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The Ridge

April 2013

California visits a wonderful reminder of the Sacred Heart bond In late March, I had the opportunity to accompany our Director of Institutional Advancement, Regina Mooney, and Director of Alumnae Relations, Julie Lundgren, on a swing through Southern California to attend alumnae receptions and visit with some alums who have played a key part in Forest Ridge’s history over the years. The trip was, in a word, energizing. One reception in Pasadena, hosted by Lucia Rosling Shaw ’85, brought together alums from the early ’80s as well as some from last year! Being in the company of these accomplished, confident women made clear to me the important work we do every day at Forest Ridge in forming our future graduates. As each alum had the chance to share her experiences of Forest Ridge, one common theme emerged in all of their memories — they would not be the women they are today if they had not attended an outstanding all-girls school, Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart. And they stressed all-girls! From the accepting atmosphere of their classmates and teachers to the ability to take risks at a time when they most needed to be challenged, each alum spoke with fervor about discovering her passion in an all-girls environment. And these women are doing some amazing things today — working on the Mars Rover Curiosity team, leading a New York advertising agency, creating art, raising funds in the nonprofit sector, and the list goes on.

She once said, “It is very well to lay the foundations of solid virtue, but only the union of virtue with learning will give our work its perfection.” My trip to Southern California and my time with our alumnae was a poignant reminder of the sacred bond we have with our students and our families. The work we do today sets the stage for some amazing opportunities and fulfilled lives in the future. A Forest Ridge grad never stops learning and, as I experienced firsthand, never stops teaching, either. Mark Pierotti Head of School

As I listened to their memories and witnessed their gratitude to Forest Ridge, I could not help but think of our girls today. What passions are they discovering? Who are our future doctors or politicians, attorneys or teachers, philosophers or astronauts, community activists or theologians? Our Goals and Criteria serve us well in forming our students into tomorrow’s leaders. As a Catholic, Sacred Heart school we are committed to the values of our founder. St. Madeleine Sophie knew from the start that the girls who had so much to offer the world first needed an outstanding education in order to truly be successful. She knew it took more than pious thoughts to turn public opinion and make significant contributions to the world.

Mark Pierotti with alumnae in California.

WE HAVE SPIRIT, Yes We Do! “Spirit,” the theme of Auction 2013, energized this year’s attendees and made our event a roaring success. Heartfelt thanks to our co-captains, Mary Frances Feider, parent of Estelle ’15, Chiara ’17 and Francesca Feider-Blazer ’20, and Terry Nix, parent of Andrea van Ginneken ’15, who along with first-stringers Wendy Costello, Gabrielle Gerhard, Kim Merino, Leslie Decker, Pam Kimball and Susan Meier, ran the auction like a top-level major league team! More than 240 guests, sporting a wide range of cocktail finery and athletic gear (a nod to this year’s Fund-A-Need recipient, Forest Ridge Athletics), celebrated at the tailgate party by bidding on auction items, cheering on friends competing to win bids, playing ring toss, buying raffle tickets and socializing with friends. The energy was high, the generosity overflowed and the spirit permeated the far corners of the room. Highlights of the evening included sipping beverages from the back of an old pickup truck, raffling the use of an electric car for a year and auctioning box seats to Rihanna and One Direction concerts.

Janet Burns and Nicole Morris Office of Advancement

Emcee and Forest Ridge CFO Jamie Patterson ’94 led the live auction festivities along with returning auctioneer Laura Michalek. Lisa Brummel, who is co-owner of the Seattle Storm and serves as Microsoft’s chief people officer, gave inspiring testimony to the role athletics has played in her own life and coached us all toward more generous donations in support of Forest Ridge. Together, they motivated bidders and the rest of the team, helping to raise more than $280,000, including $100,000 for our special “Fund-A-Need” benefitting Forest Ridge Athletics. Thank you to all of our generous donors and bidders for hitting it out of the park. The MVP award goes to our amazing volunteers, without whom none of this would have been possible. Thanks again for a winning season!

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Learning Leadership “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” —Plato If you looked into the bin of leadership materials in the middle school, you’d find an eclectic array of materials, including PVC pipe, bowling pins, marshmallows, rubber chickens and tires. If you think leadership is serious business, you might be surprised to hear that middle schoolers play a lot of games in our leadership program. Why? It’s simple. Games and team challenges are an effective way for girls to try different leadership styles and problem-solving skills in a low-risk environment. Solving a team challenge, such as navigating a maze with all but one of the team members blindfolded, taps into a wide variety of skills. The ability to stretch or flex is a key leadership skill for anyone, but it is especially relevant for girls who are often hesitant to try something new unless they are sure of success. Middle school girls need concrete opportunities to practice taking chances, to experience low-risk failures and to push past self-imposed limits. When girls have multiple chances to jump into a challenge, to share ideas, to test out strategies and to admit failure and try again, they gain confidence and comfort in taking risks and learning from failure, essential skills for leaders to internalize.

Through Pl ay Betsy Briardy Middle School Dean of Students

As fun as games and challenges are, their true value as teaching tools is the strategic planning that happens before the game and the debrief of the shared experience that happens afterward. During debriefing sessions individual and group habits, assumptions and processes are illuminated. Analysis of a game usually starts with the simple question, “What did you observe?” Comments about both personal behavior and group dynamics are readily shared and discussed. Talk about mistakes and failures makes the rounds, usually accompanied by laughter and then an articulation of how the group recovered from a mistake. Facilitators often ask questions like: “How do you know all the voices were heard?” “How did you stay engaged with the group even when you were frustrated?” “What was your stretch today?” “If you had the chance to do the activity again right now, what would your team do differently?” Debriefs usually end with a quick personal reflection about what worked and what a student would like to try next time. Through this process, girls discover their natural engagement patterns in collaborative activities and identify healthy areas to stretch beyond their comfort zones. The Middle School has used interactive games and team challenges for the past three years as part of our advisory curriculum. Every grade has an opportunity to participate in multiple challenge activities throughout the year. These games and team challenges will also be an integral part of our fifth- and sixth-grade leadership courses next year. As we continue to develop our leadership program, one of our goals is to both deepen and increase the frequency of opportunity girls have to develop and practice their leadership skills. Play will continue to be a key element of that practice.

“The playing adult steps sideward into another reality; the playing child advances forward to new stages of mastery.” —Erik Erikson

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is the only constant Audrey Threlkeld Dean of High School Academics

When viewing historical accounts, it is important to consider

times. The school year was divided into trimesters, with

the point of view of the writer. As I leave Forest Ridge after a

Mini-Week (a precursor to our current Winterim) between

gratifying 34-year-run, I’d like to share my own perspective on

second and third trimesters. Some classes ran for a full year,

how Forest Ridge School of the Sacred Heart has changed, or

while others were trimester-long.

more accurately, evolved over the last 34 years. I joined the Forest Ridge community in the fall of 1978 as a part-time

A quick overview of the high school curriculum from the late

middle school teacher, spending mornings with my two-year-

’70s shows that in some disciplines courses resemble those we

old daughter and afternoons with seventh-graders who were

currently offer, while in others the offerings bear little if any

“on the edge of their seats” eager to learn the mysteries of

likeness to those of today. For example, students were only

rhetoric. At the time the campus comprised five buildings plus

required to take three years of social studies (none during 10th

the gaping foundation for a sixth, which, following intensive

grade) and two years of science. (I remember teaching “In a

fundraising, emerged three years later as the Lee Theatre and

Woman’s Voice,” a junior/senior English elective in which we

Fine Arts Building. The school had just done away with the

studied such ‘groundbreaking’ authors as Margaret Atwood

1:30 p.m. early dismissal on Fridays, (instituted, theoretically,

and Zora Neale Hurston!) The religious studies curricula for

to allow students to make doctor and dentist appointments

ninth- and 10th-grades were similar to the current curricula,

without missing class). As the curriculum expanded, adding

but the 11th- and 12th-graders chose mixed trimester electives,

rhetoric for grades six through 10, more instructional time was

including such upbeat offerings as “Death and Dying!”

needed. I don’t recall the size of the student body, but I know

Language choices were limited to French and Spanish

there was one sixth-grade class and two grades six through 12

(Japanese was added in 1993 and Mandarin in 2010). Students

with one section of sixth grade and two sections each of

were required to take only two years of science, i.e. biology and

seventh and eighth grade. Sr. Clair Kondolf had just come on

chemistry, but they could round out their science knowledge

board as Head of School, Sr. Marilyn McMorrow was Dean of

with a trimester-long electives (Does anyone remember Science

Studies, Mrs. Mary Moeschler was Director of Middle School

and Survival?). All ninth-graders took Healthful Living —

and Fr. Len Sitter was the high school Dean of Students.

we’re still trying to teach them that — while students in the other grades selected trimester electives (What on earth was

The middle school and high school ran the same schedule, and

Computer Dance?) or took Independent PE. And as near as

many teachers taught in both divisions. Even then Glee met

I can tell, the math offerings were pretty much the same as now

during 0 period, and classes were scheduled during eight

— Algebra I through Calculus; although, this year the school is

periods; classes rotated within the morning and afternoon

offering IB HL Math.

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I feel privileged to have walked this journey as we continually discerned how to better meet the needs of our students. Each Head of School has moved us forward. Sr. Kondolf was succeeded by Sr. Sandy Theunick, who made it her goal to personally connect with each member of the school

Below: Audrey in 1981.

community: students (she knew each girl by name), faculty and staff, parents and alumnae. Next came Sr. Suzanne Cooke, who thrived on change. She spearheaded our laptop program and reconfigured the #100, #200 and #400 buildings to create more classroom space for a growing student body, including the addition of a fifth grade. When Dr. Mary Magnano Smith ’61 agreed to return to her alma mater as Head of School in 1998, she asked to remain at

Over the years I’ve witnessed many changes in the Forest Ridge

our sister school in San Francisco for an additional year to

campus, academic program, school year, faculty and staff and

bring to fruition her dream of establishing a Sacred Heart boys’

composition of the student body. We now have a wonderful

high school, and Mrs. Mona Bailey graciously agreed to serve

high school building with three dedicated science labs to

as our Interim Head. Mona’s experience in the public school

accommodate our students’ ever-increasing interest in science.

sector brought us a fresh perspective and encouraged us to

Our beautiful chapel provides sacred space where we can

re-evaluate what we were doing — to keep what was valuable

worship together. The high school program has expanded its

but push ourselves to move forward as well.

offerings in almost every discipline, and faculty members continue to examine both what and how they teach to ensure

Although many members of the Forest Ridge community

they prepare our young women well for the world that awaits

weren’t sure how they would adjust to a lay Head of School, Dr.

their leadership.

Smith brought renewed energy to our school community, encouraging us to move beyond what was familiar and

We have moved from trimesters to semesters and recently

comfortable, to take risks, to be more intentional about our

adopted a seven-day rotating schedule in the high school with

place in the global community. It’s no surprise that during Dr.

only four periods each day to allow for more in-depth learning

Smith’s nine years as Head of School, interest in our always-

and to reduce stress. Student enrollment is at an all-time high,

popular Exchange Program shifted from mainly domestic

and thanks to our expanded scholarship opportunities and by

exchanges to almost entirely international exchanges. And with

our new Residential Life Program, we are all enriched by the

the arrival of Mr. Mark Pierotti just over four years ago, we

increasing diversity of the young women entrusted to us. I’m

welcomed a new opportunity for growth — some might even

sure more changes are in the works. But the constants we use

say challenge— having a male Head of School. Mark continues

in everything we do remain the same: the Goals and Criteria

to learn everything he can about our 200+ year heritage as a

for Sacred Heart Schools and the needs of our students. As

Sacred Heart school as well as what makes Forest Ridge such

long as we remain true to our roots and our mission change

an amazing community. Looking to the future, exemplified by

will move us forward, ensuring the viability of Forest Ridge

his support of the Women as Global Leaders initiative and the

School of the Sacred Heart for years to come.

International Baccalaureate Programme, is a hallmark of Mark’s tenure.

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A meditation on

In mindfulness practice, the exercise (and challenge) for the mind is to stay present to the moment it is in, to be aware of the chatter of the mind that tempts one to jump from the present to the future or to revisit the past. This practice is a leadership skill, one that is useful especially in times of change or conflict. During the course of Peace and Reconciliation this year, as a group we often found ourselves in conversation about events from the past and speculating about the future of the conflict between Israel and Palestine. In Resources and Sustainability, as a class we Kisha Palmer Director, Women As Global Leaders

often jump to imagining a future in which Earth’s natural resources are depleted or guarded by a few, inaccessible to the many. While the tendency to visit these imagined scenarios is understandable, ironically, it is not always helpful as we strive to understand the nature of global issues that challenge our creativity and our resourcefulness. The leadership skills required to build peace or to create a harmonious way of life for all living beings that share our planet are rooted in the ability to stay focused on the present and to hear the stories of those with whom we seek to ally ourselves for the sake of a healthy coexistence. But mindfulness requires discipline and a continual practice of listening without assumption, detaching from stories of the past that can cloud our perspectives. In group dialogue and reflection, the faculty and the students challenge one another to be mindful of language, to focus on the present and instead to encourage one another to use the vocabulary of nonviolent communication and silent reflection before reaching for answers. By utilizing these skills and building these muscles, we as a group can learn to hear each other with open hearts and respond to who and what is with us in this moment. Mindfulness teaches us that we can lead from what is, instead of from what has been or what may be. This spring, as Women as Global Leaders continues to grow and change within the fabric of our community, the intention is mindfulness and reflection. As faculty members, students, families and outside partners engage with the dynamic learning of female leadership for a global community, the goal is to stay fortified in the present, accepting the gifts of new ideas, new opportunities and the beauty of each new moment. Happy Spring!

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Get Involved with the Parent Association!

Ann Rillera and Luann Desautel Parent Association Co-Presidents Happy Spring! The days are getting longer, the weather is slowly getting warmer and flowers are blooming. The students and faculty will start spending more time enjoying the campus outdoors, and we hope you take the opportunity to enjoy the beautiful setting of the Forest Ridge campus, too! The Parent Association collaborated with the FRidge to host a new Middle School Mother and Daughter event in March called From Farm to Fork, which was a huge success! It featured live hens and chicks, scrumptious food stations, hands-on cooking activities and a chance for moms and daughters to speak with farmers, beekeepers, bakers and cheese and jam makers. Thank you to our event chair, Lora Plaskon, and Chef Ron for bringing this new event to Forest Ridge. They could not have done it without help from Anne Livingston, Megan Pepin, Sherrie Parry, Kathy Peter-Contesse and our HS girls who devoted their time and energy. Thank you! The Parent Association is beginning to recruit volunteers for the 2013–2014 school year. There are manyopportunities to get involved, support Forest Ridge and get to know other parents. We are looking for parent representatives, event chairs and support for these coordinators. Families should have received communication on March 24 about logging into The School Volunteer to sign up. If you would like more information about getting involved, please contact PA Volunteer Coordinator Julie McElroy at During our April 11 Parent Advisory meeting, the Parent Association voted to approve the slate of PA officers for the 2013–2014 school year. Please join us in thanking members of the Nominating Committee for the considerable time and attention they have devoted to this process.

We are excited and thankful for the many dedicated volunteers who enjoy working to support the Parent Association, faculty, staff and, ultimately, the students! Thank you and Happy Spring!

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Seattle, WA Permit No. 6781

4800 139th Avenue SE Bellevue, WA 98006-3015

TEDxForestRidgeSchool: Innovate! In March, Forest Ridge hosted its first TEDx event: TedxForestRidgeSchool: Innovate! The event featured six top women innovators who spoke about the power of innovation to middle and high school students as well as viewers via live streaming. The event was a huge success; videos of the stream are available at

April 2013 Ridge Report  

The monthly parent newsletter for the Forest Ridge community.