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Volume 67

Number 1








In this Issue SPOTLIGHT

2 THE MOVE TO COEDUCATION: 1965-75 By Debora Phipps

8 Page 2

WINNIE TAFT By Anne Romano

12 POOLE FELLOWSHIPS Seven Student Perspectives

17 Page 8 On the cover: Front: A rare photograph of Winifred Taft, wife of the school’s founder and first headmaster. The Taft Bulletin 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. E-Mail Us! Now you can send your latest news, address change, birth announcement, or letter to the editor to us via e-mail. Our address is Of course we’ll continue to accept your communiqués by such “low tech” methods as the fax machine (860-945-7756), telephone (860-945-7900), or U.S. Mail (110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100). So let’s hear from you!

MANY NAMES OF TAFT Charles Phelps Taft and Hulbert Taft,Jr.

DEPARTMENTS 19–NEWS OF THE SCHOOL Save the Dates, New Faculty, Community Service Day, New Trustees



The Move to


C O E D U C AT I O N By Debora Phipps


nyone observing the first day of school this year, as returning students directed new arrivals toward the dorms that would be their homes for the next nine months—girls to Pond Wing, Cruikshank, and Mac House; boys to HDT—would find it difficult to believe that it was only twenty-five years ago that Taft first admitted female students. Last November, as part of a celebration of the decision to become coeducational, the committee on coeducation mailed a brief survey to graduates of the last thirty years, asking their help in constructing a social history of those times based on their answers to six open-ended questions. The overwhelming response has led to a history that will be available in its entirety in a separate publication this spring. In recognition of the anniversary of the first year of coeducation, however, a brief description, culled from the recollections of those who were part of this bold experiment, follows. Taft Bulletin



Members of the Class of ’72 as middlers, before the school went coed. The numbers were used for identification (an early form of today’s facebooks). For the record, this group is 1) Matthew Lefkowitz, 2) Andrew Marks, 3) R. Christopher Minor, 4) Derrick Niederman, 5) Randall Petter, 6) Geoffrey Piel, 7) Jon Pollack, 8) Stephen Pond, 9) Gilbert Simpkins, 10) Spyros Skouras. In order to have some base point against which to measure the changes brought about by coeducation, we surveyed the Classes of 1965 through 1971, those years directly preceding the arrival of girls on campus. The picture that emerges from those responses—which included some of the most eloquent and humorous writing I read all summer—is of a time of turbulence in the world, years when political and social events greatly affected students’ perceptions of their lives. A 1971 graduate comments, “Our time was difficult. The Vietnam War separated the generations. Political leaders were out of touch. Authority was questioned, not admired. And we knew the tradition of an all-male prep school needed to evolve to a balanced, co-educational environment. Our class was the last of an era. And 4

Fall 1996

it was past time for that era to change.” Certainly there were those who worried about the loss of the traditions of an all-male Taft. They reminisce about the annual “raid on Wade” House at the first snowfall, Sunday nights spent pacing and writing the “theme” they’d put off all weekend, “Packs of us running loudly through the dorms, lashing out against the school,”

feeds in Paradise Wing with Leslie “Beezer” Manning, exploring the steam tunnel system, perfecting their bridge games, and playing evening stickball. The atmosphere was decidedly male, which, for one graduate, was “like watching a movie which had gone from color to black and white—the very air seemed drained of life.” One respondent speaks for many

“…we knew the tradition of an all-male prep school needed to evolve to a balanced, co-educational environment. Our class was the last of an era. And it was past time for that era to change.”


“Taft’s happy experience with coeducation is in large part attributable to that early decision to accept girls individually. It meant that people were to be taken on their own terms – another good message….” Here, the “Pioneers” of Mac House. Can anyone identify the entire group? Photo by Brad Joblin ’73. graduates of those years: “The boarding school experience I got in the mid ’60s was the genuine article: hierarchical, homogeneous, highly regulated, and all male. I am grateful to have been one of the last to share an experience that will never come again.” From a social standpoint, many students from those years felt a change was absolutely necessary. Men wrote, with varying degrees of humor and distress, about the Saturday night mixers with local girls’ schools, as they were matched with “dates” assigned by the faculty member on duty at the doorway—prompting one graduate to muse about the comic potential of being assigned chaperone duty, which involved pairing up male and female students from the participating schools by height. While some

suggest that the absence of dating pressures during the week allowed for greater concentration on academic work, there is concurrently a shared sense that they arrived at college “somewhat backward. How boys and girls should behave together had to be learned just as other aspects of behavior have to be learned,” an observation amply borne out in the early years of coeducation at Taft. A male graduate of the Class of 1974 remembers sitting in Vespers during his first year at Taft and hearing John Esty announce Taft’s decision to become coed. “He informed us of the deliberations that led to the decision, and of Taft’s companion decision, unlike that of other schools going coed at the time, to admit classes of applicants rather than to merge with one or another of the girls’ schools nearby. I

remember thinking that was smart, and to this day I believe that Taft’s happy experience with coeducation is in large part attributable to that early decision to accept girls individually. It meant that people were to be taken on their own terms— another good message—and meant, too, that Taft had no other school’s culture to contend with or to overcome. I am a member of the last class to have entered Taft as a boys’ school; I recall the transition to coeducation as seamless, natural.” The next year, in the fall of 1971, 82 girls arrived at Taft, and while a few shared the previous writer’s sense of the “transition” as “seamless,” others saw those first few years as ones of constant challenge. Perceived as “pioneers” who “helped make the school a better place for women who would follow them,” the relatively small Taft Bulletin



The Upper Middle Class Committee for the Class of ’73, during the first year of coeducation. Photo by Brad Joblin ’73. number of female students led to some ambivalence; writes one man, “The major issue was 400 guys and 70 girls. Talk about competition. Because it was the first year, they (the faculty and administration) had no experience with coeducation, so anything went.” Yet there was an immediate positive effect, writes a male graduate: “It was so great to have these women on campus because it made you feel connected to the real world again. They were live and not some posters on the wall. I will say that a lot of guys started to clean themselves up a little more.... It really was a different school at that point, and I am glad I was there at the start.” Still, it became rapidly clear that coeducation would be a process, and perhaps a long one. One male graduate wrote, in response to a question asking about people he admired, that “if you’re looking for females who stood out, it was too early for them to do much more than survive. They had a lot to overcome, and while they were welcomed with open arms on one level, they had to fight for every small step on another.” The early 1970s were a difficult time to be an adolescent any6

Fall 1996

where, but to be one of the first females in that environment led one woman to respond, “We were so ‘special’ then and the place was so male.... We were pioneers in a cultural climate that was really hurting.” Another alumna adds, “The boys were so shocked when we arrived. They did not know how to treat us. With the ratio of 10 to 1, it was difficult for them.” An appreciation for the adjustments necessary for each group—as boys sympathized with the girls’ adjustment, and girls understood some sense of ownership on the parts of the boys— characterized the responses from students in the first five years of coeducation; this sense of genuine empathy was a major contributor to the success of Taft’s newest experiment. Challenges arose in nearly every area of the school as the community sought to respond to the presence of girls. The girls’ dorm—decidedly different-looking, “done in Marimekko fabric and purple rugs”—was a place for escaping that sense of being different and for smoking Marlboros, yet socializing took place more and more often outside of the dorms for both boys and girls. Athletics—consis-

tently listed as the most important activity during their Taft years for many male graduates—became equally important to the women, for whom teams were formed to respond to their interests. Though at first they had no locker rooms and wore “middies and blouses” as uniforms, the girls rapidly learned to take initiative in creating opportunities; the legacy of the girls’ ice hockey team began when girls sought permission to play intramural hockey and, one short year later, formed their own team using the boys’ old equipment, enjoying equal ice team even in those first years. “Being among the first female students,” writes one alumna, “what stands out in my mind the most was the ‘we don’t know what to do with you’ attitude. I remember that whatever we asked for we got, no questions asked. So, we asked for a kitchen in the dorm and they gave it to us and the boys were mad, mad, mad.” Another female student adds that the reallocation of facilities and rewriting of rules increased the already present feelings of difference and competition. “This might seem petty, but things such as giving the girls the best dorm and


the best playing field, letting us have kitchens but letting the boys have laundry service, and trying to figure out whether to lock the girls in or the boys out made for interesting dynamics in the first year or so. Luckily, we were great jocks and lousy cooks, so it all smoothed out.” That sense of humor and flexibility were essential in the early days of coeducation. While “being the first women/ girls was exciting certainly, it was a constant battle paving the way. For a community that had been geared towards

large— to represent an entire class of people proved overwhelming for some alumnae. Still, the difference in environment was “dramatic—coeducation created a happier school, a more relaxed environment.” A graduate who spent two years at Taft before the arrival of girls suggests, “When coeducation arrived, it did tone down the school, which was good. The angst level lowered as show-off maleness was not necessarily a good thing anymore. Having girls as friends, not just objects of adolescent desire, changed the whole atti-

“We were so ‘special’ then and the place was so male.... We were pioneers in a cultural climate that was really hurting.” boys for so long, it was a big shift to have to consider the female.” It would be a number of years before girls and boys were equally considered for leadership roles in some activities, particularly as “most males, including me (a male graduate of 1972), were not ready to give up turf in certain areas of the school: stuff like The Papyrus, Masque and Dagger.” The response? To create different places in which girls could lead as well, a partial cause of the proliferation of extracurricular activities during these years. Teachers, too, had to respond to new challenges: “Many of the masters were used to teaching boys, and there had to be some physical and language adjustments. No one was used to the girls being there, and it took a lot of growing in a short time period to make it work.” In those early years, there may have been only one or two girls in a particular class, and they were sometimes singled out to provide a “female perspective” on a topic, a treatment which, while designed to be inclusive and responsive, only served to make some females feel more alienated and different. The sense that they were called upon—not only in the classroom, but in the social world of the school at

tude of the school.” Issues such as “breaking the stereotype that girls weren’t as strong as boys in math” and the small number of adult females in the community—one woman writes, “It would have been wonderful to have a strong woman in a leadership role”—continued to pose challenges, as they would for many years.

Yet in listing favorite activities, girls and boys describe the same sorts of traditions with which students passed the time during the all-male days: sneaking in the other dorms (although now the challenge was getting into, and out of, dorms of students of the opposite sex), studying— “I may have a selective memory”—and playing stickball. Some changes in traditions occurred, but these are often described in positive terms. For example, Vespers and formal dinner became “a time of coming together as a Taft family where and when social games were at a minimum and mutual respect was instilled (of course, there was still plenty of flirting!).” These years also saw a large growth in the Taft tradition of community service. One female graduate describes the relative efficiency with which the school adjusted to coeducation: “Seeing the transition from the first year to my graduation year was tremendous. The first year, you could sense the caution teachers and male students had with women around,” but that changed as they came to know one another as part of a community. She adds, “It was a great time to be at Taft.”

Taft Bulletin



Winnie Taft O

n the northern slope of Evergreen Cemetery, bordering The Taft School on North Street, three identical and ordinary headstones clustered together mark the lives of Harley Fish Roberts (18611930), Horace Dutton Taft (1861-1943), and Winifred Thompson Taft (1860-1909),Horace’s wife of seventeen years. While reminders of Horace Taft and his great friend and colleague Harley Roberts are ever present here at the school, nothing marks Winifred’s passage—not a portrait, a room, or a garden. Most are unaware that Horace was married.


Fall 1996

By Anne Romano [From the Preface of her new book]


Winnie Taft, as seen here with Sandy 2nd, the Scotch Collie that Horace gave to her on her birthday, sits with her husband, Horace (reading the paper), and members of the faculty. From left are Mr. and Mrs. Paul Klimpke with their daughter, Harley Roberts, and Olin Joline. The photograph was taken between 1900 and 1905. Upon reading Horace Taft’s Memories and Opinions, one is struck by the few words written about Winifred. Although the memoirs are about a headmaster and his school, about American history and not about private lives, the lack of information about Mrs. Taft sparks one’s imagination. Who was Winifred Thompson? What did she look like? Where did they meet? Where was she educated? What role did she play in our school’s early history? What presence did she have in the Warren House and in Watertown? Why Watertown? Did they have children? Where did they

summer? How did she die? What was her legacy to the school? How should she be remembered? This book is a portrait of the woman whom Horace married and a chronicle of her remarkable presence at The Taft School between 1892 and 1909. While Winifred has remained a mystery for most of this century, a great deal has been written about Horace’s endearing traits—his lofty idealism, towering strength, and determined yet unassuming personality. To these virtues, Winifred Taft added an intellectual, fiscal, artistic, and social depth. In

the practical matters of building and operating a boarding school, Winifred met with architects, managed the daily account books and endless details, while Horace saw to the scholarship, lessons, and ideals. Together they formed an exquisite balance. And so it was that a dream took root and flourished under the joint leadership of two individuals who dedicated their lives to their school. Of special interest to the social history of The Taft School in the 1900s is the following letter from Winnie to Louise [her mother-in-law, Mrs. Alphonso Taft]: Taft Bulletin



June 23rd [1900] Before Breakfast w-a-days My only time no necticut Watertown, Con

ur sadness and unmindful of yo en be t no ve ha e that we have —w on the keen jump ding-up festivities in en w be r l ou al d ng an vi th ha bo hours and en ing away her last While we have be ly because we have th on ea is br it e d er th an , g ie in ie ly t Ann it seemed think of Aunt Ann re she died—and anxiety about Aun fo to l be fu k in ee pa w a ry r ve fo y. She me r. It is there is no remed on was just the sa if iti not written oftene d nd ge co on a’s ol iz pr El t be t no [Mrs. lp her. Aun the suffering may and poor Louise at u, th no one able to he yo pe r fo ho ly rd on ha r. One can that is doubly happiness came so hard to see he en I know. Her elia’s for so long ok D t br tun ar A he d is an ] re er ht has been your ca ie Dutton’s daug e and Aunt Ann ec ni ar them. s . Horace has ft’ be r Ta he o ns lp Alpho the last boys to go rrows to he r so fo o g tw tin r ai he w n e ar ee tw we uld not pull providentially be st week and now been afraid he co la f ve of ha e I m ca at th es y iti bilit ming of the Our usual festiv d consequent de ginning the cram an be at re ro fo th be s r” hi ce ra e with r a “b getting on . However, he is been so miserabl we did last year fo ar as ye st on la nd d Lo ha it ew for him t to N c effect be the best thing ve the same toni through. We wen ill ha w t t no ha d w di ow it t ester. d to kn ions, bu ded to go to Glouc ci him. I am puzzle t de boys for examinat s ou ry ab bu ry gs or in w K t u must no aine—but I do arbor because the with care and yo ests the coast of M e rooms at Seal H gg th su up d n an ve gi em ve th ha tomorrow and re with this summer. We t to go somewhe be in New Haven gh ill ou w e w an m es er rit w Sh . on cts to stay one Sherman Thacher t decide pretty so e weeks and expe us re m th e r W fo . re an he pl e en ten days of r th s be not entirely favo a Clark and had days. My sister ha he w T fe d a an r fo ce t la en al m W ence That was a Mrs. here after Comm Decoration Day. Springfield with in on s et ad m gr e d W ol e. of m g school ion g ho home for the reun . Besides cultivatin more before goin e ol m ho co sc e to th d of ha I e Then as a regular featur better. jollification there. know each other e must keep it up w to d ce an an n as rather ch sio a ca oc em d gives th and though I w an very pleasant ay e hd tim rt bi od y go m a old boys him to me on My time has been spirit, it gives the ppy? Horace gave him immensely. d pu a ye jo d en ha I ve ha ow I ing, s on the rugs. He Did you kn ng so young a be r making puddle ni fo ai m tr hi of g t in gh pp ou hi dw put him out to appalled at the th and down stairs an to play. We shall up irs ta m ns hi w ng do ki g ta in by d go Collie of fine rather broken up . He is a Scotch special purpose an ng at ni th ai r tr fo e rs fin ai st in y 2nd. g up ill be named him Sand persists in comin come back he w ve e ha w I n so he w e, d m an ho ve at mmer are looking board for the su teresting and we ndy we used to ha in Sa d so ol en e be th e ve lik ha will be not un letters en the trip that it ev oward Taft] two breed and looks of H t m ou ia h ill uc W r m he ot sure. He gets so Will’s [Horace’s br with unusual plea ila an M om fr e on forward to the e. The problems to him in that lin ng hi yt er ev th wor irly—but I do divided pretty fa en be ve ha to think of the seem rs. What do you ia fr e th ill W vy sevelt to be not en it a pity for Roo t n’ Is t? ke tic an a useful Republic in that way! Such le] ib eg ill is d or w Now I [original the active ranks. om fr ed ar sp be man can ill litician as goverget some vile po suppose we shall Manila—I met . To go back to rk Yo ew N of r very pleasno son of Springfield in tk A . rs M d an Mr. festivities were ere. The farewell th as w I n he w inson you antly included. Mr. Atk e er w e w d an on Educagoing perintendent of Su d te in po ap as favorknow w ic]. He is a great [s ns ea pp ili Ph e tion in th ,

ft My dear Mrs. Ta


Fall 1996

S P O T L I G H T ite of Presid ent but not spec Eliot’s [sic] and was su ggested by h ially forcefu l. However im. Mr. Atk he is so quie I ought not inson seems t that he do to to be a man ju es dg not show w people say th of go hat he is wo e him for I saw him for at she is ver only a few m od sense rt h. His wife y formal an oments and is a very ple d does not asing woman make heard it. she . Springfield will have a h friends easily—and I felt sorry fo ard We have ou r her when r house filled time. I liked her. I with laurel. very pink— It is particu and Anna h larly beautifu as reveled in and Anna w it. One day l this year— as so we drove ov herself of her wild to climb the road er to Thomaston ban lon the road—an g skirt and all superflu ks to get some that she disrobed ous d back with h plunged in. No one ca clothing right in the m er arms filled iddle of me by fortu nately, and . We had a v sh e came ery pleasant wish we may v is it w it h Lily and have stayed Mr. long knows my fa mily. She gav er. They have a very ple Grosvenor and I asant house e a reception pleasant and and Lily for us one ev we were gla en d in to a beautiful v g m w ee h ic t h th was very e Amherst fa illage as you culty. Amher kn pus—excep st itself is t perhaps Pri ow. I have never seen a more beauti nceton. Unless Lou ful camis e h as her chairs al consider the ready cover leather ques ed I wis tion. I’m afra nize with th id the leather h she would ree more or le will hardly h ss frivolous found in lin backs. Som armoen—or silk ething dura and linen w The new fi b le w h ich would b ill be gured hair e cloth in gre heavy look, en is very ef more appropriate. although so no thoughts fective and mething lig for such thin Walbridge has not a hter would gs now. be better. Bu Murray Bay [Class of 1902, Horace t you have . It had been ’s nephew an arranged fo d Harry’s so up his lost r him to stay n] was taken time so as here for two to be able away to go morning th to with Julia to o r go on with three weeks at Walbridg next year’s e must be se an d was that W st u d y h w ard to make n ork. Harry t down at o albridge was suddenly te nce and star depending going to do le t phoned one n too much o anything he n Horace to ext day with Julia. The must work next class— reason he g pull him th for himself. to work har ave rough If W d all summer In a way he —he must fa albridge didn’t care en and that if he was ever is right—bu o ll u gh about go back and su t with the in rather hard ffer the con ing into the fluences at w to p sequences. ork at Murr reason was th ut a boy there and ex ay B p ay at Julia wou ect him to it seems study. We th ld winter and had postpon n’t go without him. She ink the real ed her g has not been Poor Howar very well th d [another n oing several times. is afraid he wil ep h e w Material for this documentary essay , C harlie’s son] l no is still in ho been so inso t be allowed to come b was culled from the vast collection t water and I’ ac lent to the m masters and k. He wants to now—b cannot take of the William Howard Taft Presiut so insubord him back. It inate that H he really has is too bad, better witho dential Papers housed in The Library ora but I really ut him. He has been in think that H ce thinks he boy—who of Congress. Much of the particuconstant wo o ra is so lovable ce would be rry and betw when he isn battle with een affectio lars about the early history of The Taft ’t bad—and the masters n for the for Charlie— to keep him sible for mu School, specifically the years between —it has bee an d ch of Horace the constan n dreadful— ’s bad health t We had card an 1890 and 1909 (the year that Winnie d . I’ m sure respon s for Lilian’s Harry Hilla w ed d in died) came to light through the g b rd is a classm ut of course there was no ate of Hora Louise and wealth of family correspondence. ce thought of g ’s and a very Jan as well as oing. nice fellow. Aunt Delia. D Anne Romano was granted a sabWe have the o give our lo keenest sym ve to Affectionatel p athy for you batical leave for the 1994-95 academic y, all. Winifred T. year. She spent five weeks studying in Taft Florence and the remainder of the year researching and writing her biographical essay on Mrs. Horace Taft. The book will be available in early 1997. Taft Bulletin



The ROBERT K. POOLE ’50 Fellowships


nterest in the Poole Fellowships has grown over the years, and to receive one has become one of the school’s major honors. This year, Taft awarded summer grants to the largest number of students ever. Almost never does the fellowship underwrite the entire cost of the experience, and students do a substantial amount of fundraising themselves. Many find opportunities to serve on their own; others look to established organizations. All find ways to help communities, scientific as well as third world, and, in the process, discover for themselves what the value of service really is. Mairead Duffy ’97, Middlebury, CT, and Peggy Ficks ’97, Washington, CT When we left for Trinidad, we didn’t know exactly what to expect. The extent of our knowledge about this country was that it would be an eight-hour trip. So, full of uncertainty and a bit nervous, we boarded a plane and headed for Trinidad. This project had started about six months before, when neither of us thought we would ever see it through to completion. All we knew is that we wanted to work with kids and to see the world from a different culture. Having both grown 12

Fall 1996

up in small New England towns, we tended to live with the illusion that most towns looked like ours with big colonial houses and a small country church on the green. It was time to see life from a different perspective, which we found at St. Dominic’s orphanage in Port of Spain. As Trinidad’s largest orphanage, housing 300 abandoned, abused, and starved children from ages 3 months to 17 years, it accepted any help it could get. We were immediately put


to work in the nursery. On a typical day, we worked from seven in the morning until noon in the nursery and then spent the afternoon tutoring kids who needed extra help in school. At the nursery, we would clean, dress, and feed the children, make beds, fold laundry, clean the bathrooms, and— most important—play with the children. Almost instantly we were struck by the children’s desire for attention and love. The moment we entered the nursery we were greeted by thirty outstretched arms screaming “mommy” and tugging at our arms. The children seemed not to lack the material necessities of life so much as they lacked attention. So, we spent as much of the morning as possible playing with the kids. The older children, whom we tutored, were all very behind in their education, and they benefited merely from having conversations with us to develop their social skills. Although many people come back to Taft and rave about what they learned on their Poole Fellowships, we are not quite sure what we learned. We are positive, however, that we learned something. We don’t think we are more courageous or outgoing, or that we learned new things about ourselves. Maybe we just have a better understanding of the world outside New England, or perhaps we have more patience for children and we value them even more. This was the chance of a lifetime, and these three weeks will never be forgotten.

Caitlin Pollock ’97, Hinsdale, MA After receiving the Poole Grant, I signed up for a World Horizons trip to Guadeloupe and decided that this would be my big chance to make a difference in the world. I was prepared to return home completely changed as a result of the experience. Although World Horizons sends groups all over the world, this was the first year a group would be sent to Guadeloupe, a third-world, French-speaking country south of the U.S. Virgin Islands. At first we stayed in a community center, which was less than a five-minute walk to a beautiful beach and was located in a town of about 3,000 people, all of whom were very helpful and friendly. We soon started a day camp for local kids of all ages where we taught English and played sports and games with all who

attended. Usually for lunch we went to the houses of local families for cultural exchanges. Here, we talked extensively about our different countries and their customs, food, and

Taft Bulletin



people, which I found extremely interesting and challenging since we spoke only French by necessity. Even though my group did not help this place or its people in radical ways, I do believe they enjoyed our visits and the children did learn some English. In addition to the small influences we may have had on the people of Guadeloupe, I know that they had a profound impact on me. I am returning resentful of the U.S for its extreme influence over other cultures. I went to Guadeloupe wanting to experience only the Guadeloupian and French cultures. Now I know that, be it good or bad, this is no longer possible. When I first arrived I was astounded and somewhat disap-

pointed by the sophistication and industrialization of this society compared to my previous image of it. One aspect of this culture that struck me the most was the open-mindedness and eagerness of the children to learn new things that I see as so often missing from American children. I also learned to appreciate simple things a lot more than before my trip. It has also given me a taste of what it feels like to make a difference in people’s lives, and it has increased my desire eventually to find a job that will allow me to do this. More than anything, though, it has opened my mind to different cultures and taught me that I must experience them to understand them.

Cully Platt ’98, Concord, NH I spent four and a half weeks this past summer working with Dublin’s unemployed and homeless. I worked with a non-profit magazine, The Big Issues, during the day and the Society of St. Vincent de Paul at night. The Big Issues sells their magazines for half the cover price to the unemployed and homeless who in turn sell them on the streets; their slogan is “A hand up not a hand out.” While there, I helped with the building and electrical wiring of their “Mile-Long Project,” which will provide office space and jobtraining and is expected to produce about a thousand jobs. I also helped distribute the magazines, explaining what the magazine was all about and helping vendors. In the mornings, I did work with the publicity department, informing people of the magazine’s cause and current efforts. The public’s support in turn enables the magazine to provide job training and to continue work on projects such as housing the homeless. I also worked with the advertising department, helped to make the mile-long project handicapped accessible, and tried to make a vacant building fit the necessary standards to become a night shelter. I also worked in a St. Vincent de Paul night shelter, booking people in, interviewing them (only so many beds are available each night), making conversation with them, and looking for alternative places for some to stay. I spoke one-onone with some of the elderly who will be forever homeless. My experience awakened me. Much of the Irish population currently lives in poverty, facing the worst of predicaments. I saw every type of crime while I was there. I walked through riots. Where I was working, heroin was everywhere; the police turn their backs on everything because, as one homeless man explained to me, “The prisons are overflowing,” leaving no

room for justice. However, the Irish sensitivity on the overall subject and the press’s obsession with the IRA leaves these crises unnoticed. I regularly met up with anti-American sentiments. The typical American stereotype comes from Beverly Hills 90210. Many immediately assume Americans are all rich snobs. The big joke over there is: “How can you tell a rich American from a poor one? The poor one has to wash his own

“Today, for the first time, I really appreciate the opportunities I have, which many people in the world could and will never imagine, and for all of this I am extremely grateful to Taft and for everyone who made this possible.”


Fall 1996

Cadillac.” I saw how many more job opportunities there are in the U.S. I worked with psychiatric people who were kicked out of their homes, beaten up, and too afraid of life to collect their welfare checks. It is scary to think how easily and quickly some end up on the streets, and the simple fact that it happens to all kinds of people; one of the regulars at the night shelter had a master’s degree from one of Ireland’s best universities. Anything and everything negative you can think of happens to the homeless, from being attacked in their sleep to how they are treated by the Irish upper class. I returned to Taft much more optimistic. Today, for the first time, I really appreciate the opportunities I have, which many people in the world could and will never imagine, and for all of this I am extremely grateful to Taft and for everyone who made this possible.


Stephen Sandvoss ’98, Yorktown, NY For most of this past summer I was in Gaborone, Botswana, at a school called Maru a Pula. The morning hours of each day were spent in the classroom, but each afternoon I was involved in some form of community service. Every day of the week, I was assigned a different activity; my duties ranged from working with disabled children in an orphanage to teaching English to twelve-year-olds. I befriended people whose perceptions of the world were limited to their immediate surroundings. I learned that where there is little opportunity, hope is scarce. Yet, I found that even life in a prestigious private school, such as the one I visited, was ar-

duous. Gaborone is isolated from any major city, almost devoid of various cultural amenities, and mastered by a harsh climate. My experience has taught me so much about what I can endure. I consider it an outstanding success—one best described as character building. More important, I have come to realize the magnitude of the blessings which God has bestowed on me. A great thank you to Mr. McKenzie and the faculty at Maru a Pula, to Mr. Odden, and to all those at Taft who, like Mr. Poole, have set an example of service to others.

Alison Shreefter ’97, Pittsfield, MA This summer I volunteered at Mote Marine Laboratory in Sarasota, Florida. I participated in a manatee research project working with a local marine biologist. The goal of this project was to discover more about manatee behaviors, preferences, and incidence of injuries and scars, and to use this information to better manage and protect the manatees, who are an endangered species native to Florida. I spent most days on a small boat in Sarasota Bay tracking manatees. We recorded the location, habitat, behavior, and interaction between manatees. We often collected grass samples from where they were feeding. We also sketched scars caused by collisions with boats, and we checked on manatees with tracking devices on them to make sure they were safe. At night we helped take care of two manatees who reside in tanks at the lab and who eat up to 120 heads of lettuce a day. Through this trip I learned a great deal about the manatee population and the fragility of life.

The manatees had no natural enemy until humans began to use their waterways. Now the population is suffering. After spending all day with these peaceful creatures I realize that their extinction would be a great loss to the waters. People need to start taking responsibility for the trouble they are creating for animals. We need to find a way to live that can be safe both for us and for them.

Taft Bulletin



Renee Young ’97, Beverly Hills, CA It was so foreign and so magnificent at the same time. It was a return to my “homeland” but I felt like an outsider. Although my appearance may have left me unnoticed by most people, the mainland Chinese knew immediately that I was American-born. Upon arriving at Yanji airport, located in the Jilin Province of Northern China, my initial feeling was one of fear. Not being able to speak the language was definitely one of the major problems, for my native tongue was Cantonese, and Potunghua was the only dialect spoken in this part of China. English was not an option. With some difficulty, I managed to communicate with people by twisting my Cantonese into an understandable form of the national language. From the moment I stepped off the plane, the adventures never ceased. For twelve days I lived among a group of seven people from all over the world. Three Chinese scientists were also there to assist us in our research. Our accommodations

were modest yet clean, and the view from our room was exquisite. Every morning we were out in the field by eight o’clock and did not return until five PM. Our work consisted of tagging trees, identifying tree species, plotting distances between trees, and measuring their diameter at breast height. Eventually, the data collected from our research will be processed and entered into a computer that will build a three-dimensional model of the forest canopy. A deep satisfaction grew inside me as each passing day gave me a new understanding of myself and of my cultural heritage. It was hard to imagine that within such a short period of time I was able to discover so much about China and her people. I also acquired a profound sense of humility comparing my life to the lives of the average Chinese. Leaving the Changbai Mountain Research Station, an air of extreme accomplishment swelled within me. I had successfully ventured into an unknown country to work in nature for twelve days with ten strangers. The most remarkable aspect of my entire experience was the fact that I did all of this, by myself.

Molly Simmons ’96, who also received a Poole Fellowship, is using it to spend the year in South Africa at the Tiger Kloof School,

along with Jonathan Gyurko ’92. They will hopefully provide us with an article about their work there for a future issue.


Fall 1996


The Many Names of Taft


ore than any other, it is the Taft name that finds its home all over campus. Certainly, one expects to find a building named after the founder, Horace Dutton Taft. But who are all the others we hear so much about, especially those whose names adorn Charles Phelps Taft Hall and the Hulbert Taft, Jr., Library? Horace Taft was loyally supported by his family, a tradition that continues long after his own tenure as headmaster here. CHARLES PHELPS TAFT 1843-1929

Although other members of this prestigious family made names for themselves as justices, ministers, senators, and presidents, it was Charles Phelps Taft who made the family’s influence most deeply felt in Cincinnati. A half-brother to Horace (his mother was Fannie Phelps; Horace’s—and William’s—was Louise Marie Torrey), Charles bought the Cincinnati Times and later the Star and soon conceived the idea of leasing wires to gather news for his papers. He later became a director of the Associated Press. Along with his wife, Annie, he supported every phase of cultural and business life in Cincinnati, including the Cincinnati Symphony, the University of Cincinnati, the zoological society, museums, and an opera. Together, they traveled the world building an art collection they later gave to the city. Charles briefly tried his hand in politics as a congressman from 1895 to 1897. After his brother Peter died, Peter’s son Hulbert went to work for Charles at the Times-Star and stayed there for more than fifty years. Hulbert, Jr. ’26 followed in his fathers’ footsteps. Charles had four children: Jane, David, Anna, and Charles Howard [Charles Phelps Taft II ’13 was his nephew, son of William]. There is no long dedication to this philanthropic brother, only an oil portrait of him in the lobby and a beautifully carved cornerstone that bears his name and the year it was built—1929. Long referred to as the “new building” [as opposed to the 1912 Horace Dutton Taft Hall, which was called the “old building”], today it is commonly called CPT and encompasses the Woolworth Faculty Room, the Choral Room, history and language classrooms, Bingham Auditorium, and three floors of dormitory rooms upstairs for upper middle and senior boys. Taft Bulletin



HULBERT TAFT, JR. ’26 1907-1967 His yearbook page bears the unforgettable line: “Who can compete with a person who calls the King ‘Uncle Horace’? It can’t be done. Formidable as this advantage is, it is all but intolerable since he never uses it at all.” In fact, Horace and Charles Phelps Taft were actually his great uncles. Hulbert’s family has become as synonymous with communications as other branches of the family have with politics. Although Hulbert, Jr., also got his start [with some previous experience at the Yale Daily News] at the Times-Star, his father— the editor and publisher of the family-owned Cincinnati paper founded by Charles—encouraged him to move into radio and later television. This was the beginning of the Taft Broadcasting Company, a pioneer in electronic communication, of which he became chairman. During his tenure, Taft Broadcasting controlled, in whole or in part, WKRC AM-FM and TV in Cincinnati; WTVN AM and TV in Columbus; WBRC AM-FM and TV in Birmingham, AL; WGR AM-FM and TV, Buffalo, NY; WDAF AM-FM and TV, Kansas City, MO; and WNEP TV in Scranton, PA. The company also acquired Hanna-Barbara Productions of Los Angeles. He had three children, Dudley ’58, Mary, and Nellie. In addition to creating a broadcasting empire, Hulbert, Jr., was also a trustee of the Cincinnati Conservatory of Music. The Taft School library was dedicated in 1969 as memorial to Hulbert Taft, Jr. photo courtesy of Dudley Taft ’58

An Abbreviated Family Tree... Charles Phelps ——— Peter Rawson ——— William Howard ——— Henry Waters ——— Horace Dutton | Hulbert | Hulbert, Jr. ’26 18

Fall 1996


Welcome to the Web Want to know the latest Taft sports scores, or if the school is organizing a dinner in your hometown? You can find all that out and more on the new web site. Hook in to the library’s on-line catalog, check out the weekly calendar, or read what Lance Odden had to say at Morning Meeting last week. You can even find the current weather conditions in Watertown and the latest forecast. You’ll know more about what’s going on on campus than you did when you were a student. Any alumni who wish may add their own e-mail addesses to an on-line directory to share with other alumni. You can find it in the Alumni section of the pull down menu. The area is password protected to restrict access to members of the Taft community. If you would like to add your own address, or to find a classmate, use the password “Dutton”. Do you have a web site of your own? Why not share your pride in your alma mater by adding a link to the Taft site and helping to spread the word. And please fill out our guestbook. Let us know what you think.

Taft Welcomes New Board Members

Annual Fund Chair Jeff Levy ’65

Chuck and Toni Peebler (Photo: Star Black)

The Taft School welcomes Jeff Levy ’65 and Toni and Chuck Peebler, parents of Todd ’99, as its three newest board mem-

bers. As Annual Fund chair and head of the Alumni Association, Jeff will direct the overall fundraising effort of 225 class

agents and assistant class agents as they seek to raise $1.3 million toward this year’s goal of $2 million. “Taft is one of the best schools in the country,” said Levy, “and it’s a privilege to work with a dedicated group of volunteers.” The Peeblers head what is arguably the strongest Parents’ Fund in the country. Last year, parents of Taft students raised over $730,000 with 95 percent participation. No other major independent school can match either of those levels. “The strength of the Parents’ Fund is a positive endorsement of the vision of Lance Odden and his faculty,” said the Peeblers, “and we look forward to helping sustain the quality of education that benefits our children.” Taft Bulletin



Community Spirit Renewed With Second Service Day c Blake DiMarco ’00, Samantha Hall ’00, and Katie Putnam ’00 help close down the local YMCA camp for the winter on Community Service Day. “I have never been a part of an event that brings this community together more than Community Service Day does,” said organizer Jean Strumolo Piacenza ’75, who even convinced her parents to pitch in. “Everyone is tired at the end of the day—blisters on their hands, backs sore from lifting logs, and shoulders aching from painting overhead all day—and yet, somehow, the day was invigorating in a way that even a free Monday never really is. I think giving time to make things happen for local organizations that do good work made us feel really good. Doing helpful things for others, even if it made us tired, pumped us up because it took us outside of ourselves and made us realize that we can make a difference in our community.” Last year’s Service Day was such a success, according to Jean, that even more local non-profit organizations asked for helpers this year. Some of the organizations students worked with last year liked them so much that they asked the school to send students on a regular basis through Taft’s afternoon Volunteer Program. And, some students enjoyed the day so much that they became regular participants in the Volunteer Program. “We did not call this day ‘Volunteer Day;’ This is not an oversight,” Jean adds. Students are not asked to volunteer; they are only asked their preference in assignments. “We require everyone to participate because we think that it is an important part of the education this school has to offer.” 20

Fall 1996

Save the Dates December 16 ............ Holiday Party in New York January 12................. Alumni Games at Taft Men’s Ice Hockey and Men’s Squash February 15 ..............Mothers’ Day February 26-27 ......... NYC Telethon May 24 ..................... Alumni Day May 31 ..................... Commencement


South African Soccer Team Challenges Varsity On Sunday, September 29, the varsity soccer team hosted a visiting squad of players from Sandringham School, an integrated public school in Johannesburg, South Africa. The team was brought to

the United States by Intersport, the same group that organized games for Taft with teams from Vietnam and Uzbeckistan. After a good game, although Taft lost 20, the Taft team gave the visitors a tour

and dinner. The South Africans were here as part of a 16-day tour and played a mix of prep school and public high school teams. Intersport arranges for players to stay with host families during the trip. “A few years ago this never would have happened,” Coach Willy MacMullen ’78 said, “considering the political issues involved. It’s not unlike playing the Russian team last year or the Hanoi team a few years ago.” The teams sponsored by Intersport are typically very strong, he adds. “What’s important is not the outcome of the games, but the simple fact that soccer can bring people of all cultures together.” b Taft coaches Willy MacMullen ’78 and Tom Woelper and captains Doug Blanchard ’97 and Lee Whitaker ’97 greet John Salvatore of Intersport (Cuban National Team goalie), and the Sandringham coaches and headmaster.

In Search Of… All Taft School Alumni Have you ever tried to get in touch with an old classmate only to find that the last address you have in your telephone directory is eight years old? Well, your troubles are over. Soon an impressive directory of alumni will be available to help you locate all your old friends. The new Taft School Alumni Directory, scheduled for release in July 1997, will be the most up-to-date and complete reference on over 6,500 Taft alumni ever compiled! This comprehensive volume will include current name, address and phone number, academic data, plus business information (if applicable), bound into a classic, library-quality edition. The Alumni Office has contracted the prestigious Bernard C. Harris Publishing Company, Inc., to produce our directory. Harris will soon begin researching and compiling the information to be printed in the directory by mailing a questionnaire to each alum. (If you prefer not to be listed in the directory, please contact the Alumni Office in writing as soon as possible.) The new Taft School Alumni Directory will soon make finding a fellow alum as easy as opening a book. Look for more details on the project in future issues. Taft Bulletin



New Faculty Sara A. Beasley M.A., Davidson, University of Pennsylvania English Jennifer H. Bolz M.S.F.S., Georgetown History Bruce Fifer B.M.E., Westminster Choir College Head, Arts Department; Music Helena Fifer B.A., New York University Acting Garrett A. Forbes M.S., Tufts, University of Illinois Chemistry Volker Krasemann M.S., Ernst-Moritz-ArndtUniversitat (Germany), University of Montana Physics Yong Li M.A., Jilin University (China), Beijing University for Foreign Languages (China), University of Tsukuba (Japan) Japanese Alexander Lyapin M.A., Moscow Institute of Physics and Technology (Russia), Harvard Physics William T. Miller M.A., Tufts, University of Virginia French Brian T. Moriarty M.F.A., New York University, Yale Photography Jairo R. Rivera M.A., National Agricultural University (Nicaragua), Indiana University at Bloomington Spanish


Fall 1996

Robert B. Wheeler M.A.T., Yale College Counseling Jonathan Willson ’82 M.A., Amherst, Brooklyn College History Elson Y. Liu M.S., Stanford, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Teaching Fellow, Mathematics; Technology Shelley A. Hull B.A., University of New Hampshire Teaching Fellow, English Stephen A. Levey A.B., Princeton Teaching Fellow, English Leonard Tucker ’92 A.B., Princeton Teaching Fellow, History

Several retirements last spring as well as a banner crop of teaching fellows brought about the arrival of sixteen new faces on campus this year. They are 1. Jon Willson ’82, 2. Yong Li, 3. Volker Krasemann, 4. Lenny Tucker ’92, 5. Bruce Fifer, 6. Sara Beasley, 7. W. T. Miller, 8. Helena Fifer, 9. Shelley Hull, 10. Jennifer Bolz, 11. Sasha Lyapin, 12. Elson Liu, 13. Garrett Forbes, 14. Jairo Rivera, 15. Stephen Levey, and 16. Brian Moriarty.


Winter Athletic Schedule 1996-97 This schedule is subject to change. If you would like to verify the time and location of any game, please contact the school at 860-945-7707. *Mothers’ Day, Saturday, February 15 Boys’ Varsity Basketball

Boys’ JV Basketball

S, Dec. 7 T, Dec. 10 W, Dec. 11 Dec. 18-20 W, Jan. 8 S, Jan. 11 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 M, Jan. 20 W, Jan. 22 S, Jan. 25 W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5 F, Feb. 7 S, Feb. 8 M, Feb. 10 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* W, Feb. 19 S, Feb. 22

S, Dec. 7 T, Dec. 10 W, Dec. 11 W, Jan. 8 S, Jan. 11 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 M, Jan. 20 W, Jan, 22 S, Jan. 25 W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5 S, Feb. 8 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* W, Feb. 19 S, Feb. 22

4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:15 4:00 4:00 7:00 4:00 4:45 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00

Canterbury H Choate H Kingswood H Loomis Invitational Kent H Hotchkiss A Berkshire A Trinity-Pawling H Canterbury A Berkshire H Trinity-Pawling A Hotchkiss H Deerfield H All Stars H Avon A Salisbury A Kent A Loomis A Avon H Westminster H

Girls’ Varsity Basketball W, Dec. 4 S, Dec. 7 W, Dec. 11 Dec. 19,20 W, Jan. 8 S, Jan. 11 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 W, Jan. 22 S, Jan. 25 W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5 S, Feb. 8 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* W, Feb. 19 S, Feb. 22

2:30 2:00 2:30 3:30 2:30 2:30 2:30 2:30 2:30 2:30 2:30 2:30 3:00 2:30 2:30 2:30

Canterbury A Suffield H Kingswood A Tabor Tournament Deerfield A Berkshire H Kent H Loomis A Canterbury H Hopkins H Kent A Westminster A Hotchkiss A Williston A Choate H Berkshire A Hotchkiss H

Updated scores are available at the school’s new website:, or call the sportsline at 860-945-6047 for the latest results.

2:30 4:00 2:30 2:30 2:30 2:30 2:30 4:00 2:30 2:45 2:30 4:00 2:30 2:30 2:30 2:30 2:30

Canterbury H Choate H Kingswood H Kent H Hotchkiss A Berkshire A Trinity-Pawling H Canterbury A Berkshire H Trinity-Pawling A Hotchkiss H Deerfield H Avon A Kent A Loomis A Avon H Westminster H

Girls’ JV Basketball W, Dec. 4 W, Dec. 11 W, Jan. 8 S, Jan. 11 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 W, Jan. 22 S, Jan. 25 W, Jan. 29 S, Feb. 8 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* W, Feb. 19 S, Feb. 22

2:30 2:30 3:30 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 4:00 3:00 4:00 4:00 4:00

Canterbury A Kingswood A Deerfield A Berkshire H Kent H Loomis A Canterbury H Hopkins H Kent A Hotchkiss A Williston A Choate H Berkshire A Hotchkiss H

Boys’ III Basketball S, Dec. 7 W, Dec. 11 W, Jan. 8 S, Jan. 11 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 W, Jan. 22 S, Jan. 25

3:30 4:00 2:30 4:00 3:00 2:30 4:30 2:30

Deerfield A Avon H Suffield A Hotchkiss H Choate H Trinity-Pawling A Hotchkiss A Canterbury H

W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5 S, Feb. 8 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* W, Feb. 19 S, Feb. 22

2:30 2:30 2:30 2:30 2:30 2:30 2:00

Hopkins H Berkshire H Westminster H Kent H Berkshire A Avon A Suffield H

Boys’ Varsity Hockey W, Dec. 4 F, Dec. 6 S, Dec. 7 W, Dec. 11 Dec. 20-22

2:30 7:00 2:30 2:30

W, Jan. 8 S, Jan. 11 M, Jan. 13 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 W, Jan. 22 Th, Jan 23 S, Jan. 25 W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5 S, Feb. 8 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* W, Feb. 19 S, Feb. 22

2:30 2:30 4:00 2:30 2:30 2:30 3:45 2:30 2:30 2:30 2:30 4:00 2:30 2:30 2:30

Avon A Cushing H Berkshire A Avon H Lawrenceville Tournament Westminster H Choate A Salisbury H Loomis H Canterbury A Kent A Gunnery A Trinity-Pawling H Kent H Salisbury A Hotchkiss A Deerfield A Choate H Trinity-Pawling A Hotchkiss H

Girls’ Varsity Hockey W, Dec. 4 S, Dec. 7 W, Dec. 11 Dec. 18-20 W, Jan. 8 S, Jan. 11 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 W, Jan. 22 S, Jan. 25 Su, Jan 26 W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5

5:00 7:30 4:30 5:00 2:30 2:30 3:00 2:30 4:30 11:00 4:30 3:30

Pelham H Tabor H Simsbury HS H Taft Tournament Canterbury A Choate H Loomis A Deerfield A Loomis H So. CT Stars H Cushing H Williston H Greenwich Ac. A

Taft Bulletin



S, Feb. 8 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* W, Feb. 19 S, Feb. 22

2:30 2:30 2:30 4:30 2:30

Hotchkiss H Westminster H Choate A Kingswood A Hotchkiss A

Boys’ JV Hockey S, Dec. 7 W, Jan. 8 S, Jan. 11 M, Jan. 13 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 W, Jan. 22 S, Jan. 25 W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5 S, Feb. 8 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* W, Feb. 19 S, Feb. 22

2:30 4:30 4:30 4:00 4:30 4:00 4:30 2:30 2:30 2:30 4:30 4:30 4:30 2:30 4:30

Berkshire H Westminster H Choate A Salisbury A Loomis A Fairfield Prep H Kent A Trinity-Pawling A Berkshire A Kent H Hotchkiss A Avon A Choate H Trinity-Pawling H Hotchkiss H

Girls’ JV Hockey S, Dec. 7 W, Jan. 8 S, Jan. 11 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5 S, Feb. 8 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* W, Feb. 19 S, Feb. 22

4:15 3:30 4:30 4:30 2:30 2:00 4:15 4:30 4:30 4:30 4:15 4:30

Deerfield H Simsbury A Choate H Simsbury HS H So. CT Stars H Gunnery A Loomis H Hotchkiss H Rye CD H H Choate A Greenwich Ac. H Hotchkiss A

F, Jan. 10


W, Jan. 15 W, Jan. 22 W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5

2:30 2:30 2:30 TBA

W, Feb. 12


Jamboree Slalom @ Catamount Catamount Slalom Ski Sundown Slalom Catamount Slalom BSL Giant Slalom Championships @ Catamount NEPSAC Div. 1 Championships @ Loon, NH BSL Slalom Championships @ Butternut

Ski Racing

W, Feb. 19


Boys’ Varsity Squash S, Dec. 7 W, Dec. 11 W, Jan. 8 S, Jan. 11 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 24

3:00 2:30 3:00 10:00 2:30 2:30

Fall 1996

Pomfret A Avon H Choate H Choate Invitational Berkshire H Hotchkiss H

W, Jan. 22 S, Jan. 25 W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5 S, Feb. 8 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* W, Feb. 19 S, Feb. 22

2:30 2:45 3:00 3:00 2:30 3:45 2:30 2:30

Kent H Trinity-Pawling A Loomis A Choate A Brunswick H Deerfield H Hotchkiss A Westminster A NEPSA Tournament @ Trinity College

Girls’ Varsity Squash S, Dec. 7 Su, Dec. 8 W, Dec. 11 W, Jan. 8 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 W, Jan. 22 S, Jan 25

3:00 10:00 4:15 3:15 2:30 2:30 2:30 1:00

W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5 S, Feb. 8 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* W, Feb. 19 S, Feb. 22

2:30 3:00 2:30 3:45 2:30 2:30

Pomfret A Yale Invitational Choate A Greenwich Ac. A Loomis H Hotchkiss A Canterbury A Greenwich Ac/ Westminster H Kent A Choate H Millbrook A Deerfield H Hotchkiss H Westminster H NEPSA Tournament @ Choate

Boys’ JV Squash W, Dec. 4 W, Dec. 11 W, Jan. 8 S, Jan. 11 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 W, Jan. 22 S, Jan. 25 W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5 S, Feb. 8 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* W, Feb. 19

3:00 3:30 3:00 1:30 2:30 2:30 2:30 4:15 3:00 3:00 1:30 3:45 4:00 4:00

Williston H Avon H Greens Farms A Hackley H Avon A Hotchkiss H Kent H Trinity-Pawling A Loomis H Choate A Kingswood H Deerfield A Hotchkiss A Westminster A

Girls’ JV Squash S, Dec. 7 W, Dec. 11 W, Jan. 8 S, Jan. 11 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 S, Jan. 25 W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5 S, Feb. 8 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* W, Feb. 19

3:00 4:15 4:00 2:30 4:00 4:00 2:00 2:30 3:00 2:30 3:45 2:30 2:30

Choate H Rye CD A Greenwich Ac. H Kingswood H Loomis H Hotchkiss A Greenwich Ac. H Kent H Choate H Miss Porter’s H Deerfield A Hotchkiss H Westminster H

Varsity Volleyball S, Dec. 7 W, Dec. 11 W, Jan. 8 S, Jan. 11 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 W, Jan. 22 S, Jan. 25 W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* W, Feb. 19 S, Feb. 22

2:00 3:45 3:00 2:30 3:00 2:00 3:00 3:00 2:30 3:15 3:00 2:30 3:00 2:30

Play Day @ Miss Porter’s St. Margaret’s A Hopkins H Westminster H Westover A Hotchkiss H MacDuffie A Ethel Walker A Berkshire A Choate A Canterbury H Miss Porter’s A Choate H Hotchkiss A

JV Volleyball S, Dec. 7 W, Dec. 11 W, Jan. 8 S, Jan. 11 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 W, Jan. 22 S, Jan. 25 W, Feb. 5 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* W, Feb. 19 S, Feb. 22

2:30 3:45 3:00 2:30 3:00 2:00 4:30 3:00 3:15 4:30 2:30 3:00 2:30

Berkshire A St. Margaret’s H Hopkins H Westminster H Westover A Hotchkiss H MacDuffie A Ethel Walker A Choate A Canterbury H Miss Porter’s A Choate H Hotchkiss A

Varsity Wrestling Su, Dec. 8 W, Dec. 11 S, Jan. 11 W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 W, Jan. 22 S, Jan. 25

12:00 3:00 3:00 3:00 2:30 3:00

W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5 S, Feb. 8 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* S, Feb. 23

2:30 3:00 2:30 3:00 2:30

Taft Invitational Taft Quads Loomis/Tabor A Gunnery A Hopkins H Hotchkiss A New Milford Tournament Williston A Avon A Trinity-Pawling H Choate H Suffield H WNEISWA Tournament H

JV Wrestling W, Jan. 15 S, Jan. 18 W, Jan. 22 S, Jan. 25 W, Jan. 29 W, Feb. 5 S, Feb. 8 W, Feb. 12 S, Feb. 15* S, Feb. 22

4:30 4:00 4:00 2:30 4:30 4:00 4:00 4:30 4:00

Gunnery A Hopkins H Hotchkiss A Taft JV Tournament Williston A Avon A Trinity-Pawling H Choate H Suffield H Mt. Hermon JV Tournament








—By Sam Hsiao


trust that most of you have begun to get settled into your grooves;

glish was used only around the house with my parents. My life at home was

hall started at 7:00 am. At 7:50 the bell would ring and students in each class

every day you wake up, go to classes, go to assembly or morning meeting, eat lunch, do a sport or some other

pretty care free, and at school I had a lot of good friends, although academically I was close to the bottom of the class. But

would line up outside their classrooms and march off to morning assembly, which was always held out on the playing

activity in the afternoon... etc. You know the routine. For those of you who are new this year to Taft, you probably re-

I didn’t mind. Grades didn’t matter to me back then. One day my parents told me that we’d be moving to the United

field. Students would remain standing on the field in orderly rows and columns while the principal and dean would get

member clearly your first couple of days here. Everything was so new and unfamiliar. When you walked into the cafeteria you didn’t know whom to sit with.

States. For me it wasn’t great news because I had such a happy life where I was, but I guess it was time for us to move on. So the summer after I finished sev-

on stage and give morning announcements. After the announcements the school band would play the national anthem and we would all salute as and

You were hesitant to call some one by their name because you weren’t sure what their name really was. It can be a

enth grade my family moved to New Jersey, and I started eighth grade at the local public middle school. Now, to get

sing along as the national flag was raised. First period I had geography. My geography teacher would typically start a

very scary feeling. You may feel alone and unhappy because you miss the familiar surroundings of your home. You

an idea of how different things are here

class by asking the entire class to stand.

may feel odd, different, that no one here is like you, that no one understands you, where you come from, your family culture. In short, life can be very hard when you are new. I’m sure all of you, freshmen and seniors alike, have stories to tell about your experiences as persons new to

“…Taiwan was my home for twelve years. I was educated in its public school system… One day my parents told me that we’d be moving to the United States. For me it wasn’t great news because I had such a happy life where I was, but I guess it was time for us to move on.”

a place. I would like to share with you some of my stories and how they’ve affected my life.

than they were in Taiwan, let me run you

Then she would start handing back quiz-

I was born on the island of Taiwan, which is located right off the coast of China. My father is a native of Taiwan,

through a typical day for a seventh-grader in Taiwan. As a seventh-grader, I woke up at

zes, in descending order by grades. When you received your quiz you got to sit down, and so the students who did most

and my mother is American, originally from North Carolina. Taiwan was my home for twelve years. I was educated in

the crack of dawn and rode my bicycle for about ten minutes to get to school. EVERYONE rode a bicycle to school, so

poorly would stand for the longest. Those who failed had to remain standing for the entire class period. I was often in this

its public school system, where I learned to read and write Chinese fluently. In fact, that was the primary language I used to communicate with people. En-

to accommodate the influx of bicycles, each student was assigned a slot in one of hundreds of bike racks in the big bicycle parking area. Mandatory morning study

category. It was pretty humiliating, but after a while I got used to it. Second period, biology. My biology teacher was fond of a particular Taft Bulletin









style of Japanese martial arts called Kendo. The weapon used to train in Kendo is a bamboo sword that is about

miliating you, or sometimes by just being kind and understanding and talking to you.

how American kids lived. My English was quite poor at the time, since I had grown up speaking mostly Chinese and

three and a half feet long. My biology teacher would bring his Kendo sword to class every day, and if he felt you

To some of you this may sound like a prison camp. But it really didn’t feel like that. That was just the way things

Taiwanese. Instead of a regular English class I was enrolled in an E.S.L (English as a Second Language) class. On the

deserved punishment for any reason, be it unruly behavior or poor performance, he would call you up and ask

were there; you got punished for not living up to certain standards and that was that. In fact students showed tre-

first day of school, I was sitting in my first period class and the teacher was handing out little index cards for us to

you to assume the position, which is basically how I’m standing now except a bit more hunched over. Then he’d take his bamboo sword and start whack-

mendous respect for their teachers. For example, as a sign of respect, students always stand up whenever they are talking to a teacher, or when a student

write our name, our year, our hobbies, and stuff like that. Well, I didn’t even know enough English to fill out one of those cards. It was embarrassing. So I

ing away. Whack, whack... sometimes five lashes, sometimes ten. Let me tell you, it really hurt!

passes a teacher in the hall way it is expected that the student bow courteously to greet the teacher.

asked the guy next to me to help me fill it out. He looked at me strangely, like I was stupid or something, but he finally

“After all, wasn’t I the victim of a cruel social structure, wasn’t I in the best position to criticize the world since I had experienced its cruelty first hand?”

helped me out. Then the teacher walked over to me and asked what was going on. I immediately stood up (like every good student did in Taiwan when speaking to a teacher), and said, “Teacher,” (by the way, that is how students in

Third period, art. My art teacher had a small tree branch that she brought

The school days were long. We’d be done with classes at around four o’clock,

Taiwan address their teachers, not like here where we use last names, the way you would call me Mr. Hsiao). “Teacher, I no speak good English.” I didn’t really

with her wherever she went. If you forgot to bring your art supplies to class, like colored pencils, or drawing

then for half an hour the entire student body would get involved in cleaning up every corner of the school. There was no

have an accent and my grammar wasn’t that bad, but I faked it just to drive the point across that I wasn’t your average

paper, or scissors, she would call you up and give the branch to you and tell you to hit yourself twenty times in the

need for any janitors at our school. At 4:30 we’d have a closing assembly with brief announcements. And that would

Joe Smith. Of course the entire class by this point was staring at me like I was some kind of freak. “Why is this kid

palm for every item you forgot to bring. She wouldn’t be satisfied until she heard the loud smack each time the stick hit

conclude the school day. As you may know, things are a bit different in the American public school

standing up?” “Why is he calling Mr. Robeson ‘teacher’?” I wanted to crawl in a hole and die.

the flesh. So the day went on and on like this. Teachers demanded discipline and attentiveness in class, sometimes by

system. There I was, in Montclair, New Jersey, a tiny thirteen-year-old; I was tremendously insecure and shy at that age as many thirteen-year-olds are. On

In my second period math class my teacher was going down the rows asking the kids to read the word problems out loud. My problem was, I couldn’t really

using physical force, sometimes by hu-

top of this, I didn’t have a clue about

read. So when it came time for me to


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read, I was silent. My face turned bright red. Fortunately my mother had written a little note for me to take around school

group of kids walked up to me and one of them started pulling at a loose piece of yarn from my sweater. The sweater started

I had shut myself off from what I thought was a dark and ugly community. I was a very sad and angry teenager. I had this

and show teachers at times like this. The note read something like this: “Please excuse Sam from reading aloud in class.

to fall apart a little bit, so I grabbed onto the yarn so he wouldn’t pull it any more. Well then another boy said in a husky

friend that I would go skateboarding with every day after school. All we’d do was skate around town and talk about

He is new to this country and doesn’t read or write English very well.” Well, I had to get up, walk over to the teacher,

voice, “What’s the matter, don’t want to ruin mommy’s sweater?” Now I’m not a violent person by nature, but never in

how dark the world is and how meanspirited some of our fellow students were. We’d talk about how those lacrosse play-

show her the note, and return to my seat. All the while every eye in the class was fixed on my every move; my face was red, and I was almost in tears. It was so

my life had I come so close to kicking some one in the face. In Taiwan I had taken six years of Karate lessons, so I suppose that I was prepared for this kind

ers thought that they were the hottest things in the world, and we’d hate them and ridicule them. We’d talk about those pretty-face preppy boys who thought

humiliating. You could say that I was an unhappy eighth grader. Kids teased me about ev-

of thing. But I resisted the urge and swallowed my anger, and I concluded at that moment that American boys are the

that the world revolved around them. We’d talk about everyone and pass quick judgments on their character. I’d feel

“…there are those skeptics who just sit on the sidelines and jump at every opportunity to criticize the world, and there are those who actually get off their butts and make a difference.”

completely justified in everything I said. After all, wasn’t I the victim of a cruel social structure, wasn’t I in the best position to criticize the world since I had experienced its cruelty first hand? Toward the end of my high school

erything. They teased me about not having the right kind of sneakers, about not

meanest boys in the world. “What about the girls?” you ask. The girls just ignored

career it dawned on me that I was nothing more than a skeptic. I was a vigilant observer on the sidelines, waiting to spot an act of social cruelty or injustice and

having that cool hair cut, about being small and puny. Many of them just assumed that I was stupid or somewhat

me. It was the boys who were actively mean to me. As the months went on, my anger

immediately criticize the offenders. But that was all I was, just an OBSERVER. As Mr. Odden said last week at morning

retarded because I couldn’t read in class and I didn’t know how to speak the slang that they used. They would flick their

and resentment grew. I remained pretty much an outcast. No more than a handful of kids ever bothered to ask me where

meeting, there are those skeptics who just sit on the sidelines and jump at every opportunity to criticize the world, and

middle finger at me and laugh because they knew that I didn’t know what that gesture meant. One day I wore a sweater

I was from, what my family background was like. Most kids probably just saw me as a strange boy and left it at that.

there are those who actually get off their butts and make a difference. I did very little in high school to make a difference

that my great aunt had knitted for me. It wasn’t fancy, not like an L.L. Bean sweater or anything. During my free period after lunch I was standing in the school yard,

After middle school I went to the local public high school. Many of the same faces that terrorized me in middle school came back to haunt me in high

in my life, to pursue the kind of life that I desired. I wanted friends, good friends, friends who would accept me without pressuring me to surrender myself com-

minding my own business, when a small

school. By the end of my freshman year

pletely to their ways. I wanted friends Taft Bulletin









who wouldn’t mind that my sneakers were $10 K-mart-brand rather than the $100 Nike-brand, who didn’t mind that

ing true to yourself or are you yielding easiest thing to do, which was to sit without a fight to the colossal impetus of there and complain and never lift a this fast-moving culture? finger in an attempt to change my pre-

I was half-Asian, who didn’t mind that I wasn’t a six-foot tall iron man. I complained about how my peers didn’t bother

We all know that there are bound- dicament. I didn’t have the courage to aries here at Taft, some painfully visible look deeply within myself to find that and some more subtle. There are differ- strength. I let the wind blow me in

reaching out to me. Well, you know something, I didn’t exactly reach out to them either. I was so consumed with

ent social circles, some more exclusive whichever direction it pleased. than others, depending on the criteria After high school, I knew that it was for acceptance. Whatever magnetism it time to change my ways. Most of my

being angry and critical that I never even bothered to poke my head out of the front door. Physicists have observed that par-

was that drew you and your friends together, I’m sure that you are aware of the tremendous power it has that keeps you bound together. But perhaps sitting

ticles tend to travel in the path of least resistance. I believe that human beings have the same propensity to walk on the

five rows back from you and ten seats to will tell you that my life was a billion the right is a person whom you do not times better than it was in high school know well, but who embodies certain because I mustered up the courage to

path that offers the fewest obstacles. For me, it was easier to see peers as enemies than as friends; it was easier for me to

personal qualities that you also embody, take a path that was harder for me. I tried or who grew up in a family environment hard to be outgoing, to open myself up, like the one you grew up in. Behind not to judge those whom I wasn’t in a

criticize rather than harmonize; it was easy to wallow in self-pity. I was in an invincible position because any time any-

every face here in this auditorium is a position to judge. I gave myself a face lift, story of growing up, a story of triumph and that has made all the difference. or failure, a story that may be worth Despite what some of the twentieth

one questioned my criticisms I would peel off my bandages and show them my wounds and say, “Here, look! This is how society has hurt me.”

getting to know! One of the most difficult things to do as a student at Taft is to reach out and get to know someone whom you do not

Think about your life at Taft. Think of the many paths that you have walked to get to where you are. Are you playing

know. And one of the easiest things to something precious and unique called do is to yield to the social forces at work your soul. Find it, make peace with it, in the community, to remain comfort- nurture it, and use its raw strength to

a certain role simply because that is the easiest role for you to play? Are you an apple falling from a tree that is obedi-

ably in your place and never bother to make a difference in your life. step outside of your familiar surroundings to seek new experiences. When I Sam Hsiao is a member of the Mathematics

ently following the law of gravity? Are you surrendering yourself for the sake of a comfortable social status? Are you be-

was in high school I was weak spiritu- Department. He came to Taft two years ago ally. I didn’t have the strength to reach from Haverford College. The remarks above out and cross those boundaries. I did the were given at Morning Meeting in October.

growing took place in college, where I rid myself of the negativity that was so much a part of my high school personality. I won’t go into my college life now, but I

century naturalist writers have said, I believe that human beings are not always at the mercy of those bigger social or natural forces. Within each of you is

“Behind every face… is a story of growing up, a story of triumph or failure, a story that may be worth getting to know!” 28

Fall 1996

Fall 1996 Taft Bulletin  
Fall 1996 Taft Bulletin