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The Bulletin T H E M A S T E R S S C H O O L | S P R I N G 2 019


CONTACTS The Masters School 49 Clinton Avenue Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522-2201 914-479-6400 mastersny.org Send letters to: Communications Office communications@mastersny.org Send alumnae/i news to class notes editors or: The Office of Alumnae/i Engagement alumni@mastersny.org

ON THE COVER Lucy Wasserstein ‘18 studying in her dorm room.

IMAGES IN THIS ISSUE The images throughout this issue of The Bulletin are a selection from The Masters School archives. We would like to thank Rachel O’Connell for her work organizing, curating and digitizing our archives.

Printed on paper containing 30% post-consumer waste with vegetable based inks. 100% of the electricity used to manufacture the paper is green e-certified renewable energy.

Photo credit: Vincent Curtis and George Woodruff




Since our founding, boarding has been a rich and essential component of education at The Masters School. In this issue, we look at the many ways in which the program has shaped those who have called our campus “home.”


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Building Something Larger Than Ourselves Dear Friends, When I was growing up, my family moved a lot, and I attended four schools in my four years of high school. The constant flux was not good for me — socially, academically, or in any way other than helping me develop an ability to hit the ground running. I would have traded that skill in a heartbeat for the stability of a consistent and nurturing academic experience. I begged my parents to send me to boarding school. How I wish they had! I knew — without even knowing how I knew — that the boarding experience, with its continuity and community, was what I needed. It’s no accident, then, that I have worked at seven boarding schools in my career. That hunger for community has never left me, and being at a boarding school continues to provide some of the nourishment I’ve craved since I myself was in high school. Being part of a collective effort to provide that sustenance to boarding students, and the rich experience day students have when learning alongside a diversity of students, is deeply meaningful and rewarding to me.


When students from around the world gather in living, breathing, studying, brownie-baking, teeth-brushing, singing-in-the-hall groups of peers and caring adults, something happens that cannot be replicated through any other type of high school experience. They become a second family to each other. They deepen each other’s learning. They build close and lasting friendships with people who, on the surface, appear to be completely different from them. They learn to understand others beyond those differences. They learn to self-propel, to be a part of something larger than themselves, to practice being a power for good, even in one small corner of the world. Not too long ago, before we deliberately and significantly increased our enrollment, The Masters School had more boarding students than day students. So many alumnae (the times I refer to go back to our roots as a girls’ school) from those years speak with tremendous fondness of the sense of belonging they felt for their beloved “Dobbs,” and much of their attachment to the School has its roots in the boarding experience. Often, when I am walking past Estherwood, I try to imagine how it must have felt to be a student living in that magnificent building when it was a dormitory. It must have been quite memorable indeed to spend one’s high school years within its extraordinary frame. As you know, this fall we are launching a five-day boarding program, and the enrollment thus far provides us with an enthusiastic base from which to launch this exciting initiative. Five-day boarders will enjoy the benefits of a communal environment while still being able to see their families on weekends. We are hoping this will feel to them as if they are getting the best of both worlds. We are also paying close and deliberate attention to the needs of our seven-day boarders, who will continue to make up the majority of our boarding population, by ensuring that weekends offer them a robust variety of enriching experiences — and, of course, fun. This issue of The Bulletin is a celebration of the past, the present and the future of boarding — an essential aspect of who we are as a school — and an exploration of the impact this program has had on so many young people who have called Masters “home.” With warmest wishes,



A group of boarding students spend some of their downtime working together on a puzzle.







t was a winter morning and snow covered the grounds of The Masters School. Soon, Katarina Popovic ’08 and a group of fellow students had gathered outside in the cold with a specific task in mind: to build a snowman. Although snow is a common winter occurrence in Dobbs Ferry, the memory remains a favorite of Popovic’s from her years as a boarding student at Masters. “It was a simple activity, but something that stayed with me until this day,” she said.

This is part of the joy of boarding: the spontaneity, like building a snowman, and the memories students create together as a community. Reminiscing about her time as a boarding student, Popovic said, “Living with my peers was great because it allowed for spur-of-the-moment decisions.” Popovic’s impromptu bonding experience is one that thousands of Masters School alumnae/i who have lived on campus can relate to — whether they graduated 75 years ago or just last year. Since the School’s founding in 1877, the boarding program has been integral to its ethos, with life on campus embracing a mix of learning experiences that are both fun and profound. In a series of conversations with alumnae/i and members of residential life, a handful of formative experiences, intrinsic to boarding, came to the top: the distinctiveness of living in a school community; developing life skills, both big and small; and learning from mentors while creating lifelong bonds with fellow students.





Walk into Cole Dorm on a weekday evening and you will likely be greeted by an abundance of sights and sounds. As on most school nights, many students are tucked away in their rooms studying for a big test or putting the finishing touches on an essay. Others, taking a quick break from their academic endeavors, have gathered in the common area and are splayed on couches. An animated discussion might jump from a challenging homework assignment to the latest pop culture news to a review of that night’s dinner in the dining hall. This juxtaposition of pursuing educational endeavors and enjoying downtime with friends is an inherent part of the boarding experience. By committing to living at school for nine months out of each year, students benefit from having a built-in social life. And so, a teenager living on campus has an experience that is fundamentally different from that of one living at home. “Just sitting in the common room watching TV, that’s something you can do at home,” said Ed Gormley, who was Cole Dorm director from 2002 through 2016. “But all of the sudden, you’re sitting in the common room … someone stops by, and someone else stops by, and next thing you know, everyone is watching Gilmore Girls every Thursday night, and there’s a group of 15 of you. There’s just something special about that, that you could never get if you weren’t living in a dorm.”

Over the years, Masters has had a number of dorms, where, undoubtedly, similarly meaningful traditions were created. During the very first years of the School’s existence, students lived in Wilde House, also known as Kirk Knoll. First and Second Houses were built in the late 1800s, and were soon joined by Third House. The demolition of these dorms — because they were deemed a fire hazard — began in June 1971. The razing of First House was written about in The Masters School: 1877/1977, A Retrospective Portrait for the One-Hundredth Anniversary, a history of the first hundred years of the School written by Pamela Daly Vose ’47: “Many in the Dobbs ‘family’ were present to see that symbol of continuity resist the onslaughts of the demolition crew to the last, leaving onlookers in admiration mixed with tears.” The stately Estherwood mansion housed juniors and seniors beginning in 1910. And the most recent additions were Cushing Strong and Thompson, completed in 1930, and Cole, Ford and McCormack, completed in 1973. Today, students call these six dorms home, and identify strongly with them. Students proudly wear sweatshirts and T-shirts emblazoned with their dorm name, and the ubiquitous shouts of “yeah, Cole!” are soon to follow any mention of the dorm during morning meeting. A significant change in the boarding experience took place in 1969, when the A. Cameron Mann Dining Hall opened its doors. Prior to this, the young women of The Masters School shared communal meals with their dormmates, either as an


Photo credit: Vincent Curtis and George Woodruff

individual dorm or by combining several dorms for shared meals. After the opening of the dining hall, students gathered for their three daily meals not as a dorm, but as a school. Today, the dining hall is a destination for boarders, with robust weekend brunches and various dishes that provide a taste of home to international students.

show tapings, just to name a few. Her summer sign-up initiative succeeded: it increased interest in weekend activities not just among boarding students, but also among day students. “There were years when day faculty could not tell the difference between a day student and a boarder because everyone was on campus all the time,” Crane said.

Dorms and meals are an essential component of the boarding experience — as are weekends, since weeknights are primarily dedicated to academic and co-curricular endeavors. Nowadays, students take weekend trips to Broadway shows, museums and professional sports games — as well as more low-key outings for ice cream, dinner or a movie.

And while she did bring a renewed energy to weekend life, Crane stressed that the fun she brought to the community “was not just about the weekend program. It was helping students find fun in the classroom, doing community service, playing on an athletic field, acting in a play, and most importantly fun learning and being together.”

Past generations of boarding students spent their weekends bonding over a different, but equally as meaningful, set of weekend experiences. Vose’s retrospective says that in the 1930s, “the big traditional weekend for Dobbs girls since early in the century were the Yale-Princeton and Yale-Harvard football games … as well as the Ivy League spring proms.” The retrospective notes that “In order to leave campus, a student must have been ‘in good standing’ the week before.”

An important part of bringing excitement to weekend activities, said Gormley, who now oversees the program, is giving students a voice in the planning. “I don’t necessarily know what a 16-year-old wants to do on the weekend, so I really rely on them to tell me,” he said. Elaborating, Gormley shared that a student recently came to him and asked if he could plan a trip to The Orchid Show at the New York Botanical Garden. Gormley, smiling, noted that “Not in a million years would I have thought that’s a trip that kids would be interested in. But, [this student] said a bunch of his friends are interested in it.” So Gormley arranged the trip.

The most recent iteration of weekend life is the brainchild of Gillian Crane ’92, who served her alma mater as a member of the residential life team from 1998 through 2014. Crane was famously crowned the “Dean of Fun” during her tenure, thanks in part to her successful efforts to boost participation in weekend activities. To garner interest in weekend activities, Crane had the idea to send out a list of activities over the summer, and asked students to sign up for those that interested them before heading back to school. The offerings included scavenger hunts in New York City, chocolate-making classes, overnight camping trips and TV

With New York City just a short train or bus ride away, students have no shortage of ideas for weekend excursions. But often, Gormley noted, it is less about the destination and more about a change in scenery. Each weekend, Gormley offers a trip to the mall or the movie theater because, he explained, “it’s meaningful just to be able to get off campus with friends. You have a safe ride to and from, you have a chaperone. It’s downtime, it’s de-stress time, and I think that’s very important to have.”






For many living away from home for the first time, one word sums up the significant and early foray into independence: laundry. Even for those who know the basics of this household chore, there can still be a learning curve when completing it on one’s own for the first time. Before boarding, said Kate Weiser Macdonell ’90, “I definitely knew how to do laundry. But it was in ninth grade when I lived in Strong that I learned what a lint screen was.” Laughing at the memory, Macdonell noted that it’s life skills like these that “you learned on the fly when you were living away from home.” Whether it is successfully operating a washing machine or balancing a checkbook, the boarding experience pushes students to develop valuable life skills and prepares them to navigate the world beyond high school. For Jaison Spain ’00, the impact of such independence did not strike him as noteworthy until after he graduated: “I remember my first year in college. Students had never done their own laundry. Others didn’t know how to budget their money properly. Even more students struggled to get to classes, practices or rehearsals on time. I took pride in honoring whatever commitment I chose and always trying new things to the best of my abilities.” Now, working in the



education field, Spain is passing on these lessons learned to a new generation of young people, aiming to, as he says, “instill that same mindset to my students.” Beyond household chores and financial acumen, living at school in a community among fellow students instills good study habits. Built-in time for studying each night, as well as the sharing of best practices, all but assures that if students didn’t arrive at Masters with a sense of how to schedule time effectively, they will leave with it. Macdonell said that as a student, she built “amazing study habits, because I was in the routine that came with the dorm. When I got to college and even beyond, into adult life, I have that schedule that was instilled in me as a boarding student, which has served me well throughout my whole life.” Macdonell’s studying schedule may not have been so different from a student in 1917, for example. Looking back at a daily schedule from that year, students had required time to study during each weekday — often both before and after dinner. Thomas West ’19, a current student who has boarded in Strong Dorm since freshman year, already sees the benefits of the study habits he has built during his years at Masters. Freshmen and sophomores today take part in a mandatory two-hour study hall beginning at 8:00 PM, “which really forces you to learn how to study,” West said. Juniors and seniors are given more freedom to dictate their schedule, but as an upperclassman, West has continued to see the benefits of those two years of structured

time and believes the impact is long-lasting. “I can definitely see in university, at eight o’clock every night, feeling like I need to start my work.” Having the daily structure instilled in him has “been very helpful,” he said. Another valuable ability that residential life offers to students is exposure to new cultures, with young people from across the country and the world living together in close quarters. Masters has always been a locationally diverse community, even from the beginning. Vose’s retrospective on the first 100 years of Masters history notes that Miss Masters’ first cohort of students from 1877 “reflect[s] an astonishingly wide geographic diversity from areas which were later to become ‘Dobbs cities.’” Although international students would not come to the School until later years, those very first classes cast what was at the time a geographically wide net, with students hailing from New Haven, Pittsburgh, Cleveland and Boston, among others. Over the years and as the School grew, students began arriving at Masters not just from around the Northeast, but from around the country and the world. Katarina Popovic ’08, who came to Masters from Serbia, said that for her, “The Masters School was a welcoming foray to the United States.” Beyond this, though, “The boarding experience at Masters introduced me to cultural diversity that became the ubiquitous environment that I have actively sought since.” Today, Masters welcomes students from 14 states and 30 countries.

Living in such a diverse community exposes students to worldviews and cultures that they might not otherwise have experienced until later in life, if at all. The Muslim holiday of Ramadan was a valuable learning experience for Thomas West, who was living with friends who observe the holiday and adhere to strict fasting from sunrise to sunset during the ninth month of the Islamic calendar: “I had never lived with somebody who hadn’t had water all day and was waiting for the sun to go down” to eat and drink. By living with practicing Muslims, West said, “I have grown to understand that identity.” He also noted that having close friends from both Egypt and Russia living on his floor “gives you that experience of going to that country without ever leaving campus.” As the international student body has grown, so have the opportunities for students and faculty to share aspects of their cultural identities with each other. Whether it’s breaking fast together during Ramadan, a celebration of the Lunar New Year, crepe-making on a Friday night, or a henna party, students and faculty have myriad opportunities to learn about each other’s cultures. This kind of respect and fluency is arguably one of the most essential skills young people can foster in an increasingly global and connected world.


Photo courtesy of Gillian Crane ’92 THE BULLETIN SPRING 2019 | 9




It is through the vicinity and close-knit community of the dorms, as well as the bonding that takes place in the evenings and on the weekends, that students develop friendships with their peers, and mentorships with faculty members who live on campus. Caroline Delafield Cox ’82 remembers that on Saturday afternoons, after working on a theater set, she and her friends “would sit and eat lunch, and talk and talk — about college, and what we wanted to do, and what we were thinking about.” Cox also recalled regularly reading The New York Times and discussing the news with her friends, and explained that it was moments like these, that “created relationships that many of my friends in college did not experience for the first time until they had gone to college.” And, students don’t just offer each other friendship — they are often role models for each other. “One of the most amazing gifts that boarding at Masters gave me was the role models,” said Kate Weiser Macdonell ’90. She explained that living with older girls whom she saw taking on leadership positions, while also maintaining their grades and modeling good behavior, “actually made my heroes accessible to me. Which all of the sudden made me realize, I could do this, too.” And then there are the dorm parents, members of the faculty and staff who live in the dorms and ensure a safe, healthy community for students. They aren’t just there as adults who enforce the rules; they provide valuable guidance and mentorship, supporting students as they adjust to life in the dorms and as they navigate the challenges of their teenage years. Priscilla Franklin Hindley ’66, who lived on campus



and worked in residential life from 1975 through 2014, said, “In large measure, being a dorm parent was creating as much of a home-life atmosphere for the students as you could.” Hindley explained that cultivating a sense of “home” means ensuring a nurturing environment, and “a safe place for kids to be teenagers, to try things out, to talk about things that were difficult for them.” It doesn’t matter if it’s just down the road or across the globe — living away from home is rarely without its challenges. And having trusted adults available 24 hours a day, seven days per week, is essential for students to navigate those difficulties. Whether helping a student with a tough math problem or offering a shoulder to cry on, “The secret is just to be there for them,” said Ed Gormley. “Whether it’s two o’clock in the afternoon or two o’clock in the morning, if you are there for them 100 percent, heart, mind and soul, they will respond to that.” Kristie Sears ’21, who lives in Cole Dorm, said, “I see our dorm parents as actual parents. Their care helps me grow. You build this bond with them [where] you know you can go to them whenever you need help.” While much of their job is serious, dorm parents also know how to provide a fun outlet for students. One of Sears’ favorite memories was around the winter holidays, which she said is a time of year when students often feel homesick. Her dorm parent had made cupcakes and brought them to the girls in Cole Dorm to frost together. For anyone who has ever spent time with a group of teenage girls, it should come as no surprise that the cupcake decorating soon turned into silly antics, with students putting frosting on each other’s noses and enjoying other lighthearted moments together. “It’s these small things that build bonds,” Sears explained.



On a recent Friday night, a dozen students were waiting outside of Masters Hall. A Masters Mystery Bus pulled up to the circle and the students piled in. Trips off campus take place regularly on the weekends, but this particular adventure was a bit different: the students had absolutely no idea where they were going. The concept of the Mystery Bus — where students meet in a designated spot, at a specific time, get on the bus, and the faculty member takes them to a surprise destination for an evening of fun — captures the spirit of boarding at Masters. Past trips have included laser tag, miniature golf, bowling and dinner at a local Greek restaurant. “It shows a level of fun and adventure, and willingness to step outside of your comfort zone,” Ed Gormley explained. “Because if you get on a bus and you don’t know where it’s going, I don’t care who you are — that’s uncomfortable! But they are very popular. I think it takes a certain kind of person to do that.”

And while boarding a bus to an unknown evening destination is indeed courageous, leaving home at the age of 13 or 14 — the age of most freshmen — is far braver. It is a weighty decision, replete with unforeseen consequences. But this ability to step outside of one’s comfort zone, to take a risk in an effort to experience something new and different, often has a lifelong impact. Coming from a close-knit family, Norene Ginsburg Peck ’73 said that “it was not an easy decision on my part to leave my parents” to go to boarding school. Indeed, she categorized the initial transition as “bumpy.” But, Peck stuck it out, and with the support of her house parents, dormmates and classmates, “I soon felt I had not only made the right decision, but I quickly availed myself of academic, campus and off-campus activities which were so enriching.” Now, reflecting on the impact of her boarding experience, Peck described it as “a fulcrum. I have forever treasured my time at Dobbs.”






DEEP UNDERSTANDING AND MEANINGFUL CONNECTION: Boarding Now and in the Future Rachel Aideyan ’19 grew up in New York City, but she had never attended a Broadway show until she came to The Masters School as a boarding student. “It’s something I don’t take for granted. Coming here and being able to have those opportunities makes me really appreciate it.” Aideyan joined Masters her freshman year and, during her four years of boarding, she has learned to treasure the “little moments” of living in a tight-knit community. “In the dorms is where people make the most memories, when you are all in your pajamas and you prank each other. Those are the moments that I treasure the most. Silly moments with friends are definitely the most fun.” There’s also a sense of belonging, she adds, and an unquestionable pact to be there for one another. “We are pretty comfortable with each other, and we are willing to support each other, help each other out.” Aideyan recognizes that opting to board is not an easy decision, but she is confident that the benefits outweigh the nerves: “I’m not going to say it’s a piece of cake, because it is not. Leaving home is a big decision, but I think it’s something you won’t regret. You learn a lot more about yourself. There’s just a level of independence that you obtain as a boarding student.” Among the advantages of being a boarding student, Aideyan says, is interacting with people who have diverse experiences and backgrounds. “Being able to meet different people with different perspectives is definitely something very worthwhile. That’s what


people get when they are in college or afterward, but being able to get it when you are 14, 15, 16 years old, is really cool.” Aideyan has taken full advantage of the opportunities available at Masters. In addition to serving as co-chair of student government, Aideyan is captain of girls’ foil fencing, a proctor in Ford Dorm, a diversity ambassador and co-president of Onyx, a club that provides a space for student conversations about issues relevant to the black community. As a senior, Aideyan looks forward to graduation and studying to become a doctor. College, the next big step, is one she feels fully prepared for: “Absolutely. One-hundred percent.” The impact of a residential program extends beyond the boarding students, like Aideyan, who call Masters “home” — it also benefits day students. Janet Pietsch and her husband, Michael, have two sons: Jackson, who graduated from The Masters School in 2009, and Owen, who is in the Class of 2020. Pietsch, a resident of Sleepy Hollow, NY, serves as a School trustee and president of the Parent Association. As a parent and an active member of the community, she welcomes the advantages the residential program has provided to her children. “Being part of a boarding community has allowed our two boys to know a wonderfully diverse group of students,” said Pietsch. “It’s been exciting for them to discuss U.S. and world history with students from other parts of the country, and from other countries. Teachers living on campus have given our sons access

beyond regular school hours, which has been tremendously helpful. And we love that the weekend activities for boarders are available to day students, as well — Owen has definitely enjoyed going to Broadway shows and other programs.” Charged with setting the course for the next chapter at The Masters School, Laura Danforth, now in her fourth year as Head of School, has focused her leadership on building upon the work of her predecessors and ensuring a meaningful and relevant experience for all Masters students. Among Danforth’s priorities is the boarding program, which she aims to shape by anticipating the needs students will face in the future and relying on her 30 years of experience as a boarding school educator. She says: “Great boarding programs provide an impactful education that operates in synergy with the academic program, focusing on the formation of good character, habits of lifelong learning, active citizenship, and tight friendships with people from all walks of life.” Boarding is not just a fundamental and meaningful part of The Masters School’s history, it is also fully aligned with our mission, Danforth states; a mission that values “deep understanding and meaningful connection,” as well as the diversity of a community that gathers “to learn, to strive, to dare, to do — to be a power for good in the world.” Last August, Danforth announced that beginning in fall 2019, the School will be providing new offerings and improved programming in its seven-day residential program, as well as a five-day boarding option. “I hope to see an intentional program that resonates with our alumnae/i as well as with incoming families; a program that combines tradition and excellence in education with new and exciting non-academic offerings. I want us to remain open-minded and adaptable to meet our students’ needs in a changing world, while retaining those treasured aspects of traditional boarding life,” Danforth says.

After completing her first admission cycle at Masters, Emma Katznelson, Director of Enrollment Management, notes that the addition of the five-day boarding option has broadened Masters’ reach, and has piqued the interest of families who live beyond a commutable distance to the School. “It has attracted a number of families to the boarding program who otherwise would have never considered boarding,” Katznelson said. Aiming to address the complexities associated with the lives of high school students, the enhanced seven-day program will offer optional activities such as driver education, test preparation classes and group college visits. It will also offer a variety of field trips and excursions, and life-skill courses in personal finance, cooking, home and auto repair, and more. Five-day boarders will enjoy all the benefits of a boarding education during the week, including full-time access to faculty and school resources for extra help and a tight-knit community — while enjoying the convenience of going home on weekends. Katznelson notes that many families are drawn to Masters because of the global nature of its boarding program. “Masters is a place where students are eager to dive into conversation about difference and are energized when considering multiple perspectives,” she said. “A boarding school naturally lends itself to this type of thoughtful discourse.” Danforth agrees, wholeheartedly. “Our boarders come from 14 states and 30 countries, and without that wonderful diversity, it would be extremely difficult to offer the richness of experience and the variety of perspectives our students have around the Harkness table — and the lunch table. Boarding life at Masters deepens everyone’s sense of belonging to something larger than themselves. That understanding is an important foundation for the purposeful lives we want our students to live as powers for good.”

“Being a day student at a boarding school is a very special experience because of the connections you make with the international students and the experiences they bring — things like the recipes that they bring from home or the music that they listen to in their country.” —Michael Garcia ’20

“My experience at Masters has really prepared me for college because I feel like the programming, the diversity — everything about Masters — tells me what college life will be like. Even hanging out in dorms when you have people from different countries, we talk about our cultures, we talk about our interests, and we share our different perspectives.” —Junrong (Karen) Li ’20

“Being part of a boarding community as a day student allows you to have a special connection with faculty members. For example, with my swim coach, we stay after school and have dinner and talk about my technique or things I can do in order to improve my stroke. Because of that, I’ve been able to set numerous records across the board and become a more confident swimmer.” —Marcus Diaz ’19

“One of the benefits of being at a boarding school is definitely the international perspective that you get to hear every day, whether it is in or outside of the classroom. It really creates a more enriching experience.” —Annie Rubinson ’20




Executive Director of The Association of Boarding Schools The Association of Boarding Schools (TABS) serves college-preparatory boarding schools in the United States, Canada, and around the globe. The Association leads a domestic and international effort to promote awareness and understanding of boarding schools and to expand the applicant pool for member institutions. TABS is a resource for educators seeking training, research, guidance and support on all issues pertaining to the residential school experience. TABS is the voice for independent boarding schools, their historical contribution to our world, and the current and compelling benefits of living and learning in an academic community. How would you summarize the benefits of a boarding school education? For starters, boarding schools offer a really exciting and broad set of academic opportunities. We have schools for almost every kind of thinker and every kind of student. And, boarding enables students and faculty to have a more deliberate, intentional and intense focus on learning. A central purpose of these schools is to prepare young people for college, and I think our schools do it better than any. But, I actually think the deeper benefits go to the development of the person, and that’s because of the kinds of relationships that develop in these schools. Students build incredibly close, lifelong friendships with their peers, and they also develop relationships with mentors. Students have the chance to learn from a really impressive set of adults and peers in ways that form their characters for the rest of their lives.


How have you seen boarding schools change in terms of the experience for students? Historically, boarding schools have always had really strong academic programs. Over the last 20 years, schools have paid a lot more attention to the community life and to student life, whether that’s thinking more deliberately about social-emotional needs, nutrition, sleep, mental health, opportunities for service learning, or the development of good personal habits and skills. Today, the average boarding school in the United States is substantially more diverse than the average public school in a number of ways. It tends to have a more pluralistic mix of races and ethnicities, and it has many students from countries around the world. I also think there is a lot more innovation happening in boarding schools, so I see a new age or a new dawn of thoughtful experimentation and a bit more of a pioneering spirit. An important component of The Masters School’s mission is to form powers for good in the world. Is there anything in the boarding experience that helps shape compassionate individuals who are concerned with the greater good? One is just the very fact of living in community. When you have the opportunity to live with others in close quarters, where you learn through practice to care about the well-being of others, you experience a daily teaching and learning of compassion.




Secondly, so many of these schools have missions that include a moral or pro-social purpose. So here you are in a place where everyone, the adults and the students, has opted in to a certain way of life and a certain concern for something larger than the self. The third is the diversity of these institutions. We have students of different geographies, ethnicities, races and religions. That kind of regular rubbing elbows with people who have different backgrounds and experiences sensitizes students to the concerns of other people. Isn’t that the foundation of compassion? Data tells us that there has been a decline in domestic boarding. Given this trend, should schools intentionally focus on increasing international recruiting? Domestic boarding has experienced a softening over the last 15 years. There has been a proliferation of choices for families: the rise of day schools, online schooling, the traditional public option, as well as newer iterations of public school such as charter schools and magnet schools. Boarding schools have felt the pressure of these new competitors. A lot of the softening in the domestic market is just a function of a lack of awareness and a lack of real understanding of what the modern, contemporary boarding school is all about. Fortunately, international enrollment has grown consistently — and more recently, domestic enrollment has turned around and is showing future promise. Most of our schools are healthiest economically, culturally, academically if they have a strong international contingent that reflects more than one or two source countries and a strong domestic base as well. That combination, in my observation, serves all the students quite well in terms of what families are actually seeking, and it also has the advantage institutionally that schools are not relying excessively on the domestic market alone, nor just a handful of international sending countries. I’d say the strongest schools have strong demand domestically and internationally, and they look to achieve some proper balance and mix.

Masters is launching a five-day boarding program in addition to its seven-day program. What are your thoughts on this initiative?

Masters is located adjacent to a massive population center, so I would think that there will be many families who are interested, in part, because of the convenience. But, I suspect that these students and parents will discover that what they receive through a five-day boarding experience is more profound, multi-dimensional and long-lasting than that. It won’t just be a convenience. In addition to the five-day program, Masters is enriching its seven-day program. How important is the weekend life of a boarding program, and what can schools do to keep the weekend activities appealing and productive, while providing appropriate time for rest and recreation? The weekend is for rest, but it’s also for recreation and enrichment, and activities and social gatherings. That learning doesn’t have to be in a classroom. It can be at a New York Yankees game or at a Broadway play. The weekend is an opportunity to leverage the extra time to accelerate learning, support maturation, and help students become the best versions of themselves. What can schools do to ensure a relevant, valuable and formative experience for students? I think schools need to better understand their families and what they are seeking and what they value. And at the same time, schools really have to deepen the commitment to their mission and to do what’s best for students with a long view. We know from research that alumni, as they get into their 20s, 30s and 40s, begin to see how their boarding experience really contributed, not just to their academic success in college and to their career trajectory, but to their character, to their citizenship, to their relationships, to their community involvement. That, to me, is the real relevance of boarding schools. Graduates from boarding schools go on to live exceptional lives, but more specifically, exceptional lives of service and purpose.



The Masters School’s girls’ basektball team defeated Horace Mann School for its first NYSAIS title.

Kendra Cooper-Smith ’19 during the NYSAIS championship game.

Gwenn Sabato ’20 during the NYSAIS championship game.

Varsity Girls’ Basketball Makes History With NYSAIS Title As the buzzer sounded at the conclusion of the New York State Association of Independent Schools (NYSAIS) girls’ basketball championship game in late February, time seemed to stand still. The glowing LED lights on the scoreboard spelled out the historic moment: Masters 65, Horace Mann 49. It marked the first-ever NYSAIS title for the varsity girls’ basketball program, igniting a euphoric celebration as fans rushed the court and mobbed every purple jersey in sight. “When I’m out of college and at a job, I’ll look back and I’ll remember that moment — always,” Brooke Tatarian ’21 said. “It was incredible to be part of that and to accomplish something that some people can only dream of.” For Kendra Cooper-Smith — a Pace University-bound senior and four-year varsity player — it was the perfect cap to an impressive career. “It’s a little unbelievable, but at the same time it’s something that we deserve because of all the hard work we put in and how much we believed in each other, our coaches and our team as a whole,” said Cooper-Smith, who cracked 1,000 career points earlier in the season. “It feels really good to be part of that and to know that this program grew with all of us as part of it.” Cooper-Smith noted the program received a major boost with the arrival of Coach Nick Volchok during her sophomore year. “That was a big change of pace and we knew it was the time to really work hard,” Cooper-Smith said. “That’s how we were going to get where we needed to be, leaning on strong leadership from Coach Nick and lots of dedication from each other day in and day out.” The hard work started to bear fruit last season, with the Panthers earning the No. 1 seed in the NYSAIS postseason tournament. Alas, their march to glory was painfully halted in the final, as they suffered a narrow loss to perennial powerhouse The Dalton School.


Not surprisingly, that setback never drifted far from the team’s collective consciousness. “That was the driving force that got us to work even harder and make sure that something like that never happened again,” Cooper-Smith said. “I think that really pushed us into this season, where we came out strong. We saw adversity as just another bump in the road, something we would get past to get back to the championship and finally win.” Making it even sweeter, No. 2 seeded Masters avenged a tough regular-season loss to top-seeded Horace Mann, which entered the final on a 19-game winning streak and boasted an overall record of 24-1. Cooper-Smith noted the youthful Panthers were a completely different squad during the first matchup in December. “We were less confident, less skilled and didn’t know each other as well,” Cooper-Smith said. “This time around we had a lot of confidence. The fact we were a No. 2 seed didn’t mean much because we knew that we could beat Horace Mann.” On the day following the championship game, classmates, administrators and teachers kept coming up to Cooper-Smith to congratulate her. She deflected the praise right back in their direction. “I was thanking them for being there for us,” Cooper-Smith said, noting the large number of Masters community members who flooded the bleachers inside host Fieldston’s gymnasium. “That’s what really makes a good championship. A team is only as good as their crowd, and I knew that our crowd was there for us. We really, really respected that and thanked them. That was an awesome moment.” And one that will live on forever, too.

Middle School Students Use Their Voices For Good The Middle School’s student-run leadership groups haven’t taken long to make an impact. And they are just getting started. On a wintry Friday afternoon, more than a dozen Middle School students were buzzing around a classroom, making notes on dry-erase boards and gathered in groups assigning final tasks. This was the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion group’s final planning session before its big fund-raiser: a faculty versus student basketball game, the proceeds of which went to the Innocence Project, an organization that works to exonerate the wrongly convicted and reform the criminal justice system. The fund-raiser, which included a bake sale led by the Masters Interested in Sharing and Helping (MISH) student leadership group, raised nearly $550. This event is just one of many projects organized by the Middle School’s four student leadership groups. The Diversity, Equity and Inclusion group focuses on issues of race, class and gender; the Student Leadership Board works to improve school life for students; MISH supports local, national and global charities; and EFFECT concentrates on environmental issues. These young leaders are passionate about making a difference and are learning valuable leadership skills in the process of effecting positive change.

The 2018-19 Student Leadership Group Co-Chairs. Top row, from left: Morgan Young ’23 and Cameron Lovett ’23. Second row, from left: Giselle Meskin ’23, Aimee Ayala ’23 and Gisele Cestaro ’23. Third row, from left: Tanner Dandridge ’23, Lauren Marlowe ’23, Hannah Schiciano ’23 and Madeline Marlowe ’23. Bottom row, from left: Oluwademilade Oni ’23 and Ella Dunas ’23.

Making a Difference, Near and Far The groups are the brainchild of Tasha Elsbach, Head of Middle School, who believes that empowering students to speak up for what they believe in is key to the School’s mission — to be a power for good in the world. The groups are run by the students with oversight from a faculty advisor. By giving students ownership to decide on projects and see them through, “we are teaching kids to use their voice,” Elsbach said. “It’s very exciting to them when they [realize] ‘we have the power to make a difference.’” And with four groups dedicated to distinct issues, students can take part in the initiative that speaks to their interest and passion. “I wanted to have more of a voice in the School,” said Cameron Lovett ’23, Co-Chair of the Student Leadership Board, which successfully campaigned for a wider variety of healthy snacks to be available during breaks. Fellow Co-Chair Ella Dundas ’23, who spearheaded a proposal for a bus shelter on campus, put their philosophy succinctly: “Instead of being upset about it, we can fix it.” The bus shelter proposal is now being considered by the Business Office. In just a few months, the groups have made a real impact. They have encouraged advisories to participate in symbolic species adoptions with the World Wildlife Fund, held a food drive for the Dobbs Ferry Food Pantry, and presented to students on

simple ways to conserve energy. That’s just a sampling of their completed initiatives, and they have several more projects in the works.

Developing Leadership Skills These students are constantly learning new leadership skills. Gisele Cestaro ’23 used to be shy until she became a co-chair of EFFECT. “I have learned to speak up in groups and share my ideas.” Other co-chairs shared similar sentiments, explaining that leading their group has helped them grow in their ability to compromise, listen and manage time effectively, which impacts them both inside and outside the classroom. Giselle Meskin ’23, Co-Chair of MISH, said “Being a leader really helps you in a group discussion in class. You can make good points and lead the conversation.” And with more than 20 members in its ranks, Lauren Marlowe ’23, Co-Chair of MISH, said, “It’s a good skill to be able to have in the future, to say ‘I’ve led a group, I know how to handle 20 people.’” Elsbach is pleased with the students’ accomplishments thus far, all of which have required bold ideas and passion for change, as well as the ability to work together, problem solve and be resilient. She is certain that “these organizations are going to do more, have more presence, as time goes on.” Lovett concurred: “I’m really happy and proud of the work we are doing. I think it is going to affect Masters in the future in a positive way.”



Celebration and Conversation on Martin Luther King Jr. Day athlete,” Ratan said. “But, he also made a lot of comments and remarks about how inequality wasn’t what America stood for” and made significant contributions to the movement. Ratan chose this moment to present on influential but often lesser-known leaders of the Civil Rights Movement because “they had a huge impact on [the movement] and things like equality and freedom. They also were people that embodied what Masters stands for.”

Arjun Ratan ’24 presents on prominent figures in the American Civil Rights Movement.

It was both a celebration of progress and a conversation about current issues that powered the Middle School’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day events on Tuesday, January 22. Students and faculty gathered in Doc Wilson Hall to commemorate the iconic leader of the American Civil Rights Movement and his legacy. Throughout the hourlong assembly, students and faculty presented poems, songs and videos that focused on the life and work of Dr. King, the accomplishments of the American Civil Rights Movement, and current issues in American society. Arjun Ratan ’24, who is a member of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion group, took the opportunity to shine a spotlight on some prominent figures of the American Civil Rights Movement who worked alongside King, including John Lewis, Bayard Rustin and Jackie Robinson. Robinson, for example, “was a legendary

After the assembly, students gathered in break-out groups to discuss questions such as “If Dr. King were alive today, what work do you think he would be doing?” and “Have you ever felt like someone was judging you based on an external characteristic, for example, race or gender, clothing, etc.? How did it make you feel?” Reflecting on these thought-provoking and sometimes difficult questions in small groups gave students the opportunity to process and have conversations about what they had heard during the assembly, as well as to focus on issues that matter to them personally. “Ultimately,” said Tasha Elsbach, Head of Middle School, “I hope that our students are inspired to follow their dreams and to work toward causes that matter to them. King implores us to speak up for what is right.” By highlighting the accomplishments of the Civil Rights Movement and asking the question Dr. King asked in 1967 — where do we go from here? — the day’s events raised important questions, sparked valuable discussions, and gave students a fuller understanding of those who made an impact during this crucial time in American history.

A Showcase of Middle School Talent Comedy? Check. Music? Check. Rubik’s Cubes? Check. The Middle School Talent Show on Friday, December 21, 2018, was a showcase of students’ many creative skills and talents. From original choreography and solo vocal performances to a stand-up comedy routine and two separate Rubik’s Cube acts, the show lived up to its name. The event, which took place in the Claudia Boettcher Theatre on the last day before winter break, ended with a surprise performance by a faculty band, which flawlessly performed the R&B classic “Respect.” Students were on their feet clapping and cheering for their teachers throughout the entire song. The excitement around the faculty band, which capped off an already impressive set of acts, undoubtedly ensured that students began their winter break on a high note.


Josie Leff ’25 performing during the talent show.


Colorful Pop Art Displayed in Wenberg Gallery One hundred seventy-two colorful pop art portraits filled the Wenberg Art Gallery on the third floor of the Fonseca Center in February and March. The works were the result of an in-class visual arts exploration led by Middle School art teachers Bruce Robbins and Vicente Saavedra that began in the fall of 2018. Each student was asked to take a self-portrait using Photo Booth on School Apple laptop computers. That photo was then manipulated into a high-contrast black and white image, which then served as a reference for new works of art. Next, the students worked on 4”x5” gold and silver scratch boards. Their finished portraits were then displayed in the Middle School lobby as an artistic — and very shiny — face board.

Middle School student art on display in the Wenberg Art Gallery.

During the winter trimester, students took the project to another level and medium by creating colorful acrylic paintings on 9”x12” canvas panels. During the creative process, students learned about pop art, high-contrast imagery, positive and negative space, and simple color theory, all while developing hands-on painting skills. Andy Warhol’s silkscreen portraits of popular culture icons were inspirational as students worked to turn their images into paintings that popped with vibrant colors.

Sixth Grade Engages in Yearlong Study of Hudson River The Hudson River has offered the sixth grade a multitude of learning opportunities, with the students exploring the famous body of water from various perspectives. The yearlong experiential learning curriculum includes seining in the river; visiting West Point; and canoeing Constitution Marsh, a 270-acre freshwater and brackish tidal marsh located between Constitution Island and the eastern shores of the Hudson River in Garrison, NY. Recently, the students visited the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, NY, where they explored four exhibits: the sculptures of Maya Lin in “A River Is a Drawing;” the Hudson Riverama room; paintings from the Hudson River School in the permanent collection; and Glenview, the museum’s on-site Victorian mansion. Middle School humanities teacher Mark Tamucci seining with sixth-grade students.



Upper School Commemorates Veterans Day and the 100th Anniversary of WWI Armistice Seventeen bell tones rang across campus on Monday, November 12, 2018, each toll representing one million lives lost during World War I. It was a somber occasion, with Upper School students gathering in silence on the quad to observe Veterans Day and the 100th anniversary of the armistice that ended World War I. Students and faculty then listened as Head of School Laura Danforth spoke about the impossibility of imagining 17 million lives, and asked students to “think about one face, one human life.” Two members of the Masters community — Brian Cheney, Upper School history and religion teacher, and Alex Bentzien ’19 — then recited “In Flanders Fields” by John McCrae and “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by John Donne. The day, which was led by Upper School history teacher Matthew Browne and a dedicated group of faculty and students, included break-out sessions that focused on topics including the Christmas Truce of 1914, Latino soldiers in American wars, women in war and the eugenics movement during World War I. Julia Mathas ’19 led a break-out session that focused on 40 soldiers from the rivertowns in Westchester who fought in World War I. At the end of the session, after participants had come to “know” the individual soldiers, Mathas shared that 39 of the 40 soldiers died in the war. The goal, she said, was “to call emphasis to the individual. Every single one of them meant something. Every single one of those lives mattered.” The day’s events worked to honor both the many and the individual. “When we study wars, we study them in the broader context,” Mathas explained. But those wars were fought by individuals, and “I wanted to remember them. They did something really important and they gave their lives for it.”

The Upper School gathered on the quad to observe Veterans Day and the 100th anniversary of the World War I armistice.


Olivia Knowles ’20 and Ian Accetta ’19 in Fiddler on the Roof.

A Powerful Rendition of Fiddler on The Roof The crowd in the Claudia Boettcher Theatre leaped to its feet at the conclusion of the Upper School’s moving performance of Fiddler on the Roof to offer a standing ovation. The musical, directed by Department of Performing Arts faculty member Jason Reiff, took place on Friday, February 22, and Saturday, February 23. The production was a labor of love for the actors, student production team, creative team and orchestra. Ian Accetta ’19, who played the role of the patriarch, Tevye, said “I fell in love with the character from the first time I read the script. He felt like a very real character, a very real person, who was struggling to balance a lot of things that he cared about in his life in the face of unstoppable forces. It was an absolute privilege to play him.” While there are many joyful moments in the story, Fiddler on the Roof also addresses the serious themes of persecution and anti-Semitism. “This musical has connections to current events and issues of social justice,” said Jen Carnevale, Chair of the Department of Performing Arts. And, she shared, the students “joyful and tearful performances moved us all, as did their embodiment of survival and resilience.”


Youssef Wins U.S. Junior Open Squash Title With her mother and father in the stands all the way from Egypt, Nouran Youssef ’20 knew losing wasn’t an option at the December 2018 U.S. Junior Open Squash Championships in Andover, MA. After dropping the opening game of the Girls’ Under-17 final, Youssef Nouran Youssef ’20 at settled in and cruised to a 3-1 victory the U.S. Junior Open Squash Championships. (8-11, 11-7, 11-8, 11-5) over Erica McGillicuddy of Canada. “It was really scary when I lost that first game,” Youssef said. “I just refocused and told myself that I worked so hard for this and I can’t just let it go. I fought till the end.” Emotion took over following the final point. “My parents cried and hugged me,” Youssef said. “I couldn’t believe it. When you really want something and are really dreaming of having it, and then you get it, you think to yourself: ‘Is this real?’” The win marked Youssef’s first U.S. Junior Open Squash title since 2014-15 when she burst onto the scene in the Girls’ Under-13 division. Youssef won a total of six matches en route to the championship, besting competitors from Barbados, Italy, the United States, England and Canada.

Cybersecurity Team Ranks Nationally The Masters School’s 2018-19 cybersecurity team, comprised of team captain Brandon Zazza ’21, Matt Nappo ’21 and Zach Battleman ’21, recently participated in the CyberPatriot National Youth Cyber Defense Competition and placed The 2018-19 Cybersecurity team, from left: team captain Brandon Zazza ’21, Matt first in New York state — Nappo ’21 and Zach Battleman ’21. a laudable achievement in its own right. They also placed 19th in the country in their division, making their way into the 98th percentile. Each student brings a different skill set to the team: Zazza is the cybersecurity expert and Nappo and Battleman bring critical programming acumen. Nappo, who has been programming from a young age and taught himself much of what he knows about computer science, noted, “All these skills are applicable in the real world.” Beyond this, he said, there is an inherent value to programming because it improves logic and problem-solving skills. And while opportunities like the cybersecurity competition provide valuable experience, Nappo said there is a simpler explanation for why he is drawn to programming: “It’s really fun.”

Students and Faculty Participate in Student Diversity Leadership Conference For the six Masters students and eight faculty who attended the December 2018 Student Diversity Leadership Conference, the topics covered, the connections made, and the impact of the overall experience was nothing short of profound.

From left: Gabriela Seguinot ’20, Madison Burton ’20 and Sage Francis ’19 at the Student Diversity Leadership Conference.

The four-day conference is a multiracial, multicultural gathering of upper school student leaders from across the United States and the world, and focuses on self-reflecting, forming allies and building community. Throughout the four days, students attend affinity group sessions, workshops and seminars, and develop cross-cultural communication skills; design effective strategies for social justice

practice through dialogue and the arts; and learn the foundations of allyship and networking principles. Back at Masters, students reflected on the ways in which the conference made an indelible and mission-aligned impact. “Together we were there to further ourselves in becoming wiser, more aware, kinder,” said Audrey Corrigan ’20. And, said Jaelyn Felton ’20, she feels confident using her voice to effect change: “Something that I have taken away from SDLC and that I will keep with me for the rest of my life is: always speak up for what you believe is right.”



Q&A With Sujata Jaggi ’01, Director of Alumnae/i Engagement We studied the 2000 presidential election while it was happening and even met former vice president and then-presidential candidate Al Gore. It was an exciting moment in history and Ms. Roche deftly guided us through the complexities of the recount in Florida and the beginning of George W. Bush’s presidency. Which co-curriculars did you participate in? I was a member of Model UN and co-editor of Tower, which had been revived in 2000. It was exciting to report on the news of the School. Mr. Ives was the faculty advisor and he championed our work. Along with co-editor Alex Sternberg ’01, I learned a lot about the behind-the-scenes aspects of a printed paper. What made you want to stay connected with the School after you graduated? Staying in touch has kept me connected to a special time in my life and to those teachers who helped shape who I am today. I am grateful for the opportunities I had here and have always felt compelled to give back in every way possible.

Sujata Adamson-Mohan Jaggi ’01 joined The Masters School as Director of Alumnae/i Engagement in January 2019. Jaggi was the School’s Director of Alumnae/i Relations from 2009 through 2012, and will once again be spearheading the important work of supporting and engaging our alumnae/i community. In addition to her previous role working at the School, Jaggi has been a longtime volunteer, serving on the Dobbs Alumnae/i Association Board and as her class notes editor. Are you a Delta or a Phi? I am a proud Delta! What are some of your favorite memories from your time as a student? I always looked forward to checking the A-Z board. In terms of impact, though, taking Ms. Roche’s political science class senior year remains one of my favorite memories.


What was one of the most rewarding projects you worked on as a member of the Dobbs Alumnae/i Association Board? I am particularly proud of our creation of the Maureen Fonseca Young Alumnae/i Award, which honors an alumna/us under the age of 30 who embodies the values of the School and serves to be a power for good in the world. It was really meaningful to see our first ever honoree, Ava Bynum ’10, receive the award during Reunion in 2016. What are some of your initial priorities as you step into this role? My initial priorities are to get to know more alumnae/i, keep them informed about the School, and better understand what kind of programming and events will be most exciting to them. Our alumnae/i are an integral part of our identity and keeping in touch provides a precious opportunity to honor our history and traditions. Our alumnae/i provide a unique perspective that can help us shape the future of our School while honoring our past. What does “Do It With Thy Might” mean to you? For me, it means doing something wholeheartedly. Whatever you choose to pursue, make the commitment and follow it through.

A Discussion on Equity and Inclusion at Masters On Saturday, September 29, 2018, Sabriyah Hassan ’98 hosted alumnae/i at the Banneker-Douglass Museum in Annapolis, MD, where Masters’ Director of Equity and Inclusion Karen Brown and three student diversity ambassadors discussed equity and inclusion initiatives at the School, including the Saturday Summit on Social Justice, diversity ambassadors program, student clubs and affinity groups.

Alumnae/i and students in Annapolis, MD.

Cocktails and Conversation in New York City On Wednesday, October 10, 2018, alumnae/i and parents gathered at Penthouse 45 in New York City for a reception hosted by Anita and Neal Pilzer P’08, ’12; Lauren Pilzer ’08 and Julia Pilzer ’12. The evening also featured a special performance by Dobbs 16.

1/ From left: Noelle Bucellato; Matthew Kozar ’02; Edith Chapin ’83, Chair of the Board of Trustees. 2/ From left: Anita Pilzer P’08, ‘12; Chelsea Dieck ’09; Lee Dieck P’09, Ethical Leadership Coordinator; Laura Danforth, Head of School; Paula Chu. 3/ From left: Yuki Ozeki ’94, Amy McLeran ’96, Joanna Schlesser-Perry ’96, Standing: Porscha Burke ’96, Dobbs Alumnae/i Association Board member.

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4/ From left: Lauren Pilzer ’08, Joseph Doubleday, Emily Chapman ’08, Chelsea Dieck ’09.

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Young Alumnae/i Sushi Soirée With plenty of sushi and stories to go around, attendees at the Young Alumnae/i Sushi Soirée on Wednesday, January 9, let the good times roll, filling the normally staid Estherwood mansion with laughter and excitement. Nearly 80 alumnae/i, seniors and faculty gathered to reconnect and catch up at the annual party, which included a sushi spread from Sushi Mike’s in Dobbs Ferry. Head of School Laura Danforth joined in the festivities and welcomed the alums back to their alma mater. Members of the Class of 2019, the next class of young alumnae/i, were in attendance, and were eager to learn more about their friends’ college experiences and about life after Masters.

Visit our website for the latest news from campus: mastersny.org Watch your inbox for The Masters Messenger Alumnae/i E-Newsletter Like us on Facebook: facebook.com/mastersny Follow us on Instagram: instagram.com/mastersschool Follow us on Twitter: twitter.com/mastersny Prefer to stay updated the good, old-fashioned way? Call Sujata Jaggi ’01, Director of Alumnae/i Engagement, at 914-479-6611 or email her at alumni@mastersny.org.

From left: Jamilah Grizzle ’17, Emma Friedman ’18, Phoebe Van Essche ’17.

From left: Matt Friedman ’18, Emma Goodman ’19, Dylan Douglas ’18, Emma Luis ’19.


For generations, Masters School students and teachers have benefited from our community’s support — and they still rely on it today. To make your gift to this year’s Annual Fund, please contact Hilary Finkelstein at 914-479-6510 or hilary.finkelstein@mastersny.org.


We would like to extend our deepest gratitude to all members of the Estherwood Society for their generous commitment to The Masters School. Through the Estherwood Society, we are honored to recognize and thank the alumnae/i, parents and friends who have chosen to support The Masters School through their estate, trust or other gift planning vehicle. Society members leave a legacy that provides opportunity and promise for our students now and into the future. In recognition of their generosity, members are invited to our annual luncheon and other special events throughout the year. For more information about the Estherwood Society, gift planning or to notify The Masters School of your intentions, please contact Sujata Jaggi ’01, Director of Alumnae/i Engagement, at 914-479-6611 or sujata.jaggi@mastersny.org.



An Alumna’s Mission: Highlighting the Military Family Experience Through Poetry When Pamela Hart Rago ’71, P’04 picked up the phone one day in 2012, she was not expecting the news that greeted her on the other end of the line: She had received a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship. Pamela Hart Rago ’71, P’04

Pamela Hart is author of the award-winning collection, Mothers Over Nangarhar, published by Sarabande Books. Hart is writer-in-residence at the Katonah Museum of Art where she manages and teaches an arts-in-education program. In addition to receiving the Brian Turner Literary Arts Prize in poetry in 2016, she was awarded a National Endowment for the Arts poetry fellowship as well as a fellowship from the SUNY Purchase College Writers Center. Toadlily Press published her chapbook, The End of the Body. She is a poetry editor for the Afghan Women’s Writing Project and for As You Were: The Military Review.


“It was mind-blowing and life-altering,” Rago recalled. The fellowship gave her “the impetus, the motivation, and the courage” to turn her poems into what eventually became her debut poetry book, Mothers Over Nangarhar. The book, which won the 2017 Kathryn A. Morton Poetry Prize, concentrates on the fears and psychological battles suffered by parents, lovers and friends during a soldier’s absence and return home, if indeed there is a return. Rago’s focus on the experience of military families is highly personal. Her son Will graduated from The Masters School in 2004, and at the age of 23 made the decision to enlist in the United States Army. Will’s interest in military service came as a surprise to Rago, and she recalled that his choice to join the Army “was a big learning experience” for her and her family. Her son’s enlistment led Rago to spend time reading classic war literature and war poetry, and she began writing her own poetry in response. Through this writing, Rago explained, “I found myself taking on the voice of the mother.” At the same time, Rago, who lives in Westchester County, NY, began attending a support group for families of military personnel. It was during these meetings where she heard “mostly women talk about their worries and anxieties and fears about their family member.” Her poems soon began echoing those voices.

Praise Song “The story of war is pretty much told through the warrior’s point of view — necessarily,” Rago shared. She is quick to note that, since 9/11, approximately three million women and men have served in the United States military on five million deployments and, as Rago pointed out, “they’ve all got families. They’ve got spouses, siblings, parents and children, and you don’t find those narratives out in the culture.” As the mother of a child in the military, “I was yearning for those stories.” Mothers Over Nangarhar is her contribution to that space. It is filled with the stories and the voices of women who are home, awaiting a deployed family member’s return, but it also considers the experience of women who are in the military. Rago hopes that Mothers Over Nangarhar will help those who read it consider the experience of military families. Beyond that, she said, “I hope they also think about how we can use art and language as a way of responding to, reflecting on and experiencing the times we live in.”

By Pamela Hart From Mothers Over Nangarhar, printed with permission from Sarabande Books.

• • •

A morning prayer to all That keeps you safe To body armor and weapons The drill sergeant and the bullet Interpreter and phrase book To MREs and rocket launchers Also the forward operating Base and your radio operator The helicopter pilots and soldiers Who donate blood the medic And tourniquet Dog tags and helmet I sing of your boots caked In clay rough with hours Of the IED you don’t step On and the dog who finds it The specialist and sniper Tip of the spear and rear guard I want to praise the desert The women of Afghanistan Tajik Pashtun Hazara May they be wild with fury To your smile And your instinct A praise song to next month and the next Each one bringing you home alive

Pamela Hart Rago ’71, P’04 and her son Will Rago ’04.



Addressing (Mis)perceptions: Alumna Co-Curates Exhibit on Imperial Legacies in Tropical Nations



“Your Special Island” was an exhibit a long time in the making. After graduating from Bryn Mawr College in 2017, Maya Berrol-Young ’13 received a Fulbright English teaching assistantship that took her to Thailand for a year. It was during this time when she was living and working in, teaching, and traveling around Southeast Asia, that Berrol-Young, who received her B.A. in art and politics, was exposed to the ways in which different countries handle the telling of their colonial histories and the impact of imperialism through artistic expression of these difficult topics.


3 1/ Maya Berrol-Young ’13, co-curator of the exhibit “Your Special Island.” 2/ From left: Kiera Wilson ’13, Maya Berrol-Young ’13 and Alex Minton ’13 at the “Your Special Island” exhibit. 3/ From left: Co-curators Maya Berrol-Young ’13 and Courtney Lynne Carter, with Matthew Callinan, Associate Director of Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery and Campus Exhibitions.

While working at the Bangkok Art and Culture Centre, BerrolYoung assisted with exhibits that “explored the politics of representation of tropical sites through contemporary artists and their work.” It was during this time that she began discussing her impressions of local art with Courtney Lynne Carter, a Haverford College alumna who was living in Singapore. After Carter completed her fellowship in Singapore, she received a fellowship at Haverford to curate an art exhibit and asked Berrol-Young to be her co-curator. Berrol-Young, of course, said yes.

Berrol-Young had significant curatorial team experience, but “Your Special Island” was her first time curating an entire exhibit with just one other person. “We did all of it,” she said. “From the very initial brainstorming stage to contacting and talking with artists, to figuring out the logistics of shipping and installing artworks, managing an installation budget, and writing and designing a catalogue. This was the most hands-on, involved project that I’ve been a part of. Every word of catalogue text and every nail in the wall felt like a true expression of our vision.”

The resulting exhibit, “Your Special Island,” addresses the contemporary cultural biases and stereotypes that stem from imperial histories in tropical areas, and asks visitors “to think critically about the way that they engage with tropical sites and the imperial legacies that continue to impact them,” explained Berrol-Young. The exhibit, which ran from Thursday, February 7, through Friday, March 8, at Haverford College’s Visual Culture, Arts and Media facility in Pennsylvania displayed the works of three artists whose work focuses on these themes: Andrea Chung, Rachelle Dang and Ming Wong.

But, the most rewarding part of the exhibit was not the skills she gained as a curator. “It was being able to bring these artists to the public,” said Berrol-Young. She was also able to share the exhibit with members of the Masters School community who traveled to see the exhibit on its opening weekend: her parents — Lisa Berrol, history teacher, and Skeffington Young, Chair of the History and Religion Department — as well as Masters classmates Alex Minton ’13 and Kiera Wilson ’13.



Elizabeth Meigs Eidlitz 1928-2019 The Masters School shares with deep sadness that

She was beloved by many students and will be

Elizabeth Meigs Eidlitz passed away on January 9, 2019, at

remembered for her many contributions to The Masters

the age of 90. She taught English at The Masters School

School community. Ms. Eidlitz was a graduate of Riverdale

for 17 years, from 1952 through 1969. In addition to

Country School and Vassar College. She spent her career in

teaching English, Ms. Eidlitz served as a student advisor,

independent schools, both teaching and working on the

as well as supervisor for Tower and Panache. In 1956, The

administration side.

Bulletin announced that Ms. Eidlitz had won “Best Article” by the editors of The Independent School Bulletin for an article entitled “Can We Afford to Teach?”


Jean E. Miller of Bennington, VT, on May 22, 2018 Margaret “Peggy” Lehrecke of Tappan, NY, on January 22, 2019 Elizabeth Meigs Eidlitz of Concord, MA, on January 9, 2019

Alumnae/i 1938 Ruth Weyburn Parker of Camden, ME, on October 31, 2018 1940 Joan Revell Vaughan of Prides Crossing, MA, on August 19, 2018 1941 Alice Whitecotton Barry of La Jolla, CA, on August 1, 2018 1942 Theodora Cogswell DeLand of Darien, CT, on November 20, 2018 1945 Victoria Simes Poole of Cape Elizabeth, ME, on December 9, 2018 1946 Sophia D. St. John-Brainerd of Mechanicsburg, PA, on July 1, 2018 1947 Anne Kittredge Jeffrey of Columbus, OH, on November 8, 2018 1947 Audrey Stephenson Brooks of Weston, CT, on January 21, 2019 1948 Janet Sawyer Appleyard of Queensbury, NY, on September 14, 2018 1949 Fan Pratt Larner of Boxborough, MA, on February 12, 2019 1951 Ann Woodhouse Sales of Grosse Pointe Park, MI, on February 15, 2019

1953 Joan Patterson Woodhull of Vero Beach, FL, on December 16, 2018 1954 Evelyn Bates Owen of New York, NY, on September 15, 2018 1954 Mary Martha Armstrong Taylor of Longwood, FL, on November 5, 2018 1955 Karen Dudley Vaughan of Newport, RI, on November 21, 2017 1956 Margot Kittredge of Carlisle, MA, on May 12, 2018 1957 Diane Tietig Riegel of Kennebunk, ME, on November 21, 2018 1962 Katharine Mohlman Watson of Sonoma, CA, on August 26, 2018 1963 Deborah Pierce Kuhnel of West Palm Beach, FL, on July 11, 2018 1963 Nancy Groves of Boynton Beach, FL, on November 27, 2018 1965 Linda Nilson of Tallahassee, FL, on February 26, 2019 1978 Tara McGowan Goldman of Lake Worth, FL, on September 16, 2018 1984 Hannah Williams Hudson of Belvedere Tiburon, CA, on August 18, 2018 1990 Alice Pisani Hurdle of Maplewood, NJ, on May 11, 2018 2004 Deanna DeLuca of Carmel, NY, on December 20, 2018 2011 Will Keaton Guthrie-Goss of Garrison, NY, on November 29, 2018

1952 Mary Fiske Beck of Harpswell, ME, on October 26, 2018




Laura Danforth Head of School laura.danforth@mastersny.org



Adriana Hauser Director of Strategic Communications adriana.hauser@mastersny.org

Seth Marx Director of Institutional Advancement seth.marx@mastersny.org

Isaac Cass Digital Communications Coordinator/Content Producer isaac.cass@mastersny.org

Judy Donald Advancement Associate judy.donald@mastersny.org

Bob Horne Director of Marketing bob.horne@mastersny.org Jen Schutten Marketing and Publications Manager jennifer.schutten@mastersny.org

Hilary Finkelstein Annual Fund Manager hilary.finkelstein@mastersny.org Sujata Jaggi ’01 Director of Alumnae/i Engagement sujata.jaggi@mastersny.org Maryann Perrotta Database Administrator maryann.perrotta@mastersny.org Aishling Peterson P’18, ’20, ’22 Director of Parent Engagement and Special Events aishling.peterson@mastersny.org Mary Ryan ’00 Director of Annual Giving mary.ryan@mastersny.org

Head of School Laura Danforth Board of Trustees Edith C. Chapin ’83, Chair Keryn Norton Mathas P’19, ’21, ’22, Vice Chair J. Keith Morgan P’17, Treasurer Suzie Paxton ’88, Secretary Martin Bjäringer P’17 Fred Brettschneider P’19 Jonathan Clay P’19 Malaak Compton-Rock P’20 Laura Danforth Michael D’Angelo P’15, ’19 David Heidelberger ’01 Kate Henry ’94, P’25 Sheree Holliday P’16, ’20 Christina Masters Jones Phil Kassen Richard Li P’20 Tracy Tang Limpe ’80, P’18 Victor Luis P’17, ’19 Sydney Macy ’70 Edgar M. Masters H’98, Life Trustee Susan Follett Morris ’57, Life Trustee Hillary Peckham ’09 Janet Pietsch P’09, ’20 Margarita Sawhney P’20 Diana Davis Spencer ’56, P’84 Mirna Valerio ’93 Honorary Trustees Marin Alsop ’73 Cynthia Ferris Evans ’52, P’76, ’86 Jeannette Sanford Fowlkes ’58, P’87 Ruth Mitchell Freeman ’51 Nancy Maginnes Kissinger ’51 Claudia Boettcher Merthan ’51 Lynn Pilzer Sobel ’71, P’99, ’05 Dobbs Alumnae/i Association Board David Heidelberger ’01, President Hannah J. Miller ’10, Interim Vice President

Design: Kelsh Wilson Design


Porscha Burke ’96 Sharon Nechis Castillo ’84 Eleanor H. Collinson ’98 Karen Feinberg Dorsey ’84 Austin O’Neill Dunyk ’98 Evan B. Leek ’01

John M. McGovern ’07 Justina I. Michaels ’02 Ricardo C. Oelkers ’03 Parent Association Executive Committee Janet Pietsch P’09, ’20, President Leslie Rusoff P’17, ’17, ’18, ’21, ’22, Co-Vice President, Upper School Robin Scheuer P’18, ’20, Co-Vice President, Upper School Marie Fabian P’22, ’26, Co-Vice President, Middle School Gabrielle Rosenfeld P’24, Co-Vice President, Middle School Committee Chairs and Representatives Leslie Rusoff P’17, ’17, ’18, ’21, ’22, Chair, Admission Support Erick Blanc P’23, Chair, Annual Fund Anne Termini P’20, Boarding Parent Representative James Francis P’19, Co-Chair, Equity and Inclusion Madeline Seguinot P’20, Co-Chair, Equity and Inclusion Mary Lockhart P’19, ’20, Co-Chair, Faculty-Staff Appreciation Day Jennifer Nappo P’21, ’23, ’23, Co-Chair, Faculty-Staff Appreciation Day; Chair, Parent Programs Class Representatives Jose Camacho P’26 Patrice Coleman ’77, P’21 Marie Fabian P’22, ’26 Annette Halprin P’23, ’24 Joe Halprin P’23, ’24 Mary Lockhart P’19, ’20 Staci Marlowe P’23, ’23, ’25 Jillian Miller P’22 Allison Moore ’83, P’17, ’19, ’24 Lindsay Mortimer P’26 Jennifer Nappo P’21, ’23, ’23 Janet Pietsch P’09, ’20 Rini Ratan P’22, ’24 Gabrielle Rosenfeld P’24 Anne Termini P’20 Cori Worchel P’19, ’21 Monaqui Porter Young P’23, ’25

Eliza Bailey Masters wrote in a 1919 letter to alumnae, “you own the School.” Inspired by her call to action, the alumnae raised the money for a new school building, completed in 1921, and named it Masters Hall in her honor. Today — nearly 100 years later — The Masters School still relies on the generosity of our community to continue Miss Masters’ legacy and support our School’s mission, students, programs and future.

Here are just a few of the ways that alumnae/i and parents can give back to our School:

Financial Support

Volunteer Opportunities

Annual Giving



Endowment Support

Reunion Committee

Parent Association

Capital Projects

Alumnae/i Giving Day

Annual Fund Volunteer

Planned Giving

Admission Volunteer

Phonathon Caller

Class Notes Editor

Admission Volunteer

Class Agent Event Host

Faculty/Staff Appreciation Day Committee

Contact: Sujata Jaggi ’01, Director of Alumnae/i Engagement, at 914-479-6611 or sujata.jaggi@mastersny.org

Contact: Aishling Peterson P’18, ’20, ’22, Director of Parent Engagement and Special Events, at 914-479-6639 or aishling.peterson@mastersny.org

Contact: Seth Marx, Director of Institutional Advancement, at 914-479-6527 or seth.marx@mastersny.org

There are numerous ways to get involved and give back to Masters. If you have an idea that is not listed above, please let us know. THE BULLETIN SPRING 2019 | 6

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Profile for The Masters School

Spring 2019 The Bulletin  

Spring 2019 The Bulletin  

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