HRS Magazine, Summer 2023: The Graduation Issue

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SUMMER 2023 HRS 3 48 CAPSTONE SENIOR PROJECTS Head-Royce School Magazine is a semi-annual publication for alumni, families and friends of Head-Royce. Changes of address may be sent to MANAGING EDITOR Paige Berardo EDITORS Sarah Holliman Julie Kim-Beal PHOTOGRAPHY Mariana Avila Llorente Gerald Fermin Stephen Flynn Richard Wheeler Roots & Shoots Photography CREATIVE DIRECTION + DESIGN Celia De Benedetti Amber:Idea PRINTING The Debenham Group VISIT US ONLINE! Discover more about our mission and activities at @HeadRoyceSchool @HeadRoyce 4 Letter from Our Head of School 6 Life@HRS 20 5th Grade Promotion 26 8th Grade Promotion 56 Honoring a Legacy 52 Fare Thee Well Beloved Staff 44 Board of Trustees 42 Professional Community Awards 32 133 RD COMMENCEMENT 58 Letter from the Alumni Council President 78 Flashback Jesse Skidmore '97 Weston Stewart-Tennes '13 ALUMNI PROFILES 59 ALUMNI FEATURES THE GRADUATION ISSUE SUMMER 2023 Contents Contents

I came into the school a year ago knowing it by reputation. Over the past year, I have had the privilege and honor of being able to see the school from the inside. I have visited classrooms, met with every member of the professional community, gotten to know students of all ages, attended large and small donor events, traveled on alumni tours, sat on the sidelines of athletic competitions, presided over meetings and enjoyed multiple performances. I have been both an administrator and a school parent—which gives me a particular insight into the magic of the faculty and the ways the school ties all the strands of our mission together. I have asked, listened and learned how thoughtfully our teachers weave together our core values—scholarship, diversity and citizenship—into their curriculum and their pedagogy. I have seen how passionate our students are about making an impact on local and global communities.

I am proud of the way our faculty and staff work together to create hands-on educational experiences for our students. And I am humbled by the strength and conviction of our student population. Martin Luther King Jr. once said, “Intelligence plus character — that is the goal of true education.” As I reflect on the recent promotion and graduation ceremonies, I know that our students developed resilience, flexibility, passion, and indeed, character during these foundational years.

Through vignettes, the 5th graders were uniquely and individually captured by their teachers, each as colorful, personal and recognizable as the last. In listening to their sometimes humorous and always meaningful anecdotes, it was clear how deeply our faculty know our students—how they process information, what excites them, how they showcase their best selves.

As peer-selected student speaker Tess F. ’27 reminded us, this 8th grade class began their middle school journey on Zoom. New school clothes were irrelevant. Bedroom decorations were on full display. “We tried to make new friends and get to know each other, but it was beyond difficult based on how little you could really feel through a tiny square on a screen. We did our best, though.” Middle school is often known as the “awkward in-between years.” Now imagine beginning those years in social isolation. To say these students are resilient and flexible does not adequately credit them for what they experienced.

Our 90 newest alums are leaving Head-Royce fully prepared for what comes next for them. Hayden T. ’23, the student commencement speaker, shared these inspiring words: “My teachers have taught me that what we think is natural is just cultural, and what we think is eternal is simply temporal. As the future leaders of this country, and of the world, we must understand that we have the ability to change anything.” And changemakers, they are. As you will see in the photos and articles that follow, these students are infinitely creative, resourceful, bright and passionate. If their senior projects are any indication, they are also role models who are destined to make a positive impact on this world.



Head-Royce welcomes two new senior leaders!

Joel joins us from University Prep (UPrep) in Seattle, Washington, where he served as the Director of Upper School. At UPrep, Joel helped launch a new strategic plan, strengthened the Upper School curriculum and guided his division through the school’s latest accreditation. With deep expertise in DEI work and a focus on educational excellence, Joel places an emphasis on creating meaningful and measurable changes in school climate related to leadership, multiculturalism and inclusion.


I like to start my day with Black coffee, Miles Davis and a sunny window. Beach or mountains? Mountains! Sweet or savory? Savory.

Secret hidden talent? Creating spaces that feel like home. What is your biggest pet peeve? QR code menus.

Song most likely to get you on the dance floor?

“Cupid Shuffle” by Cupid. One thing you can’t leave home without? Red lipstick.


I like to start my day with Coffee…and taking care of the pets. Beach or mountains?

Both! That’s why we love California! Sweet or savory?

Both! That’s why we love Korean Fried Chicken! Secret hidden talent?

If I tell you, then it isn’t a secret anymore. You’ll have to wait and see!

What is your biggest pet peeve?

Not using the Oxford comma. Song most likely to get you on the dance floor?

“Permission to Dance” by BTS. One thing you can’t leave home without? Spotify. I need music even on my short commute to campus.

SAVANNAH STRONG Dean of Equity and Community

Savannah comes to us from The Nueva School, where she served as the Director of Social Justice and Equity. Prior to that, she was the Associate Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion at Greenwich Academy in Connecticut. At Nueva, Savannah influenced positive systems-change while building a culture of belonging at all levels of the organization. Savannah helped strengthen Nueva’s equity and anti-bias work including restorative practices and gender inclusion.

It has been a year of wonder.



We celebrated our 18th Nia Speaker of Color Series with Shereem Herndon-Brown and Timothy L. Fields, authors of The Black Families Guide to College Admission, with a lively and engaging conversation.


The Upper School Debate team had a fantastic year, with teams going to the state and national Tournament of Champions and even the California High School Speech Association Championship!


Our 1st graders played on Pheena the fin whale, climbed through a colossal DNA structure and experimented with force, angles and trajectory in classic games at the Lawrence Hall of Science.


Middle School students headed in different directions for their class trips— one of Head-Royce's special year-end traditions—where they build class spirit by hiking, camping and celebrating the outdoors together: 6th graders to Pinnacles National Park, 7th graders to Morro Bay and 8th graders to Santa Barbara’s El Capitan State Park


Upper School students dove into unique and exciting intersession experiences including building a garden, exploring gross anatomy, discovering boxing, grilling and barbequing, learning about landscape photography and more.

After presenting their projects at the 5th Grade Science Fair, students celebrated with a visit to the Exploratorium!

In preparation for writing their own fairy tale adaptation, 3rd graders visited the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco where they explored folktale artifacts from the Philippines, Japan, India and China for inspiration.



Naomie Kremer, established artist and proud grandparent of an HRS student, led a “drawing to drumming” music exercise in the Lower School, recreating the way she started her own art practice in graduate school. One of her pieces is on display at the Arkansas Museum of Fine Arts.


talent influence


Middle School students in collaboration with the Center for Community Engagement took part in opportunities throughout the year that deepened civic engagement while learning about topics including environmental stewardship, food justice, biodiversity, human connections, elder care and urban farming within Oakland and the Bay Area

We traveled back in time during our second annual Day of Giving, to share memories and explore the connections our alumni have with Head-Royce. The day was an incredible success, with 265 donors contributing an astounding $163,785.

The student-initiated Hopeful Hoops 3v3 Basketball Tournament Fundraiser raised support for the Alameda County Food Bank and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute and brought students, staff and faculty together for a good cause.

The weather didn’t deter Head-Royce students and adults from spreading joy and positivity at the 6th annual Black Joy Parade!



Proud artists, accomplished mentors and enthusiastic fans congregated during the All School Art Show to appreciate a year’s worth of visual art works.


This year’s Parents’ Association annual Spring Celebration—Building the Future— brought our community together for an evening of laughter, mingling, dining and soulful music, plus an action-filled raffle and live auction. We took the “construction chic” dress code to the next level while raising support for the School!


Students, staff, parents and guardians showed their Head-Royce spirit at the City of Oakland Planning Commission Hearing where the South Campus Plan was unanimously approved.

David A. ‘29 spoke eloquently on behalf of the project. He explained, “I decided to focus on transportation and programs because those are the issues I could talk about from my own experience…I am happy that I've helped Head-Royce School in its effort to gain approval for the South Campus Plan. I can't wait to see it completed.”


Heads Up students and alumni joined Head-Royce staff and local leaders for a celebratory dinner at Grand Lake Kitchen where community members who have had an outsized impact on the program were recognized, including Mikki Frazier who has touched many lives during her 16 years at Head-Royce.



The spring show had everything—iconic choreography, stunning costumes, breathtaking arrangements, fantastic sets and incredible performers!




The School’s Fine Arts Dance Ensemble—FADE— left the audience speechless during their spring performances, thanks to their notorious virtuosity and energy, encompassed by a minimalistic yet colorful production design.


Our talented Caravan jazz ensemble and Colla Voce vocal group performed at Yoshi’s, one of the most famous jazz clubs in America, donating all proceeds from the concert to local charities.


Written by 5th grade students, the Lower School's Spring Performance “The Road to Peace” took the audience on a journey through five unique kingdoms: Animals, Dragons, Ghosts, Witches and Dinosaurs.



Softball won BCL-East Championship.

Teamwork brings sweet success ¡


Both Men's and Women's Track and Field won BCL-East Championships.


Men’s Basketball won BCL-East and finished in second place in the NCS Division 5 Championship.


Men's Swimming won the BAC League Championship title.


Women's Basketball tied for first place in their league, won the BCL-East Tournament Championship and were given the North Coast Section Scholastic Team Award.


Women's Soccer finished second in league play.

GOLF Golf won BCL-East and finished in second place in NCS Division 2 Championship. This is the team’s highest achievement ever!


Men's Tennis won the BCL-East Championship.

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Congratulations to our Upper School teams on their successful winter and spring seasons!


Congratulations to our student-athletes who will be going on to participate in college sports in baseball, fencing, golf, lacrosse, rowing, softball and volleyball at Brown, Carleton, Georgetown, Middlebury, Occidental College, UPenn, U of Chicago, Vassar and Williams.


The Middle School Team advanced to regionals on the basis of their carbon extraction device and the Upper School Robohawks Team made their 11th consecutive appearance at the 2023 VEX Robotics World Championships, the largest robotics competition in the world, where they battled 803 high school teams representing 42 countries.


A mighty delegation of Middle and Upper School students took part in academic, athletics and artistic contests including topics and disciplines such as Ancient Geography, Mythology, Roman History, Latin Oratory, Dramatic Interpretation, Trebuchet and Chariot Racing!


This year’s exceptional yearbook has been acknowledged by the Walsworth Gallery of Excellence!


Upper School students turned out en masse to repair a home in East Oakland. RTO—which focuses on supporting stable housing in the East Bay—is one of the Center for Community Engagement’s flagship projects.


Our beloved mascot—Tuffy, the Jayhawk—is getting a new and more modern look this year.

16 SUMMER 2023 HRS


Music and magic were in the air as juniors and seniors (and staff) celebrated at Prom, hosted at the San Francisco Conservatory of Flowers.


It has been said that spring is nature's way of saying "Let's party!" And so they did at the Middle School dance, where students enjoyed each other and the (finally!) warm weather.

Fun Friends with


This 5th grade rite of passage—a Head-Royce tradition dating back to the 1920s—celebrates the arrival of spring and anticipates the students’ promotion ceremony in June!


Continuing our tradition, the Class of 2023 prepared and enjoyed a meal together, performed live music and toasted one another (with fruit juice in stemmed glasses) to commemorate their shared time at Head-Royce.




Class of ‘30



Congratulations to the Class of '30!

Ayden Amin

Penny Barrow

Kylie Carlson

Parker Chang

Elysia Chen

Scarlett Clark

Jacob Concannon

Alex Dornbusch

Gabriela Flores

Jordan Goldsmith

Caleb Gottschalk

Saskia Johnson

Miranda Klein

Ava Korn

Alexis Levy

Hazel Linton

Mateo Lopez

Catriona Mactaggart

Aario Maiga

Riya Mandal

Isabel Martinez

Will McCloskey

Joseph McKay

Delilah Miller

Anya Morrison

Francis Mtchona

Jalen Norris

Natalie Ray

Frances Ripsteen

Alex Rosenson

Kuba Smith

Luna Smith

Avery Spencer

Claire Spencer

Siddhartha Velu

Parker Waldrop

Dylan Wax

Margaret Weber

Kara Yang

Lorenzo Zúniga



Remember to spread your wings explore new things, make new friends, try hard even in classes you don’t like, be kind and trust yourself.

...on to middle school!¡

Approach each new person with an open heart and an open mind, for within every stranger is the potential for a lifelong friendship… Seek out those who celebrate your uniqueness, who support your dreams, and who encourage you to constantly evolve and grow.

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As you look at everyone gathered here today, I hope you pause to recognize one of the special truths of this moment and of this world—we rarely do anything by ourselves. And for those things that we do accomplish alone, they are made more special by sharing them with others.


Class of ‘27

Be a lighthouse for others. As you develop your independence, remember to be a positive influence on those around you. Offer guidance and support to your classmates and younger students and be a role model for responsible decision-making.


Oliver Arnold

Paloma Bailey

Gabriel Bang

Jackson Benson

Katherine Berolzheimer

Amiya Bhalotra

Grayson Bloes

Reyna Boxer

Abigail Breedlove

Arianna Brown

Nika Bruneau

Gabriel Carr

Adam Carter

River Caruana

Adrian Castillo

Avalon Chen

Sawyer Ciruli

Bristol Copeland

LaMarr Covington

Owen Curry

Liam Cyrkler

Bryson Davis

Fendi DeAmicis

Ingrid Einspruch

Alexander Ekman

Arlen Fong

Hannah Forsyth

Tess Friedman

Eloise Gatdula

Natalie Ghielmetti

Jonah Goldsmith

Vihaan Goplani

Sophia Guerra

Eric Guo

Nicole Han

Ella Hong

Sawyer Horrocks-Mustard

Mia Huang

Augustus Jenkins

Amelia Jensen-Wilds

Maanya Jhaveri

Natalie Jirn

Makani Kahn-Sky

Wonder Kochavi

Katie Koh

Marguerite Laub

Edom Lenie

Marlow Lenoir-Irwin

Pelayo Llamas

Audrey Lynch

Davis Lynch

Camilla MacMichael

Atlas Metin

Zosia Morehouse

Joshua Morrison

Rachel Morrison

Bailee Myers

Kayson Naik

Aleksandar Nikolic

Luciano Paredes

Krish Parikh

Kian Patel

Ryan Pennacchio

Megumi Prather

Nithin Raghavan

Kedar Rangan

Chasis Roll

Sydney Rose

Zavier Ryder

Aaryan Sabnani

Isabela Salgado Manso

Avery Schilling

Isabel Shen

Camila Simjee

David Singh

Selah Sood

Sacha Spear

Timothy Tril

Joshua van der Werf

Claire Van Riper

Nicholas von Mayrhauser

Peter Voong

Ferris Warner

Harrison Waters

Amelia Weiss

Naomi Wong

Harper Wood-Soloff

Jason Yang


Everyone is a little bit student and a little bit teacher. We learn together and grow together because education is founded on relationships, trust and service.


I will likely will not remember the grade I got in every class, any particular math formula or every name and location of the 54 different African countries. But I firmly believe I will forever remember Head-Royce as the place where I made the deepest friendships, and met the people who are and will always be an enormous part of me.


What’s special about these kids is not how they crashed the waves but how flexible they were in riding the waves [of COVID and policy changes] that came their way. You showed superhuman strength in flexibility. And with whatever waves you face, take confidence in knowing that you are unusually practiced—exceptional—in the strength of flexibility.



Class of ‘23 Class of ‘23

Bilal Abraham

Zaara Amin

Richard Arney

Adele Atherton

Ian Bai

Augustus Bailey

Ai-Li Baird

Alexandra Barnell

Niam Bashambu

Devin Batra

Lauren Baxter

William Baxter

Rachel Block

Cole Bodner

Christian Brandt

Dylan Chan

Duncan Chipman

Brady Chua

Isaiah Clark

Joshua Coutu

Maya Cox

Nicola de Petra

Charles Dick

Alexandra El-Sherif

Iyobosa Enabulele

Michael Evans

Leila Forbord

Ellie Friedman

Hedy Friedman

Matteo Ghielmetti

Joaquin Gonzalez

Farhan Habib

Meley Haile

Christina Harrah

Sydney Harris

Darby Harrison

Cole Henrich

Francis Jayaratne

Sophia Jayasekera

Sabrina Kane

Benjamin Kang

Lily Kangas

Amaan Kanji

Nicole Keller

Jasmine Khalil


Gabriel Kobban

Aaron Kopelnik

Karina Krakowski

Nicole Lamison

Niccolo Lena

Louisa Lynn

Kabir Malik

Jeffrey Marshall

Vincent Martin Jr.

Gabrielle Moon

Ron Natarajan

Juliana Newton

Erin Oh

Eleonor Oliveira

Amelia Perrin

Anika Ramaswamy

Lucas Reese

Molly Reichmuth

Carter Roberts

Noah Makaio Ross

Sage Roy-Burman

Audrey Ryder

Isabel Sade

Nicholas Sandford

Blake Schaaf

Sophie Scherer

Anay Sharma

Jayanti Singla

Alecsander Stein

Slava Talan

Hayden Thompson

Alison Tsai

Menimobong Utibe-Ukim

Alexander Violet

Alexander Wang

Theodore Wilson

Sebastian Wolff Urzua

Brandon Wong

Kaela Wong

Charis Woo

Charles Yee

Camille Yount

Alexandra Yu

Javier Zarnowiecki

Alice Zhu

May you continue to wonder what it is that you believe—and why and how—because we are truly only as powerful as we allow ourselves to be. I hope that you see that you do get to start all over again, with your 12th grade minds. We are always starting over.


Niles, Class Dean and Health Teacher
2023 2023
To find something you love is easy for some and the journey of a lifetime for others. It’s the walk that counts, never the path.
Ricky Lapidus Upper School Head
SUMMER 2023 HRS 37
Kelly Brown, English Teacher, with her lifer son, Blake S. '23.

In their final act of playfulness, the entire Class of 2023 handed Head of School, Rachel Skiffer, an assortment of rubber ducks during their graduation ceremony.

Remember to embrace the power of adaptability, for it is in the face of change or in difficult moments that we find our greatest opportunities for growth.

I want to remind you that this is your chance to become not the person that you think you should be, not the person that you were told to be, but the person that you could have never dreamed of becoming.

2023 2023

Rachel E. Skiffer Head of School
Students from the Class of 2023 participating in the Stole Ceremony.

The Places They're Going ¡

University of Washington


Colgate University

Columbia University

Cornell University

New York University

Vassar College

Colby College

United States Military Academy at West Point

Middlebury College

Dartmouth College


Las Positas College

Santa Clara University

Stanford University

University of California, Berkeley

University of California, Santa Cruz

University of California, Davis

California State University (Northridge)

Chapman University

Claremont McKenna College

Harvey Mudd College

Loyola Marymount University

Occidental College

University of California, Los Angeles

University of California, San Diego

University of Southern California

Carleton College

University of Wisconson, Madison

Northwestern University University of Chicago Washington University in St. Louis

Rice University

Wesleyan University

University of Michigan

Case Western Reserve University Johns Hopkins University

Brown University PENNSYLVANIA

Purdue University

United States Naval Academy


University of Virginia

Duke University

Emory University

Howard University

George Washington University

Tulane University

Northeastern University

Tufts University

Wellesley College

Brandeis University Williams College

Haverford College

University of Pennsylvania Villanova University





We present these Professional Community awards at the end of each school year in recognition of an exemplary year of service.


The Michael Traynor Family Fellowship was established in 1983 by the Traynor family to honor individuals who have “served the School with excellence and exceptional spirit and have especially enhanced the lives of others.” This award is peer-nominated and chosen by a review committee of trustees, previous award recipients and the Head of School.

“Christiana cultivates a love of learning and reading, and creates a beautiful, welcoming community space in the library for all to enjoy. Christiana handles all of her responsibilities and requests with a kind, patient and humorous spirit. She is an absolute joy to have as a colleague and an asset to our K-12 community.”

An admiring, anonymous colleague


“Nicole bleeds green and gold! She shows up for kids each day with a huge smile and looks for additional ways to support students and create learning opportunities. She coaches kids, creates ASP swim lessons for students and teaches to all levels with a full heart and in a differentiated way. ”

An admiring, anonymous colleague


The Umoja Award for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion was established in 2020, an extraordinary year when the world paused for a double pandemic: COVID-19 and global uprisings for social and racial justice. Inspired by a transformative 4th grade teacher who met the moment with excellence, heart, courage, strength and purpose, a group of parents—across affinity groups—launched a grassroots campaign to create The Umoja Award, named for the Swahili word for unity. The award recognizes an individual who has made significant, concrete contributions to diversity, equity and inclusion, affecting change inside the classroom and throughout the Head-Royce community and beyond.

“Mya is an outstanding leader and role model for the students, staff and families at Head-Royce. She always exemplifies incredible work ethic, compassion and support for her students. She is out front leading all of them and also always behind them providing the encouragement and care they need.”

An admiring, anonymous colleague


The Grannie J. Fellowship was established in 1984 by Candace and Dick Burge, in honor of Dick’s Mother, “Grannie J.” Her grandchildren, Glyn and Onie, were Head-Royce graduates in 1986 and 1988. Grannie J. believed strongly that learning adventures were supported at Head-Royce not only by a student's family but by individuals at the School who consistently inspire students and demonstrate excellence themselves.

“Marissa is an extremely gifted teacher and she connects with all her students. She facilitates a love of creating within all her students. She gently questions, helps and inspires in ways that allows the students agency and choice in their craft. She is an absolute gift.”

An admiring, anonymous colleague

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Stewards of


The Board of Trustees and the Head of School are partners that have different responsibilities when it comes to leading the school:



Oversees implementation of the strategic plan

Shapes the school's programs, curriculum and culture

Like most independent schools, Head-Royce is governed by a Board of Trustees—25 ambassadors of our mission and core values, stewards of the school’s resources and partners in setting our long-range strategic direction.

They are current parents, alumni, parents of alumni and community members. They are educators, doctors, lawyers, architects, city planners, financial advisors, marketers, consultants, portfolio managers and school leaders. They are fiduciaries and school champions. Importantly, they are unpaid governance professionals who provide their time and counsel to Head-Royce for up to two terms.


Establishes the strategic direction

Sets general policies consistent with the mission

Safeguards financial sustainability

Plays a leadership role in fundraising

Selects, supports and evaluates the Head of School

Manages the school in compliance with the law

Ensures integrity in admissions, recruitment, communications and fundraising

Has daily oversight of finances, fundraising and physical spaces

Ensures that the school reflects the principles of equity, justice and belonging

Learn more about our Board of Trustees here:

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MEET THE BOARD Chair and Newest Members

You spent 35 years as a litigator. Why the switch from law to mediation?

I feel that I have been a mediator my entire life. As the middle child of three siblings, I was always solving problems. My work in mediation is probably best informed by my six years on the Oakland Planning Commission, where I presided over real estate development matters and had to convey a sense of inclusion, of being heard and of being fair. Most importantly, I learned how to make difficult decisions and how to include others on the commission as they made decisions. I became a full time mediator in November of 2021 for the simple reasons that I enjoy it and am good at it. Every day brings a new challenge, a different set of personalities, and a complex and usually acrimonious situation. The ability to help people reach a resolution is very satisfying. Also, the grey hair helps.

You have been a part of the Head-Royce community for more than 50 years(!!) and worn many hats—student, parent, Alumni Council President, board member and board chair. What would you say marked the most pivotal moment, or era, in your many long years of connection at the school?

I first got to know Head-Royce when my sister started there in 1970, so the obvious answer is the addition of boys in 1971. (I started at what was known as the Royce School for Boys in 1972 in its second year of existence.) Other than that, I would say that the long and steady 27-year tenure of Paul Chapman, while not pivotal, fundamentally brought the school to the place where we find ourselves today. He oversaw the almost doubling of enrollment, the building of the many new buildings on campus, the expansion of philanthropic endeavors, and the hiring of an excellent professional community. Needless to say, the place was very different when he left than when he began.

What is your secret hidden talent?

I am calm, even in the most difficult and tense settings. At times, the calmness causes people to view me as uncaring or perhaps even asleep. I am neither. But I like to think that I can have an infectious effect on a group that needs calming. That and I can read upside down.

What inspired you to follow a career in education?

My family's story is very much shaped by the power of education. My maternal grandfather fled his homeland seeking any country in the world that would give him citizenship during a tumultuous time in history. My paternal grandmother dropped out of high school to help her family earn a living. From these two sides of my family, just about every cousin and grandchild has gone on to earn an advanced degree—and the access to a world-

class education changed our future. Having worked with students across the country, I'm sad to see that the zip code where a student is born still determines too much of a child's future. But, education is a doorway through which every child passes. And if we get education right, it is the best hope we have for a more fair and just future.

Where else do you like to give back to the community?

I've been so grateful for all the ways that Head-Royce and the other schools we've been a part of have given to our family, that it feels like an honor to

serve on the board and try to give back to the school. I deeply believe in the role of volunteer boards and have served on several non-profit boards across our state. I also try to find ways to connect locally through our temple, youth sports and the arts.

Beach or mountain?

Both. Life is too short and who can choose between body surfing and skiing?




Tell us a little bit about yourself— career, family, background, etc.

I began my career as a civil defense litigator in downtown Oakland in 2001 after moving back to the Bay Area from law school in Washington D.C. My husband Mike and I got married earlier that year, and five years later our first of three children hit the scene. Now we have a rising senior, rising junior and rising 6th grader dominating our lives. Heaven help us next year!

How long have you been involved in the PA and what roles have been most gratifying?

My three kids joined Head-Royce School the fall after lockdown in 2020. What an unusual time to join the community.

I decided the best way I could help support the students and professional community through such a difficult time was to help out with the Annual Fund. The following year, I volunteered as Co-Chair of the Annual Fund for Upper School, as well as Grade Level Coordinator for the 9th grade. This school year, I found myself on the PA Board as the Upper School Division Liaison and continued work supporting

the Annual Fund as one of the cochairs. My husband and I have been so grateful for the tireless support and kindness the teachers and professional community have given our children the past few tricky years and have been happy to help in any way we can.

How do you like to start your day?

I start most days with a good hike for peace of mind, not only achieved by being outdoors but mostly by running down my incredibly hyper-active German short-haired pointers.

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Done In Hours80


Guided by one or more mentors, seniors design a project that explores a curiosity or deepens an existing passion and share their learnings in a culminating presentation with the Head-Royce community at the end of the year.

This is an opportunity to focus exclusively on a topic that inspires them—a rare moment in life to pursue a singular idea. The project must fall into one of three categories: new skill, creative or community engagement.

Students spend at least 80 hours towards the experience, some put in more. This year, their work was presented to peers and families on June 5. Here’s what some of our recent (and not so recent) graduates shared.

"The hardest part of this ride wasn’t the physical part, it was the mental aspect. Knowing that we still had hours of riding ahead of us was draining, more so than pedaling, because I could only think about the next destination. I had to break the entire ride down in chunks. Instead of thinking about the end goal, I made smaller steps to look at…daunting tasks are easier to accomplish when you break them down into bite-sized pieces!" -

"Setting the goal of writing and producing an entire song was definitely a daunting task. Although we created a timeline for ourselves, we continuously strayed from it. There were times when we didn't know if we would be able to even write the song. Mr. Walters was a great mentor and encouraged us throughout the entire process. With his help, we worked through the challenges and created something we were proud of. It was a team effort, and we learned to communicate better with one another. " -

Bike from Fort Bragg to Oakland
Write, Mix and Produce One Good Song
Bilal A. ’23 and Joaquin G. ’23 Rachel B. ’23 and Alice Z. ’23
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Senior Projects are an important capstone experience in which the knowledge and skills acquired at Head-Royce are applied to a real world context. now and then

"Throughout my senior project process, I made traditional Korean dishes with my grandmothers, while also interviewing them and creating cooking tutorials/documentaries for the rest of my family. This experience allowed me to reconnect with my heritage, learn new culinary and technical skills— like proper knife-handling and video editing—and develop a deep appreciation for the way food helps pass down family history. I was also grateful for the quality time I spent with my grandmas. I’ll be sure to cherish the memories we made during this project, especially as I begin the transition to college."

Break into Production

"Despite all of the hurdles, I was driven by my passion for economic development and having a sustained impact on others. Through this work, I have gained a greater understanding of the importance of resilience, as I had to work for two years to reach the launch stage. I also learned that while I may have to pivot along the way, it is important to have a guiding mission to help me stay true to my original vision. This venture has increased my confidence in setting up new businesses, and I know that I am capable of taking on any challenge that comes my way, even if I am working on a project across the world."

Create the Big Build

"We set out several goals, one of which was “build something bigger than yourself.” This is something I think about a lot, and for me, it’s kind of the unofficial motto of The Big Build (Editor's note: The project, which Miles and a team of collaborators started in 2017, continues to take place every May, run by current seniors.) On one level it means creating something physically larger than you are. But it also has a broader meaning, which has to do with working as a team to create something you could not have as individuals. That applies as much to Lower School students building a bridge as it does to my collaborators and me, without whom The Big Build could not have happened."

"I learned so much during my senior project. Most tangibly, it gave me a suite of skills I was immediately able to use when I went to college and began to pursue internships in television production. I had a major leg up having already worked on sets and being familiar with the logistics and the vocabulary. Two decades later, I still work in production and now have my dream job—as a correspondent at VICE News—and it's in no small part thanks to experiences like my I-Search and Senior Project, which exposed me to and connected me with professionals working in these fields. My Senior Project made it possible for me to understand how to break into production and introduced me to people who taught me how to succeed there. I'm so grateful for the push in this direction and the support from Head-Royce to explore these opportunities!"

Capture Family History in a Virtual Cookbook Launch a Microfinance Venture
Gabby M. ’23 Hayden T. ’23 Meena Hart Duerson ’02
diverse as our Student Body Creating and deploying an open source full-stack application - Farhan
Miles Burton ’17 Learning to play piano.
As H.
Converting a motorcycle into a go kart - Niccolo
and Kabir M. Learning the Edo language. -Iyobosa E. Interning in a Family Law practice. -Anay S. Expanding a sneaker resale business and restoring a pair of Air Jordans -Noah R. Advocating for a dedicated wellness center space at the school. - Louisa
- Maya C.
SUMMER 2023 HRS 51
Hayden pictured with a representative from a local NGO in Trinidad.

This year we say goodbye to four adored professional community members, each of whom has served Head-Royce for twenty years or more—Mary Fahey (41 years), Owen von Kugelgen (36 years), Chris Harper (25 years) and Kelly Brown (22 years)—who possess a staggering combined total of 124 years of teaching at Head-Royce.

On the brink of parting ways, we tapped into their pool of collective wisdom to hear what made their experience worth the significant time investment. They graciously shared their thoughts and a couple of anecdotes with us as they prepared to leave.


and now...

“I remember that one student— Kristen Mandel ’89—had my hospital suitcase in her car just in case I went into labor at a game and had to leave the field to deliver a baby! Thankfully, the baby waited.”

“In West Side Story (Spring 2001) as Sergeant Schank I can’t believe I puffed a real cigarette on campus! The students couldn’t believe it either. Except for the unfortunate Jet in whose face I blew the smoke.”

“It may seem hard to believe, but I've looked forward to going to work every single day for 36 years.”

“What's the next chapter?

Sleep, read, garden, travel, find new and exciting ways to expand my mind and train for another marathon. Oh, and miss my college-bound child."

Owen von Kugelgen US Physics Teacher Kelly Brown MS English Teacher
52 SUMMER 2023 HRS

Fare thee Well


What is a memorable experience or achievement from your time here that you will never forget?

Mary Fahey: Obviously, when you have the length of career I have, you have a lot of experiences! I think my most memorable one was in 1989, I happened to be pregnant during the softball season and the field HRS uses today was then under construction; we had to drive to another field near the Oakland Zoo. That year, we went into postseason games and one day stands out. I remember it perfectly; it was May 22. I was at the field and the umpire was making small talk with me and he asked "When are you due?" I said, "Today!" I thought he was going to faint.

Chris Harper: The utilization of the portable planetarium in the K-12 Science curriculum is my most memorable achievement in the purely academic realm. Every year the Astronomy students (seniors and juniors) would design and present planetarium shows for the Lower School classes. Furthermore all grades would get involved in the planetarium in some fashion. This included English, Biology, History and Latin classes.

Kelly Brown: Watching childhood memories unfurl into powerful vignettes: a new bike, a scraped knee, a lost teddy bear, a new friend.

Owen von Kugelgen: So many moments come to mind…one that I recall was in 1992, students dedicated the yearbook to me. I still remember what they said. It made me feel like kids knew that I saw them and could relate to them.

Talk about any mentors or influential colleagues who played a significant role in shaping your professional journey:

Chris Harper: Without a doubt Debra Harper and Owen von Kugelgen have played a significant role in my time here at Head-Royce. They both set a high standard for pedagogical practice and general work ethic. Their knowledge of science was boundless and fascinating. They both provided friendship and support that allowed me to sustain my efforts in and out of the classroom.

Owen von Kugelgen: Chris Harper was one of my most influential colleagues. We both have teaching credentials and because of our training there’s a certain amount of indoctrination that we share including classroom management practices…we complemented each other very well.

What were the most rewarding aspects of your job?

Kelly Brown: Crystal Land made me feel capable. Mike Talps helped me understand life. Kristi FarnhamThompson convinced me Head-Royce would “hold” my child. Mya Paul taught me that kindness and patience belong in sports.

Mary Fahey: Four people I worked with in the PE office—Brendan Blakeley, Tom Welsh, Mike Talps and Suzanne Marfise—were important influences. Though other PE teachers came and went, we were the core four and we had so much fun together. I remember telling my kids that you know it's the best job for you when you’re driving to work and not thinking it was work. When I think about it, it really is all about the relationships you build when you stay somewhere so long.

Owen von Kugelgen: Working with kids. End of story. When you see the lightbulb go off or hear the gasp that accompanies “Aha!,” that’s rewarding!

Kelly Brown: RELATIONSHIPS; witnessing students’ personal development; reading yearend letters; trying new ways of teaching.

Mary Fahey: The most rewarding part of my job was the kids that I taught. When kids run to get to class because they can't wait to get going...that’s rewarding. Even the toughest of classes had good days!

Chris Harper: Watching students grow intellectually is what makes K-12 classroom teaching a fun and amazing profession. Head-Royce allows an educator to observe students of all ages and stages learning in a myriad of ways. This has been most rewarding.

54 SUMMER 2023 HRS SUMMER 2023 HRS 55

Honoring aLegacy of Supporting Learning Differences at HRS

Key Milestones in Supporting Students with Learning Differences Nationally

It is worth noting some of the significant milestones in understanding and supporting students with learning differences that coincided with Barbara’s journey:

1996 1997 2000s

The National Institute of Mental Health identifies an area of the brain that works differently in people with dyslexia.

The Individuals with Disabilities Act is modified so that some children with ADHD qualify for Special Education support, bringing for the first time general education teachers into the special education process.

In 2006, Shelby’s son, Grayson ’18, who was in 1st grade at the time, wanted to come home from his first-ever sleepover at his new friend John Novogradac’s ’18 house. He was feeling homesick and though it was late, Barbara didn’t hesitate to pick up the phone. Shelby recalls, “She had Grayson next to her when she called. She treated him with kindness and as an equal. Barbara said to me, ‘We’ve got some things going on here and Grayson is considering whether he would like to stay or go home.’” Shelby noted that there was no shame in her voice, no humiliation, just a simple fact and a wish for Grayson’s well-being. Grayson did leave without sleeping over and Barbara, being the incredible friend she was, insisted on driving him home herself.

Wisdom, Wit and Humor

Barbara June Novogradac was a remarkable person, remembered for her profound wisdom, wit and humor. She was a powerful force, providing comfort and guidance to family and friends. “Truly she seemed to touch everyone in her life in some special and meaningful way, leaving each one with a bit of wisdom, or insight, or just a little chuckle over something amusing,” Mava Reif, Barbara’s sister-in-law shared in Barbara’s “Remembrance of Life” book. Kristi FarnhamThompson, Student Wellness and Support department chair and Lower School Learning Specialist, acknowledged Barbara’s impact, describing her as an influential presence who challenged and

inspired others to do better. Sadly, Barbara’s courageous battle with pancreatic cancer came to an end last summer. Her legacy lives on, however, in her passionate advocacy for students with learning differences and their families.

Compassionately Normalizing Neurodiversity

In the early 2000s, Barbara played a pivotal role in growing and expanding the Learning Difference Network (LDN) at Head-Royce—an invaluable resource that works hand-inhand with parents and guardians, teachers and Learning Specialists to improve the experience of all Head-Royce students. She became chair of the LDN, working side-byside with other parent volunteers. Under Barbara’s vision and leadership, the LDN helped foster an environment that promoted empathy and normalized neurodiversity in our community.

"Part of Barbara’s gift to the School was her understanding that students should be aware of each other. She appreciated all perspectives and viewpoints and wanted to give parents, students and the wider community the tools to unmask. She had a great consideration of all perspectives,” shared Erich Tupper, former LDN volunteer and parent of Grayson ’18 and Remington ’16.

Together, and with other parent volunteers, Barbara and her team realized that there must be other families struggling like theirs. Barbara's vision extended beyond individual families; she aimed to make the LDN a comprehensive resource benefiting everyone at the school.

Decades later, the Learning Difference Network remains a thriving resource for information, experience, and parent, guardian and teacher education.

“This school is a stronger and more supportive institution for all students because of her.”

Farnham-Thompson said of Barbara’s contribution

“Barbara took the LDN to the next level and school-wide. Her perspective was that it should not serve one family at a time but everyone, all the time.”

New technology—fMRI scans—allow researchers to look inside the brain and learn how it works, including understanding the electrical patterns of kids with ADHD which demonstrate a biological explanation for difficulties with attention.

In honor of Barbara's memory, the Novogradac family established a gift in 2023 to support students with learning differences at Head-Royce School. This generous contribution ensures increased funding for students with learning differences, perpetuating Barbara's commitment to making a difference in students’ lives.

Continuing the Legacy Barbara is fondly remembered for her inviting presence and captivating speaking style, but despite her charisma, she never sought the spotlight. She lived in accordance with her own code of conduct. ‘Be a workhorse, not a show horse,’ was a favorite among her many quips of wisdom. “Barbara was incredibly self-effacing. She was a partner with the school, not a crusader,” recalled Shahana Sarkar, Dean of Academics and Community. She simply wanted to make a difference in the lives of students and their families and worked diligently behind the scenes. “She would question why her name was being used,” Charles (CJ) ’15 joked, echoing the sentiment that Barbara cared more about making a difference for students, not being recognized for her efforts.

Her dedication to students with learning differences stemmed from her love for her own children— Elizabeth (Ellie) ’20, John ’18 and CJ ’15—all Head-Royce lifers. Barbara was volunteering on campus one day when CJ was very young. She overheard him reading in the library—not very well, CJ confessed—which prompted her to assess him for learning difficulties. His dyslexia diagnosis was the first step in her transformation into a fierce champion for all students with learning differences.

“She loved her kids and would do anything for them…in fact, she would do anything for anybody’s kid,” Erich recalled. Shelby reflects on conversations with Barbara about that moment of discovery, when a person grasps a new understanding about themselves.

"That moment of realization that there is a name for their challenges...a reason they have been struggling in observing that aha! moment."

Ahead of the Wave

During the time of CJ’s diagnosis, there was a growing national conversation and awareness of learning differences. Advocating for accommodations, assessments, changes in classroom management and expectations were increasing. The world was on the cusp of a more scientific understanding of how the brain works. Barbara’s involvement with the LDN contributed to a shift in understanding within the entire HRS community. Some believe her work with the LDN completely changed the culture at the school.

The Novogradac family’s memorial gift in Barbara’s honor not only provides direct support to more students on campus but also enhances collaboration between learning specialists and classroom teachers to improve outcomes for kids. Additionally, it will assist families in obtaining assessments

for their students, particularly those who demonstrate financial need.

The grant's impact extends further by facilitating the development of a transparent framework with which to support students who display behaviors associated with learning differences and further connects parents to the support they need to explore and assess.

Inspiring Future Advocates

Barbara Novogradac's legacy continues to shine brightly at Head-Royce School and beyond. Her selfless dedication to supporting students with learning differences and their families has created a more inclusive environment for all students and left an indelible and instrumental mark on the community. The Novogradac family's generous gift in her honor ensures that her vision lives on, providing vital support, resources and opportunities to students in need. Barbara's impact will be forever cherished, and her unwavering commitment to making a difference will inspire future generations to advocate for those who learn differently.

Shelby Tupper ’80 remembers the moment she went all-in on a lifelong friendship with Barbara Novogradac.
Erich Tupper
"Be a workhorse, not a show horse."
56 SUMMER 2023 HRS SUMMER 2023 HRS 57


Dear Head-Royce Alumni,

At every graduation season, I always hear the words of Elle Woods, from the movie Legally Blonde, celebrating the new grads, “We did it!” Please join me in welcoming our newest class to the ranks of the alumni! The Class of 2023 graduated with much fanfare to celebrate the end of their Head-Royce academic career, leaving behind a lasting legacy.

One of the programs founded with the insight of this class is the Student-Alumni Ambassador Team (SAAT), which completed its inaugural year. With senior leaders guiding the way, this team of students met with the Alumni Council throughout the year to speak directly with the council members. SAAT members took center stage during the first ever Alumni Week on campus by moderating conversations with young alums during Adulting 101, leading tours for groups of alums during Alumni Weekend and presenting accomplishments of alumni to the student body.

Alums visibly supported graduates and their families at the Black and Latinx Hispanic Alumni Affinity Group stole presentation ceremony, in its third year and with growing participation. Denise Saddler '71 spoke of the significance of stoles in the celebration of Black and Latinx Hispanic graduates before alumni presented both stoles and words of wisdom to the graduating class. Clear channels of communication have been established between students and alumni, allowing for more authentic conversations to continue next year. Both of these programs, like all Alumni Council initiatives, center our work around belonging, equity, humility, significance and accountability.

These themes made themselves apparent throughout the course of the spring, particularly in Alumni Week events. The week included Adulting 101 and oncampus conversations with the senior class, culminating in Reunion Weekend. Per feedback from the SAAT members, Adulting 101 focused on young alumni this year, with panelists sharing insights on 19 topics, ranging from playing sports in college to life in business school to working for social impact organizations right out of college. Class agents fostered connections with classmates both on campus and at 10 individual class gatherings over the course of Reunion Weekend!

As I enjoyed my own 15 year reunion with friends, I was also lucky enough to speak with alums in other classes, gathering stories and inspiration to better serve our diverse alumni community. Folks drove a few miles and flew across oceans and states to joyfully convene with their classmates. Based on the information shared with me throughout the week, pockets of alumni are being established in new places regularly I look forward to hearing about ad hoc meet ups of Jayhawks around the globe! The ties that bind our community together are strong, weathering the highs and lows of life including hurdles like distance and time.

In honor of the seniors embarking on new adventures, I urge you to take a moment to reflect on your own journey since leaving Head-Royce. As the school song goes, “You foster our strongest of friendships, our fairest and rosiest dreams,” so take this as your sign to reach out to an old classmate or faculty member! We look forward to hearing about it at a Head-Royce gathering soon.



Jesse exemplified a saying we learned in Jan Groschupf’s Latin class: ‘Mens sana in corpore sano,’ meaning, a sound mind in a sound body.

Captain Jesse Skidmore ’97 was an outstanding scholar, sailor and friend, who very unfortunately passed away early in January 2023 from complications due to cardiac sarcoidosis. His humility and the sensitive nature of his work meant that his friends and family did not know the extent of his service or accolade until after his death.

Jesse continued after high school to “Run Good” as Barney Howard would say, remaining in as excellent shape as his colleagues in the Special Forces. His sound mind, inspired by the likes of, among many others, Warren Albee, Owen Von Kuglegen, Jan Groschupf, Carl Thiermann, Wendy Harris and Eric Lombardi, continued to build on foundations laid at Head-Royce to reach the highest levels of physics, applied science and

After Head-Royce, Jesse earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering Physics at UC Berkeley. During this time, Jesse worked at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory on the Solenoidal Tracker at the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider and the Super-Kamioka Neutrino Detection Experiment projects. He continued to work in astrophysics and solid state physics on superconducting sensors as part of a UC Berkeley Physics Department research group.

In 2002, Jesse joined the US Navy Submarine force, bringing his love of physics to Nuclear Power School and eventually to the service of the global community. He served as Assistant Engineer and Assistant Weapons officer on the USS Florida, one of four strategic missile submarines converted

to conventional armament as a part of the United States’ obligations under the original Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, START II. Jesse planned and directed portions of the reactor refueling as well as coordinating the weapons department portion of the USS Florida's modernization. This modernization replaced its ballistic missile capability with non-strategic weapons and Special Operations support functions; a significant step in global strategic arms reduction.

Following his service on the USS Florida, Jesse was an International Programs Officer at Commander, Task Force Six Nine (CTF 69) in Naples, Italy, where he leveraged his foundations in Latin to learn Italian as well. Jesse’s role at CTF 69 was to work with flag officers of allied nations to coordinate submarine activity in two of the six global Unified Combatant Commands Areas of Responsibility: the US European Command and US Africa Command. As Vice Admiral Jeffrey Trussler shared during his memorial service, even as a young Lieutenant, Jesse stood out as a leader, and was looked up to and respected as a mentor. He “ran the show” with the admirals of many nations,

Letter from the
With Gratitude ¡ Camden Louie '08 Camden and her life partner, William. 58 SUMMER 2023 HRS SUMMER 2023 HRS 59 ALUMNI ALUMNI

and wrote the introductory organizational manual, or “blue paper” that is still in use today.

After returning from Naples to Washington D.C., Jesse worked with the Department of Defense and Intelligence communities on the Navy Staff at the Pentagon as well as at the Naval Research Laboratory. Here he put together the work of disparate U.S. defense and intelligence agencies into coordinated “campaigns” in service of our nation and its allies’ interests. For this work he traveled to many parts of the world, allowing him to brush up on his Japanese from high school and experiment with German and Norwegian to supplement the Mandarin he learned to keep up with what his children were learning in school.

Because Jesse was working at the Pentagon when social justice movements gained momentum in 2020, and through the ensuing political turmoil, he was well positioned to see a multitude of reactions to these events. Though the military is ostensibly apolitical, those who serve come from many places, backgrounds and walks of life, and his fellow service members and colleagues repeatedly admired his ability to work with and bring together disparate groups. Jesse was especially good at recognizing that when

positions differed, conversation that was nuanced and intellectually fair was the best path to an enduring justice and the soundest future for the American Project.

In 2018, Jesse received his MA with highest distinction in National Security and Strategic Studies from the US Naval War College making him, at the time, a “Master and Commander” to the delight of his family and friends.

Concurrent to his civilian work and continuing scholarship, Jesse served in the U.S. Navy Reserves where Vice Admiral Trussler noted that Jesse had an “almost unprecedented” four commands including most recently the Navy Reserve U.S. Special Operations Command, North. Jesse was not only promoted to Captain, a feat in itself as a reservist, but promoted early and selected for early pinning from among the early promotion cohort based on his meritorious record. The early pinning meant that his promotion was made official and took effect sooner than normal. Had his work not been so recognized he would not have officially made Captain before his unexpected death.

As a reservist, Jesse was mobilized to Afghanistan in 2016. Here he navigated language and cultural barriers

to successfully lead Airfield Security with coalition personnel from multiple countries at Hamid Karzai International Airport under the Turkish-led NATO mission. Jesse’s mobilization overlapped with the 2016 Turkish coup d’etat attempt, an event that he steered his international team successfully through. At his funeral, a fellow officer he served with in Afghanistan noted that Jesse “saved many lives” through his swift front-line response and leadership after an attack on the airport early in his tour.

Jesse was excellent at crossing language, cultural and political barriers to form relationships and find common cause, ultimately becoming a steadfast friend to many. His service was attended by hundreds from all over the country and world. Though he traveled extensively and maintained many crucial national and international relationships, he was a devoted father and husband as well.

Jesse’s strength of character, passion for learning and dedication to his community, both local and global, stemmed from values instilled at HeadRoyce. Despite his story being cut short, it was one full of accomplishment and true fulfillment of the Head-Royce mission and values.


Weston Stewart-Tennes '13

CTO at Mickey and Co-Owner at Flavor City

Weston is practically running two companies that are currently disrupting both the food services industry and the B2B commodity marketplace. City Flavor is providing thousands of meals a day to large corporations—Tesla is City Flavor’s largest customer—while supporting small businesses. He is also streamlining the sales and delivery processes of lumber and other commodities with state-of-the-art technology along with CEO Alex Rabens '06.

Weston also volunteers at the suicide help line, Lifeline, which took many hours of training and is supporting those in need of serious support.

Alumni Weekend

April 28-29, 2023


Jesse's friend and classmate Munish Walther-Puri '97 presented the award to Jesse's family at Alumni Weekend.


Many alumni organized class parties before and after the official reunion events.


Alumni and both current and past faculty enjoyed a beautiful evening cocktail party on the Upper School patio.

Alumni Weekend


Alumni enjoyed lunch with the senior class, the newest members of their community.


Black and Latinx Hispanic Alumni Affinity Groups enjoyed time together before the Reunion Luncheon.


Alumnae from the Class of '63 enjoyed a meal together.

this QR code for the full gallery
Weekend photos.


Over 25 alumni joined—virtually and in person—to share their experiences in the first 10 years after graduation with Upper School students.



Parents of the classes of 2020, 2021 and 2022 gathered together to assemble Valentine’s care packages for their students.


College-age alumni returned to campus for this annual lunch and several participated in a panel discussion about life in college during the US assembly.


Alumni presented seniors who identify as Black and Latinx Hispanic with the traditional graduation stoles at a special family ceremony.


Los Angeles alumni came together to connect with each other and meet our new Head of School, Rachel Skiffer.

“I loved how realistic my speaker was— not overly positive about the transition to adulthood, but not negative either. I found the advice she gave about taking time to really build healthy habits as an adult to be insightful.”


Ben Rosenberg ’02

My wife, Sarah, and I are expecting our second child in mid-June. Our four-year old son, Ezra, has mixed feelings about the endeavor! We are excited to welcome the next member of the family!

Camden Louie ’08

married William Grabill on May 13, 2023 in San Francisco. In attendance at the ceremony were many members of the HeadRoyce community including alumni, past parents and current and former professional community members. The father of the bride was Ray Louie, the school’s long-time Director of Technology, and the nuptials were officiated by alumna Celeste Wong ’09. The bride and groom danced their first dance to “So This Is Love,” sung by Camden’s sister, Kirstin Louie ’12.


Littlejohn ’15

I graduated from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago with a Master of Fine Art in Fiber and Material Studies. I am still living in Chicago, where I have set up my studio and recently had the pleasure of doing a large commission for the national chain Sweetgreen. This summer, I will be showing work around the United States and participating in my first international show in South Korea. I am also assisting Jamaican-born visual artist and educator Ebony G. Patterson in her studio!

Cynthia Burmeister ‘56

I’m still upright (barely!) and we’re still in Maine. Our grandson Richard Ross Allen graduated from Hawaii, summa cum laude, last spring and is now at MIT (studying physics) and granddaughter Sarah, at NYU, is spending this semester in Buenos Aires. We spent some time on the coast, where we have a small place in Gouldsboro, ME. Our neighbors are all lobster fishermen so it's fun to enjoy two very different parts of the state.

Maryly Snow ‘62

Penny Hearn Adams, Bobbie Moran Cohen, Brenda Higgins Webster, and I met up at HeadRoyce for our 65th reunion, and we had a blast. We were seated with Jeannine Herron, Class of 1953, the oldest alum present. Her mother was Madame Hull, the oldest French teacher! Two women from the Class of 1963 joined us, Josephine Kreider and Susan Forbes Hill. We were also seated with Rachel Skiffer, Head of School for the past year, who is really impressive.

I was a boarder at AHS from my freshman year to my graduation in 1959, and what an amazing four years those were. We were probably the most rebellious bunch, frequently challenging the rules which were, in our opinion, midVictorian at best. We’d sneak into each other’s rooms after lights-out to gossip and laugh and just have fun. The floors were very creaky, so, in order to not get caught, we hugged the walls as we made our night-time forays.

Each Sunday we were allowed to attend the church of our choice, free and unchaperoned. It was the habit of some of us to skip church and spend that time in Kips, a burger place and pool hall just below Telegraph Avenue. This was super close as AHS was located on Channing Way, just a half block from Telegraph. Here we would have cokes, smoke

Kristen Louis ’01 Kristen Louis, writing as Kristen Alicia, released her debut novel in June 2023. Her rom-com, You've Been Served is about a former chef whose first year of law school was not at all what she expected. Yalie Kamara ’03 Yalie’s newest poetry collection, Besaydoo, and winner of the 2023 Jake Adam York Prize is now available for pre-order ahead of its January 2024 release. Yalie is a Sierra Leonean American writer, educator and researcher and the 2022–23 Cincinnati and Mercantile Library Poet Laureate. from an Anna Head School (AHS) Alumna Memories
Suzanne van Tienen Jansse Marriott '59

cigarettes, and—sometimes— meet guys. One time I met a wonderful young sailor who was stationed on Treasure Island. I invited him to our Junior Prom, but Mrs. Dewey found out and, because we hadn’t been properly introduced, prevented him from escorting me. It was sad, because he was a really nice boy and there were very few occasions for boarders to meet boys. Anyway, this time I was caught and still, to this day, I lament that missed opportunity to attend my Junior Prom!

When I was a senior, the senior wing was opposite a boarding house for Cal boys. We had a lot of fun hanging out the windows and getting chummy with a few of them. Fortunately for us, we weren’t caught. Actually, I could sum up those four years with the sentence, “We weren’t caught,” except when we were. Then parents would be notified and repercussions would ensue. One time my mother was called in by Mrs. Dewey, the headmistress, but not told why. During the fifty-mile drive to Berkeley, my mother imagined the worst. When she got to AHS, Mrs. Dewey, in all seriousness, asked my mother if she knew I was listening to

Elvis Presley records. Taken a bit aback, my mother replied: “Yes, I bought them for her.” Not dissuaded, Mrs. Dewey went on to express her concern that an impressionable young mind, such as mine, might be corrupted by listening to such music. My mother, a bit annoyed, I imagine, replied that when she was young, she listened to Bing Crosby and believed she had turned out just fine. I think that was the end of the conversation, except I was informed that I had to keep the volume down.

Somehow, with good grades and a positive outlook, despite being threatened with expulsion if I were to violate one more code of conduct, I managed to graduate and was awarded the Growth in Achievement medal. I think my growth was related to having made it through those four years without being kicked out.

Despite it all, I believe Mrs. Dewey actually had a soft spot in her heart for me, and my classes at AHS prepared me well for college. I look back fondly on my time there and I made some

wonderful friends with whom I shared laughs, adventure and dreams. And . . . my time as a boarder at AHS provided a great opportunity for me to express my rebelliousness in a relatively safe environment, a talent I continued to cultivate throughout the politically chaotic 60s and 70s, though sometimes I was definitely less safe. But

Suzanne shares that her memoir, Watching for Dragonflies: A Caregiver’s Transformative Journey, will be published in June. In it, she explores how caregiving for her husband with a chronic illness allowed her to gain a spiritual awareness that would ultimately help her through her own medical crisis and into a place of healing and solace. Amid the many obstacles she and her husband, Michael, faced after his diagnosis with multiple sclerosis, Suzanne learned to be a compassionate caregiver both for him and, ultimately, for herself. Through love, psychological insights and spiritual inquiry, she cultivated her abilities and gained the courage to confront a medical system that often saved her husband but at other times threatened his life. Despite Michael’s many hospitalizations, he made miraculous recoveries that brought fun and adventure back into their lives, including his numinous experience with dragonflies. When Suzanne faced her own medical crisis with cancer, their world was once again shaken–yet throughout it all, love was their bond, one that even death cannot sever. Candid and illuminating, Suzanne’s story of growth through caregiving will appeal to other caregivers and anyone facing a lifechanging crisis.

that’s another story.
"One time my mother was called in by Mrs. Dewey, the headmistress, but not told why."
-Suzanne van Tienen Jansse Marriott
The Arbor, Anna Head School

Susan Sandler ’82—a dedicated social justice philanthropist, long-time national leader in education reform and catalyst for change—passed away at the age of 58 from complications of brain cancer.

Susan’s activism, leadership and strategic philanthropy in education reform, educational equity and racial justice both bolstered and shaped the progressive movement across this nation, leading to significant public policy advances over the past three decades.

Among her many accomplishments, Susan was the Co-Chair of the Sandler Foundation and founder of


the Susan Sandler Fund (SSF), which under the leadership of Vivian Chang—the Fund’s Executive Director—annually donates $10 million in grants focused on racial justice. Susan’s impact in U.S. politics include having been the largest and earliest individual funder to support Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential bid, as well as an early investor in the political careers of Kamala Harris, Cory Booker and Stacey Abrams. The daughter of business leaders Herb and Marion Sandler, Susan came from a philanthropic family and carried that tradition forward with care and responsibility. She once described philanthropy in a 2020 Medium article as “a methodological approach marked by analytical rigor, extensive due diligence and adherence to the highest standards of excellence,” which some now refer to as ‘The Sandler Way.’

When Susan was diagnosed with glioblastoma in 2016—an


aggressive form of brain cancer with a median survival rate of 18 months—she accelerated her efforts to create social change, namely disrupting systemic racism, using philanthropy as a key tool.

Born on September 19, 1964 in Berkeley, CA, Susan grew up in Lafayette, CA and attended the Seven Hills School and Head-Royce School. Susan attended graduate school at Stanford University where she majored in English literature, tutored students and became involved in activism, taking on global poverty and volunteering for many causes. Susan attended graduate school at San Francisco State University, earning her master’s in social work and subsequently becoming a licensed clinical social worker.

During her post-graduate work she focused on providing mental health support to young people in schools and their families. This experience deepened her interest in racial dynamics in schools and school communities. As a result, she

In its first three years of operation, the Susan Sandler Foundation funded organizations such as New Virginia Majority; the Arizona Center for Empowerment (ACE)—the sister organization of the advocacy group Living United for Change in Arizona (LUCHA); Texas Organizing Project and Florida Rising Together, and others—funding which led to historic progress impacting the lives of millions of people, including:

Encouraging voters to pass progressive policies that have tangible positive impacts on real people's lives including accepting federal dollars to expand Medicaid resulting in providing over 670,000 Virginians access to affordable, life-saving healthcare.

Passing of the November 2022 Arizona ballot proposition allowing students living in the state, regardless of immigration status, to be eligible for in-state college tuition, drastically easing the financial burden of college costs for thousands of undocumented students.

Voting to incrementally increase Florida’s hourly minimum wage from $8.56 per hour to $15 per hour by 2026.

started Project Respect in the early 1990s—the first of several organizations she would go on to create—focused on racial social justice, education and policy. In the second half that decade, she served as head of Justice Matters working to promote racially just educational policies.

This work provided the foundation for co-creating a leading national education think tank in 2015—the Learning Policy Institute (LPI)—with national education leader and Stanford professor Linda Darling Hammond. Since its founding, LPI has become a trusted voice on education reform and has attracted the support of major philanthropists including MacKenzie Scott who donated $16 million in 2022 to advance evidence-based policies for equitable and empowered learning. In 2022, Darling-Hammond received the Yidan Prize, the world’s highest accolade in education.

Concurrently, Susan worked with other national philanthropists to create The Partnership for the Future of Learning, a large and diverse network that represents community voices and collective action with over 700 partners from 300 organizations and 20 foundations.

Her educational philosophy was that parents and caregivers of children of marginalized communities, “have a right and deserve to be respected as major players and influencers over education, and we need to support the power building among those groups,” according to education leader, Jeannie Oakes. Both believe that the way to improve education is through emphasizing learning experiences and opportunities

rather than outcomes. In 2018, she and her husband Steve launched the Sandler Phillips Center to conduct rigorous research and analysis and engage in collaborative opportunities to make strategic investments to improve the progressive politics effectiveness and enhance the return on investment of political giving.

Susan served on the board of several organizations including the Center for American Progress, Community Change Action, Democracy Alliance and Learning Policy Institute.

During the pandemic, while battling cancer, Susan continued to push forward, publishing her essays in a book, When I First Found Out I Had Cancer: Reflections on Living and Learning With a Serious Illness. In the introduction she explains, “I offer up my story with the intention of helping others feel less alone.” She also created a companion website to the book and undertook several other projects aimed at providing comfort and care to those in need.

Susan beat the survival odds of her diagnosis for more than six years because of the worldclass medical team at the UCSF Brain Tumor Center and her neuro-oncologist Dr. Jennifer Clarke.

She is survived by her loving husband, author and political leader Steve Phillips, to whom she was married for 30 years. She is also survived by her brother Jim and his wife Gretchen, and her niece Leah and nephew Elijah.


Jesse Thomas Skidmore, 43, died on Monday, January 9, 2023, from complications due to cardiac sarcoidosis. Jesse was an amazing husband, father, son, grandson and brother, as well as a dear friend, colleague and mentor to many. Jesse was predeceased by his father, David Skidmore, and grandfather, John Thomas. He is survived by his wife, Natalie, and their children, Sophia and John Skidmore; his mother, Marion Thomas; his sister, Erin Skidmore; his grandparents, Betty and Jerry Skidmore; and his grandmother, Christine Thomas.

A native of Berkeley, California, Jesse graduated from The HeadRoyce School in 1997.

When not working, Jesse enjoyed traveling, sipping bourbon and Italian wine, studying languages, playing guitar, running, working on his old BMW, camping, cycling and reading. More than anything, Jesse loved soaking up precious moments with his beloved family and their pets and spending time with his dear friends.

Read more about Jesse's distinguished career in the Alumni Profile section.



Emily Rose Marcus was born on December 10, 1969, in Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley. It was a forceps delivery, and she came out with bruises on her face, yet she lived her life as a woman who prized beauty—in fashion, her own sense of style, furniture, art. Following her beloved uncle Dr. William E. Bernstein, she chose a death with dignity, and died on January 31, 2023, in her apartment in Oakland, where she had lived since 2007, after more than two years fighting against a terminal diagnosis of appendiceal cancer she had received in September 2020. Our hearts are broken.

Emily showed extraordinary fortitude, bravery, and realism in her struggle for her life. She was never less than forthright, to herself and others, in her confrontation with what she knew would be a death that would come far earlier than she, or those who loved her, had any reason to expect. Through many courses of chemotherapy and other interventions, she endured extreme pain and trauma on a daily basis, but never lost her desire to bring adventure and beauty into her life and to share it with others. In her last months she traveled to Hawaii with her cousin Lisa Hanauer and her dear friends Izzy Caplan and John Elrod, and to New York City with her sister Cecily.

Emily made her last trip to New York because she was determined not to die without seeing the new Edward Hopper exhibition at the Whitney Museum of American Art, where she herself had worked years before. A deep affinity and love for visual art was a defining characteristic of Emily's life from the beginning; her happy years at the Berkeley Child Art Studio, established by Miriam de Uriarte in 1970, were a foundation stone for her. She had a keen and engaged eye for painting, movies, design and architecture, which led her, in her last two years, to dedicate herself to the deep and consuming project of redesigning and redecorating her Oakland apartment. With imaginative flair and a truly moral commitment to living to her fullest, she put everything she had into creating a visually striking yet warming environment in which she could live her life as she was able and as she wished.

Emily's curious and inquisitive mind made her a constant reader. Her love of fiction was an ever-deepening source of knowledge and pleasure. Audiobooks especially enriched her life in her last years. Her love of music was just as rich and, for her, as sustaining. As a toddler, she was entranced by what she called "The Train Song," (Elvis Presley's "Mystery Train"). As an eight-year-old she made an instant connection with the abrasive and liberating sound of Blondie, promised herself that she would someday live in the place wherever Blondie came from, discovered it was New York City, and moved there when she was 18 years old. Later in life she found herself reflected back in Johnny Cash. There were never any boundaries in her cultural life. Her delight in fashion and dress was never-ending; the

pleasure she could take from food—especially white truffles in her adult life, which were always a birthday celebration—was inspiring.Emily graduated from Head-Royce School in Oakland in 1988 and from New York University in 1992, and lived and worked in New York until 2004, when she moved back to the Bay Area. Her professional life was always connected in some key way to art, literature, design, food: she worked in product development at the Whitney Museum of American Art and DC Comics, as a literary agent, and for more than ten years as a reservationist and communications manager at Chez Panisse in Berkeley, before COVID-19 and then her illness and treatment forced her to depart. The many friends she made there and throughout her life, going back to daycare when she was not yet two, treasure the life she lived and the memory she leaves behind.

In her last months, Emily's life was sustained and warmed by the presence of her beloved cat, Pippa. She benefitted deeply and essentially from the attention and devotion of John Elrod and Izzy Caplan; by the dedicated attendants from New Hope Health Care; by the staff of Kaiser Hospice Care, and La Famille Panisse. She is survived by her parents, Greil and Jenny Marcus, of Oakland, and by her sister, Cecily Marcus, her brother-in-law Steve Perry, and her nieces Pearl Mildred Perry and Rose James Perry, of Minneapolis. Her aunt Paula Bernstein, of Denver, and Lisa Hanauer, of Oakland, were with her—in their own way—every day of her last years.

She was buried next to her beloved grandmother, Mildred Bernstein. Contributions in her memory may be made to Planned Parenthood.

Where are they now?

Bret Turner - Lower School Faculty (2011-19)

Head-Royce is a very musical school. Students take part in numerous extracurricular activities that allow them to explore artistic and creative endeavors including Concert Band, Jazz Band, Orchestra, Choir, Dance, Musicals and other opportunities. From an early age, Head-Royce instills in its students the importance of the arts as a form of expression and learning. I recently had the honor of speaking to two extraordinary former and current members of our professional community—former 1st and 2nd grade teacher Bret Turner and current 6th grade history and science teacher Ian Walters—who have taken this pursuit to a new level through their project, The Tallest Kid in the Room (TKITR), a music production project aimed at making children’s music that is both educational and authentic. Together, they have produced five albums and several singles since 2019 with the help of fellow faculty and other children’s music producers.

I sat down with Mr. Turner and Mr. Walters to discuss the project and their motivations behind its pursuit. Mr. Turner has always known the power of music. From

a young age and to this day, he and his father perform music at holiday get-togethers and events. Music has never been solely about the performance for him though. Like any kid, there were ups and downs to school and social lives; but strumming on a guitar or listening to music was always a comfort he could resort to. When he began his teaching career, he recognized instantly the power of music in the classroom. Teaching at HeadRoyce in the Lower School, he could always be found playing music during passing periods, assemblies or during lunch and recess. “I had a guitar on my shoulder the whole day…there is nothing better at calming down a group of rowdy sixyear-olds.”

It was through these experiences that convinced Mr. Turner of the notion that music is a valuable tool for teachers, which is why he turned those classroom-transition tunes into sophisticatedly-produced music.

“The first song we wrote was “Don’t Matter Who’s First in Line” (it slaps). I wrote it out of necessity because 1st graders are notorious for fighting to be first in line…[to remind them] that we’re all going to get there together as a group.”

Ian Walters, Mr. Turner’s coproducer, also found a lot of comfort in music during his time as a youth. When he was a kid, he had trouble sleeping and would sing himself to bed. “I think it was for me a way of self-soothing that continued,” he explained.

“Organized music was just an extension of that and one of the

reasons that I got so serious about playing trombone, which I did from, like, 4th grade onwards. It felt so calming compared to the rest of the day.”

Mr. Walters’ first experience with organized music was a unique one, playing big-band jazz in retirement communities throughout middle and high school. Every Monday night, he would play for groups of people where the youngest spectator was 60. “It was just a part of life,” said Mr. Walters.

As a young adult, Mr. Walters enjoyed making music as a hobby of passion: some of his former students may remember his notorious rendition of “I Dreamed a Dream” by Susan Boyle in the voice of Gollum from the Lord of the Rings, a YouTube video that has received nearly 2 million views at the time of this article’s publishing.

“I think Ian and I have many things in common, but one of them is that we're not really big performers,” Mr. Turner told me when discussing his motivation behind pursuing this project. While they have submitted their music to international song contests, collaborated with other artists, expanded their artistic abilities remotely, the mission of TKITR has remained the same: “it's in service to families and kids who may not have this idea to work with and have have fun with it (music).” Music to these teaching professionals is more than just a hobby or a passion—it is creative, exacting, dynamic and invaluable to youth education—and TKITR is an excellent example of that capability.

FLASHBACK MaypoleDance 1966 2015 2023 1920 A Legacy of Tradition at HRS 74 SUMMER 2023 HRS
Head-Royce School 4315 Lincoln Avenue Oakland, CA 94602 ADDRESS SERVICE REQUESTED
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