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HACKLEY H A C K L E Y R E V I E W S U M M E R 2 0 17




Contents Hackley challenges students to grow in character, scholarship and accomplishment, to offer unreserved effort, and to learn from the varying perspectives and backgrounds in our community and the world.

2 From the Head of School

4 Hilltop Updates

8 Suzy Akin Editor Chris Taggart and Benjy Renton ’17 Primary Photography Alphabetica Design On the cover: To Come

Far Beyond the Hilltop: Stephanie Sullivan ’76 and her Mission of Diplomacy By Adam Lucente ’09

12 Travels in Cuba: Life beyond Politics and Propaganda By Vladimir Klimenko

18 Accessing Global Perspective: Hackley’s Casten Trips By Suzy Akin

23 Dan Lipin: Inculcating a Healthy Skepticism through Science Education By Suzy Akin

28 The Year in Visual Arts

32 The Year in Performing Arts

36 The Year in Athletic

40 Commencement 2017

© Copyright 2017 Hackley School. All rights reserved.


from the head of school



Independent schools are often criticized as “bubbles,” insulating students from the realities of the world beyond campus. Students, usually seniors towards the end of their career, feel this most acutely, but this perspective is often shared by those who do not know the particulars of an independent school. Hackley is different. We have a long tradition of seeking ways to stretch the bubble by inviting different perspectives and experiences to campus, and by sending students and faculty out into the world to learn. Hackley is now, and long has been, an international campus. While some might only know of our membership in Round Square, the presence of an international perspective dates back decades. Legendary teachers, such as Pavel Litvinov, Doc and Kathy Szabo, and Raymond and Maag Mitton shared their expertise and passion for their discipline with their students and infused the campus with perspectives from abroad. Their stories of activism and their principled fights for freedom were passed down through the generations of students, becoming part of the culture and values at Hackley. Today’s faculty, staff, and administration are no less diverse and interesting, bringing perspectives and experiences from many countries, including Spain, Iran, Russia, Ireland, Kenya, China, England, Ecuador, Colombia, and Peru. Dating back to the 1950’s, students from around the world—El Salvador, Honduras, Japan, Liberia, England, Cuba, and Iran – enriched and diversified the community. Today, we have families enrolled that represent countries from Argentina to Australia, from India to Ethiopia, and from Portugal to the Philippines. The languages spoken, customs shared, and relationships built across the diversity of our international

community only serve to enrich the perspectives of all. The Hackley of today is a local school engaged in a global conversation. The school’s long history of international travel has been critical to ensuring the strength of Hackley’s global outlook. Today, our language immersion trips and Casten Trips send students and faculty abroad to open their eyes to new experiences, cultures, and ideas. In 2001, Tom and Judy Casten P ’93, ’04 and family established Hackley’s Casten Travel Program, which funds opportunities for student and faculty travel. Since that time, the school has sent out 36 trips, allowing hundreds of students and faculty to travel to 30 countries. Our language immersion trips support the continued development of language acquisition for our students, while also offering cultural and personal context for this learning. The success of these trips in bringing an international mindset to the Hilltop simply cannot be overstated. The trips are part of the fabric of the school, not just a recent and trendy addition to our offerings. By traveling together, students and faculty engage in sustained learned about the politics, art, geography, architecture, and culture of our global neighbors. They return to the Hilltop, feeling the world is a bit smaller and their understanding of others a bit greater. Their travel inspires others to stretch themselves and a virtuous cycle repeats, each time helping to expand the “Hackley bubble” to stretch farther from Tarrytown.

Board of Trustees

Hackley Parents’ Association



Because not everyone travels while at Hackley, it is equally important for an international perspective to infuse curriculum and program. In April, the Hackley community demonstrated our commitment to being a school of world by hosting the Young Round Square Regional Conference of the Americas with support from Henry Wendt ’51. During a week-long event, Hackley students and families hosted 72 students and 32 chaperones from 27 schools in eight countries. While primarily a Middle School event, Upper School students facilitated group activities and assisted as trip leaders as our guests explored New York City. The Round Square IDEALS – internationalism, democracy, environmentalism, adventurism, leadership, and service —infused the campus and helped further instill a global perspective in our community.

John C. Canoni ’86, President

In this issue of Hackley Review, you will read about Stephanie Sullivan ’76’s career in international diplomacy, faculty member Vladmir Klimenko’s review of our recent Casten Trip to Cuba, and a profile of science teacher Dan Lipin and his international journey to the Hilltop. Each of these stories demonstrates how Hackley continues to live into our mission to “learn from varying perspectives and backgrounds in our community and the world.”

Michael H. Lowry

As I look towards Hackley’s future, I believe it will be ever more important to look outward from the Hilltop and ensure that our students have the chance to engage with perspectives that are different from their own, whether by getting off the Hilltop or bringing the world to campus. From curriculum to travel to the diversity of the community, Hackley must continue to strengthen our international ties and relationships, building bridges across cultures and deepening the understanding our students have about the world and their role in shaping it. The Hackley bubble is larger than ever before, continuing to expand and ever more permeable, as the school strengthens its identity as a global institution.

Sy Sternberg, Vice President John R. Torell IV ’80, Treasurer

Debbie Linnett, Executive Vice President

Maria A. Docters, Secretary

Pallavi Shah, Administrative Vice President

David A. Berry ’96 MD, PhD

Marian Hoffman, Upper School Vice President

Sherry F. Blockinger ’87 Christopher P. Bogart Roger G. Brooks Thomas A. Caputo ’65  H. Rodgin Cohen Dawn N. Fitzpatrick Jason J. Hogg ’89 Eric B. Gyasi ’01* Linda Holden-Bryant

Kaye Duggan, Middle School Vice President Chitra Dhakad, Lower School Vice President Alyssa Goodman, Secretary Erica Napach, Treasurer Nora Shair, Assistant Treasurer

Keith R. Kroeger ’54

Leadership Team

Kaveh Khosrowshahi ’85

Michael C. Wirtz, Head of School

Timothy D. Matlack ’70 Harvinder S. Sandhu, M.D. Jumaane Saunders ’96* Sarah Unger ’03* Pamela Gallin Yablon, M.D. *Alumni Trustee Honorary Trustees Herbert A. Allen ’58 Daniel A. Celentano John T. Cooney ’76 Marvin H. Davidson Jack M. Ferraro H’63 Berkeley D. Johnson, Jr. ’48

Philip J. Variano, Associate Head of School Steven D. Bileca, Assistant Head of School Peter McAndrew, Director of Finance and Campus Planning Anne Ewing Burns, Director of Lower School M. Cyndy Jean, Director of Middle School Andrew M. King, Director of Upper School Christopher T. McColl, Director of Admissions

Philip C. Scott ’60

John P. Gannon, Director of Development

Advisory Trustees

Susan E. Akin Director of Communications

James L. Abernathy ’59 John J. Beni ’51 Harold Burson Mark R. Gordon Robert R. Grusky ’75 Koichi Itoh ’59 Michael G. Kimelman ’56 Jonathan P. Nelson ’64 Diane D. Rapp Conrad A. Roberts ’68 Lawrence D. Stewart ’68 Susan L. Wagner

Michael C. Wirtz head of school

Lisa Torell, President

Hackley Alumni Association, Inc.

Officers Christie Philbrick-Wheaton Galvin ’00, President

Hackley School adheres to a long-standing policy of admitting students of any race, color, religion, gender identity, and national and ethnic origin to all the rights, privileges, programs and activities generally accorded or made available to students at the school. It does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, gender identity, or national or ethnic origin in administration of its educational policies, admissions policies, scholarship or athletic and other school-administered programs.

Sallyann Parker Nichols ’87 Vice President Daniel E. Rifkin ’89, Treasurer Timothy L. Kubarych ’06 Secretary

*Alumni Trustee

hilltop updates

On Saturday, May 20th, more than 540 members of our community gathered for The Legacy Gala, celebrating the success of The Legacy Campaign. That evening, we raised more than $1.7 million toward the goals of The Legacy Campaign, including the Walter C. Johnson Financial Aid Endowment Fund.

HACKLEY SETS NEW RECORDS! We are grateful to the teachers and coaches who have inspired such exceptional generosity, and to everyone who has supported the Campaign with their volunteer efforts and their gifts. Thank you.

Clockwise from top left: Celebrity auctioneer Phil Variano; Tracey, Will and Meg Johnson; a very determined Steve Paridis bids at the auction; Gala co-chair Linda Holden-Bryant, Board President John Canoni ’86, Gala co-chair Maria Docters, Head of School Michael Wirtz (not shown: Gala co-chair Kaveh Khosrowshahi ’85).

Diane Rapp Leaves Hackley Board

On June 30, 2017, Diane Rapp P ’91, ’94, ’98 ended her long tenure as a member of the Hackley Board of Trustees. Diane’s legacy of service and generosity on the Board is extraordinary. Serving since 1993, Diane is one of the longest-tenured Board members in Hackley’s history, and the longest serving woman on the Board. Diane’s leadership accomplishments are as deep as they are varied. As Co-Chair of the Headmaster Search Committee in 1994, she helped to oversee the process that resulted in the hiring of Walter Johnson. Diane played a major role in strengthening the strategic direction of the school’s academic profile as Chair of the Educational Programs Committee. In recent years, her work on the Development Committee and the Admission and Financial Aid Committee contributed to the highly effective outcomes of these committees. And as an internationally-renowned educational consultant in her professional life, Diane’s wisdom benefited Hackley on countless occasions, perhaps most enduringly through the advice she provided Hackley’s administration on often sensitive matters. We are deeply grateful for her dedicated service.


Susan L. Wagner Steps Down from Trustee Role

Susan L. Wagner P ’09, ’14, ’17 concluded her service as a Hackley trustee this year, effective June 30, 2017. Elected to the Board in 2008, Sue has exercised outstanding leadership at each level of her Board involvement throughout her tenure. During her nine years on the Board, Sue served on the Executive Committee in two different roles, as Treasurer for five years and as Secretary during the 2016-17 academic year. She has been Chair of the Admission and Financial Aid Committee since its inception in 2014 (and its predecessor ad hoc committee prior to that), charting the course for the work of this Committee through her deep professional knowledge. Sue was also a longstanding member of the Finance Committee, and has been generous with her time and professional expertise in Hackley’s Alumni Networking Program, serving as a mentor to a number of Hackley alumni. In partnership with her husband, Neal Leonard, Sue’s philanthropic leadership during her tenure on the Board has been exemplary. We are grateful for all her leadership has brought to our work at Hackley.


hilltop updates continued

Sherry Blockinger ’87 Named to Board of Trustees

Sherry Blockinger ’87, P’ 18 has been appointed to the Hackley Board of Trustees for a three-year term commencing as of July 1, 2017 and concluding June 30, 2020. An alumna of Hackley, Sherry was involved in Varsity Softball and student government during her time as a student. As the mother of Jocelyn ’18, Sherry has been an active parent volunteer since Jocelyn’s entry into Kindergarten, involved on committees including Lower School Events, Faculty Appreciation Lunch, and Spring Fling, serving as Class Parent in 2009-10, and a Hackley Host in 2010-11. In addition, she has provided senior internships to a number of students and hosted a Legacy Campaign briefing at her sherry b dessert studio. A graduate of Purdue University, Sherry also studied at The French Culinary Institute and the Institute of Culinary Education.  She started her career in marketing in Washington DC, and after moving to New York began her career in pastry arts. In 2013, she opened her sherry b’s dessert studio in Chappaqua, and is opening a second studio in New York City. Sherry has been featured in Best of Westchester, RealSimple, Zagat, and Wine Enthusiast, among other media. Sherry’s brother, Ed Feingold, is a member of the Class of 1992.


Eric Gyasi ’01 Joins Board of Trustees

Rhonda Mair Retires

The Board of Trustees has appointed Eric Gyasi ’01 to a three-year term as Trustee, commencing July 1, 2017 and concluding June 30, 2020. Eric attended Hackley as a boarding student from the Seventh to the 12th grade. An alumnus of Prep for Prep, he was elected Ninth Grade Class President, served as Co-President of Habitat for Humanity, and was a member of The Dial. In addition, he played Varsity Football, Varsity Lacrosse, 9th grade Basketball, and competed in Winter Track in 10th and 11th grades.  He has served as an Alumni Board Member since 2013, and has been active on the Reunion Committee, the Networking Committee, the Investments Committee, and the Grants Committee. Eric earned his BA at Boston College in 2005 and his JD at the University of Chicago in 2009.  Eric is currently Senior Counsel at Lloyds Bank.  Prior to Lloyds, Eric worked at Simpson, Thacher & Bartlett, LLP; Citigroup; and Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton and Garrison, LLP. Eric and his wife, Rae, welcomed their son, Oliver, in 2015. Eric’s brother Ernest is a fellow alumnus, in the Class of 2004.

Rhonda Mair, a 23-year member of the Hackley community, retires with the end of the 2016-17 school year. While technically an employee of Flik, Hackley’s food service provider, few can surpass her for the wonderful constant presence she has been in the lives of Hackley students for these many years—20 of them managing the Lower School food service, preceded by two years working in the Upper School. Her lasting impact on our students was movingly captured last year when she was named the first recipient of the Hackley Hilltop Award, chosen by the K-12 “Lifers” in the Class of 2016. Reflecting on that nomination, one of the graduating seniors wrote that “Rhonda taught me the importance of teamwork outside of the classroom, the notion that everyone deserves kindness and the selflessness required to be a kind and supportive member in a community. To this day whenever I see Rhonda she greets me with the biggest smile on her face and an embrace.” Another said, “She is one of the kindest and most welcoming individuals I have ever met. She welcomes every student and treats them all with the utmost respect and kindness.” Further, that student noted, “Rhonda is an embodiment of the friendliness that Hackley strives to achieve. We all love her dearly!” We wish Rhonda all the best in her retirement—come back and visit! Other Departures

Upper and Middle School English teacher Nicole Butterfield will take a one year leave-of-absence to pursue an independent writing project. We look forward to welcoming her back in September 2018! Corie Buonnanno, an Assistant Teacher in the Lower School for the past four years will be leaving Hackley for a lead

teaching position in Rye City Schools. After three years at Hackley our Director of Health and Wellness, Charles Colten is leaving to pursue new professional interests. Stefanie Fisher leaves after two academic years as a Lower School Assistant Teacher. Rebecca Garfield leaves after six years teaching Spanish in the Middle School. During her time at Hackley, she has also served as fifth grade dean and a leader of Middle School Community Service efforts. Samantha He, who has taught both Computer Science and Mathematics in the Middle School, leaves after two years at Hackley. Katie O’Keefe leaves after two years as a Lower School Assistant Teacher. Susan Reynolds is departing the Hilltop after nine distinguished years as a lead teacher in Lower School. Drew Scecina leaves us after just one year to teach math at Tuxedo Park School.

Hackley Names the McNaugton Room

On May 22nd, Head of School Michael Wirtz announced the naming of an Upper School science classroom (room 117) the McNaughton Room in honor of former faculty member Randy McNaughton, who died on May 25th. Randy taught geology and astronomy at Hackley, and retired in 2003 as the school’s longest tenured faculty member, with his 46 years of service earning him a “gargoyle” created in his likeness as a permanent part of Hackley’s architecture. Given Randy’s unparalleled service to Hackley, it felt appropriate to school leadership and the Board to name this room for him in appreciation of the impact and length of his career on the Hilltop. The McNaughton Room now joins the Schneller Room, the Mitton Room, the Buessow Room, Pickert Field, the Bridges Theatre, and the Lindsay Room as spaces named in honor of distinguished faculty in appreciation for the length of their service. Our school community has always and will continue to be enriched by the dedication of our faculty, as individuals devote significant portions—and in some cases the entirety— of their career to the school.


By Adam Lucente ’09


far beyond the hilltop

Stephanie Sullivan ’76 and her Mission of Diplomacy When Ambassador Stephanie Sanders Sullivan, Hackley Class of 1976, first set foot on the Hilltop in 1971, she began a leg of her educational journey that would prepare her for her illustrious career in diplomacy, though she did not yet know she’d end up there, or in Africa, nonetheless.

“Model U.N. with Walter Schneller was a lot of fun. That was my first glimpse of multilateral diplomacy,” she said by phone. “It still never occurred to me be a diplomat. But the seed was planted for being a PCV (Peace Corps Volunteer)” after teacher Mort Dukehart showed slides from his experience as a PCV in Tunisia.    Stephanie served as the ambassador to the Republic of the Congo from 2013 to 2017 under then President Barack Obama. By coincidence of timing, she departed January 20, and assumed her new duties as the deputy assistant secretary for Central African affairs at the Department of State upon her return to the states. “I’m a career diplomat. I’ve served my country for 31 years and am not ready to retire.”  Stephanie began her career in the early 1980’s with the Peace Corps, teaching English in the Democratic Republic of Congo – not to be confused with the Republic of the Congo, where she served as ambassador. She then served at a variety of management and policy postings at State, both in the U.S. and Africa, specifically in Cameroon and Ghana.  

Stephanie Sanders came to Hackley as an eighth grader, joining her brothers, Phil ’73 and Tom ’75, in the School’s second year of coeducation. Their mother, Barbara Sanders, joined the faculty that same year as art teacher in the newly opened Lower School.  Stephanie says her time at Hackley “prepared her mind for a career in diplomacy.” She particularly credits comp sessions for allowing her to hone her writing skills. “The brutal critiques were very helpful,” she said.   Her Hackley teachers had, as it turns out, deep influence on the path she followed.  She recalls, “Mort Dukehart talking about his Peace Corp experience had a huge influence on me. One day, he showed slides and talked about the experience during our Ancient and Medieval History Class in Room Z. After that, I told myself that I would like to be a Peace Corps Volunteer.”   In addition, she studied French with Raymond Mitton, who with his wife Maag was a member of Hackley’s Modern Languages department. He had taught French for many





summers in Peace Corps training programs. Raymond and Maag, both refugees from Haiti, were valuable mentors who helped their students appreciate the world beyond the Hilltop. Stephanie says, “Raymond Mitton spoke well of Peace Corps, having been involved in training programs for PCVs in Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso (it was probably Upper Volta at the time!). I decided I would like to be a PCV in Francophone Africa.”


Her coursework-extracurricular balance helped her as well, she says. Stephanie was the embodiment of a student athlete at Hackley, and went on to letter in several varsity sports, including soccer, ice hockey, and lacrosse, at Brown University, where she was named in 1986 to the university’s Athletics Hall of Fame. The French she took came in handy years later in both the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo, and Cameroon, all Francophone nations. She completed her senior project by studying for a month in France, she recalls.   “All the international stuff at Hackley now is great,” she said, referring to Hackley’s membership in the Round Square international consortium of schools, annual Casten trips [see related article, page 19] the addition of Chinese, along with French and Spanish language courses, language immersion trips, and Wendt Symposium speakers who share expertise on global affairs. “It’s more than when I was there.” In addition to French, Sullivan speaks Lingala – a Bantu language spoken in the Congo River region. “The fact that I learned Lingala opened doors,” she said. “It allowed us to win hearts and minds.”  The Peace Corps was her true gateway to her later career as a diplomat. “I met diplomats for the first time,” she said on her service. “I (then) took the foreign service exam three times until I passed.”  As ambassador, Stephanie is most proud of the communication and political bridges she formed between the U.S. and the Republic of the Congo. “We put a lot of emphasis on what the U.S. was doing,” she said. “We had a big new building. People weren’t necessarily sure what we were doing, and there were lingering suspicions,” which she in part attributes to the country’s close relations with the Soviet Union in the Cold War.   Stephanie’s work focused on improving economic and military cooperation between the two countries. The U.S. trained Republic of Congo peacekeepers, for example. “They had a battalion of peacekeepers in the Central African Republic. We gave them training equipment so they could save lives,” she said. The Central African Republic is recovering from a war that broke out in 2012. “The Congolese soldiers had an increase in professionalism and exposure to U.S. ways of thinking and doing.” 

The Embassy and the Government of the Republic of Congo advanced negotiations that could lead to establishing direct flights between the two countries.   Perhaps her most rewarding work was on youth development, where the embassy supported local youth entrepreneurship. “It’s inspiring to see how motivated and innovative young people are,” she said. This was not easy, though. “The country had a 30-year history of Marxism, and didn’t have a tradition of valuing the private sector.”  Back in the U.S. Stephanie lives in a D.C. suburb in nearby Maryland, like many other federal employees. There are some key differences between life as the U.S. ambassador in Brazzaville—the Republic of the Congo’s capital—and greater Washington. “I don’t miss people stopping me to take selfies,” she said. “The return to anonymity is welcome.”  She also welcomes working mostly in English again, as opposed to French and Lingala.   But life stateside has its challenges as well. “The biggest challenge is definitely the commute,” she said.  The Republic of Congo is not well-known in the U.S., and our picture of Africa as a whole is one largely of strife. “I think a holistic approach is overlooked,” she said when asked about U.S. views of the continent. “Atrocities are reported. It gives a skewed picture. It would be better to see more reporting on the successes.”  On the Republic of the Congo specifically, Stephanie wants people to know that there are two countries of the Congo, the other, of course, being the Democratic Republic of the Congo.  Still, she believes the Republic of Congo is poised to increase its international profile. Stephanie speaks fondly of the country’s “most beautiful on earth” landscapes, and its beautiful parks. While living in Brazzaville, she and her family – her husband, John, and sons, Dan and Scott, went trekking at Odzala-Kokoua National Park to see the elephants as well as lowland gorillas and “other charismatic fauna.” She remarked on efforts made by the United States to support Congo’s efforts to “preserve its biodiversity and encourage ecotourism as a means of diversifying Congo’s economy beyond the petroleum sector.”  “The Republic of the Congo has enormous potential,” she said. “It’s a beautiful unspoiled country.” 

Adam Lucente ’09 is a reporter for Cape Cod Times where he covers police, fire and immigration news. He previously worked as a freelance online and photo journalist throughout the Middle East for Al Jazeera English, Al-Monitor and other outlets. He graduated from The George Washington University in 2013.




Seen from an airplane window, our first glimpse of Cuba is what one might expect: a verdant, uncongested rural landscape, semi-unkempt fields, low-trafficked roads.

byByVladimir Klimenko Vladimir Klimenko

An hour later our group of nine students and three faculty members was strolling along an uneven Havana pavement, marveling at the 1950s American cars interspersed with pedicabs and Soviet Bloc motorbikes. Our local guides ushered us into a tall-ceilinged family-owned restaurant whose heavy European furniture, early 20th century décor, and salacious restroom illustrations suggested a mixture of bygone elegance mixed with tropical decadence, with some bold hints of the island nation’s new-found entrepreneurialism sprinkled in. There was no mistaking it: we were in Cuba, the place where the indigenous, colonial, pre-Castro and revolutionary pasts incessantly collided with an uncertain, exciting present. I exchanged frequent observations with my colleagues, Modern Languages chair Angela Alonso and Drama director Willie Teacher. Like me, both of them were struggling to figure out the multiple riddles of Cuban life. How many Cubans have access to foreign relatives or travel? What explains the extraordinary vibrancy of the performing arts scene? Which aspects of the public Cuban narrative about the country can be taken at face value? Which ones merit greater skepticism and scrutiny?

Ours was Hackley’s second trip to Cuba, the first one in 2000 having been the maiden voyage that helped inspire the entire Casten travel program. Since then, our host country had changed considerably. We had arrived during the flowering of small-scale private enterprise: home-based restaurants and lodgings, countless small markets and street vendors, fleets of individual cars with drivers offering rides for cash. From our first day in the country, Hackley students and faculty were offered an array of local handicrafts, paintings, or locally-produced CDs of Cuban musicians. A parallel economy, just under the surface of the official, Soviet-style one, was thriving. The enticing hints of a looming prosperity stand in marked contrast with the situation when Hackley took its first Casten trip. In 2000, Cuba had just begun to re-emerge —limping and hobbling—from its euphemistically-labeled “special period.” The previous decade, which followed the 1991 unraveling of the USSR, hit Cuba. Oil imports dropped to 10 per cent of pre-1990s levels, causing extreme shortages in virtually every sector. Fidel Castro’s government responded with a redoubled defense of its aging socialist model, whose survival depended on severe rationing of



everything, including food and electricity. By decade’s end, on the eve of Hackley’s first trip, fate intervened on the island’s behalf: Venezuela’s new left-wing leader Hugo Chavez, a Castro admirer, threw the Cuban economy a lifeline in the form of cheap, highly subsidized oil. Now, almost two decades later, with Fidel gone and his successor-brother Raúl planning to retire next year, Cuba is poised for a significantly different future. Gasoline, electricity and food are more available. Tourists flock in ever-greater numbers. A thriving, mostly-legal coastal real estate market is emerging. Cubans with foreign currency and/or foreign connections are able to travel abroad with virtually no restrictions. Meanwhile, the Communist Party maintains its monopoly grip on power. What that combination of factors might mean for the near future seems to be a mystery for everyone – from first-time visitors like ourselves to the best-connected people in the country’s leadership. Our local companions greatly enlivened the experience. The host, Sandra Levinson of the Center for Cuban Studies, is a veteran Cuba hand, an activist and art collector who has shuttled countless times between New York and Manhattan for over 45 years. For her part, Sandra works in tandem with a Cuban duo. The intrepid bus driver, Enildo, gracefully maneuvered our large Chinese bus down narrow urban streets and somehow managed to stay awake and alert throughout long stretches of countryside. Our impressively bilingual guide, Jesús, regaled us with relevant, informative anecdotes about Cuban life, history, culture and economics. Between the three of them we found ourselves in very good hands. We wasted no time immersing ourselves precisely in what we had hoped to learn: language and culture; the arts and society; politics and history. During our first morning we toured the Museum of the Revolution, located in what had previously been the country’s presidential palace. We followed a photo chronicle of the revolution’s trajectory. Worsening relations with Washington were clearly connected with the early fidelista impulse to nationalize the extensive network of U.S.-owned properties. Another museum display claimed that Fidel Castro survived over 600 attempts on his life, a number of them CIA-assisted. (After returning to the U.S., I followed up and learned that this number may be accurate, with the BBC reporting a CIA assassination attempt on Castro as late as 2000.) And yet, for all of the differences and history of conflict between Cuba and the U.S., at no point did we feel the slightest criminal danger or politically-motivated hostility.

As Fiona Boettner ’19 observed, “Even though the U.S. and Cuba have a complicated history, the people were all very kind and interested in learning about us, as well as teaching us about their own culture.” The following day we were scheduled to visit a well-known experimental rural community an hour outside of Havana. On our way out of the city we stopped by a highly-selective visual arts academy. It’s a Cuban equivalent of Cooper-Union, only for teens. Our Hackley group marveled at the bold talent on display. We felt a quiet respect for the Cuban teens, who were so immersed in their projects that they seemed to barely notice the visiting Americans. This was a national commitment to the arts that we witnessed on other days in other forms – whether in the multiple visual and performing arts studios that we visited, or simply on street corners and in markets.

which ction, in le f e r t vening m mos first e ed the r s s u e o r d p t a he im t we ha fact th t what e u h o t b Tonigh a in d de him reveled s tal k e nd ma t a x n a e n M d a u m . st pol ice arned tful t we le i l itary m n a though in wha b es u ly l C a e a ourselv up me r g o d e s in t d t p a in u ch fered the ce of f about K yle of portan   e . im k o le e i p h s t l sm out Michae nts ab in a ment. o m com me l icating a n ic osco u it r m c com rade B his t f m t o o c a s e g y her and jo g him .  Y oun knows ations , makin r p ly t a e s c r u l l a r a f t he b baseb oup. ge tha the gr er Che in h t y a langua r le a da olution r chase an rev b u has pu C l icia st of f the fir


This richness was not lost on Sachin Shah ’18, who could not help but notice the extraordinary creative vibrancy of the place. “What I think makes Cuba such a strong cultural area is the fact that its people live and embody its history, with traditional roots maintained through its culture,” he noted. “Although it has limited access to the outside world, [Cuba] maintains its culture fiercely and stays frozen in time as one of the most interesting places on our planet.” Proceeding to the planned agricultural community, we drove an hour west of Havana into verdant hill country. Our hosts were mindful of the fact that ours is a group of teens. Our tour of Las Terrazas therefore included an opportunity to go zip lining and swimming prior to driving back to Havana. For Michael Castro-Blanco ’18, the zip lining activity represented more than a fun activity. He saw it as a golden opportunity to face his own fear of heights. He reflected, “Flying through the air above a lake in an isolated community in a Communist country was definitely out of my comfort zone, but was one of the best feelings I’ve ever experienced. Cuba for me meant trying new things and breaking out of the Hackley bubble.” Each day offered another opportunity to immerse ourselves into some other aspect of Cuban life. By midweek we toured the central region around Trinidad, where we sampled gorgeous Caribbean beaches, visited the Bay of Pigs invasion site, popped by art studios, and allowed the students some evening free time to play games at a family-style resort while the faculty chaperones watched the impressive singing and gymnastics that performing artists put on nightly for the guests.

Public tran sport

is virtually invisible: no metro, almost no buses exce pt for fa ncy tourist ones. The tourist rest aurants ar e nice. The views are stunnin g if you ca n handle de crepitude. The old America n cars are everywhe re.  In fact , motor transport is divided into three categories: pre-1960 Am erican cars , surprising ly well-maint ained, Sovi et vehicle s (mostly Lada sedans with some motor cycles with sidecars, a few militar y jeeps) an d various Japanese & Korean mor e modern cars.  The economy is a total mys tery, but maybe not entirely fo r people who have lived in th e Soviet Blo c.




In the provinces as well as in Havana, we witnessed the same fascinating array of paradoxes: a country with high literacy but insufficient transportation, a surplus of trained doctors alongside shortages of drugs, a sometimes intransigent Communist dictatorship with a vibrant arts scene and a significant minority with access to foreign travel, a society that with some genuinely progressive features and widespread architectural decay. The contradictions were not lost on students, even on younger ones like Kyle Spencer ’19, who has yet to take Hackley’s 20th Century History course. Speaking for himself but also for others, Kyle noted that the curricular or learning dimensions of this Casten Trip dovetailed with an appreciation of both the larger historical context of this particular opportunity as well as the more specific richness of positive group dynamics. “Cuba was one of the best experiences of my life,” Kyle noted. “It is such a pivotal time in Cuba’s history and was therefore a fantastic opportunity to visit. Each day was culturally enriching and very interesting. The students selected to participate on the trip got along very well, which enhanced the experience tremendously. The Cuban art and music was particularly inspiring.” For one of our travelers, Max Tannenbaum ’18, the trip ended on a poignant note. Towards the end of our stay, Sandy, our host, arranged for us to visit Havana’s only functioning synagogue. Once the spiritual home to thousands of Cuban Jews, this temple now exists to serve the spiritual needs of a much diminished community numbering perhaps no more than 1,500 people nationwide. As it turned out, Max’s

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paternal relatives, who emigrated from Cuba to the U.S. after the revolution, had been members of that synagogue. Max’s visit, therefore, represented a reunion of sorts. For his part, Max often felt comfortable in Cuba not only because of his family ties, but because some part of him seemed incapable of sitting still when he heard music – which happens virtually all of the time, everywhere. He said, “Cuba was the most amazing and jaw-dropping trip of my life. I loved to go around Havana and Trinidad hearing and seeing the culture of Cuba. Whenever I heard music I would stop what I was doing, and dance there and then.” And so it was that this trip, like so many Casten trips, made a profound and lasting impact on participating students. No doubt the experience will not only leave them with long, pleasant memories, but will continue to inform their thinking in years to come as they learn more about the world and prepare to take their place in it as adults, citizens, and protagonists in the larger human story.

Vladimir Klimenko, a member of the Hackley Upper School History Department, teaches American History, Modern European History, and Contemporary Issues. A former journalist and simultaneous interpreter who has traveled widely in Europe, Russia and the Americas, he was the first holder of the Allstrom Chair in Foreign Affairs and has led Casten trips to New Orleans, Nicaragua, Guatemala, Malawi, Brazil, Peru and Cuba.

o our hotel] in time for a few minutes of refl ent about how ection. Jack im made a pressed he was school had mad by th e fa ct that student e a statue com s m at em the top art or at ing a long-ser life-sized and ving cleaning eminently real la dy is an tic, on a benc d left it, had kept clea h overlooking n during her jo the bathrooms b tenure at th th at she e school.  Fiona with a crew co nsisting entirel , who has bond y ed of really well guys, was fete a small girl wh d for her remar o had accompa kable relations ni ed ou hip with r group today. M experiencing of atthew spoke ab forcing himse ou lf t to th do things that e would be fun. he did not au  Sean noted th tomatically as at po li sume tic al society; that th ideology was only part of th ere was much e story of Cuba to life here be yond politics n and propagan Benjy had spen da.   t much of the day acting as commentator the brilliant ph of our advent otographer an ur es d .  Sachin expr good tasty vege essed gratitude tarian dinner fo r hi s surprisingly . moving comm

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By Suzy Akin


Hackley’s Casten Trips 2001 italy galapagos islands china 2002 amazon rainforest/peru 2003 belize russia 2004 hondorus vietnam hong kong/singapore/thailand 2005 greece costa rica

2006 new orleans machu picchu/peru 2007 nicaragua 2008 japan peru 2009 guatemala malawi 2010 jamaica london brazil 2011 india peru senegal

2012 japan argentina &uruguay kenya 2013 barcelona rwanda 2014 iceland 2015 american west: national parks thailand/cambodia

accessing global perspective:

Hackley’s Casten Trips

2016 morocco

The 2000 Hackley student-faculty trip to Cuba, organized with the

2017 cuba denmark

of Gillian ’04 and Damien ’93, to provide funding to support further

help of Jim Abernathy ’59, inspired Tom and Judy Casten, parents international travel opportunities. Reflecting recently on the creation of the program, Tom Casten said:

When Judy and I sought to provide some support for shared educational goals in 2000, Walter [Johnson] asked us to name specific goals, and we focused on three issues: 1. Teachers are undervalued and under rewarded, 2. International educational travel can help people grow and become more tolerant, and 3. Students on financial aid should have access to educational experiences normally restricted to students from higher income families. Walter offered a visionary idea. He described a trip to Cuba the prior year that took faculty and students on an educational adventure. The trip, organized and supported by a Hackley alum, included multiple

teacher-led discussions of geography, history and culture woven into the trip. Walter thought Hackley could manage up to three trips a year, but each trip would require seed money for organization and funds to provide for one or two extra faculty and scholarships to students who could not afford the full trip cost. Because student trips are costly, the typical model in schools is for a small number of faculty to shepherd a large group of full-pay students around tourist sites. In contrast, the Casten Travel Program provides grants that support faculty participation and financial assistance to qualifying students. With a low teacher: student radio, teachers and students are fellow learners, with greater access to deep engagement with the cultures they will explore.





The impact of these experiences stays with our Casten Travelers long after they return. Thank you to all our Casten Travelers who shared their remembrances this spring. Here are a few of their responses: Liza Murray ’04 recalls that the most memorable aspects of her Casten trips were not strictly cultural/educational, but the opportunities to spend time with Hackley teachers and staff out of the school environment, away from the Hilltop. “I remember how proud Thomas Chin was to show us different cities and historical sites in China and learning about him beyond his role as a teacher at Hackley. Likewise, I loved seeing how passionate John Gillard was about marine biology and scuba diving in Belize and how excited he was (a man of subtle emotion) to share a hobby/passion he loves so much with us. I grew a lot on these Casten trips by virtue of the fact that I was not part of only a student/teacher dynamic being ‘chaperoned,’ but a part of a group of people traveling and experiencing new things together where my insight was just as important as theirs.” For Liza, these opportunities opened important doors: in college, she reports, rather than choosing a study abroad program populated by lots of other American students, “I decided to branch out a bit farther to Vietnam knowing that I had the wherewithal to handle this type of experience. I can attribute some of this confidence to my earlier experiences on my Casten trips—where I was able to travel without my family, was treated like an adult, given the tools to be culturally sensitive and curious and also to enjoy my time in a new place.” This confidence and perspective ultimately led her to join the Peace Corps in Jamaica – where, as luck would have it, she was able to meet with Hackley students traveling on their own Casten trip in 2010. Rachel Pickens ’05 says her Casten trip to Russia, Finland, and Estonia in 2003 “ignited in me a love for foreign language, travel, and, generally, adventure. Mr. Litvinov was able to introduce us to some incredible people owing to his remarkable history and connection to Russia. (We even met his mom when we went to Red Square!)” Diana Pedi ’10 recalls the 2008 Peru Casten trip, noting that she learned to appreciate learning about a new culture. “The kindest people guided us through Lima and San Pedro de Costa. I distinctly remember being told ‘to participate instead of anticipate.’” And, she values the lesson in giving back. “We helped construct an irrigation system and teach children English. This brought out the best in each of us.” She notes, “The importance of service resonates with me personally and professionally. I currently am a volunteer program coordinator with NYC Parks and I work with high school and college students in the community gardens across the five boroughs.”

Tom and Judy Casten (left) meet with student and faculty Casten travelers, Spring 2017.

In the first years of the Casten program, the Castens also sponsored exchange students who spent a year at Hackley. These “Casten Students” lived at Hackley as five-day boarders and spent weekends with host families. Aska Fadhilla came to Hackley from Indonesia in 2008-09 and took part in the 2009 Casten trip to Guatemala. She notes, “If there’s one thing I learn from this experience, Hackley’s ‘Enter Here to be and Find a Friend’ is not just a phrase attached to its main entrance. This spirit also lies beyond its Quad and Chapel. In a remote part of Rio Negro, two exchange students from Indonesia and Hungary were welcomed as friends. At the village of Nimacabaj, we bonded with school kids through intense games of soccer, while the next day, we joined the Mayan-Achi community in their sacred ritual. It is comforting to know that there exists a loving and welcoming community like Hackley, despite the growing scourge of hate in the world that we live in today.” Daniel Hoffman ’11 reports, “The Casten Trip to India opened my eyes to the value of transnational learning and the pleasure of exploring new countries. I found that traveling, unlike classroom education, forced me to use all of my senses. Seeing, smelling, and tasting became gateways to new cultures and ideas. Additionally, it allowed me to form friendships with students and teachers that I otherwise might not have. In short, our trip to India resituated my perspective, both locally and globally. I carried those lessons throughout the rest of my time at Hackley and have continued to draw on them in my current studies and travels.” Wenkai Qin ’14 was part of the 2012 Japan trip, and reports that it sparked a deep interest in learning about Japan and Japanese culture. “Currently, I’m finishing my second year of (difficult but worth it) Japanese language classes alongside my engineering major.” He will spend the summer doing engineering projects in Japan, and could not be more excited. “I’m not sure what my future beyond graduation has in store for me, but currently, I dearly hope Japan will be a large part of it.”


By Suzy Akin


dan lipin:

Inculcating a Healthy Skepticism through Science Education “Teaching Astronomy during the day is dumb...I’d like to have all the kids bring sleeping bags to school so we could camp out on the football field, roast marshmallows, and study the stars.”

Recognizing that a camp out on a school night might be impractical, Middle School science teacher Dan Lipin came up with a pretty great “Plan B.” He totally blacked out his classroom. Windows, doors, every source of light. And then he projected the stars on the ceiling while students stretched out on the floor.

His parents subsequently moved again and now split their time between Rome and Tel Aviv, he went on to do his own doctoral work at the Australian Institute for Bioengineering and Nanotechnology at the University of Queensland, where he met his wife, Tal.

Dan Lipin is that rare breed of intellectual-cum-pied piper of children, a guy with a PhD who not only doesn’t want to teach at the collegiate level, he doesn’t want to teach high school kids. He loves teaching Middle School and he loves infusing it with adventure and discovery.

With such international roots, teaching in the United States was far from the likely path—except, perhaps, for this: Dan learned to love working with and teaching Middle School-age American kids in his time as a camper and then counselor at Camp Dudley, a boys’ sleepaway camp on Lake Champlain in upstate New York.

“I’ve always been nomadic,” he says. Born outside Seattle, he moved with his parents to Hong Kong at age four, and lived there until he left for university studies in chemical engineering at the University of Manchester in England.

“On my first day at camp, I went down on the rocks and fished. I’d never fished before. I went every day, and eventually caught something. I took it right to the dining hall, and they said they’d cook it and serve it!” He admits that he now





knows they didn’t actually cook it—and that’s okay. “The innocence of childhood is awesome,” he says, “and it’s okay to feed their fantasies.” In subsequent summers back at Camp Dudley as a counselor, he kept pushing his campers’ imaginations with games, competitions, challenges, and just plain creative nonsense to keep them on their toes. Sometimes telling kids “the whole truth” is less useful than provoking them to negotiate uncertainty. He says, “If you ask any of my students, ‘Does Mr. Lipin lie to you,’ they’ll say YES!” And there is a method to his madness. In part, he says, “it’s great sometimes to make up zany answers to some of the questions kids always ask. ‘What are we going to do tomorrow?’ they ask. I’ll say ‘We’re going to go skydiving.’” Clearly, that’s a lie. Or a fib. Or perhaps it’s a tantalizing challenge that keeps kids thinking critically. This feeds a central pedagogical goal. Dan challenges his students to think like scientists, and to experience the world through two seemingly contradictory impulses: wonder and skepticism. He wants kids to understand that science is an effort to explain the world based theories, which are, in turn, supported by the best available evidence — but evidence can change over time as new facts emerge. And, he says,“Scientists can derive ANY theories they want with evidence. You have to be skeptical—you have to question EVERYTHING.” There is no “belief” in science, he says. “If anyone tells you that something is ‘scientifically proven,’ they are lying to you. Nothing can be ‘proven.’ It’s just another theory that is supported by evidence, which at some point, new evidence might overturn.” He explains, “I lie to the kids because they need to always question scientific premises, and never just take something scientific as received fact.” Each year, Dan teaches a unit he calls “Bad Science.” He shows the kids a soda bottle with ‘Lipinizer’ written on it in flashy letters, and tells them, “This will make you smarter.” He grins, “They don’t believe me, of course, so I prove it. I give them a short 10 question math quiz, which they have to complete in three minutes.” The students take the quiz, grade themselves, and then Dan enters all the results into a spreadsheet. Then, he has each of them drink a little cup of Lipinizer and gives them another quiz—questions using the same numbers, re-arranged, as in the first one. Having already practiced similar questions, he reports, the kids score 15-20% better the second time through. “People are so ready to believe what they want to believe,” Dan says. “After the second test, the students all want more Lipinizer!”

But then, he explains, “We ask questions about the experiment, and explore how easy it is to extrapolate meaning that has no basis in evidence.” The class pushes the exercise further, making marketing posters (“Try Lipinizer! Increase your intelligence by 30%!”) and then writing newspaper editorials that point out the flaws in the experiment. “We explore real life examples that similarly pretend to ‘prove’ things that don’t stand up to questioning, and the students say, ‘Should we just not believe ANYTHING?’ And I tell them, no...but you should be cynical about everything.” Dan believes that building a healthy skepticism is essential to real learning, not only because it encourages students to question, but because they become invested in the intellectual enterprise that goes far beyond just memorizing “facts” to get through a test. Even classroom lab experiments are more about confirming trust in scientists, given that, as Dan points out, “most labs are designed to allow students to discover things that have already been discovered.” He believes scientists should be respected, yes, but challenged and asked to defend their work, and he tries to incorporate this questioning of received truth into his teaching. Sometimes it’s the experiments that don’t come out as planned that teach best. Dan notes, “Recently, I did an experiment with my fifth graders...and it didn’t work. I tweaked it and tweaked it and it still didn’t work. Finally, I turned to the kids and said, ‘What’s wrong here?’ Three of them offered awesome ideas. After school, I went back to Home Depot for new supplies, set the whole experiment up again, and we tried again the next day—and it worked. It’s like an engineering feedback loop—you keep trying.” More important, he wants to engage students in the larger story, the narrative underpinning a particular “fact.” For example, he explains, when his class began learning about evolution, the textbook just summed up evolution by pointing to key discoveries by Darwin and Mendel. Dan, however, took the students on a journey that traced the path of the puzzles and the series of accidents that led to the “Eureka” moment. “Darwin climbed a hill on an island in the Pacific and stumbled across information that changed everything. He didn’t even realize that finches were different on the Galapagos until he got back from his journey. But with this, he realized that organisms change.” Dan continues, “We look at the historical challenges Darwin faced, but I don’t tell the students the clues Darwin had not yet discovered. And this may lead them to ask, ‘If things change, HOW do they change?’ And then we talk about Mendel and gene inheritance, about the protein that affects hair color or other inherited factors. And then they ask, ‘Where do those new proteins come from?’ and so we discuss




“Most labs are designed to allow students to discover things that have already been discovered.” He believes scientists should be respected, yes, but challenged and asked to defend their work, and he tries to incorporate this questioning of received truth into his teaching.

DNA, the code that shapes proteins, and we then learn about DNA mutations….” It took the class two months to go from Darwin to DNA mutations, and along the way, students engaged in the whole story, all the “whys” and “hows” explored along the way. As a result, they acquire conceptual understanding that supports further problem solving, beyond just memorizing the “answers.” Dan was among the first teachers at Hackley to implement the “flipped classroom” model—which, by providing the opening “lesson” in video form for “homework,” allows students to hear the “lecture” at their own pace, stopping and repeating as needed. Classroom time, then, is devoted to activities, questions and discussions based on what they learned online—a great way to affirm, clarify and expand that learning. Dan has since tweaked the “flipped” model; now it’s “Explore—Flip—Apply!” In other words, students experience the problem or challenge first, then go home and watch the video, the obstacles they need to confront clearly implanted in their minds. Then, back to the classroom the next day, to apply what they learned to solving the problem. Dan says, “It’s like in that movie, The Karate Kid. The teacher stood aside while the bullies roughed up the kid, and only then stepped in to defeat the bullies. And the kid said, ‘I want what you have.’ You need to give kids a reason to learn what you have to offer. Present them with the challenge first, creating that tough place in which they have to try to figure things out, and they want to learn.” It’s uncomfortable, he admits, but he says, “There’s a premise of trust. They realize it’s going to be okay in the end. They know I will be there to support them.” The many STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) challenges his

classes take on affirm this lesson again and again. He says, “The first rocket they made didn’t go very high. The first bubbles were pretty useless. The first marshmallow launcher, the first paper airplane...not great. But the kids could keep trying until they got it.” Dan arrived at Hackley, newly married and with a brand-new PhD, seven years ago, and after all his years of travel, Hackley has become home to him and his young family. Dan recalls that when he first got the job, he and Tal were living in Israel. “We had no money. We bought two one-way tickets to America. We had no credit history in the U.S., couldn’t rent, couldn’t buy.” As for most Hackley faculty, the cost of living in Westchester was prohibitive. “And then Phil Variano called and said Hackley had an apartment for us,” Dan says. “It made life...possible for us.” Dan and Tal’s two little boys learned to walk doing laps around the Upper School corridors after dinner on campus, trailed by Dan. The family now lives on campus in Allen’s Alley, where the boys have a community of faculty children their age with whom they play—running around outdoors and in and out of each other’s homes. Having been the nomad, growing up in cities, Dan reflects, “I never thought I’d be this suburban dad.” Always the STEM guy, though, he found a way to inspire natural wonder in his students right here on campus, bringing them down to Allen’s Alley to conduct a tasty scientific experiment—tapping the maple trees behind his house, boiling the sap down to syrup in the classroom, and then eating waffles with syrup in class to see how their syrup compared with the Stop & Shop brand. Dan laughs, “The classroom smelled like caramel popcorn for three days.”


The Year in Visual Arts

Jenny Canoni ’20

Kindergarten Art Show

Eleanor Henrich ’17

Katherine Greenberg ’19

Kathy Fan ’19

1st – 4th Grade Art Show

Hannah Leighton ’21

Katerina Popova ’22

Cory Weinreb ’17

Christian Riegler ’17

Valentina Castro ’19

William Zhou ’18

Camille Butterfield ’17


The Year in Performing Arts

Upper School Girls Chorus

Mike Wirtz with the Upper School Band

Upper School Drama

Second Grade Play

Middle School Acting Intensive performance

Lower School Strings

Upper School Chorus

Upper School Drama

Upper School Drama

Upper School Jazz Band

Middle School Strings

Upper School Chamber Ensemble

Fifth & Sixth Grade Play

Upper School Drama

Upper School Drama

Upper School Jazz Band

First Grade “Flat Stanley” performance


The Year in Athletics For individual athlete recognitions, school records and more, visit

Hackley Baseball delivered an impressive season that continued right through to the semi-final round of the NYSAIS championship.

The Boys Cross Country team took 3rd place in Ivies and 4th in NYSAIS, with outstanding individual performances.

Despite falling just short of the Ivy League champion, Hackley Boys Soccer produced a 12-win season that earned them a trip to NYSAIS.

Hackley Boys Indoor Track finished third in Ivy competition and set five new school records. Three athletes competed in the New York State meet.

Hackley Boys Squash secured its second consecutive Ivy League Title with a final win loss record for the season of 18-0. Competing in the Division 1 category at High School Nationals, Hackley finished as the 15th ranked High School squash team in the United States.

Varsity Boys Swimming completed an undefeated dual meet season and was crowned Ivy League champions, their first league title since 2013.

Hackley Softball built off last year’s season to go an impressive 10-8 in 2017 and won its second consecutive Hackley Softball Tournament title.

Hackley Boys Varsity Basketball notched an impressive 8-2 record in the first 10 games before injuries stemmed the team’s championship momentum.

The Boys Golf team won its second consecutive undefeated Ivy League title this season, and won the NYSAIS championship.

All five Hackley wrestlers on this year’s small squad who competed placed at the Ivy Prep Championships.

Hackley Girls Swimming finished in third place at the championship meet at Lehman College.

Hackley Girls Basketball started the 2016-17 season with a win at the Dan DiVirgilio tournament, and competed all season at a high level, with close games against top seeded teams.

Hackley Girls Indoor Track finished third in the Ivy Championship meet, with athletes setting three new Hackley School records and one athlete going on to compete at the State meet in two events.

For the 6th straight year, the Hackley Girls Cross Country team won the Ivy League Championships, and then went on to take third overall at NYSAIS.


The Year in Athletics For individual athlete recognitions, school records and more, visit

The spirited Hackley Girls’ Tennis team brought a great effort that led to wins over league rivals and a fourth place league finish.

Hackley Girls Squash finished the year with an impressive 12-4 regular season record and a 5th place finish in the US Squash Nationals (Division 2).

Hackley Girls Golf, with all five members returning next year, demonstrated tremendous growth as individual competitors, as well as admirable and recognizable character and sportsmanship.

The Hackley Boys Track & Field season culminated in the team’s ninth consecutive NYSAIS championship.

Boys Lacrosse defended its 2016 Ivy League title, finishing with a league record of 9-1 as Co-Champions with Riverdale, and made it to the championship round of the NYSAIS tournament.

Hackley Varsity Field Hockey claimed its third consecutive Ivy League title, undefeated in league play, in a great season that led them to the finals of NYSAIS for a fourth consecutive year.

Hackley Football brought home an undefeated 7-0 season, the seventh in Hackley history and the first since 2013, and won its first outright title in the Metropolitan Independent Football League.

Hackley Girls Varsity Soccer showed unrelenting spirit and pride despite injuries and rallied to place fourth in the league.

Girls Track & Field finished its strong season in second place in NYSAIS competition, and third at Ivy championships.

Hackley’s Girls Saber fencing team won the ISFL league championships, with four other squads on the co-ed team also taking home medals.

commencement 40


Class Day Awards On Class Day and Commencement, Hackley honors students for character and accomplishment with a number of awards, many of which have been awarded annually for decades. To request a full list of this year’s awards, contact

Oscar Kimelman Award Chosen by vote of the Class of 2015 to recognize the teacher who has most contributed to their own subsequent progress. Melissa Stanek ’90 The Anton & Lydia Rice Inspirational Teaching Award Chosen by the Class of 2017 Bill McLay

Melissa Stanek ’90, 2017 Kimelman Award winner, and Ryan Walker ‘15

The Yearbook Dedication Chosen by the Class of 2017 David Sykes The Robert Pickert Award for Coaching Excellence (New in 2017) Chosen through nomination by fellow employees. Jenny Leffler The Steven A. Frumkes Award The “friendliest senior,” chosen by the Class of 2017

Bill McLay, Rice Award winner, delivered the Senior Dinner speech

Hope Patricia Weisman ’17 The Richard Perkins Parker Memorial Cup For the student who epitomizes the Hackley ideal Amanda Lloyd Patterson ’17

Amanda Patterson ’17, Parker Cup winner, and Michael Wirtz


commencement continued


Commencement Address

This year’s Commencement speaker, Allison Pataki, is a member of Hackley’s Class of 2003. After Hackley, Allison went on to Yale University, where she graduated Cum Laude with a major in English. She spent several years in journalism before switching to fiction writing, tapping into a love of history and literature that was inspired by Hackley teachers like Mr. King, Mr. Leistler, Mr. Edwards, and Doc Rob. Currently, Allison is a New York Times bestselling author, having published titles such as The Traitor’s Wife, The Accidental Empress, Sisi: Empress On Her Own and most recently,

Where The Light Falls, published in July 2017. Her novels have been translated into more than a dozen languages. A former news writer and producer, Allison has written for The New York Times, ABC News, The Huffington Post, USA Today, Fox News and other outlets. She has appeared on The TODAY Show, Fox & Friends, Good Day New York, Good Day Chicago and MSNBC’s Morning Joe. A member of The Historical Novel Society, Allison lives in Chicago with her husband and daughter. Her remarks are excerpted below.

Since I spent four years as a Hackley student on this Hilltop, I thought I would offer you today four pieces of counsel. Words of advice that I hope might serve you as you step today into your exciting and promising futures.

We can learn so much by listening and observing. We can grow so much, not when something is easy or familiar, but when something is challenging, and pushes us to think out of our comfort zones. In listening and trying to understand others, our empathy as human beings can be developed and deepened. It is then that this fleeting and nebulous and lofty idea of UNITY can truly be worked toward.

The first one has to do with words. As you leave Hackley and make your way forward, you will undoubtedly encounter all sorts of people. Some of these people you will agree with. Many you will not. Speaking with people who share your opinions or beliefs, people with whom you agree—that’s the easy part. It’s when you encounter those with whom you disagree that it becomes more challenging. And this, I would argue, is when it will be so important to remember what you have learned here at Hackley. In a time when it seems like the world celebrates and venerates the loudest voice, in a time when it seems like whoever can shout the longest will carry the day, and brashness or brute force prove more effective than civil dialogue, I would argue that we all need to remember how to listen…. Civility seems to have very little caché in our culture today, but it is only through the respectful exchange of ideas and civil discussion or debate that our worlds can truly be broadened and expanded. 

The second piece of counsel I would offer has to do with the ever-present blessing and curse of social media…. [With the] ever-present glut of information [you have at your fingertips] comes some potential pitfalls…. [The] irony of this vast new world without limits is that we can now insulate ourselves in cocoons of our own making. We can choose where to go for our information, and we can easily find facts and sources that seem tailor-made to our own individual sensibilities. So, rather than seeking only the news that supports your beliefs, force yourself out of your comfort zone. Read some news written by people you don’t agree with. Challenge yourself and your beliefs rather than staying in a cyber sphere that feels comfortable and contained.... Remember that these news feeds through which you can endlessly scroll are only the highlight reels of other people, just a narrow snapshot of a much more complicated reality, and

so put your phone down from time to time and really engage with your reality, and the people around you.

and how it was through exercising his brain that he fought his way back to health and indeed to life.

The third thing I would say to you today is something that might not jive with your summer plans, but here it is: Never stop learning. There’s something ironic here, but the more you learn, the younger you will stay. I know this for a fact.

All of us have that opportunity; we don’t need to suffer a stroke in order to be aware of the importance of keeping our minds fit and healthy. A healthy mind allows us all to stay young. 

Two years ago, almost to the day, my husband suffered a near-fatal stroke in his brain. He was only thirty at the time —a young, healthy, active doctor. He should never have had that stroke, statistically speaking, but he did. He also probably should not have survived his stroke, statistically speaking, but he did. And from that, and through his tedious and long road to recover and rehabilitate his brain, we have learned much about the power of the mind, specifically, how it is through learning and challenging our brains that we stay young and healthy.

We can work toward this through taking on new challenges, taking up new hobbies, traveling, exercising, asking questions, seeking out new types of music or art or cooking, and stretching ourselves beyond what is routine or comfortable.

When my husband woke up from his coma in a state of amnesia, he literally had the brain of a newborn infant— helpless to meet any of his own physical needs, incapable of language or reason. He literally had to re-grow his brain from the beginning. He did. From this “newborn” phase, he went through a phase that we could really only compare to a toddler’s behavior. Then there was the brain of a young child. Then a teenager... so perhaps I had some snapshot into what I can expect from my own daughter in twelve or so years... then so forth and so on. Two years later, with hard work, world-class rehab, and the magical mystery of the brain’s capacity to regenerate and heal, here we are, my husband has made a full recovery and is back to work and living a full life with my daughter and our family. What was the key to my husband’s recovery? He had to challenge his brain—he had to force his brain to learn and to fail and try again and learn some more—every single day. And we will never forget how we watched his brain grow and heal,

The fourth and final piece of advice I would offer today is this: It’s always …OK to ask for help…. You see these people gathered around you? Your team is here today. Your parents, your siblings, your friends, extended families, your teachers. This is a team that is invested in you and cares deeply about you, not just today, but going forward…. In life, we are only as strong as the team we build around us….. You have been on Hackley’s team. Today, and going forward, Hackley will forever be on your team. Go forward now and be worthy of the tremendous gifts that your time at Hackley has endowed you with. You entered here to be and find a friend, now you will go forward and you will continue to seek out friends while also being that presence of compassion and kindness in a world where so many need friends.  Spread Hackley’s spirit of unity and service and community. For four years or more, the Hackley community has served you, and now, you are prepared, and you will honor Hackley by taking these gifts out into the broader world. And we cannot wait to see the great things you do. —Allison Pataki ’03



end note

Ars Poetica What a wonderful night to celebrate the class of 2017! Mr. McLay gave a thoughtful and touching speech, and the video made by our own students was a huge success! This is what counts for graffiti at @HackleySchool #gohack – at Hackley

Instagram: thedial_ Hackley alumni return for UNITY’s end-ofthe-year BBQ and spoke to current students on the impact UNITY has had on their lives.

Van Gogh spent his entire life eating yellow paint and never even realized he was poisoning himself. He squirted a mirage of sunshine into stale morning tea, choked his antidepressants down with the starry nights of old lovers still stuck to his paints still stuck inside him. They were never his. They were begging to go home as their cells froze inside his. Vincent broke brush after brush by sitting on the top floor of the hospital perfecting the exoticness of yellow paint. He sweeped airy strokes onto canvases that were dented from being thrown against the wall as if art can somehow be separate from its artist, as if the the gentle spreading of pink’s wings across the sky could envelop him in unwavering hope. Broken blues and brash violets swallowed him into quaint French cafes where giggling Parisian women would finally kiss his cheeks. His blood lulled him into the lush vastness of vineyards where the sweating sun hit the crooked spines of aching peasants with the late nights of candlelight reminding each other that the world somehow must need their blistering palms and hollow cheeks. He threw away his lovers while his medications forced darkness into stuffy body bags. The yellow paint dried to his insides, peeling away and disintegrating into his lifeblood They suffocated his intestines whenever he attempted to consume. They tugged at the unwound heartstrings that had hung heartbreak, hung reality and watched them sway back and forth, back and forth. The doctors rushed to his bedside, but the yellow invigorated him even more than usual. So he shoved them away, and spat out laughter to the air: “I have been waiting for you for all this time.” Every artist dies with a smear of paint on their noses, with their muses as their last words. Christina Wang ’18 This page, with poem by Christina Wang ’18 and artwork by Camille Butterfield ’17, was originally created by the students on the Vision editorial team for the 2017 Vision, Hackley’s literary and art magazine.

Claudia Abate Happy Birthday, Mr. Naething. We continue to strive to do what you told us each day, Go forth and spread beauty and light. #HackleyGoForth

Instagram: hackley.headofschool Beautiful sunrise over the Hilltop!

I have Senior high school students looking for 8-10 week internships in graphic design, media, film and broadcasting. If anyone is willing to host HS I would love to hear from you

Will Guidara ’97 & Daniel Humm’s new restaurant Made Nice opened yesterday at 8 West 28th Street in NYC.

It was a morning of goodbye as #RSJRC17 finished this morning. Check out the photos!

Christie Philbrick-Wheaton

Hi fellow Hornets! I just posted an internship opportunity to the jobs page — would love to hire a Hackley Alum!

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Hackley Review Summer 2017  

Hackley School challenges students to grow in character, scholarship and accomplishment, to offer unreserved effort, and to learn from the v...

Hackley Review Summer 2017  

Hackley School challenges students to grow in character, scholarship and accomplishment, to offer unreserved effort, and to learn from the v...