Summer 2005 Taft Bulletin

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A Different Kind of

SpringBreak Students volunteer in the Dominican Republic

115th Commencement Exercises

Alumni Weekend Memories Wordsmith for the President


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B U L L E T I N Summer 2005 Volume 75 Number 4 Bulletin Staff Director of Development John E. Ormiston Editor Julie Reiff Alumni Notes Linda Beyus Anne Gahl Jackie Maloney Design Good Design, LLC Proofreader Nina Maynard Mail letters to: Julie Reiff, Editor Taft Bulletin The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. Send alumni news to: Linda Beyus Alumni Office The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. Deadlines for Alumni Notes: Fall–August 30 Winter–November 15 Spring–February 15 Summer–May 30 Send address corrections to: Sally Membrino Alumni Records The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. 1-860-945-7777 The Taft Bulletin (ISSN 0148-0855) is published quarterly, in February, May, August, and November, by The Taft School, 110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 067952100, and is distributed free of charge to alumni, parents, grandparents, and friends of the school. All rights reserved.

This magazine is printed on recycled paper.

Flanked by their teachers, seniors process into Centennial Quadrangle for the school’s 115th Commencement Exercises. Bob Falcetti

F E AT U R E S Heard But Not Seen............................... 22 Deputy speechwriter for President George W. Bush, Marc Thiessen ’85 says the key is to be anonymous. By Tom Frank ’80

A Week’s Difference............................... 26 Cover Story: Nine students and two Spanish teachers spent most of their spring break helping at an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. By Roberto d’Erizans

Thanks for the Memories....................... 30

For more than 100 years, alumni have returned to campus on a weekend in May to revisit their alma mater and to renew old friendships with friends and teachers. Photography by Bob Falcetti and Michael Kodas

115th Commencement.......................... 35

Remarks by Jamie Smythe ’70, Sean O’Mealia ’05, Sha-Kayla Crockett ’05, Javier Garcia ’05, and William R. MacMullen ’78

D E PA R T M E N T S Letters.................................................... 2 Alumni Spotlight.................................... 3 Around the Pond.................................... 10 Sport....................................................... 17 Annual Fund Report............................... 20 Endnote: The Boy of Summer, The Father of Fall................................... 46 By Joseph H. Cooper and William D. Cooper ’06

On the Cover

Volunteers Neal McCloskey ’07, Phillip Martinez ’06, Helena Smith ’06, Chad Thomas ’06, Eliza Jackson ’06, Jamie Albert ’08, Kelsey White ’08, Christine Anderson ’06, Chris Papadopolous ’06, and leaders Kevin Conroy and Roberto d’Erizans at the school where they volunteered in the Dominican Republic.

E-Mail Us! Send your latest news, address change, birth announcement, or letter to the editor via e-mail. Our address is TaftBulletin@ We continue to accept your communiqués by fax machine (860-945-7756), telephone (860-945-7777), or U.S. Mail (110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100). So let’s hear from you! Taft on the Web: Find a friend’s new address or look up back issues of the Bulletin at What happened at this afternoon’s game?—Visit us at www.TaftSports. com for the latest Big Red coverage.

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Letters We welcome Letters to the Editor relating to the content of the magazine. Letters may be edited for length, clarity, and content, and are published at the editor’s discretion. Send correspondence to: Julie Reiff, editor Taft Bulletin 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100 USA Or to I was happy and more than a bit surprised to receive your Winter 2005 issue. Happy because of the subject matter and surprised because you managed to track me down (with the help of my brother Jamie Cox ’87) in my village in Madagascar, where I am serving as a Peace Corps volunteer. Although I am working as an ESL teacher and teacher trainer, I have become very interested in environmental issues during my time here. Madagascar is an environmental hot spot; the island is rich in endemic flora and fauna, but Madagascar’s people are very poor. The result is a constant struggle to balance pressing environmental needs with the needs of the many people who make their living off of the land. There is no easy solution to this problem. On a brighter note, I am currently rereading Aldo Leopold’s Sand County Almanac, an environmental classic I first read in Mr. Mac’s

(do they still call him that now that he’s headmaster?) wilderness literature class at Taft. When I pine for DVDs and indoor plumbing I try to remember Leopold’s wise words: “Nothing could be more salutary at this stage than a little healthy contempt for a plethora of material blessings.” If any of your readers find themselves in Madagascar, they shouldn’t hesitate to contact me. Like all Peace Corps volunteers, I love visitors and will see that they receive a warm “Tonga Soa” (welcome). —Libby Cox ’92 A wonderful article on Peter Berg ’80 in the spring issue. You might be interested in this picture (below) from our very successful sailing team with Peter crewing for Pease Herndon Glaser ’79, who went on to Olympic sailing success in Sydney [see Winter 2000]. This was probably taken in the spring of 1977. —Toby Baker Faculty 1960–78 Just wanted to say thanks for the great piece about Joe Knowlton and me in the spring issue [“Best of Friends”]. We’ve received many new hits on the website, and I’m certain the article has much to do with it. I did notice one inaccuracy: the reference to the both of

Pease Herndon Glaser ’79 and Peter Berg ’80 as part of the school’s highly successful sailing team in the late 1970s. Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

us “spending time in Vietnam.” Whereas I did make several trips to the region, Joe was the only one to be assigned there for 13 hairraising months and see combat. Just thought you should know. —William Bingham ’64 Ed. Note: Bingham had a film broadcast on A&E over Memorial Day weekend. Based on a script he wrote five years ago and later adapted for television, Faith of My Fathers is the story of John McCain’s military adventures and prisoner-of-war experiences. Bingham is working on another project for A&E this summer. For more information, visit www.aetv. com/faithofmyfathers/.

From the Editor

The clippings have been pouring in! Jeff Baxter ’67 was on the front page of the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times reviewed a new book by Rudolph Chelminski ’52, Will Dana ’81 was promoted to managing editor of Rolling Stone, and young alumni are captaining top-ranked college sports teams around the country. How is a small quarterly to keep up with such an accomplished group of graduates? I don’t want to tip my hand too much—some of these stories will find their way into coming issues of the Bulletin as well—but you are an impressive lot! And yet, even as I write this column an obituary crossed my desk that made me cringe inside—if only I had known about this alumnus when he was alive. But some of you are very modest. Fortunately for me, your parents and classmates are often proud enough to speak on your behalf. Looking ahead, I’m hoping to focus the Winter 2006 issue on alumni who’ve dedicated their careers to nonprofit organizations—our fifth installment in a series about alumni who exemplify the school motto (following those who serve in the military, ministry, education, and the environment). Do you know a classmate or an alum in your family we might include? Please help us sing their praises. —Julie Reiff


S P OT L I G H T Availing himself of some of the cruise’s perks, Gentleman Host Tom Goodale ’55 gives new meaning to the term “working vacation.” Baerbel Schmidt

Bon Voyage Travel and Leisure magazine decided to go “behind the scenes with a veteran cruise ambassador to see just how far a fox-trot will take a guy.” Their veteran was none other than Tom Goodale ’55, who has traveled from Cape Town to Sydney in the last 10 years on 18 voyages as a gentleman host. The nine-page feature in the April issue (including five full-page photos) follows Goodale on a luxury cruise aboard the Silver Wind through the Brazilian Amazon. An unpaid employee who “does his best to make passengers feel fascinating,” he is entitled to most of the same amenities as the paying guests in exchange for being on call for part of each day and every evening—to play cards, chaperone outings, escort female guests to dinner, and of course to dance. The ideal host, the article points out, is between the ages of 45 and 72, is cultured, knows a “tango from a two-step,” shows no favoritism among guests, and has the highest moral ethics. One hosting service called Goodale “one of the best.” His experience “navigating the choppy waters of closed circles, social niceties, and catty jealousies” makes for smoother sailing with even the most demanding passengers. You can read the article at www. For his next voyage, Goodale is thinking about a 27-day cruise in January from Sydney to Singapore. Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


An Eco-Home of One’s Own

Carrie Hitchcock ’75 and her family, along with twenty others, are currently developing a former industrial site in inner-city Bristol, UK, which they are turning into a sustainable housing community by building eco-houses. “Building our own house has been exciting, scary, all-consuming, and inexorable,” writes Hitchcock. “In fact, it’s a bit like bringing a child into the world.” Using self-generated electricity, passive solar heating, water conservation, and “loads of recycled and sustainably sourced materials,” they finished their house just over a year ago, but are still working on other aspects of the project. “John and I, and our two children, 13 and 17, have been involved

Carrie Hitchcock ’75 and her daughter Helen, 13, standing on the porch of their selfbuilt eco-house in Bristol, England.

in the project since June 2000,” she adds. “We have had our success and failures, our bad decisions, and our fortunate flukes.” Hitchcock also works on urban renewal projects with an organization

called IRIS (Involving Residents in Solutions,, and pilots a ferryboat around Bristol’s docks. For more information and more photos of their eco-housing project, visit

of Virginia, taking home the 11th title in the program’s history, and Cornell’s first title since 1992 (also over Virginia).

Marking the team’s 26th national championship appearance, the win was their second two-goal victory of the national championships (they defeated Texas A&M 18–16 to earn a spot in the finals) and avenged last year’s loss to Virginia. Johnson had eight goals in the final game and took home All-East honors and was also honored as an AllAmerican and Cornell Varsity Athlete of the Week. The team ended its season at 14–5. This summer Johnson traveled to England, hoping to play for four or five different teams there. With luck he’ll make his way into the British Open Gold Cup, which along with the U.S. Open is the largest tournament outside of Argentina. He moves to Miami this fall to work in business, but says he “will be slowly working on my professional polo career at the same time in Palm Beach,” most likely exercising horses and playing practice games.

Big Red Polo Senter Johnson ’00 helped Cornell win the men’s polo National Title this spring with a 21–19 victory over the University

Senter Johnson ’00, third from left, and his Cornell teammates after winning the National polo title in May. Johnson was also named All-American. Michelle Holmes ’00 Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


A Passion for Fashion

Barbie’s clothes may have been fashionable enough for some girls, but not for Renée Young ’97, who decided when she was little that she could improve the doll’s wardrobe. By the time she went to Cornell to study hotel and restaurant management, she was making clothes for herself and her friends. Cornell gave her a background in business, but she decided after college that she wanted a career that was more creative and hands on. Her passion for fashion and design led her back to her hometown of Los Angeles, where she began her first clothing line, Try Me! Two years ago she launched KinkyChinky, a line she says is more suited to where she is now. “I use higher quality fabrics and do gowns as well. Some are deconstructed (like Barbie’s outfits); I might start with something vintage but add to it. Others I make from scratch.” KinkyChinky is sexy, feminine, daring, and fun, she says, offering casual-wear, limited edition, and one-ofa-kind pieces “in order to satiate every fashionista’s inner desire.” All her pieces are handcrafted and made-to-order. A number of her pieces have been worn by celebrities such as Madonna,

Fashion designer Renée Young ’97, left, with celebrity publicist Valerie Michaels wearing one of Young’s designs.

Lara Flynn Boyle, and Anne Hathaway. “I knew she was big time,” writes classmate Crystal Meers, who is West Coast editor for the fashion newsletter Daily Candy (, “when I went to a celebrity-studded Flaunt magazine party and Renée’s dress was a three-page centerfold spread and her panties were in the VIP gift bags.” The two reconnected then and

have stayed in touch since, along with Courtney McCraw ’96, who had worked with Meers at Nylon magazine, before joining a PR firm in Los Angeles. “We are really good resources for one another in the industry,” Young adds. Young and Meers have done events together, including Elle Girl Prom, where they donated dresses that celebrities have worn to charities.

Singing the Praises of a New Music Center one-inch-thick glass walls open to an outdoor terrace for community concerts during the summer.

O&G Industries (the family business operated by Greg Oneglia ’65) served as construction manager. Woodruff/Brown Photography

Hotchkiss School is just completing construction of a new Music Arts Center designed by architect Jefferson B. Riley ’64 of Centerbrook Architects and Planners. A grand opening concert is scheduled this fall for the new LEEDcertified center, built of glass, recycled copper, and other sustainable materials. The voluminous, glass-walled, 640seat music pavilion commands panoramic views of the nearby Litchfield hills and lakes. The pavilion seating is configured in the round with parterre and upper level balconies surrounding a flat floor orchestra modeled after Boston’s Symphony Hall. The pavilion’s


Identity Claus Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus, and he lives at Lake Tahoe. According to court records, Claus, formerly known as Thomas O’Connor ’65, petitioned for and was granted a name change in February. The Nevada resident, who says he’s always carried the spirit of the jolly Christmas character, legally changed his name to Santa Claus. “It’s a new name, not a new identity,” Claus said. “I’ve always had that spirit and once I started growing the beard it seemed like a blessing and a very good fit for me.” At 14 months of beard growth, Claus, dressed in blue jeans, red suspenders and a red button-up flannel shirt, sat at Burnt Cedar Beach in Incline Village and talked about his life as Santa. “Of course it’s a fictional character, but as far as I’m concerned, ’tis I,” he said. And to five children who walked up to him in one hour at the beach, he is real. “You remember at Christmas you gave me that big bike? It’s a little big,” said a girl, accompanied by her father, who approached Claus. Claus is no stranger to children approaching him with requests and questions, and has the answers to almost any inquiry. “If you grow one or two inches taller it should be a good fit,” he told the girl. Later, Claus found a thank-you note from the same girl on his car—a red and white Ford Bronco. If Claus seems to always be in character, that’s because he is, he said. Although he saves his suit—adorned in fake fur “for I think what would be obvious reasons,” he said—for special occasions, Claus does have an outfit he wears most days out on the town. “I usually wear a shirt like this—a red one,” Claus said, tugging gently on the flannel button-up he wore to the beach, “which is in keeping with the bishops’ Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

Santa Claus, formerly known as Tom O’Connor ’65, enjoys the afternoon at Burnt Cedar Beach, Lake Tahoe. Bonanza Photo/Emma Garrard

robes that St. Nicholas used to wear.” Claus’ round stomach and wirerimmed glasses complete the look, but Claus said children and adults know he’s Santa Claus no matter what he’s wearing. Claus claims it’s his full white beard. After five months’ growth, friends and community members started telling him he should play Santa. Now, a couple months after the name change, Claus said most people are supportive of his decision, but some people aren’t so quick to believe that “Santa Claus” is actually his name. Recently at the Reno-Tahoe International Airport, Claus was passing through security when an airline worker suspicious of the name on the ticket had him show identification. “They were just being cautious, so I gave them my passport, Social Security card, and state driver’s license,” he said.

Claus—who received a bachelor of fine arts and a master of arts from New York University—has lived all over the United States, but has decided to call Nevada home. “Why would Santa stay in the North Pole?” he asked, gesturing toward the lake. “Lake Tahoe is so beautiful. I’ve been coming here for 20 years.” Starting this summer, Santa hopes to shed his “bowl full of jelly” with the Santa Diet—a diet Claus created as a way to address obesity. Will the weight loss hurt his image? “The image of Santa has changed a couple of times,” Claus said. “Most people probably don’t know that St. Nicholas, upon whom Santa is based, was a thin guy.” —Christina Nelson North Lake Tahoe Bonanza


Third Klingenstein Joins Board

Peter Frew ’75

Following in the footsteps of her father Lee ’44 and brother Paul ’74, Jo Klingenstein Ziesing ’78 joins the school’s board of trustees this fall, having won the annual election for alumni trustee in May. A theater and English double major at Cornell, Ziesing spent a semester in London studying at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. She also volunteered as a drama coach at a low-income middle school in Ithaca and worked at Cornell’s childcare center. After college, Jo used her minor in graphic design at Pushpin, Lubalin, and Pecolick and earned a degree in graphic design at Pratt Institute School

of Art and Design before deciding to go into education. She has taught at Poughkeepsie Day School, Greenwich Country Day, and Fairfield University, where she taught elementary education. For the past decade, she has worked extensively with Horizons, a local and national education enrichment program for low-income children, and serves on its board of trustees. She lives in New Canaan with her husband, Peter, their three children: Lee ’07, Annie, and Will. Other members of the school’s board chosen by alumni ballot are Jamie Better ’79, Roger Lee ’90, and Rosilyn Ford ’80. Each serves a four-year term.

Pentagon Promotion Ray DuBois ’66 was sworn in as act- and environmental programs worldwide. Capitol Region, the Pentagon Force ing undersecretary of the Army in Since June 2002, he has been responsible Protection Agency, and the $5.5 billion March. Prior to this appointment by for Washington Headquarters Services, a Pentagon Renovation Program. President Bush, DuBois served concur- 2,500-employee agency where, as “may- Now, as acting undersecretary, rently as deputy undersecretary of de- or” of the Pentagon, he oversaw all ad- DuBois will serve as the secretary of the fense for installations and environment ministrative services within the National Army’s senior civilian adviser. and as the director of administration and management in the Office of the Secretary of Defense. “I asked Secretary Rumsfeld to reassign Ray to the Army because Ray has extensive experience within the Department of Defense and has demonstrated ability to get the right things done at the right times,” said Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey. “He will be a tremendous asset to the Army.” DuBois served in the Army from 1967 to 1969, including nearly 13 months in Vietnam as a combat intelligence operations sergeant in the central highlands. He later served as special assistant and then as deputy undersecretary of the Army in the 1970s. Since April 2001, he has managed the Base Realignment and Closure analytic process and the Defense Department’s installations, housing, util- Secretary of the Army Francis Harvey, left, swears in Ray DuBois as acting undersecretary ities, energy, competitive outsourcing, of the Army as his wife Helen holds the Bible. Staff Sgt. Carmen Burgess Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

In print Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine Rudolph Chelminski ’52 Gotham Books, 2005 On the evening of February 24, 2003, an astounding story broke into French radio and TV news bulletins, then raced around the world: Bernard Loiseau, France’s most famous chef, had committed suicide. More than a surprise, it was simply unbelievable, because he was a man who had everything: a super luxurious hotel and restaurant holding three stars, the highest rating of the Michelin guide; media star status at home and an enviable reputation worldwide for the daring cuisine des essences he had invented; a great staff, entirely devoted to his cause; an attractive loyal wife and three beautiful young children. He was on top of the world, and yet he chose to end it all—or was it

was because he was on top of the world? Rudolph Chelminski delves through the outward trappings of wealth, joviality, and success to discover subterranean currents, hints of which only a few intimates had been able to perceive: self-doubt, insecurity, and, most of all, the anguish underlying the mad perfectionism that had driven him to the summit of his art. “Everything considered, it was not so surprising,” Chelminski writes in the opening chapter. “Such a thing could have happened before, and it could happen again, because the world of haute gastronomie française in which Bernard Loiseau had been stewing for thirty-five years is a very particular, very peculiar kind of pressure cooker.”


Heroes of the Age: Moral Fault Lines on the Afghan Frontier David B. Edwards ’70 University of California Press, 1996 (Recently added to the Alumni Authors Collection)

Tales Before Midnight Ted Mason ’43 Bartleby Press, 2005

New Artists Collaborative One of the hot new art galleries in Boston, Locco Ritoro, recently featured art from the newly founded fine arts collaborative Scintus Images. Scintus represents a partnership between emerging artists interested in launching their careers, established artists interested in making their work more accessible, and the world’s finest master printmakers. “Our mission is twofold,” explains the collaborative’s founder Jeff Borkowski ’95, who publishes his own work under the pseudonym Seuss. “We want to make having unique art in your home more accessible by making it easier to find and more affordable to own. And we want to support the

art community by making it easier for artists to leverage their work to earn a living, so they can continue to pursue their work.” Scintus works with master printmakers using the latest digital printmaking technologies to produce their prints, the same technologies now being used by museums around the world to reproduce the rarest of original works for preservation and display purposes. For more information, visit

The French War Against America: How a Trusted Ally Betrayed Washington and the Founding Fathers Harlow Unger ’49 John Wiley & Sons, 2005

On and Off the Wall

Recent and upcoming exhibits by alumni artists Selections, Scintus Images Jeff Borkowski ’95 April 1–30 Locco Ritoro Gallery Boston, Massachusetts Lyme Academy College of Fine Art Faculty Exhibit Fred X. Brownstein ’64 June 3–September 4 Arnot Art Museum Elmira, New York Solo show Megan Craig ’93 May 2005 Kunstverein Grafschaft Bentheim Neuenhaus, Germany

b Jeff Borkowski ’95, VB(IV), Iris print, 18 x 26.7 inches, 1997





Young Voices in Great Spaces

It’s Palm Sunday at the Basilica of San Marco in Venice as the 42-member Collegium Musicum files in for the culminating performance of their 13day tour of Italy. Already, they have sung at the Church of Sant’Ignazio di Loyola in Rome, the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Spello, the Church of Santa Maria Maggiore in Assisi, the Church of Santa Maria dei Ricci in Florence, and the Church of San Salvador, also in Venice. Rehearsing earlier in the day, the singers filled the basilica with their frequent laughter and conversation, as well as their voices. The title of their program, “Music for a Great Space,” is appropriate; these are soaring, ancient cathedrals like few of them have ever seen. As they traveled through Italy, they were struck as much with the richness of Peter Frew ’75

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that country’s cultural heritage, noting how it dominates the landscape, as with the interiors in which they sang. “Our students performed in one perfect setting after another,” said Sara Beasley, who accompanied the group along with Conductor Bruce Fifer and his wife Helena, Baba and Peter Frew ’75, and emeriti Anne and Jerry Romano. “Each church was different from the last, ranging from austere to unbelievably ornate, but each was characterized by the same sense of nearly infinite verticality. Each space gave the music room to grow and to linger in the ears of those gathered to listen: it was that rare and transcendent experience of form and content perfectly matched.” Although Mac Morris ’06 had traveled to Italy before, he told the Papyrus that “touring with Collegium over spring break was a great experience, in that it was time well spent, singing in some great spaces alongside my friends.”

In addition to being a CPR instructor for the American Heart Association, Sam Dangremond ’05 is certified as a National Registry Emergency Medical Technician, a Connecticut EMT, and a Wilderness EMT. He volunteered as an EMT with the Thomaston Ambulance Corps this spring as part of his senior project, staying overnight at the Thomaston Ambulance barn two nights a week when he was on call.

Students Teach Others to Save Lives Seniors Ren Brighton and Sam Dangremond taught CPR classes on campus this spring. They certified 19 people—three faculty and staff members and 16 students—in Adult, Child, and Infant CPR and AED (defibrillator) use through the American Heart Association. Sam, Ren, Avery Clark ’05, and Martha Stacey ’05 had all completed a 16-hour heart association CPR Instructor course at Bradley Memorial Hospital in Southington earlier in the year, with tuition provided by Taft.

Additionally, Sam was certified as a National Registry Wilderness EMT on a National Outdoor Leadership School course last summer. “I’ve wanted to teach people the skills of CPR ever since,” Sam said. “The more people who know it, the more likely it is that there will be a trained rescuer around when an emergency really occurs. I wanted to give back to the Taft community by teaching valuable life-saving skills” Sam also volunteered as an EMT in Thomaston this spring as a Senior Project. Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


Peter Frew ’75

The love of learning, the sequestered nooks, And all the sweet serenity of books. —Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

The dedication of the new Moorhead Learning Center on April 29 Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 thanks Rod Moorhead ’62 and his family for their vision and support of the school’s new learning center, located in the Pond Wing (see “Expanded Learning Center Moves to New Quarters,” Fall 2004).

Postcard from Taft

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p.s. We just found out that we won the David Edward Goldberg Memorial Award for Independent Work.


—Mac Morris ’06


Roger Kirkpatr

Last fall, seniors Arden Klemmer, Matthew Chazen, and I decided to produce and perform a Gilbert and Sullivan Operetta. Having performed in many of the musicals at Taft, we felt that it was time to direct one of our own. We chose Pirates of Penzance for its score and length and immediately started planning our show. After casting a terrific crew of singers, we spent the next few months finalizing cuts, practicing harmonies, editing scripts, and coordinating the event logistically. Teaching the music was certainly a challenge, but one that we accepted with delight and enthusiasm. We performed the operetta in traditional white tie and tails, so that, if nothing else, the performance would at least look good. On May 17, however, our expectations were certainly exceeded. The eleven of us delivered a performance in Walker Hall that earned a standing ovation from the large crowd of friends, family, and teachers. I could not have asked for a better turnout or a more fun experience.


Designers’ Challenge The school sent 10 teams to the 14th annual Boston University Engineering Design Challenge in early June. In a field of over 90 teams, four Taft teams made it to the final 16. In this year’s contest, teams built vehicles to climb an 8-foot ramp angled at 25 degrees while an opponent did the same on another ramp. The two ramps shared a common onefoot peak area where a small flag on the right edge of each track had to be knocked over. Points were awarded for 1) climbing the hill, 2) knocking down the flag, and 3) being closest to top center line after 15 seconds. The four finalist teams were Steven Chiu and John Chiu, Khoa Do Ba and Marina Tokoro, Wilson Yu and Eugene Young, and Daniel Kim and Josh Kim (Josh was away with Habitat for Humanity) “Luck of the draw had the four teams facing each other in the next round. Do Ba/Tokoro and Chiu2 were eliminated by their fellow Tafties Yu/ Young and Daniel Kim,” said faculty adviser Jim Mooney. Those two pro-

Students participating in Boston University’s Engineering Design Challenge, front from left, Jasmine Chuang ’08, Derek Chan ’06, Wilson Yu ’07, Jennifer Chang ’07; second row, Nathan Chuang ’06, Ben Grinberg ’07, Vanessa Kwong ’06, Steven Chiu ’07, Eugene Young ’06, Wendy Lin ’06, Daniel Kim ’07; back row, Pongsak Pattamasaevi ’07, Justin Hsieh ’06, John Chiu ’06, Gordon Atkins ’07, H.K. Seo ’07; not pictured, Marina Tokoro ’07, Khoa Do Ba ’07, Zernyu Chou ’06, Josh Kim ’06. Jim Mooney

gressed through the next round but Yu/Young faltered in the semifinals, winning third place in the runoff.

Magazine Earns Gold Medal

The Council for the Advancement and Support of Education awarded Taft Bulletin a gold medal in its annual Circle of Excellence awards. The jury was unanimous in selecting the Bulletin in the Independent School Magazine category, calling it “a magazine that serves as a model program for all institutions of higher learning.” The Bulletin was one of 35 publications competing in the category.

Meanwhile, Daniel’s technique of going airborne at the peak and blocking the path of the slower competitors on their side of the ramp “had the audience ooohing and ahhhing,” Mooney said, “but the reckless hurling of his car into his competitors caused his flag apparatus to break.” Still, speed could win out if he could keep his competitor from reaching the top. In the finals, all the competitors and judges crowded around the track. The two vehicles raced to the top in nearly equal times. A violent collision left the cars on top of each other. As the judges unraveled the points, they declared a tie; the race had to be run again! “This time, an equally violent collision occurred,” Jim explained, “but Daniel’s competitor was able to crawl slightly on top of his car and get about an inch closer to the top—a tough loss but still, not bad. We all had a great day.” Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


Departing Faculty

The Concertmistress Peter Frew ’75

Andrew Bogardus ’88, history, admissions Kelley Roberts Bogardus, English David Bonner, college counseling Billy Coyle, Business Office Jacqueline Fritzinger, French Marilyn Katz, science fellow Dan Keating, history fellow Bonnie Liu, Chinese fellow Frank Santoro, science Russell Wasden, Japanese

New Faculty Jason BreMiller, English B.A., St. Olaf College Kristen Fairey, history B.A., M.Div., M.A., M.Phil., Yale University Lydia Finley, science fellow B.S., Yale University Robertson Follansbee, science B.A., Williams College Kaitlin Harvie, English fellow B.A., Vassar College Enyi-Abal Koene, French fellow B.A., Williams College Molly MacLean, French M.A., Middlebury College John Magee, English B.A., Dartmouth College; M.A., Middlebury College Seiko Michaels, Japanese B.S., Indiana University Cheryl Setchell, history fellow B.A., Colgate University Andrew Svensk ’94, mathematics B.A., Wesleyan University Gil Thornfeldt, business manager B.A., Fairfield University; M.B.A., Sacred Heart

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Theresa Chang ’08 stood up and signaled to the oboist, knowing that all of the other student musicians in the orchestra looked to her as they tuned their instruments for the Connecticut All-State Music Festival in March. As the concertmistress, Theresa led the first violin section and served as assistant to the conductor. “This is a huge honor given to the violinist with the highest score in the state,” explains instrumental music teacher T.J. Thompson. “This reflects her phenomenal abilities as an artist and musician.” The All-State Orchestra, directed by Anthony Maiello from George Mason University, rehearsed in Stamford for three days culminating with two All-State concerts at the Westin Hotel. Students were selected by two auditions in November and February at which over 3,000 student musicians from the state competed to be part of the festival. Impressed by how good everyone else was, Theresa said the audition itself wasn’t particularly intimidating for her though, since final exams at her former school, a music school in Taiwan, re-

quired students to play in front of the entire faculty and all their classmates. In addition to studying with the Taft Chamber Ensemble, she travels to New York each week for lessons at Juilliard. At 16, she’s played the violin for 10 years and started learning piano at age 4 from her piano teacher mother. Her mom was in the audience that day, along with sisters Mischelle and Jennifer ’07 who came up from New York, and her father made the trip from Taiwan. In the brightly lit ballroom without a stage, the orchestra launched into its first piece, Celebration Fanfare by Reineke. They followed with Bernstein’s Candide Overture, and closed with Theresa’s favorite, Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 4. “You could see everybody’s faces in the audience,” said Theresa, “and there were lots of cameras!” With talent like hers, there’s no doubt there will be plenty more cameras in her future. Theresa recently learned that she was also accepted into the National Festival Orchestra, which will perform at Carnegie Hall next year—where cameras are not allowed.

Math Olympiad The Math Team receives little exposure on campus. Students who excel are not lauded in victory feasts at the end of the season, nor do they gain much attention from their peers. “Who’s on it?” one student asked when the subject came up. Despite the devotion of competitors in the New England Math League (NEML), math, it must be admitted, isn’t really cool. Roughly 180 schools throughout New England compete as teams and individuals each month in NEML to determine that ultimate question: who is best at math? The Math Team, headed by Ted Heavenrich, gathers once a month in Laube Auditorium to spend 30 minutes working on a test of six problems. The scores of the best five tests are then grouped and submitted as a team score. But this spring the team got noticed, particularly when middler Khoa Do Ba qualified for the national Math Olympiad, scoring very well on two earlier rounds of testing in February. About 400,000 students took the American Mathematics Competition exam, and 12,000 did well enough to be invited to take the second round—the American

Invitational Mathematics Exam (AIME). Based on their performance on those exams, 255 high-school students were invited to compete in the U.S. Math Olympiad. This exam is used to select eight students who will represent the United States at the International Math Olympiad (IMO) in Mexico later this summer. Khoa, who is a Vietnamese citizen, would not be able to represent the U.S. The test at the U.S. Math Olympiad stretches for nine hours over two days, and the problems contain extremely complex proofs. One question from 2003 asks the taker to “Prove that for every positive integer n there exists an n-digit number divisible by 5^n all of whose digits are odd.” Khoa, however, does not seem intimidated. “The first time you look at a problem you think ‘This is insane,’” says Khoa. “You use your instinct to find a way to solve your problem.” But regardless of how Khoa performs, one thing is sure. Math still isn’t cool, but it’s on its way. —Skye Priestley ’06, Taft Papyrus

Students in Helena Fifer’s advanced acting class staged an outdoor performance of the traditional English comedy Smash. Crowds of people showed up armed with folding chairs, blankets, and Chinese takeout, the Taft Papyrus reported, to spend a pleasant evening watching a superb cast at its best. Seniors Madeleine Dubus, Don Molosi, Spenta Kutar, Will Karnasiewicz, and Monica Raymunt, upper mids Michael Davis, Helena Smith, Matt Nelsen, and Kiel Stroupe, and middler Ben Grinberg comprised the cast.

Peter Frew ’75

A Smash Hit

Come Read With Us!

This summer’s all-school reading selection is Never Cry Wolf by naturalist Farley Mowat. The book describes Mowat’s assignment 50 years ago by the Canadian Wildlife Service to investigate why wolves were killing arctic caribou. His account of the summer he lived in the frozen tundra alone, studying the wolf population and developing a deep affection for the wolves and for a friendly Inuit tribe known as the Ihalmiut, has become cherished by generations of readers, an indelible record of the myths and magic of wild wolves. Faculty will discuss the novel in classes this fall, and the entire community will revisit the key theme of our human relationship, interaction, and participation in the natural world.


Outwit, Outplay, Outlead

Upper-Mid Awards Samuel P.C. Dangremond ’05

The Michaels Jewelers Citizenship Award Michelle Nina Kulikauskas Laura Ruth McLaughlin The David Edward Goldberg Memorial Award Hillary Nelrose Simpson John McInerney Morris The John T. Reardon Prize in United States History Diana Paterson Sands The University of Rochester Award in the Humanities and Social Sciences Michael Ramsey Davis The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Medal Derek Chun Ho Chan The Bausch and Lomb Honorary Science Award Laura Ruth McLaughlin Brittany Leigh Stormer

The reason no one ever voted Ethan Zohn off Survivor: Africa, he jokes, is that after weeks of near-starvation and letting his hair and beard grow, he began to look like Moses. Zohn spoke at Morning Meeting in April and discussed how his Jewish values helped him win the reality-TV challenge and how his civic values guided his decisions afterward. Zohn, who says he applied for Survivor as a joke, sees himself as a leader, though one who leads by example rather than one who orders others around. As a member of a soccer team or a contestant on Survivor, he always tried to be the first one up, the last one to bed, the hardest worker, to make himself indispensable to others. The only Survivor contestant never to receive a single vote against him, Zohn says he was stripped of everything he knew about himself during the 39-day contest in Africa, and was faced with the bare essentials of who he was. “When you’re tired and hungry, your true colors come into focus,” he said. For him that meant all the things he learned growing up with his family, Hebrew school, and the Jewish community in Lexington, Massachusetts. 16 Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

A professional soccer player in Zimbabwe after graduating from Vassar College, he saw the ravaging effect that HIV/AIDS was having in African communities. A visit to a local hospital during the show reinforced for Zohn the tragedy that has befallen that continent. Having seen firsthand what powerful celebrities soccer players in Africa are, he used his prize money and his celebrity status to start Grass Root Soccer (, an organization that works with professional soccer players in Africa to educate young people about AIDS and HIV. “You think you know what you’d like to do with a million dollars,” says Zohn, “but it’s harder than you realize. I discovered that I wanted to be the person who used a million dollars to make a difference. That’s the real challenge—to make a difference for yourself by making a difference for someone else.” Zohn’s visit was sponsored by the Paduano Series on Philosophy and Ethics and the Curriculum Initiative, a national nonprofit educational institution that supports Jewish student life within the diverse culture of independent schools.

The Hamilton College Prize Michael Ramsey Davis The Brown University Award Sophie Annabelle Lloyd Quinton The Smith Book Award Hillary Nelrose Simpson The Holy Cross College Book Award William P. Lane The Dartmouth Book Prize David Michael Shrubb The Harvard Book Prize Laura Ruth McLaughlin

Top 10 College Choices for the Class of ’05 Georgetown......................................9 Boston College . ...............................6 Middlebury.......................................6 Trinity...............................................6 Brown...............................................5 Davidson...........................................5 Bates.................................................4 Columbia..........................................4 Denison............................................4 Harvard . ..........................................4






Spring Season Wrap-Up by Steve Palmer Nobles, Brooks, and Groton to become Taft’s first gold medalist boat. At least one girls’ boat has medaled for the past three years at the New Englands, and overall the team finished 7th in a field of 30 crews this year. Lauren was a Founders League award winner, as was Nancy Townsend ’05 who coxed the first boat for three years. Hana Nagao ’05 (cox), Catherine Bourque ’05 (cox) Jess Giannetto ’05 were critical in the success of the team all year.

m The girls’ second boat won the New England Interscholastic Rowing Association gold medal at Lake Quinsigamond. From left (bow to stern), Kaitlin Hardy ’06, Shannon Sisk ’06, Sarah Ewing ’06, and stroke Jenny Glazer ’08. Tucked into the bow-coxed boat is coxswain Hana Nagao ’05, who raced from the Commencement ceremonies to Worcester in time for the regatta. Sport Graphics, Inc.

Girls’ Crew With ten novice rowers, this was a young team, but with great senior leadership they improved steadily all year and won the Alumnae Cup, versus Gunner and Berkshire, for the third year in a row. The first boat, led

by captain Meaghan Martin ’05, with Alex Lauren ’06, Sarah Fierberg ’06, and Kirsten Scheu ’06, finished with a 4–3 season record, including an exciting win by .3 second against Deerfield. In spectacular fashion, the second boat won the Grand Final at the New England Championships, outdistancing

Boys’ Crew The weather made for a difficult season, with plenty of rain and wind on Bantam Lake, but the boys’ team rowed particularly well at the DuPont Cup and Smith Cup toward the end of the season, defeating boats from Old Lyme, Pomfret, St. Mark’s, Nobles, and Berkshire. At the Founders League regatta, all four Taft boats qualified for the finals, though the Grand Finals were canceled due to high winds. The first boat of Pat Coleman ’05, Merrill Matthews ’05, Red Sammons ’06, Charlie Staub ’05, and Ian Donahue ’05 (cox) rowed well all season, with Coleman and Matthews being named All-Founders League rowers. Joel Yu ’05 and Reed Coston ’06 powered the second boat. Taft Bulletin Summer 2005






m The inaugural girls’ golf team.


Roger Kirkpatrick ’06

Girls’ Golf 0–8 This was the first official season for the girls’ team, though Taft has fielded very talented female golfers in the past years. This year’s team played in eight matches and in the 20th Independent School Championship at The Country Club in Brookline, Massachusetts. Sammy Glazer ’06 shot an impressive 47 to end in a three-way tie as the medalist, losing to the eventual champion on the second playoff hole. Mary Walsh ’06 (11th place), Chrissy Anderson ’06 (20th) and Tanya Dhamija ’08 (12th) also represented Taft at the nine-hole tournament that included 64 golfers. Holly Walker ’07 played solidly all season in the top three for the team. Boys’ Golf 13–5 This solid team had an up-and-down season, with two great wins over a talented Brunswick team, an 11th place finish at the KIT and a fourth place at the Founders League Championship. Missing co-captain Ben Andrysick ’05 because of a shoulder injury was a huge loss, said Coach Jack Kenerson ’82. The season low score of 400 made for a con18 Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

vincing win over Berkshire, Suffield, and Kent in a quad match in the middle of the season where Taft’s four top players shot under 80: Reid Longley ’06 77, Andrew Foote ’05 77, Will Ireland ’05 78, Alex Bermingham ’08 79. Longley played solidly at #1 all season and tied for 2nd in the league championship, and was often followed by captain Foote and fellow senior Ireland. Gus Thompson ’07, Cole Ciaburri ’06, Alex Kremer ’06, and Bermingham round out a strong crew of young returners. Softball 1–10 The softball team struggled to come up with wins throughout this season of close games, including an exciting 3–6 loss to rival Hotchkiss that went down to the final out with the bases loaded in the last inning. The key win was an easy one, 22–4 over Canterbury, and senior Abbey Cecchinato led Taft in nearly every meaningful category, having pitched every inning for the entire season. Also Taft’s leading hitter, she graduates with four varsity letters and many leading statistics. Allyson Carr ’06 was also solid at the plate and played well at shortstop all season.

Baseball 11–7 Taft finished 7–1 and tied with Loomis in first place in the Founders League, with the Pelicans taking the title on the basis of a head-to-head win. Their Colonial League record was 7–4. The key victories on the season came over Choate (8–5), Avon (4–1) and Deerfield (9–8 extra innings). The team loses nine seniors but returns nine steady players, including starters Hunter Serenbetz ’06, Steve Blomberg ’06, and Tommy Piacenza ’06. Seniors Chris Baudinet, Jon McDonald, Ryan Cleary, Jeff Beck, Seth Lentz, and Freddy Gonzalez will be sorely missed. Steve Trask ’05 led the team in batting (.438 avg.), co-captain Colin Fenn ’05 was 3–2 on the mound, and Pat Wilson ’05 provided the power (15 RBI, 3 HR). Trask and Piacenza were named to the All-League Team, a designation voted on by all the league coaches. Girls’ Lacrosse 12–1 Co-Founders League Champions This was one of the great lacrosse teams ever for Taft, with talented young players and great senior leadership. After an early loss to Loomis, the girls powered past traditional rivals Deerfield . Senior Jeff Beck hits a single in a 5–1 victory over Kent. Roger Kirkpatrick ’06


(19–6), Greenwich Academy (13–10) and Andover (16–9). The penultimate game against Hotchkiss was the peak of the season, as both teams were tied with Loomis atop the league standings with one loss. Jill Fraker ’05 made several incredible saves in goal, eleven total, and Sarah Dalton ’05 (4 goals), Blair Weymouth ’05 (3 goals) and Lexi Comstock ’06 (3 goals) provided the offensive punch. Brynne McNulty ’06 and Mackenzie Snyder ’05 played great defense, and the 12–10 win put Taft in a tie for the league and WWNEPSLA titles. Returners Liz Neslen ’06, Comstock, and Heidi Woodworth ’07 will lead the offense next year, while Hope Krause ’06, Jackie Snikeris ’07, and Lee McKenna ’06 will anchor the defense. Weymouth (37 goals) and Molly Davidson ’05 (35 goals) led the team in scoring. Boys’ Lacrosse 6–8 This was a solid defensive team that struggled to score at key moments. Brendan Milnamow ’05 was the core of the hardworking defenders, while Shane Farrell ’05 was a force in the middle of the field all spring. The Rhinos got convincing wins over NMH and Kent, and finished the season with a solid 12–5 win over T-P. Perhaps the best game of the season was the 7–8 overtime loss to Hotchkiss, where Jamie Wheeler ’05 scored four goals as Taft led for most of the game. Seniors Jack Christian (attack) and Robbie Bryan (goal) were also key players all season. Girls’ Tennis 6–5 There were many close matches in this season, including key wins over Miss Porters (4–3), Choate, and Westminster (5–2). Annie McGillicudy ’06 played strongly at #1 all season, as did Lindsay Littlejohn ’05 in the #2 spot—a strong 1–2 punch. Serena Wolff ’05 and Sara Rubin ’06 rounded out the third and

fourth singles, while Avery Clark ’05 and Diana Sands ’06 were the top doubles team. Boys’ Tennis 10–6 Southern New England Tennis League Champions The league had great balance, which explains why seven of Taft’s matches ended in a 4–3 score, including a 3–4 loss to eventual New England champion Milton Academy. Will Minter ’06 again had a great season in the #1 singles spot, followed by Will Karnasiewicz ’05 at number two and Dominik Hetzler ’06 at three. The team’s best play came in the Southern New England Tennis League Tournament, where Taft prevailed over Hotchkiss, Westminster, Salisbury, Kent, Loomis, Berkshire, and Kingswood to take the title. Karnasiewicz, Hetzler, and Oat Naviroj ’07 won at the 2nd, 3rd, and 6th singles spots, and Minter and Watson Bailly ’06 made it to the finals in the 1st and 5th draws. Pete Wyman ’05 played well all season in the 4th singles spot and with fellow senior John Heckel in doubles. Girls’ Track 7–2 Founders League Champions This was an exceptionally talented girls’ track team made obvious by their record setting 50 pt. win at the League meet. The girls’ team has now won three of the past four Founders League titles. The team of Tamara Sinclair ’05, Ashley Wiater ’06, Tracy Dishongh ’05, and Taylor Bodnar ’06 set a new school record in the 4x100 meter relay (50.9), while Dishongh also set records in the long jump (17’8.5”) and triple jump (35’9”), to go along with her own record in the high jump (5’4”). At the Class A New England Championship meet, the team repeated their third place finish from a year ago behind Exeter and Andover. Seniors Sha-Kayla





Crockett, Tania Giannone, and Kristine Specht will be missed, but the team returns highly talented juniors in Casey Bartlett, Shayna Bryan, Liz Carlos, Natalie Lescroart, Wiater, and Bodnar. Boys’ Track 6–5 The boys’ team was not deep but had solid talent in nearly every area, making for four close meets that were decided in the final events. Highlights of the season included convincing wins over Choate and over Berkshire for the Russell Jones Memorial track trophy. Senior captains Aditya Ahuja (pole vault, hurdles) and Jon Carlos (200m, 400m) led the team all year, while some talented underclassmen scored big points: Ryan Rostenkowski ’08 as the top sprinter; Gordon Atkins ’07 in distances; Toren Kutnick ’06, David Greco ’06, Chad Thomas ’06, and Afolabi Saliu ’07 in the jumps; and Mike McCabe ’07 led the weightmen by winning the individual Founders League titles in the shot put (49’1”) and discus (132’). Phil Thompson ’06 tied the school record in the high jump (6’2”) and placed 2nd at the New England meet. . Blair Weymouth ’05 scored three goals in the girls’ 12–10 victory over Hotchkiss to end a five-year winless streak against the Bearcats. Peter Frew ’75

Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


A nnual F und N e w s

fund annual

Annual Fund Report

I am pleased to announce that the 2004–05 Taft Annual Fund has raised a record $2,895,727 in gifts and pledges. I am deeply grateful to all alumni/ae, current parents, former parents, grandparents, and friends of Taft for their generosity and loyalty. I’m happy to report that the alumni raised almost $1.5 million from 38 percent of the total alumni body. Thank you to all the class agents who worked so hard this year to raise these funds. Special thanks and congratulations go to Class Agent Tom Goodale and the 50th Reunion Class of ’55 for raising $154,629 for the Annual Fund from 84 percent of the class. I would also like to recognize a few class agents for the extra effort that they have put forth this year. Jeff Potter, Rob Peterson, and Corey Griffin led the Class of ’80 to raise $37,755, with 61 percent participation, for the Annual Fund for their 25th Reunion. This more than tripled their usual level of annual giving. The Class of ’74 receives the McCabe Award for the largest amount contributed by a nonreunion class. Thanks to Brian Lincoln for helping to raise $66,664 from the class for the Annual Fund. 20 Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

I would like to announce a changing of the guard at the Alumni and Development Office. Annual Fund Director Jessica Travelstead ’88 has decided to spend more time with her family, having given birth to her second daughter on May 8. She has passed the baton on to Kelsey Pascoe P’07, who has worked on the Annual Fund for the past five years and comes to the position knowing many of you already. We are all so grateful for the energy of the volunteers and for the generosity and dedication of the extended Taft family. I’m proud to be a part of a school supported by such terrific alumni, parents, and friends. I wish you all a happy and safe summer. Sincerely,

David F. Kirkpatrick ’89

. Tom Goodale, center, Nick Ciriello, and Gino Kelly present a check to the Annual Fund on Alumni Weekend.

2005 Class Agent Awards* Snyder Award—Largest amount contributed to the Annual Fund by a reunion class Class of 1955: $154,629 Class Agent: Tom Goodale Chairman of the Board Award— Highest percent participation from a class 50 years out or less Class of 1955: 84% Class Agent: Tom Goodale McCabe Award—Largest amount contributed by a non-reunion class Class of 1974: $66,664 Class Agent: Brian Lincoln

A nnual F und N e w s

Parents’ Fund Raises $1.08 Million 93 Percent of Parents Participate Parents’ Fund Chairs Cindy and Larry Bloch are delighted to announce that the 2005 fund met and exceeded its million dollar goal. “This success is due in great part to the Bloch’s leadership,” said Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78, “along with the untiring dedication of the committee and the hundreds of loyal parents who support Taft and its mission to educate their children.” Raising $1,084,587 from 93 percent of the current parent body made this year’s Fund one of major significance for Taft and for parent giving nationwide. For the sixth time in the past seven years, over one million dollars has been raised by current parents for the

Annual Fund. Just as notable is the 90plus percent parent participation for the 13th consecutive year. “A parent body that supports a school so unanimously,” said MacMullen, “speaks to the strong belief that academics must remain strong, athletics competitive, and the arts flourishing.” The Blochs, parents of Reisa ’05 and Matt ’05, have handed the reins over to Kate and Hans Morris, current members of the Parents’ Committee and parents of Mac ’06.

c New Parents’ Fund Chairs Kate and Hans Morris with Mac ‘06 and Lucy

Class of 1920 Award—Greatest increase in dollars from a non-reunion class Class of 1973: $14,100 Class Agent: Ted Judson The Romano Award—Greatest increase in percentage support from a non-reunion class less than 50 years out Class of 1973: 34% from 26% Class Agent: Ted Judson Young Alumni Dollars Award— Largest amount contributed from a class 10 years out or less Class of 1995: $18,984 Class Agents: Dan Oneglia, Tony Pasquariello Young Alumni Participation Award— Highest participation from a class 10 years out or less Class of 2004: 67% Class Agent: Camden Bucsko The Spencer Award—Greatest number of gifts from previous non-donors Class of 1980: 28 Class Agents: Jeff Potter, Rob Peterson, Corey Griffin *Awards determined by funds raised as of June 30, 2005

2004–05 Parents’ Committee Cindy & Larry Bloch, Chairs Rosanne & Steve Anderson Sandi & Glenn Bromagen Vivian & Richard Castellano Len Chazen & Linda Rappaport Howard & Barbara Cherry Gail & Dan Ciaburri Peg & John Claghorn Pamela & Michael Clark Donna & Chris Cleary Kate & Dan Coit Christine Baranski Cowles & Matthew Cowles Mary & David Dangremond Susie & Chip Delaporte Nano & Les Fabuss Bill & Nancy Fertig Pippa & Bob Gerard Deb & Vin Giannetto David Hillman Robin Houston Donna & Jerry Iacoviello

Leslie & Herb Ide Lisa Ireland Pam & Michael Jackson Linda & Bill Jacobs Sally & Michael Karnasiewicz Meg & Stuart Kirkpatrick Ginny & David Knott Val & John Kratky Meg & Charlie Krause Laura & Dale Kutnick Karen & T.J. Letarte Leslie & Angus Littlejohn Carol & John Lyden Bridget & John Macaskill Mary & Joe Mastrocola K.T. & Alan McFarland Linda & Clem McGillicuddy Lynn & Michael McKenna Clare & Howard McMorris II Patrick & Patricia McVeigh Michael Minter & Emmie Hill Marlene Moore Kate & Hans Morris Kathleen & Peter Murphy Kenny & Gordon Nelson

Tammy & Charlie Pompea Adam & Mandy Quinton Nancy Rauscher Andrea Reid Lindsay & Art Reimers Sera & Tom Reycraft Ann & James Rickards Carol & Bill Sammons Lindsay & Edgar Scott Suzanne & Peter Sealy Jean & Stuart Serenbetz Debbie & Michael Shepherd Judy & Bob Slater John A. Slowik Charlotte & Richard Smith Maria & Glenn Taylor Anne K. Thompson Doug & Teri Thompson Peggy & Joe Toce Natica & Victor von Althann Sandra & Rick Webel Ann & Jack M. Weiss Ellen & Chris White Peter Wyman

Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


heard but not seen A Wordsmith for the President

By Tom Frank ’80

22 Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

Thiessen, third from left, traveled with Secretary Rumsfeld, right, to 48 countries, flying 250,000 miles. He had carte blanche to sit in on any staff meeting and take notes that would become the basis for speeches. David Hume Kennerly/Getty Images

Speechwriters are supposed to be anonymous, says Thiessen. “We listen to the president’s words, the president’s ideas, and help him get his message through in effective ways.”


hortly after Marc Thiessen ’85 became deputy speechwriter for President George W. Bush, he flipped on a television and happened to catch The West Wing. Though he seldom watches the show, Thiessen became engrossed in the episode because his TV counterpart was working on a speech to be delivered to the same real-life group that Bush had just addressed using Thiessen’s words. But any hope Thiessen may have had for true-to-life drama ended when the TV speechwriter began hectoring a powerful senator for blocking President Josiah Bartlett’s agenda. “They try to be accurate to some extent,” Thiessen says. But, he adds, “Speechwriting is a lot more spending long hours in front of a computer screen than it is arguing with Senate committee chairmen in the Roosevelt Room.” For more than a year, Thiessen has pounded away at a keyboard in a basement office (“ground floor,” he jokes) crafting everything from major presidential policy addresses to news conference opening remarks to graduation speeches. In May, he flew on Air Force One with Bush on his trip to Europe, making final tweaks and last-minute additions to speeches the president delivered in Moscow, Latvia, and Freedom Square in Tbilisi, Georgia. “Enormous attention is paid to every word because it’s the president of the United States saying it,” Thiessen says. “It’s got to be perfect.” The job is equal parts enthralling and humbling. Thiessen, 38, writes for the most powerful person in the world, but doesn’t have a secretary and answers his own phone. His words can shape domestic policy and international relations, but he works in a building a parking lot away from the White House and is tucked away in an anonymous corridor devoid of any ceremonial splendor much less decor. Thiessen’s office is spacious but Spartan: a conference table dominates the floor; the walls feature photos of his wife Pam (a top aide to Republican Sen. John Ensign of Nevada) and their children Max, 4, and Jack, 2; on his desk sits sonogram images of their twin girls, due in October. By 9:30 a.m., his tie is loosened. During a 90-minute interview one recent sweltering summer morning, the only interruption was a maintenance supervisor who came in twice to talk about interior repairs. Anonymous is Thiessen’s preferred operating mode. He is friendly, enthusiastic—and utterly unwilling to disclose Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


b Marc with son Max . Pam with son Jack

details that may reflect his own glory and divert attention from its proper target, the president. Does he have a favorite Bush speech? “I’ve got some favorites. But I wouldn’t tell you what they are.” “Speechwriters are like the opposite of children: We should be heard but not seen. We’re supposed to be anonymous. We listen to the president’s words, the president’s ideas, and help him get his message through in effective ways,” Thiessen says. “A speechwriter’s job is not to take credit for the speeches,” he adds. “That doesn’t serve the president, because as good as the speech may be and as much as you might have contributed to it, it’s his ideas and his agenda.” Speeches are such collaborations with other speechwriters that “it’s not fair to say, I did it. There’s a lot of people who are working on it.” Yet writing for the president does stoke anxiety, even though speeches go through writing and clearance that take up to 40 hours before they reach Bush’s desk. “In the end, when it goes up, it’s got your name on it, you’re responsible,” Thiessen says. “If the president likes it, that’s good. And if the president doesn’t like it, your name and your phone number are at the bottom.” The process works like this: White House Communications Director Dan Bartlett assigns a speech. Chief speechwriter Bill McGurn or Thiessen assigns it to a writer or takes it on himself. The speechwriting office’s research team gathers background and anecdotes. The writer may spend hours talking to academics and White House policy advisers to master the subject and grasp the presidential agenda. A first draft is produced. The first draft is demolished. A three-person team that includes Thiessen or McGurn or both sits shoulder-to24 Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

c Sitting on Saddam Hussein’s throne a few weeks after the fall of Baghdad.

shoulder at a computer reading the speech aloud, tossing around words and phrases, perfecting applause lines and honing the speech to fit Bush’s style. The second draft goes to Bartlett. He returns it with comments. A third draft is produced. The third draft is demolished as it is circulated to White House specialists who add their comments. The fourth draft is produced and sent to Bush. Heart palpitations commence. “This is the busiest man in the world. It’s the most important job in the world, and the most high-stress job in the world, and he doesn’t want to worry about his speeches,” Thiessen says. “So when the speech comes to him, you want it to reflect his agenda, advance the ball for him, say something new that will advance his agenda, not just rearticulate it, and not have him worry about spending a lot of time on it.” McGurn calls Thiessen “my right-hand man and go-to guy. I turn to him several times a day for whatever I need, whether it’s a graceful turn of phrase or a judgment call about a delicate issue. And he never disappoints.” Thiessen says he relishes helping “one of the most consequential presidencies of my lifetime.” Thiessen’s arrival in April 2004 in the left cerebrum of a conservative Republican administration is an unlikely destination for a native of Manhattan’s Upper East Side who first tasted politics when he handed out campaign buttons for Mario Cuomo’s 1977 race for the Democratic mayoral nomination (Cuomo lost to Ed Koch and was elected New York governor in 1982). Thiessen’s parents, both doctors, were “left-of-center liberal Democrat types”; his mother was a Poland native who fought as a teenager in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, the tragic 63-day struggle to liberate Warsaw from Nazi occupation.





were “left-of-center liberal Democrat types”; his mother was a Poland native who fought as a teenager in the Warsaw Uprising of 1944, the tragic 63-day struggle to liberate Warsaw from




grandfather died in the battle. “I wanted to dedicate my life somehow to





people live in freedom,” Thiessen says. Thiessen’s grandfather died in the battle. “I wanted to dedicate my life somehow to fighting tyranny and helping people live in freedom,” Thiessen says. Arriving at Taft in 10th grade, Thiessen developed a love for writing. Barclay Johnson’s “Experiments in Writing” class was particularly influential. He took an “out program” his senior year covering local news for the Waterbury Republican-American. Thiessen’s politics took an abrupt shift at Vassar College when he was “purged” from the Student Coalition Against Apartheid and Racism, which pushed the college to divest its endowment of investments in companies that operated in white-ruled South Africa. Thiessen had wanted the group to condemn “necklacing,” a custom wherein some African National Congress members would murder people they considered treasonous by draping a gasolinefilled tire around someone’s head and setting it on fire. “There were no takers,” Thiessen says. “I was told later I was no longer welcome to come.” Thiessen began writing for the Vassar Spectator, a conservative opinion journal, and became embroiled in a controversy his junior year over a satire that led the college to cut off the Spectator’s funding. It was a propitious event for Thiessen, by then the editor. He tapped into a national network that was supporting conservative college papers, raised $10,000 to keep publishing with the help of National Review publisher William Buckley, and made connections that set him on a trajectory to the White House. Graduating from Vassar in 1989, Thiessen jumped into the nerve center of conservative Washington as a researcher at the powerhouse political consulting firm Black, Manafort, Stone and Kelly. A principal Lee Atwater had just become chairman of the Republican National Committee. Charles Black, a veteran Republican adviser, became Thiessen’s first mentor. Five years later, another mentor, former Republican

congressman Vin Weber, helped Thiessen get hired as spokesman for Michael Huffington’s race in 1994 to unseat Sen. Dianne Feinstein, the California Democrat. Huffington lost narrowly, but Republicans won control of Congress, and Jesse Helms, the North Carolina Republican, rose to chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. Black, a longtime Helms adviser, recommended Thiessen to be Helms’ spokesman on committee matters. Thiessen was quoted in thousands of news stories from 1995 until a few months after Bush took office in 2001 when he got a call from an old adviser to Donald Rumsfeld, the new defense secretary. After a brief interview with Rumsfeld, Thiessen became his chief speechwriter and developed a uniquely close relationship to one of the most influential Bush cabinet secretaries. Thiessen traveled with Rumsfeld to 48 countries, flying 250,000 miles. He had carte blanche to sit in on any staff meeting and take notes that would become the basis for speeches. “The most important thing to being successful in writing is having access to your principal,” Thiessen says. “Your job as a speechwriter is to write the speech they would have written if they had 20 hours, and the only way you can do that is by knowing what they’re thinking.” Thiessen loved the job, so he had mixed emotions when he got a call one day in the spring of 2004 from Bush speechwriter Mark Gersten, who was gearing up for the presidential campaign. Going to the White House was “a no-brainer of a decision, but still a hard decision,” Thiessen says. “If you’re going to be a speechwriter, this is it. Being speechwriter for the president of the United States—there’s nothing like it.” Tom Frank ’80 covers national security issues for USA Today. He previously covered the 2004 presidential campaign for Newsday. Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


m At the end of the week, Helena Smith ’06 poses with one of the kids from the orphanage she has grown close to.

c Chad Thomas ’06 hangs out with an orphan after a spirited basketball game.

A Week’s Difference Nine students and two Spanish teachers spent most of their spring break helping at an orphanage in the Dominican Republic. By Roberto d’Erizans

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has!” —Margaret Mead


y colleague and I drink Kool-Aid while we talk to two Orphanage Outreach missionaries. They have devoted their lives to working with orphans in the Dominican Republic. Part of their service is to help groups like ours—who are hoping to make our spring break into something for more than just ourselves—have a meaningful experience. As we talk, we can see Taft students playing and chatting with the 16 kids of varied ages who call the orphanage home. This in itself is amazing, given the shortness of our stay, the differences in the orphans’ backgrounds from our own, and the unconditional love they have shown us—a love that is as contagious as the community service that hundreds of volunteers have given to this orphanage over the years. In one short week, our students tested the theory that “a small group of thoughtful and committed citizens can change the world.” While many of their peers headed to Italy, Florida, or a sunny beach in the Caribbean (something we were sure to enjoy ourselves!), nine Taft students, fellow Spanish teacher c Local Haitian boys and girls sell bananas and other goods at a border town, located next to the Massacre River, between the Dominican Republic and Haiti. Haitians are allowed to cross the border several times a week in order to purchase needed materials from the Dominicans, since much of their subsistence is dependent upon the limited food and aid provided by United Nations peacekeepers.

. At the culmination of a long week of hard and productive volunteer work, the group was able to enjoy two trips to the beautiful beach of Monte Cristi.

While the daily schedule was full of work projects, teaching, and activities with the kids, Taft students found time to spend with each other to reflect on the service they were providing. “The group we came with was phenomenal. Although the group was random and relatively unfamiliar, something clicked and we acted like we had known each other for years. The humor we originated was unlike anything else,” said lower-middler Kelsey White. Orphanage Outreach works with two orphanages and their surrounding communities in the Dominican Republic. The organization provides trips to volunteers who perform a variety of work projects, ranging from building to teaching. What makes

Kevin Conroy, and I traveled to the Dominican Republic city of Monte Cristi to work on a series of community service projects. The students ventured with no real expectations, but left with a lifechanging experience. “In seven quick days, the bonding that I have seen among the nine Taft volunteers has been impressive and powerful,” said Conroy. “This was a random group, but they soon became tight. They have volunteered, taught, learned, loved, shared, given, sacrificed, and cried.” Hope of a Child Orphanage was the physical and emotional center of our journey. We spent the week bonding with kids at the orphanage, teaching English at a local school, helping to improve one of the campus’s activity buildings, and preparing the ground for a weeklong English immersion camp for the entire community. While this work promised to be draining, having fun and experiencing Dominican culture was also a top priority. We were able to practice our Spanish through the generous contact we enjoyed with the orphanage’s children. “It’s truly amazing to me that a group of nine unfamiliar students can travel to a foreign country and become inseparable from each other and from the strangers they meet along the way,” said Helena Smith ’06.

Orphanage Outreach stand out is the close contact a group enjoys with the kids who live at the organization’s homes. Our host orphanage was located in Monte Cristi, a poor northern town largely dependent on agriculture and fishing, and home to 16 orphans and the Orphanage Outreach volunteer facilities. “I felt a bit skeptical of the Antarctic showers and open cabañas the first two days of the trip,” said Chad Thomas ’06, also known as Profe Cha. “There was and is no way to describe the joy, love, and the experience of helping out Orphanage Outreach. I have never felt like I was more helpful and important to any group of kids before in my life.” Living conditions at the orphanage resembled those of the surrounding population. Our group lived in cabañas—a roofed

m Neal McCloskey ’07, right, and Spanish teacher Roberto d’Erizans play and get to know a boy who lives at the Monte Cristi Orphanage.

28 Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

room with walls consisting of tarp and fencing, filled with mosquito-net-covered bunk beds. The orphanage grounds were also home to many animals, and the students especially bonded with the goats. The consistently warm weather allows the orphanage to construct almost all buildings free of walls, a distinct and welcomed architectural feature that lets in the cooling wind yet shades the intense sun. In the midst of these challenging conditions, our students worked hard and realized the true value of service, and many of them plan to return to the orphanage next year to spend time with the kids they befriended. Most of our time was spent teaching English, which was highly valued by the community. The Dominican Republic is largely dependent on tourism, and knowing English is a secure way of finding employment. Still, many others could not attend the English school because they could not afford the book the school requires students to have. “The children at the English school impressed us with their determination and willingness to learn,” said Jamie Albert ’08. The students were dedicated and hard working, and the Taft students gained firsthand knowledge of the value and difficulties of teaching. This experience provided a true language and cultural exchange. Our last day in the Dominican Republic was also very special. We traveled to a town located on the border with Haiti that hosts a market open to Haitians, who are unable to find basic staples in their badly impoverished country. Having spent a week working in a town in need of many basic necessities, we were still struck by the hard life of Haitians. Our work took on new meaning as we realized the magnitude of the service needed throughout the world. “It is shocking to get on a plane, travel three hours, and be at a completely different place. It is shocking to know these problems exist. It is shocking that we can’t do more…,” one volunteer said. As our time in the Dominican Republic ended, our leaders took us to a local restaurant in Monte Cristi to eat a full

meal of Dominican food. We then went to a beautiful beach for the afternoon. “Now, at the end of this trip, I find that I have made new friends, learned a new language, and made a difference in kids’ lives. So now, I have a few new words I associate with this program: amazing, breathtaking, fun (and cold showers are awesome!),” said upper-mid Chris Papadopoulos. Taft students left inspired with the knowledge that they can change the world through service. Given the love and power of this experience, everyone pledges to make this trip a yearly reality. “Saying goodbye to these amazing people and friends was so hard,” added Albert. “The hugs that were passed around were meaningful and the tears that fell were sincere. Orphanage Outreach is an incredible program and I would not trade this experience for anything in the world.” Roberto d’Erizans teaches Spanish and is co-coordinator of Community Service at Taft. For more information on the Dominican Republic Orphanage Outreach trip for Spring Break 2006, please contact him at For more information on Orphanage Outreach, visit

“There was and is no way to describe the joy, love, and the experience of helping out Orphanage Outreach,” said Chad Thomas ’06. “I have never

m Eliza Jackson ’06, Kelsey White ’08, Chad Thomas ’06, Phillip Martinez ’06, and Neal McCloskey ’07, and Roberto d’Erizans with their students at Johnny’s English School. The students are a mix of locals from Monte Cristi and a number of students from the Orphanage.

felt like I was more helpful and important to any group of kids before in my life.” Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


Thanks for the Memories c An exuberant procession of alumni makes its way to the McCullough Field House for the Alumni Luncheon.

b Members of the Class of ’04 get their first taste of Alumni Day.


For more than 100 years, alumni have returned to campus on a weekend in May to revisit their alma mater and to renew old friendships with friends and teachers.

Photography by Bob Falcetti and Michael Kodas

t was a little cold, and a little gray at first, but the weather held, and by the time the alumni lacrosse team gathered to compete on Camp Field, it was a glorious spring day. Among the highlights this year was Bruce Fifer’s first Collegium Musicum reunion, held in Walker Hall. Listening to alumni sing and laugh along with their current Collegium counterparts, it made me think that we were recreating some of the spirit of Horace Taft’s first Alumni Day, when he invited his handful of graduates back one Memorial Day weekend shortly after moving his school to Watertown, so that they could challenge the varsity baseball nine. Lacrosse may have replaced baseball (for now), and there are enough alumni that they play each other instead of the varsity, but the joyous sense of returning to a place and an activity you loved, with some of the friends you made along the way, is still the same. Sure we eat and drink and process across the campus, and likely always will, but having fun with old friends is what it’s all about. —Julie Reiff

b The Class of ’33 joins the headmaster and his wife at the Old Guard Dinner on Friday evening.

Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


b 1. 1995 classmates George Cahill, Patrick Kerney, and Courtland Weisleder have a great time at the Alumni Lacrosse game. b 2. Charlie Yonkers ’58 enjoys the games on Saturday afternoon.



b 3. Bryce O’Brien ’90 and Susan Everett at the 15th Reunion party at Steel Lounge in Waterbury b 4. Classmates Ginny Poole and Andy Deeds celebrate their 25th Reunion on Friday at the Watertown Golf Club. b 5. Collegium Musicum alumni hold their first musical reunion. b 6. Getting in a few rounds at the Watertown Golf Club on Friday morning b 7. Roy Demmon ’45, his daughter Nancy ’81, and wife Nina at the Alumni Luncheon


4 5


c 8. The men of 1955 at the Old Guard Dinner on Friday evening (to see the group complete with wives and guests, see page 57). c 9. Bruce Fifer conducts the combined alumni and student Collegium Musicum in Walker Hall on Saturday morning. c 10. Lydia Fenet ’95 and classmate Tyler Tremaine celebrate their 10th Reunion at Drescher’s Restaurant in Waterbury. c 11. Craig Reistad ’80 made the trip from Ulan Bator, Mongolia, for his 25th Reunion.


c 12. The three Kellys: Bob ’80, father Gino ’55, and Jeff ’85 c 13. Head monitor Sean O’Mealia ’05 talked about life at Taft today, as part of a panel discussion in the Choral Room. More than a few alumni did a double take when Sean said his mom made him apply to at least one boarding school, so, not originally wanting to leave home, he picked one of the hardest ones to get in to: Taft.

32 Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

8 9

10 11



Citation of Merit

The Citation of Merit Committee selected John Vogelstein ’52 this year to receive the school’s highest honor. In addition to having served for 20 years on the Taft School Board of Trustees, four of them as chairman, Vogelstein is a trustee of New York University, the Leonard R. Stern School of Business, the Rand Graduate School, the Jewish Museum, and the New York City Ballet. But nowhere is his public service commitment more pronounced than through his stewardship of Prep for Prep, which he also served as chairman of the board. The Citation praises Vogelstein for embracing “balance between personal growth and community outreach, opening doors for others as they were opened for you.” He is vice chairman and president of E.M. Warburg Pincus, the world’s largest investment firm, which he joined in 1967.

“balance between personal growth and community outreach, opening doors for others as they were opened for you.” Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


b The 50th Reunion class proudly marches in the annual parade.


t the Alumni of Color reception on Saturday: Marc Greggs ’00, Demetrius Walker ’00, Anita Johnson ’80, Rosilyn Ford ’80, Felecia Washington Williams ’84, Leslie Turner ’80, Elizabeth Perez Burgos ’80, History teacher Otis Bryant, Janelle Matthews ’00, Venroy July ’00, Ken Pettis ’74, Kendra Pettis ’06, Charmaine Lester ’07, Donald Molosi ’05, Shanika Audige ’08, Mike Negron ’05. Attending but not pictured were Barry Clarke ’08, Mshangwe Crawford ’00, Anita’s mother Joan Johnson, and Dozie Uzoma ’04. Felecia Washington Williams, who serves as the school’s director of multicultural affairs, put together an exhibit for the reception that chronicled the history of African Americans and Hispanics at Taft. Trustee Rosilyn Ford coordinated a

phone call to former faculty adviser Warren Henderson at his home in North Carolina. Visiting with students in the Harley Roberts Reception Room, alumni had the following advice for current students:

I “ had such a good experience that I sent my daughter here. She hears this from me daily, T ‘ here is plenty of time to have a good time, but only after you study.’”

—Ken Pettis ’74

F “ ind people that you consider to be real.”

—Marc Greggs ’00

“Alumni Day has historically not been a day that alumni of color have returned to in number, and this is one of my goals while I’m here.” —Felecia Washington Williams ’84

T “ he communication skills that you learn at Taft will help you through life. Enjoy your time here. It’s’ a starting point.” —Anita Johnson ’80

“Your voice is enriched in numbers, and try to have fun.” —Rosilyn Ford ’80

34 Taft Bulletin Summer 2005



Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


Photography by Bob Falcetti

b (previous page left) Aurelian Award winner Peter Wyman also received the Alvin I. Reiff Biology Prize, the David Kenyon Webster ’40 Prize for Excellence in Writing, as well as the Daniel Higgins Fenton Classics Award.

b (previous page right) Class speaker Sha-Kayla Crockett received the Marion Hole Makepeace Award, a Senior Athletic Award, and the Joseph I Cunningham Award.

c Freddy Gonzalez ’05, center, along with his family and Headmaster MacMullen after the graduation exercises in May

Excerpts from the 115th Commencement remarks

Letters Home

—By current parent Jamie Smythe ’70 I will start by writing that I firmly believe, indeed know, that I cannot tell you what is, or will be, important to you. I can only describe to you what I have learned is important to me. I married Daisy, I became a doctor, I am the son of Polly and Cheves Smythe, and I am the father of Maggie, Sam, and Thomas Smythe. That’s what is important to me, that’s what I have chosen in life, and virtually everything else flows from those simple facts. “That’s it?” I hear you ask. “Nothing more?” and somewhat Ravenesque, I respond “Nothing more.” But, indeed, nothing less. It is my observation that if you can find something as your life’s focus that, first, you do well, second, uses your intellect—in which you, never mind your parents, have invested so much—and, third, serves others, pursue it. I daresay it is very unlikely you will ever regret it. As an educator Mr. Taft knew that, he lived it, and he put it in the motto. My family and eventual career were not my primary objectives or motivations early on, but as time went by, when faced with choices and opportunities, I have chosen 36 Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

“…if you can find something as your life’s focus that, first, you do well, second, uses your intellect…and, third, serves others, pursue it. I daresay it is very unlikely you will ever regret it.”

family, and I have chosen a career/profession/life work—whatever you want to call it—with a heavy flavoring of service to others. And, for me at least, that has made all the difference. In some fundamental way most of us are, and surely I am, the people, the profession, and the institutions that we love, and to which we devote our time and energy. I am a small part of a Taft family tree with the first seed dating back to about 1884 when my great-grandfather Henry Buist, who, like many South Carolinians of his place and station, had been packed off to New England for his education, graduated from Yale with Horace Dutton Taft. That was a long time ago, and it is sobering to realize that it was substantially closer to George Washington’s administration than to George Bush’s. In the fullness of time my father’s brother faced similar choices, and I understand his Grandfather Buist advocated very strongly for Mr. Taft’s school. And so my Uncle Gus came to Watertown and graduated in 1936. My father graduated in 1942, and everyday he smiles down on you, as recipient of the Citation of Merit, from his picture in main hallway, a bit disheveled I might say. My brother Alec graduated in 1969, I in 1970, my brother Julien in 1981, daughter Maggie in 2003, and Sam in 2005. And one of the many things I learned on my first date with Daisy was that, among her uncountable array of attractive qualities, her father, Tom Moore, a man of immense honesty, courage, intelligence, and integrity, graduated one year after my father, in 1943. Her sister Alexandra and my brother Julien were fellow

mids at that very moment, probably in G block or something; her brother Peter, and her sisters Liza and Susan all were, or were to become, Taft graduates. And that doesn’t even count all the cousins (reckoned at about a dozen). So between us all we have spent our terms under Mr. Taft, Mr. Cruikshank, Mr. Esty, Mr. Odden, and Mr. MacMullen. But let me hasten to add that there are many eminently successful Smythes and Moores who have chosen other schools and pathways. My Taft career was less than modest, a brief single year. My family was relocating, and I arrived on CPT a socially challenged, somewhat adrift, 16-year-old, non-PG, non-athlete; a senior, admitted by Mr. Joe Cunningham as a bit of a favor to my father. At the time I considered Taft a necessary stop along the way, but my boarding school experience made a profound impact on me that I cannot fully explain to you, but I can point to the educational paths that my children have chosen as the most concrete manifestations of the depth of that impression. Even though I was only on the periphery here, I could feel the intensity of the experience, the depth of the friendships, the quality and commitment of the faculty, and I have commented more than once that the overall raw intellectual power of my Taft classmates, at least at the top, was unequaled in any of my other educational settings. From my decidedly mixed emotions in May 1970, I have come to love this place and take immense pride in my association. I must share a few small excerpts from my father’s Taft letters. Suffice it to say, much changes, but much remains the Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


same. He describes measles epidemics that force the school into quarantine with athletic events and debates canceled, Class Committee meetings, a monitorship, the Pap, anxieties about his athletic abilities, and enormous pride in finally making his first varsity team spring term of his senior year, frustrations at not being selected for positions that he desired with great intensity and passion, complaints about his father’s neckties, listening to symphonies in Mr. Douglas’s room, and confronting racial issues in ways that seem unimaginable in this day and age. There is a six-page copy of his debate with Deerfield in which he is assigned the position of advocating for immediate declaration of war on Hitler, amazing discussions about the inevitability of the war, which he knows is coming, what that will do to his college plans, his friends’, his brother’s, and his life. He describes the student body having to assume more housekeeping chores as many of the staff left to work in munitions factories, the senior class just after Pearl Harbor volunteering to staff the plane spotting post on the hill behind school, trips to New York, complaints that “the girls in the North aren’t nearly as pretty, Father. At least the ones who come to Taft” (clearly that has changed). And, finally, complaints about the cold, excessive quantity of work, the need for an overdue vacation, feeling that track practice has lightened up so, “I only feel like I have been moderately tortured and not broken over the wheel,” and (this hasn’t changed) losing too many football games. But what stand out are items from one of his first letters and then one of his last. New at the school, but ambitious; he writes: 38 Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

“Father, there are a great many things I would like to talk to you about. What am I going to take next year, what am I going to do for a living, what you think about the foreign and domestic situations, and what I should think about certain things…. I want to make a success at school, that is, I want to make friends.” And he goes on to describe those boys he likes, and those he doesn’t, and asks rhetorically will he be accepted and how will this all sort out. In one of his final Taft letters as a senior he writes of the exceptionally heavy weight of casting a vote “to toss a boy out of school. However I think we judged him honestly.” He concludes with, “I could only see the faults in the system and school last year, but now I think I can understand them as well, and therefore see why they are here and not mind them. This is a great school. I’m glad I came here. —Your affectionate son, Cheves” Well, so am I that he did. And so am I that I did. And, Sam, whom I love more than you will know—unless or until you are so fortunate as to have children of your own—so am I that you did. And so am I that each of you did, Class of 2005— roommates, teammates, classmates, schoolmates and friends. —Your affectionate son, father, brother, nephew, cousin, son-in-law, brother-in-law, classmate, pupil, and fellow Taft graduate, Jamie Smythe ’70

b Senior Matt Davis receives congratulations from his sister Sarabeth. A cum laude student, Matt received the Daniel Higgins Fenton Classics Award, the Harley Robert Scholarship, and the Physics Prize.

Photography by Bob Falcetti

. Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 and guest speaker Jamie Smythe ’70


Backward —By Head Monitor Sean O’Mealia ’05 There is so much to look back on. So much. Some of it is great, some inspiring, some lackluster, some devastating. I look back on Taft and tons of conflicting images come to mind. I think, first, of a scared and shy kid meandering around the campus four years ago, pining to escape and return to the Jersey Shore. A kid petrified by, and not at all looking forward to what lay ahead. I think of the experiences that freshman year that changed my mind: JV football, ultimate Frisbee before study hall, squakey, the thirds hockey team that went 0–11, mudsliding, the nickname “Tex” and life on HDT 4. I think of all the faculty I have come to know and deeply care about here. Whenever I think of my connection with teachers here I think of Mr. Palmer, my dean/adviser/coach/teacher on Halloween, up on stage dressed as Agent Smith from the Matrix and the standing ovation he received for it. I could continue on with example upon example of memories I have with teachers at Taft. I think we all could. I look behind me and there are so many

m Valedictorian Christopher Lacaria receives the Bourne Medal in History from Jack Kenerson ’82; Chris also received the math prize. Highpoint Pictures

of you that I care about. We are, in my opinion, extraordinarily lucky to have a faculty that cares for us as much as this one. I think of the last meeting the school mons had in which they reflected on the entire year. I struggled to put into words the enormous respect I have for them and affection I feel for all of them. I think of the rounds of Frisbee golf. Oh, the Frisbee golf. I think of my friends. I can’t even begin to capture my relationship with them without being cliché, so I won’t try. And these are just the experiences of one of us. I can’t even begin to imagine what Taft means to all of you. I’m positive that the specifics are different than they are for me. I’m also positive that those experiences and images do exist. How do you say thank you to something so intangible, so much larger than I am? What does this place mean to me? There’s one I can answer. It means everything. This place has shaped who I am today. Taft and I are intertwined because it has helped to define me for the past four years. In the same way it has shaped who all of you are too. I’m positive of the fact. Regardless of whether or not you loved every second of your time here, Taft has made you who you are. Today is the day it stops actively shaping you. For that reason alone, I think it is appropriate to take today and look back on all that has happened here. I realize it may be hard, but say thank you to the people you love here. That is what I think this day is for. A day of thanks and celebration not necessarily of the future, but for the time and experiences we have shared together. Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


m Twins Reisa and Matthew Bloch ’05 and their parents Cindy and Larry, who headed the Parents’ Fund this year (see page 21). Reisa received the Berkley F. Matthews ’96 Award and a Senior Athletic Award, and Matthew the Heminway Merriman ’30 Award. Highpoint Pictures

When all is said and done—cross country is over, the Tower a mere memory, the pond no longer nearby, the Bamboo Chronicles an object of the archives, my room packed, Saturdays free, the notion of boarding school a nostalgic one in my mind—I will know that I loved it. My love for Taft may have come earlier than some of yours, but I have faith that, in the end, it will come to us all. I think that at some point in our lives, we will—all 165 of us—look back and sincerely want to say thank you to Taft. There will be some connection made here or some moment of maturity made here you will be thankful for.

The Meaning of the Word

—By class speaker Sha-Kayla Crockett ’05 T-A-F-T, what are your thoughts when you listen to this word? Now is the time to think back on all the thoughts and memories shared with individuals unlike any others you will ever meet. T for timid. Timid meeting your old boy or girl for the 40 Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

Photography by Bob Falcetti

. Head monitor and 1908 Medal winner Sean O’Mealia with his adviser, Steve Palmer

c Minkailu Jalloh ’05 and his family, who dressed so beautifully for the occasion

first time, timid as you were surrounded by a world of new faces and as you introduced yourself to new friends who would last a lifetime. A for allowance. Parents, for allowing your children to leave home. Students, for allowing yourselves to take risks in more ways than one. Teachers for allowing us to share in your intellect and allowing us to share ours. Friends, for breaking down barriers and allowing yourselves to form everlasting bonds. F for future. A future bearing privileges and adversity. Futures including friends and foes. Futures filled with uncertainty. Futures with abundant smiles. Futures overflowing with successes and failures—for without failure success is meaningless. T for timeless. The moments spent in the Jig before class, the hours of preparation before the formal, the late nights in front of your computer screen, all are timeless. Timeless are those hour-and-ten-minute classes back-toback on Thursdays. Timeless are the moments that leave lasting imprints in our minds—moments without which we would be left unfulfilled. Taft is a place that forced us to face our fears and overcome them—the place where we learned to embrace failure instead of shy away from it. The place compiled into a community. Taft is a word that embodies more than simply the name of a school—embodying a history, a reputation, traditions, but most importantly individuals are what make Taft the place that we have come to know and love. And those individuals embody a history, a reputation, traditions, but most

importantly, immense diversity. We stand for the timid, the tolerant, the timeless moments spent here, and in the future, but in the end we stand for ourselves—all 165 of us. In the words of Eleanor Roosevelt, “Remember always that you not only have the right to be an individual, you have an obligation to be one.”

The Recipe

—By class speaker Javier Garcia ’05 When I think of our class I can’t help but think of my mom’s cooking. No matter what my mom prepares, every ingredient is vital to the final product. And the final product is incredibly tasty, trust me. On the outside we have jocks, nerds, artsy people, social people, people who love politics, religious people, diverse people, and the labels go on and on. But on the inside, when you have transcended the line of first impression or stereotype, it becomes clear that ours is a class that defies these labels. We are all of the above, mixed and matched so that our strengths complement each other. As much as I want to say that as a class we are united completely, this is simply not the case. Instead, we are individuals who respect each other. We are individuals who can see the difference in others and still praise them for their

accomplishments. We are each an ingredient with a unique texture, smell, color, and flavor. We are blended together as in any good recipe so that every ingredient though separate and different flourishes in the final product. This class cannot be understood without the recognition of every member’s contribution. We are all dependent on each other to create this final dish. Although this is true for many classes because of Taft’s savvy manner of bringing people together, our class does this especially well. I guess in that sense Taft is our great cook, and we are forever indebted to it. I know I am taking this metaphor a little too far but bear with me. What I mean to say is that a place is nothing. It’s the people in it that make all the difference. More specifically, our friends and teachers have made the difference in our lives here. Our families too, but from a distance. I’d like to take a moment now to praise the faculty, who are the personification of our motto. Who else has dedicated so much of their time and effort to straightening us out? In every sense, their profession is service: service in guiding us and strengthening us, service in preparing us for what is to come. Whether through extra help in a subject you are inept at from a teacher you barely knew or through countless hours of counsel from an adviser, we have each forged relationships with the faculty that are unforgettable. And for this I think it’s fair to say that they will miss us as strongly as we will miss them. Inside and outside of the classroom, they have been our inspiration. They were our chefs, and now we are tasty. Thank you so much. Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


And what then shall we say about our friends? That they were second best? By no means. Here we struggled together, we grew up together, we trusted in the hope that this day would come and together we would rise and call each other blessed beyond words. Here we are, we’ve finally made it to this day. My friends we are blessed beyond words. We have blessed each other in ways we cannot even begin to fathom. In the past few days, I have noticed our class is mostly smiling. Not because we are eager to leave Taft, but because we are ready.

Our Flattened World

—By Headmaster William R. MacMullen ’78 Endings are good, but this is a commencement. And I like beginnings where the proportions are all wrong—where the humble circumstances don’t merit the size of the dreams. One of my favorites we see in an essay given by Massachusetts Bay Governor John Winthrop in 1630. We were not yet a nation, just a group of desperate and brave men and women 42 Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

who wanted to be left alone and were clinging to a sandy shoreline and scratching for the next meal. But Winthrop’s hopes were noble and high. In his essay “A Model of Christian Charity,” he spoke of two broad, timeless hopes: that his people “love one another with a pure heart fervently…. And bear one another’s burdens.” He ended with an image that has endured for centuries: his dream that we would become a “City upon a Hill, [where] the eyes of all people are upon us.” It was a lovely, sturdy metaphor for a people bent on starting a nation. Now, for some time, Taft students and alumni have called this place the Brick City. It is a fine description of this school upon a hill. This class has done what Winthrop asked for: they have loved one another and borne each other’s burdens. Like those colonists, we feel we can be left alone here. As small and confining as this place can be, it is also respite from the chaos and cacophony outside these walls. They have found sanctuary: on a bench in Lincoln Lobby, at the hushed hour in the early evening, walking by the frozen pond on a winter night, crossing an emerald quad with shadows lengthening. Just a tiny city of brick on the hill, and nothing seems more beautiful and peaceful. It is an illusion, of course, and no class in this school’s 115-year history knows this better than this one, for they were lower mids on their first day of class on September 11, 2001, when the dark hour came upon us. To be clear: we did not think about that day every moment here. Nonetheless,

c Cum laude graduate Jessica Lee receives the Wilson-Douglas Mathematics Prize from Al Reiff Jr. ’80; she also won the Japanese Prize and the Chemistry Prize. Highpoint Pictures

this era revealed the true character of this class. To account for its uncommon decency, for its shared respect, for its central kindness, for its emotional resilience, I think of that day and the days that rolled forward like a scroll, their lives traced upon it. Now this was not the first time Taft students heard the rumbling of the world outside the school’s gates. In June of 1918, Horace Taft spoke to the senior class, saying “This war, which fills the minds of all of us, is unquestionably an introduction to a mighty period of change….” In 1939, Headmaster Paul Cruikshank addressed the school as World War II broke out. “[Our modern forms of communication],” he said, “have served to bring these world affairs to you vividly, dramatically, and with lightning speed.” And in 1969, Headmaster John Esty spoke at Commencement, saying, “This year must surely rank as one of the most uncertain and unsettling years in our history as a school.” Their words—of a fragile peace, a shrinking world, of global uncertainty—resonate today. This has never been a city on the hill, even when we wanted it to be. Something did happen to this class, that day and in the four years following. It was very complex and marvelously simple, and whatever you call it, it is with us still and is, finally, this class’s gift to the school. They, like this nation, had their best moments in the days and months afterward. We saw their spirit in so many ways. Many of you will know columnist Thomas Friedman’s latest book The World Is Flat: A Brief History of the 21st Century.

Photography by Bob Falcetti

b Class speaker Javier Garcia gets a hug, with an arm full of awards, including the John S. Noyes French Prize.

m The high spirits of the day were just too much for some of the younger crowd whose attentions were closer to home.

His argument is this: the world has been flattened by technology; and nations and individuals will trade, communicate and compete with each other on a leveled field. This is the world this class is entering. Perhaps this never was a city on a hill, even when it was a small school of one building on the edge of Watertown farmland in the 1890s. And certainly, Governor Winthrop would not recognize this new world. Today neither this nation nor this school can strive to be what he described in 1630. Those days, if they ever were even here, are gone. But something very good and enduring has come from the reality that we will never be a city on a hill. We just need to ask what is needed of all of us in this new landscape where we will inevitably be drawn into and touched by world affairs. What will be required in this flattened world, at once rubble strewn and planted with hope, are your welleducated sons and daughters, who in their years here have, one hopes, acquired the kind of education to allow them to succeed and lead moral and good lives in this world. They will have to work with and respect people of radically different perspectives; they will have to see new solutions made possible in a world of instant communication and information sharing; they will have to maintain a firm moral rigor and yet avoid moral self-righteousness; they must be willing to serve. We hope that Taft has had some small part in preparing them. Taft Bulletin Summer 2005




Second-Year Spanish This course is a continuation of the work begun in SP11 and SP12, focusing on the continued acquisition of basic grammatical structures and vocabulary. All indicative and subjunctive tenses are covered during the year. The Language Center is used to enhance listening comprehen-

The third installment in our look at academic offerings available to Taft students.

Baba Frew checks with middler Amanda Vidal as Adetutu Adekoya and Eric Kim work away in their Spanish class. Mrs. Frew “is an amazing teacher” says upper middler Sarah Ewing. “She has more patience than anyone I have ever met. The course has a huge amount of tenses and vocab but is interesting and challenging.” 44 Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

sion and speaking skills. Students are expected to incorporate new grammar and vocabulary into written assignments, and class is always conducted in Spanish. Faculty: Matthew Budzyn, Roberto d’Erizans, Elizabeth Frew, Pilar Santos

CourseNotes “In many ways, Spanish II is my favorite class to teach,” says BabaFrew, who has taught at Taft for 17 years and is the section leader for second-year Spanish, “and yet it is also one of the most challenging.” Students spend the year learning to communicate in a variety of tenses, including the subjunctive. “The array of tenses can be difficult,” Frew adds, “but we also include some great thematic units such as the environment, technology, and housing, giving students a chance to discuss issues that are relevant to their lives in the target language. We also

include a unit on immigration that forces students to consider broader socioeconomic issues. Students read a short story about a Mexican immigrant family, watch a movie, and write journal entries and a personal response, all in Spanish.” Those units clearly resonate with some students. “I liked learning about illegal immigrants,” TaylorGorham ’08 said, “because it forced me to look at my own life from a different perspective and it also made the Spanish course seem more relevant to real life.” From the beginning, teachers train students to use only the target Jane Sobel

language when they cross the threshold of the classroom. “At my old school, our longest time speaking in only Spanish, no English, was a record of maybe 25 minutes,” said StephSchonbrun ’07, “as opposed to 45 minutes in Mrs. Frew’s class. We also worked in the language lab at least once a week.” “Students often amaze themselves when they realize the level at which they can communicate their thoughts in Spanish,” adds Frew. Constant exposure to Spanish and practice are the only ways for the students to improve their comfort level with the language, she says, so they present the material in a variety of settings. “The course was challenging for me,” HollandWalker ’07 says, “but Mrs. Frew was always willing to help me with work. She made me enjoy a tough subject. To review for tests we would play Jeopardy with Spanish grammar questions.” Lower middler ArielPicton agrees, “The course was really hard because of all the grammar, but some things made it better: like when we watched the movie El Norte, and having Mr. Budzyn as a teacher, because he’s really cool.” Students remark on the “huge amount of tenses” in this course and their newfound familiarity with accent marks, but most seemed pleased with the strides they made in the language this year. “This was a really challenging course, but Ms. Santos was a great teacher,” says StephanieMenke ’08. “We learned a lot of new verb tenses and the vocabulary really pushed me. Although it was my hardest course, the classes were always interesting, and I improved so much in my grammar and speaking.” “My hope,” says Frew, “is that students finish the year looking forward to more opportunities to explore the language and Hispanic culture in Spanish III.” Taft Bulletin Summer 2005









The Boy of Summer, the Father of Fall Don’t most parents

By Joseph H. Cooper and William D. Cooper ’06

want their kids to do well early in their working life so that

“Dad, you’re obsessing.”

Yes, a fantasy. But don’t we all want our kids to achieve some financial security for themselves—in our lifetime?

“It’s what I do.” “You worry too much.”

they won’t have to work unhappily ever

Well, that’s my dream—in both nighttime and daytime screenings. Yeah, his success would retire a lot of my anxieties.

“It’s a prerogative of parenthood.” “You gotta relax.”

won’t be shackled to a laborious regimen all the days of their lives?

46 Taft Bulletin Summer 2005

“So, help me.” “How?” “Do some stuff this summer that will impress colleges.”

Ted Gahl

after—so that they

“That’s not how I want to spend my summer.”

Now, it may be very parochial thinking, but I still make the connection between schooling and success. Maybe it’s snobbery or elitism. Guilty. The theory-and-rebuttal between me and my son goes something like this: “Kiddo, not all schools are alike.”

AND SO IT’S BEEN GOING for months of his junior year in high school, via phone calls and e-mails. My son at his boarding school, “locked down” in academic rigors, and me thinking about his future and what that means about my future.

“Right. Some have winning football teams and some don’t.”

Don’t most parents want their kids to do well early in their working life so that they won’t have to work unhappily ever after—so that they won’t be shackled to a laborious regimen all the days of their lives? And don’t most parents entertain thoughts of their kids’ doing so well that they can fund privatized social— and economic—security accounts for Mom and Dad?

“Dad, I’m gonna save you money.”

“Parents are paying thousands of dollars to have their kids prepped to apply to Brown or Harvard.”

“But sometimes you’ve got to spend money to make money.” “Why would you pay people thousands so that they can arrange to have me do stuff I really don’t want to do?”


“It’s résumé building. It’s expected.” But what he really

“It’s not real.”

wants to do this

“The reality is that lots of kids are doing it— there must be something to it.”

summer is spend time

“Who says? The colleges or the people running the prep businesses?”

with his friends. That works—assuming that his friends’ parents haven’t paid thousands

[Hesitating] “But lots of kids are doing it.” “Yeah, so I can be one of the kids who don’t. I’ll stand out.” “But college applications ask about your extracurricular activities, out-of-school endeavors and summer involvements.”







shaping advice—my kid should be working at “a major investment bank” this summer, or “an internationally prominent museum.” And for good measure, Ivy-Wise will “put” him in a 10-week program in Mexico, in which he can learn pottery and Spanish. Or there’s a 10-week program in Asia, in which he can study with Tibetan monks. Well, if he were interested in being a potter, he could start by enrolling in a summer course at the local art college, for a few hundred dollars. If he aspired to fluency in Spanish, we’d pick up some audiotapes at tag sales. As for absorbing wisdom from Tibetan monks, he could check out some books from the public library. And as for community service, he could walk over to the local hospital or take a short $2.30a-gallon drive to the local Boys Club.

“Hey, mine will be a quick read.” of dollars to burnish the kids’ résumés…

I send him articles on summer global workstudy tours, summer enrichment programs and summer expeditions. All are geared to polishing the résumés of pre-college teens. All are aimed at impressing collegeadmissions folks with far-flung community service, out-of-the-ordinary educational experiences, and exotic humanitarian gestures. So how is my 17-year-old going to stand out amid the 17 million high-school seniors who will apply to college this fall? A recent article in The Wall Street Journal noted that there are a number of tour companies and counseling businesses that specialize in making the most of college-bound kids’ summers. According to a counselor at the Ivy Success Corp.—which charges up to $15,000 for its coaching—my kid shouldn’t bother to volunteer at a local hospital, “because it’s something every single high-school student does.” According to Ivy-Wise LLC—which charges $24,000 for two years’ worth of molding and

But what he really wants to do this summer is spend time with his friends. That works—assuming that his friends’ parents haven’t paid thousands of dollars to burnish the kids’ résumés by having them counsel remote tribesmen on hydroponic cross-pollination of endangered plant life that may potentially yield a sustainable source of fissionable material to solve the world energy crisis. And then there are those who will merely conceive lesson plans for an ashram school, based on ancient texts that may forecast the essay questions on the new SAT. Joseph H. Cooper teaches media law at Quinnipiac University’s Graduate School of Communications, in Hamden, Connecticut; his son, Will ’06, spent the summer working at a basketball camp and expected to put in a lot of time at the beach and playing the guitar. This essay first appeared in the Providence Journal and is reprinted here with permission.

Taft Bulletin Summer 2005


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