground Floor Plan

32 | Quarterly Spring 2013


Our goal is to create one of the most beautiful, functional, and flexible academic buildings in the country.

LAB / LECTURE

LAB / LECTURE

STEM PREP

EXISTING

NEW CONSTRUCTION

First Floor Plan

HUMANITIES ROOF

ROOF

STEM CLASSROOM

STEM CLASSROOM

SMALL PROJECT LABS

LEARNING COMMONS

SMALL PROJECT LABS DN

DN

NEW CONSTRUCTION EXISTING

OPEN TO BELOW

OPEN TO BELOW

OPEN TO BELOW

MULTIPURPOSE ROOM

The ground floor will house the mailroom, a café, and other non-academic, studentcentered spaces, as well as administrative offices. The first floor will include four additional humanities classrooms and the reading room of the McCormick Library; the Schoolroom, Gardner Room, and Edward B. Gammons Recital Hall will not be changed. The third floor will include STEM classrooms and a view onto the new Forum, but existing classrooms will be largely unchanged.

HUMANITIES STEM FACULTY OFFICES

OPEN TO BELOW

WOMEN

HUMANITIES

OPEN TO BELOW

MENS DN

DN

DN

UP

UP UP

UP

HUMANITIES

HUMANITIES OPEN TO BELOW

Second Floor Plan Quarterly Spring 2013

| 33


the schoolhouse project

How the Old Influenced the New

By Craig Gemmell

I

am, by nature, a walker, and I’ve thus moved through the halls of the Schoolhouse for decades, sometimes looking for a colleague or a student, a cup of coffee, or just a chance to stretch my legs. As I worked with the New Facilities Committee on the Schoolhouse renovation, my meanderings took on yet another purpose: to ponder the parts that make the whole of the building wonderful and to use them to inform the careful balancing act that is this renovation. A number of times, feeling pensive, I’ve grabbed a desk in the back of the Schoolroom to clear my head and take in the view: a single Second Former laboring in the second row, mostly empty milk cartons perched on random desks, a host of busts, thousands (!) of names carved in quarter-sawn oak. I have shared the space at those moments, felt the weight of the surroundings and the weight of its history. But the space itself is somehow right even when divorced from history: 2 p.m. southern light flooding from seven huge mullioned windows, perfectly proportioned volume, the lockstep order of desk after desk, in row after row, tops down save an algebra book sticking out here, a notebook there, warmth from old wood on every surface. As I sit there, light and volume and order and quiet and peace grant perspective. How is it that, in this grand room, being alone feels just as energizing as Roll Call on St. Mark’s Day? Around the corner, in the perfect acoustics of the Edward B. Gammons Recital Hall, I’ve often found myself listening to a concert, the great windows inviting the sky outside to join the performance. During a spring concert, a purple sunset accompanied two-part folk music; deep darkness flavored a winter violin recital; and driving rain and somber skies blended with an autumn piano concerto. How does one create a space that harmonizes with its broader context?

Edward B. Gammons Recital Hall

34 | Quarterly Spring 2013

The Schoolroom

When I walk the halls during the School day—particularly on the second floor—sounds spill from classes. Hamlet from the west, declensions from the southeast, declarations of war from the east, and salsa music from the northwest. I drop by Dr. Tyler’s classroom to ask a question about the STEM addition ( about which he and I have been endlessly talking) and enter a pitch-perfect living room for the literate—complete with pastoral view (of the Circle) and Abby the spaniel resting amidst years of carefully selected, historically relevant adornments. Peeking in other classrooms, I see walls covered with vintage posters, makeshift and precarious bookshelves laden with classics texts, labels from French cheeses—and I know exactly who teaches where without needing the sign on the door. How exactly did the Schoolhouse come to feel like home to so many? Understanding this would help a renovated Schoolhouse continue to feel like home. And home it should continue to be. When I pass through the drab mailroom even on a bright day, it feels like the basement it is (natural light is in short supply there). The space functions as do many basement rec rooms: students congregate during free periods, study on the carpeted floor, share an iPod bud with a friend, and listen to music foreign to those born well before 1990. How can we create spaces where the entire community is comfortable gathering, yet where students feel ownership? My meanderings of late inspired guiding questions I would ponder when I returned to an office desk covered with floor plans, truss designs, and schematic drawings of spaces in which we are trying to capture the abiding essence of the Schoolhouse while propelling the School forward into this


marysue spilhaus P’12

new millennium. That our work has been so informed by what is at stake, what is essential to balance, has been key to the project’s success. Indeed, as committee members gathered, debated, second-guessed, and pondered, the primary presence in the room was the Schoolhouse itself. We have honored the past by placing the communal aspects of a Groton education at the fore—and we have imagined spaces with the capacity to elevate and inspire all who enter them. I look forward to walking the halls five years hence—when the to-do lists are distant memories, when paint has lost a bit of its sheen, when new students see a Schoolhouse in which the boundaries between old and new simply don’t exist, a space that embodies both the School’s legacy, its dynamic present, and its hopeful future.

The Gardner Room—among the iconic spaces that won’t be altered by the upcoming Schoolhouse renovation; MarySue Spilhaus P’12 won the Mood Theme award in Canon’s Project Imaginat10n Contest with this photo.

Telling a Sustainable Story

New Facilities Committee Trustees

F

n

use highly efficient systems to ensure that the Schoolhouse leaves the smallest carbon footprint possible

n

decrease water use

Franz Colloredo-Mansfeld ’81, P’09, ’13, ’15, Chair David Altshuler P’13, ’15 Amy Berkowitz P’13, ’15 Grant Gund ’86 James Higgins P’02, ’06 Ken Irving P’13, ’15 Ben Pyne ’77, P’12, ’15 Jennifer Ayer Sandell ’82 Ann Bakewell Woodward ’86

n

reduce electricity consumption through ultra-efficient lighting and maximum use of natural light

Faculty/Staff

n

use durable, low-maintenance materials

n

landscape responsibly to minimize environmental impact

rom the start, the design team at Shepley Bulfinch and the New Facilities Committee explored ways to make sure the Schoolhouse would use as little energy as possible.

The design that will bring the Schoolhouse into the next century will:

Some of the innovative energy-saving approaches under consideration are: n

geothermal heating and cooling

n

“chilled beams,” which resemble pipes filled with cool water and use convection to cool air

n

a heat exchange system, which constantly exchanges air from the outside to replace interior, stale air. The outgoing warm air pre-heats air so the heating system has less work to do, and the reverse happens for summer cooling.

The planners behind this ambitious project made a commitment not only to reduce the building’s environmental impact, but also to monitor energy efficiency and use the quantifiable results to teach our community about the many important aspects of sustainability. The Schoolhouse—the building itself—will become not only a model of efficiency, but also an educational tool for the community. –Bert Hall and Craig Gemmell

Rick Commons, Headmaster Tim Dumont, Director of Building and Grounds Gail Friedman, Director of Communications Craig Gemmell, Assistant Head for Program Bert Hall, Design Process Coordinator, Science Teacher MaryAnn Lanier, Director of Instrumental Music Betsy Lawrence ’82, Director of the Annual Fund Steve Marchand, Library Director Hale Smith, Chief Financial Officer John Tyler, History Teacher

We welcome your feedback on the Schoolhouse renovation. Please send your comments to quarterly @ groton.org.

Quarterly Spring 2013

| 35


An Uncommon î „ecade

36 | Quarterly Spring 2013


Rick Served, and Groton Flourished By James H. Higgins III, P’02, ’06, Board of Trustees President

Photos by mike sperling and vaughn winchell

I

t was evening. We had selected a room in the Admission Office as the site, hopeful that its ambiance would connote a welcoming warmth and informality. But somehow our choice of seating plan created more the air of a firing squad instead—the victim sitting alone in a chair, back to the wall, facing us as if we were staked out in an arc of opposition. That’s how I first met Rick Commons. A decade ago, I was a member of the Advisory Interviewing Committee, tasked with boiling down the candidate field in search of Groton’s seventh headmaster. After we all introduced ourselves and shook hands, I offered him the solo chair. He was the evening’s victim. The plan had been to engage in a comfortable discussion, but we had him trapped, outnumbered 10 to one, and we were heavily armed! We ended up charging at him with our pages of premeditated questions, hitting him from every direction, making him twist and turn and choose with whom to make eye contact and to whom to turn his back. We thought we had all the angles covered. We probed every aspect of the job, but I doubt any of us there that evening could remember any of Rick’s answers even a day or two later. In truth, all those details didn’t really get to the heart of the matter. We knew Groton was a unique institution—part school, part family, an annealing fusion of intense challenge, unbending standards, and warm supportive intimacy, equally interested in the depth of one’s character as the gifts in one’s brain. What we really wanted to know that night was: Are you someone who understands so well the essence of all that and can be its champion? And the answer to that question was indelible: we had found our man! It is no easy task to take over the leadership of a proud institution from a predecessor of great stature who was beloved and admired by so many. In fact, according to our search consultants at the time, the “industry buzz” was that everyone was jealous of Rick’s selection, but no one was envious of his challenge. Yet Rick arrived at the Circle in the same way he arrived at that evening interview. He was unflappable, prodigiously prepared, but more interested in learning than dictating, calmly certain of what must endure but also a protagonist for change, almost unconscionably articulate, but preferring to let others speak. He had a way of taking things on without seeming to take possession, allowing all the rest of us to think the end accomplishments were our own, not his. Violating all professional guidance on the matter, Rick calmly pushed forward a strategic plan in his first year on the job. Defying the odds, it was Groton’s first-ever successful effort at such a task, which culminated in a framework of long-term priorities that has guided every significant action. As time went by, with progress made, that original plan was updated to reflect new challenges. The process became even more collaborative and more sophisticated in its aspirations. It’s now hard to remember that we haven’t always guided ourselves this way. Quarterly Spring 2013

| 37


An Uncommon Decade

He had a way of taking things on without seeming to take possession, allowing all the rest of us to think the end accomplishments were our own.

Emma Rimmer ’16 with the headmaster

38 | Quarterly Spring 2013

Without pausing and consciously reminding ourselves that Rick started it all, and is the actual author, it feels like the words, and the plan, and the process are ours. The same is true across all the School’s activities. Groton’s academic requirements have always been the gold standard. Gaining entrance has always been challenging, and college matriculation has always been strong. Nevertheless, wherever we look, we see adjustments and improvements in the way we do things. Over Rick’s tenure, Mandarin has been added, STEM is moving from pilot stage toward full membership, and service opportunities are embraced as more than an extracurricular hobby. Music, drama, and art all existed before Rick arrived, but a Campbell Performing Arts Center play looks more like a professional than a school production now. The accompaniment at Lessons & Carrols has gone from an ensemble to an orchestra, requiring the removal of a row or two of pews from the Chapel just so all the musicians can fit. Our athletic victories are more numerous, even as our league moves further away from our ideals of non-specialization. Twice as many candidates apply now for admission than did a decade ago, while the size of the School has hardly budged. By any measure, Groton is more eclectic and diverse, in no small measure helped by the various forms of financial assistance the School now provides to almost 45 percent of the student body. That’s approaching twice as many as ten years ago. While admission to the most elite colleges has become an ever more intense, and some would say irrational, challenge, Groton’s Sixth Formers continue to impress. Many people have contributed to all these advances, of course, and it’s part of Rick’s technique, I think, to somehow encourage us to see mostly our own fingerprints on each of these results, and particularly on those that we care most about. But a real forensic test would find Rick’s DNA on all of them. Whether initiating an idea, or advancing or redirecting someone else’s, putting a new person in a job, or letting a current person reinterpret their role, Rick ensured that Groton was always moving, always improving, always striving to be at the top of its game. In the pursuit of giving voice to Groton’s mission and values, Rick has had no peer. He brought his clarity of expression to the meaning of a life inspired by character, learning, leadership, and service. He did so in Chapel Talks, at alumni receptions, at parent gatherings, faculty meetings, board meetings, meal blessings, and in informal chats at Parlor. He did so in moments of celebration, disappointment, inspiration, anxiety, and grief. He always made Groton’s purpose and mission understandable not just as an enduring basis for the School, but as a reliable and relevant foundation on which to build one’s life. After listening to him, we all have felt better, felt stronger, and felt reassured. In that first year, if anyone still wondered if this new headmaster really understood Groton with all its nuances, the first answer came with the thundering standing ovation to his inaugural Parents Weekend talk. It was a powerful, probing, and moving dissertation, linking the purpose of Groton’s Circle, the golden ring of Tolkien’s character Frodo, and the constant challenge of using power in service to others instead of over others. A decade later, as we bid the Commons family farewell, we owe our seventh headmaster a great debt of gratitude, for we know how he has answered that challenge himself. He has used his remarkable power in service to all of us—cui servire est regnare!


Ode to Joy

By Hardwick Simmons ’58, P’84, ’07, ’09, GP’12

I

t is never easy to replace an icon—and after 25 years of paternal and enlightened rule, Bill Polk had achieved such status. All 27 members of Groton’s board in 2001 knew Groton had attempted to do it twice before—succeeding once. Their search for a successor to Mr. Polk provided two finalists: one a sitting 10-year head of school, the other a young assistant head with a new bride of 24. Each was invited to Groton to meet the faculty and trustees over a weekend, and in a virtuoso performance in which he displayed a precocious memory for names and an engaging ability to put thought into words, and she a presence beyond her years, Rick and Lindsay Commons carried the day. Groton was charmed, and its seventh headmaster in 120 years was anointed. A second test, with students as judges, took place later that spring when we invited the Commons to spend a night or two with us in Nantucket. It was then we discovered the little boy in Rick—he was as athletic and competitive as he could be erudite. In a decathlon-like series of trials, Reed (then 11) put Rick through an hour of whiffle ball (victory in dispute), two hours of fishing in his 2hp dinghy (no fish), a half hour of ping-pong (Reed), and a half-hour dedicated to guessing the peculiar batting styles of Red Sox heroes, which Reed could mime with the best of them. Rick passed with flying colors—in fact, his Nomar may have bested Reed’s. Later that evening, as everyone relaxed and daughter Taylor (then a Third Former) filled Lindsay in on Groton’s daily routine, customs, etc., Rick’s impish sense of humor and love of good scotch—and better red wine—became apparent. I also noted his fascination with lawns: it seems they offer a strong reminder of his beloved grandfather, for whom his lawn tractor was a raison d’être. An enduring bond was formed. That fall, as I remember it, Rick got off to an excellent start by leaning heavily on the advice and counsel of his predecessor, and by year two, was in full command. The search committee had commended him for his understanding of the roles faith and tradition play as support and structure for teens coming of age, and it soon became clear that Groton was in for change of the evolutionary kind. Mandatory Chapel, Saturday classes, sit-down dinners, and bedtime handshakes would be continued, while the curriculum was trimmed, courses combined, and a new math/science/engineering amalgam introduced. The School would remain “small” to encourage unity. Regular retirements would allow for a number of new faculty hires, and characteristic of most would be an inquiring and aspiring mind— which entailed a risk that some would work out better than others. Groton had the right model, but to Rick it seemed a little too buttoned-up, and he was determined to add a less predictable flair to the School’s life. His thoughts about the direction in which he might take Groton began to crystallize one evening in his third year, when he and I were enjoying our once-a-term dinner. Trusting his instincts more than he did, I was pushing him to be somewhat bolder in his realignment of certain Groton functions (admissions, as I remember) as the capital campaign we’d finished before Rick’s arrival had exposed a dearth of entrepreneurs amongst Groton’s alumni. Perhaps a dose of capriciousness, I suggested, be added to the standard admissions model the School had used for a century. Quarterly Spring 2013

| 39


An Uncommon Decade

His answer surprised me: “What Groton needs is more joy.”

Wick Simmons was a member of Groton’s Board of Trustees from 1996 to 2008. Bob Krist

Rick at Second Form Parlor

His answer surprised me. “What Groton needs is more joy, ” he countered, and he was off. The pressure of the admissions process, the pressure of grades, the pressure of parents and peers, the pressure of college placement—all these pressures contributed to an environment that was too often portrayed as joyless, a community of workaholics. This was not the Groton he wanted nor the Groton he knew. Wasn’t this the school where the senior class had “kidnapped” the entire lower school one morning, leading to vast faculty consternation until the plot was uncovered hours later? The School where a certain Fifth Former had hijacked the clapper in the Schoolhouse bell, leading to a scheduling nightmare? The School where theater, music, and the arts flourished and bonfires followed major victories? Rick went on, “We need to give the joy we have more of a voice, to present it as an integral part of Groton life, to make room for it in the Groton schedule.” He’d found his mission. Seven years later, Rick and Lindsay have decided to head home (hers) to California, leaving an improved and much-sought-after school in their wake. Three generations of Simmonses will miss them greatly. Sloan and I because we’ve become quite close, sharing many dinners, home visits, and nights out. Daughter Taylor ’07 because 1) she truly enjoyed being Lindsay’s advisee during her senior year, and 2) she will never forget their birthday-cake-baking episode that went awry. Grandson Ben ’12, who, as a Third Former dressed in his Sunday best with his hands in his pockets, delivered a well-prepared and successful soliloquy to Mr. Commons, asking him to be his advisor. I expect the School is now more joyful. It was evident on Prize Day when both the headmaster and the form speaker traded some humorous barbs. I was recently reminded of the power of joy in a performance of Beethoven’s Ninth (and last) Symphony in which the aging and deaf composer ponders the human condition before deciding in a thundering finale that man is essentially “good.” Based on a condensed version of Schiller’s “Ode To Joy,” the joy it expresses is exhilarating and uplifting. Rick is right: joy is a powerful elixir and a legacy, his legacy, not to be ignored.

40 | Quarterly Spring 2013


Annie Card

“Gratefully I Leave My Notch”

A Q & A with Lindsay Commons

Lindsay Commons shared some of her thoughts about Groton with the Quarterly:

What did you find most surprising about the community?

U

pon arriving at Groton School at 25 years old, I found it surprising, even a bit alarming, that everyone seemed to care about what I did, or didn’t do, what I wore and how I wore it, what I ate or didn’t eat, whom I spoke with or didn’t speak with, whether the lights were on or off in our house, when we were going to have a baby or not, not to mention which books I had read or not read. I chalked up this intense interest in our lives to the position that Rick held, our place on the Circle. Yet, I was in for a bigger surprise. After 10 years on the Circle, I know that those same people still care, are still very interested in our lives, and now the lives of our children. They have lent me books for my graduate research and eggs for a recipe, helped me fill out an art history lecture, been on call when Clara was born, noticed the little things and so much more, both ordinary and extraordinary. My point is that people in this community care, have always cared about each of its members, their children, their dogs, their celebrations and losses, sickness and health, no matter what their work is on the Circle. Our care for and interest in all those who walk the Circle is unusual, it is countercultural and, surprisingly, there is no place like it. It quite possibly is the closest I will ever come to feeling the true meaning of community. Groton School truly is a family inside a small town where everyone knows not only your name, but also what you had for dinner and what book you are reading.

What is your favorite Groton tradition? Why is it your favorite?

L

essons and Carols is my favorite event, for sure. I do not have a great singing voice, and I love singing. I go to two or three services every year. And if I can’t go to the third because of our children’s bedtimes, I watch it streaming online. It becomes new again each year: I get a sense of quiet melancholy at the beginning of “Once in Royal David’s City,” and then elation during “Personent Hodie,” and then, yes, every year I get nervous that Rick will stumble over that very difficult tongue-twisting “In the beginning was the word and the word was with God and the word was God” passage. And I always get shivers when the girls reach those high notes on “sing choirs of angels.” One more word on tradition though. I love that the tradition at Groton starts with the art and architecture we walk through and in and around every day. That the stone on the Schoolhouse steps or the armrest of the wooden choir seat in the Chapel is worn concave, or the door handle tarnished, or the fireplaces in our living room blackened by those who walked, and sat, and worked in these very spaces before, gives authenticity and meaning to our traditions. The place we inhabit here on the Circle is the physical timeline for traditions, and gratefully I leave my notch. Quarterly Spring 2013

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An Uncommon Decade

What do you think your children will remember most about Groton?

I will always remember that sweet feeling of being simultaneously a teacher and a student.

I

heard Rick ask Matthew on the phone if he remembered when the helicopter landed on the Circle to announce Surprise Holiday. “No.” “How about the fire engine, or the antique car?” “No.” And of course he won’t remember when he announced Surprise Holiday, an infant wrapped up in a blanket, wrapped up in a green jacket ... and let’s hope he doesn’t because we feel a bit guilty about his startle from the whoops and hollers. My bet is that the kids remember the Schoolhouse bells; the flagpole; being pulled in the wagon around and around and around the Circle; running to meet their daddy after work; chocolate milk and Jello in the Dining Hall; countless hours watching B&G plow, shovel, blow, and rake; and the quiet hours spent wiping down chairs during Sunday Chapel (great tactic, Mom). I am guessing that they will remember playing and running on the Circle grass as though it were an endless space too vast for their steps to ever cover. I also think that they won’t have a sense of where their home ended and School began. The word “Groton” will evoke it all.

Did any particular person at Groton make a lasting impression? Who and why?

W

Aria Kopp ’13

Lindsay, Clara, Matthew, and Rick

hen I was teaching art history, I shared a classroom with a few other teachers and did most of my schoolwork before or after class in the faculty room. During my free periods, I got to know the interns along with the faculty room regulars, a brain trust of sorts: David Ross, Doug Brown, John Tulp, Hugh Sackett, Elson Harmon, sometimes Dr. Tyler would stop through. Conversation was always complex, and multidisciplinary. It was always philosophical, fueled by ferocious curiosity and amazing breadth of life experience and many turned pages. I loved listening. I loved joining in, and I was always thrilled when I sensed I was holding my own. Nothing could be more of a compliment to me than Doug Brown’s admission that the thought of the headmaster’s wife teaching and hanging around the faculty room was initially quite worrisome; only now, he allowed, he quite enjoyed my company. The discourse was casual and littered with clever wit and humor. I will always remember that sweet feeling of being simultaneously a teacher and a student.

42 | Quarterly Spring 2013


Leadership on Land Conservation

By Thomas E. Zacharias P’04, ’07

O

ne of Rick Commons’ most enduring legacies will be the conservation of land surrounding the School. It was fall 2005, and the Campbell Performing Arts Center had recently been completed. The facility was the culmination of years of planning and fundraising. But nearby, after a three-year permitting process, a 164-acre parcel of land known as Surrenden Farm had just received final approval for a 130-unit residential development. Its traffic would dump onto a road at the edge of campus behind the Performing Arts Center. Although Groton was blessed with a bucolic 400acre campus that stretched from Route 111 down to the Nashua River, the land around it was being prepared for suburban development. The New Facilities Committee of the Groton board realized that while their efforts to create and maintain a beautiful and well-functioning campus were one goal, of equal importance was protecting this campus for the future. On the north side of the campus, next to the hockey rink access road, the longtime owner of 55 acres had decided to sell. This parcel, known as the Gunderson House, was going on the market, and a 20-lot subdivision had been proposed. Meanwhile, on the campus’ south boundary, construction on the 130-unit development was to start in spring 2006. Rick and the board knew that it was time to work out arrangements with the adjacent property owners to preserve the unique oasis known as Groton School. The conservation of adjoining land had been identified as an important part of the strategic planning effort that Rick led in his first year. The capital campaign that followed the strategic plan had identified three components: financial aid, faculty salaries, and land conservation. Rick rallied the troops, and board members Wick Simmons ’58 and Scott Asen ’62 articulated the vision and sought out benefactors. Bob Bass and Zach Taylor ’64 worked on the preservation strategies. Rick spoke eloquently of the need to preserve the peaceful and reflective campus and its surroundings for generations to come. Under his leadership, other board members, faculty members, alumni, and parents rallied around the plan. A group of donors contributed funds for an outright purchase of the Gunderson parcel, which closed at the end of 2005. The larger, 164-acre Surrenden Farm property would need partners with the same vision. Quarterly Spring 2013

| 43

VAUGHN WINCHELL

How Rick Commons Helped Preserve Groton’s Bucolic Vistas


An Uncommon Decade

Arranging the conservation of 415 acres adjacent to the School campus in a twoyear period was a marvelous accomplishment.

Badge Blackett, a senior project manager for the Trust for Public Land, had been watching the development activity proposed for this significant parcel with its colonial-era stone walls, fields that had been in agricultural use for generations, and contiguous forests. The Trust knew that conserving Surrenden Farm, in combination with the adjoining, undeveloped Hunt Club Meadows—a total of 360 acres—would greatly benefit the quality of the Nashua River watershed and protect the scenic views that contribute to the character of the town. The total parcel would be adjacent to other large blocks of conserved land, including the Groton Town Forest. Blackett appreciated that School endowment and town budgets were limited, but he knew that, working together with the Groton Conservation Trust and seeking additional state, federal, and private sources of funding, a large parcel like this could in fact be protected. Furthermore, Blackett had worked on a land conservation deal with Joe Falzone, the developer who held the contract on Surrenden Farm. An agreement with Falzone was a critical first step, and they reached a deal in January 2006. Putting up a $4.9 million non-refundable deposit, the Trust had 12 months to raise the money and close on the land. The total capital needed for the entire 360 acres was $19.4 million. The Board of Trustees of Groton School committed to a lead pledge of $5 million if the town voted in support of the conservation project. Blackett got the town to consider using its bonding capacity to sell $5.6 million in bonds to help preserve the land. Pockets of governmental and other land preservation monies were identified. Five existing houses on the property would be sold. Rick encouraged faculty members to take an interest and attend the town meeting authorizing the issuance of the bonds. A press release from the Trust quoted Rick: “The trustees of Groton School recognize this as an important collaboration between the town and the School. If the town wants to protect this land, they can count on the School as a solid partner. Our commitment reflects our strong belief in this project as important not only to the School, but to the Groton community as a whole. We feel a responsibility to take a leadership role.” At the town meeting in April 2006, many residents spoke in favor of the bond referendum, a few against. The bond referendum passed, and there was a final fundraising push. By the end of 2006, the 360-acre farm was in conservation ownership, with half owned by the Groton Conservation Trust, half owned by the Town of Groton, and all of it permanently preserved for agricultural use and the public’s enjoyment of its trails and open spaces. Arranging the conservation of 415 acres adjacent to the School campus in a two-year period was a marvelous accomplishment. There are many winners in this land conservation project—the town, the School, and the people who now enjoy the use of the protected land, and Rick Commons played a critical role in achieving this wonderful outcome.

Tim Dumont

Thomas E. Zacharias P’ 04, ’07 was a member of Groton’s Board of Trustees from 2003 to 2007 and chaired its New Facilities Committee.

44 | Quarterly Spring 2013


A Community-Builder: The Parent Perspective

Annie Card

I

n fall 2003, our eldest son, Nate, entered Groton as a Third Former. He was very excited, a little nervous, eager to learn and take on new challenges, and impressed by the long list of great people who went before him. Rick Commons was also new that fall, and I suspect that he shared many of Nate’s feelings. I watched them both as they navigated those early days, settling into their new surroundings and ultimately making Groton their home. Nate’s siblings, Adam and Hannah, also each spent four years at Groton, so Groton was our daily community for eight of Rick’s ten years. I feel privileged to have had a chance to share those years with him, and to witness the many ways that his leadership and vision transformed the School, while preserving and strengthening the best of its traditions. Groton always has prided itself on the intimacy of its small community, but this intimacy is manifested very differently today than it was even a few decades ago. The Circle is undeniably connected to the larger world in ways that enhance and challenge the community. During his decade at Groton, Rick devoted his efforts to making the School even stronger and more relevant in the 21st century—keeping the best that smallness and intimacy offer, while also elevating its leadership in a diverse, connected, and rapidly changing world. My own window onto Rick’s leadership was largely through the many ways he worked to include parents in the life of the School. He saw the parent body as a vibrant resource with the potential to strengthen the core mission of the School while also connecting it to the world outside the Circle. For five years, I worked closely with him in my role as chair of the Parents Association. Together, we aimed to engage parents both on and off campus and harness their commitment and creativity in support of the School. Part of this effort admittedly was in response to reality: parents of my generation, by and large, expect and want to be actively involved in their children’s lives. But part of it also was because Rick knew that parents had much to offer the School in terms of talent and passion and diverse perspective. Inviting them to be active members of the community would enrich the experience of all its members. Rick took the symbolically important step of changing the parents organization from a committee to an association, one that includes every current parent. During Rick’s tenure, the Parents Association offered a wide variety of opportunities to volunteer on campus. Parents now help dorm faculty plan celebrations, greet visiting families in the Admission Office, host international students over long weekends, and help out in many other valuable ways. He sought to engage parents’ minds as well as their hands, and supported the establishment of seasonal parent roundtable discussions covering topics as wide-ranging as curriculum development, diversity, the role of the Chapel, marketing, and community service. Parents told us that they appreciated being included in these lively discussions, and they, of course, provided invaluable perspective and guidance. Rick also was interested in sharing the School’s impressive educational resources with parents, and the Parents Association began to offer “night school” classes taught by Groton faculty, on topics from quantum physics to modern India to public speaking skills. As Groton explored ways to deepen the experience of service at Groton, Rick asked the Parents Association to bring the perspective and expertise of the parent body into the discussion. In the course of a year-long effort, a parent-faculty committee gathered data and made recommendations, which fed directly into the commitment to service articulated in the School’s long-range plan, reaffirming and re-imagining the role of service at the core of the school’s culture and program. Rick believes that Groton School can and must hold close both its intimacy and its diversity, and that both qualities are essential to its mission. As headmaster, he sought to foster the closeness of the Groton “family” and simultaneously strengthen connections between the Groton Circle and the global community of which we are a part, and he knew that parents could play an essential role. —Polly Cross Reeve ’78, P’07,’09,’11 Polly Reeve chaired the Parents Association from 2007 to 2011.

Rick congratulating Jake Congleton P’77, ’93, GP’03 at Groton’s Athletic Hall of Fame kick-off

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An Uncommon Decade

The Name Game In the midst of the most painful time in my life, I also got to experience great generosity and kindness.

B

ack when I was first at Groton, a friendly competition raged between the Headmaster’s Office and the Deans’ Office: during the first several weeks of School, any student could approach then Headmaster Bill Polk or Deans Jake Congleton or Joan Holden and say, “What’s my name?” Rick Commons would have won this contest hands down. When he first arrived at Groton, he already knew all the faculty names, and each September it seems to have taken him about 10 minutes to learn the names of the new students. Yes, he is exceptionally good with names and faces, but Rick also has recognized that it is important to each person under the Groton umbrella to be called by name, and it is clear that he works hard to learn all those names. —Kathy Leggat, Academic Dean

Well-Ordered Priorities

I

n fall 2011, when my husband was in home hospice care dying from pancreatic cancer, I was his main caretaker. Faced with the need to take several weeks off in order to tend to him while he lay dying, I was unsure of how I would be able to cover this time, since there was no way I could keep working for those last weeks of his life. In the School’s faculty and staff handbook, it states that policies regarding family emergency leave are at the discretion of the headmaster. When I contacted Rick with my situation, he proved to be compassionate and supportive. In one email he wrote, “There is no better expenditure the School can make than taking care of a member of our family.” It made me cry, because in the midst of the most painful time in my life, I also got to experience great generosity and kindness. It is in times of hardship and vulnerability that people’s true natures shine through. —Monika Andersson, photography teacher

The Value of Mentorship Arthur Colby ’07 and his advisor

46 | Quarterly Spring 2013

M

r. Commons and I started at Groton in the same year. As headmaster, he served as my image of the School through his welcoming presence and thoughtful prose. But as a new Third Former, above all, I admired his uncanny talent for Parlor games. Eventually, our ping-pong matches became closer, and I began to realize what his mentorship meant. Aside from his many contributions to the School, I believe Mr. Commons’ legacy is the profound and lasting impact on my and other students’ development as people. While he was responsible for charting the overall direction of the School, Mr. Commons also made time for an honest weekly breakfast conversation at Tiny’s, and he understood the value of mentorship on an individual level. He and Mrs. Commons provided a family for me away from home. As my advisor, he connected and encouraged me, shaping my growth and learning. Mr. Commons worked to instill in me positive habits and patterns for the “active work of life” and helped me develop a strong moral foundation during those formative years. While I never took one of his classes, Mr. Commons was a teacher in the truest sense. For being a teacher, mentor, and friend—thank you from your admiring advisee and good luck in your next chapter. —Arthur Colby ’07


Seen It All (and Still Impressed)

H

aving served under each successive headmaster who followed the Rector, it seems right that I should make some comparisons. Having thought that the energetic and very articulate young man who came to lead us in 2003 might indeed make his mark on the School over a 30year period, I have to say that he has achieved that in just 10 years, which makes him no doubt more of a manager than his predecessors (we include in this thought the extraordinary search for his successor with its unbeatable unity of praise!). He has proved to be the most literate, superb at making astonishingly affective Chapel Talks or Parents Weekend addresses, all creatively based on the narrative technique known as ring-composition and emotive with personal allusions. He has succeeded in harnessing the faculty as willing colleagues in the management of our affairs (from the daily round to the new STEM system). He has proved able to guide and control potentially “unruly” Sixth Formers in a 1:80 ratio (as indeed the imperturbable Paul Wright had to do “back then”). A recent student-run Roll Call (that unruly import of Roland Cox, from St Paul’s), bent on actively developing a “creative roll,”—and at the height of teenage excitement (so that colleagues with material to cover in their first period classes may have been getting nervous thinking, “No! Not another filibuster!”)—just faded away as he decided to step up to the podium! Perish the thought, but such an outcome was not a forgone conclusion to this observer (perhaps because I had wide disciplinary responsibilities for Bert Honea in 1968?). Rick will have greater numbers to guide in his next assignment, and we wish him “Godspeed.” —Hugh Sackett, classics teacher

Advice on Matters Large and Small

B

efore I showed up on the Circle in September of 2005, I had met Mr. Commons once. He was the assistant headmaster at a private school not far from my house outside Baltimore, and following the news that he would succeed Bill Polk as headmaster at Groton, my father, David Wilmerding III ’79, met Mr. Commons at a Groton gathering. After the event, my parents invited Mr. and Mrs. Commons over for dinner. While I do not remember much of the dinner, two years later I arrived at Groton and learned that Mr. Commons would be my advisor. Having the headmaster as my advisor removed much of the initial intimidation I would have felt toward the administration and faculty. Little things like going to the Headmaster’s House for feeds (which always featured a few Klondike bars) and going over my grades in the headmaster’s office built my confidence (except when chemistry was involved) and removed some of the more daunting aspects of the early years at Groton. I have always felt Groton is a school about building relationships—with formmates, dorm mates, friends, faculty, and staff. My relationship with Mr. and Mrs. Commons helped me form these bonds, especially with my teachers.

MIKE SPERLIN

G

Reading A Christmas Carol to the Second Form

First, he would seem to really understand the situation and how it affected me, then he would recommend a course of action.

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ART DURITY

An Uncommon Decade

While Mr. Commons’ Chapel Talks surely will leave a lasting impression on students, his personal advice meant a lot to me. Whether on the golf course, at lunch in the Dining Hall, or in his office, Mr. Commons’ words went beyond thoughtful. First, he would seem to really understand the situation and how it affected me, then he would recommend a course of action. This held true for decisions big and small. During my four years at Groton, I became close with Mr. Commons. Whether it was when our dorm would wake him up in the middle of the night because the fire door between our hallway and the Headmaster’s House doubled as a soccer goal, or when I was “fist-bumping” Matthew as he played on the Circle, the Commonses became a large part of my Groton experience. Mr. Commons, thank you for your help and support at Groton and best of luck at Harvard-Westlake. —David Wilmerding ’09

David Wilmerding ’09, Arthur Colby ’07, and Charlotte Lysohir ’08 carve pumpkins with Rick.

Fitting the Mold; Encouraging Others Not To

I

’ve always thought of Rick as very polished—always perfectly dressed, never a wrinkle in his clothes, never a bad hair day. Perhaps my appreciation partly stems from the occasions on which my own fashion choices have stood out awkwardly—the spiky loafers that invariably drew a look of disapproval from at least one of my colleagues, the old cowboy boots I wore before they were fashionable. (When I once mentioned to Rick that I felt a little out of place in those New Mexican boots, he told me he liked them. “I think you should keep wearing them,” he said, bolstering my courage.) Rick’s use of the English language is equally impeccable, and I’ve long marveled at his ability to skate through a conversation like a gold medalist nailing a difficult routine with grace and precision. Again, my admiration may arise partly from my own tendency to trip myself up or to slip into informal colloquialisms now and then. For instance, I will never forget the time he stopped me in the hall to comment on my use of the word “thingie.” “Thingie?” he asked, a bemused expression on his face. “Yes, ‘thingie,’ I replied. “ It’s a great word.” He just laughed. Given my estimation of Rick as inimitably suave and debonair, you can imagine my surprise when, in a Chapel Talk, he told a story about going to a high school costume party dressed in his great-grandfather’s riding habit, a clothing choice that could not have been less smooth since everyone else was dressed in ordinary clothes with only the slightest nod to anything resembling an actual costume—a funny hat, Mardi Gras beads, and, yes, cowboy boots. On top of being hailed as “Paul Revere” by his date’s father, Rick also explained that he had been so nervous about speaking with this girl—Rochelle was her name—that when he had called her on the phone, he had referred to note cards on which he had written “safe topics, natural-sounding phrases, and opening and closing lines.” I can’t tell you how relieved I was to know this detail about Rick—to realize that even someone as eloquent as he is has experienced moments of anxiety about speaking, has, on occasion, been unsure about what to say and how to say it.

48 | Quarterly Spring 2013


When I first came to Groton 10 years ago, I remember sitting in Chapel and noticing that every single student in the row in front of me was wearing a black North Face fleece jacket. Thankfully, that is no longer the case, and though the variations in style sometimes wreak havoc on the dress code, I for one am glad to see a greater variety of clothing. Perhaps it is a little ironic that Rick himself never looks out of place, but he has always supported those of us who have dared to be different. As he said in his closing words of that same Chapel Talk, “You’re not keeping up your end of the bargain if you wear a costume that makes you look and sound like everyone else. Risk wearing the ‘habits’ that are truly yours, and I promise the rewards will be great—for all of us.”—Ellen Rennard, English teacher

Perhaps it is a little ironic that Rick himself never looks out of place, but he has always supported those of us who have dared to be different.

Gaining Confidence in Myself and in Groton

—Alice Stites ’13

Gail Friedman

M

y first dinner with Mr. Commons was on a fall evening in Third Form. The sun was beginning to set as I walked over to the Upper School side of the Circle. I approached the Headmaster’s House worried that I had forgotten what time the dinner was or whether I was dressed in appropriate attire. Taped to the front door was a sticky note: “Welcome! Go around the back.” Confident with these new directions, I turned and walked around to the terrace. There I saw several other advisees seated at a table and Mr. Commons grilling with his sleeves rolled up. “Alice, glad you could come!” Of course I could come. Tonight, every student was having dinner with her advisor. Nonetheless, his greeting was encouraging though we had yet to engage in a conversation longer than a few minutes. His hospitality settled my nerves. I sat down at the table to introduce myself to the older advisees and to Mrs. Commons. Compelling conversation and a delicious meal ensued. As the night went on, the prospect of being Mr. Commons’ advisee was thrilling. Throughout my Third Form year and the years that followed, Mr. Commons has had a unique presence in my life. Every so often, we would have lunch together. He would ask how classes were, how the play was going, and other questions pertaining to my life. In turn, I would ask him about Groton, his travels, and so on. When I sought his advice, Mr. Commons would always listen with intent and respond in a way that both calmed me and encouraged me to persevere. He has an uncanny ability of hearing someone, then distilling her words down to the heart of the issue. He was always confident in my potential even when I was not. Over the four years he has been my advisor, I have grown to trust him, his advice, and his friendship. Aside from our exclusive interactions, Mr. Commons’ leadership in the School significantly affected my time at Groton. I particularly enjoyed arriving at Chapel to hear him speak. Each time he rose to the pulpit, he spoke with passion on topics from movies to football to South Korea. Through his talks, Mr. Commons never failed to express to the community his empowering confidence in Groton’s integrity. He encouraged my peers and me to see Groton as a great school. When he leaves the Circle this summer, I know his impact on me and on others will remain.

Mr. Commons, with his advisee Alice Stites ‘13, wearing the green jacket for the last time to announce the spring Surprise Holiday

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An Uncommon Decade

“Is This Worth It?” While Rick Commons leaves a multi-layered legacy, he may be best remembered for his oratory skills. This was his final Chapel Talk, delivered on March 26, 2013.

I

have a confession to make. I hope you won’t judge me too harshly. I grew up in Philadelphia, and I’ve now lived in New England for a decade, but when it comes to the NBA, I don’t care about the Sixers or the Celtics. Soon, I’ll be moving to Los Angeles, but I’m not moved by the Lakers either. Ever since that fateful day when a guy who allows himself to be called King James, as if his existence is somehow biblical, announced in another unwitting allusion to the Bible that he would “take his talents to South Beach,” I have been a closet follower of the Miami Heat. I’m fascinated by LeBron James. I read about him when he gained national prominence in high school in Ohio, and I admit to a special interest in super-talented high school students about whom people say things like, “She’s gonna be a star” or “He’s got incredible raw talent.” That’s my excuse for following the Heat. So many superlative predictions were made about James before he was even 18 that I had to join the throng in observing whether he could possibly fulfill the world’s expectations. His story was a feel-good fairy tale when he went from high school to playing for the Cleveland Cavaliers, his hometown team; but not until he betrayed the entire state of Ohio and “took his talents to South Beach” did he achieve what people had long anticipated—leading his team to the NBA championship last year, being named championship series MVP, and dominating the NBA this season. As you may know, the Heat are currently in the midst of a stunning winning streak: 27 straight victories as of last night—the second-longest winning streak in major American professional sports history. Somehow, every night James seems to be “in the zone.” About a month ago, when the winning streak was just a couple of weeks old, an article appeared in The New York Times entitled, “The Happy Warrior Meets the Obsessive Competitor.” It began this way: Is anyone having more fun these days than LeBron James? As he demolishes his opposition nightly, the N.B.A.’s resident megastar has bearhugged a fan who drained a halfcourt shot, elevated the pregame dunk line into an art form, and joined his Miami Heat teammates in putting together their own version of a Harlem Shake video. …There is a joie de vivre to James’s dominance this season, which stands in stark contrast to the scowl he wore the last few years when he was the world’s favorite NBA player to hate. Now, he laughs. He smiles. He dances. He wins.¹ Good for Lebron James. Good for Miami too, but why would I start our spring term with attention to the most mercenary team in the NBA? It’s a fair question. I could try to justify a talk in Chapel with James’s biblical nickname or the Heat’s apocalyptic mascot—a ball of fire. But my real reason is that I think we might have something to learn from observing people who are “in the zone” not only of extreme success but also of unselfconscious happiness. *

*

*

Success and happiness—those two timeless ideals are sometimes presented as mutually exclusive in our culture, and I would venture to say that they are often presented as incompatible in our School, particularly when it comes to academic success. I hear it in the grumbling of beleaguered Sixth Formers during fall term, harried Fifth Formers during AP week, all of us in mid-February. There is a popular notion that creeps into the atmosphere here during particularly busy and stressful times that you have to look and feel miserable if you want any hope of achieving your academic goals or gaining the longed-for college acceptance. ¹ New York Times, March 2, 2013

50 | Quarterly Spring 2013


One of the primary existential questions in our community is whether all the struggles inherent in the Groton experience bring reward enough in the end to validate them. The question is perhaps most present and most often voiced during those periods when Sixth Formers are receiving college admission decisions and swapping stories about their friends at home who haven’t worked half as hard and yet just got into thus and such. Even if you are able to banish from your mind the self-defeating specter of college admission and focus on the more worthwhile concern of college readiness, even if you hold on to the age-old aspiration to prepare yourself for the “active work of life,” the question still hovers in the high-ceilinged atmosphere of the Schoolhouse and in the late-night straightjacket of a burn room: Is this worth it? You might expect me to try to make the case, in some new and compelling way, that the answer is a resounding YES! I might trot out some inspiring story of an alum who discovered that the hardships she went through at Groton led ultimately to wealth, fame, and perpetual bliss. Buckle down and be tough, for God’s sake! And Endicott Peabody’s. Cui servire est regnare! Servire now, and trust me, you’ll regnare later! I know I have given some version of that Chapel talk. Maybe more than once. I am officially a caricature of myself. But not today. What I want to say today is that, rather than answer the tired query, “Is Groton worth it?” with a long-suffering and determined, “Yes, and I’ll prove it to the world when all this effort pays off in the end,” my greatest hope is that you will find your “zone” of success and happiness now, that you will become so deeply immersed in the flow of things that you forget to ask yourself the question, “Is it worth it?” *

*

One of the primary existential questions in our community is whether all the struggles inherent in the Groton experience bring reward enough in the end to validate them.

*

The flow of things. I was deliberate in choosing those words, especially that one word, flow. A renowned psychologist named Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi has created an entire body of research around the concept of flow, which he defines as “being completely involved in an activity for its own sake. The ego falls away. Time flies. … Your whole being is involved, and you’re using your skills to the utmost.” He says that “flow … happens when a person’s skills are fully involved in overcoming a challenge that is just about manageable, so it acts as a magnet for learning new skills and increasing challenges.”² Most of us have felt some kind of flow doing something, and we are privileged to witness it regularly here at Groton. We don’t have to watch LeBron James on TV when we get to listen to Danny play the postlude after his Chapel Talk, without sheet music, and we know that he is so immersed in the notes in his head and hands and that he has forgotten us even as he inspires us. Or when we get to watch CC in a marquee squash match, lunging, dropping, driving, and reacting before the ball has even been struck—in the flow, and oblivious to the crowd cheering for her from the other side of the glass. What if we could interrupt them, mid-piece or mid-match, and ask: “Is this worth all the effort? The hours alone practicing, the cramping of hand and leg muscles, the mental exhaustion of sustaining such a high level in front of so many people? Is this worth all that?” They couldn’t be more different could they, Danny and CC? And yet I imagine the same look on both their faces. OK, Danny’s look might be crazier, but I imagine that in the moment they would both consider it to be a bizarre question. When you are in a state of flow, you can’t think about yourself; you can’t think about anything except the challenge before you and the deep and abiding joy of meeting it. Is the same state of flow—the Danny, CC, and LeBron type—possible in the academic arena? The same kind of absorption, loss of self-consciousness, deep and abiding joy in applying a growing repertoire of skills to meet the challenge before us? That’s a rhetorical question, because everyone in the Chapel has felt it at one time or another in class, writing a paper, doing a lab, even taking a test where there is a perfect and hard-earned balance between the challenge before you and the skills you have developed to meet it. That’s why you’re here. It’s why you applied and why you were selected. Do you know that Groton accepted just 12 percent of its applicants this year? There were many factors considered, but chief among them was the ability to achieve a state of flow in the academic arena. Academic 2

Finding Flow: The Psychology of Engagement with Everyday Life by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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An Uncommon Decade

Students find what I’m calling “academic flow” most often and most easily after they have been admitted to college.

talent remains the coin of the realm at Groton, and academic, intellectual flow should be present everywhere. I hate the periodic sense that we have allowed ourselves to slip into a culture that treats academic endeavor as a miserable necessity along the way to a high-pressured game of image and chance called College Admission. Fortunately, I am relieved of that sense and uplifted by examples of academic flow fairly regularly. Most recently it was at the term-end faculty meetings, listening to advisors talk about their advisees, teachers about their students. Afterwards I wandered through the empty Schoolhouse, ending up in the Academic Office. I have a master key, so I went in and began to read the teacher comments for the Sixth Form. Kathy Leggat discovered me sprawled on the floor of the file room late in the afternoon, turning pages as if I were reading a thriller. And it was thrilling. Let me give you a sense of it with a few samples: 1. “She read and responded to Eliot’s controversial masterpiece with a sense of openness and wonder. … It is this openness that makes her the exemplary student that she is. She is free of anxiety about grades, and she seeks in literature an experience that will make sense of our world and the human condition.” 2. “His last paper … was the finest essay I’ve seen in quite some time. He managed to balance the personal with the analytical, meeting the nature of the assignment in superlative fashion. Not one to seek the right answer or simply provide what he thinks his teacher wants to hear, he is much more interested in burrowing into a notion and seeing what might turn up.” 3. “With delightful humor and humility, she is fully engaged in every class, quick to speak up with a question or a comment, and … she writes explanations that enhance the math and make it utterly clear that she is in complete command of all the material in question … she loves the material, the class, and everything that she does.” 4. “He not only took on problems in other areas of physics, but also delved into entirely unfamiliar territory, such as thermodynamics and optics, for the purpose of getting as quickly as possible to the point of being able to solve … the most sophisticated problems he could find.” 5. “Her essay on the soldiers’ experience in war was one of the best I have received. Even her final paper—often written in a rush by seniors with lots of commitments—read beautifully. Maybe for her it is effortless. Maybe she works harder than everyone else. Or just maybe it’s both.” It seems to me that students find what I’m calling “academic flow” most often and most easily after they have been admitted to college or after their grades no longer have an impact on the college admission game. It makes sense. Without that anxiety, without that pressure, without the sense that they are performing for someone else, seniors find joy in applying their talents and skills to a meaningful challenge. And when this flow occurs, when the question, “Is this worth it?” becomes irrelevant to the deep absorption in the experience, guess what happens to the grades? Invariably, they rise. That’s not the point, but it is a happy consequence. Groton is hard. That’s unquestionable. But rather than bemoan it, let’s recognize that it has to be hard in order for super-talented students to have the opportunity to achieve “academic flow.” Csikszentmihalyi writes, “Contrary to what we usually believe, moments like these, the best moments in our lives, are not the passive, receptive, relaxing times … the best moments usually occur when a person’s body or mind is stretched to its limits in a voluntary effort to accomplish something difficult and worthwhile.”³ I do think it’s the responsibility of every faculty member to create the right circumstances, to make the material so fascinating that study can become more voluntary than obligatory, to make the projects worthwhile, and to make sure that the challenges stretch the skill levels of students manageably. And my hope for students is that you find “academic flow” every day—that for some significant stretch of your time in the Schoolhouse, the library, the burn room, you lose the sense of time, the sense of self, and all anxiety about performance. I hope you forget every day to ask yourself, “Is this worth it?” Every day this term. That’s the winning streak I’m most interested in. I hope you might be too. Good luck. ³ Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi

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A Chapel Talk by Johnathan Terry ’13 February 3, 2013

Mr. Marshall wanted to know what kind of path would lead his son to success. He figured that our stories would help him craft a narrative for his son.

que ’13 Analia Del Bos

My So-Called Success

O

n the Sunday before we returned to School from winter break, I was invited to breakfast by a member of my church. I was told, “The food isn’t great, but the conversations are exceptional,” so I decided, somewhat reluctantly, to join my “brothers” for a meal. We went to a nearby diner called Pearl’s Place. It was only a block from my house, but I couldn’t remember ever having eaten a meal there. The building is a pale pink, similar to the Pink Pearl erasers that I used in third grade, and the welcome signs are hunter green with white cursive lettering. The atmosphere was classy but relaxed. Everyone dining inside wore either a blazer with an eye-catching tie or a flashy and sometimes sequined dress. I saw one woman who I could have sworn was a bear, but it was just her fur coat. As I entered with Mr. Marshall, the church member who had invited me to breakfast, he smiled at the hostess and said, pointing to the back of the restaurant, “I’ll be joining those gentlemen over there.” The hostess smiled politely, and we walked over the maroon carpet to a long table where a group of dignified men awaited us. I was the only person at the table under 50—other than our waitress, I may have been the only person in the entire restaurant under 50—and as I approached, I subconsciously straightened my posture and my tie. Mr. Marshall introduced me to Dr. Andrews, Mr. James, and another older gentleman who introduced himself only as Frank. As I shook each of their hands and took in each of their faces, I attempted to channel my own dignity through the tiny bit of facial hair I had on my chin. Even though I was wearing a bow tie with my favorite black vest, I felt underdressed sitting next to these men, who sported impeccable suits, well-trimmed beards, and wire-rimmed glasses that seemed sculpted into their faces. It didn’t help that as soon as I sat down, the waitress came by to take our orders. As the other men simply ordered “the usual,” I hastily scanned the menu and ordered “The Chicago Breakfast.” How could I go wrong there? Our conversation traveled from sports to politics to education, and at that point, Mr. Marshall asked for our help with his dilemma. His youngest son was in the sixth grade, and in the past two years, he had moved through two different schools because they each had some sort of problem. Mr. Marshall didn’t feel that his son was being challenged at one school, and he didn’t feel that the other school was diverse enough to provide an accurate cross-section of real life. He wanted to know what kind of path would lead his son to success. Since we were people at different stages of life whom he regarded as successful, he figured that our stories would help him craft a successful narrative for his son. Dr. Andrews began by telling us how he wanted to go to college because he idolized his aunt when he was a child. He decided to follow her example as the only member of his family to attain higher education. Because of her, he resolved to push himself, and he was accepted into the University of Pennsylvania. It wasn’t even until his junior year in college that he understood the difference between a graduate and undergraduate degree, and his main reason for attending graduate school was, “Why not?” He is now a tenured economics professor. Quarterly Spring 2013

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Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle

Analia Del

Bosque ’13

Mr. James was born in Mississippi. He spent part of his childhood picking cotton with his mother. One day, as she was stooped in a field, she noticed the more privileged students ride past in a school bus, and she simply decided that her son would attend college. There was never any pressure regarding which college he should attend, and she never required that he get good grades, but Mr. James attended Yale and has become one of my church’s most respected trustees. Mr. Marshall was the youngest of five sons. He told us that his father hadn’t shown much concern for his brothers’ educations, but that he was special. He had been named after his father, and so he was expected to meet a high standard. As a child, Mr. Marshall was not allowed to return from school with anything less than straight As. His father wanted him to practice medicine, and so he did. He graduated from Northwestern, and both he and his wife are practicing physicians—but with typical humility, he introduced himself to me simply as Mr. Marshall, not Dr. Marshall. Frank, who had said very little since the beginning of the meal, said nothing. Everyone now turned to me, curious about how my narrative was different from or similar to theirs. I doubt that my story was what they were expecting. When I was very young, my parents worried, like Mr. Marshall, that my school wasn’t challenging me enough, so I took tests for admission to several schools in the Chicago area. Instead of sending me to the most selective school that I was admitted to, however, my parents decided to enroll me at a school that wasn’t too far from our home. I stayed there from the second through eighth grades, and academically, I did well. I was a straight-A student, and by the time I was in sixth grade, my parents had done away with their “incentives” for good grades and punishments for bad ones. I understood what was expected of me, and eventually I expected the same from myself. Soon my parents eased up on the pressure almost completely, and left me to my own devices and my own mental punishments for failure. I hated my classmates, though. My completion of every Pokemon game, surprisingly, didn’t win me any popularity. When I walked to my bus after school, I would be followed by kids flinging Skittles at my head. I occasionally left a rainbowcolored trail to my bus. And home wasn’t always a refuge from my hardships. My family was falling apart. After he retired during my sixth-grade year, my father opened a restaurant in his hometown of Dyersburg, Tennessee, against my mother’s wishes. Their “conversations” concerning money became more and more “colorful,” and by my eighth-grade year, I knew that divorce was on the way. I couldn’t stand the slurs that my parents slung at one another. I couldn’t stand having to choose which parent to eat dinner with on the rare occasion when one of my parents did cook instead of hastily zapping a frozen pizza and retreating to a now separate bedroom. I couldn’t stand knowing that we wouldn’t do anything together as a family anymore—sitting around the TV to enjoy a movie with Mom’s homemade popcorn or taking trips to Navy Pier downtown. I couldn’t stand not having peace in my own home. I couldn’t stand it, so I fled. When Dr. Fowlin spoke to our school on MLK Day two weeks ago, he mentioned the student who attended boarding school because he hated home—because he was made fun of or because his home was falling apart. I was both of these examples. Of course, I wanted the challenges and opportunities that boarding school could provide, but I have to admit that if my parents hadn’t been screaming at one another, I may have listened to my relatives’ attempts to get me to remain at home. I reached a step labeled “success” because of fear and weakness. Yet, I found myself sitting at a table with men who had confidence, strength, and respect for themselves and where they came from. I didn’t respect my own path to “success,” so I didn’t think that I belonged in their distinguished company. But the stories behind the smiling, dignified faces that I saw weren’t what I had expected either. All I could see of Mr. James was his bright smile and bow tie. I would never have

Johnathan with Lauren Dorsey ’14, CC Ho ’13, and Sam Gosden ’13

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que ’13

If I’ve learned one thing from Dante’s Divine Comedy, it’s that Paradise is nowhere near as interesting without the story of how you got there.

Analia Del Bos

guessed from the deftness with which he checked email on his iPhone that his fingers had once picked cotton. His accomplishments, like those of Dr. Andrews and Mr. Marshall, held a different significance in the light of his narrative. Each of them had attained a conventional definition of success, but more importantly, they had reached goals that they had set for themselves: being the first in the family to go to college, breaking away from the confines of a small town, surviving the harsh expectations of a parent. And they overcame whatever hardships they had to face on the way, most of which I still have yet to hear. Coming to that table in Pearl’s Place, I saw four incredibly accomplished men. But who you are now does not define what you will achieve or who you will become; one thing can always become another. Who would have expected the slightly grotesque caterpillar to turn into a butterfly? Looking at that butterfly, we don’t know how hard it worked to climb to its perch. And looking at a caterpillar on the ground, we don’t know what misfortune stopped its metamorphosis. But just because the caterpillar falls during its climb doesn’t mean that it won’t get back to the top. If I’ve learned one thing from Dante’s Divine Comedy, it’s that Paradise is nowhere near as interesting without the story of how you got there. Everywhere Dante goes, he’s regaled with the stories of those he meets. The souls in the Inferno shout how they ended up where they are, warning him of what pitfalls he faces. Those in Paradise tell what odd twists of fate tempted them to stray from righteousness and how it was sometimes their own faith and sometimes simply fortune that led them to Paradise. Their successes, or downfalls, and their stories are one and the same. The men at the breakfast table all happened to have graduated from prestigious institutions and made plenty of money, but their true successes lie in how they shaped their own paths, how they responded to circumstances and events beyond their control with perseverance and hard work. I am nowhere near as dignified as the men sitting around that table, but they nonetheless wanted to hear my story, the story of a high school student who could barely take credit for the situation that he found himself in. After I described my journey, Mr. Marshall nodded approvingly and said, “You are exactly what I needed.” Since I am standing here before you and not kidnapped, I can only assume that he meant my story. Maybe he just needed another perspective to shed some light on his son’s situation. Maybe he needed to realize that although choosing a school is an important decision to make, he can’t know how it will affect his son’s future, and that there is more to his son’s future narrative than just what school he attends because he’ll have to make his own decisions given situations that his father couldn’t control. Maybe something in my story resonated with Mr. Marshall, even though my story was completely different from his and those of the rest of this “breakfast club.” Our meeting has now become part of my story, and though our stories are headed in different directions from there, our lives and narratives were connected for those two hours at Pearl’s Place. Above all, I hope that Mr. Marshall understands that none of us has the formula for his son’s success. In fact, I don’t believe that such a formula exists. If I could gain what he perceived as success by being afraid to stay at home with my parents, I don’t think that success can be guaranteed just by planning. We all have our own ups and downs, and who knows whether I will slip up and flunk out of high school within the next few months— God forbid. And then what would become of my so-called “success”? But Mr. Marshall had the wisdom to ask for my story. Even before he heard my story, he knew better than I did that he would gain something from learning how someone else, someone as insignificant as me, got where I am. I guess that in that way, I gave him the best advice that I could without knowing it. Maybe I’ll start looking for stories to listen to, to communicate better with, to connect with, to succeed with.

Roan Guinan ’17, Johnathan, and Nicolas Davidoff ’17

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Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle

Imagineering A Chapel Talk by marianna gailus ’13 February 12, 2013

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E

verything is connected. I remember my pulse audibly thudding in my skull, my hand stiffening from gripping the pencil too tightly, as I raced to complete the final essay on my Latin V fall exam. Masochistic as it may seem to my fellow classmates, I relished the opportunity to answer the prompt: describe what you were able to take from any of the philosophies we have studied this term. My mind jumped to a hundred different things at once. Cicero’s emphasis on death as a tool to learn how to live life. Lucretius’ epic poem describing atomic theory. Millions upon millions of dancing particles crashing and colliding in a dynamic universe. I thought of David Mitchell’s novel Cloud Atlas, which I had recently completed, recounting six interlocking stories, intimately connected, regardless of the passage of time. I thought of Tolstoy, of Shakespeare. The broad scope of human existence. Everything is connected. I have absolutely no comprehension of neuroscience, and, therefore, haven’t the slightest idea how one synapse of my brain leads to another. But I have come to understand that one reference inevitably redirects me to some other reference, as if I were constantly clicking on different links on Wikipedia. This has probably had the greatest influence on my interest in the aptly named “humanities,” those subjects that study the human condition, which range from philosophy and literature to law and the visual arts (and, yes, to those who know me, classical studies). There are many puzzles still left to sort out regarding life’s most persistent questions, the “who, why, how, and what’s” if you will. Microbiology may give you the mechanisms by which life can operate, but the humanities provide the tools with which we understand ourselves and the overarching soul of all things in this universe (if we believe such a force exists). If some of this argument sounds like it comes from a different century, it might shed some light on the commonly held belief that I myself come from a different century. I personally think it’s because I come from a different world than most people. I was born a theater brat. I did not choose to be one, but I can’t imagine a life being anything else. My mom was the original Broadway baby, a girl who knew she was born to be an actress from the time she was six, who moved from LA to New York at age 19 to make it upon the wicked stage. When I was in second grade, she had a principal role in a limited run of a musical on Broadway, so I found a home in her dressing room, sitting in a corner while she donned a purple dress that draped to the floor as a dresser pinned a wig into place. I snuck around in the backs of balconies and in the depths of orchestra pits, watching technicians choreograph dancing lights on massive switchboards while musicians tuned their own instruments below. With Mom and my stepdad, Michael (or Willie Nelson as some prefer to call him), nights out at the theater weren’t anything special. Just another musical, another play, another story to take hold of my imagination for a few weeks.


But seeing people play “make believe” for a living hardly made playing “make believe” on my own any less magical. My bookshelf, my costume box, and my library of movies were my gateway to thousands of stories and characters that would populate my room when my babysitter wasn’t looking. Daniel Day Lewis ain’t got nothing on me. I’ve been method acting since I was two. I played different characters on different days, depending on what mood I was in, or what particular academic subject interested me the most. Learning about the ancient Egyptians in fifth grade hastened in the era of the Indiana Jones theme song and a Lara Croft hairdo, and I started learning hieroglyphs during my free periods. Starting Latin in sixth grade turned me into Hermione Granger studying ancient runes. I read books on evolutionary developmental biology and genetics in seventh grade during a particularly potent Jurassic Park phase, when I was convinced I was going to be a paleontologist. I started creating a soundtrack for the movie that was my life, too, which is a reason I am extremely cautious when letting people borrow my iPod. Listening to The Da Vinci Code got me through Sacred Texts; my archaeology playlist included The Mummy, Indiana Jones, and Lawrence of Arabia; how could I possibly have made it through AP U.S. History without National Treasure, 1776, Gone with the Wind, Pocahontas, or The Patriot? Then of course there’s Pirates of the Caribbean whenever I feel like it, and if anyone has noticed the decorations in Beams’ Dormitory, a little bit of Disney. No one ever hears the music I play in my head as I walk around the Circle. No one knows what particular story or character I’m playing. But I play these parts because in the end, I find that the world is inexhaustibly fascinating, and everything I learn informs the various parts I play. I do understand that I am in uncharted waters with regards to “track,” while I similarly accept the repercussions of studying two languages that are only useful in museums, time machines, and the Vatican. I do know that Dr. Tyler thinks I am going to end up shelving books in a library alone for a living. (Sorry, Dr. Tyler. I am never letting it go.) Though I personally have no intention of becoming one, my mother is somewhat entertained by the idea that I might become a Disney Imagineer. For those of you who don’t know who the Imagineers are, they are a group of animators, directors, writers, architects, engineers, set designers, visual artists, and many more odd-job professionals responsible for all creation and expansion in Disney theme parks. Imagineering is, as Walt Disney said, “the blending of creative imagination and technical know-how.” One of the best gifts I’ve ever received was two volumes of Walt Disney Imagineering: A Behind the Dreams Look at Making the Magic Real. I felt no embarrassment as, after squealing in glee, I curled up by the fireplace and read both Imagineering books in one go. This was two Christmases ago. Here was a bunch of people from vastly different academic backgrounds brainstorming ideas, drawing them out, figuring out ways to build them, and bringing them to life. Everything from a medieval Scottish village for Fantasyland to a reworked space module for Star Tours in Tomorrowland is thoroughly researched. The seemingly stupid ideas are considered, and the minutest detail is relevant. Say what you will about Disney being a conglomerate, moneymaking, evil machine, the magic of Imagineering is still appealing. Everything is connected. This does, actually, bring me back through some relay of brain synapses to my interest in humanities. I personally believe that the humanities continue to be extremely relevant, though I understand why I belong to a shrinking minority of the world’s population. Abstract ideas and stories from millennia past are difficult to work through. Modern science and thought is more concrete, more comforting. Why read Cicero to unlock the secrets of the universe—Cicero who used the word “miserable” over 45 times in one very long, run-on sentence—when we have astrophysics? But everything is connected, and we are human. In order to comprehend ourselves as individual human beings, it is necessary to understand what it means to be a human being in the first place. I am in no way saying that my being interested in ancient Greek and Shakespeare puts me any closer to knowing the answer than the next person. Rather, questioning begets questions, and only alerts me as to how much more there is to learn. Every time I wander aimlessly into a bookshop, I feel a strong compulsion to purchase

In the photo booth at winter formal (second photo from top): Marianna, Becca Gracey ’14, Wyatt Prill ’14, and Hayward Berkowitz ’15

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CiNDy bEAmS

Per Circulum Locuti Sunt | Voices on the Circle

“Everyone starts with a blank sheet of paper,” say the imagineers. but i’m terrified of blank sheets of paper.

DAViD ALTShuLEr P’13, ’15

marianna with students from the Oloika Primary School in Kenya; also pictured, Lena horvath ‘12

With gordon Pyne ’12 in The Odyssey

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entire bookshelves of classics, from Aristotle to Dickens. But through each story is woven the intricate tapestry of various histories, heritages, connections over time. This does not only refer to an individual’s “background” (ethnic, socioeconomic, cultural, or otherwise) per se, but also to that person’s particular human experience. One’s own relay of synapses. But the brambles and snares along the tricky path to expanded horizons lie in the temptation to lose ourselves looking behind or in believing that the distant past has no relevance or place. Coming from a girl who listens to certain movie soundtracks depending on what subject of homework she’s doing, I can personally say that it’s deceptively easy to lose track of the present while wishing that I lived somewhere and sometime else. Whenever my own story doesn’t seem to hold the luster and glory of legends of old, or becomes all too real for my frontal lobe to handle, I withdraw into fantastical, mythical places. I lose my directive, moving “back out of all this now too much for us,” as Robert Frost might say. “Everyone starts with a blank sheet of paper,” say the Imagineers. But I’m terrified of blank sheets of paper. I hate endings. I hate transitions. I feel empty and sad when I finish something, whether it is reading a book or playing a particular character in one of my weird phases, not because I necessarily want more, but because I want to be back within a story. Some story. Not my story. I think that this is when I feel most like Marianna, and the least like Merida or Elizabeth I. The disappointment is often scary. So I withdraw. When no music is playing, when no book is waiting half-read, my own story feels so lackluster, so unglorious. If there ever are moments when I think I actually do belong in another century, it’s because I’d rather go back to a time when, with the glory of hindsight, I know for sure that wonderful things might happen to me, rather than look at an uncertain and always changing future. More transitions, more endings. I hate silence too because sometimes I hate my thoughts. We all do. When it’s quiet and I’m alone, I think about the undiscovered country, about death and how it must be so horribly empty. No stories, no anything. Just me. Starling told us about doing something great before age 18. What about age 80? What if I get to old age only having pretended to be someone else my whole life? Ironic, isn’t it? An only child who both needs and reviles time with herself. I play parts because I don’t want to play “me.” Not because I don’t like “me,” but because “me” on my own feels far less interesting than all the characters in history books, movies, and great novels. But actively trying to comprehend another person, another human being, and all the stories that come with him or her opens up worlds of possibilities for understanding myself as well. Being in the sense of being present is an uncomfortable experience, but that is the only conscious way to feel that we live.


miKE SPErLiNg

To provide an allegory for this feeling, this past summer at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival acting program, our rowdy group of young actors was asked to “play” with each other. It is no small coincidence that we “play” parts, that a company of “players” reenacts stories and characters on the stage. “Playing” means that when you are in the moment, completely and absolutely present, you are giving and taking equally with the actor in front of you. Receiving means accepting. Looking into another person’s eyes. We were asked to “play” in various ways: we tiptoed toward each other on balance beams, never breaking eye contact, getting out of the lofty spaces of our heads and into the terrifying sensation of tipping over the edge; we ran around the room leaping chairs in time to iambic pentameter; and we wrestled each other as we recited soliloquies, using the brute force of the action to add meaning and energy to our words. We were more aware of our bodies, more in tune with the smallest tremors of our hands and the feeling of our bare feet gripping the floor. Ironically, acting isn’t about pretending to be someone else, putting on a mask and escaping into a different time and place. Rather, it’s about taking masks off, looking deep into ourselves and into the players around us, being in the moment and allowing thoughts and actions to drop into our heads. We play. We are present. We are blank sheets of paper. We are being. There is a patience, a willingness to accept and not judge, to feel and be felt, to have compassion, that are requisite to truly look deep into another person’s humanity. Not only do I want to have that understanding of what and who is around me, but I want to be grounded in the here and now. To wrap my fingers around the fine thread that is my directive in the present, and to discover where it has been spun around other people’s paths throughout time. The humanities can help me get there. Lucretius’ dancing particles, Dickens’ struggling orphans, Walden, a company of players. But I need to turn off my personal soundtrack, feel my feet on the ground and my fingertips on whatever is in front of me, look within and without, and acknowledge the fact that being feels a little bit like falling off a tightrope. But after taking a step, floating through the air for a bit, and amidst the resounding crash of my body hitting the ground, I will inch a bit further in the continuum of discovering the present. Of discovering myself without the music and the stories. The next trick is getting up and trying it again. From the Imagineering book: “There are two ways to look at this blank sheet of paper. You can look at it as the last page of a book, or as the greatest opportunity in the world because nobody’s put anything on it. That’s the way we look at it at Imagineering. Go ahead and use it to dream, create new things, and let your imagination go. Why not? Everything begins somewhere . . .”

A duet with Danny Castellanos ’13 in Urinetown: The Musical

The winning second boat at last year’s NEirA Championships: Coach Andy Anderson, Christina Strater ’12, marianna, maeve hoffstot ’13, Sarah black ’12, and Naomi Primero ’13

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Grotoniana | All Things Groton

Urinetown: the Musical brought irreverent humor and foot-tapping music to the Campbell Performing Arts Center in February. Along for the ride was a not-so-subtle allegory about government corruption: the political satire is set in a city devastated by a 20-year drought, where private toilets are illegal and bathroom privileges are costly and managed by the evil and monopolistic Urine Good Company. Did we mention that it’s also a romantic comedy? PHOTOS BY MIKE SPERLING

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Opposite page: top and bottom left, the cast of urinetown, with max gomez ’15 at center; top right, Ally Dick ’14; bottom right, max and Ally. Opposite page, center: Danny Castellanos ’13, Lily Edwards ’15, Analia del bosque ’13, Chinedu Okorafor ’13, Candace Tong-Li ’16, Emma rimmer ’16, and Claudette ramos ’16. This page, clockwise from top left: max gomez ’15; Alaric Krapf ’15, Danny Castellanos ’13, and Ally Dick ’14; Taehoon Lee ’13 and Ally Dick; max gomez and malcolm Akinje ’16

S oul S auce

G

roton’s jazz ensemble, Soul Sauce; two jazz combos known as Riverside and Purple Haze; and Charisma, Groton’s saxophone ensemble, performed at Ryles Jazz Club in Cambridge, Massachusetts, in February, under the direction of Kenji Kikuchi. On campus, musical performances entertained throughout the term, beginning with a December Gammons Concert Series performance by Barbara Lieurance, whose “prepared” piano style involves placing objects on or between the strings or hammers of the piano to change its timbre. Of the 150 students who take music lessons, 85 performed in recitals, and numerous students took the stage during two Friday night open mics. Faculty took the stage too: nine members of Groton’s music faculty performed in the annual faculty recital, presenting a program spanning five centuries and multiple genres.

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Gallery NeWS de Menil Gallery sp r i n g

Exhibit

Groton and the Boston School of Painting: Works by Edmund C. Tarbell, R. H. Ives Gammell, and Mary Minifie April 1 through June 2, 2013 Curated by Elizabeth Ives Hunter and John W. Tyler

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t a time when New York experimented with the gritty realism of the Ashcan School and flirted with European post-impressionism during the Armory Show of 1913, a group of men and women artists in Boston coalesced to develop their own distinctive style. The Boston School’s works elicited emotion through color, light, and meticulous details. Light, feathery brushstrokes contributed to an intimacy in the light-filled landscapes and atmospheric interiors. Through the teaching efforts of the painting department of the School of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, headed by Groton-born Edmund C. Tarbell from 1889-1913, they became known as the premier painters of the period. Although Tarbell spent most of his adult career in Boston or New Hampshire, his family ties to Groton remained strong, and a number of his paintings descended through the hands of his Groton relations. These have now been collected and restored under the auspices of the recently-founded Tarbell Charitable Trust, which loaned several of the artist’s principal works for this exhibition. R. H. Ives Gammell 1911 may be Groton School’s most distinguished painter-alumnus. After finishing Groton, Gammell studied at the Museum School under both Tarbell and American Impressionist William McGregor Paxton before realizing his adolescent dream by traveling to Paris and training at the

Académie Julian. Before he could finish, however, World War I stopped his ambitions. After the armistice, Gammell enjoyed considerable success as a portrait painter, but he always aspired to take on larger-scale paintings with more intellectual themes derived from his readings in religion and classical literature. The intellectual foundation of his allegorical work was laid at Groton. Mary Minifie, widow of Groton School faculty member Jonathan Minifie, represents the fourth generation of the Boston School. She was educated at Wellesley College and earned an M.F.A. from the Boston University School of Fine Arts. After living and working abroad for 10 years, she began her study of portraiture and the figure in 1985 with Gammell’s former student, portrait painter Paul Ingbretson, and continued through 1997. As the works in this exhibition demonstrate, the traditions of the Boston School of Painting continue to flourish in the 21st century. Excellence in design and drawing, coupled with sensitively observed and rendered variations of color, provides a universally recognized standard in picture making. The de Menil Gallery is open from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. weekdays, except Wednesdays, and from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on weekends. Closed April 28-30, 2013. Admission is always free.

“Edmund, Mary and Sergius” by Edmund C. Tarbell, “Guy Ayrault” by R.H. Ives Gammell, and “Margaret” by Mary Minifie

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Grotoniana | All Things Groton

Christopher Carey Brodigan Gallery sp r i n g

Exhibit

The Cellar Doors of Kardiani: Photographs by Ivan Massar April 9 through May 17, 2013

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his spring, courtesy of one of America’s most accomplished photojournalists, the Christopher C. Brodigan Gallery offers a glimpse of the village of Kardiani on the Greek island of Tinos. Ivan Massar’s photographs have appeared in National Geographic, Life, and numerous other publications; over the years, he has memorialized moments from World War II to the Vietnam War, from the early years of Communist Europe to the civil rights movement in the United States’ Deep South. This exhibit presents a small, whimsical slice of Massar’s work, capturing the artful complexity of doors made from scraps of wood. He explains: “One day in 1980, while wandering through the village of Kardiani, I was struck by the unusual doors that led into the ground floors of each house. The family living spaces appeared to be on the second floor, while the animals were kept in the lower level or cellar. With few trees on the island, the doors for these animal enclosures were made of odds and ends of scrap wood—driftwood, packing boxes, and a variety of other wooden pieces of different shapes and sizes—nailed together. No two were alike. It was as if each owner tried to make his entrance more interesting than the next. There were no rules or limitations.” The Brodigan Gallery, located outside the Dining Hall, is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays. It is free and open to the public.

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De Libris | About Books

• BOOK REVIEW •

Made in Japan: 100 New Products by Naomi Pollock ’77 Review by Sarah Stearns Fey ’85

P

icture these items in your local hardware store: a humidifier, a step stool, a push pin, a recycling bin, and a ruler. Now open Made in Japan by Naomi Pollock ’77. Here you will find these same items, and 95 others, beautifully conceived by Japanese designers in a way that, as Pollock shows us, could only happen in Japan. The humidifier is a plump, smooth, azure doughnut; the ruler uses stems of tiny red flowers to mark the centimeters; the intertwined pair of recycling bins separates items while wrapping around each other or a table leg. Naomi lives in Tokyo and has been writing about Japanese design since 1989 for Record The such publications as Dwell, Architectural Record, New York Times, and the Chicago Tribune. She is also a trained architect and studied under the well-known Hiroshi Hara. In her new book, she employs her unique perspective and highly trained eye to curate an array of 100 uniquely Japanese everyday objects and provides insight on how they came to be. The Japanese relationship to objects is fundamentally different from other cultures’. The country’s crowded cities and high rents mean microscopic dwellings that require hyper-efficient living. Everything is small. Everything has a purpose. With the change of a few portable furnishings, rooms transform to serve different functions. And limited storage means that utilitarian objects are often on display. In other words, that [insert name

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of household object here] had better work really well, take up no space, and look like a Le Corbusier. Sotaru Miyagi—the designer of a set of 13 nesting bowls “so elegant that it seems a shame to hide it in a cupboard” —says, “Design is about ‘beauty in use,’ meaning creating aesthetically pleasing but useful items.” This über-functionality culminates in the idea of “without thought,” which refers to designing “objects so naturally suited to daily life that people [will] use them without thinking,” like a round rubber baby thermometer that unthreateningly molds to the forehead, a palm-sized spoon whose metal transfers the heat of your hand to soften hard ice cream, or a compact CD player that hangs on the wall with a tempting pull cord. Of course, one cannot discuss the formation of modern Japanese culture without mention of the critical historical oddity that Japan, a small mountainous island country that is geographically isolated anyway, literally cut itself off from the outside world for 250 years during the Edo period (1603-1868). “Minimal exposure to external influences generated a certain Center, CD player, designed by Naoto Fukasawa and manufactured by muji; above right, Tatamiza chair, designed by Kenya hara and manufactured by Kyouei Design


De Libris | About Books

inward-looking legacy, but it also reserved a purity of thought and technique that is still evident today,” Naomi writes. Without outside input, small villages refined their particular styles of basket-making, paper-making, or knife-making, generation after generation. Even in modern day, this individuality and specialization have not been completely subsumed by globalization; they are still prized. This deep appreciation for monozukuri (the making of things) was formalized with the invention of the tea ceremony in the 16th century and re-energized in the late 19th century with the Mingei (folk art) movement. How else would you end up with the skills to pull off Kenya Hara’s Tatamiza, a sinuous curved frame of wood that serves as a floor chair supporting the back just enough and nearly disappearing in the room? Naomi has sought out the designers featured here and, diving into her descriptions of each jewel-like piece, you see how each one shines a mirror on its culture, sometimes in surprising ways. Genta Kanayama’s Stand is a striking cantilevered tissue box designed to stand on its end to save counter space, significant because Japan boasts the highest per-capita use of tissues in the world. Who knew? Tellingly, the artisans who carve, mold, polish, and bend these creations are given nearly as much prominence as the designers. And not surprisingly, most belong to highly specialized family businesses that have been perfecting their crafts for decades. So I can attempt to describe the inwardly tapered beer glass that is shaped like Mt. Fuji (the head of foam becomes the snow-capped peak); the low, square coffee table riddled with clever storage compartments; or the contemporary kamidana (home Shinto altar). But you would be much better served to find this handsome book and experience these wonders for yourself. And when you do, you’ll start to understand why the hot plate in your hardware store is not going to look anything like the curvaceous beauty in Naomi Pollock’s Tokyo. Sarah Stearns Fey ’85 is a graphic designer based in Connecticut and a lapsed Japanese art student who enjoyed time as an exchange student in Kyoto in the late 1980s.

Top, Splash, an umbrella holder, designed by yasuhiro Asano and manufactured by h-concept; bottom, ripples, designed by Toyo ho and manufactured by horm

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De Libris | About Books

Philip E. Burnham, Jr. ’56

New releases

Shore Lines Ibbetson Street Press

P

hilip Burnham’s fifth book of poems, Shore Lines, deals with nature, love, history, and place. Many poems are set at the water’s edge, while others deal with experience of loss, images of travel, memories of family, consequences of passion, and observations of ordinary life. Philip’s poems have been described as having “a slow building intensity that gathers from the first few lines and takes the reader into the heart of his experience.” In the words of another reader, his poems are formal, precise in description, and elegant. You can learn about Philip and his work at www.pebjr.com.

Paul B. Jaskot ’81

The Nazi Perpetrator: Postwar German Art and the Politics of the Right University of Minnesota Press

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ho was responsible for the crimes of the Nazis? Party leaders and members? Rank-and-file soldiers and bureaucrats? Ordinary Germans? This question looms over German disputes about the past like few others. It also looms over the art and architecture of postwar Germany in ways that have been surprisingly neglected. In The Nazi Perpetrator, Paul Jaskot fundamentally reevaluates pivotal developments in postwar German art and architecture against the backdrop of contentious contemporary debates over the Nazi past and the difficulty of determining who was or was not a Nazi perpetrator. Combining political history with a close analysis of specific works, The Nazi Perpetrator demonstrates that the ongoing influence of Nazi Germany after 1945 is more central to understanding a wide range of modern German art and architecture than cultural historians have previously recognized.

Lincoln C. MacVeagh ’83

Old Money Tower House Books

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ld Money is a good-natured piece of fluff about a small part of New York society that many Grotonians will recognize. The plot centers on a famous movie producer who wants to join the most exclusive club on Park Avenue, but there’s a prickly admissions committee to get past, and it’s anybody’s guess if he’ll get in. According to Lincoln, the novel is “entertaining, intelligent, but best of all, short.”

Hopkinson K. Smith ’65

Francesco da Milano Naive

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a Milano, a lutenist of the Italian Renaissance, is so revered that he is known as “Il Divino,” the Divine. In France, where this CD won a Diapason d’Or de l’Année (similar to a Grammy), one critic called this collection by Hopkinson “Hoppy” Smith, “the first recording to do justice to the reputation of Franceso da Milano.” Summaries were provided by the authors or publishers.

66 66 | | Quarterly QuarterlySpring Spring2013 2013


WINTER SPORTS

CC Ho has remained undefeated in the ISL for the last three years, winning the Boston Globe All-ISL MVP award for a record third time. Next year will be a rebuilding year as we lose five seniors from among the top JV and varsity players. —Coach Nishad Das Most Valuable Player: CC Ho ’13 Most Improved Player: Carolyn Grenier ’13 ISL Honorable Mention: Manju Ganti ’14, Maeve Hoffstot ’13 Coaches’ Award: Maeve Hoffstot ’13 Captains-Elect: Manju Ganti ’14, Hannah Conner ’14

girls Squash | 9-4

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he girls varsity squash team had a terrific season, finishing third in the ISL and fourth in the Division A New England tournament. The 9-4 record included 7-0 wins against Exeter, Andover, Middlesex, Choate, St. George’s, and St. Marks; a 4-3 win against St. Paul’s; a 5-2 win against Taft; and a 6-1 win against Brooks. The team lost to Deerfield twice (0-7 and 1-6), Milton (3-4), and Nobles (2-5). There was a point in the season when a win against Nobles would have placed Groton in a three-way tie for first in the ISL. That Nobles contest was close, with three matches going to five games, but the win eluded us. While this was undeniably a successful season, the Nationals unfortunately were cancelled due to bad weather, so the team didn’t get an opportunity to capitalize on its sixth-seed position in the Division 1 draw. Individual performances were particularly impressive, including the following notable standouts in the Division A New Englands: Olivia Ladd-Luthringshauser ’15 finished fourth in the Division 7 draw; Carolyn Grenier ’13 knocked out the #4 seed in the Division 6 draw to finish fourth; Molly Prockop ’15 and Anna Nicholson ’16 both finished fifth in their respective draws; Maeve Hoffstot ’13 finished ninth in the Division 3 draw; Manju Ganti ’14 finished seventh in the Division 2 draw; and CC Ho ’13 finished fourth in Division 1. The team won the sportsmanship award at the New Englands, selected by players from other teams.

boys Squash | 4-8

JON ChASE

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CC ho ’13

ven though the top two players from last year’s lineup graduated, the 2012-13 Groton team came into the season looking solid up and down the ladder, with a strong group of returning players, new Third Former Luke Holey, and up-and-comers Michael You ’16 and Ross Coneybeer ’14. In December, the players established the intensity with which they would compete when their second match, against Exeter, turned into a thriller, filled with solid play and coming down to the wire in front of a large, enthusiastic home crowd. When the dust had settled, Groton had lost the top two matches and won the bottom two. The middle three matches all went to five games, with Ryan Voon ’14 coming through to win his 15-13, but Co-captain Pranay Sharma ’13 and Stefano Viacava ’16 coming up just short (8-11 and 9-11, respectively), despite their heroic efforts. As it would turn out, that Exeter match was typical of a number of days this winter. The Groton team practiced well, worked hard, and improved a great deal through the season, but came up on the short end of some close matches, all the while playing without top gun James Fulham ’14, who was out with an injury for almost the whole season. The silver lining was that the rest of the team benefitted from the strong competition they faced, redefining each week what it meant to play their best squash. Not all the close matches went the wrong way. Tied 3-3 at St. Paul’s, Co-captain Johann Colloredo-Mansfeld ’13 stepped up his game and took his opponent apart to secure the team victory in decisive fashion. On the other side of the ledger, though, the team lost three matches 3-4 on the way to a season record of 4-8. That landed us in the B Division of the New England Championships. With James back in the tournament lineup but several solid teams in the mix, the team’s eventual tie for fourth place was the result of a little bad luck in the draws balanced by some terrific, hard-won matches. Sam Gosden ’13 and Stefano led the way for Groton by winning their respective draws, Ryan came in fourth, and Johann fifth. All the Groton players produced some quality squash that weekend, including James, who went from Quarterly Spring 2013

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Luke holey ’16

not playing at all for almost eight weeks to competing at the #1 position after just one week of practice. No less impressive was Anthony Chu ’15, who had gained a great deal of experience competing at the top position during the season. Next year’s team will miss three terrific competitors when Sam and Co-captains Johann and Pranay graduate, but the returning crew will include not only top players James and Anthony, but also a host of dedicated and promising players in Ryan, Stefano, Luke, Michael, and Ross. This eager group will be sure to make progress on their own over the summer and come back together next winter to demonstrate the high levels of squash, competition, and sportsmanship that typify Groton teams. —Coach Dave Prockop

two hard losses against Dexter and Holderness, and almost had a win against Proctor, but unfortunately fell just one goal short. Not only was this tournament rough in its outcomes, but the team also experienced several injuries during the three games. Cam DiSarcina ’13 and Ace Cowans ’15 both broke their wrists, which would keep Cam out for the rest of the season and Ace for most of it. There were also concussions, hip impingements, and cracked ribs. Christmas vacation was much needed for lots of rest would be crucial for the long stretch when the team returned. Upon returning from break, the Zebras faced the Exeter Lions. Though Matt Winter ’16 scored a goal early in the first period, the Lions scored on a power play and continued to wear down the Zebras. Ultimately, Groton lost 6-1. Following that upsetting loss, the Zebras showed signs of improvement in the next two games, defeating Moses Brown and St. George’s. By this time, the team was averaging 14 skaters per game due to multiple injuries. Due to this as well as to tough competition, the Zebras lost their next three games against Brooks, Middlesex, and BB&N. With more determination, the Zebras’ hopes were fulfilled as they played one of their better games of the season, skating to a well-deserved 5-0 win against Roxbury Latin. Next the boys faced Rivers in a game that ended with the Zebras on the short end of a 4-1 score. The injury jinx struck again as Co-captain Dan Glavin ’13 left midway through the second period with a separated shoulder. With seven players injured, the team went to St. Mark’s to fight their archrival, but suffered a 3-1 loss. In one of the more exciting games of the year, Lawrence Academy, the 2012 ISL Eberhart Champions, won a thrilling game in overtime, 4-3. Next, the Zebras traveled to Cambridge to take on the BB&N JON ChASE

JON ChASE

Grotoniana | All Things Groton

Most Valuable Player: Anthony Chu ’15 ISL Honorable Mention: Anthony Chu ’15 Coaches’ Awards: Sam Gosden ’13, Ryan Voon ’14 Captain-Elect: Ryan Voon ’14

boys ice hockey | 7-16-2

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oping to replace the seniors lost after last year’s season—especially one key player, Mike Doherty ’12—the boys varsity hockey team welcomed six new, experienced players at the beginning of this season. The season began with a great 4-0 win over North Yarmouth Academy. The Zebras then hosted Deerfield, a perennial Founders League powerhouse. Unfortunately, Deerfield handed the Zebras their first disappointing loss; Groton fought hard in the first half of the game, tying it up in the middle of the second period, but fell short in the third. Groton proceeded to defeat Roxbury Latin, 5-0, tie Rivers in an exciting 3-3 nail-biter, and, just before the 39th annual Groton/Lawrence Holiday Tournament, narrowly lost to powerhouse Andover 2-1. In the tournament, Groton suffered

68 | Quarterly Spring 2013

Peter mumford ’13


Winter Sports Black Knights, losing 6-0. But they avenged a previous 5-2 loss to Brooks when they came out flying and played their best period of the year. Goalie Matt Pompa ’14 kept them in that game with multiple saves, and Joe Gentile ’14 scored the game-winning goal with less than a minute left. At this point in the season, with a few of the injured players back, Groton played St. George’s and was up in the first and second period. But the Dragons put on the pressure for the third period and tied the game, which led to an overtime in which neither team scored. A disappointing 5-3 loss against Middlesex followed. The final St. Mark’s game was a true thriller: lots of action, a noisy, boisterous crowd, and lots of lead changes. With the Zebras up after the first two periods, the Lions managed to tie the game with less than a minute and a half left in the third. The Lions then used their momentum to score a power-play goal in the final minute. The Zebras lost a hard-fought battle, 3-4. —Coach William Riley

season, we visited the term “success,” and the girls redefined the term, targeting a growth mindset and fulfillment as the primary pillars of their “success.” So, were we “successful”? Absolutely. The team was first tested before even stepping on the ice, when the only goaltender came down with mononucleosis and was forced out of athletics until January. Rallying around the adversity, the entire team stepped up and made a valiant effort to offset our defensive vulnerability. There were a number of ups and downs throughout the season that required mental toughness, emotional stability, resilience, and good hard grit. The kids were flexible in each situation and represented Groton with a level of integrity and competitiveness that ultimately allows them to write an admirable story about the 2012-13 season. In fact, the girls were selected to receive the ISL Sportsmanship Award as recognition for their exemplary conduct as student-athletes. Best of luck to Sixth Formers Meghan Harvey, Maeve McMahon, and Baheya Malaty in their academic and athletic endeavors. —Coach Randi Dumont

Most Valuable Player: Matt Pompa ’14 7th Player Award: Chris King ’13 Coaches’ Award: George Bukawyn ’13 All ISL (Eberhart Division): Dan Glavin ’13, Matt Pompa ’14 Captain-Elect: Matt Pompa ’14 Assistant Captains-Elect: Andrew Popp ’14, Joe Gentile ’14

Most Valuable Player: Maeve McMahon ’13 Coaches’ Award: Coco Wallace ’17 Unsung Hero Award: Dorrie Varley-Barrett ’15 All-ISL: Maeve McMahon ’13 Captains-Elect: Melissa Cusanello ’14, Dorrie Varley-Barrett ’15

girls ice hockey | 6-16-1 boys basketball | 2-18

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JON ChASE

he girls varsity hockey squad ended its season 6-16-1, having faced a variety of expected and unexpected challenges. The team, half of it Second and Third Formers, adapted to new players, returning players, and unanticipated additions. At the beginning of the

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he 2012-13 season was challenging for our varsity squad. Though the win column was not filled, many bright spots emerged. Our wins came earlier in the season against Berwick and during the holiday tournament against Thayer. From that point on, our schedule got considerably tougher. With a team consisting of four Sixth Formers, five Fourth Formers, a Third Former, and a Second Former, we knew going in that we would have a lot of work to do. As the season progressed, we played some very impressive periods of team basketball—times when we felt we could play against any team. In a long winter season riddled with injury and faced with countless moments of adversity, the team persevered. As leadership began to shine through from our Sixth Formers, younger talent developed, and the team played exciting basketball. Working hard together and finding success in our improvements drove us to be the best we could. —Coach Jon Lesage Most Valuable Players: Thomas Cecil ’13, Gary Lorden ’13 ISL Honorable Mention: Thomas Cecil ’13, Gary Lorden ’13 Coaches’ Award: Connor Popik ’13 Captain-Elect: Hugh Cecil ’15

melissa Cusanello ’14

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JON ChASE

Grotoniana | All Things Groton half of our roster this year, and nine athletes will return for the 2013-14 season. —Coach Tobias McDougal Most Valuable Player: Marissa Garey ’13 Coaches’ Award: Rachel Reed ’14 Class B All-New England: Marissa Garey ’13 ISL Honorable Mention: Marissa Garey ’13 Captains-Elect: Rachel Reed ’14 and Breezy Thomas ’14

JON ChASE

record breaker!

gary Lorden ’13

girls basketball | 3-17

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irls varsity basketball saw a season of improvement and growth while playing in an increasingly competitive league. Though the first half of the schedule was difficult, the girls hung in there and continued to work hard. Things started to turn around with a dramatic, second-half comeback victory against St. Paul’s, the team buoyed by an enthusiastic and vocal home crowd. The next two weeks saw a hard-fought victory over league rival Middlesex and a decisive 19-point margin over Holderness. The team lost two close games down the stretch, including one against St. Mark’s, the final game of the season, but the girls distinguished themselves in the final month of the season with intense team play. Teamwork, intensity, and fundamental skills improved significantly over the course of the season. The team was led by Sixth Form Captains Loulie Bunzel, Marissa Garey, and Danielle Kimball, and the future is bright: girls in Second, Third, and Fourth Forms made up more than

70 | Quarterly Spring 2013

For the first time on record, a member of the girls basketball team topped 1,000 points during her Groton career. Marissa Garey ’13 (above) sailed easily past the 1,000point mark during the game against St. Mark’s—her last game of the season and her last at Groton. She entered the game just seven points shy of 1,000; when the game was over, Marissa had scored 24 points, pushing her Groton career total to 1,017. Groton records show no other girls surpassing the 1,000-point basketball barrier, and only two boys reaching that goal—Asenso Ampim ’07 and Drew Daigneault ’10.


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Henry P. Bakewell, Jr., ’55, P’86

 remembering henry may 25, 1937 – December 21, 2012 by Wheaton C. Vaughan ’55

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hinking back over a friendship that spanned some 60 years, I am immediately reminded that my memories of Henry P. Bakewell, Jr., ’55, P’86 fall into three distinct chapters: Groton, Yale, and Thereafter. Each episode is unique, yet all are held together by common threads.

Chapter 1: Groton

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returned to School as a Third Former in September 1951 to find that our class of 27 from the prior spring now numbered 40 (indeed, Larry Nobles and his staff in the Admission Office had been working overtime). Included in the new faces was a “kid” from West Hartford, Henry P. Bakewell. In all honesty, I do not remember much about Henry that first year, as we lived in different dormitories, shared few classes, and played on separate athletic teams. The following year, however, was a different story! For starters, we returned to Groton to find that the two of us, along with John Schieffelin, would be sharing sleeping space in a triple room in Jim Satterthwaite’s dorm in Brooks House. A unique privilege in the Groton of the early 1950s! Of course, this led to all sorts of hijinks, ranging from numerous after-lights discussions to the “short-sheeting” of John Schieffelin’s bed. I also remember dumping John and Henry out of their respective warm bunks the morning marking the start of Christmas vacation, on the excuse that they were not moving fast enough. As might be anticipated, this ill-advised action, followed by my victims’ instant retaliation, ultimately got us all into trouble with higher authority. In time, our shared experiences that year planted the seed that later led Henry and me to room together throughout our four years in college. Fourth Form year melted into Fifth, and ultimately we emerged at the “top of the heap”—Sixth Formers at long last! Along the way we shared two years on the varsity football team, playing under the tutelage of Jack Davidson, a recent Princeton graduate who brought with him to Groton, and taught to us, the finer points of “modern, single-wing football” as conceived by Charles W. Caldwell (Princeton’s famous coach from 1945-1956 and author of a book by the same name)! Also, and predictably, given Henry’s penchant for things nautical, it was not long before he discovered the Nashua River and earned a seat in a racing shell. As with all of us with similar instincts, he started his rowing career in the School’s club system, holding positions in several Monadnock boats. However, he quickly moved up to varsity, rowing bow oar on the 1955 undefeated Groton “B” boat. He

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In Memoriam | As We Remember I N

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later reflected about sharing accounts of each victory with his bedridden grandfather, who subsequently presented him with a Groton gold oar tiepin, memorializing this accomplishment. Off-season, when Henry wasn’t skiing (he was remarkably proficient), he could be found working as electrician for the Dramat, helping to produce the winter play. This production was traditionally staged over the Washington’s Birthday weekend, which time frame also doubled as Dance Weekend, the one occasion when very special, lovely young ladies were invited to share our all-male environment. It was during the Saturday night dance of our Sixth Form year that Henry truly showed his mastery of the Hall’s electrical system. Strangely, as the night progressed, the illumination grew dimmer and dimmer, to the point where one could barely read one’s dance card (yes, they did exist). This prompted then Senior Master Paul Wright to make his now famous pronouncement: “Ah, Bakewell, turn up the lights!!!” Spring slowly came, along with college acceptance letters, and at that point Henry and I cemented our agreement to room together at Yale.

Chapter 2: Yale

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n September 1955, Henry and I moved into room 140 of Welch Hall on Yale’s Old Campus, a piece of real estate traditionally reserved for the freshman class. The address has no particular significance except that the Yale College Admissions Office was located on the first level of Welch Hall, and the (then) main office of the University police force (“campus cops” to us) was located in Phelps Gate, which was immediately adjacent to Welch Hall. The former proved to be something of a deterrent to

Nicholas Niles, Jr. ’52

November 9, 1934 – November 30, 2012 by Edward b. gammons, Jr. ’52

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hen the news came that Nick had died, it was not unexpected. It was a jolt. For 65 years, Nick’s friendship was a continuous conversation, which I and so many others have prized. When I first knew Nick, he seemed shy and quiet, an observer. We shared a room Third Form year in the “Country Club” part of Mr. Hawkes’ dormitory. So began that conversation with a keen, witty, and vibrant friend. In all the years since, our conversation has continually broadened and deepened. His marriage to Varick made the friendship infinitely richer and livelier. The point is that Nick never allowed time or distance to disconnect us. There were many visits, from New England to Florida, and many events shared. St. Patrick’s Day in Naples, Florida, remains one of my favorites.

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the periodic water fights that we and our other fourth floor brethren had with the residents below, and the latter definitely kept the lid on Saturday night beer parties. It was freshman year that I really got to know Henry Bakewell. Along the way, we shared the loss of Grace Kelly (when she opted to marry Prince Rainier of Monaco instead of one of us), negotiated the division of unexpectedly large telephone bills, and attempted to eliminate 8 a.m. classes from our schedules. Most revealing, I began to appreciate Henry’s intolerance of “structured programs” and limits to academic freedom. Case in point: Henry began his career at Yale planning to enter the engineering school. However, after a brief introduction, he recognized that the elective courses offered very limited flexibility, and that he would be required to take subjects in which he had either no interest (engineering drawing), or which he had already mastered, thanks to Groton’s advanced programs. He quickly decided to major in mathematics, and the rest is history. Sophomore year was one of transition for all of us. Henry and I gained another roommate, joined Zeta Psi fraternity, made new friends, and pursued separate interests. Academically, Henry excelled while my marks—well, we both survived! Junior year we joined forces with three additional roommates because we were able to draw two back-to-back triple rooms with a connecting fire door. This convenient arrangement provided the forum for many late-night card games and heated (sometimes even enlightening) discussions. During junior year, Henry met a girl from Smith College, whose family also lived in the Hartford area, Elsie-Ives Goodrich. Needless to say, it was not long before Elsie-Ives was a frequent visitor, to the point where we often suggested that she should register for courses at Yale and save the time and money lost in commuting! But she persevered, graduating from Smith in June 1958, one year before Henry received his B.A. from Yale. In late June 1959 the two were married, and

As our form secretary, Nick was always calling, not just to get a bit of news, but also to stay in conversation, to renew the friendship. Nick was passionate in his loyalties, strong in his opinions (which he did not fear to reveal), wonderfully curious about how things worked, about the world around him, about people. To know Nick was to learn and understand these deep loyalties: from Groton, crew, and German, to guns, machines, and landscape, to friends, and, above all, to his family. Nick’s obituary, it has been observed, was impressive in what he accomplished. For us, his friends, it did not say enough about who Nick has been to us, our friend always in conversation. In faith and hope, I look forward to resuming that conversation in God’s good time.

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in September, Henry entered the Yale engineering graduate program, from which he received an M.S. in mechanical engineering in 1961.

Chapter 3: Thereafter

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mmediately after receiving his master’s, Henry went to work for the U.S. Navy Underwater Sound Laboratory in New London, Connecticut. However, it was not long before academia again called, and in 1966, he earned a Ph.D. in aeronautical engineering from Pennsylvania State University. Upon completion, he returned to the Underwater Sound Lab, where he conducted studies involving turbulent flow noise and submarines. I recall periodically inquiring about his work and receiving somewhat noncommittal responses. Of course, much of the material that he was working on was highly classified, and he couldn’t comment; but in addition, I always had a sense that modesty restrained him from delving too deeply into his daily endeavors. I do remember two times when he opened up. The first occurred in the mid-1970s, after he had returned to Connecticut from Pennsylvania. I had left active service in the Navy a decade earlier, but our conversation occasionally gravitated toward that subject. For some reason, the April 1963 loss of the USS Thresher came up, and to my surprise he said that he had been scheduled to participate in that fateful voyage, but at the last minute had to cancel, thus avoiding being lost with the other 129 aboard. The second time involved a later exchange regarding the 1987 disclosure that a Japanese company (Toshiba), after participating with the U.S. Navy on some submarine projects, sold related machinery and defense technology to the Soviet Union. Henry observed that the compromise was far more damaging than had been reported. Yes, Henry’s work was very real, demanding, challenging, and inherently dangerous. Henry thrived in that envihenry bakewell, Jr. outside groton’s gate ronment, doing what few of us have been lucky enough to accomplish in today’s world: make one’s job a life’s career. He finally retired in 1996 as the head of the Towed Arrays Division of the Naval Underseas Weapons Center in New London. Along the way, in a classic old colonial home overlooking the Connecticut River, Elsie-Ives and he raised four daughters—Nancy Roberts, Margaret Eldredge, Lucy Bakewell-Barnes, and Ann Woodward (a Groton trustee). If that weren’t enough, he found the time to sail, travel, and help run railroads, both real (the Valley Railroad Company) and model, to name just a few of his many hobbies and interests. Our professional careers diverged, and over the ensuing years I spent time living in various corners of the country. However, I periodically returned to Southern New England, and when passing through or near Old Saybrook, would seek out the company of Henry and Elsie-Ives. Inevitably, whenever I was lucky enough

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to find someone home, I was treated as an honored guest, reintroduced to daughters and sons-in-law, shown the latest family projects, and often rescued from the welcoming licks of the family dogs. In some respects, my infrequent, unscheduled visits produced an understanding analogous to that which might be obtained by watching a time-lapse film from a security camera: intermittent, fuzzy images, with long pauses between pictures. A sad moment occurred in Henry’s life in late 1998, when Elsie-Ives succumbed to an extended illness. However, time heals wounds, and Henry met Carolyn Barter (first introduced to the Groton Sixth Form of 1955 at our 45th reunion in May 2000), who soon became a permanent and positive addition to Henry’s world. Together they lived and enjoyed life to the fullest until Henry’s untimely and unexpected end.

Reflections

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hrough it all, the most important factor in Henry’s life was his family. In the early years, it was his mother and father who were most visible. Both were fixtures at Groton, particularly at athletic events, and they soon became well known to us all. Jim Satterthwaite, in his written summary for the 1955 yearbook, wittingly remarked that Henry’s family members “were among our most loyal rooters, brought good luck to the boats and good spirits to the coach.” Not far beyond camera range were sisters Hester and Sarah and younger brother Charles Adams. Soon to be added were Elsie-Ives and his four daughters, of whom he was immensely proud and who have become his living legacy. His loyalty similarly extended to Groton. For a number of years, he acted as our form agent, and we could always anticipate his early winter telephone call as he solicited his less responsive formmates for contributions on behalf of the School’s Annual Fund. He was obviously very happy when daughter Ann was admitted to the Groton Form of 1986, being not the least bit shy when it came to informing his fellow formmates of her accomplishments! Less observant of his college reunions, henry bakewell, Wheaton Vaughan, Sam Williams, he rarely missed the opportunity to join formmates at Groton, and Peter higginson where he became recharged by the experience. Starting in 1980 at our 25th reunion, with Betsy Lawrence ’82 (now a member of Groton’s Development Office) as a borrowed coxswain, it became something of a tradition to plan trips to the Nashua for reunion “rows.” The most recent and final such event occurred in May 2005 at our 50th, where under the watchful and concerned eyes of wives and significant others, Henry, Sam Williams, Peter Higginson, and I, with the careful guidance of yet another Groton School coxswain, launched the four-oared shell, James B. Satterthwaite, and set out upon the calm, smelly waters of the river that we all so dearly loved.

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Form notes

R Form Notes are now password-protected. Members of the Groton community may read them online by signing in at www.groton.org/myGroton.


inding Your ormmates ormmates Just Got uch Easier

Spring 2013 | Vol. LXXV, No. 2

Features 26

Honoring the Past, Embracing the Future: The Schoolhouse Project The planned renovation will include a new science and math addition and improved communal spaces.

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Richard B. Commons A Decade of Service, 2003-2013

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roton School now has an Evertrue app for your mobile phone. Search “Groton School” in the App Store to get started. Only Groton alumni can access the app—be sure to register with the same email that we have on file here at Groton.

Reflections on the headmaster’s accomplishments and how the School has changed during his tenure

With the new Groton School app, you can: 36

Departments 2

Message from the Headmaster

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Letters to the Editor

Circiter | Featured on Campus

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A civil rights panel, a gun control lecture, gumboot dancers, and other happenings on the Circle MADELEINE COHEN ’13

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Search for formmates—hit “Nearby,” put in a location, and all the alumni in the area will pop up with names and addresses (email, snail mail, or both).

Connect with the School and alumni—hit “Social” for Groton’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr pages.

Keep up to date with events on and off the Circle—“News” takes you to our website’s recent news stories. Questions? Contact Drew Millikin in the Alumni Office at dmillikin@groton.org or 978-448-7588.


February 4, 1963

Richard B. Commons

The Dalai Lama’s Bridge to the West

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Farewell to Fred Beams

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Vicky Zhang ’13 worked with photography teacher Christopher Hutchinson on a winter Faculty-Sponsored Activity that focused on recreating vintage photos of Groton. Her series juxtaposed old images of the Schoolroom, Chapel, science lounge, and other areas against current-day views. Above, students doing calisthenics on the Circle, early 1940s. “I see this project as a unique way of recording the beauty of Groton,” Vicky said.

When Martin Luther King, Jr. Spoke at Groton

A Decade of Service, 2003-2013 • Vol. No. LXXV, WinterSpring 2013 •2013 Vol. LXXV, 1 No. 2

St. John’s Chapel filled to capacity three times and fans of the beloved holiday tradition tuned in online from 13 countries and 38 states.

Spring 2013 | Vol. LXXv, No. 2

Lessons and Carols 2012

Winter 2013 | Vol. LXXV, No. 1

PHOTOS BY MIKE SPERLING

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P.O. Box 991 Groton School Groton, Massachusetts 01450-0991 P.O. Box 991 Change Service Requested Groton, Massachusetts 01450-0991

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