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BU L L E T I N F A L L • 1 9 9 9 Volume 70

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SPOTLIGHT The Education of Stephen Armstrong ’65 ................... 2 Turning Children Into Leaders at a New Inner-City School

By Mickey Rathbun, Hampshire [MA] Gazette Hat Off To Don McCullough ’42 ............................... 8 Athletic Facility Dedicated to Long-Time Trustee and Retiring Board Chairman

By Lance R. Odden Saving Self-Esteem .................................................... 12 Can we keep adolescent girls from losing their identity?

By Lauren Henry ’99 A Season Apart.......................................................... 15 How Teachers Spent Their Summer

By Julie Reiff

DEPARTMENTS Alumni in the News .................................................. 20 Backing the Balkans, tennis twosome, sculpture exhibit

Around the Pond ...................................................... 23 Poole fellows, alumni offspring, Parents’ Committee dinner

Alumni Notes ........................................................... 28 Milestones ................................................................ 49 Endnote .................................................................... 50 By Chaplain Michael Spencer On the Cover Front: Art teacher Jenny Glenn Wuerker ’83, an artist in her own right, spent much of her summer painting in Wyoming. For a look at what other faculty were doing, see page 15. Photo by Aaron Wuerker. Left: “Eventide Rest” by Curtis Nagle ’00 won first place in photography at the Silvermine Guild Gallery’s ninth annual juried student exhibition. The photograph also won second place in a contest sponsored by the International Library of Photography. Curtis is pursuing an independent studies project in photography at Taft this year. 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 Taft Bulletin@TaftSchool.org. Of course we’ll continue to accept your communiqués by such “low tech” methods as the fax machine (860-945-7756), telephone (860-945-7777), or U.S. Mail (110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100). So let’s hear from you! Visit Taft on the Web to find the latest news, sports schedules, or to locate a classmate’s e-mail address. www.TaftSchool.org or www.TaftSports.com. The password to access alumni or faculty e-mail addresses—or to add your own—is


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The Education of

STEPHEN ARMSTRONG How One Psychologist Is Trying To Turn Children Into Leaders at a New Inner-City School By Mickey Rathbun, Hampshire Gazette Photography by Jerrey Roberts

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t 7:30 on a cold, rainy March morning, Dr. Stephen Armstrong ’65 is waiting in a barren courtyard behind the Van Sickle Junior High School building in Springfield, MA, for the school bus to discharge its passengers. In his fire-engine red rain jacket and matching rain pants, he looks like a beacon. “Good morning, Mr. Clark. Good morning, Mr. Rios, how’re you doing?” Armstrong welcomes each child with a personal greeting and a hearty handshake. One boy says, “Morning, Doc!” and gives Armstrong a hug. A girl sees his rain gear and exclaims, “You look so funny!”

b Stephen Armstrong, educational director and teacher at the New Leadership Charter School in Springfield, MA, begins his day by greeting children as they arrive at school. Taft Bulletin

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Armstrong, a psychologist specializing in children and adolescents, is a founder and educational director of the recently opened New Leadership Charter School. The school occupies the second floor of Van Sickle, a decrepit, Depression-era, Neo-Classical heap of a building. In the parking area where Armstrong meets the students, three pairs of rusted, bent basketball hoops face off across a span of broken asphalt. Starting with only seventh graders last year, the school will add a grade every year until the first class graduates from high school in 2004. Unlike some charter schools, this one is not an alternative school or a special education school, although approximately onethird of its students have special needs. It’s a college preparatory school for inner-city children who are willing to commit themselves to a rigorous educational program that includes a dress code, Saturday classes and leadership training with the National Guard.

STEPHEN ARMSTRONG grew up

Armstrong makes a point with student Marcus Parks in one of the two reading classes he teaches. 4

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as the son of a prominent investment banker who was head of the Securities and Exchange Commission and secretary of the Navy in the Eisenhower administration. Armstrong went to Sidwell Friends and Taft before going to Harvard, where he majored in social relations, a combination of psychology, sociology and anthropology. While at Harvard, Armstrong met his wife, Jeanne, then a Radcliffe student, and they eloped during their senior year. Armstrong pursued his interest in psychology, earning a Ph.D. in Human Development at the Institute for Child Study at the University of Maryland. He did postgraduate work in psychotherapy at Case Western Reserve and Vanderbilt universities. The Armstrongs settled in Hadley in 1977, when Jeanne enrolled in the


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landscape architecture department at the University of Massachusetts. Armstrong spent eight years as a psychologist at Baystate Medical Center in Springfield before starting his own practice in 1984, working mostly with white, middle-class children and their families. The Armstrongs’ lives took a neartragic turn in 1988 when their 14-year-old son, Ian [’92], was seriously injured by a truck in a hit-and-run accident. He eventually recovered. But Armstrong, like many people who suffer a personal crisis, sought solace in religion, and he began attending Grace Episcopal Church in Amherst. “It was sort of a conversion thing for me.” A significant aspect of Armstrong’s rekindled spirituality was his desire to make the world a better place. While praying one day, he began thinking about what skills he might use toward this end. He decided his passion for tennis and reading could be paired in a way that could benefit children. In 1991, he launched the Youth Leadership Circle (YLC), a summer program for Springfield inner-city children who learned to play tennis and spent time reading with an emphasis on Bible verses and Shakespeare. “It sounds so corny,” he says. “Nobody believes that these little epiphanies can really happen.” The YLC brought together these seemingly disparate activities, helping children develop physical and mental skills and at the same time building self-

kids have. Most kids put their brains in the deep freeze for three months, and it takes another three months to thaw them out. I also wanted to give disenfranchised kids opportunities they didn’t have,” says Armstrong. “And I wanted to be witness to what happens in the inner city. Very few white people are involved with inner-city kids.” Armstrong developed the YLC over the next several years, gaining the admiration of many members of the Springfield community, black and white. By 1996, he felt it was time to branch out. “I was pleased with what the kids were getting out of the Youth Leadership Circle, but it was clear to me that we needed more than the summer thing, and I knew I couldn’t do it alone.” Armstrong began to explore the possibility of starting a charter school. Charter schools, allowed under Massachusetts’ Education Reform Act of 1993, are publicly funded schools formed by parents, activists, and private organizations. They are intended to employ innovative curriculums or teaching approaches. There are 37 of these operating in the state and six more have been approved. “I wanted to rewrite the script for city kids,” he says. Based on statistics gathered by the Massachusetts Department of Education, Amstrong concluded, “An average city kid is two years behind suburban kids in math and reading.

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“We want to counteract the basic assumption that these inner-city kids won’t grow to be leaders,” explains Armstrong. “We assume that they are leaders. We affirm their leadership every day. Our notion was to start with a positive expectation for every child, and to understand we’d go through troubles with each child. Most public schools are afraid of troubles; teachers have low expectations and don’t demand much from the students. Here we get to know the students very well, and we won’t compromise our expectations. We take the trouble.”

ARMSTRONG QUICKLY discovered that starting a school, no matter how lofty the goals, is no easy task. The beginning of the school year was “unbelievably stressful,” recalls Armstrong. “We were making it up as we went along.” He recruited students by word of mouth and by sending announcements to parents. For the first two months, the school had no telephones. And although the school has a makeshift computer lab, it does not yet have Internet access. “We’re operating in a crazy environment,” says Armstrong. “And we’re trying to make it rational.” Periodically a loud beeping sound reverberates throughout the building. “I don’t know what that is,” he says, with a touch of annoyance.

“I wanted to rewrite the script for city kids.” confidence and self-esteem. The summer program culminated every year with a trip to Lenox to watch a Shakespeare and Co. production. The students prepared for the event by reading the play and memorizing speeches from it. “I wanted to provide an antidote to the usual unstructured summer most city

By seventh grade, formal ideas about identity are beginning to form. City kids are incorporating the notion that they’re defective, that they’re not capable, or intelligent, or adept. And from seventh grade on, the gap accelerates. By the time a kid is in ninth grade, he knows he’s in a game he can’t win.”

Armstrong admits there have been moments when he wonders whether he has the strength to continue. At those times, he reminds himself of the pride he felt listening to the drill cadence that the students composed at National Guard camp: “Dr. Armstrong can’t you see, What a leader you made of me!” Taft Bulletin

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Bradley Brown takes a moment to think while finishing a spelling test in English class.

EIGHTYNINE students, whose achievement ranged from third to 12th-grade level, were originally enrolled in the New Leadership Charter School when its summer semester began in 1998. The students were required to read four books, which was a substantial challenge for most of them. Armstrong wanted to assess the group’s reading level and to give them a sense of what the school would require of them. Twenty-five dropped out before the fall. With classes held 220 days a year, including Saturday mornings, more than any other school in the state, the New Leadership Charter School demands a lot from students and their parents. While some students regularly skip Saturdays, those who come say they don’t mind it. “It gives us something to do,” says honor-roll student Daniel Rios. 6

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“It really helps us. Three extra hours a week move us towards succeeding.” Order and discipline are major aspects of the school’s program, and Armstrong is always vigilant. As students go between classes, he stands outside his office chatting with them and spotting those who are out of uniform, heading into the wrong classroom, or otherwise out of line. “That’s a chewing-gum smile,” he says to a girl who passes by, reminding her that gum chewing is not allowed. Another girl comes to tell him she is unprepared for a test because she went to church the night before. “When did you learn about the test?” he asks. Reluctantly she admits she’s known about it since the week before and he sends her off to take it. A teacher stops to consult with Armstrong about a chronically troublesome student who came to school wearing improper shoes and is spending

the day in his stocking feet. According to Armstrong, this boy has major family problems, and teachers in other schools have assumed that he is simply unteachable because of his unruliness. “He hates it when we’re tough on him, but we need to be,” says Armstrong. “He’d disintegrate in regular public school. He is searching for a structure he can be secure in. He’ll strike out until he finds something to attach to. With lots of kids like this, it’s the police.” Armstrong points out that despite the boy’s attitude problems, his test scores show he is the third-most-improved student in the school. “A confrontation can be loving,” explains Armstrong. “You say to a kid, ‘You can do it,’ but you must stick with them. These kids need rigor and tests, but that’s not all they need. They need people who are trying to understand their emotional lives, people who will meet them halfway.”


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The school’s academic program stresses diligent classroom participation and regular drills to prepare for citywide standardized testing. The classes range from eight in the weaker groups to 17 in the most advanced. One of Armstrong’s basic strategies is providing students with realistic goals and criteria on which they are to be graded. “In some schools,” he explains, “teachers are notoriously unclear about what they expect.” He gives the students in his two reading classes written Objectives and Assessments. Armstrong meets with each of his students every week to review progress and to design a success plan for the week. He acknowledges that some of his students have challenged his demanding teaching style: “They said, ‘What is it with this Harvard-educated white guy? We can’t keep up.’” He is working to banish this attitude. “First,” he explains, “we talk about their fear. Next, we look at what they assumed they were being asked to do. Then, we unlearn the junk about giving up when you’re behind and think you can’t do it. And then we do it, step by step.” He believes the process is working; test scores reflect that even the most resistant students are making substantial gains. Armstrong’s rigorous academic program isn’t entirely popular with the faculty, either, because it requires a lot of paper grading and vigilance on their

frustration with the union mentality of some teachers, who, for example, refuse to sit with the students at lunch because it’s not in their contract. “The union has a contentious attitude at school, and it doesn’t help the students, it only represents their interests,” he says.

BIBLE READINGS have been an important part of Armstrong’s summer camp program, but he is not permitted to include any religious education at the school. “We talk about the moral elements of what the kids are doing. We ask, ‘What is your goal for the day? Is this good for you?’ It’s a moral and therapeutic discussion.” Despite their secular content, Armstrong’s communications to the students have a spiritual intensity. He begins one morning meeting following a week of disciplinary problems by announcing that he’s got an apology to make. “I told you there were two things you needed to be a superstar student,” he says. “I said that you needed to be honest enough to admit what you don’t know, and you needed to be courageous enough to fix those things. But I told you an untruth.” He pauses; the auditorium is silent. “I apologize, because I was wrong. I was lacking a third characteristic. To be a superstar student, you must have honesty and courage, but

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UNLIKE SOME school administrators, Armstrong is not afraid to engender competition among the students. “Everyone can be successful here,” he says. “This is not a competition where you’re always set up to be a loser.” The honor roll is prominently posted, and it’s no secret which students are in the slowest math and reading classes. Armstrong’s period three reading class competes against the period four reading class to see which group gets more homework done, and this sense of competition drives students to work harder. Armstrong makes no bones about the reality these students face. “These kids listen to the radio and watch TV. They know that UMass won’t have racebased preferences any longer. They’re not going to get into college because they’re black. They know they need to get their scores up. They matter.” Armstrong has spent a lot of time talking to the students about racism. “The kids treat me with great affection and respect most of the time,” he says. “But you have to go through confrontations about race periodically. It’s part of the terrain to talk about attitude and race. Their ability to speak with me about their anxiety is a measure of their strength. But it always involves pain; it’s painful to feel inadequate, and it’s painful to be called racist.” Mujahid Aleem, a student who is a Black Muslim, believes that Armstrong’s race

“To be a superstar student, you must have honesty and courage, but you also have to have desire.” parts. “I’m a maniac for expository composition,” he says. “I want the kids to write every day. I’ve alienated one English teacher,” he says. “It’s a lot of papers to correct.” Armstrong would like to see more interaction between students and teachers outside the classroom. He expresses

you also have to have desire. Without desire, it’s not going to happen.” Armstrong lets the message sink in, then announces that one student has just advanced 2.1 grade levels in reading in six months. Everyone cheers wildly. It’s hard to believe it’s 8:15 on a chilly Saturday morning.

matters very little at the school. “He makes a valiant effort to keep the focus on a higher level. The kids don’t see the color, they see him as a person. They say, ‘Is he there for us? Is he helping us?’” Reprinted with permission of the Daily Hampshire Gazette. All rights reserved.

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Hats Off To Don Don McCullough and Lance Odden

Bruce Fifer and Don McCullough

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Unveiling Don’s portrait


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he dinner held in conjunction with the September meeting of Taft’s Board of Trustees was without doubt the largest gathering of current and emeriti trustees in the school’s history. As such it is a great tribute to Don McCullough ’42, who will step down as board chairman in January. In my time as headmaster, I have worked with many great leaders, but none greater than Don. He has been a superb leader of the school, helping us to raise over $100 million for endowment, to build a magnificent campus, and to raise the standards of excellence throughout the school. The distinguished historian, James McGregor Burns, has identified two types of leaders—those who sustain and those who transform. As he has in everything he has worked with throughout his wonderful life, Don McCullough has led the way in transforming Taft. We are forever indebted to this great leader of Taft. —Lance Odden

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Current and former trustees and their spouses gathered for dinner on September 24 to honor Lulu and Don McCullough, who is retiring as board chairman in January. The “Hats Off To Don” event followed the dedication of The Donald F. McCullough Athletic Center in recognition of Don’s extraordinary leadership of the board and service to the school over four decades of trusteeship. Rachel and Jon Albert ’79 Susie and Ward Belcher P ’97, P ’02 Shelly and Drummond Bell ’63, P ’90, P ’92 Barbara and John Burns P ’84, P ’88, P ’89, P ’93 Susan Carmichael ’83 Jocelyn Childs ’76 Irene and Alex Chu ’66, P ’99 Rafe de la Gueronniere ’70 Bob Downey P ’99, P ’00 Bill and Kitten Gahagan P ’74, P ’75, P ’78 Dinny and Fred Genung ’63, P ’91, P ’94 Joan and John Goodwin P ’00 Meriel and Dick Gregory ’60, P ’86, P ’89 Pam and Gib Harris P ’88, P ’95, P ’96 Nicky Johnson P ’00 Lee Klingenstein ’44, P ’72, P ’74, P ’78 Anne and Bill Kneisel P ’96, P ’99 Cricket and Louie Laun ’38, GP ’92, GP ’95 Jeff Levy ’65, P ’01 Muriel and Tom Losee ’59, P ’84 Will Miller ’74 Rod Moorhead ’62, P ’97, P ’98 Peter and Linda Tilghman ’75 Patsy and Lance Odden P ’86, P ’89 Joan and Dick Parish ’41, P ’72, P ’75, GP ’91 Ken Pettis ’74 Jodie and Steve Potter ’75 Hector Prud’homme P ’80, P ’85 Firkins Reed ’78 Jessie and Frank Snyder ’39, P ’73, GP ’86 Geo Stephenson ’53, P ’80, P ’82 Dudley Taft ’58, P ’84 Don Taylor ’76 George Utley ’74 Sally Walsh ’75, P ’02 Merrill Weyerhaeuser ’78

Photography by Camille Vickers

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Drum Bell, Lance Odden, and George Utley

Dudley Taft, Lance Odden, and Bill Kneisel

Dedication of The Donald F. McCullough Athletic Center

Jessie and Frank Snyder and Fred Genung

Applause for the guest of honor

Rusty Davis and Jeff Levy

Don McCullough, Joan Parish, Geo Stephenson, and Dick Parish

Bob Downey, Susie Belcher, Nicky Johnson, and Patsy Odden

Sally Walsh, Linda Saarnijoki, and Kitten Gahagan

Lance Odden and Sierra and Merrill Weyerhaeuser

Will Miller, Lee Klingenstein, and Hector Prud’homme

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John and Barbara Burns

Irene Chu, Joanna Wandelt, and Ken Pettis

Meriel and Dick Gregory, Drum Bell, and Don McCullough

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Bill and Kitten Gahagan with Don McCullough

Don and Lulu McCullough and Patsy and Lance Odden

Rafe de la Gueronniere, Don McCullough, John Goodwin, and Rod Moorhead

Drummond Bell, Abra Wilkin, and Don Taylor

“Hats Off To Don” Dinner in the Nancy and Ben Belcher Reading Room

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aving elf-Esteem By Lauren Henry ’99

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hen they are young, most girls are bursting with confident energy. They are proud of their talents, love their parents, and are enthusiastic at school. They are funny, hyper, and eager to learn and experience anything. At some point in their adolescence, however, all girls lose some degree of self-esteem. The circumstances vary, but it’s clear that every girl experiences some loss of confidence during her teenage years. “Something dramatic happens to girls in early adolescence,” writes Mary Pipher in her book Reviving Ophelia. “They lose their assertive, energetic, and tomboyish personalities and become more deferential, self-critical, and depressed.” Decreases in self-esteem may be impossible to prevent, mainly because the causes are too numerous. Some girls may lose confidence in themselves because of comments from parents; some may become self-conscious of their bodies after a derogatory comment from a peer or athletic coach. Some lose 12

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their self-confidence when they fail academically, and still others experience decreases in self-esteem when they fail to attract boyfriends. The one unifying theme is feelings of inadequacy— in appearance, skill, or intelligence. This past spring I interviewed nine girls and two women, and all but the

youngest (still in seventh grade) had experienced a time in which their confidence suffered. For the most part, all of the girls were surrounded by a loving family and caring friends. Still, each girl received some negative influence that caused her to become unsure of herself.


Illustrations by Alison Kolesar

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Most of the girls interviewed experienced lower self-esteem when they received negative comments about their weight or appearance. One girl became self-conscious about her body when a gymnastics judge told her that she was “too big.” Another girl became concerned with her weight when an obsessive cross-country coach mentioned that “If you lost five pounds, you’d run a lot faster.” This comment catalyzed an eight-year battle with bulimia. Other girls simply feel inadequate when compared to thinner, more attractive friends or models. A third girl, in sad irony, developed an eating disorder in her envy of an anorexic friend. A nationwide poll taken in 1990 of 3,000 fourth through tenth graders demonstrates this decrease of self-esteem. In elementary school, 60 percent of the girls strongly agreed with the statement, “I’m happy with the way I am,” indicating high levels of self-esteem. In middle school, only 37 percent of the girls strongly agreed with the statement, and by high school, merely 29 percent of the girls strongly agreed (“Age of Self-Doubt,” Kopecky). This loss of self-esteem has become an almost assumed part of adolescence— not necessarily accepted, but expected. For most girls, a decrease in self-esteem simply leads to a period of general unhappiness; for others, the consequences are more serious. A loss of self-confidence and satisfaction in life can lead to varying degrees of depression, ranging from feelings of dejection to suicidal despair. Some girls turn to drugs and alcohol as a way to escape their problems. Others, consumed by feelings of inad-

equacy inherent in low self esteem, develop anorexia, bulimia, or other eating disorders as a way to control one aspect of their lives— their weight. An underlying influence for many girls is the media, which constantly bombards adolescents with images of slender and toned women. Photographs of models are airbrushed and altered to create the perfect figure, and girls constantly compare themselves to this unattainable ideal. One Taft student admitted that when looking at models she would often think, “Why can’t I be that pretty by being that skinny?” Many efforts, including the founding of single-sex schools, have been made to prevent the loss of self-esteem so common in young women. Singlesex schools are often promoted as a way to increase girls’ involvement so that they can become braver, more confident adults; without the intimidating presence of boys, girls are more likely to participate in class and therefore succeed academically. In addition, because all activities are run by girls, they grow up confident of their leadership skills. Last spring, I compared the academic environment of a co-ed school with that of an all-girls school by sitting in on two freshman math classes— one at Taft and one at Westover, a nearby girls’ school. I was fully aware that it’s impossible to grasp the essence of either a single-sex school or a co-ed school by attending a single class, but, after observing the classes, I felt able to form a few conclusions.

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The atmosphere at Westover was just as expected. Each of the girls was comfortable in her surroundings and did not hesitate at all. The louder, more outgoing girls were quite active and spoke continuously throughout the class. There were a few girls who barely spoke, but I felt that this was due more to their quiet personalities than any feelings of intimidation. I left Westover confident that the single-sex atmosphere was an effective way to increase girls’ participation in the classroom. Later that day, I sat in on the equivalent math class at Taft. This particular class consisted of nine outgoing females and five somewhat passive males. In addition, the teacher used an interactive, more casual teaching method, encouraging students to ask questions and asking them to complete problems on the board in smaller groups. This is generally considered the most effective style of learning for girls. As a result, the girls completely dominated the class. Whenever the teacher asked a question, it was the girls who blurted out the answer. In addition, the girls were constantly asking the teacher to clarify topics about which they were uncertain, while the boys sat back and listened. The class proved to me that naturally outgoing girls are not usually intimidated by boys in the classroom. In fact, in this particular class, it seemed as though it was the boys who were intimidated. I know from my own experience that this is not always the case in Taft classrooms, but this class showed that girls can be just as academically outgoing in a co-ed atmosphere as in a single-sex atmosphere. If teachers incorporate interactive teaching methods and try to create classes with balanced boy-girl ratios, the academic selfTaft Bulletin

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esteem of girls can be preserved even in a co-ed setting. Ideally, confidence in the classroom would allow girls to be more assured in all areas of life. Unfortunately, this is not realistic. While co-ed schools and single-sex schools can provide girls equal confidence in academics and perhaps athletics, girls at single-sex schools do experience extra leadership opportunities that generate increases in self-esteem. Unfortunately, even the single-sex atmosphere does not guarantee that girls will maintain their self-esteem throughout adolescence. There are simply too many influences on a girl to protect her from a loss of self-confidence. Whether the negative message comes from family,

friends, teachers, or the media, it will be received. Rather than try to prevent a girl’s loss of self-esteem, it may be a more realistic goal to be prepared to renew her self-esteem once it has been harmed. Although the girls I interviewed could all name times when they suffered from low self-esteem, they have each recovered and are now enjoying greater confidence. A girl who is surrounded by encouraging teachers, non-judgmental peers, and a supportive family should be able to overcome her feelings of inadequacy, allowing her

to become an articulate, independent, and self-confident woman. For further reading Brown, Lyn Mickel, and Gilligan, Carol. Meeting at the Crossroads, 1992 Kopecky, Gini. “The Age of Self-Doubt.” Working Mother July 1992:46-49. Pipher, Mary. Reviving Ophelia: Saving the Selves of Adolescent Girls, 1994.

Lauren Henry began work on eating disorders and self-esteem in girls as part of her senior seminar at Taft. She is now a freshman at Middlebury College in Vermont.

What Can We Do? Recognizing that there are self-esteem issues for all adolescents, and some that are particular to young women away at boarding school, the headmaster has supported the launch of a variety of programs. Some have been in place for several years; some are in the planning stages and will become part of Taft’s programming this year. Since 1994, Taft has been consulting with Suzanne Henrick, a registered nutritionist whose field of expertise is the treatment of eating disorders. She is available once a week to students and faculty for confidential consultation either by appointment or in a drop-in basis. She works with coaches to present to various teams, and consults with the dining service as well. Her presence on campus has made an enormous difference in our ability to recognize students in trouble early and to establish the appropriate plans to improve the situation. Class deans and advisors are constantly evaluating the emotional well-being of students, and using the school counselor, the consulting school psychiatrist, and outside therapists to intervene when appropriate. Concerns raised by dorm faculty, coaches, or classroom teachers are addressed by class deans in conjunction with appropriate others. The Mid forum program offers tenth graders the opportunity to discuss social and personal issues that are challenging that particular group. Teachers facilitate discussions; however, the students play an active role in

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deciding what topics are most pressing. Gender difference, health, and self-esteem are always in the dialog from the moment the semester begins. Lisa Keys, physician’s assistant, has been hired in the health center to add another expert perspective to our faculty. Students have already begun to seek her out to ask questions and express concerns of a personal nature. Her experience with adolescents in boarding school will no doubt prove to be invaluable as we develop new ways to reassure and counsel our students. A new program—“Chat Room”—will open by the end of this semester. A sitting room in the back of Cruikshank dorm has been filled with books, videos, and other sources of information on topics of specific interest to adolescents. The room will be staffed in the evening so students who want to talk with a trained peer or a counselor can stop in any evening. A formal presentation and discussion on a particular topic will be hosted in the Chat Room every other week. The presentation series will include topics such as stress reduction, depression, and homophobia, among others. Finally, the on-campus counselor is available every day for faculty members and students to stop in to discuss any issue that is a difficult one to manage. —Jean Strumolo Piacenza ’75, school counselor


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English Teacher Kelley Roberts worked toward her master’s degree at Middlebury’s Bread Loaf program in Rowe, New Mexico.

A Season Apart

Faculty Break with Routine and Enrich

Their Lives

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he tables were turned for Taft’s teachers this September as I asked them to write a paragraph or two about their summer adventures. Some were so enthusiastic about their projects that they e-mailed me the details before school even started. Summer is an interesting time for most of the faculty. Besides the obvious chance to recharge or simply wind down, teachers have that precious opportunity to shift gears for a couple of months. Some remain on campus, working with Penny Townsend and the Summer School. Others join David Hostage for one or more weeks at the Taft Educational Center, teaching or studying with colleagues from other schools, both public and private, around the world.

The opportunity for enrichment is highly accesssible at Taft, where graduate degrees, curriculum development, and conferences are often fully funded through professional development grants. “Worthy” proposals (roughly 95 percent of those made) have received at least 80 percent funding over the last ten years. But travel is high on the list of priorities as well, reaching beyond the verdant acres of our “little city, beauty clad,” as the old alma mater said. What many faculty say they treasure

most—but don’t always feel is interesting enough to write down—is the chance to savor a new book, to connect with their spouse, to rejoice in their children, and to get outside. Not every teacher spelled out the details of his or her summer exploits, but those who did will give you an indication of their variety of interests and talents, as well as their devotion to the subjects they teach. And now, you’ll know what they did last summer. —Julie Reiff Taft Bulletin

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Molly Williams, English Working to become an Outward Bound instructor in her own right, Molly writes about the struggles and rewards of those six weeks: “The pass was named ‘I Want My Mommy,’ but its steep and threatening 1,000-feet cliffs were dwarfed by the 14,000feet peaks surrounding it. Sharp crags bit into the pre-dawn sky and icy winds snaked through the towering boulders. Armed only with ice-axes and bellies full of oatmeal, my Outward Bound group steeled itself to attempt its fourth summit in 24 hours. We trudged, we shimmied, we bouldered, we crawled and eventually we pulled ourselves up, hand over hand, to the top of the pass. One hour until dawn and the race to the summit—one of the highest in Colorado—was on. “There were times during my course when I thought I wouldn’t make it. Like when the group tried to slow me down by loading me up with an 80-pound pack, or when we didn’t eat for three days, or when I dislocated my shoulder on a snow

Michael Spencer, Chaplain In addition to teaching public speaking at the Taft Summer School, Michael received a grant from the Council for Spiritual and Ethical Education to write an extensive curriculum on Applied Ethics based on the course he taught last semester with Jan Tanner (an adjunct professor of applied ethics at Fairfield University—Jan and Michael were classmates at Yale). It is being published by CSEE this fall. Twenty-five other independent schools have already ordered copies of the curriculum to institute in their academic programs. This opportunity spreads the word that Taft is increasingly becoming committed to the teaching of ethics, both as an individual course, but more importantly as an integral aspect of the entire curriculum. Along with Elson Liu, Michael received a summer grant from Taft to develop a website to support spiritual life at the school. It includes information on local services, services offered at school this year (Vespers, Tuesday Reflection, Sunday worship), community service, and the Spiritual Life Committee. And finally, Amy and Michael took time off in August to spend with their new son, Aidan. 16

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climb and had to throw it back in Mel Gibson style. And there were times when I just didn’t want to make it: didn’t want to emerge from my warm cocoon of a sleeping bag, didn’t want to eat Ramen when there was a hamburger joint only 50 miles away, didn’t want to cooperate with the group. “But those times were few and far between. And every second in between was worth it. All those seconds filled with pride, wonder, strength, comradeship, rejuvenation, silliness, compassion, and joy—they were worth it. “A ray of light—the first of the morning—glanced off a nearby peak and fell upon the upturned and expectant faces of my group’s members. Vibrantly pink and terribly bright, the sun introduced itself once again to the peaks of the Colorado Rockies. But we had beaten it, we had beaten the sun, and were already situated at the summit, cuddled together not only for warmth, but to share the communion and joy that we so much deserved.”

Paul Nanian and Garrett Forbes, Chemistry Paul and Garrett wrote eight chapters of a chemistry book that is being used for the Chemistry in Context course this year. It is part of a curriculum they’ve been developing over the past few years. On another note, Paul hiked the Long Trail in Vermont in 16 days. Starting at the Vermont/Massachusetts border near Williams College , the trail ends at the Canadian boarder near Troy, Vermont (about 270 miles). “It was a blast,” said Paul. Paul Nanian demonstrates the conductivity of sodium metal for the new textbook he and Garrett Forbes worked on last summer.

W. T. Miller, French This year for the first time, Taft ran a summer school program in France, which WT organized and directed. “We had nine students, all from Taft, on a five-week séjour in Nantes. I housed the kids in families while giving them classes three hours a day in the morning. We took field trips to the WW II landing sights (Omaha Beach etc.) as well as to the chateaux of the Loire and, of course, Paris. The trip was a great success and will be offered again next summer.”


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Laura Erickson, Biology Once again, Laura spent most of her summer working with the Taft Educational Center. This year, however, she graduated from the role of student to that of teacher. “I taught the AP Biology two-week workshop. The increase in work was exponential at the instructor’s level. It is always enriching to spend time with other teachers in my area, and I really believe I learned almost as much from my ‘students’ as they did from me. I have been able to integrate this new knowledge into my AP course this year.”

Jenny Glenn Wuerker ’83, Art

Steve McKibben and his wife, former faculty member Andrea Baier, spent part of the summer backpacking and camping in Iceland. Here, they are positioned between a huge glacier and a barren lava field.

Steven Laufer, Physics Steve spent the month of August in Eastern Europe. “I went to Greece and Istanbul with my family and saw the total solar eclipse from the Black Sea. Then I went backpacking for ten days in Germany, the Czech Republic, Hungary, and Poland.”

Jenny returned to Wyoming last summer to paint(see cover photo). “Each summer for the past six years, Aaron and I have headed west to work on a series of Western landscape paintings. This year Taft helped defray a portion of my costs with a Summer Study grant. I paint only on location, directly from observation, even when working on my larger canvases. We own a place in the foothills of the Bighorn Mountains, south of Buffalo, WY, and for the last four years I have worked here painting the expanse of nature. Aaron and I both have work presently exhibited at Montana Trails gallery in Bozeman, MT.”

Lance Odden, Mike Maher, Jean Piacenza ’75 Lance Odden, Mike Maher, and Jean Piacenza attended a conference at Middlebury College on the topic of “binge” drinking. The keynote speaker, Dr. Henry Wechsler, Ph.D., from Harvard University, presented the findings of his recently completed survey of over 14,000 students on drinking and its consequences for college students. The conference was designed to begin effective dialogue between high school teachers and administrators about ways to educate and support students to make healthy decisions concerning their use of alcohol. The headmaster, along with dean of students Mike Maher and school counselor Jean Piacenza, developed ideas from the conference that are reflected in new policies and programming at Taft. Middlebury’s director of health services will deliver a presentation to Taft students and faculty this winter designed to teach college freshmen about images and advertising associated with alcohol use.

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Garrison Smith, Biology Garrison worked at the University of New Hampshire with a doctoral candidate on a stock enhancement project with winter flounder, trying to find an optimal site to release thousands of fish into the natural environment to help restock the coastal Maine and New Hampshire waters. “The experiment I worked on involved observing which colored flounder—they can change based upon the surroundings—get eaten first.” Garrison also became a member of the Animal Behavior Society, an international society of over 3,000 members, largely professors and masters and Ph.D. candidates. The society has a journal, meetings, seminars and other publications which all help to further people’s knowledge of animal behavior. “I am communicating with professors all over the country who will be helping me with a project with my students in my new animal behavior class for the spring. Students will communicate (via e-mail) with some of these professors and will design their own experiments.”

Sally Dickinson, Biology Sally worked at a summer school in Maine (Gould Academy) where she lived in a girls’ dorm, organized afternoon activities, helped teach algebra I and geometry, and went on weekend hiking and camping trips with kids. “It was a fun summer in a beautiful place. When I was done I went on vacation for two weeks, first at a lake in Maine and later in California, where I visited the Monterey Bay Aquarium and San Francisco, and surfed in Santa Cruz. Fun.”

Fran and Andy Bisselle, Geography and History The Bisselles went up to their house in upstate New York, where Fran designed web pages for her geography courses and Andy kept abreast of the hot political issues—of which there were many, since Hillary Clinton is running for office in NY state. “We concentrated on spending time with our girls, Lucy and Agnes, since school life is BUSY! Lots of visitors came - including the Everetts, Mark Traina, and family galore.”

Charlie McNair, School Physician

Amy Bernon, Music

“My son, Roo, and I went to Scotland in June to hike the West Highland Way. This starts just outside of Glasgow in a town called Milgavnie (pronounced Mull-guy, God knows why) and stretches 95 miles north to Ft. William. This was the first time either one of us had done any long-distance hiking. The route goes along the east bank of Loch Lomond, then to the Rannoch Moor, which is the last wilderness area in Europe. From there, up and over the Devil’s Staircase, skirting the base of Ben Nevis, the highest mountain in Great Britain and into Ft. William. “We set off carrying all our gear and food. It rained some every day, but that kept the midges down to a less than skeletalizing fury. On our last day, it rained steadily, washing out sections of the trail. Roo stepped into a ‘puddle’ and sank up to his thighs in cow mud. It took us 45 minutes to get him out. The forecast at that point was for 5 more days of the same, so we took the better part of valor path and took the train from a little village called Crianlarich back to Glasgow. We plan to return next June to finish the second half.”

Jon Bernon, Mathematics, on sabbatical leave Last summer Jon completed two classes at the Columbia University School of Social Work: Social Work Research and Social Welfare Policy. These classes are required courses for the master of science in social work degree he is working on this year and next. 18

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This summer, Amy Bernon was a participant in the week-long Dennis Keene Choral Festival on the campus of The Kent School in Kent, CT. As a member of the select 16-voice Festival Chamber Choir, she rehearsed up to nine hours a day. The group, led by the illustrious Dr. Peter Bagley of UConn, performed works in Italian, German, French, and English by Monteverdi, Bach, Hindemith, Britten, and Weelkes. Also a member of the larger choir, Amy sang the Faure Requiem and Haydn Lord Nelson Mass at the culminating concert on August 15. In addition, Amy, a professional choral composer, was hard at work over the summer on three commissions for choral groups in Connecticut, New York, and Ohio.

Al Reiff ’80, Mathematics Al spent a week in Lincoln, Nebraska, last June grading Advanced Placement Statistics exams, then taught the AP Stat workshops at the Taft Educational Center in July. His wife and son managed to keep him busy the rest of the time.


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Alicia Brandes, Spanish Alicia had a very good summer visiting family and working here at the Summer School with Penny Townsend. “I loved it. I had one Spanish class, which went very well. I also had five advisees from my country, the Dominican Republic. Finally, we went to Florida for a week with family.” Spanish teacher Alicia Brandes, third from left, with summer school advisees from her native country, the Dominican Republic.

Mark Traina, History Mark taught at the Taft Summer School, traveled to the Carolinas to play golf, and went home to the Cape to visit his parents this summer. “I also moved myself into USBD, discovered how much I enjoy sushi, and visited the Bisselles on Lake Champlain. I went to Pittsburgh, were I played golf at Oakmont, host of seven U.S. Opens, and Laurel Valley, the prettiest golf course you’ll ever see. I also read the book The Majors and was very disappointed by Star Wars: Episode 1.”

Kelley Roberts Kelley completed her third of five summers working toward a master’s degree in English through Middlebury’s Bread Loaf School of English. After two summers on the Vermont campus, Kelley opted to attend the school’s program in Rowe, New Mexico. “I was able to study at The Native American Preparatory School, about 40 minutes northeast of Santa Fe, where I studied British-Irish modernism and South African fiction. I was able to learn from two of the best instructors with whom I have ever had contact, both of whom teach at the University of Tulsa. Their courses were thought provoking. The reading list was challenging and interesting. The workload was difficult, but never have I been more proud of the effort I put into a program as well as the final product than I was this summer.” Next summer Kelley plans to study with Bread Loaf’s program at Lincoln College, Oxford University, England.

Karen May, Learning Center Karen spent part of July at the Harvard Graduate School of Education for a week-long seminar led by Howard Gardner, author of Multiple Intelligences, and David Perkins, author of Smart Schools. The focus of the seminar was “teaching for understanding.” Participants came from 39 states and 19 countries. “We worked on defining a course of instruction that focused on learning, and on how we could improve learning for our students; specifically, how we could teach students to think as the discipline required.”

David Hostage, Chemistry David enjoyed a new professional challenge when he acted as table leader at the Advanced Placement Chemistry reading in Clemson, SC. “Under my direction, 12 readers and I graded almost 50,000 papers, reading each student’s response to a single question. The grading itself is very hard work, probing the limits of one’s powers of concentration, but the sharing of ideas and other professional development make for an experience that cannot be duplicated.” At the Taft Educational Center, which David directs, the school hosted teachers from 33 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, and from 29 countries from Australia to Uruguay. Registration totaled 811. “We offered workshops to Taft faculty and staff, including Jessica Clark ’94, Sally Dickinson, Jack Kenerson ’82, and Ted Heavenrich. Taft faculty who offered workshops for TEC include Laura Erickson, Jim Mooney, Alex Nagy, Al Reiff ’80, emeriti faculty Bill Nicholson and Robin Osborn, and former faculty member Bill Zuehlke.” Taft Bulletin

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ALUMNI IN THE NEWS

Alumni IN THE NEWS

Backing the Balkans “The job in Bosnia was particularly challenging,” Bob Weeks ’51 said. “Sarajevo is an interesting, culturally diverse city, but devastation from the 1992-95 war is still evident. The Balkan disease of ethnic conflict is pervasive. NATO’s recent bombing campaign closed Sarajevo’s airport for 22 days and caused many of my customers to lose their markets in neighboring Serbia. We escaped claustrophobic Sarajevo with occasional short breaks in Dubrovnik and Makarska (both on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia) and in Zagreb, Croatia’s capital.” A commercial banker for 30 years (23 at Chase Manhattan), Bob has worked full time as an independent financial consultant since 1988 for such groups as the World Bank, European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, International Finance Corporation, the Agricultural Bank, and the Foreign Trade Bank of Romania, in addition to the US AID Business Finance Unit in Sarajevo, Bosnia-Herzegovina. He sees his decision to become a consultant as a logical extension of his business career. His work has involved rebuilding and developing the “trashed” former Communist economies in Romania, Bosnia, Ukraine, Poland, Bulgaria, Moldova, and Slovakia. He and his wife, Sarabeth, lived in Bucharest, Romania, from 1992 to 1995 and in Sarajevo Bob Weeks ’51 in Zagreb, Croatia, last March. from 1998 to this spring. 20

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Go to the Head of the School Chip Bristol ’78 is the new head of the k-8 Canterbury School in Greensboro, North Chip Bristol ’78 Carolina. A former chaplain and fundraiser, he told the Canterbury School magazine that he “decided to explore leading a school when I was in tenth grade. I remember the night I sat in Vespers listening to Lance Odden and marveling at what a wonderful way to spend one’s life.” Only the school’s second head, one of his goals is to create a diverse community. “We are created to walk in this world with our own individual character,” he said. “No matter the color of our skin, the size of our wallets, or the way we worship God, we are called to walk in the various courtyards of this world. When diversity is embraced the walk becomes a dance. When it is not, the walk becomes a uniform, military march.” Chip sees “providing a dynamic, challenging, and loving educational experience” as his most important job. Chip grew up in Princeton, New Jersey, and received his higher education at Hamilton College and Virginia Theological Seminary.


ALUMNI IN THE NEWS

Tennis, Anyone?

Brothers Ed Reade ’39 and Bob Reade ’43 have both made tennis part of their lives. In addition to Bob’s success with USTA, Ed played at Taft and Williams before coaching the sport at Deerfield Academy for 35 years.

Bob Reade, captain of the 1943 Taft tennis team, has carried his love for tennis to new heights. The United States Tennis Association published their tennis ranking for 1998 earlier this year and in the “75 and over” classification, Bob was ranked No. 6 nationally! Residing in Springfield, VA, he is No. 1 in that state and No. 1 also in the Middle Atlantic section of the U.S.T.A. “Tennis has been very important to me,” Bob wrote, “ever since I learned to play the game on the red clay courts of the Watertown Lawn Club, across the street from Taft. Playing at Taft, and then captaining the team in 1943, really got me into the game in a serious way.” Bob continued his interest in the game during his 33 years of Army service and was selected to play on the All Army Leech Trophy Team in 1947. “It was not until five years ago,” Bob said, “that a friend suggested I would be competitive and might enjoy the USTA Super Senior circuit. So I decided to test the waters. Being retired and having the time made it possible. The results have been rewarding in many ways and not just obtaining top rankings. Meeting new friends, enjoying travel with my wife, getting PLENTY of exercise, and being able to continue to enjoy a great sport have combined as a formula for staying young...er.” When Bob began competition in 1994-95, he was number one in doubles and number three in singles among the 65s in the Mid-Atlantic.

Masterworks On View Through May If you’re passing through Scottsdale, Arizona, between now and May 1, you won’t want to miss the exhibit “Masterworks of American Sculpture” at the Fleischer Museum, which includes work by Fred X. Brownstein ’64. With an emphasis on figurative sculpture, the exhibit comprises 59 historical works (as early as 1875), 51 contemporary works, and 30 photo murals. The National Sculpture Society in conjunction with the Fleischer Museum designed the exhibit to document the history of United States sculpture through architecture, national monuments, and public art. Fred, a Mississippi native, currently lives and works in Vermont. He received his bachelor’s degree at the San Francisco Art Institute and apprenticed as a marble sculptor in Italy for four years in the 1970s and returned to Italy in 1980 for another four years.

“Still Dreaming,” a work in Italian marble by Fred X. Brownstein ’64 is the cover image of the brochure for an exhibit at the Fleischer Museum in Scottsdale, AZ.

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ALUMNI IN THE NEWS

And Then... More information on alumni activities mentioned in previous issues.

Architect Jefferson Riley ’64, founding partner of Centerbrook Architects and Planners, received the Lucia R. Briggs Distinguished Achievement Award from Lawrence University for “outstanding contributions and achievements in a career field by an alumnus.” He was recognized as a “leader in his profession and a humane and human individual in both public and private life.” Jeff graduated from Lawrence in 1968 before earning his master of architecture degree from Yale in 1972.

Golfer James Driscoll ’96 won the NorthSouth Amateur last summer and reached the quarterfinal round of the national amateur championship in August at Pebble Beach, California, losing to eventual champion David Gossett. James is a senior at the University of Virginia and was named to First-Team All State Golf Team last June—for the third time. He led the Division I UVa team in stroke average for the third straight season as well, with 73.36, and has 16 top-ten finishes for his career.

Consultant Skunk Baxter ’67 generally makes news with his music, but now does so as a consultant. Recent work at MassMutual encouraged employees to think differently. “Fear keeps us from taking chances,” he said. He has consulted for the Los Angeles Police Department, the Pentagon, Congress, as well as for the private sector. The former Doobie Brother acknowledges that his “long-haired, hippie-freak” appearance catches some people off guard, but sees that as an advantage in capturing their attention and getting them to think “outside the box.” 22

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Barbara Close ’80 offers a slice of paradise in an otherwise insane world with her focus on natural health.

Healing in the Hamptons Barbara Close ’80 is founder and owner of Naturopathica Spa and Wellness Center in East Hampton, New York, as well as a practicing aromatherapist and herbalist. After graduating from Williams College, she discovered massage therapy as a way to relieve the stress from her job as a social worker. She has traveled to Europe, Asia, and America, to study at such places as the famous Baden Baden health spa. Barbara’s goal is to create a “really focused, educated approach to natural health. What Naturopathica is about is educating people to the alternatives,” she told Hamptons magazine. She recently added a yoga studio and elixir bar. Her nationally renowned product line—beautifully packaged in cobalt blue bottles and airtight aluminum tubes—is featured in stores such as Sephora and Henri Bendel. Source: Dana Plassé, Hamptons

Corrections: In the summer issue’s “Around the Pond” item about the AIDS Quilt sections made in memory of Al d’Ossche and Russ Pais, their class years were inadvertently switched. Al d’Ossche was a member of the Class of ’66 and Russ Pais was a member of the Class of ’69. Our apologies. The “Alumni in the News” item about the St. Louis Cardinals neglected to mention another Taftie connected with the team, part owner John Wallace ’52. We’re sincerely (Cardinal) red in the face.


AROUND THE POND

pond Poole Fellows Many Taft students do extraordinary things during their summer vacations, but for most of the 13 Robert Keyes Poole Fellows, this was perhaps the “most amazing” summer of their young lives. Mostly seniors, the students received grants for summer projects ranging from $500 to $3,000. For all of them, it was a chance to put the school’s motto of service into practice. Sarah Barnes ’00 and Kat Liu ’00 traveled to Pejibaye, Costa Rica, for a month. Both spent the mornings painting houses, and in the afternoon Sarah helped run a day camp. The coolest part of the trip, Sarah said, was “spending time with the people of the town, learning about their culture, and becoming a part of their community.” Kat had an internship at the general store “Las Vegas” for Spanish immersion in the afternoon. “Being in Costa Rica was awesome,” she said. “To be in such a beautiful country and at the same time be immersed in such a wonderful culture is definitely an experience and opportunity I will never forget.” Their trip was organized by World Horizons. Adriana Blakaj ’00 used her Poole Grant to work at Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory for six weeks doing genetic research on the transferring and p53 genes in dogfish and the zebra fish respectively.

A Yale professor/physician and a Johns Hopkins professor/physician directed the research. The “coolest part,” she said, “was definitely the learning experience. I did a lot of research and primarily worked with the select genes in the DNA of the zebra and dogfish. It’s so unbelievable and amazing to be able to understand just a little bit of what occurs on the cellular level where the eye is unable to see.”

Lauren Bonenberger ’00 and Avery Moore ’00 went to Great Abaco Island in the Bahamas (which has since been devastated by Hurricane Floyd), and did whale and dolphin research. “We were out on the boat watching for dolphins and whales most days, but also helped with identifi. Poole Fellow Lisa Ehrlich ’00 spent a chilly summer studying glaciers in Iceland.


AROUND THE POND

cation research that took place on land.” They were there for “ten amazing days,” with a group called Earthwatch. Both girls enjoyed “experiencing what it is like for marine biologists everyday,” but confess that “this particular project was no luxurious vacation; no running water and limited electricity made our jobs that much harder. The rewarding part was finding the dolphins and knowing that we contributed to their study.” Alex DiCicco ’01 went to the Philippines for six weeks to do scientific surveying and research on the coral reef environment. “I gathered data that will help develop a sustainable management plan for the area. I went with Coral Cay Conservation, an organization that trains nonscientist divers to gather scientific data and that helps to evaluate what needs to be done to sustain environments (both oceanic and terrestrial). The coolest part was that I was able to make a difference in something I believe in.” Jason Donahue ’00 spent four weeks in various Costa Rican rain forests doing ecological community service. “Essentially, we built trails, did field research for the Costa Rican government, and helped reforest farm lands. The best part was working in 100-degree heat, 70 percent humidity, with mud and hordes of mosquitoes and knowing it was worth all of it for the world.”

Jason Donahue ’00 dedicated part of his summer vacation to restoring the rain forest of Costa Rica thanks to his Poole grant. 24

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Lisa Ehrlich ’00 went to Iceland for two weeks with Earthwatch Expeditions. “We spent the time studying different aspects of the largest ice cap in Iceland, its offshoot glaciers and sandy outwash plain. The coolest part of the experience was participating in actual scientific research, conducting experiments where the outcome wasn’t already known, and gathering data that will help further the understanding of glaciers around the world.” Lisa also wrote an article about her trip for Imagine magazine.

Harold Francis ’00 went to the Island of Nevis for three weeks, where he helped excavate an old church, paint a hospital, and run a day camp for a week. He also had a two-week internship at V.O.N. radio 850 AM, where he had his own show on Saturdays from 4 to 6 PM. His trip was also organized by World Horizons. Sam Hall ’00 went to Fiji this summer for three weeks. “I lived in a village of 200 people with no electricity —very rustic,” she wrote. “We watched the children, helped in the schools, and helped build bure, traditional huts.” Organized by Rustic Pathways, the trip, said Sam, “was quite possibly the most amazing single experience of my 18 years.” KP Parkin ’00 spent two weeks at Bahia De Los Angeles in Baja, Mexico, where she captured, studied and tagged Black and Loggerhead Sea Turtles. “We used global positioning satellites to track turtles both with radio and sonic tags; marked and studied those in captivity, working closely with the Mexican government.” Organized by Earthwatch, the trip gave KP the chance to get directly in the water with turtles, tagging them and working with biologists to better inform the Mexican government and the people of Bahia De Los Angeles. Joanna Wolffer ’00 went to Honduras for two weeks, where she worked with local children in the school, taught them how to take care of themselves and put together hygiene packs. “For the majority of the time, we built cement floors, mixing and laying it down,” she said. The trip was organized by Honduras Outreach. Paul Zhang ’00 traveled with World Horizons International to Molokai, Hawaii, for four weeks. “I cut trail through rain forest for the local Nature Conservancy and leper colony, weeding, painting, planting trees, and cleaning beaches.”


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The Next Generation Alumni Children and Grandchildren at Taft

Great-grandfathers Charles P. Luckey ’18 .......................... Elizabeth H. Luckey ’02 John C. Peet ’11 ........................................... Hillary A. Peet ’00 Eugene W. Potter, Sr. ’17 ....................... William A. Schatz ’02 DeVer C. Warner ’08 .......................... Frank C. Pickard IV ’00

Grandfathers Dexter B. Blake ’33 (step) ........................ Sarah E. Bromley ’02 Dudley F. Blanchard ’44 .......................... B. Keely Murphy ’00 K. Christine Murphy ’01 Emily F. Blanchard ’00 Edwin P. Boggs ’40 ..................................... Blair M. Boggs ’02 Joseph B. Candler ’23 ............................ Leland E. Candler ’00 Marshall Clark ’40 ................................. Colin M. Graham ’01 Robert H. Coons ’41 .......................... Christina M. Coons ’00 Kenrick S. Gillespie ’25 ........................ Eleanor S. Gillespie ’02 Chase Kimball ’21 ..................... Arthur E. Kimball-Stanley ’00 Delano W. Ladd, Jr. ’44 .................... Mary Samantha Ladd ’01 Robert G. Lee ’41 ............................ Timothy D. Monahan ’02 Charles P. Luckey, Jr. ’43 ..................... Elizabeth H. Luckey ’02 J. Irwin Miller ’27 ..................................... Aaron I. Schiller ’02 Thomas F. Moore, Jr. ’43 .................. Marguerite L. Smythe ’03 John F. O’Brien ’37 (step) ...................... Samantha H. Hall ’00 John R. G. Ordway ’38 ............................. John D. Yawney ’02 John C. Peet, Jr. ’46 ..................................... Hillary A. Peet ’00 James C. Sargent, Sr. ’35 ................. Stephen D. Sargent, Jr. ’03 Edward E. Shean ’43 ................................. Jessup W. Shean ’00 Cheves McC. Smythe ’42 .................. Marguerite L. Smythe ’03 William B. Snyder, Jr. ’41 .......................... Laura L. Snyder ’00 Taylor M. Snyder ’02 Frederick W. Squires ’28 ......................... Ted S. Thompson ’02 Frank A. Thompson,Jr.’35 (step) ......... M. Peter Madsen III ’00 George C. Wagner, Jr. ’13 .............. G. Corydon Wagner IV ’01 DeVer K. Warner ’32 .......................... Frank C. Pickard IV ’00 Charles F. C. Wemyss, Sr. ’45 ............... Jennifer W. Higgins ’02 John S. Wold ’34 .......................................... John C. Wold ’02

Parents Michael J. Aleksinas ’72 .......................... Marc A. Aleksinas ’02 Matthew J. Aleksinas ’02 Bruce E. Alspach ’71 ................................. Blake F. Alspach ’01 John P. Alspach ’03 Robert J. Barry ’59 ........................................ Ryan R. Barry ’01 Richard J. Bell ’71 .................................. Christopher J. Bell ’03 Chad P. Bessette ’74 ................................... Tyler J. Bessette ’02 John W. Biedermann ’77 ..................... John A. Biedermann ’03 Arthur F. Blake ’67 (step) ......................... Sarah E. Bromley ’02 Kirk F. Blanchard ’68 ............................ Emily F. Blanchard ’00

George T. Boggs ’65 .................................... Blair M. Boggs ’02 Duncan G. Burke ’61 (step) ........... Brookfield A. Fitzgerald ’01 Gordon S. Calder, Jr. ’65 ................... Gordon S. Calder III ’03 Henry E. Candler ’54 ............................ Leland E. Candler ’00 Edward J. Cavazuti ’70 ........................... James E. Cavazuti ’02 Frederic P. Erdman ’71 .......................... Charles S. Erdman ’02 Michael D. Gambone ’78 ................... David M. Gambone ’03 David Gillespie ’60 .............................. Eleanor S. Gillespie ’02 Clark L. Griffith ’68 ............................... Colby N. Griffith ’01 John W. Gussenhoven ’65 ............... Walter J. Gussenhoven ’02 Eugene R. Hack, Jr. ’65 ........................... Rowena W. Hack ’03 Daniel Hogan ’63 ................................. Michael D. Hogan ’00 Robert S. Jennings ’67 ............................. Tyler C. Jennings ’02 Laura Gieg Kell ’73 ..................................... Abigail M. Kell ’02 David W. Killam ’70 ........................... David W. Killam, Jr. ’03 Daniel K. F. Lam ’75 .............................. Arthur H. Y. Lam ’03 Geoffrey W. Levy ’65 ................................... Craig M. Levy ’01 Nicholas D. LoRusso, Jr. ’72 ................ Michael R. LoRusso’03 Laird A. Mooney ’73 ............................... Reina E. Mooney ’02 William G. Morris, Jr. ’69 ....................... Cassidy A. Morris ’02 Frederick Nagle ’62 ..................................... Curtis S. Nagle ’00 William J. Pailey, Jr. ’57 ................................ Julie A. Pailey ’00 Cassandra Chia-Wei Pan ’77 ................... Victor W. B. Chu ’01 J. Carlisle Peet III ’70 ................................... Hillary A. Peet ’00 Neil Peterson ’61 ....................................... Guy E. Peterson ’03 Joseph V. Petrelli, Jr. ’56 .......................... Michael J. Petrelli ’00 Jean Strumolo Piacenza ’75 ...................... Emily J. Piacenza ’00 Anthony T. Piacenza ’01 Grant A. Porter ’69 ............................... Christina C. Porter ’00 Michael S. Powers ’69 ........................... Margaux E. Powers ’00 Jonathan R. Read ’74 ..................................... Colin J. Read ’02 Peter B. Rose ’74 ........................................... Faith C. Rose ’02 Michael Schiavone ’59 (step) ...................... Nicholas Fisser ’02 Michael E. Shaheen ’58 ..................... Timothy A. Shaheen ’00 E. Townsend Shean ’66 ............................. Jessup W. Shean ’00 James L. Smythe ’70 ......................... Marguerite L. Smythe ’03 W. Bunker Snyder, Jr. ’68 ........................... Laura L. Snyder ’00 Taylor M. Snyder ’02 Lillie Barroll Stark ’79 ................................ Samuel B. Stark ’02 Tom R. Strumolo ’70 ........................ William W. Strumolo ’01 Melish A. Thompson, Jr. ’64 ....... Alexandra M. Thompson ’00 C. Dean Tseretopoulos ’72 ... Constantina M. Tseretopoulos ’01 Adrianna S. Tseretopoulos ’03 Thomas S. M. Tudor ’64 ................................ Jan W. Tudor ’00 James L. Volling ’72 .................................. Jeffrey J. Volling ’02 G. Corydon Wagner III ’43 ........... G. Corydon Wagner IV ’01 Sally Childs Walsh ’75 ............................... Sarah H. Walsh ’02 Charles W. B. Wardell ’63 ....................... Diana D. Wardell ’01 Christopher C. Wardell ’69 ............... Cooper T. A. Wardell ’03 John P. Wold ’71 ........................................... John C. Wold ’02 Taft Bulletin

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AROUND THE POND

Community Service Taft’s fourth annual Community Service Day followed closely on the heels of last year’s event, which had been postponed until April. The debate on campus remains whether to hold the event in the fall or spring, or whether to increase the school’s opportunities for service by holding it twice a year. Many local groups welcomed the efforts of Taft students including Flanders Nature Center, YMCA, Watertown Parks and Recreation Department, as well as local schools and community centers. b One of the dozens of crews set to work across the greater Watertown area on the school’s annual Community Service Day, this group cleared a grove of trees at a local school. From left Al Reiff ’80, Katie Franklin ’03, Charlie Baker ’00, Tim Shaheen ’00, Teddy McCarthy ’01, James Cavazuti ’02, Thomas Smythe ’00, Matt Aleksinas ’02, Lisa Ehrlich ’00, Christine Maddock ’01, and Ben Smith ’01.

The Bobs One of the added benefits of Community Service Day in September was an evening concert during study hall to make up for the lack of homework that night. Students and faculty were entertained by The Bobs, a four-member a cappella group “known for their incredible live show, witty, tuneful, original material, and outrageous covers of classic songs.” Richard Bob Greene, Matthew Bob Stull, Amy Bob Engelhardt, and Joe Bob Finetti have been together since 1981 and have sold out venues around the world, released nine albums, been nominated for a Grammy, scored movies, produced commercials, been the musical commentators on National Public Radio, and have built themselves “a legion of adoring fans”—especially at Taft.

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Visitors From Vietnam Mr. Doa Thien Khai, head of the Hanoi Amsterdam High School in Hanoi, Vietnam, came to Taft in September, along with Nguyen Thi Ngoc Minh, a member of the English Department there. While on campus, they were taken on tour by former student Khiem Do Ba ’00, and visited classes with Ha Tran ’01, who arrived at Taft this fall from Hanoi Amsterdam. Pictured from left, Lance Odden, Ha Tran ’01, Mr. Dao Thien Khai, Khiem Do Ba ’00, Ms. Nguyen Thi Ngoc Minh, and Ferdie Wandelt ’66.


Video Newfoundland Video teacher Rick Doyle traveled to new parts of the globe last summer with ten Taft students (and one alumnus) in search of the perfect location for the next “Treehouse” production. The crew established base camp in Branch, Newfoundland, a small town somewhat bewildered by the youth of these filmmakers. The cast and crew included Eric Hansen ’99, Rachel Holmes ’00, Ryan Burns ’01, Victor Chu ’01, Tim Dzurilla ’01, Joshua Fine ’01, Cordy Wagner ’01, Thomas Keidel ’02, Dennis Liu ’02, Angrette McCloskey ’02, and Scott Britell ’98. c Dennis Liu ’02, Rick Doyle, and Scott Britell ’98 on location in Newfoundland.

Current Parents’ Committee Meet In New York City More than 60 current parents met at The Sky Club on Wednesday, September 15, for a lovely dinner hosted by the new chairmen, Joan and John Goodwin P’00. Although the winds and rain from Hurricane Floyd made travel challenging, all the parents arrived safely and spent an enjoyable evening with the Oddens and the Goodwins.

Catherine Farmer P’01 and Sarah Brame P’00,’02

John Goodwin P’00 and Richard Adler P’97,’99,’01

Joan Goodwin P’00 and Sherri Stephenson P’01

m Tom and Mary Holmes P’92,’00 and Videen and Chris Bennett P’00 b (middle left) Catharine Sturgess P’02, Peggy Toce P’98, ’01, and Mary-Beth McCormack P’00, ’02 b Larry Uhlick P’00 and Lance Odden Taft Bulletin

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The Character of Community By Taft Chaplain Michael E. C. Spencer Let me begin with a story. This is the story of the rabbi’s gift.1 Once upon a time there was a monastery that had fallen upon hard times. At one time this monastery was one of many monasteries run by a great order, but the antimonastic persecution of the 17th and 18th centuries, and the rise of secularism in the 19th, had caused many of the other monasteries to close until only this one monastery was left. At one time, there were 400 monks living there. Now there were only five. Five old monks all over seventy years of age: one abbot, the leader of the community, and his four brother monks. There was no doubt about it. This was a dying order, and as soon as these monks were gone, there would be no monastery, no sanctuary, left. In the deep woods surrounding the monastery there was a little hut. And inside that little hut there lived a rabbi who would often come to the woods to pray. Through their many years of prayer and contemplation, the monks could always sense when the rabbi was in the hut. “The rabbi is in the house, the rabbi is in the house,” they would whisper to each other. The abbot, agonizing over the immanent death of his order, decided that he would make a visit to the woods to ask the rabbi if he could give any advice which might help save the monastery. And so, the abbot set off into the woods, and when he came to the hut, the rabbi welcomed him in. The abbot explained why he had come, and the rabbi could only commiserate with him, “I know how it is,” he said. “The spirit has gone 28

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out of the people. It is the same in my town. Almost no one comes to the synagogue anymore.” So the old abbot and the old rabbi sat and wept together. Then they read parts of the Hebrew Bible, the Torah, and quietly spoke of deep things. The time came when the abbot had to leave. They hugged one another. “I am glad that we finally met after all these years,” the abbot said, “but I have still failed in my purpose for coming here. Isn’t there anything you can tell me, some piece of advice that you can give me to help save my dying monastery.” The rabbi sighed. “No, I am sorry,” he said. “I have no advice to give. The only thing I can tell you is that the Messiah is one of you.” When the abbot returned to the monastery his fellow monks gathered around him. “Well, what did the rabbi say?” They were all eager to know. “He couldn’t help.” The abbot answered. “We just wept and read the Torah together. The only thing he did say, just as I was leaving—it didn’t make any sense—he said that the Messiah is one of us.” The monks looked puzzled. What did that mean. The Messiah is one of us? Days and months followed, and the monks thought about the rabbi’s words. The Messiah is one of us? Could he actually mean one of us monks here at the monastery? If so, then which one? Could he mean the abbot? Yes, if he meant anyone, he probably meant father abbot. He has led us for more than a generation. But he could have meant Brother Thomas. Brother Thomas is a holy one. Everyone knows it, his eyes sparkle with the

light of God. But he couldn’t have meant Brother Simon. Simon is pretty annoying; but when you think about it, Simon is usually always right. Often very right. Maybe the rabbi did mean Brother Simon. But definitely not Brother Phillip. Phillip is so quiet, a real nobody. But then, almost mysteriously, he has a gift for somehow always being there when you need him. He just magically appears by your side. Maybe Phillip is the Messiah. The rabbi couldn’t have meant me. He couldn’t possibly have meant me. I’m just an ordinary person. Yet supposing he did? Suppose I am the Messiah? O God, not me. What a joke that would be. I couldn’t mean that much for you, could I? These were the thoughts that each monk pondered over. And as they contemplated in this way, the monks began to treat one another with extraordinary respect on the off chance that one of them might be the Messiah. And on the off, off chance that each monk himself might be the Messiah, they began to treat themselves with extraordinary respect. Because the forest around the monastery was very beautiful, many people still came to visit and picnic on the lawns, wander along its paths, and now and then go into the dilapidated chapel to meditate. As they did this, without even noticing, they sensed the aura of extraordinary respect that seemed to surround the five old monks and seemed to radiate out from them and fill the atmosphere of the whole monastery. It was peaceful, and soothing, and attractive, and in the midst of their rushed and hurried lives, the people seemed drawn to it. Hardly


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knowing why, they began to come back to the monastery to picnic, to play, to pray. They began to bring their friends to show them this special place. And their friends brought their friends. Then it happened that some of the younger men who came to visit the monastery started to talk more and more with the old monks. Then one day, one asked if he could join them. Then another. And another. So once again, within a few years, the monastery began to thrive. Thanks to the rabbi’s gift, it became a vibrant center of light and spirituality throughout the land.

• • • This is a good story. And I think that most importantly it’s a story about two main things: community and character. A story about how a community that was dying was healed and made whole because those five old monks realized that they were special and blessed and capable of more than they had ever thought. What is community? We hear this word tossed around an awful lot. But what exactly is community? When do we know we are in a community? What’s the difference between a “good” community and a “bad” one? According to Webster’s dictionary, community is simply “a unified body of individuals sharing a common interest.” There is no moral weight attached to community. Whether a community is good or bad depends on us. John Winthrop, the first governor of the Massachusetts Bay colony, offered a better definition than the one we find in Webster’s. Winthrop spoke to the colonists in 1630, aboard the ship Arrabella, shortly before they set foot on the new land. In his sermon, he told them, “We must delight in each other, make other’s

conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our Community as members of the same body.”2 Winthrop says that members of a community stick together not only to celebrate and play and socialize, but even more so to mourn and cry and face difficult times. When one member of the body gets sick, the community reaches out to help. When one member stumbles, the others reach out to pick them up. Good communities work because people care about each other and know that others care about them. Good community is rare today, and I often wonder why that is. Why do many communities feel the sadness and isolation that the five old monks in the monastery felt? It could be their own fault; maybe they are not open to change, not open to listening. Maybe. Maybe there’s another reason. Two hundred years after John Winthrop offered his words of encour-

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greatly. And yet, de Tocqueville also warned that this great characteristic could also lead to America’s greatest downfall. One hundred and fifty years after de Tocqueville issued his commentary on American character, the noted New England psychiatrist and novelist M. Scott Peck reiterated the Frenchman’s words. Commenting on the importance of community in his book The Different Drum, published in 1987, Peck points out that de Tocqueville warned us early on that if individualism was not balanced by other habits, it would inevitably lead to a fragmentation of society and the social isolation of its citizens. Isolation and fragmentation. Are we in any better shape today? As our technological ability to surf the web and cover the globe in virtual reality increases, I fear that our ability to look into one another’s eyes has taken a pretty big hit. It is rare to find the friendly neighborhoods of Leave it to Beaver or The Brady

“We must delight in each other, make other’s conditions our own, rejoice together, mourn together, labor and suffer together, always having before our eyes our Community as members of the same body.”2 agement, a French scholar by the name of Alexis de Tocqueville visited the United States and in 1835 published a classic work on America which many of you may read at some point or another. His Democracy in America outlined the central traits that made up the new American character. Of all of these, de Tocqueville was most impressed by American individualism. He admired this characteristic

Bunch, where families live near one another, know one another, and are concerned about one another. We hear much about the need for community because we are painfully aware of its absence. In the midst of this world of fragmentation and isolation, we find ourselves here. And we may sometimes wonder how good a community this is. I believe it is a good community. I believe Taft Bulletin

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it is a great community. I believe it is a community where we still go out of our way to do the right thing. When someone stumbles and makes a mistake, we reach out to help. When someone is in pain, we work to heal and not to hurt. We go out of our way to care for one another. The moral of the story of the rabbi’s gift is that community can be healed. In the midst of brokenness, a community that cares for one another can become whole. The old monks were not so old. They realized that as individuals they were also part of a greater whole. They changed because they saw each other in a totally different way. The Messiah is one of you. They treated one another with respect. They constructed a good community. My prayer and my hope is that together this year we can continue to make this school a good community. Who is among us? Perhaps the Messiah? But who else might be among us? The person who will find a cure for cancer? for AIDS? The first person to walk on Mars? The first female president of the United States? A teacher who will make a difference in the life of a child? The mother of a little boy? The father of a little girl? You are all out there. And the you that is there is special. The you that is there is unique. The you that is there is part of a whole that is this school. And, as far as I’m concerned, the you that is you is a creation of God: blessed, holy, and on the way toward wholeness. Whether you are a senior striving to end your Taft career on a strong note, or a new student anxious to fit in, remember that this is your community. Mr. Odden reminds us of Mr. Taft’s words, “School is what you make of it.” Don’t worry about your reputation, but focus on cultivating your character. Because your character, to a large extent, defines the character of this 30

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school. It’s not how good you are but who you are that makes this place special. I want to leave you with a comparison between reputation and character by William Hersey Davis: The circumstances amid which you live determine your reputation; the truth you believe determines your character… Reputation is what you are supposed to be; character is what you are… Reputation is the photograph; character is the face… Reputation is what you have when you come to a new community; character is what you have when you go away. Reputation makes you rich or makes you poor; character makes you happy or makes you miserable… Reputation is what people say about you on your tombstone; character is what the angels say about you before the throne of God. Focus on your character, and you will do well for yourself, for others, and for this school. Michael Spencer delivered these remarks on September 13, at his opening Morning Meeting talk in Bingham Auditorium. 1

This version of “The Rabbi’s Gift” has been adapted from the rendition found in M. Scott Peck’s, The Different Drum , New York: Touchstone Books, 1987. 2

John Winthrop, “A Model of Christian Charity” in American Sermons , (New York: Literary Classics of the United States, 1999), 28-43.

The Taft Educational Center Summer Workshops for Teachers July 2000 One- and Two-Week Workshops Featuring: All Advanced Placement Subjects Library Science, Internet, Graphing Calculators, Computer Applications, & Others. CEUs & graduate credit available. For a catalog, call (800) 274-7815 or (860) 945-7850 E-mail: TaftEdCtr@TaftSchool.org http://www.taftschool.org/home/tec

Fall 1999 Taft Bulletin  
Fall 1999 Taft Bulletin