HRS Magazine, Winter 2023: The Welcome Issue

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SNAPSHOTS IN TIME WITH RACHEL E. SKIFFER

DEEP DIVE ON WORLD LANGUAGES:

MORE THAN WORDS CAN SAY

HEAD-ROYCE: NOT JUST A SCHOOL IN OAKLAND

ALUMNI REFLECT ON DIVERSITY AND REPRESENTATION IN HOLLYWOOD

THE WELCOME ISSUE WINTER 2023
HEAD-ROYCE SCHOOL MAGAZINE
Head-Royce School Magazine is a semi-annual publication for alumni, families and friends of Head-Royce. Changes of address may be sent to communications@headroyce.org MANAGING EDITOR Sarah Holliman EDITOR Paige Berardo Julie Kim-Beal PHOTOGRAPHY Jonathan Braidman Gerald Fermin Stephen Flynn ’03 Darby H. ’23 Mariana Avila Llorente Nathan Phillips Photography Roots & Shoots Photography Bob Thompson Richard Wheeler Brooke M. ’26 CREATIVE DIRECTION + DESIGN Con Todo contodo.co PRINTING Solstice Press VISIT US ONLINE! Discover more about our mission and activities at headroyce.org @HeadRoyceSchool @HeadRoyce @HeadRoyceAlumni @HeadRoyceAlumni 4 Life @ HRS 9 Letter from Rachel Skiffer, Head of School 36 South Campus Update Contents 16 GETTING TO KNOW RACHEL E. SKIFFER 38 ALUMNI PANEL: DIVERSITY AND REPRESENTATION IN HOLLYWOOD 30 HEAD-ROYCE: NOT JUST A SCHOOL IN OAKLAND 10 Happenings at HRS FEATURES 52 Alumni Notes 50 Alumni Profiles 56 In Memoriam 60 Flashback 42 A Letter from the Alumni Council President 43 Alumni Events DEEP DIVE ON WORLD LANGUAGES 24

BSU THANKSGIVING CELEBRATION

Students in the Black Student Union gave thanks together before the holiday break.

PASSION PROJECT

5th graders constructed a mini-chicken coop during Genius Hour, a series of opportunities for students to work together on a passion project.

COACH FOR A DAY

Coach Brit showed kindergarteners the fun of being selected for the special role of coach.

YOUNG ENVIRONMENTALISTS

AP Environmental Science students at Lake Temescal for a Headwater Institute Field Research experience.

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RESTORING THE SHORE

Over 95 members of the HeadRoyce community—including Lower, Middle and Upper School students—cleaned up a huge amount of tidal garbage by the Oakland Estuary, one of the many CCE projects this year.

LUNAR NEW YEAR

Students made dumplings, one of their favorite projects in Mandarin class, and experienced authentic Chinese family traditions first hand.

DESIGN CHALLENGE

A 1st grader releases an aerodynamically enhanced binder clip (“Bindy”) into a wind tunnel in an engineering design challenge.

PLAY

Students delivered stellar performances of “The Hypochondriac” in the fall.

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FALL

GLOBE PROJECT

8th grade students learned how maps shape their understanding of the world through a hands-on project in history.

FROM OUR HEAD OF SCHOOL

DEBATE TEAM

The Upper School Debate Team returning from a fall tournament with many awards. Alumnus Jasper Reid ’21, who as a student competed in the event, joined as a judge.

This past summer, I had the distinct pleasure of joining the Head-Royce community, first as the 12th Head of School and—seven weeks later—as a delighted Lower School parent.

What a wonderful introduction you have given me, filled with so many special moments: a warm welcome celebration at Fairyland, an alumni tour on the east coast, small gatherings in Read Library, one-on-one meetings with the professional community and so much more. I have thoroughly enjoyed these months of my “listening tour,” hearing and experiencing firsthand what makes this community so incredibly special.

Academic, innovative, compassionate…these are some of the words that come to mind when I think about the essence of Head-Royce. And another word struck me as we celebrated the life of Dr. Martin Luther King in January: inquisitive. It reminded me of one of his quotations and its relevance to the work we do and what we strive for everyday: “Education must enable one to sift and weigh evidence, to discern the truth from the false, the real from the unreal, and the facts from the fiction.” At HeadRoyce, we support diversity of thought and the ability to challenge one another. We nurture a sense of belonging for each student, even as we encourage them to stretch their minds in new ways. And yet we recognize that there is still work to be done to further actualize those values.

The three core values of our mission—scholarship, diversity and citizenship—are at the center of the Head-Royce experience, and you will recognize them in the pages that follow. Throughout this issue, you will read stories on our world language program that begins in the Lower School and continues throughout a student’s academic journey…on what makes us a school in and of Oakland…on alumni diversity and their representation in the entertainment industry…on the South Campus. We even have a piece from one of our talented, recent alumnus, Cole Reynolds ’22, who is now a first year journalism student at Northwestern University.

While the magazine shares many highlights from our first semester, there is so much more to appreciate, especially in this new post-pandemic normal, beginning with the energy of a bustling campus—steeped in annual traditions, rich in both academic and extracurricular activities and full of parents and guardians, alumni and students. One heartwarming example is Grandfriends Day, a beloved annual event brought back by the Lower School this year. On this day in November, we welcomed to campus grandparents and special friends (160 in all this year!) who joined their students for a day to experience how we develop lifelong learners and critical thinkers. Through our curriculum and special activities, our guests were able to witness the faculty nurturing the creativity, curiosity and imagination within each of our students. You will find some photos of that special event and many others sprinkled throughout the magazine.

It gives me great pleasure to share this edition with you. I hope that it gives you as much pride in this institution as it does for me.

Most sincerely,

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JAYHAWK SPIRIT

Fall athletic teams sparked excitement in the stands.

Happenings

Catch up on all that's been happening around the Head-Royce community.

CONFERENCE CHAMPIONS

Congratulations to the Upper School Women’s Varsity Volleyball team on winning their 11th straight BCL Conference East Championship. They finished their season as BCL East Playoff Tournament Champions, North Coast Section Division IV Runner Ups, CIF NorCal Division IV Runner Ups and were presented the North Coast Section Division IV Scholastic Championship Team Award.

A SPOOK-TACULAR HALLOWEEN PARADE!

Upper School, Middle School and professional community members cheered on Lower School aliens, princesses, super heroes, dinosaurs, chickens and even a vending machine in our annual Halloween Parade.

Happenings

HARD PRESSED

Students pressed apples into cider, created sculptures and brewed tea with materials and medicinal herbs collected from the Garden during our “Sharing Abundance” Harvest Week.

ALL SCHOOL FAIR

Our entire community came out for the All School Fair. Booths, games, activities, food, prizes and performances were enjoyed by all.

GRANDPARENTS AND SPECIAL FRIENDS DAY

Lower School welcomed over 160 special guests to campus to share the joy of learning taking place in our classrooms.

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More happenings can be seen on the Head-Royce School Instagram page.

THE BEAUTIFUL GAME

Men’s Varsity Soccer claimed the North Coast Section Division I Championship on their home field in November and the North Coast Section Division I Scholastic Team Award after an incredible season!

Getting Involved

Middle School students took part in a day of service in and around Oakland, meeting new friends, doing projects together while learning about urban farming, food security, the importance of human connections, environmental stewardship, biodiversity and the value of citizenship.

Find more photos of our Community Engagement Days on Instagram.

LOVE ALL

Upper School Women’s Varsity Tennis clinched the BCL East Tournament Co-Championship and are the BCL East Playoff Tournament Champions!

FLEET FEET

Women’s Varsity XC went the distance this fall, finishing their season with the North Coast Section Division V Scholastic Championship Team Award.

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A Warm Welcome for our New Head of School

Rachel brings to the School a deep background that combines traditional independent school experience with both large corporate enterprises and small, innovative organizations. Her most recent appointment as the Head of School at Khan Lab School in Palo Alto, brought her back to her roots in the Bay Area. But her journey also includes serving as the Dean of Policy and Strategic Planning at Phillips Academy in Andover, Massachusetts; Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at San Francisco University High School; Associate Director of Admissions and Financial Aid at The Latin School of Chicago; and Undergraduate Financial Aid and Admissions Officer at Harvard, where she also received her undergraduate degree and J.D. (Harvard Law School). Rachel’s corporate experience began in consulting at McKinsey & Company and also includes commercial real estate law with firms in both San Francisco—Heller Ehrman—and Chicago—Kirkland and Ellis.

To hear more from Rachel on her background and first 125 days at the School, tune in to our Head-Royce Voices alumni podcast!

Rachel’s dynamic leadership and robust experience are being put to great use at Head-Royce with a proposed South Campus construction project on the horizon. Read on to learn more about Rachel’s journey to Head-Royce and the status of the South Campus plan…and enjoy these photos from Rachel’s many welcome events to the Head-Royce community!

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On July 1, 2022, Head-Royce welcomed our 12th Head of School, Rachel E. Skiffer!

GETTING TO KNOW

Rachel E.Skiffer

This piece, giving us a glimpse into Rachel Skiffer’s life before she arrived at Head-Royce, was written by Head-Royce alumnus Cole Reynolds ’22, with editorial contributions from Jayanti S. ’23 and Charis W. ’23. Reynolds is in his first year at the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University.

SNAPSHOTS IN TIME WITH RACHEL E. SKIFFER

Elliot Kirschner has this image of teenage Rachel Skiffer ingrained in his mind. Eyes closed, head thrown back, smile gleaming, she’s halfway through one of her distinctive laughs—one that her friends say comes so easily. To Kirschner, while the subject is clear, the rest of the image is a bit blurry. Time will do that. Sometimes when he recalls it, they’re driving Skiffer’s old Taurus station wagon through the Sunset District. Or through the Richmond District (always with music, likely a little Billy Joel, he adds). Other times it’s at a house party or during their classes at Lowell High School. Maybe, Kirschner suspects, the image is more of a mosaic—one pieced together

from countless memories of Skiffer.

“She would always just be the center of our world and our conversations— pulling people together,” Kirschner says.

“Even then [back in high school], you could sense that this was a person that people relied on, that they trusted, that they went to in times of uncertainty.”

The traits Kirschner describes make Skiffer particularly suited for her new role as the 12th Head in the School’s history. In a way, Head-Royce came to her in a time of uncertainty. Still recovering from the pandemic and continuing to await approval on the South Campus construction project, the School finds itself in a new state

of normal. And like her friends, HeadRoyce, too, benefits from Skiffer’s sharp eyes and fresh perspective.

According to Kirschner, that’s a strength of Skiffer’s. Even now, he fancies her a weaver of sorts, holding threads of knowledge spun from her personal experiences and education. Kirschner, now a journalist and filmmaker, still solicits Skiffer’s advice to contextualize the racial, gender-based and historical elements of his life’s work. And he is not the only one that seeks her input and candor. According to Kirschner, he is one of many. “She has this incredible network of people that she’s accumulated—that’s not the right verb—that she has...inspired.”

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A young Rachel Skiffer with Benjamin Menachem, former Israel Prime Minister

CAPERS AND MUSHROOMS

Take Ariel Wilsey-Gopp. Her first image of Skiffer is on the playground at Katherine Delmar Burke School in San Francisco, Skiffer’s hometown. It’s of a 4th grade Skiffer blasting the ball out of the field during a game of kickball and watching it sail over the fence. “She had the hardest kick,” Wilsey-Gopp remembers. “She would get all the homeruns.”

And while her kickball skills were legendary, Wilsey-Gopp recounts many of Skiffer’s other admirable qualities. Some are the expected things: good grades, exemplary essays, lead roles in the school play. But what 4th grade Wilsey-Gopp especially remembered about 10-yearold Skiffer is that she liked capers and mushrooms. Whenever Skiffer was at Wilsey-Gopp’s house, she’d eat all of the foods in the refrigerator that Wilsey-Gopp found disgusting. “My parents thought that was so great. She was always getting compliments on how great she was from my family,” Wilsey-Gopp says. “She definitely excelled at everything.” Even when eating “grown up” foods, it seems.

BENJI

Skiffer’s family was—in many ways—the impetus for her success. Her maternal grandmother grew up in Jim Crow Mississippi. And while she was privileged to have access to an accredited high school education that most Blacks were not afforded in the 1930s, it was still at a segregated school in her town.

As Skiffer’s grandmother made her way to Chicago during the Great Migration, she never forgot that Mississippi school— passing along her family’s legacy of respect for education as a pathway to self-determination. She made it a point to take a young Skiffer to visit one of the old teachers from that high school who lived in Chicago. Skiffer approaches education with a reverence shaped by her family history.

While her grandmother helped instill the importance of education in young Skiffer, it was her parents that safeguarded her educational experience as a Black child in a predominantly white elementary school. Skiffer thinks of her parents’ help as “running interference.” Like the time when her first grade teacher refused to let her check out the book “Benji” from the school library unless she read a portion out loud. Skiffer read with her finger underlining the words across the page while she said them, as she had been taught by the teacher. The teacher said that was evidence she wasn’t a good enough reader to understand a chapter book like “Benji.”

That evening, Skiffer casually told her parents what happened. And the next

Rachel as a young baby with her parents

morning, “Benji” was sitting on her desk. Skiffer came to realize that in her younger years her parents walked up the steps of her school many times to advocate on her behalf and right unjust wrongs. She is now a proud member of the school’s Board of Trustees

DESTRUCTO

Skiffer’s success continued in high school. She and Kirschner were well-liked and surrounded by friends, Wilsey-Gopp says. They received the lead roles in plays, were the presidents of clubs and the students in AP classes.

Wilsey-Gopp wasn’t. “I was kind of a dork,” she says. Still, Skiffer made sure to keep up with Wilsey-Gopp, whether through a “How’s it going?” in the

Skiffer came to realize that in her younger years her parents walked up the steps of her school many times to advocate on her behalf and right unjust wrongs. She is now a proud member of the school’s Board.

hallway or a laugh in the classroom. But most of their friendship was sustained through the soccer team. Neither Skiffer nor Wilsey-Gopp have particularly nice words to describe the experience as a whole. “My high school was the place that Title IX forgot,” Skiffer says. “We trained with the boys and only played against middle school teams.”

Wilsey-Gopp remembers the coach, an intimidating, European man. “He was so gruff,” she says. While they played, the coach would hurl a slew of insults at the players—to the point where other teams would stop and stare in shock. But for WilseyGopp, Skiffer was the antidote to that stream of profanity. “Her place on the team was one of team spirit and camaraderie,” she says. “Kind of like weaving and bringing people together. She would do that on the team.”

Although Wilsey-Gopp swears Skiffer had the hardest kick, Skiffer nicknamed Wilsey-Gopp “Destructo Leg.” So whenever the ball rolled towards Wilsey-Gopp, Skiffer would scream “DESTRUCTO!” as Wilsey-Gopp blasted the ball forwards. “It was endearing,” she remembers. “It was like an anthem.”

There’s one last image that Wilsey-Gopp has of Skiffer in high school. Registering for classes at San Francisco’s Lowell High School was a disaster. Students were lined up outside the gym in alphabetical order, with teachers inside waiting to register them for classes. “Ready, set, go,” would ring through the air. The doors would swing open. The students would stampede in.

Rachel with her mother Rachel with her grandmothers at her high school graduation
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Harvard Law Drama Society with Tori Jueds to Rachel’s right in the front row

Wilsey-Gopp can picture Skiffer sprinting up the line—her hands grasping pencils, her long strides weaving through the sea of people. She might have invented this image, Wilsey-Gopp concedes. Still, her association of Skiffer with confidence and self-assuredness remains, qualities that would serve Skiffer well throughout her life…but not without plenty of humor sprinkled in.

LAUGHTER

Tori Jueds met Skiffer because of a shared laugh. It was Jueds’ first year at Harvard Law School and Skiffer’s second. They were backstage at Harvard Law’s drama association production. And by chance, they locked eyes and burst into a fit of laughter. Nobody else joined them. The moment was theirs alone.

In many ways, laughter charted their way through law school. They were a writing team on Harvard Law’s SNL-like comedy show, “The Parody,” creating satirical verses for Def Leppard and Britney Spears songs,

among other projects. There’s this pressure permeating Harvard Law, and its storied past weighed down upon Jueds’ shoulders during her time there. Her laughter with Skiffer was a respite from that. “It’s necessary for everyone to remind ourselves that we’re all ridiculous. None of us have figured it all out,” Jueds explains.

That relief was especially important for Jueds, who never really wanted to be a lawyer. She’d been an activist for reproductive rights and wanted a Juris Doctor to launch an activist career. To an extent, Skiffer wasn’t set on becoming a lawyer, either. “I treated law school like grad school,” she says. Skiffer decided to go to law school because of her undergraduate experience. In college, she did as much as she could, from economics classes and creating her own Women’s Studies major, to joining the Harvard University choir and acting in a theater production with Rashida Jones (an actress best known for her role on the show, “Parks and Recreation”).

However, one thing from her college experience jumps out in particular:

her. “It really illustrated powerfully to me this talent of Rachel’s, to connect with fascinating, excellent, wonderful people and to nurture those friendships over many years,” Jueds says.

A few years after she graduated from Harvard Law, Jueds needed that friendship. She had just lost her dad. Skiffer has this phrase: “fly out moment.”

It’s for the times when a friend of hers is thrust into vulnerability. And it describes her reaction to them: to drop everything and fly out to their city. So when Jueds’ dad passed away, Skiffer was on the next flight to New Jersey.

It’s been a long time, so Jueds can’t remember the exact conversations they had once Skiffer landed. But she remembers it being like talking to a mirror—that Skiffer could connect with her and support her so intimately. “Those were the sorts of times when just the presence of a really good, soulmate-

level friend means more than anything,” Jueds says. “And Rachel has been able to provide that a number of times.”

For Kirschner, it’s these complexities, these vulnerabilities in Skiffer’s story that make her advice the most useful and her shoulder the easiest to cry on. “Life isn’t simple,” he says. “She really understands that, and she’s able to help you navigate through that.”

SEARCHING

Skiffer and Jueds graduated law school when consulting firms— lacking business school graduates who were flocking westward towards Silicon-coated fortunes in Palo Alto— were forced to turn their attention towards other highly-educated professionals. And McKinsey & Company snatched up Skiffer.

Skiffer talks about the skills she acquired at McKinsey—how she learned to use Excel and what a PowerPoint was. But she reflects on those days with an uncharacteristic dullness. Except, of course, when she mentions the day her colleague walked away from that same high-paying McKinsey job to work the floor at Sephora in preparation for founding a cosmetics company. “That was brave,” Skiffer laughs.

A week after her colleague left, Skiffer considered leaving McKinsey, too. At a college football game, she met an old friend who worked in the Harvard Admissions Office. That friend later lent her (perhaps “illegally”) some applications to read. Skiffer was hooked, poring over every word of these students’ lives—getting to know people she’d never meet.

a life-changing class on the Warren court. Through the class, she gained a “window into [her] history as an African American.” Education was one of her family’s key values and in that class, Skiffer got the chance to learn more about just how hard others fought to obtain it. And so, Skiffer’s decision to go to law school—like Jueds’ as well—wasn’t about training for the bar exam. It was for choosing niche classes and finding new knowledge.

FLY-OUT MOMENT

Knowledge wasn’t the only thing Skiffer gained during her educational journey. She also created an array of lifelong friendships.

For one special occasion, Jueds came up with the idea of a scrapbook filled with pictures and memories and words from everyone floating in Skiffer’s orbit. What she didn’t envision, however, is the magnitude of people who would contribute. What resulted were pages of people, some who had shared monkey bars or a slide with Skiffer; others who had shared an office or classroom with

Receiving a blessing from Pope John Paul II

Skiffer couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being called to the world of education. The stories of students beckoned her toward the field. So when that friend called her a few months later, letting her know about a permanent spot in the Harvard Admissions Office, she remembered her old colleague who was now working for Sephora when she responded. “Yes. Yes, I’ll go for it,” she said back into the phone.

Skiffer knew she had landed in a career that she loved—one perhaps inspired by her grandmother, who had instilled in her the value of education so long ago. And yet the timing wasn’t right. After a few years, student loans kept calling, forcing Skiffer from the ethereality of that Harvard Admissions job into the slog of commercial real estate law. On one hand, it was a continuation of family legacy— Skiffer’s mother was a city planner and her father was a commercial real estate developer. On the other, “My heart just wasn’t in it,” she says.

And so Wilsey-Gopp has one more image of Skiffer that stands out from the rest. She found herself sitting in the passenger seat of Skiffer’s car, talking about work. They’d pulled in front of a convenience store on top of a hill overlooking San Francisco.

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Skiffer couldn’t shake the feeling that she was being called to the world of education. The stories of students beckoned her toward the field.

Skiffer cut a defeated figure against the backdrop of sunlight blistering through the windshield. “I’m just so tired of this,” Wilsey-Gopp recalls her saying about her job. And what Wilsey-Gopp remembers most is how different that Rachel Skiffer looked from the Rachel in her mind—the one sprinting through hordes of students to register for the class she wanted.

“When people are so driven, and they always know what they’re doing— what they want,” Wilsey-Gopp says, her voice trailing off. “It’s rare to see them in these moments, not quite knowing what’s next. And so it stood out for me.” But as soon as it came, the moment was over. Perhaps Skiffer didn’t know what she needed from her career, but she knew she needed groceries for that night. So, they sped towards the supermarket and away from that ever-so-evanescent moment

of uncertainty and vulnerability.

Skiffer had endured a much more prolonged period of vulnerability before, though. Her mother was supposed to have a routine hysterectomy. But after complications, Skiffer’s mother passed away from the surgery. Skiffer was only 19. The suddenness of it shrouds much of the moment in haze. It’s still difficult for Skiffer to talk about. She makes a lap around her office in search of tissues before she recounts the story. But it is still one that she shares. The funeral was a couple of days later. Legions of former teachers and classmates filled the pews, in support of Skiffer. The service is a bit of a blur, but Skiffer still remembers a distinct feeling sitting in the church. “I just felt so held,” she says, pulling out a tiny bottle of eyedrops from her bag. “And I just feel the need to pay that forward.”

AT HOME

There’s this panorama as you drive down Lincoln Avenue. Flashing through the tree branches are glimpses of the jagged San Francisco skyline, grasped by the Bay’s morning fog. Somewhere in those mess of buildings is where Skiffer grew up—had “Benji” placed on her desk and dominated kickball. Her brother still lives in the area, too, also in education as the Urban School’s Athletic Director and varsity basketball coach. Skiffer’s circuitous path to becoming the Head of School gives her the skills to excel in the position. Law school gave her pedagogical knowledge and real-estate gave her an understanding of business. Her time in education—as an admissions officer and student, a dean at one of the oldest American boarding schools and the leader of Sal Khan’s start-up K-12 in Silicon Valley—gave her the background she needs to run the School. Skiffer is here to give Head-Royce something she has provided on every one of her travels: a listening ear, curiosity about each community member’s story and a care for the people around her.

Vangeria Harvey, co-chair on the Head of School Search Committee, raved about Skiffer’s positive qualities, “We wanted someone that was collaborative,

thoughtful and just had a care for young people and a love of education.”

Harvey also appreciated Skiffer’s commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI). “She rejected the tension of DEI and academic excellence—because you can’t have one without the other,” recalls Harvey.

While Skiffer brings her vast array to the School, she is getting something back in return: a destination, both as an educator and as a person.

Skiffer was drawn to Head-Royce because of its location in Oakland. Her godparents lived here, and she remembers spending holidays at Fairyland. When she had kids of her own, everything came full circle. Even while living in the South Bay, she took her kids on “pilgrimages” to Fairyland, Lake Merritt, Oakland Museum of California (OMCA) and jazz shows at Yoshi’s. “I wanted them to soak up the diversity of Oakland,” she explains.

Skiffer chose Head-Royce partially because of its reputation in the Bay Area. Her godbrother attended for eight years, and she’d visited campus for numerous faculty development programs over the years. “The faculty here are held in high esteem within

the Bay Area,” she claims. And Skiffer wanted to be a part of that. She still remembers the history lecture on indentured servitude that she sat in on when she first applied to be the Head of School. She recalls being impressed by both the teaching and the questions the students asked. She had found her passion for lifelong learning reflected by the school community.

“I remember walking here on my first day,” Skiffer says, her eyes wistfully drifting to the top corner of the room. “It just kind of felt like home.” And so it is. With a scrapbook full of people who trusted and relied on her wise counsel, fresh perspective and grounding in times of uncertainty, Skiffer is well-equipped to lead HeadRoyce into the next phase of growth.

“In some way, it feels like my entire career has led me to this place, to this position,” Skiffer says. “With the South Campus construction project on the horizon, Head-Royce represents the culmination of every role I’ve held to date. I’ve never felt more certain that all my travels have brought me here…and I hope to stay for as long as the School will have me. I have a kindergartener, after all!”

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With Elliott Kirschner at their college graduation
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Skiffer is here to give Head-Royce something she has provided on every one of her travels: a listening ear, curiosity about each community member’s story and a care for the people around her.
Rachel looking over the shoulder of Indira Gandhi

on World Languages

MORE THAN WORDS CAN SAY

In an increasingly connected and interdependent world, speaking a second or third language is a real advantage. It opens doors to different cultures and worldviews and gives way to wider job possibilities.

Learning a second language, particularly when young, has exceptional and lasting benefits—including enhanced cognitive skills, greater empathy, heightened cultural competence and a wider perspective of one’s place in a community.

The World Languages program at Head-Royce School is an example of living our values. The K-12 language continuum fosters intellectual openness and develops academic discipline. What sets us apart from most schools is not that we offer three different world languages for our youngest students, but that we require language throughout a student’s K-12 journey.

EARLY EXPOSURE

It turns out that Maria Montessori’s adage, ‘children’s brains are like sponges,’ is true. Studies using magnetic resonance imaging and neuroanatomical mapping show how, at a young age, the brain grows faster than at any other time of life. This neuroplasticity makes childhood an ideal time to learn a second language. And to “more quickly acquire native-like proficiency,” according to Cornell University.

Edutopia explains that children go through ‘critical periods’ of brain development, evidenced by rapid neural formation where the number of synapses—the connections between brain cells—doubles. According to research cited by Edutopia, two-year olds have twice as many synapses as adults. It is for this reason that during ‘critical periods,’ the brain is actually able to learn faster and have a more lasting effect than at other times of life.

At Head-Royce, learning a language begins in Kindergarten with a twelve-week rotation of introductory courses in Mandarin Chinese, French and Spanish. From 1st grade onwards, throughout each grade in every division—Lower, Middle and Upper School—language is an integral component of the curriculum.

Young children learn with an unconscious state of mind, lacking the social inhibitions characteristic of older students. Using developmentally appropriate teaching tools including Total Physical Response (TPR)—a kinesthetic-based method of language learning involving movement, singing, dancing, acting and other sorts of interactivity—Head-Royce utilizes our youngest students’ need to wiggle, touch and sing through an immersive, whole body, language-learning experience.

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Ayden A. ’30 started Mandarin in 1st grade. Beaming with pride, he shared that during a recent field trip to Chinatown in San Francisco, he ordered lunch in Mandarin and anticipates studying it throughout his education at Head-Royce. He is learning Mandarin because he plans to travel when he is older and wants to be able to speak with members of the local community. Nodding enthusiastically with Ayden, Kylie C. ’30 observed that learning Mandarin will, “help me when I get older because I will be able to talk to my relatives and speak to people when I travel,” she said. Both students say they enjoy their language classes at HeadRoyce, particularly the games used to support learning. “Playing games to learn is a strategy a lot of kids would like because you have fun while you’re learning!” Ayden said confidently.

IN AND OUTSIDE OF THE CLASSROOM

In Middle School, collaborative projects, field trips and other forms of experiential learning give shape, purpose and meaning to language learning, and also provide the adolescent mind an ongoing opportunity to make responsible choices with guidance from educators. In addition to Mandarin, French and Spanish, Latin is also offered starting in 6th grade.

One language led to a love for many languages, literatures and cultures, and that opened doors to new friendships, opportunities and perspectives.

Reflecting on a Latin study-travel excursion to Italy with students from 6th, 7th and 8th grades a few years ago, faculty member, Gretchen Wu shared that students were thrilled when visiting the Coliseum because they were able to read primary source material including 2,000 year-old plaques and passages etched in stone in Latin. Reading these materials gave the students incredible insight into the ancient structure, as the descriptions helped them imagine the

smells once wafting through the Coliseum and the feel of wool on skin in the hot sun. “These special moments are pivotal in a student’s life, they are defining, even life-shaping. It’s what makes experiential learning so important,” Gretchen reflected.

“I don’t think my 8th-grade self would have ever guessed where French would lead me. One language led to a love for many languages, literatures and cultures, and that opened doors to new friendships, opportunities and perspectives. Federico Fellini once said, ‘A different language is a different vision of life.’ I think he was right,” shared alumna Andrea Thomas ’96, now an Associate Professor of French at Loyola University. We are excited to offer another studytravel program to Québec, Canada this coming spring break through our Center for Community Engagement. French learners in 4th–6th grades will participate in an immersive language program and make lasting friendships and memories.

PURPOSE IN PROFICIENCY

Beyond the requirements for California state graduation (one year) and UC Admission (two years), Head-Royce necessitates Upper School students take three years of a world language, and many students, according to World Language Department Head Christina Masson, take a language all four years. Some even take two languages.

Celeste S. ’24 is studying both French and Spanish. “Learning French means I can talk to my family and become closer with them. At Head-Royce, I have also been able to learn about French culture and get a better perspective on life in France. I think that Spanish is a really useful language especially in California where so many people are Spanish speakers,” Celeste shared.

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Sparking students’ curiosity, teachers encourage inquiry to ignite agency. Instead of posing questions or giving answers, the teacher might ask students to focus deeply on a project and then provide gentle guidance to help keep a project moving forward.

In Upper School language classes, students pursue advanced coursework, seminars, literature and cinema, deepening their cultural understanding and building proficiency. Sparking students’ curiosity, teachers encourage inquiry to ignite agency. Instead of posing questions or giving answers, the teacher might ask students to focus deeply on a project and then provide gentle guidance to help keep a project moving forward. This encourages the student’s interest in the subject to inspire discovery, guiding themselves through the learning process. Dr. Lisowski, Middle and Upper School Latin teacher explains, “Studies show that students learn much more thoroughly when students themselves are the ones posing the questions and seeking out the answers.”

According to Dr. Lisowski, one of the projects in the Upper School Latin curriculum that students look back on with pride, is an intense focus on

the frame

one 35-line mythological story by the author, Ovid. Generally taking place in 10th and 11th grade, students are asked to choose an excerpt and then build an interactive website to share their understanding of the text. These sorts of multi-dimensional challenges involve complex problem solving and align with our Strategic Plan goal of developing competency-focused curriculum.

Take a look for yourself. Dr. Lisowski has curated Ovid Project masterpieces for 15 years. Scan the QR code below to see these stunning metamorphosis stories and the research that went into them.

And when the learning is experiential, it can have an even greater impact. Mandarin teacher, Kathy Yang, described two Upper School language projects—dumpling and moon cake making to celebrate the Lunar New Year—as being two student favorites, “more memorable than any of the textbook lessons,” she said.

Scan the QR code to see these stunning metamorphosis stories and the research that went into them.

BEYOND GRAMMAR

With diversity as one of Head-Royce School’s three core values, the World Language program goes beyond grammar. It builds time into the curriculum to explore different beliefs, cultural practices, heritages and traditions. And it ensures we invest in a diverse team of faculty from all over the world to inculcate authentic learning opportunities. The impact is powerful.

“Studying languages allows people with entirely different worldviews—from different countries and cultures—to connect, and it broadens a person’s (own) worldview, which can help them break down prejudices and debunk preconceived notions they may have about a region of the world or a group of people. I believe that the study of foreign languages—and their accompanying cultures—leads to a more enriching and fulfilling life,” said a wise Maeve W-S ’24.

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Studying languages allows people with entirely different worldviews— from different countries and cultures— to connect ...”
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Maeve W-S ’24

Head-Royce

School in Oakland Not Just a

CENTER FOR COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT’S MISSION:

Offering both local and global opportunities, the CCE positively demonstrates how essentia l it is to create a hands-on civic engagement program immersed in real-world issues by deeply studying those issues and considering how they make the world more equitable and inclusive. And that extends to global programs as well. When the CCE organizes an opportunity to travel abroad—for example with a trip to Prague and Berlin to study the global challenge of housing—they start at “home” by learning how that same issue has an impact on the city of Oakland and surrounding Bay Area.

Steeped in the value of mentorship, developing informed and passionate leaders is another key tenet of the program. Feidelman recently created a Community Engagement Board, comprised of juniors and seniors who help run the CCE’s programming. These students are placed as CCE representatives in the 34 different advisory groups to nurture, explore and encourage student interests. The student leaders also host projects and run a program—Looking Forward, Looking Backward—where HRS seniors connect with and read to our kindergartners.

Ask someone to tell you about Head-Royce and depending on whether they are a student, parent, professional community member, alumni, community partner or neighbor, you are likely to get a different description every time. On certain points, most people would agree: great K-12 education, beautiful campus, wonderful teachers. Some might even say the location in Oakland. If you probed more deeply, they might tell you that the Center for Community Engagement and Heads Up programs showcase how Head-Royce is a school with deep roots in the greater community.

THE CENTE R FOR COMMUNITY ENGAGEMENT

The Center for Community Engagement (CCE) is a K-12 initiative that was ideated in 2016-17 and launched in 2018 to promote the value of responsible and engaged citizenship at all levels in the community. As one of our three core values, citizenship has always been embedded in a Head-Royce education. But over the past five years—under the leadership of the indefatigable Nancy Feidelman—the program has become broader, better coordinated across divisions and more deeply rooted in a student’s experience throughout their entire Head-Royce journey. With a crossdivisional commitment to instill self-awareness, compassion, equity, sustainability and purpose-driven action in our students, the CCE helps demonstrate how our three core values—scholarship, diversity and citizenship—are interwoven and unable to exist alone. Says Head of School, Rachel E. Skiffer, “It is impossible to have scholarship without diversity and citizenship. And the CCE exists as the ‘happy interplay’ between the three.”

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To serve as Head-Royce School’s program office and ideation center for all civic and community engagement initiatives.

There is no real metric for the intangibles: the leadership skills our students of all ages develop; the passion that is ignited when someone deeply connects with a program or volunteer; the difference one project makes for a family... or a community...or a corner of the world.

Putting together programs for students spanning all grades requires a thoughtful approach. Take the Middle School’s first Community Engagement Day organized by Middle School Assistant Head Kristen Goggin and Feidelman. Within their advisory groups, the entire Middle School worked with one of 18 unique community partners. Each grade level focused on a different theme with 6th graders addressing food justice and sustainability, 7th graders working with partners on human connections and community care and 8th graders concentrating on the United Nations’ global goals of sustainable development with an emphasis on two in particular, life below water and life on land. With a broad list of community partners, the students were able to participate in programs that reflect the diversity of this area rooted in themes— such as urban farming and food security—that could be contextualized and tied back to the curriculum. Having such an immersive experience brought joy and connectivity to everyone involved in the program.

And the work continues throughout the year. During the holiday season, all three divisions collaborated to make a significant difference for our various community partners. Our Lower School assembled and delivered backpacks filled with useful items, including pajamas, art supplies and student-written messages of hope and joy for K-5 students at two of our partner schools in the Oakland Unified School District—Encompass Academy and Achieve Academy, where alumnus Monica Valerian ’04 teaches kindergarten (see alumni profile for more on Monica). The Middle School’s Holiday Drive supported Achieve Academy with classroom donations—including art supplies, books, puzzles, dry erase boards and magnetic letters—as well as playground items, such as balls, chalk, sand, sensory tables, wooden blocks and more. Meanwhile, the Upper School helped fulfill holiday wish lists for 40 children and their parents living in transitional housing with our long-standing community partner, Building Opportunities for Self-Sufficiency (BOSS).

The impact of the CCE is hard to measure. While the service hours can be tracked (5,000+ by Upper School students in the first semester alone), there is no real metric for the intangibles: the leadership skills our students of all ages develop; the passion that is ignited when someone deeply connects with a program or volunteer; the difference one project makes for a family…or a community…or a corner of the world.

But one thing is certain, the CCE plays a central role in the School’s mission to…inspire in our students a lifelong love of learning and pursuit of academic excellence, to promote understanding of and respect for the diversity that makes our society strong and to encourage constructive and responsible global citizenship.

HEADS UP

The marquis example of community engagement and impact at Head-Royce is Heads Up, a public school/private school partnership that for many years—35 as of the fall of 2022— has been making a difference in the lives of Oakland youth. Since 1987, Heads Up has provided over 1,150 first-generation college bound students of color from Oakland public schools with academically challenging and enriching tuition-free programming through an immersive summer program, year-round Saturday Leadership Academy and Workforce Development Program. Under the leadership of Mikki Frazier, the program has blossomed and become more intentional and aligned with Head-Royce School’s core values.

Although most of the Heads Up students come from several “partner schools” in Oakland—Montera Middle School, Edna Brewer, Lazear Charter School, Life Academy and Madison Park Academy—the program enrolls 6th graders from public schools throughout Oakland who participate for nearly four years until they “graduate” during the summer before 10th grade. The timing—which coincides with the sometimes awkward but always formative middle school years—is incredibly impactful as it provides opportunities for students to develop more confidence and leadership skills.

Aligned with Head-Royce School’s core tenets of scholarship, diversity and citizenship, the mission of Heads Up is to provide first-generation college-bound students of color from Oakland public schools with challenging and enriching programming to cultivate socially responsible leaders.

The capstone to the experience is the summer program, a four-week annual intensive during which students take academic classes—including math, science and humanities— to prevent the “summer slide” by solidifying content students learned throughout the past academic year and preparing them for the material the next one will bring. The fourth strand of the curricular approach is “Success is Now,” a class that explicitly teaches developmentally appropriate study skills and learning strategies—ranging from executive functioning to financial planning—to ensure that students are able to connect the work they are doing in class with the work they need to put in to become successful outside a school environment. The academic curriculum is supplemented with enrichment opportunities. From hip hop to crafting, tennis to theater, coding to fashion design, there is something for everyone. The summer program is supported by technology—students are required to produce, edit and store their summer work using Google applications.

Last summer, Heads Up launched the Workforce Development Program (WDP). Designed for rising 10th graders, the WDP supplements in-class leadership and skills training with hands-on work experience. Twelve students were placed in departments across the Head-Royce campus and—for about 90 minutes per day—were given projects ranging from organizing files (or even rooms) to writing social media posts to developing content needed for updated collateral pieces, and everything in between.

HEADS UP MISSION:

Aligned with Head-Royce School’s core tenets of scholarship, diversity and citizenship, the mission of Heads Up is to provide firstgeneration college-bound students of color from Oakland public schools with challenging and enriching programming to cultivate socially responsible leaders .

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With professional mentors and tangible work experience, the Heads Up students were able to develop skills and acquire references that can be transferred to real-world opportunities. The WDP also provides students with workshops on college readiness and ACT/SAT preparation.

The Summer Program is supplemented throughout the school year with the quarterly Saturday Leadership Academy (SLA), which brings all Heads Up students together for relationship building, community engagement and service, leadership development and experiential learning. Two of the four Saturdays offer conferencestyle events, where students rotate between workshops taught by local educators, artists or program partners or participate in hands-on learning. The other two Saturdays are intentionally designed to help students become engaged global citizens through service projects and field trips. Further, the SLAs help students deepen their relationships with other students in their cohort—a

110 83%

are from low-income households

students enrolled across all grades each year

critical factor in ongoing participation and engagement.

Heads Up alumni are immediately eligible to apply for paid counselor positions in the Head-Royce Summer Program, where they continue to receive extensive job training and access to a rich employment pipeline. Many Heads Up alum go on to apply for full-time positions within the HRS community.

In fact, Head-Royce currently employs eight people who were one-time Heads Up students, including Ariyana Mosley, who graduated from the Heads Up program in ’14 and currently serves as a Head-Royce After School Program (ASP) counselor as well as a Heads Up lead counselor. Mosley describes Heads Up as “a place for young minds to become more well-rounded” and mentioned the importance of community, mentoring and long-term friendships. “Heads Up pushed me outside my comfort zone and instilled confidence and leadership skills in me,” said Mosley. “I found my purpose here.” 91% 79%

of enrolled students report that their academics improved after joining the program

of students believe the program has given them an advantage over their (non-Heads Up) classmates

In interviews with Heads Up students, faculty and staff, the theme of relationships and connection emerged again and again. “Community,” said one student (using a program nickname of “Gummy”) in response to what makes Heads Up so impactful. “The people here make you feel safe—and we have fun, even though we are learning.”

Ian Walters, a Head-Royce Middle School faculty member that has taught in the Heads Up program since 2011 said, “Every summer, it [Heads Up] reaffirms for me as a middle school teacher, how important connections, relationships and trust are before anything else—and they are the lifeblood of the program.” Frazier added, “It is the strength of the people. Relationships are central to the mission.” How to get students to feel “seen, valued and heard” is only possible if they feel safe in the environment, which requires trust and connectivity. People often look at our Heads Up program and reflect on the difference it is making in the lives of public school students who may not otherwise have the opportunity to participate in such a challenging and well-rounded program. The often unspoken truth though—evident in the comments above—is that it is not one-sided. Every person who touches this program walks away feeling transformed. Walters closed with this sentiment, “The simple answer to how this [Heads Up] program has changed me is that this is the program that made me want to be a teacher in the first place. I was not quite sold until I taught these kids.”

With meaningful, long term partnerships and transformational experiences, the CCE and Heads Up programs are extraordinary examples of our intentionality in being a school not just in but of Oakland.

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Heads Up pushed me outside my comfort zone and instilled confidence and leadership skills in me. I found my purpose here.”
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Ariyana Mosley ’14

South Campus

Update

As we await the final stage in the South Campus development process—project approval and groundbreaking—we reflect back on the years of effort that have gotten us to this exciting point. Literally thousands of our Head-Royce community members have helped us along the way: providing feedback on the plans, advocating at City Planning hearings, joining campus tours and offering essential philanthropic support.

At time of publication, the City has released the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) and set hearing dates to consider project approval. If received, the South Campus project includes:

Renovating and restoring three historic buildings, all intended for hands-on experiential learning and collaboration

Take a look back at our journey to the future.

Property Purchase

Purchased eight acres across from Head-Royce

Land Use Considerations

Developed Neighborhood Liaison Committee to strengthen partnership with neighbors

Created section of Head-Royce website and email campaign for neighbor communications

Updated conditions of approval

Fundraising Quiet Phase

Began major gift fundraising for $25 million campaign—the largest in School history

Design and Refine

Created and refined plans for educational spaces that address neighbor priorities related to process and transparency, enrollment, traffic and parking, noise and privacy and neighborhood character

Fundraising Public Phase

Launched public phase of fundraising campaign with the Day of Giving, raising over $800,000 in a single day, the most generous day in the School’s history

Offered South Campus tours

Final EIR and City Hearings

Release of FEIR by City City scheduled hearings to consider—and hopefully approve—South Campus project

Bringing vehicle drop offs and pick ups on to the campus with the addition of a Loop Driveway

Enhancing the outdoor space into an educational greenbelt with open-air classrooms, a teaching garden, a central commons area and a sizable playing field

Creating a new Performing Arts Center for music, dance and fine arts use

Increasing our enrollment by over 300 students over a 20-year period, also enabling us to expand scholarship opportunities to well-deserving students of all financial backgrounds

Stakeholder Input

Held dozens of meetings with neighbors, faculty, parents, alumni, students, donors and other stakeholders to solicit input

Created faculty workgroup and ongoing South Campus Plan Board workgroup

Architect Selection

Tapped the expertise of architects, city planners, land-use attorneys, financial planners, landscape designers, real estate developers and more

Site Assessment

Assessed views, traffic, stormwater, noise, building, trees and historical character

Proposal Submission

Estimated and refined costs

Possible South Campus Opening (anticipated fall 2024)

Draft EIR and City Hearings

Participated in hearings with the Landmarks Preservation Advisory Board and Oakland City Planning Commission

LIFE @ HRS
We are now—truly—on the precipice of the next phase of growth at Head-Royce.
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2012 2014 2016 2018 2020 2022 2024

Diversity and Representation in Hollywood

so cool”) and the former figure skater, Kristy Yamaguchi.

While each panelist acknowledged the lack of diverse representation in the entertainment industry, each agreed that their unique voices and perspectives have advanced their careers.

Wu’s career launched in Hong Kong in 1997. While there for a college graduation trip, he was scouted on the street. He’d never considered acting and anticipated a career in architecture in the United States (US). Recruited into the filmmaking industry in China, he learned to speak Chinese and ultimately worked on over 65 pictures, portraying strong leading men for a Chinese audience. “It’s a big struggle to try to change perceptions,” he reflected

about the American filmmaking industry. “I was an action hero in Asia on screen and here I’m doing more character and supporting roles.”

Yu interjected admiringly, “I still see you as an action hero,” drawing laughs.

Wu observed that he probably would not have made it in the industry if he had started his career in the US, where he would have been competing for the same limited roles available for Asian American men at that time. “I was empowered very early on [in China] and given lead roles very early on and told I could be a star very early on,” he said.

Yu’s career in filmmaking began about 10 years ago and she feels very grateful for the journey that led her to it. “I fell in love with what I felt I was good at, which was acting,” she

On a brisk evening at the end of November, Head-Royce produced its own starry night: a special webinar with three notable alumni, Dan Wu ’92, Cameron Johnson ’03 and Krista Marie Yu ’06. Last at HRS earning graduation credentials, these distinguished guests rejoined us bearing new credits to their names including film and television acting, writing, producing and directing.

The gathering, to foment a discussion about the representation of diversity and intersectionality in Hollywood, brought these three industry insiders together with parents, students and other distinguished guests. Moderated by esteemed alumna, entertainment writer, editor and culture critic, Olivia Truffaut-Wong ’09, and beloved Upper School Drama and English teacher, Andy Spear, the lively—and at times very personal— conversation offered an intimate

look behind the silver screen, at an industry driven by consumer culture and a nascent appetite for multidimensional characterization.

“When was the first time you saw yourself represented on screen?” Truffaut-Wong asked the panel. Research suggests that seeing yourself by identifying with a person or character—whether by looks, background or belief—is important, and shows that role models can be influential and aspirational. They help us strive to become who we want to be and to overcome obstacles.

Dan Wu recalled films from his youth like the 1984 John Hughes movie, “Sixteen Candles,” in which actor Gedde Watanabe played the grossly exaggerated stereotype of an Asian American man—a weak, heavily-accented Asian foreign exchange student—in the role, Long

Duk Dong. These characters, Wu reflected, were not how he saw himself. Wu instead looked to films from Hong Kong and China with strong leading men like Bruce Lee, Jet Lee and Jackie Chan for his heroes.

In response to the same question from Truffaut-Wong, Cameron Johnson quipped, “I would say, Dion in ‘Clueless’,” drawing appreciative chuckles from fellow panelists, and added, “I don’t think until I was actually creating a show that I ever saw people like me on TV.”

Then he wryly said that perhaps the “Sex in the City” characters—a “circle of gay men who happened to be women”—might have been close to how he sees himself personality-wise.

For Krista Marie Yu, the first time she pictured herself on screen was watching Trini on the “Power Rangers,” (who, she said, was “so

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PANEL
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KRISTA MARIE YU ’06
Luck only gets you so far. Working really hard is what gets me the furthest…and gratitude.”
Krista Marie Yu ’06

explained. Following the advice she was given, “If you want to act, you have to love it. You can’t have another Plan B,” she moved to Los Angeles after college to be near her grandmother. While holding down babysitting and hostessing jobs, she auditioned for every role available, noting that all the audition rooms were full of extremely talented Asian actresses. “Luck,” she said, “only gets you so far. Working really hard is what gets me the furthest…and gratitude,” Yu said. After a few guest spots, commercials and one-liners, her break came with a call back for “Dr. Ken,” a multi-camera sitcom on ABC from 2015-17. At 27, she landed the role of Molly, Dr. Ken’s typicallyAmerican teenage daughter.

About stereotypes, Yu reflected, “People write in a specific way, and we have, as actors, the choice in how we want to take that writing and make it into something.” Although her character in “Last Man Standing” had an Asian accent—which she had to learn—she feels “a stereotype is only if the joke is on the accent or the joke is on the person; you [actors] have the power and the opportunity and the creative expansion to develop the backstory and to develop an actual person with all these different layers that might not be shown on screen but [that] will fuel your work.” To develop an accent, she hired tutors who helped her learn both Cantonese and Mandarin for her roles. The script writers for “Last Man Standing,” she confessed, sometimes wrote her character as speaking Cantonese and sometimes as speaking Mandarin. To accommodate for the inconsistency, she developed the backstory for her character that she felt brought a new depth to the role which was appreciated by the writers and her fellow actors.

Speaking of writers, Andy pivoted to Cameron Johnson and asked, “Where along the way did you feel like you could start contributing your most authentic voice?”

“Thanks to Head-Royce…I got a really good education and USC was easy,” Johnson said. He took a lot of courses at USC, one of which was a screenwriting class in 200405. While it solidified his desire to write, he felt he came out of school wanting to be someone he was not.

“I wanted to be Ryan Murphy…I wanted to be Alan Ball..I wanted to write ‘Nip/Tuck‘ and those sorts of soaps,” he said. He felt afraid to write about Black people then because

there were no premium Black TV shows—only comedies. And, he noted, although it is not widely shared, that even those comedies were written by white people. At that time, he said of the industry, “it was very rare for a Black person to be in a position of power.” He began writing scripts that had nothing to do with his life or life experiences. He would submit these to reps who would ask, “So, tall funny gay Black guy, why did you write this?”

“I realized it wasn’t working,” Johnson said. Taking stock of the people who were being sought, he observed

that they were all writing about themselves which motivated him to write something about his own life. After conducting a social experiment on a dating website, he wrote a blog that went viral. He said, “I realized, okay cool, so what I’ve been trying to write like is other people, and what I need to be doing is write like me.”

He wrote his first pilot, “Me in High School,” which landed him his first job and his first manager. His second pilot got him an acting role on a show called “Zoe Ever After.” He sold his third, “White People Problems,” to

Bravo which has landed him every job ever since. “I realized that my voice was the thing that gave me power early,” he observed. He’s been writing in his own voice and about his own material ever since. Wu chimed in, “Early on we all thought that coming into the business in Hollywood meant that we had to look at it through the white lens, and we’re seeing now that it’s no longer the case, we no longer have to do that…that your unique voice is what is special to you and that’s what we have to cherish and keep doing.”

Head-Royce Voices

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Dan Wu ’92 DAN WU ’92
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Early on we all thought that coming into the business in Hollywood meant that we had to look at it through the white lens and... we no longer have to do that...your unique voice is what is special to you and that’s what we have to cherish...”
Cameron Johnson ’03 CAMERON JOHNSON ’03
I realized, okay cool, so what I’ve been trying to write like is other people, and what I need to be doing is write like me.”

Dear Head-Royce Alumni

This fall I was lucky enough to interview Rachel E. Skiffer, our new Head of School, for the alumni podcast Head-Royce Voices. From her history as a practicing lawyer to working in Admissions to heading a true startup of a school, the stories she shared show a lifelong commitment to the School’s tenets: scholarship, diversity and citizenship. Ms. Skiffer is uniquely positioned as an independent school alum and a Bay Area native to helm our alma mater.

When asked to put into words her first 125 days at the school and her hope for alumni, Ms. Skiffer described, “Every nook and cranny of this place brings a sense of joy. Not that every day is sunshine and lollipops, but I do take seriously my responsibility for creating an educational experience that will continue to prepare Head-Royce alums for whatever their path is.”

The desire to provide the resources and programming necessary for today’s world is echoed in the Alumni Council’s work this year. As outlined in the Alumni Council Strategic Plan, all Council programming is centered on belonging, equity, humility, significance and accountability. To that end, we are proud of a brand new program launched to connect students directly to the Alumni Council—the Student-Alumni Ambassador Team. Juniors and seniors applied to join the team, ready to share firsthand accounts of life at Head-Royce today. At the first two meetings of the year, they spoke directly with the council members, asking questions about the year’s programs and giving input into where more alumni involvement would be beneficial for students.

Opening up to a wider array of possible programs through these student-alumni conversations can only benefit our alumni community further. Ms. Skiffer shared a similar sentiment when asked about advice for her 18-year-old-self: “As you go forth into the next step of your journey, do what you love, find what you love…think more about what is possible beyond the little world you planned for.”

All of the alumni programming this year—from the holiday party to the panel around Diversity and Representation in Hollywood to our annual Adulting 101 program for students—focuses on learning from and celebrating the varied experiences of our alumni community. I look forward to seeing you at a future event to hear your stories!

In gratitude,

Camden Louie ’08

ALUMNI EVENTS

ALUMNI EAST COAST EVENTSOCTOBER 9 - 11, 2022

Last October, Rachel Skiffer, Coach Mike Talps (who retired after 42 years at HRS) and Alumni Director, Julie Kim-Beal, visited with alumni in Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C.

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LETTER FROM THE
ALUMNI
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Alumni Council President and Trustee
YOU CAN: GO MOBILE: JOIN THE HEAD-ROYCE ONLINE ALUMNI COMMUNITY! headroycealumni.org Find or be a: • Mentor • Resource Find or offer: • Career advice • Résumé advice • Industry connections • Internships Apple Store Graduway Community app Enter Head-Royce School when prompted Google Play Head-Royce/Graduway app Enter Head-Royce School when prompted QUESTIONS? Contact Julie Kim-Beal | jkimbeal@headroyce.org ACTIVATE YOUR ACCOUNT: Gain access to the community by visiting headroycealumni.org. Activate your account using your email address or Google, Facebook or LinkedIn credentials. UPDATE YOUR PROFILE AND ACCOUNT SETTINGS: Update your contact information and preferences in the directory in realtime. START CONNECTING: Search for alumni and start connecting.
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44 | WINTER 2023 HRS ALUMNI Reconnect! April 28-29, 2023 Alumni Weekend 10th Reunions 2012 and 2013 50th Reunions 1972 and 1973 25th Reunions 1997 and 1998 All Alumni Welcome Look for your invitation in March! Meet New Head of School, Rachel E. Skiffer | FADE Student Dance Performance Classroom Tours | Reunion Luncheon | Affinity Group Gatherings | Alumni Awards | ...And more! and Reunion ALUMNI Head-Royce Alumni Socials @headroycealumni www.linkedin.com/ groups/74376/ Group Link www.facebook.com/ groups/129215456861 Page Link www.facebook.com/ HRSAlumni STAY CONNECTED

HEAD OF SCHOOL’S ANNUAL STATE-OFTHE-SCHOOL DINNER

NOVEMBER 2, 2022

The School hosted the annual State-of-the-School Dinner for parents of alumni, former trustees and past professional community members where they had the opportunity to meet and hear from Rachel Skiffer as well as reconnect with each other.

INTRODUCING

Head-Royce Voices, our new alumni-focused podcast series. Each episode focuses on topics and people in the HRS Community.

ALUMNI WEBINAR: DIVERSITY AND REPRESENTATION IN HOLLYWOOD - NOVEMBER 29, 2022

The School hosted an alumni webinar panel discussion about diversity, race and intersectionality in the entertainment industry with alumni working in the field. Attendees heard from Dan Wu ’92, Cameron Johnson ’03 and Krista Marie Yu ’06. The panel was moderated by entertainment writer Olivia Truffaut-Wong ’09 and faculty member Andy Spear. Miss the webinar? It’s also available as part of our podcast series, Head-Royce Voices!

Talking with Talps

An interview with newly retired Coach Mike Talps

Meet Rachel E. Skiffer Alumni Council President Camden Louie ‘08 talks with our new Head of School

Diversity and Representation in Hollywood

A candid discussion with industry insiders Dan Wu ‘92, Cameron Johnson ‘03, Krista Marie Yu ‘06, Olivia Truffaut-Wong ‘09 and faculty member Andy Spear

New episodes added regularly. Use the QR code to access the podcast!

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ALUMNI HOLIDAY PARTYDECEMBER 21, 2022

Local and alumni home for the holidays came together to reconnect at the annual Alumni Holiday Party back in person for the first time since the pandemic! They gathered at Oakstop, a coworking space founded by Trevor Parham ’01 and enjoyed food by Andrew Snow’s ’00 The Golden Squirrel Pub and Eva Allen’s ’12 Full Belly Bakery. HRS parent and Oakland entrepreneur Aminah Robinson (Chef Mimi) provided beverages from some of Oakland’s best Black-owned wineries and breweries. DJ E.T. Hazzard ’01 played fantastic music all night long.

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the leap. What began as a two-year program at OUSD’s Futures Elementary School, turned into five and then ultimately to her current role as a Kindergarten and Transitional-Kindergarten teacher at Achieve Academy, an Education for Change School, in Oakland’s Fruitvale neighborhood.

Monica loves teaching kindergarten. She refers to it as being in a ‘flow state,’ where time flies by because of the energy and activity of the students and the classroom. She also appreciates the connections she forms with her students and their families—that families are such a big part of the kindergarten experience.

But a key passion of Monica’s is her focus on early childhood literacy and reading. When she saw that the existing literacy curriculum was not effective, she lobbied to pilot a different research-based reading approach from the Center for the Collaborative Classroom called “Being a Reader”…and that’s where her Head-Royce connections have also played a major part.

During the pandemic and the sudden shift to online instruction, Monica worked with several independent schools in the Bay Area to provide daily one-to-one remote tutoring between high school students and her kindergartners in this systematic phonics-based reading instruction program, working on encoding, decoding, blending, segmenting and building fluency. She brought the students together on Zoom and then partnered them with each other in breakout rooms. But aside from the academic instruction that the kindergartners received, Monica also witnessed firsthand the incredible joy that peer teaching can bring to all participants.

Five years after graduating, Monica Valerian ’04 foretold the future. In an Alumni Note submitted for the Spring 2009 issue of the Head-Royce magazine, she predicted a partnership to come, nearly 14 years before it began.

At the time, she had just started teaching Kindergarten at Futures Elementary School through the Teach for America program, just a few miles from Head-Royce. In her note she shared, “It is my hope to forge a mutually beneficial relationship between our school communities. I know that students at Futures have much to gain from exposure to selfmotivated and academically driven students, while students at HeadRoyce would learn so much about the greater Oakland community and the achievement gap by spending time at Futures. There are many volunteer leadership positions with opportunities to tutor and mentor

at Futures just waiting to be filled by eager Head-Royce students!”

Today, her hope has become a reality, and in meaningful and incredibly impactful ways, as shown in the magazine’s “Not Just a School in Oakland” article.

In retrospect, it seemed that there were many signs along the way directing Monica to a future in teaching and her work in early childhood literacy.

Originally, upon graduation from Head-Royce and acceptance to UC Davis, she had entertained the notion of becoming a lawyer, but teaching had always been in the background. Her mother had been a preschool

teacher for many years and even her HRS senior project was as a teacher’s aide at Carl Munck Elementary School in Oakland. She also recalls the deep impression that HRS teachers like Peter Reinke had made on her. “He stood out as a person [who] cared and was passionate about the subject that he taught. But he also took the time to connect with students, find out what was going on in their home lives.”

So after college, when she found herself traveling in China during the 2008 Beijing Olympics, she met an athlete (an American silver medalist in fencing, no less) who suggested that she apply for Teach for America in Oakland, and she took

She lights up visibly when she talks about the partnership that she has helped form between Achieve and Head-Royce, through the Center for Community Engagement run by Nancy Feidelman. What began as a creative solution during the pandemic has formed into a long-lasting symbiotic relationship between the students at both schools that continues to take place, now in-person.

Both the curriculum and the peer tutoring were critical elements in an approach that resulted in an unheard of 90% at- or above-grade level reading ability in a district where the classroom average is considerably lower.

Throughout the process, Monica has been duly impressed by what she has observed in the Head-Royce students. She points out their ability to easily connect with her kindergarteners, the natural joy and energy they bring, the mature organizing and coordination by former and current student leaders like Sidney Shah ’21 and Amelia P. ’23 and even the way that HRS students interact with each other, with camaraderie and respect.

Monica acknowledges the realities and difficulties in the profession of teaching, as noted by the many teachers who have left the profession in recent years. But she is deeply motivated

by her hope and desire to increase literacy in young children. She feels that they have a proven roadmap and the challenge is to now spread that to other classrooms, beginning with training and supporting new teachers. Monica’s passion, drive and love for teaching are evident to anyone who speaks with her or observes her in action—to a point of being contagious—which is exactly what she hopes will happen to many of the student volunteers who partner with her classroom. Like her former teacher Peter Reinke, she is well on her way to inspiring a new generation of teachers.

50 WINTER 2023 HRS ALUMNI
ALUMNI PROFILE
MONICA
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VALERIAN ’04
She refers to it as being in a ‘flow state,’ where time flies by because of the energy and activity of the students and the classroom.

ALUMNI NOTES

CLASS OF 1972

CLASS OF 1972 50TH REUNION AT ASILOMAR - SEPTEMBER 2022

They always say—those people in their 80s, 90s, 100s—that the years may pass, but you never really change. This truism never proved more true than when, after 50 years, graduates of the Anna Head School (AHS), class of 1972, assembled at Asilomar in Monterey to celebrate, marvel and delight in how, after five decades, nobody really had changed. Oh, there might have been adjustments in names, addresses, marital status, career, style or hair color; there might have been more wisdom, less drama, good times, bad times, triumphs, trials and all manner of experiences in that joy called life. But we—the girls who wore knee-high socks and saddle shoes (saddle shoes!)— to school in ’72 were the same. The smart ones were still smart, the cute ones still cute. The hell-raisers, fun-lovers,

sporty sorts, teachers’ pets—yep, the same. Albeit at age 68 these traits had coalesced into a group of warm and wonderful women who not only loved to see one another for a seaside weekend of eating at swanky restaurants, walking the white-sand beach and downwarddogging in a private yoga class offered by one of their own; but they also rekindled their high-school talent so irritating to teachers – their particular gift, really, of laughing and talking, talking, talking like there was no tomorrow. In two days, there was quite a lot of catching up to accomplish. Yes, all the eating and chatting and laughing may have felt like your basic day at AHS—at recess on the patio, perhaps, or after a synchronized swimming session in the pool (synchronized swimming!)— your basic day, that is, before the boys arrived our senior year in the School’s transition to Head-Royce. The happy

BRETT HOLLIDAY ’75 generously hosted a recent October weekend at her family cabin near Yosemite National Park. A small group of ’75 alumni reunited to enjoy an exceptional time together recounting memorable stories, yearbook nostalgia and delicious culinary delights. They delighted in spectacular vistas and a beautiful hike together in Yosemite Valley.

CLASS OF 1975

Pictured here (L-R): Jonathan Lewis (Betsy’s husband), Wally Smith, Cheryl Harrison, Betsy Armour, Brett Holliday, Laurie Anderson Smith and Peggy Sweetland

ELIZABETH WEITZEN ’04

Elizabeth recently participated in his year’s College Mock Interview program for the Class of 2023 seniors applying to schools this fall. “I really love this program. It makes me feel so much more connected to the school community and is a way I can give back...it’s a joy to chat with these super smart, interesting students. Thank you for including me again this year!”

camaraderie, the friendly sisterhood, the deep and shared understanding that our Anna Head days had prepped us beautifully and well for lives of success and helped cultivate a certain… well, respect, even reverence, for the women we had become: it was all there as we enjoyed Asilomar, Julia Morgan’s celebrated sprawling, shingled retreat that felt very summer-camp-in-theBerkshires. In fact, when the class of ’ 72 last gathered for similar fun, feasting and frivolity at our 40th reunion weekend in Bolinas – that was merely a sneak peek into how, really, it’s now a thing: we Anna Head girls, we Anna Head women, so love a good time in the company of one another—even after 50 years—that we can’t wait until our next playdate at the beach of Pajaro Dunes, already planned for 2025. And that, like us, is not expected to change.

YUJI WINET ’08

Yuji shared that he was recently appointed Assistant Professor of Marketing at Duke University. He received his PhD from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business and has already published a number of studies in the American Psychological Association’s Journal of Personality and Social Psychology: Interpersonal Relations and Group Processes.

Congratulations to Jeanne Alvis ’78

who, after 20 years at The Claremont—the last seven of which as concierge, was awarded Employee of the Year! She shares, “It’s an honor and a lovely validation that I am where I am supposed to be. I would not have originally said anything but thanks to Peter Smith ’78...he caught me over at the Claremont Hotel right after my win and has compelled me to share.

P.S. We saber a bottle of bubbles each day at 5:00 pm. All are invited. If you come by Wednesdays through Sundays I will be wielding the saber!”

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Front row L-R: Sarah Bryan, Carla Nordstrom, Kitty Agegian, Patty Weyand, Cynthia Weaver Back row L-R: Sue Germaine Granger, Carolyn Sharon, Colette O’Connor, Melinda Lindy Griffin, Wendy Sesnon, Janis Schilling
53 ALUMNI

WILL GLASER ’83

Alumnus Will Glaser ’83 spoke to the US students this past October during National Dyslexia Awareness Month about his experience as the founder of Pandora and his current company, Grabango. He shared how his dyslexia turned out to be a great asset in his journey as a tech entrepreneur.

MATTHEW FAHEY ’04

Long-time beloved faculty member and mom of Sarah ’98, Jackie ’02, Matthew ’04 and Bob ’08, Mary Fahey is pictured here with her youngest granddaughter, Presley James Fahey, daughter of Matthew and Jenn Fahey.

CELESTE DODGE ’97

Celeste writes: “Five years ago, I quit drinking. I was so overwhelmed and overworked—desperately trying to stay above water as a working mom who felt like she was being held together by string and scotch tape.

We live at a time where overwhelmed mothers are applauded instead of supported. I realized no one was coming to save me. I had to learn how to swim or I was going to sink. So I wrote a book on how I ‘learned to swim,’ entitled ‘It’s Not About The Wine.’

I’m so excited to share the cover and to announce that the pre-order is now available on Amazon and the book comes out September 12, 2023.”

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from the Midwest who was stationed in southern California. Before they married, Mona joined her parents in Portland and worked at the Volunteer Bureau and joined the Junior League. They were married in Berkeley in 1946 and settled in the Chicago area to raise their children and introduce them to art, music and the church. They enjoyed exploring the Midwest together and traveled to Lake Tahoe every summer.

Memoriam

DIANA O’HEHIR ’39

Poet, novelist and teacher Diana O’Hehir, an important member

of the Bay Area’s literary community, passed away January 19, 2022 at her home in a San Francisco senior residence after a brief illness. She was 98. She taught English and creative writing at Mills College in Oakland for many years and was the author of at least nine collections of poetry and five novels—the first of which, “I Wish This War Were Over,” was a Pulitzer nominee in 1984.

Born Diana Farnham in Virginia in 1922, she came west at age one and spent her formative years in Berkeley. She attended UC Berkeley but did not graduate, leaving to spend several years in Washington, D.C., as a labor organizer and political activist, where she met Mel Fiske, who became her first husband (and, in fact, later her third husband.) After they parted in the

early 1950s, she enrolled in graduate school at Johns Hopkins, returning to Berkeley in 1958 after marrying the Irish scholar Brendan O’Hehir.

She joined the faculty at Mills College in 1961 and taught there until 1993, eventually earning a PhD from Johns Hopkins in 1970 (although she never completed an undergraduate degree). She began publishing poetry in journals in the early 1970s and her first of many collections, “Summoned,” won the Nevins Award in 1975. After the end of her second marriage, she met Mel Fiske again in the late ’80s. They reunited and eventually remarried, spending more than 20 years together living in the East Bay, San Francisco and Marin. After his death in 2008, she moved to a San Francisco senior residence, where she continued to write poetry and a personal memoir into the last weeks of her life. She is survived by her sons, Michael Fiske of Vacaville and Andrew O’Hehir of New York City, three grandchildren, a large extended family and innumerable friends, colleagues, readers and former students.

Mona Brett passed away peacefully in Sandy, Oregon on Wednesday, November 23, 2022. She was born in Oakland, California, to parents Frederic F. Janney and Esther Janney (Witter). Growing up in Berkeley, Mona attended Anna Head School and UC Berkeley and then graduated from Scripps College. As a young girl, the family began traveling to Lake Tahoe every summer to camp at Tahoe Meadows, a family tradition that continued for her until just last summer. During her teen years, Four Winds summer camp on Orcas Island in Washington was a very special place for Mona and her younger sister Mary. One of her favorite memories was traveling with a small group of Four Winds girls to Europe in the months while WWII was breaking out.

Before America joined the war, Mona met Willis H. Brett, a naval aviator

In 1969 the family moved to Portland, where Mona became a member of the Colonial Dames, Portland Garden Club, The Town Club and Trinity Cathedral. Additionally, Mona very much enjoyed her partnership in the needlepoint and yarn store, Flying Colours. In May, 2022 Mona’s entire family along with many friends joyously celebrated her 100th birthday with her.

Mona is survived by daughters, Mary Lee (Richard) of New Haven, Connecticut, Susan Herod of Orland, California, son, Bill (Pam) of Sandy, Oregon, four grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren. Her husband Willis and sister Mary Janney Huisman preceded her in death. The family would like to thank the caregivers at Avamere Sandy for their compassionate care while she was living there. A memorial celebration will be held at a later date. Donations may be made to the League to Save Lake Tahoe or The Friends of the Columbia Gorge.

DIANNE MCDONNELL ’46

Dianne “Denie” Reinle McDonnell, 94, passed away peacefully at home in Pajaro Dunes on November 7, 2022. Denie was born in Oakland, California on March 13, 1928 to Dr. George G. and Evelyn Kane Reinle, the youngest of two daughters. She attended Our Lady of Lourdes, Anna Heads School for Girls, Piedmont High and Stanford University, graduating from Stanford in 1949, with a BA in Chinese.

While at Stanford she met the love of her life, George P. “Pat” McDonnell in a Chinese language class; Pat because he already spoke the language and would get an “A”, and Denie because

she wanted a challenge. They were married on September 6, 1952. Denie and Pat welcomed their first child, Tim in 1953, followed by Mary, Peter and Julie. Denie and Pat built their home in Ladera in 1955, (now part of Portola Valley) where they raised their children until 1982, when they moved full time to their beach house at Pajaro Dunes.

While living in Ladera, Denie was active in her children’s schooling and sports activities and volunteered at Allied Arts in Menlo Park. She joined the working world in the early 70’s, working for Bank of America for 10 years. She was also very active in her parish, Our Lady of the Wayside, teaching catechism and serving as president of the parish council in the late ’70’s. While living in Pajaro, she worked for C&N Tractors for more than eight years, joined PEO, played tennis, did ballet, was part of a Mahjong club, a quilting club, a knitting club, served on the board of the Pajaro Valley Arts Council and for many years was on the Pajaro Dunes Landscape Committee. Denie was a great seamstress, knitter and quilter, creating pieces her family will enjoy and cherish for generations to come.

Denie loved to travel with friends and family, enjoying trips to London, Ireland, Palm Desert, the Napa Valley, “The Islands” (Hawaii) and Lake Tahoe, among other destinations. One of the last and most memorable trips with Pat before he died was to China where he was born and raised. She also enjoyed, for many years, monthly luncheons and the annual Christmas party with the “dirty dozen,” her group from Piedmont High. She will be missed by all her friends and family. Denie was predeceased in death by her parents, sister Barbara, husband Pat and daughter Mary. She is survived by her sons Tim (Maggie), Peter (Reneé), daughter Julie (John), eight grandchildren (Kelly, Michael, Erin, Patrick, Shea, Bray, Lauren and Katherine, each of whom will sorely miss Grandma Denie’s waffles), and one great grandchild (Millie). The family wants to thank Denie’s exceptional caregivers, Vera, Maria, Nuria and especially Molly Pesquiera. In lieu of

flowers, donations may be sent to the Pajaro Valley Arts Council or a charity of your choice.

MYRA MAY MOSSMAN BROCCHINI ’50

Myra May Mossman Brocchini was born July 26, 1932, in Palo Alto, California and died peacefully February 15, 2022, at the age of 89 in Sacramento, California as a result of complications from cancer. She is preceded in death by her parents Ralph Westbrooke Mossman and Kathryn Button Mossman, her sister Deborah Mossman Noble and husband of 65 years Ronald Gene Brocchini. Myra is survived by her son Christopher Ronald Brocchini, daughter-in-law Theresa Lynn Brocchini and grandsons Alexander Santi Brocchini and Samuel Enzo Brocchini.

Myra was a gracious, affable host to all but particularly enjoyed the spirit of young people. Myra cherished her relationships with grandsons Alex and Sam. Myra cared for many years for her husband, Ron who suffered from dementia. She was a tough cookie surviving and recovering from a stroke, broken hip, subdural hematoma, multiple skin graphs and eye surgery. Her love of life, family, friends, clients and anything Cal buoyed her daily. She adored her zebra finches, the neighborhood squirrels and the family rabbit, Morris Gull.

Myra earned a BA in architecture in 1955 and MA in architecture in 1956 from UC Berkeley. At Cal, she was awarded the Gold Medal for Design in 1954 and Chi Alpha Kappa Medal for Design in 1955. Myra became a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects in 1997. She received an Alumni Citation and Bear of the Year award from UC Berkeley in the late 1980s. Myra served on the UC Berkeley’s Art Museum Council Executive Board from 1982–1989. She served as a grader and exam author for National Council of Architectural

56 WINTER 2023 HRS ALUMNI
MONA JANNEY BRETT ’40
IN WINTER 2023 HRS 57 ALUMNI

Registration Boards between 1980–1991 and the California State Board of Architectural Examiners between 1980–1992. Myra was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Head-Royce School from 1981–1990. She received the Distinguished Alumna medal from the Head-Royce School in 1983.

Myra designed over 100 residences in the Bay Area; she received the Architectural Record Award of Excellence for the Provost Residence at UC Santa Cruz and other awards from the AIA, “Sunset Magazine, House Beautiful, House and Garden, Architecture + Urbanism, Home for Leisure Living, and House and Home”. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Keep Tahoe Blue in memory of Myra.

HARRIET

WHITMAN LEE ’50

Harriet Whitman

Lee, an attorney for over 50 years, mediator, facilitator, educator and trainer, passed away peacefully at home, July 26, 2022. She was born Harriet Lee Whitman on July 20, 1932 in HannibalMissouri to Gertrude B. and Frederic B. Whitman, and had an older brother, Russell A. Whitman, who died in 2016. Harriet’s father worked for the railroad, and the family moved several times before settling in Oakland, California where Harriet attended Anna Head School, graduating in the class of 1950. She then studied at Middlebury, Vermont, followed by UC Berkeley where she got her undergraduate degree and Boalt Hall where she got her Juris Doctorate. She was admitted to the bar in 1957. Her early law work included the McCutchen firm and Continuing Education of the Bar. She married Edward C. Thayer in 1956 and they had two daughters, Lisa B. Thayer and Nina B. Thayer.

In 1971, her “year of no fun,” Harriet’s father had a stroke and was paralyzed from the waist down, the family home burned and her marriage ended in

divorce. A more positive development was the beginning of her directing attorney position at Consumers’ Group Legal Services, a member-owned non-profit which offered pre-paid legal services through the Co-op to help those with less income afford legal advice and representation.

While her own divorce was amicable, she recognized that divorcing couples often have emotional as well as legal issues to work through and thus started Family Law Counseling Services in 1979 to bridge that gap. She also became involved in community mediation, working on multi-issue, multi-party disputes. She was a founder, member and served on the board of the organization now known as ADRNC, Alternative Dispute Resolution of Northern California, and was on the task force to create—and served as a volunteer and trainer for—the non-profit now known as SEEDS. ADRNC created an award in her name, the Harriet Whitman Lee award, and also honored her with the President’s Award. She served as a team trainer for conflict resolution workshops for the employees of city of Berkeley, city of Berkeley Police Review Commission, Berkeley Recreation and Parks Department and Vista College, among others. She also served on law school faculties and taught mediation, negotiations and related courses in several Bay Area law schools as well as at the community college level.

When her daughter Lisa was killed in 2008 by a stray bullet in a street shooting, Harriet shifted her focus to restorative justice, volunteering with Insight Prison Project and the Victim Offender Education Group, Next Step, going into San Quentin to work with the men in blue on accountability. She conducted a correspondence and met with her daughter’s killer.

Harriet maintained an optimistic outlook on life and had a great sense of humor. She was an avid theater-goer and an enthusiastic fan of daughter Nina’s whaleboat rowing team. She loved water and animals and a good time, and was highly creative in several

areas. She played guitar, was a member of a folk song group and made it a point to learn songs in different languages. She put together collages, made paper bead necklaces, added colorful patches to her clothes and created her own Christmas cards and wrapping paper. She also wrote poems and would often compose verses for people’s birthdays or other special occasions. A friend and mentor to many people, Harriet was a model for feeling and expressing gratitude, and always tried to love and be loved and encourage others to do the same. She will be missed. She is survived by her daughter Nina B. Thayer.

NAOMI ARLEENE RUMIANO SEEGER ’50

Born on October 16, 1931, to John and Rose Rumiano, Naomi and her younger sister Ruth grew up in a small northern California town where her father worked with his brothers in the family’s dairy and cheese business. Gatherings of family, friends and food were the themes of early life.

Naomi’s high school years were spent as a boarder at the Anna Head School for Girls. She remained friends with many of her classmates and recently shared a memorable and delightful weekend with them celebrating their 65th reunion. She went on to attend Katherine Gibbs College in Boston, Massachusetts. While living in Boston she met her first husband, Fred Boyce, with whom she had a daughter. When her marriage ended in divorce she returned to California and began her career at Stanford University in the Graduate School of Education, where she remained until her retirement. An administrator in the program, her students credit her with being the heart of their experience there—she remained lifelong friends with many of them. After her retirement she volunteered at her local library.

Naomi met the love of her life, Charles L. Seeger III, when he moved downstairs from her and she reveled in the expansion of her family to include his three sons, two daughters, five grandchildren, three sisters, three brothers, nieces, nephews and all the rest of his large family. She was later delighted to welcome nine great-grandchildren. Her family and friends were the focus of her life. She was a skilled and engaging writer, enthusiastic traveler, avid reader, marvelous cook and best party thrower.

She never showed up empty handed, and her holiday cookie plates were legendary. For as long as she was able, she sent a card for every birthday and anniversary to everyone in the large extended family she created all through her life. She loved to plan fabulous trips and excursions to share with those she loved. She made ordinary days into celebrations, and celebrations into extraordinary events. We will be forever inspired by Naomi’s joyful approach to life, her devotion

to her family and friends and the buoyant sense of humor with which she approached her ever increasing array of medical challenges later in life.

She was preceded in death by her mother Rose, father John, sister Ruth Rumiano and husband Charles. She is survived by her daughters, sons, their families and a grateful clan of extended family. We know she stayed as long as she could. A celebration of her life will be held in the spring of 2023.

Naomi Arleene Seeger, after a long and passionate journey of a life, and having proudly achieved her goal of reaching her 90th birthday the previous fall, passed away peacefully at home on June 20, 2022.

PATRICIA JOANNE SHEAFF GIMBER ’71

We are deeply saddened to announce the passing of Patricia JoAnne Sheaff Gimber. Patti was born on April 21, 1953, in Oakland, California and died at the age of 69 on October 11, 2022, in Roseville, California.

Patti was a Rainbow Girl, a ballet dancer who could choreograph her own solos, a graduate of Head-Royce School (class of ’71), a member of San

Diego State University’s Madrigals from 1971-72, and a member of the Oakland Symphony Chorus from 1973-74. She completed an AA degree in Music from the College of Alameda in ’74.

Patti began a lifelong adventure with D. Gregory Gimber III on October 21, 1978. She was a loving mother, who had the toughest job of homemaker to a house full of boys. Our home was always full of music that she would either sing, play for us on the piano or crank up full blast on her stereo. Patti was widowed on December 8, 2011, but always kept her wedding ring on. She was a devoted daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, mother and grandmother.

Patti passed away peacefully, surrounded by her loved ones after complications from myotonic muscular dystrophy. She is survived by her two sons, Christopher (Jennifer) and Matthew Gimber; grandchildren, Zachary and Connor Gimber; sister Mary (John) Accacian, and brothers Bill (Linda) Sheaff and Brian (Cynthia) Sheaff. The funeral will be a private ceremony with only close friends and family members present. In lieu of flowers, please feel free to make a donation in her name to: Head-Royce School or to any charity of your choice.

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WINTER 2023 HRS 59
Contents 16 GETTING TO KNOW FEATURES LANGUAGES WINTER 2023 HRS 61 Save the Date SATURDAY, APRIL 1, 2023 5:00–9:00 PM Save the Date for an evening of fun at the Spring Celebration... complete with live music, delicious food and an opportunity to bid on fabulous items and experiences! 60 WINTER 2023 HRS FLASHBACK TO 2011 SPRING MUSICAL WIZARD OF OZ
THURGOOD MARSHALL
In recognizing the humanity of our fellow beings we pay ourselves the highest tribute.

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Articles inside

Memoriam

11min
pages 29-31

ALUMNI NOTES

4min
pages 27-29

Camden Louie ’08

5min
pages 22-26

Dear Head-Royce Alumni

1min
page 22

Diversity and Representation in Hollywood

5min
pages 20-21

South Campus Update

1min
page 19

Head-Royce School in Oakland Not Just a

8min
pages 16-18

the frame

1min
page 15

on World Languages

4min
pages 13-15

Rachel E.Skiffer

13min
pages 9-12

A Warm Welcome for our New Head of School

1min
pages 8-9

Happenings

1min
pages 6-7

Memoriam

11min
pages 29-31

ALUMNI NOTES

4min
pages 27-29

Camden Louie ’08

5min
pages 22-26

Dear Head-Royce Alumni

1min
page 22

Diversity and Representation in Hollywood

5min
pages 20-21

South Campus Update

1min
page 19

Head-Royce School in Oakland Not Just a

8min
pages 16-18

the frame

1min
page 15

on World Languages

4min
pages 13-15

Rachel E.Skiffer

13min
pages 9-12

A Warm Welcome for our New Head of School

1min
pages 8-9

Happenings

1min
pages 6-7
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