Summer 2014 Taft Bulletin

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Schieffelin’s Commencement Farewell Reunion

50 Summer 2014

Summer 2014

in this iSSue


50 Years of ISP

Igniting intellectual curiosity and creativity since 1964 By Tracey O’Shaughnessy


Alumni Weekend 2014 Photographs by Robert Falcetti and Philip Dutton


The Smartest Man in the Room

English Teacher Steve Schieffelin retires By John Magee


124th Commencement

Leaving the Stage Remarks by Tommy Robertshaw ’14, Madison Olmstead ’14, Legare Augenstein ’14, Rob Brown ’14 and Willy MacMullen ’78

Departments 2 4 5 6 14 22 26 56

From the Editor Letters Taft Trivia Alumni Spotlight Around the Pond Sport Annual Fund Report Tales of a Taftie: Harold “Doc” Howe II ’36 57 From the Archives: Pioneers on the Field v Capturing the day with

a large “selfie” at Taft’s 2014 Commencement. Highpoint Pictures

Summer 2014 Volume 84, Number 4 eDitor Linda Hedman Beyus Director of Marketing anD coMMunicationS Kaitlin Orfitelli DeSign: Good Design LLC

n Celebrating both a graduation and a reunion: Gracie Lyman ’14 at Commencement with her family, including granddad Jack ’44, who enjoyed his 70th Reunion earlier in May.

from the eDitor It was the time of Alumni Weekend and Commencement, and these events, which unify and strengthen bonds, fill some of these pages. In his Commencement address, Head Monitor Tommy Robertshaw ’14 said, “By the simple virtue of graduating…we become an important link in the chain of Taft’s history.” I think he has hit the nail on the head, as I think about the profundity and commonality of these two major events that occur each year. Alumni, who fill and grace this publication with their stories—their news, achievements and, yes, losses—are created by a Commencement or a culmination of their time at this school. And they return, again and again, to their alma mater to celebrate reunions and to renew connections and to forge new ones. Taft’s young graduates have now become alumni, a word bandied about easily, but a word that signifies deep links, not only “in the chain of Taft’s history” but also to the

web woven between friendships that can continue for decades, if not a lifetime. Read the stories in this issue’s alumni notes and you will see the links living on and on, right now, thanks to all of you. As always, we welcome your stories and the pleasure of hearing what you are up to. —Linda Hedman Beyus


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SenD aluMni newS to: Linda Hedman Beyus Alumni Office The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100

Schieffelin’s CommenCement Farewell Reunion

50 Summer 2014

n Longtime English teacher Steve Schieffelin with Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78. Robert Falcetti

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.

reaching Beyond: Julie Reiff’s Impact , At Taft’s Commencement with faculty colleagues.

n Julie Reiff with her husband, math teacher Al ’80.


t’s easy to think of Taft as a community of 220 acres, 585 students and over 250 faculty and employees that functions largely from September through June. In reality, the school is an expansive community that reaches well beyond its Watertown base, stretching back over decades and including an ever-growing group of alumni, families and connections in over 40 different countries. For the past 26 years, Julie Reiff has been the person on campus most responsible for telling the stories of Taft and the diverse community it has become. Hired as director of alumni communications (1988), which

informed and connected to the school. Along the way, she has played a significant role in preserving the school’s history, in telling the current and past Taft story, and in capturing the careers and service of alumni, faculty and students. In addition, she’s been one of Taft’s leading digital stewards, developing and managing the school’s website and

Council for Advancement and Support of Education [CASE] Award in 1999 and 2005, to go with three bronze medal CASE awards in other years. Julie pushed the boundaries of the magazine beyond the campus news, reaching out to a wide array of Taft alumni in the fields of science (cancer research, archaeology, envi-

“I am not sure any school has ever known a better storyteller: someone with such a loving and nuanced understanding of the school, such a deep and empathic appreciation for our history and mission, someone with as sophisticated and classy an awareness of how to employ different media to share a narrative about our great institution. Alumni, especially, were really lucky, and I know this firsthand: on my travels I have heard a thousand times, ‘That Bulletin is the best magazine I receive.’” —Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 included serving as editor of the Taft Bulletin, Julie has kept a foot in both worlds, within Watertown and beyond, living in the center of campus with her husband and math teacher, Al ’80, and son Alex ’12, and working within the Alumni Office to produce the Bulletin and keep alumni, parents and grandparents

prolific online visual and text archives. Under her vision and guidance, the Bulletin grew into a broad-based and awardwinning publication, recognized as one of the most popular secondary-school magazines in the nation. Most notably, the Taft Bulletin won the prestigious Gold Medal

ronmental preservation), business, the law, the arts and military service, to name just a few. The eclectic range of profiles and articles she shepherded reminded us all of the power of the school’s motto, non ut sibi ministretur sed ut ministret, particularly as it is borne out by Taft students who have spread throughout Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 3

n On the rooftop solar panels at Taft’s gym, Reiff works on a Bulletin story.

the world to do good work for others. Yet all along the Bulletin has remained a popular and quality alumni print vehicle, with nearly half of each publication devoted to alumni notes, surpassing some of the best college and university magazines. There has been no better person to tell those stories over the past three decades, for Julie is a talented writer with a special skill to bring people together to tell any story and get the job done. Believing that the best way to tell the Taft story is to live it, she spent 15 years in the dorms and advised the Taft Papyrus for 10 years. Her positive leadership and tireless efforts have had a lasting impact on the school’s legacy, especially in preserving its history and helping to define the school for those beyond the immediate campus. Only someone with Julie’s range of talents and institutional memory could have been such a steward of the school’s past, present and future. Her knowledge of the

school, its changes over the years, and the physical campus is unparalleled. On many days, she can be found out on the fields at 6:00 a.m. walking her dog, Sassy, then in the vaults of the Leslie D. Manning Archives in the basement of the Hulbert Taft Jr. Library, and caught, if you are quick enough, on one of several trips between the main hall and the Alumni Office, and finally in Laube Dining Hall with Al, enjoying dinner with a group of teachers and students. Julie is one of those people at the heart of Taft, helping to lead and care for the school, its people and its history, without ever calling attention to herself. A teacher in her own right of history and French (at Westover School before coming to Taft), with experience in journalism and as an Appalachian Mountain Club volunteer, Julie will remain on campus with Al but devote herself full time to being a writer and working on that first novel.

yard. Solar energy? We thought we were high-tech when we replaced the old coal heaters with fancy, new-fangled heat lamps. Thank you especially for showing an old alum that there is an honored place for chickens at the new Taft. —Larry Weidemier ’59

saying in 2009 that fracking “is not a risk I think we should run.” Surely, it’s important to add that in August 2012, Bloomberg coauthored an opinion piece in the Washington Post with fracking pioneer George Mitchell that promoted fracking countrywide—but never near Manhattan. It’s “scientific consensus,” Prud’homme writes, that gas is an effective “bridge fuel” to renewable energy because it burns cleaner than oil and coal. True, that was the conclusion of an influential MIT study from May 2011. But that report was both financed and designed by an arm of Chesapeake Energy, a major fracker, and it sidestepped that fact that the hydrofracking process belches methane, which is 25–100 times more potent that CO2 as a greenhouse gas. Many scientists now question whether natural gas is any better than oil or even coal for addressing global warming. My guess is U.S. fracking will grow this decade—spurred by the higher market prices that result from gas exporting—before peaking in five to seven years. The very high environmental costs will be socialized. But solar/battery alternatives will take hold more rapidly than many expect. —Peter Mantius ’68

—Steve Palmer, Faculty


chicken Heaven

As a Watertown home boy and 1959 Taft alum, I found plenty of interest in the most recent Taft Bulletin. In fact, I don’t ever remember resonating with an article as I did with Debra Meyers’ wonderful story about Carly Borken. (Kudos go to Robert Falcetti, too, for the photos.) I wish there had been a program like this when I was coming through Taft. But the astounding thing was the front cover, featuring Carly Borken and a beautiful Barred Plymouth Rock chicken. During my Taft years, I was probably the only Taftie of my era who was also a chicken farmer. My dad had about 10,000 of the little devils, White Rocks, at our place on Thomaston Road. I was vice president in charge of chickens, including feeding, watering, egg collection, egg grading and packing, coop cleaning, doctoring and protecting from varmints. My favorite time was starting a few thousand new chicks and watching their wild antics. Sometimes I would be up in the coop all night just making sure that everyone was warm, happy and well fed. Let me compliment Taft and Ms. Borken on its fine, state-of-the-art coop and chicken 4 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014

fracking update

Good for Alex Prud’homme ’80 for taking a stab at a book on hydrofracking. Unfortunately, he seems to have taken a snapshot of the industry in 2011. A lot’s changed in three years. He writes that the Marcellus Shale, centered in Pennsylvania, is the world’s second largest natural gas field with “at least 500 trillion cubic feet” of gas. That 2009 estimate was circulated by Terry Engelder of Penn State, industry’s favorite geologist. In 2012 the Energy Information Agency chopped its estimate to 141 trillion cubic feet. Earlier this year, the Energy Information Administration slashed its own estimates of frackable oil in California’s Monterey Shale by 96 percent. Initial hype tends to give way to realism about what’s commercially recoverable. Prud’homme quotes Michael Bloomberg

letterS continued the Sustainable Aquaculture Initiative out of Woods Hole, Massachusetts, where we are working with Bill Mebane to develop a smallscale tilapia aquaculture model for upland Haitians. We have exhibited the possibility of growing fish to an edible size with little time or resource input. —Carly Borken, faculty

Quiet Heroes

Appraisal, Grant Wood 1931


Upon seeing the cover picture and reading the article about Carly Borken in the spring Taft Bulletin, I recalled Grant Wood’s painting, Appraisal, painted in 1931. A quote from a Minneapolis Art Institute article on Wood’s painting perhaps describes some of the motivation for the work Ms. Borken is doing at Taft: “[In Appraisal,] a country woman stands face-to-face with her city counterpart. She appraises the city woman with the stylish hat who in turn looks down and appraises the ‘natural’ dress of the Plymouth Rock rooster…. Wood’s sympathies are clearly with the farm woman…. It was not the issue of money and class that animates the confrontation, but the challenge of modernity to agrarian life.” Ms. Borken and the farm woman in Grant Wood’s painting look alike. Did her relative pose for the artist? Is that the same chicken? Some of the best conservationists around are found in the county extension services

Love it? Comments? 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! Linda Hedman Beyus, editor Taft Bulletin 110 Woodbury Road Watertown, CT 06795-2100 or

that are an outgrowth of the land grant colleges whose founding purpose is to bring agricultural science to operating farmers. The work of the extension service has been expanded to bringing horticultural science to city dwellers. —Thad Carver ’55


A clarification from Carly Borken, Taft’s director of environmental studies and stewardship, about why Taft uses tilapia to study aquaculture techniques: Although tilapia may be used to control plant species in some instances, they are an exemplary fish to build an industry around for poor, malnutritioned tropical nations. They can provide a substantial amount of protein in communities that cannot afford large livestock or have been so depleted environmentally that the land cannot support raising terrestrial protein sources. This particular project is in collaboration with


I remember Dr. William Bassford. He sat on the end of the bench at Saturday football games to attend to the wounded. He cared for me when I was in the infirmary with the German measles. I had no idea he was a solider until I read the last page of the most recent Bulletin. One day back in 1965, Mr. Al Reiff, in the science hall, brought my attention to the man who swept the floors. He dressed in khaki, kept his head down, focused on his work, spreading what appeared to be tiny pieces of rubber in front of him to mark where he had been and to keep the dust down. “Do you know who that is?” queried Mr. Reiff. I shook my head. “He was on the first wave of soldiers to land on Omaha Beach. He came through it without a scratch. Now all he wants is a quiet life.” As a physician, I see veterans in my practice often. They never say much about what they endured so that we that follow won’t have to. It is usually their children who reveal their parent’s history if I ask where that scar came from. I used to know the name of the man who kept the Science Center. Hopefully, I’ll remember one day. —Jim Wu ’69

Taft trivia If this tree (on the way up the hill toward the football field) were a golfer prior to the 1990s, would it be playing a tee on the front or back nine? Send your guess to The winner, whose name will be chosen at random, will receive a Taft messenger bag. Congratulations to both Chris Petroff ’11 and Matthew Petroff ’11, who said the Arts and Humanities Center opened in 1986.

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alumni SpotligHt


london Calling

v Journalist Steve Erlanger ’70, now New York Times London bureau chief, at work in Paris.

Journalist Steve Erlanger’s days are now filled with the politics of Prime Minister David Cameron rather than those of François Hollande. Erlanger, Class of ’70, is currently the New York Times bureau chief in London, having moved there in August 2013 after serving as Paris bureau chief from 2008 to 2013. Still, he left an impact on French society. Erlanger was awarded the Légion d’Honneur in December 2013 for his decades of service as a journalist. The Légion d’Honneur is primarily awarded to French nationals, but foreign nationals who have served France or the ideals it upholds may also receive distinction. “I was completely taken by surprise, 6 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014

since no one had asked me about it, officially or unofficially,” Erlanger says. “I saw a message of congratulations on Twitter from a French journalist friend and asked him if he were joking. He then sent me a link to the official gazette, so I had to believe it.” The move to London was a natural fit. He had lived in London from 1983 to 1987 when he worked for the Boston Globe as their European correspondent. “So it’s odd to return to a place so many years later and see the differences, which are both good, mostly, but also not so good,” Erlanger says. “It’s a more cosmopolitan city now, with better food. But it is also much more expensive, especially for housing and

transport,” he says. “And of course, David Cameron is no Margaret Thatcher. But with the Scottish independence referendum this autumn and a British general election next May and the possibility of a British referendum on membership in the EU, British politics are much more interesting now than in France.” Erlanger joined the Times in 1987 and has also served as a bureau chief in Jerusalem, Moscow, Prague, Berlin and Bangkok. Erlanger told a classmate that late faculty member Gérard LeTendre would have liked knowing that all the exasperation in French class wasn’t entirely for naught.

Why Work flexibly? Sara Sutton Fell ’92, CEO and founder of FlexJobs, was named a World Economic Forum Young Global Leaders Honoree. As a leader in and advocate for the flexible employment market, she joins their class of 2014 comprised of 214 people under 40 from 66 countries who “dramatically affect the lives of future generations and craft innovative responses” to global and regional changes. FlexJobs, started by Sutton Fell in 2007, is the leading online service specializing in jobs with flexible work options. The World Economic Forum’s Global Risk 2014 Report highlights unemployment and underemployment as two of the biggest impact issues facing the world this year. “Flexible work, historically, has been an undervalued, misunderstood and looked down upon part of the job market,” says Sutton Fell. “But that view is antiquated. Flexible work, such as telecommuting, freelance, part-time and flexible schedules offer true value for both employees and employers.” The reasons why flexible work is important are growing: “Work-life balance/

integration, dual or single working parent families, depressed local economies, long commutes, health issues or caring for loved ones with health issues, environmental pollution, the cost of gasoline, traffic congestion or weather patterns that prevent people from getting to the office,” Sutton Fell says. Each of these real-life challenges reinforces why people want work flexibility. “As a result, employers who offer flexible work options are attracting and retaining top talent, achieving higher productivity and engagement levels, reducing overhead costs and increasing employee loyalty,” she says. And this impacts their bottom line in a positive way. Sutton Fell has been featured in media outlets ranging from CNN to MTV News, the Wall Street Journal to Marketplace Money, Businessweek to Family Circle magazine. She recently launched the 1 Million for Work Flexibility initiative to inspire people to show their support of a different work model. “Workplace technology offers a very different picture of an ‘office’ than 20 years ago, and with younger generations

n Sara Sutton Fell ’92 at the helm of her innovative flexible employment firm, FlexJobs. Jamie Kripke

who grew up on mobile technology coming into the workforce, there is no chance the tide is going to turn back,” she says. Sutton Fell’s fulfillment comes from helping people find jobs that make their lives better and running a company she deeply believes in. “I also love the freedom that working from home, with flexible hours, allows me so I can be both present for my family when it counts, and have a challenging professional career that is making a positive difference in the world,” she says. Announced in March, these WEF Young Global Leaders are fully involved in the 900-member Forum of Young Global Leaders meetings, initiatives and research throughout the world.

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h Writer/actor Giorio Litt ’99 as the character Gabe in the film, Waking Marshall Walker.

Reconnections How many hats can one actor wear? Giorgio Litt ’99 wrote the screenplay, was behind the camera, produced and acted in Waking Marshall Walker, which debuted at the Sonoma International Film Festival, and will be screened at the Corti da Sogni (Italy), Plymouth and Stony Brook film festivals. Waking Marshall Walker is a 15-minute narrative short involving a vintner whose wife dies and the family’s struggle to reconnect. Chappell Vineyard in Northern California is the film’s beautiful backdrop. An encounter with a mysterious stranger brings unsettling premonitions, sending Marshall Walker on a desperate race through memory and

time to reunite with his estranged daughter and undo a fateful mistake, or risk being trapped between worlds forever. With a bachelor’s in drama from the University of Virginia and a master of fine arts in acting from University of Missouri—Kansas City, Litt says, “Shooting this film was like taking a crash course in filmmaking.” Sarah Drew, from Grey’s Anatomy, plays the lead along with actor Richard Warner, a drama professor from the University of Virginia. Litt and cowriter/producer Thom Canalichio were friends and UVa classmates with Drew and studied with Warner. Coming together for this film was a serendipitous reunion for all four.

Litt plays Gabe, “a spirit guide of sorts, whose job it is to transition souls from life to whatever comes next—and I leave that to the viewer,” he says. “Waking Marshall Walker paints for us a different world,” Litt says, “where the effects of the choices we make ripple into other dimensions, where loss isn’t final and where finality is but a doorway to endless possibility.” Litt and Canalichio are now developing the project into a featurelength film. The film can be viewed by clicking the Festival Screener tab at and entering the password: wakingmarshallwalker

Shawangunks Redemption Imagine hiking a beautiful trail through the Hudson River Valley’s Mohonk Preserve, the largest member and visitor-supported nature preserve in New York State, and at the end of the day finding a welcoming space to camp for the night—the new Samuel F. Pryor III v An active outdoorsman, Sam Pryor ’46 has been passionate about preserving open space. A new campground has been named in his honor.

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Shawangunk Gateway Campground. The campground will be operated in a partnership between the American Alpine Club and the Mohonk Preserve, which have worked since 2006 toward the creation of a campground near the popular climbing area, the Shawangunks—or “Gunks” for short. With 50 campsites on 50 acres, the campground is a short walk from the Visitor Center near the Trapps and Near

Better Belties On the high plains of northwest Kansas, the family farm endeavors of Jeter Isely ’72 and his wife, Nina, have become second careers, “stumbled upon following our daughters’ horsecrazy dreams,” he says. As his 15-year corporate job was winding down, Isely and his family went on a sailing journey for about two years, spread over three segments. Once the Iselys returned, they looked for a new place to live. “I had always wanted a farm, my wife wanted to move closer to her family, and our daughters had an interest in horses, so we made the leap,” says Isely. They started Y Knot Farm & Ranch in 2007, when they moved to Bird City. The ranch encompasses more than 960 acres and contains everything from free-range chickens to rescue and show horses (“these are not for sale, the Isely daughters may protest,” their flyer says). The farm raises organic wheat and forage as well as organic produce and grass-fed beef from their herd of Belted Galloway cattle, called Belties or Oreo cows. “My wife told me that we were going to be ‘certified organic,’” he says. Providing good, healthy food for their family and others drives the Iselys’

Trapps climbs as well as Uberfall climbing area. Amenities include an outdoor central gathering and cooking area, bathhouse facilities and indoor space for visitors to gather in rainy weather. A modest man, not given to monologues about his achievements, Pryor, Class of ’46, has been effective in persuading politicians to preserve open space. He once buttonholed thenSpeaker of the House Newt Gingrich

h Former corporate IT director Jeter Isley ’72 with one of his Belted Galloways at Y Knot Farm & Ranch.

commitment as they watch “how farming and ranching has changed with GMOs and chemical farming.” “Our yields match our chemical neighbors; however, our land is healthier and so is our food,” says Isely. “We are in a generally unhealthy society, and poor food is a cause. We hope to lead others to farm differently and lead consumers with their taste buds to seek quality—not quantity.” Running a farm on the High Plains is not easy, according to Isely. “The saying is, you are either in a drought or recovering from a drought. In 2013, we lost both our forage crop and

to support his effort to preserve the Sterling Forest, an 18,000-acre natural refuge in New York. For his work, he won an award in 1997 from the Appalachian Mountain Club for which Pryor served as president of their board of directors in the 1990s. He was awarded Taft’s Citation of Merit in 2006. Over the years he has scaled mountains, both literally and figuratively. An avid hiker, Pryor and his family have

wheat crop. But we had a couple of really good years before this, which was of help as we rebuilt farms—our original 320 acres and 640 nearby acres in 2008—that had been empty for years and are now organic.” Isely, a former IT controller and director for a large international business, had worked on ranches in Montana, on a cattle drive in New South Wales, Australia, with sheep in New Zealand and on farms in upstate New York. “In the interest of disclosure,” the Iselys advise those planning a visit, “our horses like peppermints, and our cows like to be hand fed natural range cubes.”

experienced the beauty of open areas, hiking all over the world, from New Hampshire’s White Mountains to the Alps, the Himalayas and even Kilimanjaro.

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alumni SpotligHt

Sea Change h Craig Leidersdorf ’68 where he’s most at home: working on coastal engineering in the Alaskan Beaufort Sea.

From Southern California to the Alaskan Arctic, coastal engineer Craig Leidersdorf ’68 studies, protects and improves the condition of beaches, which he’s done for the past 40 years. Much of his current work relates to studying sea ice. “I enjoy interacting with small teams of motivated people and figuring out how to survive in frontier environments,” he says. What’s most compelling to Leidersdorf, however, is being able to address practical problems that impact how we interact

with our environment. “The thrill of discovery never grows old,” he adds. An opportunity designing some of the first man-made islands in Alaska led to the study of Arctic processes such as ice gouging of the sea bottom and then to studying the sea ice itself. As a principal and co-founder of Coastal Frontiers Corporation, his interests are shore protection, man-made islands, coastal sediment transport, Arctic sea floor processes, field data

acquisition and construction supervision. “We’re in the fifth year of a research program sponsored jointly by members of the petroleum industry and the Department of the Interior,” Leidersdorf says. “The two groups have differing missions (offshore development versus regulation), but our hope is to get the science right so that the policy decisions stem from a sound foundation.” Another recent project was the removal of the first man-made surfing reef in El Segundo, California—an interesting idea using geotextile bags, but with unintended results, as the reef lost its ability to enhance surf quality. The geographical range for his work is broad: he’s done coastal and offshore projects in Alaska, Russia and the Caspian Sea, as well as on the U.S. East Coast, the Pacific Northwest, Mexico’s west coast and in the Caribbean. Leidersdorf is also a certified scuba diver with more than 30 years of experience in underwater inspections and a director and treasurer of the California Shore and Beach Preservation Association. His recreational interests—surfing, sailing, swimming and diving—drew him to coastal engineering, he says. What Leidersdorf enjoys most is spending time with his wife, son and friends, mentoring aspiring engineers and training for swim races in places like San Francisco Bay, where he won’t have any sea ice to contend with.

new Alumni Trustee: Anthony Pasquariello ’95 Tony Pasquariello came to Taft as a lowermid from Litchfield, Connecticut. During his four years on campus, he was a corridor monitor, a Papyrus editor and a member of the varsity football, wrestling and track teams. His fondest memories of Taft include receiving the Stone Athletic

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Award, spending time in Jerry DePolo’s math classes and forging friendships that are among his closest today. After Taft, he attended Colby College, where he was a three-year starter on the football team, and, as a senior, named co-captain and AllConference. He graduated cum laude in

1999 with a B.A. in English literature. After graduation, Pasquariello joined Goldman Sachs as an analyst in the fixed-income division. He was named a managing director in 2007 and a partner in 2012. His current responsibilities include management of the firm’s U.S. equity derivatives business.

Style and Purpose “When I was a kid, my father would set up a still life for me to paint every weekend in oils or acrylics,” says accessories designer Kendall Conrad ’82. “I also did lots of murals with colored pens—big underwater oceanscapes.” The revelation inspires a vision of a serene and sophisticated childhood. But there was another side—one that was decidedly less stoic. “My father was a matador, so I grew up going to Spain and Mexico to see the bullfights. The pageantry of the Corrida was a huge influence; Spain was a huge influence, the flamenco, the music…. I traveled extensively, and that always affects how you perceive the world, and, as a result, your expression.” Conrad’s handbags, wallets, shoes and jewelry gracefully fuse quiet sophistication with raw energy and elemental style. The influence of tauromachia, flamenco and art are clear, as are her love of nature and her equestrian bent. Her original collection of bags, Tauro, incorporated traditional techniques of Spanish saddlery. “There were not a lot of bags on the market [in 2000], and I had ideas for some,” Conrad says. “My first bag was the Coco, now called the Marisol, which is still a top-selling style for us. I wanted a tote bag with stitching to go with my Jack Roger sandals.” Responding to an immediate interest to her bags, Conrad refined her aesthetic, expanded the line and introduced exotic

Service is a priority for him and his family. He is board chair of the Excellence Boys and Girls Charter Schools of Bedford-Stuyvesant in Brooklyn. Additionally, he is a member of the Leadership Council of the Robin Hood Foundation, an organization dedicated to fighting poverty in New York City. Finally, Pasquariello is an overseer

h Designer Kendall Conrad ’82 in one of her three retail locations. Chito yoshida

leathers to the new, eponymous Kendall Conrad collection. Those leathers, and all of the components used in her collection, are sustainable materials. “I love animals and am only interested in working with hides that have already been a product of the food industry,” Conrad notes. “That includes snakeskin and American alligator. The leathers are all accented with custommade, solid brass hardware.” Conrad’s designs are created “for

longevity both in function and design,” and are produced in limited edition in the United States. They are available online and in her three California stores. Each piece reflects the totality of her life experience, melding inspiration from art, nature and culture into organic expressions with style and purpose. —Debra Meyers To learn more or to view Conrad’s designs, visit

of Colby College and a participant on Taft’s Headmasters Council. Since 2000, he has also served a co-head class agent. He currently resides in Manhattan with his wife, Amy, and their three young children: Mia, Tony and Owen. Each year, Taft alumni elect a member of their own to serve a four-year term on the Board of Trustees.

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in print Lenin Lives Next Door: Marriage, Martinis, and Mayhem in Moscow Jennifer Buttenheim Eremeeva ’84 Based on Jennifer Buttenheim Eremeeva’s two decades in Russia, Lenin Lives Next Door knits together vignettes of cross-cultural and expatriate life with sharp observation, colorful historical background and ample humor. When Eremeeva (and her alter-ego heroine, coincidentally named Jennifer) quit her job to write full time, she became enthralled with the gray, dingy building across the courtyard, where Vladimir Lenin’s embalmed corpse was routinely freshened up and preserved. The result: Lenin Lives Next Door. Each chapter is an anecdotal exploration of an aspect of life in today’s Russia, told with the help of a recurring cast of Russian and expatriate characters. Lenin Lives Next Door introduces readers to Russians in their everyday milieu: “at their dachas, in three-day traffic jams and celebrating their 300-plus public and professional holidays with mayonnaise-based salads.” Eremeeva, who divides her time between Russia and the United States, is the author of the award-winning humor blog Russia Lite: The Funnier Side of Life in the World’s Largest Country, and the creator and curator of the food blog, The Moscovore: Culinary Adventures in the Russian Capital. She is the regular humor and cooking columnist for Russia Beyond the Headlines, and her work has appeared in the Moscow Times, Russian Life and on the BBC’s Russian Service. Eremeeva received a B.A. in Russian area studies from Columbia University and studied at the Moscow Academy of Photography. Lenin Lives Next Door was a finalist for the Next Generation Indie Awards, the National Indie Excellence Awards and International Book Awards.

The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government philip k. Howard ’66 The secret to good government is a question no one in Washington is asking: “What’s the right thing to do?” Government can’t work because no human has authority to roll up his sleeves and fix 12 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014

it, says author Philip Howard. From the White House to the school house, the people supposedly in charge have been handcuffed by mindless law and bureaucracy, he says. Yes, there’s gridlock, polarization and selfdealing. But hidden underneath is something bigger and more destructive, Howard argues: a broken governing system, and from that comes wasteful government, rising debt, failing schools, expensive health care and economic hardship. In this critique of modern legal orthodoxy, Howard shows how American government is organized to fail. Rigid rules make it impossible to use innovative thinking, or adapt to new circumstances, or to be fair. Resetting priorities is so difficult as to barely be on the table. Constitutional checks and balances—designed to prevent too much lawmaking—make it almost impossible to amend or repeal old laws, he suggests. In The Rule of Nobody Howard argues for a return to the framers’ vision of public law—setting goals and boundaries, not dictating daily choices. This book explains how America went wrong and offers a guide for how to liberate human ingenuity to meet the challenges of this century. Philip K. Howard is the chair of Common Good and author of the New York Times bestseller The Death of Common Sense. He lives in New York City.

Voyage of the Suzy Wong Steve Jackson ’53, Paul Cardoza, George Todd and Walter Banks Voyage of the Suzy Wong is the story of how four intrepid would-be sailors managed to build a 41-foot Sparkman & Stephens sailboat in Hong Kong, and, by sheer will and plenty of luck, sailed 26,000 miles in 17 months home to America. The long journey began in 1960 when William Holden was the latest cinema heartthrob and his movie, The World of Suzie Wong, was all the rage. U.S. Servicemen Steve Jackson and George Todd were stationed together in the Philippines. Sitting in a bar late one night and sharing stories, Todd suggested the idea of sailing home—to America—and the plan was hatched. It didn’t matter that neither of them had any real seafaring experience—it would turn into an adventure they would never forget. They enlisted crewmembers Walt Banks and Paul Cardoza, also ex-military men who had no

real sailing experience. Armed with not much more than their wooden sailboat, a Chinese Chow puppy and enough gumption to survive dysentery, monsoons and equipment failures, they christened their newly built vessel the Suzy Wong and set sail. With the help from Paramount’s film publicist, the four sailors became some of the best-publicized voyagers in the Far East. Along their route home, they received invitations from generals, ambassadors and civic leaders and were honored with receptions and dinners. Voyage of the Suzy Wong is the story of this foursome, who relied on the kindness of strangers and their own resourcefulness and luck to survive the journey. In addition to this adventure as a young sailor, Jackson has also been the chief financial officer of the Baha’i National Center in Wilmette, Illinois; a consultant for USAID, the World Bank and the Experiment for International Living for projects in Africa; and a professor at Nanjing University in the People’s Republic of China.

Happily Ever After Elizabeth Maxwell (Beth Von Ancken McMullen ’87) Writing under the name Elizabeth Maxwell, Beth Von Ancken McMullen ’87 “deftly bends the rules of genre fiction, letting the boundaries between reality and fiction [blur],” says Kirkus Reviews. At 46, character Sadie Fuller’s life isn’t exactly romantic. A divorced, overweight, somewhat sexually frustrated mother of an 11-year-old, she lives in the suburbs, shops the big box stores, makes small talk with her small-minded neighbors and generally leads a quiet life. But while her daughter is at school, or when Sadie is up late at night, she writes erotic fiction under the name K.T. Briggs. During a routine shopping trip, Sadie runs into someone familiar…too familiar, in fact. She encounters a man exactly like the one in her imagination—and her latest novel. Is Aidan Hathaway really one of her characters? And if so, what is he doing at Target? As Sadie tries to negotiate this strange new world, her eyes begin to open to romantic possibilities in places she never dreamed of looking…places where Happily Ever After might not be so far-fetched after all. But “even the expected happy ending has a clever twist,” says Booklist.

Maximum Flavor: Recipes That Will Change the Way You Cook Aki Kamozawa and H. Alexander Talbot ’92 Whether you’re interested in molecular gastronomy or just want a perfect chicken recipe for dinner tonight, the authors of Ideas in Food: Great Recipes and Why They Work deliver reliable techniques and dishes—no hard-to-find ingredients or break-the-bank equipment required—for real home cooks. On the cutting edge of kitchen science, Kamozawa and Talbot, at their Ideas in Food lab, in Bow, New Hampshire, regularly consult for restaurants to help them solve cooking conundrums. Yet they often find it’s the simplest tips that can be the most surprising—and the ones that can help home cooks take their cooking to a new level. Sharing expert advice on everything from making gluten-free baking mixes and homemade cheeses and buttermilk, to understanding the finer points of fermentation or sous-vide cooking, the authors chronicle their quest to bring out the best in every ingredient. With a focus on recipes and techniques that can help anyone make better meals every day and 75 color photographs that show step-by-step processes and finished dishes, Maximum Flavor encourages any cook to experiment and discover why cooking and eating are both fascinating and fun. The authors have a gluten-free cookbook coming out in early 2015. Kamozawa and Talbot have worked with both individual chefs and companies. Their company grew out of their blog,, which they started in 2004 as a way to record their daily work in restaurant kitchens. Winners of an IACP award in 2012 for their recipe writing, they have been featured in the New York Times, Popular Science, Food & Wine and Saveur.

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

For more information, visit

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h Brooks and Laura Klimley, with their sons Preston and Graham, christen the new crew shell that bears their daughter Zoë’s name. Phil dutton

run 2 Remember Crew coach Carly Borken would have liked nothing more than to have Zoë Klimley ’15 back in the first boat this spring, but Zoë’s unexpected death in early January changed all that. “At the time, I dubbed this year ‘the season that could have been,’” said Borken, “but Zoë’s spirit has clearly been with all of us as we rowed strong, pushing up against the toughest of opponents and achieving success at Founders and winning the Alumni Cup.” At the dedication in May, as the Klimley family was about to christen the 14 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014

new crew shell that bears Zoë’s name, Borken added, “It is only fitting that we have Zoë with us as we race at the New England Championships on Saturday. She will travel down the course with her crew in the first boat, as it would have been. So this season was not the one that could have been but now, the season that was.” After the boat dedication, Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 kicked off the Run 2 Remember: Zoë B. Klimley 2K—two kilometers being the typical length of a crew race. Hundreds of students and faculty joined the Klimley family and friends

for two loops around the campus on a spectacular spring day. “Kids that are part of Service Through Sports (under the auspices of Taft’s Center for Global Leadership and Service) were a great help getting the race organized,” said Ginger O’Shea, who directs the program. “Especially Rashi Narayan ’14, Madison Haskins ’15 and Pen Naviroj ’15.” The money collected from the run went to the scholarship that was also created in Zoë’s memory. View more photos of the day at

Building Bridges

Admiral James Stavridis was this year’s DuBois Fellowship speaker. Addressing issues of 21st-century security, he told students that security going forward will not be about building walls but about building bridges:

“The 20th century was about building walls—the Maginot Line, the Iron Curtain, the Bamboo Curtain, the Berlin Wall. We tried to wall ourselves off, but walls don’t work. I came to that realization the day an airplane hit the wall of the Pentagon, where I was working at the time. I came outside through the smoke thinking, I was just standing in the safest building in the world. Walls don’t work.” We are better off if we build bridges, he argued, principally using service to address the world’s challenges— violent extremism, nations that live outside the norms of international law, corruption that threatens fragile democracies. We can build those bridges through cooperation and disaster relief and by listening better, but the greatest bridge is knowledge—through education and reading.

“No one of us is as smart as all of us thinking together,” he added. “There are many ways to serve, but we all need to choose to serve in some way—our society, our family— but we need to step up.” Stavridis is the 12th leader of the Fletcher School at Tufts University. A retired admiral in the U.S. Navy, he led the NATO Alliance in global operations from 2009 to 2013 as supreme allied commander. He also served as commander of U.S. Southern Command, with responsibility for all military operations in Latin America from 2006 to 2009. A Fletcher Ph.D., he won the Gullion Prize as outstanding student and has published five books and over a hundred articles. you can listen to his entire talk at

Holocaust Survivor The school commemorated Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, on May 13, with a Morning Meeting talk by Anita Schorr, a Holocaust survivor.

Schorr spoke about her experience growing up in a middle-class family in Brno, Czechoslovakia, and the years that followed her family’s arrest by the h Holocaust Survivor Anita Schorr spoke about her experiences at Terezín and Auschwitz in Morning Meeting. Robert Falcetti

Nazis when she was only eight. Schorr would endure the concentration camps of Terezín and Auschwitz, then a slavelabor unit in Hamburg before ending up in Bergen-Belsen. She was the only member of her family to survive. After liberation, Schorr joined the Haganah and fought in the 1948 ArabIsraeli War. She married a fellow Czech and lived on a kibbutz until 1959, when the couple came to the U.S. She did not speak about her experience in the camps for more than 30 years, and began to tell her story only after retiring from a successful career as a commercial artist. Schorr’s visit was made possible through the generous support of the Albert Family Holocaust Study Fund, which brings recognized authorities on the Holocaust to campus annually. For more information visit Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 15

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Alicia wang Musician Alicia Wang ’15 played in Carnegie Hall at a young musicians concert in May. “Alicia is a versatile, talented and humble musician,” says instrumental music director T.J. Thompson. “We get the pleasure of hearing her on an almost

daily basis. Just this year alone she performed part of the third Beethoven Piano Concerto with the Chamber Orchestra, played multiple reeds in the orchestra pits for several shows, and was a featured saxophonist and pianist with the Taft Jazz Band and Chamber.”

Alicia has been with the Taft Jazz Band for three years and played in the pit orchestra for Les Misèrables and Guys and Dolls at Taft, as well Avenue Q at Forman School last winter. She has also traveled with the band to Prague, Lisbon, San Francisco and Boston.

perSepoliS The Story of a Childhood by Marjane Satrapi Committed to finding a book with a female protagonist and to exposing the Taft community to a part of the world sizzling with unrest, the Summer Reading Committee selected the graphic novel PERSEPOLIS by Marjane Satrapi. Satrapi’s memoir of life in Tehran from ages 6 to 14—years that saw the overthrow of the Shah’s regime, the triumph of the Islamic Revolution and the devastating effects of war with Iraq—is told through powerful blackand-white comic strip images. The intelligent and outspoken only child of committed 16 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014

Marxists and the great-granddaughter of one of Iran’s last emperors, Satrapi bears witness to a childhood uniquely entwined with the history of her country. Local author Nikoo McGoldrick (mother of Cyrus ’05 and Sam ’09), who also grew up in Iran on the eve of the Islamic Revolution, will speak on campus in the fall. Students are also asked to read a second book this summer, selected from a list of books sponsored by faculty and fellow students. You can peruse the list at

Author, author h Visiting writer Oonya Kempadoo. Greg Bal

colleges in Connecticut. She is an adviser to Caribbean literacy dedicated nonprofit Hands Across the Sea and co-founder of the Mt. Zion Library and homework center in Grenada. Her first two novels are Buxton Spice and Tide Running. For more information, visit


In April, visiting writer Oonya Kempadoo read from her most recent novel, All Decent Animals. In it she examines personal aesthetic choices and looks at the island of Trinidad, developing but rich, aiming at ‘world class’ status amidst its poor island cousins.

Kempadoo grew up in Guyana and has worked and lived in various Caribbean islands; she currently resides in Grenada. A creative writer and novelist, she was a Fulbright Scholarin-Residence and creative writing instructor this year with two community

Collegium Musicum gave its annual concert at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in April, performing Festival Music for Choir, Organ and Brass, along with Cantus Excelsus and the Woodward Chapel Brass Ensemble. This year’s concert was followed by a Taste of Italy Reception in Cathedral House with a silent auction to help defray the costs of Collegium’s June trip to Italy.

Steel Magnolias The Woodward Black Box Theater morphed into a Louisiana beauty parlor in April, where all the ladies ‘who are anybody’ come to have their hair done. Steel Magnolias, written by Robert Harling, centers around a group of strong Southern women. Outspoken, wise-cracking Truvy (Simmons Gaines ’15) dispenses hairspray and free advice, helped by her eager new assistant, Annelle (Celina Piechocinski ’16). Their clients include the town’s curmudgeon, Ouiser, (Ai Bui ’16); an eccentric millionaire, Miss Clairee (Kelly Park ’15); and the local matriarch, M’Lynn (Samantha Westmoreland ’14), whose daughter, Shelby (Kimberly Wipfler ’17), is

about to marry a ‘good ole boy.’ The play is filled with witty repartee and a good dose of humor as their lives move toward tragedy when, in the second act, Shelby enters a high-risk pregnancy. The sudden realization of their mortality draws on the underlying strength—and love—which gives the play, and its characters, the special quality to make them truly touching, funny and marvelously amiable company in good times and bad. “This play will stay in my memory,” says director Susan Becker Aziz, “for the opportunity it gave this very special company of actresses to dive into material that is at once funny and tender.”

Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 17


h Organist Daniel Scifo playing the Neupert Cristofori harpsichord in Woodward Chapel. Robert Falcetti

x There are glass panels

on both sides of the enclosure that allow observers to watch the bees work, as well as a chute at the bottom that allows the honeybees to come and go.

A honey of a view

Robert Falcetti

Even though students are gone for the summer, the second floor of the Lady Ivy Kwok Wu Mathematics and Science Center is a hive of activity these days—literally. Science teacher Mike McAloon and Kevin Barry from Woodbury Saw and Motor installed a new observation beehive this spring, alongside the aquaculture tanks. “Honeybees are a vital part of any ecosystem they participate in,” says Science Department Head Jim Lehner, “and have been failing locally and nationally for a few years now. We thought we’d help the little critters while watching and learning in the process.”

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When Robert Owen served as organist at the American Cathedral in Paris, he took the opportunity to study the harpsichord with Marcelle De Lacour at the Paris Conservatory. Not long after, he purchased one of his own, a 1948 Neupert Cristofori harpsichord. Thanks to the generosity of his family, the instrument has made a home in Woodward Chapel. The inaugural concert in 2012 featured Andrus Madsen playing the Toccata octavi toni by Hans Leo Hassler. This spring, the instrument was one of the highlights of the Tenebrae vespers in Woodward Chapel. An internationally known concert organist and teacher, Owen made records for RCA Victor and served as organist and choirmaster of Christ Church in Bronxville, New York, for 45 years. He was also the father of Taft librarian Patti Taylor. His papers are held by the American Guild of Organists at Boston University: collections/robert-g-owen/

While we can

n Plant ecologist Dr. Chuck Peters. Olivia Paige ’15

Tropical forests grow in a very small area of the world, Dr. Chuck Peters told students at this spring’s New York

Botanical Garden Seminar—about 2 percent of the planet. “And yet this land mass contains more than 50 percent of all plants and animals on earth and is a source of many valuable products. They are being destroyed before we have a chance to study them. “We have two alternatives for tropical forests,” Peters added. “We can use them mindfully, use them wisely and creatively, or we can do what we do with the greatest frequency—we can use them up.” The best way to address the conservation of tropical forests, Peters says, is to involve local communities in their sustainable use. Peters is a plant ecologist and community forestry researcher at the New York Botanical Garden. He is currently working in the Tapajos-Arapiuns Extractive Reserve in Brazil with several communities that are developing

management plans for the sustainable production of furniture woods. He is also involved in community forestry research in the Selva Maya of Mexico, and has recently started work in Myanmar and Vietnam to look at the conservation and sustainable use of rattan (Palmae) in these two countries. Dr. Peters is also an associate professor of tropical ecology (adjunct) at the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies of Yale University, an adjunct senior research scientist at the Center for Environmental Research and Conservation (CERC) of Columbia University, and editor of the monograph series Advances in Economic Botany. The NYBG Seminar Series at Taft is made possible by a grant from the Yerkes Family Botanical Art and Science Speakers Fund. You can listen to his talk at

MagLev (build a magnetically levitated vehicle that moves down a standard maglev track) and Scrambler (build a vehicle—powered only by the energy of a falling mass—to transport an egg).

n Physics teacher Jim Mooney, Srinidhi Bharadwaj ’15, Tiffany Li ’14 and Science Department Head Jim Lehner show off the trophy this year’s team won at the Science Olympics. Peter Frew ’75

Science olympics Taft placed third overall and earned medals in six events at the annual Connecticut State Science Olympiad, held at the University of Connecticut. In this contest, teams of up to 15 students compete in 23 events, usually two students per event. A total of 36 teams from 26 schools competed. Taft earned silver medals in events called Mission Posssible (create a device that transfers energy from dropping marbles, paper clips and golf tees in until a light is activated) and Dynamic Planet (complete tasks associated with glaciation and long-term climate change); and bronze medals in Designer Genes (solve problems and analyze data using their knowledge of genetics), Disease Detectives (use investigative skills in the study of disease, injury, health and disability in populations with a particular focus on environmental auality),

Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 19

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Senior Service Day! h Seniors getting ready to work at Flanders Nature Center in Woodbury.

Four years ago, the senior class began what is now a tradition during Senior Week: Senior Community Service Day! The seniors thought it would be fun and memorable to start off Senior Week with a day devoted to community service, ending their final days at Taft by living out the school motto: to serve, not to be served. The Class of ’14 carried the torch of this great tradition. “What a fantastic day we had yesterday!” wrote Alex Thomson of Flanders Nature Center in Woodbury. “Brush removed, firewood split and stacked, more firewood collected, trails cut back, a fence installed and a chimney cleaned—that

was a tremendous amount of work that your group completed. Throughout the day, your fellow students exhibited a wonderful sense of mission, friendliness and willingness to help Flanders. I am always amazed at the diverse background that Taft students have and at the same time, their common desire to support the school’s motto. Special thanks to Chris Capece and Sami Albert for being the student leaders.” Volunteer Council members (Heather Gordon, Bridget Dougherty, Taewan Shim, Chris Capece, Sami Albert, Tess Conciatori, SoYoung Park and Kayla Romano) led site projects,

and faculty advisers Baba Frew, Jeremy Clifford, Catherine Ganung, Laura Monti, Carly Borken and the Global Leadership & Service Committee helped organize the day. Students and faculty pitched in at Carrington School in Waterbury, Steele Brook Greenway in Watertown and Waldingfield Farm in Washington. “While the school has received much appreciation from our service partners in the past,” says Center for Global Leadership and Service Director Jamella Lee, “they all noted the amazing spirit of this year’s entire class and the wonderful work they did last week.”

Faculty news RETIREd

• Steve Schieffelin • Terry Giffen


• • • • • • • • • • • •

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Isabel Aguirre-Kelly Jonathan Bernon Colin Farrar Blaire Farrar Giselle Furlonge Matt McAuliffe Luis Mendoza Jean Strumolo Piacenza ’75 Julie Reiff Christopher Ritacco Courtney Vris Kisha Watts


• Alison Hoffman Almasian ’87, director of college counseling • Erin duffy, co-director of residential life • Eileen Fenn ’98, director of teaching fellowships • Ozzie Parente, uppermid class dean • Rachel Russell, director of counseling


• • • • • • • • • • • • • •

Martin Aspholm, history fellow Rosy Cohane-Mann, chemistry fellow Michael Corbelle, history Micaela deSimone, English fellow Stuart Guthrie, English Lauren Henry ’99, counseling Jonas Katkavich, counseling Lisa Klein, classics diana LaCasse, admissions Jeremy LaCasse, history Matthew Mullane, Spanish fellow Patrick Pothel, French Jillian Stanley, Spanish Ranbel Sun, physics

v New head monitors Vienna Kaylan and Quentin Harris ’15. Olivia Paige ’15

Head Mons Named Seniors Quentin Harris and Vienna Kaylan have been named head monitors for the 2014–15 school year. Head mons are the leaders of the student government at Taft, working closely with the headmaster and a team of 11

other school monitors to implement the Honor System, assist in the supervision of the dormitories and accept a large share of the responsibility for the day-today conduct of the school’s affairs. “I think Taft’s greatest asset,” says Vienna, “is its diverse and capable student body filled with individuals who all have something to offer to our community. I want students to see their suggestions in terms of dances and community activities take shape, and for them to feel like they have a voice.” Quentin is captain and quarterback of the varsity football team and a three-year member of the varsity baseball team, for which he plays center field. Vienna is head of Improv, is involved in many of the theater productions on campus and is features editor of the Taft Papyrus.

essayist Sonny An ’17 won second place in the National WWII Museum’s 2014 essay contest for his essay on the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II and his own experience coming to America. “In 2007, my mother, my brother and I moved from Korea to Boston in search of a better education,” writes Sonny. “My memory of the flight to America was stained with tears and emotion; I was leaving my comfort zone and being taken to a new environment in which I barely spoke its language or knew the culture. “I learned that in circumstances mainly beyond my grasp, the only things I knew I had control over were my dedication and perseverance…. Although not comparable to the adversities faced by the Japanese-Americans, the limiting expectation and demeaning

comments that I have suffered over the years in America have certainly encouraged my academic perseverance. Just as my endurance has translated into my academic success, the determination and the spirit that the Japanese-Americans showed even under the harshest conditions have led to significant reforms in legislations protecting the rights of minorities. Discrimination arises from the fear of the unknown. The solution to prejudice and bias, therefore, is first to welcome others with open arms, and second to withstand adversities with unflagging determination.”

college Choices

This year, Taft seniors chose to matriculate at the following colleges and universities in the highest number (two or more). The University of Virginia proved popular with seven members of the class attending, although Trinity and Middlebury were a close second with six Tafties apiece. Bates College ............................................... (2) Boston College............................................. (2) Brown university ......................................... (2) Bucknell university ...................................... (2) Clemson university...................................... (3) Colgate university ....................................... (4) Columbia university .................................... (4) Cornell university ........................................ (4) Dartmouth College ...................................... (2) Elon university ............................................ (2) Georgetown university................................ (4) George Washington university ................... (2) Hamilton College ........................................ (3) Harvard College ........................................... (2) Johns Hopkins university............................. (3) Massachusetts Institute of Technology ....... (2) Middlebury College ..................................... (6) Muhlenberg College .................................... (2) new york university .................................... (4) Saint Michael’s College ................................ (2) Southern Methodist ................................... (4) Stanford university ...................................... (2) Trinity College .............................................. (6) Tufts university ............................................ (3) union College .............................................. (3) united States naval Academy...................... (2) university of Michigan ................................ (2) university of n.C. Chapel Hill ....................... (3) university of notre dame ............................ (2) university of Richmond ............................... (3) university of Southern California ................ (3) university of Vermont ................................. (2) university of Virginia ................................... (7) Washington and Lee university ................... (2) Williams College .......................................... (3) yale university ............................................. (2)

You can read the complete essay online at

Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 21

For more on the spring season, please visit

spring Sport wrap-up By STEVE PALMER

Baseball 10–10

Boys’ crew 41–44

A .500 season was a success in this rebuilding year for the Rhino nine. Taft was 7–7 in the Colonial League—good enough for 4th place behind Choate, Avon and Loomis, and ahead of Hotchkiss, Kent, TP and Westminster. Senior pitchers Hadley Stone and Patch Robinson were 5–3 and 5–2 respectively, and uppermid Justin Lebek earned five saves in addition to leading the team with a .403 batting average and being elected captain for next year. A solid group of rising seniors—Lebek, Hunter Frantz, Ross Colton, Doug Goldstone and Quentin Harris—along with rising uppermid Jeremiah Vargas will be the nucleus of a team that expects to compete for the league championship next year.

In their dual-meet races and regattas, Taft’s four varsity boats compiled an overall record of 41 wins versus 44 losses, with the first varsity boat posting a record of 15–9. The first varsity lineup of Aleksa Lambert ’14 (cox), tri-captain Liam Carty ’14, Jack Torney ’15, tricaptain Carl Sangree ’14 and Richard Gilland ’15, became the first Taft boys’ crew to medal at the Founders Day Regatta, earning a silver medal and taking 1st place among all the scholastic programs at this prestigious event. In a crazy season shortened by ice on the lake and then wind, Taft managed to qualify all four varsity boats for New Englands—with the first boat seeded 6th out of 29 teams. First boat would

2014 SPRInG AWARd WInnERS Softball Award ------------------------------------------------------- Audrey C. Quirk ’14 Crew Award --------------------------------------------- Charlotte D. Cunningham ’14, Amelia R. Wilhelm ’14, Liam D. Carty ’14 Wandelt Lacrosse Award -------Collins J. Grant ’14, Sadie Rose Oppenheim ’14 Odden Lacrosse Award -----------------------------------------------John S. Collins ’14 George D. Gould Tennis Award ------------------------------------ Isabel R. Stack ’14 Alrick H. Man Jr. Award --------------------------------------- Raymond Z. Kanyó ’14 Galeski Golf Award ------------------------------------------Matthew C. Schimenti ’14 Seymour Willis Beardsley Track Award ------------------------ Shana K. Joseph ’14, Troy-Jay N. Moo Penn ’14 Stone Baseball Award ----------------------------------Christopher Hadley Stone ’14 Girls’ Golf Award ------------------------------------------ Mary Legare Augenstein ’14

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go on to finish 11th in that championship race, but it was the fourth boat that shone brightest, finishing 5th, an outstanding achievement for a young crew composed of Shelby Hetherington ’16 (cox), Josh Molder ’16 (stroke), Noah Baird ’16, Michael Molder ’16 and Keenan Murray ’15.

Girls’ crew 33–53 The girls’ crew schedule remained challenging but exciting as Taft steadily decreased the margins each week against the top teams in New England and in the country. At the Founders Day Regatta, the 1st boat of Rita Catherine O’Shea ’14 (cox), Charlotte Cunningham ’14 (co–captain), Kate Tewksbury ’16, Sophie Kamhi ’17 and Athena Wilkinson ’15 fought for an exciting finish to qualify for the petite finals. The 2nd boat also qualified for the petites, and the 4th for the grands; all finished in the top half of their second race. The following weekend, Taft was 3rd overall at the DuPont Cup, out of six very strong crews. In the last race of the season, the Rhinos won the Alumni Cup against Berkshire, Gunnery and Canterbury with crucial wins coming from the 3rd and 4th boats. All four boats qualified for New Englands and had outstanding showings, but none qualified for the grand finals or petites.

h The boys’ golf team took home the Founders League Championship, at home on Alumni Day, setting a new course record of 369 strokes and a stroke average per player of 73.8.

Boys’ golf 8–1


Building on of last spring’s success, this year’s team had an excellent record and posted a team 18-hole scoring record. While weather wreaked havoc with the match schedule, Taft’s play in three tournaments illustrated their depth and strength. Finishing 2nd at Newport Country Club in the Andover Invitational, Jack Porcelli ’14 won comedalist honors with a round of 73. At the Kingswood Invitational, Julien Papadopoulo ’14 shot a round of 72, good for 6th place in a field of 110 prep school golfers. The team total of 380 bested Taft’s previous KIT record by 8 strokes and earned a 3rd place finish, just two strokes out of first place. Finally, at the Founders League Championship, played at the Watertown Golf Club, the

Rhinos’ tremendous depth secured the league championship and a new scoring record. Sebastian Cheng ’14 led the way with an even par 71, followed by Porcelli (74), Papadopoulo (74), Owen McGowan ’15 (74) and J.P. Raftery ’15 (76), for a five-man score of 369 strokes.

Girls’ golf 8–2


Under the leadership of captains Jackie Eleey ’14, who will be attending Georgetown, and Legare Augenstein ’14, who will be attending the United States Naval Academy to play golf, Taft captured the Founders Championship by a whopping 38 strokes. Eleey received the John Villano Taft ’44 Spirit of Taft Golf Award and All Founders

League honors, plus she was the medalist at the league tournament with a 9-hole score of 36. Augenstein, at #2, won the Girls’ Golf Award and All Founders League honors as well. The team won matches against strong opponents including Hotchkiss, Choate, Loomis, Ethel Walker’s and Miss Porter’s before falling twice to Greenwich Academy at Round Hill Golf Club and on Taft’s home course. Pen Naviroj ’15, also All Founders League honors at #3, and newcomer Meghan Foos, playing #4, won many matches from the middle of the lineup. Hannah Wilczynski ’16, Avery Andreski ’17 and Marisa Mission ’17 also won matches, showing the team’s depth. Eleey and Augenstein both shot a 78 and tied for 4th at the Pippy O’Connor Independent School Girls’ Golf Classic, with more than 60 girls competing. Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 23

spring Sport consistently controlled games on the offensive end for Taft and was the team’s leading scorer. Rachel Muskin ’14, co-captain Rosey Oppenheim ’14 and CoCo Tautkus ’14 were also important offensive weapons. Co-captain Collins Grant ’14 and Caroline Queally ’14 were strong and consistent in the midfield all season, while Lauren Drakeley ’15 anchored the defense in front of goalie Becky Dutton ’16, who finished with several 20-plus save games.

Softball 6–6 h Will Sipperly

’14 helped lead his team to a 12–4 record, earning u.S. Lacrosse All-American and All-Western New England honors. He will play for the university of Virginia in the fall. Robert Falcetti

Boys’ lacrosse 12–4 Taft was one of the best teams in one of the most competitive high school lacrosse leagues in the nation. The Western New England Division I group included six teams that were ranked nationally in the top 25, and after 10–1 start, Taft rose as high as #7 in one national poll. Big wins came over Exeter (16–7), Brewster (11–7), and Westminster (6–5), but the highlight of the season was the Rhinos’ 8–7 victory over Deerfield (8–7)—the first in 11 years and the Big Green’s only loss this year. Goalie Angus Viebranz ’14 (bound for Middlebury) tallied 20 saves and scored a goal in that win to go along with the superb play of defenders co-captain Eric Smith ’14 (Michigan), Zach Ambrosino ’15 and Brandon Salvatore ’15. Taft then won its final game at home in exciting fashion, as All-American Will Sipperly ’14 (Virginia) scored with 40 seconds left 24 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014

to tie the game, and Tim Shield ’14 (Vermont) won it with 20 seconds to go. Sipperly and co-captain Jack Collins ’14 (Brown) were finalists for Western New England midfielder of the year. Bryant-bound Brady O’Donnell ’14 led the team with 28 assists and 49 points, and Virginia-bound Tyler Breen ’14 finished his career with 113 total points and was named an Under Armour All-American.

Having graduated six seniors, Taft faced many positions that needed to be filled this spring. Leading the way was captain and catcher Audrey Quirk ’14, who had a strong season behind the plate. She worked well with pitchers Shelby James ’15 and Daria Acosta-Rua ’16, who faced some tough teams early in the season, going 1–3 to start. The Rhinos got their bats going in mid-season, as they soundly defeated Deerfield 7–0, Miss Porter’s 21–5 and Canterbury 16–1. They ended the season with a win over Hotchkiss (8–0) and their best game, a close loss to Choate, with no errors in the field and a solid showing at the plate. Centerfielder Madie Leidt ’16 and Acosta-Rua were named Founders League All-Stars, and Quirk received the Softball Award.

Boys’ tennis 14–4

Girls’ lacrosse 10–4


Taft got off to a fast start this spring, with five quick wins, including good games over Berkshire (7–5) and a come-from-behind victory over a strong Loomis team (11–9). The Rhinos then alternated wins and losses the rest of the way, dropping one to Deerfield (14–17), but winning a tight one over Westminster (6–5). With her skill and athleticism, Rachael Alberti ’15

The Rhinos were strong from top to bottom and made a good run at the New England team title. It was a season of balance among the best New England teams, with Taft earning hard–fought 4–3 wins over Hotchkiss and Deerfield early in the season. All four Taft losses were by the score of 4–3, including to one early to Andover (New England Division I champion) and one late to

Hopkins (New England Division II champion). Taft’s second 4–3 win over Hotchkiss earned them the Southern New England Tennis League title, but they were prevented from making it to the New England Tournament championship match with a 4–3 semifinal loss. Captain Raymond Kanyo ’14 and Courtland Boyle ’16 were strong and steady as the #1 and #2 singles players all spring. Mike Mulroy ’15 and George Johnston ’15, #3 and #4 singles players, formed Taft’s best tandem at #2 doubles. Jacques Pellet ’17, Griffin Conner ’15 and Tucker Killian ’14 rounded out this very talented team.

Girls’ tennis 8–6 The Rhinos opened the season by knocking off New England powerhouse Hotchkiss for the first times since 2002. The girls followed up with solid wins over league rivals Choate (9–0)

and Loomis Chaffee (8–1). An upset win over Sacred Heart (6–3) secured Taft’s place in the New England Class A Tournament. In the first-round match, Taft lost the doubles point by the closest of margins, an 8–9 tiebreak loss by co-captain Bella Ordway ’15 and Hannah Friend at #1 doubles. However, Friend ’15, Olivia O’Malley ’15 and Eugenie Greeff ’17 overpowered their Nobles opponents at the #2, #5 and #6 singles spots, respectively. With the match tied 4–4, co-captain Isabel Stack ’14 fought back at #4 singles to win the second set 6–4, but could not quite take the final tiebreaker—after 3 hours and 45 minutes of tennis, Nobles emerged with a thrilling 5–4 victory but had to fight for every point. The team will lose a lot in the steady play of seniors Stack, Alison Sheehan ’14 and Natalie Whiting ’14, but with six returners, including top two singles players Ordway and Friend, the team is excited for next year. h Co-captain Collins Grant ’14 in action. Robert Falcetti

Boys’ track 6–5 The season started well with wins over Avon, Deerfield, Trinity Pawling and Brunswick, and Taft battled hard but came up short against powerful teams from Choate, Loomis and Hotchkiss. The Rhinos had a talented core of returners who blended well with the newcomers, leading to a team that had balance and depth. At the rain-shortened Founders League Championship, cocaptain John MacMullen ’14 returned from injury to win the 400m, Jared Thompson ’14 placed 2nd in the pole vault, Nadir Pearson ’15 placed 3rd in both the 110m and 300m hurdle races, Preston Veley ’15 placed 5th place in the 1500m, the 4x100m relay placed 6th and throwers Carty Campbell ’14, Fernando Fernandez ’14 and Jacob Goldstein ’15 all earned places in the top six. At the New England meet, the Big Red finished in a 9th place tie with Andover, with MacMullen placing second in the 400m with a season-best time of 50:09 and Thompson taking second place with a season-best vault of 11’ 6”.

Girls’ track 3–7 With only three returning seniors, the Taft girls opened the track season as a team that was youthful and inexperienced. Backed by the leadership of those seniors—captain Shay Joseph ’14, Taylor Rado ’14 and Rashi Narayan ’14— the team made significant progress, highlighted by their victories over Kingswood, Greenwich Academy and Sacred Heart in a quad meet in late April. At the rain-shortened Founders League Championship, Caroline Kearns ’15 in the javelin and Rado in the pole vault placed 3rd. Joseph placed 5th in the 400m, and Livvy Barnett ’15 in the 1500m, Jules Falkow ’16 in the pole vault, and the 4x100m relay team placed 6th. At the New England meet, Narayan placed 5th in the 800m, and Kearns placed 6th in the javelin. Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 25

Annual Fund

Record-Breaking Annual Fund We’ve done it, again! Our Taft community—alumni, parents, grandparents and friends—carried the Annual Fund from last year’s superb campaign to this year’s more than $4.4 million, record-breaking triumph. Those dollars equate to more than $7,500 of support per Taft student, and they underwrite critical operating support for the school at a time when more families than ever before are seeking and receiving tuition assistance. Our community should be incredibly proud of our Annual Fund donors, whose steadfast generosity continues to sustain a vibrant institution and the dynamic, talented and good young people it serves. In the midst of celebrating their 50th Reunion, the Class of ’64 led by example in winning both the Snyder Award and the Chairman of the Board Award by, respectively, contributing the most dollars by a reunion-year class ($160,325 for Annual Fund plus $608,516 for Capital Fund) and achieving the highest level of donor participation (74%) among classes 50 or fewer years out. Not to be outdone by their predecessors, the Class of ’14 deserves special commendation for breaking the record for Annual Fund participation by graduating seniors with commitments from an astonishing 96% of its members! With overall alumni participation hovering around 41%, all alumni classes would do well to honor these new graduates by emulating their inspiring conviction and generosity. Once again, the Taft Parents’ Fund capped another fantastic

fundraising year with near-perfect participation and contributions of more than $1.7 million. This phenomenal success is the result of the continued largesse of our current parents, the exemplary leadership of the Parents’ Fund Chairs Sawnie and Jim McGee, and the determination and toil of the Parents’ Fund Committee. The Fund continues to set the standard among all such funds at the nation’s best schools, and the thoughtful donors and volunteers behind this effort deserve our unreserved gratitude. As chair of the Annual Fund, I am fortunate and honored to work with many talented and dedicated volunteers and staff in service to Taft and its future. Through their hard work and the generosity of our cherished donors, the Taft Annual Fund continues to generate financial resources that are critical to providing the best possible learning environment for our students. To those who made this year a bountiful success, I offer my sincere thanks for your partnership and your steadfast support of Taft. With warm regards, Dylan Simonds ’89 Annual Fund Chair

You gave back. Now Taft’s future looks brighter. 26 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014

2014 Class Agent Awards Snyder Award

Romano Award

Chairman of the Board Award

Young Alumni Dollars Award

McCabe Award

Young Alumni Participation Award

Largest amount contributed by a reunion class Class of ’64: $768,841 (includes Annual Fund and Capital Fund) class agent and gift committee chair: Carl Wies

Highest percentage participation from a class 50 years out or less Class of ’64: 74% class agent and gift committee chair: Carl Wies Largest Annual Fund amount contributed by a non-reunion class class of ’62: $107,309 class agent: Fred Nagle

Class of 1920 Award

Greatest increase in dollars from a non-reunion class Class of ’93: increase of $24,679 class agent: Eric Hidy

Greatest increase in participation from a non-reunion class less than 50 years out class of ’86: 47% (from 38%) class agents: Sarah Curi and Matthew Park

Largest amount contributed from a class 10 years out or less Class of ’04: $10,399 class agent: Mike Palladino

Highest participation from a class 10 years out or less class of ’13: 41% class agents: Jagger Riefler and Elizabeth Shea

Spencer Award

Largest number of gifts from classmates who have not given in the last five years Class of ’64: 14 new donors class agent and gift committee chair: Carl Wies

Awards determined by gifts and pledges raised as of June 30, 2014.

We would like to express our appreciation

to all Taft families who contributed to the 2013–14 Taft Parents’ Fund. Contributions totaled $1,706,627 and participation reached 93 percent for the year. We also wish to express a special thank you to the Parents’ Fund Committee, which worked so hard to connect with parents about the importance of participation. The Parents’ Fund Committee again reached 100 percent participation this year.

Sawnie & Jim McGee Parents’ Fund Chairs Parents of Gwendolyn ’14 and Locke ’16

2013–14 Parents’ Fund Committee Sawnie and Jim Mcgee, chairs Jan and Eric Albert ’77 Michelle andrews Linda and Paul Barnett Sonia and John Batten cathy and wing Biddle Megan and courtland Boyle rachel and william Brannan anne and toby Brown nanny and Marty cannon constance and Michael carroll laurent chaix and Wendy Weaver Chaix ’79 Margaret and anthony colangelo Jeanmarie and colin cooper lilo and tom cunningham

John Davidge III and Deborah Lott Jacqueline and Christian Erdman Hiram ewald and Molly Mccann ewald ’82 alicia and Bill ewing linn ’82 and robert feidelson ’82 libby and terry fitzgerald Icy and Scott Frantz Deborah S. galant Danielle and David ganek Kristine and Tom Gordon colleen and peter grant Debbie and paul guiney Diana and william Hildreth Laurie and Britton Jones tim Jones and annie cardelus

Jeff Keeler and Marietta Lee laura and Brooks klimley Youngbum kwon and Misook Yoon Betty and Francis Lam ’77 catherine and peter lau fredric leopold and celeste ford Beaumont and Ben Lett alice and albert Ma Christiana and Ferdy Masucci rose and paul Mcgowan Cindy and Jim Meeker ’69 Paige and Steve Molder ’78 eileen and Michael nelson regina and Dennis olmstead nan and tim o’neill ellen and Bill oppenheim

Madeleine and frank porcelli Bridget and Doyle Queally elizabeth and frank Queally claire and randy Salvatore Jane ’83 and Mark Schoenholtz Staley and carter Sednaoui Steve Shafran anne and Joe Sheehan David Soward and roxanne fleming Mimi and Marc tabah Denise and John trevenen cissy and curt Viebranz Diane Blanchard Whiting lin Xu and Stanley Xu Alison and Scott Zoellner ’83 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 27


By Tracey O’Shaughnessy

The photographs in this article are from a series of a paper sculptures created by Nam-Anh Nguyen ’15 for her iSp project this spring. Sam Lamy ’14


STudenTS’ mindS and paSSiOnS” In their last year at Taft, Robert Brown ’14 and Dawson Jones ’14 were able to accomplish a musical feat neither had attempted before—record their own music on their own instruments using Taft’s new recording studio. The pair was able to do so because they availed themselves of a 50-year-old program that gave them the time and encouragement to take on a project that they otherwise would not have had the time or assistance to do. Jones and Brown were part of the school’s Independent Studies Program (ISP), the first in the country to allow innovative, scholastically advanced students to pursue a project of their own interest with the rigor, time and discipline often expected of college students. The students are exempted from their afternoon projects to allow them time to accomplish their objectives. “I’ve been writing music since seventh grade, but working in the studio has totally opened up my songwriting” said Jones. “It’s definitely not easy.” The ISP, said Brown, who will attend Georgetown University in the fall, “required a lot of motivation. It’s for people who want to have something special on their Taft record. It’s definitely for people who have a passion that they want to fulfill.” The idea that the ISP, which began largely by encouraging students to write scholarly papers, would have morphed into a program that sanctions and even encourages projects like music, website design, poetry, ceramic arts and dance, would have been unimaginable to its creators in 1964. But it fits within the impetus for the program: to ignite students’ minds and passions.

“The program is amorphous by design,” said Ken Hincker, who became adviser for the program last year. “It allows students to pursue a passion that has either a specific scholastic, artistic or service component.” Students then seek out a faculty member with the requisite experience and expertise to help guide them in their pursuit. The yearlong program emphasizes that the process is the most important element in the project, Hincker said, adding that students learn not only about a specific topic but also learn how to manage their time efficiently. Each year, about 20 students are accepted into the ISP, about half of the number who apply. Typically, only uppermids and seniors are accepted. Student projects—displayed or performed—conclude in early spring before A.P. exams begin. Outstanding independent work is recognized at a special awards assembly at the end of the year for uppermiddlers or at graduation for seniors. More than 1,000 projects, from still-life-painting to alternative energy exploration, have been completed since 1964. “This is entirely done for the sake of learning,” Hincker said. “No credit, no grade. The payoff, if there is one, is that it’s a really wonderful thing to have on your college application and something incredibly empowering.” Indeed, said Brown, one of the most important lessons for him has been learning to manage his time. “It’s important to have that passion,” he said “But it’s important to have the perspective and determination. It can be taxing. There are no grades. It’s all up to you to see how hard you want to push yourself.” This year’s projects were varied and ambitious. Some took Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 29

Lance Odden beLieved that many Of hiS mOre inteLLectuaLLy agiLe and reStLeSS StudentS needed tO exerciSe their

scholarly gifts in a venue that did nOt fit intO the thenrigid StrictureS Of academicS.

on engineering and design work (one student designed a photovoltaic cell, while another made a harpsichord). Others leaned toward artistic projects (one student created clay sculptures of the characters in Alice in Wonderland, another wrote and produced a one-act play). Other students took a more academic approach to their projects, including one who wrote a paper on how Winston Churchill’s childhood affected his political decisions. “I would be too self-congratulatory if I said the program works because of the way the school prizes the life of the mind,” said Hincker. “But I think it has an awful lot to do with it. We tend to get some really interested, committed and freethinking individuals. In an era when more and more efficiency, effectiveness and payoff matters, we are continuing to bring in students where being a student is their raison d’etre. I would tip my hat to those folks.” At the time of its implementation, the Independent Studies Program was a groundbreaking initiative unique in independent schools. The idea was to harness the surfeit of intellectual curiosity that was fomenting in the minds of Taft students, but, in the minds of its designers, had very little avenue of expression. “They were so inventive that it was embarrassing to realize that they had this pent-up ability,” said Barclay Johnson ’53, an emeritus English teacher who advised the ISP for 40 years. Arriving at the school in 1963, Headmaster John C. Esty, who had been a dean at Amherst College, believed that private school students were disadvantaged by their lack of freedom in academic study. He believed a program that would allow 30 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014

students to pursue scholarly interests about which they were passionate would better prepare them for college. Esty, now 85 and living in Concord, Massachusetts, recalled how revolutionary the idea was. “I remember the faculty meeting where I announced that that’s what we were going to do. Several faculty voices said, ‘Well that’s crazy. The students won’t do the work.’ So my answer to that was ‘Let’s try it.’” One faculty member who was encouraged by the idea was Lance Odden, who succeeded Esty as headmaster. Odden, who then taught East Asian and United States history, also believed that many of his more intellectually agile and restless students needed to exercise their scholarly gifts in a venue that did not fit into the then-rigid strictures of academics. “The old world was very teacher-centered, very didactic and very textbook-bound,” said Odden. “It was ‘Here are the facts, learn them and regurgitate them.’” Odden and his colleagues began working on the ISP that fall and were thrilled by the results. “They were absolutely phenomenal,” he said. One of the first students to benefit from the program was Arthur Waldron ’66, now the Lauder Professor of International Relations and Chinese History at the University of Pennsylvania, “ISP was the making of my time at Taft,” he wrote via email. “I felt I was breathing intellectual oxygen. I am, however, someone who for some reason has an inborn intellectual agenda. That is required for ISP.” Ellis Wasson ’66, a historian at the University of Delaware who has written more than six books, largely about British


PrOjectS Charlotte Anrig ’14 Natasha Batten ’15 Maggie Blatz ’15 Rob Brown ’14 and Dawson Jones ’14 Tiffany Bushka ’15 and Jocelyn Kim ’15 Fernando Fernandez ’14 Hannah Kim ’14 Penn Naviroj ’15

imperialism and the Whig Party in 19th century, was another early participant who credits the ISP with his decision to become a scholar in history. “I learned a lot about using primary sources, organizing large amounts of material, and writing,” he wrote, adding that those skills were invaluable when he got to Johns Hopkins, where he was able to accelerate his history program into a simultaneous B.A./M.A. and then to go on to a Ph.D. at Cambridge. “Had the ISP program not existed, things might have turned out differently,” he said. “The ISP opened intellectual windows, broke up the routine of school, gave me time to read deeply in a really complicated subject for the first time, and the opportunity to work one on one with a mentor. It was Odden and [Walter] Foley who made me want to do history, but ISP gave me the chance to road test the idea and confirm my passion in life,” Wasson said. The initial ISP program looked far different than it did today. Participants–about 24 boys a year in those days–lived on a special dormitory floor, listened to outside speakers, had class-cutting and campus-leaving privileges, and typically ate together. One boy studied the effects of pesticides. Another looked at the religious issues in the poetry of Dylan Thomas; still another looked at the march of the Cheyenne Indians from the Dakotas to Oklahoma; and still another was testing 32 types of fertilizer in a soil microbiology project. David Armstrong ’65, who went on to a career as painter, did an ISP under the supervision of Mark Potter ’48.

Short stories, essays and poetry gender in c. elegans Busboys (novella) music ceramics Short stories for Spanish Speakers The Rhino Rialto: Web marketplace volleyball translation book

Nam Anh Nguyen ’15 Maria Ossa ’15 So Young Park ’14 Mia Polokoff ’15 Tommy Robertshaw ’14 Sam Stamas ’14 Gabby Vachon ’15 Claudia Villalona ’15 Athena Wilkinson ’15

Light installations perspective experiments in interior design family tree american poetry Revisited The Taft School Staff: Seeing eye to eye (video) dove Self-esteem project exploring Spanish art and Literature Writing in the Recording Studio

As the first program of its type, the ISP generated national interest. The Independent School Bulletin published an article on the program by Odden in 1966, and in 1967, the National Association of Independent Schools put out a booklet by David Mallery titled A New Look at the Senior Year, of which the Taft program is the opening chapter. In the program’s fourth year, Taft had already received visitors from more than 40 schools interested in starting similar programs. In its early years, independent study projects were mostly academic papers (bound copies of which still live in the school archives), but that changed in the 1970s. Barclay Johnson ’53, who took over the program in 1970, said the program evolved with the times. In the late ’60s and early ’70s, he said, the school was struggling to be relevant to students who were concerned about social unrest and the Vietnam conflict. “We were, in those days, very self-conscious about getting through to students,” he said. “They were all anxious about the war. They were worried for their own safety, and they were worried about getting through college. They had to suffer the stigma of being the little rich kids, and they had to grow up fast because they were certainly on the bull’s eye of criticism.” The ISP, he said, “gave the kids some kind of place to speak out and something creative to do because they weren’t satisfied with the academic fare of the average school.” Increasingly, the arts became a vital part of the ISP. “The dancing was extraordinary,” said Johnson. “We also had a lot of musical projects, both vocal and instrumental.” Students— then as now—were interested in film and studio art.

“i feLt i WaS breathing

intellectual oxygen. ”

There were bumps, of course, he said. “We have had to kick some kids out of the program because they didn’t have the discipline they said they would have.... It was school. It was not camp.” Odden believes the Independent Studies Program was a precursor to the more student-centered method of learning favored in most schools today. “Education has moved to the teacher no longer being the fact-giver, but to being the coach of kids who are learning on their own. So what we did back then is an absolute precursor to what’s going on today,” Odden said. “An ISP happens at odd times, at the juncture of unplanned connections and shifting plans,” Hincker reflected at the final ISP showcase in the faculty room in May. “So you write some there, you screen your last few scenes here. You overindulge in poetry late into a Thursday night or you find yourself late for an appointment because you fell into the beauty of the natural world that only data—in its implacable certitude—reveals. ISP isn’t an act; it’s an attitude. We set ourselves private study projects to find out what we can, and might someday, become, thus taking part in the age-old task: know thyself. And we celebrate the apparently paradoxical purpose of solo scholarship: learn for yourself that your knowledge may in turn serve another.” j

Sam Stamas ’14 received the david edward goldberg award for independent Work for Seeing eye to eye, his 30-minute documentary about the staff at the taft School. you can watch it here:

Tracey O’Shaughnessy is associate features editor at the Waterbury Republican-American.

Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 33

Alumni Weekend


P hotography by Robert Falcetti and P hilip Dutton


rom as close as Woodbury to as far as Japan, alumni returned to Taft in record numbers. What makes them come back? Connections: those made at Taft and renewed through Alumni Weekends, Class Reunions and even the alumni notes in the Bulletin. To borrow words from an alum, “I was struck by the bonhomie and camaraderie....While there were many stories and many life trajectories,” he said, “the common goal was to forge a bond of heart and spirit….There was an understanding that our terrestrial tenure is limited; and what truly matters is the connections that we make with one another.” Here, you can see those connections—the warmth, the laughter shared and why they return to Taft, year after year.

—Linda Hedman Beyus


Thomas Mahoney ’39 and Buz Lydon ’49 ready to join the parade.


Celebrating their Fifth Reunion, Kathy Demmon ’09, Sarah Albert ’09 and Gabby Masucci ’09.


Will Miller ’74, recipient of the Horace D. Taft Alumni Medal, at the Old Guard Dinner with his wife, Lynne, and daughter Laura. 34 Taft Bulletin Summer 2014

1 2


Classes gather in Mac House Quad for the Headmaster’s Welcome.



Three generations of Tafties: Samantha and Joe dillard ’09 with his dad, Joe ’84, and brother Aaron ’16.


Headmaster Emeritus Lance Odden greets George utley ’74 during the Alumni Lacrosse Game.

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5 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 35


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7 36 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014


Rocky Shepard ’69, dick Stevens ’69 and former faculty Wayne yankus celebrate the Class of ’69’s 45th Reunion at Good News Cafe.


Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 with head monitors Maddie Olmsted ’14 and Tommy Robertshaw ’14.


At the young alumni reunion celebration, foreground, Joanne and Hugh Caldara ’64, Richard Loughran ’64, Brandon Shreve ’64, ned Smith ’99 and dottie Shreve.


1974 alums Melissa McCarthy Meager, Mac Brighton, Cindi Post Stone and Marian Reiff Cheevers arrive for their 40th Reunion.


Alumni Soccer players: front, from left, Connor Partridge ’10, Alex Kremer ’06 , nick Hurt ’09, Will Orben ’92 and son Reed, Willy MacMullen ’78, faculty Ozzie Parente, Rob Madden ’03, faculty Luis Mendoza, Jake Albert ’11; back, Jesse newbold ’09, Andrew Trevenen ’13, Peppie Wagner ’81, Bob O’Connor ’74, Tom Brand ’91, Max Brazo ’11, Shelby Meckstroth ’13, Omar Bravo ’11, Tyler Carlos ’12, Brandon Sousa ’12, Lexi dwyer ’12, Erin Largay ’94, Katie McLaughlin ’13, Andy Cannon ’11.


Coach Larry Stone with daughter Katey ’84, guests of the Class of ’69.


George Hefferan ’54 with his daughter, Fran Hefferan Timpson.

table at Old Guard Dinner Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 37


1979 friends at the Alumni Luncheon: front, Jane Buckley Kiley, Kathy Sheridan Russell, Holly Sweet Burt and Michio Fushihara; back, Poppy Gilbert Luchars, Kit Boyatt, Susan Conroy Ryba, Margaret Farley and Patty Buttenheim.


Rusty Davis took alumni “Back to Class” for physics fun.


A sea of returning alumni fills Mac House Quad next to the Moorhead Wing.


1994 alums Bridget George, Andy Bernard and Victoria Larson Maggard.

Charlie Vallee ’13 and Shelby Meckstroth ’13 during the co-ed Alumni Soccer Game.


2004 alums Mike Palladino, Lindsey Gael and T.J. DeFilippo at the young alumni gathering.


At the Litchfield Country Club 1989 Class Dinner, Jennifer Boyer Fortney, Amy Ostrander Twombly, Anna DePolo Shultz and Laurie Odden Brown.


At the Headmaster’s Supper, 1999 alums Eyram Simpri, Lauren Chu, Alex Dickson, Taj Frazier and Kayode Leonard. 38 Taft Bulletin Summer 2014


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6 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 39

“…the apotheosis of the schoolmaster”

40 Taft Bulletin Summer 2014


The SmarTeST man in The room e

By John magee

very spring the line grows outside the Academic Office as students select their courses for the coming year. Inevitably-rising seniors will ask about signing up for a class with Steve Schieffelin, as departing seniors have advised them to do. You can’t leave Taft without taking a class from him, they say. He’s a legend. While the word “retirement” has been associated with this event, anyone who knows Steve Schieffelin finds it difficult to put that word and that name in the same sentence. In his tenure at Taft Steve has virtually done it all, and done it all superbly. Steve has left his stamp upon this community. His good friend, longtime faculty member Dick Cobb, cited Steve as instrumental in the development of the Honor Court. His profound grasp of student behavior, his command of precedent and procedure, his compassion and concern shaped that body. He defines what every teacher should aspire to be. He defines excellence. 32 years of teaching at Taft (39 total) 13 years as English Department head Director of the Teaching Fellows program Head of the Discipline Committee and Honor Court Teacher and coach Independence Foundation Chair holder since 1997 Abramowitz Award for Teaching Excellence, 2008–09

> > > > > > >

There is no better way to celebrate Steve Schieffelin than to listen to what his colleagues and former students say about him. A few of them share their thanks, praise and respect for him here, but time and space allow only for a distillation of the volume of shared experience that expresses the collective thanks of all whom he has touched.

to helping students individually, ^ Committed Steve created the Writing Center on campus.

— I started teaching with a one-year horizon, sort of a pre-med school idea. Schieffelin opened me up to the possibility of teaching as a life’s work. Everyone in the Fellows Program was in awe of not only his brilliance, but also his levelheaded compassion. We called him The Wizard. If anyone has reached the pinnacle as a teacher, it would be Steve, but he wouldn’t admit that… he’d be the first to say, “I have so much more to learn.” —ozzie ParenTe, faculty Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 41

— We all have formal and informal mentors, and Steve is the latter for me. When I first started teaching, he observed my class and gave me the kind of detailed feedback, in a measured fashion, that allowed me to figure out what works and what doesn’t. I have used that model since then. Always available to crossread, discuss a way to make a point and just plain listen, Steve gives much more than he takes…and not just in the classroom but also in his approach to boarding school life.

“he SeT a STandard To WhiCh We all Should aSPire in our moST amBiTiouS momenTS.”

—BoB CamPBell ’76, faculty — I well remember hiring Steve early in my headmastership. We were looking for a first-rate English teacher to replace Dick Lovelace, who was retiring as the most distinguished teacher of the post Bill Sullivan era. Down from Northfield Mount Hermon came Steve, who struck…me as just the person we needed. Early the next fall, a parent—the president of Wesleyan University—took me aside to report that he had just witnessed one of the finest classes he had ever seen, that of a new teacher named Steven Schieffelin. What an affirmation of our decision, and how well it proved out over the next three decades. Steve was a true scholar who demanded the very best from his students even as he served as a model English scholar himself. His students learned to write with great clarity, to read with equal care, to value the critical ideas they generated and to love reading great literature. Those who excelled in Steve’s class could hold their own in any classroom in the most competitive university. Steve was also one of the school’s great listeners, serving as an invaluable colleague and a devoted adviser to his students. In later years he became the official mentor to all new teachers as he shepherded them through their opening year at Taft with a formal seminar on the culture of the school while introducing thoughtful pedagogical discussions on the best practices in teaching. Add to this his remarkable record as coach of the girls’ softball team and one has the making of a truly multi-talented schoolmaster. Taft has been blessed by his presence…he has deepened the great heritage of wonderful English teachers who have empowered the students they taught. —lanCe odden, headmaster emeritus —

“…Serious and witty within a single moment” 42 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014


My friendship with Steve began before Taft, at Northfield Mount Hermon in the fall of 1980 when I was a new and inexperienced teacher and Steve was the good friend of my not-yet-husband, Mike. Immediately I was taken in by his friendliness and genuine

interest in getting to know me, although I later learned that he thought my name was Peggy for several months—which Mike still calls me to this day. No question for Steve was ever insignificant, and during my second year we served as dormitory heads together. Although he was not the dean in charge, Steve led those meetings, holding us all to a higher standard and demanding nothing but the best for his girls in Cottage V. I learned from him what it meant to be a professional and to care deeply for every aspect of my job. Disciplined thought was followed by disciplined action. A few years later we ended up at Taft together. We were back and forth between houses a lot, and there is no way to count how many times we would find Steve tucked into his study with a set of essays, filling the margins with his thoughtful, validating and lovingly critical comments—always written with a lead pencil, never “hostile” red ink. Steve never was never interested in titles and administrative positions at Taft. He was a teacher—of students and of his colleagues. I remember one of his teaching fellows sharing with me that “a conversation with Steve is like a graduate course … you have to show up prepared and able to hold your own.” Steve always had time for me and my questions, and more than once after a particularly difficult conversation with a faculty member when I was dean of faculty, I would find my way to his office for a debriefing that invariably turned out to be a pep talk.

department who wanted to be one-tenth of what he was in the classroom. And as the years went by, even as I grew in the normal ways of a teacher, I never lost my profound admiration for him. They simply do not come any better than Steve Schieffelin. One of the great pleasures of my travels is that I talk with alumni of every age. Invariably they tell stories of the great teachers, the legends, the men and women they have never forgotten. Steve will be one of them. When we talk of what teaching at Taft looks like at its very best, when you ask a young teacher whom they admire, when you talk to a colleague about who defines scholarly and pedagogical excellence, you are going to hear Steve Schieffelin’s name. — Wi l l y m aC m ul l e n ’ 7 8, headmaster

— Pen n y To W n Send , former faculty — Steve Schieffelin—the apotheosis of the schoolmaster. He is a scholar of the first order and a true professional. His tremendous respect for the profession and his devotion to his fellows led him to give endlessly of his time and wisdom to colleagues young and old. He loves and respects his students as much as he loves Yeats and Shakespeare. He is my great friend and mentor, and whatever success I may have achieved is in large part a result of his counsel. Teaching was not his career but his mission. He set a standard to which we all should aspire in our most ambitious moments. —m ik e ToWn Send , former faculty — When I arrived at Taft as a young teacher in 1983, Steve was my mentor and quickly became a close friend. It was clear to me, within weeks of my arrival, that he was all I aspired to be as a teacher. I had never encountered someone with as much scholarship, passion and excellence. I was like many in the

Schieffelin in the Commencement lineup ^ Steve with dick Cobb and linda Saarnijoki

— During my senior year, Mr. Schieffelin agreed to embark on the journey of an independent English project with me, which will forever be one of the highlights of my experience at Taft. There never seemed to be enough time during our meetings each week, as we would get lost in the pages of the novels and plays and the details of debates over our respective interpretations. To this day, I have my copy of The Sound and The Fury in the stack of books next to my bed. I remember at a certain point we spoke about one character’s role in this book as proof that in an ordinary way, one can have extraordinary effects on people and situations. I think this notion is similar to the legacy Mr. Schieffelin will leave behind at Taft. Through his passion and compassion, intelligence and energy in the classroom, Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 43

— In all that he has done at Taft, Steve has brought a professionalism and scholarliness that has made us a much better school. When he came, I was probably in my second or third year of teaching, and I was impressed by his articulateness, his erudition and, at the same time, his humility.... He was entering a department that was fractured between old guard and new thinkers, but bridged that gap with sensitivity and collegiality. His political sense is sharp, and he needed every bit of it. When he became head of the department, he guided us in restructuring the curriculum, brought sensitivity and clarity to the evaluation of teachers, and was instrumental in mentoring many young faculty who became the solid foundation of the department. Steve inherited the [Teaching Fellows] program while it was still relatively young. He gave it a heft and consequence as a training ground for new faculty through his scholarly research into good teaching and new pedagogy, his compassion for the recent college grad thrust into a very adult world and a challenging job, but most of all through his wisdom and experience as a master teacher and professional who has always been reflective about his practice and eager to learn and share. He has been a mentor and friend always to his colleagues, young or old(er). as an english teacher, ^ Stevebutisherevered was also a remarkable coach,

guiding the girls’ softball team for years.

Mr. Schieffelin was able to achieve the extraordinary by catalyzing and cultivating creativity and a love for learning among his students. He further instilled a true passion for writing and learning in me—I am only one of the countless students inspired and impacted by his brilliance. I will always have the utmost respect, admiration and appreciation for him as a teacher, scholar and friend. I wish him all the best in the next chapter of his life! — Sarah alB er T ’0 9 — For me, he was a rock, a resource that I could use at any time in my four years with him, and that stability is something that I believe without a doubt catalyzed my success at Taft. My favorite part about the man was that he never shied away from giving me the criticism I needed to truly get the most out of myself, and that brutal honesty is what fostered a mutual respect and friendship between us. He’s someone who deserves for the world to give back to him in the same way that he’s given to the world. — Will Po Pe ’1 3 44 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014

—linda SaarniJoki, dean of faculty — I arrived at Taft as a fragile lowermid, my life dominated by a learning disability no one understood and a deep-seated terror of teachers. Although I worked hard, I knew that eventually a teacher would grow frustrated and be replaced by another. I had the same expectation when I entered Mr. Schieffelin’s class, and I remain incredibly grateful that I was so very, very wrong. He did not give up. Instead, he pushed me to what I thought were my intellectual and academic limits and then, when I couldn’t possibly go any further, pulled me, exhausted, onward. I remember being called into his office … to talk about an essay I had written. I heard him out and then offered my spiel about how my disorder prohibited me from writing like a normal

“he ShoWed me ThaT WiTh knoWledge and reSPeCT for a ProBlem ComeS The aBiliTy To Solve iT…”

human being. I promised I would work harder. Schieffelin allowed me to finish and then said something along the lines of “that’s unacceptable.” It took me a moment to realize he wasn’t talking about me, but about my disorder. I had never thought about it in that way before. I had been angry about it, submissive to it, allowed it to influence my sense of worth, but I had never thought of it as unacceptable. The next hour I remember with remarkable clarity. He spoke to me of ideas, of intellect and of discipline. He had assessed my brain in less time than most people take to form a first impression, and he understood it better than anyone else— better than I did myself. That meeting was like having a series of gears lock into place and begin to turn. A method of thinking, of checks and balances and organization, began to put down roots. He showed me that with knowledge and respect for a problem comes the ability to solve it, and through his dissection of my essay he built me up—from letters to words, from words to paragraphs, and from paragraphs to argument and structured, articulate thought. As I learned, I became emboldened, and I have applied the framework he helped me construct to every intellectual challenge I have since encountered. It is a framework without which I would not have graduated from Taft as a top student, without which I could never have been admitted to the University of Chicago, where I became intellectually alive, and without which I would never have obtained or excelled at my current job. I owe him an eternal debt, because how can you repay someone for giving you liberty over yourself?

— Being asked to articulate how grateful I am for Steve Schieffelin’s profound influence in my life is one hell of an assignment. He taught me AP English and Humanities during my most formative years. When I indulged in the vanity project of constructing an illusion of myself as the most attractive college applicant possible, he provided the sharp reminder to ask questions of myself immeasurably more significant than any admissions officer ever would. Providing a know-it-all teenager a greater frame of reference for her life takes great compassion and wisdom, and he was up for the challenge. He not only taught me how to study the humanities and express myself with precision, but most importantly why I should…. In short, I love Schieffelin so much that I’m disappointed on behalf of all the future Taft students who won’t have him there and won’t know what they’re missing—especially some smartass kid like me who needs someone to put her in her place and tell her she’s wrong about what she thinks will make her life good. He’s made such an enormous difference that it makes me consider teaching someday, and I can’t stand adolescents. This man knows True North. Steve Schieffelin is True North. That’s a teacher. — J e n n m e de i r oS ’ 07 John Magee is a member of the English department. He came to Taft in 2005.

—m arlen a Slo W ik ’0 7 — What always struck me about Mr. Schieffelin was his ability to switch between serious and witty within a single moment. You would be in class, and he would be discussing Faulkner and all of its complexities, then sprinkle in humor that only those who were really listening would catch. He also knows everything—I think that’s what we would say about him most. To this day, as I am about to graduate from college, I have never met anyone who has a wider range of knowledge. And the best part is that he assumed we could also reach this level, not in a blithe sense, but that we, as his students, were not just high schoolers but also scholars. His English classes were also about art, philosophy, writing and meaning in general. Mr. Schieffelin welcomed us into his vast store of knowledge, showing us that there was a lot more out there than what was on the page in front of us. —h ailey k a r Ch er ’1 0

who will continue to teach ^ Jo-ann, pottery at Taft, and Steve arrived on campus in the fall of 1982.

Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 45

STeve SChieffelin WaS honored aS The 2014 TafT CommenCemenT SPeaker. BeloW iS an exCerPT of hiS Talk. To hear his and other Commencement speeches in their entirety, visit

TogeTher in The PreSenT momenT i

t occurred to me that I should take advantage of this opportunity to thank the students before me and the colleagues behind me, both of whom represent all the other students and teachers who have graced my life of endless learning. It won’t take me long to tell you what I’m thankful for. Every September since I was five has found me in a classroom. At first I was there because it was the law, civil and parental, and then I was there because tolerant teachers allowed me to stay in spite of my behavior, but eventually I was irresistibly drawn to it because something happened there that didn’t happen anywhere else. And whenever I’m lucky enough to be at my best when my students are at their best, it happens again, and there is no feeling quite 46 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014

like it. Regardless of the subject or the company I was in, I had the good fortune to lose myself in a timeless moment of complete absorption. Mentally and emotionally, I was all in, to use a betting metaphor. Utterly unconscious of Steve Schieffelin and all that he was and might be, my mind was just plain there: alive and well in what the students and teacher were thinking, feeling and talking about. Even though I’m afraid you’ll dismiss me as another English teacher who slipped on a patch of hyperbole and landed on his ass, I’ll risk saying that to be wholly present in such a moment is almost a miracle. But miracles are made, they don’t just happen even if they are a mystery. The union between fully present students and a fully present teacher, with no walls between

“iT’S noT aBouT WhaT you Come ouT knoWing, BuT aBouT WhaT haPPened To you WiTh oTherS in Coming To knoW iT.”

them, is an ephemeral creation of inspired, committed, artful and improvising students and teachers. It is no less difficult to produce than the marvelous mandalas you have seen the Tibetan monks build grain by grain; and when it is complete, it is borne away in the stream of time. The experience of learning, the piecing together of what you want to understand or be able to do with the peers and teachers that share the moment and the motive, makes education come alive for us. If you can “kiss [that] joy as it flies,” as William Blake says, you can “live in Eternity’s sunrise.” Now, I imagine there are students out there thinking, Hold on—I’ve been in his classes, and that’s not what I was feeling at all. I wonder what kind of medication he’s on. And more than a few of my colleagues have seen me coming out of a classroom with no traces of ecstasy in my face. But even though the experience I’m talking about doesn’t last long or happen often enough, I know it exists because of what I’ve witnessed in these students and in my colleagues—and it is worth reaching for, maybe even insisting on. We could whine that there are too many walls that come between students and teachers, but I believe that there are too many people who desire this union for it to perish. The intrusions are legion, ranging from standardized tests, Advanced Placement Programs and the college application process to hydra-headed technology and the inescapable internet. Encouragingly, though, Frost reminds us, “something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down,” and I believe whatever that is is as vital and strong in us now as it ever was. Our world was just as bewildering 400 years ago when Shakespeare called it a distracted globe in Hamlet, and it will likely be as distracted in the coming times. We can’t do much to change that, but we stand a

better chance affecting what goes on in this [pointing to head] distracted globe. I gratefully learned—from teachers, when I was a student, and from students when I was a teacher, and from my colleagues—that we can be keenly focused in a moment of learning that makes the whole world ours instead of putting us at the mercy of the whole world. All the perceived enemies at the gate of education will be unavailing if you students (who are, I hope, on the way to lifelong learning) and we teachers (who have dedicated our lives to learning) have the will to reach out and take back the experience of education and let all the grades and goals that are the fruits of learning grow naturally from it. We can revive the workshop of the mind where learning is not an acquisition of information that evaporates like the dew, or a circus act of high-bouncing students passing through hoops, or a forced march through testing skirmishes and exam battles from grade school to graduate school—and finally, where students are not induced to offer gifts of the hand that are approved by the head but might not come from the heart. Then our educations won’t be the creation of an image, but the creation of a life. Too often commencement is associated with the unknowable future or with wrapping up the past, when I think it’s really just putting one foot ahead of the other in the present moment to move forward with pride and humility. I know that it’s the experience of befriending people personally—face to face—in the classroom and across the campus that breathes life into learning. It’s not about what you come out knowing, but about what happened to you with others in coming to know it. So I can join Yeats now in saying: “Think where man’s glory most begins and ends, and say that my glory was he had such friends.” j Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 47

leaving the

48 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014

PhotograPhS by robert FalCetti, Peter Frew ’75 and highPoint PiCtureS

tommy head robertShaw ’14 monitor I’d like to start with an excerpt from a play we read this year in Humanities called Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Dead. You may remember those names from Hamlet, maybe not. Tom Stoppard’s existentialist interpretation of the two characters offers great insight on what it means to stay and what it means to leave. In this excerpt Rosencrantz and Guildenstern argue on whether or not they should leave the stage—bear with me. He said we can go, cross my heart. I like to know where I am. Even if I don’t know where I am, I like to know that. If we go, there’s no knowing. No knowing what? If we’ll ever come back. We don’t want to come back. That may very well be true, but do we want to go? We’ll be free. I don’t know. It’s the same sky.

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I have been very afraid of leaving this place. Afraid because I love Taft and the people sitting before me and behind me so deeply, because I know moving changes things, that people may not come back the same way; some may not come back at all. I know I’m not alone in that fear. But I know also that it’s not the only response to leaving Taft. < head monitors Tommy Robertshaw ’14 Some people can’t wait to get—as they say— “outchyea,” and that too is a valid feeling to have. and Madison Olmstead ’14 carry the class brick But here is what I think is true for all of us wearing toward its new home in red and blue today: this mattered. No matter how the wall of Centennial. you feel about this place on an individual level, whether you hated it or loved it, your years or year at Taft mattered; because here we were made to think, we were made to try, we were made to feel. In the last week we’ve talked a lot about what makes our class exceptional. Our desire for excellence, innovation, improvement; our restless spirit; our connectedness with the entire student body. At a pivotal moment like this it’s easy for any class to be unabashedly egocentric, to believe that we’re the best that ever was, and I think that’s okay. I think we’ve Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 49

Head Monitor Tommy Robertshaw ’14.

earned that. When I think about our class, the best class that ever was, I return to losing my connection with this place and with you all. I read a statistic recently that, on average, you lose half of your friends every seven years and replace them with new ones. That stat scared me for a while, then I remembered something. What we have here is not average, and I mean that in every sense, but especially on a community level. Relationships, friendships, mentorships—they mean something fuller here, something deeper, something exceptional. Two years ago I spoke on a student panel for Alumni Day. After we students spoke on the state of affairs at Taft, we were encouraged to ask our own questions of the alumni sitting in front of us. One

of us asked, “Have you stayed in touch with your friends from Taft?” I will never forget the response. Beginning at the front row of alumni, an all-male 50th Reunion class, all the way to the back of the room full of eager alumni sitting pretty, Tafties of all eras said the same thing, “I am sitting here with my best friends in life.” That made me smile then; it makes me hopeful and excited now. Here’s another memory, a more recent one. A week ago Maddie Olmstead ’14 and I marched in the Alumni Day Parade. After the not-so-brisk walk around campus Maddie and I stood on the steps to the Dining Hall and watched the parade file in throughout Mac Quad. It was a very poetic moment. Each reunion class carried a sign stamped

“it waS a very PoetiC moment. eaCh reunion ClaSS Carried a Sign StamPed with itS reSPeCtive year and marChed ever onward, SometimeS quiCkly, SometimeS Slowly, aS time itSelF doeS.”

From near and far, Carty Campbell, from Connecticut, and Ezra Siyadhuba, from Zimbabwe, share their triumph.

natalie Tam ’14 accepts the P.T. Young Music Prize.

marched by him, but he wasn’t mournful or regretful or despondent. He smiled. As I sat this morning with about 40 seniors on the lacrosse turf field to greet our final sunrise as Taft students, as friends hugged and laughed and cried, kissed golden by a beautiful morning, I finally felt ready to leave this place, not because I’m happy to go, but because I know I will carry Taft and the Class of 2014 with me in my heart for as long as I live. So I end where I began with our anxious friends Rosencrantz and Guildenstern. Rosencrantz urges Guildenstern to leave the stage to go on somewhere else. As he moves to exit he says—I imagine quietly with a smile—“We’ve come this far and besides anything could happen yet.”

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with its respective year and marched ever onward, sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly, as time itself does. As each class marched by me, each five-year increment bringing time closer to our own year to the Class of 2014, I felt a deeper connection to Taft than I ever have, because I knew then without a doubt that I am, and we are, bound inextricably to something greater than ourselves. By the simple virtue of graduating from this institution, we become a unique and inevitable and undeniably important link in the chain of Taft’s history. We matter. This mattered. Beyond the parade, standing slightly apart, supported fully by a wooden cane, an alumnus of the Class of 1949 watched as the best years of his life literally

Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 51

Class Speaker Rob Brown ’14.

Valedictorian Tiffany Li ’14 receives the Wilson-Douglas Math Prize, the Cunningham Award and was inducted into the Cum Laude Society.

Zach Lewis ’14 is appointed to the u.S. naval Academy by Lt. Col. Jonathan Wort, and Legare Augenstein ’14 is welcomed to the Academy by her father, Roger.

Isabel Stack ’14 cheers the day after receiving the Berkley F. Matthews ’96 Award and a Senior Athletic Award.

legare augenStein ’14 class speaker

Who knew after probably being the last person to be accepted into our class when I came, I would be asked to speak at Commencement? Learning from my teachers and classmates and working to rise to their expectations brought out the best in me, and the idea of rising to the challenge ahead of you is what I think my classmates and I represent. If everyone here stopped trying when he or she were told “no,” or when it simply didn’t work out the first time, we would not be as great. As a class we’ve built each other up, learned from each other, made each other better. You have made 52 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014

me better. This class shaped me, shaped us, into people who now have the tools and confidence to rise to others’ expectations, and because of this, the girl who initially got a rejection letter four years ago will now receive a very different piece of paper— one that four years ago I never saw myself getting. My mom will watch me open it with my best friends around me and my dad will be there to hug me when I cry. Everyone, just as we did with our first Taft letters, will remember what we wore, who was there, and how we felt when we received our last. All of the emotion is still there, but this time I have the privilege to share that moment with you.

When Mr. Mac asked us to reflect upon this question, “How have you changed this year as a school monitor?” I wrote, “I have come to understand that it is sometimes okay to make a big deal out of the little things in life and to move on from the big things.” This concept initially came to me last year from my mom. After my brother suffered from some mental health setbacks, she told me, “Robert, as long as you are safe, happy and healthy you can do whatever you want.” It was a significant time for our family, and in that context what I took from those words is this: “When life is uncertain or difficult, it’s okay just to get by and stay happy.” At Taft especially,

the moments that mean the most to you fade the quickest, and the times where life is hard tend to hang around. I feel like I owe it to my brother, Sandy, and that we owe it to the people who we love and inspire us, not to be defined by the situation presented to us, but to do what makes us happy and define ourselves around those moments. This is why I think it’s okay to make a big deal out of the little things. Never again will we be in this unique environment where these moments are made possible—so please, I implore you, find what matters to you in life, find what makes you happy, and celebrate it.

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Rob brown ’14 class speaker

madison olmStead ’14 head monitor Taft has prepared us to enter the larger world. I have seen myself grow these past four years differently from any of my friends at home, and I attribute that to Taft. I have been to Cambodian and Thai orphanages. I have traveled across the Mongolian steppes riding a horse that feared each divot in the endlessly divoted ground. I’ve visited Ghanaian and Moroccan schools and communities, and spent time in a French school trying to learn the language. Each one of these trips helped to shape my experience. Each time I have come home from one of these Sam Stamas ’14 receives the Goldberg Award for his Independent Studies film on the Taft School staff. He also received the Cunningham Award.

humbling experiences, I have come back to a life of unimaginable privilege. No one here at Taft must go without a meal for a day. No one here at Taft is struggling to stay warm in the Sahara desert at night. No one here at Taft has to worry about surviving. Although we changed in these exotic and faroff places, the most growth that took place was in Watertown, behind the brick walls, in the dorms on the cross-country course, in the classroom. We all have been prepared for the world in the most beautiful way possible.

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Shay Joseph ’14

Grads Dominique Moise, Troy Moo Penn, Reed Motulsky and Rachel Muskin.

nicole Lowell ’14 with faculty member Laura Monti.

willy maCmullen ’78 headmaster Today, we are all part of some great sprawling family, some piece of our hearts wanting our children to have forever what they have had here. You look at the pages of the 2014 yearbook, see your sons and daughters, and you want nothing to change. They are where we want them to be, in a green and hopeful place. You mean, they can’t stay in the garden forever, where they could be so fully themselves, where they could live near some fragile ideal, where they have stood so naked and unashamed? There’s a fractured world out there. As headmaster, I want to hold them back forever, with all their unsullied hopes and

In a rare moment, Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 gets to present his own son, John ’14, with the Aurelian Award, the class’s highest honor

glittering dreams, their complete confidence that they can better the world. But there’s another voice in me that says, and with ringing confidence: “They need to leave. Now. What we have given them means they can no longer stay. They are ready. And the world needs them.” When I look at you seniors, I feel satisfied, and proud, and at complete peace that you must, through that arch, leave this garden space. You are perfectly ready, and this imperfect world needs you.

retiring faculty member Steve Schieffelin was the 2014 Commencement speaker. an excerpt from his speech is included in a feature about his retirement on page 40.

To listen to the complete remarks from Commencement or to view photos visit

Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 55

tales of a taftie


Harold “Doc” Howe II, Class of 1936 u.S. COMMISSIOnER OF EduCATIOn

With a reputation for educational reform, Harold Howe believed that schools are the solution “to almost all of our social problems. As U.S. commissioner of education during the Johnson administration, from 1965 to 1968 , Howe directed the federal government’s role in abolishing school segregation under the 1964 Civil Rights Act by providing federal funding to school districts that could prove they did not discriminate on the basis of race. Grandson of the Union Army general who helped found the Hampton Institute, a historically black university in Hampton, Virginia, Howe attended public school in Hampton for two years while his father also served on the faculty. This introduction to “the South in its segregated condition probably influenced things I did later in my life,” Howe recalled in 2000. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Yale (where he played varsity hockey) and received a master’s degree in history from Columbia in 1947. He joined the Navy in 1942 and served as a minesweeper during World War II. Howe’s 50-year career spanned education’s broad range, from a teacher to the federal government’s top education post. He taught history at schools in New York and Massachusetts and served as a high school principal in Ohio and Massachusetts. In 1960 he became superintendent of schools in Scarsdale, New York, before President Lyndon Johnson appointed him U.S. commissioner of education in 1965. At that time the Office of Education was part of the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW). “The biggest issue in my three years as U.S. commissioner was the whole national furor about school desegregation,” Howe recalled. “The 1964 Civil Rights Act said nobody gets federal money for a discriminatory activity, and the 1965 Elementary and Secondary Education Act said to 15,000 school districts in the United States that we have a lot of money to give you. Here I was blocking the money until a district

stopped discriminating. In much of the South, the schools were still formally segregated. I had to set up rules and regulations for getting the schools desegregated—something no one knew how to do.” When Richard Nixon spoke in the South in the fall of 1968 in his bid for the presidency, the opening line of most speeches was a promise to fire Harold Howe on the grounds that he was moving far too fast. Howe worked briefly in India for the Ford Foundation, and then became vice president at the foundation for the next decade. He quickly realized that he had to focus on a few significant issues in order to have any real impact on educational and social concerns. Two issues had special appeal for Howe: the education of minority students and the status of women in American society. As vice president, he created two major programs to support minorities in higher education, which resulted in a substantial increase in African-American and Hispanic Ph.D.s. He went on to join the faculty at Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he headed a commission that produced the frequently cited report “The Forgotten Half, Pathways to Success for America’s Youth and Families.” A student fellowship and chair at HGSE are named in his honor. In 1994, he received the Harold W. McGraw Jr. Prize in Education. Over the years he served as a trustee of Yale, Vassar and the College Board. He was honored with honorary degrees from Princeton and Notre Dame, among others. Taft awarded him the Alumni Citation of Merit in 1967. His father, Arthur Howe, was chaplain and head football coach at Taft in the 1920s, before teaching at Dartmouth and then becoming president of Hampton Institute in 1930. His son Gordon is a member of the Class of 1970. Before his death in 2002, Howe reflected that “Education comes not just from schooling, but from all kinds of things. The most overreaching and significant missing of the game by this country about schools has been this neglect of the broad definition of education.” j

SOuRCES: Education Week, “Educators Honor ‘doc’ Howe’s Contributions,” Erik W. Robelen, Jan 12, 2000 Vol XIX Number 17 56 Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014

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from the arcHiVeS

n As one of the school’s first female athletes, Faith Bushby ’74 (right), helped create a solid foundation for girls’ sports at Taft. v The girls’ lacrosse team at Taft quickly rose from humble beginnings to establish itself as a powerhouse capable of posting wins against college teams. The Leslie d. Manning Archives

Pioneers on the field No locker rooms. No uniforms. A coaching staff that had never worked with female athletes. That was the Taft that greeted the young women who were to become the first female athletes to enter the previously all-male institution in the fall of 1971. Harriet Staub Huston ’74 was just 16 when she walked into Taft’s Main Hall. A fierce sportswoman, she had honed her skills playing lacrosse and field hockey at Greenwich Country Day School with Melissa McCarthy Meager ’74 and Faith Bushby ’74. Together, the three set out on a course that would begin breaking down the barriers facing Taft’s first female athletes. “We came to Taft as a defensive triangle,” Huston said. “Basically there was no women’s athletic program, period. But there was a small framework. [It was] a very rag-tag situation. Though we may have been trendsetters at the time, we had come from a background where women’s athletics was a big deal.” As Huston notes it was, in general, a time of sweeping change at Taft. And women’s sports were just one piece of the puzzle. “In [Taft’s] defense,” they had only decided the year before to go co-ed. They went full

throttle. Athletic Director Larry Stone and Assistant Athletic Director Marion Makepeace, they did a valiant job, but we had to show them the way. I don’t want to take anything away from what they did, but we kind of had to teach the school [about] women’s athletics and how competitive we were.” The challenges the girls faced were good training, Bushby recalled. “Coming from a school that was well established and organized in terms of women’s athletics, it was like now we’re older so we’ll take more responsibility for organizing the team. It was a combined effort between Marion Makepeace, the coaches and us. How are we going to run the team? How are we going to prepare the team to play? We just used our experience from before.” McCarthy Meager remembers having to purchase kilts to wear on the lacrosse field, rather than being provided with uniforms by the school. Makepeace conceded that the Athletic Department wasn’t ready for the influx of female athletes who expected the same equipment and services provided the male students. “We were very competitive,” Huston recalled. We felt like we came in and had to set a

tone that we were good, we were here to win, we’re aggressive, and we’re not afraid of it. We want to go out there and play and play well. For Mrs. Makepeace, we helped her set the tone, and we helped Mr. Stone set the tone by how tough we were.” Makepeace remembers how competitive those early female students were. “They all loved sports,” she said. “There’s no question that those girls, those leaders, set a tone. We had some good victories. It was all very fun.” The determination of these groundbreaking athletes meant that by the time these three pioneers graduated in 1974, Taft was fielding girls’ teams not only in lacrosse and field hockey but in a wide-range of sports that remain strong at Taft today, including soccer, hockey and volleyball. It also meant that when the girls’ varsity lacrosse team played against Princeton University’s varsity lacrosse team in 1974, they beat them soundly. The girls had shown their strength and earned respect—girls’ sports had not only arrived at Taft, but were thriving. —Bonnie Blackburn Penhollow ’84

Taft Bulletin SuMMer 2014 57

Taft Bulletin


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Parents’ Weekend—October 17–18 Hotchkiss Day—Sunday, November 9

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