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From the Desk of the Headmaster... Dear TA Alumni, It‘s been a number of years since TA has produced an alumni newsletter and we are proud to revive this tradition. Niccole Poole, our new Director of Advancement and Alumni Relations, will ensure that our newsletter, and all else pertaining to alumni relations, will be superbly done.

With approximately 1200 TA Alumni making their mark on the world, it‘s time to create an even stronger bond with alumni Knights. TA wants to keep its alumni informed of the wonderful events and activities happening throughout the year.

With enrollment up 22% in the past two years, a number of exciting new programs and initiatives, and as of this writing, an undefeated football team, it‘s an exciting time at TA! We want you to be a part of it. After all, you will always be part of the TA family. Sincerely, Dr. Jeffrey L. Mitchell Headmaster

2011-12 Annual Fund Campaign This year, the 2011-12 Annual Fund Campaign was in the month of October. We reached 100% participation from the Board of Trustees and faculty and staff. To add an element of friendly competition, this year we tracked participation by grade level on a special banner in front of the school. The top three grades with the highest participa-

tion in the LS, MS, and US won a pizza party for their efforts. Let‘s congratulate our winners: LS— 3rd grade (97%), MS—5th grade (83%) and 9th grade (79%). Every gift—big and small—is valued and greatly appreciated by the TA family. There is a pledge card on page 6 … Can we count YOU in?

“Annual giving is the custom of making a gift-a-year to an institution in which one has faith. It is a friendly, altogether happy custom … a perennial reunion in spirit … a pooling of hope and good wishes by those who wish the institution well.” ~ Benjamin Franklin



From the Desk of the President of the Board Greetings, Alumni! I am honored to serve as the President of the Board of Directors for the 2011 – 12 school year. This year has started off with a bang and we want you, the faithful alumni, to be informed and engaged. A winning football season, a robust Annual Fund campaign, improvements in classroom technology and academic excellence are just a few of the positive accomplishments that have set the stage for a successful school year. In September, the Board of Directors participated in the annual retreat where we discussed the future of TA. The Board has adopted the theme ―TA Tomorrow‖ to shape our thinking and guide our discussions and decision-making. We are entering a phase of strategic planning and evaluating the potential to improve our facilities and poise ourselves for future growth. While remaining true to our mission and maintaining a small faculty to student ratio, we want to maintain the stature of TA within the greater Tuscaloosa community through excellent facilities, curriculum and student experiences. We want to continue to produce well-rounded students, with a sense of purpose and a passion for life-long learning. To accomplish that, we need your support.

"The mission of Tuscaloosa Academy is to provide a college-preparatory education in a supportive environment of intellectual freedom, to cultivate a

Quite simply, growth requires resources. While we will always need monetary resources, each of you has more than that to give. Each positive word you say about TA, each time you attend a school-related event, or visit our Facebook page to catch up on the latest school news, you are staying an active and engaged member of the TA family and we need that. Please take the time to fill out and return the alumni contact card in the back of this newsletter and the online alumni survey. We want to share your news and celebrate your successes with the rest of the TA family.

love of learning, and to maximize each student's potential for academic achievement, character

Together, we‘re defining the TA of Tomorrow. Won‘t you please join us on this journey?

development and readiness for life in a global environment."

Elizabeth Davis McGiffert Class of 1981








Meet new members of the TA Faculty & Staff

Robert Johnson Athletic Director Head Football Coach

Niccole Poole Director of Advancement and Alumni Relations

Athena Hubbert Aide & Volleyball

Elizabeth Johnson Physical Education Athletic Director‘s Assistant

Judy Espey Business Manager

Nikki Massey Spanish

Sandra Schafer German

Jo Childers Physical Education Coach

Jacob Lyon Biology

Kyle McCracken Grounds

Karen Kneer German


William Johnson Math, History Coach

Suzy Gatewood 1st Grade

Elizabeth Summers Aide



Wendy Standeffer Riggs


The Tuscaloosa Amphiteatre is located at 2710 Jack Warner Pkwy Tuscaloosa, AL Visit online at Located on the banks of the Black Warrior River, this open air venue is a true gem to downtown Tuscaloosa and features an array of artists from Widespread Panic to Patti LaBelle. There’s something for everyone!




Wendy Riggs has lived a life among the stars. As Director of the new Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, she‘s bringing her own ―star quality‖ to the town that she grew up in. Wendy graduated from TA in 1978 and admits that the one-on-one attention she received at TA and the drama curriculum is what drew her into the world of theatrical art. Needing to ―learn to be independent and break outside of the mold‖, she decided to pursue undergraduate studies at Auburn University. There, she discovered that being in the spotlight wasn‘t the best fit for her and instead pursued a degree in Theatre Technology and Design. At the time, and even now in some cases, females were not encouraged to learn the technological aspect of a live production. But Wendy wouldn‘t accept that. ―At the Academy, I was taught I can do whatever I want. I‘m not limited to having a male or female dream. I didn‘t have to do what I was supposed to be

doing. I could do anything.‖ This belief, coupled with talent and hard work, took Wendy to some pretty amazing jobs. In 1982, she was the only woman of 77 technicians hired to work at the 1982 World‘s Fair. Then, after moving back home, she was the first female manager of the Bama Theatre. From there, she moved on to Illinois to be the stage manager for a dinner theatre. Next, she worked at Disney for seven years as a laser and pyro -technician and project manager, building sets and stages, including the Indiana Jones set and the new Theatre of the Stars. One of her most fond memories was on the set of Indiana Jones when the cast and crew were told to prepare for a private show. ―We didn‘t know who it was until we looked out in the audience, and there sat Michael Jackson.‖ At the opening of the Indiana Jones show, Wendy got to hang out with Harrison Ford, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas, which she says was

―pretty c o o l . ‖ Indeed. After Disn e y , Wendy completed her Masters in Theater Management and Arts Administration at UA. From there, she managed performing arts centers in Vegas and Atlanta, and served as Assistant GM at the Fox Theatre in Atlanta. She‘s also worked as a consultant, a professor at SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design, Atlanta), and as the Executive Director of ―True Colors Theatre Company‖, Kenny Leon‘s theatre in Atlanta. Clearly, Wendy knows there‘s no business like show business … and nobody knows the business like her. Tuscaloosa, and the Amphitheater in particular, are lucky to have Wendy back in her hometown doing what she does best. Wendy Riggs … a Tuscaloosa star and a TA star. Welcome back!






In Memoriam Honoring Conrad Wesselhoeft, Jr. Mr. Conrad Wesselhoeft, Jr. died July 24, 2011 at the age of 88. His family says his ―love of building, making and doing‖ fueled his passion to launch nine companies, including Dixie Steel and Supply Co. in Alberta and Wesselhoeft, Inc. in Moundville. He was involved in almost every civic organization Tuscaloosa has to offer, and even founded a Tuscaloosa wine club. Mr. Wesselhoeft studied metallurgy at Harvard, served in the Army, was fluent in four languages, dabbled in a few others, played the piano and woodwind instruGifts to the ments. He could sail and was an avid snow skier. He was vice chairman of a board 2011-12 An- that founded Tuscaloosa Academy and helped hire the first headmaster. He was nual Fund in instrumental in securing the land and the funds for the construction of TA. The TA memory of community appreciates his role in the founding of the school and his continued Conrad support and presence at TA events throughout his life. Wesselhoeft total $2,355.00

Honoring Jimmy Hinton, Sr. Mr. James Hinton, Sr. died December 3, 2011 at the age of 88. Mr. Hinton is known by his family, friends and colleagues as a passionate conservationist and entrepreneur who understood the value of hard work and appreciated the challenge of business ventures. He was the owner and chairman of the R.L. Zeigler meat packing company, involved in the lumber business, pallet business, was a real estate developer, owned an asphalt business and automobile business. In 1999, he was inducted into the Alabama Business Hall of Fame. Mr. Hinton was passionate about hunting and spent time on Sedgefield Plantation, his family land in Dallas County. He generously shared Sedgefield with hundreds of others, most notably, by helping people with disabilities and terminal illness hunt at the Buckmasters American Deer Foundation Life Hunt, that began over 25 years ago. Mr. Hinton was a member of the Tuscaloosa Academy Board of Trustees when it was founded in 1966.

TA Football: Johnson Named AISA Coach of the Year Head football coach Robert Johnson was commended at the Alabama Independent School Association's Football All Star Classic in Prattville on Dec. 1. Johnson, who ended his first season at Tuscaloosa Academy with a 9-2 record, was named AISA Class AAA Football Coach of the Year by his peers. Coach Johnson and his staff led the TA Knights to the first round of playoffs. Congratulations, Coach Johnson!




Class Notes JESSE PRENTICE-DUNN (C/O 2003) is currently serving as Associate Washington Representative for the Sierra Club in Washington, D.C. working as a policy analyst on federal transportation policy. CAROLINE BURCHFIELD and LAKE LASSITER (C/O 2002) were married February 26, 2011 at Christ Episcopal Church. They currently reside in Tuscaloosa where Lake works for Alabama Truck and

ASHLEY MCLEOD (C/O ‗02) and PATRICK ANDRES (C/O ‗02) were married at First Presbyterian Church in Tuscaloosa on September 10, 2011. The lovely reception was held at Indian Hills Country Club. Patrick passed the Bar Exam in September and is in practice with his father at Andres, Lemley & Springer. Ashley teaches economics and statistics at Shelton State Community College. The happy couple resides in Tuscaloosa.

Marion, Ellen and Mark Norris




Equipment and Caroline works for Greene Beverage. THE CLASS OF 2001 gave a gift of $500 to the 2011-12 Annual Fund in memory of Bill Jamison, III. BEVERLY CORK (C/O 2000) was married to Mr. Christian Williams, of Tuscaloosa, on May 21, 2011 at Christ Episcopal Church in Tuscaloosa. The lovely reception was held at her parent‘s home. The couple resides in

Tuscaloosa. CHARLES RUSSELL GAMBRELL (―RUSS‖) (C/ O 1998) is a Senior Financial Analyst for C.R. Bard in Atlanta, GA and is engaged to Miss Lauren Barrette of Selma, AL. The wedding will be in Tuscaloosa on May 25, 2012. MEGAN MCGIFFERT, MD (C/O 1997) returned to Tuscaloosa in 2008 after finishing her residency in Pediatrics at UAB. She is now a partner

Josh Norris, co-owner of Norris Limb & Brace, is pleased to announce the business has outgrown it‘s location on Bryant Drive and has relocated to McFarland Blvd in Northport, behind Mr. G‘s. Josh, EMILY NORRIS (C/O 1996) and their three children, Marion (TA 1st grade), Ellen (TA Pre-K) and Mark (joining his sisters at TA in 2012) are doing well and getting settled at their new residence in Covey Chase. CLETE BROWDER (C/O 1997) is the Tennis Pro at Indian Hills Coun-

try Club and is the TA boys and girls tennis coach.

KIMBERLE BARTON (C/O 1983) is a mortgage banker in Tuscaloosa and her two children, TYLER (C/O 2008) and JORDAN (C/O 2009) attend UA.

SCOTT DONALDSON (C/O 1977), has been a Circuit Judge in Tuscaloosa County since 2003. His wife, Beth, is a Clinical Dietitian. They have two sons, Alex, CPA in Birmingham and Rob, a junior at UA.

ANN MCCORD GUCK (C/ O 1988) is married with three children and living in Los Angeles, CA. LT. COLONEL TARA L. MORRISON (C/O 1987) has been selected to serve as Chief of Contracting for the U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command. Lt. Colonel Morrison is currently completing a one year deployment in Baghdad, Iraq as Commander, Con-

Caroline Burchfield Lassiter and Lake Lassiter with Tuscaloosa Pediatrics. Her favorite thing about practicing pediatrics in Tuscaloosa is that she is now the doctor for many of the children of her former TA classmates! When she is not working, Megan likes to travel and she has visited countries on six different continents.

tracting Support Division, U.S. Forces-Iraq. She previously served as Deputy Chief, Installations and Sourcing Division, Pentagon, Washington, D.C. GREG GAMBRIL (C/O 1984) has recently moved back to Tuscaloosa where he has accepted a position as a Senior Deputy District Attorney with the Tuscaloosa County DA's Office. He and his wife, Julie, are living in Woodridge with their children, Joseph (9), Charlie (5), and Catey (11 months). ANNE WESSELHOEFT SMALLEY (C/O 1979) is President of Wesselhoeft, Inc. and resides in Tuscaloosa with her husband DR. JACK SMALLEY (C/O 1979) and two sons who attend TA: Robey (10th grade) and Conrad (7th grade)






Upper School News The Upper School continues to experience good results with our AP test scores, and this past year demonstrated fine growth. Many students have also been taking advantage of the ACT/SAT prep course, and experiencing increases in their scores. This has produced some written response from parents thanking us for helping prepare their children for the college of their choice. The feedback we continue to receive from our alumni is most encouraging. On the personal side, we are looking for-


by Dr. Barry Peterson

ward to seeing many of our alumni on our upcoming college tour this February. The extracurricular program continues to expand to meet the interests of our students as well. We now have a Model United Nations program and we have launched a start with the National Forensic League competition with assistance from key personal at the University of Alabama coaching our students. This is very exciting for many of our students who enjoy these new activities to Tuscaloosa Academy.

Middle School Dance in the Atrium

Middle School News TA‘s middle school is off to a great start! We have record numbers of students this year and look forward to continuing this trend. In addition, we have expanded our academic offerings to ensure that we continue to be the premiere college preparatory school in west Alabama. To this point, we have adopted the inquiry based Science Fusion and Singapore Math programs. These well-established and

reputed programs will help our students develop critical thinking and analytical skills, as well as build the necessary skills foundation for the advanced classes they will take in the future. Students also benefit from the implementation of the SkillsTutor program, a new online standardized test prep program provides individualized instruction to reinforce math and reading skills and help prepare our stu-

Lower School News This year we have expanded our after school activities to Extended Explorations. The Preschoolers have special activities during the week such as arts and crafts, popcorn and movies, and game day. They also go to the playground and have a great afternoon until 5:30 when they are picked up. The Lower School children have Homework Club, Walking

by Dean Heatherly Whiteside

Club, Book Club, Arts and Crafts, Game Day, and Young Yoga. They can also sign up for other programs such as Musical Beginnings, gymnastics, karate, and Knight School, which is a chess club. They all stay very busy as they continue the fun and education into the afternoon. This year we have also introduced Science Fusion, a new

dents for standardized tests. Other expansions include new enrichment courses such as Service Learning, Public Speaking, KnightLife, MidKnight Scholars Literary Enrichment, and Personal Finance, as well as the continuation of the lower school strings program in middle school, Knight School Chess Program, and Musical Beginnings offerings.

by Dean Mary Madge Crawford science curriculum that begins in kindergarten and continues through the 8 th grade. This program is interactive video based with the use of our SMARTboards that keep the students engaged in learning science with hands on science experiments.

Friends in Ms. White‘s Montessori Class



TA Football. Lovely decorations by Elizabeth McGiffert

7th Grade trip to Camp McDowell

Lower School Christmas Program directed by Mrs. von Redlich

Merit Scholars 2010-11 From Left: Renita Daniels (National Achievement Scholar), Ashley Shamblin (National Commended Scholar), Daniel Kendrick (National Merit Scholar), John David Ryan (National Commended Scholar)

Cross Country Champs Bannock Farrens (L) and Alston Thompson (R)




2010 Senior Homecoming Maids From Left: Ashton Standeffer, Chazmin Whitfield (Queen) , Ashley Shamblin, Elaina Plott

Homecoming Week 2011









Punkin’ Knight The Women‘s Auxiliary, once again, went above and beyond to create a funfilled, familyfriendly evening at this y e a r ‘ s P u n ki n ‘ K n i g h t . Woman‘s Auxiliary President, Angela Fernandez,

attributes the success of the evening to ―good leadership, helpful moms and good weather.‖ Emily Norris and Catherine Carnes co-chaired the event this year. They put in countless hours to generate community buzz about the event, secure top-notch raffle prizes, and orchestrate a pleasant carnival atmosphere for the entire Tuscaloosa community. ―We had a large increase in non-TA families from the Tuscaloosa community attend this year‖ that is

attributed to advertising the event in the T News, sending out attractive invitations, and positive word of mouth between friends. Children enjoyed fairway rides, a live DJ and dance floor, games with prizes, and the beloved cake walk. The event was made even more special through the perfectly appointed flowers and décor chosen by Elizabeth McGiffert and Kim Hudson. All proceeds from the event, under the direction of Women‘s Auxiliary, will benefit TA.

Alumni Contact Card Name Address

Share your news to be published in the next edition of The Knightly News.


Let’s Connect

Home Phone Work Phone Cell Phone Class Of Occupation/Place of Employment I use the following social media: Facebook Twitter Other

Please email, fax or mail to: Niccole Poole Director of Advancement & Alumni Relations




420 Rice Valley Road N

Fax: 205.758.4418

Tuscaloosa, AL 35406




Alumni Survey

Please take a moment to complete the 2011—12 Alumni Survey. As decisions are made regarding the future of TA, it is important that we hear the thoughts and opinions of our alumni. Click on the embedded link below to take the survey.


TA enrollment is up! There are currently 410 students enrolled in PS—12th.

Class of 2001 10 Year Reunion

2011-12 Annual Fund Pledge Card NAME ADDRESS CITY/ST ZIP This gift is made in Honor of: This gift is made in Memory of: Please check all that apply: Alumnus

Please announce my honorarium/memorial gift to the following:

Count Me In!


Parent Parent of Alumnus


“Historically, TA has been truly for-


tunate to have the generous support


I/We would like to support TA at the following level: Excalibur Club: $5,000 and above Round Table Club: $2,500—$4,999

of those committed to its mission. The history of generosity has impacted each and every student who

Knights: $1,000—$2,499

has sat in our classrooms. Through

Squires: $500—$999

this legacy of giving, TA will remain

Sword & Shield: $250—$499

an outstanding school—sought out

Blue & Gold—$5—$249

by dedicated teachers as a wonder-

All donations are tax-deductible and must be paid in full by May 1.

ful environment in which to work, as well as by parents as the best place

My payment is enclosed payable to TA I am pleased to pledge $__________to the TA Annual Fund Drive Please check if you wish to remain anonymous

to educate their children.” -Dr. Jeffrey Mitchell

2011-12 Basketball Schedule Date Nov 14 Nov 15 Nov 21 Nov 22 Nov 28 Nov 29 Dec 5 Dec 6 Dec 9,10 Dec 16 Dec 17 Dec 19 Dec 27-29 Jan 3 Jan 6 Jan 7 Jan 9

Team Patrician Wilcox Tusc Christian Prattville Christian EMCA Coosa Valley Pickens Prattville Christian TA Tournament Evangel CCA Tournament Patrician Patrician Tournament Bessemer Kingwood EMCA Tusc Christian

Location Time Away 4:00 Home 4:00 Away 1:30 Away 1:00 Away 4:00 Home 4:00 Away 4:00 Home 4:00 Home TBA Away TBA Away TBA Home 5:00 Away TBA Home 5:00 Away 4:00 Home 3:00 Home 2:00

Date Jan 12 Jan 13 Jan 14 Jan 17 Jan 19 Jan 20 Jan 21 Jan 24 Jan 27 Jan 28 Feb 3 Feb 4 Feb 10 Feb 17 Feb 18

Team Location Time Pickens Home 4:00 Lee-Scott Away 5:00 Glenwood Away 1:00 Bessemer Away 5:00 Southern Home 4:00 Kingwood Home 4:00 JV State Tournament Cornerstone Away 4:00 Southern Away 4:00 Fort Dale Away 2:00 Region Tournament Region Tournament Final 8 Final 4 State Championship

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The Knightly News


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Tuscaloosa Academy Alumni Newsletter - Winter 2012