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Alumni Journal 2014


Dear Alumni, We are excited to share this preview copy of our annual Alumni Journal with you. The full magazine will be published in late April. Enjoy these selected articles and be sure to save the date for our Alumni Celebration, May 9th at 6 pm. The Alumni Basketball games will be held earlier in the day, with the 9th grade vs. current “A” team at 3:45 pm, and the 9th/10th vs. older alumni at 4:45 pm. If you’d like to play, be sure to email Coach Sweeney at Come to watch or play in the alumni basketball game and then stay for dinner and the celebration! We look forward to seeing you there. We are still collecting Class Notes, so if you’d like to send your updates to be published, there’s still time! Use the form at or email kbrein@ I hope you enjoy this preview of the Journal, and look forward to seeing you on May 9th. Best, Karen Brein Director of Annual Giving & Alumni Relations

Table of Contents

24 FEATURES 11 14


Celebrating 15 Years at Yosemite A Time to Serve: Taking the Core Values Beyond Campus


Learning on Location— Middle Schoolers in China


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

Community and 31 Finding Myself in Ecuador By Bennett Shaw (‘11)

Hillbrook School ALUMNI JOURNAL

Spring 2014




3 6 8 34 36 38 40 42 43 45

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

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. 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! Join us on May 9th

for the Annual Alumni Basketball Game & Alumni Celebration Email to RSVP


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

Stay in touch

Update your contact info! Keep your email up to date @ Join the Hillbrook Community @

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.

Ready for some Hoops?


The Annual Alumni Basketball Game will be on May 9th. 9th graders play the current “A� team at 3:45 pm 9th/10th graders will play older alumni (and a faculty member or two) at 4:45 pm To get your name on the Alumni team roster, email Coach Scott Sweeney at ssweeney@ Come play or watch and then stay for the Alumni Celebration Dinner at 6 pm

We hope you enjoyed this preview copy of the Hillbrook Alumni Journal. Be sure to check out the full version, publishing in late April. Thank you, Alumni, for continuing to be a part of the Hillbrook community. We look forward to seeing you at the Alumni Basketball Game and Celebration on May 9th!

Hillbrook School Alumni Journal 2014 Preview Copy  

An annual journal for the Hillbrook Community