THE PINE NEEDLE St. Christopher’s School, Richmond, Virginia, May 2008
Boese! Boese! Boese!
Ibrahim Abdullahi reflects on his year in America PAGE 3
Varsity baseball makes school history PAGE 3
Symposium inspires PAGE 4-5
by Brian Kusiak ’08 Dr. Boese has been an inspiration to so many of us history students. Beneath the chorus of chants and the almost inexhaustible supply of corny jokes, he is a teacher unconditionally dedicated to the education of his students. In his May 14 chapel talk, Dr. Boese really summed up all of what I have known him to believe in my two short years with him as a teacher, advisor and club sponsor. Both a model and a proponent of civ-
Minimester 2008 PAGE 10
Mr. Durk Steed’s new album “Fly Away” has just hit the streets. Still the always selfless Middle School chaplain deflects the attention expressing his excitement about the upcoming releases of albums by his co-workers Allyson Mills and John Morgan. He would sooner talk about their music than his own. “I feel positively challenged by them to become a better musician,” he said. Meanwhile, his own album is a result of Mr. Steed’s need to challenge himself musically and not, as his wife jokingly claimed, of his mid-life crisis. The title is a simple yet important message from Mr. Steed to his listeners: “Take your dreams and fly away with them.” Mr. Steed calls himself a “total music addict.” When he first started playing guitar in high school, Mr. Steed forced himself to play for six hours a day, even if that meant playing from midnight to 6 a.m.
“I went in hard and fast,” he said. His talent is the product of his dedication to guitar and of his love for music. The music Mr. Steed loves the most is, as anyone could tell by visiting his office, Jimi Hendrix. Other influences include B.B. King, Miles Davis and Bob Dylan. He also mentioned Hannah Montana as a person whose music he admires. Thankfully, he was kidding. These influences, especially that of Hendrix, are easily seen on “Fly Away.” The CD contains 13 songs written by Mr. Steed, one written by his college bandmate and covers of songs by King and Hendrix. The Hendrix
Saints win Directors’ Cup ...again
by Tyler Franz ’09
cover, “Bold As Love,” is a perfect mix of Hendrix and Steed. “We didn’t want to do it just like Hendrix,” Mr. Steed said. Although he has been playing music for longer than any of us have known him, record-
For the second consecutive year, the St. Christopher’s Saints are Virginia Prep League Directors’ Cup Champions. The school’s teams set off to a respectable start in the fall but really picked up the pace during the winter season. Both indoor track and swimming placed second in the Prep League, and various school records were broken in both sports. Headmaster Charley Stillwell was especially proud of the athletes who broke school records this year. “So many of our athletes are willing to work hard to be their very best,” Mr. Stillwell said. “Look at the amazing relay teams we had in track or Ben Katz’s progress in the high jump or Robert Barry’s progress in swimming. I could go on and on about so many individuals.” Most notable was the wrestling team, which captured its 7th consecutive state title and placed 13th nationally. The team was also recently named the Richmond Times-Dispatch Team of the Year. One of the Directors’ Cup features is that it rewards every sport equally for success and does not merely focus on the All-American sports (football, basketball, baseball). Having said this, the baseball team was one of the best in school history and captured a Prep League title as well as second place in the state tournament. Track and tennis both placed second in the Prep League in the spring, while golf sealed a second consecutive Directors’ Cup victory for St. Christopher’s with a Prep League championship. The school’s success this year can be attributed to hard work and leadership by the senior class, especially the captains, and a significant number of All-Prep and All-State athletes. “I was especially proud of our senior leadership,” Mr. Stillwell said. “So many seniors realized that, whether captain or not, they could play a crucial role in the spirit and success of the team by putting forth determined efforts and supporting younger players. Few senior classes help their teams win
See Steed pg.7
See Directors’ Cup pg. 8
See Boese pg. 7
Behind the music: Durk Steed by Stephen Wood ’11
ic responsibility, Dr. Boese’s work instilled in his students a sense of history and a sense of one’s own role in history. As we sat in our desks day after day, studying American history and listening to Dr. Boese’s lectures, we heard these stories in a way that was something more than just the Alan Brinkley textbook account. Maybe it was just, as we always liked to joke, that we were getting a firsthand account of history. More likely though, it was that Dr. Boese truly cares about history. Teaching us to not take his-
tory just as what one textbook says, Dr. Boese went even so far as to counter all conventional knowledge and suggest that President Herbert Hoover’s handling of the Great Depression was not wrong because he did not do enough, it was because he did too much. These contrarian takes on historical events really taught an approach to history that was not stagnant, that history was not determined by a single authoritative tome—it is open to interpretation, and this act of interpretation, by a discerning mind, is essential to understanding history. During any free period, one could walk into his room on the bottom floor of Chamberlayne to rummage through The Washington Post or The New York Times that sat atop a table in the back of the classroom. Twenty minutes could easily pass discussing the headlines of one of these papers with this man who was so enthralled by his daily politics fix. Each Political Awareness Club meeting, we, the students, discussed current events of all natures, always looking to Dr. Boese for those extra details, that overarching theme that tied it all together and tied the events’ consequences into our lives. The primary message was always to get involved, to get involved in the political process in any fashion possible, to affect policy and politics. Dr. Boese would always
The Pine Needle
Questionable calls kill seniors
Obama lacks patriotism by Teddy Mitchell ’08 In the last issue of The Pine Needle, an info box appeared endorsing Barack Obama’s campaign for President of the United States. The endorsement claimed that it came from “The Pine Needle editors.” As one of four senior editors on The Pine Needle staff, I am here to rebuke that claim and tell you why I do not support Obama, with the help of senior political activist Jack Hutcheson. First of all, we would like to establish that we are not thrilled with any of the three candidates. However, Obama has been involved in far too many controversial, political firestorms that we find disturbing and frankly, offensive. Obama often claims to be a typical, church-going American citizen. But how many of us attend churches with a pastor who preaches anti-American ideals laced with racism toward whites? “God bless America,” said Pastor Jeremiah Wright following the Sept. 11 attacks. “No, God damn America.” And later -- “The government lied about the HIV virus as a means of genocide against people of color.” Obama is the first candidate in decades to not wear an American flag pin on his blazer. This seemingly small and meaningless action, at a time when our country is at war
by Robert Allen ’09
against forces of terror (not to mention illegal immigration), is downright un-American. And speaking of terrorists, Obama was recently endorsed by Hamas, the anti-Israeli extremist group in Palestine that has killed hundreds of innocent Israeli civilians. As we have previously stated, Jack and I are not big supporters of any of the three presidential candidates. The supposed answer to Obama’s “program of change” is John McCain, a republican who is generously labeled a conservative, not to mention one whose cheeks appear constantly stuffed with acorns. We do agree, however, that the “hip” yet inexperienced senator from Illinois will not change this nation for the better.
The faculty easily overpowered the students in this year’s running of the student vs. faculty basketball game to extend their growing annual winning streak. It appeared to be a close game, but in reality the students were doomed from the warm-ups. While the faculty were practicing lay-ups and short jumpers, the students never took a single shot inside the three-point arc. Tommy Bartosic even practiced half-court shots, dreaming of the opportunity for a game winning buzzer beater that never came. As expected, the beginning of the first half was all faculty. Their defense was impenetrable. The students were heaving threes without much luck, and Mr. Hamill Jones
dominated on the offensive end. “I think it continues to show the importance of recruiting young talent to the Upper School faculty,” said Mr. Johns about Mr. Jones’s dominance, confirming many students’ suspicion that the former college athlete was hired not just to school students in the classroom. However, Mr. Jones began to make costly mistakes toward the end of the first half. By halftime, he had missed two dunks, bobbled an alley oop and committed a turnover when he attempted a behind-the-back pass. The students were confident. “[Coach Jones] thinks he’s hot stuff but I can take him any day.” said Andrew Bernard. Gnawing at his mouth guard in frustration,
See Basketball pg. 9
Caged Angel rocks Richmond music scene by Jabriel M. Hasan ’11 It is Fall Festival 2007. Caged Angel is performing, playing a punk version of “Sweet Home Alabama.” Chris Lohr, the bass guitarist, has been trying to keep his oversized shorts on for the entire show. Finally, he gives up, and lets them fall. After Lohr kicks his pants to the side of the stage, band manager Jamie Ruml throws the shorts out into the crowd, eliciting gasps of disbelief from the audience. Lohr’s mother, furious that her son is being seen in public in just his boxers, marches on stage and puts her son’s pants back on, leg by leg, as Lohr continues to play bass. This is Caged Angel: funny, spontaneous and over the top. Caged Angel emerged in the summer of 2006. The band experimented with several different names, including The Awesomites and The Stewart Jester Experience, but finally settled on Caged Angel. The band’s members include Stewart Jester on vocals, Wilson Parks on lead guitar, William Newman on drums, Chris Lohr on bass, and Tres Dean, joining later, on guitar and backing vocals. At Fall Festival 2006, they introduced themselves as an eclectic mix of classic rock, metal and punk. They are still trying to balance their musical styles. “We’re basically punk kids that try to be metal, and it comes off as a mixture of the two,” Dean said. They list Iron Maiden, Megadeth, the Ramones and Black Sabbath as some of their main influences. Caged Angel is still looking for a definitive style with their originals “Dragoon,” “Laid to Rest,” “Eternal Flight,” “Boy” and their newest, “Outbreak.” “Outbreak” is an experiment to bring
the metal-punk fusion of crossover thrash to Caged Angel’s sound. It was performed at their recent Alley Katz show April 27. Caged Angel is not the members’ only musical project. Jester, Dean and Lohr created a political punk band C.A.W. (Citizens Against Wilson) late last year. Unlike Caged Angel, it deals with serious, thoughtprovoking issues. Messages on anti-war and non-violence echo throughout their short, fast songs. “We want to be serious musicians…that’s why I made CAW, so I could say something serious,” said Jester. Caged Angel has done much to secure their lasting ability. They are all friends who love music and love to make it. They
are attempting to branch out and widen their sound to bring new listeners. They’ve played shows at St. Christopher’s, the Westwood Club and the Richmond Marathon, but most of all, they’ve captured something long forgotten in music: imagination. Their original music, and even the covers that they do, are wildly creative, taking the listener into unexpected arenas. What Caged Angel could become is something even greater than what they currently are. “The future is basically open,” said Tres Dean. Will they break up next week? No. Will they quit school to go on a national tour? Probably not. It will be exciting to hear and see their future play out.
“Our mission is to unite the forces of rebellious music to create a performance of epic proportions, and, in so doing, justify the ways of rock to men, “ said Jamie Ruml. Mr. Steed gave his own opinion about Caged Angel: “Anyone who has strapped on a Fender Stratocaster and tried to play Jimi Hendrix is talented in my book, talented in figuring out how to enjoy the finer things in life. They are way ahead of where I was at their age. I didn’t start playing until my junior year in high school. Future? These days with digital home recording capabilities, everyone has a future in making music if they choose to pursue it.”
Caged Angel rocks out at Fall Festival.
Wittenauer shines at Poetry Out Loud by Jack Jessee ’10 Sophomore Kyle Wittenauer wasn’t nervous. He had read in front of a large crowd at his church before, and he felt confident in his performance at the Poetry Out Loud state competition. Unfortunately, the judges were looking for something else that day, and although he advanced through the first two rounds, he failed to make the final cut of five students. Wittenauer, winner of the school’s Poetry Out Loud competition, performed “A Valediction: Forbidding Mourning” by John Donne and “In the Basement of the Goodwill Store” by Ted Kooser. According to Mr. Smith, his recitation of Donne’s poem was emotionally clear with excellent delivery, and his Kooser poem was funny, moving and utterly convincing. Mr. Smith believes that Wittenauer did not make the finals because the judges were “more interested in fireworks than in feeling, and more impressed by volume than by authenticity.” Guidelines from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation clearly state that the poem is to be presented rather than acted, so the evaluation of Wittenauer’s performance was questionable. “The judging on the day Kyle competed was more appropriate for a rowdy poetry slam than Poetry Out Loud,” Mr. Smith said. Poetry Out Loud is a demanding competition that draws nearly 350 students from all over the state. Thirty-two competitors advance to the state finals, eventually leading to a national event in which participants compete for a whopping $20,000 in scholarship funds. Prior to the state tournament, a school competition is held yearly to determine who will represent St. Christopher’s. John Mark DiGrazia (first runner up), John Wilkinson and Stephen Davenport put on compelling performances, finishing in the top three (with a tie for third) at the school level. Competing in the state competition requires an immense amount of preparation. Wittenauer practiced every day for an entire month, often working with Mr. Smith and Mr. Wilson during free periods to perfect his delivery. Surprisingly, the competition was relatively flat. “Honestly I felt like some of my competition at St. Christopher’s was tougher than most of my competitors at the state level, but I guess it comes down to what the judges are considering,” he said. Although he had a good deal of past experience performing in front of a crowd, reciting poetry proved to be more difficult. “It is more like trying to convey the poet’s intention about his poem and its meaning by using just your voice and minimal gestures,” Wittenauer said. Wittenauer’s goals for next year include a repeat victory at the school level, placing at the state competition and making an appearance at the national competition. His third poem, which he was unable to deliver this year, is possibly his best yet and he hopes to recite it next year. With his continued commitment and the dedication of Mr. Smith and Mr. Wilson, anything is possible.
The Pine Needle
Ibrahim returns to Nigeria
by Jabriel M. Hasan ’11 Ibrahim Isa Abdullahi has mixed emotions about boarding the plane May 31 to return to his native country of eastern Nigeria. “I kind of feel partly happy and partly sad because I’m leaving my good friends I’ve made here and my host family,” he said. “I’m also happy because I will see my parents.” He came to America as a foreign exchange student who went through two Nigeria State Department tedious examinations to be eligible. He left his father and mother, Isa and Bilkisu, and five siblings, as well as his role as head of his school’s student council. When Ibrahim came to America to stay with the Vozenelik family, he had never dealt with a computer, dishwasher, washer and dryer, or power that
wasn’t hydroelectrically generated. He hadn’t yet become a lover of scary movies or been able to joke with teachers or younger kids (such practices are against African tradition). Coming from an agricultural family that grows yams, cassava, maize and corn, his appetite was obviously varied. “The hardest part was getting used to a culture that you’re not used to,” he said. “It’s hard to fit in. I try to understand different people, different personalities, different cultures.” While embracing many parts of American life, he still kept the traditions of home. He found time to pray five times a day, which is one of the core beliefs of his faith, Islam. In a recent interview with his host mother, Dr. Betty Baugh Harrison, she described Ibrahim
closing the door to his room to pray facing the holy city of Mecca. Mr. Tune also colorfully described students coming to him about Ibrahim washing his feet in the bathroom sinks. He would reassure them that this practice, cleaning oneself before prayer to God (Allah), was also a part of Ibrahim’s religious traditions. Because of his traditional practices of modesty, Ibrahim does not wear shorts unless he absolutely needs them for sports. For religious reasons, he does not eat pork. Dr. Harrison said that when she would fix pork, she would always tell Ibrahim beforehand. “For us it was new territory…but we welcomed the diversity,” Dr. Harrison said. It appears that the Vozeneliks did everything that they could to make Ibrahim’s cultural transition easier. Dr. Harrison bought palm oil, a major component of what Ibrahim ate in Africa, and made sure that he was supplied with eggs and toast for breakfast. The family took him on a trip to Washington, where he got to stand in the Pentagon, which was thrilling considering that in Nigeria, younger people are not allowed to even go to cities and most certainly not a government building. “Many government organizations won’t let you in to what’s going on,” Ibrahim said. The Vozeneliks also exposed Ibrahim to hotels, receptions and theme parks. Dr. Harrison’s comment to
families was that “until you walk in [a foreign exchange student’s] shoes and have someone who is so different from you, you realize that they’re not that different from you.” Ibrahim, who’s a whiz at anything science, made quick friends with host brothers Rob and Alec Vozenilek and formed friendships with other students as well. He excelled at his school subjects and participated in athletics. Although he noted that some students are more open-minded than others, he has relished all of his last, bitter-sweet moments. He said that the experience here has taught him respect and patience. Ibrahim wants to keep in touch with the Vozeneliks. Computers and the internet will make that easier. He wants to become an engineer after graduating in a year. He will consider returning to America for college but wants to live in Africa. Ibrahim’s main lesson to students here is that Africa is not all jungle. “Africa is just somewhere where other people live,” he said. Africa does have jungles but also seas and cities, he said. “I still think of Africa as being backwards, or at least I used to think that,” Dr. Harrison said. “Africa has a lot of gifted young men and women who just need a chance, and we wanted to be a part of that.” In fact, the Vozeneliks plan to request another African foreign exchange student next year.
Varsity baseball team raises the bar
by John Stillwell ’09
Prep League champs, 21-5, #3 regional ranking by the Richmond Times-Dispatch, #2 in the state. Best baseball team ever to play under the pines? Many would agree that this team had arguably the most prolific and successful season in the storied history of St. Christopher’s baseball. “This team had a great year,” said Charlie McCann, senior captain. “It was what I expected. I don’t know a lot about the great teams in school history, but I know that we had one of the best seasons our school has had in a long time.” This particular team had a unique, but special chemistry that allowed it to succeed and achieve numerous goals. With an uncanny way of staying
loose but remaining focused, the team had a great balance. It was able to joke around but continue to win on the field. “We went out every game with the attitude that we were the better team and most of the time we were,” said sophomore outfielder Peter Partee. This attitude could be perceived as arrogance, but actually it was a tone set by Captains Charlie McCann and Matt Clarke. The team never felt out of the game, and truly believed in the strong pitching staff, anchored by McCann, Luke Erickson and Campbell Henkel. Every member of the team wore a shirt to practice with the No. 1 on the sleeve. While the team obviously was in pursuit of a championship, the No. 1 did not stand for rankings, but it reminded all 19 players that every pitch, every inning and every game was critical to achieve their goals in the long run. “One of our keys to success was focusing and not getting ahead of ourselves,” said Coach Szymendera. “Baseball requires extreme concentration. Focusing on the idea of one play at a time, the team
anticipated every play in the moment rather than the looking forward to future games.” The little things are crucial in a sport where an inch can change the outcome of a ballgame or a season. Every player on the team knew their role, and focused on the little things, letting the winning take care of itself. “Though we didn’t win states, we were still able to show that we’re one of the best teams in the state public and private” said senior third baseman Michael Tuohey. The program has quietly become a dynasty in the Prep League over the last four years,
winning three championships. Along with the success within the league, the Saints faced an extremely challenging non-conference schedule and earned greater respect throughout the area as one of the elite baseball programs. Despite the loss of six talented seniors, the Saints have a good crop of young talent ready to step into leadership roles next year. “I felt bad for the seniors that we couldn’t pull off the school’s first state championship,” Henkel said. “But I hope that our success will carry over to next year’s team.”
“At VMI, I’ll probably end up playing an outside lineback position. I should know about half way through two-a-days [whether or not I’ll be redshirted]. I’d like to get redshirted to give me another year to get bigger, stronger, faster, but if I don’t get redshirted, then at least I won’t have to spend another year up there. Either way, I’ll be happy.” --Richard Luck ’08
“I don’t really have many expectations. I am looking forward to getting to Hokeyville and concentrating on pitching. It should be a great learning experience for athletics and many other things.” --Luke Erickson ’08
“Wrestling at VMI is going to be the most physically and mentally challenging experience that I will face in my life, but it will also be the most rewarding. The next four years will require a lot of commitment and sacrifice, and I look forward with excitement.”
“Honestly, playing tennis at VCU is going to be one of the most challenging things I’ve ever had to do. I’m just going to have to work 10 times harder than I’ve ever worked before, and I’m going to have to focus 10 times harder than I’ve ever focused before. It’s just a whole different level than anything I’ve ever experienced.”
--Joe Munno ’08
--CJ Williams ’08
by Teddy Mitchell ’08 When I was informed that I would be writing the editors’ farewell, I was quickly overwhelmed by the endless topics I could include in the article. I finally decided it appropriate to first reflect on the editors’ goals for the paper over the course of this year, and then to deliver our hopes for the management and leadership of The Pine Needle in the future. As the school year began, we editors approached our new position with incredible zeal and enthusiasm. Although we had not yet completed one paper, visions of a monthly six-page issue complete with an editorial section and a mind-blowing back page were already floating through our heads. We soon discovered this was not a realistic dream. This paper that you are reading is our fifth production of the year. We have discovered that creating a paper is not just thinking up intelligent and creative ideas; it is also getting those ideas codified and organized. Some potential articles that never made it into print: detailed sports pieces, bios of chapel speakers, various extracurricular articles and finally, an investigative piece on what really goes on inside the dining hall. (Adventurous underclassmen, this one could be a bombshell for next year.) That is not to say that we are not extremely proud of what we have accomplished. While the rest of the student body was soaking up the last rays of summer sun, The Pine Needle staff was cranking out a startof-school issue. The paper has presented in depth articles on various faculty and staff members including Mr. Bolling, Dr. Boese, Coach Pospahala and the maintenance staff. When the student council secured a private concert for St. Christopher’s students by Perpetual Groove, The Pine Needle was there to break the news. And of course, we editors pride ourselves on the biting wit found on our back page, an added element that gives our paper a personal feel. As our faculty advisor Kathleen Thomas will tell you, we editors are constantly complaining about the work that comes with producing a paper. However, when a deadline approaches, we can often be found toiling away in the publications office late at night so that we can get our paper out on time. It is our pride in the legitimacy and quality of our work that drives us to write as we do for The Pine Needle. It is my one hope that the future editors of The Pine Needle will always retain this pride, and in doing so, continue to create an enjoyable, informative paper that accurately depicts the St. Christopher’s community.
The Pine Needle
St. Christopher’s Symposium 2008 CHARACTER, CREATIVITY, COURAGE
Parrado delivers message of survival and compassion
Abrashoff gets his ship straight
by Stephane Irankunze ’09
by Henley Hopkinson ’11
“I should not be here, I should have been buried 36 years ago.” These were the words of plane-crash survivor Nando Parrado speaking at last month’s Leadership Symposium. Parrado, along with his rugby teammates and some of his family, experienced a violent plane crash in the Andes Mountains. Remarkably, 29 of the 45 passengers survived the initial impact. Parrado described it as luck that landed them in “the only 20 yards without rock in the Andes,” . Parrado’s mother and many others were killed on impact. But the worst was yet to come. It wasn’t easy surviving in the Andes for Parrado and the others. At night, the temperatures dropped to 40 degrees below freezing. The cold was so intense that it felt like acid on their faces. The group stayed hydrated by melting snow in their mouths, then swallowing it. As for the food, “ One chocolatecovered peanut was my food for three days,” said Parrado. On top of that they were also grieving the loss of their friends and family. Parrado’s mother and many of his friends were killed in the crash. His sister was fatally wounded. The survivors were also occupied with nursing the sick and injured passengers. Some of the injured were slowly dying an agonizing death to infection in the same cramped quarters with Parrado. But the most devestating blow came when the survivors heard
See Parrado pg. 6
Ostaski impresses his audience with a superb portrait of pop art legend Andy Warhol.
Michael Ostaski: Art Explosion by Farrar Pace ’11 Compared to the other symposium speakers that weekend, Michael Ostaski seemed out of place. He didn’t give listeners an inspiring speech or a riveting emotional story. In fact, he never uttered a word. But the performances, which he calls “art explosion,” nevertheless managed to wow the audience. Dashing up to the stage in sparkly, sequined tails, Mr. Ostaski promptly dipped his hands into a bucket of paint and began to splatter color over a large black canvas. All the while “Please Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” by The Animals was blasting in the background. Slowly but surely, the strange resemblance of a face began to take shape. Mr. Ostaski was slapping and flailing paint against the canvas and inadvertently himself. Some brush strokes later, a portrait of Andy
Warhol took shape. Mr. Ostaski finished off his performance with an energetic hand signature and left just as quickly as he appeared, again without saying a word. Mr. Ostaski made three other performances over the course of the symposium in which he painted Beethoven, the Statue of Liberty and even a portrait of our St. Christopher’s Headmaster Charley Stillwell. “Each painting is a challenge,” Mr. Ostaski writes on his website, “When I start a portrait, paint seems to be flying everywhere, and no one knows what’s happening… in the back of my head a voice is counting down—only two minutes left, only one minute left. That’s the pressure I thrive on.” Mr. Ostaski’s origins provide an interesting look into how he became the hybrid artistperformer he is today. Mr. Ostaski, born and raised in Southern California, received much influence from his parents. His mother was a muralist, and
his father, an accomplished artist himself, was also a renowned magician. At the “Magic Castle” in Hollywood, Mr. Ostaski met world-famous magicians such as Blackstone and Sigfried and Rioy. Mr. Ostaski is also an accomplished musician; this musical ability explains the lively tunes Mr. Ostaski plays while performing. “Music and visual art are part of the same world to me,” he said on the website. Mr. Ostaski’s talents quickly elevated him to art stardom. Nowadays, he paints such celebrities as Colin Powell, Bill Cosby, Michael Jordan and President Bush. One of his paintings is even in the firehouse closest to Ground Zero in New York. “All considered,” Mr. Ostaski said on his website, “art brings me closer to people and closer to life.” Though unconventional, perhaps Mr. Ostaski can show us the beauty in being passionate.
When Mike Abrashoff became captain of the U.S.S. Benfold at age 36, his crew complained of sexual harassment, racism and favoritism. Morale was at an all time low, and the turnover was high. Situations were so bad that at his predecessor ’s departure, the crew cheered. By contrast, after his two-year campaign, Mr. Abrashoff’s entire crew wept from sadness at his departure. His leadership was so influential, that by the end of his tour, the U.S.S. Benfold earned the coveted Spokane Trophy for best ship in the Pacific fleet. How he managed such a feat was the focus of his talk at the symposium and the subject of his book, “It’s Your Ship.” “It wasn’t about me barking orders,” he said. “It was the crew coming together.” His main theme was teamwork. During his two-year tenure, Mr. Abrashoff innovatively pulled together his crew. He practiced the philosophy of “what goes around comes around,” by treating his crew with kindness and equality. He instituted onship education and encouraged his crew to submit constructive criticisms for any dissatisfaction or needed improvements. He made getting to know his crew a priority by walking around the ship and talking to his men. He awarded 115 medals in the first year to individuals doing something right. He also rewarded their efforts with the opportunity to bond and enjoy themselves with a weekly cookout where they listened to jazz,
See Abrashoff pg. 6
Gardner encourages dedication and strong parenting by Jabriel Hasan ’11 At age 5, Chris Gardner made a promise to himself. “My children are going to know who their father is,” he said at the recent symposium. To fulfill that promise, Mr. Gardner lived on the streets for year of San Francisco for a year with his 1-year-old son. They slept in train stations, airports, bus stops and Union Square. After clawing his way to an entry level job on Wall Street, he moved up the ladder to become a top broker at Dean Witter and went on to own his own business. He spoke of his gut-wrenching and spiritual journey at the April 11 evening symposium. He chronicles that journey in his book, “The Pursuit of Happyness” that was made into a movie in 2006 with Will Smith. In one interview, Oprah Winfrey asked Gardner’s son what he remembers about those years. “Every time I looked up my father was there,” Gardner said his son answered.
That, in a nutshell, is what kept Gardner going through the rough times. Mr. Gardner grew up never knowing his biological father. “My stepfather often said, ‘I ain’t your daddy. You ain’t got no daddy,’ often using a 12-guage shotgun to make his point,” he said. After marrying and having a son, he lost his job, his marriage hit the skids and he was thrown in prison for unpaid parking tickets. When he returned from jail, his wife and baby had moved out. Randomly, his wife later returned his son and he had to leave the boarding house where he was living because it didn’t allow children. Strapped for cash, he had to resort to living on the streets. “The shopping cart became our car,” Gardner said. “I didn’t know where we were going, but I knew we were going to be together.” Gardner said that if it wasn’t for prostitutes giving his son money, he often wouldn’t have been able to feed him many nights.
He would, at times, let his son stay with a friend while he slept under his desk at Dean Witter. Amidst homelessness and poverty, he never gave up. He stressed that he wasn’t trying to prove anything as a black person in his job. “It’s not a black, it’s not a white thing, it’s a green thing,” he said. Gardner was de-
termined to give his child a home. After one year he was able to buy a small house in the slums of San Francisco. Throughout the speech, Mr. Gardner’s strength of character and determination shined through his colorful, energetic personality. Dressed in opened-collared starched shirt,
khakis, a watch on each wrist and Rubik’s Cube cufflinks, he was real in every way. He cursed and used slang several times during his presentation. “Anybody could relate to him, said Mrs. Vicki Hurt, Upper School science teacher. “…If you met him in the hallway, you could have a conversation with him,” said Jhonnie Taylor, a visitor to St. Christopher’s. Brian Goins, another visitor, described him as “the ideal role model for up-andcoming men and people who think they are men.” Mr. Gardner began to bring his presentation to a close by stating that his contribution to breaking the cycle wasn’t just for him. He remarked on a conversation with Maya Angelou who said: “It’s not even about you. It’s about every father who has had to be a mother, every mother who has had to be a father, and every person who has had a dream and wouldn’t quit.”
The Pine Needle
Kielburger urges students to be leaders of today by Ben Resnik ’11 “What kind of legacy do you want to leave?” This was the question a Canadian Parliament member asked Marc Kielburger when he served as a parliamentary page at age 17, and the question that Kielburger repeated to more than 1,000 people at the symposium. That same Parliament member urged Kielburger to work in the slums of Thailand, a trip that changed his life and directed his future course. Keilberger’s impassioned speech urged students to step up now to make a difference. “We won the lottery,” he said, “but it also comes with a lot of responsibility.” In his speech, he told horror stories of brutal child labor and extreme poverty. He talked about children chained to seats while they tied knots in carpet, children who were burned from shoveling explosives that go in fireworks and an 8-year-old who collected plastic cups in garbage dumps. Along with these horrifying tales, Keielburger repeated his message to be courageous, and how we, too, could help to make the world a better place.
“True courage is not going into the war zone,” he said, “it’s going into the homeless shelter.” He made the characters in these true stories seem heroic, but at the same time never failed to connect the younger people in the room to them. One such story was the tale of Santosh, a man from Sierra Leone. Santosh’s village was invaded by rebels during a civil war in his country, and the teachers at his school were all taken out behind the building and shot to death. The terrified students of the school were then faced with a choice: take a gunpowder-cocaine mixture called brownbrown, which would make the user mentally unstable. The unfortunate student was then forced to go home and murder a family member. The other choice was simple: have your arm cut off at the elbow. In an act of amazing courage, Santosh walked up to the rebel leader, and commanded him to leave. In response, the leader brutally chopped of Santosh’s hand with a dull machete. Another story was of a 7-yearold girl in India, whose job all day was to separate the plastics
out of used syringes to recycle. As a result, her hands, legs, and arms were completely covered with pinpricks, each potentially filled with dangerous substances. “I share [these stories] not to make you feel sad or depressed but to tell you about someone who stood up for what he believed in,” he said. “You have the power to do it. You have desire and courage.” Kielburger quoted many startling statistics, such as how it would take less than the price of
the global makeup budget to end all child poverty in the world. He also told how, every two seconds, a child dies from poverty. He then clapped slowly, about every two seconds, and the already captive audience went completely silent. “These children have hopes and dreams, mothers, mothers, fathers, brothers and sisters just like us,” he said solemnly, “they happened to be born in the wrong country.” One of the messages Kielburger
repeated over and over was how now was the time for action; students don’t have to wait till they are older to make a difference. “[You] don’t have to be a leader of tomorrow, [you] can be a leader of today,” he said. Kielburger closed by talking about the organization he cofounded with his brother Craig, Free the Children, and how students could volunteer overseas, or adopt a village. Immediately, students of all ages scribbled down their information on sign up sheets to go work for his foundation in the coming summer. The end of Kielburger’s speech was greeted by complete silence, and then, as one, the entire crowd rose to give a thundering standing ovation. The speech was received well by students of all ages. “It opened my eyes wider,” says freshman Jack Borkey, and Senior Brian Kusiac was similarly inspired. “[I’m] considering going on a trip [overseas],” he said. At the end of the lecture, Marc Kielburger summed up his speech, and his entire message, with a quote by Mother Teresa, “Remember,” he said, “we can do no great things, but we can do small things with great love.”
Marsalis and Wilkins share musical experiences
by James Ruml ’10
At the end of an inspiring weekend, Branford Marsalis and Thomas Wilkins spoke about their musical journeys, before Marsalis’ quartet of worldrenowned musicians brought a mesmerizing climax to the 2008 St. Christopher’s Symposium. Thomas Wilkins, Music Director of the Omaha Symphony Orchestra and recently named principal guest conductor of the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra, was especially excited to be at the Symposium because of his local ties. A Norfolk native, Wilkins was at one point associate conductor of the Richmond Symphony and on the music faculty of Virginia Commonwealth University. After being introduced by his godson, Joseph Gallagher ’13 with his father Jeff, Wilkins said that he had never felt more nervous for any audience in his
life. Before three-time Grammy winner Marsalis joined him on stage, Wilkins spoke about creative courage, saying, “Sometimes courage does not roar, sometimes it that small voice in your head at the end of the day which says, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow.’” Next, saxophone virtuoso Branford Marsalis joined Wilkins on stage and answered questions from Wilkins and from the audience. His advice to an aspiring young saxophonist was to never believe what anyone says to you, positive or negative. “Be your own worst critic,” he said. Marsalis emphasized that anyone who seriously cares for what they do never stops criticizing himself or settles on being “good enough.” Marsalis closed with the message that to be truly great at anything, one’s intention must be to “shine a ray of light”
through one’s art onto everyone else. To conclude the symposium, Marsalis took the stage again, this time with his saxophone in hand and backed by the three other members of his quartet: Joey Calderazzo, on piano, Eric Revis, on bass, and Jeff “Tain” Watts, on drums. They performed several breathtaking songs, including Calderazzo’s “Hope” and a cover of Henry Purcell’s “Whole Solitude.” Even though the majority of the audience had probably never heard of Henry Purcell, it was clear that they were deeply moved by the performance. Just as powerfully as other symposium presenters Branford Marsalis and Thomas Wilkins brought their character, creativity and courage to the symposium and shone their own unique ray of light on St. Christopher’s.
Marsalis gives stunning performance after his inspirational dialogue with Wilkins.
Erin Gruwell: A toast for change by Jack Jessee ’10 In an area of Long Beach California run down by gang violence, poverty and racial tensions, the last thing on most teenagers’ minds is graduating from high school. Many students, like Maria and Darius, had already been arrested many times before the start of their freshman year in high school and already had gang affiliations. The teachers had long since given up on these young men and women and their future seemed doomed. Erin Gruwell, however, proved to be the turning point of their lives as she led 150 of the worst students at Woodrow Wilson High School, including Maria and Darius, to graduation and better lives. Gruwell was an unlikely hero. Initially intending to be a lawyer, she made the switch to become a teacher against her wealthy father’s wishes. She naively took a job in an urban environment knowing only education theory taught to her by a college professor who had not been in a classroom for 50 years. “I thought teaching in an urban school would be like a Michael Jackson music video.” she said.
As a student teacher at Woodrow Wilson High before becoming a full time educator, she intercepted a note that depicted a black student in the class with extremely large lips. She compared the caricature to that of the Nazi propaganda during the Holocaust, and many of the students didn’t even know what the Holocaust was. Outraged, she returned to teach English at Woodrow Wilson the following school year. During that year, she made a “toast for change” and gave the children a bag of books she bought with her own money. The books included “Romeo and Juliet,” “Anne Frank’s Diary” and “Night.” These were books written by teenagers in other times of hardship, and the students were able to relate the stories to their own lives. The students began writing their own diaries, which quickly blossomed into “The Freedom Writers Diary,” a published compilation of their stories. The book became the basis for the 2007 movie “Freedom Writers,” starring Hilary Swank. The royalties from the book also aided many of the students with their college tuitions.
The Pine Needle
continued from page 4 a message over the radio that the search for the plane and the passengers had been called off. “It was like being put in front of a firing squad and condemned to die,” said Parrado. Yet they persevered for 72 days. Parrado and another survivor decided upon a perilous 10-day, 65-mile long trek through the mountains towards civilization. The will to survive, or what Parrado calls the “inner voice” motivated him to make the journey to find help. After the rescue, the teammates returned to their regular lives. Parrado returned to find that most of his possessions had been sold and that life at home had continued on without him. But the joy of being back with his father and sister was more overwhelming than his grief. Parrado then married a supermodel and now has two equally gorgeous daughters. He feels he cannot let the Andes dominate his life. “ You can’t look back to the past… you have to go forward, have a life, and work,” said Parrado. His presentation ended to an enduring standing ovation. Members of the audience had been particularly struck by Parrado’s experience and the life he found when he returned. Some had doubts before the speech. Sophomore Evan Maxwell was “not sure what to expect” and Senior Mac Jennings said “I didn’t think he was going to relate to us.
continued from page 4 sang karaoke and smoked cigars. “People started taking ownership, doing things better and saving millions of dollars,” he said. In his talk he also urged students to abstain from drinking and drugs. He figured out early that his way to success was ath-
But the presentation exceeded student’s expectations and some found it particularly enlightening. Freshmen Henry Ilnicky said “when he came back and nothing had changed, it really puts things into perspective.” Freshman Brody Hingst agreed. He said Parrado’s experience made it clear “Life’s not all about you… when you’re gone, nothing changes much.” For others, the power of the survivors was particularly dazzling. The most impressive thing to Jennings was the ability that humans have to bond together, work as a team and ultimately survive. Similarly, Maxwell said Parrado’s story shows that “even when it seems you’ve lost all hope, you can push more than you think you can.” However, all the students interviewed agreed that the video-slideshow at the end of the presentation was the most touching “It (the presentation) was definitely worth it,” said freshmen Stephen Wood. Parrado’s amazing story of survival inspired the audience by showing what humans are capable of when faced with death. The desperation of the situation forced each survivor to live at his or her full potential. Parrado said, “I wanted to cry but I couldn’t, I realized that I would lose salt, lose water with my tears, I realized I needed everything in mind and soul and body to survive. You are pushed to certain limits beyond what you think is possible.” letics and academics. “If you do the right thing now and associate with people who make you better, instead of people who tear you down, you’ll have a better shot at delivering greatness,” he said. His message was well received by attendees. “Abrashoff seemed a lot more down to earth than other participants and more personal,” said Ben Resnik ’11.
Hollerith gives moving speech on father-son values by Kurt Jensen ’11 When scheduled speaker John Croyle was unable to speak to the Middle School due to bad weather, Headmaster Charley Stillwell asked The Rev. Randy Hollerith to step in. “I had no idea he would be so fantastic with so little time to prepare,” Mr. Stillwell said. Reverend Hollerith, rector at St. James’s Episcopal Church, spoke to the Middle School on the morning of Friday, April 11 after receiving notice 36 hours before. “He only had one day to prepare,” said his wife Melissa Hollerith, Upper School chaplain. “Imagine what he could have done with a week.” His emotional and passionate speech encompassed the idea of Randy Pausch’s book, “The Last Lecture” that details a popular trend in universities where a professor gives a lecture as if he/she were going to die and had just one more chance to teach what they thought was most important. “Fathers and sons, I want you
to think about what you would say to one another if you had one more chance to give each other advice,” Rev. Hollerith said, “First, I hope whatever conversation you had would begin with ‘I love you,’ the most important three words you can ever say to one another.” Rev. Hollerith continued with his own five pieces of advice he would give his own son, even sharing personal moments with his own father. “On the day he died, my only thought was that I hoped and prayed I could do half as well for my family as he did for his,” he said. Rev. Hollerith ended his speech with the simple and powerful conclusion, “Life is too short not to learn from the person you love.” The audience, including Upper School teacher John Burke, was held captive by the personal message. “Mr. Hollerith’s message was applicable to all of us as parents or as teachers of boys,” Mr. Burke said. “He created an environment that allowed us as parents to enter into dialogue about things that aren’t easy to talk about with Middle School boys.”
Community speaks about the symposium “I was very impressed with all the speakers and thought that the committee did a really nice job of selecting a group that complimented each other well. I was particularly impressed with the emphasis that so many of these successful people put on service to others and teamwork. Many of them reinforced the point that there’s nothing you can’t do if you put your mind to it and pursue it with passion. And they all had a very clear vision that there’s something in life that’s more important than themselves. Whether it’s the poor, their teammates, their country, or their infant son, they’ve all lived their lives for the greater good, and they’re all happy people because of it. I thought Randy Hollerith did a great job filling in on short notice for John Croyle. I loved Chris Gardner’s message. I think Nando Parrado is a hero for the ages. I was also impressed with the different ways that these successful people have chosen to serve others.” Mr. Teddy Gottwald ’79 “It was an awesome lineup of speakers in that there was something there for everyone. I was particularly impressed with Erin Gruwell and her relentless energy and commitment to helping those children succeed in such a challenging environment. I left her talk feeling humbled when comparing the ‘tough issues’ that I face daily with the numerous hurdles she overcame with positive energy. All of us involved with St. Christopher’s are extremely lucky to have this type of program brought to our campus every three years. Our volunteer group is second to none!” Mr. Cary Mauck ’79, Admissions “I thought all the speakers were both entertaining and inspirational, and I was not disappointed.” Christopher Alexander ’09 “[It was] an inspirational weekend that made me want to take action.” Mac Jennings ’08
“St. Christopher’s outdid itself with Symposium 2008. Nando Parrado’s account touched me deeply, as the young men on that plane, many the age of the members of the Class of 2008, faced such unspeakable hardships. They survived, drawing on strength, determination and character that, no doubt, few knew they possessed. I feel sure that Mr. Parrado’s presentation convinced the Saints that they, too, can face and overcome the challenges life lays in their paths.” Mr. Vernon Priddy ‘73 “I was literally blown away by each of the speakers I was able to hear. From the inclusive management style of Mike Abrashoff, to the quiet but steady strength and courage of Nando Parrado, to the tenacity and determination of Chris Gardner, each had a unique style and inspirational message that will remain with me for quite awhile. Although the attendance was great, I wish even more people in our community had been able to listen to these amazing individuals.” Mr. Basil Jones ’79 “I talked about [the symposium] all day with my classes. I was a little shocked most of my students didn’t see the connection between Abershoff and Gruwell. People under their charge feel cared for on a personal basis. There were differences in their style obviously and Gruwell didn’t even use the word ‘leadership’ once. On Parrado, I was really impressed by his sincerity and his thoughtfulness.” Mr. Jay Wood, English department chair “For me, the best part of the symposium was listening to Thomas Wilkins so eloquently and passionately talk about what music has meant in his life. I can’t wait to listen to Beethoven’s Fifth Symphony again with ‘new’ ears. I think the event has made a lasting impression on many people in our own Saints community, as well as the greater community. That’s why we do what we do.” Mrs. Jil Harris, symposium committee chair
Dance Dance Solution
How and why school dances are different and where to go from here by Ben Resnik ’11 I walked into the Kenny Center at St. Catherine’s feeling pretty good about myself. I had on a nice suit, my hair was in just the right position, and I was surrounded by friends. It was March 29, the evening of the Arabian Nights Dance, and all looked like it was going to go well. The event ran smoothly until around 10:45 p.m. Glancing around, I noticed a mass migration towards the door; many freshmen and pretty much every sophomore were exiting the building. Within about five minutes, the population of the dance was about one quarter of what it had been just a few minutes earlier; the dance floor was looking more like an abandoned building, and there was still almost an hour and a half left to go. I decided to try to stick it out, but by half past eleven I realized there was no point and headed home. These events are not entirely unusual; due to discrepancies and disagreements, dances are becoming a battleground between students and faculty. Dances are times when St. Christopher’s and St. Catherine’s students get to interact without mountains of schoolwork to get in their way. However, because every person goes
to the dance expecting something different, many students are continually let down, and there lies a problem: different students have different tastes, and when those tastes aren’t catered to, students feel left out. For example, freshman Nelson Mills decided to go to the Arabian Nights dance because he “thought it was gonna be fun.” Unfortunately for him, the dance wasn’t all he expected. “Not a lot of people were there,” Mills said, “and the music was bad.” At school dances, the music seems to be a source of problems, and one of the main reasons why people don’t come. Sophomore Hunter Johnson’s frank advice is, “no Electric Slide.” His statement rings true: many songs have gotten stale, and guests are looking for something more interesting. “We need better DJs,” said one student who preferred to remain anonymous. “They played maybe one or two good songs. They should have just used Linewire.” What should be done? Students want to have more of a say in what is played. “They play the pop rap you hear on the radio,” said sophomore Chris Lohr. David Micheli, also a sophomore, has a simple solution. “Mix up the dance a little bit,” he suggests, “[try] different styles.” Dances are fragile ground,
and the music that is played determines whether guests leave early or dance till the last slow song. Every dance has the potential to be something amazing, and listening to the wishes of the students is the most important thing. If the administration listens harder to the wishes of the students, and takes bigger steps toward less overdone music, dances are sure to improve in the eyes of the students. “Get the students more involved,” said junior Stephane Irankunze When students are more involved, they’re more likely to take part in a dance.”
The Pine Needle
Mr. Echols leaves recycling legacy
Mrs. Grinnan expects baby girl by Farrar Pace ’11 It’s obvious that Mrs. Grinnan is passionate about teaching. With a career that has spanned 20 years, Mrs. Grinnan is leaving this year as first grade teacher at St. Christopher ’s to stay home with her baby girl who is due mid-August. Mrs. Grinnan has taught here for eight years. She was inspired to teach after attending summer camp while in college. She really enjoyed the experience and decided to focus her career on working with children. First grade was her first choice because there is lots of progress with the kids during this stage in their education. Mrs. Grinnan is motivated by “the opportunity to create an environment where chil-
dren are loved and can develop as learners.” She appreciates St. Christopher’s strong community feel and is grateful for the spiritual aspect which was not present at public schools where she previously taught. While not at school, Mrs. Grinnan enjoys running. She also has worked with Woman’s Ministries and tutored. Leaving St. Christopher’s will be difficult, especially saying good-bye to her “boys.” “Mrs. Grinnan is a phenomenal person and teacher who truly loves her boys,” said Mrs. Brown, a third grade teacher. Mr. Menges, head of the Lower School, agrees. “Mrs. Grinnan is a gift,” he said. “Her boys, their parents and her colleagues all love her. She’ll be sorely missed.” Her biggest future challenge? “Figuring out how to be a mom,” she said.
Mr. Greene to move to Tennessee by Stephane Irankunze ’09 Mr. Greene will leave St. Christopher’s to move to Tennessee at the end of this year after one year of teaching Middle School math. I joined him at tennis practice where he coaches Middle School students. Tennis has been a passion in Mr. Green’s life since age 12, and coaching at St. Christopher’s has given him the opportunity to continue pursuing what he calls his “first love.” Richmond has been a major change from Mr. Greene’s hometown of Detroit, Mich., where he has to wear a coat year-round to comfortably walk outside. “The weather is great here,” he said. “I’ve never been able to play tennis all year-round.” He graduated from Oakland University in Michigan before making the move to Virginia. I watched Mr. Greene gather attention from the middle schoolers as practice came to a close. He was both firm and respectful with students and holds high expectations from them. “He keeps the class under control,” said seventh grader Andrew Carleton. “He knows a lot of math. He explains things well also.” Mr. Greene not only has impressed the students but also has left an impression on the school in general. Middle School Head Tom Franz said, “The kids are impressed by his math wizardry.” .
Mr. Greene was one of few faculty members who volunteered to chaperone a Middle School dance and that he has been involved in many schoolrelated activities including the Leadership Symposium. “[Mr. Greene] is a techsavvy faculty member and he is good at bridging the age gap,” Mr. Franz said. Mr. Greene remains humble and is grateful to other faculty members. “I have had people help me a lot— like Mr. Spears,” Mr. Green said. “[The teachers] convinced me teaching is the career for me.” Mr. Greene will retain some memorable experiences from his short tenure here. He remembers seeing about a 100 different kids cupid shuffle at a dance as well as the time Thompson Brown knocked Mr. Greene’s socks off in football. Mr. Greene is particularly impressed by the community bonding at the school. He was awed by the way we got together, especially when one of our own was in need. So why leave now? One reason is that Mr. Greene would like to teach a higher level of math. He will teach pre-calculus honors and AP Statistics at The Webb School in Tennessee where he will also be the head coach of the Varsity tennis team.
Coach Busser will be missed by Robert Allen ’09 After three years, Lower School P.E. teacher Mark Busser is leaving St. Christopher’s. “Three years ago I showed up for my first day and the first things I noticed were how well the physical education program is structured and the enthusiasm of the kids,” Mr. Busser said. “The school really cares about the program. This is how P.E. should be.” Mr. Menges, Lower School head, said that Coach Busser has been an asset. “He’s passionate about PE and he has dedicated himself to teaching the boys about their health and wealthness,” Mr. Menges said. Mr. Busser did not restrict
his talents to the Lower School. Upper schoolers know him for his role as head Varsity diving coach. In addition, he coached JV-B soccer, which he lists as one of his best experiences at St. Christopher’s. “Even though we didn’t win very often, Coach Busser made us feel special,” said junior Travis Hamblen, a former JV-B player. Mr. Busser also worked as assistant coach of seventh grade baseball and helped out with Middle School tennis. What’s next for Mr. Busser? He recently turned down a coaching job at a nearby university to spend more time with his kids. He will continue to run a program for volunteer coaches in the Richmond area. Mr. Busser praised the school’s dedicated faculty and first class kids. “It’s been a great time,” he said. “I’m going to miss it.”
by Henley Hopkinson ’11
A royal retirement
by Ben Resnik ’11
“I want to be a master gardener.” So says fourth grade teacher and St. Christopher’s institution Anne Prince who is on the verge of her departure after 38 years as a teacher, 33 of which were here. Though she is retiring, Mrs. Prince’s calendar is anything but empty. In fact, a change in scenery may be in the works. “I want to travel to Florence, and Santa Fe, N.M., [and] I want to consider living there,” she said. Mrs. Prince began working at St. Christopher’s in 1970. She worked there for three years, then left to work in public schools for five. She returned in 1978 and has stayed here until now, retiring on the 30th anniversary of her return. Despite the significant ways the world has changed since she began teaching, Mrs. Prince feels that her fourth-grade students this year haven’t changed much. “Basically they’re the same,” she said, “[they like] to play the same games at recess.” Mrs. Prince’s decision to leave wasn’t easy because her love for teaching fourth grade hasn’t dimmed through the years. “It’s one of the years I see little boys fall in love with books,” she said.“I love that.” Mrs. Prince also enjoys seeing lower schoolers develop team-working skills under her experienced supervision. “I love seeing the class come together and work as a group,” she said. She enjoyed her work, but
continued from page 1 ing an album was a new experience for Mr. Steed. “Fly Away” was recorded at Minimum Wage Recording Studio and at Mr. Steed’s home. “You know the saying ‘a man’s home is his castle’?” Mr. Steed said. “A man’s home is his recording studio.” Although he did not like the way that he would occasionally have to re-record something he thought sounded better on the first take, Mr. Steed enjoyed recording because it allowed him to capture the moment. If an idea hit him, he could use it instantly. Mr. Steed’s songs happen spontaneously. “They just happen from playing tons of guitar,” he said. “They’ve been written all over the place. Most of them end up happening around the kitchen table when I’m just messing around.” Several songs on “Fly Away” are what Mr. Steed calls “ecorock,” songs that have a message about the environment. “Last Gasp” is about pollution in the Pacific Ocean, and some lines of “Bold As Love” refer to people taking the “lifegiving waters” for granted. And there are more songs to be written. Because of his constant desire to “just sit down and create,” Mr. Steed is already
her family finally convinced her to leave. “My husband’s been retired for a couple years, and he kept bugging me,” she said. Mrs. Prince’s absence will leave a hole in the Lower School community that will be difficult to fill. “I will miss Mrs. Prince deeply, especially her joyous spirit and the flowers,” said Mrs. Limburg, long-time Lower School chaplain. “There are flowers all over the school today because of Mrs. Prince.” Mrs. Prince, who has always been a plant enthusiast, has donated a fitting memorial to her legacy, a cross that kids can put flowers in. “The students brought in so many flowers there wasn’t room,” Mrs. Limberg said. For her retirement, Mrs. Prince was given a beautiful painting by Marjorie Perrin, the mother of a current seventh grader, at a retirement party that will be held later in the year. Mrs. Prince is a teacher of incredible devotion and care. Fittingly, this interview was interrupted as she hustled back to her room to let a group of rowdy fourth graders go home for the day. She returned with a hint of sadness on her face, clear evidence that her experience at St. Christopher’s has marked her forever. Despite her sure-to-be happy retirement perfecting her gardening, the change comes with mixed emotions. With a sad smile, she concluded the interview saying, “I’m gonna miss this place.”
planning a second album. He wants to record “Gone Again,” a bluegrass song he played at St. Christopher’s Rockin’ for Relief concert two years ago, as well as more songs inspired by his musical heroes. “I want to write a story song like Dylan does,” he said. He also has plans to include more of the Middle School faculty members, many of whom are involved in music, on his next album. After hearing “Fly Away,” I am sure that Mr. Steed’s fans will be as excited about a second album as he is. Meanwhile, the cover art features pictures of his sons Durk and Nash. The album will eventually be on iTunes, but until then it can be purchased from Mr. Steed in his Middle School office. You’ll probably have to ask for it, because Mr. Steed is definitely not the type to self-advertise. He is, however, the type to take his dreams and fly away.
Challenging capable students to do the best they can is the most rewarding part of his job, said Mr. Burks Echols. Mr. Echols, a fifth grade teacher, will leave St. Christopher’s at the culmination of this school year after 11 years. He started even before then as a long-term sub. He is known for his interactive teaching style. He shows students many movies and takes them on special field trips, much to the envy of other classes in the grade. His students describe him as a stickler for grammar and responsibility. “He calls the dictionary the ‘Good Book 2,’” said student Brandon Thompson. His students also seem to believe that he gives his fair share of pop quizzes and homework. He is also known for his love of Elvis Presley and any type of soda. Students perceive him as intelligent and neat. “He’s neat which means you can get more homework,” one student said. Mr. Echols is also active in the community, advocating recycling at St. Christopher’s to help the environment. In a testament to this dedication student David Ballowe mentioned how Mr. Echols dislikes a certain type of water bottle because it is not easily recycled. He recently orchestrated an effort to recycle workbooks and other paper products at the end of the school year. He has seen many students go through the fifth grade, and has had some unusual experiences in the Lower School. Among these experiences is chasing a mouse across the auditorium floor while a guest author was speaking. His goal in teaching? “Hopefully a desire on the part of the students to get the most out of their education that they can,” he said. As for the future he is uncertain. He may teach more or try something new. We wish him all the best.
continued from page 1 plead, “Now gentlemen, think about it.” While it might seem like a meaningless or obvious request, it was important. Of all the lessons I’ll take from Dr. Boese, that simple phrase will be at the top because Dr. Boese just wanted us to think. He wanted us to the think for ourselves and to think about how everything affects us and our country. As Dr. Boese leaves St. Christopher’s School after 14 years of teaching here, he leaves having influenced countless students. He leaves having taught us to think for ourselves and having taught us to play our part in this government. So I borrow his expression, “Gentlemen, think about it. ” Think about how much Dr. Boese has taught us.
The Pine Needle
STC alum returns to direct one acts
Ampersand brings Moliere to life by James Ruml ’10
Aaron Newfield and Elizabeth Rumble star in “On the Edge.” by James Ruml ’10 “Directing a play starts out as being a teacher to actors, but after a while the actors teach you.” So says John Moon, class of ’74, former student president of Ampersand and director of “On the Edge,” one of the five oneact plays that St. Christopher’s and St. Catherine’s students put on this winter. This year’s one acts, which also included “Poof,” “A Rustle of Wings,” “Infancy” and “WASP,” had the distinction of all being selected and directed by STC or St. Catherine’s alumni, all of whom acted in Ampersand plays during their time as students. When Director of Theatre Rusty Wilson asked Moon if he wanted to direct a play, he was thrilled to accept. Moon selected “On the Edge,” mostly because he wanted to do a play that was fun, that he liked and that would allow him to work with a small cast. The play, a comedy, starred Aaron Newfield ’09 as a young man who, after finding out that the girl of his dreams is interested in another man, is determined to kill himself by jumping off the balcony at a party. Just as
he is about to jump, he meets an outgoing girl, played by Elizabeth Rumble ’09, who has more in common with him than he might think. After that night, the young man will never see things in the same way again. Despite some concerns about inappropriate language, no changes were made to the play and its lines were delivered exactly as originally written. Moon considers himself a “purist,” not wanting to make big changes. Moreover, he felt that a little bit of coarse language, instead of detracting actually added to the play, “because it ultimately makes it more real.” The plot deals with issues that teenagers constantly face in their high school lives, and the “real” dialogue allowed a student audience to relate more directly to the characters. Because “On the Edge” was a comedy, one that especially required precision, Rumble and Newfield were expected to quickly memorize their lines in order to focus primarily on their acting. The two actors more than rose to the challenge by getting off-book almost immediately, making rehearsals productive. Moon said he felt one of the strongest aspects of the
play was Newfield and Rumble’s “ability to find the truth of who the characters were, and then exaggerate it just enough to make it really funny.” The actors seemed to enjoy working with Moon as much as he enjoyed working with them. Aaron Newfield described Moon as “a flexible, constantly cheery guy,” who cracked a lot of jokes. When I asked him what his favorite part of directing the play was, Moon mentioned being able to get a chance “to work with Rusty and [Ampersand Technical Director] Maury [Hancock] as collaborators.” If asked to direct another Ampersand play, Moon would definitely oblige. Moon said that directing “On the Edge” was a special experience for him because he was able to witness a script being transformed by young actors into a truly creative piece of art. As director, Moon was a teacher to Newfield and Rumble, but Moon ended up learning more himself than he ever would have expected. He said, “I enjoyed seeing that handoff, where the play stops being something in my head and becomes something that is the creation of the actors.”
Earlier this month, Ampersand performed its spring production “The Imaginary Invalid,” by Moliere. The play starred senior Trey Ferguson, in his final play as a member of Ampersand, as Argan, a wealthy man who has convinced himself that he is deathly ill. Ferguson, who has in the past played such over-thetop characters as the Spanish pimp Emilio Paz in Pirandello’s “Six Characters in Search of an Author” and a baby in Thornton Wilder’s “Infancy,” was not outside of his range of ability, but managed to deliver his funniest performance in memory. The play featured a large
continued from page 1 back to back Directors’ Cups.” Overall, the athletic program boasted 40 All-Prep and 34 AllState athletes. Furthermore, wrestler Tyler Spangler and swimmer Robert Barry were named All-American athletes. As the summer approaches, the Saints will have the oppor-
cast of talented actors from St. Christopher’s and St. Catherine’s including Ferguson, Waseemah Jason, Kelley Quinn, Elizabeth Rumble, Aaron Newfield, Keenan Thompson, Duncan Lyle, Ben Resnik, Lauren Paige Johnson, Liz Carleton, Meredith Bailey, Max Parks, Corinne Morgan, Mariah Young and Jabria Craft. Lyle and Resnik were especially funny, playing a father and son doctor who are courting Argan’s daughter, played by Kelley Quinn. “The Imaginary Invalid” was adapted for Ampersand and directed by Patty Sauls, in her final play before she retires at the end of this year. A reception was held on stage in her honor after Saturday night’s performance.
tunity to work with both Bob Blanton and new strength coach Shad Pospahala in the weight room throughout the break. With a strong work ethic and dedication, the Saints have a chance for a three-peat in the 2008-09 year, when they will attempt to capture the Directors’ Cup three years in a row for the first time since 198790, when the school won the cup four consecutive years.
Alumni spotlight: Mason Bates by Tyler Franz ’09 Have you ever experimented in composing your own music? If you have, you have probably found that writing music is far more challenging than it appears. Mason Bates ’95, who visited the Upper School Chapel and several classes recently, is a St. Christopher’s graduate who not
only composes classical music, but also DJs electronica at clubs in San Francisco and around the world. At age 32, Bates has already achieved substantial success and notability on both a national and international level. Bates has degrees from Colombia University, Julliard, and the University of California at Berkeley. In regards to
his music, Bates experiments with a unique new style, blending electronic beats and sounds with the music of a traditional orchestra. The subgenre has met both criticism and praise from reviewers. “Be it mixing trip-hop and funk at a club or writing a symphonic or chamber work, composer Mason Bates is getting noticed for his straddling of classical music and electronica. Young, Juilliard-trained and already celebrated, he’s become a fixture not only in concert halls but in the world of electronica as well.” “At a time when symphony orchestras nationwide are trolling for audience magnets - the type of new material that can lure members of generations X and Y along with older subscribers - Bates just might have that bait,” said a recent Los Angeles Times article about Bates. Bates’s dual identity as a composer and DJ are immediately made evident by the home page of his website, www. masonicelectronica.com,
which is divided into two sections: one for Mason Bates, composer of classical music, and one for “Masonic,” electronica DJ. Bates has already composed pieces played by prestigious orchestras such as the National Symphony and has received a Rome Prize from the American Academy in Rome, a Berlin Prize, and numerous other awards. Furthermore, Masonic’s electronica has been featured at famous clubs worldwide, such as the Temple in San Francisco and Roter Salon in Berlin. Mason Bates, who graduated from St. Christopher’s in 1995, began his music career at an early age while at St. Chris. By age 16, he was already composing his own symphonies, and he composed a symphony for the Indiana Symphony while in high school at STC. Mrs. Long, Middle School Band Director, was impressed by Bates’s musical ability even as a middle schooler. “I never had a part in teaching him composition, but I did have the privilege of playing a piece that he wrote for oboe and piano. I think he was a junior when he wrote that piece, and I was really impressed with the complexity of his music,” said Mrs. Long.
Mason was not only musically active while at St. Chris, but he also was captain of the cross country and track teams. Any student who knows Ron Smith knows that when it comes to the arts, Mr. Smith is not easily impressed. However, Smith has high regards for Bates. “He was an extraordinarily good student, always thinking, always testing new ideas. At the same time, he was attending to routine matters (like homework) with the intensity and care they require. He wrote fine essays and excellent poems and short prose pieces [while at STC].” “Talking with Mason about creative matters is always exhilarating. He’s the real thing when it comes to character and creativity, empathy and duty. Mason does what he loves every day, but he is never selfindulgent, never after superficial pleasure. He combines delight with discipline, and the result is extraordinary art and a full and satisfying life,” said Smith. For more information about Mason Bates and his music, you can visit his website at www. masonicelectronica.com. His music can also be found on the iTunes Music Store under the artist name Masonic.
The Pine Needle
Getting resourceful Up close with Dr. Hudson by Kyle Wittenauer ’10 Nine months pregnant but determined to finish before the baby was born, Dr. Kimberly Hudson made the daily two-hour commute to Charlottesville to complete her graduate school classes. Her daughter Peyton, now 4 ½, was born three days after her final exam. The next year, she wrote her dissertation while the baby slept, which was seldom. She was able to finish her doctorate thanks to the support of her husband, mother-in-law and the occasional baby sitter. The story speaks to the dedication and focus of Dr. Hudson, who joined the faculty here last year in the Upper School Resource Department. Born and raised in Richmond, Dr. Hudson earned her undergraduate degree in psychology and master’s in education in five years at the University of Virginia. She married Charlie Hudson after graduation and taught in the Hanover County public school system before earning her doctorate from UVA. She landed her first job as a resource teacher at a Hanover country elementary school. While Dr. Hudson said she liked working with children in the public school system, she said it was much more difficult to concentrate on what she believed each child specifically needed, and the paperwork was excessive. She appreciates the teachers’ efforts at St. Christopher’s to integrate her as well as the freedom and flexibility of her responsibilities here. “In public school, [the student and I] only had a set amount of time for each subject,” she said. “But here, though there is still a
great deal of accountability, we can focus specifically on what [the individual] student needs. I get to know students on an individual basis, and I never have 15 students in my office at one time like I used to have.” Her least favorite aspect of the job is dealing with the College Board and their representatives. Working with them can be a time-consuming and frustrating process, she said. Away from school, she enjoys the outdoors, running and spending time with her two small children. Her son Charlie was born two years ago. Dr. Hudson lives near the river and likes to run down by the James with her two dogs. Her mom passed away two years ago from breast cancer, so she also takes special pride in running the Race for the Cure 5K each year in her mother’s honor. Away from Richmond, Dr. Hudson’s travels take her far and wide. Hudson said, “My favorite place I’ve been has to be Alaska. It is so beautiful there.” Among the other places she has visited are Costa Rica and Ireland. “Dr. Hudson is awesome,” said sophomore Pat Delaney. “St. Christopher’s is lucky to have an Upper School Resource teacher who is as competent and as personable as she is.” Be sure to stop by her office and say hello.
Face to face with Mrs. Lanois by Stephane Irankunze ’09
--Patrick Delaney ’10
Walk by Mrs. Laura Thurston Lanois’s office and you will nearly always find a student or two in there. Her position as one of the two upper school resource teachers puts her in regular contact with exactly the kind of people she likes to deal with -- teenagers. “I like helping all teenagers,” said Mrs. Lanois. “They can reason…[and] they’re more impressionable.” In fact, Mrs. Lanois enjoys working with the most challenged teens. For 16 years Mrs. Lanois worked with court-ordered boys, foster kids, emotionally and educationally challenged youth and even those coming out of juvenile delinquent facilities. It was no easy job, recalls Mrs. Lanois. Most of these adolescents, she said, weren’t used to seeing someone who cared about them no matter what, and they could get quite verbal and aggressive when they weren’t happy. Whenever it got tough, she remembered to “stop, breathe, think, [and] reflect.” Indeed one thing working with troubled teens taught Mrs. Lanois was to be reflective. “It is better to act than react,” she said. But what was the most challenging part of her job? “Finding that there is goodness in everyone in an experience where nothing could emotionally be more difficult than that,” she said. In spite of all the challenges she faced, Mrs. Lanois responded passionately when asked about what kind of impact she believes she made on unprivileged adolescents. “Helping them see something different and keeping their heads high,” she said, was her greatest accomplishment. Working with destabilized teenagers, however, wasn’t something Mrs. Lanois started doing overnight. It took years of education and a love for learning so she could get the job of her passion. Mrs. Lanois attended Radford University where she majored in criminal justice and minored in psychology and social work. She also
which seemed to rattle his nerves. The half ended when Mr. Burke deliberately body Continued from pg. 2 slammed Lon Nunley to the floor. At halftime, Coach Charlie Mr. Jones finally settled down McCann disciplined his team and began to share the ball. with intensity. Across the scores Mr. Johns was certainly a table, Coach Jim Jump was force on the boards, but he was calmly guiding his team in the plagued by a “goose chant” right direction. He was an able coach, despite the fact that he did not make enough eye contact with his players and often let his hands slip into his pockets. The students began to come alive in the second half. Wilky overpowered Mr. Horner and Mr. Burke in the paint, and Andrew Bernard, leading point-scorer for the seniors, takes out Sandy Wall Mr. Johns with a questionable defensive maneuver. dizzied Mr.
Mauck with his ball handling. The most heartwarming moment of the game occurred when a loose ball last touched by the faculty rolled out of bounds. Mr. Burke immediately asked for the call to go against the faculty, citing his personal honor. Mr. Johns butchered some free throws to the sound of the goose chant, but in the end, the students were not able to hold off a final surge by the faculty. The game ended in controversy. With just two minutes left and a 9-point deficit, McCann refused to accept defeat. He persuaded Rev. Hollerith to begin stopping the clock for fouls, but turned on her later when the clock kept running. After accusing her and referee Stephen Davenport of accepting bribes, he was finally ejected. The loss sparked outrage among many students. Neil McGroarty was so excited he could barely speak. “We lost because I wasn’t playing,” he said. Tom Hart expressed similar frustration. “I think there should be a basketball team vs.
Have you ever been in need of help, or perhaps just looking for a place to talk about your grades? Well stop your searching. The St. Christopher’s Resource Department is here to help. Run by Dr. Kim Hudson and Mrs. Laura Lanois, the resource department is the place to come and discuss any and all things academic. Whether your academic skills need serious improvement or you just want to find someone to help you with that “A-” test that you “failed,” Mrs. Lanois and Dr. Hudson are the ones to see. Together Dr. Hudson and Mrs. Lanois have taken on a job formerly held by only one person. The decision to split the job in half was very important to both teachers. “It allows me to get to know the students on a more personal level, which allows me to help them even more,” Mrs. Lanois said. “I cannot even imagine doing this job by myself.” Mrs. Lanois added, “Our doors are open for anybody. Anyone is welcome to come and receive resources, that’s why we’re here.”
studied an assorted mixture of subjects at the University of Virginia and at Virginia Commonwealth University. In addition, Mrs. Lanois got certified to teach students with emotional, learning and mental disturbances. It may seem like a major change going from working with special needs kids to teaching at St. Christopher’s. When her father was diagnosed with terminal cancer, she decided to move away from higher-risk teaching in residential schools. After years at Douglas S. Freeman High School she came here in 2006 wanting to give him peace of mind that she was in a safer environment. But still she does everyday what she has wanted to do since she was high school -- work with teens. Students and faculty alike have benefited from her presence here. “Her PSAT prep helped,” said a freshmen. Upper School math teacher Emmett Carlson said that she has helped teachers, too. “Her commitment to helping students and serving as a line of communication between the parents and the school has greatly reduced the burden placed on staff,” he said. Dr. Hudson, who collaborates with Mrs. Lanois in the resource department, has enjoyed teaming with her as well. “We work well together,” Dr. Hudson said. Apart from teaching, Mrs. Lanois also intensely values her family. She is married with two sons, one in first grade and the other starting kindergarten this fall. So what does the future hold? “[I wish to] help as many people as I can, raise successful children, go back to school someday and get better at what I do,” said. Meanwhile, she insists the resource door is always open.
faculty game next year after the regular game,” he said. “You know, just to show that Hamill Jones’s day is done. And so I can dominate Mr. Horner in all aspects of the game.” There is another side to the heated competition. The Missionary Society raised more
Richard Baker sports the flow on the lacrosse field.
Popular STC hairstyle is more than just looks by Kurt Jensen ’11 “Ninety-percent of lacrosse is in the flow,” a ninth grader says. Senior lacrosse player Neil McGroarty disagrees. Another St. Christopher’s ‘laxer’, Hunter Johnson walks into the room to learn what we are talking about. “The flow is 90 percent of lacrosse,” he says casually, once again to McGroarty’s disapproval. The ‘flow’ is the popular lacrosse hairstyle where players grow the back of their hair to flow out of the back of their helmet. Following in the footsteps of many college athletes who wear their hair out of the back of their helmet, the players of the Varsity lacrosse team collectively decided to challenge themselves to grow the longest and the best flow. McGroarty and Johnson say the inspiration came from Junior Bart Farinholt. According to McGroarty, senior defenseman Richard Baker has the unsung flow of the team while Farinholt has a pure mullet which makes for the best and longest flow. But the flow isn’t all about the hair. “The main ingredient in the flow is the ability to back it up,” McGroarty says. “If you have no game with your flow, then you are a want-to-be laxer.” A sophomore lacrosse player said, “The flow is everything, not just the hair. It’s the shot and the rhythm.” The flow is a veritable feng shui in St. Christopher’s lacrosse, a balance of style and dedication to the sport.
than $300 through ticket sales to benefit St. Andrew’s School. Malcolm MacGovern ’09, Missionary Society member, was satisfied by the money raised. He said, “The game was a great success and we are looking forward to next year.”
Charlie McCann takes issue with another call. Student referee Stephen Davenport eventually threw him out of the game for his belligerence.
The Pine Needle
Seniors Lon Nunley, John Wilkinson, Pierre Molester, Brewster Rawls, Jack Hutcheson, Stephen Davenport and Clarke Gottwald travelled to Normandy Beach in France to see the site of the famous allied invasion of World War II. For a week, the students toured the grounds, inspecting the beaches and exhibits and paying their respects at an American cemetery. “There’s a distinct difference between seeing a beach with gun emplacements and then seeing it in a movie,” Davenport said. “It’s much more intense.” The boys also discovered a lighter side of France. “We made our pilgrimage to Jim Morrison’s grave in Paris,” said Gottwald. Although the seven boys were friends before the trip, they had not been overly close. “Normandy, more than anything I’ve ever done at school, taught me about the bond fostered between the men at St. Christopher’s,” said Davenport. --Teddy Mitchell ’08
Perhaps no senior had as unique a minimester experience as Joseph Suarez, who traveled all the way to the Philippines. Adding spring break and a week of school to the two weeks of minimester, Suarez was able to amass a month-long trip to the place of his parents’ birth. Suarez went to the Philippines with his family when he was 3 years old, and he has always wanted to return. “Being able to go back there, independently, and see how my parents grew up, as well as my culture and ethnic background…that was definitely the most memorable part of the trip,” said Suarez. The official purpose for his trip was to teach junior golf. Suarez instructed boys and girls ages 5-17 in everything from how to swing a golf club to strategies for play. The talent level of the kids varied immensely, challenging his skills as he personalized instructions for each child. Suarez enjoyed spending time with the kids and teaching them the fine skills of the great game. He has volunteered for several years teaching golf to kids in the states, and his minimester project was a natural extension of this coaching. However, the kids who could afford to play at the golf course were children from affluent families. “What was pretty sad was watching some of the other kids who couldn’t afford golf standing there,” said Suarez. “They wanted to play too, but they just couldn’t afford the golf clubs and everything.” He donated some clubs, tees and golf ball as well as food and candy bars to various children while he was there. Suarez was able to visit all three of the main islands that make up the Philippines—Luzon, Mindanao and Visayas—throughout his stay. He spent the majority of his time in Cagayan de Oro on Mindanao Island, and he stayed with his uncle on his mother’s side, a retired colonel in the Philippine army. Traveling around the Philippines with his uncle, Suarez met some high-ranking government officials and local politicians. One of his other memorable experiences was his visit to the Mall of Asia, a giant supermall made up of four buildings, each with three floors. Suarez described it as “Short Pump times ten.” He also visited the province where his mother grew up and spent time with his relatives there. “The people there were low class and poor…but they were really happy,” he said. “They took care of the farm, and they were really nice people, really caring. They mostly gave me a lot of stuff.” There were some drawbacks to the trip, however. Suarez said that he was not able to take a good, hot shower anywhere other than the golf club, and he frequently ended up having to use a bucket to wash himself. In addition, he constantly had to watch out for pick pocketers and thieves. Lastly, according to Suarez, the government in the Philippines is pretty corrupt. One day during his trip, there was a protest in the streets of 50,000 people speaking out against the president. However, Suarez did not let political unrest get him down. He enjoyed the summertime temperatures in the 80s and 90s and the ability to interact with a culture that he describes as his own. Sometimes it was hard to communicate with others who spoke broken English, but his ability to understand Tagalog, the national dialect, allowed him to more or less comprehend what the majority of the people he came across were saying. However, he could not understand the many other dialects spoken in the Philippines. Suarez greatly valued the chance to spend time with kids his own age from a whole different world and culture. The kids were nice and showed him around the city, taking him to where normal teenagers hung out to have fun. When asked how he would describe the girls in the Philippines, he responded with one word: maganda, meaning beautiful. Suarez hopes to return to the Philippines somewhere down the line. “I really want to go back,” he said. “I’ve thought about staying there for a whole year in the future.” He has in fact expressed interest in getting dual citizenship one day. --John Mark DiGrazia ’08
James River Association
One group of seniors proved that students could achieve a fun and fulfilling minimester experience right here in Richmond. Andrew Bernard, Christian Harder, Sam Hays and CJ Williams worked with the James River Association (JRA) for two weeks, carrying out various assignments that allowed them to take part in conservation efforts in the environment while raising their awareness of wildlife issues. When the group arrived on their first day, the good people of the JRA asked them what they had to do in order to satisfy their minimester requirements. The guys said that they did not really have any and were just there to learn, help out and have a good time. Fifty hours of community service later, all four agreed that they were able to accomplish all three of these goals. The students participated in some standard conservation activities, such as planting trees and pulling weeds. They also went down to the canal and picked up trash on some miserably cold mornings, sorting out the recyclables. However, they also were able to take part in some less typical jobs such as taking water samples. This task involved dipping handheld machines into water that measured the oxidation water temperature. They also shot a special light into the water to test how clear it was and to determine which areas had more pollution. The group spent a couple of days on Pressgill Island taking pictures and using books on trees to identify and chart the wildlife present there as well. Above all else, Hays recalled that he learned a lot about the river. “Even going down to my river house, now I can tell what’s going on with the ecosystem much better than before,” he said. “I know what’s growing around.” All four guys got to know each other well during those two weeks, and they found it easy to work with each other. They especially liked their supervisor Chuck, who was a great advocate for the environment as well as a “chill” guy in general. When asked about the best part of their experience, all four agreed that the best part was yet to come, as Chuck has agreed to take them shad fishing sometime this spring. Hays, Harder, Williams and Bernard all recommend that some other students pursue a similar minimester project in the future. “I would recommend it if you’re interested in the environment,” said Hays. “It’s a good thing to get into, and I didn’t even know the James River Association existed until I looked into it. It’s good to know that no matter how bad the James gets, there are people working to improve it and make it better.” --John Mark DiGrazia ’08
OpenSecrets.org Brian Kusiak ‘08 spent his minimester in Washington, D.C., interning under St. Christopher’s alum Massie Ritsch, the founding director of opensecrets.org. Opensecrets discloses all political donations above $200. Kusiak worked in the communications department with spokesman Ritsch and money and politics reporter, Lindsay Renick Mayer. “When reporters try to use Opensecrets and can’t get what they want, they will call Massie,” said Kusiak. “He gets calls from CNN, Fox News, the Wall Street Journal and the Washington Post.” Kusiak spent much of his time in the capital city helping Lindsay with relevant political stories. He even wrote his own piece about New Mexico Rep. Rick Rindsay, who was indicted on charges concerning a shady real estate operation. According to Kusiak, his neatest experience was filling in for Ritsch when he was away. “I answered the phones for a couple days while Massie went to Utah to ski and I got to talk to reporters,” he said. --Teddy Mitchell ’08
Einstein This year, Charles Ellen ’08 didn’t just take classes at St. Catherine’s, studying bird watching or jewelry making; this year, Charles Ellen taught a course. He introduced Einstein’s general and special theories of relativity and time travel to a class of St. Christopher’s and St. Catherine’s students. It all may seem remote, but “time travel is a phenomenon of travel through space. Yes, it happens,” said Ellen. “I would play like some documentary for 30 minutes then we’d talk about it. But I’d also just lecture sometimes on relativity and time travel and whatnot,” said Ellen. He has had a strong interest in physics for years, so this class was a manifestation of his long-standing interests. With planning his class, Ellen planned the majority of it. “Technically I talked to Mr. Carlson, but I did it pretty much myself,” he said. Despite being a student teaching peers, Ellen said, “I thought it went pretty well.” --Brian Kusiak ’08
The Saints’ own guitar hero spent his minimester working with Mr. Winn composing, playing and recording music. Between meetings with Mr. Winn and composing on his own, Benjamin Harrison ’08 completed three tracks total, two original compositions and one cover of Jimi Hendrix’s “Voodoo Child.” He composed for multiple instruments, “drums, bass, piano, that’s it,” said the humble Harrison. “He gave me a couple ideas and a couple suggestions in terms of arrangements and stuff so yeah we worked together some,” said Harrison of the working relationship of Mr. Winn and himself over this two-week period. Harrison recorded all of his work at his house. “I’ve got a room set aside with a grand piano, drum kit, something like 14 guitars (last time I counted), a bunch of amps and a bass. I have a bunch of mics and a digital multi-tracker for recording.” Harrison played the songs one instrument at a time, recording them individually. The two original tracks were jazz tunes. Look forward to his handiwork being revealed later this spring when the jazz band plays one of Harrison’s own. Until then, Harrison plans to continue exploring his musical talents in both playing and composition. --Brian Kusiak ’08
During minimester, 20 students from St. Christopher’s and St. Catherine’s decided their service calling was above Meals on Wheels and left on a 11-hour plane ride out of Chicago bound for Buenos Aires. They spent a few days in Buenos Aires where they took many walking tours and volunteered at a rehab clinic. The group painted an anti-drug mural on their first days as they got a feel for Argentinean culture. After that the group hopped a plane for the north of Argentina to begin the major portion of their service in Hornaditas after stops in Salta and Tilcara. However, plans went awry as the school at which our students were set to volunteer was under a teacher’s strike. Their primary goal for their four-day stay was to build a solar-powered oven for the school. However, the construction only took a day. As a result, the Saints were left with much downtime but found other service opportunities. While at the homestay, the guys were denied many luxuries we all take for granted. “The true colors of the girls really came out when they heard they couldn’t take a shower for four days,” said Logan Cochran. “Some of them broke down.” Food consisted of beef and sausage; apparently the Argentineans are creative with the cow in their cooking. Those who went on the trip were touched by the Argentine villagers’ spiritual wealth. “I was moved by the inexplicable beauty of the experience,” said Mrs. Varner. “Every day was a gift to be shared.” While the primary purpose of the trip was service, the boys found time to pursue their own interests. “It was easy to pick up chicks, they all thought I was Brazilian rapper because I’m black,” said an anonymous senior who hopes to be attending the U next year. On the last night of their first stay in Buenos Aires, the group went to a discothèque where “there were people everywhere, it was crazy.” All seven of the boys, Dante Bellins, Joseph Makhoul, Trey Ferguson, Logan Cochran, John Mark DiGrazia, Malcolm Brown and Neal Moriconi, were exposed to an Argentine culture wholly unlike our own. Other highlights of the trip include DiGrazia trying to make bread, an attractive Italian girl, internet cafes, rappelling down a rock face, Roni’s tarot readings and Sean Nagle milking a goat. --Kevin Isaacs ’08
The Pine Needle
Jeffrey Scott Anderson University of Mary Washington
College Decisions Class of 2008
Neil Kennedy McGroarty Georgetown University
Richard Royall Baker V University of South Carolina
Kirby James Fox College of William & Mary
James Charles Meadows, Jr. University of Mississippi
John Calvin Barnard Virginia Military Institute
Carter Burton French James Madison University
Robert Edgar Mitchell IV University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Robert Learned Barry Denison University
August Clarke Gottwald The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Pierre Berkshire Molster University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Thomas John Bartosic, Jr. The University of Alabama
Harrison Lamar Graham The University of Alabama
Neal Christopher Moriconi Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
Danté Dominique Bellins Virginia Commonwealth University
Christian Philip Harder Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
Joseph Isaac Munno Virginia Military Institute
Andrew Peter Bernard James Madison University
Thomas Alexander Hardy University of Virginia
Lonnie Dayton Nunley IV Bowdoin College
Malcolm Justin Brown Hampton University
Benjamin Joel Tucker Harrison University of Virginia
Joshua Ian Pacious Davidson College
William Takahiro Armistead Burke James Madison University
Samuel Walker Hays Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
George Ryder Parrish, Jr. Hampden-Sydney College
Matthew Bernard Clark College of William & Mary
Samuel Stevens Hewitt University of Virginia
John McCreagh Parrish Hampden-Sydney College
Logan Douglas Cochran University of Virginia
Torrance Dudley Hoover, Jr. Virginia Military Institute
Christopher Hazel Patel Randolph-Macon College
William Randolph Cogar, Jr. University of Kentucky
John Randolph Hutcheson, Jr. The University of the South
Samuel Vernon Priddy IV Clemson University
Matthew Charles Conover University of Virginia
Christopher Hairston Irby Charleston Southern University
Brewster Stone Rawls, Jr. Clemson University
William Staples Cronly Hampden-Sydney College
William Covington Irby College of Charleston
Charles Hampton Skidmore Wofford College
Mark Addison Dalton, Jr. High Point University
Kevin Harrison Isaacs University of Virginia
Joseph Francis Suarez Christopher Newport University
Stephen Warwick Davenport Clemson University
Malcolm Foster Jennings University of Virginia
Crisman Neher Traywick, Jr. The University of Alabama
Stephen Fraser Davis Virginia Military Institute
Anders Lyman Jensen James Madison University
James Michael Tuohey, Jr. University of Virginia
Marco André Barbosa De León Brown University
Austin Burke Johnson The University of Alabama
Robert Buford Valentine University of Virginia
John Mark DiGrazia, Jr. University of Virginia
David Maclin Parker Johnson The University of Alabama
Sanford Gregory Wall Hampden-Sydney College
Schuyler Martin Doughtie Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
Andrew Michael Klein James Madison University
John Henry Watkins III James Madison University
Charles Andrew Ellen University of Virginia
Brian Thomas Kusiak Princeton University
McDonald Wellford III Virginia Military Institute
Luke Allen Erickson Virginia Polytechnic Institute & State University
Harrison Whitten Long Hampden-Sydney College
John Lewis Wilkinson Washington and Lee University
Daniel Gerard Falterman Appalachian State University
Richard Samuel Luck Virginia Military Institute
Charles Joseph Williams Virginia Commonwealth University
Ralph George Amandla Ferguson III University of Miami
Joseph Bryant Makhoul University of Virginia
John Garland Wood The University of Alabama
Paul Italo Ferramosca, Jr. Hampden-Sydney College
Charles Carroll McCann Boston College
Brendan McClure Marshall Worst Rhodes College
Daniel Christopher Fletcher Princeton University
Robert Corbell McCarthy Auburn University
Andrew Preston Yancey Virginia Military Institute
The Pine Needle
The Back BOESE Page As Dr. Boese is retiring following the 2007-08 school year, The Pine Needle speculated about what Boese will do after he retires. But seriously, gentlemen, we would like to thank Dr. Boese for everything he has done for us during his career and we wish him the best.
Dr. Boese forms rock band “Big Wayne and the Sious Falls Boys” and tours nationwide. Shortly thereafter, he quits fearing his clothing will be interpreted as “gang flags.”
Dr. Boese revives his modeling career thanks to a little help from this product.
Dr. Boese is investigated by authorities for the alleged trafficking of illegal herbal teas across the border from Canada into the Dakotas.
Dr. Boese secretely spends hours watching the Boese Chants on YouTube.
When questioned about tea trafficking, Dr. Boese replied, “Seriously, gentlemen, I am not a crook!”
The Pine Needle Outgoing Editors John Mark DiGrazia Brian Kusiak Teddy Mitchell Brendan Worst Incoming Senior Staff for 2008-2009 Christopher Alexander Robert Allen Tyler Franz Stephane Irankunze John Stillwell
Dr. Boese returns to his hometown in Sioux Falls, South Dakota where he regularly attends Sioux Falls Skyforce NBA Development League games. Needless to say, Boese is quite a hit with the cheerleaders, whom he describes as “ the springiest of spring chickens.”
Contributors Patrick Delaney Jabriel Hasan Henley Hopkinson Kevin Isaacs Kurt Jensen Jack Jessee Farrar Pace Ben Resnik James Ruml Kyle Wittenauer Stephen Wood Faculty Advisor Mrs. Thomas
May 2008 Pine Needle