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BEACON A publication of Miami Country Day School Winter 2014

in this issue: “75 reasons why miami country day rocks” & Country Day Creates Permanent Ceramic Installation for Beloved Teacher, Mrs. Beckie Witherington

Our Mission Miami Country Day School is a college preparatory learning community committed to educating the whole child. Through the core values of honor, respect, wisdom, and compassion, we prepare students to be lifelong learners. We inspire our children to develop their intellectual, physical, aesthetic, social, emotional, and spiritual potentials by valuing every student every day.

contents “ winter 2014


A Message from the Head of School


75 Years – Happy Birthday! MCDS Celebrates 75 in style


Community Learning Partnership


The Arts at Country Day


Country Day Creates Permanent Ceramic Installation for Beloved Teacher, Mrs. Beckie Witherington


Homecoming Festivities


Annual Giving Founders’ Circle Event and New Parents’ Reception


Parents’ Association


Fall Sports Awards


Alumni Feature


Class Notes


Ask an Alum

Miami Country Day gave me the foundation necessary to be the person and the professional I am today. David Benjamin ’98, p. 36


Photos courtesy of Scholastic Experience Imaging


Divisional Highlights Lower, Middle, and Upper School


Planned Giving with Jack DuBois

winter 2014 


75 Reasons I Love Country Day by Dr. John Davies, Head of School


75th Anniversary


Valuing the School’s Rich Tradition


Education of the Whole Child


Fabulous, Supportive Parents’ Associaton


Portrait of a Graduate


Dedicated Staff


Class of 2025


Engaged Leadership Team


Core Values


Commitment to Technology


Strong Sense of Community


Week of Possibilities


Global Learning


Community Learning Partnership


The Walk for Cancer




Beautiful Campus


Learning Resource Program


The Alumni Board Leadership


Career Day




Class of 2014


Class of 2017


Homecoming Weekend


Country Day Families


Dedicated Faculty Team


Class of 2015


Class of 2022




Culture of Diversity


Fabulous Faculty


Senior Projects


Student Leaders


The Leader in Me program


Abess Center for Environmental Studies


Community Garden


Successful Engaged Alumni


Class of 2018


Culture of Philanthropy


The Mural by Charlie Edwards


Celebrating Every Student, Every Day


The Beacon


L.B. Sommers & Doc Abele


Class of 2026


Creating Lifelong Learners


College Guidance Program


Class of 2027


Life Skills Program


Faculty and their Commitment to Excellence


Sammy the Spartan


Annual Giving Donors and Volunteers


Breakthrough Miami


The Monks from Tibet


Scholar Athletes


Celebrations of the Arts


Class of 2020


Class of 2024


The Franco Center Gallery


Community Service


Class of 2028


Editor’s note The Beacon Magazine was designed for members of the Miami Country Day School Family —including students, faculty, parents, grandparents and alumni—in an effort to share stories and celebrate. This magazine is published by the Development/Alumni Office. If you have any comments or suggestions, please address them to: The Beacon Magazine, Miami Country Day School, Development Office, 601 NE 107 Street, Miami, FL 33161, call (305) 779-7210, or e-mail Abra Adrabi at .

Photos courtesy of Scholastic Experience Imaging


Student Authors


Hibiscus Hedge written by Bill Ellis


The 75th Anniversary Timeline


Yule Log Ceremony


Class of 2021


The School Bell


Yeatman King


Class of 2019


Our Silver Knights nominees & winners


Our legacy families


Country Day Grandparents


Class of 2016


Solar Cooking Projects & The Guinness World Record


Class of 2023


Being the Head of School

Head of School Dr. John Davies Director of Development Sheryl Piper Assistant Director of Dev. & Alumni Director Nora Pardave Director of Communications Abra Adrabi Dev. Associate for Marketing and Communications Kimberly Arredondo Director of Annual Giving Tabitha Charles ’85 Alumni Advisors John C. “Jack” DuBois Fredi Rosenfeld

Don’t take it from me! See the Lower School students’ reasons on page 24. winter 2014 


Happy birthday, MCDS! Miami Country Day School is 75 years old! Thanks to those of you who celebrated with us on August 17, 2013 as the school kicked off the anniversary festivities with Country Day’s 75th Birthday Party. Hundreds of families and friends joined together in The Gallery of the Franco Center to view the historical timeline and exhibit. The original school bell was rededicated, and everyone enjoyed a slice from the giant birthday cake while 1938-style games were set up for the children in the gym. It was a special day for the MCDS community. This was just the first of many celebrations during our anniversary year. For more information about any of these celebratory events, please email or visit


Photos courtesy of Scholastic Experience Imaging

winter 2014 



Clockwise from top left: Meribeth Shank observing the 75th Anniversary timeline; Jack DuBois, Carl Whitmer ’71, Ken Harris (former Head of School), Col. Tim Vinoski ’74, and Bruce Matheson ’61; Miami Shores Mayor Herta Holly; students playing 1938-style games in the Gym; and Jimmy Tate ’81 with Alumni Parents Missy and David Greenberg

Clockwise from top: Teachers singing the Alma Mater; 75th Anniversary Coordinator, Tamara Feola and her family, Nick ’16, Nina ’18, and Alfie; school banners, part of MCDS through the Years exhibit

Miami Country Day School We love you; yes we do­— In all the things you stand for— We’ll ever try to be true. For teachers, and friends, and classmates Faithful we’ll always be— Miami Country Day School We’ll love and honor thee. Alma Mater, by Gertrude Peters

winter 2014 


Community Learning Partnership by Kimberly Arredondo, Development Associate The Community Learning Partnership, a project that has united the Miami Shores community since 2008, has three project goals that address community, school, and organizational interests: to expand student leadership opportunities, to foster teaching excellence, and promote community engagement. “The Community Learning Partnership is a very unique group and is way ahead of its time” given the collaboration between “a private university, two independent schools, a charter school, a public middle school, and a Catholic school,” said Dr. John Davies, MCDS Head of School. In fact, the Community Learning Partnership was founded years before National Association of Independent Schools President, Patrick F. Bassett, wrote that one of the 25 indicators for independent school success is “partnering with the public sector at the school and university levels.”

they learn here at Country Day. They also learn civic responsibility and teamwork as they collaborate with students from a variety of schools as they work toward a common goal. Dr. Mari Conea, the Miami Country Day student leader advocate, said of the program, “The Community Learning Partnership allows students to build perspective and expand their socio-cultural horizons. Additionally, it provides students an opportunity to take part in something bigger than they are. These experiences ensure that participants maintain a communal mindset and work well as part of a team.” Professional Development Days

The Community Learning Partnership organizes professional development days to create a forum for community members and teachers in the Miami Shores area to learn from each other and explore topics from Sustaining Each Other a variety of perspectives. Every two years, the CLP Through programmatic activities, the Community plans a professional development conference, and Learning Partnership explores a different theme every on alternating years, there is a smaller professional year. This year’s student leadership theme is Sustaining development opportunity. Each Other, and students are working alongside This school year, the Community Learning Partnership community members and the non-profit organization held a professional development day on February 7, Urban GreenWorks to complete and sustain a 2014, hosted by Doctors Charter School. The theme community garden in Liberty City. The garden boasts is Creativity and Innovation in the Classroom through a healing garden as well as an organic food garden, and the Integration of Technology, and teachers engaged in the food harvested is donated to Liberty City food banks action-based learning in small break-out sections. They in an effort to provide locally grown, organic produce considered the role of Edmodo, Google Docs, iPad in a food desert neighborhood—an urban area in which apps, and online learning in education today. fresh, healthful food is scarce. Monique Moyer, a Lower School teacher at Country Day, has been working in Past professional development themes have included tandem with Urban GreenWorks, the community, and Fostering Citizenship in a Global World, Creating an CLP. She affirmed the partnership, saying, “It is only Inclusive Community, and the Heart of 21st Century through community involvement that projects like Learning. The CLP is proud to have hosted speakers such as Former U.S. Senator Bob Graham; Sister Linda these prosper and are sustained.” Bevilacqua, O.P., Ph.D., President of Barry University; Students learn first-hand about sustainable gardening and Superintendent of Miami-Dade Public Schools, as they share their own “art of gardening” lessons that Alberto Carvalho.


Community Learning Partnership 2012–2013

professionals and community leaders to come together In solidarity with nearly 3,000 schools nationwide, in a very meaningful way. It really expands the dialogue a number of CLP partner schools participated in and reinforces the idea that education is a community National Bike/Walk to School Day for the second time. effort,” said Gary Culbertson, Dean of Faculty and Students gathered at the Miami Shores Field House on Director of Human Resources at Miami Country Day. October 9, 2013, and walked or biked to school with The CLP has been recognized by Florida Campus the supervision of teachers, parents, and even a few Compact three times, and most recently, it won the police officers. Jeff Watson, a Middle School physical Florida Campus Compact Award for Civic Engagement education teacher and soccer coach at Miami Country 2012. Day, attested that the day helps to “bring awareness to In February 2014, Gary Culbertson, Dr. Roxanne riding your bikes and walking to school, so you can do Davies, Dr. John Davies, and Carlos Viera will give a it safely and exercise.” Thank you to all of those who presentation on the Community Learning Partnership joined as walkers and cyclists! at the National Association of Independent Schools’ Bike/Walk to School Day

Miami Shores Unity Day

annual conference.

Every year, CLP has a presence at Miami Shores Unity Day, a community fair that invites local community and civic organizations to educate the broader community on their goals and mission.

To learn more about the CLP, contact Roxanne Davies at

Community Learning Partnership members include: Archbishop Curley Notre Dame Preparatory, Miami The next Unity Day will be held on March 1, 2014 at Country Day School, Barry University, Miami Edison the Recreation Fields of Miami Shores. Senior High, Doctors Charter School, Horace Mann Middle School, The Cushman School, Community A Mission to Unite Television of South Florida, Greater Miami Shores The Community Learning Partnership seeks to serve Chamber Educational Task Force, Miami Shores as a catalyst for community engagement and quality Elementary School, Miami Shores Presbyterian Church education to benefit all members of the community. School, and Hubert Sibley Elementary School. “It provides and expands opportunities for educational

winter 2014 


The Arts MCDS Through the Years — a historical exhibit

Stylin’ Through the Years — a T-shirt exhibit curated by Fredlyn Rosenfeld, MCDS teacher and Alumni Parent

Chapungu — the great stone sculptors of Africa



Photos of “MCDS Through the Years” courtesy of Scholastic Experience Imaging

winter 2014 



The Arts at Country Day Theater for Social Change

In November, Miami Country Day School’s Theater for Social Change performed The Wrestling Season, written by Laurie Brooks. Theater for Social Change, an artistic and curricular program, was founded on the premise that theater is particularly well-designed to stimulate discussion about important societal issues and foster change at the local, national and global levels. The Theater for Social Change program gives life to its belief in the research showing that experiential, interdisciplinary learning, which fosters an emotional attachment to the work and leads to positive action, is the most effective educational experience for students. Connor Space ’15 said of the program, “It really does impact the student body… because it’s their peers acting out these lines as if they’re saying it themselves. And I think the student body respects their peers more than they would any guest speaker.” This year, Theater for Social Change returned to its roots as it performed The Wrestling Season in tribute to one of its founders, Pam Locker, who passed away on September 28, 2012.


Lower School Arts Extravganza The Lower School students took a musical trip down memory lane at the Lower School Extravaganza: Celebrate 75 Years! Families and guests enjoyed our songs under the stars on November 25th. If you missed the event, check out the archived copy of the livestream at

Fall Music Concert

Middle and Upper School students performed at the Fall Music Concert on November 26th.

Contemporary Music Ensemble

The Contemporary Music Ensemble performed at the Vero Beach Sunset Saturday Night Concert on November 23rd.

winter 2014 



Mrs. Beckie Witherington by Judy Mistor, Upper School Ceramics/Sculpture

In 2012, MCDS lost a cherished member of its community, Mrs. Beckie Witherington. A beloved science teacher in the Middle School, Beckie also served on various committees and touched all who came in contact with her. We will always miss her bright, cheerful spirit and passion for teaching and learning. As a lasting tribute to her, the Parents’ Association procured the four stone benches adjacent to the Foreign Language building, and asked Ms. Judy Mistor to memorialize them in a personal way.

color will always remind me of the oceans she loved, the sun sheds both light and warmth—truly Beckie’s special signs—and the purple sunglasses are a favorite color that Hanni and I share to tell Beckie how regal she will always be.” – Fredlyn Rosenfeld

“This was a wonderful way to memorialize Beckie Witherington! As I applied glaze to the tiles that I worked on, Beckie seemed to be with me. I could hear her unique laugh and images of her flashed through my mind, like when she dressed up as the Goth Abbey in From the outset, this became a community project, NCIS for Halloween one year. It was a privilege to have as Ms. Mistor asked Beckie’s friends and colleagues to known her as a colleague and also to have been involved provide material relevant to Beckie’s life and interests. It in this meaningful memorial!” – Margaret Mahoney was soon apparent that she loved sailing, fishing, diving, “Just today, again, I was thinking about Beckie, and and everything to do with the ocean. In addition, she how much she loved our boat. I loved glazing the tile, had a passion for the earth sciences, teaching, being and yet, in that tiny tile (of a giant, 52’ boat) there are organized, playing UNO, and donuts! All of this material a lot of wonderful stories about a love of Beckie’s that became the themes that would later be incorporated won’t fit. Beckie loved the challenge of boating. That is into this permanent ceramic tile installation. because it required all of her skills. Preparedness. Speed. Once the production of the tiles was well underway, Ms. Mistor asked Beckie’s friends, colleagues, and former students to become a part of this project by glazing a tile of their own choosing. Here are some of their personal reflections on that process:

Calculation. Organization. Caution. Dexterity. When we called her and said we were going in the boat, she would be present with lightning speed. Students, if she was grading your papers, Mrs. Witherington would get them done in the wee hours of the night so that she “Painting the tile for Beckie’s benches has been and will could be prepared to go boating when the time came. be truly an honor for me and especially for my daughter When we went to sea for a month, Beckie had a space because we always think of Beckie sharing with us her about the size of a small closet. She had everything in rays of sunshine. Hanni Rosenfeld Ress ’01 adored being there. Extras of everything, too. In color-coded bags in her science class because she learned so much more and bins. I hope when you look at that boat, and that than science, and Beckie also shared with me the gift snorkeler that George glazed, you think about the pure of her children in my classroom. How blessed we feel joy that Mrs. Witherington took from being on, in, and to have known this wonderful woman. The turquoise around the sea.” – Alice Burch


“She had real commitment and energy to get things done. She was serious about her work and she was serious about play too. Always fast with a smile and a laugh.” – Laurie Ehrenfeld “As I painted my dolphin tile I couldn’t help but think of how much Beckie loved the water and its marine life. But as I continued painting, the dolphin took on the image of my favorite football team, the Miami Dolphins, and I began to remember the Dolphins games that Beckie and I attended together. I still laugh at her idea of tailgating, which was sitting inside an air conditioned van with sodas and chips!” – Marnie Allen “I truly enjoyed creating a tile in memory of Beckie. As I glazed the tile, I thought of Beckie’s smile and felt so relaxed while I was painting. I chose to glaze a tile with a yoga symbol because I enjoy the practice of yoga just as Beckie did. Thank you for the opportunity to be a part of honoring Beckie.” – Nora Pardave “As I painted the small turtle on Beckie’s tile, I truly felt her presence with every stroke of my brush. I know she approved of my tile selection because of her strong devotion to her home and family. A huge part of her home was here on our campus, and just as the turtle carries her home with her wherever she goes, so did Beckie. We were always in her heart just as she is in ours today.” – Carolyn Dorn Participants in the Beckie Witherington Memorial Benches Project: George Witherington Glen Turf Charles Lovett Fredlyn Rosenfeld Alice Burch Karen Kaany Yvonne Moyer Margaret Mahoney

Maggie Avalos Steve Mathes Lucy Pekoc Lindsey Tanona Kelly John Terri Pasqualin Carolyn Dorn Marilyn Greenfield

Nora Pardave Marnie Allen Mark Fifer Laurie Ehrenfeld Sheryl Piper …and Students

winter 2014 




Walk the Walk Homecoming: With the Homecoming Football Game, 3rd Grade Buddies, Spartan Alumni Night, Walk the

Walk, Spartan Family Day & BBQ, and Reunion Night, Miami Country Day School hosted a slew of exciting events from October 17th through 19th.

Walk the Walk: The Miami Country Day School community raised over $40,000 for cancer research in the

month of October, surpassing our goal of $35,000. A record 31 students donated their hair for hairpieces. The “Pink Store,” Walk the Walk, and Parents’ Association fundraisers all contributed to the raised funds, which go to the Heidi Hewes Chapter of the Women’s Cancer Association and the University of Miami Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center. This year was led by student chairs, Anne Beasley ’14, Mallory Brown ’14, Brittany Castellanos ’14, Amanda Gavcovich ’14, Ellen Gelman ’14, Kristina Leiter ’14, Kiana Matison ’14, Winona Paez ’14, and Alejandro Villaquiran ’14. A group of fourth graders, led by Nicole Rodan ’22 and Michael Port ’22, made and sold rubberband bracelets to raise funds for cancer research. As a class, they decided to split the proceeds between the Heidi Hewes Foundation and The Heather on Earth Music Foundation. The fourth grade group raised $452 for each organization.

winter 2014 


Toast to Friendship Virginia Zakaryan, Fredi Rosenfeld, and Arie Zakaryan ’03

Gary Garner ’81, Jenny Davis-Lenchner ’81, Lele Toole Tracy ’81, Keith Alexander ’81, Tara Elias Schuchts ’81, and Mark Fabian ’81

Margaret Mahoney, Yvonne Moyer, Martha Stobs, and Bill Larzalere

Alumni Board members, Kevin King ’95, Claudia Figueredo ’90, Brian McCarthy ’95, and Brenton Raymond ’06

Julijana Dimitrova, Dara Rose ’97, Nicole Cristodoulou ’00, Carol Rose, and Harvey Rose

Lou Orenstein ’93, Deena Bailin McKinley ’93, Tyler McKinley, Jared Sher ’93, Zack Gilson, Melanie Gnaizda ’93, and BJ Teltsher ’93

Photos on this page courtesy of Set under twinkling lights near Senior Circle, this year’s Toast to Friendship was one to Scholastic Experience Imaging remember! Following the Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony, alumni, family and friends


gathered for live music, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails for this annual event to celebrate all of our alumni. This year’s event featured a celebration of our 16 teachers who have been at Country Day for 25 years or more.

Spartan Hall of Fame

2013 Inductees: Coach Chris Antonopoulos, Michael Courtney ’98, Tabitha Polley Charles ’85, Jessica McCrary Campbell ’00, and Roy Altman ’00

Inductee awards for the Wall of Honor

Chuck Sennett and Roy Altman ’00

Jessica McCrary Campbell ’00

On Friday, October 17, Miami Country Day School welcomed five new inductees into the Spartan Photos on this page courtesy of Hall of Fame. Roy, Coach A, Jessica, Tabitha, and Michael were honored with an introduction Open i Studio from a close friend or family member and each inductee had the opportunity to speak about their experiences on and off the field at Country Day. Congratulations to our five inductees, who are part of the fifth class of alumni to be inducted into the Hall of Fame. To view the complete list of inductees, visit winter 2014  21

Alumni Reunion Night cl asses of 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1993, & 2003

The 75th Anniversary year brought a new tradition to Reunion Weekend. We welcomed alumni from the classes of 1981, 1982, 1983, 1984, 1993, and 2003 to campus for a night of reminiscing about the past and making new memories for the future. The classes of 1981, 1982, 1983, and 1984 (pictured above) joined together to celebrate their 30 year reunion. This was the first reunion that classes came together to celebrate in this way, and it was a wonderful turnout with many alumni coming in from out of town! The class of 1993 joined together for their 20 year reunion and enjoyed seeing classmates and their former teachers! The class of 2003 celebrated their 10 year reunion and loved visiting with their class sponsor, Marisol Sardina Konen. Stay in touch for details about Reunion Weekend in October 2014!

Kim Piper-Heffernan ’83, Julie Gordon Blair ’84, and Kathie Bianconi ’83

John Sturtevant, Belinda Lopez Sturtevant ’93, Deena Bailin McKinley ’93, Tyler McKinley, Edward Leyva ’93, and Barbie Basti

Kevin Purdy ’03, Jessica Shor ’03, Jenny Bonilla ’03, and Zach Cannon ’03




Kent Feuerring ’83, Joe Cesarotti ’83, Carolyn Dooley Keating ’83, John Requardt ’83, and Owen Davis ’83

Annette Rubin Israel ’93, Heather Heilpern Rose ’93, and Nancy Landau Green ’93

Robbie Grossman ’03, Mikael Hamaoui ’03, Marisol Sardina Konen, and Peter Konen

Robby Elias ’84, Patty Toole Dudzic ’84, Deena Peach Jurgens ’84, Tara Elias Schuchts ’81, and Michael Bernstein ’82

Class of 1993

Rachel Morales ’03, Nina Lucchi, and Jessica Shor ’03

Michael Burnstine ’83, Kristin Schneider Stansell ’83, and Rhett Everett ’81

Melanie Gnaizda ’93, Zach Gilson, Tom Towle ’93, Jocelyn Towle, Tyler McKinley, and Deena Bailin McKinley ’93

Kevin Purdy ’03, Robbie Grossman ’03, Carolyn Dorn, and Richard Chackman ’03

Fredi Rosenfeld, Julie Gordon Blair ’84, Marianne Cesarotti ’84, Thomas Milloway ’84, and Marnie Allen

Kristin Schneider Stansell ’83, Hope Alexander Bennett ’83, Diane Duquet Hood ’83, and Laura Morgan Horton ‘83

Deena Bailin McKinley ’93, Annette Rubin Israel ’93, Melanie Gnaizda ’93, Marie Grondin ’93, and Heather Heilpern Rose ’93

Sherrie Helms Kukulski ’93, Olga Gomez ’93, Simon Angelini, Scott Comcowich ’93, Zach Gilson, Jared Sher ’93, Rebecca Sher, and Lou Orenstein ’93

Class of 2003

Arie Zakaryan ’03, Jenny Bonilla ’03, and Mikael Hamaoui ’03

Reasons Rocks! 1.

ACES animals


home visits


art smart


our porch


bright beginnings


different countries


edible wall










lots of sports


Week of Possibilities


bay buddies


Bongo, the dog


life skills




reading buddies


Kinder to College


quiet time


the canal




spelling city




Franco Center


Japanese pen pals


helping hands






extended day


acts of kindness


best maintenance


teachers care about you


nature trails


new words


we have jobs




Parents’ Association


beautiful campus




football buddies


the Whitman library


Leader in Me




we respect everyone’s differences


lower school

In celebration of MCDS’ 75th Anniversary, the Lower School collected real responses from Lower School children. Below are 75 of the reasons they listed.




we shake our sillies out










football field




ice cream day


sand tables


community feeling


Wednesday folders


media class


reading corner


Holiday Bazaar


we recycle






Buoyancy Cup




Halloween parade




community service




lots of choices


we love learning






helps the environment


75 years of experience

winter 2014 


The “Hidden” 8 Grade Curriculum th

by Vanessa Cabrera, 8th Grade Team Leader & Steve Mathes, Director of Middle School

Ever wonder what the teachers are doing on Wednesday mornings when the children get to sleep in an extra hour? Well, the 8th grade teachers are meeting to plan the advisory program that brings the Miami Country Day School mission to life. The eight advisors in 8th grade work as a team, as do the advisors of every grade level in Middle School. Led by Vanessa Cabrera, the 8th grade team leader, team members Yann Abily, Karen Cleland, Julio De Aracama, Michael Fallik, Sandi Lewis, Margaret Mahoney, and Jeff Watson together develop a character education program that teaches students what it means to be members of a community of lifelong learners.

Jewish Health Systems. If you ever had any doubts that 13–14 year olds can help make a difference, we have numerous letters of commendation from these venues complimenting our students for their service and excellent behavior.

The jewel in the crown in the 8th grade hidden curriculum is without a doubt the class trip in January. This trip evolved over several years to complement the curriculum. The 8th graders and their teachers go on a four-day civil rights tour of the deep South from Atlanta to Birmingham to Selma to Memphis. They make stops to see historic sites, but more importantly they interact with individuals who lived through the turmoil of the With the essential question of “how do I affect my sixties. They spend time with a lady who was a child community?” the team develops activities, trips, and victim of Bloody Sunday. They meet with historic events that help the students answer this question figures such as Joanne Bland, Reverend Graetz, and his throughout the year. It all begins early in the year with wife who were key figures in fighting for the equality the 8th grade Self-Awareness Day. Students are broken of African-Americans. They also meet with current civil rights activists that teach into groups which rotate the students to become into different sessions th ...the 8 graders are treated voices of change. In led by both internal addition to the historical and external presenters to an experience they will never forget that is uniquely set up for them. significance of the trip, ranging from a yoga the students participate specialist to a close relative in hands-on learning of an AIDS victim. While it would be easy to just go with the same activities every experiences at Graceland, The Georgia Aquarium, and year, the team always adds new ideas to keep the day CNN studios. It is truly a trip that parents cannot fresh. During this day, each 8th grade student wears the recreate; it is the living classroom. class T-shirt, which is designed by an 8th grade student During the spring we invite, with the help of a very based upon the year’s theme. involved parent in the Jewish community, 10 Holocaust

The next major team day is Service Day, which comes up in November as the 8th graders participate in projects to help those in need. Students divide up into five groups that go out to interact with the community at such locations as the VA hospital, Greynolds Park, Miami Rescue Mission, Chapman Center, and Miami


survivors to come to the school to work with the 8th graders. The survivors talk about their experiences and meet with the students in the morning, sharing their individual experiences and answering questions— making this a very powerful and meaningful morning. 8th grade parents are also invited to a luncheon to meet

middle school with the survivors. Afterward the 8th grade heads off to the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach for a visit. This day focuses on teaching the students about tolerance and acceptance. As we approach the end of the year, the students spend the day in court at the Richard E. Gerstein Building. Thanks to the generosity of a MCDS parent who is a sitting criminal court judge, the students visit a courtroom to see a case in progress, talk with the judge and attorneys, and then tour the jail. Once again the 8th graders are treated to an experience they will never forget that is uniquely set up for them. In between their special days, the students work on activities in advisory that also complement the essential question of the year. They talk about bullying, drug abuse, social networking, and many other topics that affect their daily lives. The students do crafts, write in their electronic journals, and do team building activities. Writing Slam Poetry is a highlight because it allows the students to write a “slam” about these sensitive topics. You would be pleasantly surprised at the poignant poems that emerge from this activity; it is truly an eye opening experience. The bonding that has been taking place all year really takes root during these activities. Here is where the students continuously explore and understand the impact they have on their community.

The end of the year brings a special treat: an afternoon at Dave and Buster’s in Hollywood, where the students enjoy the activities and a special lunch. Just when you might think it is finally over and the 8th grade team can kick-back, it is the end of year Reflections assembly, at which we say goodbye to our 8th graders and they reflect on their years at MCDS through song, dance, acting, and music. The 8th grade team members each take on a piece of this special assembly, which has now become a truly beautiful program and tradition. A student gallery for families to enjoy student work done throughout the year serves as the backdrop. This year the team will introduce a new field trip, Tour Miami. On this day the 8th graders will learn about the many contributions made to our city by the Haitian and Cuban communities. The students will take a tour on the Miami River to many cultural sites, have a traditional Cuban lunch, and interact with Haitian culture. This hidden curriculum that the 8th grade lives each year cannot be found in a textbook or online. It is living and breathing, having been given life by a very special team of dedicated educators who together grow along with their students.

Clockwise from top left: Chance Chavies ’17 with Joanne Bland; Emily Kanter ’17; Daniel Dana ’18, Ryan Finvarb ’18, and Alexander Sayfie ’18; and Mallory Meyer ’17, Mia Paez ’17, and Nadine Bloch ’17 with Reverend Graetz and his wife, Jeannie.

winter 2014 


Hybrid Courses

PREPARING STUDENTS FOR LIFELONG LEARNING Hybrid courses, also known as blended learning courses, combine a learning management system, online forums, and face-to-face meetings to create a dynamic learning experience that explores different modalities. At many colleges and universities, students are expected to navigate this type of learning environment. To prepare students as lifelong learners—as well as to enhance their educational experience—Miami Country Day School offered its first (non-summer) hybrid courses last school year. While Laylah Borchers has been offering a summer economics course online for nine years, these were the first hybrid courses offered during the school year. Among the course offerings were “Advanced Placement United States Government” with Laylah Borchers and both “Understanding Film” and “Cinema Studies” with Amy Gallup. Both Borchers and Gallup stressed the multifarious benefits of hybrid learning—particularly its ability to invite thoughtful responses and encourage active participation from all students. Hybrid courses often require classwide participation, effectively creating a platform for each and every student to participate at his or her own pace. Offering such courses has both pedagogical and practical benefits, as teachers prepare students for the types of courses they may take in college, give them a chance to explore a different way of learning, and enable them to take courses they otherwise might not have been able to take if they were only offered in a traditional track. They also allow teachers to be as available as students need and want them to be. With this online and in-person forum for exchange, students are expected to take both personal and collective responsibility for learning in part by sharing answers to questions they have asked their teachers. The structure not only creates a collaborative learning environment but also encourages students to play an active role in shaping their education.

Model United Nations

STUDENTS ORGANIZE INAUGURAL CONFERENCE Miami Country Day School hosted its inaugural Model United Nations Conference September 28–29, 2013 with participation from over 90 delegates and five high schools—Coral Reef, Columbus, Oasis Charter, Cape Coral, and Archimedean. For Country Day students, Model UN offers an opportunity to organize and run a conference themselves or to participate as delegates. Model UN conferences allow high school students to develop leadership skills while they participate in meetings, engage in debates, make ad-hoc decisions, and practice crafting resolutions on real international conflicts. At MCDS-MUN the workings of each of the five committees were moderated by teams of students from University of Miami’s Model UN Team, MICSUM, led by Perry Elbadrawi.

From left to right: Grace Goldsmith ’15, Dr. Mari Conea, and Shalini Chandar ’15

Grace Goldsmith ’15 and Shalini Chandar ’15, who first envisioned this project at Country Day, played the key roles of Secretary General and Conference Director respectively. Grace Goldsmith, now a junior, believes that this year’s conference was the first of many that Miami Country Day will host, and she is already thinking of next year’s event. With the help of teachers Dr. Mari Conea, MUN Sponsor, and Andrew Castle, and Michael Fallik, the conference was a huge success.

upper school

GATEway ¡Madrid!


GATEway ¡Madrid! is a 4-week academic program beginning on Sunday, June 14, 2014 through Saturday, July 12, 2014 that provides students in grades 10–12 with an academically stimulating adventure in the vibrant capital of Spain. Students earn high school credit from Miami Country Day School, while exploring one of the oldest cities in Europe. Madrid offers students a wealth of educational opportunities, ranging from art to politics, language development to world class cuisine. It attracts travelers from around the world with sites like the Prado Art Museum, the Reina Sofía Contemporary & Modern Art Museum, the largest royal palace in Western Europe, the most famous of all bullrings, and high-end shopping on the famous Gran Vía. Madrid is a stop that all must make at least once in a lifetime, though you may find that once is not nearly enough.

Anticipated offerings: Spanish Journalism Spanish Dance* Mathematical Thinking Summer Reading & Literature Spanish History & Politics Photography

Fitness & Wellness* Art History Spanish Culture Architecture SAT Prep* Spanish Film

*denotes minor courses (some minor courses may carry additional costs)

Sample schedule: 9:00 AM Breakfast 10:00 AM – 1:00 PM Major Class 1:00 – 4:00 PM Lunch & Siesta 4:00 – 6:00 PM Minor Class 6:00 – 7:00 PM Activities

7:00– 8:00 PM Free Time 8:00 – 9:00 PM Dinner 9:00 – 10:30 PM Ind. Study 10:30 – 11:30 PM In ResHall 11:30 PM In Room

Cultural excursions: Two weekly cultural excursions are built into the academic program. On Wednesdays, students travel with faculty to various sites in the city and are back in the residence halls for group dinners. Longer excursions to cities like Barcelona, Segovia, and Toledo are scheduled for the weekends. For more information about the Academic Program, Room & Board, Travel, and Tuition & Fees, please visit or call 305-779-7243.

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Annual Giving

YOUR ANNUAL GIVING DOLLARS AT WORK On behalf of Miami Country Day School students who benefit from your generosity, thank you! Gifts to the 2013–14 Annual Giving campaign help our students become innovative thinkers and inspirational leaders. From the energetic Lower School student who enthusiastically learns about how his world is bigger than he is to the mindful Middle School student who is exploring her newfound freedom in the classroom to the inquiring Upper School student preparing for immersion in intense college preparatory subject areas, Miami Country Day School is committed to providing an excellent education that meets the needs of our diverse student body. The Annual Giving campaign is vital to ensuring we have the resources necessary to advance our curriculum and accommodate the academic needs of a dynamic population. All gifts directly impact our entire community. They provide support for recruiting and retaining the finest faculty and creating innovative curriculum. It allows us the resources to build on our success and create the future. These annual gifts provide safety for our students and maintain the incredible facilities for our students to learn alongside their dedicated teachers.

Below is how YOUR gift directly impacts our school community! ✓

Improves the quality of education for each student

Creates a safe and inviting campus by providing police officers on campus every day

Provided all classrooms doors deadbolts that lock from the inside

Created a teaching space in the library for an Academic Skills class

Upgraded the Student Activities Center with laptop charging stations for our new one-to-one laptop program

Renovated the beloved Lower School Abess Center for Environmental Studies (ACES) Lab

Purchased new equipment, including a new trailer, for the Comprehensive Outdoor Education Program (COEP) which allowed program expansion

Made it possible to hire a lab assistant to ensure safety and quality of our science labs

Created a STEM Lab

Built an edible, vertical garden wall

Created a new Athletic Training Room

Replaced all lighting in school hallways and cafeteria with new LED lights

Added a new intercom and phone system in every Upper School room to facilitate easy communication between the office and every teacher


Founders’ Circle Jennifer and Neil Sazant, parents of Connor ’20 and Sydney ’18, generously hosted this year’s Founders’ Circle Recognition Event at the Sagamore, The Art Hotel on Miami Beach. Thank you to our Founders’ Circle members for theirs selfless leadership and significant philanthropy!

Hosts Neil and Jennifer Sazant

Clockwise from top left: Paula and Gabriel Boano; Dennis Cote and Yunier Duran; Chris Bellows, Trustee; and Marie-France and Paul Bloch.

Clockwise from top left: Michael and Laura Liebowitz; Fred and Terry Jove, Trustee; New Parent Chairs Laura and Larry Colin; and Julie and Tom Pronesti, Founding Deans of the 7500 Club and Middle School Chairs.

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New parents from left to right: Mark and Sandhya Murphy with Bernardo and Wendy Bertucci

New Parents’ Reception


Larry and Laura Colin, parents of Alex ’15, started a new tradition by hosting the New Parents’ Reception at the Continuum on South Beach. Over 150 New Parents, Trustees, and Annual Giving volunteers came together to celebrate the kickoff to a new year and being part of our Country Day family.

Hosts Larry and Laura Colin with Dr. John Davies Clockwise from top left: Denise Wilson, Lower School Faculty Chair with Erica and Jared Shapiro; Larry Colin; Dr. John Davies with Larry and Laura Colin; Alejandro Espinal and Italian Annual Giving Chair Ivette Perez; and Carmen Vivas


Parents’ Association Holiday Bazaar:

The Parents’ Association hosted another fantastic Holiday Bazaar on November 12th, complete with clothing, jewelry, housewares, stationery, sports memorabilia, a food court, and a dessert bar. Thank you to everyone who supported this important event, including our sponsors: SAKS Fifth Avenue, Bal Harbour; Bagel Bar East; Bagel Cove, Aventura; Barrio Latino; City Slickers; Eden Bar Bakery; Epicure Gourmet Market; Frittella Restaurants; Roasters N’ Toasters; and Stella’s Sweet Shop. The Bazaar raised over $42,000. All proceeds benefit Miami Country Day School.

Worlds’ Finest Chocolates: This year’s PA Fundraiser is through Worlds’ Finest Chocolates. To check out a box of chocolates for $60, contact Mary Novas at

Grandparents’ Day ◀

Grandparents, grandchildren, and family friends celebrated a special day on November 27th. The day included visits to Art & Music, the Abess Center for Environmental Studies, and Leonie’s Garden.

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FALL 2013


most improved player award

most valuable player award

Spencer Berens

Eva Sirlin Molli Leoni Yakira Matisonn Bridgette Lewin

most valuable offensive player award

coaches award

most valuable defensive player award


Sophia Cartolano

Zachary Weinberg

most improved player award

coaches award

Ananda Naves-Penkwitt

Matthew Hanson

spartan award

spartan award

Katarina Londono JUNIOR VARSITY VOLLEYBALL most valuable player award

Hector Estupinan most improved player award


Amanda Caban Jade Iadarola

most valuable cheerleader award

most improved player award

Mharlove Andre’

Mia Paez

coaches award

VARSITY VOLLEYBALL most valuable player award

Kayla Kotalik coaches award

Kanesha Petit-Phar most improved award

Catherine Jenkins BOYS SWIMMING

Winona Paez

most valuable swimmer award

most improved player award

Zachary Charalambides Wiley Watson

Brooke Pumo VARSITY GOLF coaches award

Lorenzo Figueroa


coaches award

Demitri Spiliotis most improved player award

Sebastian Olivera Lucas Henry


Danielle Minott ’14 signs with Syracuse

most valuable swimmer award

Miami Country Day has high hopes for this girls’ basketball season coming off a state runner-up finish in Class 3A. One of the big reasons is guard Danielle Minott. On Wednesday, November 13, 2013, Minott was one of several Miami-Dade County athletes in different sports who signed with colleges on the first day of the early signing period.

Olivia Katcher coaches award

Madisyn Jones most improved swimmer award

Stella Nixdorf Beth Lilly BOYS CROSS COUNTRY most valuable player award

Minott, who averaged 14 points, seven rebounds, and five steals per game last season, signed with Syracuse University.

Alexander Cohen coaches award

Julian Schultz rookie of the year award

Pablo Vivas most improved runner award

Armando Bedenbaugh-Cortes spartan award

Emil Martayan GIRLS CROSS COUNTRY most valuable player award

4-YEAR PLAQUE Kayla Kotalik – Volleyball Alexander Cohen – Cross Country Tyler Luby – Cross Country Giulia Bronzi – Cross Country Olivia Bronzi – Cross Country Christopher Thixton – Swimming Isaac Kassab – Swimming

Isabella Allen


spartan award

Sidney Thomas – Cross Country Nicole Sherwood – Cross Country Taylor Sennett – Cross Country Julian Schultz – Cross Country Armando Bedenbaugh-Cortes – Cross Country Emil Martayan – Cross Country Theodore Pornprinya – Cross Country

Mary Elizabeth Allen coaches award

Mallory Brown rookie of the year award

Lea Ankonina most improved runner award

Alexandra Piussan

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by Colonel Tim Vinoski ’74 & Sheryl Piper, Director of Development

John C. DuBois provides a link to Miami Country Day School’s past and is helping to ensure its future. Joining the Legacy Society, Jack— or “Dubes,” as he is fondly known by former students—has a 54-year history with Country Day. From 1954 to 1981, Jack DuBois taught history, geography, English, and Latin. He fostered Jack as Athletic Director the development of the school’s interscholastic athletic program and coached Varsity football, soccer, and baseball. In 1979 he was named Athletic Director, and the Spartan athletic teams entered into a fullscale high school varsity program. In 1987 he was appointed by Head of School, Bill Creeden, to serve as Alumni Advisor, working with the Development/Alumni Office. He continues to serve in this capacity today. In August, Jack attended the school’s birthday party to kick-off the school’s 75th Anniversary year. Colonel Tim Vinoski, USAF, Retired, class of 1974, from Tampa, came with Jack. Jack has a long history with the Vinoski family. Jack is Godfather to Tim and Kathie’s daughter, Alissa. Tim’s brother, Todd Vinoski ’76, is a veterinarian in Palm Beach Gardens. He has taken care of several of Jack’s golden retrievers over the years, including Goldie, his newest companion from Golden Rescue. Many of his former students and now longtime friends were on hand to greet him at the birthday party: Bruce Matheson ’61, James W. Moore ’65, Ware Cornell ’65, Gerald W. Moore ’68, Bond Millard ’75, Stew Frazier ’75, and Carl Whitmer ’71.

During his visit, Jack shared with Dr. Davies, Head of School, and Sheryl Piper, Director of Development, that he has named Miami Country Day School in his estate. “Over the last several years Jack has shared some of his personal thoughts on how Miami Country Day School touched and impacted every aspect of his personal and professional life, that I am happy to share now,” said Col. (Ret) Vinoski. Jack has always thought of the Country Day campus as his second home, he considered the faculty his brothers and sisters, and the student body his children. Always beaming with Spartan Pride, Jack never settled for anything less than the highest of quality and excellence with regard to his students’ education, the learning process, and their athletic and academic achievements. Honorably serving as teacher, coach, and mentor, allowed him, as he described, the ultimate privilege to mold, shape, and enlighten thousands of young minds and bodies. The importance of encouraging MCDS students to be the best possible version of themselves was paramount to Jack. To continue to implement the innovative programs and offer the unique benefits Jack endorsed, Country Day needs bequests from individuals like him to provide the quality environment it has worked so hard to create. To ensure that his commitment to the high ideals of Miami Country Day School persist today, and well into the future, Jack has dedicated a portion of his estate to augment the funding of the John C. DuBois scholarship, founded in 1992 by the Alumni Association and largely funded by the Garner Foundation. November 2014, Jack with Goldie


“After over 50 years of service to Country Day, it is impossible to find any aspect of the school without finding the hand of Jack DuBois at work,” said Dr. Davies. “Our school would not be what it is today without him and his legacy gift will ensure that his presence will continue to be felt by Spartans long after all of us have moved on.”

its unsurpassed qualities, standards, and characteristics; and leadership of the student body by example. Simply stated, Miami Country Day School has been the special purpose and life blood of his existence for nearly 60 years. By including Miami Country Day School in his estate, Jack ensures that these fine traditions continue.

Colonel (Ret) Vinoski added, “Miami Country Day School—its staff and most importantly, the student body— were the absolute central focus of his life’s work. From day one, and over the many following decades, Jack knew there was something very special about the school. His belief and faith in the school’s purpose and mission were demonstrated each day with an unyielding devotion to the continued development of the institution; commitment to

“Jack’s enthusiasm and passion for teaching as well as his insatiable desire to expand the minds of his students, extended well beyond the classroom. Year after year, Jack devoted his summer ‘time off’ to organizing and leading a 30-day summer educational junket. These tours directly benefited students and will always be fondly remembered by the participants, as one of his long-lasting legacies.”

LEGACY GIFTS KEEP ON GIVING Thank you to the following people who are recognized as members of Miami Country Day School’s Legacy Society. To date, the school has been named the beneficiary of gifts in excess of $3 million. In 1982, Miami Country Day School received a bequest in honor of its cofounder, C.W. “Doc” Abele. This was the first legacy or Planned Gift in the school’s history. The value of the bequest was in excess of $500,000 and was designated in trust to fund an endowed scholarship program. The school has been able to use the interest generated by the trust each year to fund scholarships. As of June 30, 2013 the fair market value was $889,719.

benefit. These and other forms of planned gifts leave a lasting legacy and make a significant difference for students and teachers at MCDS. All planned gifts add strength to the school’s endowment, which is the financial foundation for a successful educational institution. Endowed funds generate income and support scholarships, teachers, buildings, programs, and other C.W. “Doc” Abele important purposes set by the Board Anonymous of Trustees.

LEGACY SOCIETY John and Roxanne Davies John C. “Jack” DuBois Michael J. Franco Dorothy Frohlich Estate Bertha Goldstein Estate Rose Sampson Estate

In the 90s, additional bequests were made from three individuals totaling $1.5 million. Those gifts came to Miami Country Day through the direction of attorneys who were alumni parents and former trustees. A bequest made by a will is one of many ways a family can make a planned gift without impacting their current financial situation. Also, life insurance policies can be structured to designate MCDS as a partial beneficiary of a death

The school’s Board of Trustees is committed to increasing the school’s endowment for its long-term financial sustainability. Today, the school has $4 million in its endowment—$3,500 per student. The average endowment per student for south Florida independent schools is $7,790. There is still work to be done and efforts will continue to increase our endowment through bequests, endowed chairs, and planned gifts. If you are interested in learning about the endowment, or in making a planned gift, contact: Bruce J. (Buzzy) Tabatchnick, Director of Leadership Gifts at 786-899-2129.

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Miami Country Day School alumni remain connected to Country Day long after Graduation. This fall, alumni were recognized at the Spartan Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony and participated in our annual Career Day and the Holiday Bazaar. We thank the alumni featured in the article below for staying connected to Country Day!

Questions: 1. What are you currently doing professionally? 2. What is something you are most proud of in your personal or professional life? 3. As an alumnus/a, what is it that makes you want to stay connected to Miami Country Day School?

Roy Altman ’00 Spartan Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee and Career Day Speaker 1. I am an Assistant United States Attorney in the Special Prosecutions Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office. In other

words, I’m a federal prosecutor. 2. In my personal life, I’m most proud that I convinced Dr. Rachel Silverstein (soon-to-be Altman) to marry me. I’m also proud of all of the community service work I do on a weekly basis in Overtown’s public schools. In my professional life, I’m most proud of my work investigating, prosecuting, and ultimately convicting Lavont Flanders (a former police officer) and Emerson Callum (a pornographer) of luring hundreds of women to Miami, raping them, filming the rapes, and turning the rapes into pornography. As a result of our efforts, which took the better part of a year, both men were sentenced to 13 consecutive terms of life in federal prison. 3. I stay connected to Country Day because I owe a great deal to Country Day, not simply for preparing me intellectually— which my wonderful teachers (among them, Ms. Lewis, Ms. Rosenfeld, Mr. Mathes, Mr. Konen, Dr. Davies, Mr. Woodburn, Ms. Grey, and many others) certainly did—but for making me into the man I am today. In this respect, I am thankful to the members of the athletic department who coached me (Chuck Sennett, Bryan Parizo, Peter Konen, Ron Totarsky, BJ Teltsher ’93, and Coach Antonopoulos) and to the many teammates and friends I made along the way. Country Day is an integral part of my past and, I hope, will one day be a part of my family’s future.

David Benjamin ’98 Career Day Speaker 1. Currently, I am the Managing Partner and Owner of my own boutique law firm, Benjamin & Melmer, LLC. My partner and I focus our practice in the areas of family law, domestic violence law, and general criminal defense.

2. Professionally, I am most proud of my work advocating for victims of domestic violence while a prosecutor with the

Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office. I served as the Chief of the Misdemeanor Domestic Violence Unit for over two years while an Assistant State Attorney. Personally, I take the most pride in my beautiful family. Along with my wife Angela, we have two sons, Jack (4 years old) and Wyatt (1 year old) who are the light of my life. We are active members of the Miami Shores community, where my children play sports just like I did nearly twenty-five years ago.

3. My desire to give back to Miami Country Day comes down to a simple philosophy—pay it forward. Miami Country


alumni – stay connected

From left to right: Roy Altman ’00, David Benjamin ’98, and Alex Dombrowsky ’92

Day gave me the foundation necessary to be the person and the professional I am today. In addition, MCDS infused in me the benefits of being an active member of a larger community. That is why I pride myself on giving back to the community in any capacity I can, whether it be through my work with Doctors Charter School or the Anti-Defamation League. I hope I can, in some small way, imbue the next generation of MCDS students with the same passion and love for community that I was given by the generation before me. Plus, it is always great reconnecting with all the Country Day teachers I know and love.

Alex Dombrowsky ’92 Career Day Speaker 1. I am currently a Commercial Litigation Attorney representing businesses lawsuits. Most of our clients are foreign corporations with business operations in the US. 2. I am most proud of high school junior year abroad as a Congress-Bundestag Scholarship Exchange Student. The global perspective I learned as a 16-year-old has informed so many aspects of my personal and professional life. 3. At MCDS, I was provided with tools which served me through college, law school, and career achievements, while simultaneously serving athletic, artistic, and spiritual aspects of my life. I want to stay connected to ensure that future generations are provided the same tools. I am pleased to serve with likeminded members of the MCDS family to achieve that goal.

Darren Buckner ’94 Career Day Speaker 1. I have been a business owner since 1999, and I currently own two training academies for Darren Buckner’s Martial Arts.

I have been teaching Martial Arts since the age of 15, and that passion has allowed me to follow my dream of having my own business. 2. I am proud and blessed that I can do what I love. It’s an amazing feeling to know that the parents of our young students seek our support, guidance, life skills, and of course Martial Arts knowledge. That’s something that really makes me proud. 3. Miami Country Day School gave me an opportunity to be where I am today. Offering our services is the least we can do to give back to an institution dedicated to excellence.

Allison Goldberg ’94 Career Day Speaker and Holiday Bazaar Vendor 1. I’m currently the Marketing Manager for Saks 5th Avenue in Bal Harbour. I have held this position for two years now.

It’s been a very rewarding and exciting experience. 2. Professionally, I’m proud of the transition I chose to make by leaving my position with a local prestigious Advertising/ PR Firm (Pantin/Beber, Silverstein & Partners), where I handled a number of National Accounts including McDonald’s Franchisees, to go “in house” and into the Luxury Fashion/Retailing industry with SAKS. While not a complete career change, it has certainly been a 180 degree turn and I’m happy that they not only encourage me but have supported me to pursue an Executive MBA, which I’m currently pursuing at Florida International University. 3. I was fortunate to have attended some other schools in the Miami area before enrolling and graduating from Miami Country Day. Having had this basis to compare, I especially appreciate the great education, nurturing atmosphere, and excellent guidance I received. As such, I’m always happy to “pay it forward” in terms of being available to answer questions and mentor any current students who are looking for a similar career path.

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Jessica McCrary Campbell ’00 Spartan Athletic Hall of Fame Inductee and Career Day Speaker 1. I am doing what I love! As owner of Lavish Soirée

From left to right: Darren Buckner ’94, Jessica McCrary Campbell ’00, and Allison Goldberg ’94

Weddings & Events I have the amazing opportunity to plan and coordinate social and corporate events for individuals and corporations. I work with many of South Florida’s most prestigious venues like The Breakers, The Westin Colonnade, and Vizcaya Museum & Gardens to create memorable weddings & events for my local and destination clients.

2. I consider myself very blessed to be able to make a living

doing what I enjoy most. My career is even more rewarding when celebrity clients and brides & grooms show their gratitude for my efforts. I have been recognized by CNN as one of the nation’s most innovative wedding planners and recently was recognized as one of South Florida’s Top 40 under 40 in Success magazine. Although recognition is gratifying, I am most proud of my smooth transition from being a business owning professional to a business owning mother. My son, Kingston, was born in the middle of my busiest time of year, July 11th, 2013. Learning how to be a mother while maintaining my wedding and event planning business proved to be challenging but has also been extremely rewarding! I have the incredible opportunity to raise our son with my husband while still being a very hands-on mother. I’m glad I don’t have to choose between my beautiful son and my enjoyable career, but if I did, my son Kingston would win every time!

3. Miami Country Day has given me the opportunity to earn an exclusive education and has provided me with a platform to thrive in academics and athletics. Many of the individuals who taught and coached me, like Coach Christopher Hayes and Ms. Sandi Lewis, provided me with lifelong lessons that are instilled in me today. I want to stay connected to Miami Country Day because my alma mater has played an instrumental part in my professional success. I want to give back to the current Spartan students while remaining close to the teachers who helped me become the successful business owning professional I am today.

Craig Green ’93 Career Day Speaker 1. I am co-President of Evergreen Sweeteners, which is my

family’s food distribution company. My family has been in the sugar industry since 1925. I have the pleasure of working with my wife, brother, father, mother, and sisterFrom left to right: Kenny Kotalik ’08, Brandon Kochen ’07, in-law. Prior to my grandparents’ passing, they were both and Craig Green ’93 involved in the family business, at which time there were six of us spanning three generations all working together. It is very nice to be surrounded professionally by people whom I love and trust. 2. I am most proud of my two beautiful daughters. Samantha is 10 (5th grade) and Ella is 7 (2nd grade). They have collectively attended MCDS for 12 years, which is one year shy of my tenure at the school. I love how different they are, making them truly special and unique. Samantha is an excellent writer and actress. The way she expresses herself is remarkable. Ella is a little comedienne, and she loves math and gymnastics. Maybe she will be in 2024 Olympic Games. MCDS has been great for both their social and intellectual development, having made many great friends and gained exposure to many excellent teachers. 3. I had such an amazing experience during my 13 years at MCDS, culminating in my graduation 20 years ago. I was


alumni – stay connected extremely involved in the school, especially during Middle and Upper School, during which time I was very active in student government, athletics, music, and community service. My brother, who attended MCDS for 12 years, was very active as well, along with both of my parents, who volunteered a great deal of their time to MCDS during the 1980s and early 1990s. I remained active after graduation, serving on the Alumni Board, coaching JV Football, speaking at many Career Days, as well as my current service on the Board of Advisors and the Athletic Steering Committee. I began participating in Career Day in 1999 and have had the opportunity to participate more than 10 times over the past 14 years. It is great to be able to interact every year with the Senior class in a very meaningful way, which may ultimately impact which majors they choose as undergraduates, as well as their career paths post-graduation.

Brandon Kochen ’07 Career Day Speaker 1. I am currently the Vice President of Worth It Stores. We own and operate retail stores located in Miami-Dade and

Broward County. We specialize in Fashion clothing as well as School Uniforms. 2. One aspect of my professional life that I am proud of is the fact that I have been able to achieve my position within the company through hard work and dedication. I can honestly say that at some point during my time with Worth It Stores, I have worked in every position, starting from the warehouse, to store level, to upper management. 3. Besides the fact that Miami Country Day School gave me an excellent education, it also gave me a chance to become a “Whole Child.” I was able to excel in the classroom as well as From left to right: Corinne Munnings ’97, on the field and court. When I wasn’t furthering my academics Christina Pumo Hanabergh ’95, and Robbie Grossman ’03 or pushing myself athletically, I was given the opportunity to become a thespian and push myself beyond my comfort zone. All of this, plus the incredible connections I have made throughout the years at MCDS with all the students, teachers, and staff members, will (hopefully) last a lifetime.

Robert Grossman ’03 Career Day Speaker 1. I am a general surgery resident at Mt. Sinai Medical Center. 2. I am most proud of the lives I save and the impact I have on my patients. 3. The teaching staff who are responsible for who I am and where I am today have encouraged me to stay connected to MCDS.

Christina Pumo Hanabergh ’95 Career Day Speaker 1. 2. 3. From left to right: Leah Stern ’98, Jennifer Kramer ’08, and Edward Leyva ’93

Currently I am working as an acute care nurse practitioner with Memorial Healthcare System. In my personal life, I am most proud of my recent marriage to Dr. Enrique Hanabergh ’94. As an alumna, I stay connected to MCDS because I enjoy watching the evolution of the school, as well as having a connection to our youth.

Jen Kramer ’08 Career Day Speaker

1. I am currently working as a Designer at Kobi Karp Architecture & Interior Design. 2. I am most proud of receiving my degree in Architecture from the University of Florida. 3. The warmness from the faculty, teachers, and students. You always feel so welcomed by everybody.

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Leah Stern ’98 Career Day Speaker 1. I am the Regional Director for a non-profit called NPH USA ( We care for orphaned and abandoned

children in Latin America and the Caribbean. I am also an international journalist for the Huffington Post, Times of Israel, as well as a regional contributor for Yahoo South America, Miami New Times, and the Fisher Island Times. ( I am a member of the Jewish Federation Speakers Bureau, traveling throughout the U.S. on speaking tours focusing on Israel Advocacy and Middle Eastern Affairs. I am also co-producing several international social action projects for TV, film, and online. 2. I spent ten years as a war correspondent in the Middle East, later going on to serve as a liaison and media advisor for the Israeli government in its diplomatic efforts with the Vatican in Rome. I am authoring a book on my experiences. 3. Miami Country Day provided a foundation, which I believe paved the way for all my career and personal success. I believe in karma and would love to return all that the school provided for me.

Steven Tromberg ’07 Career Day Speaker 1. I am a financial advisor who helps people make informed decisions with

their money so they can enjoy a secure retirement. 2. I am proud of the fact that I can help people achieve a certain degree of financial peace of mind. In a world where there are so many question marks every day, I am proud that I can help answer some of those questions to help relieve some stress about the future in my clients’ lives. 3. To this day, many years removed from graduation from Miami Country Day, I still talk about the impact that my teachers, peers, and older alumni had on me. It set me up for success in the future, both in college and beyond, and if I could have the opportunity to pay that forward, then I will. To keep our school connected as a community, rather than an organization that kids come and go through, it requires students, alumni, parents, and others to be involved in many aspects beyond the classroom.

Tabitha Charles ’85 Hall of Fame Inductee 1. I am currently a professional fundraiser at my children’s school and my alma

mater. I am the Director of Annual Giving, and I work with parent volunteers to raise important dollars to help our students, teachers, and school. These gifts to our school ensure we have the resources necessary to advance our curriculum and accommodate the academic needs of a dynamic student population. 2. I am most proud of my family. Family comes first—my husband Jerome and my two children. Taegan is in 9th grade here at Country Day. He started in Mrs. Wilson’s class in Senior Kindergarten. Taegan has flourished at Country Day and is very involved in the music program. Caera started at Country Day in Junior st Kindergarten and is now in 1 grade. She is on the swim team and loves everything about her school. As a family, we love to travel together. We have been to Hong Kong, Thailand, Ireland, Dominican Republic, and many places in the United States. My children are wonderful travelers. 3. The teachers. They created special memories for me, and now I see the magic and love they are bestowing on my children, and I couldn’t be more grateful.

Lauren Turchin ’06 Holiday Bazaar Vendor 1. Professionally, I recently decided to start my own women’s

jewelry company, Meridian Avenue. After years of working for From left to right: Lauren Turchin ’06 and


Rachel Adler ’05

alumni – stay connected other fashion startup companies, I decided to branch off and try to start something myself. Right now I am just focusing on women’s costume jewelry, but hopefully one day I can expand and do different things such as high-end jewelry or even men’s accessories. 2. Something I am proud of in my life personally and professionally is that I have taken the risk to start my own business, and I have put my heart and soul into it, so no matter what direction the business goes in, at least I know I put my everything into it. 3. What keeps me connected to Miami Country Day School is the relationships with my past teachers that I still have. I am still connected to many of my Upper School teachers and talk to them frequently... just to name a couple…the fabulous and stylish Marisol Sardina and the funny and hip Glen Turf!

Melissa Mosheim ’06 Holiday Bazaar Vendor 1. I just opened my own women’s clothing boutique, MVM Miami. 2. It has always been a dream of mine to open my own store, so I would say that

finally doing that is my biggest accomplishment. 3. I went to school at Country Day for 13 years and can say that I genuinely enjoyed all of my time spent there. I feel like the school gave me an amazing overall education and hope that it continues to keep going. In the future, I hope to be able to give back to the MCDS community to help further its high standard of education.

Michelle Finvarb Possin ’85 Holiday Bazaar Vendor 1. I currently own a hair accessory company called By Lilla.

Michelle is the co-founder of By Lilla with Colette Bakalarz Feldman ’98 and Natalia Arias Storm (MCDS parent). 2. I am most proud of my kids, Isabella (2nd grade at MCDS), Max (Senior Kindergarten at MCDS), and Charles. 3. The way the school has evolved since we were there to what it is now amazes me.

Liza Schwartz ’08 Holiday Bazaar Vendor 1. I am very fortunate because I have taken my passion of jewelry

From left to right: Michelle Finvarb Possin ’85, Colette Feldman ’98, and Fredi Rosenfeld.

creation and started my own Jewelry Company, Liza Schwartz Jewelry. As an entrepreneur starting a new company, I am working 24/7 from designing to manufacturing to marketing to managing accounts. I find my career to be both challenging and rewarding. 2. In just two years, my company has grown tremendously. Seeing our Jewelry in over 70 stores nationally, including Henri Bendel, Bloomingdales, and Canyon Ranch, has really been exciting and keeps me motivated. When people like to wear my jewelry, it gives me a great sense of satisfaction and feeling of accomplishment as the designer of Liza Schwartz Jewelry. 3. First off I would like to give a shout out to all those part of the 12 year club! Attending MCDS from first grade to graduation, I have watched MCDS grow and prosper. MCDS is where it all started. I received a great educational foundation, made lifelong friends, and have fond memories. MCDS is a special place, and I am lucky to be part of the community.

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Class Notes San Juan, Puerto Rico on September 26, 2013.

David Weinstein ’86 and Rochelle Weinstein (wife of Steven Weinstein ’86) spoke together about Rochelle’s book, The Mourning After, and Glycogen Storage Disease (GSD). David is the world’s leading research expert on GSD and was the inspiration for Rochelle’s novel. Christina Pumo ’95 and Enrique Hanabergh ’94 got married on August 10, 2013 on the island of St. Martin (French West Indies). Enrique has a flourishing plastic surgery practice, and Christina is very involved in philanthropy, when not working with Memorial Healthcare System as an acute care nurse practitioner. Jessica Davis ’99 received her M.S. in Fundraising and Grantmaking from the New York University Heyman Center for Philanthropy and Fundraising. Roy Altman ’00 of the Special Prosecutions Section in Miami has been named as a recipient of the Young Federal Lawyer Award by the Federal Bar Association. The award ceremony was held at the Federal Bar Association’s 2013 Annual Meeting and Convention in

The Young Federal Lawyer Award is given each year to only five outstanding attorneys employed by the United States Government nationwide for their significant contributions to the legal profession and their respective communities. Roy was selected to receive the award this year for his outstanding work prosecuting violent crime, child exploitation, and human trafficking cases, as well as for his significant community outreach efforts. Congratulations to Roy for this well-deserved honor! Brian Williams ’00 is currently serving as an Economic Officer posted to the U.S. Embassy in Abuja, Nigeria. In October, Brian spoke to Country Day Upper School students about the Foreign Service (FS), the types of jobs FS Officers do around the world, and the process for joining the FS. Brian also discussed his experiences serving in Nigeria and took questions from students. After being commissioned into the U.S. Department of State Foreign Service in May 2012, Brian was assigned to Nigeria in August 2012 for a two-year tour. Within the Embassy’s Economic Section, Brian’s portfolio includes issues of Trade, Investment, and Intellectual Property Rights. Following his tour in Abuja, Brian will return to Washington, D.C. before his next assignment in Santiago, Chile, where he will serve as a Consular Officer. Brian is the recipient of a State Department Meritorious Award for


alumni – stay connected

his efforts to organize a high level U.S.-Nigeria bilateral trade meeting. Additionally, Brian’s photograph of a welcome ceremony for a U.S. Embassy delegation visit to a northern Nigerian village was recently featured in the May 2013 edition of State Department’s State Magazine. Jessica McCrary Campbell ’00 Kingston Donovan was born to parents Jessica McCrary Campbell and Donovan Campbell on July 11th, 2013 at 12:56 AM. He was 20.5 inches long and weighed 7 pounds. Jessica describes Kingston as the “most considerate baby ever” due to him allowing her to have an incredibly easy going pregnancy and delivery. There is nothing easy going about him now as he has been sitting up and crawling just before turning 5 months old. Jessica and Donovan are overjoyed with the birth of their first child together and are having fun trying to keep up with their little bundle of energy (and joy)! Ryan ’01 and Cynthia Mitchell ’02 welcomed Evelyn Irene Mitchell on October 2, 2012. The family is doing great! Alex Sanchez ’09 came to campus recently and visited with Mrs. Carolyn Dorn! Zachary Kappos ’11 led the California State University Long Beach 49ers Water Polo team with 64 goals scored during the 2013 season, and

entered into the Top 10 in school history in goals scored in one season. Zachary also earned Honorable Mention All – MPSF honors. These awards represent the best in the conference. Zoe Respondek ’11 received a 2013 Women’s All-Academic Award from the Association of Collegiate Water Polo Coaches. She received an Outstanding ranking for her play at the University of Hawaii. Bridgett Greenberg ’11 has interned since June as a Production Assistant with the comedy website CollegeHumor. com. She has been helping producers in pre-production for filming and helping them on set while filming some of the sketches that can be found on the CollegeHumor website (Why Can’t You Use Your Cell Phone on Planes and Every Tech Commercial are two that she helped produce). In December, she began working with The Groundlings, which is an improv and sketch comedy troupe and school. She will work in the school helping comedy teachers run their classes and help organize the shows that the improv and sketch teams put on. She has also been writing and performing stand-up comedy several nights a week. Most recently, she has done shows at the HaHa Cafe and Comedy Store. Avery Watson ’13 and Natasha Cirisano ’11 spoke to Upper School students in December about what they wish they had known while in high school. We apologize for the inadvertent error in the Commencement Beacon on page 35. Jerry Vazquez ’82 was incorrectly identified.

We are unearthing the 50th Anniversary Time Capsule in May 2014 and will be burying a new time capsule for our 75th Anniversary. Share your memories! Email winter 2014 


ask an alum

FIVE-MINUTE INTERVIEW WITH ROY BROWN ’12 1. What are your favorite things about Florida many other philosophers of black liberation and International University? compared their views to today’s society. In doing this My favorite thing about Florida International comparative analysis, we noticed a lot of flaws that University is the campus life, specifically intramural persist in America. This class was my favorite simply flag football. Because of the multiple concussions I because it educated me on my roots and culture of suffered throughout the years and my lack of size, the great continent of Africa. Cultural identity is I had to give up tackle football and settle for flag extremely important to me because knowing your football. Flag football at FIU is really competitive and place of origin, knowing facts, and knowing your requires a lot teamwork. It is also a way for me to history only connects one to their homeland on a meet tons of people, and it allows me to show off my more personal level. moves to a big crowd. Another one of my favorite 5. Have you been back on the MCDS campus since things about FIU is the amount of people on campus. you graduated? Do you keep in touch with any of I am constantly meeting new people and making new your former teachers? connections, a skill that is very underrated today. I Yes, I have been on campus multiple times since I cannot stress enough the importance of being openhave graduated. I come to say hi and catch up with all minded and social in college. You never know when of my teachers as well as converse and give inspiring you will need the connections you made. words to the current students. I do not keep in touch 2. Do you consider Florida International University with my teachers as often as I should, but when I to be a good match for you? am on campus, I try to talk to them and let them Yes, I consider FIU to be a good match for me because know how their service has helped me throughout my of multiple reasons. The main reasons are that I’m college career. close to my family, and the school has an excellent business program. When I was deciding which college 6. Do you think you were prepared for your college courses and college life in general? I wanted to attend for four years, I chose FIU because Leaving MCDS and entering FIU, I was well prepared I thought that at the end of my four-year college for college socially and academically. There were career, I would be better prepared when trying to get students who had little experience writing research my CPA and trying to find a job following graduation. papers and doing certain assignments that I had 3. What are you studying? practiced at MCDS since my freshman year. Entering I’m majoring in accounting with a minor in finance college I had a strong foundation. Because of my and public administration. active participation in sports and other extracurricular 4. What has been your favorite class or outside project activities, I learned early on to manage my time in during your first two years at FIU? high school. This skill rolled over to college and My favorite class at FIU has been AFA 2004, also because I had already mastered time management, my known as Black Pop Culture. This class is my favorite study habits got stronger, and I immediately started because it made me more aware of social problems to see results. within our society. This class also heightened my 7. When you think of MCDS, what are some words knowledge of black history. In this class we dissected or phrases that describe the school? the thoughts of Malcolm X, Cornel West, and


alumni – stay connected

When I think of MCDS, a couple words that come to mind are family, community, and opportunity. Family – during my four years there I gained more than friends. I made bonds with fellow classmates that won’t break. Community – MCDS is more than a school. I experienced this in 2010 when I suffered a scary concussion. I had the support from every student, teacher, and faculty member who knew the situation. Opportunity is the most important because that is the greatest gift MCDS gave to me. They gave me an opportunity to get the best education possible, build character, and most importantly, they gave me the opportunity to be a Spartan. Although this might seem cliché, I cannot stress enough how important it is to manage your time. Entering college, I think people misunderstand the timing of things. Some people think when you get to college you have no time to do what you want. I have learned that when you get to college, you have all the time in the world to do what you want, but it’s up to you to be efficient with your free time. Ms. Fulton always told me “work smart, not hard.” Although we all know that we must have a perfect blend between the two to be successful, I challenge you to put forward maximum effort in your studies at home and your participation in class, and everything should fall in place. I urge you, once you are in college, to build relationships with your professors. They are there to help you, and once they see your willingness to learn, they will be more than happy to help you with your needs. Don’t forget around graduation time you will need letters of recommendation!

ALUMNI SAVE THE DATES March 7 Alumni Spring Happy Hour March 8 Music Event Extraordinaire with John Wicker and the Contemporary Music Ensemble (CME) April 5 75th Anniversary Celebration May 17 Alumni Baseball Game

We have over 3,000 distinguished alumni across the world, and we want to stay connected with you. We want to make it easier and more convenient for you to reconnect with former classmates and teachers, network with other alumni, find information about reunions and alumni events, and discover what is new and exciting at Miami Country Day School. The Alumni Association wants you to Stay Connected! Contact Nora Pardave at 305-779-7299 or

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Where will you be on Saturday, April 5, 2014? Hint: you won’t be in Kansas anymore. Save the date... more exciting details to come.

the BEACON  
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Winter 2014