Summer 2008 Taft Bulletin

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from Goodhue to Gund:

building for the second century









Womenade | Kenyan Culture | Tromblys Retire | Alumni Day | Commencement | S U M M E R

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B U L L E T I N Summer 2008 Volume 78 Number 4 Bulletin Staff Director of Development Chris Latham Editor Julie Reiff Alumni Notes Linda Beyus 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 15 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 06795-2100, 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.




FEA T URES cover:

Serving Up Space at the Heart of the School............................................................ 20

Renovation of the entire wing of HDT will allow more room for the community to come together at mealtimes. By Julie Reiff

Womenade............................................................... 26

Lisa Herrick ’75 and Marti Stine Boyd ’73 are among the women around the country who’ve discovered that potluck dinners can make a bigger difference than people thought. By Bonnie Blackburn Penhollow ’84

Preserving Kenyan Culture....................................... 30

After decades of teaching, Dr. Kinuthia Njoroge ’65 is tackling his toughest subject ever: saving Kenya’s traditional Kikuyu culture. By Lynette Sumpter ‘90

Tromblys Retire......................................................... 32 By Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78

Alumni Weekend Gallery......................................... 34 Photos by Eric Ely

118th Commencement............................................ 38

Remarks by Ford Fraker, seniors Nate Breg, Lily Lanahan and Clare Parks


Letters......................... 2 Alumni Spotlight......... 3 Around the Pond......... 7 Sport............................ 15 Annual Fund Report.... 18 From the Archives....... 42

j Going out with a bang: Not long after seniors packed up the last of their belongings, this storm came through and lit up the campus. It was followed, of course, by a spectacular rainbow (see back cover). Peter Frew ’75

On the Cover: The school broke ground in June on new dining facilities and a renovation of the entire west end of HDT that have been more than a decade in the planning. The West Dining Hall, shown, replaces the lower dining hall and creates a new pedestrianonly quadrangle with McIntosh House. For more details, turn to page 20. Gund Partnership

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From the Editor

There has been a lot of construction on this campus since I arrived in 1988, but no project as vital to the daily life of the school as the new dining hall and renovations to HDT. Even then, twenty years ago, the space was already overcrowded and tentative plans were in the works for a new facility. But how do you build a new dining hall in the same place, and still feed nearly 700 people, three times a day, seven days a week? The solution would not be easy (see page 20). But having the dining rooms at the end of Main Hall, very much at the heart of the school, is a large part of what defines the Taft experience, and at the end of the day nothing else would do. So we bite the bullet for the next year and a half. As I write, an enormous backhoe is scooping out the old slab foundation of the lower dining hall, which is no longer. Rest assured the stained-glass windows have been saved and there will still be sit-down dinners—once construction is over, of course. —Julie Reiff

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We’d love to hear what you think about the stories in this Bulletin. We may edit your letters for length, clarity and content, but please write!

Climate Debate I read with great interest the article “How to Avoid Dangerous Climate Change” by Amy Lynd Luers ’84 in the spring issue.  I find it particularly alarming, not because of her discussion of dangers she mentions, but rather because of the incorrect conclusions she presents.  I cite below another view: “The basic questions of the current climate change debate are sufficiently known and well structured: 1) Do we live in an era of a statistically significant, non-accidental and noncyclical climate change? 2) If so, is it dominantly man-made? 3) If so, should such a moderate temperature increase bother us more than many other pressing problems we face and should it receive our extraordinary attention? 4) If we want to change the climate, can it be done?  Are current attempts to do so the best allocation of our scarce resources?” This view comes from Vaclav Klaus, Czech president, speaking in Washington, D.C., in late May. He answers the four questions with a resounding NO. I agree with him. The full story comes from “Notable & Quotable” in the Wall Street Journal, May 26–29. The very complicated subject of global warming needs to have all aspects of the issue thoroughly debated. The Bulletin article is only one side. I cite a resource for a more complete analysis:  “A Global Warming Primer” from the National Center for Policy Analysis (  Let’s continue the debate with both sides heard from. —Peter Gray ’47

The problem with Dr. Luers’ article comes down to the words could, would and did. She can claim that any result could in the future result from any cause. But is it reasonable to expect that it would? The only way to test this is to see if it did occur in similar circumstances in the past. Here the alarmists fail; no catastrophe occurred during the several times temperature went up and down several degrees. What would be different this coming time? There is a big difference now, and it has nothing to do with your “carbon footprint.” Six and a half billion people today instead of the one billion a century ago. Note that this is less than two percent compounded annual growth, but it is too fast for the rest of the biota. There is too much fertilizer, pesticides, sewage and too much land use change. This is not politically correct, so no one wants to say it. Jeffrey Sachs says we can manage with 8 billion, but I don’t think so. The cartoon Pogo said it decades ago: “We have seen the enemy, and it is us.” —Lucian Platt ’49 —Edward Connors ’53

Julie Reiff, editor Taft Bulletin 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100 or

Taft Trivia Correction

In the spring issue, we mistakenly pointed to the wrong website for a new book by Francesca Beauman ’95, Everything But the Kitchen Sink. For more information, please visit www. 2 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008

This question tests not so much your knowledge of Taft, but how closely you read the Bulletin! Who was the first boy to enroll at Mr. Taft’s School? (Hint, the answer is found in this issue.) The winner, whose name will be chosen at random from all correct entries received by September 9—first day of classes this fall, will receive a Taft umbrella. (Mail to the address at left.) Congratulations to Dave Forster ’62, who correctly identified the Winter God in the last issue. Thanks to all who played.

John Lee

Green Genes

Harrison Dillon ’89 has been called part of the “Green Tribe’s next wave,” following environmental prophets like Al Gore. In 2003, Dillon co-founded Solazyme, a synthetic biology company that unleashes the power of marine microbes to create clean, high performance biofuels, “green” chemicals and health and wellness products. The company has been driving a Mercedes up and down the California coast using only their patented Soladiesel. Dillon, who is also president and chief technology officer, told Green Fuels Forecast that “the performance was excellent, and that this fuel burns far cleaner than petroleum diesel. It was a very important part of our strategy to make our fuels and oils compatible with existing infrastructure from the pipelines, tanks and pumps,” he says. The company is in talks with Chevron to make their product more accessible. “We built this company out of a garage in Palo Alto,” Dillon told 7x7, a San Francisco magazine. “Well, of course—doesn’t a Palo Alto garage figure into the creation myth of any self-respecting paradigm-shifting tech company? Solazyme does indeed aim to change the world, one barrel of its algaecreated, clean-burning biofuel at a time. But don’t we want to be moving away from the internal-combustion engine and toward wind power and the like?” Dillon’s scientific training in the field of microbial genetics began at Emory University. His later research, including X-ray crystallography and quantitative trait loci characterization, was performed under the direction of Dr. Jean-Marc Lalouel at the University of Utah, where Dillon received his Ph.D. in genetics. He also earned a J.D. cum laude from Duke University School of Law and is licensed to practice before the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. He is a member of the state bar of California. He has authored a number of articles in scientific, business and legal journals. For more information, visit Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


Flexcar Founder In 1999, Seattle businessman Neil Peterson ’61 came up with a novel idea for reducing America’s dependence on foreign oil—a car-sharing business he dubbed Flexcar. Each shared car replaces 15 privately owned vehicles, on average, and reduces parking congestion. By the hour or by the day, members can reserve and drive any of these cars whenever and wherever they need to, without filling out complicated paperwork or paying for insurance, gas or repairs. Although Steve Case acquired the company back in 2005, Flexcar has been in the news again recently when it merged with East-Coast Zipcar (founded in 2000), creating the country’s largest car-sharing company. Some of the awards Flexcar received include the 2004 Sustainable Community Outstanding Leadership Award, the 2004 It’s Not Easy Being Green Award, the 2002 Clean Air Award, the 2002 Spirit of the Northwest Award, the 2001 Environmental Excellence Award

and the 2001 VISION 2020 Award. Peterson has spent half of his career in the public sector, as a city manager and in social and health services. He’s worked in transportation in Seattle and Los Angeles, and at least once a year he traveled to see what was happening in Europe and brought those ideas back. “I would win innovation awards,” says Peterson, “for simply copying what Europe was already doing. For years I’d seen this idea of sharing cars. If I deserve any credit it’s for making it happen here in the U.S.” So he partnered with other cities—Seattle, Portland, Los Angeles, D.C., Atlanta (90 percent of car sharing happens in cities)—to build a national network. “Partnership was critical,” Peterson adds. “We fully understood the connection between what Flexcar was doing and how it ties to public transportation.” People, he explained, really were interested in taking public transportation, but no one wants to get stranded. Allow them access to a car during the day—

Flexcar founder Neil Peterson ’61 with son Guy ’03 and daughter Kelsey

even for an hour or two—and they are much more likely not to bring their own car into work every day. Certainly there were plenty of people who thought it “would never work in America,” but Peterson points out that any successful entrepreneur needs to believe in what he’s doing, never say die, have a phenomenal energy level, and be a little nuts. Peterson is also founder, chairman, and president of the Edge Foundation, an organization with the mission of helping young students who have Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD) realize their potential and their passion. For more about his ongoing efforts, visit

Ostrov in the House

Robert Ostrov ’80 of Wellington, Florida, is running for Florida House of Representative in the coastal communities of Boynton Beach, Delray Beach, Boca Raton and Deerfield Beach. The seat is currently held by Republican Adam Hasner of Boca Raton, House majority leader. Top items on Ostrov’s agenda are to fight political corruption by increasing oversight of county politics, and to curb gang violence, in part by limiting the 4 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008

number of guns that can be purchased at one time. He supports victims’ rights in and out of the courtroom. He’d also like to reduce property insurance rates and stop insurance companies from writing the insurance laws. Ostrov originally filed to run for the state Senate district against incumbent Republican Jeff Atwater but switched this spring to avoid a Democratic primary for the state Senate seat once former state Senator Skip Campbell threw his name in the ring. “The leaders of the state Democratic Party brought me to Tallahassee,” Ostrov explains “to meet with the House leadership, who showed me why my background was a perfect fit for running in the [House] seat. They did not want two viable candidates vying for the same seat.

“Ever since I made the campaign change, I have been overwhelmed with support. I am very enthusiastic and optimistic about my chances.” Before his move to Florida, Ostrov spent nearly five years as a prosecutor for the Orange County, New York, District Attorney’s Office. As a senior attorney in the white-collar crime unit, he specialized in prosecuting corrupt politicians, doctors and lawyers. He also successfully prosecuted hundreds of high-profile murder cases. Earlier, he spent four years as an administrative law judge with the New York City Housing Authority. To follow his campaign, or see how he fares in November, visit

the year number 24 on the money list to earn a return trip to the PGA Tour. Among his four top-10 finishes were runner-up showings at the Melwood Prince George’s County Open and the Xerox Classic. He notched his first Nationwide Tour victory with a 15-under-par 273 at the Virginia Beach Open in 2004. Driscoll won a number of men’s amateur events throughout the country, including the New England Amateur and the North and South Championship, before turning pro in 2001.

Message through fashion Two years ago, Demetrius Walker ’00 and six other Vanderbilt students started a company they hoped would become much more: a movement for positive change in Black America. Their clothing line, dangerousNEGRO, is hatched from President Woodrow Wilson’s 1919 characterization of A. Phillip Randolph as “America’s most dangerous Negro,” They use T-shirts with messages like “Smart Is the New Gangsta,” “Young. Gifted. Black.” and “America’s Next Top Role Model” to promote education and social awareness. Concerned with the deterioration of social values in their community, dangerousNEGRO takes a stand against ignorance, says Walker. “We reject the victim mentality that allows people to blame others for their misfortunes. Despite the challenges we each faced growing up, we know that people have the power to overcome all obstacles and strive for excellence. We know this because we’re living examples of brothers that have defied the

odds. Our backgrounds are very diverse, but the uniting factor that sparked dangerousNEGRO was our disgust for the pervasive apathy in our culture.” What better way to incite change than to have a dialogue with a stranger every time you wear a T-shirt, he explains, which is partly why they chose the name and created “in your face” designs. “We want to be able to grab hold of people’s attention and make them ask questions. Nine times out of 10 the conversation ends in a positive way.” Hoping to glorify what’s positive in direct contrast to the negative they see glorified everyday, they believe they can make the largest impact via fashion and entertainment with the limited resources they now have, but their dreams are big. “We want to be part of the economic unification of the African Diaspora, to leverage the economic potential of the one billion plus Black people all over the world,” he says. “The civil rights movement won necessary social and political achievements, but we’ll never achieve true equality without an economic empowerment movement of equal or greater magnitude.” In May, Walker traveled to Tanzania to “discuss ways for us to give back to Africa and build up a strong new generation of positive leadership worldwide.” He also speaks at universities across the country, encouraging young people to be entrepreneurs and “to use their God-given talents to change the world for the better.”


Sculptor Adam Brent ’91 is preparing for a solo show in September at the Wave Hill Gallery in the Bronx. Using the slick vernacular of suburban architecture, Brent constructs sculptural installations that explore ideas of domestic space in contrast with nature and the outdoors. His sculpture will incorporate a collection of house plants, in reference to its setting at Wave Hill. New York-born, Connecticutraised Brent is a full-time professor and 3-D coordinator at Parsons University in New York, where he also received a master of fine arts degree. “Aside from my father, who was also an artist,” Brent says, “my mentor was Mark Potter [’48]. He really took art as something that was a pastime and helped me realize it as more of a concentration. He was a very positive person.” The show runs from September 9 to October 13. For more information, visit Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

Driscoll’s got drive

James Driscoll ’96 placed in the top five at the AT&T Classic in May, putting him in 86th place on the money list for 2008. His highest PGA ranking is 18th for Driving Distance, with 293.9 yards. His best rounds on the PGA tour this year were 66 on Round 1 at the Sony Open in Hawaii, 66 on Round 4 at the Zurich Classic of New Orleans and 66 on Round 3 of the AT&T Classic. Driscoll made the cut in 13 of 24 events on the 2007 Nationwide Tour— with eight top-25 finishes—and finished

In Print

Marco Polo: From Venice to Xanadu Laurence Bergreen ’68 Alfred A. Knopf, 2007

Drawing on original sources in more than half a dozen languages, and on his own travels along Polo’s route in China and Mongolia, Bergreen explores the lingering controversies surrounding Polo’s legend, settling age-old questions and testing others for significance. Synthesizing history, biography, and travelogue, this is the timely chronicle of a man who extended the boundaries of human knowledge and imagination. Destined

to be the definitive account of its subject for decades to come, Marco Polo takes us on a journey to the limits of history—and beyond. “Marco Polo opened Asia to European trade,” writes the New York Times, “but we generally don’t know much else. Bergreen remedies that by bolstering Polo’s reputation and arguing for his historical importance in a book as enthralling as a rollicking travel journal.”

Bergreen is the prizewinning author of Over the Edge of the World: Magellan’s Terrifying Circumnavigation of the Globe, as well as James Agee: A Life; Louis Armstrong: An Extravagant Life; Capone: The Man and the Era; and As Thousands Cheer: The Life of Irving Berlin, each considered the definitive work on its subject. A graduate of Harvard University, he lives in New York City.

In Defiance of Hitler: The Secret Mission of Varian Fry Carla Killough McClafferty Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008 At age 32, a journalist named Varian Fry ’26 took a one-month leave from his job as an editor at the Foreign Policy Association to go to Marseilles and smuggle out 200 of the most famous intellectual refugees. More than a year later, he had helped at least 1,200 men and women out of France. He did all this with little or no help from the U.S. government, which was still trying to stay out of the war and to cooperate with the Vichy French government.

Known as the American Schindler—a reference to Oscar Schindler, who saved 1,200 Jews during the Holocaust—Fry only recently began to win widespread recognition and his exploits are just coming to light. Like Schindler, Fry had a list of life, that included two of the brightest names in art, science, literature and medicine— painter Marc Chagall, Nobel laureate physiologist Otto Meyerhof, as well as mathematician Jacques Hadamard,

writers Franz Werfel, Hannah Arendt, Heinrich Mann, sculptor Jacques Lipchitz, Max Ernst, Wanda Landowska and many more. “Rescue stories bring hope to the Holocaust darkness,” writes Booklist in its starred review, “and this stirring account of a young New York City journalist who secretly helped over 2,000 refugees escape Nazi-occupied France blends exciting adventure with the grim history.”

300 Bucks and a Dream Pat and Craig Rider ’62 Xlibris, 2008

What would you do with an extra $300? Pat and Craig Rider used it to make a dream come true. During their weeklong honeymoon on a sailboat they discussed starting a business. Within a year they had established a consulting company with the $300 Craig earned teaching an extra college course. The Riders’ personal and professional journey now spans almost three decades. 300 Bucks and a Dream provides

an intimate picture of how two individuals with contrasting talents and approaches forged a life and a business together. They share the fun and frustrations of working with individuals, corporate executives, business teams—and each other. Their stories and insights are told in the first person narrative and run the gamut of emotions from humorous to harrowing to heartwarming. Join Pat and Craig as they discuss changes they’ve

experienced, share ways they took advantage of those changes, and provide practical guidance on starting and sustaining a business. Craig and Pat are co-founders of the Rider Group, which specializes in team building, leadership development and retreat facilitation. For 28 years, the Rider Group has consulted with manufacturing, government, professional, small business, and educational organizations throughout North America.

Conscious Love: Insights from Mystical Christianity Richard Smoley ’74 Wiley, 2008

Though love is a perennial topic for writers of all kinds, much of what is written about love is simplistic and unsatisfying. In Conscious Love, Smoley—an expert on the esoteric traditions of mystical Christianity—incorporates insights 6 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008

and wisdom about love from noted thinkers in literature, art, philosophy, sociology, cultural criticism, and even neurology. Smoley is the author of Inner Christianity: A Guide to the Esoteric Tradition; Forbidden Faith: A Secret

History of Gnosticism; The Essential Nostradamus; and (with Jay Kinney) Hidden Wisdom: A Guide to the Western Inner Traditions. Smoley is the former editor of Gnosis magazine and the current editor of Quest Books.

Around the pond by Sam Routhier

For the latest news on campus events, please visit

m Maru-a-Pula’s marimba band played in Bingham as part of their U.S. tour. Yee-Fun Yin

Marimba Madness When Andy Taylor graduated from Taft in 1972, he certainly expected to return for a variety of reasons. This April, Taylor returned as principal of the Maru-a-Pula School, whose marimba band performed in Bingham on April 24. The reception of the Maru-a-Pula group by the Taft community was exciting. The band had already met some of the students here, as 40 Taft students who went to South Africa over March break made a detour north to Botswana for that purpose. Seniors Morag Neill, this year’s Maru-a-Pula student at Taft, and Glendys Rodriguez followed up the Maru-a-Pula concert by putting on a fashion show to support the scholarship fund as their

senior project. On May 13, the two constructed a runway in Centennial Courtyard, displaying fashions from Africa and India. According to Global Leadership Department head Annabel Smith, “They had every kind of diversity you could think of. It was such a community event, reaching out to everyone, and that is what characterizes Morag, Glendys and the Maru-a-Pula School.” Clearly, the marimba show, the fashion show and the welcoming embrace of the visitors highlighted the strength of the Taft community. Hopefully the bridges between the two schools can strengthen in the coming years, as more students and faculty make the trip from Botswana to Watertown and vice versa.

Maru-a-Pula, in Gaborone, is a hub of international activity, as 600 students from all over Africa work with roughly 60 teachers from Africa, Asia, North America, Europe and Central America. The school is located only a few miles from the South African border, and was founded in 1972 to demonstrate the ability of races to integrate and benefit from learning from each other in the shadow of apartheid. Today, the school provides a fantastic education to students orphaned by the AIDS epidemic. The school offers 27 scholarships to AIDS orphans and uses exchange programs to send its students to other institutions worldwide, including Taft, Hotchkiss, Deerfield and Horace Mann. Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


Around the pond Going to Graceland Spring vacation played host to a variety of fulfilling and enriching experiences for hundreds of Taft students and faculty, including the 12-member jazz ensemble, led by director TJ Thompson. The group played for one night at Wally’s in Boston, and then traveled for five days to Memphis, Tennessee, a hotbed of music history. Thompson sees the tour as integral to the ensemble’s growth. Playing in historic venues with world-renowned groups such as the Memphis Jazz Orchestra provided new context and insight into the pieces that were previously only understood in the rehearsal room. He told the Bulletin, “The rehearsal space can only offer so much in regards to completing a musician. It is the social component where music is realized either from an audience perspective or performers’ contribuj John Lane ’09 discovers his roommate is a vampire in the original spring production of Bloodlines. Peter Frew ’75

8 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008

m Members of the Jazz Band check out the music scene in Boston before heading to Memphis on their spring tour.

tion that completes the artistic process.” In the weeks since the tour, he has seen his musicians improve by leaps and bounds, and cites that they are more comfortable with one another, they feel freer in improvisation, and they are more ready to engage with the audience. The group demonstrated their passion for music by immersing themselves

in Memphis’s culture. Given the choice between staying in the hotel room and going to see a performance, the 12 students always opted to go out on the Memphis strip. Thompson was pleasantly surprised when the kids dug into meals like catfish, chicken and waffles, and even fried pies—not exactly standard fare at The Jig.

A Devilish Delight When Rick Doyle and Jamie Nichols get together to produce a play, success is a sure thing. In the last three years Doyle, a video and theater teacher, and Nichols, a science teacher, have put together nine productions. For the spring play, the two settled on Dracula, but they were deeply frustrated by the script. Nichols called it “very stereotypical, with no big surprises—and not even really that scary.” As a result, Doyle put his creative juices to work, pumping out Bloodlines, an original one-act that situates Bram Stoker’s classic on a boarding school campus. The result was theatrical brilliance, as the play packed the Woodward Black Box Theater for two straight nights. The play takes place at the fictional Wickham Academy, with teachers who share names with the likes of our own Director of Admissions Peter Frew. The plot focuses on Stuart (Bob Vulfov ’09) and his adjustment to life away from

home. Yet as this adjustment is taking place—as he undergoes the tribulations of falling in love with Lucy (Louise Trueheart ’08) and conflicts with his roommate, Renfield (John Lane ’09)—Stuart discovers his own lineage as a vampire, and his connections with the school’s cult of vampires. The similarities of the story to boarding school life were meant to “make it real, to spook people out,” says Nichols, “and to bring the audience right into the story.” Bloodlines was the last show for Nichols, who moves back to Chicago this summer, and also for Trueheart, the lead female, who received the play’s dedication. The five weeks between writing the screenplay and putting on the production marked a real triumph for the cast. Nichols told the Bulletin, “I didn’t expect to get emotional, but on the last night of the show I started crying. The theater department is really one big family.”

Abounding with Art

m Marc Leuthold ’80 prepares the gallery floor with a calligraphy-style painting before displaying his sculpture in the spring exhibit, “Fault.” Yee-Fun Yin

Lights, Camera, Action From May 3 to May 6, the Hollywood production crew of Farlanders descended upon the Taft campus to film scenes for the upcoming movie. The crew included actor John Krasinski (TV’s The Office), producer Ed Saxon (Adaptation, The Silence of the Lambs) and director Sam Mendes (American Beauty). Many students got involved as extras and as production interns, communicating with the staff, sporting high-tech walkie-talkies and keeping the set quiet while cameras were rolling. The film will be released in 2009. Revenue from both movie shoots (including last summer’s College Road Trip) will be used to renovate the Woodward Black Box Theater. . Celebrity spotting was a popular activity as students and faculty returned from long weekend to find filming in full swing. Here, faculty members Shannon Lenz, Geordie Richards and Rob Madden ’03 met up with The Office star John Krasinski (second from left).

The Arts Department at Taft is as vibrant as ever, as evidenced this spring with the arrival of two visiting artists. Each artist enlivened the school’s artistic community with stories and demonstrations of their own inspiration. In late March, sculptor Marc Leuthold ’80 came to Taft as the Rockwell visiting artist. For four days, he closed the gallery in preparation for his display, covering the floor in thick watercolor paper and drawing on it in black and brown ink. Leuthold filled the gallery with his wheel sculptures, made of a variety of materials, including bronze, porcelain and glass. During his week on campus, Leuthold ran workshops in sculpture, ceramics and studio art classes. He also spoke during Morning Meeting, in which he discussed not only his art, but also his Taft experience. Leuthold described how students are often told that there is one path to success, but in fact, students will find success through any number of choices they make. Said art teacher Loueta Chickadaunce, “He irreverently nailed some prior conceptions of Taft, and kids were eager to interact with him as a result.” In May, Galen Cheney ’80 visited Taft to show an exhibit of abstract art whose color and dynamism contrasts sharply with the art of Leuthold. Chickadaunce and the arts department are thrilled with the additions of the visiting artists to the Taft arts scene. Chickadaunce says, “They relish the sense of accomplishment to come back and share something with the school.” Indeed, we are lucky to be part of such a talented, bright, and giving community. Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


Around the pond Going Green The Taft community has made strides to embrace environmentally friendly practices. In early January, the non-recyclable plastic dining hall cups were replaced with reusable hard plastic ones for cold drinks and mugs for hot drinks. The recycling program is once again operational and there seems to be “enthusiasm among the students to make it work out,” according to Rachael Ryan, history teacher and faculty co-adviser to the Taft Environmental Awareness Movement, or TEAM. Progress has come in fits and starts, however. Environmental science teacher and co-adviser to TEAM Jim Lehner thinks that, though improving, “[recycling] is not a priority in student outlook. There’s no interest in bringing your recycling to the bin beyond individual ‘quality of character.’ It’s a Sisyphean task without individual interest.” Schuyler Dalton ’09, who recently returned from the Maine Coast Semester

program, agrees, saying, “The administration got new cups but the students are abusing the privilege. I think we really need a cultural overhaul to get all of the community on board with going green.” The future of environmentalism at Taft, though, is bright. On Earth Day, a Tuesday in April the Taft community gathered in Main Circle during Morning Meeting to hear Maddy Bloch ‘08 read Chief Seattle’s famous speech in praise of the Earth’s bounties as students planted a new disease-resistant elm tree. The Taft IT department sponsored a “print-free” day for all public printers and copiers, and the dining hall cooked lunch and dinner using locally produced vegetables and meats. The overall dining hall renovation (see page 20), scheduled to be completed by January 2010, will be certified by the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Green

j Kelly Quirk ’11, Jo Kirby ’08 and Julie Foote ’09 help plant a new elm tree in Main Circle on Earth Day. Yee-Fun Yin 10 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008

Rhino Renewed When students turn 18 they can register to vote, but when a school mascot gets that old, he starts to look a little worn around the edges. So when his suit went missing at away games in Lakeville last fall, the school figured it was time to get him a new set of clothes. Joe Dillard ’09, who has been very close to the mascot over the years, says the rhino’s new outfit not only looks terrific, it smells a lot better, too! He showed off his new look around campus on Alumni Day in May. Building Rating System, a program that ensures that “a building project is environmentally responsible, profitable and a healthy place to live and work.” While still unclear what level of certification will be achieved (estimates run between silver, the second level, and platinum, the highest level possible), the willingness of the administration and trustees to invest in an environmentally sound future for Taft shows just how much progress has been made. Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 sees these changes as a widely demanded revolution. He told the Bulletin, “This is a grassroots, individually based decision process. Small changes made by many collectively have a disproportionate impact.” —Wells Andres ’09

Volunteers Honored Children’s Community School in Waterbury honored students in Taft’s service learning class with their 2008 Principal’s Award for Youth To Youth this spring. In this new course, taught by Annabel Smith, students learn about global issues like poverty, public health and education, and then spend time helping out in the community at places like CCS before coming back to school to reflect and discuss their experiences. At CCS, they worked with students

on their homework, sports, and the various activities at the school, or helped with any other tasks CCS needed doing. “While the community service work we performed exposed us to local poverty issues,” says Nat Landis ’08, “the study we did in the classroom exposed us to global poverty issues, allowing us to compare and relate the two.” All students at CCS live at or below the poverty line. “These kids were amazing,” senior Barry Clarke adds.

Yee-Fun Yin

Beijing Banner

Taking Awards by Hostage

this opportunity to express our concerns, to having one location for the Olympics forever, and more. It was a fun discussion.” Susan Weng ’09 from Shanghai fell into the first group. “While some westerners are blaming China for using the Olympics for its own political purpose, is it self-contradictory for them to blame China for Chinese political issues and thus boycott the Olympics?” She adds. “Let’s just meet in the games and cheer for the athletes.” Two days later a large group of students gathered after Morning Meeting to have their photo taken with the banner before it was shipped to the Chinese Consulate in Chicago on its way to the Olympics, evidence that even school pride can overcome international tensions. Julie Reiff

Science Department Head and chemistry teacher David Hostage is this year’s recipient of the 2008 NEIC Secondary School Chemistry Teacher Award from Connecticut. The award is an annual testament given to teachers who “have encouraged an interest in the field of chemistry through innovative and inspirational teaching, improved the image of chemists and chemistry, and have promoted extracurricular activities relevant to chemistry.” Hostage has been at Taft for 24 years and also serves as the director of the Taft Educational Center, a summer professional development program for public and private school teachers.

It was with a certain amount of pride that uppermiddler Nancy Ning organized students to put their handprints on a Taft banner and have her school represented at the Beijing Olympics this summer. So when she saw the Political Awareness Club’s announcement about a discussion of the Chinese Olympics and the related protests she admits to being a little worried students would want to remove their names. Miller Bowron, Callie Strickland and Diana Saverin arranged for the discussion, which about 40 people attended. “It was a diverse group, including students from China,” says Diana. “This helped everyone to see two sides of the story instead of ranting and raving about how awful China is. Suggestions ranged from ‘Let’s just win a lot of medals,’ boycotting, using

Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


Around the pond Taft Walks for a Cure

Faculty Updates

retiring j Ned

and Sue Trombly, (see page 32)


Barisser, dance BreMiller, English j Julia Cardozo, Spanish j Rachel Cederberg, college counseling j Rob Follansbee, science j Cathy Guiffre, mathematics j Jon Guiffre, publicity j Janet Mosley, science fellow j Jamie Nichols, science j Benjamin Tarshis, history fellow j Elizabeth j Jason

sabbatical j

Ted Heavenrich, mathematics

promoted j Roberto

d’Erizans, Modern Language Department Chair j Edie Traina, Lowermid Class Dean


Adams, academic technology coordinator University of Connecticut, BA Johns Hopkins University, MS j Carly Borken, science University of Hawaii, BS j Linda Chandler, history University of Reading [England], BA; University of Hull [England] j Ben Chartoff, Mailliard teaching fellow, science Northwestern University, BA j Chris Dietrich, admissions Amherst College, BA Wesleyan University, MALS j Tom

12 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008

Peter Frew ’75

On Sunday, May 18, 20 Taft students and three faculty members gave up their sleep-in day to participate in the 23rd annual New York City AIDS walk. The event has so far raised over $7 million for Gay Men’s Health Crisis (GMHC) and 60 other local AIDS service organizations. The Taft group raised an impressive $1,225 itself. Senior Hope Gimbel, who had the idea to get students involved in the walk, told the

Bulletin, “The walk was a celebration of love, a declaration of our unanimous concern and a demonstration of our support of a solution. The AIDS walk

Duval, mathematics Brown University, BA Simmons College, MAT j Terry Giffen, director of college counseling Allegheny College, BA, MA j Michael Harrington, science Harvard College, BA j Leon Hayward, admissions & teaching fellow Northeastern University, BS j Susan Henebry, assistant business manager Syracuse University, BS Fordham University, JD j Jason Honsel, college counseling Pennsylvania State University, BA New York University, MA j Meredith Lyons, dance Mercyhurst College, BA Smith College, MFA j Michelle Murolo, science Clarion University, BS Yale University, PhD j Jennifer Reilly, Carpenter teaching fellow, English Colby College, BA j Patti Taylor, librarian St. Lawrence University, BA Simmons College, MLS j Nikki Willis, English Tufts University, BA, MA New York University, MA University of Texas at Austin, PhD j Salvador “Chamby” Zepeda, Spanish Wheaton College, BA

saw not only Taft students at their best, but also witnessed New York City as its streets flooded with people united to stride toward a better future.”

j James

Summer Reading This summer, Taft students and faculty are reading Nickel and Dimed, a nonfiction work by Barbara Ehrenreich that exposes the life of American low-wage workers. The summer reading committee, led by co-chairs Annabel Smith and Bob Ganung, chose the book based on its relevance to the national economy in this election year, its stress on the value of service and its accessible journalistic style. Several Taft community events, including guest speakers and discussion groups, will occur in the fall to reflect on the book. For more summer reading suggestions, please visit

New School Monitors Yee-Fun Yin

Bob Vulfov ’09 succeeds Lily Lanahan ’08 as head monitor for the coming school year. Bob, who was born in Russia but moved to the States in middle school, is also editor-in-chief of the Papyrus. Other school monitors for the Class of ’09 are Sarah Albert, Louis Carter, Kathy Demmon, Julie Foote, Mackenzie Holland, Paul Kiernan, Geneva Lloyd, Querino Maia, Sam McGoldrick, Liesl Morris and Will Sayre.

DuBois Fellow Taft welcomed Shaazka Beyerle, a senior advisor at the International Center on Nonviolent Conflict, as this year’s recipient of the Rear Admiral Raymond DuBois Fellowship in International Affairs. Beyerle spoke about strategic nonviolent action. Acting as a cata-

lyst to stimulate interest in nonviolent conflict, the Center collaborates with like-minded educational institutions and nongovernmental organizations to educate the global public, influence policies and media coverage and educate activists.

Chairs around Pond j Seniors were surprisingly artistic in the execution of their prank—to empty the dining hall of all furniture. As stunning as it was to enter the dining hall and see only “ ’08” spelled out in plastic red trays, it was even more impressive to stumble upon the pond in the early morning, perfectly encircled by a ring of chairs. Tables were artistically arranged in Main Circle. Even more impressive, there were more than enough volunteers to move them all back in time for lunch. Andre Li ’11 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


Around the pond

In Brief Top Ten


A Powerful Message

In a year marked by some major changes in the way colleges admitted incoming freshman, Taft students wound up with strong options, with Cornell again the favorite. Here are the 10 most popular destinations for the Class of ’08 that totaled roughly 90 colleges and universities around the country and abroad: Cornell (8), George Washington (6), Trinity (5), UPenn (5), Amherst (4), Bowdoin (4), Carnegie Mellon (4), Connecticut College (4), St. Lawrence (4) and Wake Forest (4).

This spring, 32 Taft students participated in the JETS/TEAMS competition in which teams of eight students try to solve a set of difficult problems that are meant to test their engineering aptitude. Questions this year were based on the design of the Beijing Olympics. Taft’s Varsity A team placed 3rd in statewide competition, but placed 2nd in its division in national competition, where schools compete by size. Overall 648 schools participated, with a total of 1,180 teams in seven varsity and JV divisions.

On the morning of May 13, guest speaker Katie Koestner captivated the Taft community with an account of her experience of date rape when she was a first-year student at the College of William & Mary. Through her humor and down-to-earth nature, Koestner was able to compel the students to empathize with her, and many students left the auditorium speechless. Koestner closed her remarks by saying, “I challenge you to be angry when peer pressure makes you think silence is the best way out.” It was certainly a unifying moment for an impassioned Taft community.

Math Honors Uppermiddler Jenny Jin and middler Toan Phan finished the year with perfect individual scores in the New England Math League. They are among only 58 students in the country invited to the Mathematical Olympiad Summer Program in Nebraska. “Its main purpose is to train and select the kids who will represent the U.S. in the International Math Olympiad this summer,” says adviser Ted Heavenrich. Since they’re not citizens, neither Toan nor Jenny is eligible to represent the U.S. at the IMO, but for the first time the sponsors are allowing foreign nationals who will graduate from U.S. high schools and go to U.S. universities to participate in order to raise the level of competition.

Bien Fait en Français The Alliance Française of Northwestern Connecticut awarded John Canver ’11 the Level I award of $50 in their spring essay contest. Uppermids Geneva Lloyd, Callie Strickland and Wells Andres also participated. 14 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008

Nichols published In March, science teacher Jamie Nichols co-authored an article in the Journal of the American Chemical Society. The piece is titled “The Important Role of Tetrahedral Ti4+ Sites in the Phase Transformation and Photocatalytic Activity of TiO2 Nanocomposites.”

Poetry Month Former Taft English teacher Jason Tandon visited the school during poetry month as an Oppenheim Visiting Writer. Now a published poet, his collection Rumble Strip was released last year. English teacher Linda Saarnijoki continued her tradition of posting a poem each day in April via e-mail. Students in some classes celebrated the month with “guerrilla poetry,” where they “attacked” unsuspecting students and faculty by reading them a poem.

Math to Ministry Former Taft math teacher and the first woman bishop of Connecticut Laura Ahrens came to speak at Morning Meeting in April. Ahrens is one of only 14 female bishops in the Episcopal Church, and the first female bishop in the history of the Episcopal Diocese of Connecticut. Ahrens taught at Taft in the 1980s and felt it worthwhile to come back to share her story of determination to follow her calling. She recounted the progress of women in the Episcopal Church and encouraged students to “support unity in spite of our differences.”

For more information visit

S S S S S pr i n g

j Meg Boland ’11 pitched every inning of the season, leading the Rhinos to their first New England Tournament.

Softball 8–5 Taft’s opening 9–0 win over NMH was a sign of things to come for this young but talented team. Lowermid Meg Boland ’11 pitched the no-hitter, and then went on to pitch every inning of the season, leading the Rhinos to their first New England Tournament as the #4 seed. Their 8–3 regular season re-



Wrap-up by

cord included wins over Kent (7–1) and Hotchkiss (8–5), but Taft could not get past rival Choate in the semifinal game of the tournament. This was the team’s best season in many years, due to the pitching arm of Boland, the fine fielding of Kailey Nash ’08 at short and the steady hitting of Nash and catcher Jessica Desorcie ’11. Liz Van Pelt ’08, Elena Stein ’09, Geneva Lloyd ’10 and Hannah Vasquez ’09 were also powerful at the plate all season. Baseball 7–11 Taft opened the season at 6–5, but three one-run losses made for a tough stretch late in the spring. The Rhinos rebounded for an exciting final win at home, 3–2 over Trinity-Pawling. Down 0–2 with two innings left, Taft’s best pitcher Rex Merdinger ’08 threw three great innings, and cocaptain Mike Mastracola hit the winning, 375-ft. home run—a great way to end the season. Other important wins came over Choate (6–5) and Deerfield (7–6) in extra innings. Cocaptain Ollie Mittag ’08 was awesome at short stop all spring and finished with a .519 OBP and 7 stolen bases. Mastracola (.448 avg, 24 RBI) led the team in hitting, with Sean Bennett ’09 and Bobby Manfreda ’09 also providing power at the plate. Merdinger finished with 57 strikeouts on the season, and Alex Kendall ’09 was also steady on the mound.

R R R R 2008 Steve

TTTT Palmer

Girls’ Tennis 6–7 This was a young team that lost some close matches they would avenge at the Kent tournament late in the season. At this competitive tournament with 27 schools, including the best in New England, Taft finished 6th, with Kahini Dalal ’10 (#1 draw) and Tanya Smith ’09 (#2 draw) both making the consolation finals. The team also posted exciting 4–3 victories over Choate and Westminster. Cocaptains Meg Culbertson ’08 and Nellie Beach ’08 were strong in the first doubles spot all spring, while Smith had the best records in the singles. Boys’ Tennis 9–7 Captain Adam Donaldson ’08 and Nate Burt ’08 gave Taft a powerful one-two punch. Donaldson went undefeated at the #1 singles spot until a close loss at the New England semifinals, and Burt would lose only two matches all season. Together, their combined singles record was a staggering 38–3. Donaldson and captain-elect Charlie Wagner ’09 also lost only once as the #1 doubles team. Highlights of the season included a surprising 7–0 win over a strong Westminster team and a 2nd place finish in the eightteam Southern New England Tennis League, a tournament Taft has won for the past six years. Taft Bulletin Summer 2008







Girls’ Lacrosse 6–8 This year’s squad was a young group that battled the best teams in New England, falling a bit short of the offensive firepower they needed. Key wins came over a strong Berkshire team (17–16), the season’s most exciting game, and over the always-talented Convent of the Sacred Heart (13–9). Well-played but tough losses were to Andover (9–13) and Greenwich Academy (10–18). Liesl Morris ’09 was a tenacious presence all

ting up 19 saves in goal. The team’s best game may have been the heartbreaking 8–9 overtime loss to a strong Avon squad. Johnny DePeters ’09 led the offense all season, scoring 36 goals and a total of 42 points. Alex Yackery ’08, Pat Claire ’08 and Jack Nuland ’09 were very solid defensively in supporting Johnson, who was named the Western New England Goalie of the Year and All-American. Cocaptain Keith Fell ’08 was solid all spring in the midfield and on faceoffs.

of 76 and 78 respectively. At home, Taft’s best day came with a 397 team score in late April, a big win over Kingswood and Kent. In that match, captain-elect Louis Carter ’09 medaled with a 74. Girls’ Golf 15–2 This was the best season ever for this program, with a 3rd place finish at the Independent School Girls’ Golf Classic—the New England championship with 27 schools competing. The

j Adam Donaldson ’08 went 21–0 and won the league’s Alban Barker Sportsmanship Award.

over the field, finishing with 27 goals, and Scout Berger ’09 played a central role in the midfield, finishing with 28 goals. Lily Lanahan ’09 and Ashley Kowtoniuk ’09 were also core players for the past few seasons. Boys’ Lacrosse 4–10 Four one-goal losses defined what was a very competitive but hard-luck season for this high-spirited team. The season’s peak was a solid 5–3 win over Choate, with cocaptain Peter Johnson ’08 put16 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008

Boys’ Golf 9–7 The best performances came at the big invitationals: a 2nd-place finish at the Andover Invitational in Newport, R.I., and a 3rd place finish among the 23 teams at the Kingswood Invitational (K.I.T.). At the K.I.T., Alex Bermingham ’08 led the way with a 72, good for 3rd place individually, the best finish by a Taft golfer in 12 years. Bermingham and Hunter Yale ’10 both shot 77 in Newport, and both golfers were named All-League, with season stroke averages

Rhinos also finished 2nd at the Founders League Championship, a mere four strokes behind Loomis, and defeated N.E. champion Greenwich Academy 4–1 late in the season. Bridget Wilcox ’10 was the team’s top player, shooting 37 for nine holes at the Watertown Golf Club. Tanya Dhamija ’08 played solidly in the #2 spot all spring, and Alex Dowling ’10 had a 16–1 individual record at #3. Seniors Dhamija, co-captain Beth Kessenich, Fei Zheng and Kara Chen have seen this program grow over the past three years and will be missed.

Girls’ Crew 1–3 This was a young team overall, with solid senior leadership in the first boat behind captains Jenny Glazer and Steph Menke. In fact, the first, third and fourth boats all competed at the New England Championship Regatta by invitation, with the first boat of Menke, Danielle Donnelly ’10, Annie Morse ’09, Glazer and Schuyler Dalton ’09 (cox) defeating Deerfield and Choate to place 3rd in the petite finals and 9th overall. The team

England regattas. However, the team had a very solid run at the DuPont Cup at Pomfret, where the first boat placed 2nd behind a strong St. Mark’s crew and the fifth boat won their heat. Girls’ Track 7–2 Making for an exciting season, Taft won three consecutive hard-fought meets by winning the final event, the 4x400meter relay. Those victories—74–70 over Loomis, 67–60 over Kingswood, and 73–

(400m), Hartley (800m) and Berry (TJ) all placed in the top five at the New England Championships. Boys’ Track 5–4 For this well-balanced team the key wins came early against league rivals Choate (56–42) and Trinity-Pawling (81–64). Luther Masanto ’08 won the league title in the triple jump (43'3"), while Chance Jennings ’08 was Taft’s sole New England champion, winning the pole vault with

j Co-captain Beth Kessenich ’08 led her team to a solid 15–2 season.

j Pole vaulter Chance Jennings ’08 took first at New Englands.

also had a solid day at the Founders Day Regatta, with the top four boats making the petite or grand finals. Boys’ Crew 2–3 The boys’ crew had some power with four experienced rowers in tri-captains Ryan Rostenkowski ’08, Chris Wirth ’08, Greg Wendzicki ’08, along with Doug Ferren ’08 and cox Jimmy Kukral ’09. Some early wins over Berkshire and Canterbury did not translate into strong days later on at the Founders or New

70 over Berkshire—were all sealed by the relay crew of Kristin Proe ’10, Katie Van Dorsten ’09, co-captain Brooke Hartley ’08, and Lindsay Dittman ’09, who would set a new school record of 4:12 at the New England championship. Cocaptain Chelsea Berry ’08 also set a new school record in the Triple Jump (36'4") and was the Founders League champion in the 300meter hurdles (47.9). Kerry Scalora ’10 defended her league title in the 100meter hurdles and was the team’s top sprinter. Senior Nyasha Miller ’08 (discus), Scalora (100h), Dittman

a personal best jump of 12'0". Daquan Mickens ’08 was the team’s top sprinter and hurdler, Thomas Rogers ’08 led the distance squad, and the trio of Mike Petchonka ’10 (51.8), George Hughes ’08 (51.9), and Peter Troubh ’08 made for a formidable lineup in the 400meters. In the weight events, Barry Clark ’08 (discus), Elliot Hambrecht ’09 (shot put) and Tom Cantwell ’08 (javelin) had the leading throws on the season. For more on the spring season, visit Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


Annual Fund Report 2007–08 2008 Class Agent Awards Snyder Award Largest amount contributed by a reunion class Class of 1958: $177,105 Annual Fund Class Agent: Charlie Yonkers Chairman of the Board Award Highest percent participation from a class more than 5 years out Class of 1958: 95% Class Agent: Charlie Yonkers McCabe Award Largest amount contributed by a non-reunion class Class of 1962: $105,283 Class Agent: Fred Nagle Young Alumni Dollars Award Largest amount contributed from a class 10 years out or less Class of 1998: $11,313 Class Agent: Devin Weisleder *Awards determined by cash and pledges to the Annual Fund as of June 30, 2008.

On behalf of the Alumni & Development Office, I am pleased to announce that the 2007–08 Taft Annual Fund raised $3,487,891 in cash and pledges for our school. This is a new record for the Annual Fund! Thank you very much to all alumni/ae, current parents, former parents, grandparents and friends of Taft for your generosity and loyalty. Thanks especially to all of our class agents and volunteers who have worked so hard to make the Annual Fund a success. I am pleased to report that Taft’s alumni contributed $1,680,133 to the Annual Fund, with 40 percent of our alumni participating. Special thanks and congratulations go to class agent Charlie Yonkers and the 50th Reunion Class of 1958 for contributing $312,105 in Annual Fund and capital cash and pledges from 95 percent of the class. John and Karin Kukral turned in an amazing performance in their first year leading the Parents’ Fund. We thank Leslie and Angus Littlejohn and Bill and Anne Kneisel who served as chairs of the Former Parents’ Fund for the first time this year. And thanks are also due to Daney and Lee Klingenstein ’44 for stepping up to serve as chairs for the Grandparents’ Fund. During my Taft years the “new gym” was transformed into the Arts & Humanities wing and Willy MacMullen ’78 started as a teacher at Taft. More recently, Taft has installed Willy as headmaster, constructed and renovated numerous facilities including the Odden Arena, Vogelstein Dormitory and the Moorhead Learning Center and is poised to break ground on the renovation of HDT, including construction of a new dining facility (see page 20). The physical transformation of Taft in the last 25 years has indeed been amazing. What has remained steadfast is the commitment of our faculty, the excellence of our students and the dedication of our alumni, parents and friends. Thank you to all of you whose contributions continue to make Taft’s successes possible. Go Big Red!

Holcombe T. Green III ’87 Annual Fund Chair


2007–08 Parents’ Fund Committee

Parents’ Fund Chairs John and Karin Kukral with their children, Johnny ’11, Jimmy ’09 and Julie

The Parents’ Fund We are thrilled to announce that 93 percent of Taft’s current parents raised $1,565,515 on behalf of the Annual Fund! In 1978, the Parents’ Fund totaled $89,000. Now, 30 years later, the fund has grown into one of the school’s most impressive credentials and has truly spoken to the current parents’ belief in what the school provides in order to educate our children. The current parents, led by a most dedicated group of committee members, have surpassed the school’s and Board of Trustees’ expectations by raising—for the first time in the history of the Fund—more than $1.5 million dollars! We send our sincere thanks to Taft’s devoted faculty and staff and the 507 current parents who made this year’s success possible. Thank you!

John and Karin Kukral Chairs of the 2007–08 and 2008–09 Parents’ Fund

Marion Markham and Randy Abood ’68, Jan and Eric Albert ’77, Rachel Cohan Albert and Jonathan Albert ’79, Colette and Dick Atkins, Ann and Douglass Bermingham, Sima and Richard Blossom ’66, Elizabeth and Bob Bostrom, Ellie and Doug Boyd, Callie and Hank Brauer ’74, Kathy and Buddy Carter, Vivian and Richard Castellano, Sharon Charles, Nancy Demmon Clifford ’81, Nancy Cooley, Cathy and Greg Crockett, Alanna and Tim Cronin, Betty and Carl Crosetto, Mary and David Dangremond, Jane and Bill Donaldson, Kathanne and Bob Fowler, Pippa and Bob Gerard, Lel and Tom Gimbel, Kristine and Peter Glazer, Sascha and Evan Greenberg, Laura Weyher Hall ’78 and Gordon Hall, Randi and Andrew Heine, David M. Hillman, Kitty Herrlinger Hillman ’76, Ken Hubbard and Tori Dauphinot, Leslie and Herb Ide, Karen and Paul Isaac, Linda and Bill Jacobs, Barbara and Bob Jones, Susan and Tom Kendall, Jennifer and Mark F. Kessenich III, Lisa and John Kiernan, Nancy and Andrew Kirby, Meg and Stuart Kirkpatrick, Val and John Kratky, Leslie Herrlinger Lanahan ’73 and Michael Lanahan, Lorrie Landis, Karen and T.J. Letarte, Diane and Chris Liotta, Suzy and Joe Loughlin, Lisa and Joe Lovering, Mary and Joe Mastrocola, Christiana and Ferdy Masucci, Lisa Reid Mayer ’75 and Bob Mayer, K.T. and Alan McFarland, Rose and Paul McGowan, Rory Millson, Fiona and Martin MittagLenkheym, Kate and Hans Morris, Claire and Rob Newbold, Maggie and Terry Ng, Kippy and Peter North ’62, Valerie and Jeffrey Paley ’56, Ann and Louis Parks, Christine Plata, Carrie and Ted Pryor, Sera and Tom Reycraft, May and Aziz Richi, Rosemarie and John Riggins Sr., Sue and Steve Rooney, Laura Childs and Ken Saverin ’72, Jean and Stuart Serenbetz, Margaret Shiverick, Mary and Carl Siegel, Spyros Skouras ’72, John A. Slowik, Kristin and Don Taylor ’76, Ellen and Chris White, Brooks Hendrie Widdoes ’73, Alice and Peter Wyman, Jo Klingenstein Ziesing ’78 and Peter Ziesing

20 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008

Serving up space at the heart of the school A comprehensive renovation of the entire west wing of HDT, the school’s most historic building, addresses a score of school needs, from handicap accessibility to LEED certification and, of course, more room for the community to come together at mealtimes.

By Julie Reiff

west dining hall Keeping the dining hall at the heart of the campus presents a few challenges, but to move it would have changed the whole culture of the school. The renovations actually extend Main Hall all the way to Mac House circle, better connecting the west side of campus to the original buildings. Gund Partnership

Whether you donned a white jacket at 7 in

the morning to wait tables at breakfast with Paul Cruikshank, ate lunch directly from segmented trays in the ’80s, spent weeks decorating the space for the winter formal in the ’90s, or remember the first night you were assigned to the headmaster’s table for sit-down dinner, chances are you spent a fair amount of your Taft career in the dining hall. And, although the ways the school community uses the space have changed over the years, the dining hall itself is much the same as it was in 1959, when the lower dining hall was added. In fact, the upper dining hall has changed little since it first opened in 1914. Few places are more central to any family or community than where we eat. For generations, Taft students wound their way along the serpentine corridor from Bingham to the dining hall for sit-down dinner each night. Although the tradition of a seated meal still exists, younger alumni may have other memories of the dining hall—of dancing to Toots and the Maytals on a Saturday night, taking a French final or coming together with their team at the end of the season for the sports banquet. So when it became clear that the dining hall and kitchen no longer met the needs of the modern school, the trustees began an intensive, collaborative dialogue, probably some time in the late ’70s, and out of it, a vision for a new space emerged—but they were also steadfast. The dining hall must remain at the heart of the school. Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


proposed plan The new space is divided into three dining rooms that will honor the architectural traditions of HDT and CPT. The historic parts of the building, including the original upper dining hall and Horace Taft’s residence (ISP/Cruikshank), will be renovated. The lower dining hall will be replaced with a larger dining room, expanded serving area, and new kitchen facilities on the lower level. The old kitchens will be gutted to make way for a north dining room facing the pond. Gund Partnership

When Horace Taft started his school, he rented a house in Pelham Manor, New York. When he moved to Watertown three years later, he bought a Civil War-era hotel that better fit the needs of his growing school. But still he dreamed of building a new campus, and when it came time to assemble bricks and mortar, he called on renowned architect Bertram Goodhue. In 1910, Goodhue summarized his recent work in a letter, saying, “…church architect I am and must remain, for practically all my work is made up of churches, or is at least ecclesiastical in character. There are two pleasant exceptions, however, to this rule, West Point…and the school for Horace Taft, esq., which is designed and will be accomplished in two or three years.” The “new school building,” what we know today as Horace Dutton Taft Hall or HDT, would house boys’ rooms upstairs, and on the main levels, a library, classrooms, laboratories, faculty offices, an assembly room, and a dining hall—the same dining hall Taft students gather in today. “Goodhue believed that ‘beyond all architecture, there must be an ideal.’ In that sense, he and all teachers are alike,” says Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78. “What he built and what we will build are all about the seeking of the ideal, the oldest and most romantic of yearnings. Teachers and archi22 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008

tects are romantics both, their work an expression of the faith that in their hands their materials can endure forever. With HDT, he helped embody the culture of this place. “This is not just a renovation of the dining hall,” MacMullen explains. “This is a historic and comprehensive transformation of the entire west end of the HDT building that meets many critical school needs: new dining facility which will be able to seat the entire school at a sit-down dinner in a stunning space, a new servery which addresses modern eating habits, several new offices and classrooms, the relocation of the loading dock and a safe pedestrian-only quad in front of Mac House, complete ADA compliance including bathrooms and entrances, renovation of the old headmaster’s quarters, the creation of a LEED certified environmentally sound building, and a refurbishing of the dining hall lobby. But nothing was more important to the board and the school than preserving the centrality of the dining experience. “While a stand-alone building might have been easier, there was unanimity in the belief that much of what defines the Taft experience is the location of the dining hall, on the axis of the Main Hall, central on the campus. If our school is a village, with Bingham as our town hall, the Main Hall our

the wish list r Increased space for dining in order to seat the entire community r A space that is flexible enough for buffet meals, formal sit-down dinners, banquets, special events, class dinners and all-school celebrations r An expanded, modernized and more attractive marketplacestyle serving area that allows for contemporary dietary habits and improved traffic flow r A more efficient, functional and attractive kitchen r An improved dining experience—with smaller, round tables, better lighting and increased views r Relocated loading dock (which in its current location is noisy, unsightly and dangerous), thereby creating a pedestrian courtyard in front of McIntosh House

Nothing was more important to the school than preserving the centrality of the dining experience.

by the numbers 135=size of the school in 1912 when Horace Taft broke ground on his “new building,” which included the current upper dining hall: 123 students and 12 faculty

main street, and the dining hall our village commons or public house, then we have to break bread here, in the heart of it all. This mandate, more vital than all others, says essentially all you need to know about the culture of Taft.” The board of trustees met with a number of architects, but in the end selected the Gund Partnership, who created the Ivy Kwok Wu Science and Mathematics Center (1997) and the Odden Arena (2001). “This plan by Gund finally conquered all the challenges,” says board member Hank Brauer ’74, who heads the Campus Planning Committee. “We needed to meet the needs of various constituencies, and be respectful of the historic presence, while still providing a modern eatery.” The new plan identifies the pond as the center of the school today, removes delivery trucks from McIntosh House Circle and creates a new pedestrian-friendly quad. It also continues the flow of Main Hall all the way through the building and better connects HDT to the west side of the campus. “No one really wanted a stand-alone dining hall; it’s not how this campus works,” adds Brauer. “Taft is really unique that way. This is the only place where the community gathers three times every day, which allows you to see a lot of people,

391=school in 1959 when the Armstrong (lower) Dining Hall was added: 348 students and 43 teachers

558=school in the fall of 1971, with the addition of 82 girls: to 498 students and 60 faculty

694=school in 2008: 577 students and 117 faculty

r ADA compliant bathrooms at the west end of HDT and bringing the building into life safety and fire code compliance r A modern recycling facility and environmentally sensitive, LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building r Historic renovation of the adjacent first floor of Mr. Taft’s quarters

Horace Dutton Taft Hall, designed by renowned architect Bertram Goodhue, under construction in 1912–13, proved to be a seminal space, and every building on campus since has carried on an architectural dialogue with it. Note the kitchen wing on the right and the view from Headmaster’s Circle, inset. Leslie D. Manning Archives Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


and that’s vital to the school’s culture. Gund has listened well. They’ve always been excited about Taft. We made sure they sat in the Harley Roberts Room and got a sense of the place. There has been an incredible amount of collaboration—food service, tech issues and different specialties to deal with.” “One of our objectives, the key thing really, was to accommodate the number of people the school now needs to and still feel comfortable,” says John Prokos, a principal with Gund Partnership. “We knew we had to do something to take advantage of the view and also improve the exterior of the rear of the building. We use the continuation of Main Hall to unite the three dining spaces, but each will feel unique. “Few prep schools around the country have such a beautiful campus,” Prokos adds. “The dining hall didn’t live up to it, nor was it really functional anymore. There is a historic route across campus from Bingham to the dining hall; these are some spectacular spaces. So we needed to honor that tradition, that excellence and the people who came before. “New, larger windows in the East [upper] Dining Room will let in more light,” he explains. “The new marketplace-style servery is bigger by fivefold; it will be attractive and more efficient. The West Dining Hall will have a vaulted ceiling; the North Dining Hall will have booths. Students can have breakfast in one, lunch in another and dinner in the third, if they like.”

“If our school is a village, with Bingham as our town hall, the Main Hall our main street, and the dining hall our village commons or public house, then we have to break bread here, in the heart of it all.”

a movable feast Renovating and expanding the school’s dining facilities in the same location requires some complicated timing and shuffling. Here’s a look at how the project will unfold.

phase 1

Summer 2008 through spring 2009 r Renovation of Jigger Shop and student union to temporary dining hall r Demolition of lower dining room and loading dock r Construction of new kitchen and loading dock r Construction of new West Dining Hall and new “marketplace-style” serving area (students will dine in upper dining hall and expanded Jigger Shop) 24 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008

phase 2

phase 3

r Renovation of upper or East Dining Hall (adds larger windows on east wall and removes outside hallway)

r Renovation of former kitchen area into North Dining Hall (includes three bay windows facing the pond and booths along three walls for more intimate dining)

Summer 2009

r Construction new courtyard between West Dining Hall and Mac House

Summer and fall 2009

Gund partnership Architect Graham Gund’s work is already part of the campus vocabulary, with the design of Lady Ivy Kwok Wu Science and Mathematics Center (1997) and the Odden Arena (2001). Among his other notable designs are the Folger Shakespeare Library’s Lansburg Theater in Washington, D.C., historic redevelopment of Bullfinch Square in Cambridge, Massachusetts, as well as work on many college campuses, including Kenyon and Harvard.

“How many discussions take place around the breakfast or dinner table?” asks Brauer. “Think about all the good things that happen there. The kitchen is the central point in any home, an important space and that’s true at Taft as well. Renovating this space well will give us the biggest bang for the buck, and we shouldn’t be afraid of it.” “We’re working hard to recall the historic parts of the campus and its original gothic architecture,” Prokos adds. Through stained glass in the windows that line the hall, or in the plastered beams or light fixtures that are reminiscent of the original library or the old study hall, the new and newly renovated will communicate with what is already there in other parts of the building. This was a chance for us to enhance an already beautiful campus.” As the construction of Horace Dutton Taft Hall (and the upper dining hall) neared completion in 1913, the Taft Annual wrote, “Amidst all the joy and excitement of moving into the

new surroundings, the closing of the second era in the history [the years in the Warren House] comes not without a certain touch of sadness. The two buildings, under whose roofs the present reputation of the school was formed, will always be a strong proof of the fact that personality, above all else, makes a school. It only remains to be seen what the future will bring with its additional asset of perfect equipment, added to the school spirit.” “This moment feels to me so like the one Horace Taft faced almost a century ago,” MacMullen says, “when he took a deep breath and hired one the nation’s greatest architects to create for him a school. Constructing the ‘HDT’ building set the course for the school; it was a bold and visionary act, and it ensured that the school would thrive in the future. And today we find ourselves in a similar moment—and it is incredibly exciting to think of how we are building once again for the next century.”

The new north dining hall, with bay-window views of the pond, replaces the former kitchen area, adding much needed dining space and reorienting the focus away from the road. Note the new tower on the right that marks the new entrance to the Main Hall. Gund Partnership

Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


Lisa Herrick ’75 and Marti Stine Boyd ’73 are among the women around the country who’ve discovered that potluck dinners can make a bigger difference than people thought. By Bonnie Blackburn Penhollow ’84 Photos by Lise Metzger

chopped salads with almonds and tangerines. Others bring noodles, beef tenderloin with horseradish sauce, spinach lasagna or hummus. One of Marti Stine Boyd’s favorites is called a “Hot and Chili Night.” She and her friends also mine Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa recipe books for new and unique dishes. Usually there is wine and soft drinks. But always, always, there is lemonade—lemonade to remind them that if life gives you lemons, you make lemonade. And if you have women, of course, you create Womenade. The women who bring those casseroles also bring with them something more important: a sense of community along with a check for $35. In 2001, Lisa Herrick, a clinical psychologist in Washington, D.C., and her friend Dr. Amy Kossoff cofounded (along with four of their mutual friends), a group called Washington Womenade that helps low-income people

meet the little needs of life by hosting a potluck supper with dozens of their closest friends, each of whom kicks in $35. “We (were) talking about how much money Amy was spending on her patients, and I had the tradition of having these potlucks,” Herrick recalled. The two friends brainstormed with several other friends and decided to “invite every woman that all of us know” to a potluck and raise some money to help Kossoff and her patients out. Kossoff was Herrick’s neighbor, a physician who works primarily with homeless people in Washington, D.C. The two neighbors had originally bonded over their dogs and became friends. Herrick had a long-standing tradition of throwing epic potluck dinners for her female friends, including Kossoff. Imagine you are a woman who is trying to keep your children in school. You’ve lost your job, your health care, maybe even your home. Your 9-year-old’s class is taking a

Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


trip to a local art museum, but he needs $3 for lunch. You have no bank account, no food in the fridge, and nowhere to turn. Or you go to the clinic to get free medical care, but the prescriptions you need cost $17, and you only have $11 to last you the rest of the month. Herrick said her friend not only helped those patients with medical needs, but often helped with financial needs as well, such as that $17 worth of prescriptions, or the $62 for the electric company, or the $50 gas card or a Metro pass to get to a job interview. She figured she’d handed out some $10,000 in one year alone in these little gifts. One day, inspiration struck. That’s it. Simple. Sensible. And eminently doable for all involved. The money raised doesn’t go directly to the people who need it; it goes to the vendors dunning them: A check to the gas company, to keep heat going in the winter. A check to Kmart for school clothes. Another to the grocery store. A gas card. A security deposit to a landlord. Real Simple magazine got wind of the Womenade concept and wrote about it in August 2002. The idea caught hold, and groups began springing up across the country, including one in Annapolis, Md. That group was organized by another Taft alumna, Marti Stine Boyd, ’73, who started up her own Womenade group after reading about it in Real Simple, not knowing that sister Taftie Lisa Herrick was one of the original Womenade founders. “I was reading the article, and I just sat up and said ‘I’m going to do this,’” Boyd said. “I have to do this. It’s perfect.” Boyd asked seven friends to help her with her first Womenade party, assigning each woman a task so no one was overwhelmed, and each of those women invited 10 friends, and the Annapolis Womenade group was born. Boyd’s group works with an Annapolis social service agency, which gives referrals of clients with one-time needs. Some groups designate a single charity to receive the money they raise. Others, like Herrick’s, funnel the donations through a person they trust, like Kossoff.

28 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008

“The thing that it hinges on is that you have to do it with your friends and they have to trust you,” she said. “It’s a small-scale giving circle among giving friends. … It’s a great model: Everyone loves to eat, and they love to bring food. And not one penny goes to anything but the people who need the money. We have zero overhead. People love that, knowing that 100 percent of their contribution is going to the people who need it.” Boyd’s group has recently completed paperwork to become a designated 501(c)3 charity after the amount they raised and the number of people they helped had grown. Attorneys involved drew up the papers pro bono. A Maryland bank gave them a no-fee checking account. Dentists and doctors waived their fees to help people who needed their teeth fixed so they could speak properly and look professional for job interviews. “We do a lot of medical bills,” Herrick said. “We will write (a check for) $12 to the pharmacy, $62 to the electric company. We protect our donors; we don’t give cash to an individual— that’s a pretty good way of protecting individuals.” “We help the person who is working but they have no (money for) extras,” Boyd said. “We pay that bill, a little short-term, anonymous financial assistance, a one-time donation that helps brighten their lives and keeps them going. There’s nobody else meeting this need. It’s the right thing to do. We’ve done grocery cards, (paid) hotel bills for people lost in the housing situation. What are they going to do, sleep in their cars?” As Boyd noted, “We all have people in our lives who would help us if we got into a jam. There are a lot of people that don’t. It really makes you aware of the social problems in the community. “People lose their jobs, they get sick, and then they lose their homes,” she said, recounting the story of one professional woman her group helped who had had a stroke and another who was the victim of domestic violence. They were able to get a dentist to donate dentures

to replace the teeth the woman had lost from beatings. It’s not all sad stories, though. Womenade is also about women getting together with their friends, and their friends’ friends. “It’s wonderful to have the fellowship of your female friends. It’s fun, and people network. The world sort of shrinks,” said Herrick. “You meet new people and you make new friends and you help people and it’s just so easy. We did this by having a party with our friends. If you tell people you are doing wonderful things, they do wonderful things. It’s just cool to see that. … It’s an antidote,” to the problems of the world. It makes people feel good, Boyd noted, if they can “pay for a pair of glasses for a child, (buy insulin) for a diabetic, (or help out) a young mother who died of breast cancer who wanted her kids to go to summer camp after she died.” But what of the name? It came to Herrick in a dream, in a spin on the old phrase “If you have lemons, make lemonade,” Herrick said. “If you have women, make Womenade,” she said. Although the concept is similar to giving circles that have been around for years, the key is the small $35 donation women are asked to give. “That’s probably what you might spend if you went out to dinner with your girlfriend,” Boyd noted. And yet, her group has raised “probably $16,000 over five years,” with just one potluck a year. “The money just comes,” Boyd added. “We’re not a solution to the problem, but … we can make it a little easier for somebody.” Womenade groups have spread across the country because, Boyd said, “it really just sparks something in people. It’s just a really simple idea, and as long as it stays simple, it will keep working.” Bonnie Blackburn Penhollow ’84 is a writer living in Fort Wayne, Indiana, with her husband Steve and their children Emma and Max.

It’s ridiculously easy, say Marti Stine Boyd and Lisa Herrick. All you have to do is round up a group of friends and throw a potluck party. Collect donations in a small amount—$35 per person seems to be the norm—then pool that money and donate it either to a single charity or contact a social service agency for donation advice. Work with someone in a social service agency whom you trust: that way, those who donate will be sure the money is getting where it needs to be. Your potluck-cum-fundraiser can be a one-time event, an annual event or even twice-yearly. Both women advise that if you plan on making this a regular event you open a no-fee bank account in the name of “YOUR TOWN Womenade” (make sure there isn’t already a group in your town—you can find them through Google). Talk with the bank and let them know what you’re doing. Many will waive fees, and may even offer debit cards, which will make third-party payments easier. Visit to check out Lisa Herrick’s group–the website is loaded with tips and articles about how to get a group started and success stories from across the country. “There’s nothing stopping anyone from doing this,” Herrick says. “I guarantee that there is some place that if you brought $400 in $10 bills it would make a difference to somebody.”

Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


Preserving Kenyan Culture After decades of teaching, Dr. Kinuthia Njoroge ’65 is tackling his toughest subject ever:

by Lynette Sumpter ’90

saving Kenya’s traditional Kikuyu culture.

Khamis Ramadhan/Global Photo Associates

The Riuki Centre is a gathering place filled with music, performances, educational programming and great food. One can imagine walking into the center and hearing the laughter of children being told a traditional Kikuyu story, listening to traditional Kikuyu music, or perhaps performing a dance or participating in a cooking lesson. Indeed, Riuki is alive with the spirit of community and celebration. Founded by Dr. Kinuthia Njoroge ’65 near Nairobi, Kenya, in 1986, Riuki Cultural Centre was established with a mission to “inculcate moral values and ethics” and

30 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008

promote Kikuyu traditional culture. Beginning as a small program, Riuki has become a full cultural center featuring programs including oral performances, music, visual arts, and academic courses. Riuki also provides educational programs in the culinary arts and herbal medicine. Among its most important programs is educational enrichment for foster children designed to assist them in actualizing their greatest potential. Approximately 18,000 students per year participate in the various programs offered at the center. The Riuki Centre is a community located 25km north of

Nairobi. The local community depends mostly on coffee and fruit cultivation and are predominantly of the Kikuyu ethnic group. Staffed by members of the immediate community who are eager to share their cultural customs, the center is an incredibly important resource for the local community and for international visitors. The seed idea for Riuki Cultural Centre actually began right here in the United States over 20 years ago. While studying in Wisconsin, Njoroge helped to establish an African-American cultural center at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. He believed that it was necessary to create opportunities for people of African descent to “know their roots.” The process of westernization, he believed, created circumstances where African and African-American people were losing their own cultural values. There was a need to create a space and opportunities to celebrate African heritage and preserve the diverse traditions of people of African descent. Upon his return to Kenya, he envisioned

and developed Riuki with the same essential mission. Njoroge plans to expand the Riuki model and build five new centers in various communities in Kenya—an ambitious and inspiring project. This is especially important in Kenya. Njoroge believes that his country needs healing in this time, given the recent inter-ethnic tensions and violence. He is hopeful and encouraged, however, that the Kenyan government and the opposition will come together in the best interest of the country. Riuki and other cultural centers can be powerful sites of healing for the country through various programming aimed at educational enrichment and the celebration of traditional local cultures. Lynette Sumpter ’90, former director of multicultural affairs at Taft, is associate dean of faculty and a psychology teacher at St. Mark’s School in Massachusetts. She continues to advocate for the celebration of cultural diversity and the importance of education as a tool for social justice.

For more on the Riuki Cultural Centre, visit Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


Symbol of devotion



here are a lot of things that mark Taft special; but in the end, it is all about the people. And this year, as Ned and Sue Trombly retire, we say good-bye to a couple who symbolize the kind of commitment that makes ours a unique school. Between the two of them, there are some sixty years of service— distinguished, loyal, caring service. It is hard to think of the school without the Tromblys. Ned was a fixture already when I was a student in 1978; he ran the kitchen and dining services, and it seemed everyone knew him. Anne and Jerry Romano recall how quickly he became “the person you could turn to in a time of need. Many times, at first light, we would walk to the back room to find Ned with a pot of coffee, surrounded by kitchen staff and friends. He had such great compassion, hard work, loyalty and humor.” Ned’s problem was that he did too good a job, and so Lance Odden appointed him assistant business manager to Dave Mitchell; and soon after, he became the director of facilities. Dick Cobb, himself someone with a few years at Taft, recalls, “He was the first guy I went to when I wanted to find out something or get something done. He was always such a people person.” When I was hired to teach in 1983, it

Ned and Sue with sons Matt and Dan ’97 at right 32 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008

was in the Business Office that I came to know him well, as all teachers did. Ned was like a caring, wise uncle to a lot of faculty: you went to him to figure out your paycheck, make sense of the hospital bill, arrange for your public service license, or report a leaky faucet in the apartment. He was Human Resources before schools thought in those terms. And, amazingly, even as most of his hours were on the phone or computer in the Business Office—first in the old headmaster’s quarters, then the basement of Congdon—he seemed to know everyone and he cared about students. Of course, he was omnipresent, arriving with four cups of coffee to share early in the morning, and not leaving until late—until he had put out all the fires that sparked up in a typical day. “It is all about the students,” he often told me, and how could you not be inspired by that spirit, by his unfailing good nature, his utter devotion to the school, his willingness to do all he could to serve? Lance Odden wrote to Ned, “You have a very special feel for working with others and in making a complex team work effectively. No one is more loyal or cares deeply.” When I hired Gil Thornfeldt from Wesleyan as business manager three years ago, the first

By Willy MacMullen ’78

person he turned to was Ned, for his incredible institutional memory. Gil says, “Ned is the symbol of devotion. No one knows Taft better or cares more about the school.” And, Sue carried out a career every bit as distinguished, as a librarian of consummate professionalism and dedication. She wore a lot of hats, starting in 1980 when she was a part-time librarian, and then through the years when she served as technical services director and completed a master’s in library science: cataloger, teacher, research paper adviser, and so on. Tom Cesarz, our library director, observed, “Her position required a severe attention to detail, and she combined this with an earnest and sincere orientation to service.” And she always had a smile on her face. Scores of students saw her for guidance, and she was a pillar of strength and stability in the years that saw lots of turnover there. Lance Odden wrote her one year, saying, “I am indebted to you for your loyalty…. And the morale and spirit of the library seems to be so much enhanced—thank you for your part in making this happen.” Sue had that simple, rare gift of making people around her feel valued. None of us know the path that our future becomes. Surely Ned and Sue would not have predicted in 1973 that they would find Taft and then raise their two sons, Dan ’97 (head monitor) and Matthew (Berkshire ’98), and wake up one day in 2008 realizing that they had spent most of their adult lives here. And they are far too humble to accept the praise they have heard these past months. In bidding them farewell, I looked at a room filled with faculty and said, “How many of you were in some way touched by the goodness and dedication in this couple?” Every head nodded, and then there was the standing ovation and a lot of people blinking back tears.

Pillar of strength and stability


Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


er y l l a G d n e k e e AlumniW Photography by Eric Ely



Sally Rowan (widow of Andrew ’43) and John Vogt ‘43 dance to the Taft Jazz Band at the Old Guard Dinner.


Ted Baldwin, Dudley Taft and Mike Gray lead the Class of ’58 in the parade.


Michael Stein, daughter Elena ’09 and wife Ann Magnin ’76

34 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008



4. Brad Joblin ’73 with

his wife Barbara and son Blake

5. The headmaster

thanks 50th Reunion volunteers Ted Baldwin, Bill Youngs and Steve Usher ’58.

6. Chris Barnett 4.


(husband of Eleanor Trotman ’93) and son Robbie

7. Stan Cairns ’48 at the Old Guard Dinner

8. Golfers Peter White, Reese Owens, Rick Schnier, all ‘73, Spyros Skouras ’72, Andrew Foote ’05 and Spyros Skouras ’06


9. 2003 classmates Amy Freeman, Leah Barad, Joanna Szymkowiak, Meghan Gallagher, Emily Marano, Anna Tseretopoulos and Kristie Giannetto

10. Hydrox, the female 7.



student a cappella group, perform at the 50th Reunion Dinner on Thursday evening.

10. Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


AlumniWeekend 2008 1. Jol, Andrew ’88 and

Susan Everett at the Alumni Lacrosse Game, where Jol ably coached the teams.

2. Head mons Lily

Lanahan ’08 and incoming Bob Vulfov ’09 (see page 13)

3. 1993 moms show off

their latest offspring: Amanda Watson Marmer with Piper, AJ Mleczko with Sam, Mukta Dhumale with Liam, Margaret Fitzgerald Wagner with Anne and Jack, Whitney Parks Berns with Ryan and Eleanor Trotman Barnett with Robbie.




Bill Shiland ‘73 at the Headmaster’s Supper on Saturday


5. Dave Forster ’62 at

the Class Secretaries Breakfast

6. Kat Penberthy ’98 and Kate Sands Mascarenhas ’98 check out the Mark W. Potter ’48 Gallery and the artwork of Galen Cheney ’80.




Mike Sesko ’98 and Kate Zimmerman Marlow (wife of Jon ’98) at the Headmaster’s Supper

6. 36 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


8. Citizen Wold. John

Wold ’34 receives the school’s highest honor, the Alumni Citation of Merit

9. Lois and Doug Purdy

’48 and Chuck Durrell ’48 at the panel discussion on Saturday morning

10. Dan Hogan ’63, 9.

Ned Smith ’99 (son of Jack ’68) and Lance Odden at the combined 1963/1968 reception at Highfield Country Club on Friday night

11. The Alumni Lacrosse Teams



11. Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


In the

M i n d Heart


Remarks from the 118th Commencement Exercises May 31, 2008

1. Nyasha Miller gives the headmaster a hug of gratitude. 2. Class speaker Nate Breg thanks his classmates for their support of one another. 3. Head monitor Lily Lanahan holds up the class stone that would be placed in the wall of Centennial, once the rain stopped. 38 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


2. 3.

Ford Fraker

U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Many of us have suffered through commencement speeches that say things like, “Seize the moment,” “Save the world,” “Realize your true potential,” all of which I’m sure you will do, so I’m not going to talk about that. Instead I’d like to say a few things about you as a class and what makes you special, and share a few pointers from my experiences. I should begin by saying that as ambassador I get to do, every once in a while, a few exciting things. I get to meet kings and princes, princesses and queens, presidents and first ladies. I get to fly on Air Force One, and living in Riyadh, I get to ride lots of camels. But nothing compares to actually being a parent standing up here this morning in front of you all. So what kind of a class are you? Stephen Colbert, of the Colbert Report, said in a graduation speech that it was impossible for youth to be wise and I think you, the Class of ’08, have disproved this with your class motto, “At least we tried.” I was very taken with it because it is similar to one that I actually had when I was your age. Mine was, “It’s in the mind and heart.” What that meant to me was that if I thought I could do something and really wanted to do it and tried very hard to do it, then I could do it. Well real life interposed later on, and it was clear that in some instances it didn’t matter how hard you tried, what you did, there were factors outside your control which meant that things didn’t happen exactly the way you wanted them to happen. But at least you tried, and it’s the “tried” bit that is really important here because I think in adopting this as your class motto you’ve really fastened on a great life truth. You can’t always control the results, but if you made the effort and tried very hard, you’ll feel good about yourself, and feeling good about yourself is all about building self-esteem, self-respect and self-confidence, and these are huge things to be able to take with you through life. A few weeks ago I was invited to attend an event of the Brownies and the Girl Scouts; they were putting on a play. It could have been a gymnasium anywhere in the United States. It happened to be the American School in Riyadh. The only difference was that all the mums were dressed in black and had their head scarves on, and all the dads were wearing white Arab robes. I was standing around with my bodyguards, feeling faintly ridiculous, and I could see a little girl, maybe 8 or 9, working up courage to come over and talk to me. She finally started across the floor and planted herself in front of me, looking up with this very intense face. In a slightly insistent voice she asked, “Are you the president?” I said, “No, I’m the ambassador, but I know the president and when I see him next time I’ll tell him you said hello,” and she looked up at me and said, “Thanks,” turned around and left. A few minutes

later her mother came up and said, “My husband and I have been following your travels around The Kingdom, and we’ve decided that if the president of the United States cares enough about us to come out twice, and the ambassador of the United States cares enough about us to travel around and meet the people, then there’s real hope for peace in the Middle East.” Now the critics will say that two visits to the Middle East late in an administration aren’t going to achieve Middle East peace, and I know for sure that my visits to towns and villages aren’t going to, but it’s the trying that is important here, so I look forward to being able to look back on my time and say, “At least we tried.” A big part of trying to do the right thing is getting fully engaged with whatever it is you’re involved in, and in diplomacy that means talking to people. In the State Department I’m referred to as the “full-engagement guy.” I think we should be talking to everybody, because if you don’t talk to other countries you don’t know what they’re thinking. You can’t influence their behavior, and you’ve certainly got no intelligence from them. I think the Taft Class of ’08 will be remembered for being fully engaged. When I think of the class I think of words like cohesive and inclusive, which describe how all of you are with each other, and I think that marks you out as a very special class. Your class prank makes that point as well (see page 13). All the chairs around the pond: very artistic, very organized, very nice, but the part of it I liked best was recognizing that, as a result, no one was going to be able to have breakfast that morning, so you went around to all the dorms and actually gave doughnuts to everybody. I thought that was important. So in a time of oil prices at $130 a barrel, global warming becoming a reality, recession, and two wars being fought in the Middle East, I am actually optimistic about the future because of you all, because of your maturity, your humanity, and the fact that you will stay engaged with each other and hopefully with the world at large.

Nate Breg ’08

Class Speaker It’s hard to discern the character of a class because a class is composed of many characters. Not only do we have a student body of athletes, students and artists, but we also have individuals who are several or all of those things. You can find students as comfortable on the wrestling mat as they are on the dance floor or the stage, or varsity goalkeepers who can compose eloquent, insightful essays. We come out in large crowds for student exhibitions of a great variety. Many turned out for the PSBL championship on Wednesday; afterward, students filled Bingham to watch the Bond movie students made. Spring at Taft means sloping green hills lined with fans looking over the tennis Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


courts, lacrosse fields, and baseball diamonds. Winter brings a packed crowd in Odden for the first guys’ varsity hockey game, as well as convoys of fans to basketball’s tournament games. Look at how many people turned out to see seniors projects last Wednesday. Look at the crowd after the senior project fair that packed Lincoln Lobby at least ten-people-deep to see Hydrox and Oriocos—and packed the lobby 15 minutes before the performance. And I’m still taken aback by how crowded the Black Box has been for Improv shows this year. Molly Brauer said to me, “I go out and support other people’s hard work.” Hard work. Not just plays or games, or just one thing. The community pours out of the dorms for all different events. That kind of supportiveness is obvious. What’s less apparent is the supportiveness we have for each other on an individual level when trying something new or going through rough patches. I remember playing third base in a PSBL game and Tom Cantwell was giving me basic advice I didn’t know (like which guy was the pitcher) and he wasn’t even on my team. Maggie Widdoes said she would never have tried a cappella before an audience other than the supportive one at Taft during the senior project museum. But people here don’t just praise our efforts or let us try new things without condescension. They also help us get through troubled times. Will Asmundson said that junior year, fellow monitors Max Jacobs, Ollie Mittag, and Ryan Rostenkowski helped him get to know more people even though they, three good friends already, didn’t need to. Other seniors had more examples, like Tyler Morgan, whose friends wrote him a supportive letter when he was in the infirmary, and Ashleigh Kowtoniuk, who mentioned Kevin Nugent’s support for her when she tore her ACL.


1. Guest speaker Ambassador Ford Fraker and his wife Linda with their three grads: Antonia ’04, Charlie ’08, and Jonathan ’06 2. Class speaker Clare Parks ’08 3. Khai Do Ba ’08 and his brother Khanh ’02 4. Aurelian Award winner Chelsea Berry ’08 5. Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 presents a diploma to Valedictorian Amy Jang ’08. 6. John Riggins ’08, who earned the Spanish Prize, with his sisters Shayna, Gina and Tiarra 40 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008






It is this supportiveness of individuals that helps us pursue new interests, improve our skills and stay sane. Don’t leave this inclusiveness, this supportiveness, this spirit behind at Taft. Bring it with you to college, your home for the next four years. Our friends will go in different directions to different places, but we can still keep and spread the spirit that made our time at Taft so much better. We need that spirit for ourselves, and the closed world outside needs it from us.

Clare Parks

Class Speaker When I graduated from 8th grade I wasn’t excited to go to high school. I was scared to start somewhere new, where I knew barely anybody, away from home, away from my friends, away from anything that made me feel comfortable. When I finally got to Taft, I lost that fear the second I started meeting the people in my class that would make this place so memorable. The rest came naturally. I now find myself experiencing a similar fear, but it is much stronger. After four years I know there are few here who are ready to say goodbye. We have all had our moments of denial when things seemed hard, but I think now we can all admit just how much we’ve loved this place and how much we’ve learned to love each other. Each year made our class so much better with the addition of new classmates. We’re so lucky to have become close in so short a time. We have been able to create and strengthen friendships that we’ll always have, at least in our memories. And for some reason, with our class, having fun together comes way too naturally. And when we’re not having the time of our lives with each other, we’re sharing amazingly strong relationships with faculty, particularly our advisers. I only started truly enjoying myself here once I was taken under Mr. Cobb’s wing, and I know there are more than a few of us who feel the same way: Maggie with Miss Zaccara, Kevin with Miss Lenz, Louise with Miss Smith, and Isabel with Mr. Wandelt. Our ability to share a bond so powerful with these faculty shows just how willing we were to embrace this place and let ourselves experience Taft for all it’s worth. As awful as it is to have to say goodbye to our roommates, our advisers, our dorm heads, our teammates, the benefits of our experience here outweigh the difficulty of leaving. I’m so proud to be a member of this class because of the love and compassion we all have for each other. I don’t care if it’s cheesy; we have looked out for each other since day one, and this overwhelming sense of community will be so hard to leave behind. College will be a challenge because it’s not every year that you’re lucky enough to find a group of kids this close, but let’s leave now on a good note when we can’t imagine life without

The Jig, without assembly, without each other, because everybody knows it’s the people that make Taft. We may be scared to leave all this and start anew at college, but, if we’re lucky, our experience out there, wherever it may be, will become just a fraction of what we were all able to share here. Thank you guys for making it all worthwhile.

Lily Lanahan

Head Monitor Now that this day has finally come I can confidently state that the sadness I have dreaded for so long is outweighed with pride. Our pride is one for our school, our class and, most importantly, our legacy. We have all come together from diverse origins, and now is our time to part for various destinations. However, both of these paths in our lives will always intersect at Taft. We will all remember this place for the opportunities made available to us and for the people we have been lucky enough to cross paths with. Taft is a place of change. We have all experienced variations of this change at some point during our time here, whether it be learning to live without The Jig or simply adjusting to a new Taft filled with unfamiliar lowermids. I knew Taft would inevitably change me. However, it was not until my uppermid and senior year here that I realized Taft is not made up of people who are simply changed by social conformity; it’s us as seniors, realizing everything we have put in during our time here to change Taft for the better. Our Class Committee was challenged to think of a word that best describes the Senior Class. Maggie Widdoes used the word “passion,” and through this word she embodies our passion as a class to participate, let our opinion be heard, and to make change both here at Taft and globally. Our class has been met face-to-face with a consistent line of unwanted change. However, not once have we ever let something die down without a struggle and a voice. I think it’s fair to conclude that this struggle ultimately occurs because our class as a whole cares. I know those who spoke at the Senior Reflection have made a lasting influence on me. While our impression is not written in stone, it will reflect throughout the school for years to come. Our names are now inscribed in brick as Taft history, and our stories will not simply go unknown. Our story does not end here, either, as our Taft legacy will grow throughout our years as proud alumni. As a farewell I would rather not say bye to the Class of 2008, but instead I would like to thank you all, including our teachers and our families, for providing us with opportunity and for making the best of Taft. Listen to the complete remarks and view the list of award winners at Taft Bulletin Summer 2008


F r o m t h e A r chiv e s

Located in the heart of Pelham Manor, New York, the original home of the Taft School is up for sale. In his book, Memories and Opinions, Horace Taft recalls those early days: “Mrs. Robert Black of Pelham Manor, New York, was a great friend of my brother Henry, who also lived in Pelham Manor. Her brother had been a roommate of Harry in college, and through him I had come to know Mr. and Mrs. Black very well. Her father had recently died and she was thinking of erecting a school in his memory and proposed that I take the headmastership…. “The school was called ‘Mr. Taft’s School’ at the beginning but, as a matter of fact, it belonged to Mrs. Black and I was on a salary, though, of course, the complete management was mine. She owned a residence building, which we called the Red House. The last time I visited Pelham Manor it was still standing but was no longer red. There was a tiny house next to it that we rented. Some time in the spring, while I was still a tutor at Yale, I had little leaflets printed in which I let the world know what an opportunity was open to it, and sent them around to Yale graduates. I would give a good deal to have one of those leaflets. I should like to see what I promised, but I have never been able to find one. “I was much tickled to get a letter by return mail from a Mr. Eells of Cleveland, written in haste, asking whether I had a 42 Taft Bulletin Summer 2008

room for his boy [Stillman, Class of 1891]. It was the first hint I had had that anybody was interested. I replied calmly that I had room. I might have added that I could have let him have the whole school. Well, replies came slowly during the summer, and in September the list consisted of ten boarding scholars and seven day scholars…. “The night before the school opened, trucks were coming up from New York, bringing the entire furniture for the school—not the kind of trucks we have today, but horse-drawn, and they were traveling all night. The furniture arrived at the same time that the boys and their parents did, and I put both boys and parents to work on the front porch opening boxes…. It was a most comical beginning of a school.” C.S. McClellan Real Estate describes the property as follows: “Lovingly restored and beautifully updated center-hall colonial, originally the historic Taft School for Boys, offers spacious and sunny rooms, including 6 bedrooms, 3½ baths, formal entrance hall w/fireplace, living room and dining room with fireplaces, and a gorgeous solarium overlooking the generous parklike grounds and includes a 2008 state-of-the-art kitchen.” Any Yale Latin tutors looking to start a new school? They’ll only need $1.8 million, but perhaps the current owners might make some generous arrangement, as Mrs. Black once did.

Coming up in the

Mark W. Potter ’48 Gallery September 9 through 20 Work by Taft Students September 26 through October 24 Robert Eshoo Paintings Andy Heminway Fund Exhibition Opening reception Friday, September 26 October 30 through November 22 Caitlin Fitzgerald ’90 Photography Opening reception Thursday, October 30 December 2 through 17, 2008 TBA Opening reception Friday, December 5 January 9 through February 6 Dawn Clements, Drawing Rockwell Visiting Artist will conduct workshops through the week of Jan 6–10 Opening reception Friday, January 9 February 13 through March 7 Juried High School Exhibition (Connecticut High Schools) Opening reception Friday, February 13 April 3 though April 24 New Works on Farm Life by Yee-Fun Yin April 30 through May 30 Amy Wynne Derry ’84 and Gail Wynne Paintings and Ceramics Opening reception Thursday, April 30

j Mykines, Faroe Islands, 2006, by Caitlin Fitzgerald ’90

For more information, visit the gallery online:

Taft Bulletin

The Taft School 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100 860.945.7777 Change Service Requested

Non-profit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Permit No. 101 Burl., VT 05401

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