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Alumni Journal 2014

Table of Contents

22 FEATURES 10 14


Celebrating 15 Years at Yosemite Learning Through Service


Learning on Location: Middle Schoolers in China


Tethering University Talent with Global Urgency By Cameron Hempstead (‘05)

Community and 28 Finding Myself in Ecuador By Bennett Shaw (‘11)

Hillbrook School ALUMNI JOURNAL

Spring 2014




4 6 8 32 34 38 40 41 42

Leaving the Classroom: Lynn Easton


Letter from the Director of Alumni Relations

Letter from the Head of School Q & A with Sara Lee This Year (so far) at Hillbrook Upward Bound Class Notes Memories of Hillbrook: Russ Mitchell (‘82) Memories of Hillbrook: John Runcie (‘62) From Chef’s Kitchen

A journal for the alumni community of Hillbrook School, Los Gatos, California. Head of School: Mark Silver Assoc. Head of Institutional Advancement: Tesha Poe Head of Middle School: Joe Connolly Head of Lower School: Stephanie Deitz Chief Financial Officer: Judy Parks Director Technology: Don Orth Director of Annual Giving & Alumni Relations: Karen Brein Director of Communications: Megan Stevens Interim Director of Communications: Juliana Findlay Photography provided by Greg Stamos, Juliana Findlay, or Megan Stevens unless otherwise noted. Layout and design by Megan Stevens This journal is published by Hillbrook School. Every effort is made to avoid errors, misspellings, and omissions. If, however, an error comes to your attention, please accept our apologies and notify us. Thank you. Hillbrook School 300 Marchmont Dr. Los Gatos, CA 95032 Phone: 408-356-6116 Email: Web: 2013-2014 Board Members Board President: Chuck Hammers Vice-President: Fiona Greene Secretary: Christine Kennedy Chair, Finance Committee: Tom Archer Chair, Advancement : Nancy Yu Trustees Steve Benjamin Tom Edsall Andrea Edwards Mark French Chuck Geiger Vlado Herman

Beth Hobbs Michael Mulcahy Sonia Sangster Brian Underwood Issac Vaughn Richard Williamson

Sound the Horn! Make sure you get the latest Hillbrook News. Like us on Facebook and keep your contact info current at

Letter from the

Head of School Recently at Flag, a few of our 6th graders surprised the community by bringing a treat for each person sitting on the pavers first thing on Monday morning. Over 400 homemade pancakes were passed out, a wonderfully spontaneous and random act of kindness that had all of us smiling as we headed off at the start of the week. While a small gesture, the decision to spend all-day Sunday making pancakes for the entire school reflected an ethos that I believe has always been at the heart of the Hillbrook experience—reaching beyond oneself to make a difference in the world.

This edition of our alumni magazine is focused on service learning both at Hillbrook and beyond. In these pages, you’ll read an article by Service Learning Coordinator Eden Maisel, who describes the many different types of service learning projects happening at the school. Examples include a yearlong study of disabilities by our 3rd graders, a multi-year partnership with the African Library Project coordinated by our 6th graders that has already led to the creation of five libraries in Africa and promises at least one more this year, and monthly off-campus service trips with our 7th and 8th graders that introduce them to a variety of different service opportunities and open their eyes to how they can engage in service programs both inside and outside school. You’ll also read first-person accounts from two of our alumni about global adventures that they have undertaken that combine travel, exploration, and service. Bennett Shaw, class of 2010 and a current junior at Bellarmine College Preparatory, recounts his summer journey to Tigua Ugshaloma Grande a tiny, indigenous community 12,500 feet above sea level in Ecuador. Bennett describes this life-changing experience in moving detail, as he offers a challenge to his fellow Hillbrook alumni to take a risk and push themselves well outside their comfort zone. Cameron Hempstead, class of 2005 and in her final year as an architecture student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, describes her senior thesis, a project to design a community complex in Bukhubalo, Uganda. This inspiring project envisions a complex that will support education, health care and cultural enrichment in this remote, equatorial community. As part of her project, Cameron has spent time in Uganda learning more about the people and their needs, enabling her to capture some extraordinary photos that are also included along with the story. Bennet’s story also includes some impressive photos of his experience. Both Bennett and Cameron provide shining examples of how our graduates are engaging in meaningful service on a global level. One of my great joys each year is the opportunity to reconnect with alumni and alumni families as they return to campus. I hope you will join our community on Friday, May 9th for this year’s alumni celebration. During

5 the last few years, we have created a new tradition at the alumni celebration by honoring a former teacher as part of the festivities. Three years ago we honored Peggy McNutt and Charlene Douglass, two years ago we honored Al Gates, last year we honored Dick Casserley, and this year we are excited to announce that we are honoring legendary first-grade teacher Lynn Easton, who will be transitioning out of the classroom at the end of this school year. Read more about Lynn and her extraordinary career at Hillbrook in this issue. Whenever you next walk onto the campus, I encourage you to pay attention to a new set of historical signs that have been placed around campus by school historian and PE teacher Paul DiMarco. Paul captures the early history of the school through a series of plaques, highlighting the history of buildings like the water tower and the woodshop, identifying the location of the original gates over in the JK-2 playground area, and telling the story of important structures like the Village of Friendly Relations. Paul’s passion for history continues to resonate with people throughout the community. In fact, stories of the Village have inspired a group of 7th grade girls to begin designing a new addition to the Village of Friendly Relations. These ambitious young women, working with the support of middle school science teacher and MakeSpace Coordinator Christa Flores, are looking to build upon the founder’s early vision by developing a new house that will reflect today’s world. Just like the original students who traveled into downtown Los Gatos to receive a loan from the bank and to purchase supplies, today’s students are taking full responsibility for the design and building of this structure, actively seeking the support of professionals such as architects and contractors to guide them through the process. They hope to launch the project this summer during a Builder’s Boot Camp, a one or two-week camp that will be open to our Middle School students. These young women are experiencing something that has been at the heart of a Hillbrook education since our earliest days. True to our founder’s vision, we continue to challenge our students to engage in real-world problem solving activities that inspire them to reach beyond themselves to make a difference at Hillbrook and beyond. Back in the late 1930s, Mary Orem wrote a letter in which she described her vision for the Village of Friendly Relations. In a line that has always resonated with me, she describes the concept at the core of the project, “Our password is Friendliness, our weapon is Reason and our goal is to develop leaders for Peace.” In an increasingly interconnected and complex world, we strive today to continue to meet this goal—the creation of leaders for peace. It is an audacious goal. We wouldn’t want it any other way. Mark Silver, Ph.D. Head of School


With Sara Lee

Q: A:

Sara, you’ve been teaching at Hillbrook for 15 years—thinking back to your earliest days, what was your first year on campus like?

I had to keep pinching myself to make sure it wasn’t a dream. I had just moved from the crazy hot desert in Arizona to the beautiful sunny Bay Area. The school in Arizona where I had taught was one huge building with fields of concrete outside. Whenever my students and I needed to walk to a different part of the building, our voices had to be silent since all the classrooms were inside. At Hillbrook, it’s a fairytale campus with trees to climb, grass to roll in and lots of space to run from class to class. I still pinch myself whenever I pass Persimmon and hear children’s singing voices or the beating of drums or strumming of guitars in the rock band!

Q: A:

I ’m sure you’ve seen lots of interesting things happen around campus while you’ve been here, what is one of your funniest memories?

Q: A:

Your classroom is one of the most magical places on campus. The current theme is a sky, complete with stars. Did you have a theme before this one?

Q: A:

Thanks for taking the time to share with us. Is there any advice you’d like to give to alumni and future alumni?

I love the Talent Show and the jokes during Flag Raising. Risk taking is a hallmark of Hillbrook and to watch students of every age getting in front of the whole school to share something that brings them pride is so special. The students know that mistakes are embraced and this frees them up to take risks, to be in front of a huge audience and to share something in a caring environment. Hillbrook really prepares our students to be leaders in any venue.

I ’ll never forget when one of my students came running into the classroom at recess. There were so many tears that I thought we might need an ambulance. After a few breaths, my student cried, “My brother just called me the “S” word. “Oh no,” I thought. Should I ask what the “S” word was or just try to calm my student down. I braced myself. “What did your brother call you?” I asked. The student replied, “He said, ‘You are a BIG Silly Billy!’” Whew!

To learn the most, students need an environment that sparks wonder and curiosity. They need to be encouraged to reach beyond limits. The classroom has always had a sky theme which changes every few years. When I first started, a tree was set in the sky background with branches and leaves sprawling across the ceiling (it barely passed the fire inspection). The class has had a sun theme, a kite theme, a rainbow theme and now it’s a star and cloud theme. Throughout the day we always gather and sit under this “Sky of Possibilities and Wonder.”

Find a passion and let it become your career. Work will not seem like “work” but more a hobby and one you get paid to do. Time will fly by too quickly but you will be so satiated and happy at the end of each day. Teaching young minds is my passion and it’s my career. There is not a day that goes by where I can truly be proud for trying my best to make a positive difference in a child. I am so grateful that I followed my passion.

Q&A with Sara Lee

Q: A:

Hillbrook is a school full of traditions. What are some of your favorite yearly happenings?


7th/8th Grade Retreat

This Year (so Jokes at Flag

at Hill

Buddies Day

Chinese New Year Celebration


Talent Show



Making Stone Soup in Kindergarten

15 years Celebrating

at Yosemite



ext spring will mark the 15th year that Hillbrook 6th graders have ventured out to Yosemite National Park for their Outdoor Education unit. A natural segue from students’ first overnight trips to Coloma in 4th grade, and to the Marin Headlands in 5th grade, this week long Yosemite adventure has been helping 6th graders embody the Hillbrook core value of “Take Risks” as they stretch into new roles of explorers, nurturers, and naturalists. Leaving the comforts of home and family for five days, students find independence along the hiking trail—along with waterfalls, redwoods and blisters. For many, it is their longest time away from their parents. But time away from home by no means makes for a glum and lonely trip. From the moment the bus pulls out of the parking lot (and often for days before), there is non-stop chattering about cabin assignments, hiking groups, and who will be joining the Polar Bear Club this year. And—sometimes even more vociferously—who most definitely won’t be. This trip, while fun, is not the proverbial walk in the park. Students have learning to do as they meet their naturalist guides and settle in at Curry Village. There’s the day hikes and the night program, along with plenty of team building exercises. The connection students build to each other, their teachers, and nature transcends their short, 5-day stay.

Photos taken by Ms. Gingery and Mr. Stamos on this year’s trip

Though the details of each year’s trip are different, there are certain traditional elements. The Polar Bear Club gains members each year as students decide whether to take the knee-deep (or occasionally deeper) plunge into the frigid waters of the Merced River. Then there’s the Hard Core Club, aptly named due to the ingestion of an entire apple—core included. A perennial favorite is the closing night’s bonfire. A chance for the inner thespian in each of the students to be revealed as they share stories and things they’ve learned. Some of Ms. Gingery’s favorite memories involve the hike

up Vernal Falls. Ascending the 900 granite steps allowed for many to experience both adversity and the kindness of their fellow classmates. Mr. Stamos, who has attended the Yosemite excursions every year, fondly recalls the fun around the camp fire. Stories, songs, a funny skit, each class brought their own twist. Ms. Maisel’s favorite part of the trip is the Spider Caves crawl—you really build trust when there’s no light and you’re on your hands and knees depending on your neighbor to lead you through! Yosemite holds a special place in the hearts of students as well as faculty. But with all the other national parks around, why did Hillbrook choose this one? Former Head of Middle School Brent Heinrichs shared his reasoning: “Yosemite is the crown jewel of our National Park System. I chose Yosemite in order to give students a unique outdoor education experience and Yosemite Institute is a preeminent youth education organization. There is no better place to do that but in one of the most beautiful parks in the world. Also, as Californians, I think it is important for these students to visit this important park where they learn about how

important it is to maintain natural areas, such as our park system, for current and future use.” He didn’t mention that it was a great opportunity for him to use his Bear hat, but I’m sure many of you remember that well! While many students (including those in this year’s 7th grade class) won’t be able to put a finger on exactly “what I learned” until many years later, the Yosemite trip has become a rite of passage for the last 15 years’ worth of Hillbrook 6th graders. By stretching just a little farther than they thought they could, risking just a little bit more than they are comfortable with, students return triumphant from their week on the trail—with the memories and skills developed there preparing them not just for high school, but for life.

Learning Through Service

By Eden Maisel, Service Learning Coordinator



t Hillbrook, we are very intentional about educating the whole child. There’s the Singapore Math curriculum, an art program that ranges from painting to stop-motion animation, science classes that design pinball machines, and a robust music program. Students learn about history, grammar, and explore new ideas every day. But there are some lessons that just can’t be learned within the four walls of a classroom.

Through service learning, students are able to understand the local and global community at a deeper level. In grade level projects, Buddies activities, and Student Council efforts, students participate in service learning throughout the school year. First graders help animals at the Humane Society by creating posters and gathering blankets, third graders work with children and seniors with differences and disabilities, and sixth graders create a library for Nkaombe Primary School in Bvumbwe, Malawi. An educational component is deeply rooted in each of these projects. Students have a good understanding of the individuals or community they are serving. When sixth grade students listen to Chris Bradshaw, founder of African Library Project, and view photos taken in Malawi, they learn that resources are limited in the town of Bvumbwe and the ratio of students to teachers is high. Hillbrook students provide Malawian students with an opportunity to strengthen their literacy and share their love for reading. In an exchange of pen pal letters, Hillbrook students learn about their new Malawian friends and the culture of Malawi. Through the monthly Buddies program, cross-grade buddy pairs often devote their time spent together to help others. They collect food for Second Harvest Food Bank, make blankets for Project Linus, and roll beads to raise money for clean water in Tanzania. Student council sells baked goods to buy gift cards for San Jose Family Shelter and for American Red Cross Typhoon Haiyan Relief. In these efforts, surely the non-profit organizations who receive the donations benefit greatly. But so do the students; they are learning life skills and leadership skills.

They learn to communicate, follow deadlines, stay organized, and be responsible. In addition to helping outside organizations, students also serve Hillbrook’s own community. A small group of students serves as iPad Doctors who spend their free time helping students and teachers with technology questions and problems. Seventh graders are given an opportunity to be a teacher’s assistant during their study hall. Middle School students volunteer as tour guides for prospective families at admissions events. Over the course of three years, fifth graders have been restoring Ross Creek that runs through the campus by removing invasive species, planting native plants, and increasing accessibility to the creek. Hillbrook seventh graders often record audio books for visually impaired clients of Books Aloud, a nonprofit organization in San Jose. At the most basic level, the seventh grader has helped an individual

in need and is serving the community by “giving back”. But service learning is so much more. That seventh grader—and all Hillbrook students when they participate in service learning projects—gets something out of the experience as well. He learns responsibility, self-control, and problem solving. He has fun and enjoys a laugh with a classmate. He develops confidence after successfully completing a task that was once outside his comfort zone. Whether on campus or off, serving others builds character and community. Hilbrook alumni continue the tradition of service in their high school years and beyond. Many return to campus to aid teachers, staff, and current students. And many more carry that spirit of service with them wherever they go—be it to China, Uganda, Ecuador, or any place their paths lead them.


Learning On Location足:

Middle Schoolers in China By Joe Connolly, Head of Middle School Photos by Joe Connolly, Christina Pak, and Rita Yeh


e often refer to our vision, mission, and core values when describing the extraordinary educational experience at Hillbrook. We talk about being a place where we inspire students to achieve their dreams and reach beyond themselves to make a difference in the world. Where every day is a journey of self-discovery, imaginative thinking, creative problem solving, laughter and friendship. We strive to be kind, be curious, take risks, and be our best. It is not always easy to quantify this experience. Yet, when we see it, we recognize it—and can truly appreciate it. During this year’s Spring Break, I had the opportunity to witness the Hillbrook extraordinary educational experience over and over. Two teachers, Christina Pak (7-8 History) and Rita Yeh (4-8 Mandarin), organized our now bi-annual trip to China for students in 6th through 8th grade. Three days before the beginning of the break, the three of us boarded a plane with twenty students for a ten day visit to three different cities in China. Our first stop was in the city of Shanghai where we initiated what we hope will be a long relationship with the Second Middle School of Fudan University, one of the top schools in all of China. Hillbrook students had spent several weeks getting to know their Chinese buddies prior to our trip through email, making the face-to-face meeting even more meaningful. A majority of the first four days of the trip was centered around our visit with the students, teachers, administrators, and parents from Fudan University Middle School. Some of those experiences included attending

class, playing games with the students, spending time with the buddy families in their homes, and visiting different parts of Shanghai with their buddy families. Our Hillbrook students spent several days interacting with the Chinese students and adults. Over the course of those days I was approached by countless teachers, administrators, and parents who shared with me how impressed they were with our Hillbrook students. What they talked about were the intangible qualities of the Hillbrook education. Students being kind, curious, taking risks and being their best. This was repeated several times over the ten day trip; the founder of an English school in Xi’an saying that he hosts thousands of students each year, and he is truly impressed with the Hillbrook students and their ability to communicate and get along with the Chinese students and adults. There were the three tour guides who assisted us on our visits to famous Chinese tourist sights sharing how easy it was to guide Hillbrook students because of the way they behaved, paid attention, asked great questions, and for their knowledge of Chinese history.

19 On the day spent with my buddy, Miley, we went to one of Shanghai’s most marvelous tech and natural science museums. Inside the museum, we saw exhibits of microscopic to mountainous creatures, learned more of the science of robots, and explored the Year of the Horse exhibit. After the museum, we came home for a delicious, ten-plate buffet of traditional Chinese food, all prepared singlehandedly by Miley’s mother. The food’s amazing taste outweighed that of any other restaurant. Afterwards, although my buddy got a bit teary-eyed, we had to return to the hotel and say goodbye after a day I will always remember. Gabriella (‘15)

During our time in China, we were able to visit and experience some of the most amazing sights in the world. We saw the Terracotta Warriors, the Great Wall, Tiananmen Square, and the Forbidden City, among many others. And yet, for me the highlight of the entire trip happened in a small, under-resourced school in a small town on the outskirts of Shanghai. We had arranged to spend a half day with the Fudan University Middle School students visiting a school for children of migrant workers. These are young, lower school students whose parents work in the fields and factories of China, but live thousands of miles away in the remote parts of China.

Our Hillbrook students had spent several days before our trip planning activities to do with the migrant worker school children during our afternoon visit. When we arrived, the Hillbrook students quickly broke off into their five groups, taking their Fudan University Middle School students with them to assist and to do some interpreting. What I witnessed over the next four hours was easily one of my top five moments in over thirty years working with adolescents. Our students quickly realized that their well designed plans for activities were not going to work as planned, partly because of

Making Paths in China China Trip 2014 definitely was a packed, whirlwind trip that had us visiting three major cities (Shanghai, Xian, Beijing) and ancient monuments from the Great Wall of China, the Forbidden City, and the Terracotta Warriors, to modern-day architectural designs such as the Oriental Pearl Tower—in less than 10 days. We also believed that during these trips, the students should be immersed into the Chinese culture where they are able to take risks, be kind, be curious, and be their best through meeting another Chinese student and family or trying a new dish. Truly, on so many aspects, I’ve watch our Hillbrook students show all of these traits and much more as they traveled, experienced, and stretched out of their comfort zone. However, our visit to a migrant workers’ school an hour’s drive out of Shanghai was where I saw Hillbrook students shine and the reason Buddies and Community Service are life skills. The migrant school is a different public school provided for students whose parents

are migrant workers either in the fields, as street vendors, or in factories. Their families move often to find work and are one of China’s least resourced, socio-economically. We learned from the school principal that two-thirds of her student population will move on each year, making any foundations in learning within a child a challenge. However, despite these odds she and her teachers persevere. Our Hillbrook students had lessons planned and prepared and initially met the young elementary students with a shy awkwardness. As neither spoke each other’s language fluently, there were some initial silences and pauses. But the language of fun, joy, and laughter is universal and our students soon found their Buddy skills and Service practices and dived right into their lesson or improvising the lesson. They were engaging, resourceful, patient and kind. I watched our students crouch down and greet the students and exaggerate their movements to evoke smiles and laughter. They playfully fell,

The highlight of my day was teaching the kids “Simon Says”. All of the kids seemed to really enjoy the game. I liked watching the kids laugh as they played the game. A few times we tried other games, but the kids didn’t seem to like them as much. I don’t normally like teaching others, but I really enjoyed this. Jessica (‘14)

or pretended to fall to bring out the shyest of kids. They were patient and explained their lessons a fifth time if needed to support any student, and above all, they never wearied. Without missing a beat, each Hillbrook student met the language barrier, social barrier, and their own tiredness with joy—knowing that they were offering a service to these students who did not have much outside of school. Our buddy school administrators, teachers, and students watched in awe and soon joined in to assisting our students. I stood back and just watched thinking, “We are on the other side of the world with children from another country—and we were having Buddies or Service Day.” To be able to build these bridges, to extend themselves, and to recognize the needs of others, these are the global skills that transcend any barrier. These are the foundations of Hillbrook that will not go away wherever our students go. I am never worried about a Hillbrook student. They will make their paths wherever they go—even to China. Christina Pak, 7th/8th History Teacher

the shyness of the migrant school children, and partly because of the unwillingness of their Shanghai buddies to assist. The Hillbrook students quickly made adjustments to their plans. The basketball game became a game of duck, duck, goose. The football game became a game of four corners, and then tag. The egg decorating activity shifted to accommodate far more students than originally expected. The game of Go Fish, became a game of recognizing numbers. The laughter, joy and incredible interaction between the Hillbrook middle schoolers and the young migrant worker school children was a sight to behold, almost indescribable. At the conclusion of the afternoon, our students put on an impromptu performance of songs—culminating with a rousing rendition with accompanied dance of Zippity Doo Da, the closing number for the 8th grade play Alice in Wonderland. It was simply joyous. A few hours into the afternoon, Christina, Rita, and I had a chance to spend some time with the young principal of this school. It was inspiring to hear how her teachers are able to provide an education to these children, despite their circumstances. I asked the principal what we could do to help support them, thinking she would ask us to provide books, supplies, or financial assistance. Instead she simply answered: “What these children need more than anything else is the confidence to know that they can learn, and your students are doing that for them today.” Our Hillbrook students were reaching beyond themselves and making a difference in the world.

Tethering University Talent With Global Urgency Text and Photos by Cameron Hempstead (‘05)

Text and Photos by Cameron Hempstead (‘05)



ver since visiting Japan with my mom when I was five years old, I’ve been eager to see more of the world. Traveling beyond my home country has opened my eyes to other cultures and different ways of doing things. In high school, I went to Tanzania to participate in the building of classrooms and a water tank at a rural elementary school. Everyone I met there was deeply appreciative of the new structures, which quite literally changed their lives. Through this brief but powerful experience, I realized that following my passion for architecture could make a lasting impact on the lives of many people. This—coupled with my interest in taking risks and expanding my comfort zone—led me to start the Cal Poly Global Architecture Brigades chapter in 2011. This Christmas season, I found myself embarking on an entirely new adventure. For my fifth and final year as an architecture student at Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, I am designing a community complex in Bukhubalo, Uganda, through an organization called Journeyman International. Journeyman International (JI), is a 501 (c)3 endeavor committed to helping international non-governmental organizations (NGOs) design and construct sustainable humanitarian facilities. JI provides architecture services to these international NGOs by partnering fifth year architecture students—like myself—with the organization for 9 months. JI’s CEO, Daniel Wiens, dreamt up this model while pursuing a degree in Construction Management at Cal Poly in 2010. So far, they have designed a dental clinic in Belize, a medical clinic in Ethiopia (in partnership with Berkeley), orphanages in Mexico and Haiti, a school in Ghana, a Children’s Safe House in Cameroon, a community center in Zambia, an orphanage in the shadow of Mt. Kilimanjaro, a library in Rwanda, and a clinic for the Maasai Tribe in Tanzania. I am incredibly excited to be working with this organization. They have given me the rare opportunity to complete my thesis project with a real client and

site. It is our hope that the project will be built in the future—unlike many senior thesis projects which are purely theoretical. My thesis project aims to bring the community of Bukhubalo together by creating a facility that provides space for the pursuit of education, health care, and cultural enrichment. Currently, the people of Bukhubalo do not have the economic means to find these opportunities locally, and this project will help the community by providing a facility that is able to fulfill those needs. It will consist of a secondary school, tertiary school, medical center, and cultural center. This January, I had the privilege of going to Uganda to meet my client and visit the site. I spent six days on the site, analyzing the location, surroundings, and site conditions accompanied by a JI supervisor, Serhino Espinosa. This might

| Rendering of the cafeteria design sound like a quick and easy task, but in the developed world, there are teams that analyze sites for weeks with fancy tools and equipment. We came armed with string, a line level, and a compass. Our first challenge was determining the exact size of the property. Then we needed to produce a rough survey of the land. With the help of local community members, we were able to take measurements of everything—including major trees and shrubs—so that we could confidently recreate a site plan. When I wasn’t knee-deep in tall grass measuring plants, I was able to learn more about Uganda. Called the ‘Pearl of Africa’ by Winston Churchill, the country, located in eastern Africa, is bisected by the equator. Uganda is a cultural melting pot that has over 45 indigenous languages and many different ethnic groups. But Unicef also ranks Uganda among the lowest in primary school survival (completing all grades) and secondary

school attendance. The adult literacy rate is low as a result. Although the government now pays fees for the first four children per family to participate in primary school, only 16% of children attend secondary school (mostly due to lack of enrollment fees), and only 2% enroll in higher education. Many non-profit organizations have stepped in to help provide the enrollment fees for this type of schooling, as well as underwriting projects like the one I’m involved in with JI. I was very moved by the children, students, and professionals in eastern Uganda. We talked to many different interested parties to understand what they would like to see in this new facility, as well as what is not working in the current facilities. While I was on site, many people came to see what I was doing and children hung around the site with us as we worked. They loved using my camera to take photos of each other and enjoyed playing with some

frisbees that I brought. We had three secondary and university students help us with some of the digging and surveying of the site. They had great insights on what a secondary school needed and how the housing could be improved and more closely integrated into the school. We also talked to teachers and administrators about what they wished they had in their classrooms and schools. This experience has changed and improved my knowledge of what is required on any job site, as well as my understanding of specifically what the people of Bukhubalo need. The project will continue to progress this year and I am eager to continue my design work. I am thankful for my time at Hillbrook which encouraged me to serve others through the many community service projects that we participated in. It was a safe place where I learned about taking risks and experiencing failure as well as success. Hillbrook also gave me a great educational foundation which has helped me in my continuing studies. It has also given me the confidence to get out of my comfort zone. I graduated from Hillbrook in 2005 knowing that I was interested in pursuing architecture and doing work to help create a better world. I have been able to begin to achieve this while at Cal Poly. Cal Poly’s motto is ‘Learn By Doing’ and working with JI has allowed me to use the skills that I have acquired at university in a meaningful and real way.

For more information on Journeyman International, visit or to receive updates from Cameron, email cameron@


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Finding Community (and Myself) in Ecuador

Text and Photos by Bennett Shaw (‘11)



uring my sophomore year at Bellarmine (where I am now a Junior), I was looking into Latin American immersion trips and programs. There were plenty of one-week sightseeing-oriented immersion trips but they just weren’t for me. Then I came across Amigos de las Américas. The reason that Amigos, as it is known for short, stuck out was how real the experience was. Amigos told me they were going to put me in a community with a partner, and I was going to live there and teach classes for the kids, organize the community, and make changes that would benefit the community. It was exactly what I was looking for—a chance to really get to know Latin American culture, not just to see it. I ended up learning much more than I had anticipated. After doing a bit more research on the details of the program, I told my parents about it. You can only imagine their faces as I explained to them that I wanted to leave for a month and a half and live practically alone in a foreign country in a poor community, with no way to talk to them. To their credit, after the initial shock wore off, they were very supportive. I soon applied, was accepted, and began the training process—which was quite extensive. After training and getting all ready to go, I found myself at the San Francisco Airport, hugging my parents goodbye, and thinking to myself, “Well, you can’t turn back now!” I arrived in Quito, Ecuador, two days later, and met— for the first time—my partner who would live me in the community. His name is Johnathan Muñoz, and he is from Cuenca, a city in the south of Ecuador. Most Amigos volunteers have partners from the United States, yet I chose, on purpose, to have a partner from Ecuador. This means that I exclusively spoke Spanish for seven weeks straight, which for me was perfect. Johnathan and I became very close, and I absolutely would not have made it through my experience without him. We were living for about six and a half weeks in the community of Tigua Ugshaloma Grande, in the Pujilí Cantón of the province of Cotopaxi. Cotopaxi

is a province of Ecuador that is located just South of the capital city of Quito, in the Ecuadorian Andes. The village we were assigned to was an hour bus ride outside of Latacunga, the capital of the province of Cotopaxi. Don’t waste your time looking Tigua Ugshaloma Grande up on Google Earth, because you won’t find it. The village is basically a cluster of houses and fields on the side of an enormous mountain, right next to a modern two-lane highway. It seemed odd that this kind of community could exist where it was. But though it appeared isolated, to

get into a larger city that has an airport you only needed to take an hour bus ride (which cost $1.25). That bus ride—while also being the scariest, most nausea-inducing experience I’ve ever had on any type of transportation— had a net elevation loss of around 4,000 feet. The community was around 12,500 feet in elevation, and the bus was headed down the side of the mountain at that point. To put it bluntly, we were living at a very high elevation. During my stay in the village, I lived with the Kaisawano family, of which there were two girls and three boys in a two-room cinder block house. And there were often many cousins and other family members in and around the house. The Kaisawano’s were extremely generous and welcoming people, and I was very grateful for the sacrifices they made so that I could be a part of their family for a short time. The Kaisawano residence was one of the houses up the hill from the center of the village, which meant that I was breathing hard every single time I came to the door due to walking a few hundred feet uphill.

While living in Ugshaloma Grande, Johnathan and I held a summer camp of sorts for the kids. We had a two hour class every weekday where we would teach the kids about hygiene, water contamination, human rights, health, etc., while playing many games and having fun. Aside from this, we also coordinated a large community project. When we first arrived in the community, a bunch of the kids told us that they wanted us to help them build a soccer field, which we gladly took on as our “Community Based Initiative.” We helped organize work days, bought materials through the Amigos organization, and in general were the project managers. Notice how we weren’t doing all the work, which is not because we were lazy. Amigos believes in making sustainable community development projects, which means that we made sure the community had a stake in the project, that they were involved, so that whatever we leave behind stays in the loving care of the people of the community. This was the ultimate goal of my experience. Not something for my benefit, such as me getting better at

speaking Spanish, but rather being able to positively benefit the lives of others who are in need of assistance, in need of someone caring about them, and in need of dignity. One thing that I have been influenced by over the last three years at Bellarmine is the Ignatian or Jesuit motto, “Being a man for others.” Part of what we learn as students at Bellarmine is social justice. Social justice can be a tricky and confusing subject, which is often misinterpreted. The easiest way to describe social justice is to live life paying attention to the needs, the wants, the well-being, the dignity, and the life of other human beings. Living life with this in mind, one should logically act accordingly. This generally means making choices and performing actions that will benefit, if not keep in mind, the lives of those who are less fortunate. I understand that sounds somewhat preachy for someone who is not Catholic, yet I have discovered that no matter what faith tradition, including atheism and agnosticism, human dignity and happiness is something that should be respected all times, no matter the circumstances. Even though I had heard all of that and even agreed with it, what I saw, what I experienced in the community of Ugshaloma Grande, was something that I truly didn’t believe existed on this planet. The poverty of the people I encountered, the malnutrition, poor education and general hardship of life was astounding to me. Just living six weeks in that community, I endured more hardship mentally and physically than any other time in my life. While I got sick many times and lost weight due to lack of healthy food, it doesn’t even compare to the psychological effect that living there had on me. As someone who lives in a society of affluence and opportunity such as we have in here in Silicon Valley, it was almost like a dream. I could not believe that there were still places in the world with such a low standard of living. It seemed ridiculous that with all of the technology and “globalization” that we have today, places where life was so difficult could exist. But they do. I would like to encourage my fellow Alumni to embrace one of the Hillbrook core values and take a risk—get out and see the world. Travel to a developing nation, if you’re able, and spend time with those who live there. Not just the souvenir sellers, but those who live at or below the poverty line. Though you don’t even have to get on a plane to encounter poverty—it’s right here. Recently, my family and I moved to downtown San José from Los Gatos, and even just this slight change of location made me more aware of what is beyond my own bubble. I encourage


you to make it a point to go somewhere where there are people in need, just to remind yourself that they exist. And if you are courageous enough, make some conversation. You’ll be surprised by what you can learn from others who seem so different from ourselves. My stay in Ecuador was an absolutely life changing experience. While it was difficult for me at times, I can’t even imagine my life now without experiencing what I did. The trip gave me the opportunity to see—up close and personal—the amazing human capacity for change and for optimism, which will no doubt have a great influence on what I do after I leave high school. Though I am still continuing to process those seven weeks of life in Ecuador, the risk I took was definitely worth it.

Upward Bound

Class of 2013 High Schools Archbishop Mitty High School Bellarmine College Preparatory Castilleja School Cate School Forest Hill Military Academy Gilroy Early College Academy The Harker School Kehillah Jewish High School Leigh High School Los Gatos High School Notre Dame High School Presentation High School Saint Francis High School The Thacher School


Class of 2009 Colleges Arizona State UC Berkeley Boston College Brandeis University Colby College Colorado State Loyola Marymont NYU Oberlin Pratt Institute Princeton San Diego State San Francisco State San Jose State Santa Clara Sierra Nevada College Sonoma State Syracuse University of British Columbia University of Colorado at Boulder USC

Class Notes Spotlight on the Class of ‘01 Shayan Saghari I’m living

in San Francisco working at an architecture firm, working on my architecture licensure. I hope to be done by 2015! No kids, no partners, no pets, but I do have an etsy shop :) I love designing and making things. I’ve been traveling around the states a lot lately too which is really exciting.

Daniel Hayashi I’m living

in Tokyo, Japan and have been living here for the past three years. I survived the earthquake, finished school, and now I’m working fulltime as an English teacher.

Brent Nosè I’m a lieutenant

in the US Army, studying at the Uniformed Services University (our nation’s military medical school). I currently live in Bethesda, MD, but spent the past two and a half years in New York and was working in Guatemala for a year before that.

Jeremy Kelley I currently

live in New York City, where I’ve been finishing up my Masters in Media Management at NYU in pursuit of a new career with a digital agency in creative strategy/branding after a few years in publishing as a food writer and graphic designer. I’m also pleased to report my mile time is half what it was in Hillbrook PE, so hopefully Scott would be proud.

Rebecca Bentzen (Cotrell) I got married last June

to Brad, who I met freshman year of college. We were living in DC and just moved to Denver about 3 weeks ago. So far it’s been awesome. I’m in Sales working in the IT staffing space.

Mark Rossetti I spent a

few years after college living in China, teaching English for a while, then doing music licensing for a Chinese digital music startup in Shanghai. I moved back to the Bay Area last year, took a superfun and superintense 12-week course to become a software engineer, and now I’m having a blast building things at Salesforce in SF. I still love music, and started a barbershop and doo-wop a cappella group in Shanghai, but haven’t found the right music group to join in SF just yet.

Ashleigh Hill I live and work

in NYC as a teaching artist, teaching drama and general art to students K-12. When I’m not teaching, I help manage a craft and paper retailer in SoHo. I’m still singing, and lately I’ve been diving more into folk and traditional music, and making theatre when and where I can.

Shannon Miles I am

currently living in San Jose (just

bought a condo!) and have been working at a start-up in Sunnyvale doing product marketing for the last 3 years. I enjoy baking, traveling, and hot yoga! Funny story that Hillbrook might like... Ashleigh W. and I have remained close friends since Hillbrook, and I was in her wedding last year.

Lauren Vu After four years in

Global Marketing at Warner Bros. in Los Angeles, I have returned to New York City to continue my career in Entertainment. I currently manage a Consumer Marketing team and oversee all advertising/ marketing efforts for HBO’s biggest TV series including Game of Thrones, Boardwalk Empire and GIRLS. On my days off, I enjoy long runs around my neighborhood in the Upper East Side, hosting dinner parties, and frequently visiting The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Always a California girl at heart, I fly back to the Bay Area almost every month because at the end of the day, there’s no place like home.

Brian Watson Since

graduating from college, I have been working with a Big 4 accounting firm as a manager where I manage two large Clients and KPMG teams globally in the US, UK, Australia, India and Singapore. Hobbies include competing in Crossfit since

35 2008 as well as buying/fixing up performance cars (currently on my 9th car).

Vanessa Brunner After

graduating from University of Oregon, I moved straight back to San Francisco, where I’ve been working as a design writer in digital and print ever since. I live in Russian Hill with my bf and most importantly, my orange kitty Sawyer. Besides work, I spend a lot of time cooking, cheering on my favorite college football team (Go Ducks!) and exploring my favorite city ever.

Benton Sparks I’m living on Mission Bay down in San Diego. I rowed through college at community then UCSD. This will be my third year coaching UCSD Men’s Crew on top of coaching a high school team and masters program. That keeps my days full, but at least a third of my work is on the water! I run the beach most mornings, unless I get the urge to bike the coast. I live on the beach and yell out of a boat for a living.

Jonathan Weed I moved

to China after graduating from college and spent two years there on a fellowship teaching math and English before coming back to the states in 2011. I worked briefly as a Chinese-English translator before moving to New York City two years ago last month. I now do curriculum design for a private education company and am applying for Ph.D. programs in math (SUPER COOL AND FUN, RIGHT?).

Michelle Garcia I’m a

doctor now in my first year of residency, specializing in Family Medicine and currently living in Augusta, Maine practicing at the Maine Dartmouth residency (I think I probably win for graduate in the coldest place :P). My dream is to practice rural medicine someday and I most likely will move back to Cali once I’m done with residency. I’ve been gradually moving east since college: I went to University of San Francisco then moved to Pittsburgh for medical school then came to Maine for residency. I love being outdoors, so Maine is the perfect place for me.

Nicole Carson I just

graduated this past April from Pepperdine University in Malibu. I currently work as a corporate fitness trainer, yoga instructor, and spin instructor. I also sing in a metal band on the side just for fun. If I can get a fitness gig with google up north I would take it, but for now I’m content down here and love it. I also volunteer with animal rescues and have a rescue baby dog of my own.

Tom Morrissey I am

currently a Senior Financial Analyst for Laptops at Best Buy’s corporate office in Minneapolis. Some of my hobbies are flipping houses, basketball, golf, playing with my dog Zoey, and spending way to much time playing fantasy football. Also, I am a certified commercial pilot so I try and get up flying as much as I can.

Ashleigh Weissman I now tame wild beasts by day (I

teach high school bio and chemistry) and coach water polo by night. I got married last August and can’t wait to move out of Orange County. Nashville is next and then back to NorCal hopefully!

John Emison I recently

moved to Philadelphia to pursue an MFA at Tyler School of Art, Temple University, in the Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture program. When not in the studio, teaching, or visiting NY, I can be found at home where my cat tries his damnedest to fill the role of both wife and child.

Brendan Nystedt

Currently, I’m having fun in Boston but counting the days until I can move back to warmer climes (maybe SF). I love traveling whenever I can (my last big trip was around Japan where I volunteered after the earthquake and stayed with Daniel in Tokyo for a few times!). Currently, I’m a staff writer for, writing about digital cameras (and, occasionally, a camcorder).

Caroline Smith I live in New York City and am in charge of new business and marketing at a start up creative advertising agency. I have no pets but mildly harass other people’s dogs in the street. Outside of work, I have been doing some writing, lots of eating out that I can’t afford, and generally exploring NYC. Eric Chang I went to UCSD

for a year then transferred up to Pomona College and studied Neuroscience and English. I worked

for a year for a healthcare consulting firm in SF before going to med school at UCSF. I took a year off in the middle (quarter life crisis), spent some time at the FDA and did some traveling while working part-time as a reporter for a diabetes magazine. Now I’m back in my third year in SF.

Class Notes

Mckenzie Bara I went to

SDSU and graduated with a degree in graphic design in 2010 (didn’t take a year off just took my sweet time). Now I’m living in SF with my boyfriend and working for GoPro as a packaging designer.

Wynter Martinez For the

past two years I’ve been living in SF and working on the marketing team at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. I really love what I do and being surrounded by such creative people. My not so secret life goal is to have a squish face cat. They are just so adorably hideous. I recently went to visit Nora in Istanbul. Such an amazing city, I highly recommend it.

Nora Wilson In January I

moved to Istanbul and I now work as an English teacher at Koç School. Istanbul is an amazing city and I’m having a blast. Anyone who fancies a visit is most welcome!

Ashley Benson Last year,

I backpacked through 10 countries in six months - South America and Southeast Asia. My little brother, Calvin even met up with me in Laos and Vietnam for a couple of weeks. I’ve been back in the United States living in San Diego for a little over a year now. This summer I began my own company, called Thaivibes. It began as an import company (I

imported some goods from Thailand last March) and although I am not sure where I am going to take it yet, I am confident that something good will come of it. You can check out my (almost-completed) site at and follow me on Instagram on “thaivibes” if you’d like! I want to continue working on the company as a travel, as well as volunteer at organic farms and ecovillages to learn about and practice permaculture and sustainability.

Hannah Lawrence I went

to do my Master’s in London and ended up working there for 3 years afterwards. Having spent this past summer in Egypt with my bf who is a British diplomat doing a posting out there, I just moved back to the Bay Area last week (turns out Cairo isn’t that safe!). I’m currently working for the CEO of a tech start up in San Francisco. I have a 6 month old jack russell terrier named Milo that I brought back with me from Egypt.

Want to see your class spotlighted? Contact Karen Brein for more information on how to become the next Spotlighted Class!

37 Congratulations! Megan Benjamin (‘02) and Michael Guimarin (‘02) tied the knot on September 21, 2013. Here’s their story, according to Michael: We both went to Hillbrook, I for 12 years, from 3 yr old preschool to 8th grade, and Megan for 6 years, from 3rd to 8th grade. Obviously, we met in 3rd grade. We were certainly friends throughout our Hillbrook time, and some of our favorite memories (re: my favorite memories) were doing zany science experiments and riding with Steve (Megan’s dad) as he drove our class around on various field trips (I swear we went to the Steinbeck museum like 4 times). I remember that Megan was one of the cool girls who would dance with any boy who asked, and in 6th grade at our first dance, that was me! Though we would not even fake date until years later. After Hillbrook, I went to Bellarmine and she went to Saratoga. We remained friends, but due to our sports obligations, didn’t have time for a lot of social events. So we were mainly pen pals. It wasn’t until the latter half of 12th grade that we started ‘dating’. Then we were in a long distance relationship throughout college, I at Princeton and she at Cornell. When it came time for us to choose our wedding venue we considered Hillbrook, but unfortunately no permits could be acquired, so we went with the next best thing and got married at a beautiful resort in Napa County, Calistoga Ranch. Our wedding was outside, very natural, and very fun. Hillbrookians in attendance, were myself and Megan (‘02), Grant Zamudio (‘02), Megan Mitchell (‘02), Cody Benjamin (‘04), Christopher Guimarin (‘06). I should add that current Hillbrook Resident Teacher Olivia Swan was Megan’s maid of honor. Go bears! -Michael

Memories of Hillbrook: Russ Mitchell, Class of ‘82


still clearly recall the day my parents informed me I would be attending Hillbrook. How could I not? In my 12-year-old’s mind, and with no discussion, I was being told to surrender everything. K-6 at Simonds Elementary School in the Almaden Valley was a great experience for me. Simonds was then one of the best public schools in the state, and the 70s were a wonderful time for an adventurous boy in the Almaden. Exploring the foothills…mapping the creeks and streams. I had spent hundreds of hours charting this landscape, and in so doing built great friendships that last to this day. This was my gang of friends, in every light-hearted and decent sense of the word. I had zero interest in surrendering this equity. This sweat equity. As a result, to suggest that I was an unwilling participant in the “Hillbrook experiment” would be an epic understatement. Holden Caulfield himself could not have been more tenacious and cunning than were my efforts to sabotage my parent’s command.

good portion of that interest is the result of Mr. Casserley. I still remember him and the passion with which he painted events in time.

However, from my first day at Hillbrook things were different­—a compelling difference. To start with, there were the uniforms that got one’s attention. But more so it was the small class sizes with uncompromising teachers who left little opportunity to act out, despite my best efforts. That combined with a challenging course load and a great deal of classroom interaction seemed to get the best out of everyone.

Our teachers pushed us all to achieve. In this regard they never took a day off. Sylvia Palmer must have seriously questioned her romance with the Spanish language after fighting to teach it to me. Pero ella me presentó a español ... y me gusta el lenguaje hoy, Senora Palmer.

I had Richard Casserley for Math and History. It’s from him that I got my first appreciation for the bigger world. I’ve traveled to more than 40 countries now; along the way I have sought out many places of historical significance. A

The math was a little more cumbersome.

I remember Science with Patrice Dewhitt. Moreover, I recall how the entire school seemed to emphasize Science—I subject that, at the time, I ranked in importance between butternut squash and my little brother’s wishes. Nevertheless, Ms. Dewhitt was masterful at getting me interested. At getting all of us interested. At challenging us


to see further. She remains one of the best teachers I have ever had—in or out of school. Hillbrook was far from just academics. There was art with Ms. Spencer-Levy, and ceramics and woodshop with Messrs. Maestas and Dalton, respectively. Not to mention such fond memories of sports with Coach Gates. Good companies or teams, their key ingredient is the quality/heart of their people. On this front, Hillbrook was second to none, which is a testament to headmaster Clements. The same could be said about its students, who became more inquisitive with each class. This realization required no hindsight, not even for a preteen malcontent. Hillbrook quickly felt more like a family than a school; for those looking for a way out, it’s much harder to let down your family as well as your family.

While education was the primary aim, Hillbrook was about far more than that. Yes, Hillbrook more than prepared me for Bellarmine, which I leveraged for both a wonderful university life and career. Today I own a firm that tracks the enterprise software market for global institutional investors—which, now that it’s built, affords me the freedom to “hobby job” my favorite past-time: broadcasting and writing about college football. In retrospect, Hillbrook played a pivotal role in my foundation; I blossomed there. As a result, the campus and those I knew live on affectionately for me. I remember it fondly as a safe place, one where we were challenged daily to improve. To stretch our minds, and expect more of ourselves and each other. Although I’m still trying to wrap my arms around the fact that my parents might have known best.

Russ Mitchell is the luckiest husband ever to don a wedding ring, and the proud father of two very challenging, if bright and playful, girls. He’s a Managing Partner of Marker Advisors, a global consulting firm that for the past decade has provided both software industry executives and software market investors proprietary news gathering and analysis. His wasteful romance with college football has run amok, and now has Russ the lead SEC columnist for College Football News and Campus Insiders. During the season, he appears as a regular weekly guest on radio stations from Florida to Hawaii, as well as being a weekly contributor on ESPN Radio, FOX Sports Radio, NBC Sports Radio and CBS Sports Radio ... justifying his brother’s childhood insistence that Russ was born with a face for radio.

Memories of Hillbrook: John Runcie, Class of ‘62


hy was it that whenever I misbehaved, It seemed like I was the one that was always caught and disciplined? For example one day in my junior high years at Hillbrook, we were waiting in line for lunch when a pushing and shoving match ensued. So, along with my other junior high classmates, I joined in and succeeded in pushing one of my friends into the bushes! Of course, Mrs. Wollin saw ME, so I was the one disciplined! Busted. My experiences in junior high at Hillbrook were rich, but not for the reason above. Although, I can no longer remember most of my teachers’ names (only the name of my best friend seems to stick around), I do remember that it was wonderful experience! Like most kids, I really didn’t appreciate the sacrifice my parents were making to send me to Hillbrook, or the quality of the education that I was receiving. We learned Latin and French along with the other normal subjects like math, English, and science. I can still parse the Latin verb ‘porto’. Perhaps the early exposure to both Latin and French were responsible for my later interest in languages. I also can’t forget to mention the Shakespearean plays which we helped to produce each year. At the time, I certainly did not appreciate or understand the value of the memorization, dramatizations and public speaking. Our education at Hillbrook was indeed a rich experience, and I’m sure it helped to prepare me for excellence as I continued my education. Today my wife of 47 years and I live in Portland Oregon. In 2003, I retired after 28 years at UPS. Since that time, I have embarked on a second career teaching English as a second language. Currently I am the program director for the MA TESOL program at Multnomah University, and I also teach TESOL as an adjunct professor at Portland Community College. Every so often, my thoughts reach back to those wonderful days at Hillbrook: to the friends I made, to the teachers who molded and shaped me, to the rural setting, and to the many lessons learned. Those were wonderful years indeed, and it is wonderful to see that the legacy and mission of Hillbrook is continuing to impact the lives of students today. I’m sure there are many alumnae who, like me, are eager to see Hillbrook’s legacy continue on into the future.

John now lives in Portland Oregon with wife, two grown children and six grandchildren. He is currently the Program Director for the MA TESOL program at Multnomah University, and he also teaches TESOL at Portland Community College.

From Chef’s Kitchen Hillbrook’s Favorite Mac & Cheese 1 pound of traditional elbow pasta (or gluten-free elbow pasta) 1/2 cup butter 1/4 teaspoon each kosher salt and freshly ground pepper 2 cups milk or heavy Cream (we use non-fat but 2% for milk 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese For Topping 2 tablespoon butter, melted 11/2 cup panko (Japanese bread crumbs) 1 tablespoon of Italian seasoning Salt and pepper to taste Directions 1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 2. Make the topping by tossing the panko, Italian seasoning, and salt and pepper with the melted butter in a medium bowl. Set aside. 3. Cook the pasta according to the package directions, drain and cover. 4. While the pasta is cooking, melt the butter in a large saucepan and salt and pepper. Gradually add the milk or cream, stirring while adding. 5. Over medium heat, cook and stir until the sauce boils, and then simmer for one minute, stirring constantly. 6. Reduce the heat to low, add the cheese, and stir until just melted. 7. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese mixture and toss lightly to coat. Pour into a 9-inch square baking dish. Sprinkle with topping. 8. Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the cheese is bubbly and the topping is lightly golden.

Life After the Classroom:

Lynn Easton

The inimitable Lynn Easton will be leaving her 1st grade classroom this year. We managed to catch up with her and ask a few questions. She graciously answered them. And then some.


Hi Lynn, Thanks so much for taking the time to answer a few questions. You spent many years teaching at Hillbrook. When did you first begin teaching here? What first drew you here?


I started in 1989—back in the dinosaur days. There was a bigger parking lot back then, so I could park my tyrannosaurus rex. Some people drove brontosauruses. I never liked those. Before Hillbrook, I was teaching at another school in Los Gatos that had to close after they were given an offer they couldn’t refuse. My principal at the time knew Robin Clements, the headmaster at Hillbrook, so he connected me. I was drawn in by the cacophony of crows, joyful children, and a great head of school.


I’m sure you’ve seen lots of interesting things happen around campus while you’ve been here, can you share a favorite memory or two?


Here’s one of my favorite memories—there are many—I came to class one day and there was a tarantula sitting outside my door. I opened the door and he came right in. He did! He walked around the classroom—and I like tarantulas so that was ok. So I went to the science class and asked if they had a big tank so we could observe him for a little while. They did. So when the kids came in they observed him and we had a good time petting him and what not. But after a little while I said “Ok we have to release him and put


him back where he belongs so he can find his family.” So we took him outside by the trees at the end of the playground and let him go. The next morning, guess who is sitting on the mat waiting? The tarantula. I’m not kidding. So I opened the door and he came in and walked around. I still had the tank, so I put him in and the kids observed him for a little while. After that I said, “It’s time to return him to nature so he can find his family”. We took him out about half way between my room and the middle school. I came back the next day and the tarantula is sitting on the mat at the door, again, so I let him in, he walks around, we observe him, and I said “It’s time to release him to see if he finds his family - I think he thinks we’re his family!” So then we took him all the way down to where they play football. And we released him. And one more time he appeared, on the door mat the next day. How he covered that amount of terrain I don’t know, but he did. And we enjoyed him and watched him and talked to him and felt like he was our brother at this point, but we wanted him to find his family, so we took him all the way up past the Apricot House, over the fence to the top of the hill and let him out. And the next day he wasn’t on the mat. I guess we had finally taken him far enough away that he couldn’t find his way back, or as I like to believe, he finally found his family.


What are your plans for your life after the classroom? Do you have any hobbies that you want to pursue? Will you be taking up sky diving?


I plan to go back to writing—which I did before I went into the classroom. Ponder the eternal question of “What is life all about?” and write the Great American Novel—and be on The Ellen Show. Now that I’ve said that, Uh oh!

Q: A:

What are you looking forward to most at the upcoming Alumni Celebration?

I’m looking forward to reconnecting with people, amazing them with my boring stories, and being shocked by how many years have gone by.

Lynn, with her current 1st grade class

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Letter from the

Director of Alumni Relations


few weeks into the school year I took a walk through campus and found myself over the bridge, wandering around the Middle School. Several 8th grade students stopped to chat with me about their summer trips, sports teams, and how much fun they were having in Mr. Stamos’ class. I was having a great time talking with these kind and joyful 8th graders until I chose to broach an untouchable subject – high school decisions. Once the question was out of my mouth I suddenly panicked, because I remember how anxiety provoking this seemingly innocuous subject would have made me at 13, and I was worried that my curiosity would offend them. I shouldn’t have been concerned, since these brave Hillbrook 8th graders were not only open to my question, but were excited that I had opened this conversation. Instead of nerves and trepidation when faced with change, they seemed to embrace the wonder and possibilities of an undiscovered future. They made it clear that they are ready to take their passions and join the hundreds of Hillbrook alumni who are actively making a difference in the world. Each time I interact with a Hillbrook alum I am so impressed by how passionate they are about what they have chosen to do with their lives. I am delighted when I talk to Richerd Cancilla, Class of 1946, about his hobbies of ice skating and opera singing, and I am moved when I read about Cameron Hempstead, Class of 2005, and her powerful experiences in Uganda. Whether you are a recent alum excelling in high school, a 1980’s alum with a family of your own, or a Children’s Country School alum enjoying your golden years, I am sure that you have some amazing stories to tell. I welcome you to get in touch and share what you have been up to since graduating from Hillbrook. Please stop by campus the next time you are visiting Los Gatos, attend the annual Alumni Celebration, volunteer on campus when you need service hours, and never forget the time you spent at Hillbrook. As the Director of Alumni Relations I strive to build a strong alumni program that connects alumni of all ages to each other and to Hillbrook. With your help, we can grow a vibrant alumni community that will serve the vast and ever-growing Hillbrook community. Please be in touch with me if you want to get back in touch with your Hillbrook classmates, plan Hillbrook alumni events, share your story in next year’s Alumni Journal or learn more about what Hillbrook is like today. Your journeys inspire me every day, and you are looked up to by the 315 current Hillbrook students who are following in your footsteps. I wish the Hillbrook Class of 2014 the best of luck in their future endeavors, although I have no doubt that they are fully prepared to join the rest of the alumni community in succeeding in the world. While I’m sure they will miss Hillbrook—the school that has fostered their love of learning and nurtured them for one, four, even ten years of their lives—I have the utmost confidence that our 8th graders will go on to do incredible things and enrich the world around them. Karen Brein Director of Alumni Relations

300 Marchmont Drive Los Gatos, CA 95032

Hillbrook Alumni Journal 2014  

A journal for the Hillbrook Community, Alumni and future Alumni, that highlights current campus happenings as well as Alumni news and storie...