Spring 2006 Taft Bulletin

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Teaching the Art of Everyday Life


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B U L L E T I N Spring 2006 Volume 76 Number 3 Bulletin Staff Director of Development John E. Ormiston Editor Julie Reiff Alumni Notes Linda Beyus Design Good Design, LLC www.gooddesignusa.com Proofreader Nina Maynard Mail letters to: Julie Reiff, Editor Taft Bulletin The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. ReiffJ@TaftSchool.org Send alumni news to: Linda Beyus Alumni Office The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. TaftBulletin@TaftSchool.org Deadlines for Alumni Notes: Summer–May 30 Fall–August 30 Winter–November 15 Spring–February 15 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 The Taft Bulletin (ISSN 0148-0855) is published quarterly, in February, May, August, and November, by The Taft School, 110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 067952100, and is distributed free of charge to alumni, parents, grandparents, and friends of the school. All rights reserved.

This magazine is printed on recycled paper.


F E AT U R E S A Matter of Honor.................................. 16 In this post-Enron age, can student honor codes still have meaning? By Bonnie Blackburn Penhollow '84

The Mysterious Tim Mayer..................... 20 Director, lyricist, and playwright Timothy Mayer ’62 came of age with some of Hollywood’s biggest names but remains largely unknown today. By Andrew Karas ’01

cover story: Don’t Fear the Edges.......... 26 Artist Loueta Chickadaunce teaches her students to be brave in art and in life. By Steve Le


D E PA R T M E N T S Letters.................................................... 2 Alumni Spotlight.................................... 3 Around the Pond.................................... 7 Sport....................................................... 12 Endnote.................................................. 30 Board Chairman Will Miller ’74 steps down

on the cover Art teacher Loueta Chickadaunce, shown here at the school's statewide juried student art exhibit, coordinates a year-round schedule of shows in the Mark W. Potter ’48 Gallery. Bob Falcetti


Taft on the Web Find a friend’s address or look up back issues of the Bulletin at www.TaftAlumni.com For more campus news and events, including admissions information, visit www.TaftSchool.org What happened at this afternoon’s game? Visit www.TaftSports.com j Connie Gao '09 performing Peacock at the Taft Dance Concert on March 3.

Don’t forget you can shop online at www.TaftStore.com 800-995-8238 or 860-945-7736








From the Editor

March Madness. In some parts of the country, and especially in Connecticut, that phrase means basketball, but the last few days before Spring Break were especially crazy here at Taft. Students had plenty of things going on on campus during the last ten days or so of winter term. A sampling: an open discussion on wolves; an Ash Wednesday service in Walker Hall; postseason action for the girls’ basketball, boys’ ice hockey, boys’ basketball, and wrestling teams (see page 12 for results); a student dance concert; a Masque and Dagger play; and an 18-piece big band in the Choral Room after the movie on Saturday night. JETS/TEAM engineers also competed in New Haven; the Model Congress delegation went to Cambridge, Mass., for three days; the Humanities class visited the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York; and the astronomy class traveled to the Williams College observatory. Tired yet? And I didn’t even mention the term papers many students turned in for their history classes as they headed off for that vacation Now that the spring term is in full swing, the calendar is starting to bulge again. Advanced Placement exams dominate these early weeks, and by the time alumni arrive for reunion activities the pace should be downright frantic. Let’s call it May-hem. That’s not to say students aren’t having any fun. With the warmer weather, Frisbee golf, the Pre-Study Hall Softball League, and suntanning in Centennial Quad are as popular as ever. 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 USA or to ReiffJ@TaftSchool.org Taft Bulletin Spring 2006

b The earliest members of the Class of ’62, then called Juniors.

Youth Hockey


It came as quite a surprise to me in reading the article on Senile Six [“Thank God It’s Tuesday,” winter 2006] that Watertown Youth Hockey was founded by David Long. Just to set the record straight, here are “the facts”: A few years after the completion of Mays Rink in 1951, the idea of starting a youth hockey program was first considered. The idea was first conceived by Patrick Cassidy ’41, who, along with classmate John Atwood ’37, made an appointment to see Taft coach Len Sargent. Sargent was quite agreeable to promoting the program by making ice time available at a very modest expense. He was concerned principally with the additional costs of having the rink manager available for the extra hours. He was particularly receptive to the program because it was going to be operated by alumni and would benefit the town. The early organizers and coaches were all Taft graduates: John Atwood, Richard Wilson ’39, Ackley Shove ’40, Patrick Cassidy, and me. The early coaches were joined by Curtiss Johnson ’48 in 1957—the same year the roof was added. One of the early tasks of management was to collect a fee of 25 cents from each skater before he was allowed on the ice; this expense has become more serious today. Originally known as the Watertown Pee Wee Hockey League, the group incorporated in 1968 and later changed its name to Watertown Youth Hockey, Inc., in 1985.

As I read the “The Last Juniors” [winter 2006], I was reminded that we lower middlers arrived in the fall of 1958 and met people like Swires, Foote, McDaniel, Spencer, and Reynolds, who had already been there the year before (and Peter Schuyten my lower-mid roommate). They all knew the ropes, and Mike Swires, a science (and everything else) wiz became my phantom old boy, convincing me that Paul Lovett-Janison, my science teacher that first year, was strict, but wonderful. Thanks, Mike, because “LJ” would be my teacher all four years, and is the reason I became a doctor.

—John Cassidy ’41

—Don Buttenheim ’33

­—Paul Ehrlich ’62 I sat down and read the Taft Bulletin this morning and thoroughly enjoyed it. I loved the piece called “The Last Juniors” and hope that you continue to do more of that type of story. The photos and memories of the new students are priceless. —Ellen Sclafani P’01

Nonprofits The winter Bulletin is, as always, a fine job. I especially like all the coverage you gave to nonprofits [“Serving Nonprofits”]. Some I’ve never heard of, but obviously all are making a large difference in the lives of those they serve. It makes me prouder than ever to be a Taft alumnus when so many are really living the school motto.


© Steve Boyle/NewSport/Corbis

j Olympic ice hockey goalie Chanda Gunn ’99 discovered the sport at age 14, when epilepsy put an end to her swimming career.

Bronze Age

Goalie Chanda Gunn ’99 shut out Finland as Team USA scored four goals to earn the Olympic bronze medal in Torino. Making it to the Olympics is an accomplishment in itself, but what is even more surprising is that the Huntington Beach, California, native didn’t start playing ice hockey until she was 14 years old. Her parents put an end to her competitive swimming career when she was diagnosed with epilepsy in fourth grade. The highly competitive Gunn tried soccer and several other sports before donning goalie pads and a baseball glove to play street hockey with her brother. Protected by the pads and much safer on the ice from seizures than she was in the water, she says epilepsy opened the door for her to play hockey. Problems adjusting her seizure medication freshman year at the University of Wisconsin forced her to give up her Division I scholarship, but the following season, she walked onto the team at Northeastern University, eventually earning a scholarship there, and finishing with 11 career shutouts and a .937 save percentage. A three-time nominee for the Patty Kazmaier Award (women’s ice hockey’s top honor) and recipient of the 2004 Hockey Humanitarian Award, Gunn is the first player to be a finalist for both awards. —continued on next page Taft Bulletin Spring 2006


continued from previous page— In addition to being a spokesperson for the Epilepsy Foundation, she has been active with the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, volunteered with Hospice, coached inner-city youth hockey programs, and worked with the Big Brothers, Big Sisters program, reaching out to any number of community organizations, especially if they involve children. “She’s unreal,” says teammate Kristin King, 26. “She’s so gentle and caring off the ice. But it’s like she’s another person when she gets on the ice. She wants to win so badly.” Gunn earned her way on to the Olympic team when she ended Canada’s eight-year run of gold medals at the 2005 World Championships in the final shootout. Most fans expected to see the two countries square off again in the final round in Torino. For a team custom-made to beat its archrival to the north, not playing Canada in the games may have been the strangest part of the Olympics. A shootout loss to Sweden in the semifinals ended any hope for the gold, but the young team (Gunn is one of 10 first-timers) rebounded for their medal round against Finland, with Gunn making 14 saves. “I don’t think I could be prouder,” Gunn told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. “You have seen more courage and more grace from this team in defeat and in coming back to win a bronze medal than you could have possibly seen in victory in winning a gold medal.” Gunn joins medalists A.J. Mleczko ’93, who won gold in Nagano and silver in Salt Lake, and Tammy Shewchuk ’96 who won gold for Canada in Salt Lake [“North American Showdown on Ice,” spring 2002]. Only time will tell which Lady Rhinos will compete in Vancouver in 2010. “Epilepsy has never stopped me from following my dreams,” Gunn told ESPN. “I hope that by sharing my story, others will learn that they too can set their own goals and work to achieve them no matter what their personal obstacles may be.” Taft Bulletin Spring 2006

m Oncologist Peppie Wagner ’81 has joined a new genre of reality shows: webcast surgeries. Joy Miller/Hartford Hospital

Robotic Surgery He operates, with a robot, from the other side of the room—and you can watch the whole process over the internet. Internationally renowned urologic oncologist Joseph “Peppie” Wagner ’81 brought this remarkable new technique to Hartford Hospital. “I performed my first robotic surgery in Manhattan in June 2001, one of the first in the country. We did our first robotic surgery at Hartford Hospital— a prostate operation—in December 2003,” says Wagner. “We have now completed over 375 robotic urologic procedures, mostly radical prostatectomies, over the past two years.” In robotic surgery, the surgeon sits behind a console, looks through a duallens vision system, and manually controls tiny instruments that perform the actual operation. Unlike laparoscopic surgery, the dual-camera arrangement gives the surgeon a three-dimensional view, and with robotics, the surgeon has the same degree of motion he has with his hand. The software control-

ling the robotic arms also screens out tiny tremors in the surgeon’s hand motions. Another bonus is that the surgeon can sit down while he operates, which for longer procedures can be quite an advantage. “There are numerous advantages for the patient, too,” adds Wagner, “less blood loss, shorter convalescence, and possibly an improvement in the surgical margin rate (a lower rate of cancer cells remaining near the site of the tumor). For most patients, the postoperative stay after a prostatectomy has decreased from two or three days to one.” And if you’re into reality TV, you can watch Wagner in action through Hartford Hospital’s 80-minute surgical webcast: http://www.harthosp.org/ webcast/index.asp. For those who find the idea of watching the actual operation unappealing, you can opt instead to view clips of Wagner talking about the procedure, its advantages, and who makes a good candidate.


In Print

Eat This Book: A Year of Gorging and Glory on the Competitive Eating Circuit Ryan Nerz ’92 St. Martin’s Press, 2006 Ever since I was a young boy, I’ve wanted to be a competitive-eating emcee. Okay, that’s a lie, but it’s not as far-fetched as it sounds. When I moved to New York after graduating from an Ivy League college in 1997, I wanted to become a writer. My first job was as an editor of children’s books, but I grew tired of editing other people’s material and quit. I began writing whatever the world would pay me to write—pseudonymous contributions to the Sweet Valley High series, unauthorized biographies of teen stars, restaurant and music reviews. I used my friends’ names for characters in steamy teen-romance novels, which amused them greatly. To pay the bills, I took odd jobs. I waited tables, conducted exit polls, edited personal essays for college appli-

cants, and even modeled for the covers of young-adult novels. On the side, I wrote short stories and screenplays, all the while filling notebooks with ideas for my big breakthrough in the glamorous world of media—but it never came. In June of 2003, I met for drinks with an old buddy, Dave Baer [’92], who shares my interest in all things absurd. He was working for a company called the International Federation of Competitive Eating. Over drinks, Dave explained that the IFOCE, or the “circuit,” as he called it, was growing at an improbably fast rate. He described one of his favorite “gurgitators,” Eric “Badlands” Booker, an affable subway conductor on New York’s 7 line, who trained by meditating and eating huge portions of cabbage. I was intrigued. The next day, I pitched the idea of chronicling a “training meal” for the Nathan’s Famous Fourth of July hotdog-eating contest to an editor at the Village Voice. Within a few hours, they offered to pay me fifty cents a word for the piece. A few months later, I received an e-mail from Dave that changed my life. Would I be interested in hosting a Meat Pie Eating Competition in Natchitoches, Louisiana? They would pick up my travel expenses and pay me fairly handsomely for a few hours of work. It was a no-brainer. Frankly, I would have considered such an undertaking pro bono. My only questions were, What in the Sam Hill is a meat pie? And how do you pronounce Natchitoches? Of course, I had no conception that this strange gig would turn into hundreds of gigs. I had no clue that “competitive eating emcee” would become my job title, that I would befriend dozens of pro eaters and write a book on the subject. I

couldn’t have imagined announcing an onion-eating contest in Maui, or witnessing the circuit’s first-ever Heimlich maneuver at a jambalaya-eating contest. I couldn’t have known that I would emcee the Nathan’s Famous contest on the Fourth of July after appearing on the Today show, and later compete against the great Kobayashi in a burger-eating contest. At the time, it just seemed like an amusing adventure, some quick cash, and a funny story to tell my friends. George Shea, chair of the IFOCE, explained that my uniform would be that of a turn-of-the-century carnival barker. Regardless of weather or inclination, I would wear a blue blazer and a tie. He handed me an Italian-made straw boater laced with a blue-and-red ribbon. I must confess that I experienced a visceral surge of pride upon receiving the hat. It was circular with a stiff brim, a style rarely seen since the 1930s. I got the sense that it could transform me into an almost fictional character, allowing me to say things I normally wouldn’t. As I was leaving the office, hat in hand, it occurred to me that this whole IFOCE thing trod a fine line between fiction and reality, and I was deeply curious to find out how it all—this hat, this sport, and this league—came to be.

“With barbecue sauce–soaked tongue planted firmly in cheek, Nerz chronicles his amusing adventures in the perverse, repellent, strangely heroic world of ‘competitive eating.’ Despite disgusting details—vomiting, distended bellies, etc.—Nerz presents his story with glee and good humor.” Taft Bulletin Spring 2006 —Publishers Weekly


Alumni Events From California to Vermont, Tafties gathered together for a good time at several events.

c Alumni and their guests at the Stratton Alumni Ski Weekend in February. Ledlie B. Mosch

. Pam and Willy MacMullen ’78 are greeted by Michael and Leslie Herrlinger Lanahan ’73 and Jamie and Brooks Hendrie Widdoes ’73 at the Los Angeles reception at the Regency Club in February. Iris Chow ’02

m Alumni gather at the Denver Press Club in February: from left, Chris Sturgess ’02, Court Wold ’02, Willy MacMullen ’78, Jocelyn Gamble Childs ’76, Doug Childs, Hank Candler ’54, and John Wold ’71. Lisa Steen

b A solid group of alumni turn out to join the headmaster for this year’s alumni hockey game at the Odden Rink on Winter Sports Day in February. Jackie Maloney




b A curious Atka, an Arctic gray wolf, explores Bingham Auditorium during Morning Meeting in February, shattering the stereotype of wolves as evil creatures. Peter Frew ’75

Wolf Week He walked into Bingham Auditorium with the dignity of an ambassador; his presence alone was enough to silence the room. The piercing gaze of his steely blue eyes cut through the shadows of the dimly lighted room, and you knew he was gauging his audience. Perhaps Atka knew he was the first of his kind to step foot on the stage, and the first, closest, or perhaps only encounter many of us would ever have with a wolf. It doesn’t matter how many times you’ve walked or petted Dick Cobb’s current German shepherd, watching an arctic wolf walk the aisles— only inches from your seat—is an unforgettable encounter. The narrow chest and massive paws are custom-designed for a snowy wilderness. Atka is one of four gray wolves who serve as ambassadors for their species through the Wolf

Conservation Center in South Salem, New York. The three-year-old was bred in captivity and travels to schools, nature centers, and other events to help educate people about wolves. Atka’s accompanying people spoke about the mythology, biology, and ecology of wolves, as well as the status of wolf recovery across the United States. For more information, visit www.nywolf.org. Eight days later, Jim and Jamie Dutcher, who lived among a single wolf pack in Idaho for six years, presented excerpts from their Discovery Channel documentary Living with Wolves. Their visit was sponsored by the Paduano Lecture Series in Philosophy and Ethics. Listen to their story at www.npr.org (and search DUTCHER). Taft Bulletin Spring 2006


Justice for Sierra Leone

“If I were a West African warlord, I would look out here before me and see an army,” explained David Crane, a professor of Law at Syracuse University and former chief prosecutor for the International War Crimes Tribunal for Sierra Leone. Speaking at a special Morning Meeting in Bingham Auditorium, Crane described how warlords surrounded villages, forced young

people to kill their parents, and carved them with their initials to mark them as their property. These were 7-, 8-, 9-, or 10-year-old children, who, if they lived, led a life that was indescribable. “There are no words in the English language to describe to you what took place. The court had to hear it from the witnesses.” Crane is the first American appointed to such a role since Justice Robert H.

Chang plays Carnegie Hall

Theresa Chang ’08 was the concertmaster for the National Festival Orchestra performance at Carnegie Hall in January. The seating was determined at their first rehearsal the previous Saturday, her outstanding performance securing her the top honor. The orchestra performed Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 5 in D minor. Taft’s instrumental music director, T.J. Thompson, and a number of students traveled to New York for the concert. Peter Frew ’75 Taft Bulletin Spring 2006

m Law professor David Crane talks with students about his experiences as chief prosecutor for the International War Crimes Tribunal in Sierra Leone, West Africa. Jon Guiffre

Jackson, who served as chief prosecutor for the Nuremberg trials after World War II. Judge Crane’s mandate was to prosecute those who bore the greatest responsibility for war crimes, crimes against humanity, and other serious violations of human rights committed during the 10-year civil war in Sierra Leone in the 1990s that resulted in the destruction of about 1.2 million West African lives. The Special Court for Sierra Leone was set up jointly by the government of Sierra Leone and the United Nations. Eleven persons stand indicted by the Special Court. Specifically, the charges include murder, rape, extermination, acts of terror, enslavement, looting and burning, sexual slavery, conscription of children into an armed force, and attacks on U.N. peacekeepers and humanitarian workers, among others. For more information, visit www.sc-sl.org. Crane’s visit was sponsored by the Rear Admiral Raymond F. DuBois Fellowship in International Affairs.


Segregation and Central High Dr. Terrence Roberts, current parent Ann Shakelford (Bland ’09), and Central High School student Andrew Humphrey addressed the assembled school community on Martin Luther King Day. All three attended (or attend) the famous Little Rock High School that was at the center of the civil rights movement in the late 1950s. Dr. Roberts was one of the Little Rock Nine, the first black students to go to Central, a formerly segregated public high school in Arkansas. He spoke about his experiences and offered suggestions on how to move closer to Dr. King’s vision for America. Shakelford, a 1976 graduate of the school shared her perspective on Central and its place in history. Humphrey, a senior at Central, spoke briefly about his experience at the school today. All three

spoke with interested students and faculty in Choral Room afterward. Dr. Roberts’ visit was sponsored by the Diversity Committee.

m Dr. Terrence Roberts, Ann Shakelford, and Andrew Humphrey answer questions on Martin Luther King Day about their experiences at Little Rock’s Central High School. Peter Frew ’75

Cultural Exchange The school hosted a very special delegation of visitors from China this winter, accompanied by Yi-ming Yang ’87. Thirty 8th-to-10th-grade students, their principal, and three school administrators from the Experimental School of Beijing spent a day on campus, visiting classes, having lunch, and taking campus tours. At the end of their visit, Collegium performed for them in the Choral Room, and, in return, the guests gave Taft students a taste of traditional Chinese dancing and calligraphy. The visitors from China were eager to learn a bit about American culture and the school. “Ultimately, we hope to establish a long-term relationship with this school,” added Director of Admissions Ferdie Wandelt ’66, who visited their school in October. b Headmaster Willy MacMullen, Yi-ming Yang ’87, and Experimental School principal Mrs. Yuan watch as one of the visiting students from Beijing demonstrates the art of calligraphy. Peter Frew ’75 Taft Bulletin Spring 2006


Accolades Based on their performance in the American Mathematics Competition in January, 16 students qualified for the American Invitational Mathematics Exam. Qualifying is quite an honor, placing the students in the top 2 percent nationwide. AIME is the second round leading to the USA Math Olympiad. In the past no more than seven students have qualified for the AIME in a single year. Theresa Chang ’08 and Moritz Binder ’07 made the Connecticut All-State Orchestra with perfect scores. The orchestra performed in Hartford at the end of March. The two served jointly as concertmasters, and National Public Radio later aired the performance. Of work from all the high schools in Connecticut, senior Taylor Bodnar and upper mid Helen Gazin each had a piece chosen for display in the Scholastics Art Awards in Hartford. Taylor received an honorable mention, and Helen received a Gold Key, which means that her work will go on to national competition in Washington, D.C. Middler Taylor Gorham’s ceramic “tree plate” was selected for the National Council on Education for the Ceramic Arts exhibition in Portland, Oregon. Recent graduates Jake Davis ’05 and Dan Furman ’04 are represented in the same show. Upper mids Elizabeth Pompea, Emma Strubell, and Amanda Vidal, and lower mid Will Ide received honorable mentions.

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Parents’ Weekend Production

Mac Morris ’06 as Bertha Bumiller in the February Parents’ Weekend dramatic production. Peter Frew ’75

Master of All Stories

Once again master storyteller Odds Bodkin delighted audiences with his unforgettable tales from around the world. With 17 award-winning audio recordings to his credit, Bodkin enriches his tales with 12-string guitars, a Celtic harp, and other instruments making his tales “resemble pieces of musical theater as much as storytelling.” Performing as an artist-in-residence, he began the week with an intimate presentation of “Tales from the Far East” in the Choral Room, followed by a StoryBlast performance. He gave another performance in Bingham two days later, that was open to the public, and ended his visit with his “Storytelling Slam: Horror, Laughs, and Rock ’n’ Roll.” He also presented storytelling workshops for interested students and faculty. For more information, visit www.OddsBodkin.com. c Award-winning storyteller Odds Bodkin delights audiences in an encore visit to the school in January. Peter Frew ’75


In Brief In the Potter Gallery: Student work from the first semester was on display through March 8. The Gallery then hosted the opening reception for the artists in the school’s statewide Juried Student Art Exhibition. That show ran through April 13. Recent works by Michael Chelminski ’56 are on display through May 26; the opening reception was held on April 21.

Pianist A.H. Onaran

World-famous pianist A.H. Onaran presented a one-hour concert of sublime music in Walker Hall in January. The evening featured Mozart’s Fantasy, K.396, Debussy’s Images Oubliees, two of Chopin’s Nocturnes and two Mazurkas, as well as three of Mendelssohn’s Songs Without Words. Peter Frew ’75

Dr. Jean Kilbourne spoke about “Deadly Persuasion: Advertising and Addiction” at Morning Meeting in January. Internationally recognized for her pioneering work on alcohol and tobacco advertising and the image of women in advertising, she has testified before Congress and advised two surgeons general about advertising, alcoholism, and alcohol abuse. The Paduano Lecture Series sponsored her visit. For more information, visit www. jeankilbourne.com. Class committee and school monitor elections were conducted online this year for the first time. Rather than complete a paper ballot during English class, students were given a span of a few days to visit a secure page on the school website and vote for the student leaders of their choice.

Singer Sylvia McNair

Two-time Grammy Award-winning singer Sylvia McNair performed a pre-Valentine’s Day concert of love songs. Her broad repertoire embraces songs from classical lieder, cabaret, opera, and Broadway musicals. The Walker Hall concert was free and open to the public, but, because of her popularity, advance tickets were required. Kelly O’Mealia ’06 Taft Bulletin Spring 2006







Winter Season Wrap-Up by Steve Palmer Skiing The Taft boys’ ski team repeated its NEPSAC Class C title by defeating the other nineteen schools competing in the slalom and giant slalom races at Mt. Sunapee, N.H. Taft used a balanced team effort in both the GS and slalom, led by captain Wylie Johnston ’06 who

was 3rd in the GS and 6th in the slalom. Fellow senior Spyros Skouras also placed well in both races, 12th and 5th respectively, out of 102 skiers, and Will Roe ’07 finished in 8th and 9th place. Will Rickards ’06 placed 12th in the slalom and certainly would have been in the top ten in the GS had he finished both runs.

The girls’ team finished in 11th place, led by upper mid captain Maggie Seay’s 17th place in the GS and classmate Kacey Klonsky’s 18th place in the slalom. In the Berkshire Ski League, a league that includes several Class B schools, Taft finished 6th. Johnston took home the individual slalom title, winning by almost three seconds, and Skouras placed 12th out of the 78 skiers and 17th in the GS. Wrestling 9–7 The wrestling team put together a solid winning season, and their strength was in the middle weight classes, starting with Dante Paolino ’07, League Champion at 112 lbs. The peak of the season came at the Western New England Championships where Taft placed 4th due to a balanced team performance. In addition to Paolino’s 1st place finish, Will Ide ’09 (3rd at 119), Afolabi Saliu ’07 (3rd at 135), Phil Martinez ’06 (4th at 140), and captain Jon Canary ’06 (2nd at 145) all scored big points. John Riggins ’08 (152) and Ben Canary ’08 (160) both finished 5th as well. Finishing in front of b The boys’ ski team beat out 19 other teams to win its second Class C New England Championship in as many years. Captain Wylie Johnston ’06 improved by one on last year’s GS finish, placing 3rd out of 102 skiers. Roger Kirkpatrick ’06

12 Taft Bulletin Spring 2006

c Corey Griffin ’06 on his way to scoring the third Taft goal in the quarterfinal game of the New England Tournament at home against Avon Old Farms. Roger Kirkpatrick ’06

powerful teams from Hotchkiss, Pomfret and Canterbury was an indication of just how strong this performance was for Taft. Perhaps their next best team effort came in an exciting 36–39 loss to Hotchkiss, a match that was not decided until the final seconds. At the New England Championships, Taft finished 21st out of the 45 schools, and Paolino was Taft’s top finisher in 5th place at 112. Boys’ Hockey 21–5 New England Finals The hockey team’s fantastic season included an exciting run all the way to the championship game of the New England tournament. Their 19–4 regular season record included huge wins over Avon, Deerfield, and Hotchkiss. The regular season came to a dramatic end in Lakeville when Brian Curran ’07 scored with 23 seconds left to defeat the Bearcats 3–2 (Taft won the first contest at home in overtime, 4–3). That final win secured a #2 seeding for the New England tournament, and Taft faced off against the defending New England Champions, Avon. The first-round, 4–1 win was perhaps Taft’s most complete game of the season; Odden Arena was packed with about 1,500 fans, and Taft played a nearly mistake-free game to secure a great win. In the semifinals, Taft faced off against an extremely talented Nobles team, and the game was an incredible battle, with Nobles taking the lead twice as Taft fought back for a 3–2 win. In the finals, Taft faced the top-ranked team from Salisbury for the third time in the season. In all three games, Taft would control the second period only to see a lead slip away in the end. Taft’s 3–1 lead was just not enough to hold off Salisbury’s 4–3 win. Max Pacioretty ’07 finished the season

as Taft’s leading scorer (33 points) and an All-New England First Team selection. Doug Jones ’06 and goalie Andrew Margolin ’07 were selected as Founders League First Team players, and Charlie Townsend ’06 and Corey Griffin ’06 received the Coaches and Angier Awards for their play during the season. Boys’ Basketball 14–10 New England Quarterfinals Despite huge losses due to injury, the boys’ basketball team earned a postseason spot in the New England tour-

nament for the third time in the past four years. Without starting center Frank Cheske ’06 for the whole season, and then losing strong forwards Tom Piacenza ’06 and Phil Thompson ’06, the team lost much of its muscle and rebounding power, and found themselves at 8–8 midway through the season. In the face of this, other players stepped up: Renan Malafia ’06 became the leading center in the league (8.9 rebounds per game, 10.6 pts), Thomas Baudinet ’07 directed things on the floor and was among the league leaders in three pointers (14.4 pts/game), and Ryan Callahan Taft Bulletin Spring 2006


b Ryan Callahan ’06 led the boys’ varsity basketball team to the New England tournament for the third time in the last four years. Callahan finished his two-year career with 993 points and became the program’s all-time leading scorer. Roger Kirkpatrick ’06

Deerfield (7–0), Andover (6–1), Exeter (5–2) and Choate (6–1), but dropped two matches to rival Brunswick. The New England tournament was again a battle between these two powerhouse squash programs. In the end, Taft finished just five points behind champion Brunswick in what was clearly Taft’s finest moment of a stellar season. Sam Beat ’07 (#3 draw), Andrew Kazakoff ’07 (#4), Peter Irving ’06 (#5), McKay Claghorn ’07 (#6), and Reid Longley ’06 (#7) all made it to the Championship finals, with Kazakoff and Claghorn winning the individual titles in their draws. Alex Dodge ’07 finished 4th at #2, and captain Michael Shrubb ’06—Taft’s top player for the past two years—placed 5th in the top draw. This was a fitting end for a great team that played with spirit and sportsmanship throughout the season. At the National Team Championship, Taft lost only to eventual champion Lawrenceville but went on to defeat one of the top seeds, Episcopal Academy (5–2) to earn 5th place in that prestigious event. ’06 once again led the league in scoring and strong play around the basket (21.6 pts/game). First time varsity players AJ Houston ’07, Kenny Button ’06, and Hunter Serenbetz ’06, also played important roles in Taft’s late season run, winning six of their last seven games to finish the regular season at 14–9 and earn a #8 seeding for the New England tournament. That run included impressive wins over Deerfield (74–60), Avon (73–59), and, in their best game of the season, Loomis (86–71). In the first round, Taft faced an exceptionally talented Proctor Academy team, the #1 seed. Taft would play a great game, holding the lead for part of the first 14 Taft Bulletin Spring 2006

half, and down by only 8 points with eight minutes to go in the game, but in the end we could not hold off Proctor’s firepower. Ryan Callahan finished the game with 32 points, giving him the career scoring record at Taft with 993 total points in two years. Boys’ Squash 16–3 Founders League Champions, New England Runner-Up The boys’ squash team had another fantastic season in an incredibly long run of great seasons. Coach Peter Frew’s squad marched through the league, with wins over Hotchkiss (7–0),

Girls’ Basketball 15–7 Founders League Champions The girls’ basketball team overcame a slow start to the season at 3–6 to post a 15–6 regular season record and a #6 seeding for the New England tournament. The success of the season was built around team defense and an impressive run of 12 consecutive wins, including strong performances to sweep two games against rivals Choate, Hotchkiss, and Loomis. Highlights of that run also saw exciting wins over tournament bound Kent (55–46) and Williston (60–42), before running up against a strong Nobles team in the


first round of the tournament. Last year’s upset of Nobles in the first round was not to be repeated in ’06. Yet, the team has made the tournament for six straight years. Co-captain Colleen Sweeney ’07 led the team in scoring and rebounding for the season, and was joined as a Class A New England All Star by Katherine Latham ’08. Seniors Ashley Russell, Taylor Bodnar, and cocaptain Shayna Bryan accounted for a good deal of the court management and defense. Chelsea Berry ’08 and Katherine also played an important role in this team’s steady improvement throughout the winter.

Girls’ Squash 12–8 The girls’ team enjoyed a strong season behind the unbeatable duo in the first two spots. Alisha Mashruwala ’07 finished an undefeated season in the #2 spot by winning that draw at the New England tournament, following in the footsteps of teammate and captain Sydney Scott ’06, who completed her third straight undefeated season for Taft. For the second year in a row, Scott marched untouched through the season and the #1 draw at the New England Championships to close out a spectacular career. She has never lost a match





in interscholastic play for Taft. Diana Sands ’06 also placed highly (4th) in the #3 draw to help Taft to its sixth place finish. Lexie Comstock ’06 and Sammy Glazer ’06 both made it to the consolation finals for a tenth place finish. The highlights of the season included a sweep of both matches against Hotchkiss (5–2) and a 7th place finish at the National Team Championships, where Taft defeated Exeter and Lawrenceville, both in exciting 4–3 matches. Girls’ Ice Hockey 11–7–4 Founders League Champions It was an exciting season for the girls’ hockey team with three overtime wins, four ties, and two great comebacks for the ages. Early in the winter, the team surprised everyone in winning their own Pasty Odden Invitational Tournament; Taft played four great games to take the title, including a 1–0 win over Andover, and a 5–4 overtime win against Kuper Academy (Canada), where Taft scored two goals in the final 20 seconds of the game, both with the goalie on the bench and six skaters on the ice. The championship game proved to be an exhausting 1–0 win over rival Hotchkiss, with lower mid Becca Hazlett shutting out the Bearcats with 23 saves. In the regular season, Taft went on to defeat league rival Choate twice (3–2 OT, and 5–3) before coming up against Hotchkiss again at home. The second time around saw the opponents go up 4–0 before the Rhinos stormed back for a 5–4 win to secure the league title. Leading scorers for this team included captain Shannon Sisk ’06 (27 points) who had several key gamewinning goals, Erin Barley-Maloney ’08 was the team leader in goals (17) and total points (36), and Geneva Lloyd ’09 who finished with 12 goals. All three were named as Founders League All-Stars. b Alisha Mashruwala ’07 was the winner of Division 2 at the New England Squash Tournament. The team placed sixth overall. Peter Frew ’75 Taft Bulletin Spring 2006


A Matter of

This we believe: that personal honor in word and deed, personal integrity in thought and action,


facet of life, and respect for other people and their rights are the essence of a student of

Taft School.

—From the Honor Code It’s a simple enough phrase: “I pledge my honor” or even simply “I Pledge.” Many of us wrote it almost as an afterthought, something as automatic as the date or our names at the top of an assignment. And yet that simple statement—“I pledge my honor that I have neither given nor received aid on this examination”—provides the foundation upon which Horace Taft’s vision for the development of his students was laid.

16 Taft Bulletin Spring 2006

the whole boy

Horace Taft’s vision for his school was a place where young men (and later young women) would be educated not only in academics but also in character, values, and morals. The school’s first Honor Code, proposed in 1913, was “an agreement among gentlemen, and not under the supervision of the faculty.” “I think what Mr. Taft was trying to establish,” adds Dick Cobb, who heads the Honor Court, “is what we’re trying to maintain with our Honor Code now—the principles we’re trying to uphold: honesty, integrity. It’s something that’s been part of the school for nearly a century, and I think it works. I think the kids buy into it. It’s there because they developed it. They push it. Because it’s not accepted among students to violate the Honor Code, it makes our job really easy.” “The Honor Code creates the comfort that we have with each other,” says senior Laura McLaughlin. “I can leave my backpack in the hall and not worry; my boarding friends all leave their rooms unlocked. Part of the reason, I’m sure, is that the school chooses kids who value their integrity, who internalize those values already.”

By Bonnie Blackburn Penhollow ’84

honesty in every



By students,

for students

The Honor Code has been updated several times—in 1941, 1961, and most recently in 1982. Tom Blum ’82 was part of the group of monitors who developed the most recent changes. “The Honor Code is an invitation for students to exercise greater, really adult responsibility for their actions as they

get closer to entering the ‘real world,’” Blum says. “It’s an opportunity to deepen their understanding that respect for one’s peers, an appreciation of intellectual and academic honesty, and trustworthiness are pillars of cooperation and promoters of just and equitable behavior within a society. The Honor Code presents students with their first exposure to the legalistic boundaries and processes that will be a part of adult life: If you violate the code, there may be consequences.” These days, it seems there are no consequences in the white-collar world many Taft students inhabit. But as national scandals such as the collapse of Enron, corruption in Washington and allegations of lying and illegalities reach the highest levels of government and the private sector, is there still a place for honor codes such as Taft’s? Of course, says Taft Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78. “That our expectations of honesty run counter to much of what students experience in our culture is only a reminder of how important our work is here,” he says. “When Horace Taft created the school, the ethical education was as important as the intellectual. This is what it means to educate the whole student. “In every sense, the Honor Code is the cornerstone to this place. It guides so much of what we do, and no year goes by without my speaking explicitly to the community about the importance of honor—in our personal as well as academic lives,” MacMullen adds. “I cannot tell you the pride I feel for this school in this regard: for the students today and for those who came before who bequeathed such an important legacy.” “Maybe here kids don’t cheat because they fear the consequences, at first,” adds Laura, “but after that—once you see the environment—you value it for itself. We know Taft would be less ‘Taft’ if kids cheated and there weren’t an honor code.”


consequences Head monitor Michael Shrubb ’06 says before he came to Taft, cheating was the norm. “I was at a school where cheating was the usual,” he explains. “There was no way a teacher could leave class without the students cheating. I cheated in my old school, not much at all, but I did. I have been here at Taft for three and a half years now and haven’t cheated once. Taft and the Honor Code have showed me how important one’s honor really is. I wouldn’t say that I don’t cheat because I am scared of the punishments that come from breaking the code, but instead, the Honor Code instills a sense of pride in my work and my abilities. After my experiences on the Honor Court, I have come to appreciate my honor much more than ever before.” Understanding the importance of one’s honor is a tricky concept for many new students to grasp, says Academic Dean Debbie Phipps. “My personal feeling is that the Honor Code itself is not that complicated. You simply tell the truth,” she says. “If you borrow something from someone, you acknowledge it. There are times when collaboration is valuable … but you also have to know how to give credit for work that is not your own.” That’s why the concepts behind the Honor Code are discussed frequently at the beginning of the school year. In cases in which a violation is minor and a student is new, a letter will be placed in his or her file and sent home to parents; the student may be put on academic warning with regard to the Honor Code. But in more serious cases, the student is referred to the Honor Court, which is made up of three faculty members and three monitors.

Taft Bulletin Spring 2006


For students unfortunate enough to end up in front of the Honor Court for violating the Honor Code, that phrase, “I pledge my honor,” hits home like an arrow to the soul.

The court

“Serving on the Honor Court is a tricky situation.” say Michael. “The kids that [violate] the Honor Code are never bad kids, just ones that made a mistake. It is tough to punish a fellow student or classmate, but you know it has to be done to keep the Honor Code strong and serious. After seeing a few cases on the Honor Court, I have realized that although the kids are distraught at the time, a month or so later they realize that the whole ordeal has taught them a lot about honor. So it’s a tough job but one that is essential to the strength of the community.” “The Honor Court is a big deal,” Phipps says. “It fol-

lows the model of a judicial hearing. I present the case, the Honor Court asks questions of the student, and he or she has to answer honestly. “For many students, their first instinct is to balk,” Phipps says. “It’s hard. It’s a painful, difficult time. We want them to get to the point where they can own their actions and say ‘I did this.’ Once they can do that, they can move forward. Getting to that point can take time, and advisers may become involved in the process.” “If you lie to the court when it’s meeting,” explains Dick Cobb, “you’ll likely get dismissed. Horace Taft said it well: ‘Truthfulness or honor is the foundation. Whatever else students are, if they tell the truth there is hope—there is something to work with.’” After hearing all sides, the Honor Court has four options: Do nothing, issue a warning, recommend a two-week suspension, or recommend dismissal. The court reports its recommendation to the headmaster, who makes the final decision.


A school monitor describes what it’s like to decide the fate of one's peers.


I’ve never spoken to her but recognize her face in the hall and know the name that pairs with it. I don’t know what makes her happy, but in this room I can spot one lone tear roll down her cheek and then, after a futile attempt at selfconstraint, a stream of them. As a member of the honor court, I, in conjunction with several teachers and two fellow senior monitors, will determine the fate of this young girl I barely

Judgment By Laura McLaughlin ’06

18 Taft Bulletin Spring 2006

know. I will decide if her crime is worthy of dismissal, potentially altering forever her entire vision of the progression of her life. With paper and pen in front of me, a knot growing in my stomach, I was going to be certain I knew all the facts. A deep breath and she begins to speak, her voice quavering with every syllable her vocal chords manage to sound. Even before arriving at the word “sorry,” she dissolves again into a fountain of tears, a frightened little girl. She already pulls at my heart. As I turn from her face to look at the paper in front of me, I feel tears beginning to well up in my own eyes.

“The reasoning on the penalty was we should fish or cut bait,” Cobb says. “Anything longer than two weeks would be the kiss of death academically. Two weeks sends a clear message to all parties that it was more significant than having a couple of beers or a fire-code violation.” Most first drug/alcohol violations receive a one-week suspension. Most students who come before the Honor Court are punished with a twoweek suspension, Cobb noted. And as difficult as that period can be, seniors who have already been accepted to college and violate the Honor Code are also required to inform their college of the violation. “That’s especially hard to do,” Phipps says. “It’s a lot to expect of kids, especially when so much is on the line, but it reflects the seriousness with which we view the Honor Code.” And that’s exactly the point. Blum believes that decisions made in high school are critical to forming one’s sense of self. “Adolescents making the difficult transition from child-

Faced with a test, a paper, and a science lab due the next day, she didn’t know what to do; there was no way she could get it all done. She never intended to copy the text verbatim. Consumed by the length of her to-do list, she failed to contemplate the gravity of the consequences. Jotting notes as the girl speaks, I can see myself in her position. I can feel the weight that creeps into your chest when you have multiple assessments the next day. I also understand the severity of her actions. Failing to punish her would undermine the very system that makes Taft so conducive to learning and growing, the same system

hood to young adulthood stand to benefit from the structure and framework that an honor code and set of fundamental rules can provide,” he says. “How do we help young people prepare to live in societies that are bound by laws, [societies] that depend on an appreciation of the law to function effectively? The honor system pledge is the lesson, the mantra, the daily reminder that an individual’s intellectual development really is best served by the use of one’s own faculties and intelligence—not by copying material and claiming it as one’s own.” “The majority of kids here feel the Honor Code is important,” Laura adds, “and there is a very low tolerance among students for lying. Kids worry about [their honor] when papers or projects are assigned. They ask a lot of questions. They want to get it right; they want to do the right thing.” Bonnie Blackburn Penhollow ’84 is a freelance writer living in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

that attracted me to apply four years ago. It is also my job to represent her as a student, to make the teachers understand the breaking point from which her actions stemmed. I note the punishment the girl inflicts on herself and that it was her first offense; she does not deserve to be dismissed. Returning to school to complete her studies, she will remember the strong moral character she possesses and has gained during this journey that addressed her desperate act of wrongdoing. “I pledge my honor….” Whether it’s on a lab, a test, or an in-class essay, the presence of those words at the very top of

the paper creates a community more often seen in years past than in the modern world—a place where an individual’s word is his or her bond. Those words allow for an environment where doors and lockers can be left unlocked, where a teacher can leave the room during a test with the assurance that the work each student hands in will be solely his or her own. The violation of those words only erodes the foundation of our school.

Laura McLaughlin ’06 is a school monitor and a member of the Honor Court. She lives in Oakville, Connecticut.

“I pledge my honor....”

Tim Mayer

By Andrew Karas ’01

The Mysterious

Lilian Kemp/Courtesy of the Office for the Arts at Harvard

Tim Mayer ’62


n the 1960s, “theatrical wunderkind” Tim Mayer ’62 became an essential part of what many still call Harvard’s “Golden Age” of theater. Working side by side with Stockard Channing, Tommy Lee Jones, and John Lithgow, he went on to write a Broadway show, direct at the Kennedy Center, and compose lyrics for James Taylor. Well known at the time in creative circles for his efforts to define a new kind of American theater, why is it that Mayer is known to so few people today? “I read somewhere that everybody on this planet is separated by only six other people. Six degrees of separation between us and everyone else on this planet,” says Stockard Channing in the 1993 film Six Degrees of Separation. If you went to Taft, you’re probably even closer than that to Channing—who had her stage debut in Mayer’s production of The Threepenny Opera—or to any of the dozens of other screen legends today who worked with the talented poet, lyricist, playwright, and director.

Mayer deliberately dwelled outside the mainstream of American theater but worked with a combination of youthful enthusiasm and revolutionary vision that demanded notice from the establishment. Along the way, he surrounded himself with other talented and driven people who savored the fresh air his interpretations breathed into classic texts and timeless themes. And he did all this in the 43 years before his untimely death from lung cancer in 1988.


e put on plays for the very same reason we sometimes attend them: for diversion, and to find out what we are…” —T.S.M. c Classmates Derry Caye and Tim Mayer ’62 on stage at Taft in a performance of Samuel Beckett in the fall of 1961. Leslie Manning Archives

Taft Bulletin Spring 2006


Tim Mayer ’62 Mayer quickly emerged as a leader in the creative community at Taft—as president of Masque and Dagger, editorin-chief of both The Papyrus and the school’s literary magazine, and a highly successful debater. “His love of theatre began well before he got to Taft,” says upper-mid roommate Jon Brittel ’62. “His parents were very supportive of him. Living in New York City at the time, he spent much of his vacations investigating Broadway and offBroadway shows. Tim introduced many of our class to see The Fantastiks in its first year, when it was an unknown experimental play in a tiny theater off Broadway in Greenwich Village. He was always seeking out new ways of looking at theater.” Along with his homework assignments and stirring editorials, Mayer was already writing songs, too. These early compositions mark the beginning of his lifelong practice of transplanting old, even ancient, characters and stories into contemporary settings and speech patterns. One such song, “Hit or Myth,” is littered with eruditely tongue-in-cheek references to Greek figures: I’m in love with a pigeon Who always finds a Stygian Darkness in whatever I do. Like Pelops, I’m always in a stew. Mayer went on to Harvard, where he met the people and staged the productions that established his place on the American theater scene. He majored in English, studying poetry with Robert Lowell, but his really exciting work was happening outside the

classroom. As he had at Taft, Mayer advanced to leadership roles in Harvard’s arts community, serving on the board of the Dramatic Club and as president of the Gilbert and Sullivan Players and the Signet, an arts and letters society. He tirelessly wrote, directed, and acted during these years, composing the lyrics—as a sophomore—for the 1964 Hasty Pudding show (an original burlesque musical produced in a zany Harvard tradition dating from 1895) as well as the lyrics for the 1965 show. For a presumably more serious accomplishment, a play about a capitalist baron called Prince Erie, Mayer received Harvard’s Phyllis Anderson Prize for playwriting in his senior year. When the production was staged a year later at the Loeb Theater, Stockard (then known as Susan) Channing was among the cast. In fact, a cluster of extraordinarily talented actors and writers had accumulated in Cambridge by the late 1960s. Channing was class of ’65, John Lithgow ’67, Tommy Lee Jones ’69, Lindsay Crouse ’70, and James Woods was at MIT. Each of them—only the most famous members of a much larger group—has now been nominated for at least one Oscar (though only Jones has won). Long before Hollywood came calling, however, this group was cutting its teeth in Tim Mayer productions. Mayer returned to Harvard for several years to direct the summer season at the Agassiz Theatre. If his work until this point had been a series of promising sparks, the summer productions of 1966–1969 were roaring blazes, ignited by

hated writing…”


b Tim Mayer ’62 as Radcliffe Artist-inResidence in 1981 with Peter Ivers

Lilian Kemp/courtesy of the Office for the Arts at Harvard

22 Taft Bulletin Spring 2006

Tim Mayer ’62 a heady mix of youth, talent, energy, and the radical vibe of the era. Even in 1995 the smoke has not yet cleared: the New York Times recalled that year that the “fiercely talented” Mayer was the “strongest personality” of “a now-legendary circle of friends who produced summer seasons of plays at Radcliffe’s Agassiz Theater.” Mayer wrote or translated and directed ten plays over four summers at the Agassiz, and even at the time observers knew that they were witnessing extraordinary moments in theater. Extraordinary, but not always easy to understand, for Mayer took classic texts—Shakespeare, Brecht, Euripides, Aristophanes, the Bible—and rewrote them in modern idiom, with modern rhythms, for modern audiences. The results must have looked downright weird, if also new and exciting. The plays sound, for lack of a better term, very “sixties.” In one instance, Mayer rewrote the 15th-century morality play Everyman, an allegory in which Death summons the title character to be judged before God, so that the neurotic God now stood hidden behind an American flag and a blues band. The play, according to the Harvard Crimson, was “such an incredible kick…the show blew my mind a little.” That particular review ran without an accompanying photo because the photographer was so engrossed in the play that he couldn’t stop watching long enough to take pictures. Other plays garnered equally unreserved comments in the newspaper, like “God forbid Woyzeck should be Tim Mayer’s last show at Harvard” and, presumably for purposes of clarification, “This is a rave.”

These reviews also contain priceless peeks at the early work of some Hollywood stars. For example: “Tommy Lee Jones rattles off his ‘Death, ye comest when I had ye least in mind’ as if the Vice Squad had just caught him with his pants down.” I would bet Mayer is the only director ever credited with eliciting such a performance from Jones. And three decades before The West Wing first aired, audiences were advised, “If you don’t know by now what watching Susan Channing on stage is like, I suggest you find out fast.” Channing later explained to Paul Schmidt, her ex-husband and the editor of Mayer’s collected poems and plays, the depth of Mayer’s influence: “I became an actress because Tim Mayer believed I could.” But Hollywood was not Mayer’s calling, although he wrote several scripts for 20th Century Fox and Warner Brothers later in his career. “Tim hated writing,” Schmidt explains in the book, Running From America: The Poems and Plays of Timothy Mayer, “His ‘manuscripts’ are for the most part a collection of crumpled cocktail napkins, bent shirt cardboards, sheets of hotel writing paper, and the backs of unanswered business letters. His real gift was for the song lyric, probably because it was the shortest literary form he knew.” In late 1968, Mayer was treated for thyroid cancer. Then, after one last summer season at Radcliffe, Mayer embarked on the myriad of professional projects that would continue to reveal the multifaceted nature of his creativity. In the early 1970s he worked extensively with WGBH, Boston’s PBS af-


is ‘manuscripts’ are for the most part a collection of crumpled cocktail napkins, bent shirt cardboards, sheets of hotel writing paper, and the backs of unanswered business letters. His real gift was for the song lyric…” —Paul Schmidt Taft Bulletin Spring 2006


Tim Mayer ’62 filiate. He adapted and directed a film version of his Jesus: A Passion Play for Americans, which was run each Easter on PBS for years afterward. Mayer’s other contributions there ranged from a screenplay of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The House of the Seven Gables to a sequence of nine dramatized bedtime stories. Although he kept writing, he spent roughly five years working for his father’s company. In 1981, Mayer returned to Radcliffe as an artist-inresidence. That year also saw the release of “Sugar Trade,” a song recorded by James Taylor for which Mayer had written the lyrics. Mayer continued supplying words for Taylor’s music for the next six years, culminating in their collaboration on the play Home by Another Way. There is a new wistfulness and earnestness in many of these later song lyrics; for instance, “Usual Love,” which describes long-accustomed love as monotonous and unexciting, concludes with a sentimental surprise: Think of all those old folks whose kids think they’re jokes as they tour-bus a national park; and they walk hand-in-hand in a slow moving band, like the animals leaving the ark. While their kids jog alone, and they order by phone, and I guess they can spell “Gorbachov”— but they’d give their eye-teeth if their folks could bequeath them the secret of Usual Love.

After Mayer died, Taylor said, “I met Tim Mayer late. I’ve never worked with anyone so smart, and I miss him now.” In 1982, between his stints with Taylor, Mayer began work on the most high-profile project of his career: a Broadway musical, My One and Only, built around the music of George and Ira Gershwin. The producers hired another Harvard whiz-kid—Peter Sellars, now famous as a radical avant-garde opera director—to direct, and Mayer’s job was to come up with a new plot that could be told through the Gershwin music. Sellars, like Mayer, had big ideas about changing the face of American theater, although highly theoretical notions about the nature of theater proved hard to integrate into the genre of the Broadway musical. The result, which featured lavish costumes and dancing but also a minimal Cubist set, might have been many things, but it was certainly not guaranteed to repay the producers’ $2.8 million investment. One producer acknowledged to the Times that Sellars and Mayer were both “geniuses”—just not the sort of geniuses this project required. Shortly after the first run-through, the entire crew of young mavericks—Mayer, Sellars, the music director, and the set designer—were all fired and replaced with Broadway veterans. A retooled, splashy, flashy, and loud My One and Only was hastily thrown together and, seemingly against the odds, became a commercial and critical hit: it ran for 767 performances and was nominated for nine Tony Awards. By the time the rave reviews arrived, however, the show was no lon-

“I’ve never worked with anyone so …”


—James Taylor

b Royalties from Mayer’s work still come to Taft, supporting the Timothy S. Mayer Theater Fund. 24 Taft Bulletin Spring 2006

Tim Mayer ’62 ger the one Mayer had imagined, diminishing for Mayer the sweetness of being jointly nominated for the Tony. My One and Only marked both the beginning and the end of Mayer’s involvement with Broadway. His partnership with Sellars continued, however, first at the Boston Shakespeare Company and then at the American National Theater in Washington. Mayer staged his own translation of Brecht’s Mother Courage and Her Children in Boston in 1984 to great acclaim. The New York Times wrote that Sellars and Mayer “created an event that has eluded far wealthier and more seasoned American companies—a ‘Mother Courage’ with bite and without tears. It certainly leaves one eager to see what Mr. Mayer and Mr. Sellars will be up to next.” What came next was a move to Washington, where Sellars became artistic director, and Mayer associate director, of the American National Theater at the Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts, and the group “pushed the boundaries of traditional drama during a brief and controversial, but influential reign during the mid-1980s.” The Village Voice labeled the American National Theater “a Theater of Outsiders,” saying of Mayer’s inaugural production of Henry IV: “This kind of production is both irritating and provocative; I can’t say I enjoyed a minute of it, but everything I objected to made me examine my assumptions about the ideas in the play more than if it had been a more ‘classic,’ textbook-official rendition.”

The next year, Mayer and his longtime companion Donna Cusimano were involved in founding the Hudson Valley Theater in Hyde Park, New York. The highlight of the first season was Mayer’s translation and production of Brecht’s A Man’s a Man, starring Bill Murray and Stockard Channing. It was to be Mayer’s last major play; he was diagnosed with cancer in 1987 and died on April 9, 1988. That summer, 20 years after he had made theater history there, the Agassiz Theater held a celebration of Mayer’s life and work. Not all of Mayer’s work was popular and acclaimed, but it was not supposed to be. Instead, his work as a writer and director aimed to provoke thought, to challenge assumptions, to shift perspectives, and to open new possibilities. By that measure, he was certainly successful, an influential iconoclast who made his mark on his peers and on the American theater scene. One of his poems provides, in typical Mayer fashion, a concise parting comment on that success: Don’t believe all you hear, how I got all the breaks— I was lucky, but still, competition’s the one thing that nobody fakes. And while I’m good at this thing that I do, look, I had to beat out lots of others, and they were good too. —T.S.M


is work as a writer and director aimed to provoke thought, to challenge assumptions, to shift perspectives, and to open new possibilities. ” — Andrew Karas ’01 Taft Bulletin Spring 2006


Don’t fear the edges! Loueta



kids to be

brave in art

and in life

Peter Finger

By Steven Le 26 Taft Bulletin Spring 2006


oueta Chickadaunce is clearly in comman d of the fit inside the frame. Push your brain out of the way.” What Bisi enormous art studio, the largest single classroom is beginning to learn has beco me second nature to the older and on campus. Various work stations form clumps more advanced students, some of whom have worked with Lou around the room, grouped mostly by med ia. Easels for four years and had begu n their careers with no intentions stand with canvases still showing white spac e, and the smell of of becoming serious art students. For four-year veteran Eliza turpentine still lingers from the previous class. From the stereo Whetzel, Ms. Chi c’s tute lage has helped her develop her pasnext to the office door, Sarah McLachlan’s voice serenades the sion for art and a desi re to cultivate it in college. students. During this session, the lower mids and middlers are “She has taug ht me to improve at what I am comfort learning the basics of charcoal and working able with still life. Lou with and to explore what I don’t have such a firm grasp on. She seems to be dancing to the music from one station to another inspires me to pursue what I’m interested in,” explains and instructing the nuances of light at the Eliza. same time. Ms. Chi c phra ses it this way: “The part inside you that After giving her students enough inst likes ructions to get start- to play it safe—th at voice is so strong—needs to sit down ed on the day’s project, Lou retrieves an and old photograph from shut up! If it’s hide ous, let it be hideous; but let it be brave.” her scrapbook. She begins to tell me the history of the studio Other stud ents, like upper-middler Lyssa Lincoln, as if she were a curator and I a visitor to apher museum. When ply what they hav e learned from Ms. Chic about art to othe Horace Dutton Taft built this space as part r of his “new build- areas of life. “She emp hasizes the idea of looking at things as ing” in 1914, it served as the study hall for boys. The studio they are,” says Lyss a. “Applying this outside the art room that has relieved the space of its formal and ,I regimented duties have learned to look beyond the first impression or outward still showcases the original vaulted ceili ng and the balcony idea of somethi ng to see with an open mind the trut from which the watchful faculty on duty h in monitored the stu- whatever it may be.” dents below. As she points to the balcony overlooking neatly Senior Claire Longfield also appreciates Ms. Chic’s life symmetrical rows of desks, she lets out a robust laugh—the lessons, “She taug ht us to appreciate the ‘art’ in everyday famous laugh. If a stranger happened to life. be downstairs in the She also has taug ht us to be persistent with whatever we do; dining hall lobby, he probably would pau if se out of sheer sur- we are working on a piece, she teaches us to work it until it’s prise at the unique and resonant sound; but all of us presently beautiful or unti l it’s dead.” in the room are accustomed to Lou’s trad emark. “You know, this room was modeled after the monaste ry architecture,” she whispers as if sharing a secret, “and the balc ony was where the abbot would spy on the monks to keep orde r. That should tell you a little about this place!” Lou pauses and excuses herself as she walks over to answer middler Maggie Hutton’s question abo ut light. Sometimes a demonstration speaks more clearly than explanation, so Lou settles herself on Maggie’s workbench to illustrate the “cylinder method” of capturing light. Midway through her demonstration, a tour group interrupts the clas s, and Lou turns her attention to them with an enthusiastic “Hi !” before returning to her instructions without missing a beat . As Maggie smiles with satisfaction and is ready to resume her work, Lou whisks off to help another student with the use of space. “You must not be afraid of edges,” Lou says to lower middler Bisi Thompson, who is struggling to fit the still life display onto the canvas. “Do what your eyes tell you, even if it doesn’t

Taft Bulletin Spring 2006


Lou’s teaching philosophy grounds itself in three maxims: Do all the work; Make the mistakes; and Be able to fix them. She encourages students to make mistakes and to thrive on them, not simply to correct them and pret end that they never happened. In art, sometimes mistakes can lead to beauty. “If they don’t want to make mistakes,” claim s Lou, “they should go to chorus—or, at least, to calculus.” Lou looks at art the same way she sees life; she understands that many of our actions are guided by passions, and sometimes, passions alone. That she is passionate is an understatement for those who have seen Lou teach or have heard her make announcements about the dress code during assemblies. Her passion is contagious, as upper-middler Esther Yoo attests: “She taught me how to be passionate about art. I paint for hours not to get it done and get a good grade, but because I want to.” In fact, Esther recently has resolved to become an art

28 Taft Bulletin Spring 2006

major in college, a decision that initially caused concern for her parents. Last spring, after speaking with Ms. Chic about options for summer programs, Esther enro lled in the Rhode Island School of Design instead of atte nding the summer seminar at Cornell that her parents had recommended. Recognizing their daughter’s passion, Esther’s parents supported her decision to pursue art in coll ege. For Esther, that was the first time she had made an imp ortant decision independently. “Until then,” she says, “I just did what my parents planned out for me.” Lou’s advice to Esther came easi ly because Lou had learned early on to follow her own pass ion. For her, the love of art came early and naturally. Lou had always loved school, and she loved books most. “The books were the best! And the best parts in the books were the illus trations. So, for me, art was simply the best of the best.” Eve n in high school, Lou transferred schools simply to study with certain art teachers.

Following high school, she and her siblings were the first Nikko Pete rson Thompson ’83 had been a student generation in her family to attend college. of From Terre Haute, Lou’s during her first stay at Taft and had recommended Indiana, Lou crossed geographical and cult to ural boundaries to her daughter a favo rite teacher. join the art program at Boston Univers ity. There, she was a In additio n to making an impact on students, Lou (self-described) hick in the big city. The world she had entered has changed the face of Taft itself by infiltrating alm was so strange, and yet intriguing, that ost on two consecutive ever y hallway with students’ artwork. It seems as if the Saturdays, Lou took the bus from campus to Logan Airport to Potter Gallery has spilled into the hallways, from Bingha walk through the sliding automatic doo m rs. “I had seen doors Auditorium to the dining hall. About once a month, that revolved, but never ones that slide Lou to the sides. That was hosts an art sho w in the Gallery, complete with clas the neatest thing! So, I went to the airp siort and walked back cal music and gian t platters of hors d’oeuvres and sush and forth just to see them open and clos i. e.” Lou busies herself greeting guests, mon Lou’s curiosity and humility turn itoring the fragile the world around her sculptures thou ghtfully placed throughout the room into a place of treasures waiting to be , and discovered. Her life is replenishing the food and drinks table. filled with hobbies and passions; one only has to look at her Perhaps longtime art teacher Mark Potter ’48 himself had house for evidence. Nestled in an enclave of trees and shrubber- recognized such energy and passion in the young then-art ies, the house adjacent to Mays Rink gree stuts visitors with color- dent, in 1979, whe n he drove down to search for a candidat ful pottery, needlework, and canvases even e on the front porch. in Yale’s graduate program. After examining Lou’s portfolio And even though winter still blows its freez ing wind, there are and speaking with her briefly, he was satisfied with the pers traces of a cultivated garden on the side visib on le to the sun. who was to be his sabbatical replacement. As expected, inside Lou’s house is Lou stay ed on the a gallery that features following year to cover Gail Wynne’s sabbatical leave. not only her own works, but also thos In her e done by others, in- third and final year , the school created a space for Lou by parcluding alumni whose works she has “sto len” over the years. titioning one-third of the old gym (now part of the Arts and Then, there are the photographs of form er students. “He got Humanities win g). married recently,” she points to a han dsome boy. Her tone When she returned in 2000, Lou replaced another softens slightly as she refers to the beau former tiful girl next to him. student, Jennifer Glenn Wuerker ’83, who had been hire “She is now dating….” Her voice betrays d to a hint of nostalgia, stand in for Potter when he became ill and had chosen to stay as if she were talking about her own chil dren. on after his death in 1995. Some 60 Indeed, she regards many of her stud to 65 students enroll ents and dorm girls in Lou’s classes thes e days, and their works can be admired as a mother would, and that means disc iplining them as a throughout the year in the hallways and once or twice a year parent would. The lower-school girls of Mac House exchange at the Potter Gal lery exhibit that honors them. knowing looks when they talk about her. “She wants every- As I glance arou nd the studio filled with energetic freshthing spotless, and she’s really strict,” shar es one student with men working on their still lifes and nodding to the mus furrowed brows. Another nods her head ic and adds, “She is not in the backgrou nd, I wonder which ones will go on to afraid of giving grades; but she does keep con order.” tribute to the beauty of their world. If the mark of a good parent is not On the stereo, Sarah the child’s approval, McLachlan give s way to Trisha Yearwood. The students but the grown child’s appreciation, then also Lou has made her will change and grow , but the lessons will stay the same. And mark. Last fall, a student Lou didn’t kno w well approached because Lou’s lesso ns will stay the same, the students will her and confided, “You know, Ms. Chi c, I’ve thought about change and grow . this really carefully, and I would like you to be my adviser.” “Are you sure?” replied Lou, who was caught off guard. Steven Le is in his third year at Taft teaching Eng “You barely know me and I barely know lish. He missed you.” his artis tic calli ng when he arrived at the U.S. Naval “You know me, Ms. Chic!” exclaim Academy s the student. “I’m and realized that there were no art courses offered. Bisi, Nikko’s kid!” He is single and lives in CPT.

Taft Bulletin Spring 2006









The Essential Architect Board Chairman Will Miller ’74 Steps Down Peter Frew ’75

c Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 thanks retiring board chairman Will Miller ’74 at a dinner held in Miller’s honor in January at the America’s Society in New York. The guitar was a thank-you gift from the board.

When Will Miller ’74 graduated from Taft, the only buildings that had been added to the campus since Horace Taft’s tenure were the 70th Anniversary Science Center, the “new” gymnasium, a hockey rink, and a small dormitory. Three decades later, the situation is very different, thanks in great measure to Miller, who spent 28 years on the school’s board of trustees, the last four as its chair. In search of

new blood for the school’s board of trustees, then headmaster Lance Odden asked recent Yale graduate Will Miller ’74 to serve in 1978. Will soon became the moving force behind the board’s Long-Range Planning Committee, embarking on a journey that would remake the campus over the next quarter century. “Will grew up in Columbus, Indiana, where he was surrounded by buildings cre-


ated by the most innovative architects in the world including Eero Saarinen, I.M. Pei, Kevin Roche, and Cesar Pelli,” explained John Vogelstein ’52, the trustee who preceded Miller as board chair. “He applied his architectural sensibilities and took the lead in a program that steadily remodeled and rebuilt the school and its campus.” Miller had a vision that would bring the physical plant back in touch with Horace Taft’s central buildings and at the same time create facilities that would rival those of the best independent schools. Odden pointed out that the school has had many great architectural firms at its side, “but we have had only one, essential architect: Will Miller.” “The care and quality with which we craft the built environment of our school is both a direct reflection of, and in turn an enormous influence on, the care and quality with which we craft educational experiences for the young people entrusted to our care,” Miller, who is chairman of Irwin Financial Corporation, reminded his colleagues at the dinner in his honor. “But you and I have always understood that the most beautiful buildings in the world on a campus in northwestern Connecticut would be meaningless and without value if they did not exist in ser-

vice of a mission-driven institution with the interest of the whole student at its core.” “While we have all seen his hand in the buildings on our campus,” Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 adds, “what he has done behind the scenes—in strengthening the board’s practices and leading our strategic planning—may be what reveals his most visionary and forward thinking. It is the architecture of decision making that really marks him.” Among the changes of which Miller says he is most proud are the school’s move to coeducation, its increased diversity, and its more solid financial footing. “There was much about this school in 1974 that I wanted to see changed,” Miller said, “and Taft gave me the opportunity to participate in the process of changing it. For that, I have a lot of gratitude.” “Will’s service to the school has been inspiring,” says MacMullen. “He will go down in the school’s history as a passionate and deeply loyal graduate who embodied the school motto. A great friend to me and to Taft, he has been a source of impeccable ethical judgment, deep caring, and brilliant leadership.” Miller will be succeeded as board chair by Rod Moorhead ’62. —Julie Reiff






Although he is largely responsible for crafting the campus as we know it, Miller says he is most proud of the school’s move to coeducation, its increased diversity, and its more solid financial footing.


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Crowne Plaza, Southbury The Litchfield Inn, Litchfield Dolce Heritage, Southbury Crowne Plaza, Southbury Dolce Heritage, Southbury Watertown Golf Club, Watertown

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