S PR I N G
2 0 0 9
Judge Robert Sweet ’40 has seen many high-profile cases over the years, but in the end, he says, it’s about upholding values.
Laws to protect the planet are set to broaden.
A Courtly Gentleman
By John Mooney ’78
j Tibetan monks build and then dismantle a sand mandala in the Potter Gallery. See page 6. Yee-Fun Yin
Greener Going Forward
By Liz Barratt-Brown ’77
The Freedom To Make a Difference An excerpt from the best-selling author’s new book, Life Without Lawyers By Philip K. Howard ’66
B U L L E T I N
D E PA RT M E N T S
SPRING 2009 Volume 79, Number 3 Bulletin Staff Director of Development: Chris Latham 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
�������������������������������������������������������������������������������� Alumni Spotlight
�������������������������������������������������������������������������������� Around the Pond
�������������������������������������������������������������������������������� From the Archives: HDT at Bat On the Cover: With 30 years on the federal bench, Judge Robert Sweet ’40 has seen such high-profile cases as Judith Miller’s and McDonald’s, but in the end, he says it’s about upholding values. (See page 16.)
Deadlines for Alumni Notes: Summer–May 15 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
Joseph J. Lawton
TA F T
T H E
W E B
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 100% recycled paper.
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
Don’t forget you can shop online at www.TaftStore.com 800.995.8238 or 860.945.7736
L ETTER S
From the Editor
A law theme? I’ll admit I had my reservations. Lawyers have always been so readily maligned. But, in my years at Taft, I have been fortunate to hear about the work of many distinguished alumni in the legal profession—some have been mentioned in these pages before. The three featured in this issue have very different careers, but each has set the highest standards and worked to improve their part of our increasing litigious society. I think their stories give us hope for the way ahead. But what’s a law theme without a good lawyer joke. And speaking of good lawyer jokes…You know, of course, that a bad lawyer can let a case drag out for several years, but a good lawyer can make it last even longer. Thanks for reading. As always, I want to hear your stories. —Julie Reiff
As a “tree hugger” myself, I must congratulate you and your staff on printing the Bulletin on recycled paper. Frankly, the nonglossy print makes it easier for me to read and quality of the pictures suffers very little. Your efforts are greatly appreciated; keep up the good work. —Clark Bridgman ’49
I want to congratulate you for making a huge leap to a much greener product. I live near Brooks School and have a son who graduated from there recently, and they have been very involved in the Green Cup Challenge. Congratulations on moving in this direction. It is a fine line deciding what to publish vs. what to share electronically. I tend to be old school and like something in my hand but the younger folks are just the opposite. —Larry Morris ’69
In the winter issue, I misspelled the name of Brian Jang ’10 in the item about his independent studies in math, and I left off the photo credit on page 64, which goes to photography teacher Yee-Fun Yin. My apologies to both. The savings below are achieved when 100 percent postconsumer recycled fiber is used in place of virgin fiber. Taft Bulletin uses 10,750 lbs of Mohawk paper per issue, which translates into the following: • 103 trees preserved for the future • 4,850 lbs solid waste not generated • 9,550 lbs net greenhouse gases prevented • 73,100,000 BTUs energy not consumed And because the paper is manufactured with windpower, there are further benefits, or the equivalent of: • not driving 4,798 miles, or • planting 330 trees Environmental impact calculations provided by Mohawk Papers.
2 Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
Walk with Me
I couldn’t help catching the Taft Trivia shot of, of course, John Cushing Esty. He certainly had his challenges with us, the Woodstock generation, but ultimately did okay. After all, we got coeducation and Lance Odden directly as a result of his leadership. My main memory of him is being regularly summoned to “walk with me” outside the building when circumstances required a difficult discussion. Anyway, there’s no mistaking him or his trademark bike in that shot. —Alan Klingenstein ’72
In one of John Esty’s earliest Vespers talks he described his belief that people should seek new jobs/roles about every ten years to avoid stagnation. When he announced that he would be leaving Taft (after only nine years of service), I wrote him to express my sorrow that he still believed in what he had told us in the beginning of my uppermid year. —Greg B. Brown ’65
As always, you have assembled a lot of fascinating information about the school and put it in a truly stunning format. Congratulations to you and your staff. One of the items that caught my attention was a snippet on page 15 of the fall issue about the new grading scale. In the hands of some of the masters, the dear old 0–100 scale that was in use in the late ’40s was truly a terrifying instrument. Mr. Thomas was particularly fond of zeros. If one stumbled in sight-reading Caesar in his Middle Latin class, he would say “Mr. Greer, I asked you for —continued on page 35
Love it? Hate it? Read it? Tell us!
We’d love to hear what you think about the stories in this Bulletin. We may edit your letters for length, clarity and content, but please write! Julie Reiff, editor Taft Bulletin 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100 or ReiffJ@TaftSchool.org
Since this issue has a law theme, we ask where did Horace Dutton Taft AND his brother William attend law school? You may have to research the web for this one! A set of coasters will be sent to the winner. We had a record number of replies to our last contest identifying John Esty as the school’s third headmaster, who came to Taft from Amherst College. Congratulations to Greg Brown ’65, whose name was drawn from all correct entries received.
Horsing Around b Susan and John Moore ’56 walking Zaftig in from the Acorn Stakes last year at Belmont Park. Adam Coglianese
Susan and John Moore ’56 approach horse racing like college students working on their term papers. “We divide up the work: I do the syndications, insurance, accounting, and business part of the horse ownership while Susan does the heavy lifting in picking out the horses we buy and then working with the trainers and vets to help them achieve their potential,” said John, an investment banker. “We have done it together for ten years, so we each know what we should be focusing on to get the right bloodstock, keep costs in line and win races.” The Moores recently created a series of fractional interest partnerships called M and M Thoroughbred Partners. John and Susan typically own the largest share of each horse with 8 to 12 smaller partners. They strive to generate a profit for
the partners, an elusive goal. Several years ago, they began to focus on racing rather than breeding, selling the fillies after their racing careers as broodmare prospects. Over the last few years, the Moores sold Grade 1 Acorn Stakes-winner Zaftig and Grade 2 winner Smokey Glacken, Grade 3 winner Pocus Hocus and Grade 3 winner Lady Marlboro to different breeders for just under $4.5 million. In addition to those mares, the Moores’ other stakes winners include Doremifasollatido, Iron Deputy, Tiger, Grand Champion, Tinseltown and Lager, who was their first big winner back in 2000. Their stable is comprised of 33 horses today, and the Moores plan to gradually increase that to 80 or 100 over the next few years. They have also taken in a number of horses that needed a home and paid for their care.
“More people should step up and take responsibility for their horses in retirement,” says John, who is also on the board of directors of the Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation (TRF). “Susan’s philosophy is that she just doesn’t want horses put through the claiming ranks,” John said. “It’s better for us to find them a nice home, turn them into jumpers or find another career for them, rather than lose control of them in the claiming ranks. She’s actually claimed them back when that has happened. Susan falls in love with all of her animals.” They believe it’s all about personal responsibility. “The Moores are unwavering in their commitment to every horse,” said TRF Executive Director Diana Pikulksi. “If they can do right by all of their horses, so can more owners.” As for Lager, the winner of the Stuyvesant and Excelsior Handicaps in 2000, he was originally sent to a farm after his last race, but he didn’t like a life of leisure. “He grew bored and sullen, so we brought him back to the track and got him a job as a track pony,” John said. “He was a very active and very happy pony who loved being back on the track with other horses. It gave him a new lease on life, and his last years were happy ones.” In other words, says TRF, Lager was a typical John and Susan Moore retiree. Sources: Breeding News, Mid-Atlantic Thoroughbred, The Blood-Horse and Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
HALL OF FAME Carl Hennrich ’65 was the smallest guy on Larry Stone’s lower-mid B football team his first year at Taft, but despite his size he always dreamed of playing college and professional football. Thanks, he says, to Coach Stone’s inspirational influence, he went on to play for Claremont McKenna and to become that school’s first football athlete to play in the NFL, competing for the Buffalo Bills. No surprise then that Claremont McKenna recently inducted Hennrich into their Athletic Hall of Fame. Hennrich played wide receiver and defensive back in each of his years for the Claremont Stags and also returned punts and kickoffs. At the completion of his senior season, he held the career
j Former pro footballer Carl Hennrich ’65 is inducted into Claremont’s Athletic Hall of Fame.
record for total pass reception yardage (1,437). He earned Second Team All-SCIAC honors in 1966 and 1968 and Second Team All-District honors in 1968. He also played club lacrosse, earning small college All-American
honors, and club rugby, earning AllTournament selection twice. He was a tremendous athlete in the early days of Claremont-Mudd athletics. Besides, adds Carl, “the older I get, the greater I used to be.”
Moving Up to Montreal “It’s unbelivable to be able to reach my childhood dream of becoming a professional hockey player,” says Max Pacioretty ’07, who was a first-round NHL draft pick
for the Montreal Canadiens, and 22nd pick overall, in 2007. “After all of the years of travel hockey, high school hockey, prep school hockey, playing in the USHL (Sioux City Musketeers)
and NCCA, to make it is very exciting.” After Taft, Max went on to Division I hockey at the University of Michigan and played collegiate hockey for just one season before signing a three-year deal with the Canadiens. He debuted for the Canadiens in January. Max’s very first shot in the NHL was quite memorable as he scored the Canadiens’ only goal in a 4–1 loss against the New Jersey Devils. “From watching players that I idolized growing up, like Alexi Kovalev, and then to be sitting right next to them in the locker room is daunting. The most difficult part,” he says, though, “of playing in the NHL is having to perform well day in and day out. There is a long list of people just waiting to take my job. There are no days off; every day is a challenge.” Katie Pacioretty ’10 contributed to this article. b Max Pacioretty, #67 of the Montreal Canadiens, is checked by Shaone Morrisonn of the Washington Capitals during their NHL game at Montreal’s Bell Centre in January. Dave Sandford/NHLI via Getty Images
4 Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
Britannia in Brief: The Scoop on All Things British Leslie Banker ’85 and William Mullins
Random House, 2009
“When we got engaged,” writes Leslie, “we knew it was the dawn of an era of togetherness—living together, vacationing together, paying bills together, maybe even showering together—but writing a book together wasn’t something that we had ever considered.” Then the couple spent a week in England. Leslie, the native New Yorker, had about a million questions for William, the native Londoner. Who are “chavs,” “yobs” and “hoodies”? How
about a TARDIS? Who’s more important: a duke or an earl? Is “bloody” a very bad word or a mildly bad word? What’s “salad cream”? And what the heck is a “test match” at “Lords”? Some of the questions were so basic they seemed embarrassing: Exactly what’s the difference between the UK, Britain, and England? Is the U.K. a member of the E.U.? If so, then why do they use pounds instead of euros? “In short, over the course of
that trip we realized the cultural divide between the U.S. and the U.K. is really a gaping chasm,” she adds. “We needed a book that would answer all these questions once and for all. And so we wrote Britannia in Brief—together. And it worked out surprisingly well (except for a few minor nationality-based disagreements regarding punctuation and spelling).” For more information, visit www.britanniainbrief.com.
LIFE WITHOUT LAWYERS: Liberating Americans from Too Much Law Philip K. Howard ’66
W.W. Norton & Company, 2009 The land of the free has become a legal minefield. People sue for anything. A legal mindset has infected daily dealings: 78 percent of middle and high school teachers in America say they have been threatened with lawsuits or claims of violating rights—by their students. The cost is not only personal frustration but also the pervasive failure of our public institutions and a corrosion of America’s can-do spirit. It is basically impossible to fix schools, healthcare or government,
Howard argues, until people with responsibility are liberated to use their common sense. “What is needed is not a reform but a quiet revolution,” writes Howard. “This shift in approach is not about changing our goals— almost everyone I know wants a clean environment, safe workplaces, good schools, competent doctors and laws against discrimination. The challenge is to liberate humans to accomplish these goals. This requires a sharp turn away from current legal conven-
tions—nearly endless rules and rights designed to avoid decisions by people with responsibility—toward law that restores free exercise of judgment at every level of responsibility.” Howard, author of the bestselling The Death of Common Sense, advises leaders of both parties on legal and regulatory reform. He is chair of Common Good (www.commongood.org) and a contributor to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal. (See excerpt on page 24.)
NEXT STOP, RELOVILLE: Life Inside America’s New Rootless Professional Class Peter T. Kilborn ’57
Henry Holt & Company, 2009 Drive through the newest subdivisions outside of Atlanta, Dallas or Pittsburgh and you’ll notice an unusual similarity in the layout of the houses, the models of the cars, the pastimes of the stay-at-home moms. But this is not your grandparents’ suburbia, “the little houses made of ticky-tacky”—these houses go for a half-million dollars and up, and no one stays longer than three or four
years. You have entered the land of “relos,” the mid-level executives for a growing number of American companies, whose livelihoods depend on their willingness to uproot their families in pursuit of professional success. Together they constitute a new social class, well-off but insecure, welltraveled but insular. Veteran reporter Peter Kilborn takes us inside the lives of American relos, showing how their
distinctive set of pressures and values affects not only their own families and communities, but also the country as a whole. Peter was a reporter for the New York Times for thirty years, having covered such issues as business, economics, social issues, and the workplace. He was also one of the contributors to the Times’ awardwinning series (and book) Class Matters. He lives near Washington, D.C.
I finally headed back into the studio to record the songs. It was an amazing experience to work with some great writers and amazing musicians. I hope you will take a listen.
I’ll be playing shows both on the East and West coasts. For more information, visit www.andrewsolomon.com
SOMething More Andrew Solomon ’92 It’s been a long time, almost six years, since I have come out with new music. A lot has happened.… I went back to graduate school, I worked some more, started a family.
Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
For the latest news on campus events, please visit TaftSchool.org.
Around the pond by Sam Routhier
b An infusion of Tibetan Spirit
m A visiting Tibetan monk empties the sand from the peace mandala into flowing water to carry the blessing throughout the world. Yee-Fun Yin
6 Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
During the last week of February, Taft hosted a group of six Tibetan monks who showered the community with their art, music, political awareness and spiritual good vibes. The visit was an offshoot of the one from a year ago, during which two monks presented us with a traditional Buddhist Thangka to add to our collection of sacred art and religious texts. This group of monks spent the week in Potter Gallery creating a “peace mandala,” an art form based in colored sand that is meant to be admired first for its aesthetics and then spread throughout an area as a blessing of peace. Students and faculty visited the gallery to watch their progress and to admire the dedication of the monks. They began their visit with an opening ceremony in the gallery on Monday, followed by a presentation in Morning Meeting on Tuesday that addressed their life in exile at the monastery in southern India and how their own religious lives figure into that struggle for freedom. They visited most of Chaplain Bob Ganung’s classes, in which they discussed Tibetan Buddhism, history, culture, art, music, and politics. More specifically, they discussed the meaning of mandalas, which further substantiated the work they were doing in the Potter Gallery. The week wrapped up with the dispersion of the peace mandala into the brook behind the baseball field. “The
closing ceremony was moving, colorful, and rich with ritual, chants, and the traditional cacophony of Tibetan horns, drums and symbols,” says Ganung. “The monks said that the brook would carry the sand to the whole world, blessing all the fish, animals, plant life, and living organisms that share this earth with us. We were so lucky to have the monks here, as I sensed that their very presence generated an evolving feeling of serenity, gentleness and peacefulness that permeated the whole school.”
c Our Nation’s Greatest Social Injustice When she was a senior at Princeton University in the late 1980s, Wendy Kopp had the idea for Teach for America and presented it as the research thesis for her public policy major. She saw all of her friends looking for jobs that required leadership and ambition, and it seemed that the only jobs that were recruiting those skills were on Wall Street. She thought to herself, “Why aren’t we being recruited as aggressively to teach?” Nearly 20 years later, Kopp—who is both the group’s founder and now CEO—reported at a Morning Meeting in March on the history, mission and relevance of Teach for America. “It was an idea whose time had come,” she said. “It must exist; it’s so obvious. If I hadn’t started it, someone else would have, so right off the bat, it magnetized
hundreds, thousands of people who were drawn to the idea and the principles on which it existed. Within one year, 2,500 college seniors responded to a grass-roots campaign that brought 500 volunteers into rural and inner-city schools.” Today, TFA is a booming program. It annually fields 35,000 applicants, including 15 percent of the graduating classes of Harvard and Princeton. Of these, it accepts 5,000 teachers for two-year stints. Many stay in education
gling classrooms, and therefore believes strongly that America can work to solve educational inequity. Kopp also serves as the chief executive of Teach For All, which supports the development of Teach for America’s model in other countries. Her talk was sponsored by the Paley Family Endowment, established in 2006 by Valerie and Jeffrey Paley ’56. The Paley Lectures invite speakers to address the school community on current issues of
m Teach for America founder and CEO Wendy Kopp talks with the headmaster and students after Morning Meeting. Yee-Fun Yin
afterward, and most others translate leadership skills to other arenas. According to Kopp, the program fosters “fighting for change from within.” TFA teachers are selected to be innovative, hard working and ambitious, and by creating a corps of such high-powered people, TFA has made huge impacts on educational injustice nationally. Kopp sees the problem of educational injustice as “unconscionable,” for the reason that it is clearly solvable. “Still today, in our country—a country that aspires so admirably to be a land of equal opportunity—where you are born does so much to determine your educational prospects and in turn your life prospects.” She has seen the success of TFA teachers in turning around strug-
major significance, such as government, journalism, foreign affairs, environment and civil liberties, in order to provide Taft students with the opportunity to be inspired by the value and dignity of lives filled with purpose and commitment.
j Care to CHAT? Many alumni will remember some versions of a Mid Health or Mid Values program. The format has changed dramatically over the years but has always focused on 10th graders. Last year, the headmaster charged the faculty to create a dynamic and comprehensive community health education program at Taft that addresses issues of health and wellness throughout a student’s career here. Headed by Jean Piacenza and
Rachel Russell, an ad hoc committee spent the fall and winter outlining a new program: Community Health At Taft, or CHAT. More than half the faculty have expressed an interest in helping with the new program, but Jean, who will oversee the program, is also hoping to tap into the expertise of alumni and parents. “And all of their friends, family, and contacts,” she adds, “to help me to discover what’s out there—speakers, films and other resources—that we might incorporate into the program.” Through monthly presentations and follow-up discussions, the comprehensive health program will address themes specific to each class. The topics students will CHAT about revolve around designated themes: Lowermids will focus on “transitions,” mids on “bodies,” uppermids on “responsibility” and seniors on “the world.” Sessions for ninth graders would likely cover such subjects as community building, kindness to others, honor and integrity, dormitory living, personal hygiene, peer pressure, dormitory living, sleep and time management. As with the Mid Health and Wellness program, the 10th-grade theme is designed to help students make healthy choices. Uppermids will be encouraged to act responsibly toward themselves and others in the community, discussing such issues as self-regulation, sexual pressure, body image, sleep, stress management, gender roles, family pressures and the college process. Topics for seniors are designed to help them understand their responsibilities in both the local and global community, building on the concept of responsibility, but also self-knowledge, the transition to college, saying goodbye, service and leadership. Members of the Taft community who have a particular expertise or know of excellent resources on any of these topics are encouraged to contact Jean Piacenza (email@example.com). Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
Around the pond
Photo courtesy of Taft Annual
. Investing in Excellence
Taft prides itself on its students’ broad range of talents and interests. Each day’s schedule is filled with a huge variety of activities, from academics to athletics to service learning and cultural enrichment. The latest incarnation of the Economics Club, led by seniors Johnny DePeters, Jamie Benasuli and Charlie Wagner, has captured this theme of our world. At a meeting in the faculty room, DePeters described the club to the new members with unique knowledge and savvy about investing. With help from the Business Office, the Red Rhino foundation and a sale of Vineyard Vines
shirts last year, the club has $6,500 at its disposal. With this money, they will work in conjunction with brokers from Smith Barney to create a portfolio that will grow over time and further benefit the Red Rhino foundation, an endowment for Taft’s service organizations. The group meets every other week to consider proposals on which new stocks to invest in. In turn, members increase their knowledge of investment strategies and diversify their portfolios, starting with low-risk stocks and moving into hedge funds and smaller companies. Intent on teaching investing not only through the experience, but also through staying up on the news and reading relevant texts, DePeters brought copies of The Intelligent Investor, A Random Walk Down Wall Street and The Neatest Little Guide to Stock Market Investing to the opening meeting. He also suggests that members set Google Finance as their online home page. Jeremy Clifford, who serves as faculty adviser, is excited to share his experience from working at CapitalOne and Mercer Management Consulting with students. Last fall, Wagner ran an investment club on campus, which simulated playing the stock market and included a contest to see which students made the highest returns. Although Wagner felt that the club was too game-
m Rockwell Visiting Artist Dawn Clements sketches a student room. Yee-Fun Yin 8 Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
oriented, and not realistic enough, the contest captivated the Taft community. Middler Pell Bermingham won the game with a high-risk investment that paid off 266 percent. “My father would always tell me to diversify my stocks when using actual money,” Pell explains, “but I knew this was a game and if I wanted to win I would have to take huge risks…. So I capitalized on Morgan Stanley, knowing that if the Japanese bank Mitsubishi invested in them, the stock would skyrocket.” Bermingham’s victory demonstrates the mass appeal of economic investment to Taft students, and the potential success of future endeavors. With the Economics Club, Wagner hopes to build a genuine interest and devotion to investing, in a way that will also enhance students’ presentation and oratory skills. “Kids are doing research, presenting, synthesizing ideas and arguing persuasively about things they really care about,” says DePeters, “and that will benefit them and the whole school.”
. Portrait Rooms Walking by the Potter Gallery in January, it was hard to keep heading toward Bingham Auditorium or to Main Hall without stopping to examine the exhibit. Visiting artist Dawn Clements captured different perspectives on familiar Taft spaces, and her
work appealed to students as a result. Clements found Taft through fellow artist Marc Leuthold ’80, with whom she taught a course at Princeton University in 2006. She arrived on campus on December 26, while students were on vacation, and stayed in Centennial, where she sketched the room of seniors Callie Strickland and Schuyler Dalton in “The Living Space of a Taft Girl.” “I was interested in how the room portrayed the girls’ personality,” Clements says. “Will the picture of the room result in an accurate depiction of the girls themselves?” Although her early work focused on portraying female roles in cinema, she switched to describing space through art. She constantly changes point of view to create a disorienting yet creative portrayal of different rooms. Her work has been on exhibit in Leipzig and Vienna and also in American museums at Middlebury and Amherst college, Princeton University and at the MoMA in New York. At Taft, she did workshops with Loueta Chickadaunce’s intermediate and AP Studio Art classes.
Insights into the West Bank Conflict Professor Karin Zetterholm outlined the Israeli-Palestinian conflict through a brief history as well as through perspectives from each side at a Morning Meeting in February. A visiting professor at Yale, where she teaches a course on “Terror in the Name of God,” Zetterholm met Chaplain Bob Ganung last summer when he was guest chaplain at Lund University, a publicly funded school in Sweden, where she is a professor of Jewish studies and rabbinic literature. In her talk, Zetterholm supplemented many of Taft’s history courses by exploring how religion and politics intertwine to shape current global affairs.
a chance for healthy competition. At the same time, it isn’t at all a huge time commitment. I figured it was very little work for something that had the potential to be a new ‘Taft thing.’ I’m hoping to create a faculty team for next round, so we can really get the whole community involved.”
Volunteers Participate in Homeless Count m To see how seniors conquered the campus, visit http://gocrosscampus.com/game/taft.
m A Game of Campus Domination Middler John Canver set a great idea in motion this winter, starting up a contest of GoCrossCampus, an interactive computer-based game originally designed for college campuses. Canver heard about the game from his brother, who is a senior at Johns Hopkins. The programmers of the game, which is similar to the board game RISK, design a map of the campus as if it were a world map separated by political boundaries. For instance, at Taft, HDT was one country; Rockefeller Field was another, and so on. Players create their own accounts, are assigned a team and play one turn per day. In Taft’s version, teams were separated by class year. Players maneuver their resources and attack neighboring territories with the goal of campus domination. The senior class won the Taft game—for which 277 students signed up—after about two weeks of play. According to Canver, the Class of 2009’s victory was due to “having more motivation and organization than other grades.” The game has great potential to entrench itself as the newest tradition. “I think GoCrossCampus could be great for Taft,” Canver says. “First and foremost, it promotes school spirit but is also just a fun thing to do among all of our activities—a break from stress and
On Thursday, January 29, ten Taft students headed into Waterbury to participate in the annual homeless count. Led by the United Way, this event has volunteers scour the streets, forests and abandoned buildings of Waterbury in search of homeless people. Upon finding the homeless, the volunteers conduct a survey, all with an eye toward collecting accurate information to provide state and federal aid programs. Two days beforehand, students went through a training session led by a United Way representative, explains uppermid Biz Brauer, to help them learn how to conduct surveys and how to most efficiently search for the homeless. Then, At 5:50 a.m., students loaded up two cars, driven by parent volunteers Rachel and Jon Albert ’79, and spent the next four hours in various regions of Waterbury before returning for classes. “The homeless count was vastly different from a typical communityservice endeavor,” says senior Diana Saverin, who participates in volunteering both through the afternoon extracurricular program and through the more continuous Volunteer Council. “Usually, I go to Girls’ Inc. and work with the students there on their homework, and it is always a happy, enthusiastic, fulfilling experience. This day was different. It was less about interpersonal warmth and more about understanding the realities of being homeless. It was certainly Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
Around the pond gratifying to reflect on these people’s lives and to understand how necessary it is to do thankless jobs like homeless counts, but in a different way from what I’m used to.” Uppermid Hailey Karcher also spoke to the “reality check” nature of the experience: “It was hard to see,” Hailey told the Waterbury Republican American. “To know people are living like this just 10 minutes away from my school, where we’re all really privileged, it was an eye-opener.” “When I first came here, I was not involved in service at all,” says Saverin. “I didn’t know how I could get involved, especially if I wasn’t part of the volunteer ex or the council. With the new web site, I can hop onto the Internet, type in my interests, and quickly figure out ways to get involved.” That new tool is courtesy of Hope Gimbel and Beth Kessenich ’08, who worked last year to create a database of volunteer opportunities that is searchable on the new site (click on Non Ut Sibi and then “Find Ways to Help.”) As she prepares to graduate, Saverin hopes that our understanding of Non Ut Sibi continues to evolve: that we give our time more often than we give our money, that we see service opportunities as educational, and that a broader percentage of students give of themselves to the community.
The school was split into four regions, à la March Madness: MacMullen, Cobb, Saarnijoki, and Hinman, with four to six teams vying for a spot in the final four. After the final four was set, everyone took a break for a dance party and 3-point shootout, won by middler Kate Karraker of Morgantown, West Virginia, who sunk 19 “treys” in one minute to take the crown. Big thanks to Headmaster MacMullen for putting up a $200 Nike gift certificate for the winning team, which featured seniors Julian Siegelmann, Deandre Simmons, Tim McPhee, and uppermid Sarah Perda. Proceeds from the night totaled $330 for Sudan Sunrise, a foundation that builds schools in war-torn Sudan (see “Lessons from a Civil War” in the fall issue).
. Scapino: A Kneeslapping Success When it came time to choose this year’s winter play, recent Bulletin cover girl Helena Fifer knew she needed a great comedy to get the school through what has been a real cold spell. She brainstormed her favorite plays, and came upon Scapino!, a Molière piece
A Slam Dunk of a Night Instead of the typical DJ dance, students decided to take a new spin on Saturday nights and host Hoops Night, a basketball extravaganza that got the whole school involved. From 7 to 8 p.m., the boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball teams, led by captains Bobby Manfreda ’09 and Ches Fowler ’09, ran a clinic for local 8 to 12-year-olds. At 8, Taft students started rolling into the field house for the first round of the 3-on-3 coed tournament. 10 Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
that she had first seen when she was 12. She knew that this “commedia dell’arte” was perfect for the audience and for the cast: fast-paced, filled with slapstick, and in many ways farcical. Fifer had worked with this particular cast many times before, from theater veteran Will Sayre ’09 to techieturned-actor Keith Culkin ’09 to her own son, Sam Fifer ’11. With an experienced cast and a surefire script, Scapino was destined for success. Still, the play encountered its fair share of challenges along the way. The set was especially intricate, and converted the Bingham stage into a multilayered ship’s deck. The set designers came from outside of Taft, and were difficult to communicate with all the time. Additionally, there were shake-ups in the cast during the preparation for the play, but the actors were always positive in their responses to challenges. Sayre told the Papyrus, “Everyone seems committed to making the show a success.” Fifer gives a special shout out to Cindy Latham, wife of Director of Development Chris Latham. Cindy has an extensive acting background, and while she was not formally a member of the production team, she came to every rehearsal to serve as a character coach and general support for the cast. With pros Fifer and Latham and a veteran cast, Scapino was a surefire hit this winter that brought a smile to the community’s face.
Green Cup Challenged
m Seniors Bisi Thompson as the gypsy Zerbinetta and Nick Tyson as miserly father-in-law Geronte in Scapino! Andre Li ’11
The final results of the Green Cup Challenge are in; Taft increased its electricity use by 1.8 percent compared to the same month last year, coming in second-to-last out of 48 schools, one of only four participating schools that increased electricity consumption. “It is difficult to pinpoint an ab-
solute cause for the increase,” Wells Andres ’09 said, “For the four weeks, members of Taft Environmental Awareness Movement monitored six electric meters, four at the gym and two on main campus. One of the two main campus meters covers CPT and Vogelstein dorms, and the other covers all other non-gym buildings. Congratulations are due to CPT and Vogue, who consistently lowered their energy consumption, one week by as much as 14 percent,” he adds. This is the first year that Taft participated in the Green Cup Challenge.
Spearheaded by the leaders of the TEAM—Andres, Schuyler Dalton, John Lombard, Sydney Low, Ian Overton, Diana Saverin and Nick Tyson— expectations for Taft’s performance in GCC were not particularly high. “We didn’t come into the GCC with any ambition of reducing energy use by some huge percentage,” says Nick. “We knew that, because we were doing it for the first time, we would have a difficult time getting all the details worked out, and we thought it was worth the effort even to simply raise awareness around school.”
“As one of the heads of TEAM, I was disappointed in our overall increase,” says Wells. “Certainly we would have liked to have succeeded our first year, but even though we didn’t, the work we put in can only make next year’s challenge run more easily.” “I am optimistic about Taft’s performance in future GCCs,” agrees science teacher Jim Lehner, one of TEAM’s two faculty advisers. “We learned a lot about our school, students and faculty during this function, and we must use that knowledge to perform better in the future.”
. In Walker Hall Two concerts brightened the winter term through the monthly Walker Hall series, Music For a While. c Tiffany Consort brought together several of New York’s finest singers with the intention of presenting virtuosic choral music from all periods, under the direction of Nicholas White. All eight singers in the ensemble are also all soloists in their own right. The group takes its name from American stained-glass artist Louis Comfort Tiffany. Peter Frew . Performing in early January, Rani Arbo and daisy mayhem shared sparkling original songs and a deep repertoire that spans 200 years of American music. They are an unusually gleeful string band that celebrates both tradition and improvisation and that stumps the categorizers. Yee-Fun Yin
Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
For more on the winter season, visit TaftSports.com.
S S S S
P P P P
W i n t e r
O O O O
R R R R
W r a p - u p by
2 0 0 9
S t e v e
Pa l m e r
m New England Champion Sachika Balvani ’12, no. 1 on the girls’ varsity squad, blasts a forehand rail vs. Loomis. Peter Frew ’75
Wrestling 8–7 Due to illness and injury, at no point during the winter did Taft have a full, healthy squad. An exciting 40–37 win over Salisbury came down to the last match, and early in January the team recorded a rare shutout with a 72–0 blanking of Gunnery. The end of the season provided some of the best wrestling of the winter. Taft hosted the Western New England Tournament (20 schools) and provided lots of excitement for the home crowd. Co-captain elect Tucker Jennings ’10 took home 4th place at 119 pounds. Middler Mike Brunelli ’11 placed 4th at 125 pounds and senior Isaac Bamgbose earned 4th at 171 pounds. The crowning glory of the tournament was provided by 12 Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
the Rhino captains, as all three worked their way to the finals. Will Ide ’09 took home 2nd at 152 pounds. Jimmy Kukral ’09 (112) and Jack Nuland ’09 (160) each dominated their weight classes en route to first place finishes. Nuland finished as a two-time league champion and went on to wrestle at the National tournament and place 2nd at the New England Championships. Boys’ Squash 5–9 New England Class B Champions This talented team began the season 2–0 but would not have its full lineup again until the final three matches. In between, Taft would fight hard against
the best of New England. By season’s end, the Rhinos rounded into form with strong wins over Choate (5–2) and Westminster (6–1). Taft then marched through the Class B New Englands, with all 7 players getting to the semifinals—an unusual show of dominance. James Calello ’11 won the #7 position and Max Frew ’10 won at #4. Cam Mullen ’10 (third at #6), Scott Hillman ’09 (3rd at #3), and Andy Cannon ’11 (2nd at #5). Charlie Wagner (4th at #4) and Max Kachur ’10 (3rd at #1) both played in the top during the season for Taft. Though the squad is losing two fine captains in Wagner and Hillman, Taft returns several top varsity and JV players to make a run at the Class A division next year.
Girls’ Squash 13–6 Founders League Champions 3rd Place New England Championships This was a very talented and relatively young team that finished 8th in the National team tournament, and only the New England and National champion, Greenwich Academy, was out of their reach. Solid 7–0 wins over
the fifth time. Next year’s team may be even stronger, led by captain-elect Kelly Barnes ’10, with eight varsity players returning. Girls’ Basketball 9–12 The girls’ varsity basketball team finished at 9–12 playing in a strong league this year. The composition of the team was unusual; half were new players (five
Boys’ Basketball 13–9 Western New England Quarterfinals A five game winning streak to close out the regular season allowed Taft to earn a sixth consecutive post-season appearance and the #7 seed in the inaugural Western New England tournament. During the final two weeks of the season, Taft had consecutive road victories over Avon
m Leading scorer and rebounder Clift Bonner-Desravines ’09 led the basketball team to their sixth consecutive post-season appearance. Rob Madden ’03
Exeter, Andover and Hotchkiss early in the season demonstrated Taft’s power, but the hard-fought victory over Deerfield (4–3) to avenge an earlier loss (3–4) was perhaps the team’s most important match. The team then had a very good run at the New England Championships to close out the season, finishing a mere 2 points out of second place. In that tournament, Katherine Carroll ’12 and Celina Schreiber ’12 finished 2nd at the #7 and #6 positions, while captain Chelsea Ross ’09 (3rd) and Ellie O’Neill ’11 (4th) placed in the fifth and third positions respectively. Taft’s top player, Sachika Balvani ’12, won at #1 in an exciting five-game battle, giving Taft the individual New England champion at the #1 spot for
lower schoolers and one post-graduate) so it took some time for them to understand how best to play together. The Rhinos still managed to keep alive their streak against rival Hotchkiss (going back to 1988) with two victories again this year. Victories against powerful Choate (32–28), tournament-bound Suffield (44–36), and Miss Porter’s (52– 40) were also season highlights. Captain Ches Fowler ’09 was the team’s second leading scorer and strongest rebounder, while Kate Karraker ’11 led the team averaging ten points per game. Seniors Annie Fierberg, Liesl Morris, Hannah Vazquez and Brittney Kennedy played important roles throughout the season, so the young ’10 team will have their work cut out for them.
(59–40) and Kent (50–47), and ended the road trip by taking down eventual league champion Loomis (56–47). The most exciting moment of the season came at home when a Jared Jackson ’10 three-pointer at the buzzer gave the team a 59–57 win against perennial power Trinity Pawling. Captain Bobby Manfreda ’09 was a strong presence in a variety of ways and the team’s Logan Award winner for his contributions over the past four seasons. Clift Bonner-Desravines ’09 led the team in both scoring and rebounding and earned a spot on the Founders League All-Star team. Also a League All-Star was sharp-shooting guard John Beaulieu ’09, who was second in scoring and led the team in three point shooting (37 percent). In a final impressive Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
S S S S
P P P P
O O O O
R R R R
over Choate to capture the prestigious Lawrenceville Christmas tournament. Throughout the season, an outstanding group of seniors demonstrated excellence on and off the ice. Captain and Ainger Trophy winner Kevin Reich ’09 commanded the blueline, while assistant captains and Founders League All-Stars Jesse Root ’09 (15 goals, 21 assists) and Mike Sinsigalli ’09 (16 g., 15 a.) were relentless offensively. All-New England selection Robbie Bourdon ’09 (14 g., 19 a.) and Coach’s Award winner C.M. Liotta ’09 (4 g., 9 a.) also helped lead the scoring attack for Taft. The team ended the regular season ranked 2nd in Western New England, but the home ice advantage did not hold in a first round game against the Gunnery. Despite controlling play, Taft dropped 2–1 decision on a deflected shot that found the upper corner with two minutes left in the game. Next year’s team will be led by seasoned players Thomas Freyre ’10, Mike Petchonka ’10, and John Barr ’10.
m Captain-elect Thomas Freyre ’10 (#25) with assistant captain Jesse Root ’09 (#22) against South Kent; Taft won 3–2! Peter Frew ’75
honor, the team and coaches were also chosen for the Sportsmanship Award by the Connecticut basketball officials for their exceptional conduct on the court. Taft will return six players next year and will be led by co-captains elect Jackson and Greg Nicol ’10, a strong guard and forward duo. Ski Team It was an icy, cold season on the slopes of New England, but the ski team competed well in a number of four and five team races in the Berkshire Ski League. At the Class B New England championships, the girls’ team placed 13th behind captain Annie Shafran’s 11th place in the Giant Slalom (61 skiers), and lowermid Hadley Morris’ 32nd place in the slalom 14 Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
(63 skiers). The boys’ team finished a solid 8th within the 14-team field. Captain Ben Johnston ’09 and Reed Shapiro ’10, the team’s top skiers, placed 20th and 21st in the slalom field (70 skiers), while Jay Feinman ’11 was tops in the giant slalom in 13th place (70 skiers). Boys’ Hockey 14–6–4 Lawrenceville Tournament Champions New England Quarterfinalists This great season started with a bang, a 5–2 win over a very strong Berkshire team in the first annual Louise B. D’Arco game, named for the mother of Taft alum Brad D’Arco ’99, also one of Berkshire’s coaches. Taft would go on to win its first six games, including a 5–4 victory
Girls’ Hockey 9–11–3 After early wins over Lawrenceville and Gunnery, Taft struggled to score goals, though they played evenly with some of the best teams in New England, including an overtime loss to tournament-bound Loomis (1–2). A key win over Cushing Academy (1–0) led to the team’s best games in the final two weeks, as the Rhinos avenged earlier losses by defeating very strong teams from Choate (2–0) and Berkshire (3–2). In those two games, co-captain and goalie Becca Hazlett ’09 played a crucial role with 41 and 33 saves respectively. She finished the season with three shutouts. Fellow co-captain Geneva Lloyd ’09 led the team in scoring (16 goals, 9 assists), and was a dominant player for Taft and within the league at both ends of the ice. Jess Desorcie ’11 (14 g., 6 a.) was also a leading scorer for the team, and will be part of a core of strong young players who return for the ’10 season.
“All of us Tafts went into law as naturally as we went from junior year to senior year in college,” Horace Taft writes in his memoirs. Horace’s brother William, who became solicitor general under President Benjamin Harrison, had set his career sights on becoming chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court—a position he achieved after leaving the White House (briefly teaching law at Yale in between). Among the nearly 500 alumni who claim the law as their field, there are a number of prominent jurists, like Robert Sweet ’40, but also prosecutors, sheriffs, public defenders, law professors, paralegals, arbitrators, D.A.s and attorneys with every specialty imaginable. Although Horace also studied law (in Cincinnati), passed the bar and joined a local firm (before he founded the school), he wrote later that he never enjoyed the “practice” of law. “I might have done a good deal better,” he wrote, “if I had not been so much interested in political reform.” For Philip Howard ’66 reforming the tangled web of our modern legal system has become a passion also…and he’s taken his case not only to the courts but also to his publishers. Despite his desire for reform, I doubt that Horace Taft could have foreseen a field of law focused on the environment, but that is exactly where Liz BarrattBrown ’77 has directed her considerable talent for the past two decades—an area very much at the heart of reform in Washington these days. For the Taft family, law and politics were the epitome of public service. That commitment is now carried on by generations of Taft alumni as well. —Julie Reiff, editor
A Courtly Gentleman
Photographs by Joseph J. Lawton
By John Mooney ’78
With 30 years on the federal bench, Judge Robert Sweet ’40 has seen such high-profile cases as Judith Miller’s and McDonald’s, but in the end, he says it’s about upholding values.
Sitting on one of the nation’s most venerable federal courts for the last three decades, Robert W. Sweet certainly has not shied from dicey disputes. A senior judge for the Southern District of New York, he has ruled on his share of the high-profile cases that regularly move through the Manhattan court. There have been notable ones upholding freedom of speech for political protesters and freedom of the press for reporters protecting their sources, and another in 2003 that found McDonald’s fast-food chain isn’t liable for the obesity of some of its customers. Sweet has also repeatedly spoken out against the nation’s minimum sentencing guidelines, and drawn his share of criticism along the way, too. With a gleam in his eye, Sweet cites one famous First Amendment ruling on behalf of protesters in 2004 that drew the scorn of New York City tabloids. “They had my picture on the front page and the headline, ‘Judge Mental,’ ” Sweet said recently with a wry smile, adding he has since hung the page on his wall at home. Yet as the 86-year-old Sweet passes his 30th year on the federal bench, albeit now in a reduced role, he also relishes the quieter results that have come out of his court, the countless settlements that were often outside the headlines. Two liability cases involving airline disasters ended with all the survivors’ claims resolved by settlement, not one of them needing to go to trial. “You know people who have been hurt and aggrieved are satisfied with how the process worked,” Sweet says. “That was a great satisfaction.”
Sweet’s face even lights up describing the intricacies of maritime collision cases, seeing them as a puzzle of tanker-sized proportions. “It’s a whodunit: who made the mistake and what were they thinking?” he says. “They’re like a detective story.” It’s always been that way for Sweet, dating back to his rise to power in New York’s City Hall. Whether rankling authority or deliberating politely over intellectual property law, Sweet has continued to be, first and foremost, intent on resolving whatever dispute and test is put before him, no matter what it takes. And always very much relishing the challenge. “You see a breadth of problems across society that is really quite incredible,” he says of his job. “It’s like being part of a daily drama, and you actually have a role to perform.” Sweet was born in Yonkers, N.Y., his father an attorney and his mother a transplant from Kentucky. With the help of scholarships, he attended the Horace Mann School in New York City, and then Taft in Watertown. From there, it was off to Yale and then the Navy and then back in New Haven for law school after the war. It was Dwight Eisenhower’s presidential campaign that first drew him into politics as a founder of Youth for Eisenhower. But for a man who still recites school and college pals as lifelong mentors and friends, it was at Yale Law School where he was a roommate of John Lindsay, the man who would later become New York City’s mayor and bring Sweet along with him. After stints with the federal prosecutor’s office and then a Wall Street law firm, Sweet served
“Robert Sweet is the Unabashed No. 2 Man at City Hall,” wrote the New York Times in 1968. Sweet, left, served as deputy mayor under John Lindsay. Getting the city budget approved was one of his major jobs. John Orris/The New York Times
“They had my picture on the front page and the headline, ‘Judge Mental.’”
“His ego is always in check…And by his diligence, he is winning just praise as a chief problemsolver in the administration, a man who quietly gets things done.”
as Lindsay’s deputy mayor for three years in the late 1960s, his job to work the City Council and state Legislature and solve the daily crises that come with the nation’s largest metropolis. Behind the scenes in the city’s teachers strike in 1968 and the garbage strike the same year, Sweet was Lindsay’s point man in ultimately resolving the disputes. It was a role for which he drew admiration and respect at the time, even from the mayor’s critics. “His ego is always in check,” the New York Times wrote of Sweet in 1968. “And by his diligence, he is winning just praise as a chief problem-solver in the administration, a man who quietly gets things done.” Sweet was typically unabashed in recalling his City Hall years. “It was a great job, a lot of fun,” he said recently. It was that same humility he carried to the federal bench, where he has made his deepest public mark. After returning to private practice as a partner with the esteemed firm of Skadden, Arps, Slate, Meagher & Flom, he was appointed to the federal judiciary by President Jimmy Carter in 1978, a registered Republican appointed by a Democratic president. But it was also a time when “liberal” and “Republican” weren’t necessarily exclusive. “Liberal Republicans in those days were probably to the
Sweet’s decision was 120 pages long, with the judge writing that the “reporter’s privilege” is a critical right—while also holding out the government’s own obligations to protect the public. “The reporters at issue relied upon the promise of confidentiality to gather information concerning issues of paramount national importance,” Sweet wrote. “The government has failed to demonstrate that the balance of competing interests weighs in its favor.” It was near the time that Miller was facing a separate trial over the leak of CIA operative Valerie Plame’s identity, a case that ultimately put her in jail for 85 days. Sweet’s own decision was overturned on appeal in 2006, but his mind has not changed. “I don’t think it is absolute, but a qualified privilege (for the press),” he says. “But it should be upheld in all instances unless you can show an overwhelming national interest. There may be a circumstance where that’s the case, but that never came before me.” Other cases involving rights for political demonstrations invoked similar conflicts, all ones he says are fascinating testaments to the constitutional fabric of the nation. He may be best known for his stand against minimum sentencing guidelines that he ruled unconstitutional, albeit again overturned on appeal. “I didn’t get away with it, but I had to try,”
“You’re at a point where you really can see the tension points in society and, of course, you sometimes have a greater or lesser ability to do something about it. It’s the best job in the country….”
18 Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
left of most Democrats today,” he says. And the liberal tag hung around his black robe, as he repeatedly stood behind press and speech freedoms and against sentencing laws he viewed as overly severe. One of the most notable cases was in 2005 on behalf of New York Times reporters Judith Miller and Philip Shenon, who sought to protect their telephone records from the U.S. Justice Department as they wrote about government anti-terrorism efforts in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 attacks.
he says of that fight. Now he’s handling cases out of the epic dissolution of Bear Stearns, another about mortgage securities that lie at the heart of the current economic crisis, and even a few protest cases still pending. “You’re at a point where you really can see the tension points in society and, of course, you sometimes have a greater or lesser ability to do something about it,” he says. “It’s the best job in the country, as far as I’m concerned.” Still, when asked what he has enjoyed the
most about his job, it isn’t the high profile cases, or even the quieter ones. His first answer was actually the people he has met and worked with, starting with the various law clerks who have served under him. “That’s a marvelous relationship that for me continues over the years,” he says. “It’s the kind of relationship that is very rewarding, that’s on a personal level.” Among the most famous was Eliot Spitzer, the man who went on to become New York’s governor only to then resign in disgrace over a prostitution scandal. Yet Sweet doesn’t step back from that friendship with his old law clerk, and still hangs prominently in his office the photographs of him swearing Spitzer in as governor. (Of Spitzer’s fall from grace afterward, Sweet only says: “What he did to himself is a tragedy.”) He now is in what is termed senior status on the bench, scaling back his caseload a little to afford him time to enjoy his other favorite passions, skiing and ice dancing at his second home in Sun Valley, Idaho. Yes, ice dancing. Sweet started a decade ago, joining his wife, Adele, an accomplished ice skater in her youth. Now he’s getting pretty accomplished himself, not to mention reaping the health benefits. “I have to think there are some new synapses firing,” he says. He also serves on the board of trustees of the Graduate School of Management and Urban Studies at the New School for Social Research in New York City. And for all those accomplishments, he harks back to his start at Taft, where he was a monitor, member of the debate team, and played football and hockey. He has maintained close ties with the school as an alumnus, trustee and parent, with three of his children attending: Robert ’68, Ames ’72 and Eliza ’80. In 1985, he won Taft’s highest award, the Citation of Merit. But Sweet also says Taft helped plant the roots to the career that would take him to the center of society’s great debates. “At this level, the law is not a question of just looking it up in the books,” he says. “You can make a rational and acceptable argument on both sides, that’s why it’s before you. The question is how do you make those decisions.
“And quite honestly it goes back to the Taft School, to the basic principles and precepts you acquired over your life. When you have these difficult things to decide, you repair to that value system. “One of the reasons I continue to do this is that I want to keep alive that value system I believe in. I want to get those values out there, and let my opinion compete with somebody else’s. And if it differs with somebody else’s, that’s fine, that’s healthy.” John Mooney ’78 is a freelance writer in New Jersey. He covered education for the Newark Star-Ledger for the last 10 years, and since leaving the Star-Ledger, his work has appeared in the New York Times.
“At this level, the law is not a question of just looking it up in the books. You can make a rational and acceptable argument on both sides, that’s why it’s before you. The question is how do you make those decisions.”
a scientist on the board of the Natural Resources Defense Council, George Woodwell has long battled for action on global warming. Recently, I asked him how he stays so cheerful. Not missing a beat, he said. “There is no substitute for optimism. If you can see a way forward, you can be optimistic.”
forward laws to protect the planet are set to broaden
By Liz Barratt-Brown ’77
I’ve worked in the environmental field for almost thirty years and it is sometimes hard to feel optimistic. Changes to our planet have accelerated rapidly during this short period of time: global warming, fisheries collapse, water scarcity, the list goes on, but I have never failed to see a way forward. Sometimes it is a state or nation with an innovative policy. Sometimes it is incremental progress at the global level. Oftentimes, it is inspired by the campaign of one or two intrepid souls. But now we are running out of time and we urgently need to see action at all levels, simultaneously working to better protect the planet. This imperative doesn’t seem to be lost on our new president. In his acceptance speech and inaugural address, the president referred to our “planet in peril” as one of his top concerns and has consistently listed addressing global warming and energy reform at the top of his policy objectives. But he also clearly believes that doing right by the planet and generations to come will reap immediate benefits as well. The stimulus bill and his budget invest in a nascent energy “revolution” to get us out of the economic— as well as planetary—mess we are in. Environmental and energy policies are no longer sidebar issues, but have moved into a center role where initiatives on clean energy, technological innovation, and job creation are meshed into one to meet multiple policy goals. A good example is the stimulus bill, passed in mid-February. The bill has nearly $80 billion in renewable energy and efficiency spending, a full tenth of the overall package, which represents the biggest injection of federal support for transforming the production and use of energy in our history. It will help us grow this sector, it will help us cut our reliance on foreign oil (which, by the way, costs us $700 billion in borrowed money every year) and it will
help us cut the pollution that causes global warming. A huge chunk of this funding will go to weatherize millions of American homes and green federal buildings, employing people in “green collar” jobs who have lost their job in the traditional construction industry. Another example is the president’s federal budget, which contains, for the first time, estimates for proceeds from a “carbon cap”—a cap on absolute levels of pollution that puts a price on the remaining carbon dioxide emissions. The proceeds will fund renewable energy, health care, tax breaks and other items (which we want more of ) and help discourage pollution (which we want less of ). Next, the president and Congress will focus on legislation that will set up this “cap and invest” system. The U.S. faces twin imperatives—getting domestic legislation passed and moving a global agreement forward that bring about steep reductions. The good news is that already 1,000 U.S. mayors and half the states have put in place their own global warming plans. It will still be a huge fight but it feels like the ground is shifting in our favor—even in these difficult economic times. Globally it will also take unprecedented leadership. Over 15 years ago, the U.S. ratified the world’s first treaty on climate change after the Rio Earth Summit. Over ten years ago, a “protocol” was added to this treaty calling on developed
U.S. must show that we are prepared to do our part (and that we believe it is an economic plus to act) and bring along critical countries such as China and India. What’s required is nothing short of changing the very way we have powered our society over the last couple of centuries. We don’t have much time to mull it all over either. Scientists warn that we have less than a decade to start reducing the pollution that causes global warming if we are to stave off the worst impacts. Certainly a world perched on the edge of catastrophic melting of our poles makes the bank bailout look like small potatoes. But then I think of Woodwell’s comment and reflect a little on where we have come from and what I have seen work. I started my career advocating for acid rain legislation. Acid rain is mainly a side effect of burning coal, and it was poisoning the lakes and streams as well as causing other damage to huge portions of the eastern United States and Canada. In 1990, the U.S. adopted legislation that cut acid rain pollution in half by requiring that “scrubbers” be installed on coal burning furnaces and put in place the first “trading system” for pollution reductions. On the global scale, chemicals used mainly in refrigeration were literally eating away at the world’s protective ozone layer, critical for shielding the planet from cancer
…doing right by the planet and generations to come will reap immediate benefits as well.
The U.S. faces twin imperatives—getting domestic legislation passed and moving a global agreement forward that bring about steep reductions. countries to take the first steps in reducing greenhouse gas pollution. Sadly, there has been little real progress towards reducing pollution to below 1990 levels—the stated goal of the protocol—partly because the U.S., the emitter of 25 percent of the world’s global warming pollution, refused to act. Now the
22 Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
causing UV radiation. In the late 1980s, the United Nations shepherded through a global agreement known as the Montreal Protocol that phased out the use of chemicals responsible for the damage. Less harmful chemicals were developed and the hole has been gradually closing ever since.
The backdrop to these two success stories was a period of intense national and global law making in the 1970s. After the first Earth Day, our major environmental statutes were passed in rapid succession—the Clean Air Act in 1970, the Clean Water Act in 1972, the Endangered Species Act in 1973, the Safe Drinking Water Act in 1974, the Resource Conservation and Recovery Act in 1976,
of inflection where both the Wall Street economy and the earth’s natural systems are hitting the wall at the same time. Given that stark reality, the spotlight must now be on changing the very way we produce energy and food, and how much we consume. Instead of making a better Cadillac, we have to throw it out for the Prius—or better yet, for high-speed rail and walkable
…the spotlight must now be on changing the very way we produce energy and food, and how much we consume. and the Superfund in 1980. In 1972, the first Earth Summit was held in Stockholm, Sweden. Many of our environmental treaties were adopted shortly thereafter. NRDC and other national groups were formed during this period—NRDC in the dining hall of Yale Law School—and now employ thousands of advocates working on behalf of people and the environment. Thousands more form a vibrant grass-roots movement that continually challenges the status quo. It is hard to imagine what our country would be like if we had not passed these statutes or invested in building this cadre of environmental activists in their support. I’ve traveled to many developing countries where the air is unbreathable and the water undrinkable. I’ve ridden in “tuk tuks”—taxis in Bangkok—whose gas tanks could explode at any moment. And, tragically, many environmental activists have lost their lives for lack of the civil liberties and democratic protections. We can’t protect ourselves against these harms without the power of the law and rules. That system of laws and rules, and fundamentally behavior at all levels, is broadening out dramatically and will be tested like never before. The statutes of the 1970s seem almost quaint in their focus on solving problems by using technology to reduce pollution at the end of a pipe. As Thomas Friedman said in his March 7 New York Times column, we are facing the point
communities. We need to have more “smart growth” and greener buildings. Companies should add photovoltaic panels and earthen roofs to reduce stormwater runoff and to better insulate. We’ll need to enact new treaties to control mercury and to protect the arctic as the melting ice opens it up for shipping and resource extraction. There is much to be done, but already there is a beehive of activity that the president, Congress and other nations can magnify with leadership and the right policies. And while there is a dire imperative to these issues, there is also a huge opportunity to do things better and more fairly. Perhaps we’ll even be inspired to think more deeply about what matters most to us and what we plan to leave for the next generation and for other co-inhabitants on this miraculous planet. As Woodwell said, there is no substitute for optimism. That is a refreshing idea here in Washington, D.C., at the start of 2009. Liz Barratt-Brown’77, a senior attorney with the Natural Resources Defense Council’s International Program, has spent the last 25 years working on a number of environmental initiatives, most recently defending Canada’s boreal forest from strip mining for oil in the Alberta “tar sands.” She is also co-chair of the Center for a New American Dream (www.newdream.org). You can read her blog at http://switchboard.nrdc.org/blogs/lizbb/.
People need freedom to take responsibility. Accountability should be based on accomplishment, not bureaucratic conformity. We must embrace human differences, not try to stamp people out of the same legal mold.
The Freedom To Make a Difference
By Philip K. Howard â€™66
t lunch one day with a close friend, a respected journalist, I mentioned that a broad coalition had come together behind
the idea of creating expert health courts. By making justice reliable, I explained, doctors would no longer have the incentive to squander billions in defensive medicine. With an expert court that could sort through the complexities of medical judgment, doctors would feel more comfortable being open about uncertainties and errors. Patients injured by mistakes would get paid more quickly and reliably.
Eyes flashing, she interrupted. “Who would guarantee that these judges weren’t in the doctors’ pockets?” I suggested that the judges could be appointed through a neutral screening panel. The retort was immediate: “Who will appoint the screening panel?” Reputation and professional character should stand for something, I suggested. After all, we can’t abdicate responsibility just because that involves the exercise of human judgment. As I talked, the journalist—remember, this is a friend—looked at me as if I’d been caught cheating. There’s a lot going on in that little exchange. The distrust of authority is palpable. The core assumption is that society can be organized without human intervention. The idea of a judge making legal rulings on standards of care struck her as an invitation to abuse, a form of tyranny instead of a key ingredient of the rule of law. This is the mind-set of our time. No idea is more unpalatable to the modern mind than giving someone authority to make choices that affect other people. That’s why we have law, or so we believe—to dictate or oversee almost any life activity. Law, we think,
We’ve asked law to do too much—trying to enforce fairness in daily relations is not freedom, but a form of utopia that predictably degenerates into squealing demands for me, me, me. Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
should protect people from the judgment of others. Our fears of human authority are hardly irrational, particularly in an anonymous, interdependent society. Decisions by judges and officials affect our lives in countless ways—the air we breathe, the scope of our health care, the fairness of justice, our careers, the success of our schools, and the safety of toys. Who are these people? They can do their jobs well, or poorly. A judge can be fair, or one-sided. Perhaps it is natural that we want a thick covering of law to insulate us from their choices and, just in case, a legal selfhelp kit if some decision emerges that we don’t like. Now that we have forty years of experience with this expansive concept of law, however, we can safely conclude that it wasn’t a good innovation. The goal was to protect against unfair authority, but the effect was to preclude fair authority. As an unintended part of the bargain, we lost much of our freedom. A crowded society can’t operate unless officials have the authority to make common choices—drawing the boundaries of lawsuits, for example, and maintaining order in the
Social commentators also note the decline in civic involvement. Robert Bellah finds that freedom has been redefined—instead of the power to make a difference, Americans increasingly view freedom as the right to be left alone. Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone talks about the loss of “social capital” when people no longer participate in community activities. Apathy in America is not our natural state, however. It too is caused, at least in part, by a sense of powerlessness. What good are the parents’ ideas if the bureaucracy prevents the principal from acting on them? Why bother to get involved in politics when nothing sensible seems possible? “Each individual feels helpless to affect anything beyond the immediate environment,” Professor Warren Bennis observes, “and so retreats into an ever-contracting private world.” Law is supposed to be a structure that promotes our freedom. It does this by setting boundaries that define an open field of freedom. Instead law has moved in on daily life, becoming the arbiter of potentially every disagreement in a free society. We’ve asked law to do too much—trying
… law is only a tool, made by humans and only as good as the humans who are using it. Law can’t make any final decisions… . For anything to work properly (including law), humans on the spot must make choices. classroom. Our freedom depends on these choices—to allow our children to focus on learning, and to let us go through the day without walking on eggshells. The people making these choices are not the enemy, but our surrogates. Many of them are the people next door—teachers, principals, counselors, ministers, nurses, doctors, managers, foremen, and inspectors, as well as public officials and judges. We need them to do their best, not be paralyzed by law. There’s a lot of talk about the decline of leadership in our society. America lacks leaders not because of a genetic flaw in our generation, at least not one that anyone has discovered. We lack leaders because we’ve basically made leadership unlawful. America doesn’t even allow a teacher to run a classroom, or a judge to dismiss a $54 million claim for a lost pair of pants. Washington is legally dead, unable to breathe any sense into outmoded laws, and unable to prevent special interests from feeding off its carcass. 26 Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
to enforce fairness in daily relations is not freedom, but a form of utopia that predictably degenerates into squealing demands for me, me, me. We need to snap out of our legal trance. Freedom is not defined by fairness—that’s hopeless, because everyone has a different view, usually tilted toward himself. Freedom is defined by outside boundaries of what is legally unfair. There’s a difference: Setting outer boundaries allows people to make free choices, whether it’s running the classroom, managing the department, or putting an arm around a crying child. Bring law into daily disagreements, and you might as well give a legal club to the most unreasonable and selfish person in the enterprise. The dream was to create a legal system that was self-executing and no longer subject to racism and other societal abuses. The goal was understandable. But law is only a tool, made by humans and only as good as the hu-
The confusion of good judgment with legal proof may be the most insidious fallacy of modern law.
mans who are using it. Law can’t make any final decisions, at least not without unleashing all the idiocies of central planning. For anything to work properly (including law), humans on the spot must make choices. Still, you might say, legal process can make people justify the fairness of their decisions. That’s what due process is all about, putting government to the proof before it takes away our “life, liberty or property.” Why not use due process to guarantee fairness throughout society? That’s what we’ve been told is innovative about modern law—make people in authority justify their choices to whoever’s affected. Typically American, we think we can have it all. Let’s have law everywhere and freedom too. Of course teachers, counselors, officials, and others can make decisions. They just need to justify their decisions in a legal proceeding. Justification is now part of our daily culture. We demand it of others and expect it of ourselves. You’d better not make a decision that affects someone unless you’re prepared to justify why it’s fair. But most sensible decisions, although readily secondguessed, can rarely be justified in a legal sense. How do you prove that $54 million is an absurd amount for a pair of pants? It just is. How do you prove that sending Johnny home for misbehavior is fair? Well, I’m the principal here, and I know Johnny, and I think it’s fair. People just have to decide. These judgments can be wrong or unfair, and that’s why we can give others the authority to overrule these decisions. But rarely can people prove the wisdom or fairness of their choices in any objective way.
The confusion of good judgment with legal proof may be the most insidious fallacy of modern law. Due process was not designed as a litmus test for good judgment—it was designed as a high hurdle that the state had to cross before taking away a citizen’s life, liberty, or property. We shouldn’t be surprised that expanding due process to daily choices discourages the choices needed to get through the day. Putting daily decisions through the legal wringer does not make the decisions better. It gives us parents who make legal threats over bad grades, and officials who put handcuffs on five-year-olds. The overlay of law destroys the human instinct needed to get things done. Accomplishment is personal. Anyone who has felt the pride of a job well done knows this. The power of freedom, as well as the joy of personal fulfillment, comes from spontaneity and invention, not logic and proof. Somehow we must learn to appreciate again the complexity of human judgment, and redirect our fears toward judging people and their decisions, not trying to come up with a system that is better than mere mortals. Reprinted from Life Without Lawyers: Liberating Americans From Too Much Law by Philip K. Howard ’66. © 2009 by Philip K. Howard. With permission of the publisher, W.W. Norton & Company, Inc. Howard is the best-selling author of The Death of Common Sense and founder and chair of Common Good, a nonprofit, nonpartisan legal reform coalition dedicated to restoring common sense to America. For more information, visit www.CommonGood.org.
The overlay of law destroys the human instinct needed to get things done. Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
From the Archives
The Second Baseball Team vs. the Faculty
Mr. Taft at bat, Wilson “Skinny” Eyre, T ’05, catcher. The image is from fragments of a scrapbook in the Archives, provenance unknown.
ith the season upon us, it seemed like a good moment to bring out these unusual and delightful shots of Horace Taft and the faculty baseball team as they took on the school’s Second Team one Friday afternoon in May 1905. The school’s baseball diamond, recently carved out of the farm fields behind the Warren House, did not yet have a proper team dugout or seating for fans. Visible are the horse-drawn carriages that doubled as grandstands and brought “a large crowd of town people…and enthusiastic admirers (who) cheered the faculty.” In those days, apparently, only serious 28 Taft Bulletin Spring 2009
enthusiasts owned a baseball cap, and wearing a fedora and a bow tie as team gear was not unthinkable or even comical. Of course, the student Second Team was properly outfitted in uniforms. Unfortunately no pictures of that team survive. The Papyrus reported a “very close match up to the eighth inning,” when the Second Team scored five runs to surge ahead of their elders for a 14–9 victory. However, it went on, “the feature of the game was Mr. Taft’s safe hit in the fifth inning.” The students’ win was the first in many years of the annual competition. —Alison Gilchrist, Leslie D. Manning Archives
Inset: Members of the Faculty Team, from left: Headmaster Horace Taft, Judson Dutcher (math & science), Sydney B. Morton (Latin), Andrew D. McIntosh (English & history), Rev. Herbert N. Cunningham (chaplain), Olin C. Joline (Greek), Charles H. Ward (English), Paul M. Welton (history & physical culture), M. Buckingham.
Construction m The new west dining hall, which faces Mac House, gets insulation on its roof. Note the HDT tower in the background and the windows to the old study hall/ Potter’s art room on the right. . A view of the project from the west. The tower in the foreground marks the new entrance to Main Hall. The bricked area on the left is the former “kitchen corridor.” The main level of that wing will become the new north dining hall, with the Moorhead Academic Center located above.
The beep-beep-beep of construction vehicles and the zip-zip of steel being welded have become part of the daily score that orchestrates our days on campus. With all this activity at the heart of the school, the community quickly adjusted to the disruption that began last summer, only looking over the fences when something major catches our eye… when sparks from the welding fly high on a snowy day, when the roof is covered by huge sheets of metal that catch the sun, or when the building is draped like some art installation by Christo to keep the fireproofing from freezing. Although we still have a year to go before we are completely moved in to the new dining facilities, each new phase builds anticipation as we catch glimpses of this grand old building’s second birth. —Julie Reiff, editor
Update For more information on the project, visit www.TaftSchool.org/about/construction.asp, or check out the article “Serving Up Space at the Heart of the School” in the summer 2008 Taft Bulletin. Photographs by Yee-Fun Yin
The Taft School 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100 860.945.7777 www.TaftAlumni.com
Change Service Requested
Nonprofit Org U.S. Postage PAID Burlington, VT Permit No. 101