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Record-Making

Brave New Oil Mac House Reno

Fall 2012


h The renovated second-floor hallway of Mac House. For more, see page 9. Christopher Gardner


in this issue

Fall 2012

14

Brave New Oil

Harrison Dillon ’89 Is Changing the World, One Alga at a Time By Paul Pegher

18 Record-Making By David Menconi

20

22

What Are Records

Brushfire Records

Rob Gordon ’83

Josh Nicotra ’92

24

Bettina Richards ’83

Thrill Jockey Records

Departments 2 From the Editor 3 Letters 3 Taft Trivia 4 Alumni Spotlight 9 Around the Pond 26 Tales of a Taftie: James Stillman Rockefeller ’20, Taft’s First Olympian 27 From the Archives: Charmed—Tokens of Taft


from the EDITOR Growing up in New Hampshire, I never liked November. We could no longer swim, but couldn’t yet ski. The trees were bare, and the days were cold and short—it was a tough month. But as I write, November is shaping up to be a very interesting time at Taft, with an amazing array of concerts, speakers and other events. PBS Newshour correspondent John Merrow ’59 is giving a talk on character education, with faculty visiting from a number of our peer schools. We’ll play host to Rockwell Visiting Artist Deborah Kahn and honor Veterans Day with a Concert Vespers of Remembrance in Woodward Chapel. The Volunteer Council is hosting a Red Cross blood drive in the dining hall. Author Wes Moore (The Other Wes Moore) will join us to discuss his book, the all-school read. Cornell University professor Bryan Danforth ’78 will present a talk on pollination to A.P. biology students. We’ll have a speaker from the New York Botanical Garden when we return from a wellearned Thanksgiving break, followed by a night of music in Walker Hall by the Harold Zinno Jazz Orchestra. And what better way to chase off the chill of these long November evenings than with a rousing bonfire and pep rally on the eve of Taft-Hotchkiss Day? At Taft we talk a lot about educating the whole student—our cultured scholar-athletes and responsible global citizens. That education happens in the classroom, on the fields and in the dorms, but increasingly the extracurricular life at Taft involves so much more. That’s part of the value added by the boarding school experience, but in a

community as connected as Taft is, these special events are woven more deeply into daily life. We don’t just listen to our speakers, we have lunch or dinner with them, have them join our classes and share our perspectives. You will see more about many of these events in our next issue, but, in the meantime, you can catch up on all the action at www.taftschool.org! Turn to the back cover of this issue for a list of coming events, too. Will your travels bring you near Watertown? Check out the daily calendar (www.taftschool.org/calendar) to see what’s happening and perhaps join us for lunch. As always I want to hear YOUR stories. —Julie Reiff

On the Cover

Look up your classmates on the go! x

WWW

Taft on the Web

Find a friend’s address or look up back issues of the Bulletin at www.taftalumni.com Visit us on your phone with our mobile-friendly site www.taftschool.org/m What happened at this afternoon’s game? Visit www.taftsports.com Don’t forget you can shop online at www.taftstore.com 800-995-8238 or 860-945-7736

v Harrison Dillon

’89 in the labs at Solazyme in South San Francisco. See story on page 14.

Record-Making

Brave New Oil Mac House Reno

Fall 2012

2 Taft Bulletin Fall 2012

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Fall 2012 Volume 83, Number 1 Bulletin Staff Director of Development: Chris Latham Editor: Julie Reiff Alumni Notes: Linda Beyus Design: Good Design, LLC www.gooddesignusa.com Proofreader: Nina Maynard Mail letters to: Julie Reiff, Editor Taft Bulletin The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. juliereiff@taftschool.org Send alumni news to: Linda Beyus Alumni Office The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. taftbulletin@taftschool.org Deadlines for Alumni Notes: Winter–November 15 Spring–February 15 Summer–May 15 Fall–August 30 Send address corrections to: Sally Membrino Alumni Records The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. taftrhino@taftschool.org 1-860-945-7777 www.TaftAlumni.com The Taft Bulletin (ISSN 0148-0855) is published quarterly, in February, May, August and November, by The Taft School, 110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100, and is distributed free of charge to alumni, parents, grandparents and friends of the school. All rights reserved.


Letters It is hard to say that one Bulletin is better than another because most all the news is interesting and informative with each issue. (I noted the most recent issue had more than 50 pages of Class Notes!) But I did especially enjoy your summer edition. How many Tafties knew that Edith Cruikshank’s father was the Fitch from Abercrombie & Fitch? And what a lot of “moxie”—to use an old term—Molly Davidson had to compete in the Rhino event and help to raise all those dollars. When I think back to 1946, I can’t think of a single classmate that wasn’t happy to be leaving Taft! But times change, and I know Taft is now an enjoyable experience. I had very few teachers under 50; they were excellent but not exactly social like some of the younger ones. Finally, I have probably been told the answer, but when did the “Big Red” become the “Rhinos”? What a great job you do to make a lot of us old timers Happy Campers! —Dave Ward ’46 The Rhino story can be found at www.taftschool.org/about/mascot_colors.aspx

As always, I look forward to each issue, but this one was special for me. The runup to our 50th reunion and the weekend itself was something I’ll never forget. If there was one question heard more than any other among my classmates that weekend, it was along the lines of

your question: what teacher influenced you the most? For me, there were so many. My coaches: Bob Poole ’50(football), Len Sargent and Lance Odden (hockey), and John Small (track). Their influence remains indelible, both their encouragements and their criticisms. Others bring a smile to my face, like Mark Potter ’48 or Al Reiff, my biology teacher senior year, who told me to avoid the sciences when going off to Chapel Hill; or Donald Oscarson ’47, who made me feel at home away from home, living next to his apartment lowermid year. I’m sorry now I didn’t say this in my remarks at our Thursday reunion dinner, but the one person I am most grateful for knowing is Joe Cunningham, director of

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admissions. So many of my classmates mentioned him during reunion, I know they feel the same. He saw in each of us as young men something we had yet to see in ourselves, and for that we are all grateful. —David Forster ’62 I’m embarrassed to say that my daughter will be a junior, and in two years I’ve never actually read an article in the Taft Bulletin. I just read the excerpts from the graduation speech given by Katherine Windsor, though, and it was fantastic. The McGovern article was even better. Thank you for including it. Lots of great messages. I love the pictures and alumni updates, and now I love the articles. —Jim McGee

Taft Trivia Before it was a dorm, Mac House served as the Martin Infirmary, but was lovingly known as something else, in tribute to the head nurse of the day. Can you tell us the building’s former nickname? A leather luggage tag will be sent to the winner, whose name will be drawn from all correct entries received. To date, no one has correctly answered the summer question (How many faculty or alumni headmasters has Taft produced to date?). So that prize is still up for grabs as well. (Remember, searching the school website is not considered cheating.) Send your guesses to juliereiff@taftschool.org.

Love it? Hate it? Read it? Tell us! We’d love to hear what you think about the stories in this Bulletin. We may edit your letters for length, clarity and content, but please write! Julie Reiff, editor Taft Bulletin 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100 or juliereiff@taftschool.org

Taft Bulletin Fall 2012 3


alumni Spotlight

By Julie Reiff

Capture the Wind at Cannes Cordy Wagner ’01, and his company Chapter Media, directed a commercial, or “spec spot,” for GE for which he received a Young Director Award at Cannes in May. The spot also received an AICP Spec nomination, three Summit Awards (directing, music score and cinematography) and a Hermès Platinum Award (video-TV spot). Called “Capture the Wind,” the project was large for a television spot, and was almost a year in the making. “This is in many respects a Taft 4 Taft Bulletin Fall 2012

piece,” says Wagner, who reconnected with composer Dan Teicher ’02 in New York about a year before, when they worked together on a brand film for Stevens Institute of Technology and a few online commercials.

“He is unique among composers in that he can jump between many genres with great skill,” says Wagner. “Dan is gifted at creating expansive songs that move an audience. He threw his heart into this piece.”


McGraw Prize

Effect artist and animator Tobias Arturi ’02 also worked on the spot—the first time he and Wagner had collaborated on a project since working together on a video assignment at Taft. “He’s often booked months in advance,” says Wagner, “but when I reached out to Toby for advice he had an unexpected opening and was on a plane that afternoon to our studio.” Having Dan and Tobias on the same job was serendipity he explains. “I was so focused on trying to find the best people for this particular project and both of them were it. I love that we did not connect simply because of Taft, but instead that our shared values of hard work and a desire for excellence instilled at a formative age naturally brought us together.” A spec spot is a television commercial that a director writes and directs independent of an agency or brand. The goal is to enhance one’s career, to get signed to a commercial TV production company—and hopefully to win awards. “Cannes was magical and inspiring,” says Wagner. “The image of a clean white sail whisking across a field of wheat had been stuck in my head for years. After all the work, nothing felt better than seeing that same image on the big screen at Cannes.” Teicher and Wagner are now working on a music video composed of archival footage. Both hope to have the chance to work with Arturi again soon. You can see the winning spot at http://corydonwagner. com/50608/510315/commercial-reel/ ge-capture-the-wind

John Merrow ’59 is the only reporter to have interviewed every U.S. Secretary of Education, and the initial force in exposing the behindthe-scenes financial relationship between CHADD, a child advocacy group, and Ciba-Geigy, the pharmaceutical company that produces the ADD drug Ritalin. Merrow’s work has taken him from community colleges to kindergarten classrooms, from the front lines of teacher protests to policy debates on Capitol Hill. And now he has received the prestigious McGraw Prize, which annually “recognizes outstanding individuals who have dedicated themselves to improving education in this country and whose accomplishments are making a difference today.” He is the first journalist to receive this award. Merrow began his career as an education reporter with National Public Radio in 1974, with the weekly series, Options in Education. Following the acclaim of that series, he branched out into public television, first as the host of the documentary series The Merrow Report. His varied reporting has

continually been at the forefront of education journalism: He has also worked with top leaders in shaping public policy—he even ran the 1988 meeting in Itasca County, Minnesota, that sparked the charter school movement. Merrow’s work has been recognized by the industry’s most prestigious awards. He received the George Polk Award for Options in Education and George Foster Peabody Awards for both School Sleuth: The Case of an Excellent School (2000) and Beyond Borders: Personal Stories from a Small Planet (2006). He has received three Emmy nominations, four CINE Golden Eagle Awards, and numerous awards from the Education Writers Association. He was awarded the James L. Fisher Award for Distinguished Service to Education from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education in 2000, the Harvard Graduate School of Education Alumni Council Award for Outstanding Contributions to Education in 2006, as well as our school’s highest honor, the Horace D. Taft Medal, in 2009. A frequent contributor to USA Today, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, the Huffington Post and Education Week, Merrow is also the author of Choosing Excellence (2001), Below C Level (2010) and is the co-editor of Declining by Degrees (2005). His latest book, The Influence of Teachers: Reflections on Teaching and Leadership (2011), has been deemed “eminently readable,” “invaluable,” and a “must-read.” Merrow also maintains a weekly blog, Taking Note.

Taft Bulletin Fall 2012 5


alumni Spotlight

Ironman Robert Downey Jr. move over, there’s a new iron man in town. This summer, David Morris ’99 took first place among amateurs at the Lake Placid Ironman race. “I grew up cycling [around the Lake Placid area], so it was an advantage to know the course and have some background in cycling.” He had no formal swim training, but says he is lucky to have a “decent sense of his body in the water— as well as a supportive wife who was a Division I collegiate swimmer.” Running, he adds, has taken the most work. “I do a lot of reading about what it takes, sports psychology,” says Morris. “Triathlons are definitely a timeconsuming hobby.” For his day job, Morris writes software to help doctors collect data on their patients, to help them judge the effectiveness of different treatments. The Lake Placid race is a bit of a tradition in the Morris family (Team IronMorris). His parents Sue and Bill ’69 (who ran a cycling club while he was academic dean at Taft), brother Will ’97

AmeriCares Leslie Craft McGuire ’91 has joined AmeriCares as director of U.S. Programs in charge of the organization’s aid deliveries to U.S. free clinics and community health centers. In her new role, McGuire will provide leadership and strategic direction for AmeriCares growing U.S. Medical Assistance Program, which provides donated

6 Taft Bulletin Fall 2012

and sister Cassidy ’02 were all in attendance. The family has a summer place nearby, so members of the family often participate—and the others are there to cheer them on. In fact, Will competed in the Lake Placid race first. Dave admits there is a little bit of sibling rivalry at work. “I saw Will compete and said to myself, ‘I could do that.’” At first he tried a shorter race at Lake Quassapaug, near Taft, but it was a few years before he really got into the sport. He completed the Lake Placid race in 2005, 2008, 2009 and 2010, trying to get better each time. “There’s a lot of preparation,” he admits. “You make small gains year to year.” He took a break from Lake Placid in 2011, but did other competitions that year. “I knew going into the race this year that I was a lot better than I was two years ago,” says Morris. “I was pretty sure I could beat my 2010 time, and thought that would put me in with the better

medicines and supplies to 400 health care facilities all across the country serving the poor and uninsured. The program McGuire now runs will allow her to address a broader spectrum of issues, beyond mental health, which she finds very exciting. “I like big ambitions,” says McGuire. “There is a tremendous amount of work to be done to serve the working poor who can’t afford health care, but this is still a small program of a very big, international organization.” AmeriCares has been rapidly expanding the program—tripling the number of participating clinics in the past two years—to reach more low-income Americans without health insurance. Although the organization itself is 30 years old, its involvement in the U.S. has grown dramatically post-Katrina.

amateurs, but I did not expect to finish with the pros.” With a time of 9:18:14 (just 98 seconds behind the 4th-place finisher), Morris finished first in the men’s 30–34 age group and was one of only two amateurs to finish in the top ten overall. One of the benefits of doing well in Lake Placid is that it qualifies one for the Ironman World Championships in Kona, Hawaii, in which Morris was planning to compete. To see how he fared, visit www.ironman.com.

McGuire comes to AmeriCares from TeenScreen National Center for Mental Health Checkups at Columbia University, where she served as deputy executive director of the national mental health-screening program for adolescents at more than 4,000 sites across the country. “I have spent my whole career in the nonprofit sector, in part because of the influence Taft had on me as I made those choices in my life, if at times unconsciously. I knew I wanted to help somehow.” Established in 1982, AmeriCares is a nonprofit global health and disaster relief organization that has delivered more than $10 billion in humanitarian aid to people in need across the U.S. and in 164 countries. For more information, visit www.americares.org.


Katey Stone USA Hockey has announced that Katey Stone ’84 will be the head coach of the 2014 U.S. Olympic Women’s Ice Hockey Team. Stone, who became extensively involved with the U.S. Women’s National Team Program in 2006, completed her 18th season as head women’s ice hockey coach at Harvard University in 2012. Her 378 career wins is tops among active coaches in NCAA Division I. “Katey knows what it takes to build gold-medal teams,” said Ron DeGregorio, president of USA Hockey. “We’re very excited to have her continue to lead our U.S. Women’s National Team.” Stone will lead the national team through the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi, Russia, including at the Four Nations Cup in Finland this fall and at the 2013 International Ice Hockey Federation Women’s World Championship in Ottawa. “I am looking forward to the entire experience,” says Stone. “Most importantly, the opportunity to be around elite athletes driven toward excellence. Getting to know the players better and helping them strive to achieve their goals, is the best part of coaching.” Most recently, Stone served as head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team that captured the silver medal at the 2012 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Burlington, Vermont. A year earlier, Stone guided the U.S. to what was at the time its third straight gold medal at the 2011 IIHF Women’s World Championship in Zurich, Switzerland. She also led the U.S. to the gold medal at the first-ever IIHF Women’s World Under-18 Championship in 2008 and coached the U.S. entry in the Under-18 Series (2007) and the Under-22 Series (2006). In addition, Stone guided Team USA to a pair of first-place finishes at the Four Nations Cup, initially in 2008 when the team captured the title for the first time since 2003, and again in 2011.

Along with her accomplishments on the international stage, she has led Harvard to a 378–164–32 record in her tenure, which included the 1999 American Women’s Collegiate Hockey Alliance national championship, three straight appearances in the NCAA championship game (2003–05), nine NCAA tournament appearances in the event’s 12-year history, six ECAC Hockey regular-season titles, five ECAC Hockey tournament championships, five Ivy League titles and 10 Beanpot championships. In her 18-year tenure at Harvard, Stone has coached some of the best athletes in the world including nine Olympians and four Tafties (Kate Schutt ’93, A.J. Mleczko Griswold ’93, Tammy Shewchuk Dryden ’96 and Jenn Sifers Mandes ’03—Tammy and A.J. also being two of the Olympians) as well as six of the 15 winners of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award, presented annually to the nation’s best

collegiate women’s hockey player. Stone was named as one of New England Hockey Journal’s “Top 50 Most Influential People in New England Hockey” in 2009. She has served as a member of the NCAA championship committee, a member of the NCAA rules committee, a member of the Patty Kazmaier Memorial Award selection committee and president of American Women’s Hockey Coaches Association. Katey is the youngest child of Lu and Larry Stone, who served as the director of athletics and football and baseball coach at Taft for 34 years beginning in 1962. The team hopes to train in the greater Boston area, says Stone, who will take a leave of absence from Harvard in July 2013 and return in April 2014. It’s worth pointing out that the U.S. women have medaled at all four Olympics since women’s ice hockey joined the Games in 1998 (1998–Gold, 2002–Silver, 2006–Bronze, 2010–Silver). Not that there’s any pressure.

Taft Bulletin Fall 2012 7


In Print Atlas of Intestinal Stomas Victor W. Fazio (editor), James M. Church (editor), James S. Wu ’69 (editor) Designed to provide a highly visual reference for surgeons and other members of the patient management team, Atlas of Intestinal Stomas is based on the 1967 gold standard text, Turnbull and Weakly’s Atlas of Intestinal Stomas. The Cleveland Clinic, where Wu is a colorectal surgeon, pioneered the entire practice of ostomies, beginning in 1858 and continuing to this day as the world’s leading academic and clinical center. The editors and contributors are all current or former Cleveland Clinic physicians and instructors. The fundamental focus of the book is not only how to install ostomies, but how to avoid complications and how to treat complications when they arise. “My small section was written during off hours during a deployment with Army Medical Corps in Iraq in 2008,” explains Wu, who enlisted in the Reserves in 1988 where he reached the rank of colonel. In his research, he came across a reference to a French paper published in 1710 that he was able to understand thanks to the efforts his Taft French teacher, Monsieur LeTendre. And later, he came across comments by the German surgeon, Schede, published in 1887, which he was able to read thanks to his time with John Small. Wu did his undergraduate work at Dartmouth, earned a doctorate at Yale and received his medical degree from the Washington University School of Medicine. He joined the Department of Colorectal Surgery at Cleveland Clinic, Ohio, in 2000.

Growing Up: Limiting Adolescence in a World Desperate for Adults Frank C. Strasburger, former faculty If you would like a copy of your work added to the Hulbert Taft Library’s Alumni Authors Collection and listed in this column, please send a copy to: Taft Bulletin The Taft School 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100

How do we become adults? Is it by moving out of our parents’ house? Earning an independent income? Getting married? Having children? Buying a house? Those are the benchmarks most of us use, but Growing Up suggests that maturity is more about qualities of character. Through the poignant stories of nearly half a century working with young people, Strasburger shares the encouraging news that the pace

and power with which we become adults is largely within our control. He unfolds the real process of growing up: facing down the fear of failure, wrestling honestly with identity and relationship, finding passion, overcoming illusions of power, discovering faith, and discerning a sense of mission. Strasburger’s bottom line: it is in serving others that we become the people we’re meant to be. “Growing Up demonstrates heartfelt empathy for those trapped in the limbo of prolonged adolescence and a sophisticated understanding of the social forces that have brought it about. But, the real contribution of the book is to offer honest and hardheaded advice about what it takes to overcome those forces and move on with one’s life,” writes David Edwards ’70, a professor of social sciences at Williams College. Strasburger has devoted most of his 45-year career as a teacher and priest to young people. After teaching at some of the nation’s top independent schools, he was the Episcopal chaplain at Princeton University for more than a decade. He is cofounder and president emeritus of Princeton in Africa, providing recent college graduates yearlong service opportunities in Africa. Now retired, Strasburger teaches writing to high school seniors, is a mentor for troubled teens and serves on a number of nonprofit boards. The father of three grown children, he lives with his wife, Carrie, on the coast of Maine.

John Quincy Adams Harlow Giles Unger ’49 He fought for Washington, served with Lincoln, witnessed Bunker Hill and sounded the clarion against slavery on the eve of the Civil War. He negotiated an end to the War of 1812, engineered the annexation of Florida and won the Supreme Court decision that freed the African captives of the Amistad. He served his nation as minister to six countries, secretary of state, senator, congressman and president. John Quincy Adams was all of these things and more. In this masterful biography, the award-winning Unger reveals Quincy Adams as a towering figure in the nation’s formative years and one of the most courageous figures in American history, which is why he ranked first in John F. Kennedy’s Pulitzer Prizewinning Profiles in Courage. Kirkus Reviews writes, “A fine examination of a life, well deserving a place alongside David McCullough’s study of Adams père.” A veteran journalist, broadcaster, educator and historian, Unger is the author of 16 books, including five other biographies of America’s Founding Fathers. He lives in New York.


For the latest news on campus events, please visit www.taftschool.org.

around the Pond

By Julie Reiff

Dorm, Sweet Dorm “As an older building with considerable inherent character, there was much to fix and great bones to work with,” said architect David Thompson. “The wide hallways with barrel vaulted ceilings, ‘quirkiness’ of the individual rooms, unusually high or interesting sloped ceilings, and solid original construction meant there were many opportunities to dramatically transform the building —continued on next page

Christopher Gardner Photography

Although well maintained since its construction in 1927, McIntosh House with its vintage slate roofs and original limestone detailing had serious issues that needed attention. Years of repeated basement flooding, outdated and oddly placed bathrooms—left over from its days as an infirmary—along with fire and access issues called for a major overhaul of the structure.


around the POND —continued from previous page without starting from square one.” Exposed brick in the stairwell and some of the faculty apartments brought out the building’s historic character, while chalkboards by each student’s door and cubbyholes in the bathrooms brought fun and functionality. The renovation was completed over three summers, allowing the school full use of the building during the school year. Phase 1 addressed heating, sprinklers, roof work and added energyefficient windows. Phase 2 involved moving and renovating two faculty apartments, working on the electrical and plumbing infrastructure and making other strategic improvements.

The third and final phase required a complete excavation of the basement for drainage control. It also added all new bathrooms and renovated each student room with new wood floors, new lighting, and new mission-style furniture. Hallways were also updated with new lighting and custom millwork, and the final faculty apartment was renovated. A staircase was moved to improve emergency egress, and a ramp was added to the ground floor, permitting handicap access. The school is also phasing in a new access system with Mac House, with all exterior and interior locks now using swipe fobs instead of keys. Housing more than 60 students on four floors, Mac House is once again queen of the campus.

We’ve Got Milk One of the surprisingly popular new items in the dining hall this fall has been the locally produced milk from Arethusa Farm in Litchfield. Located only a few miles up Route 63, Arethusa has a proud tradition of raising award-winning purebred Jersey, Holstein and Brown Swiss cows, and in recent years has added a dairy that produces milk, yogurt, ice cream and cheese with no antibiotics or preservatives. Milk, as they say, the way it used to taste.

Summer Buzz Campus was busier than ever this summer, not only with the Mac House renovations, but also with a number of summer programs. Taft Summer School welcomed 151 students from 17 states and 23 countries. And the Taft Educational Center, founded nearly 40 years ago, provided one- and two-week workshops to nearly 900 public and private school teachers over a five-week period.

New this summer, Taft also played host to two conferences offered by the National Association of Independent Schools: the weeklong Summer Diversity Institute in June and the School Leadership Institute in August. Additionally, the school welcomed groups from Prep for Prep, the local Police Activity League and the International Squash Academy.


Panoply of Puppets held long enough for the show to be performed on the lawn, providing a one-of-a-kind viewing experience on a late-summer evening.

Peter Frew ’75

Once again Ralph Lee ’53 brought some magic to campus with his fabulous puppets and the Mettawee River Theatre Company. The weather

In Communications From a Cockroach: Archy and the Under Side, Archy is a cockroach who possesses the reincarnated spirit of a free-verse poet and who finds his means of expression by jumping from key to key on a typewriter. He shares his misadventures with Mehitabel, an alley cat with the soul of Cleopatra. Archy, Mehitabel and their lowlife acquaintances face the bewildering challenges of the modern world with humor and determination. The production incorporates a wide array of puppet critters operated by actors in full view of the audience— from fleas, tarantulas and crickets, to an ancient Egyptian mummy. Lee, a former Guggenheim fellow, is on the faculty of New York University.

In the Gallery Fields and Forests Afar: A New York Botanical Garden Scientific Expedition Through Illustration by Michael Rothman opened in September. Rothman, a professional naturalhistory illustrator since the mid-1980s, has worked as a field artist on biological expeditions to the Samoan Archipelago, Brazil, and on three occasions to Central French Guiana. Because of the scientific accuracy, as well as the beauty of his paintings, he was asked by Scott A. Mori, curator of botany at the NYBG, to submit a painting featuring selected species of Ericaceae, commonly known as the heath or heather family of plants, in an Andean habitat. Based on its success, Rothman was commissioned to document the field discoveries of the other curators at the Botanical Garden. “This exhibit is exactly the kind of conversation between art and science we hope to bring to the students every day,” says

Gallery Director Loueta Chickadaunce. Also in the gallery this fall, are Paintings and Drawings by Deborah Kahn (through December 12).

Additionally, Kahn spent a day at Taft as a Rockwell Visiting Artist. Check out the list of upcoming shows at www.taftschool.org/pottergallery/

n New York Botanical Garden’s Dr. Scott A. Mori, right, and artist Michael Rothman at the opening reception. Ross Mortensen

Taft Bulletin Fall 2012 11


around the POND

Golfers on the Go

Even though golf is a spring sport on campus, many Taft golfers were busy on the links throughout the summer. Jacquelyn Eleey ’14 took first place at the Wintonbury Hills course in September for the International Junior Golf Tournament, a nationally ranked event that features some of the top juniors in the Northeast. “I have a lot of positive things to take away from this tournament,” Jackie said. “The first day I played very well on the front nine, I shot 1 over. Then on the backside there was a rain delay on 12, so it was hard to get back out into the swing of things. I didn’t finish as strong as I wanted but I still made some solid putts to have some big par saves. Then the second day I played very well. I had four birdies through 12 holes, but I missed some short putts coming in the finish. Overall, I can’t wait for the next one.” This year, the tournament featured some rough weather, making Jackie’s victory all the more impressive. The IJGT offers young golfers ages 9–19 the chance to develop their skills while maintaining the traditions of the game and hosts approximately 60 tournaments 12 Taft Bulletin Fall 2012

annually. The organization also holds three international events, in which 45 states and 43 countries take part. In other golf news, Mary Legare Augenstein ’14 took first place in the Forest Lake Club Golf Championship in

Columbia, South Carolina over the summer, and recent graduate Nikki Yatsenick ’12 won the Connecticut Women’s Golf Association Tournament of Champions at the Golf Club of Avon in August. This fall, Bridget Wilcox ’10 was named captain of the Bucknell golf team. Not to be outdone, varsity boys’ coach Jack Kenerson ’82 took members of his team to golf mecca over the summer. In June, six Taft students had the opportunity to join in the American High School Golf Championship at St. Andrews in Scotland, to compete on the famous courses where golf was first played. The young team played in the rainiest June Scotland has seen in 100 years and still managed to take 2nd place in the tournament with an average of 76 strokes a game. Matt Schimenti ’14 finished 3rd overall with scores of 72–76–74 for a total of 222. Kenerson described the experience as “an adventure with a tournament in the middle of it.” He believes the trip showed the players just how good they could be.

Concert Series This year’s concert series opened in October with “Rewind,” chamber music for woodwinds & piano by Exponential Ensemble, featuring Pascal Archer, clarinet; Kathy Halvorson, oboe; William Hestand, bassoon; Molly Morkoski, piano; and Patrick Pridemore, horn. The concert included works by Mageau, Glinka and Beethoven. The series continued with a concert by jazz pianist and vocalist Judy Carmichael, also in October, and a performance of Magnificat by J.S. Bach in Woodward Chapel later in November. For information on upcoming concerts, visit www.taftschool.org/ arts/concertseries.aspx


Jolly Good Fellows Students traveled the country and the world over the summer, thanks in part to Taft’s growing number of summer grants. Through the William W. Hatfield ’32 Grant, Meg Page ’74 Fellowships, Robert K. Poole Fellowships and Kilbourne Summer Enrichment Fund in the Arts, students taught English in Peru and Costa Rica, built houses in Guatemala, hiked the Rockies in Colorado and worked in a medical lab in China, among other adventures. “By far, the hardest part of my program was not the drastic change in diet, the mosquito bites, the long tiring days or early wakeup calls,” says KC Pietro ’13. “It was saying goodbye to those kids.” “This experience inspired me to

decide on a goal,” says Linh Tang ’14, who volunteered at an orphanage in India. “I will try and promote simplicity in people’s lives, especially those living in developed countries, where almost everything is in abundance.” Nicole Lu ’13 spent the summer as a research intern at the Chinese Academy of Science, gaining laboratory experience by assisting in both cell culture and stem-cell research, while gaining fluency in the Chinese language. Thanks to his fellowship, Fernando Fernandez ’14 decided that he “did not want to be a surgeon,” but it did give him an interest in internal medicine or forensics. He attended the National Youth Leadership Forum on Medicine, where he was able to test new robotic

equipment that will eventually take over the process of surgery and to see a live total knee replacement. n Linh Tang ’14 with a new friend at Sri

Ram Orphanage in India, about five hours by train from New Delhi.

Nantucket Gathering

A record number of alumni and parents gathered at the Great Harbor Yacht Club on Nantucket in August. Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78, who went fishing for tuna that morning, gave away freshly caught “gift bags” as favors. For upcoming Taft receptions in your area, turn to the back cover, or visit www.taftschool.org/events.

Taft Bulletin Fall 2012 13


brave new oil:

changing the world


Harrison Dillon ’89 has a strange feeling. It’s the one that makes him wonder if this is really happening. “Surreal,” he calls it. He might awaken at any moment if someone pinches him, but he knows that’s far from the case. Instead, he knows it means he is one step closer toward changing the world. This is very, very real. It’s November 2011, and Dillon, the president and chief technology officer of a company called Solazyme, is strapped into a seat on an Eco-skies Boeing 737-800, taxiing down a Houston runway. The two hundred-plus other people on this United Airlines flight are regular customers, along with a dozen or so Solazyme employees, airline representatives, and the media. But none of them seem to be nervous. In fact, they’re quite caught up in the moment. They are about to be part of history—passengers of the first U.S. commercial flight to be powered by an advanced biofuel. It’s called Solajet, a renewable fuel manufactured by Solazyme and the product of almost a decade of innovation. After many years of hard work and careful planning, this is finally happening. By this time, however, Dillon has grown somewhat accustomed to the feeling. Since co-founding Solazyme less than a decade earlier, the company has made one discovery after another and has drawn ever-increasing attention of

those looking for the next great hope in a realm of needs well beyond renewable energy. The fuels that Solazyme manufactures have proven to be high-quality “drop-in” replacements for marine, motor vehicle, and jet fuels. Other Solazyme innovations can function in place of petroleum and plant oils for products ranging from plastics to soaps to dielectric fluids that are used to cool transformers and other electrical components. In the food industry, Solazyme oils provide a significantly healthier and cost-effective alternative to saturated fats. In the health sciences industry, Solazyme’s algal-based skincare ingredients deliver visible anti-aging results. So how does Solazyme do it? By feeding common renewable materials such as sugar cane, switchgrass, sawdust, agricultural residue, and other biomass to genetically modified, highly productive microalgae, which convert the sugars into a virtually limitless variety of oils. In short, Solazyme is in a position to change the world, and that’s exactly what Dillon set out to do more than 20 years ago. As with any story of innovation and entrepreneurship, his has its share of careful calculation, “light-bulb” moments, surprises, setbacks and maybe just a little bit of luck. For Dillon, the story begins in a classroom at Taft.

By this time, however, he’s grown somewhat accustomed to the feeling. Since co-founding Solazyme less than a decade earlier, he has made one discovery after another and has drawn ever-increasing attention of those looking for the next great hope in a realm of needs well beyond renewable energy.

one alga at a time

by Paul Pegher


Courtesy of Solazyme

breakthrough biotechnology platform

By the time he was a senior, he knew he wanted to make an impact, and it was in a genetics class that he first realized how. There, he learned that a cell’s function is determined by the shape of its proteins, and the protein shapes are determined by their genes, which science was learning how to control. “To me, the idea that we could literally author biology was mind-blowing,” he recalls. He was hooked. The following year, he enrolled at Emory University, where he would major in biology with a focus in genetics. He soon met Jonathan Wolfson, a political science major with similar dreams to change the world. They became close friends and committed to the idea that they would achieve their vision together. But first, they had to gain both science and business acumen. Wolfson went on to New York University to get his M.B.A. and law degrees, and later worked in corporate

law and finance for several companies, including the startup InvestorTree, which he co-founded. Meanwhile, Dillon pursued his Ph.D. in human genetics at the University of Utah and a degree in law at Duke University (where he intentionally planned one “easy” semester of classes so he could spend time in the lab of a renowned geneticist). While at Utah, Dillon began to second-guess pursuing the field of human genetics. “It would inevitably lead me into biopharmaceuticals, which by then was a maturing industry with not as much blue sky potential to change the world,” he says. Around that time, he read about how some scientists had manufactured microorganisms into flammable material. If they can do that, he wondered, then why can’t we do the same to create renewable fuel? He promptly called Wolfson and proposed that their business would be based on making oil from microalgae.

For Dillon, the story begins in a classroom at Taft. 16 Taft Bulletin Fall 2012


It delivered 450,000 gallons of biofuel for exercises by the U.S. Navy.

For the next couple of years, Dillon managed the biotechnology patent portfolio at the University of Utah Technology Transfer Office. In calculating fashion, he then moved to Palo Alto, California—a hotbed of venture capital funds—where he worked in the biotechnology group of Townsend and Townsend and Crew. All the while, he closely monitored the biofuel industry and by 2003 believed the technology had advanced enough to launch their business. So Wolfson drove from New York City to Palo Alto, moved into Dillon’s small cottage, and they started developing several thousand strains of algae in their garage. In those days, when Wolfson slept on the couch with the dog, they ate on the cheap and spent their few nonworking hours running in the hills above Stanford. (Of course, all but a busy schedule has since changed for Dillon, who now lives in San Francisco and surfs the chilly Northern Cal coast when he can.) They also set out to secure funding, which was much more difficult than they imagined. They went to every venture capitalist they could find, especially those specializing in biotechnology, but none understood what the pair had in mind—they were that far ahead of the fast-moving times. Eventually they found their “angel investor,” Jerry Fiddler, the founder and former CEO of the software company Wind River Systems, who admired their spirit as much as he believed in their vision, and who would eventually become board chair at Solazyme. With Fiddler’s backing, they hired a half-dozen people and moved operations to a warehouse with a leaky roof, where they obtained the cheapest equipment they could find on eBay. They leased some ponds and began producing greater amounts of algae, and that’s when they discovered the main obstacle in biofuel production: affordable scalability. After two years of hard work, they faced the grave realization that their process would make biodiesel at $1,000 a gallon. “We were pretty dismayed,” Dillon recalls. “We knew algae could make oil, but how do we make algae cost-effectively?” And at that point, when things seemed so bleak, they encountered a series of discoveries that made changing the world seem very real. The first was that their investors believed in their logic and determination, and were willing to back a second round. The

second was that they didn’t actually need sunlight to grow algae. Rather, through a process called “indirect photosynthesis,” they could add sugar (in the form of plant material) to genetically modified algae in standard fermentation vats, and have crude oil within a matter of days—as opposed to the millions of years required for fossil fuels—and at a price in the single-digit per gallon range. They also determined that their prospects weren’t limited to biodiesel. With the ability to design microalgal genes for any purpose, as Dillon learned at Taft, they could also design oils for just about any oil-based product, using a virtually unlimited supply of feedstocks. Not only did that scope and flexibility set them apart from competitors, “it fundamentally changed the mission of the company, and so we had to go back and get more money,” Dillon says. This time, however, they didn’t have to rely on just one investor. Their understanding of a much bigger future attracted the support they needed to progress at a head-spinning, momentum-building pace ever since. Solazyme has expanded to nearly 200 employees and has filed hundreds of patent applications, plenty of which are under Dillon’s name. It has forged partnerships with big-name players like Chevron and Dow. It obtained EPA approval of its SoladieselRD fuel. It delivered hundreds of thousands of gallons of biofuel for exercises by the U.S. Navy—representing a military that is very eager to break dependence on foreign oil. It bought an integrated facility in Peoria, Illinois, and has partnered with two other companies to commercialize products in France and Brazil. It has developed the capability to convert the estimated 1.3 billion dry tons of non-food cellulosic feedstock available in America each year into about 65 billion gallons of crude oil—roughly 22 percent of total U.S. annual consumption. And that’s just a sampling of what Solazyme has accomplished in less than ten years. These days, Dillon the geneticist is much more Dillon the businessman, spending the bulk of his time with associates, investors and government officials rather than fellow Ph.D.’s, pushing his vision for a more sustainable society. But even though he occasionally gets nostalgic for the lab, his new role comes as no surprise. It’s just part of the very, very real job of changing the world. j Paul Pegher is a freelance writer from Newark, Ohio.

It has developed the capacity to convert 1.3 billion dry tons of non-food cellulosic feedstock into 65 billion gallons of crude oil. Taft Bulletin Fall 2012 17


Record-

ord-Ma c e R k

Making

Recordg in

Three Alumni Spin Their Own Labels

byDavidMenconi

a -MaM king


king-Recor Ma

-

T

hink of the record business as a mountain to climb. There’s no obvious path to the top, but a lot of possibilities—most of which lead to dead ends, however. And whether or not you reach the summit will depend on determination as much as ability. That goes for those on the business as well as the performance side. Rob Gordon ’83, Josh Nicotra ’92 and Bettina Richards ’83 are three Taft alumni who managed to hustle their way into the record business, running very successful independent labels: Nicotra’s Brushfire Records, Richards’ Thrill Jockey Records, Gordon’s What Are Records? One way or another, they figure on staying in the business.

“It’s what I love and I can’t see myself doing anything else,” says Nicotra. “I had some luck, some opportunities. But I feel like I would have found my way in regardless.” David Menconi has been the music critic at the Raleigh [N.C.] News & Observer since 1991. His writing has also appeared in Spin, Billboard, the New York Times, and No Depression magazine, for which he was a contributing editor. His book, Ryan Adams: Losering, a Story of Whiskeytown, was published in September. Taft Bulletin Fall 2012 19


Glenn Cratty


WHAT ARe REcords? Base

Boulder, Colorado

Founded 1991 Acts include

The Samples David Wilcox Stephen Lynch

Caroline Smith & The Good Night Sleeps These United States

www.whatarerecords.com

There’s no substitute for being in the right place at the right time. But even if you are, you still have to make the most of it, which Rob Gordon ’83 has always managed to do. At Taft, he was in a band with his classmate Trey Anastasio, later leader of the renowned jam band Phish. At Tulane University, he worked on the concerts committee, presenting everyone from shock-scream comedian Sam Kinison to jazz trumpeter Wynton Marsalis. Then there was the 1986 Amnesty International concert at Giants Stadium, where Gordon found himself seated next to a record-company executive. Impressed by Gordon’s enthusiasm, the executive gave him his business card—which Gordon parlayed into a job at EMI Records through sheer persistence. Once in the door, Gordon plunged into talent-scouting. “I was 20 years old, ready to work every hour,” he says. “So they sent me to show after show, checking out bands.” During the latter half of the ’80s, Gordon was responsible for the success of big-selling EMI acts including Queensryche and Red Hot Chili Peppers before going out on his own in the early 1990s to start his own label. Rather than find investors, Gordon scraped together $50,000 of his own savings to form What Are Records? Gordon’s first signing was The Samples, a reggae-rock band from Colorado, and their 1992 album No Room was W.A.R.?’s first release. “We did extremely well extremely fast,” Gordon says. “By the end of the first year, we’d sold 90,000 albums. We sold 200,000 the next year, then 200,000 the year after that.” W.A.R.? rode the industry’s rising tide through the ’90s and beyond, putting out a dozen releases by the Samples and building them up to a top-flight live act capable of drawing up to 10,000 people a night on the road. The label has also put out albums by everybody from musical comedian Stephen Lynch to

former James Brown sideman Maceo Parker to folksy singer/songwriter David Wilcox, trying to build sustainable long-term careers. The 21st century’s digital revolution has made that more complicated. “Music-buying has gone from album-oriented to single-oriented, and our sales tell the story,” Gordon says. “Digital sales represent more than 80 percent of our income now, which has been troublesome in some ways and helpful in others. The troublesome part is that it has lowered the price of music while electricity, gas, manufacturing, labor and everything else keeps going up. The metrics are tough, and we have to do deals differently than when people were buying CDs for $15.99. But the goal is to stay in business, make it sustainable and give as much to artists as possible.” And the positives? Distribution now has an infinite supply waiting for fans, and marketing to fans directly is faster, more accurate and cheaper than before. To that end, recent years have found Gordon re-expanding into artist management (Gordon managed Lisa Loeb during her #1 “Stay”) with United Interests, W.A.R.?’s management company. Whether wearing his manager or label-head hat, Gordon’s goal has always been to try and get fans to like artists and not just individual songs. And even though he’s been doing this a long time, getting clients to take his advice isn’t always easy. “Artists have a short window of opportunity to establish themselves,” says Gordon. “When an act tells me, ‘Wow, I wish we’d listened to you ten years ago,’ that’s the most frustrating part and breaks my heart. But there’s something amazing about taking a band up, when it happens. To build up the Red Hot Chili Peppers into what they’ve become or the Samples into a band that could headline Red Rocks is really, really rewarding. That’s what it’s all about.” j

Taft Bulletin Fall 2012 21


22 Taft Bulletin Fall 2012

Nicotra says. “We get tons of demo submissions and a good half of them are people trying to sound just like Jack, which is obviously not what we’re looking for. Almost everybody on the label came to us because they were a friend, or a friend of a friend.” With distribution and marketing support from Universal (the world’s largest music company), Brushfire can offer ample promotional muscle. But the company’s in-house staff is quite small, just three employees plus co-owners Johnson and Malloy. The label is also a rarity in that its deals are structured as profit-sharing arrangements. Where most labels pay artists royalties of about 15 percent after recouping costs, most Brushfire deals split profits 50–50 with the artists. Of course, turning a profit is harder than ever nowadays. Sales of music have plummeted over the past decade down to around half of what they were at the turn of the century. But Nicotra, who is based in Los Angeles, is still optimistic that there’s a future in music through alternatives like online subscription services. “If you look at the continuum of time, the recorded music business really is a short blip,” he says. “Music has been going on since humans started walking the earth, but the ability to sell recorded music has only been for a short while. There will always be demand for music, but will it be in the form we’ve traditionally provided it? My hope is that we’re in a dip and not a permanent decline. I may not be selling compact discs six years from now, but I think I’ll still be selling music.” j

Base Haleiwa, Hawaii Founded 2002 Acts include Jack Johnson G. Love Animal Liberation Orchestra www.brushfirerecords.com

You could say that Josh Nicotra ’92 was born to be in the record business. His mother was a vice president of Arista Records during the 1970s and early ’80s, a time when there were very few female executives in the music industry. Being a pioneer gave her a hardened view, and she once told her son that he was “too nice for the music business.” Fortunately, the business Nicotra is in as general manager of platinum-selling singer/guitarist Jack Johnson’s Brushfire Records (his job since 2005) is a vastly different beast from the one his mother knew in the days of vinyl records. “If you believe you’ve got to be cutthroat to win, I probably am too nice because I always seem to have other folks in mind,” Nicotra says. “But if you have the job I do, I think I’m just about right. Brushfire is Jack Johnson’s label and my disposition is perfect for running an artistowned label. It suits my outlook about the way things should be.” Nicotra’s first record-industry job was in Universal’s new media department in 1999, when the major labels were at the peak of their power and influence. He met Johnson and his manager Emmett Malloy while working as product manager for a number of Brushfire’s releases, making enough of an impression to get hired on to run Brushfire—an eclectic label whose roster has ranged from Johnson’s surfer-friendly mellow rock to college-radio favorites Rogue Wave. “If you listen to all our records, they don’t sound alike but they do sound like they could all be in the same person’s record collection,”


Jon Rou

Taft Bulletin Fall 2012 23


24 Taft Bulletin Fall 2012


Base Chicago Founded 1992 Acts include Tortoise Future Islands Eleventh Dream Day www.thrilljockey.com

As the 1980s were turning into the ’90s, Bettina Richards ’83 was in an enviable position. She worked in the Artists & Repertoire department at Atlantic and London Records, where she was empowered to sign acts to record deals. Among the groups she had signed were the Lemonheads and Meat Puppets, who would both go on to earn gold records as part of the early-’90s alternative-rock gold rush that was just beginning. Right on the cusp of success seems like an odd time to leave but it’s when Richards made her move, quitting in 1991 to go to work in a record store. A year later, she formed her own label, Thrill Jockey Records. Her time at the majors provided plenty of examples of what she DIDN’T want to do. “I just didn’t like the way artists were treated as expendable commodities,” Richards says. “There were all these adversarial relationships between artists and labels and managers, based on mutual disinterest. That didn’t wash with me, and I went into it basically thinking there’s got to be a better way. Ignorance is bliss, so I dove right in. I certainly had no idea how much work it was going to be.” The work has paid off handsomely, however. Bettina scraped together $35,000 from relatives and her own savings, setting up shop as Thrill Jockey (the name cribbed from a B-movie gang) in 1992. She moved the operation from New York to Chicago three years later because it was cheaper, and because she knew bands and businesspeople there. Now marking its 20-year anniversary, Thrill Jockey has had great success with everything from the “post-rock” of the arty Chicago band

Tortoise to Freakwater’s Appalachian folk, establishing itself as a boutique label capable of selling into six figures. With a small staff and a do-ityourself methodology, Thrill Jockey keeps costs low enough that even the releases selling only a few thousand copies work out financially. “I’d say that 98 percent of our releases break even,” Bettina says. “But when it goes wrong, it can go oh-so-wrong. There have been times when we got a little, let’s say, carried away with packaging and dug ourselves a hole by overinvesting. That can be a hard lesson. You have to keep costs in line with what you think you can recoup. We do profit-sharing deals with our artists, and my expenses come out of my share of the profits. So we set achievable goals and work hard to exceed them.” Meeting financial goals hasn’t gotten any easier as the market has shifted away from physical product and toward digital downloads. The online revolution has hastened the demise of many independent record stores, long the lifeblood of independent labels. But being small has its advantages in terms of nimbleness. Richards has done her best to adapt, putting Thrill Jockey’s music online years earlier than many other labels. Thrill Jockey also never stopped making vinyl records, which have come back into vogue in recent years. “The way the market is now, I’m having the most fun I’ve ever had because we can do anything now,” she says. “Future Islands even talked me into putting something out on cassette. We’re not compelled to jump on any trends, so we’ve been lucky. I can’t imagine doing anything else. At this point, what else would I be qualified to do?” j Taft Bulletin Fall 2012 25


tales of a TAFTIE

By Julie Reiff

James Stillman Rockefeller ’20 Taft’s First Olympian

n From TIME Magazine, [July 7, 1924] ©Time Inc. Used under license.

SOURCES: New York Times Yale Alumni Weekly Ivy League Sports

The 1924 Yale-Olympic Crew. Rockefeller is sixth from left. Photography Collection, Mirian and Ira D. Wallach Division of Art, Prints and Photographs, The New York Public Library, Astor, Lenox and Tilden Foundations.

What successful Taftie, no longer living, would you like to see profiled in this space? Send your suggestions to juliereiff@taftschool.org

James Rockefeller captained a crew that rowed to a gold medal at the 1924 Paris Olympics and went on to a banking career with National City Bank, which eventually became Citigroup. Rather than seeking out individual rowers for the Olympic team, the best college teams were given the honor of representing the U.S. at the historic games. In fact, there were fears that the Harvard-Yale regatta would be canceled because “Yale may enter test races with the University of Washington and Navy crews to choose the American crew to compete in the Paris Olympic games.” (NYT 15JUL1923) Others, though, presumed that Yale would not compete, until June 1, 1924, when the team met with the Rowing Committee and stated through Captain Rockefeller that they had decided to enter the tryouts in Philadelphia only 12 days hence, “with the ordeal of examinations occurring on nine of those days,” wrote the Yale Banner. The Yale boat bested the Navy in record time and went back to preparing for the race with Harvard on June 20. One of the largest challenges was that the rowers had to transition from a sprint at the trials, to the four-mile race regatta, back to a 2000-meter sprint for the Olympics in a few short weeks. (The crew maintained a stroke rate of 26 per minute on the longer course to as much as 36 strokes per minute in the sprints.) “Laying aside the blue banner of Yale and shouldering the Stars and Stripes,” wrote two members of the party in the Yale Alumni Weekly, the team embarked on the eightday voyage to France aboard the S.S. Homeric, having installed four rowing machines in a sheltered nook on the boat deck that were used twice a day. The racecourse was at Argenteuil, where sadly some of the large sewers of Paris emptied into the Seine. Rowers made the best of it, commenting that the large number of

bottle corks made it easier to judge the surface currents. On July 17, the U.S. team lined up at the start with Canada, Great Britain, and Italy in the finals. Hot and humid weather did not make for ideal rowing conditions, but the crew pulled quickly ahead, crossing the line a full 16 seconds ahead of the next finisher. Not only did Yale beat fourteen crews at home and another ten at the Olympic Games, many members of the boat went on to lead successful lives, reports www.ivyleaguesports.com. One fellow Yale rower was renowned pediatrician Dr. Benjamin Spock. At his death in 2004 at the age of 102, Rockefeller was the country’s oldest living gold medal winner as well as Taft’s first Olympian. Since then John Renwick ’40 (field hockey), John Welchli ’46 (silver, 4-man rowing), John Greer ’47 (field hockey), Andrew Stone ’80 (field hockey), A. J. Mleczko Griswold ’93 (gold, silver, ice hockey) and Tammy Shewchuk Dryden ’96 (gold, ice hockey) have all competed in the games. Mleczko was the first to compete in a sport she actually played at Taft. Other alumni connected to the Olympics are Baaron Pittenger ’44 and Katey Stone ’84, who will coach the U.S. women’s ice hockey team for the 2014 winter games in Russia (see page 7). Pittenger, who served as executive director of the U.S. Olympic Commitee for many years, received the Olympic Torch Award for outstanding service to the U.S. Olympic Movement. Before joining the USOC, he spent 22 years in sports administration in the Ivy League. He is credited with popularizing the moniker “The Game,” when he printed the phrase on the cover of the 1960 program for another famous Harvard-Yale contest, on the gridiron. j


from the ARCHIVES v The handsome Taft medallion, which shows the sun rising over a shield with the lamps of learning, was developed in the school’s earliest years and is still the seal today. Gift of Maurice Trumbull Rowland, Class of 1908.

Photographs by Yee-Fun Yin

n The original Taft Alumni Bulletin was founded as a student club in 1923.

n The silver wrestling medal shown here is the only one of its kind, probably from the 1920s.

actual size

Charmed: Tokens of Taft One of the more sentimental souvenirs in a school for boys was the lapel pin and other wearable artifacts, like medals and cuff links. Almost all of these carried the mythical symbols of the ancient world, with their references to trade, speed, communication, wisdom and discourse. If you attended Taft before the 1970s, you wore a blazer much of the time, and wearing a pin on the lapel identified you as belonging to a certain school club or activity.

Around 1915 the Taft Athletic Association awarded team managers a tiny, gold charm with the figure of Mercury on one side and the sport, date and name of the manager on the other. The 1932 Debating Team charm is inscribed with the Tau Delta Tau symbol. The Annual and the Bulletin had their own pins. The Oracle and Papyrus pins are my favorites. The Oracle, which was the student literary magazine, is symbolized by a classical temple—and the Papyrus is a scroll of…you guessed it, papyrus—with a feather pen and inkwell, and a tiny

owl with red glass eyes. Until the invention of the wristwatch in World War I, men wore pocket watches with a fob—or “keeper”—attached to the other end. The watch fob shown above (middle row, left) is in the original Taft School colors: blue for Yale (to which all but one member of the first graduating class matriculated) and crimson for Harvard, where the one boy supposedly went. The fob was donated by James Henning. The small gold pin at left was given to Taft by John Jenkins ’25. —Alison Gilchrist, Leslie D. Manning Archives Taft Bulletin Fall 2012 27


Taft Bulletin

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The Taft School 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100 860-945-7777 www.taftalumni.com

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h Tristan Smith ’14 and Natasha Batten ’15 man the barricades in Les Misérables on Bingham stage in October. For more photos, visit www.taftschool.org/arts. Shay Joseph ’14 and Elizabeth Shea ’13

Coming Events Wednesday, December 5 Holiday Party, New York, NY

Saturday, January 5 Alumni Hockey & Basketball

Friday & Saturday, February 15–16 Winter Parents’ Weekend

For more events, visit www.taftschool.org/events

Thursday– Saturday, May 9–11 Alumni Weekend

Fall 2012 Taft Bulletin  
Fall 2012 Taft Bulletin