Spring 1997 Taft Bulletin

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BULLETIN S P R I N G • 1 9 9 7

Volume 67

Number 3

In this Issue SPOTLIGHT

2 MICHAEL BABCOCK ’83 Sailing the World in the BT Global Challenge By Julie Reiff


By David Hostage

11 LEN SARGENT A tribute by Headmaster Lance Odden

14 LOIS DEPOLO A tribute by Headmaster Lance Odden Page 7


On the cover: Michael Babcock ’83 circles the globe aboard the Heath Insured II. Photo by Barry Pickthall. The Taft Bulletin is published quarterly, in March, May, August, and November, by The Taft School, 110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100 and is distributed free of charge to alumni, parents, grandparents, and friends of the school. E-Mail Us! Now you can send your latest news, address change, birth announcement, or letter to the editor to us via e-mail. Our address is TaftRhino@Taft.pvt.k12.ct.us. Of course we’ll continue to accept your communiqués by such “low tech” methods as the fax machine (860-945-7756), telephone (860-274-2516), or U.S. Mail (110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100). So let’s hear from you!

Paul and Edith Cruikshank; Jim Logan




Spring 1997


Michael Babcock ’83

Sailing the World in the BT Global Challenge By Julie Reiff


he British Telecom Global Challenge set sail from Southampton, England, on September 29. On board one of the fourteen identical 67-foot cutter-rigged sloops racing around the world this year is Michael Babcock ’83, a solicitor with a London law firm who left his job to participate in the ten-month race. Before arriving back in the United Kingdom in mid-summer, he will have sailed 30,000 miles the “wrong way” around the world (against prevailing winds and currents). The BT Challenge has been called “the world’s toughest yacht race.” The route is divided into six legs and takes the sailors to five continents. They are traveling to windward, from east to west, around the three great Capes [Cape Horn in South America, Cape of Good Hope in South

Africa, and Cape Leeuwin in Australia] and across the most hostile oceans known to man. The crews spend several weeks in each port and longer in Wellington, where all boats came out of the water for repairs. The yachts first sailed through the Bay of Biscay and the Doldrums to Rio

de Janeiro, Brazil. After this stopover, they rounded Cape Horn, encountering the winds and waves of the Roaring Forties as they pushed toward the next port of call: Wellington, New Zealand. From there, they raced to Sydney for a short stopover before battling across the

b The Fleet of the BT Global Challenge departs Sydney for leg four of the round-the-world sailing race. Michael Babcock ’83 is one of 14 crew members aboard the Heath Insured II. Taft Bulletin



Babcock To Rescue As Dismasting Threatens By Malcolm McKeag, The Times [London] Another yacht in the BT Global Challenge fleet has narrowly avoided the dismasting that two nights ago befell Concert. In a reported 35 knots of breeze, Heath Insured II suffered a failure of the plate securing an intermediate shroud between the second and third spreaders. The mast began to sag alarmingly to leeward, but Michael Babcock, on the wheel at the time, immediately threw the yacht about to port tack, releasing the loads on the unsupported top mast. His quick thinking undoubtedly saved the rig, which would have otherwise suffered in similar fashion to Concert. Heath Insured II was yesterday still sailing on port tack virtually at right angles to the rest of the fleet and the direction she needs to go to get to Wellington, while her crew pondered lash-up repairs—but she still has her mast.... December 21, 1996 ©The Times


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Mike’s yacht is sponsored by The Heath Group, one of the world’s largest international insurance brokers. Save the Children is the official race charity, and for which one of the yachts is named. They have already benefited nearly £250,000. Heath also entered a boat in the 1992 British Steel Challenge, the first such race organized by The Challenge Business, who will be running a similar race again in 2000. Southern Ocean to Cape Town, South Africa. From Cape Town, the crews will sail along the South East Trades through the Doldrums and across the Atlantic Ocean to Boston, before a final sprint home to Southampton, England. Mike is on board the Heath Insured II, led by professional skipper Adrian

Donovan and an amateur crew of thirteen fee-paying men and women. An American by birth, Mike, who is 31, set up home in London a few years ago. Until he joined the Heath Insured II crew full time, Mike was a practicing solicitor, often concentrating on sports contracts, club rules, and constitutions.


Mike could be described as the number one fan of the British soccer team Leeds United. “So as long as he can get the latest football results via the BBC World Service, he will be quite happy,” one crew member commented. “(That is assuming the Leeds score is favorable. If Leeds United lose he may not be the easiest man to live with!)” Mike works hard to design menus for the legs, calculating quantities, calories, weights, and stowage. He is jointly responsible for the mast and rigging and is the man behind the camera, providing the majority of still shots from Heath Insured II. Mike achieved a certain amount of fame around the holidays, when he was written up in the London Times for his quick thinking at the helm (see page 4). Rigging problems dominated the second leg, affecting seven of the yachts. One theory for the rig failures, according to race project director Andrew Roberts, “is that the yachts have been on the same tack—starboard—for

between 75 and 90 percent of the race so far, or close to 10,000 miles. The strain may have been unusually acute on one side of the boat for days on end, which is something that cannot be duplicated in sea trials.” The crew also includes an artist, an optician, a computer manager, an insurance agent, a motor trader, a few businessmen, and a nurse—ages 21 to 60. Most have little or no sailing experience prior to training for the BT Global Challenge. Mike had sailed small boats in Cape Cod since he was a teenager and also sailed at Brown University during his freshman year. “He’s like a terrier on sail trim and boat speed,” observed his skipper, “always looking for improvement. He is invaluable in keeping up the watch concentration.” When asked why he decided to become involved in the BT Global Challenge, Mike said, “There comes a point in every day sail when the balance of the day shifts and it’s time to return


Rio de Janeiro

home. Precious few day sailors would not have heard that nagging internal voice: ‘Don’t turn, let’s see what’s over that horizon, then the next’. For me, the BT Global Challenge, when all else is said and done, is my chance to succumb to the lure of that siren voice.” On the phone from Sydney, Mike says, “The best part [of the race] so far was the short leg from Wellington to Sydney. We were leading for nearly five days of the seven-day leg, and that was fantastic. The feeling on board was brilliant. We’ve got to keep that feeling going on the next leg.” Of course that was the same leg that half of the crew came down with food poisoning. Mike was initially quite disappointed because he had done so well avoiding seasickness the whole way out—much better than most—and figured that’s what was bothering him at first, until most of his watch was stricken. “I don’t really know what I expected,” he admits. “The hardest thing


Cape Town

Wellington Sydney

The Route: Leg 1 Southampton to Rio de Janeiro Leg 2 Rio de Janeiro to Wellington

Leg 3 Wellington to Sydney Leg 4 Sydney to Cape Town

Leg 5 Cape Town to Boston Leg 6 Boston to Southampton Taft Bulletin



To Market, To Market Between them, the crews will go through • a ton of curry and a half ton of chili • two tons of pasta and three quarters of a ton of sauce • a ton of peas and two thirds of a ton of mixed vegetables • nearly a ton of mashed potatoes • and two tons of chunky, minced, curried, or sweet and sour chicken. Plus, • 10,500 portions of chocolate or peach delight • and 3,500 portions of cherry cheesecake. To wash it down they’ll get through • 68,000 liters of fruit juice • and 380,000 tea bags. With no refrigeration on board, the crews must rely on vacuum-packed and freeze-dried foods. Fresh foods will be bought in each stopover port and may last for a week or so. Six thousand calories per day are required in the Southern Ocean to sustain activity—the same as a fullyfit commando on duty.

is getting on with people—fourteen people in a small space. It’s not something I’m really good at under normal circumstances.” A luxury cruise this is not. In addition to the grueling four hours on, four hours off schedule (which means, after eating their meals, crew members may only get two and a half hours of sleep at a time) there are few amenities on board. Except for wet6

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After three legs of racing, the Heath Insured II is eleventh overall. Anyone wishing to follow the race, which ends in early July, can visit two websites: http://www.btchallenge.com and http://www.ceheath.co.uk weather clothing, sleeping bags, and pillows, each crew member’s entire belongings for ten months must fit in two plastic boxes about the size of a medium suitcase—slightly less than the carry-on allowance for most airlines. Not surprisingly, he says, “It’s been a fantastic experience so far. The weather in the Southern Ocean was worse than we expected, but the race is going really well; I’m quite happy with it.” Once he gets back to the UK, he predicts the first thing he’ll do is to take a shower and have a few drinks. Then he has to look for a job, a place to live, and to claim most of his belongings from storage. “I wouldn’t not have done it for the world,” he adds. “I don’t want to wish it away, but I will be glad when it’s done. It’s the kind of thing you don’t enjoy doing every day, but you get a good feeling from it.” Some of the information above is from the BT Challenge website and is reproduced with permission.

Watch Work Everything on the yacht revolves around the four-hour watch system. At its simplest, the crew of fourteen, minus the skipper and mate, are divided into alternating Port and Starboard Watches. When not on deck, crew members have a host of “domestic” chores to do, including meal preparation, cooking, washing, cleaning, pumping bilges, or mending sails. During their fourhour off-watch they must also take care of personal necessities, such as eating and sleeping. Of course, at any time the skipper may call for “All Hands on Deck.”


Science Outside the Classroom By David Hostage


aft students are serious science students, and their scores on the Advanced Placement science examinations and SAT-II (formerly known as achievement tests) have been laudable. However, the members of the department believe that science does not happen only within the science classroom. It is, instead, a lifelong endeavor which we try to support among our students to the fullest extent possible.

Seniors Jennifer Blomberg, Owen Muir, Graham Elliott, and Jessica Riggs, seated, demonstrate their award-winning exercise equipment from the National Engineering Design Competition. Taft Bulletin



Physics teacher Jim Mooney, left, with his award-winning NEDC team: Geoff Deschenes ’96, MaryJo Valentino ’95, James Copeland ’95, Joy Liu ’95, Kate Weiss ’96, John Muckle ’95, and Rob Brackett ’95. Many of us have provided guidance, support, time, and commiseration for students as they have pursued science activities outside traditional avenues. These efforts have been focused in three general areas: written competitions, engineering design and construction projects, and the Independent Studies Project program.

Competitive examinations Taft science students have performed well in outside competitions. The International Physics Olympiad offers a chance for competition against the best physics students from each nation around the world. Coached by physics teacher Jim Mooney, several Taft students have completed the qualifying examination of multiple choice and 8

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open response questions at Taft. That paper is then sent to Washington to be scored. Students with excellent results have a chance to represent their country at the international level. Jack Langsdorf ’93 not only advanced to the next level of competition but also was selected as one of twenty physics students from the entire country to represent the US. Jack missed his own graduation ceremonies at Taft as he was in Washington training for the upcoming competition. His efforts at the training session were so good that he was named as first alternate to the fiveperson team. Jack is now studying at the California Institute of Technology. The Chemistry Olympiad follows a different format. Schools are encouraged to send teams of students to the

University of Connecticut for an intensive examination consisting of an objective and an essay section, followed by a laboratory practical. Unfortunately, the examination always falls in the middle of the spring semester break, but each year I have persuaded teams of day students and nearby boarders to forgo trips to exotic locales in order to compete. This year, a team led by Rich Possemato ’97 will make the trek. The other members of the squad are seniors Jim Murdica, Jeff D’Amelia, Peggy Ficks, and upper mids Dan Chak, Tony Guerrera, Dan McArdle, and Michelle O’Brien. The JETS-TEAMS (Junior Engineering Technical Society Test of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics, and Science) competition is sponsored


in Connecticut by the University of New Haven. Our state has the largest participation of any; nearly eighty schools appear in a given year. This event is truly a team competition. Faced with a general problem that cuts across the science disciplines, each team must exhibit expertise in physics, chemistry, engineering, environmental science, and computer programming. The exam allows each team to allocate its members in any fashion to answer a series of linked questions. Taft has had extraordinary success at this competition in the past. Jim Mooney’s teams have placed in the top few spots every year they have competed. In 1993, a team consisting of Laura Estes ’93, Jonathan Griswold ’94, Ken Kharma ’93, and Jack Langsdorf ’93 placed first in Connecticut and then went on to the national competition, where they placed third in the selective-schools category. This year, the Taft banner will be carried to New Haven by seniors Jessica Riggs, Rich Possemato, Rob Percarpio, Will Morris, Bri Mahoney, and Owen Muir and upper mids Tony Guerrera and Dan Chak. The Chemathon, sponsored by the New England Association of Chemistr y Teachers and Sacred Heart University, invites each secondary school in the state of Connecticut to send its five best first-year chemists to sit for a two-hour examination in May. Taft teams have dominated the independentschool category of this competition, and several students have placed among the top few spots among several hundred competitors. Chris Krenn ’88, Jennifer Ottman ’91, and James Thompson ’89 placed third overall in their respective competitions, and last year Rich Possemato was second in the state.

Engineering competitions The National Engineering Design Competition is a high-school engineering-based program in which teams of students design, fabricate, and dem-

Ken Kharma and Chris Pollock, both Class of ’93, perform “Chemical Magic” for local elementary school students as part of an Independent Studies Project. onstrate solutions to a defined problem. The NEDC challenges students to apply mathematics, science, and technology to a real-world engineering situation, and the founders of the event have posed fascinating problems each year. In 1994, students constructed a device to help a paraplegic show materials on an overhead projector; the mechanism was required to pick up transparencies from a low pile and deliver them to and from the display panel without any assistance from the presenter. In 1995, the team designed an apparatus to deliver medicines to an elderly person at appropriate times over an interval of a week, with warnings suitable to people who might have been hearing- or sight-impaired. This year, two Taft

teams met the challenge of designing and constructing a fitness device that would allow exercise of arms, legs, and torso of users including paraplegics and pregnant women. One Taft team placed second in the competition and received a special award for best working model. This device was displayed by seniors Jennifer Blomberg, Graham Elliott, Owen Muir, and Jessica Riggs. The “Peak Performance” competition is sponsored by the College of Engineering at Boston University. It involves teams of two students who design and build a vehicle that will climb a sloped ramp under its own power, stop at a plateau at the top of the ramp, and defend its position against a vehicle from another team that has climbed a ramp on the opposite side of the plateau. Taft Bulletin



Taft Chemathon winners in Independent School category 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992


Place 1 Chris Krenn 1 James Thompson 1 Thomas Wu 2 Thomas Yu 2 Steve Santore 1 Jennifer Ottman 1 Ken Kharma 2 McKee ColsmanFreyberger 1 Richard Possemato 2 Janet Chen 3 Jim Murdica

Taft Chemathon winners- overall 1987 1988 1989 1990

1991 1992 1996

3 3 8 10 6 8 14 14 3 8 2

Chris Krenn James Thompson Thomas Wu Thomas Yu Steve Santore Young Kyu Park Amish Mehta Jeff Battema Jennifer Ottman Ken Kharma Rich Possemato

JETS-TEAMS results in CT 1991 1993 1994 1995 1996

2 1 3 2 2

NEDC results 1994 1995 1996


5 3 2

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Chris Gemino ’95 and Tony Samela ’95 started the Taft entries in 1995. Last year, the team of Owen Muir and Graham Elliott placed second in the competition. Later this spring, we expect to see two vehicles from teams including upper mids Tony Guerrera, Jasper Speicher, Andre Senay, and Dan McArdle, and we hope that their vehicles can become “king of the hill.”

Independent Study Projects The Taft science department has sponsored an amazing array of Independent Studies projects in recent years. You may remember that the ISP—Barclay Johnson’s “School Within a School”— permits students the time to pursue a project in depth, while working closely with a faculty advisor. Science and engineering projects are a natural fit to the ISP. This year, Tony Guerrera and Wayne Lai ’98 have worked with physics teacher Jim Mooney to construct a perpetual motion machine; Rich Possemato, working with biology teacher John Crosby, has performed genetics experiments with fruit flies; David Soderberg ’97 has designed and built an electric guitar with assistance from Jim Mooney, Bill Zuehlke, and me; Pronthep Meethunkij ’97 has worked with Garrett Forbes to extract and purify a chemical from tree bark; Dan McArdle has designed and built a laser; and I have advised Justin Mak ’98, Clayton Chen ’98, Kenneth So ’97, and Dee Sohn ’97 as they designed and built loudspeakers. In past years, students have designed and built amplifiers; designed houses with CAD software; constructed a generator; researched a method to deal with chemical waste from the photography lab; explored pyrotechnics, conductivity, and spectrometry in the chemistry lab; analyzed the chemistry in popular fiction; and many others. In one excellent project, Alexis Yoo ’89 and Carol Wu ’89 designed and built a go-cart.

• • • Our students benefit greatly from these competitive exercises and construction projects. They learn that they do, in fact, know a great deal of science and that they can compare their results directly with those of students from other schools. More important, they learn from and teach each other as they prepare for and participate in these programs. Moreover, they learn important skills in organization, design, materials acquisition, and construction techniques as they complete their projects. Many of them will carry their enthusiam and skill with them as they move forward into college and careers, and I always find it gratifying to hear back from a student as she completes medical school or as he finishes a doctorate in physical chemistry. As we move into the new mathematics and library complex, we will be able to explore science even more. The new building will contain enough space so that we will be able to enter into more complicated, long-term projects in each of nine laboratories. An environmental science workroom in the basement with a separate exit will allow wet, muddy students to bring their specimens and data into the building without anointing the carpets in the beautiful new library. A projects lab, located on the third floor of the new building, will be home to projects similar to those previously described as ISPs and engineering competitions. A departmental workshop in the basement will permit the science faculty and their students to fabricate new and more elaborate equipment for classroom use, and we see endless possibilities for research and competition for our students. Taft students have distinguished themselves for their fine work in science outside the classroom in the past, and we are sure that our superb new facilities will spur us on to greater glory. David Hostage is the head of the Science Department at Taft. He is also the director of the Taft Educational Center.


Leonard Sargent A Tribute by Headmaster Lance R. Odden


Teacher, coach, dean, housemaster at Taft for thirty-two years — only the first of two careers.

eonard Sargent, Taft master from 1937 to 1969, died of a massive heart attack on February 16 in Bozeman, Montana, at the age of 84. He was one of the great influences on Taft’s history, serving as a teacher, coach, lower-middle class dean, and master of the fourth floor of HDT. Born in Virginia, Len Sargent attended The Gunnery, where he was a school leader and formed a close friendship with his baseball coach, Paul Cruikshank, who went on to become headmaster of Taft. A southerner, Len was immediately drawn to hockey, which he managed at The Gunnery and, thereafter, as an undergraduate geology major at Princeton. Following graduation from Princeton, he rejoined Paul Cruikshank in his first year as head of Taft. Their close friendship endured for over forty years. In part because of that friendship, Len Sargent had an even bigger impact on our school. Teaching math, coaching hockey and tennis, living on the fourth floor, and annually taking a group of students throughout the West in his Airstream trailer, Len became a legendary figure in the annals of the thirties and forties. Students loved him because he loved their games, their spirit, and he enjoyed being with them on fishing trips and outings in those summer months. Although World War II called Len off to serve as a lieutenant in the Navy, he happily returned to Taft after the war to resume all of the activities of his pre-war years save one. Taft Bulletin



and to enclose our rink as it has been ever since. Len introduced an era of prep school sports that may never be equaled. From 1951 until 1969, Taft totally dominated ice hockey in Western New England winning championships and never finishing less than second. In those days, there was not a New England Championship, but had there been one, Taft would have won year after year. I was privileged to be Len Sargent’s associate coach for nearly a decade, and during that time, I learned many enduring lessons. He loved kids and thought hockey should be fun. He often took us out into the countryside to skate on ponds in order to give the club teams more ice time Known as “Winter God,” he believed that winning was important but that sportsmanship and just to have a great outcounted most. ing in nature. He believed that While chaperoning at a tea dance light, and with student labor, they laid winning was important, but that sportsbefore the war, Len met and was smit- down the first pipes and outfitted our manship counted most. By example, he ten by a Westover girl. They dated rink with equipment that still is in use earned the title “Winter God.” briefly after she graduated, but the war today. In 1956, Len persuaded the When the Vietnam War broke out, interrupted their romance. While Len Weyerhaeuser family to give us the arches Len Sargent became disillusioned with was off to war, she married, and, thus, Len returned to Taft, apparently destined to be the ever-eligible, but lonely prep school bachelor. But if Len was lonely, no one ever knew it. He threw himself into everything with a determination that captured the admiration of the community. However, he quickly grew frustrated by the fickle nature of New England weather and the unreliability of pond ice, where his varsity teams were to practice. In 1949, he persuaded Paul Cruikshank to let him travel the country as the hockey coach seeking funds to build an artificial rink, the first of any prep school in the country. He did so, and raised nearly a quarter of a million dollars. The trustees Three generations of Taft hockey coaches: Lance Odden, Len Sargent, and current coach and Mr. Cruikshank gave him the green Mike Maher. 12

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Frustrated by unpredictable New England winters, Len was instrumental in the construction of Mays Rink, making Taft the first prep school in the country to have artificial ice. the rebelliousness and anti-authority attitude of youth. In 1969, following our greatest season ever, he shocked the team and then the school by telling us he was moving on. The unwillingness of students to sacrifice for the common good had disillusioned him, and he concluded that his time of working with youth was over. During that season, we had to suspend several players for smoking cigarettes in spite of the fact that we were in the midst of the greatest year ever. That seemed symptomatic of the lack of respect epidemic in that era, and Len did not want to work under those circumstances any longer. In 1969, Len Sargent was fifty-six. He began a second life by marrying Sandy, the Westover girl whose wartime marriage had ended, and by moving to an end-of-the-road ranch in the Cin-

nabar Basin near Corwin Springs, Montana, where he became a leading citizen, rancher, and conservationist. Through his efforts, the wolf was returned to Yellowstone Park, the Absaroka Baretooth Wilderness Area was created, and the Greater Yellowstone Coalition and the Montana Environmental Information Center were established. The Sargents practiced a profound land ethic that led to the creation and endowment of the Cinnabar Foundation in 1983, which provides grants for environmental protection and wildlife conservation in Montana and the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem. He was active in several successful conservation battles, including one that halted plans for a dam on the Yellowstone River. In recent years, Len was honored by the national conservation movements for his pioneering efforts. Even after leaving Taft, he remained in close touch. Until 1992, he hired Taft students to work on the ranch, and, yearly, he returned to stay with Patsy and me, usually to try to take in a hockey game. He was a par-

ticular fan of girls’ hockey as he didn’t like the hitting that has taken over the boys’ game. Often, he was here for Alumni Day as well. Periodically, we visited him and saw him flourishing as a leading citizen of Montana. Len was the last master who knew Horace Taft, and throughout his life he exemplified the values Mr. Taft laid down. He built hockey at our school. He was loved by his players, by his students in general, and by the alumni. He made Taft a better place. He also had the courage to stand for his convictions during very difficult times. He had the wisdom to leave at the right moment to build another life which contributed equally to the greater good of our country, the Yellowstone Valley, and our environment in general. He left our school and our West better for generations yet to come. His life is an example of how to serve long and well. An article about Len and Sandy appeared in the Fall 1994 issue of the Taft Bulletin, reprinted from Montana Magazine.

Len and Sandy were reunited after many years and married in 1969, starting new lives together in Montana. Taft Bulletin



Lois DePolo July 11, 1946 — March 3, 1997 Remarks by Lance Odden, Headmaster “I am fully convinced that the soul is indestructible, and that its activity will continue through eternity. It is like the sun which, to our eyes, seems to set in night; but it has in reality only gone to diffuse its light elsewhere.” —Johann Wolfgang von Goethe 14

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On March 4, Lois Schilling DePolo succumbed to the cancer she had battled for several years. We recognize Lois’s deep faith, and, as her priest suggested, she has been called home to God. If anyone ever deserved to go to heaven, it is Lois, for her heart was only filled with goodness. Lois Schilling was born in New Britain, Connecticut, where she grew up before attending the College of Mt. Saint Vincent and then the University of Wisconsin, where she did her graduate work. I have to admit that I have often struggled to imagine Lois—so beautiful, quiet, and kind—in the midst of the anti-war madness of Madison, Wisconsin. But she moved through that maelstrom with clear purpose and a dignity almost never found in that era. Happily, upon return from Wisconsin, Lois was discovered by the chairman of Watertown High School’s Math Department and was recruited, first, to teach at the high school, and soon thereafter, to be the department head’s wife. Anna ’89, Beth ’92, and Sarah ’94 followed, and Lois stayed home for several years. And then teaching called again, first at Mattatuck Jr. College and then to Taft in 1986, following in Jerry’s footsteps. This time, it was not Jerry but his math colleagues who recruited Lois—a brilliant move for our community. In the ensuing years, we have come to know her as the beautiful little lady with the big heart. Of course, we know her best as a teacher: • She had the “patience of Job.” • She responded to each individual, seeking their learning style, enabling them to see and to learn.

• She could explain the inexplicable to the most hesitant math student. • She made math come alive, opening doors to understanding far beyond ordinary computation. But it was Lois the person who was our enduring example: • She was serene in the midst of an adolescent world—a seeming impossibility. • She was so quiet, so self assured, that no one ever acted out in her classroom. To have done so

would have been the moral equivalent of insulting a saint. • We loved her because of her gentility. • We loved her for her clear and principled way of living. For a decade she watched every girls’ soccer game from the same spot. She loved basketball and softball as well. Whatever the outcome, everyone always played well. She took a delight in the successes of other people and especially of her children. In Lois’s world, even in defeat everyone won. Lois was naive. I remember when she led Mid Forum groups in her first years and she said to me, “Geeze, Lance, I don’t even talk to Jerry about some of these things.” Precisely because she was so pure, so innocent, her words

Even as a young faculty member, right, she could explain the inexplicable to the most hesitant math student. Taft Bulletin



Jerry and Lois, together for twenty-five years.

carried exceptional weight. She listened well, cared greatly, and helped us all find our way. Only once did I ever hear Lois say something critical of a student. It was this fall when her illness was returning, and even then she told me after the committee meeting that he was really a good kid, just a little confused. Where others found disappointment and distrust or despair, Lois DePolo found untapped strength; she inspired purpose and found hope. Her belief in her students, her colleagues, her calling, and her family made her saint-like. Without raising her voice, without ever grabbing the limelight, Lois touched us all, calmed us, and inspired us to be better and more decent people and to make Taft a gentler place.

And now she is gone. It is up to us to sustain her vision, her hope, her gentility, her belief in other people. In her memory, I share the Prayer of St. Francis of Assisi—a prayer radiating the essence of Lois De Polo. “Lord, make me an instrument of thy peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is sadness, joy. Where there is darkness, light. “O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console. Not so much to be understood as to understand. Not so much to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive. It is in pardoning that we are pardoned, and it is in dying that we are born again to eternal life.” Amen.

Lois and Jerry, some years ago, with their daughters, Anna ’89, Sarah ’94, and Beth ’92. The math classroom was a familiar spot for her eleven years at Taft. 16

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The Many Names of Taft Paul and Edith Cruikshank; Jim Logan


wo major parts of the school’s indoor athletic facilities are named after people who dedicated their lives to serving Taft students. The first is the Logan Field House, built in 1969 alongside the hockey rink. The second is the adjacent Paul and Edith Cruikshank Athletic Center, dedicated in 1980, which addressed the athletic needs of a larger, coeducational school and freed up valuable academic space at the heart of the campus, allowing the transformation of the old gymnasiums into the Arts and Humanities Center in 1985. JAMES PAYNTER LOGAN 1910-1969 Master and Coach at Taft for thirty-six years. This building is dedicated to his memory.

Jim Logan came to Taft in the fall of 1933, at the invitation of Horace Taft, to teach physics and mechanical drawing. A native of Brooklyn, New York, he graduated from Bucknell University, where he played varsity soccer and captained the varsity basketball team. A natural athlete, he continued his interest in sports at Taft and over the years was a superior coach. During World War II, he saw active duty in the Philippines as a Lt. Commander in the U.S. Navy. He did graduate work at Yale, Columbia, Harvard, Union, and Wesleyan and was a member of Pi Mu Epsilon (an honorary mathematical society), the American society of Civil Engineers, the National Science Teachers Association, and the New England Independent Schools Science Association. At Taft, he was awarded a Mailliard Teaching Fellowship in 1962 in recognition of his excellence as a teacher in all areas of school life. After his death The Taft Papyrus wrote, “Mr. Logan was the epitome of good manners, and he was always thinking of others before himself. Mr. Logan stood for all of the traits that Taft itself stands for.” A basketball trophy and a faculty award are given annually in his memory. Taft Bulletin



THE CRUIKSHANK ATHLETIC CENTER Dedicated in honor of Paul and Edith Cruikshank, who led the Taft School from 1936-1963. —May 17th, 1980 As headmaster of the school for twenty-seven years, Paul Cruikshank is a familiar name to many. Born in Dorchester, Massachusetts, he came from a family of ten children. He prepared for college at Blair Academy in New Jersey, and worked his way through Yale by teaching, coaching, and newspaper reporting. He majored in law and history and won two Latin prizes. After his graduation in 1920, he taught Latin at Hopkins Grammar School in New Haven and served as athletic director—a job he continued at The Gunnery for eight years, until he founded his own school, Romford, in Washington, Connecticut, in 1930. When he came to Taft in 1936 to be the school’s second headmaster, he was thirty-eight years old. While at Taft, he introduced the Jobs Program, elected monitors, and the Honor System. Equally felt at Taft today, however, is the influence of his wife, Edith. She attended Vassar and married Paul in 1923. On opening day for twenty-seven years, she greeted every boy by name, having studied their photographs and files over the summer. She made daily visits to the infirmary and hosted innumerable teas for students, parents, visiting dignitaries, and rival school teams. For dance weekends, she wrote inviting each girl to Taft, arranged for her housing, and insisted that each Taft boy be a gentleman. Since the Taft faculty was largely made up of bachelors, and Horace Taft’s wife, Winnie, had died a quarter century before, it fell to Edith to create a new place for women at Taft. 18

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Together, the Cruikshanks led the school for twenty-seven years, through the Depression, World War II, and even Korea. Paul retired in 1963 and died in 1986. Edith passed away in 1992.

The information for this column is drawn from past issues of the Taft Bulletin, The Taft Annual, and Richard H. Lovelace’s Mr. Taft’s School: the First Century 1890-1990.


Ake Panya Construction of the Ake Panya International School of Thailand continues under the direction of former faculty member Gordon Jones—who left Taft a year ago with his wife, Emily, to develop this new school—and founder Kritsanant Palarit, who first recognized the need for a first-rate boarding school designed on an American pattern, in an Asian context. The campus is situated at the foot of Mount Doi Suthep, a short distance outside the ancient city of Chiang Mai and about an hour north of Bangkok by plane. Abutting a national wildlife preserve, the school has been carefully designed to have the look and feel of a close community. The campus includes a modern library and computer center, recreational facilities that include a swimming pool and running track, and an art center, as well as dormitory and classroom buildings. Ake Panya will enroll its first students for a ten-week summer session and approximately 120 students for the first full academic year beginning in September.

Director of Admissions Ferdie Wandelt, center, with classmate Alex Chu ’66 and his wife, Irene, inspect the construction of the Ake Panya campus with former Taft faculty member and Ake Panya’s first headmaster, Gordon Jones.

Noel Pena Honored by Boys’ Club Senior Noel Pena was awarded the Donald K. Walker Scholarship by the Boys’ Club of New York. The annual scholarship is given to a member who has demonstrated an outstanding record of achievement at his school and at the Boys’ Club of New York. Noel joined the Boys’

Club as an elementary school student and attended its school/camp program at Camp Cromwell. At Taft, he is a gifted athlete, lettering in football, wrestling, and lacrosse, and most recently, taking first place in his weight class at the Western New England Wrestling Tournament. Taft Bulletin



Mothers’ Day

The Charlottes Atwood, together on Mothers’ Day at Taft

Lynn and Bob Ducommun with daughter Lindsey Andrews ’99

Gillian Mestre with her daughter, Laura ’98

Gabrielle Gibbs ’98 with her parents, Geri and John

Peggy and Ted McNally with their son, Gray ’98

Patsy Odden greets mothers at the morning coffee.


Spring 1997


Alumni Offspring Will Adair ’99 • Cameron Adair ’63, father

Tripp Madsen ’00 • Frank Thompson, Jr., ’35, grandfather

Emily Blanchard ’00 • Dudley Blanchard ’44, grandfather • Kirk Blanchard ’68, father

Keely Murphy ’00 • Dudley Blanchard ’44, grandfather Julie Pailey ’00 • William Pailey, Jr., ’57, father

Eleanor Cooke ’99 and Peter Cooke ’98 • Lloyd Taft ’40, grandfather Christina Coons ’00 • Robert Coons ’41, grandfather

Hillary Peet ’00 • John C. Peet ’11, great-grandfather • John C. Peet, Jr., ’46, grandfather • J. Carlisle Peet III ’70, father

Julie Feldmeier ’99 • Robert Feldmeier ’39, grandfather

Michael Petrelli ’00 • Joseph Petrelli ’56, father

Ross Gammill ’98 • Bruce Gammill ’64, father

Emily Piacenza ’00 • Jean Strumolo Piacenza ’75, mother

Arthur Kimball-Stanley ’00 • Chase Kimball ’21, grandfather • Arthur’s great-grandfather Arthur Reed Kimball was a member of the school’s original Board of Trustees (1926), as was his great-uncle Irving Hall Chase.

Frank Pickard ’00 • DeVer Cady Warner ’08, great-grandfather • DeVer Knowlton Warner ’32, grandfather Patrick Spalding ’00 • Francis Martin ’35, grandfather Virginia Stevens ’99 • Carleton Stevens ’36, grandfather

Del Ladd ’99 • Delano Ladd, Jr., ’44, grandfather Jan Tudor ’00 • Thomas Tudor ’64, father Fifty-five of this year’s 190 new students have a parent, grandparent, sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle, or other relative who went to Taft. The list above includes only new students with direct alumni descendents.

Last Call For The Taft School Alumni Directory The telephone verification phase of our alumni directory project, in which each alum can make a final change to his or her listing, is almost complete. Representatives from Bernard C. Harris Publishing Company, Inc., the official publisher of our directory, have just a few more calls to make before final proofreading begins. Since we are publishing only enough directories to cover prepublication orders placed at this time, please let the Harris representative know if you are interested when he or she

calls. This will be your only opportunity to reserve a copy of The Taft School Alumni Directory. If for any reason you have not heard yet from our publisher, you may contact the company directly at the following address: Customer Service Department Bernard C. Harris Publishing Company, Inc. 16 Kroger Center, Suite 103 Norfolk, VA 23502 1-800-877-6554

Taft Bulletin



Winter Big Red Scoreboard Boys’ Basketball

Girls’ Ski Racing

Head Coach: ............................................................ John Piacenza

Coach: ..................................................................... Beth Wheeler

Captains: .................................Dewey Ames ’97, Chris Barnes ’97

Captains: ...................... Libby FitzSimons ’97, Caitlin Pollock ’97

Record: .................................................................................. 13-9

Record: .......................................................... 3rd in MIRS League

Logan Award: ....................................................... Chris Barnes ’97

Ski Racing Award: ............................................ Caitlin Pollock ’97

Captains-Elect: ................ Charlie Bernard ’98, David Ramich ’98

Captains-Elect: ............ Molly Rosenman ’98, Addie Strumolo ’98

Girls’ Basketball

Boys’ Squash

Head Coach: ................................................................ Dick Cobb

Coach: .......................................................................... Peter Frew

Captain: ...................................................... Charlotte Atwood ’97

Captains: .................................. Matt Bastien ’97, Will Morris ’97

Record: .................................................................................. 12-8

Record: .................................................................................. 13-0

Basketball Award: ........................................ Charlotte Atwood ’97

Squash Award: .......................... Matt Bastien ’97, Will Morris ’97

Captains-Elect: ............. Kristen Kawecki ’98, Elizabeth Merck ’98

Captains-Elect: ........................... Nick Kyme ’99, Chris Olsen ’98

Boys’ Ice Hockey

Girls’ Squash

Head Coach: .............................................................. Mike Maher

Coach: ................................................................... Susan McCabe

Captain: ............................................................. David Jenkins ’97

Captain: ........................................................ Whitney Dayton ’97

Record: ............................................................................... 9-11-2

Record: .................................................................................... 7-5

Angier Hockey Award: ........................................ Sean Coakley ’97

Squash Award: .............................................. Whitney Dayton ’97

Coaches Hockey Award: .................................... David Jenkins ’97

Captain-Elect: .......................................................... To Be Elected

New England Champions

Captains-Elect: ....................... Tim Canfield ’98, Matt Snyder ’98

Volleyball Girls’ Ice Hockey

Coach: ........................................................................... Jenn Bolz

Head Coach: .............................................................. Patsy Odden

Captains: ........................ Brooke Hill ’97, Caroline Montgelas ’97

Captains: ........................ Jennifer Buckley ’97, Lucy Firestone ’97

Record: .................................................................................... 9-4

Record: .................................................................................. 16-5

Award: ...................................................... Caroline Montgelas ’97

Patsy Odden Hockey Award: Jennifer Buckley ’97, Lucy Firestone ’97

Captains-Elect: ......... Mallory Cheatham ’98, Carolyn Starrett ’98

Captains-Elect: ................. Alison Coope ’98, Carrie Swiderski ’98

Wrestling Boys’ Ski Racing

Head Coach: .............................................................. John Wynne

Coach: ....................................................................... Chris Butler

Captains: .................................... Ben Gross ’97, Ryan Osborn ’97

Captains: .......................... Doug Blanchard ’97, Justin Kreizel ’97

Record: .................................................................................. 12-1

Record: ..................................................... 3rd in Berkshire League

Hitch Award: ........................................................... Noel Pena ’97

Ski Racing Award: .......................................... Doug Blanchard ’97

Wynne Award: .................................................... Ryan Osborn ’97

Captain-Elect: ...................................................... Andre Senay ’98

Captains-Elect: ....................... Lou Costanzo ’98, Chris Fields ’98


Spring 1997








—By Martina Stevikova ’97


ver Christmas break, I saw an American movie about the Second World War. I remember just one part. It was when four Communists, people wearing uniforms with big red stars on their chests, stood up and started to swear in my own language. And to be honest, Slovaks don’t swear a lot. That day I decided I have to stand up for my country and talk about Communism. I am not here to promote Communism; I just want to tell you my experiences, what I have lived. I was born into an educated family. My mom is a gynecologist, and my father is a researcher in physics. No one in my family has ever been a Communist; however, my father joined the Communist Party in 1979, three weeks before I was born, because he wanted to get an apartment. So he got an apartment, and two years later he signed off from the Communist Party. To let you know exactly where my country is—it used to be Czechoslovakia, that might sound more familiar—(my old geography teachers please forgive me) it lies somewhere between Russia and Germany. To start talking about Communism, I have to mention ideology. I am not going to talk to you about all this stuff that is written in your textbooks. I just want to

tell you how I perceived it. When I was six years old, it was my first day at elementary school. I came there, and they didn’t tell us, “Good Morning, kids. You are going to learn how to write the letter A.” No, that was not the case. The first thing I was told is that I have to be responsible toward my country. The first thing I was told is that the Russians are my brothers, for forever. No one understood. I was six years old, but I really believed in that. My country treated me in the way that they needed me, needed me to build the country. That is why I believe in that, and I trust in my country very much. The second day when I got to the school I learned the most important statement that every person who comes from a Communist country knows. Every morning you would come to the school, stand up, and the teacher would shout, “Be Prepared.” And you would reply, “Always prepared,” meaning that you are prepared to take care of everything which the country gives you, that you are ready to fight for it, that you are able to stand up for it. To make it more clear, there is one more thing I have to mention. You meet in the streets and you say to each other, “Hello,” or “What’s up?” We say something…we used to say something else. It would not make sense to you, but the

greeting was, “Hail the work that unites us.” You would meet a doctor in the street, your grandfather, whoever, and you would say, “Hail the work that unites us.” Discipline and perfection, that is the creed of Communism. The country gives you everything, and you must work for it. By the age of ten you have to be able to read as an adult. By the age of ten you have to know 739 rules of the Slovak language, the fifth most difficult language in the world. By the age of fifteen you have already taken at least ten years of biology, chemistry, physics, math, and Slovak language. Every Slovak child speaks at least three languages. You might ask, “What is this all for?” It’s discipline. During Communism, we learned a lot about America. We knew about America, we loved America, we respected America, and we felt sorry for America. They did not embrace the happiness which comes from a perfect socialist society. I still feel a little bit weird talking about our educational system, because I had big problems adjusting to the educational system here, even though I attended the most liberal school in Slovakia, funded by the British government. The most important difference is that there is a big generation gap between teachers and students. When you meet a teacher in the corridor, you always bow. You

“Every morning you would come to the school, stand up, and the teacher would shout, ‘Be Prepared.’ And you would reply, ‘Always prepared,’ meaning that you are prepared to take care of everything which the country gives you, that you are ready to fight for it, that you are able to stand up for it.” Taft Bulletin









“Communist ideology believes that youth is the keeper of morning, meaning that youth is responsible for building the future society. And we all felt responsible for building our society.” never talk in class when you are not required. We don’t talk in school about anything; it’s a sacred place. We don’t shout, we don’t yell, we are always quiet. There are no feelings between teachers and the students. No teacher knows anything about his or her students. We usually have ten classes a day, and on average three tests a day. No one cares what you did yesterday. No one cares if someone died; no one cares what is going on in your life. You have to be perfect. You have to work. I have never talked with any of my classmates about drugs, about dating, because none of us date, none of us take drugs. All we do is work, no fun. You might ask why. I will tell you why. Communist ideology believes that youth is the keeper of morning, meaning that youth is responsible for building the future society. And we all felt responsible for building our society. Now I am going to tell you what’s going on today. I want to tell you something about the selection process for university, because I am a senior here and I have filled out all these application forms and I am stressed out from writing essays and having interviews. It’s really different. No one cares who you are or what you do in your free time. They only care about your grades and how you express yourself in written form. If I go back and apply for medical school, I have to take a test which 24

Spring 1997

contains 5,000 biology questions, 5,000 physics questions, and 5,000 chemistry questions. And only these people can pass who reach at least 97 percent. Every year 80,000 people apply for medical school and only 200 are accepted. So you can see how realistic it is to be a doctor. Communism means equality. The most wonderful thing about Communism is that no matter whether you are a worker, shop assistant, doctor, lawyer, teacher, garbage man, male, female, gypsy, white, Communist, or traitor, you all make the same amount of money. No distinctions in your salary. You might ask, “Why do you want to go to school for ten years and get the same salary as a shop assistant?” Now please don’t laugh, for respect. Because if you do something for society, society gives it back to you. You want to know what it means to have respect? When you go on a bus and someone gives you a seat; it means that when you are in the street, old people bow and say with pleasure in their voice, “Hail the work that unites us.” That’s what we all work for, not for money. We didn’t have free enterprise. We all wore the same clothes. There was no one who had Nike shoes. We all behaved in the same way; we all had enough. You would go to the store and there were the same products as any other store, all the same prices. We didn’t have any advertisements about new bargains in K-Mart

or about the best french fries at McDonalds or advertisements about gentle shaving with Gillette. Nothing like that. Let me mention two more things. Transportation and medical care. Transportation was so cheap that for the price of a ticket from Hartford to Boston, you could get from my city, which is the second largest in Slovakia, to Moscow, which is about 17 hours by plane. We could afford to travel wherever we wanted; however, boundaries were closed so we didn’t. Medical care is fantastic. This is the only thing I don’t like in the United States. We didn’t pay for medical care, although we soon will. No matter who you are you get all the treatments. I was talking to one lady here and she was telling me how much it cost to have a baby, and I was thinking that it was about what my parents make in a year. It was hard for me to comprehend. Communism broke down. You all know that. This happened on November 24, 1989. I will not forget that day. I was in school; we were taking a math test, and suddenly my math teacher screamed, “Go home.” And if you were a Slovak student, you would know that it’s not so easy to get home from school. So we were sitting there, looking at our teacher, and suddenly we decided to go home, without knowing what was going on. The three days after we were let out, we were all gathered in the streets. And these were the most special days I have ever experienced. We were crying, drinking champagne, hugging each other. This maybe doesn’t mean anything to you, but Slovaks never cry, never show their emotions. At that time we were still Czechoslovakia, and in Prague there were wonderful things going on, and the thing I


remember the most was that my mom got for me and my friends special tags, and everyone was wearing them. The tag just had three colors, blue, white, and red, and everyone who studies history knows this is from the French Revolution, meaning freedom, equality, and fraternity. And the thing was that we had fraternity during Communism; we had equality during Communism. We didn’t have freedom. In three days, we had freedom, and we didn’t know what to do with it. Now, this gets very emotional for me. The first thing we all did after Communism broke down was to get into our cars and go abroad. My parents and I went to Austria. I was twelve years old, and I cried in public for the first time. I saw people of my country, who I believed in, stealing things because they didn’t have money. I saw people buying porno magazines because we didn’t have them during Communism. I saw Slovak men talking to prostitutes. I saw people talking to Jehovah Witnesses because we didn’t have any church besides the Catholic Church, and I was shocked. I didn’t want to have such freedom. I didn’t want to have capitalism. I didn’t want to have democracy. We didn’t talk about these things in my house. I was confused. I knew I didn’t like it. Today, everything is different. We have freedom, we have democracy, we have high technology. You can even find good microscopes as we have here at Taft in some of the schools. We have new words in our daily vocabulary, like subway, green card, businessmen, and if you want to sound really cool you can also add some more Americanisms, because when you speak English you are cool. The only thing I regret, that drastically changed, is that our vocabulary has another new word: jealousy. It was in the

Slovak language before, but we never really thought about it. I am standing here now thinking about my country, and it makes me really sad. People don’t trust each other any more. People are jealous of each other. If my mom tells someone that I am in the United States, they are jealous. We are not brothers anymore; we don’t believe in brotherhood anymore, and this makes me sad.







your identity is influenced by the 3,000 English words you know. If there is one thing I could do for you, I would take you abroad to see things. This school is great. I love Taft. I have never had better classes than my chem and bio classes; they are wonderful. I have learned so much here, but the real school starts when you leave your parents, when you take that step forward and you want to learn something

“We are not brothers anymore; we don’t believe in brotherhood anymore, and this makes me sad.” Before I got to the United States, we—all of the scholarship students—had a meeting in Prague. The president of the Czech Republic was there with his wife (still alive at that time), and that day she said one thing, “This will not be easy.” And we thought, “Come on. We are the best students. We know everything. We are really the best. Nothing wrong will happen to us in the United States. We are going to work. We are smart. We know everything.” And again she said, “It will not be easy.” I didn’t know what she was talking about. I’d never been to the United States. I had traveled all around Europe, but I didn’t know the difference. Soon I realized what she meant. To come to the United States on the label “International Student” is really hard. When you used to be popular, when you are used to being really the best and you come here, it’s really a difficult thing for the ego to deal with. However, my stay in the United States has taught me a lot of things. I came to know my limitations. I came to respect what I have experienced in my life. And I can see the difference. It is really hard to show your character when

on your own. I have made a mistake, and that mistake is included in one Japanese proverb which says, “Never leave Japan trying to find it abroad.” I came to the United States judging imperfection, missing Slovakia. However, I realized—and I am glad it was before I left—that I really love this place. I love the United States, and I am really proud of all you have here and you should be proud of it, too. We have a really bad image of Americans in Slovakia. They are supposed to be out of reach. We really believe that people in American schools just go to parties like in Beverly Hills. When I was leaving everyone was saying, “Martina, please bring Dylan back with you.” But I want you to know that I don’t regret a second of my life. You might see Communism as the worst thing in the world, but I am proud of it. I really love my country. And now, I would like to end with a quotation from Erik Maria Remarque, my most favorite author. He said: “Brotherhood is not looking at each other, it is looking in the same direction.” I really believe we will find the same direction. Taft Bulletin


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