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summer 2016 0101 ISSUE #8


Accept the Challenge

PARTICIPANT IN THIS ISSUE PCD Students Present at Regional Students of Color Conference Middle School Trades Final Exams for Interdisciplinary Projects Community Themes Direct Thoughtful Dialog



DATES TO REMEMBER October 15 Chowder Day & Reunion

November 5 Admissions Open House

December 2–3 PCD Players

December 9 Community Service Day

December 16 Holiday Tea

Teacher, coach, mentor, friend— David Cashman retires after 38 years of changing the way people think.

Shown on cover: Identity portrait by Matthew Howe ’21. Middle Schoolers were asked to depict the complexity of their own individuality. Story page 3.

FROM THE HEAD OF SCHOOL VINCE WATCHORN Growth is the outcome of good education, even when you start from a high water mark. Throughout PCD’s history, we have focused on meeting students where they are and on what psychologist Carol Dweck labels the “Growth Mindset.” We can actually expand the brain’s capacity to learn and to solve problems—to change what we are or are not good at now. When we expand our brain’s capacity to learn, we are able to see things differently. Perhaps we change our mind, consider something we never thought possible, or simply become receptive to a point of view that challenges a long-held belief. Regardless of the manifestation, the result is a new perspective on our immediate surroundings and the world—fostering increased understanding, greater empathy, and a better toolbox for whatever comes next. I hope you enjoy this issue of The Participant, and reading about the growth that has come from PCD’s opening minds and seeing things differently.

Vince Watchorn



avid Cashman joined the PCD faculty when the school’s founding was still within living memory.

Since that time, he has helped define the educational experience at PCD and his work will surely live on through much of the 21st century. Inspiring students to love literature and poetry, he served as an example of classroom excellence to multiple generations of younger teachers. When alumni gather to discuss the enduring experiences that make up a PCD education, classes with David Cashman are always among the topics. Cashman has embodied the concept of a student-centered classroom. He once shared with a colleague that keeping the same text fresh year after year, is easy: it keeps itself fresh because the students are fresh. The text, he says, reveals itself anew through their eyes. A hallmark of his success as a teacher has been the firm, gentle hand that assures students he is invested in their success. Cashman’s legacy will be honored with the full school community this coming fall.




A Banner Year

A Bigger Stage



The 2016 Girls Varsity Basketball Team made history this year by winning PCD’s first ever NEPSAC Championship, when it defeated Wooster School of Danbury, CT 57-27.

Eleven PCD seniors presented at the Association of Independent Schools of New England (AISNE) High School Students of Color Conference in April. Their workshop, Mistaken Identity: Reflections on Being Judged by Appearance, drew on work done through PCD’s year-long community curriculum that explored race and identity this year. When the group approached Dean of US Students Brady Wheatley to air their frustration at the number of students who were asking, “Why do we have to talk about this?” Wheatley put the question back to them. “Why do we?” she pressed, and “What can you do about that?” The students collaborated on an all-school assembly, aimed at giving voice to the misperceptions that color their worlds. Through raw and vulnerable narratives, they addressed issues of stereotypes, bi-racial identity, adoption, bisexuality, gender, white privilege, affirmative action, institutional and personal racism, internal racism, hope, and self-discovery.

The team saved its best game of the year for the biggest stage, dominating Wooster in the championship final. With standout individual performances, seamless teamwork, relentless offense, and a ferocious defense, the team would not be denied. The group effort was supported by Coaches Surrette and Miller, as well as the parents and fans who filled the bleachers and helped fuel the team’s momentum. Junior Racquel Fitzpatrick was named NEPSAC tournament MVP. With as many young talented players coming up as there were seniors, who led this year’s charge, we are looking forward to another banner year.

The students led a workshop at the 23rd annual Students of Color Conference, hoping their words might fuel a dialogue outside of PCD and foster a deeper understanding of those around us. Visit our Soundcloud page to hear the introductions to their workshop.

Arming Girls with Global Understanding PCD’S ALIGNMENT WITH HEIFER INTERNATIONAL AIMS TO EMPOWER GIRLS WITH AN APPRECIATION OF SUSTAINABLE AGRICULTURE PCD’s partnership with Heifer International is now a mainstay of PCD’s experiential curriculum. Launched in 2014, the program was created exclusively for PCD, in order to give our upper school girls the unique opportunity to participate in the Women’s Lambing Program at the Heifer Farm in Rutland, Massachusetts. The three-night farm-stay program, which has historically been available only to individual adults and families, was re-envisioned just for PCD, to create a hands-on school experience for girls. The Heifer experience offers a blend of “facilitated discussions, experiential learning activities, and hands-on animal work” while focusing on their mission “to empower women through sustainable agriculture.” During the four-day/three night program, girls help out with farm work, learn about cheese-making, explore issues of gender and environmentalism, and most memorably, stay up on night shifts to help the lambs and goats deliver the season’s offspring.


Community Curriculum Inspires Reflection & Dialog GUIDED CONVERSATIONS ASK STUDENTS TO CONSIDER THEIR OWN IDENTITY IN A BROADER CONTEXT In one of two week-long Middle School interdisciplinary projects this year, students connected its annual Drop & Read program to the school’s year long theme of kindness and identity. In lieu of regular classes, students in grades 6-8 engaged in a cross-curricular intensive reading project, working collaboratively in advisor groups as well as independently on artistic personal interpretations of the book’s narrative. If I Ever Get out of Here, by Eric Gansworth, chronicles the story of a seventh grade Native American boy and the navigation of his two worlds: the Tuscarora Indian Reservation on which he lives and the middle school outside the reservation that he attends. Students explored the theme of identity through personal narrative writing exercises as well as drawing and painting. Using their own text they incorporated their narratives into visual identity portraits (see cover).

When Art Takes on Life—And Wins ELI LEDERBERG ’16 WINS NATIONAL SCHOLASTIC ART AWARD Eli Lederberg ’16 and Louis Schlaker ’21 are in good company. Andy Warhol, Truman Capote, Richard Avedon, and Sylvia Plath received Scholastic Art & Writing Awards when they were teens. Now Lederberg is a National Gold winner (PCD’s first). Schlaker won a Silver medal, and was one of only a handful of seventh graders to be so highly distinguished. Lederberg’s gold winning entry was a quilt, titled “The Presidentials.” He set out to replicate the 1963 cover of Avengers #1—his favorite comic book. When his boss at the Big Nazo puppet performance group suggested he change up the text to be more current, Lederberg focused on the 2016 election. The quilt took about 150-200 hours to make over the course of five months, and is about 3’x4’. Lederberg was honored along with the nation’s most creative teens at Carnegie Hall in June. The competition is “the nation’s longest-running and most prestigious recognition program for [artists and writers] in grades 7–12. A record-breaking 320,000 works of art and writing were submitted for adjudication at the regional level.” Just 2,500 students won national recognition, and Lederberg was one of only 497 visual artists to receive a gold award.




No More Pencils, No More Books… MIDDLE SCHOOL FORGOES FINAL EXAMS IN FAVOR OF HANDS-ON, INTERDISCIPLINARY, COLLABORATIVE FINAL PROJECT Nationwide, parents, educators, and researchers are pushing back against high stakes testing as a singular means of assessment. Project Based Learning (PBL) is a trending alternative that asks students to demonstrate understanding through major assignments that stretch over days or weeks, involve group work, and are interdisciplinary in nature. PBL experiences give students the opportunity to connect with global issues and see how interdisciplinary themes are related. PCD’s middle school has long incorporated PBL into its classroom curriculum, but this year, faculty replaced sit down final examinations with a cumulative, division-wide investigation into the role of water throughout the world. “The topic lent itself to historical analyses, moral and ethical considerations, scientific investigations, and an understanding from a multicultural perspective,” said MS Dean of Students Jen Caletri. The learning that took place throughout the year— in science, English, math, and history—came together in real-world applications, allowing students to engage more deeply and more completely than they would answering a series of multiple choice questions.

1923 Scholars are Distinguished by Scholarship and Citizenship WELCOME TO THIS YEAR’S 1923 SCHOLARS, WHO WILL JOIN THE SIXTH AND NINTH GRADES Devin Dembrow (shown top), an eighth grader at the Dorothy L. Beckwith Middle School, and Clark Mackin, a fifth grader at The Pinecroft School, have been awarded 1923 Scholarships and will be joining the PCD community in September. Denbrow is an accomplished baseball player and martial artist, and was recently named the Rehoboth Lions Club “Outstanding Youth of the Year.” Mackin is a jazz drummer and will no doubt lend his rhythm to the instrumental ensemble in the fall. A PCD 1923 Scholar has demonstrated consistent academic excellence, strong character, commitment to extracurricular, club and/or community service activities, and a capacity to contribute as an engaged citizen at PCD. In addition to meeting high academic criteria, candidates complete an independent scholar project that illustrates, through the medium of their choice, how one of The Providence Country Day core values expresses who they are.

Winning Ticket PCD ELECTS THE FIRST FEMALE CO-PRESIDENTS IN SCHOOL HISTORY This spring, PCD’s student council presidential race featured five strong pairs of candidates who ran competitive campaigns that asked students to think about the kind of leadership they wanted for their school.

Correction: The last issue of The Participant mistakenly reported that new trustee, Robert Khoury ’86, was a member of Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business Advisory Board. Khoury advised us that he was in fact on Fuqua’s Alumni Council for five years (from 2002-2007). Thanks for the fact check Rob!

Voting day speeches addressed issues ranging from vending machines to sports requirements, and after a late day runoff, Lucy Ehrlich ’17 and Lexi Pope ’17 emerged victorious. It is reassuring to note that this generation of students and leaders takes it for granted that a female can be president. Nevertheless, Ehrlich and Pope’s new leadership roles mark a milestone as the school’s first female presidential team since the school went co-ed in 1991, and the subsequent co-president model was initiated in 2002. The school has benefited from female leadership in vice president and co-president positions, and Meredith Sondler-Bazar ’02 was the school’s first and only female president. Together, Ehrlich and Pope will run the student council and weekly assemblies, and work closely with Head of School Vince Watchorn to plan school events and guide discussions pertaining to school culture and student life.



Alex Holloway ’16 was named the Boys &

Max Liebhauser ’16 was named a

Photo by Providence Journal/Steve Szydlowski

finalist in the prestigious 2016 National Merit Scholarship Program. The National Merit Scholarship Program recognizes academic excellence through standardized testing and a subsequent application process which assesses school engagement and leadership potential. An initial field of approximately 1.5 million high school students throughout the US is narrowed through several levels of distinction to about 15,000 finalists.

Morgan Partridge ’16 will be on her way to the University of Notre Dame this fall— by way of France, Italy, Germany, Russia, Mexico, Croatia, Slovakia, Romania, Poland, and Uzbekistan. Partridge, the reigning U.S. junior fencing champion in foil, claimed a silver medal in the individual competition at the Junior Pan-American Championships in Cancun, Mexico this spring, followed by a team silver medal at the World Junior Championships in Bourges, France.

Take a Hike EARTH DAY AT PCD IS ALL ABOUT GETTING OUR HANDS DIRTY PCD’s senior environmental science class takes its subject matter seriously. This past April they advanced the institutionalization of the school’s annual Earth Day commitment—reinforcing our community’s daily commitment to environmental stewardship. More than posters and essay contests, the class planned a full day of education, activism, community service and fun. Guest speaker, Jeanine Silversmith, local author, founder of Rhode Island Families and Nature, and the Environmental Literacy Plan Coordinator for the RI Environmental Education Association, kicked off the day with her enthusiastic advocacy for getting outside. And that’s just what we did: more than 200 students and faculty dispersed to 11 locations (from the Audubon Society to the Wood Pawcatuck Watershed) to focus on environmental education, awareness, and service learning outside the traditional classroom. In conjunction with Goodwill Industries, PCD also hosted a clothing/textiles and e-waste drive on Earth Day. All electronics except for TVs, printers, and CRT monitors were accepted for recycling, and all types of clothing/textiles were accepted for repurposing.

Girls Club of Pawtucket’s 2016 Youth of the Year. Club CEO James Hoyt said the Youth of the Year competition “highlights what we do each day at the club, all year long. Every moment spent here hopefully leads each of our kids to a future with positive outcomes.” Holloway is recognized at the Boys & Girls Club as a leader and role model, and helps younger members achieve academic success, prepare for the future, and give back through community service. He has donated more than 200 hours of service himself in the past year, including serving as a summer league basketball referee and assisting with the Special Olympics.




Day of Giving: Capping off the Annual Fund IN A WEB-BASED, SCHOOL-WIDE EFFORT, THE PCD COMMUNITY RALLIED ON A SINGLE DAY TO MAKE SOME NOISE May 25, 2016 marked PCD’s inaugural Day of Giving. Faculty, students, parents and alumni joined the development staff in a social media blitz, designed to reach out, share stories, and inspire giving. Participants took and posted selfies of their own gift giving or with signs of support encouraging others to give. Some made videos and there were even a few PCD dog cameo appearances. PCD staffers monitored the day’s progress online, and were thrilled with the increased level of engagement, the online conversations and connections that were sparked, and the gifts from first time and lapsed donors that demonstrated a strong commitment from Knights past and present. Next year’s Day of Giving will be on Thursday, February 16, 2017. Mark you calendars!

In All the Right Places

A New Game in Town



Bob Tow ’55 When we reported in our last issue of The Participant that Peter Shang ’16 was our first student from China who would soon be our first 4-year international student graduate, we got a call from Stephen Palmer ’55 to take exception. He informed us that his good friend, Bob Tow ’55, came here from China in 6th grade, and graduated with the class of 1955. Indeed, Bob (Robert Yee Tow) became an award winning orator at PCD as he mastered the English language, was a varsity tennis player, and a financially savvy yearbook staffer. We understand that Bob is back in China now and we look forward to hearing updates from anyone who has them.

Bob Dickerman ’50 Bob Dickerman ’50 shared some tried and true techniques in a session at the 2016 Massachusetts Baseball Coaches Association Annual Baseball Clinic. “I’d been attending the clinic as an audience member since the mid-70s,” he said. “I thought it was time to contribute.” His session, titled “Drills You May Have Missed,” offered “various nuances and tidbits about everyday drills that coaches need as part of running a successful program.”

Jeff Buxton ’75 Jeff Buxton ’75, is a USA Wrestling Lifetime Achievement Winner, undefeated Blair Academy Wrestling Coach (30 consecutive National Prep Team Titles), undefeated PCD wrestler (4 seasons), PCD Athletic Hall of Famer, and current head coach of Lehigh University’s post graduate wrestling program. Now, he is also a spokesperson for Cliff Keen wrestling apparel.

Change is good—and it certainly was at this year’s Play for PCD event, held at Rhode Island Country Club in Barrington. A lot of planning went into the 2016 fundraiser, to make sure there was something for everyone. Feedback from past years suggested that a streamlined silent auction, more lively games of chance, and a party that welcomed more families would make the event stronger and more fun. Silent auction items this year were all about the PCD experiences that bidders want the most. A game board with over 200 prizes up for grabs and great odds for winning something, encouraged broad participation, and a tasty cocktail buffet (as opposed to a sit down dinner) meant the price of entry wasn’t a deal breaker. The result was a great community event with a record number of alumni attending, spirited bidding, game-of-chance excitement, and generous contributions that supported the school’s annual fund. Thanks to all who helped change the game by playing the game!



Teachers agree and research affirms that when lessons are meaningful, they stick. When assignments require that students process information in new ways, students can make lessons more relevant and essential connections can be made more readily. Straying from the archetypal English assignment, Sharon Hanover asked her 11th grade class to create a physical map of Huck Finn’s travels down the Mississippi, with each stop representing an episode of Huck’s life. Cherry Wang ’17 created a meticulously detailed animated flipbook to accompany her map.

One to Watch Aaron Samuels ’07, was selected as one of Forbes Magazine’s 30 under 30, which recognizes some of the most influential young people in the country in categories from sports, education, and finance to manufacturing, energy, and healthcare. Samuels was recognized for his startup, Blavity, a media company that aims to provide a voice and platform for young people of color, billing itself as “The Voice of Black Millennials.” Founded in 2014, the Blavity site attracts almost a million visitors each month. In addition to co-founding Blavity, Samuels also has gained renown for his poetry and activism. In 2013, he published his first book, “Yarmulkes and Fitted Caps,” a compilation of poems which examine his own identity through both emotional and humorous lenses. In his “spare time,” Samuels works as a product manager for Telesign, an information security firm based in Los Angeles.

In mathematics, a ‘piecewise function’ is a graph that only applies to a certain portion of the x-y plane: take the graph of a regular line and limit it to a certain value on the x-axis. Doris Zhang ’18’s pre-calculus class was asked to use piecewise functions to create a picture of a flower. The only guideline was that students must use at least 25 different lines to make the image. Zhang used 56 equations in her creative blending of art and math. Jacob Beard, ’18, and Dan Bershad, ’16, created a music video about graphing lines for their algebra class. Graphing lines involves taking an equation and relating it to the steepness and location of a line in an (x-y) plane. Beard and Bershad broke it down by singing, dancing, and rapping about isolating variables and finding slope. Watch it at


Marc Horner ’87 with Peter Cohen ’83 at the 2016 Play for PCD event

Class of 1987 alumnus and PCD Trustee, Marc Horner ’87, provided the incentive many of his classmates and others needed to make their first gift to PCD or increase their gift amount from last year.

Horner, whose father David, is a class of ’67 PCD graduate, is a longtime donor and understands the importance of a strong annual fund. Toward that end, he made a $10,000 challenge to match any new or increased gifts this year. The challenge went out in March and by the middle of May, it was met, doubling the value of the gifts he inspired! We thank Marc and all of the participants in the Horner Challenge for their commitment and generous support of PCD!

The Providence Country Day School 660 Waterman Avenue East Providence, RI 02914-1724

Honoring Service and Influence MARCIA HOFFER HAS ENGAGED FULLY IN THE LIFE OF PCD SINCE 2003, WHEN SHE JOINED THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES. Among her most recent contributions was a matching challenge gift that generated $300,000. For her commitment and ceaseless advocacy, she was awarded the prestigious Michael P. Metcalf Award— presented for distinguished service and exceptional achievement. Hoffer’s one regret about PCD is that she couldn’t attend the formerly all-boys school. She watched her brothers, Axel ’53 and Peter ’60, benefit from the school’s unique community, and when it was time for her daughter, Katie ’04, to go to high school, choosing PCD was an easy decision. Katie took full advantage of the opportunities to stretch her wings in the classroom, and went on to Brown University. In making the presentation, Head of School Vince Watchorn noted that, “Marcia leads with courage and valor, but a distinct absence of fanfare.” He described her as “visionary, diligent, and generous. She is one of the people who make PCD tick,” he said.

First Class Presort US Postage


Providence, RI Permit No. 537

PCD Participant #8 Summer 2016