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B U L L E T I N Fall 2008 Volume 79 Number 1 Bulletin Staff Director of Development Chris Latham Editor Julie Reiff Alumni Notes Linda Beyus Design Good Design, LLC gooddesignusa.com Proofreader Nina Maynard Mail letters to: Julie Reiff, Editor Taft Bulletin The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. ReiffJ@TaftSchool.org Send alumni news to: Linda Beyus Alumni Office The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. TaftBulletin@TaftSchool.org Deadlines for Alumni Notes: Winter–November 15 Spring–February 15 Summer–May 15 Fall–August 30 Send address corrections to: Sally Membrino Alumni Records The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. TaftRhino@TaftSchool.org 1.860.945.7777 TaftAlumni.com The Taft Bulletin (ISSN 0148-0855) is published quarterly, in February, May, August, and November, by The Taft School, 110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100, and is distributed free of charge to alumni, parents, grandparents and friends of the school. All rights reserved.

This magazine is printed on recycled paper.





In the Footsteps of Joyce: A Literary Tour of Ireland.......................................... 16

By Sharon Phelan and Barbara Romaine ’09, photography by John Lombard ’09

World Scholars......................................................... 22

Seven students from around the corner and across the globe are making the most of a Taft education thanks to the Davis Scholars Program By Rick Lansdale

License to Laugh...................................................... 28

It’s all funny business for the president of King Features Syndicate, Rocky Shepard ’69, who is responsible for marketing and licensing comic strips and their characters around the world. By Bill Slocum, Greenwich Magazine


Letters...................................................................... 2 Alumni Spotlight...................................................... 3 Around the Pond...................................................... 7 Alumni Notes........................................................... 35 Milestones................................................................ 72 From the Archives.................................................... 76

On the Cover: John Lombard ’09 captured this Dublin street scene at dusk on his visit there in June. (For more of his work, see page 16.)

Taft on the Web Find a friend’s address or look up back issues of the Bulletin at TaftAlumni.com

For more campus news and events, including admissions information, visit TaftSchool.org j Mist still hangs on the pond as classics teacher Dick Cobb heads to class one morning. Peter Frew ’75

What happened at this afternoon’s game? Visit TaftSports.com

Don’t forget you can shop online at TaftStore.com 800.995.8238 or 860.945.7736









From the Editor

Fifty years ago this fall a biology teacher and his young family arrived from California, having taught for nine years at the Thacher School. They weren’t entirely new to Taft, having already worked at the Taft Summer School for a few years, but in 1958 they made the move to Watertown, in part to be closer to family in New York City, where he grew up. This science teacher, Al Reiff, and his wife Tanny had a third child a few years later (my husband, Al Jr. ’80). I mention this because many of you ask, upon learning my name, whether or not I’m related to the man who inspired you to study biology (or counseled you away from it). He went on, as many alumni know, to head the Science Department, to serve as college counselor, dean of studies, dean of faculty and eventually as assistant headmaster before he died in 1988—the year I was hired. Fortunately for my husband, his father hired him to teach math here in 1985, right out of college. As he tells it, he was considering offers from two rival schools when his father called after a math teacher decided not to return at the last minute. They served together on the faculty for three years. And so our family and the school reached a quiet milestone this fall—as one of few schools to have a father-son team overlap on the faculty—to mark the 50th year a Reiff has taught at Taft. That made it an even more auspicious year for our son, Alex ’12, to start as a lowermid. And Tanny, five decades after moving her family here from Ojai, came back to walk the halls in October for Grandparents’ Day. Much has changed in a halfcentury, but the threads of the Taft community run deep and far. Many of your families reach back even to the early days of the school, or others just a few months ago when your child arrived to meet his old boy or her old girl. Now, as a Taft parent, I am looking forward to a new perspective on all that happens at this school. As always, I’d love to hear your stories. —Julie Reiff 2 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008

Trivia What was the name of the wooden Victorian hotel that served as the school’s first home in Watertown? Once again, you will find a hint somewhere in this issue. Send a card or e-mail to the address below with your answer. A set of Taft coasters will be sent to the winner, whose name will be drawn from all correct entries received. Congratulations to Paul Ross ’64, who correctly identified Stillman Eells, Class of 1891, as the first student to enroll at Mr. Taft’s School. Thanks to all who played.

By Any Other Name

Dining Hall Memories

The Bulletin arrived today and, as usual, it is a delight in so many ways. I am especially enjoying the letters about Mr. Sargent and perhaps a controversy over what his nickname was. When we got our Annuals towards the end of school, of course we got our classmates to inscribe it. I also wrote the nicknames of the different masters and have two distinct ones for Mr. Sargent, “Winter King” and “God,” reinforcing Chris Davenport’s assertion. Here are some of the other nicknames I’ve noted: “Tall Paul” Cruikshank, “Dougie the Rock” Douglas, “Moose” Morgan, Roland “The Toad” Tyler, “Sterno” Stearns, “Backyard Bob” Adams, “Smilin’ Jim” Logan, Joe Lakovitch [we called him Joe to his face and it was OK], “Wild Bill” Sullivan also known as “Nok-Nok,” “Burger” Cunningham, “Menace” Carroll, “Jap” Pennell, “The Lace” Lovelace, “Benny the Beak” Briggs, “Wooly Bear” Woolsey, “Beezer” Manning, “Uncle Pete” Candler, “Beetles” Clark, “Tiger Mac” McKinley and “Oscie” Oscarson. Mr. Sargent and many other masters have a special place in my heart, as so many of them were very special men.

My father, Alexander H. Beard, graduated from Taft in 1908, so was one of Mr. Taft’s early students, born in 1891, the year Stillman Eells graduated [see Taft Trivia]. He apparently preceded the construction of the “new building” in 1912. As to the Dining Hall, I do remember donning the white jacket from time to time to wait tables. As a scrawny kid I had great difficulty with the weight of the trays, and recall losing it one evening when everything slid off onto the floor. Fortunately, I managed to volunteer for the Switchboard Committee (we staffed the telephone switchboard, a rather antiquated piece of machinery located in the postal substation—but that was fifty years ago). This activity exempted me from further Dining Hall duty. —Alexander H. Beard, Jr. ’60

—Tom Hickcox ’57

Love it? Hate it? Read it? Tell us!

We’d love to hear what you think about the stories in this Bulletin. We may edit your letters for length, clarity and content, but please write! Julie Reiff, editor Taft Bulletin 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100 or ReiffJ@TaftSchool.org

Wave-Powered Wonders Interested in fighting global warming by reducing the amount of CO2 in the atmosphere, reducing hurricane strength, protecting coral reefs, and enhancing fish populations by upwelling nutrients to enhance phytoplankton? All it takes, perhaps, are a few wavepowered ocean pumps. In May, the Climate Foundation and Atmocean participated in an ocean test of three pumps in the Pacific about 60 nautical miles north of Hawaii. Wavedriven ocean pumps can be deployed in a linear array to upwell cooler water into the mixed layer and reduce peak temperatures of surface waters. Colder water

contains more life, and so in principle can absorb more carbon. The test is featured on the Discovery Channel Project Earth episode “Hungry Oceans.” “The problem we would be most concerned about would be acidification,” Atmocean CEO Phil Kithil ’61 told BBC News. “We’re bringing up higher levels of CO2 along with the nutrients, so it all has to be analyzed as to the net carbon balance and the net carbon flux.” Atmocean is developing its patentspending wave-driven ocean upwelling system to cool the upper ocean and enhance natural biological processes to absorb CO2. When widely deployed

across critical ocean regions, the technology may also mitigate coral reef bleaching and help reduce hurricane intensity driven by rising ocean temperatures. Upwelling is the naturally occurring mixing of deep, cold, nutrient-rich ocean into the upper sunlit ocean that is critical to growth of most marine species, so it may enhance ocean fisheries as well. “We believe our wave-driven upwelling technology can play a critical role in mitigating these deleterious effects of CO2-induced warming, in the years and decades ahead,” adds Phil. For more information visit atmocean.com. . Phil Kithil ’61 explains how his wavedriven pumps might help change climate.

Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


Global Health

m Peter Berg ’80, who starred in the television series Chicago Hope and directed the 2004 film Friday Night Lights, takes on the cult classic Dune. Courtesy of Peter Berg

Superhero to Sci-Fi

In director Peter Berg’s summer blockbuster, Hancock, Will Smith plays a superhero “who swills bourbon, hates his job and…looks unnervingly like Berg. Producer Akiva Goldsman told the New York Times that, “Smith, on meeting Berg in one of his work-worn states, said: ‘Oh. Oh. He is Hancock.’” Always looking for more adventure, Berg is now directing his attention to a new version of the sci-fi classic Dune for Paramount Pictures. The award-winning and hugely popular science fiction novel published in 1965 has already been made into a film as well as a television series, but Berg told the Hollywood Reporter, “I read the book and really liked it. What I never saw in Lynch’s film was a really strong adventure story. There’s a much more muscular time to be had there.” Peter is also working on the script for Universal Pictures’ Lone Survivor, about a Navy Seal who led a team into Afghanistan on a mission to kill a Taliban leader but was the only one to survive. Even though Friday Night Lights may be over (Berg directed the film and produced the television series), he can’t quite get football out of his blood and now makes time to coach his son’s team. 4 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008

The road is unpaved and few cars or buses pass through the Peruvian neighborhood where the Centro de Salud de Santa Elena is located, but the health center is the first place patients from the surrounding rural areas come to, often with medical emergencies such as heart attacks and complicated deliveries. Neena Qasba ’02, a medical student at UConn School of Medicine, has come to know the center well. While an undergraduate at Johns Hopkins, she spent six weeks in the provincial capital of Ayacucho, as a global studies and Latin American Studies Research Award fellow, researching the formal and traditional medical systems in rural Peru. “I first went as a volunteer and then I got really attached to the place,” says Neena. “The doctors are very dedicated and they have sacrificed the limelight and high-paying salaries of the city to work in a government run health center in a rural and poor part of Peru. Their commitment to patients inspired me.” Ayacucho is nestled in a valley in the southeast corner of the Peruvian Andes. It was a strategically important city during the Incan Empire, located between Cuzco and Lima. She became mesmerized by its scenery, immersed in its cultural history, attached to its people and deeply troubled by its poverty and underdevelopment. Located in the poorest area of Huamanga (population 20,000), the health center is 20 minutes from the regional hospital. While there, Neena shadows doctors, attends births, and assists in health fairs. “Many mothers at the health center told me that it was their first delivery at a medical establishment because it is tradition to give birth at home with the village partera (midwife) surrounded by family and friends,” adds Neena. These traditions are now being considered by health providers and policymakers to promote culturally sensitive birthing

m Her work in Peru helped inspire Neena Qasba ’02 to study medicine.

practices at health centers, she explains. Maternal deaths occur all too frequently in this area while women still choose to give birth at home. “The doctors and patients of Ayacucho welcomed me with open arms and taught me about their beautiful land,” she says. “As a future physician and as a fellow human being, I have an obligation to help and fulfill the medical needs of this community. The words of the Taft motto have always resonated within me—to be of service to others. We hope our work is not simply about charity, but about improving healthcare infrastructure and developing sustainable resources to deliver medical care for future generations.” With a team of UConn students and former Hopkins classmates, Neena is working with the Peruvian American Medical Society to bring medical equipment and supplies to the center. They have brought the first electrocardiogram and are fundraising to provide an ambulance, defibrillator and ultrasound machine. “Ayacucho was my initial inspiration to pursue a career in medicine,” Neena says, “but going forward I see global health as an integral part of my personal and professional life.” For more information, contact Neena at nqasba@student.uchc.edu.

Golfing Buddies More than 100 friends and family attended a golf benefit at the Duke University golf course on August 11, nearly a year after Phil Ficks ’68 was injured in a bicycle accident. Phil was hit by a truck while training for a triathlon and remains partially paralyzed. “Through tremendous courage and tenacity, he remains true to a very strenuous therapy program as his prognosis improves ever so slowly,” explains classmate Randy Abood. “We want to raise money for therapy that is not otherwise covered by insurance.” To find out how you might help, please contact Randy Abood (see 1968 Notes on page 51 for more information). c Classmates Rick Palamar, Jack Smith, Ken Abramowitz and Randy Abood with Phil Ficks at the August golf benefit on Phil’s behalf.

EDGEWISE: New Play by Eliza Clark ’03 Playwright Eliza Clark’s gritty, comedic thriller, Edgewise, opened at New York’s Cherry Lane Theatre in July. The story involves three suburban teens, working at a New Jersey burger

joint, who find their safety compromised and allegiances tested when a bomb raid blows a hole in their restaurant, and a bloodied stranger stumbles in the door. Set in the midst of World

War III, where terror reigns and international alliances hang in the balance, these teenagers deal with the unknown the only way they know how—by tying it up. Edgewise explores the trials of American adolescence in a post-9/11 world. For more information, visit www.edgewise-theplay.com. Eliza’s work has appeared at the Provincetown Playhouse, at Yale University and in the New York International Fringe Festival. Her plays, The Metaphysics of Breakfast (2005), Hiccup (2006) and Puppy (2007) were featured in the Yale Playwrights Festival performed at Yale Repertory Theatre three years in a row. She is a co-creator, writer and performer for the internet sitcom “Inconvenient Molly.” b Three suburban teenagers deal with the unknown the only way they know how in a new play by Eliza Clark ’03.

Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


In Print

WRITERS IN PARIS: Literary Lives in the City of Light David Burke ’54 Counterpoint, 2008

Literary detective David Burke explores the most creative quartiers of the City of Light, the Latin Quarter and the Marais, raffish Montmartre, “Lost Generation” Montparnasse and others. He tracks down the haunts of dozens of the world’s finest and most colorful writers in this unique look at literature’s greatest city. From native Parisians such as Molière and Marcel

Proust to expatriates like Henry Miller and Samuel Beckett, Writers in Paris follows their artistic struggles and miraculous breakthroughs, along with the splendors and miseries of their invariably complicated personal lives. With maps, descriptions and more than one hundred photographs, Writers in Paris also pinpoints key places in the lives of fictional characters, including

Gargantua’s ribald visit to the towers of Notre Dame and Vladimir and Estragon’s wobbly first step onto the stage of an obscure little Left Bank theater. Burke is a writer and documentary filmmaker who went to Paris in 1986 for what he thought would be a stay of one year, but turned into more than twenty. He now divides his time between Paris and the United States.

The Little Book: A Novel Selden Edwards, former faculty Penguin, 2008 The Little Book is the extraordinary tale of Wheeler Burden, California-exiled heir of the famous Boston banking Burdens, philosopher, student of history, legend’s son, rock idol, writer, lover of women, recluse, half-Jew, and Harvard baseball hero. In 1988 he is forty-seven, living in San Francisco. Suddenly he is—still his modern self—wandering in a city

and time he knows mysteriously well: fin de siècle Vienna. It is 1897, precisely ninety-one years before his last memory and a half-century before his birth. “This novel ends up a sweet, wistful elegy to the fantastic promise and failed hopes of the 20th century,” writes Publishers Weekly. Selden Edwards began writing The

Little Book as a young English teacher in 1974, and continued to layer and refine the manuscript until its completion in 2007. It is his first novel. He spent his career as headmaster at several independent schools across the country, and for over 40 years has been secretary of his Princeton class, where he also played basketball. He lives in Santa Barbara, California.

Embracing the Edge: Stories of Tenacity and Personal Power Neil Peterson ’61 Edge Foundation, 2008

Self-proclaimed “serial entrepreneur” Neil Peterson founded five companies during his 40-plus-year career, most notably Flexcar, the award-winning car-sharing company that recently merged with Zipcar. Peterson’s resume is an impressive list in both the public and private sectors. Numerous awards, including Time magazine’s “100 Newsmakers of Tomorrow” in Seattle, attest to his success. But over the years, Peterson

says, “no one suspected I suffered from Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder until my two children were diagnosed with ADD and ADHD in their mid teens.” Embracing the Edge, Peterson’s newly published collection of personal inspirational stories, recounts how he overcame physical and learning disabilities, as well as life’s normal disappointments, to become a successful entrepreneur, corporate executive and public servant.

Having seen the benefits of personal coaching in his own life and those of his children as an effective intervention strategy and an important part of a multi-prong ADHD treatment approach, Peterson founded the Edge Foundation, an organization committed to providing professional coaches for students with ADHD to help them realize their potential and their passion, and to become tomorrow’s leaders and innovators.

“Kate Schutt’s debut album, No Love Lost, has many delightful features,” JazzReview.com writes. “These songs are more than coffeehouse tunes. The classic jazz buffers and fluency of blues in her folk music makes this an album that you can read a book to, sip a drink with, or enable you to be private with those thoughts that you needed to make time for but have neglected in the course of the day. The album is com-

fortable for entertaining any company.” All About Jazz described her work as “old school gypsy jazz aesthetics” and praised Schutt’s “wise, original words, persuasive melodies and economic arrangements.” Her latest project, Telephone Game, is available at kateschutt.com, as is information on her touring schedule, which includes upcoming events in Philadelphia and Toronto.

No Love Lost Kate Schutt ’93 Artist Share, 2008

You could call Kate Schutt a musical triathlete. She is a guitarist, producer and singer/songwriter of rare skill and originality. The sports analogy is fitting, given that her prowess as an ice hockey and lacrosse player helped the Pennsylvania-born and bred former head monitor gain access to Harvard. Her other passion, music, then took over. After a rigorous education at Berklee College of Music, Kate became totally committed to music. 6 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008

j Chaplain Bob Ganung displays the school’s newly acquired Qur’an. Yee-Fun Yin

For the latest news on campus events, please visit TaftSchool.org.

Around the pond by Sam Routhier

Keeping the Faith As Taft’s student body, faculty and curriculum become as internationally and culturally diverse as ever, Chaplain Bob Ganung has looked to bring studies of world religion into the consciousness of the community. In that vein, and with the help of a series of donors, the school has put together a collection of original texts of Holy Scripture. Most recently, the school has acquired an original Qur’an from the late 19th-century, handwritten and illustrated by calligrapher Mohammad Wasfy. The Qur’an joins a collection of sacred texts that already includes a 19th-century Torah and a 1616 King James Bible. The Holy Qur’an arrived at Taft with the help of U.S. Ambassador to Saudi Arabia Ford Fraker, the school’s 2008 commencement speaker and parent of Antonia ’04, Jonathan ’06, and Charlie ’08. His current post connected him with Jeddah businessman Sheikh Khalid Alireza, and when Ambassador Fraker and Sheikh Khalid discussed

Taft’s initiative to acquire sacred texts Sheikh Khalid enthusiastically offered to donate the Qur’an. “The Qur’an will, I trust, be a guiding light to make people aware of the tremendous similarities between the Abrahamaic faiths, which I and my family hope will lead to better understanding and tolerance in this world,” Alireza wrote to Taft headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78. Ambassador Fraker commented, “There are few things more important than understanding what the great religions of the world have in common, so that they can be a source of world unity and peace. This gift is framed by the interfaith dialogue initiative launched by King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia at his Madrid Conference last July, which saw representatives from all the world’s religions meet to discuss the commonalities inherent in their faiths. This gift to Taft School endorses and reinforces those efforts.” Currently, the Qur’an is displayed

in the entrance to the Taft library, and the chaplain hopes to put together a display of all three sacred texts soon. “The books are imbued with spiritual energy,” Ganung said, “and will compel the community to think critically about the role of religion in the world today.” Plenty of other activity is going on in Taft’s spiritual department. On campus, Ganung has been working with the Jewish Student Organization and Christian group FOCUS to help students discuss religion in a reflective manner. He is interested in starting a Buddhist meditation program in the evenings and also in gathering representatives from all world religions at Taft to celebrate the common ground between diverse traditions. Ganung, who succeeded Michael Spencer last year, hopes to use his role as chaplain “to draw people into the study of religion and how these great wisdom traditions have shaped our culture and continue to have an impact.” Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


Big Red Graduates Go Green It has long been a tradition at Taft for each graduating class to make a class gift, something to commemorate their time at Taft and also to remember them by. Past gifts have included such items as benches or trees, but recent graduates used their class gift to demonstrate their leadership in the 21st century. The classes of ’07 and ’08, with help from the administration and the Connecticut Clean Energy Fund, have donated a 12,000-kilowatt solar panel array. In October, a New Britain-based company, Pioneer Valley Photovoltaics, began installing the system above the squash courts in Cruikshank Athletic Center, an area chosen to provide maximum sun exposure. An added benefit of installing the panels on top of the squash courts will be, in fact, their

relative invisibility from the ground. “We chose Pioneer Valley in part because of the educational component of their system,” said Director of Facilities Jim Shepard. Students can actually monitor the impact these solar panels have. “We’ve been talking about installing [solar panels] for a long time,” said Headmaster Willy MacMullen, “and it’s not surprising to me that the impetus came from the students.” Students are excited too. This gift “shows that there is real concern in the student community for the environment,” senior Nick Tyson said. “It’s a more visible change than anything previously.” While the panels won’t offset the entire electricity use of the gym complex, a significant quantity considering the two ice rinks and two field houses,

Mark W. Potter ’48


September 9 through 20 Work by Taft Students September 26 through October 24 Robert Eshoo Fantasy World Andrew R. Heminway ’47 Memorial Art Fund Exhibition Opening reception Friday, September 26

8 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008

the array is, according to Shepard, “on an appreciable scale.” A 2001 Department of Energy study found that an average 2,000-square-foot household used 10,656 kilowatt hours of electricity per year, or almost 2,000 fewer kilowatts than Taft’s solar panels will produce. The solar panels are only part of Taft’s broader efforts to become a greener campus. New students were greeted this year with “goodie bags,” reusable canvas bags with water bottles, compact fluorescent bulbs and important information about energy use. Over the summer, one of three oil burners at the steam plant was replaced with a more efficient natural gas burner, and the facilities office continues to replace old windows with newer better-insulated ones. —Wells Andres ’09

January 9 through February 6 Dawn Clements Works on Paper Rockwell Visiting Artist Opening reception Friday, January 9 February 13 through March 7 Work by Taft Students Opening reception Friday, February 13

October 30 through November 22 Caitlin Fitzgerald ’90 Photographs 1998–2008 Opening reception Thursday, October 30

April 3 though April 24 Yee-Fun Yin Daily Bread Opening reception Friday, April 3

December 2 through 17 Taft Student Show Opening reception Friday, December 5

April 30 through May 30 Amy Wynne Derry ’84 and Gail Wynne Clay and Paint Opening reception Thursday, April 30

j With the lower dining hall removed, there are views of HDT not seen in 50 years. Julie Reiff

Hardhat Headlines Editor’s note: Following up on the summer Bulletin’s cover story about the 53,000-square-foot dining hall addition and HDT renovation, we thought readers would like to follow the progress of the construction. Therefore, we bring you “Hardhat Headlines,” a report on ongoing changes on campus.

Construction firm O&G began their demolition of the lower dining hall in June. In the four months since, the project has gone largely to plan, and has worked hard to minimize its footprint, both aesthetically and logistically, on the Taft community. This past summer, the builders had a three-fold focus of taking down the old lower dining hall, maintaining all utilities that went through that zone so that the rest of the school could function, and beginning the renovation of Mac House. As a result, enrollment in both Taft’s summer school and in the Teacher Education Center decreased by about 25 percent. “Steve McCabe, director of the Summer School, David Hostage, who runs T.E.C., and I all agreed that we needed to maintain the quality of those

summer experiences,” said Business Manager Gil Thornfeldt. “As a result, the numbers had to decrease.” All parties agreed that the programs ran smoothly, and that the benefit from a construction perspective is immeasurable. The dining hall project got off to a great start, utilities to the rest of the campus were preserved, and in Mac House, there is a new heating system, 3.2 miles of piping and all formerly exposed wiring and pipes have been covered. Thornfeldt said that the summer work was “painstaking,” but ultimately worthwhile. As the school year has begun, most on campus agree that the construction footprint has been relatively small compared to what they had expected. In order to feed the campus, we have started using two dining halls, one in the

upper dining hall in the HDT building and a temporary one in the student union and Jigger Shop area. While the weather allowed, the Jig Patio had tables and umbrellas for beautiful pond-side dining. Some students felt initially inconvenienced by not knowing where their friends would be eating, most adjusted quite well. “The success of the renovation and the minimal footprint on campus are testaments to our whole crew: faculty, staff, the construction workers and students,” Thornfeldt said. “I’m also thankful that alumni are so supportive, loyal and generous, as it is their passion for the school that continues to move this project forward.” For recent images of the construction progress, please visit TaftSchool.org. Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


Around the pond Live From New York j Seiko Michaels and her Japanese language students on a field trip to Manhattan Yugi Tsuchikawa ’10

Manhattan—After a chorus of welcomes, greetings and introductions, Megumi Sato, the woman who unifies Japan and New York via a cultural bridge of music, recent trends, and political events, and our host for the day, cheerily informs us of her little surprise. “Make yourselves comfortable. The show starts soon and I would like you all to speak live on the broadcast…” We, students of Japanese at Taft, spent three hours with Ms. Sato in her

New Faculty

Standing, from left, Chris Dietrich, Linda Chandler, Patti Taylor, Jason Honsel, James Duval, Michael Harrington, Leon Hayward, Giovanni “Nikki” Willis, Susan Henebry, Tom Adams, Meredith Lyons, Terry Giffen, and, seated, Ben Chartoff, Michelle Murolo, Chamby Zepeda, Carly Borken, and Jennifer Reilly. Peter Frew ’75 (For more on the new faculty, see the summer 2008 issue.)

10 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008

studio in New York for a live interview. Live? An exhibition of my inability to speak such a challenging language broadcast from a prerecorded and edited tape already held my nerves in a vise during the trip from Connecticut into the city; but to now hold a live conversation for all of Japan to critique? We entered the booth with one final piece of encouragement from Ms. Sato herself: “Don’t worry, it’s three in the morning in Japan.”

It’s truly amazing how talkative we all became after that profoundly relieving statement. Japanese has been classified as one of the most difficult languages to learn, not only because of its unusual grammatical structure, three writing systems and remarkable untranslatability into English, but also due to the intensely cultural aspects, which have the unfortunate side effect of a constant fear of disgracing one’s family honor by saying “good morning” improperly. My opportunity to speak on a Japanese radio show shattered those inhibitions and granted me the ability to practice my conversational skills with an authentic Japanese speaker and indulge in the culture that I have adopted as my second heritage. The field trip didn’t end after the interview. From Japanese coffee shops to book stores, grocery stores to restaurants, our clan of like-minded Japanophiles circumnavigated the city, satiating our desires for and increasing our knowledge of Japanese culture. Our sensei, Seiko Michaels, turned a classroom exercise of honorific expressions into a real-world, phenomenally engaging exposition of culture. —John Lombard ’09

Smells Like Team Spirit When Rachael Ryan, now in her sixth year as varsity field hockey coach, attended the National Field Hockey Coaches Association’s annual convention in Hartford last year, she was looking forward to meeting fellow coaches, sharing ideas, and learning about the future of American field hockey. Little did she know that she would come across a booth for ZAG summer tours, a reputable group led by Princeton University’s field hockey coach known for bringing together high school teams and top international athletes.

Iñaco Pusco, a coach of Spain’s national men’s team as well as a former assistant on top college program Ohio State’s squad. According to Ryan, Pusco had “a great attitude and encouraged the girls to move beyond the way we traditionally played field hockey.” In addition, the girls worked with the national Bermuda team coaches, both of whom hail from South Africa, a nation with a rich field hockey tradition. The athletic portion of the trip culminated in a tournament that pitted Taft against two Bermudan national teams and three teams from large pub-

m Joe Dillard ’09 with ABC World News Anchor Charlie Gibson at the Republican National Convention in August.

Cool, cool summer

Furthermore, ZAG’s tradition of including a service element in their tours attracted Ryan, who is also heavily involved in the school’s Green initiatives. While Taft’s field hockey program has found huge success from attending five-day camps in New England, Ryan saw a real opportunity for innovation, and this resulted in the Big Red Field Hockey Team’s six-day trip to Bermuda this past August. The primary element of the tour involved an immersion in world-class field hockey. The team worked with

lic schools in New York, each of which had been training with their varsity programs for weeks in advance. In the semifinals of the tournament, Taft put together a stunning comeback over the Bermudan national team, as they went from 0–2 to win 3–2 on a last-second goal by senior co-captain Kelsey Lloyd. In addition to the on-field improvement that the tour brought, the team bonded over afternoons at the beach and a tour of Bermuda. They attended Harbor Night, a showcase of Bermuda’s culture in the capital city of

Joseph Dillard ’09 wound up with an in-the-trenches perspective of the Republican National Convention over the summer when he interned with ABC News. While at Journalism Camp in Chicago in July he met ABC chief investigative correspondent Brian Ross. “We got to talking,” says Joe, “and he offered me the position.” Joe, a Minneapolis native, worked nearly 12-hour shifts from August 30 until September 4 (the day before he came back to Taft). “The energy was incredible,” Joe adds, “especially at the balloon drop right after McCain’s speech. Being there is nothing like seeing it on television.” Hamilton, and also toured St. George, the island’s historic district. Coach Ryan told the Bulletin, “I couldn’t be happier with the outcome. We had all our returners come with us as well as several JV players, and they used the trip to become closer as a team and take a new approach to our sport. The energy from Bermuda has carried us into the season on a different level than ever before, and I feel lucky to be part of this team.” Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


Around the pond Peter Frew ’75

Theater After Dark Once again Director Ralph Lee ’53 brought his fantastic creations to campus, this year in Mettawee River Theater Company’s production of Nanabozhou, a tale drawn from Winnebago creation stories that describe how elements of the natural world emerged out of chaos and achieved their present form. The title role is an unlikely hero, “a trickster hare, whose fearless, sometimes dimwitted impulses have unpredictable results.” He leaves the comforting arms of Grandmother Earth to confront frog demons, friendly beavers, and a bevy of spirit women. “We first adapted material for Nanabozhou in 1980,” Lee says, “and we are glad to be revisiting and continuing to develop this material after all these years.” In addition to directing the outdoor performance, Lee, a former Guggenheim fellow, created the masks, puppets and giant figures and designed the set. 12 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008

Music for a While Concert Series September 19 Mettawee River Theater Company Ralph Lee ’53, Director

December 5 Bills Mays and Inventions Jazz

October 3 Harold Zinno Jazz Orchestra Big Band Concert and Dance

December 16 Holiday Service of Lessons and Carols First Congregational Church, Watertown

October 24 Four Flutists from Around the World Classical

January 9 Rani Arbo and Daisy Mayhem Folk

November 7 Avery Ensemble Classical

January 23 Tiffany Consort Early Music February 13 Art from the Heart Valentine’s Concert with Taft Adjunct Music Faculty April 3 Basically Baroque Taft Adjunct Music Faculty

All concerts are at 7:00 p.m. in Walker Hall, 50 DeForest Street, Watertown (except where noted), and are free and open to the public.

New Members of the Board Joining the Taft Board of Trustees this year are alumni trustee Karen Stevenson ’75, who was elected in May, and Ivy Kwok Wu and Hord Armstrong ’59.

J. Hord Amstrong III ’59 After Taft and Williams College, Hord served in the United States Army Reserve before joining the Morgan Guaranty Trust Company in 1964. He was elected assistant treasurer in 1967 and moved on to Laird Incorporated in 1968, which ultimately became White, Weld & Co., which was acquired by Merrill Lynch in 1978. He then joined Arch Coal, Inc., as treasurer and became CFO. In 1987, Hord led a group of investors and founded D&K

Healthcare Resources, Inc., which grew from $70 million in revenues to $4.4 billion in sales and was sold to McKesson Corp. in 2005. He is currently chairman and CEO of Armstrong Coal Company. He was formerly a director of Standard Havens, Inc.; Jones Pharma, Inc.; Correctional Medical Services, Inc.; and was chairman of the Centerland Fund, a registered investment company. He currently serves on the board of GeoMet, Inc.

Hord lives in St. Louis with his wife, Bunny. Two of their five children, daughters Hillary and Leslie, graduated from Taft in ’85 and ’87, respectively. He spends time in Gulf Stream, Florida, in the winter and in Harbor Springs, Michigan, in the summer. He served as a 10-year trustee of the St. Louis College of Pharmacy, one of three such privately funded institutions in the U.S.

Karen L. Stevenson ’75 Karen was among the first group of girls admitted to Taft in the fall of 1971. Originally from Washington, D.C., during her four years at Taft, she ran track, served as a monitor, sang in Glee Club and was a member of the Cum Laude Society. She attended the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, where she was a Morehead Scholar, captained the women’s varsity track and field team, was a member of Alpha Phi Omega service fraternity and gradu-

ated Phi Beta Kappa with a B.A. in history. In 1979, Karen was named a Rhodes Scholar and attended Magdalen College at Oxford University, where she earned a master’s in modern European history. A graduate of Stanford Law School, Karen is senior counsel with Buchalter Nemer law firm in Los Angeles, where she specializes in complex commercial litigation. A member of the Board of Governors for the Women Lawyers Association of Los

Angeles, Karen has been selected three times for inclusion in Los Angeles magazine’s Southern California Super Lawyers – Rising Stars Edition. She is a trustee of St. James Episcopal Day School and enjoys mentoring women law students who seek to balance family and career. Karen lives in Los Angeles with her twin sons, Keenan and Brennan. Her favorite pastimes include hiking in Yosemite, lazy beach trips and skiing in the Sierras with her family.

Lady Ivy Kwok Wu, P’88,’89,’90 Born and raised in Hong Kong, Ivy is a non-executive director of Hopewell Holdings Limited, which is a Hong Kong-based property and highway infrastructure company, publicly listed in Hong Kong in 1972. Ivy is a member of the Guangdong Provincial Committee of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Committee and a justice of the peace of the HKSAR Government. She is very active and enthusiastic in civil and community service work. Ivy is a director of Hong Kong Red Cross and chairman of its International and Relief Service Management Committee. Ivy also serves on the committees and boards of numerous social and

charitable organizations, including the Asian Cultural Council’s Hong Kong Friends’ Committee, Asia Society Hong Kong Centre Advisory Council, and the Hong Kong Federation of Women. She is also chairman of the standing committee of Hong Kong Chinese Women’s Club and founder and director of Wu Chung Charitable Foundation Limited and Hong Kong Academy of Ice Hockey. In addition, she had formerly served as a member of the Council of Chairmen of the Hospital Governing Committees of the HKSAR Government’s Hospital Authority as well as their Regional Advisory Committee; Chairman of the Hospital Governing

Committee of Tsan Yuk Hospital as well as chairman of the Board of Yan Chai Hospital. She has been awarded on a number of occasions for her outstanding performances and contributions to various social and community services, which include Badges of Honor from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II and from The British Red Cross Society, Individual Distinguished Award from The Chinese Red Cross Society, Dedication and Outstanding Leadership Award from the HKSAR Government’s Hospital Authority, Honorary Fellowship from The University of Hong Kong, and the Dean’s Award for Community Services from The University of Hong Kong’s Faculty of Medicine. Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


Around the pond Summer Adventures

m Kira Parks ’09 was so moved by her work with autistic children last summer that she has started a pen-pal club to have students write to them throughout the year.

Taft students continue to use their summer vacations toward challenging themselves with international and domestic opportunities. Through the Poole, Page, and Kilbourne Fellowships, nearly 20 students traveled worldwide to explore new passions. This year, Poole Fellows tackled projects as diverse as tagging turtles and protecting their nests and helping repair the devastation from last year’s earthquake in Peru. Others taught English or renovated schools. Some built houses for the

homeless or worked with orphans. This year’s fellows were Genevieve Bleidner ’09 (New Jersey), Tierney Dodge ’10 (Costa Rica), Will Ide ’09 (Ecuador), Hailey Karcher ’10 (Peru), Matthew McLaughlin ’10 (Costa Rica), Catherine Moore ’09 (Vietnam), Benjamin North ’10 (Costa Rica), Nick Tyson ’09 (Puerto Rico), Cara Welch-Rubin ’10 (Guatemala) and Annie Ziesing ’09 (India). The Robert Keyes Poole ’50 Fellowship, which helps Taft students engage in global and environmental issues, was established with an initial contribution by Rodman W. Moorhead III ’62, who is a longtime member of the board and currently serves as board chair. Meg Page ’74 Fellows found various ways to get involved in health care. Senior Robin Oh, who spent the previous summer working at an orphanage in China, traveled to Uganda this year. Uppermiddler Thu Pham traveled to Vietnam, where she served as translator for a volunteer medical project providing medical education and training to local staffs. Middler Jasmine Oh worked at a nursing home in China, helping out any way she could, and senior Kira

m Yee-Fun Yin spent part of his summer traveling through Thailand. He also spent time working on a photographic study of farm life with funding from the Largay Faculty Support Fund. His daughter Elizabeth captured this image of Yin exploring the floating markets in Bangkok. 14 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008

Parks commuted daily to the League Treatment Center in Brooklyn from her home in Bronxville, New York. Founded in 1953, it was the first day treatment center and school in the nation to provide an alternative to institutionalization for children and adults with autism and severe developmental disabilities. Kira worked with both adults and children at the center and found the connections she made there very rewarding. “I looked foward to my time at LTC every day,” she says. “To witness the small accomplishments each child and adult experienced put a smile to both their faces and my own. One of the most important lessons I learned, thanks to my grant, was the value of a smile. It is this smile that is going to be on my face for the rest of my life.” She has since started a pen-pal club called Autism Breeds Champions, where Taft students send letters to children at the center. Page Fellowships are given in memory of Meg’s commitment to compassionate health care and is awarded annually to students who wish to explore an experience or course of study devoted to the provision of better health care in areas such as public health, family planning, medical research, mental health and non-Western practices of healing. The Kilbourne Summer Enrichment Fund again supported a number of students in the arts. Jahdai Kilkenny ’10 attended the Julian Krinsky Summer Arts Program at Haverford College. Tucker Jennings ’10 studied at the Berklee School of Jazz percussion festival. Sydney Low ’09 studied theater production at Indiana Repertory Theater. Will Sayre ’09 returned to the School of Cinema and Performing Art in NYC again last summer to study film production; and Wells Andres ’09 studied violin at the Pebble Beach Summer Music Festival in California. Each of them will share part of their experience in some way with the school at a Morning Meeting this winter.

Campus Canines

j Rick Doyle (shown center back with his familiar collie companions Willow and Otis) organized this shoot of faculty pooches. If you look carefully, you'll spot 21, although at least four other campus residents are missing. Yee-Fun Yin

In Brief Yale Provost Yee-Fun Yin

Linda Lorimer, Yale’s youngest provost, addressed faculty at their opening meetings in September, focusing on what more educators can do to prepare students for global citizenship. She looked above all to Taft’s unique opportunity, working in loco parentis as a boarding school, to address our students emotional development as well as their academic progress. “It’s a family calling to be at a place like this,” she added, which helps create the school’s uniquely close-knit community.

Write Stuff Ben Zucker ’09 is one of 10 students in the state to earn a certificate for superior writing in the National Council of Teachers of English Achievement Awards in Writing for excellence in writing by high school juniors. Winners demonstrate writing ability in two forms: first, in a sample of their best writing, in any form or genre, drafted and revised over time; and second, in an impromptu essay on a subject set by the Achievement Awards Advisory Committee and responded to by all candidates for the award in that year. Nationally, a total of 525 students were selected as outstanding writers in the competition. The recipients were chosen from 1,789 students nominated in their junior year by their teachers, from the 50 states, the District of Columbia, Canada, the U.S. Virgin Islands and American schools abroad.

Grading the Grade Scale Taft is in the second year of a challenging but innovative process of changing its grading scale. The scale has been from 1.0 to 6.0 since the mid-1970s, and while it has many advantages, a committee of experienced faculty last year concluded that a new scale was needed. After long deliberations, Taft will be moving toward a 40–100 point scale in the fall of 2009. Said Dean of Academic Affairs Jon Willson ’82, “Although change is always difficult, the consensus on campus is that the new grading scale will foster more transparency and consistency in grading, and a wider range of the scale will be used.”

For more information visit TaftSchool.org Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


In the

Footsteps of Joyce

16 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


hose who believe James Joyce’s

Ulysses is inaccessible or incomprehensible may be otherwise convinced by self-proclaimed Joycean scholars John Lombard and Barbara Romaine. As participants in the Bloomsday Trip, James Joyce Scholars 2008, fully supported by the Ireland Cultural Exchange Fund, Barbara, John and I, Sharon, traveled to Dublin in June with nine other students and three faculty members from other schools. The intensive eight-day program provided us with the opportunity to explore simultaneously both Joyce and Dublin through the lens of the other—each made more accessible as a result.…

Students embark on a literary tour of Dublin By Sharon Phelan and Barbara Romaine ’09 Photographs by John Lombard ’09 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


…In addition to

reading chapters of Joyce’s Ulysses, Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Dubliners and walking Dublin’s streets, we ventured to areas outside of

“His smile faded as he

walked, a heavy cloud hiding the sun slowly, shadowing Trinity’s surly front. Trams passed one another, ingoing, outgoing, clanging. Useless words. Things go on same, day after day.” —Ulysses

the city associated with the world of his characters. We traveled to Glendalough Abbey, Avondale, Martello Tower, and Sandycove, where some of us jumped from the cliffs into the Irish Sea like Stephen Dedalus and Buck Mulligan at the opening of Ulysses; we toured Clongowes Woods College, the Irish boarding school made famous by Portrait. All of which brought James Joyce himself and his characters to life.…

“Solemnly he came forward and mounted the round gunrest. He faced about and blessed gravely thrice the tower, the surrounding country and the awakening mountains.” —Ulysses 18 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008

“Dublin was a new and complex sensation. In the beginning he contented himself with circling timidly round the neighbouring square or, at most, going half way down one of the side streets: but when he made a skeleton map of the city in his mind he followed boldly one of its central lines until he reached the custom house.”

—Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man

My stomach growled as we entered the James Joyce Center. We were introduced to a ball of energy also known as James Quinn, the all-knowing James Joyce scholar who would be our tour guide on our Bloom’sday walk. Using Joyce’s “Lestrygonians” chapter we followed Leopold Bloom’s footsteps through the hectic city and the more we read the more I began to feel as though I was being digested by the city, just as Joyce intended. While were in the heart of the city, I could feel it pulsating with my every move. It was just like a movie, a flashback to the early 1900s, I could hear the loud clatter of the carriages as they rode across the cobblestoned streets and the chatter of the waves of people gallivanting throughout the city in this mid-afternoon scene. After I caught myself daydreaming of the life Bloom must have led, James Quinn continued to guide us through the rest of the city like we were a group of untrained puppies aimlessly pulling in different directions. We moved through the entire digestive tract of the city finally ending at the National Art Museum. By this time it was my stomach that was growling not the city’s. My friend Liz and I meandered our way finally stumbling on a little café where we drank fresh fruit smoothies and pondered the literary devices of James Joyce that have scholars perplexed to this day. —Barbara Romaine ’09

Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


…Our trip, however,

was not simply a literary

…where some of us jumped from the cliffs into the Irish Sea like Stephen Dedalus at the opening of Ulysses

tour. We were invited to a reception at the U.S. Ambassador’s Residence and a tour of the U.S. Embassy; we attended a presentation on Joyce by Senator David Norris and then toured the Irish Parliament, the Dail, with him. All of this while making sure we saw the Book of Kells and Trinity College, shopped on Grafton Street, studied in the National Library, listened to traditional Irish music, attended services at St. Patrick’s Cathedral and ate our share of shepherd’s pie.…

20 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008

“The grey warm evening of August had

descended upon the city and a mild warm air, a memory of summer, circulated in the streets. The streets, shuttered for the repose of Sunday, swarmed with a gaily coloured crowd. Like illuminated pearls the lamps shone from the summits of their tall poles upon the living texture below which, changing shape and hue unceasingly, sent up into the warm grey evening air—unchanging unceasing murmur.” —Dubliners

As London is to Dickens, Dublin is to Joyce, from the James Joyce Museum to the Bloomsday festival in June.

‌Most importantly,

we experienced the infamous June 16 Bloomsday festival, the day in the life of Leopold Bloom and the novel Ulysses, and learned that a single day can present us with obstacles like those of an epic adventure and allow us to be heroic in our willingness and ability to overcome them. —Sharon Phelan, Taft English teacher

Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


World Scholars Seven students from around the corner and across the globe are making the most of a Taft education thanks to the Davis Scholars Program

By Rick Lansdale

Alexandra Hamilton ’11 “She looks you square in the eye, speaks with clear confidence, and then explains the world as she sees her place in it.” 22 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


hen home is 1,650 miles away, you hope you’ve made the right choice to attend a place such as Taft. And for Ally Hamilton, leaving Kingston, Jamaica, for Watertown was not just a matter of a great number of miles. Everything here is different, she says: food, weather, academic expectations, people, music, culture. One of the top students at Hillel Academy in Kingston, where she won numerous academic, athletic and artistic awards, Ally could have com-

pleted a successful high school career and gone on to college or university without heading first to boarding school in the United States. “I like taking risks,” she says, in order to test herself and grow, and so here she is, a new middler, thrown into the thick of it all: a full slate of courses, life in McIntosh House, extracurricular activities, new friends. Ally knew when she was in middle school that she wanted to attend a boarding school in the United States.

Photo credits: Andre Li ’11, Peter Frew ’75


iversity is a key component to any modern educational community. Where schools once reached out to talented but economically disadvantaged students, today’s campuses are looking to enrich the educational experience by seeking applicants with different regional, economic, social, political and religious points of view—preparing graduates to be worthy global citizens. A pilot scholarship program funded by the Shelby Davis family (Lanse ’95) helps Taft do both. “We want to build a broadening network of international decision makers,” explains Phil Geier, executive director of the Davis United World College Scholars Program, “by providing funds to support students not coming from independent school families, who might be the first in their families to attend university. We hope this will help schools recruit highly motivated future leaders seeking extraordinary opportunities at American boarding schools.” The Admissions Office brought to campus local community leaders with ties to lower-income students to speak with them about the Davis Scholars program. They also turned to our long-

x e l a A

n d ra

Why? Because of all the opportunities that exist here that are not available in Kingston. And so she began the process of applying and met both Taft admissions officers Chris Dietrich (then at Loomis) and Will Orben ’92, who interviewed her in Kingston. The most difficult part of the process, Ally says, was all the writing. The interviews, though, were easy. She looks you square in the eye, speaks with clear confidence, and then explains the world as she sees her place in it.

standing relationship with ASSIST (American Secondary Schools for International Students and Teachers) to identify a candidate specifically from Eastern or Central Europe. And alumni served a key role in introducing potential scholars to the school. “Although boarding schools are largely a known commodity in the northeastern U.S.,” says Taft admissions director Peter Frew ’75, “the Davis Scholarships allow us to reach out to kids in new markets in parts of the country and abroad where families simply don’t realize what a Taft experience can offer their children.” This year alone, students hail from 28 countries and 35 states. “Our objective is to ensure that our Davis Scholars— as with all new students—are quickly integrated into the main stream of life at school and impact the community in singular ways,” says Peter. By any standard these seven Davis Scholars—two from the United States and five from abroad—are an impressive group. Already they are contributing to the richness of a Taft experience, and having some fun while they’re at it.

Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


“You’ve got to come and see this kid.”

Sebby Orman ’11


ebby Orman arrives every morning at Taft from Waterbury, just twelve miles away, but the distance he travels is greater than it might seem. Sebby’s journey began when his parents immigrated to the United States from Poland in 1986, soon followed by Sebby’s grandfather in 1994, all of whom live together in Waterbury. The first of his extended family to be born in the United States, Sebby

“...a unique young man, a hard worker brimming with leadership skills.”


arieta Kenkovova arrived at Taft from Banska Bystrica in the Slovak Republic, 4,238 miles away. Her journey began when she applied to the ASSIST program; a few months later she landed at JFK and drove up to Watertown in the company of Jenny Jin ’09, (another of the Davis Scholars) and Jeff Su ’09, who had just arrived from Beijing and Shanghai respectively. ASSIST has sent many remarkable and talented students to Taft over the

24 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


Louie Reed ’11

will be the first to attend college, too. Although Sebby had heard of Taft because of his proximity to the school, the idea of coming here was not even a distant glimmer until his soccer coach, Phil Lima ’01, called Will Orben ’92, Taft’s varsity coach, and said, “You’ve got to come and see this kid.” Will drove over to the Waterbury recreation center in the middle of the winter and watched a rather thin, blond-haired


years, and Marieta brings with her ambition, curiosity, determination and a wide view of the world. “I saw your course offerings and they all look so wonderful,” she wrote to Director of Admissions Peter Frew, “and I am sure it will be a very hard decision for me to choose just some of them.” School at home was not as challenging, and she often felt that she was simply going through the motions during classes and not really learning what

she deemed was important to improve not only her home country but also international relations. Fluent in Slovak, Czech, German and English, she enjoys the challenges of living far from home and studying at a place where thinking counts. “My favorite aspect of the school is Bingham Auditorium,” she says. “The spirit of the school is located there, and it’s something you can feel all the time, which I did not feel about my school back home.”




ome for Louie Reed is Oakland, California, 2,977 miles away from Watertown. He loves art, is passionate about the guitar, composes music, and plays ice hockey. For Louie, playing hockey in New England was much more appealing than playing hockey in California—imagine traveling from Oakland to San Diego for an away game—and his mother was hoping he could find some balance in his life. She didn’t want it to be all about the hockey; she was looking for


kid run circles around the other players in the game. Sebby’s soccer skills were one thing; his academic talents were another: best student in his class of 350 students for the last two years, glowing reports from all his teachers, highest commendations from his school administrators. “It’s a dream come true to attend Taft,” he says. “I’m honored to be here and want to do well, not only for my own sake but for my parents’ and my grandfather’s.”

something challenging, but “healthier.” When the Blochs, former Taft parents and old family friends, explained all the opportunities—educational, artistic, athletic and social—that their children Matt and Reisa ’05 enjoyed here, Louie applied…and accepted the school’s offer of admission the first moment he stepped foot on campus, even before he saw the Mays and Odden rinks. Jake Odden ’86, who interviewed Louie in California, instantly recognized a unique young man, a hard


worker brimming with leadership skills. “It’s a little easier being away from home than I thought it would be,” says Louie, “because there’s so much to do and the teachers are cool.” He enjoys the hard work: five classes, getting into shape for the upcoming season, hanging out in HDT, the social scene. What makes Taft special for Louie is the warmth of community. “I can’t tell how often I’ve just said ‘hi’ to people in the hallways, maybe hundreds of times in the three weeks since school opened.”


“...ambition, curiosity, determination and a wide view of the world.”

Marieta Kenkovova ’10 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


e o N



Neomi Sanghrajka ’11

Naeem Ahmad ’10


aeem Ahmad has not returned to Kabul, Afghanistan, since he arrived as a new middler in the fall of 2007. For this year and the next, Taft will be his home, and, frankly, he doesn’t know when he will go back. Not only is the distance great, 6,661 miles, but returning is also fraught with dangers on a scale unknown to most Taft students. Too often, visas for young men who have studied outside of Afghanistan are simply not renewed, and the risk of not being able to return to complete one’s

education is greater than the desire to see one’s homeland. In spite of these issues, Naeem’s positive outlook is undiminished, and he has thrived at Taft in ways that he knows he could not have at home. There’s opportunity here—resources, academic infrastructure, teachers and advisers— that is simply not available in Kabul. As Donald Goodrich, Naeem’s host parent in the United States puts it, “What is the use of a degree from Kabul University if you can’t get a job there?” Naeem knows that his future is still

inextricably bound to his homeland, and a Taft education followed by an American collegiate education will do more for him and his homeland than his native city can provide at this point. Naeem tried wrestling last winter and joined crew, where he learned to row. His boat qualified for New Englands, and he is looking forward to rowing again this spring. “Living far away from home was a pretty challenging experience at first, but now, it’s fun,” says Naeem. “I found students and faculty very helpful and

Jenny Jin ’09

J en ny

“The Davis Scholarship has allowed her to finish her high school career here, and we are the richer for it.”

26 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


eomi Sanghrajka was born and raised in Mumbai, India, 7,716 miles away, and became interested in Taft when her older sister’s best friend, Supriya Balsekar ’04, would visit while home on vacation from Taft. Supriya would bring back pictures of the school and her new friends, and, although Neomi was president of her class at Bombay International School,

she realized that it would soon become too small for her. Another alum, Rishi Dalal ’96, who lives in Mumbai, interviewed her for Taft, and in September, she was on her way to Watertown. Initially she felt a little lost, since she was used to the Indian system of education, which follows British English and measurements, and especially since Mumbai’s time zone is eleven

and a half hours ahead of Watertown’s. Even so, she is thrilled to be here and hopes to take advantage of the travel opportunities available to Taft students during the school year. She’s been to Kenya and South Africa already and can’t wait to explore the world alongside her new Taft classmates. “You have to make the effort to travel the world,” she says. “It’s part of the reason I’m here.”

“She can’t wait to explore the world alongside her new Taft classmates.”

friendly. Now, I am pretty much accustomed with everything. Dorm life is my second favorite thing about Taft. Just being here tops the list.” His journey to Taft began, unusually enough, with a conversation in the fall of 2006 between Peter and Dave Edwards ’70, an anthropology professor at Williams and producer of the documentary Kabul Transit, when David screened the film at Taft. Wouldn’t it be great, they wondered, if we brought an Afghan student here who could help our community understand the situation in Afghanistan?


hen Ferdie Wandelt ’66 helped expand the ASSIST program to China, he knew that one day someone such as Jenny Jin would find her way to Taft. Jenny is the top student in the school this year, as she was last year, and her record of achievement is nothing short of spectacular. By the end of her Taft career, she will have taken six AP courses, five of them in math and science. She is a member of the Math Team, the collection of top-flight math students who compete in various problem-solving competitions. She ran up a perfect score in all six New England


e a e N

“...he has thrived at Taft in ways that he knows he could not have in Kabul.”

Math League contests last year, was a member of the Taft team that competed in the Harvard MIT Mathematics Tournament last spring, and was one of 58 students in all of the United States to have been invited to the Mathematics Olympiad Summer Program. In high school in Beijing, she would have been one student in a class of fifty. Jenny combines her talent with unbridled enthusiasm for learning. “I love Mr. Hostage,” she says. “I learned so much in AP Chemistry last year.” This year she is studying quantum mechanics with Jim Mooney and multivariable calculus with

John Piacenza, teachers from whom she has received the school’s top marks. As a returning student this fall, she welcomed her “new girl” from Shanghai and quickly took her under her wing. As an ASSIST student, Jenny would normally have returned to China at the completion of her year here, as all ASSIST students do. The Davis Scholarship has allowed her to finish her high school career here, and we are the richer for it. Rick Lansdale has taught English at Taft since 1989 and now heads the Independent Studies Program as well. Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


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34 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008

This article is reprinted with permission of Greenwich Magazine.

Fr o m t h e Ar c h i v es

The Presidential Marathon Run Leslie D. Manning Archives

76 Taft Bulletin Fall 2008


n this cartoon from 1908, the popular sector roots for Democratic candidate William Jennings Bryan, while William Howard Taft is shown sheltered by and pulled along behind the GOP windshield. He is cheered on by its big business constituency, embodied in John D. Rockefeller. Taft’s caricature as the corpulent, nonathletic Republican Old Guard nominee is drawn in stark contrast to Roosevelt’s aggressive athletic persona representing the Progressive branch of the GOP. “Will was humorous about [his weight] himself and, of course, the cartoonists were delighted with the opportunity it gave them,” Horace Taft wrote in his memoir. He refuted the popular image of his brother’s laziness, adding “My brother was a hard worker. Will was not an athlete, but was a man of extraor-

dinary physical strength. He had enormous vitality and a healthy ambition.” Will had been secretary of war under Theodore Roosevelt and was his chosen successor in the 1908 election, winning out over Bryan in the end, only to have Roosevelt challenge him for the Republican ticket four years later. “Presidential Marathon Run” is one of 34 original drawings by Norman Ritchie that the school acquired in 1971. Ritchie was well known for more than 50 years as a leading editorial cartoonist for The Boston Post. Many of his cartoons are in the collections of the Library of Congress, state capitols, courthouses and museums around the country. —Alison Gilchrist, archivist

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