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arker spring | summer 2010




in this issue:

Not your usual time line • Alumni interviews • Spring doings on campus • Alumni news

The True History and Bright Future of Saint Mark’s School One of the great skills in life, and without doubt one of the important lessons of life at Saint Mark’s, is knowing when to work hard and when to have fun, and to be able to do either at the appropriate time. Saint Mark’s, long known for its academic excellence, has, at its heart, a very goofy sensibility. While not all learning is fun, Saint Mark’s faculty believe that raising the fun quotient, in an elementary school, is essential in creating a strong learning environment. Zany is good—from Spirit Days to Joke Assemblies, from Halloween to Weird Talent Assembly—and at Saint Mark’s we do zany quite well. —Damon Kerby Special thanks to all the faculty, staff, and administrators who have shared their tales of this lively school, and especially to for coming to campus and reliving the early days for this story.

September 8, 1980 Saint Mark’s School opens with 143 students in classes from Kindergarten through seventh grade. Still on campus from that day are...

Connie Prim, office manager, headmaster’s assistant, from 1981 to 2003

(now Donaldson)

June 1, 1983

As the departure of esteemed founding headmaster Ray Bizjack approaches, an issue of the Hip Pocket News reveals the shocking origins of some Saint Mark’s traditions.

October 1985

John Pistel, headmaster from 1983 to 1987, leverages his tall frame for Halloween fun.

March 1988

September 1987

The school welcomes its new headmaster, Damon Kerby...

...who finally gets his big break in show business in the Parent-Teacher Musical Revue! Drama teacher Linda Westin cracked up a scheme for a spoof of life at Saint Mark’s. Everyone got on board, and, says Loree Donaldson, “We were really good!”


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In the early years, assemblies were “freestyle” and held every day, resulting in, shall we say, scheduling issues and, of course, frequent hilarity.


June 1990

During a special assembly for Mr. Orwig’s birthday in 1987, Head of Upper School Jeff Sloan announces that no one has to run that day! The ban sticks and remains a fiercely held student tradition.

The junior varsity chess team wins the National Junior High School Championships. No big deal, the team tells Mr. Orwig—they’d planned to win all along.

September 1991

Saint Mark’s makes its new home at 39 Trellis Drive. First question: Could someone PLEASE paint over this appalling brownand-turquoise color scheme? A few coats of soothing blues and grays later, everyone is feeling great about the new digs.

January 1994

The ’93–’94 school year launches the Pathways program, “a cultural education program designed to increase our children’s knowledge, understanding, and enjoyment of ethnic diversity.” The first multicultural event is held in late January, led by native Nigerian performer, percussionist, and storyteller Onye Onyemaechi. There are also traditional crafts, music, storytelling, and dance. From the spring 1984 Marker: “…through his rhythms, he transformed us from 18 different classes watching one performer, to ONE village dancing and winding our way around the amphitheater. Rhythmic sounds, colorful masks, costumes and happy faces filled the air as we, all together, celebrated—the simple happiness of being together.” Sound familiar?

August 1997

Saint Mark’s formally adopts the Seven Pillars of Character. Development of character was central to Saint Mark’s from the beginning. The Seven Pillars give our school community a common guide for our thoughts, words, and actions.

October 1999



Mr. Kerby, Prankster? When Mr. Kerby and Ray Bizjack were colleagues at The Branson School, did our future headmaster fill one of our founders’ shoes with whipped cream?! Mr. Kerby was unavailable for comment on this story...


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Beloved science teacher Sam Migliaccio (at Saint Mark’s from 1982 to 1989) spearheaded many important events, including the Miss America betting pool and motorcade pageant, the Spam Cook-Off, and the Tacky Furniture Contest (Mrs. Forrester still can’t believe the library didn’t win).

This is believed to be the scene of the first duel between Good and Evil at Halloween assembly. Over the years the characters will change, but one thing doesn’t: Mr. Forrester always plays the good one, and Mr. Orwig always plays the evil one.

September 2002

The 00s: Saint Mark’s Gets Serious About the 21st Century

Mr. Navarrete is gleeful at moving into his “beautiful new music room” in the new Jeanne MacLeamy Arts and Science Building, where science teacher Diane Bredt and the art teachers also make their new homes.

Sure, we had plenty of fun this decade, but we also furthered our mission of developing well-rounded students who can face our interconnected world with confidence. A brief sampling:


October 2003

The duel between Good and Evil moves to the roof of the Arts and Science Building, to the utter shock and delight of the children.

March 2005

The school embarks on a partnership with eSibonisweni Primary School in Maputaland, South Africa. The first year, Saint Mark’s students hold a shoe drive and write letters. The partnership is the cornerstone of what will become our global education program.


Saint Mark’s hosts a live satellite link with astronauts on the International Space Station, American Leroy Chiao and Russian Salizhan Shariapov, thanks to Saint Mark’s parent Judy Chiao Smith (below right, with daughter, Julia Smith ’08). Audience members ask questions, including the one on everybody’s mind: “Do you believe in space aliens?”

Saint Mark’s begins its relationship with the Canal Alliance, with a reciprocal tutoring program for English and Spanish language learners.


Director of Technology Bonnie Nishihara, Assistant Director of Technology Tatian Greenleaf, and Media Specialist Chad Forrester earn Saint Mark’s a Leading Edge award from the National Association of Independent Schools for their Media Literacy program. Art teachers Karen Klier and Patricia Bruvry launch a new K–6 arts curriculum in which students study the lives and historical context of two artists and then create pieces inspired by their works.


The school introduces Mandarin beginning in Kindergarten and adding a grade level each year.

October 2009

On Halloween, an army of faculty zombies takes over the stage...and proceeds to perform the “Thriller” dance from the popular 1983 Michael Jackson video. The thing is a smash, of course, getting lots of YouTube hits. How will they top that?!


We begin our relationship with Beijing Experimental Primary School #2 and send our first teacher there in spring 2008.


Li Ying Ma, head of the Chinese language department at Beijing Experimental, spends three weeks in Marin in October. Next arrives Jubilee Tembe, head of school at eSibonisweni. He is accompanied by his wife, Siphindile, and daughter, Beauty, who attends school in Julie Fritz’s third grade class.

December 2009

No one is sure how it started, but the Twelve Days of Christmas is still going strong after many years. Once upon a time, fifth grade teacher Carolyn Toland and fourth grade teacher Donna Young had the idea to create nutty crepe paper costumes. The idea progresses, and the performance now has our usually dignified faculty and staff looking like this...


September 2010

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Saint Mark’s welcomes the first child of an alumna to see us through most of our fourth decade.

The Diversity and Inclusivity Committee spends the year rewriting its guiding principles and lays out new goals for the school to build on its work of representing the broader community within our walls. Stay tuned for more amazing work from this group.

Passing It Forward Alumni are still in the mentoring state of mind. interview by Christine Maguire, Alumni Coordinator In fall 2009, Mr. Orwig brought four alumni back to Saint Mark’s as coaches for the boys’ flag football team and the girls’ volleyball team. Alanna DeSalvo ’06 and Courtney Jacobson ’07 teamed up to bring the girls to a 4-2 season, while Nick Cherbero ’07 and Taylor Peterson ’07 led the football team to a 9-1 season. While this is not the first time alumni have been involved with athletics at the school, it was notable to have four alums at the helm of two teams. He notes, “I enjoy giving young people, especially alumni of the school, the opportunity to try coaching. I am proud of these four for their hard work and dedication to remaining connected to the school in this way. I hope to have them back next year!” Below are excerpts from our interviews. What made you decide to come back to Saint Mark’s? Alanna: I love volleyball. Even though I’m now unable to play, I still wanted to have a part in the sport. Nick: I have always loved to coach and I figured I could do it easily at my old school, while also getting to coach with a friend. Courtney: I played volleyball in PE and on the Saint Mark’s team. I also played in high Alanna DeSalvo ’06 will attend the University of school for two years. I saw an opportunity San Francisco this fall. to pursue my love of the sport from a different angle, as well as to inspire younger girls to take up the sport. Taylor: I loved sports at Saint Mark’s and had great experiences in a league environment. When I got the opportunity to coach, I was excited to help the kids have a good time in football and basketball so they could experience the fun of the league also. What was it like to work with Saint Mark’s students as an alum? Courtney: The girls would come to practice talking about an activity or field trip that I had experienced four years earlier. It was a cool way to connect—we could talk about how things have changed and sometimes remained the same. Exactly the same. Taylor: I know a lot of their siblings and thus know them, too. This made for good friendships and an easygoing, positive experience.

Taylor Peterson ’07 will be a senior at Marin Catholic this fall.

Nick: I can relate to them—I was in their place only a couple of years ago. They are all great kids and really easy to work with.

What were the best and toughest things about your season? Taylor: The toughest times were when the kids did not listen. But it was always fun to see them smile at the end of the games. The last game of the season, a seventh grader really wanted to kick off the ball after a touchdown, but the whistle blew and the game was

Alanna: The whole experience was the best thing. I hope they learned a lot and enjoyed that season as much as I did. Nick: The best thing was our impressive win against Davidson Middle School. I had no idea what to think of our team coming into the game, so our win seemed impressive. Courtney: There was never a worst moment. Nick Cherbero ’07 will be a senior at Marin One story I find particularly amusing: after Catholic this fall. I wore some crazy spandex to practice, the girls were determined to get matching crazy spandex. In the end, they chose multicolored polka-dot spandex shorts. I still remember the looks on everyone’s faces in the Davidson gym when the girls came running in wearing their new shorts. How was it to go from having Mr. Orwig as Master of the Hard Run to working with him? Alanna: He was great to work with and very supportive with the help that we needed. Taylor: Mr. O is an easy guy to work for. If you show him respect, he will very easily show you respect in return. Courtney: Good question! I’m not sure if I am supposed to say this, but.... Everyone always talks about Mr. Orwig’s scary reputation, but really he’s a big softie. I played on the chess team from second through eighth grade, and I learned quickly that there are a few traits he respects: tenacity, reliability, and sarcasm. If you respect him, work hard, and keep up with his jokes, you will get along fine with Mr. Orwig. Throw in a cute puppy and an oldfashioned glazed doughnut, and you’re in. Nick: We got along so well when I was at Saint Mark’s. He is a great guy and easy to work with. Mr. Orwig is very impressed with your ability and commitment. How would you describe this experience overall? Courtney: I spent nine long years at Saint Mark’s and, especially in the last few months, I’ve realized how much I received from the community. Coaching is the least I can do to give back and contribute to such a supportive, giving community. Middle school is an important time, and I enjoyed being a mentor to these girls. Courtney Jacobson ’07 will be a senior at Marin Academy this fall.

Nick: The experience is one I would like to continue. I’ve loved coming back to Saint Mark’s because I spent so much of my life there and feel I can give back through coaching. Alanna: This was definitely a learning experience and very fun, especially being able to coach with my friend Courtney. Taylor: I loved my years at Saint Mark’s and am grateful that I can continue to be a part of the community. M


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Alanna: Because of the age difference, I didn’t know many of them, but I liked being back in the place where I grew up.

over before he got the chance. So I split our squad into offensive and defensive groups and had the younger player kick the ball as if it really counted. We ran the play, a touchdown was scored, and everyone had a great time.

News Bites Spring has given us plenty to write about.


lumni news


Class of 1989

At its annual Pythagorean Dinner, the Alameda Contra Costa Math Educators Association named math specialist Ashanti Branch a Teacher of the Year for his outstanding contribution to mathematics instruction.

Class of 1990

Seventh grade English teacher and high school admissions counselor Stacey Kertsman was named a Teacher of the Future by the National Association of Independent Schools. As such, she will help lead the online community of NAIS teachers in 2010–2011.

GUEST OF HONOR Melba Pattillo Beals was one of the Little Rock Nine, the group of black students who integrated Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas, in 1957. She visited Saint Mark’s in May to talk with our eighth graders. She has come to campus every year for the past 10 years, and her presence is always a great pleasure and an Melba Pattillo Beals honor for the students and school community members who attend. In addition to having written many books, including the best-selling Warriors Don’t Cry, she runs the broadcast journalism program at Dominican University. We thank Ms. Beals for her many visits to us over the years and look forward to sharing her story with future generations of students.

ROCKING OUT Jack Conte ’98 played and spoke at assembly in May. Jack is making a name for himself with his mesmerizing videosongs. The songs play over video that both document and reinterpret the process of creating the music. He describes the video­ song as “a new medium with two rules: 1. What you see is what you hear (no lip synching for instruments or voice). 2. If you hear it, at some point you see it (no Jack Conte ’98, center, with Damon Kerby and hidden sounds).” He plays Richard Navarrete almost every instrument himself, with his partner Nataly Dawn on some vocals. Check it all out at and on his YouTube channel.

SPEAKING OF DIY CULTURE... Alex Jacobson ’09 and his friend Sam DeRose built a fire-breathing robotic dragon for Maker Faire Bay Area this year. Sam did the building, and Alex did the programming required for “Saphira” to be controlled by a joystick. Alex attends the Bay School, attended Saint Mark’s SuperTech summer camp for three years, and served as the SuperTech intern for one year. Their blazing contraption grabbed a lot of attention at the fair, the apt theme of which was Young Makers.

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Cheryl Lever Amaya and her husband Avery welcomed their first son, Logan Thoreau Amaya, on February 27, 2010. Sean Peisert received his PhD in computer science from the University of California, San Diego, in 2007. His dissertation focused on formal models of computer forensic analysis. He has recently been jointly appointed as a research scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory and an assistant adjunct professor at University of California, Davis, where he does research in computer security. Sean and his wife, Kathryn, are happy to be once again living in Marin County.

Class of 1996

Josh Biddle is the University Medal recipient for UC Berkeley’s Class of 2010, the school’s equivalent of valedictorian. He was the undergraduate commencement speaker on May 16; on May 17 he left for Nairobi, Kenya, where he will work in a hospital for the summer. He will return to the Bay Area in the fall to start medical school at UCSF.

Class of 1997

Vincent Kirkpatrick will graduate from UC Irvine medical school in June 2010.

Class of 1998

Emily Reitz graduated from Oberlin and is now in her second year at UCLA Law School. She plans to go into public interest law. Alicia Cunningham-Bryant is nearing the completion of her PhD in Egyptology at Yale and is researching at the Egyptian Museum in Cairo. Liz Eisenberg works for an e-commerce company in San Francisco and will be traveling to South Africa for the World Cup with sister Maggie Eisenberg ’02 this summer. Dan Stitzel is working in Sausalito for Berg Holdings, a real estate development company, and will join the Saint Mark’s School Board of Trustees as the Alumni Representative to the Board this fall. Gabe Torres graduated from Cal Poly Pomona and is now working in business development in Oakland. Joseph Sciarrillo is working as a paralegal and immigrant rights activist in San Francisco’s Mission District for Dolores Street Community Services and its new project, the African Advocacy Network. His work includes protecting families from unjust deportations and aiding individuals to become U.S. citizens.

Class of 2001

Gregory Bricca is a senior at Colgate University, where he is majoring in environmental geography. He recently traveled to Australia to examine the Noogar culture and the continuing impacts of genocide on that culture. He is an outdoor education leader, teaching courses in rock climbing and leading hiking trips in the Adirondacks. Margaret Godsey is living in Brooklyn and is an assistant merchandiser for Randa Accessories in Manhattan.

Class of 2002

Andy Brewster is senior at Princeton and a philosophy major. He plans to work for Teach America next year, hopefully in an inner-city school. Maggie Eisenberg is a senior at UC Berkeley and will travel to South Africa for the World Cup with sister Liz ’98 this summer. Matt Groh graduated from Middlebury College with a major in economics and minors in mathematics and Arabic. Jessica Skelton is an economics major at UC Berkeley and a member of the Cal Band. Cristina Torres is a senior at Princeton, majoring in philosophy. She still plays flag football, holding down the crucial center position on her powder puff team.

Class of 2003

Cooper Helfet was recruited by Duke to play football as a tight end. He started in January 2010 and will play two seasons beginning this fall. Jennifer Geisse is majoring in human biology at Stanford.

Class of 2004

Carly Bricca is a sophomore at CU Boulder, majoring in integrative physiology. She hopes to go on to study physical therapy

Kevin Dee is a sophomore at the Conservatory at Oberlin College. This spring he gave a local concert on solo guitar. He played works by Bach, Albeniz, and a 20th century composer. Mr. Kerby attended the performance and reports that Kevin “is a fabulous guitarist, very skilled, and very expressive.”

Class of 2005

Melissa Godinez is studying nursing at Sonoma State University. Lauren Kelly is studying human biology and drama at Stanford. She is a member of the Stanford Improvisers and is thoroughly enjoying college thus far!

Class of 2006

Chris Broderick, Jack Hannan, and Stephanie Noonan were three of the top five senior students at Marin Catholic for this academic year, based upon cumulative GPA. Nishant Budhraja, Michael Perlstein, Connor Van Gessel, and Erin Wilson were inducted into the Cum Laude Society, Marin Academy Chapter, on May 25, 2010. The MA chapter of this national honor society elects outstanding student members each spring. Students in the senior class may be elected if they meet the society’s rigorous standards of academic achievement, good character, and personal integrity. Margot Boorman is rowing power oar for Marin Rowing and was recruited by UC Davis to row Division I for fall 2010.

He will attend the University of Puget Sound in the fall. Will Scott plays varsity squash at Deerfield Academy and will attend Colby College in the fall. Matt Vetter received early acceptance to Dartmouth College and will attend this fall.

Class of 2007

Blair Scott is a junior at Deerfield and plans to row on varsity crew again in 2010–2011. Mollie Rowe starred in the fall play, The Miracle Worker, and as the overachieving Marcie in the spring play, You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown, at Marin Catholic this year.

Class of 2009

Isabella Salmi is a freshman at Branson and has been elected to the Honor Council.

Tell us your life story! We love hearing from our alumni. Please contact Christine Maguire at (415) 472-8000, ext. 1016, or And be sure to join our alumni Facebook group.

Chris Broderick received early acceptance to Duke University and will attend this fall. Scott Lamson also received early acceptance to Duke and will attend this fall. Stephanie Noonan starred in the play The Miracle Worker at Marin Catholic last fall. She will attend Northwestern this fall. David Purcell performed the role of the lovable Charlie Brown in the classic goodtime play You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown at Marin Catholic in March 2010.


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Oak Laokwansathitaya works in San Francisco as a freelance wardrobe stylist for various marketing and clothing companies. 2009 saw the launch of his own Web site, two music video premieres, a fashion show, and his latest campaign with Smuin Ballet.

and work with professional sports teams. She is currently doing a sports medicine internship with CU Athletics/football.

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Saint Mark’s School • 39 Trellis Drive, San Rafael, CA 94903 • (415) 472-8000

High Schools, Class of 2010 The Bay School (1) The Branson School (13) Cate School (1) Drake High School (1) Marin Academy (10) Marin Catholic (7) Redwood High School (1) St. Ignatius Preparatory (1) Sonoma Academy (2) Terra Linda High School (1) University High School (2) The Urban School (2)

Colleges, Class of 2006

Best wishes to the Class of 2006 as members make their way to college this fall. Here are some of the schools they will attend: Josh Augustin Washington University Madeleine Bannon Claremont McKenna Diane Boodrookas Clark University Margot Boorman UC Davis Tess Bredesen UC Berkeley Mark Brisbois University of Oregon Zoe Broad Wesleyan University Chris Broderick Duke University Nishant Budhraja UC Berkeley Jessica Cohen SF Ballet Trainee Program Davis Cooper Northeastern

The Acorn Reprinted from the dedication of the first yearbook for Saint Mark’s School, 1981

Vision of a Dream Grows in peace The Acorn sent by the Wind of Time Rolls to where it is content and grows Its bud is young, yet it says Blossoming Time, Blossoming Time —Diana Maier, Class of 1985

Madi Cossey American University Alanna DeSalvo University of San Francisco Danielle Farrell Parsons School of Design Jack Hannan Boston College Kendall Jordan Saint Mary’s College Alexander Kaplan Georgetown Lisa Knoll University of Southern California Scott Lamson Duke University Danielle LaRoy University of Pennsylvania Mira Lowenstein UC Irvine Michaelyn Mackintosh Sonoma State Sam Maxim University of Iowa Caitlin Miller University of Michigan Stephanie Noonan Northwestern Michael Perlstein Dartmouth David Purcell University of Puget Sound Maddie Ross USC Stefania Salarpi CSU Northridge Annie Sano University of Oregon Maxwell Saunders Oberlin College Erica Scheidt Lewis & Clark College Will Scott Colby College Alysa Smith Linfield College Alex Svoboda University of Wisconsin Lauren Taymor USC Connor Van Gessel Stanford Matt Vetter Dartmouth Ally Warson Vanderbilt Jonathan Weeks UC Davis Erin Wilson Carleton College

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