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BULLETIN S P R I N G • 1 9 9 8

Volume 68

Number 3

In this Issue SPOTLIGHT

2 THE BRAGG SHEET By William G. Nicholson Page 2

6 ROBIN OSBORN RETIRES By Willy MacMullen ’78

11 A.J.’S GOLD By Steve Palmer Page 6

DEPARTMENTS 15—ALUMNI IN THE NEWS Theater, Travel, Triumphs...

19—AROUND THE POND Peer Tutors, Hostage Chosen, Mothers’ Day, Latest Adventures in ISP

27—SPORT 31—ENDNOTE By Chaplain Michael Spencer

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The Taft Bulletin is published quarterly, in February, May, August, and November, by The Taft School, 110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100 and is distributed free of charge to alumni, parents, grandparents, and friends of the school.

On the cover: A.J. Mleczko ’93 wins a gold medal for the U.S. in Nagano in the first women’s Olympic ice hockey competition.

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 (860-945-7777), or U.S. Mail (110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100). So let’s hear from you! Visit Taft on the Web to find the latest news, sports schedules, or to locate a classmate’s e-mail address. www.Taft.pvt.k12.ct.us


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THE BRAGG SHEET By William G. Nicholson

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he first night that he played centerfield in Boston my husband, Bill, and I were at home watching the game on television. They put the camera right on him, and the tears started rolling down my face because I always think of Dom DiMaggio out there and then I saw Darren,” recalled Eunice Bragg, former Taft secretary in the dean’s office and grandmother of Darren Bragg ’87, the Red Sox outfielder. “I lived and worked in Boston during the Ted Williams/Bobby Doerr/Johnny Pesky era, and you have no idea what it’s like for us now to go to Fenway Park, sit in the stands, and watch our grandson on the field.” 2

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Mark Wilson, The Boston Globe

I first saw Darren Bragg play on a gray, wet day in May of 1984 when I returned to Taft after a year-long sabbatical and marveled at the wild abandon, joy, and skill with which he played baseball. Diving to stop balls hit to both his left and right and making powerful, accurate throws to first base, Darren as a lower mid played the game as few others have ever played it at Taft. I found myself asking others around me in the stands, “Who is that little kid?” Larry Stone and Joe Brogna, Darren’s two coaches at Taft, of course recognized his talent from the begin-

ning. “It was apparent right away he had the ability to play college baseball,” recalled Larry. “He played the way he plays now, all-out and very aggressively; he was a ‘gamer’ all the way. For his size, he was very, very strong and kept improving every year.” Joe Brogna (the father of the Philadelphia Phillies star first baseman Rico Brogna), who coached both boys as American Legion players, says simply, “Darren was the best base runner and had the best arm of any position player I’ve ever coached. He played the game intelligently and was a patient hitter; he swung at few bad

pitches in high school, a skill he’s carried with him to the major leagues.” Darren, looking back at his Taft years, remembers that he had “a great experience” playing under Stone and Brogna. “I loved playing the game. I never knew how. I just played it. Those guys taught me how to play it. They were always there and kept me focused. I didn’t know then why they were so hard on me, but I do now. “Darren also didn’t know at the time that his coaches thought of converting him into a catcher for, as Stone remembered, “Bragg would have made a terrific catcher because of his toughness, Taft Bulletin

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“It was apparent right away he had the ability to play college baseball… He played the way he plays now, all-out and very aggressively; he was a ‘gamer’ all the way.”

John Bohn, The Boston Globe

athletic ability, and strong arm. We had him at shortstop because he was the best athlete on the team for four years.” Four colleges—Clemson, the University of Massachusetts, the University of Vermont, and Georgia Tech—offered Darren baseball scholarships upon his Taft graduation; he chose to attend Georgia Tech in the Atlantic Coast Conference, a high-powered league. It didn’t take long for Darren, converted to an outfielder, to realize his first goal: to find out if he could play Division I baseball. He set an ACC record for walks in 1989, received AllACC honors in 1990 and 1991, was a third-team All-America selection in 1990 after batting .397, played with Team USA in 1990 and participated in the Goodwill Games. Four years after his Taft graduation, Darren, considered by some to be too small to play in the major leagues, was the Seattle Mariners’ 22nd round selection in the 1991 June draft. Darren began his professional career with Peninsula in the Class A Carolina League where he was to remain for two years, stealing 44 bases and leading the league in runs scored and walks in 1992. His steady development earned him a promotion to Jacksonville in the Class AA 4

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Southern League in 1993. Darren had played baseball in Venezuela during two winters, where he dramatically honed his skills, and found himself after three solid but basically uneventful minor league seasons as a non-roster player in the Seattle Mariners’ Arizona training camp in the spring of 1994. To the great delight of a number of Taft teachers who followed his exploits in the sports pages of USA TODAY every morning in the faculty room over coffee, Darren had a successful spring and was assigned to Calgary in the Class AAA Pacific Coast League. Seattle’s director of player personnel, Lee Pelekoudas, said of Darren at the end of spring training, “Bragg really got the attention of the staff and front office. He hustles, has a good lefty bat, and just plays the game hard, just like Lenny Dykstra.” Darren himself feels the comparison to Philadelphia’s star outfielder is appropriate: “Dykstra plays every game like it’s his last, and that’s the same attitude I take when I put on a uniform. If I can look myself in the mirror and know that I played my absolute hardest, I’m pleased.” Ten hits in his first sixteen times at bat at Calgary and a Mariner injury resulted in Darren’s promotion to the major

leagues on April 13, where he hit a single in his first time at bat and later scored a run. After appearing in eight games for Seattle, he was returned to Calgary where his .350 batting average and spectacular fielding resulted in his being named Seattle’s minor league player of the year for 1994. Although he was a favorite of Seattle’s fiery manager Lou Pinella, who admired the young outfielder’s hustle and determination, Darren alternated between Seattle and the minor leagues for the next year and a half, finding it difficult to break into the Mariners’ star-studded outfield. On July 30, 1996, batting .272, the Taft grad’s career caught a break when he was traded to the Boston Red Sox for pitcher Jamie Moyer. The news was received with great joy by the Braggs and other Red Sox fans back in Connecticut. “We couldn’t believe it,” recalled Darren’s grandmother, “my husband Bill is still floating on Cloud 9!” Darren was immediately installed in centerfield, where his diving, head-long catches and all-out hustle on the bases soon endeared him to thousands of fans who had not often seen such daring play by one of their Fenway heroes. As one life-long Cape Cod fan


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remarked, “Bragg’s my favorite because nobody else in Boston plays the way he does.” His first hit as a Red Sox player was a leadoff home run on August 2 against Minnesota. Within a month, on August 24, Darren experienced his greatest thrill in baseball when he hit a grand slam home run off of Seattle’s great pitcher Randy Johnson to lead Boston to a 9-4 victory over his old teammates. Darren had a solid year in 1997, batting .257, hitting 35 doubles, and playing in 153 games in spite of being struck in the face by a pitched ball in August. In June he played against his old American Legion teammate Rico Brogna when Philadelphia competed against the Red Sox in three inter-league games in Boston. Darren enjoys playing in Boston and for his manager Jimy Williams: “Jimy’s a great guy on and off the field. He tells you straight up what’s going on.” At the end of the season Darren and his wife, Kathleen, moved into their new home in Atlanta, and he began plans on completing his degree in economics at Georgia Tech.

One of Darren’s best friends on the Red Sox is massive first baseman and fellow “preppie” Mo Vaughn, whose locker adjoins Darren’s at Fenway Park and who remembers playing against the Taft grad when he was a three-sport star at Trinity Pawling. Asked whether the two talk about Taft/TP baseball games, Darren responded, “Oh, no. We talk about football and the collisions we used to have!” Although he doesn’t discuss his high school baseball days with Vaughn, Darren fondly remembers his Taft teammates and the annual trip to Florida in March. “Even though he was only a year older, I looked up to Eddie Travers because I liked the fact that he played hard. Jeff Waters was a senior when I was a lower mid, and he was the type of guy you could respect and go to for help when you needed it.” Tom Aldrich, a post graduate student who played third base alongside the diminutive lower mid in 1984, also had a positive impact on Darren. (Aldrich went on to play in the Detroit Tigers organization after graduation from Bowdoin, batting .338 in his first

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professional season, and concluded his baseball career after reaching the Class AA level.) The Red Sox have been stockpiling outfielders during the past winter, and where and how much Darren will be playing this year has been a subject for speculation by Boston sportswriters. But while others may be wondering about the Taft grad’s future with the Red Sox, Darren has no doubt that he will successfully face the competition. And Larry Stone also feels that he will: “He has the confidence and tenacity to succeed. Darren has always had the kind of mental toughness that enables him to handle difficult situations.” Boston’s popular outfielder has two goals: to continue playing for the Red Sox and to wear a World Series ring. Nobody who knows Darren Bragg would bet against him doing so. Bill Nicholson is a retired member of the English Department and the author of four books and numerous articles, many of them about baseball. He lives on Cape Cod with his wife, Connie.

“Darren was immediately installed in centerfield where his diving, head-long catches and all-out hustle on the bases soon endeared him to thousands of fans who had not often seen such daring play by one of their Fenway heroes.” John Bohn, The Boston Globe

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Robin Osborn By Willy MacMullen ’78

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nderstand that I didn’t want to write this piece when I heard Robin was retiring. I knew Robin would be reading it, and that is a grim proposition indeed. I knew what would happen. Years ago, in 1978, I had taken an independent writing tutorial as a Taft senior with her, when she was Robin Blackburn; and every week I wrote a piece of short fiction—and usually thought it was pretty good—and walked in to her office to be met with the most ruthless, honest, and correct criticism imaginable. I was young and thought I could write; she showed me how much I had to learn. I figure, then, that if I don’t want this article to come back covered in red ink, exclamation points, and marginal comments, I should let other people do the talking. When you hear them, you come to see that Robin is many things; but what rings loudest is that for her long career here, she has been one of Taft’s most unforgettable teachers. Linda Saarnijoki is the dean of faculty, and she knows as much as anyone at Taft about how new teachers struggle, despair, and then perhaps succeed. What will we lose when Robin leaves? We will lose one of the best unofficial and official mentors for young faculty that we have ever had. As with students, she is a great listener: she is a source of terrific advice, and this comes from some thirty years of experience. She is supportive and affirming, and she helps new teachers deal with frustrations of not doing things well. What kind of kid does she reach? The great thing is that she reaches students at the margins, kids with not enough self-confidence, kids who feel unique or different. But that can be a whole range of students who are struggling to find their place. Maybe that is true of her work with students and teachers. When she leaves, we will lose one of the most provocative minds on campus—she always questions, always makes us think about the social and educational aspects of issues. 6

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Debbie Phipps is the head of the English Department, and as well as knowing Robin well for her fifteen years here, she also has a glimpse into Robin which none of us can claim: for a semester when each of them was on sabbatical in 1988, they shared a car driving back and forth to Yale three days a week. “I sat back and just listened and learned,” Debbie recalls. Robin is the kind of teacher who can go into her file or mind and give you something five minutes before class and not make you feel bad for asking. I think she has read everything we teach—she is a huge resource and loves to talk about what she is doing. She will share anything and everything. And she can say, “I had trouble when I taught that poem, too.” So you feel a little less stupid. I remember when she hired me. She told me I did not understand much about teaching, and that was true; but in those clueless days early on, she was the one who brought me into the office to help out. She was the one who made me realize that a class is made of individual kids with unique needs. What makes her a great teacher? She can move kids from the initial weeks of terror to final weeks of appreciation without changing style. She does not cut kids slack; they have to earn her respect. And so students realize how smart they can be if they push themselves. She can be tough and critical, but she is true to what she says, and she is always on the side of what helps kids the most. Robin is a story teller in the community. She passes on traditions and offers a sense of community. And she strives to tell us things about teaching. It is these stories I will miss when she leaves.

Robin and John Philpit created the Humanities course in 1982. It is a study of the world’s great ideas, a grueling course that has historically attracted some of the brightest and most verbal students. They know her reputation: hold on; it’s going to be a rough ride. Kelley Roberts came to Taft’s English Department three years ago, and she was one of those new teachers who found their way into Robin’s office for stories. “It was great for me to know she was there. At any time,” she says. We will lose her experience, and there is no replacing that. A lot of us have relied on her knowledge and support. She is willing, at any time, to explain and help on material. And for me, it was nice to have an older, successful woman to look to, since there are not enough senior women on the faculty. She’s one of those teachers who demands respect the minute she walks into the room. Kids say they would not even think of coming in unprepared. Maybe she just scares the hell out of them—she can intimidate, in a good way. What is her role? She is always the one with the eyebrow raised in skepticism, and she is always looking at the “other” side. Every school needs a person who does not simply accept the answer, who demands an explanation, who asks how something might be done better or differently. Taft Bulletin

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For the past eight years, Bill Morris, dean of academic affairs, has team taught “Humanities” with Robin. It is a study of the world’s great ideas, a grueling course Robin and John Philpit began years ago, a course that has historically attracted some of our brightest and most verbal students. It is one of those few courses— single section ones—that is linked in every student’s mind to the teachers who teach it. Robin in particular. They know her reputation: hold on; it’s going to be a rough ride. And teaching with her? “What is it like to share the classroom with her? It’s a blast!”

She can move kids from the initial weeks of terror to final weeks of appreciation without changing style. She does not cut kids slack; they have to earn her respect. And so students realize how smart they can be if they push themselves. She can be tough and critical, but she is true to what she says, and she is always on the side of what helps kids the most. Linda Saarnijoki brought Sara Beasley to the English Department two years ago, wrestling Sara away from her remarkable teaching career at Davidson College. This year Sara and Robin shared an office. “She is the feistiest person I know. We have to make a pact not to talk to each other. I just won’t get any work done when she is around.” I’m always borrowing from her pedagogically. I have taken her Socratic method, her devil’s advocate role, her challenging stance in the classroom. Her high standards. I think we should all aspire to her tough-mindedness. She has been incredibly important to me. Intellectually she has been a spur, a spark. What will I remember of her? Driving to the British Art Center, or the Yale Drama School for a production. I’ll remember how salty she is. Here is a woman who can carry on an erudite conversation and then race home to see the UConn women’s basketball game. I’ll remember her cursing! She has a profound impact on students, and I don’t mean just in class. For instance, a student in my dorm, a senior, came in not long ago glowing—I mean she was walking on air—after a thirty-minute conversation with Robin. She has such charisma, such excitement about learning, such insight into what makes students tick that they walk away from her changed. Her passion is incredible. 8

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When she steps down, we will lose a master teacher who is committed to helping students improve their writing, heighten their passion for literature, and enhance the life of the mind. For me, it has been an extraordinary learning experience. She has a wealth of knowledge, not just in her field, but in teaching pedagogy. For anyone, it is great to have a mirror constantly there, and she has been that. She has made me re-examine my practices: we are continually talking about how we read essays, design evaluations, and so on. Robin has been terrific at reaching out to those who don’t feel naturally included in the community and making them feel included. She has been excellent working with young faculty, especially young women, and she has been a role model. She is sympathetic to the underdog, in particular with students. She takes to kids whom she sees as a bit out of the mainstream—the students who need someone who can acknowledge where they are and why that is difficult. And also tell them that it is okay to be different, not a typical preppy; you do not have to change yourself to be happy at Taft. She gives faith.


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Tim Carter ’98 is as talented and passionate as any student on campus. A high Honor Roll student, he also is a world-class clarinetist: somehow while maintaining a 5.0 average, he practices three hours a day, does recording sessions with National Public Radio, wins every tournament he has entered, and travels to New York each weekend for lessons. He is a superb English student, and has had Robin in Honors English and Humanities. She is an exceptionally wise and intelligent person, who—lucky for us—has been a teacher most of her life. I place wise before intelligent because Ms. Osborn is not only someone with a vast amount of knowledge, but she also uses all that she knows in living a full life, thus making her an exceptional person who has so much to offer students. Like all teachers at Taft, Ms. Osborn is always there to help students, but because of her years of teaching and learning, students in need gain more from the instruction or advice she gives, I think. She is tough and direct and yet caring and passionate. She challenges her students in the classroom, teaches them to probe deeply and to write sharply, and bids them to develop their own original ideas about a text, then write about them logically, persuasively, and powerfully. What is most successful about her teaching? Students at Taft—including myself—tend to freak out when they get an assignment that’s hard. Ms. Osborn’s advice to able students whining about difficulty is, “Just do it.” Although she comes across as fierce when delivering this message, it teaches bright students to have faith in their abilities and not to worry. I’ve never told her, but her strong willed personality has taught me a lot. She’s not afraid to say what she thinks and feels, and in a community like Taft where it is easy for some to conform, she is an inspiration. I’ve grown close to her in the last two years here, and she’s just a smart, funny, and wonderful person. She’ll be missed terribly. I’m really sad for students next year who aren’t going to have her.

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Zach Heineman has Robin in Upper Mid Honors English. I approached him and asked, “Has Ms. Osborn become an important teacher for you?” “Are you kidding?” he replied. When she retires, we will lose a teacher who is not afraid to speak her mind—and there are not many left like that. She is a true iconoclast, and whether you agree or disagree with her, it is impossible not to respect her. She is an inspiration as one who is self-confident, as one who knows what is truly important in life. She has forced me deeper into myself. In class, she forces everyone to get involved. She is provocative and candid, and it is obvious when she feels her students are not up to her expectations. For example, after a batch of papers she was not happy with, she passed out a sheet entitled “Upper Mid Uglies” that contained all the worst sentences she had read. When she grades a paper, it comes back graded to the precision of tenths. Steve Schieffelin headed the English Department for a decade after Robin stepped down, and he puts it simply: “She is a paradox.” What she has that is so remarkable is a gentle, truly receptive ear to difference, especially to young women, and minorities, and students questioning their sexuality or place here. So it is difference in all its forms that she reaches out to most. And she befriends new teachers, aspiring professionals; she has always reached them. And yet the other thing we will miss is just the opposite: a razor’s insistence on precision. I see this in particular in the classroom where her standards are so high, and in the sense that she models that kind of expression herself: she is rigorous, tough. She can be gentle and empathic, and also “kinch-like,” as Joyce wrote of Daedalus: sharp and precise. You see the paradox in other ways. She is liberal with her opinions—in both senses of the word—and she is the one who wants to teach new works, books by minority writers, perhaps untried novels. And yet she is also tough and conservative; she insists we teach Shakespeare, Brontë, and Dickens.

She is always the one with the eyebrow raised in skepticism, and she is always looking at the “other” side. Every school needs a person who does not simply accept the answer, who demands an explanation, who asks how something might be done better or differently. Taft Bulletin

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But what’s different about her is she is very willing to criticize the school, but she absolutely loves it. I think being a dedicated teacher has kept her loving it. She just loves kids. She bitches and moans about them, but it’s because she knows they can do better. I mean we are different as black and white, but maybe we are similar in that we don’t care what we say. She’ll get after kids when they are not performing. Wally Osborn, whose painting company has been working at Taft for decades, had known Robin for years before they were married in March 1995. “I’ve been around so long I guess I knew all the faculty. I wish I had met her thirty years ago. Do we have a lot to look forward to? You bet we do.” We are really looking forward to traveling. Remember, she just turned sixty, and she has been on an academic calendar for over fifty years. I don’t mean she’s lost the spark—she still has that. Always will. But she is a little tired, and she works so damn hard. Working part time, I bet she is putting in fifty hours a week. And working with the Honor Court and Discipline Committee. It’s time. So we are going to go to England in a couple of weeks, and again maybe in the summer. We visited Eric Drake last time we were there. We will spend a few days in London and then get a car and just go. I’m not sure everyone knows how hard she works. She put Taft ahead of her three kids, and that’s a fact. She comes home with a pile of papers or tests, and no matter what, she gets them back the next day. It drives me crazy. She comes home, we shoot the bull for a few minutes, and then she gets her tea and goes upstairs. She lies on her bed, reads a bit, and then corrects them all. It’s nuts! I tell her, “What’s the difference if they don’t get them until Wednesday?” But she says that’s not fair to them. I mean no matter what—maybe we had dinner plans—she gets them done. No matter what. You know you are going to lose all that experience and all that dedication. But what’s different about her is she is very willing to criticize the school, but she absolutely loves it. I think being a dedicated teacher has kept her loving it. She just loves kids. She bitches and moans about them, but it’s because she knows they can do better. I mean we are different as black and white, but maybe we are similar in that we don’t care what we say. She’ll get after kids when they are not performing. Like when I was a drill sergeant in the Marine Corps in 1953. I was always screaming at the recruits because you knew they could do better. Even on the last day, you kept screaming. Maybe the one who had really done well you gave a little wink, but you kept yelling at them because you didn’t want them to know you were satisfied. Yeah, I guess we are a lot alike. 10

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You think of Whitman with Robin—even if she would hate me saying that. In “Song of Myself” he wrote, “Do I contradict myself?/Very well then…. I contradict myself;/I am large… I contain multitudes.” As much as she scared me when she graded my papers in 1978, I know she was also a big part of the reason I came to teach in 1983. I’m just one of the hundreds shaped by her teaching. She does contain multitudes. Here is the woman who scoffs at our society’s obsession with sports who also started the aerobics offering and has a weight room named after her. Here is the teacher who will stare down a student who walks in late, mock the sophomore for a dumb remark, or toss out an entire class for being unprepared, and then spend hours with a boy who is struggling to complete his first essay on a Shakespearean sonnet. Here is the colleague who will question, demand, and torment the administration—goad it into re-examining its practices and realizing its flaws—and then say unabashedly that she has loved her years here. Here is the woman who during her fight through chemotherapy taught brilliant classes on Sigmund Freud, Toni Morrison, Greek art, and Charles Dickens—and wore on her bald head a bandana: a black HarleyDavidson screaming eagle. Willy MacMullen is a member of the English Department and dean of the Upper Middle Class.


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A. J.’s Gold By Steve Palmer

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hat A.J. Mleczko is one of the most talented athletes to attend Taft is a certainty, especially to those who were able to watch her compete over her three-year career here. And those who competed with her in field hockey, ice hockey, and lacrosse would agree that she possessed a unique talent of keen vision and soft hands, along with a fierce desire to win. That desire and talent, combined with talented teammates, led to countless victories and a number of league and New England championships for A.J. and Taft. Taft Bulletin

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A.J. shares her gold medal moment with her Taft coach, Patsy Odden.

“…A.J.’s journey to Nagano, Japan, is a story of extraordinary talent enhanced by never-ending commitment, constant sacrifice, and a willingness to hold on to a dream that most of us never come close to.”

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However, making it to the 1998 Winter Olympics, competing with the best athletes in the world, and winning the first gold medal in women’s ice hockey is another story. More than just good hands and a desire to win, A.J.’s journey to Nagano, Japan, is a story of extraordinary talent enhanced by never-ending commitment, constant sacrifice, and a willingness to hold on to a dream that most of us never come close to. As a prominent player for the first U.S. Women’s Olympic Ice Hockey Team, A.J. was part of something special, a ground-breaking event that will be remembered over time along with other great Olympic firsts such as the U.S. women’s soccer gold medal in Atlanta and Joan Benoit’s courageous victory in the first Olympic marathon for women in 1984 in Los Angeles. In trying to total it all and put her feelings into words, A.J.

described being in Nagano as “just incredible. The Opening Ceremonies were very emotional and overwhelming, and just walking around the Olympic Village, seeing other Olympians, was amazing. I’ll never forget it.” Of course, neither will those of us here who watched her along with the rest of Team USA in their inspiring, hard-fought win over the Canadians. A.J.’s coach at Taft, Patsy Odden, one of the many enthralled spectators in the stands in Nagano, characterized the moment this way: “When that final buzzer sounded, the emotions and excitement were wild. Indeed, I felt lucky to be present to share such a special moment, and as the flags were raised and the National Anthem played, tears were everywhere.” For A.J., standing out on the ice at the end, with her family in the stands and her teammates surrounding her, this was the culmination


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of a life-long dream—seventeen years of hard work and true dedication. Hockey has been a part of A.J.’s life for a long time, and for the Mleczko family athletics is in the blood. Both of her parents are very athletic, and her father was one of her early coaches. Her younger brother, Jason, is a talented hockey and lacrosse player, and her older sister, Winkie, also a multi-talented athlete, actually played hockey with A.J. at Harvard. In fact, Winkie and A.J. were to some degree following in the family footsteps at Harvard, where their aunt, Sarah Mleczko, literally dominated field hockey, squash, and lacrosse in the late 1970s. Thus, A.J. was already out on the ice with a stick in her hand at an early age. When she began playing, however, there were few other girls in the youth hockey ranks; she, along with her parents, was forced to fight her way into what had always been a sport just for boys. In this way, her story is much like that of all the members of this Olympic team: the shocked expressions, the jokes, the taunts, and the resistance from parents and peers alike. Yet, also like many of her teammates, A.J. gained a great deal from facing this challenge. A more determined athlete because of these early battles, A.J. also gained a measure of competitive spirit and skill from playing with boys, some who were older, faster, and rougher. Thus, when she arrived at Taft, A.J. was prepared to have an immediate impact in girls’ hockey—a team that had always been highly successful, in fact a perennial powerhouse since Patsy Odden took over the program in 1975. During A.J.’s tenure at Taft, 1990-93, girls’ athletics were impressive, with the field hockey, ice hockey, and lacrosse teams at the very top of the New England prep school competition. A.J. earned a varsity letter for three straight seasons in each of these sports—an accomplishment equaled by only a handful of Taft athletes—and she and her teammates went on to post some records that may never be matched. It was

in ice hockey where A.J. stood out most among a special class of talented peers. In three seasons and sixty-five games she amassed a total of 169 points, including 111 goals—both school records. In addition, the team posted a combined record of 61 wins, 3 losses, and 1 tie on the way to three straight New England Championships. The first of those championships came in the winter of 1991 against an undefeated Holderness team; playing on the same Harvard rink where she would later star as an All-Ivy League player for the Crimson, A.J. led Taft to a dramatic 4-3 overtime victory, scoring all four goals. Over the next two years, Taft would not lose

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again, winning two more New England titles and two international tournaments, one in St. Petersburg, Russia, and another in Fussen, Germany. At both tournaments, A.J. was selected as the outstanding individual player, and Taft competed successfully against the Women’s National Teams from Russia and Germany. Upon graduating from Taft, A.J. moved on to the classrooms, the libraries, and the ice rink of Harvard University. In her first year, she established the singleseason scoring record with 50 total points and was selected as the ECAC and Ivy League Rookie of the Year. By the end of her junior year, A.J. had become Harvard’s

Senior members of the three-time New England Championship Team in 1993: (clockwise from left) Whitney Parks, Coach Patsy Odden, Sarah Vintiadis, A.J., Heather McVicar, Kate Schutt, and Natasha Fine. Taft Bulletin

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“When that final buzzer sounded, the emotions and excitement were wild. Indeed, I felt lucky to be present to share such a special moment, and as the flags were raised and the National Anthem played, tears were everywhere.” all-time leading scorer, with 91 goals and 143 total points. But, for the past year and a half she has put her college career and American history major on hold while training with the Women’s National Team. Harvard’s coach, Katey Stone (an ’84 Taft graduate and the former record-holder in goals and points for Taft before Mleczko) views A.J.’s leave of absence as a unique opportunity for Harvard to build a stronger team for her return, hopefully vaulting the Crimson to the forefront of the collegiate ranks. For her part, A.J. plans on returning for her final year and leading her team to even greater heights, as she said in an interview with Condé Nast: “I love playing for Harvard, and I can’t imagine being there and not playing for them. It’s been a great school for me . . . and I think I owe them something.” In fact, A.J. even turned down a stipend of $10,000$15,000 so that she could maintain her amateur status for her senior year. Yet, whatever the future holds, this year has been a whirlwind of emotion, effort, and teamwork—truly a once-ina-lifetime experience. For A.J. and the rest 14

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of Team USA, it has been a year of intense daily workouts, international tournaments and new time zones, living on the go, and a tough, escalating rivalry with Team Canada. In the end, there was also the nearly unbearable pressure and tension when it came time to make the final cuts. Though she had been on the U.S. Select and National teams since 1995, A.J. knew that making the first Olympic team was no certainty. In fact, some teammates who had been on the National Team all along with A.J. faced a crushing blow in December when they were not named to the team. For her part, A.J. dedicated herself to a relentless, yearlong effort to improve every area of her game, and that meant a good deal of work on her skating and strength. At Taft and Harvard she had always been a dominant force, in part due to her size, reach, and ability to score. But the jump from the Division I College ranks to international play was significant. “Playing with the National Team was a huge difference,” recalled A.J., “especially in terms of the speed.” Much of the improvement that she was hoping for came from her time off the ice and in the weight room. Often hitting the weights four times per week, A.J. began to notice a significant change during the year: “The lifting helped everything, particularly my shot and my skating.” Throughout this year’s pre-Olympic season, A.J.’s improved strength showed up in her play around the net in the offensive end and along the boards and in the corners all over the ice. By the end of the season, she was the team’s sixth leading scorer with a total of 13 goals and 13 assists, and she was named to the first U. S. Women’s Olympic Team in December. During the Olympic Games, A.J. continued to play a central role, scoring two first-period goals in the victory over Japan, winning crucial face-offs as the team’s specialist in that area, and setting up two key goals—including the game-winner—in their pivotal 7-4 come-from-behind victory over Canada in the preliminary round. In

her typically modest way, A.J. describes that win over Canada as “a fun game to play in. To go down 1-4 and then come back to win was great.” The rough, angry play of that first game versus Canada was replaced by a pure, hard-checking, and even more intense battle for the gold medal. In the final game, A.J. saw plenty of action, including the final two defensive face-offs. With under a minute to go and a slim 2-1 lead, Coach Ben Smith turned to Mleczko to win two critical defensive zone face-offs and secure the win. A few seconds later, when the final buzzer sounded, A.J. had earned her place in Olympic history, and in the history and hearts of Taft. She is the first gold medalist in nearly 75 years as well as our first Winter Olympian and our first female Olympian. We loved it when, on national television, the CBS analyst outlined in slow motion Canada’s plan for the final faceoff, finishing with the statement, “But Mleczko was just too good;” yet, this triumph in Japan, more than anything, was a true team effort. Unlike the men’s competition, which was marred by late arrivals, individual efforts, and unsavory news of off-ice behavior, the U.S. Women’s Team was responsible for turning this event into what we all were looking for: the Olympic Games. This group of individuals had given up a great deal—including careers, family, and education—and their sacrifice and hard work was not about money, commercialism, or television ratings. Instead, we were witness to an inspiring display of teamwork, sacrifice, and dreams come true. What A.J. and the U.S. Women’s Team accomplished in Japan is exactly what the Olympics are all about, and one can only imagine how many young girls across the nation are now dreaming about the same thing, lacing up their skates and talking about Cammi Granato, Karin Bye, and A.J. Mleczko. Steve Palmer is a member of the English Department and former assistant coach of the girls’ varsity ice hockey team.


ALUMNI IN THE NEWS

Alumni IN THE NEWS

Burke’s Best Bouillabaisse

Theater The Theater Hall of Fame presented Otis Guernsey ’36 with its 1998 Founders Award at its 27th annual induction of new members in New York on February 2. “I’m not famous,” he said. “I was voted the award by the hall’s Board of Directors for contribution to the theater. Among those who were inducted on the same occasion were Lauren Bacall, Harold Pinter, and Tony Randall. Those, like me, who get into the Hall of Fame through the service entrance, so to speak, are still invited to join the party.” Guernsey is best known as the editor of the annual theater volume Best Plays. The ceremony was held at Broadway’s Gershwin Theatre.

The Traveler’s Mediterranean France Companion by David Burke ’54 [Globe Pequot Press 1998] is more than its billing as the “smart no-nonsense travel guide [for the] informed, sophisticated traveler.” With 267 spectacular color photographs by Nik Wheeler and detailed maps of every region, the book would be worthy of the classiest coffee tables if not for its portable size. The comprehensive guide details activities and sights for every interest: from hiking, wine tasting, canoeing, and horseback riding to where to rent a houseboat or when to find the best festivals. It is full of the history, culture, and geography of every noteworthy town and village from the foot of the Pyrenées to Monte Carlo. Of course there are the expected hotel and restaurant recommendations as well. Here, Burke—a freelance writer, former producer for CBS News 60 Minutes, and self-proclaimed bon vivant—shares his personal favorites, sometimes passing up greater luxury for the moderate hotel “with grand views of the boat-filled old port” or a “luncheon patio with a marvelous view of the Cité,” but also letting you know when he thinks a particular establishment is worthy of a little splurge. Burke’s wonderful “companion” to Mediterranean France is rich enough to engage the armchair traveler, but beware; the charms of the South of France are highly palpable in this book and entirely seductive. If you’re not careful, you’ll soon find yourself in a sunny café having bouillabaisse for lunch.... He recommends the Miramar in Marseille. Taft Bulletin

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Navy Meets Army Ensign Charlie McGill ’93 came back to talk at a morning meeting in February about his experiences at Annapolis when he was introduced to Catherine Christman ’98, daughter of the superintendent of West Point. Catherine set the record straight on who has the edge in the long-standing rivalry.

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Ties that Bind Classmates Niro Satchi and Molly Harding ’94, below, are part of the youngest group featured in a Mount Holyoke Quarterly article about longstanding friendships formed at the college. This friendship, for one, started several years earlier at Taft, where friendships formed here last even longer. Case in point, the Class of 1933, above, which has been gathering every spring now for several years, and returns this May for its 65th. Last spring, at least eleven classmates returned to celebrate their 70-year long friendships. Dedicated to the school, as well as to each other, they were honored with the Class of 1920 Award, given for the greatest increase in support for the Annual Fund from a non-reunion class.


ALUMNI IN THE NEWS

Alumni Games

Ten brave alumni came out on January 11 to test their mettle against Taft’s varsity squad in Mays Rink. From left, Steve Potter ’73, Courtney Wemyss ’78, Carl Erdman ’77, Garry Rogers ’83, Fred Erdman ’71, Jamie Better ’79, Mike Powers ’69, Wilkie Bushby ’76 , Chris Watson ’91, and Tim Cooney ’90.

The Alumni Squash team put forth a valiant effort, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the eventual New England Champions. From left, Peter Frew ’75, Peter North ’62, Matt Bastien ’97, Steve Gregg ’93, Todd Savage ’91, Jeff Blum ‘73, Jon Griswold ’94, Bill Morris ’69, Brian McCormick ’93, Andrew Bogardus ’88, and Bob Campbell ’76. Taft Bulletin

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Potter Exhibit The David Findlay gallery in New York had a show in February and March of works by the late Mark Potter ’48. The exhibit included drawings, watercolors, and oils by the veteran Taft art teacher. The watercolor shown here is Seth Fishing and was painted in 1992.

Alumni Olympians A. J. Mleczko ’93 Gold Medal, ice hockey 1998 Nagano Stillman Rockefeller ’20 Gold Medal, 8-man rowing 1924 Paris John Renwick ’40 field hockey 1948 London John Welchli ’46 Silver Medal, 4-man rowing 1956 Melbourne John Greer ’47 field hockey 1956 Melbourne Andrew Stone ’80 field hockey 1984 Los Angeles Baaron B. Pittenger, Jr. ’44 Executive Director, U.S. Olympic Committee, 1987-90 Chair, U.S.O.C. Drug Control Task Force, present If you know of others, please send details to Julie Reiff, editor. [Here’s another first for A.J. Mleczko ’93 (see page 11): She medaled in a sport she actually played at Taft. We’ve never had an interscholastic field hockey team for boys, and Taft crew began in 1991.]

Welchli is Silver, Rowing is Gold The head of Friends of Detroit rowing called John Welchli ’46 the “most repected man on the Detroit River.” In addition to a silver medal in the 1956 Melbourne Games, he has over 30 Canadian and U.S. National gold medals hanging in his study. “People talk about teamwork and timing,” he told the Detroit News, “but no sport has them like rowing. A tenth of a second is an eon, and everybody has to do the exact same thing at the exact same time.” He routinely advises high school students to “get into crew.” Admissions officers, he says, know the sport’s discipline, teamwork, and insane precision. Why, he says, it’s head and shoulders above anything else. Add to that another plus. “Universally,” he says, “rowing guys are nice guys.” Welchli was elected to the U.S. Rowing Hall of Fame in 1980. Source: Michael H. Hodges/The Detroit News 18

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pond Testing, Testing

The Taft Educational Center Summer Workshops for Teachers July 1998 One and Two Week Workshops Featuring: All Advanced Placement Subjects Library Science Internet TI Graphing Calculators Computer Applications & Others CEUs & graduate credit available. For catalog call (800) 274-7815 or E-mail: TaftEdCtr@taft.pvt.k12.ct.us or http://www.taft.pvt.k12.ct.us or write to Davis Hostage, TEC Director 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100

David Hostage has been appointed as a member of the College Board committee that develops the Advanced Placement Examination in Chemistry. Among other activities, the Test Development Committee works with the College Board to assess curriculum developments, write and review questions, and review results and planning materials. An exam reader for many years, David is currently the head of the Science Department at Taft. Other Taft faculty who have been selected, past and present, as examination readers or have acted as table or question leaders during the grading process by the AP Program include Mark Davis, Ed Douglas, Margrit Gillespie, Gerry LeTendre, Jim Mooney, Ed North, Robin Osborn, Pamela Pratt-Galik, Al Reiff, Sr., and Al Reiff, Jr. ’80. Robin Osborn and Gerry LeTendre were both recognized through the College Board’s Profiles in Excellence program. Last year Taft students wrote over 370 exams at an honors level—“an indication,” said Headmaster Lance Odden, “of great teaching and serious study, making ours one of the finest AP programs in the country.” Surely the College Board’s frequent selection of Taft faculty would seem to endorse this. Taft Bulletin

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NEDC winners! The Taft team placed second in the Connecticut competition of the National Engineering Design Challenge [Around the Pond, Winter 1998]! The winners included Husain Chhatriwala ’00, Robert Goodfellow ’99, David Hotchkiss ’00, Kathleen Liu ’00, and Vanessa Wood ’01 with design and construction assistance from a much larger cast. The coaching duo of Jim Mooney and Bill Zuehlke helped with advice and assistance in design, construction, and presentation (and spent many hours doing so). Next year... the Nationals!

Students Helping Students: Leadership at its Best The student body is making full use of its own resources now that 30 Tafties are part of the Peer Tutoring Program. Organized last spring by Anne Romano, student tutors are recommended by their teachers or department heads. “Peer Tutors are talented and dedicated students,” said Anne, “who further the school’s century-old tradition of attention to the individual student. While the classroom teacher is at the heart of learning and is always available for individual conferences, peer tutors provide yet another dimension of learning. They meet with their tutees on a weekly basis and provide help in mastering biology, chemistry, physics, algebra, geometry, precalculus, French, and Spanish.” This year, the group has grown considerably with the addition of Laura Stevens ’99, Rob Percarpio ’98, Dan Chak ’98, Catherine Christman ’98, Stephen Sandvoss ’98, Cully Platt ’98, Justine Rice ’98, Irene Hernandez ’98, Evan Chow ’00, Sarah Martin ’98, David Hotchkiss ’00, Ribby Goodfellow ’00, Will Culbertson ’01, Bancha Dhammarungruang ’01, Andrew Karas ’01, Aimee Palladino ’01, Averie Wong ’01, and Husain Chhatriwala ’00. The school’s motto has special meaning for Peer Tutors. As mentors and role models they work quietly behind the scenes and represent student leadership at its best. Of course, Taft students also continue to help out in several local schools, by tutoring and helping with other activities, through the Volunteer Program.

From left, Anne Romano with the original group of Peer Tutors—Kat Liu ’00, Laura Mestre ’98, Irina Magidina ’00, Greg Stevenson ’00, Mariya Chhatriwala ’98, Taylor Smith ’98, Lizzie Macaulay ’98, Matt Allessio ’98, Emily Piacenza ’00, Michael Blomberg ’00, Heather Lindenman ’00. (Jonathan Wood ’98, Graham Steele ’00, Tim Carter ’98, and Adriana Blakaj ’00 are not pictured.) 20

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The Latest Adventures in ISP In its first year, three decades ago, Taft’s program for Independent Studies was considered a high-risk venture. First, the question: would an upper-school student risk failure through extra work for no academic credit? And, second, the fact that no other school or college had anything like ISP as a formal organization. Now, nearly a thousand completed projects later, this special opportunity perpetuates itself. Moreover, it is a prototype for a new senior year plan on the drawing board. Both programs will depend on a structure of controlled freedom balanced by close support—not unlike an aviary. In any event, ISP will continue in its present form: selected participants with project proposals guided by faculty volunteers and monitored by the ISP Committee, which oversees their progress and evaluates the final displays. In fact, little has changed since 1964 when John Esty and Lance Odden

originated the Independent Studies Program—only its size and influence. Last year, for instance, over half the faculty became involved with seventy-seven projects. While a few participants withdrew or fell short of their vision, the vast majority arrived at the ISP Banquet and received certificates for completed work. After many years of student production, in addition to course work, it is now obvious what generates ISP: creative spirit; tradition, or continuity; and community attention. Then, too, each year the new participants benefit from the cross-pollinating among projects. Finally, these special students become aware that the invisible rewards—pride, confidence, and self-knowledge—will be the most durable. —Barclay Johnson ’53, program director

Barclay Johnson confers with ISP participant Damon Cortesi ’98

Photos by Peter Finger

Independent Studies Program Participants Adam Aronson ’99 Model sailboat Mooney/Zuehlke

Nefertari Brown ’98 Poetry Phipps

Tim Carter ’98 Advanced clarinet Nagy/Fifer

Adrian Cheng ’98 Japanese calligraphy Li

Willy Cheung ’99 Classical guitar Romao*

Amy Baltazar ’98 Pottery Wynne

Jessica Buckingham ’98 Drawing/poetry Beasley

Daniel Chak ’98 Russian correspondance Phipps

Sonia Cheng ’99 Keyboard with band Fifer

Ben Cirillo ’99, Basel Kitmitto ’99, & Jay Mann ’98 Snowboarding video Doyle Taft Bulletin

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More Than Just Pots Pottery is a highly popular field for independent study at Taft, but the simply-worded topic “pottery” belies the variety of projects students undertake. From wheel work, handbuilding, and tile-inlaid furniture, to porcelain picture frames and sets of complete dinnerware, the scope of these projects is a credit to advisors Gail Wynne and Jo-Ann Schieffelin, who spend countless hours advising these students who’ve already completed a pottery course. This year Sarah Sicher is pit firing a number of large pots she formed on the wheel. Pit firing was introduced to Taft last year by Dan Kirchhof ’97 in his ISP, illustrating how students are also building on the work of other students, opening new possibilities and daring others to new challenges. Sarah is also experimenting with a color technique introduced last fall by Rockwell visiting artist Elizabeth MacDonald.

Continuity Another benefit of the ISP is that it allows a student to continue in a field long after exhausting the traditional coursework Taft has to offer. “Melanie Royster’s beautiful batik wall hangings have been admired by all since she took the fabric design course two years ago,” says advisor Gail Wynne. “This year she is applying her skills in watercolors and batik to paint on silk using dyes and wax resist.” As an upper mid, Melanie won a Goldberg Award for her ISP in jewelry making. Morgan Conger ’98 Athletic training Laska/Casio

Alyssa Davies ’98 House architecture Zuehlke

Campbell Gerrish ’99 Electronic music Nagy/Campbell

Georgie Grace ’98 Creative writing/photography Moriarty

Mike Healey ’99 Vacuum tube amplifier Mooney

Damon Cortesi ’98 & Jasper Speicher ’98 Robotics Mooney

Aaron Dickson ’98 Batik Wynne

Jillian Giardina ’99 Photography/poetry Moriarty/Beasley

Morgan Hanger ’98 Voice/piano Fifer

Mythri Jegathesan ’99 Indian Classical Dance Lewis/Wynne

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Shining Stars Sometimes independent study gives a talented student a chance to shine. Students devoted to music have long been a major part of the ISP, and the dedication of these performers often goes well beyond the scope of the program itself. Clarinetist Tim Carter commutes every Saturday to New York to attend the Julliard School of Music’s Pre-college Program, in addition to his lessons here at Taft. Tim recently recorded a segment in a program called “Young Performance” for Public Radio International.

Cultural Cachet Exploring their own cultural heritage is an increasingly popular topic among Taft students, as Rachana Katkar and Mythri Jegathesan are this year. Rachu spent last year studying the traditional batik techniques of Java and India and continued her exploraton this year through Indian cuisine. Mythri put on a beautiful performance of Indian classical dance, a 3,000-year-old tradition known as Bharathanatyam, considered to be one of the most subtle, sophisticated, and graceful styles of dance in the world. Mythri has attended three dance camps with world-renowned teachers, the Dhananjayans, and gave earlier performances with her sister Mithila ’95.

Liz Johnson ’98 Photography Moriarty

Serena Lam ’98 Drawing on right brain Wynne

Carroll Leatherman ’98 Creative writing Moriarty

Sara Lin ’99 Piano Nagy/Pierpont*

Lindsey MacDonald ’98 Pottery Wynne

Rachana Katkar ’98 Indian cooking/batik Wynne

Galen Largay ’99 Ceramics Schieffelin*/Wynne

Jane Li ’98 Piano Bernon/Pierpont*

Elizabeth Macaulay ’98 Study of influential women Bisselle

Dan McArdle ’98 & Jeremy Nelson ’99 Laser construction Mooney

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The Stage

Culture to Community The benefit of these projects to the community is immeasurable. As a school, we have been treated to top-notch performances in clarinet, voice, violin, cello, piano, and even electronic music. “Classical guitar is not a very popular instrument here,” according to Willy Cheung. “By doing an ISP, I might help the Taft community to learn more about it as I improve my skills and practice my technique. I just love playing and hope to explore the mysteries and acoustics of classical guitar. Besides facing the challenge to find my own mistakes while practicing songs I have never heard before, finishing the project in a limited time is also a tough job. Above all,” he says, “giving a final recital will be a nerve-racking experience.”

In addition to recitals there are dramatic performances most years. In a very challenging project, Lanny Shreve chose to adapt and direct Stanley Kubrik’s Dr. Strangelove, a show that packed the Black Box both nights. It was an ambitious project, not just because he had to create a script (it had been a movie, but never a play), but also because it involved coordinating twenty other students, many of them older than he is.

When Two are Better Than One Although harder to portray visually, writing projects are consistently part of the program. What is unique about the ISP is that it also allows students to combine different modes of expression. Jessica Buckingham is combining her poetry with painting. Jill Giardina is combining her poems with photographs she’s taken. “These projects,” says advisor Sara Beasley, “are teaching them more about the respective mediums—the interrelationship of two art forms—than if they were doing them separately. Jill is producing better photographs because she has a sense of what she’s looking for when it corresponds to a poem she’s written. Combining them gives her work a greater sense of authenticity. It’s very smart to do the two things in tandem.”

Teamwork Along with the arts, science projects frequently inspire Taft students to embark on an ISP. Among the more innovative projects this year are one to create a laser and another to create a small robot. Advisor Jim Mooney explains, “With their power supply apparently working, Dan McArdle and Jeremy Nelson have been building the dye cell and optical pumping apparatus for the laser. This involves deforming a length of copper tubing into an ellipse and polishing the inside to mirror reflectiveness. Damon Cortesi and Jasper Speicher have built the circuit boards they will need to run the stepper motors that will power the robot. Programming the chips and then building the mechanical parts of the robot remain to be done.” One of the great things about doing a team project, notes Damon, is that they each bring different strengths and interests to the project. The new Projects Lab in the Lady Ivy Kwok Wu Science and Math Center has given these students a suitable place to work on their ongoing projects. Emily McNair ’99 Essays Schieffelin

Bea Ogden ’99 Portrait photography Moriarty

Julia Pinover ’98 Third world photoprinting Moriarty

Melanie Royster ’98 Silk painting Wynne

Lanny Shreve ’99 Play adapting/directing Doyle

Michelle O’Brien ’98 Children’s literature MacMullen/Willson

Katherine Percarpio ’99 Oil painting furniture Wuerker

Michael Reilly ’99 Ceramics Wynne

Kate Sandmeyer ’98 Singing concert Bernon

Sarah Sicher ’98 Pottery Schieffelin*/Wynne

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Vacations and More Another team project is a snowboarding video. It isn’t unusual for students to work on their projects during their vacations and use ISP time on campus to fine tune them and seek advice. Ben Cirillo, Basel Kitmitto, and Jay Mann spent five days videotaping at Okemo and four days at Stratton over winter break and long weekend, with another trip scheduled for spring break. They spend their time on campus editing the tapes and making prints from the still shots. Other students have had profound experiences during their summer travels that they have wanted to explore further through photography, creative writing, or other outlets during an ISP.

Unique Problems Absolutely a first for the ISP is Jonathan Wood’s plan to refinish a one-man rowing scull. A better example of a creative problem to solve you could not find. “I plan to make some minor structural and aesthetic repairs—fix a cracked washboard, recanvas the bowdeck, polish the metal and lubricate the moving parts, fix some leaks on the top of the hull, repaint the oar blades. I love rowing, and I love learning. I figure this will give me the chance to learn a bit of a great craft, and I’ll have a boat to row on the St. Lawrence River in the end. I don’t know what else I could want. There are so many skilled people around to apprentice me, so many people who want to help me do this.” —Julie Reiff

Winnie So ’99 Drums for a band Fifer

Carolyn Starrett ’98 Vocal performance Beecroft*/Bernon

Andrea Uzdi ’98 Violin recital Nagy

Nathan Whittaker ’99 Cello Fifer/Saarnijoki

Akio Yamanaka ’99 Electric guitar with band Fifer

Poo Songsungthong ’98 Landscape drawing Wuerker

Marcella Szablewicz ’99 Women in Chinese history Fifer/Odden

Kara Walsh ’98 Poetry McKibben

Jonathan Wood ’98 Scull repair/refinishing Zuehlke

*adjunct arts faculty

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Merry Mothers of Watertown On February 21, Taft Mothers enjoyed better weather than their parental counterparts did last fall, helping to make it a very successful weekend.

Irene, Lauren ’99, and Alex Chu ’66.

Joyce Sandvoss with son Steve ’98.

Ross, Joy, Jordan, and Nicole Robertson ’99.

Scott Britell ’98 with parents Cathy and Jon Britell ’62.

Maryann, Julie ’00, and Bill Pailey ’57.

Bibiana Bobakova ’99, center, with her great aunts, Mary Jane Dubiny and Dolores Losapio.

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Nick Kyme ’99

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Volleyball Volleyball had a stellar season, clinching second place in the league, only to come up against Choate (their only two losses of the regular season) at the finals of the New England Tournament. “The girls have worked very hard,” said Coach Bolz, “and their success has changed the way that Taft views the sport of volleyball.”

Girls’ Ice Hockey Of all the highs and lows of this year’s girl’s hockey season, the one that will stand out is the inspiration of A.J. Mleczko ’93 winning a gold medal in Japan. “We lost a few tough games,” Coach Patsy Odden said, “to an undefeated Hotchkiss squad and to a very strong Deerfield team. There is no doubt that our size hurt us, but the 1998 team will be remembered for their team unity, their outstanding spirit and ability to enjoy themselves. They were a group of hard workers and great young women.” Middler Nicole Uliasz was chosen for the All-New England Girls’ Ice Hockey Team; she was only two goals short of breaking Mleczko’s scoring record at Taft.

Boys’ Ice Hockey The boys’ ice hockey season began with uncertainty. “We had a great deal to prove to the community and to ourselves,” said Coach Maher. “With ten new faces and untested goaltending, none of us knew what to expect.” The team finished with a strong record, only narrowly missing a spot at the New England Tournament. “We beat Hotchkiss in the most exciting game of the season,” he adds. “It is the players who must make the commitment to succeed; this year’s team certainly did that.”

Mallory Cheatham ’98 28

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Wrestling Wrestling placed 5th out of 20 teams at the Western New England Tournament. All twelve wrestlers earned at least one victory, and nine boys were place winners. Chris Fields placed 2nd at 135 lbs., despite missing much of the season due to injury, and Steve Arias, Taylor Smith, and Lou Costanzo each took third place.

Boys’ Basketball Boys’ basketball started the season with high hopes. “We were 3-0 after three games and 5-2 after the first seven,” said Coach Piacenza. “There was some tough competition out there, though, and that, combined with several untimely injuries to our best players, made the remainder of the season difficult. Senior Jon Lord, our center, missed the last 9 games with a knee injury, and we went 1-8 without him.” Lord was chosen for the Founders’ League All-Star Team.

Lou Costanzo ’98

Girls’ Basketball Girls’ basketball also competed in a very tough crowd this year; five of the six teams they lost to were among the top ten teams in New England. “But we were very competitive with four of those schools,” said Coach Cobb. The win over Choate was the highlight of the season for the “scrappy” team. “We had great team defense all season,” Cobb said.

Girls’ Squash “In tight situations, the squash gods didn’t seem to be with us,” said Coach Susan McCabe. Girls’ squash did beat Choate for the first time in four years and finished sixth overall, ahead of Exeter for the first time ever.

Ski Racing The ski racing teams had a strong season. The boys placed second overall in the Berkshire Ski League, ahead of a powerful Loomis team, but the homemountain advantage proved to be too much for Taft as Berkshire walked away with the title. Taft placed eighth at the New Englands. The girls placed fourth in the Berkshire League. —Julie Reiff

Liz Merck ’98 Taft Bulletin

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Winter Big Red Scoreboard Boys’ Basketball

Girls’ Ski Racing

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

Coach: ........................................................... Trey Winstead

Captain: .................................................... Dave Ramich ’98

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

Record: ......................................................................... 8-14

Record: ........................................... 4th in Berkshire League

Logan Award: .................................................. Dave Ramich

Ski Racing Award: ....................................... Addie Strumolo

Captains-Elect: ..................... Trevor Harlow ’99, Jin Lee ’99

Captains-Elect: ......... Jane Conolly ’99, Lindsay Tarasuk ’99

Girls’ Basketball

Boys’ Squash

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

New England Champions

Captains: ...................... Kristen Kawecki ’98, Liz Merck ’98

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

Record: ......................................................................... 13-6

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

Basketball Award: ...................... Kristen Kawecki, Liz Merck

Record: ......................................................................... 17-0

Captain-Elect: ............................................ Emily Townsend

Squash Award: .................................................. Chris Olsen Captain-Elect: .................................................... Nick Kyme

Boys’ Ice Hockey Head Coach: ..................................................... Mike Maher

Girls’ Squash

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

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

Record: ......................................................................... 14-8

Captains: ........................... Lauren Chu ’99, Kate Sands ’98

Angier Hockey Award: ...................................... Matt Snyder

Record: ........................................................................... 6-7

Coaches Hockey Award: ................................. Tim Canfield

Squash Award: .................................................... Kate Sands

Captains-Elect: .............. Brad D’Arco ’99, Dennis Nam ’99

Captain-Elect: ................................................... Lauren Chu

Girls’ Ice Hockey

Volleyball

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

Coach: .................................................................... Jen Bolz

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

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

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

Record: ......................................................................... 10-2

Patsy Odden Hockey Award: Alison Coope, Carrie Swiderski

Award: ........................................................ Carolyn Starrett

Captains-Elect: ............ Molly Barefoot ’99, Jill Giardina ’99

Captains-Elect: ............. Sabrina Idy ’99, Kathryn Parkin ’00

Boys’ Ski Racing

Wrestling

Coach: .............................................................. Paul Nanian

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

Captain: ...................................................... André Senay ’98

Captains: ..................... Louis Costanzo ’98, Chris Fields ’98

Record: .......................................... 2nd in Berkshire League

Record: ..................................................................... 15-4-1

Ski Racing Award: ............................................ André Senay

Hitch Award: ..................................................... Chris Fields

Captain-Elect: ............................................ Jack Downey ’99

Wynne Award: ............................................. Louis Costanzo Captain-Elect: ........................................ Will Rakestraw ’99

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The Journey Home —By Michael E. C. Spencer

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onsider traveling. Consider the journey back home. Since it’s only the first week back from break, this experience should be pretty familiar to all of you. During the past month—in addition to relaxing, sleeping, and refueling—you probably made some visits to see friends and family. Now you may have been moved to make these visits because of the celebration of Christmas, or Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, or the New Year, or maybe some other reason. For Muslims around the globe, now is the time of Ramadan; the holy month in which family and friends visit together, pray together, and fast together as a sign of obedience to God. Your own travels may have grown out of a similar religious observance, or simply the need to reconnect with the people and things that give you meaning. So, the past few weeks have provided plenty opportunities to travel home… and then you had to leave. So consider traveling. Consider the journey most of you just made—the journey away from home. It was probably hectic and crazy; a move from the comfortable to the uncomfortable. Heavy suitcases weighed you down as you made your way through a crowded train station, or airport, or bus depot. And the people around you may not have been that helpful. A few perhaps threw you a pleasant glance or smile, but most were probably preoccupied—looking not at you but through you. They were probably carrying some heavy baggage of their own. The well-known novelist and Exeter chaplain, Frederick Buechner, once said that “travel can be a very unmasking experience.” There’s a lot of truth in that. Buechner points out that when we travel we not only see other people as they really are, but we see ourselves too. That’s because we don’t have to pretend to be

anybody else. We don’t have to be pleasant. We don’t have to be polite. We don’t have to be anything. We just are who we are. Traveling brings us face to face with ourselves. This is precisely Buechner’s point. What we begin to realize—as we gaze through the window of a car, a train, or a plane watching the telephone poles and clouds zip by—is that what we are really looking at is our own reflection. You’re not that different from any of those strangers you passed along the way. You’ve got your baggage, and your sense of hurried frenzy, a preoccupation perhaps with leaving home, maybe even a sense of relief at being able to escape, and some excitement about seeing friends again. This is all part of traveling, and eventually you’ll again miss the comforts of home: your parents, your friends, your favorite dog or cat. You’ll begin to feel something tugging at you. You’ll feel the need to reconnect with your source of meaning, and so you’ll make another journey back home. I’ve been thinking a lot about home, and traveling, and making journeys. Not only because I traveled home to see my own family during break, but also because the course I’m teaching on Comparative Religions is all about traveling. Studying religions of the world is really like looking through a travel log: the map of the journey home, the journey of the human soul toward God, enlightenment, and ultimate meaning. This is the fundamental, universal human journey. As Sheryl Crow sings, “every day is a winding road;” the

road from unknown to unknown on which both you and I are traveling as we make the journey from one home to another. These thoughts on travel led me to think about a film I saw over break. It’s the story of a young girl from Kansas who finds herself away from home in the presence of three very peculiar companions. Now maybe you know which movie I’m talking about. The children’s story was written by L. Frank Baum and produced in 1939 for the theater by Victor Fleming. The story is of course The Wizard of Oz, and it is one of the great American myths. And like any great myth, The Wizard of Oz is not only an entertaining story, but a glimpse into the human experience. It’s a story which I believe has a lot to teach about home, and traveling, and making journeys. Consider traveling. Dorothy certainly did. She runs away from home and finds herself sucked up by a Kansas twister which carries her to the distant Land of Oz— beautiful, but not without danger. There her house lands on the Wicked Witch of the East; killing the witch, giving Dorothy the ruby slippers, and making her the enemy of the Wicked Witch of the West. Dorothy discovers that the only way home is via the yellow-brick road which leads to the Emerald City and the all-knowing Wizard of Oz. Along the way, she meets three bizarre characters: a scarecrow in need of a brain, a tin man who desperately desires a heart, and a cowardly lion who— you guessed it—is looking for courage.

“…when we travel we not only see other people as they really are, but we see ourselves too.” Taft Bulletin

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Together they journey to the Emerald City, where their first meeting with the allpowerful wizard is less than successful. In a great emerald hall, amidst smoke and flashing lights, the Great Oz strikes fear into the group. But instead of granting their requests, the Wizard of Oz gives the group a task: return with the broomstick of the Wicked Witch of the West, and then— and only then—have your desires fulfilled. So off they go again, this time on a more dangerous mission. How do they survive? The tale is pretty extraordinary, because when Dorothy is captured, it is the brainless scarecrow who devises a plan to rescue her. When they face the army of flying monkeys and the heavily-armed palace guards, it is the cowardly lion who finds the nerve to fight back. And as for the tin man, well, he is just a blubbering mess whose tears for Dorothy nearly rust him all over again. By working together, the scarecrow, the tin man, and the lion find a way to rescue Dorothy, kill the witch, snatch the broomstick, and return to Oz. And it is here at the end of the story that the illusion of wizardry dissolves. Thanks to the clever dog Toto, the group discovers that the all-powerful Oz is nothing more than smoke and mirrors used to hide a human being no different than Dorothy herself. The wise and defenseless little man—who is and is not a wizard— teaches the group a great lesson. While he gives the scarecrow a diploma and a degree in thinkology, while he presents the tin man with a ticking heart-shaped watch, while he awards the lion a “medal for meritorious valor and conspicuous bravery,” he also shows them that these gifts are simply a scrap of paper, a ticking watch, and a shiny medal. The things that really matter—brains, heart, and courage—are not gifts that can be given, but are always earned. The wizard never really needed the witch’s broomstick, but the four characters needed to go on the journey, to discover that the things which they yearned for were always with them. 32

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As for Dorothy, she realizes that she always possessed the power to return home; she just had to find it for herself. As a matter of fact, what we come to realize is that young Dorothy had never really left home when she traveled to Oz. The scarecrow, the lion, the tin man, even the wizard himself, were all people in her own hometown. She discovers that her friends and family were always there in the faces of the people she met in this new and strange land. It just took a bump on the head, a twister, and a trip through Oz to make this realization. Right now all of us are away from home. We’re not in our house… we’re in the “Oz” of Taft. Here we are on a journey. And we will encounter strangers along the way who—if we get to know them—will remind us of the people we left behind. Maybe we are also looking for things. We want what the scarecrow, and the lion, and the tin man wanted—the intelligence to do well and make wise decisions, the courage to face fear, and the heart to love deeply. We want them, because these are the things which make us whole. But what we want won’t come by some sort of drug or wizardry. We can’t sit around waiting for the magic, waiting for life mystically to become exciting and heroic, waiting to let “maturity” just happen. Taft will not give us any of the gifts we desire, but it will help us to earn them. The gifts may not be found in dramatic moments, but will be earned while we make the small decisions of daily life—in the classroom, in the dorm,

on the playing field. These are the critical moments when we confront ourselves and strive to be fully human. These are the moments when we realize that we’re not all we would like to be; moments when something inside tells us we can be more. This is the feeling that Dorothy, the scarecrow, the tin man, and the lion experienced. For us, it’s really no different. For courage will come when trembling in the face of fear we somehow act bravely. Intelligence will come when we realize that no matter how smart we think we are, we are simply full of straw just like the scarecrow, but we still manage to try as hard as a scarecrow can. And love will come when we are willing to let our hearts be broken. I welcome YOU back to Oz. And I hope that—like Dorothy—you will discover that what you search for is already deep inside your Self. In this second semester, use your gifts, develop them while together we make the journey home. Consider traveling. Michael Spencer is a fellow in chaplaincy this year while he completes his Master of Divinity degree at Yale Divinity School. Beginning next year he will teach courses in philosophy, religion, and ethics, and serve as the full time chaplain of the school, developing a program of interfaith chaplaincy to support the religious, spiritual, and moral life of the community. His poem “The Price” was recently published in the January issue of Theology. He acknowledges his indebtedness to Frederick Buechner for inspiring some of the ideas contained in this talk.

“We want what the scarecrow, and the lion, and the tin man wanted— the intelligence to do well and make wise decisions, the courage to face fear, and the heart to love deeply.”

Spring 1998 Taft Bulletin  
Spring 1998 Taft Bulletin