Spring 2002 Taft Bulletin

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B U L L E T I N Spring 2002 Volume 72 Number 3 Bulletin Staff Editor Julie Reiff Director of Development Chip Spencer ’56 Alumni Notes Anne Gahl Karen Taylor Design Good Design www.goodgraphics.com Proofreaders Nina Maynard Bob Campbell ’76

Bulletin Advisory Board Bonnie Blackburn ’84 Todd Gipstein ’70 Nancy Novogrod P’98, ’01 Josh Quittner ’75 Peter Frew ’75, ex officio Julie Reiff, ex officio Bonnie Welch, ex officio Mail letters to: Julie Reiff, Editor Taft Bulletin The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. ReiffJ@TaftSchool.org Send alumni news to: Anne Gahl Alumni Office The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. TaftBulletin@TaftSchool.org Deadlines for Alumni Notes: Summer–May 30 Fall–August 30 Winter–November 15 Spring–February 15, 2003 Send address corrections to: Sally Membrino Alumni Records The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. TaftRhino@TaftSchool.org 1-860-945-7777 www.TaftAlumni.com This magazine is printed on recycled paper.

On the Cover FEATURES

North American Showdown on Ice


A.J. Mleczko ’93 and Tammy Shewchuk ’96 compete for Gold in the XIX W inter Olympic Games. By Lance Odden Page 6

To the Garden, To the Sea


Jerry and Anne Romano head to the Cape after 31 years at Taft. By Willy MacMullen ’78

In It for the Kids


Math teacher Jerry DePolo retires. By Al Reiff ’80


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 TaftBulletin@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! Taft on the Web: News? Stocks? Entertainment? Weather? Catch up with old friends or make new ones, get a job and more!—all at the new Taft Alumni Community online. Visit us at www.TaftAlumni.com.


Tammy Shewchuk ’96 shows off her gold medal in Salt Lake after Canada defeated the United States in the finals. A.J. Mleczko ’93 came home with her second Olympic medal, this time silver. See story on page 17.

What happened at this afternoon's game?—Visit us at www.TaftSports.com for the latest Big Red coverage.

From the Editor




Alumni Spotlight


For other campus news and events, including admissions information, visit our NEW main site at www.TaftSchool.org, with improved calendar features and Around the Pond stories.

Larger than life sculptures, memories of a cavalry man, and fun in the Capital.

Around the Pond


Wooden flutes, Rockwell artists, Paduano lecturers, students compete in music, debate, and engineering, and a new face in the hall. Page 14

Winter Sport Highlights

For more information on Alumni Weekend, please turn to the inside back cover.


By Steve Palmer



By Court Wold ’02

Page 26

䉳 The Romanos on Cape Cod in 1977. See story on page 20.








From the Editor

In Eindhoven

Remembering Others

For the first time in Taft history two alums competed in the same Olympic Games, against each other! When it came down to U.S.A. and Canada in the finals of women’s hockey, we knew one alumna would have gold and the other silver. For Tammy Shewchuk ’96, this turned out to be her turn (page 17). Spring at Taft brings another rite of passage: celebrating the careers of those faculty members who’ve chosen to retire. In this issue we pay tribute to the dedication of Anne and Jerry Romano, who’ve filled the needs of our school in so many ways over the years—teaching, advising, coaching, tutoring, as well as heading the Development Office and the library. We also recognize Jerry DePolo’s many years of devoted service in the classroom. All three will be dearly missed as a daily presence here on campus, but we know the ties that bind them to this community will keep them in touch with many of you for years to come. I write this letter with a heavy heart, knowing that this is the first issue of the Bulletin I have ever assembled that Tom Losee ’59 will never read (see page 38). From my first days at Taft, Tom was a loyal mentor and was instrumental in the creation of an advisory board for the magazine last spring. A giant in the field of publishing, he cared deeply for his alma mater and supported her at every turn. He will be greatly missed. Alumni Weekend is right around the corner, and it promises to be an exciting round of reunions, games, talks, and of course, the traditional parade. (See the inside back cover for more details.) Please don’t miss it.

It was a great surprise to read the story of David Kenyon Webster ’40 [Endnote, Winter 2002], who as a paratrooper took part in Operation Market-Garden and the liberation of my hometown, Eindhoven. At that time I was 5 years old, but I still have strong memories about those exciting and terrifying events. On Sunday, 17 September 1944, in the early afternoon we saw the parachute droppings in the far distance. Monday afternoon my father returned early from work and told us that the Americans were in town. We went to the center of the city, and there they were—U.S. paratroopers of the 101st Airborne Division. In the memory of a child they looked very impressive and tough. My father started a conversation with one of them, but it was in English and I could not understand it. On Tuesday morning I was watching the British army pushing through Eindhoven on their way to Arnhem. It was a real and emotional liberation. I was waving with a small Dutch flag to welcome the allies. In the evening, the German Luftwaffe attacked the city. My family took shelter in our cellar. All around us bombs were dropped. Our neighbors who were in their cellar got a direct hit from a firebomb. None of them survived. I still remember the whistling sound of the falling bombs followed by tremendous explosions. Due to the damage to our house, we slept for a couple of days somewhere on a farm in a sort of stable. My parents were much afraid that the Germans would attack Eindhoven again, and even worse would recapture the city. In that case revenge was a possibility. Of course I got this information when I was older, but I can still hear the noise of the artillery from close by. After a few days when the situation seemed safe, we returned to our house, where we lived for a few weeks with broken windows. For six months the front line was not more than 20 miles off, so the war was visible and not far away. I was 6 when the war ended, so all my early memories were related to the war.

Good winter issue. Do we have a roster of alumni killed in action? I cannot forget the many times in 1944 and ’45 that Paul Cruikshank read memorials at Vespers for them, always beginning with “I am the resurrection and the life ...” The photo on page 22 is far earlier than 1952. It was in the prospectus which I got in 1943. Not to be lugubrious, but maybe one or more of them were KIAs. I was surprised to read that Mr. Taft thought of building a chapel (page 6); my impression was that he (and Cruikshank) espoused a civic religion without much liturgical or denominational element. I do remember spending many hours at the old Library with books which Jeanne Shons didn’t stock.

—Julie Reiff —Frederik van Rysinge ’58 4

Taft Bulletin Spring 2002

—Kingsley Smith ’46 USMC 1951–53; USNR Chaplain(Cdr) 1954–76 Ed. note: In addition to the memorial in Lincoln Lobby that contains photos of most of the men who were killed in action, a complete list of WWII casualties ran in the winter 1996 issue of the Bulletin.

Waiting Game The photo on page 22 of the winter issue was taken during 1942–43 for a story about the implementation of the “jobs” program instituted because so many of the grounds and support people went off to war. So the maids who cleaned our rooms and waited on tables went off to war work and Tafties had to do the grubbies, which is how we beat Hitler. If you get a Pap or an alumni magazine from 1943 you can read all about it. And you heard it here first. (See caption at right.) —Jim Morrison ’43

I hate to challenge such an august staff of historians, but I have no choice. The photo on page 22 of the winter issue shows Sam Adams at far left and Ted Pratt four down.

Robert Snyder back right, and Don Hyatt, far right and in charge, all Class of ’43. I sincerely doubt they returned in 1952 to perform such menial tasks as waiting again in those hideous white jackets. —Ev Clark ’43

Enjoyed your winter Bulletin as usual. Re waiting tables picture: That is my class of ’43 lining up for a dubious serving. I can identify most of them—from left, Sam Adams, Sam Marsh, Hank Conners, Hank Estabrook, Jim Palmer, Ted Pratt (moi), Ross Legler, Jack Durfee, Dave Sears, Bob Snyder, Tom Benjamin, (unidentified lad), Paul Vastola, mystery fellow, and our chief Don Hyatt. Jim Palmer was one of our WWII casualties. The usual scuttlebutt before a dance weekend was that the “authorities” put saltpeter in the food! Keep up the excellent work. —Ted Pratt ’43

I just received the winter issue and when I saw the photograph of student waiters on page 22 it was, in the lexicon of Yogi Berra, “Déjà vu all over again.” The photo was taken in 1943. I am on the far right holding my list of waiter assignments. The Class of ’43 was the first to experience the wartime Job Program. So many of the school’s employees had either

The 16 waiters of 1942—in the many letters received—are reported to be Sam Adams ’43, Sam Marsh ’43 (or Warren Stanton ’44), Hank Conners ’44 (half hidden), Henry Estabrook ’43 (or Dave Hosuton ’44), Jim Palmer ’43, Ted Pratt ’43, Ross Legler ’43, Jack Durfee ’43, Dave Sears ’43, (and here it gets sketchy depending on whether or not one counted the faces in shadow) Tom Benjamin ’43, unidentified, Bob Snyder ’43, Paul Vastola (or Connie Fleischer ’43), unidentified, and Don Hyatt ’43, far right and in charge.

gone into service or into high-paying defense work that our class had the responsibility of stepping in and taking over the majority of Taft’s janitorial maintenance and kitchen work. Paul Cruikshank called me into his office at the beginning of the school year and told me that for my senior year he was assigning me the new job and title of kitchen supervisor and headwaiter. He was smiling as he said that. The job entailed the logistics of running the kitchen, organizing a rotating list of waiters and kitchen help for three meals a day, dishing out the food, operating the kitchen machinery such as dishwashers and dryers, and cleaning the kitchen and dining areas after each meal. About the only thing we didn’t do was cook … which of course was a great blessing. Most of our class was destined for military service at graduation and at times it seemed the regimentation of waiting on table was a taste of basic training. An outpouring of marching orders was needed for the waiters to act in unison while hurriedly passing in and out of the kitchen trying to serve each course and to clear all tables at the same time. But in all the hustle I don’t recall one dropped tray, overturned soup tureen, or messy disaster during the year. Our class was very proud to meet the challenge and initiate the wartime Job Program. It proved to be an enriching and maturing experience … a hands-on course of work ethics and teamwork.

You do an outstanding job with the Taft Bulletin. It’s very informative, entertaining, and just plain fun to read. —Donald B. Hyatt ’43 Ed. note: Our appreciation goes to the many alumni who wrote in to identify the waiters in the winter issue. That archive photo has long been mislabeled as being from 1952. Thanks to all for setting the record straight.

As Good as It Gets? Each time I receive the Taft Bulletin I think it is as good as it can get. You prove me wrong again and again, and I do read it cover to cover. As a former Skidmore art major, I’m especially interested in the graphics and layout, and you consistently stand out in ALL the publications we get from Dr. Mac and my schools and those of our four children. LOTS! —Claire Macfarlane P’81

We welcome Letters to the Editor relating to the content of the magazine. Letters may be edited for length, clarity, and content, and are published at the editor’s discretion. Send correspondence to: Julie Reiff, Editor • Taft Bulletin 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. or to ReiffJ@TaftSchool.org Taft Bulletin Spring 2002




Alumni S P OT L I G H T

Math, Nature, and Negative Spaces


For sculptor John Simms ’55, “There is so much more to a piece than its structure. Much of the beauty is in the shadows cast and the changing organic negative spaces. Some of my current works are designed to revolve or pivot. Many are wind driven while others are hand or motor driven. These, too, have their origins in mathematics.” Working in Jackson, Wyo., Simms featured leaves, trees, waterfowl, hawks, and eagles in his earlier sculptures, but says that several years ago his “works took a definite trend to the mathematical. Geometric forms began to dominate. The relationship between nature and math,” he adds, “is virtually homogenous.” Bison Bison, one of his earlier pieces, is both mathematic and natural. The construction utilizes three circles; one full circle, two half circles, and a third broken into five segments—“a bison of equal radii.”

John Simms ’55 in his Jackson, Wyo., studio putting the final touches on Imploding Cube, a six-foot aluminum cube mounted on an apex. A stainless steel base (not shown) contains a set of tapered roller bearings which allows the sculpture to rotate in winds as light as 10mph. The sculpture is installed in the sculpture gardens at SHIDONI gallery in Santa Fe, N.Mex.


Before Taliban: Genealogies of the Afghan Jihad By David B. Edwards ’70 UNIVERSITY OF CALIFORNIA PRESS, APRIL 2002 CLOTHBOUND: $48, PAPERBACK: $17.95

In this powerful book, David B. Edwards traces the lives of three recent Afghan leaders—Nur Muhammad Taraki, Samiullah Safi, and Qazi Amin

He has recreated this design in sizes from one foot to as much as 24 feet long, with no loss of the elegance in design. A local jeweler under license now makes them, even smaller, in precious metals as necklaces and earrings. Simms’ larger pieces are fabricated from steel or aluminum plate, while stainless steel, silicon bronze, and copper are often used on the medium-sized works. A variety of finishes are used, from natural rust to high-quality powder coatings in vibrant colors. A former product designer, Simms began to exhibit his sculptures in 1992. His work has received, among other awards, the 1997 Jurors’ Choice Award at the Garden of Sculpture Show in Littleton, Col.; First Place Purchase Award for Professional Sculpture and Artists’ Choice Award for Professional Sculpture at Summer Art ’94 in Steamboat Springs, Col.; and the People’s Choice, Merit Award for Sculpture in Manitou Springs, Col., also in 1994. His sculptures are part of 17 private collections and are displayed publicly at the Omniplex in Oklahoma City; City Park in Bellevue, Wash.; Hudson Gardens in Littleton, Col.; the Teton County Library in Jackson, Wy.; and on Highway 390 in Jackson, Wy. For more on his work, visit www.johnesimms.com.

Waqad—to explain how the promise of progress and prosperity that animated Afghanistan in the 1960s crumbled and became the present tragedy of discord, destruction, and despair. B e f o re Ta l i b a n builds on the foundation that Edwards laid in his previous book, Heroes of the Age, in which he examines the lives of three significant figures of the late nineteenth century—a tribal khan, a Muslim saint, and a prince who became king of the newly created state. In the mid-twentieth century, Afghans believed their nation could be a model of economic and social development that would inspire the world. Instead, political conflict, foreign invasion, and civil war have left the country impoverished and politically dysfunctional. Each of the men Edwards profiles was engaged in the political struggles of the country’s recent history. Each hoped to see Afghanistan become a more just and democratic nation. But their visions for their country were radically different, and in the end, all three failed and were killed or exiled. Now, Afghanistan is associated with international terrorism, drug trafficking, and repression. Before Taliban tells these men’s stories and provides a thorough analysis of why their dreams for a progressive nation lie in ruins while the Taliban succeeded. In Edwards’ able hands, this culturally informed biography provides a mesmerizing and revealing


look into the social and cultural contexts of political change. David B. Edwards is professor of anthropology at Williams College and chair of the department. He is also responsible for bringing the Afghan Media Project—an archive of 700 hours of videotape and 12,000 photographs—to the college. Last summer, wrote the New York Times, “when no one knew how eerily significant the archive would soon become,” Edwards and Shahmahmood Miakhel, a former Voice of America journalist, brought the collection from the Afghan Media Resource Center in Peshawar, Pakistan, to Williams College “hoping to save it from the heat and dust of Peshawar and to digitize it for posterity.” “If you want to understand the breakdown of the nation-state in Afghanistan,’’ Edwards told the Times, “if you want to understand how the Taliban took hold and the terrorists seeped in, this archive is very relevant in an immediate way.” The Afghan Media Resource Center shows “a side of the war that no other archive does,” he said. “It is from an Afghan perspective.” To read more about the Williams Afghan Media Project visit www.williams.edu/AnthSoc.

䉴 Author Dave Edwards ’70, center, professor of anthropology at Williams, in 1995—the last time he was inside Afghanistan. His latest book, Before Taliban, and the Afghan Media Resource Center he has helped to create at Williams go a long way toward helping others understand the context of what is happening in that country. Taft Bulletin Spring 2002




To Carry a Torch When the Olympic Torch passed through Tonawanda, N.Y., on its 46-state, 65-day relay from Atlanta to the XIX Winter Games in Salt Lake City, Patty Buttenheim ’79 became part of the living chain of 11,500 torchbearers. “Runners,” who carried the glass and silver symbol of the Olympic spirit, were chosen from over 210,000 nominations nationwide. In addition to running, they traveled by wheelchair, bobsled, canoe, and covered wagon. Patty, who in 1999 became the eighth American woman to complete a double ironman triathlon (“Woman of Iron,” Winter 2000), was more than prepared for the quarter-mile run.

A Capital Time Over 80 alumni, parents, and friends attended the reception for Pam and Willy MacMullen ’78 at The Sulgrave Club in Washington, D.C. Hosted by Mimi and George Boggs ’65, P’02, Ann and Charlie Yonkers ’58, P’88,’89, and Karen and Wesley Williams ’59, the party was the first of several that the MacMullens have planned in order to visit alumni and parents across the country. 8

Taft Bulletin Spring 2002

Recalling the Cavalry Frank McGowan ’38 Our last issue devoted to alumni in the military sparked recollections from Frank McGowan ’38, who earned two Bronze Stars and a Purple Heart. He also knew the satisfaction of liberating a prison camp of Americans held at Santo Tomas University in the Philippines during World War II. Busted from private first class to private “because of a fistfight with my sergeant,” Frank earned the nickname “Ironman McGowan.” He later became a staff sergeant.

䉳 Kelly Ohman ’00 and Willy MacMullen ’78 䉲 Kat Penberthy ’98, Ribby Goodfellow ’00, Mythri Jegathesan ’00, Tom Druan ’95, Willy MacMullen ’78, and Mike Mortara ’00


“ We trained on wild horses, trained and imported from Virginia,” he said. He’d ridden a few times before but not many. As one of five regiments in the Philippines with the First Cavalry Division, they soon discovered that the heat and bugs of the Pacific jungles were too much for the horses and they came to rely on jeeps, tanks, and foot power. They did keep some mules, he added, to carry ammunition up the mountains. “We had a rough time going in to Manila and lost 17 of our 34 men in the recon platoon, but made it to the


Santo Tomas University where the Japanese had imprisoned all the American civilians who had worked in the city and other islands of the Philippines. They were starved almost to skeletons and begged for food, but we were ordered not to feed them or they would die. They had to have intravenous feeding until their organs were normal.” He also encountered Don Hanning ’32, not at the university/prison but at the makeshift hospital near the capital. The son of the manager of the Oakville Pinshop, McGowan now lives in Middlebury, Conn.

Winston Lord ’86, Donna Henry Wright ’88, and Kate Yonkers ’88

John Rentzepis, Ginny Poole ’80, and Larry Stabler ’80

McKim Symington ’66, Pam MacMullen, and Jerri Ginman P’03

Steve Blakeslee ’54, Charlie Demmon ’79, and Matt Wolins ’79 Taft Bulletin Spring 2002



pond As one walks through the halls, there are portraits of headmasters, deans, and Horace Taft’s brothers. Now, joining their ranks along the corridors is the likeness of Winifred Thompson Taft, wife and helpmate of the school’s founder. Winnie’s early death in 1909 meant that for years, many alumni never realized Horace Taft had ever been married, but archivist Anne Romano, who created a biography of the “first lady” during her sabbatical in 1993, has helped restore a piece of school history to its proper place. “Winifred Taft added an intellectual, fiscal, artistic, and social depth” to the school, Anne wrote. A teacher herself, it was Winifred who “met with architects, managed the daily account books and endless details, while Horace saw to scholarship, lessons, and ideals. Together they formed an exquisite balance.” The idea for the portrait began, says Anne, when a rare photograph was “found in a 1909 history magazine. I thought it was too important to be ignored.” The portrait, by Larry Bishop, will hang outside the Woolworth Faculty Room. 10

Taft Bulletin Spring 2002


First Lady of Taft


What Braught Brought

Arts Department head Bruce Fifer, left, and art teacher Loueta Chickadaunce with visiting artists Mark Braught and Chris Norman, right. GREG STEVENS ’02

Titanic Sounds Chris Norman, an extraordinary wooden flute player, came to school as a Rockwell artist-in-residence. Visiting classes, coaching instrumental students, and playing for the whole school in Bingham, Chris completed the day with a concert in the Choral Room, assisted by Chamber Ensemble, Collegium Musicum, Paul Halley on keyboards, and Arts Department chair Bruce Fifer singing a baritone song or two. “Chris brought his own special music making to the Taft community,” said Bruce. Among his many other achievements, Chris is the featured flute player in the 1997 Oscar-winning soundtrack of Titanic, and is a member of The Baltimore Consort, one of America’s leading early music ensembles. “He is renowned for his expressive playing, engaging personality, and breadth of repertoire,” Bruce added, “that also encompasses Canadian, Scottish, and Irish traditional music.” “Fortunately, I was able to have Chris Norman in three of my classes (jazz band, AP music theory, and Experiments in Writing),” said senior Ayuko Nakamura. “During his visit, I could not stop smiling as if I fell in love with music and the creative world again and again.” Norman inspired students with his wide variety of musical abilities and his genuine enthusiasm for the flute. “He was my favorite outside visitor this year,” said senior Sera Reycraft.” Several students also remarked how Norman understood the more subtle aspects of playing the instrument and, agreed Kirsten Pfeiffer ’03, he gave them a new perspective on their own playing. Norman wound up commissioning Braught to do the poster for his Boxwood Music Festival, a summer concert series in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia. For more information visit www.chrisnorman.com.

Having recently completed 50 paintings for the Harry Potter merchandising campaign run by Warner Brothers, designer/ illustrator Mark Braught spent time on campus in February as a Rockwell Visiting artist. He brought several sequences of drawings that had to be approved and altered so that everyone, including author J.K. Rowling, was satisfied with his interpretation of the characters and their settings. He explained his use of models and reference photographs (most of which he takes himself) for his paintings. He brought posters and promotions of his work as well as an original for students to see. “I was very inspired and interested by what he had to say,” said Annie Owen. “I love the idea of art in advertising. I even changed my concentration to advertising in my portfolio.” For senior Jess Haberman, founder of the school’s Harry Potter fan club, meeting Mark Braught was particularly interesting. “I thoroughly enjoyed his visit,” said Jess, “because it gave me the opportunity to view many of his sketches in progress. I was especially impressed by his ideas and sketches related to Harry Potter, as I learned a great deal about the intricate process he goes through when illustrating for a popular subject.” Braught’s work has appeared in magazines, newspapers, books, brochures, and posters for business publications, sporting events advertisements, as well as for musical and theatrical productions. Currently maintaining a studio and residing in Decatur, Georgia, he also teaches design and illustration at The Creative Circus and The Atlanta College of Art and Design. He presented a slide show of his work for Morning Meeting and talked with students in Loueta Chickadaunce’s art room throughout the day.

Taft Bulletin Spring 2002



In Brief Novice Debaters Mark George, Marisa Ryan, Tory Ilyinski, and James Blanchard came in first at the 2002 Loomis-Chaffee Invitational Debate Tournament, novice division, in February. They competed against nine teams from seven other schools and were the clear winners in their novice category! “They worked hard preparing, though all were completely new to debating,” said adviser Rick Davis. “Their dedication and ‘learning under stress’ during the actual debates showed their innate strengths since they won every single round they were in!” The team hopes to attend several more tournaments this spring and build on their record, encouraging a more active debate program next year.

Able Engineers Thirty-two students participated in the national Test of Engineering Aptitude Math and Science (TEAMS) competition on March 4. One team tied for first, but lost in the tie breaker and the other came in third. In addition to plaques for each of the students, the teams came away with $1,250 in cash awards for science purchases for the school. The second, ungraded section of their tests were forwarded to the national competition in Washington. Competing on the two varsity squads were Somponnat Sampattavanich, Tharathorn Rimchala, Khanh DoBa, Kyle Dolan, Annabelle Razack, Henry Tsai, Norah Garry, and Jason Chen, along with Steven Ambadjes, Pea Phadhana-Anake, Tucker Serenbetz, Neena Qasba, Tom Hull, Natalie Ie, Allison Lesher, Samantha Hyner, and two JV teams.


Taft Bulletin Spring 2002

Finding Fault with Suburbia Architectural critic James Howard Kunstler gave a provocative and entertaining talk at school assembly in February, challenging students to consider the ways in which architecture and atmosphere influence attitude and culture. He is the author of Home from Nowhere, The Geography of Nowhere, and The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition. Kunstler says he wrote The Geography of Nowhere “because I believe a lot of people share my feelings about the tragic landscape of highway strips, parking lots, housing tracts, mega-malls, junked cities, and ravaged countryside that makes up the everyday environment where most Americans live and work. A land full of places that are not worth caring about will soon be a nation and a way of life that is not worth defending.” Home from Nowhere is a continuation of that discussion with an emphasis on the remedies. A portion of it appeared as the cover story in the September 1996 Atlantic Monthly. The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, was published last December. “I thought what he said was not only interesting but also realistic,” Annie Owen ’02 told The Taft Papyrus. “Now I want to be a city planner.” Although his critiques got many students talking, not all were equally inspired. “He had a lot of good ideas,” said Shari Jessie ’03, “but he failed to give insight into how to resolve the problems. He also failed to show the good side of our country’s character.” Kunstler is a regular contributor to the New York Times Magazine and Op-Ed page, where he has written on environmental and economic issues. His visit was funded through the Paduano Lecture Series, which invites speakers to the school to share their provocative ideas, and to challenge the community to think deeply about issues of philosophical and ethical interest. Other guests this year were author Andrea Barrett, poet Donald Hall, Tibetan monks from the Drepung Gomang Monastery, and Yale University Chaplain Rev. Dr. Jerry Streets (right).

The final Paduano lecturer this year, architectural critic James Howard Kunstler warned students that modern architecture too frequently creates a “uniformly miserable environment” that “adds up to places that are not worth caring about.” SAM DANGREMOND ’05


Arts from the Heart This year’s Mothers’ Day concert featured 115 Taft students performing in Chamber Ensemble, Jazz Ensemble, Dance Ensemble, and Collegium Musicum. The school’s three a cappella groups—Oriocos, Hydrox, and 8th Notes—also performed for moms and dads, as did Taft Improv.

In the Peanut Gallery Parents were also treated to a production of You’re A Good Man, Charlie Brown in the Woodward Black Box Theater. The cast featured the singing talents of Andrew Belcher ’02, Alexandra Sinderbrand ’02, Jenn Palleria ’03, Anton Yupangco ’04, Oliver Reyes ’02, and Glenton Davis ’03 as Snoopy.

The Word from Streets Speaking on the actual birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., the Rev. Dr. Jerry Streets, chaplain of Yale University, encouraged students to strive for universal equality in remembrance of Dr. King. Senior pastor of the Church of Christ in Yale, assistant professor of pastoral theology, and adjunct member of the clinical social work faculty at the Yale Child Study Center, Dr. Streets has had a profound influence on generations of Yale students and faculty. A licensed clinical social worker and a minister in the United Church of Christ, he is also a member of the Harvard Program in Refugee Trauma, helping to implement a model of pastoral care in Bosnia and Herzegovina for those traumatized by war. “His interests are both local and global, extending pastoral care well beyond the walls of Yale,” said Chaplain Michael Spencer. “A gifted speaker and a wonderful man with an engaging intellect who stands firmly in the legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., it is fitting that he visited us on Dr. King’s birthday.” Dr. Streets attended classes and spoke with students and faculty throughout the day.

䉱 Head of School Willy MacMullen, Chaplain Michael Spencer, and the Rev. Dr. Jerry Streets before morning meeting. PETER FREW ’75

Senior Andrew Belcher as Charlie Brown, pondering the meaning of “happiness” with sister Lucy, played by Alexandra Sinderbrand ’02. SAM DANGREMOND ’05

Taft Bulletin Spring 2002







sport Winter Highlights by Steve Palmer BOYS’ SQUASH 13–3 2nd at New England Tournament

Supriya Balsekar, a middler from India, played at the number one spot for girls’ squash and didn’t lose a game in the regular season. An all-Founders’ League selection, she won the N.E. tournament losing only one game. 14

Taft Bulletin Spring 2002

The boys’ squash team continued its tradition of excellence, placing 2nd at the N.E. Championships this winter. This marks its 10th straight year as either the first or second place team of the 34 N.E. prep schools. Senior captain Eric Wadhwa led the team for the second year in a row and has been an outstanding player for Taft for four years. Beyond his skill on the court, Eric will be remembered for his selfless leadership and his flawless sportsmanship. Again this year, Taft was selected as the winner of the N.E. sportsmanship award for the season and the final tournament. Eric, along with four other players, will represent the United States at the World Junior Squash Championships this summer. Fellow senior Andrew Vinci won his draw at the N.E. tournament for the third straight year, defeating his rival from Brunswick 3–0 in the finals. Senior Scott Persing and captain-elect Auloke Mathur ’03 also made the finals at the tournament.

WRESTLING 13–4–1 This was a great year for the wrestling team, due to the dedication of a core of three- and four-year seniors. The big wins this winter came early over a very strong Pomfret team (45–35) and later against the always competitive Williston (39–33). However, the most inspiring victory was actually a come-from-behind 39–39 tie with Choate. The match had seesawed throughout, with Taft losing entering the final match. The tie was achieved with senior Charlie Serafine’s pin, earning the six points needed. Senior tri-captains Jeff Volling, Andrew Bisset, and Bruce Trammell, and Tom Hull all finished 2nd or 3rd in the league tournament, with Hull placing 3rd at the N.E. tournament.

GIRLS’ HOCKEY 16–5–2 New England Semifinals This was a deep team with solid speed that found itself in some close games in the middle of the season despite outshooting nearly every opponent. Bouncing back from some close losses, the girls roared into the N.E. tournament as the 4th seed, thanks to huge wins over rival Hotchkiss (2–0) and a very strong Berkshire team (5–0) in what was clearly the best game of the year for Taft. The first round 5–2 victory over Cushing set up a showdown with undefeated Nobles, the one team to outshoot the lady Rhinos earlier in the season (a 1–0 win for Nobles). Though they scored midway through the final period to make it 2–1, Taft never got another good chance to tie the game and perhaps knock off Nobles, who went on to win the title. Seniors Megan Scully and Jen Fischl were selected as Founders’ League All-Stars, while the leading scorers for the season were Jaclyn Hawkins (36 pts.) and uppermid Nicole Mandras (32 pts.). With a host of talented young players, this is a team that should have a shot at the title again next year.

Katie McCabe ’04 in the N.E. tournament game against Choate. Taft powered through the regular season with 15 straight wins, and was up by ten points in the second half of the quarterfinal game, only to lose a heartbreaking 49–47 final on two Choate free throws with two seconds left in the game. SAM DANGREMOND ’05

GIRLS’ BASKETBALL 17–3 New England Quarterfinals The girls powered through the regular season on the strength of 15 straight wins, including solid victories over four other N.E. tournament teams—LoomisChafee, Choate, Miss Porters, and Williston. The team was led offensively by Watertown post-graduate Ann Belforti, a N.E. Class A All-Star, a skilled ball handler and a natural shooter. Yet, the team motto this year was defense, and the type of defense Taft played all season was a

physical, never-let-up style that stymied all but the top team in N.E.—Tabor Academy—in the only game that Taft did not have a chance to win this year. The defense was anchored by sisters Kara ’02 and Katie McCabe ’04, four-year senior captain Marci McCormack, returning uppermid Caitlin Gritt, and captain-elect point guard Katie Franklin ’03. The tournament quarterfinal game v. Choate saw Taft up by ten in the second half, only to lose a heartbreaking 49–47 final on two Choate free throws with two seconds left in the game. The junior varsity finished their second consecutive undefeated season at 15–0. Taft Bulletin Spring 2002







GIRLS’ SQUASH 10–3 3rd at New England Tournament Girls’ squash followed a solid 5th place finish at the N.E. tournament last year with an inspiring and impressive 3rd place finish this year. For the first time ever, all seven Taft players made the quarterfinals in the N.E. tournament, and the team was tied for first place at the end of the first day of competition. In the end, Taft players Well Kovithvathanaphong ’02, Catherine Haldeman ’04, and Hannah Baker ’03 all made it to the semifinals, while middler Supriya Balsekar continued her season-long domination of the best players in N.E. In winning the individual N.E. Championship, Balsekar lost only one game, setting herself as the best Boys‘ Basketball Girls’ Ski Racing Boys’ Ski Racing

9–13 4th in SL 5th in SL

player in N.E. by some measure. Her level of skill and effort was critical in this fine season for the girls’ team, which included victories over Hotchkiss, Choate, and Andover, and the Founders’ League title.

BOYS’ HOCKEY 22–4 New England Finals The boys’ varsity hockey team continued to build its legacy as one of the finest teams in the country, making the N.E. tournament and winning over 19 games for the 3rd consecutive year. Once again, Coach Mike Maher’s team was defined by a deep bench and solid speed, meaning that Taft would outskate and outshoot most of its opponents. The regular season success included another Lawrenceville Tournament championship, two-win sweeps of Avon (4–1, 3–0) and Hotchkiss (6–2, 6–2), and an inspiring 2–0 win at home against a very strong Deerfield team. Goaltender

Travis Russell ’03 posted eleven shutouts and gave up fewer goals than any goalie in the N.E. prep school ranks. Taft’s defense was anchored by the relentless, physical play of Jamie Sifers ’02, and the offense took its cue from senior co-captain Ben Driver. Both players were selected for the All-N.E. team, and together they helped define Taft hockey with their leadership, perseverance, and sportsmanship for the past three years. Their run to the N.E. tournament championship game hinged on the play of emerging star uppermid Casey Ftorek, who scored both goals in the unbelievable 2–1 overtime semifinal win over Cushing and the first goal v. St. Sebastian in the final game. Taft began the tournament at home, jumping out to a 3–0 first period lead over Salisbury but needing a late third-period goal to clinch the 4–2 win. In the semifinal victory over no. 1 ranked Cushing, all three goals were scored on power plays, with Ftorek burying the game-winner off of a brilliant pass from Ben Driver 10 minutes into overtime. The excitement of that win carried over into the final game versus the defending champion, St. Sebastian. The championship game was a battle of momentum changes, with Taft jumping out to a 1–0 lead but falling behind 3–1 in the first period. The Big Red then outshot St. Sebastian 16–4 but could not convert on a two-man advantage in the second period. In the third, Todd Johnson ’04 put back a rebound to make it 3–2, and Taft would have several chances to tie the game, including a flurry of shots around the St. Sebastian goal in the final 30 seconds, but it was not to be. Seniors Scott Seney and Peter Hafner, along with Travis Russell, were selected to the All-Founders’ League team. 䉳 Ben Driver ’02 eludes his Salisbury opponent en route to the team's 4-2 victory in the quarterfinals of the N.E. tournament. Taft then defeated no. 1-seed Cushing Academy before falling to defending champion St. Sebatian 3-2 in the finals. BOB FALCETTI


Taft Bulletin Spring 2002


Showdown on ice Two Alumnae Compete for Gold in the XIX Winter Games


By Lance Odden



atsy and I journeyed to Salt Lake this winter, following the search of hockey players A.J. Mleczko ’93 and Tammy Shewchuk ’96 for Olympic gold. They shared so much in common: A.J., the trailblazer, held scoring records at Taft and Harvard and led both teams to championships. Her scoring records at both schools were then broken by Tammy, who shared a national women’s championship with A.J. at Harvard when A.J. returned for her last year of collegiate eligibility after playing a key role in the USA Olympic triumph of 1998. Of course, each played for Patsy at Taft and for another Taft protégé, Katey Stone ’84, at Harvard. The similarity stops, however, at the 49th parallel, as A.J. would play for Team USA and Tammy for Canada, participating in the strongest international rivalry in women’s sports.


Taft Bulletin Spring 2002

In spite of Patsy’s g1owing reports of the Olympic experience and her visits to Lillehammer and Nagano, I was unprepared for the excitement, glory, and beauty of the XIX Winter Olympics at Salt Lake City. The people of Utah were extraordinary hosts; the events were efficiently produced. In spite of judging controversies, sportsmanship prevailed at every turn and the crowds were spirited, patriotic, and filled with a great joie de vivre. From the brilliant skating of Sarah Hughes, to the risk taking of skier Bode Miller, to the extraordinary level of hockey contests, we could not have been exposed to a more exhilarating Olympic experience. The E Center in Salt Lake provided a perfect site for Olympic Hockey. Of the dozen games we saw, half were men’s, and those were distinguished by the most wide-open, exciting hockey ever offered as a direct result of international rules and a larger ice surface. The same was true for the women’s contests, though to be fair,

their traditional game is happily free of the clutch-and-grab behavior which slows down men’s hockey and leads to so much unnecessary violence. For hockey fans, the ten days of the XIX Olympics would be the ultimate experience. In women’s hockey the early games showcased the elegant playmaking and overall poise of Team USA, who easily skated through their preliminary games to the medal round. Team Canada’s courage and determination were evident throughout but their games were closer, particularly a 3–2 victory over Finland, whom Team USA dominated with ease. Each a central fixture on her team, A.J. and Tammy excelled, setting up goals and participating in power play situations while working well with the respective systems of their squads. In a way each woman reflected the strength of her nation’s team—A.J., older, more experienced, and a beautiful team player; Tammy, younger,

blessed with great speed and exuberance but less experienced. The odds makers favored the Americans, but as Tom Mleczko, A.J.’s father, noted, the pressure would all be on Team USA, who had beaten Canada eight consecutive times by ever narrower margins. Moreover Tom underscored the great team speed of the U.S.’s rival from the North and worried that early success would provide them with the confidence they had lacked throughout their preliminary clashes. And so it would be. Patsy and my pride swelled as A.J. and Tammy went through the warmup of the gold medal game. As she had in every period of every game, A.J. started at defense. Similarly, Tammy would anchor Canada’s second line— their fastest and highest scoring unit. When the first puck dropped it went initially to Mleczko, who feathered a perfect pass to a breaking wing, but to no avail. Thirty seconds later a burst of speed by Shewchuk provided

Canada with their first scoring opportunity. Thus it would be for our Taft Olympians, each playing brilliantly for her nation. However, the day was to be Canada’s—their team speed and mastery of odd player situations, especially the power play, enabled them to score early and then to hang on for a 3–2 victory, one justly deserved. On this day they were the better team. The medal ceremony was deeply moving, with American tears juxtaposed by Canadian joy. As the teams shook hands, Tammy and A.J. briefly embraced, each undoubtedly feeling powerful and conflicting emotions. What a shame that someone had to lose. At the beginning of the Games I had asked Tom Mleczko what he, as a veteran Olympic father, feared most in these Games. His searingly honest answer, “that I might see A.J. play her last game.” On February 21, 2002, Patsy and I shared that emotion for both these great Taft Olympians. It was too great to end here, but it had.



This summer, Anne and Jerry Romano retire to Cape Cod after 31 years filling every need the school has asked them to, finding time finally to nurture gardens instead of students, luring fish instead of donors, and finding time for themselves.

By Willy MacMullen ’78

To the


You would hear a symphony of praise and affection if the entire Taft community voiced its feelings about this couple that has given so much for so many years. This is what a few of their friends say:

䉱 A lot of couples look at Anne and Jerry and think, “That’s what a marriage should be.”

When you think of Anne and Jerry Romano, you think of scenes that look like watercolors. Anne has a garden in Chatham. When I visit, that’s where I usually find her, her legs scratched from the roses, and her face smudged with dirt and sweat. She is always smiling. Often she has a plant in her arms—a transplanting in process. She is the best gardener I have ever seen, and the most passionate. She soaks seaweed in buckets of water and pours the mix on her perennials. She carts in manure from a nearby horse farm and spreads crumbly, dark compost around shrubs. She can take cuttings, dip them in root hormone, and three months later she has a knotted miniature hedge of rue or boxwood. A few years ago, she and Jerry brought a dozen thin, scraggly arborvitae trees to plant behind their house, as a screen. Today it is a lush green wall. Her plants are like people. She will point

to a rose, for instance, and say, with her delightful Italian accent, “She is a perfect lady, and so well behaved.” Anne loves to touch leaves and petals, and she cannot walk by a blossom without holding it to her face and breathing in the fragrance. The rose garden is bordered by privet, and the walkways are of pea-stone. Walking under the arch to enter, you have to duck your head beneath a tumult of blossoms from a climbing rose. Fruit trees bend over the hedge at the corners. Each flowerbed has knots of plantings, intertwined in patterns; and you brush against delicate tea roses and heavy-headed peonies when you stroll toward a bench at the end of the garden. Anne likes to sit there in the early evening, with cold ice tea made from her own herbs, and it is in the garden where she entertains and holds her annual “Ladies’ Tea Party,” an event which seems to spring from the pages of

There simply is not another person in the world who is as kind, gentle, and patient as Anne Romano. She took students under her wing, and cared about them like no one else. There was so much energy and passion in everything she did, whether reading an uppermid’s paper, driving students to go horse riding, or arranging flowers. It’s just sad that future Taft students won’t benefit from this incredible woman. —Christina Coons ’00 I am one of the lucky ones. I was touched by many great Taft teachers, but Jerry was different. When I looked in his eyes, I saw love. I am not sure I deserved it, but I could tell. I was an angry youth, and my temper was hard to handle, but he stood by me. He was tough and didn’t tolerate my behavior, but the love was always there. It never left. —Adam Bronfman ’81 He was the perfect leader. I spoke to him almost every day during the “Campaign for Taft,” and he was the man who held it all together. He was the conductor, and we played to his beat. —Drummond Bell ’63

to the


How much they have both meant to the Taft community! Their contributions are so towering it is hard to imagine the place without them. As the school’s third headmaster, and personally, I will always treasure them both. —John Esty, Headmaster 1963–72

Taft Bulletin Spring 2002


How can a man do so many things and do them all so well? A great lineman must be intelligent, determined, courageous, tireless, self-effacing, resourceful, and humorous; and those are Jerry’s traits. Perhaps intelligence is the most important, as it took a wise man to woo Anne and convince her that the life of a Taft teacher would be a wonderful adventure. And she was a faculty mom, and then raised their kids, and then on to Beezer’s archives, and so on. We will always be grateful to Anne and Jerry. —Hope and Gino Kelly ’55 I always admired his brilliant mind, his sensitivity to kids, his quiet wit, and his subtle classroom manner. —Robin (Blackburn) Osborn, faculty emerita Anne was a renaissance woman. How appropriate that she should be the one to reestablish Winnie Taft to her rightful place in Taft history! Jerry was the protean school man, ever evolving from the world of Melville and the English Department to coach extraordinaire, to dean, and then to maestro of alumni relations. What essential support and wise counsel he gave Taft. —Patsy and Lance Odden, Headmaster 1972–2001 People are always surprised at what ex-football players can accomplish. They just don’t realize how all those hours of digging around in the mud and then going back to catch up on homework can be great training for any difficult job. And offensive linemen never get much credit, nor for the most part do they seek it. —John Burns P’84,’88,’93


Taft Bulletin Spring 2002

䉱 Anne, in Venice in 1968, was born not far from Rome and moved to Connecticut as a teenager.

a Jane Austen novel. If you were a painter, this garden is where you would see her: the green hedge framing the scene, the splashes of color in the foreground, and

near Muddy Creek, on his hands and knees, with a metal basket of steamers on the sand next to him, and a big clam rake in his hand. At Ryder’s Cove, he

“They think of him raising his eyebrows, his eyes twinkling in jest, and ready to tell a story or give advice. And there are a lot of people who foundered on life’s shoals and made their way off only because Jerry was there to save them.”

a carpet of rose petals at her feet. When Jerry is done helping Anne in the garden, he goes to Pleasant Bay. This is his garden. Sometimes you’ll find him

tends to do what most boaters do: walk the docks, peering in at boats, and talking to guys unloading fishing gear. On Saturday and Sunday mornings, he gets

䉲 Head of Cruikshank House 1974

䉱 Jerry served so well as director of development, that many here forget he was once dean of students, a three-sport coach, and one of the best teachers in the English Department.

䉱 Jerry, kicking off the capital campaign in 1995 with Development staffers Graceann Hess, Bob Campbell ’76, Kirsten Nixa, Olivia Tuttle, Bonnie Welch, and Chip Spencer ’56.

up very early so he can have the Bay before the weekend crowd is on the water. He steers through crooked channels, pokes behind islands, and drifts past the lobster buoys as the sun comes up. At other times, he likes to stand at the edge of the water, in the stillness at dusk, and he’s careful not to disturb the scene with too much fishing. If you were to paint him, this is what you would see: Jerry gazing at his moored boat, the barrier beach a distant edge, a lobster boat working its way in to the harbor. He stands and watches, and then the sun goes down as he walks back to the house to see Anne.

It is to Chatham that Anne and Jerry will retire, and when they leave Taft, the school will have lost two of the most beloved and respected people it has ever known. It is impossible to think of this place without them; together they touched people deeply and in every corner of the campus. Jerry’s leadership as director of development, especially during the capital campaign that raised over $130 million dollars, was inspiring. He was simply the best in the business, and he may have worked harder in those years than anyone on campus. He worked so well and for so long in the Alumni Office that you almost forget that he was dean of students, a three-sport coach, and one of the best English teachers in the department. He did everything very, very well; and he never cared who got the credit. He was a lineman, after all, and more than any players on a football team,

Anne with her first group of Peer Tutors in 1997 䉴

they know what it is to toil anonymously. But the people around Jerry always have known that his intellect, humor, compassion, and integrity made him unique. There are probably a couple hundred people in the extended Taft family who feel that Jerry is their best friend. They think of him raising his eyebrows, his eyes twinkling in jest, and ready to tell a story or give advice. And there are a lot of people who foundered on life’s shoals and made their way off only because Jerry was there to save them. Anne’s career was just as distinguished. A dorm parent, head librarian, director of the archives, a tutor in the Learning Center, and author of Winifred Taft’s biography—she touched students and faculty everywhere. If Jerry speaks 䉲 Jerry coaching football with Larry Stone

His effectiveness as the director of development was in his quiet, unassuming, and often humorous persona, but he engendered total confidence. And how many people could occupy that spot and end up a friend to so many of the Taft constituency? —Lee Klingenstein ’44 Both Anne and Jerry showed an unforgettable concern and caring. I remember after I graduated and Jerry was on sabbatical, living in their tiny cottage on the Cape, and commuting to Harvard. In the spring of that year, my boyfriend was diagnosed with a virulent form of cancer. When Jerry found out, he found me, made me pack my bag, and brought me down to the Cape so I could spend a weekend with the family. … I am so happy to think of them retiring, but I am sad that future classes of Taft students won’t know them. Their values are the ones that should be taught and perpetuated at Taft. I know they live on in me. —Sara Frankel ’77

Taft Bulletin Spring 2002


portrait which today hangs at the school (page 10). You feel that Anne and Winnie met, had tea, and then Anne invited her back to campus, to join Horace.

Their friendship and devotion to the school highlight their exemplary careers. The Taft experience is richer for all those who have known the Romanos during these dynamic years. —Brad Laube ’51 What began as a working relationship soon developed into a truly pleasurable friendship with Anne and Jerry. Most memorable moments include ravioli construction projects, porchetta extravaganzas, and at the top of the list, a delightful time together in Firenze, enjoying the remarkable sights and tastes of Anne’s native land. We look forward to adding to those happy memories. —Bob and Graceann Hess Jerry was a neophyte in putting together a capital fund drive back in 1993, but as in everything else he became an expert fast. Very soon I became the learner and, to my good fortune, a confidant. His versatility amazes me. One morning I arrived at 8:30 to be told Jerry would be back in an hour. He had gone to teach a Latin class. Then there was Joyce’s house. After a long, grueling campaign day he’d adjourn until 11 p.m., tearing down walls, building cabinets, and performing many other tasks normally reserved for a master carpenter. —Joe Anderson, campaign consultant


Taft Bulletin Spring 2002

䉱 With granddaughter Kayla

quietly and slowly, at times even sotto voce, Anne is bubbly, loquacious, irrepressibly optimistic. She has a great laugh, and even simply hearing her call your name can make your day. She is also so maternal, so soothing and empathic, that scores of Taft students, especially those from other countries, have adopted her

Jerry grew up in nearby Derby, and he was one of the best football players in the state. A tough lineman—his opponents there and in college said, “you simply could not move him”—he was recruited by Amherst, and there he had a great career, graduating in 1971. He had a high school sweetheart, the prettiest gal in town, and her name was Anne. They married not long after they left Derby. When he was encouraged to look into teaching, he came to Taft. One member of the faculty wondered about this “football coach” joining the department, until he saw that Jerry’s thesis had been on the poetry of Robert Lowell. So Jerry taught and coached foot-

“She is also so maternal, so soothing and empathic, that scores of Taft students, especially those from other countries, have adopted her as a surrogate mother. To her, the entire school is her garden; she rescues the wilting flowers.” as a surrogate mother. To her, the entire school is her garden; she rescues the wilting flowers. Perhaps her greatest gift was saving Winnie Taft from anonymity in penning her beautifully written and impeccably researched biography, in giving lectures and slide shows on Horace and Winnie, and finally in commissioning a

ball, wrestling, and track. In 1980 he was appointed dean of students, and four years later he became the director of development. Taft was lucky to keep him; he had people knocking on his door every year trying to get him to work elsewhere. But Jerry prizes loyalty and relationships, and he served magnificently.

䉲 Anne, who reintroduced Winnie Taft to the school, presented a morning meeting about her with Sara Beasley, Robin Osborn, and Bruce Fifer in 1999.

䉱 Whether it is advising a student’s ISP in fly-fishing or finally catching “the big one,” Jerry loves the sport.

Anne was born not far from Rome, and she moved to Derby as a high school student. Jerry was a sophomore, she a junior: “I was dating an older woman!” he recalls. A shop owner in town shared, “How could you forget them? He was a two-time All-State player, and maybe the smartest guy in class, and she was smart and beautiful. They don’t make them any nicer than those two.” After she graduated, Anne went to Sacred Heart and graduated with a degree in English. She began graduate work in art at Smith, but when she and Jerry married and came to Taft, she began what would become a 31year love affair with the school. She is still as active as ever, now as a tutor and

䉱 Jerry, with Headmaster Lance Odden and future Head of School Willy MacMullen ’78 fishing at Pleasant Bay, Cape Cod, in 2001

archivist. In the Main Hall you often see her with a stuffed book bag, laughing with a student, or putting finishing touches on an archival exhibit, with a knot of boys and girls around her as she tells stories. She spends hours tutoring students in the Learning Center, and they all love her. Usually there is a sprig of lilac or a daffodil poking out of the bag. The walk from her house to campus takes her by innumerable trees and gardens, and she can’t help herself. A lot of couples at Taft look at Anne and Jerry and think, “That’s what a marriage should be.” They are still in love, and watching the fun they have together you feel you have a sense what things

䉱 Anne conducting interviews with members of the Class of 1933 for the Oral History project, contributing to the archives.

looked like in 1966 when they were the talk of Derby High School. Here at Taft they raised three great children—Christina, Joyce ’92, and Jerry—and it’s a family filled with love and laughter. They will retire to the garden and the bay, and they have books to read, a granddaughter to spoil, and a boat to steer. They symbolize the very best of a great school, and they leave an astonishing legacy of love, spirit, and commitment.

The Romano Scholarship A scholarship has been established in honor of Jerry and Anne Romano by some alumni, parents, and friends in recognition of this couple’s 31 years of devoted service to Taft. This endowed fund will provide financial assistance to a deserving student who will be selected as The Romano Scholar. If you would like to participate in this fund to pay tribute to this remarkable Taft couple, please send a check made out to The Taft School—Romano Scholarship to: The Taft School, 110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795. Attention: Clayton B. Spencer ’56, Director of Development.

Taft Bulletin Spring 2002


In It for the Kids Jerry DePolo Retires By Al Reiff ’80


hen I was younger, I used to look like Paul Newman.” On Taft’s faculty, only the inimitable Jerry DePolo can get away with this line year after year in his classes. When students ask him why the top of his head is so shiny, he gives a sly grin and replies that he likes to have “a wide part” in his hair, but that in his youth, he and Paul were virtually twins. Dry humor has always been one of Jerry’s trademarks. His “Jerryisms” are legendary, as he has made learning math a truly enjoyable experience for generations of students. He has always been in it for the kids, even when they haven’t altogether been here. “Wait a second, Mr. DePolo. I’m lost. Where are we?” asks a boy whose attention has been elsewhere. “Why Timmy,” Jerry says very slowly and enunciating every syllable, “we are in Watertown, Connecticut. We are at The Taft School. That’s where we are, Timmy.” The rest of the class fails to hold back their giggles. They have learned by now to pay attention at all times to the wizard at the blackboard. All teachers hold out hope that their students can recall material from prior courses. In math, few of us relish rehashing fractions and long division yet again, but it’s no problem for Jerry. “Now you remember, back in grade school learning the ‘guzintas,’ ” he tells a class. They look at each other hoping for enlightenment. “Mr. DePolo,” one brave student ventures, “my school didn’t teach the ‘guzintas.’ ”

Pausing, Jerry looks over the class and reassures them. “Of course you did. Each and every one of you did. When you learned division, you’d say 4 goes into 8 twice and 5 goes into 15 three times. You did the ‘guzintas,’” The class howls with laughter. Jerry has needed that sense of humor to help him through the many tough battles he’s faced since graduating from Providence College in 1962. As he earned a master’s at Fairfield University, Jerry spent the year as a permanent substitute at Crosby High School in Waterbury at $11 a day.

Paul Newman’s twin (?) graduated from Crosby High School before earning a degree at Providence College.

Upon earning his degree, Jerry began teaching at Watertown High School. After one year, his brilliance in the classroom was recognized and he was made the chair of the Math Department at the ripe age of 24. It was a few years before the rebellious nature of that time crept into the public schools, before students were battling teachers, teachers battling administrators, and administrators battling unions. But Jerry lived through it all. And worked through it all. We forget that the notion of reasonably-paid teachers is a very recent phenomenon. When Jerry’s kids were born, he held down three jobs to pay the bills. Besides teaching at Watertown High, Jerry taught at Mattatuck (now Naugatuck Valley Technical) Community College, he taught at Post (now Teikyo Post) College, and he worked as a landscaper. There was no such thing as a vacation for Jerry in the 1970s. One of Jerry’s other jobs in the 1980s was teaching at the Taft Summer School. Then-director Rusty Davis was looking for a math teacher, and a friend recommended Jerry. It was there, in the summer

䉳 For 11 years, the Taft Community enjoyed the presence of the DePolo teaching team, until Lois succumbed to cancer in 1997. Taft Bulletin Spring 2002


As golf coach, Jerry instilled in his players a love for the game that will last a lifetime.

of 1983 as the intern for his geometry class that I first met Jerry. Toward the end of the summer session I asked him for some career advice. “Al,” he told me, “I wouldn’t recommend going into teaching.” I like to think that his assessment wasn’t based on my ability, but on the state of the profession at the time. After two years of teaching at the summer school, Jerry was hooked on Taft. Despite being named Connecticut teacher of the year for the town of Watertown, Jerry was ready for a change. Not many people would go in to see Lance Odden cold about a job, but Jerry is not many people. His oldest daughter, Anna ’89, had been a childhood pal of future Taft classmate Laurie Odden. When the girls were little, they had played on the same youth soccer teams. Jerry had met Lance on the sidelines at many games, and the two proud fathers had become acquainted. Eight months after sitting in Lance’s office, he was sitting in his kitchen when the phone rang. Lance was on the other end offering Jerry a job. In September 1985, Taft got its first true taste of “Jerry’s kids,” as his colleagues would soon call them. Since that first month, students have clamored to get into Jerry’s classes. Year in


Taft Bulletin Spring 2002

and year out, he carries the heaviest student load of anyone in the department. A couple of years back, Michelle Holmes ’00 told me, “I learn so much in his class, but the amazing thing is, I do it without trying to learn. He has an unbelievable way of synthesizing information so that you learn everything without realizing that you’re learning it all. His style coupled with his contagious enthusiasm makes him entirely unique. I love going to his class.” After Jerry had been here one year, Taft doubled its DePolo stock by hiring Lois, Jerry’s wife and fellow math teacher. “Our whole lives revolved around Taft,” Jerry says. Taft became the center for his family as all three daughters (Anna ’89, Beth ’91, and Sarah ’94) were to graduate throughout the following decade. Lois’ gentle manner and ready smile charmed countless students. She and Jerry formed a great math team for Taft. Their compassionate natures and warm spirits made math classrooms wonderful places to be. For eleven years, we had the joy of experiencing the DePolo duo. Sadly, in 1997, Lois succumbed to cancer. The

entire community was devastated by the loss, and the outpouring of emotion was overwhelming. “We have a tremendous connection here,” Jerry tells me. “The entire DePolo family is proud. The people of Watertown and the parents and trustees of Taft have been incredibly generous.” The Lois DePolo Scholarship annually assists a day student in defraying the cost of tuition. After teaching here two years, Jerry was named head of the Math Department. His philosophy of “math for all” directed the department. John Piacenza explains, “Every school has students that struggle with math, students whom most math teachers find difficult, timeconsuming, and frustrating to teach. Jerry knows how to reach those students. His gift to Taft has been to motivate hundreds of students who would otherwise never have opened their minds to mathematical concepts.” In 1991, when the Abramowitz family created an award to recognize outstanding teaching at Taft, Jerry was the runaway choice as the inaugural recipient. More than 60 percent of the senior class chose him as the teacher

“Our whole lives revolved around Taft,” says Jerry, whose wife Lois and daughters Sarah ’94, Anna ’89, and Beth ’91 quickly became part of the community as well.

“whose distinguished contribution to classroom teaching has made learning come alive and who has been most inspirational to students at Taft.” Jerry was also the first holder of The Henry L. Hillman Chair, established by Henry Hillman ’37. “Since my earliest day as his colleague,” says Steve McCabe, “Jerry has impressed me as the consummate professional who always put the kids’ best interests first. With ‘repetition is the mother of learning’ as his charge, he reached countless students through holding them to high standards while never losing sight of the fact that this can be done ever so successfully with compassion and a dose of humor.” “I only hope that I will have a similar type of impact on my students that Jerry has had on his,” says Susan McCabe. “I don’t believe that I’ve ever heard a negative comment from anyone who has had Jerry as a teacher. He cares deeply for his students, and always gives his best regardless of how he feels.” Jerry works his magic every day in every class. He never tires of helping kids learn. After presenting a difficult topic on the blackboard, he pauses to see if everyone has understood. When certain they all have, Jerry asks, “You know what we call this?” Dead silence as the kids await enlightenment from this teaching wizard. “We call this thinking,” he says with clear enunciation so it sounds like “think-king.” “Jerry teaches the student, not the material,” says longtime math teacher Ted Heavenrich. “His teaching style combines humor and warmth, so that his students feel very comfortable in the classroom. This is a testament to his professionalism and his belief that he should be available for extra help on a regular basis.” Giving extra help is a major component in a math teacher’s day. “We all put in a lot of time here,” observes Karla Palmer, “helping kids in math, but I don’t think anyone does more than Jerry.”

Inside the classroom and out, Jerry has always cared about kids, even more than he does about golf. “Jerry served the Taft golf program faithfully for 16 years,” says current varsity coach Jack Kenerson ’82, first with the varsity and then for 10 years with the JV. “His first teams were the powerhouse teams of the mid-1980s that compiled terrific records and tournament victories. Most important, Jerry instilled in his players a love for the game of golf that will last a lifetime, and that is a gift a number of Taft golfers will appreciate in years to come. If there is a gentleman who epitomizes the principles of fair play and love of the game, Jerry is that man.” In the spring of 1992, the family of Erika Hellstrom ’92 had a litter of yellow labs. Jerry took one and named him Quincy. The two have been virtually inseparable since “Quince” is the gentlest, most trusting dog you’ll find. Who is it that says a dog takes on the traits of its owner? Every night, when Jerry gives extra help Quincy is right there by his side. For kids far away from home, this has been a gentle and furry reminder that Taft could be just as warm and caring as any living room. Jerry has been in the business for 40 years now. He looks back fondly at his years in the classroom. “I made so many great friends at Watertown High—many former students are close friends now.” “I have met people at non-Taft events,” says Karla Palmer, “and they had Jerry years ago at Watertown High or at Mattatuck who recall him as one of the best math teachers they had. His roots go so far beyond our little community.” But it is Jerry’s impact in our community we celebrate. Leaving Taft will be hard, very hard for him. He has cherished every day he’s been in a Taft classroom. When Karla Palmer interviewed here, she had lunch with Jerry. “I listened as Jerry spoke with such reverence of his colleagues and teaching here. Clearly, he cared deeply about Taft, and I knew right then I wanted to work with him.”

A devoted and popular teacher, Jerry was the first recipient of the William and Lee Abramowitz Award and the inaugural holder of the Hillman Chair.

For this shy, modest man walking away after 40 years in education will be no small task. He has touched the lives of so many and served as a wonderful example of a teacher who truly believes in “kids first.” Karla sums up all our thoughts, “I will miss him more than he will ever know.” Jerry’s youngest daughter, Sarah, says that she recently went to her dad “to ask the impossible question of ‘what should I do with my life?’ ” He simply replied, “Sarah, I don’t have an answer to that, but I will tell you that there has never been a day that I have not been happy to walk into the classroom. Do what will make you happy.” It has been a great ride for Jerry. He asks, “How many people can work 40 years and say they had fun everyday?” And our community has shone a little more brightly these last 17 years, even if it has only been the reflection beaming off the top of Jerry’s head. Al Reiff ’80 is the current head of the Math Department, having pursued a career in teaching despite Jerry’s earlier advice. They both joined the faculty in 1985.

Taft Bulletin Spring 2002









By Court Wold ’02


come from the western state of Wyoming, and my opinions, morals, and character reflect my unique upbringing. For some, this school will shape their adolescent lives. They will learn many lessons that will help them understand who they are as individuals. For me, it was the spirit of the western frontier that has made me who I am today, but coming to Taft has opened many doors for me, and three years at this school have helped to chip away my many rough edges. Several aspects of my life have shaped me into the young man I am: work, my family, Taft, and my friends. I have grown up working outside. The outdoors is where I like to spend my time. In the summer, my boss reminds me that we only work half days: “seven in the mornin’ ’til seven in the evenin’.” On my family’s ranch we raise Black Angus cows and calves. Ranching is not about dudes, hayrides, red bandanas, and cowboy boots. Ranching is waking up to a night sky filled with sparkling stars, doctoring an injured cow, having a deep respect for the land and its wildlife, and jumping back on your saddle after you get bucked off. I am paid around $30 for a 10-hour day. These wages do not produce a secure salary in today’s material world, but my western spirit tells me that although ranching is not often a profitable way to live, it provides a gratifying way of life—a way of life that has permeated and captured my soul. I would like to share a story about something that happened to me last summer and how it relates to my experience here at Taft. It was late July, and my cows needed water badly. The day began around 4:30 a.m. I had to move 40 pairs of cows and calves to a water hole. As the sun peaked over the horizon, I saddled up for the long ride ahead. The cows were a halfday’s ride away. When I finally reached them, I moved them toward the water hole. As Powder, my horse, and I moved behind the herd, the familiar sound of a rattlesnake broke the silence. Powder bucked, spooking at the sight of the coiled snake. Even before I hit the ground, my horse was headed back to the cow camp. With a bleeding eye and several sore ribs, I knew I must keep going; I was close to losing calves to dehydration. So I moved the herd on foot, following with an encouraging “yip” or holler. It was a harrowing five hours to the water hole, but we made it. After another three miles on foot, I staggered to the cabin, where I found my stubborn horse waiting at the corral. I retired to my bedroll around ten o’clock, injured and exhausted, but as I shut my eyes I thought about the beautiful country and the job I had accomplished, realizing that the most meaningful and educational moments in life were lessons that can only be acquired through hard work and commitment. It is from my experience


Taft Bulletin Spring 2002

of work on our ranch that I have come to appreciate the benefits of sweat and success, to appreciate how difficult and yet rewarding only a half day’s work can be. The things that make a ranch work also make a family work. They are devotion, passion, and love. Just as you need to be devoted to your work, you must be devoted to your family. Growing up with two sisters and loving parents has been a blessing, although until an accident occurred in our family several years ago, I rarely expressed my love for my family and friends. My sister Holly was 13 at the time. She was buried alive on June 28, 1998, by thousands of pounds of sand that fell on her when she was in a tunnel that collapsed. My dad and I found her at least 40 minutes later. She was without oxygen, and after we dug her out, her pulse was gone—no breath, no life. The deadly gray of her eyes and skin and the deoxygenated blue in her lips are colors I will never forget. This accident has changed my life forever. Although Holly’s heart had stopped, a friend of mine performed CPR on her and found her pulse. After six months in the hospital and hours of rehabilitation, Holly’s new life began to unfold. Today, miraculously, she leads a perfectly normal life, playing field hockey and going to school, doing everything else that a normal 16year-old would do. The ability to survive, cooperate, and love take on a different meaning after an accident of this nature occurs to someone you love. What my sister experienced was one of the most frightening and painful accidents imaginable, and yet I see it brought a blessing rather than a tragedy because it drew my family so much closer together and made me realize how fragile life is. I know this sounds clichéd, but don’t be afraid to tell the people around you that you love them. The lessons that I have learned through working on the ranch and my sister’s accident shaped me before I came to Taft, but they have also influenced my experiences here. Take individuality for example. Being an individual and standing by what you believe in helps you to be an essential part of your family and your community. Coming from Wyoming, I have many of my own opinions that are different from most of yours. One of the aspects of Taft that I have battled with is the difference in all of our beliefs. For example, many here understand the organization PETA to stand for People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals; I understand PETA to stand for People for the Eating of Tasty Animals. I have come to recognize that at times I must temper my thoughts and opinions and listen to and respect others so that I can live and work cooperatively within the community, still honoring my own character.

Hard work and perseverance are also vital to a job, a family, and a community. Those of you who know me understand that I am not the sharpest knife in the drawer. I have average SAT scores and for most of my Taft career have struggled to get 4s—though for the first time this fall I made the honor roll by working harder and studying more than I ever have. Likewise, when I showed up for preseason my mid year, I hunkered in my room for three nights because I was so intimidated by the other players. By persisting and battling through the bigger and better players, I gained a respect for myself and what hard work can accomplish. I know that I could not have taken on the challenges of Taft without the work habits I learned in Wyoming. A ranch, a family, or a community cannot function unless all members also feel deeply responsible. If I had not taken responsibility for the cows on our ranch that day last summer, they would have died. In a similar fashion, we as students at Taft sometimes have to take responsibility for our friends in a way that determines whether or not they make it through this school. I can tell you from my experience at the ranch that I would not have been able to save the cows that day without the experience of taking on responsibilities when less was at stake. The little responsibilities that we face every day are preparing us for those moments in life when we are faced with a major responsibility that might even involve saving a life. I was ultimately reminded of this responsibility over winter break, when my sister told me that her last thought before she quit breathing, was “I am just going to go to sleep, because I know Court will find me.” Let us not forget what our lives are about. We must know and understand our priorities and what really counts in life. Whether it is bringing the cows home, hugging your precious sister, or excelling in the classroom, it is your responsibilities, independence, and hard work that will take you beyond your expectations. Last but not least, I know that my three years at Taft have added much to my character and my inner soul. The academic education I am receiving here has created a foundation I will build upon every day of my entire life. Taft’s administration and teachers have encouraged me to challenge and broaden my individual character, and my friends here are many. They have opened my mind to our differences and our similarities. Without them I would not be the same, and my love for them will never die. Court lives in Kaycee, Wyo., and Denver, Colo. After repeating his sophomore year at Taft, he has become a school monitor, plays varsity soccer, and is the only student who can be found flyfishing for carp in Potter’s Pond.

Thursday, May 16 6:30

50th Reunion Dinner, Class of ’52, Waterbury Country Club

Friday, May 17 7:50–2:00

Classes open to alumni


Taft Golf Tournament Watertown Golf Club

10:30–11:30 Taft Today and Tomorrow with Head of School Willy MacMullen ’78 and selected students Choral Room 11:45

Assembly and Parade, Main Circle


Alumni Luncheon The Donald F. McCullough ’42 Field House •Announcement of new Alumni Trustee •Presentation of the Citation of Merit •Remarks by Head of School, Willy MacMullen ’78


Children’s Program with Magician McCullough Field House


Student-Guided Campus Tours, depart from McCullough Field House


Home Athletic Games: Boys’ Varsity Baseball vs. Kent Boys’ Thirds Lacrosse vs. Avon Girls’ JV Lacrosse vs. Greenwich Youth League

11:00–1:00 School Lunch Armstrong Dining Room 12:00

Reunion Luncheons Classes of ’33, ’37, ’42, ’47


Class of ’52 Luncheon


Early Registration, Main Circle


Home Athletic Game: Girls’ Varsity Lacrosse vs. Sacred Heart


Service of Remembrance Christ Church on the Green


Old Guard Dinner Head of School’s Home 176 Guernseytown Road


Barbecue Head of School’s Home 176 Guernseytown Road


Reunion Dinners, Classes of ’57, ’62, ’67, ’72, ’82, ’87, and ’92


Reunion Gatherings, Classes of ’77 and ’97

Saturday, May 18 7:00–8:00

School Breakfast Armstrong Dining Hall

7:30–12:00 Registration, Main Circle

Sunday, May 19 10:00–12:00 School Brunch Armstrong Dining Hall 10:30

23rd Annual Fun Run, 1-Mile Run, William Weaver Track


Alumni vs. Boys’ Lacrosse Geoffrey C. Camp Field Alumni vs. Boys’ Baseball Rockwell Field


Picnic Geoffrey C. Camp Field

7:50–11:45 Classes open to alumni 9:00–10:30 Student-Guided Campus Tours Main Circle 9:30–10:30 Diversity at Taft, a discussion facilitated by Lynette Sumpter ’90, Director of Multicultural Affairs Laube Auditorium



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Travel with Patsy and Lance Odden, and a party of Taft alumni and friends, on a two-week journey to the fabled sites every visitor to China longs to see, including Beijing’s Forbidden City, the majestic Great Wall, the Terracotta Warriors in Xian, the vibrant city of Shanghai, and Guilin, land of painters and poets. Highlighting our program is a cruise along the Yangtze River aboard the enchanting river ship Victoria. Taft alumni and friends living in China will add meaningfully to this unique journey. For detailed information and reservations, please call Taft Alumni Travel Representative Debra Gibson at 800-257-5767, ext. 511, or 212-774-1511.

Notice: Postal regulations require the school to pay 50 cents for every copy not deliverable as addressed. Please notify us of any change of address, giving both the new and old addresses. You may e-mail changes to TaftRhino@TaftSchool.org.

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