Summer 2015 Taft Bulletin

Page 1


125 Years of taft

Alumni Weekend


125th Commencement Summer 2015

In this issue

m Taft Graduation, Winnie Zhu ’16

Summer 2015



Beyond Bricks and Mortar 125 Years of Taft By Julie Reiff


Alumni Weekend 2015 Photography by Robert Falcetti, Anne Kowalski, Philip Dutton, and James Shannon


125th Commencement


3 On Main Hall 4 From the Editor 4 Taft Trivia 5 Alumni Spotlight 12 Around the Pond 26 Sports 30 Annual Fund Report 54 Alumni Notes 101 Milestones 104 From the Archives: The Captain’s Sweater

Remarks by Ezra W. Levy ’15, Vienna A. Kaylan ’15, Quentin A. Harris ’15, Charlotte T. Klein ’15, Brooks J. Klimley, and William R. MacMullen ’78



Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


Summer 2015 Volume 85, Number 4


Editor Linda Hedman Beyus Director of Marketing and Communications Kaitlin Thomas Orfitelli

Years of taft

Alumni Weekend


125th Commencement

photography Robert Falcetti Alumni Notes Assistant Katey Geer

Summer 2015

On the Cover

A 1930s-era photo of Horace D. Taft Hall is compared to the present-day view as the school celebrates its 125th anniversary.

Taft online Find a friend or past Bulletin: Visit us on your phone: What happened at today’s game? Shop online:

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On Main Hall

A Word from Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 On Public and Private Partnership

There is a shelf of books and articles on how great ideas become realities in organizations, but it seems to me that you really only need three things, to be clear, three really rare and precious things: vision, people, and resources. When those come together, as they have in the last couple years with Taft and the city of Waterbury, something special happens. That’s the case with our Center for Global Leadership and Service. The vision for the Center sprung from a lot of really smart and passionate people, on this campus and in the city, and its indefatigable champion was our dean of Global and Diversity Education, Jamella Lee. The vision was this: why not create a partnership between a great school and a wonderful city such that both would grow and benefit and we would educate students to become engaged, moral, and courageous citizens and leaders? It was that simple and compelling, and the ideas seemed a perfect embodiment of our school’s mission, and our motto, Non ut sibi ministretur sed ut ministret. Vision is great, but you need the right people in the right place at the right time. Think Jim Collins, author of Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t: “[Good companies] start by getting the right people on the bus.” And the people on the bus in this project are remarkable. At Taft, in addition to Jamella, we have Baba Frew, and her three decades of running our after-school service programs; Laura Monti ’89 and Jeremy Clifford, who run our Taft-Police Activity League (PAL) Mentorship and Enrichment summer program; and Ginger O’Shea, who oversees our Service Through Sports initiative. In Waterbury, the roll call of leaders is just as impressive. Mayor Neil O’Leary is a huge supporter of the partnership. The police department and PAL, and especially Chief Vernon Riddick and Lieutenant Robert Cizauskas, have been deeply involved. Anne Marie Cullinan, former chief academic officer, also worked with us. The Albert family, a Taft family and incredibly engaged civic leaders, have helped shape our strategic direction. It’s a bus crowded with great people, men and women who want to serve and educate.

And you need resources, and these came in part from the Edward E. Ford Foundation and its Educational Leadership Grant. Two years ago I presented our vision to the foundation board, and we were fortunate enough to receive a $250,000 matching grant. The foundation is keenly interested in supporting projects with profound “ripple effects,” especially public and private partnerships—what they call “the next big idea.” We are lucky that a number of generous Tafties stepped forward, as well as the Ion Bank Foundation, and the grant became a reality, giving us the funds to meet our projected expenses: transportation, technology, meals, and more. Now, with the vision, people, and resources, we have created a partnership that is as exciting as anything I’ve seen here: the Center for Global Leadership and Service. It’s no longer an aspiration; the Center is up and running. Think of it as a chair with four legs. First, there’s the Global Leadership Institute, composed of Taft and Waterbury teachers and 10 students from the city and 10 from Taft, who will take part in a two-year institute of orientation, leadership training, summer service internship, outside speakers, and a culminating research project on a local, national, or global problem. How lucky are they all? Second, there’s a summer on-campus enrichment and tutoring program for Waterbury students, staffed by Taft faculty, students, graduates, and program alumni. Third, our Service Through Sports program involves seven varsity teams that partner with Waterbury teachers and coaches for community service. And fourth, we are working with the Carrington School in Waterbury; our academic “Service Learning” class goes to their campus once a week and our after-school volunteers twice a week. This is what Taft has always been—just more so. Committed to service, committed to developing principled graduates, committed to the community. I’ve never been more proud of the school, and somehow I think Horace Taft would be smiling.

Willy MacMullen ’78

“You really only need three…rare and precious things: …vision, people, and resources.” Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


From the Editor


m An AP Leafax 35 circa 1990 that photographers used to transmit photos to their newsrooms.

Tools of the Trade I was having lunch with Taft’s multimedia coordinator and ace photographer Bob Falcetti, and we started talking about the amazing changes in technology over the past three decades. I told him I had gone off to grad school in 1991 with, yes, a Brother typewriter in hand. That changed quickly as affordable home computers hit the stores and friends dragged me to a Staples store. Remember those dot-matrix, tractor-feed printers?! Bob, who was working as an AP newspaper photographer in the early 1990s, told a story about a friend of his who told him, “Dude, there’s this new telephone that you can flip open and call someone from and send email and, someday, images!” Oh, and it didn’t weigh 80 pounds like their portable bag phones and other photo transmission equipment did then. Photographers like Bob lugged around heavy gear like big film cameras, including an AP Leafax 35 contraption (see above photo) that allowed them to transmit a photo image from a negative via telephone lines. One color photo took 28 minutes to send to their publishers! So, as you peruse our summer issue 4

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015

and enjoy the array of photos of people of all ages during Alumni Weekend, Commencement, and in the Alumni Notes section (sent in just seconds from a small device in our hands that fits in a pocket), appreciate the ease now of staying connected with friends and colleagues. We’re definitely grateful for the ongoing ability to stay in touch with all of you. —Linda Hedman Beyus

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

Taft TRIVIA Where is this wall carving detail? That is, on which of Taft’s many buildings (formal name)? Send your guess to the editor ( The winner, whose name will be randomly chosen, will win a Taft surprise gift. Congratulations to Leslie Herrlinger Lanahan ’73, who, along with a few other readers, correctly said that the green tiles shown in the spring issue pay homage to the large gingko tree that was in Mac Quad prior to the magnificent dining hall renovation and expansion in 2010.

Alumni Spotlight By Linda Hedman Beyus

Hannah Ogden Binninger ’90 tends the coffee roaster.

Roasting Coffee, Raising Kids Hannah Ogden Binninger ’90

Landgrove Coffee’s family-friendly front office.

has a commute that suits running a business and home-schooling two children. Landgrove Coffee roastery in northern Idaho, owned and operated by Binninger and her husband, Jon, sits a quarter of a mile from their house. “We have been very fortunate to raise our family alongside running the business,” Binninger says. How this all came to be involves a coffee drive-through and some baby falcons. Binninger was working at the Peregrine

Fund as a field biologist rearing falcons for release into the wild. Early each morning she would stop at a Boise coffee shop on her way back from shipping birds to release sites. Jon was running that shop, and the rest is history, as they say. “When I met Jon he was interested in getting out of the retail side of business and into wholesale,” she says. “We also both loved the idea of roasting coffee and being a part of the supply side of the industry. He was also tired of the long continued on page 6—

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


Alumni Spotlight

Painting in Place Artist Langdon Quin ’66 was interviewed from his home in Italy for the blog Painting Perceptions by editor and artist Larry Groff in April. Reprinted below is an excerpt, including comments about Taft teacher Mark W. Potter ’48. Larry Groff: What led you to become

Larry Groff: You and your wife, Caren

a painter and what were your early years like as a student and young artist?

Canier, who is also a painter, divide your time between living in Troy, New York, and

Langdon Quin : I had the benefit

Gubbio in Umbria, Italy. How long have you lived there and what is your place in Italy like?...What is it like to live there? . Langdon Quin ’66 in Italy. Tobias

of a wonderful high school teacher who passed away some years ago. His legacy is felt today at the school, in the form of the gallery that is dedicated in his name and memory, the Mark Potter ’48 Art Gallery at The Taft School. It hosts terrific shows in the school’s beautiful space. More than anything, I think he was a model for me as a way to live a life and to embrace all kinds of experience. I was swept up with my enthusiasm for him and his passion about life’s possibilities. It was as simple as that. I was a suburban kid from Atlanta, and I had won a scholarship…to go to boarding school in Connecticut. No one in my family that I can think of had any artistic inclinations. So, this teacher was the person that got me moving early on in the direction I took towards becoming a painter. As a child I showed some propensity or talent for drawing and doing things in classes that, from third grade up, sooner or later got recognized. But this certainly didn’t make me feel like I could, or would want to become an artist. Mark was important to me.


—BInninger, continued from page 5

and often odd hours he worked in his shop. I had been a field biologist for a few years at that point and was already used to making my own schedule and working different hours than the normal 9 to 5.” The Binningers have been roasting for mostly wholesale customers since 1998. They built their 30- by 50-foot roastery on their property just off the county road and then added on a full office and tasting lab about five years 6

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015

ago. The roastery has two roasters, loads of coffee beans—from Kenya, Ethiopia, and Indonesia, with a focus on sustainability—and a packing and shipping area. Since it began, Landgrove has roasted over 1.5 million pounds of quality coffee. Her favorite part of the business is the connection to their customers. “I love talking to people about coffee and making them happy. We have really good attention to detail, and I think our customers really

appreciate that and the fact that after so many years we are still the face of the business,” Binninger says. She does most of their local deliveries each week, and her husband services all the equipment. “While the children were very young we traded morning and afternoon work hours so that we could both work and be with our kids,” she says. “We have been doing this for so long now that it feels completely natural.”

Alumni Spotlight

to New York City, so we’re there for a couple of days just about every week. We’re triangulating between these places, and we’re lucky to be able to do that. I spend a lot of time traveling... but at the same time it feels good to move around. I generate a lot of painting ideas here in Italy, and as I said before, I roll up the canvases and build ideas with those starts I can make, and take them back to the States, work on them there, and often bring them back here. The house in Italy is in a very quiet, rural place. We’ve been here a long time so we have plenty of Italian friends and neighbors that we see a lot of….We don’t have central heating, which makes it uncomfortable sometimes in the winter, and we live with woodstoves and fireplaces going all day. It’s a bit rough, but lovely. I will never complain about it.

component of my life and hers….We’ve been here for 33 years. I taught in the U.S. for 30-plus years, finishing up at the University of New Hampshire in 2010. I always came here in the summertime in those years, but since I retired I’ve been able to come for shorter periods in the winter as well…. Our place is an old farmhouse that has seen better days, but we keep picking at

it and keeping it lovely and pretty much in the vernacular, historic form for this kind of house. It’s sort of a “farmette.” We have gardens, some grapes, some olive trees, and it’s lovely….Our children have grown up here as well, so they have attachments to it. We’ve been doing this for a long time. I have a studio here, and I have a studio in New York state, where I live in the U.S. We’re pretty close

Quin has exhibited widely, both nationally and internationally, since receiving an MFA in painting from Yale University in 1976. He is the recipient of many awards including a Fulbright Fellowship and a National Endowment for the Arts grant. He is also a member of the National Academy of Design in New York City. In addition, he has had a distinguished academic career teaching and is currently a professor emeritus of painting and drawing at the University of New Hampshire. j

“Our two kids are being homeschooled, so being together as a family seems to still be as important as it was when they were babies. I sometimes take for granted all the time I have been able to spend with our kids,” says Binninger. “I think [that our kids] being a major part of our active lifestyle and working life (we also have horses and do pack trips in the mountains, and I do river guiding) will give them many

advantages when it is time for them to forge out on their own,” she says. “We love Idaho and where we live, and that definitely played a large part in locating our business where we did,” Binninger says. They moved their small Diedrich roaster around Idaho for a few years until settling in the hills of Latah County in 2003. “I think that place is very important to us. People are often fascinated that our

business is located so far from town—and the town we are 6 miles outside of has a population of 800 people,” she says. “The coffee itself is fascinating,” Binninger says. “I am constantly amazed by the quality of beans that we get and the distances they travel from field to cup.” She enjoys teaching and talking to people about this and says, “Most people just drink coffee; they don’t often think about how it got to their cup!” j

m Below Nogna (Truffle Hunters), 2013–14, oil on linen, 60 in. x 49 in.

Langdon Quin: It has been a major

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


Alumni Spotlight

New York State of Mind

m As assistant secretary for the environment in New York state, Peter Walke ’99 takes on challenging environmental issues every day.

The water cooler talk here

revolves around the Hudson River. It’s an “open concept office,” the ideal fit for Peter Walke ’99, ranging from the forests of the Adirondacks and curio shops of Manhattan (dens of illegal ivory) to brownfield sites in western New York and rolling farmland upstate. Walke, 33, discovered a new and noble calling in the red tape and red ink world of environmental public policy in 2013, when he went to work for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as an Empire State Fellow. The program for mid-career professionals put the U.S. Navy Reserve intelligence officer on the fast-track to become Cuomo’s assistant secretary for the environment, a position that Walke has held since last October. When New York became the first state to restrict sales of ivory from the tusks of elephants—and rhinos—Walke helped craft the landmark law, which carved out exemptions for pianos and


Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015

woodwind instruments that use ivory. “It’s very exciting to work with all of the stakeholders and figure out how to get it done,” Walke says. “You have to look at dates when the elephants became endangered.” When plastic micro beads used in soaps and cosmetic products started polluting Lake Erie and other bodies of water, Walke began work to shepherd a ban of the particles through the legislature. “Each day is a little bit different,” says Walke, who reports to the deputy secretary for the environment and has three people working for him. Before protecting the environment, Walke protected the skies as a threat analyst for North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He was responsible for making split-second decisions about whether to scramble fighter jets or stand down, post-9/11 tests that

included the launch of ballistic missiles by North Korea and the loss of communication by a commercial airliner. “It’s sort of like the classic Wargames, Russian inbound missiles,” says Walke, referring to the 1983 Cold War film with Matthew Broderick playing a whiz kid who hacks into NORAD. After graduating from Williams College with honors in political science and international relations, Walke served nine years as an active duty naval intelligence officer, with postings in England and Turkey. During the U.S. war in Iraq, Walke was deployed on the USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS John C. Stennis aircraft carriers in the Persian Gulf. Eventually, it was time for a career change for the married father of two. “I’ve always had an interest in politics and public policy,” Walke says. A whole new set of threats now confronts Walke, from toxins in children’s toys to PCBs (polychlorinated biphenyls) in the Hudson River. “We’ve made a lot of progress,” Walke says of the Hudson’s health. “There is definitely more work to be done.” As part of a budget agreement between Cuomo’s administration and lawmakers, New York is earmarking $200 million in state matching grants for municipalities to upgrade their clean drinking water infrastructure over the next three years. “We have a huge need to fix our aging infrastructure, and this helps get municipalities started on projects for which they can’t afford to bond the entire cost,” Walke says. A Montpelier, Vermont, native, Walke is in his element in the outdoors, running and hiking, often in the Adirondacks. He’s also an avid woodworker. “I’m in the process of building my kids an epic tree house at the moment,” Walke said. Indeed, it’s an open concept. j —Neil Vigdor ’95

Alumni Spotlight

m Dede Robb McDowell ’76, on one of her frequent volunteer work trips to Haiti, with Titian, a cook for the feeding program in Morne Oge, Jacmel, proudly sporting her blue shoes.

m McDowell with her friend, Jackson.

m McDowell with the Restore Haiti work team.

Restoring Haiti from the Heart Some vacation plans get

canceled for larger-calling reasons. Ask Dede Robb McDowell ’76. McDowell has visited Haiti eight times over the past five years with groups of people who do volunteer work with Restoration Ministries, based in Jacmel, and the nonprofit Restore Haiti. She became involved with Haiti through her church in Norwalk, Connecticut, Northeast Community Church, which is nondenominational and Christian-based. “I had already planned a vacation in Marblehead, Massachusetts, even going so far as to rent a friend’s house,” she says, “so when our pastor announced that he was leading a team down to Haiti that same week and the cost for me and my husband for the trip was the same as the cost of the rental house, I just knew we had to go.” “I couldn’t imagine vacationing while members of my congregation would be helping those in real need in Haiti,” McDowell says. “The earthquake was devastating.” And because she doesn’t “believe in coincidences,” she knew it was some kind of divine nudge that she was getting to go. Her Norwalk pastor had gone to Haiti shortly after the 2010 earthquake with

a group of pastors from the Northeast and met Pastor Jean Gerald LaFleur, founder of Restoration Ministries, a church in Jacmel. He promised LaFleur he would send a group that summer. McDowell’s first trip fell under the wings of Forward Edge International. “I had not been on a mission trip before, but both my boys, while in high school, were members of a local organization called Builders Beyond Borders,” she says. On those trips that her sons took for four years, they traveled to Central and South America to work on building projects. “I always wanted to go with them, but the timing was never right,” McDowell says, “but finally, here was my chance!” McDowell is no stranger to international travel. “It was my first trip [there] and, while my husband and I, along with our two boys, have done a lot of traveling and seen some real poverty in places like Turkey and Egypt, I have never seen anything quite like what we encountered on that first, and subsequent trips, to Haiti,” she says. During these trips, McDowell and others work on projects such as the construction of homes and wells, replace windows, and help with feeding programs

for children. She now sponsors two children in Jacmel: a girl, Rosene, 10, and a boy, Kiki, 16. Sponsoring a child, she says, helps provide nutritious food, access to basic medical care, and education assistance. McDowell also says that another key goal of Restore Haiti is to try to get older children back in school after they have dropped out. “The thing that has moved me the most is the deepening relationships I have forged with so many people there,” McDowell says, “everyone from the cooks who work in the feeding program providing a hot meal for over 500 kids a day, to my own two children, who I sponsor, to the group of teenage boys who spend a good part of their day (when they’re not in school) working alongside us and hanging out with us when the work day is done.” She says it is amazing to see the progress that is being made: “Families that were living in tents have been moved into brand new homes, and more and more children are going to school thanks to sponsorships through Restore Haiti.” j j For more information, visit

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


Alumni Spotlight

Telling Untold Stories Have you ever wondered what

it’s like to work in television? Beth Kessenich ’08 knows all about it, especially the grind of the morning news world in which she got her start. “George Stephanopoulos got in at 3:25 a.m. on the dot. I would hand him his scripts, his newspapers, and give him all of the things he needed to prep for the show,” says Kessenich, who spent a year as a production coordinator at ABC’s Good Morning America. “It was really fun, and I liked working there. We won an Emmy during my time there so I have an Emmy certificate from the Academy!” But after a year of arriving for work at the ABC News studios at 1 a.m., she was ready for something with more traditional hours. So it was fateful when Kessenich was approached by Starfish Media Group

m Production coordinator Beth Kessenich ’08 at Starfish Media Group’s headquarters in Chelsea, New York City.

in 2014 about an opportunity to be a right hand to its CEO, Soledad O’Brien. She started within a week of her interview. The former CNN host launched Starfish, an independent production company, in 2013. Since its inception the company, which now has about 10

employees, has produced documentaries for CNN, HBO, and Al Jazeera. “The best part about it is there aren’t any big rules from a network like HBO or CNN or ABC,” Kessenich says. “Soledad can pick the content, take pitches she likes, and make something with it or not.”

From Biology to Protest Songs By day, he’s an evolutionary biologist who has coauthored respected research studies on postglacial marine habitats and beetle mating rituals. By night, and anytime else he can fit it in, he is a singer-songwriter. Cliff Cunningham ’78 used his 2014 sabbatical from his professorship at Duke University to produce an album of poignant songs with an international perspective. Some harken back to the folk protest songs of the 1960s and a few of the antiwar songs deal with wars even longer ago. The urge to write and sing isn’t some midlife crisis, however. “I had made a fairly serious push for music right after college,” Cunningham says. “Basically I was very serious then about making a music career. However, the early ’80s were terrible times for a singer-songwriter. Madonna succeeded where I failed.” So Cunningham, who grew up in 10

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015

Panama, followed his college studies with graduate work and eventual professorship at Duke University. He had worked as a volunteer at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute for two summers and discovered a passion for evolution. When it came time to take a sabbatical in the fall of 2014, he decided to rediscover his other passion. Would his love of music still be there? Clearly, it was. His breakthrough song, “Lay Down Your Blood Red Roses,” is about French army resistance during World War I, Cunningham says. “During my sabbatical, when scientists usually travel somewhere to focus on a new direction, I stayed in Durham [North Carolina] and recorded an album,” he says. “The great thing about doing music in your 50s is that your friends all have resources! In my 20s, when I made a stab at the music business, my friends were broke and clueless.”

Cunningham tapped that network of high school and college friends to help, and within no time was in Nashville, where he recorded two songs. “My old college friend Bird Jensen convinced me to come to Nashville and got me bargain-basement prices to record two songs,” he says. “I then leveraged these songs with Kickstarter to raise money to complete the album.” Taft classmate Chris Sheffer ’78 had recently founded a recording studio in his basement. So Cunningham flew out to Denver and hired a drummer and a bassist. “We recorded six songs in two days, with Chris arranging and producing,” Cunningham says. “Over the next two months Chris made the songs his own by adding keyboards and some really great guitar. “So, though I wrote all the songs [except for one with Sheffer, I consider it a Taft product, by Chris and myself,”

Alumni Spotlight We asked Kessenich for a few insights into her job in the alluring industry: Why did you choose to go into television?

“My dream job as a little kid was to be the next Katie Couric. I love people, and I love hearing their stories. My first job out of college was digital advertising, but I always knew it was going to be short-term until I could get my foot in the door at one of the networks. After months of interviewing and pushing my résumé through, I did it.”

and see what life was like for them.” As a production coordinator at Starfish, Kessenich does research and conducts pre-interviews with potential documentary subjects. What’s the process of getting a documentary made?

“One of our documentaries, the first one Starfish Media Group put out, was called The War Comes Home, she says. “It dealt with veterans who have PTSD, come home from Iraq and Afghanistan, and have to get reacclimated with their families and their environments. It was really rewarding to talk to these guys

“It starts with a pitch meeting. Then we select what we want to actually make, come up with a budget, devise a shoot schedule, and present it to the network we’re going to work with. Then we start figuring out the logistics and develop a game plan for how we’re going to shoot it. We do everything in-house—shooting, editing, sound mixing, color correction. It’s a long process to actually get a documentary going, but when you’re under a time crunch and you only have a year to do them, it speeds it along.”

he says. The irony is that Cunningham and Sheffer released a single on vinyl in 1984. It did not sell well. Today, Cunningham continues to explore the music sales world,

participating in “house concerts,” where people gather at a friend’s home to enjoy a performance by independent musicians who sell CDs and make new fans. Cunningham plans several of these in

What’s been the most rewarding?

Biology professor and singersongwriter Cliff Cunningham ’78 in Nashville for a recording session.

What’s your next step?

“I really like Soledad’s mission with this company of ‘telling life’s untold stories.’ The reason I wanted to be a journalist and a producer was because I wanted to interview people and tell their stories. The next step for me would be a more senior producer. With what we’re doing now at Starfish and Soledad as my mentor, she’s [very] supportive of my being in the field and continuing on this path. I think in order to be the best in your field it helps tremendously when you are surrounded by mentors, and I have been lucky enough to have that. I’m actually taking a course about shooting and editing in New York City right now. A producer needs all of these talents, and I’m always excited to be learning more.” j —Sam Dangremond ’05

the coming months, as he looks for new audiences for his album, Summer of Relevance (visit “The landscape for music is so different,” he says. “Though the album has full bands on every song, I usually perform solo, which opens a whole new set of options. You get audiences more like back in 1964 in coffeehouses. That’s what the new indie model is all about.” He says he’s also planning to distribute the album in the United Kingdom, which bore the brunt of casualties in World War I. “Lay Down Your Blood Red Roses” has been played on the BBC there. “As a full professor, I actually have more leeway to pursue performance opportunities than the days when I was hungry to make my reputation,” Cunningham says. “I have been having a terrific time!” j j —Bonnie Blackburn-Penhollow ’84 is a writer living in Fort Wayne, Indiana.

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


For more information, visit

Around the Pond By Debra Meyers, Kaitlin Thomas Orfitelli, and Julie Reiff

Jim Mooney, Al Reiff ’80, Steve Palmer, and Peter Frew ’75 today.

Still Crazy—About Teaching—After All These Years Forty years ago, in the fall of 1975, a

new math teacher—Ted Heavenrich—told the Papyrus that he was “particularly struck by Taft’s strong sense of community.” The informal relationship between faculty and students impressed him, as well as the “youth and warmth of the faculty.” Forty years later, he says much the same thing—except perhaps the youth of the faculty. In fact, Heavenrich has the longest tenure of any faculty member after Rusty Davis, and the average age is now 45. Other faculty, including a young Willy MacMullen ’78, arrived in the ensuing decade, but in the fall of 1985 another group arrived, including Peter Frew ’75, Jim Mooney (not the alumnus), Steve 12

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015

Palmer, and Al Reiff ’80—all now celebrating their 30th year on the faculty. Three decades, four! In this day, who stays with one employer one’s entire career? These are certainly milestones worth celebrating. The average U.S. job tenure is only 4.6 years (Bureau of Labor Statistics). Lest we blame millennials, that number is up from 30 years ago, and fewer than half of all 50-years-olds today have been with their current employer more than 10 years. So what keeps a teacher at Taft? And what do they love about their jobs? “I love interviewing kids,” says Frew, who is now director of admissions. “The art of making eigth and ninth graders shine in an interview is challenging, and watching them

light up as they talk about their passions and plans for the future is really gratifying. I also love working with the Admissions team, and Taft’s is the best in the business.” For physics teacher Jim Mooney, it’s been working with the kids in robotics and Science Olympiad. “It seems that almost every day there is some problem to solve, and I enjoy the process of trying out solutions with the kids,” he says. “Entering the classroom is still a thrill,” says Reiff, who teaches math. “Often, at the start of class, you can tell that some kids are not excited to be there. But if you have a good class, then at the end, you can tell that everyone was glad they were there.” Though their joy is largely found in their

“Still, you don’t teach content. You teach students, and they change each year, so it never gets old.” —Ted Heavenrich

Ted Heavenrich has hit 40 years of teaching at Taft.

A look at some faculty when they arrived in 1985: Mooney, Reiff, Palmer, and Frew, among others.

daily lives here, there have been special moments over the years, and accomplishments in which they take justifiable pride. “When I came to Taft, there was basically no lab program in physics, and I think I did a lot to create one,” says Mooney. “I have also set a precedent for extracurricular activities in science with the various competitions I have gotten students involved in.” Heavenrich, too, has helped develop an extracurricular side to his subject by starting and advising the math team. He’s reluctant to take any credit for the students’ success, but admits he’s proud to have brought them an opportunity to shine and explore math in a fun way. And for years he was devoted to the Outdoor Program. For Frew, it has been taking the admissions process paperless, as well

as teaching hundreds of tennis and squash players about sportsmanship and how to compete under pressure. Not surprisingly, coaching ranks high among the things most of them enjoy. Heavenrich spent five years coaching girls’ varsity soccer with Rusty Davis before taking over the JV squad. “In 20 years we never had a losing record,” he says, “and we never lost to Hotchkiss. But more importantly, I think I got the team to buy into the rewards of hard work and delayed gratification without it being joyless. We had a lot of fun.” Palmer took the cross-country reins from the legendary John Small—meaning that in the 55 years the sport has been at Taft, there have only been two head coaches. For him, teaching and coaching have been about learning to care more

about the individual (student or faculty) than the performance. “It took a long time, and I have to relearn this truth about teaching over and over again,” Palmer says. Reiff, too, points to both coaching and teaching accomplishments among what he considers the highlights of his career so far—the back-to-back years when everyone he taught in BC Calculus earned a 5 on the AP exam, having an advisee named valedictorian, as well as starting the crew program in 1990 and being part of the 1996 New England Championship wrestling squad with John Wynne. There have been changes, too. Lots of them. “The campus has grown so dramatically and so beautifully over continued on page 16—

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m Linda Chandler

m Jo-Ann Schieffelin in the studio with students.

Fond Farewells to Linda Chandler and Jo-Ann Schieffelin Both Linda Chandler and Jo-Ann Schieffelin retired

at the end of the academic year, following years of service to students in the history and art classrooms. Schieffelin worked and lived at Taft for 27 years, passing her love for and great skill at the potter’s wheel on to her students for those many years. When he recognized Schieffelin at the end of the year faculty party, Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 asked this rhetorical question: “Is there any teaching more hands on than what Jo-Ann has been doing in her decades teaching pottery in the art room at Taft?” “Even as she worked part-time, hundreds of students were taught by her, at the potter’s wheel, at the kiln, making mistakes, learning the techniques, developing their vision, shaping and baking beautiful pieces of pottery,” MacMullen said, adding, “Art matters so much at Taft, art of all genres, and Jo-Ann has been a superb teacher—to full classes, to interested students, to advanced Independent Studies projects. She is a gifted artist herself, with an amazing technique and 14

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015

aesthetic, and she is able to share her passion and expertise with so many. Every term students have signed up for her class. I still have a bowl an advisee made me in her class. I recall a boy who was one of the best hockey players on campus who became an incredible potter and produced an entire place setting, all under her guidance. Pottery matters at Taft. It did under the great Gail Wynne, and it has under Jo-Ann, who has been a wonderful and inspiring teacher, and who has left a legacy that will endure.” Chandler came to Taft in 2008 after already having had a remarkable career as a teacher and leader in schools in the United States and in her native England. “Linda was one of my first interviews as academic dean,” said faculty member Jon Willson ’82, “and I immediately felt outclassed because, frankly, I was: Linda had been teaching and administering far longer and better than I had!” What stood out about Chandler, Willson said, was the deep interest she took in both the history and the pedagogy until her very last day in the classroom. “She stopped by my office

all the time to talk about how welcome a challenge teaching AP European History was because she was learning so much new material, or how she approached teaching two sections quite differently because the makeup and energy of them contrasted so. In short, she was a pro’s pro from the day she stepped foot on campus—and always in the service of the students.” “Linda has been an inspiring history teacher,” added MacMullen, “and she had a unique combination, someone at once incredibly intellectual and demanding, and also caring and supportive. She was tough, and students knew they had to perform, and she did not suffer fools. You did not want to come to class unprepared, and if you wrote a paper with sloppy thinking, she would call you on that. But students knew always that she cared, that she loved working with them, that she invested all she was in them. Her love of history and her command over the material—remember that she had three decades of history teaching—meant that students and faculty saw her as a model and mentor.” j

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Alumni Elect Michael M. Humphreys ’93 to Board of Trustees During Alumni Weekend, Headmaster Willy

MacMullen ’78 announced that the school’s graduates have elected Michael M. Humphreys ’93 as Taft’s new alumni trustee. As an energetic young man from the Bronx, New York, Humphreys applied to Taft as a second thought. New York Prep, his junior high school in Harlem, was one of the city’s new experimental public schools, focused on finding creative methods to keep troubled youth in school. Fortunately, one of his teachers there was a Choate graduate who, on a hunch, introduced Humphreys’ family to the idea of boarding school. Humphreys was extremely active in campus life at Taft and learned to embrace his new academic challenges. Though his love for basketball was undeniable, he kept himself equally busy hidden away in Mark Potter’s art studio creating stilllife paintings and charcoal drawings.

As an active member of the class committees and eventually a school monitor, he sought to help make Taft an enjoyable experience for his peers. Ever so close to the honor roll, Humphreys steadily raised his GPA every year to receive the Class of 1981 Award of Distinction as a senior. After graduating from Taft, Humphreys attended Williams College, where he received a B.A. in political science with a minor in African-American studies. Outside of the classroom he captained and helped steer Williams’ nationally ranked basketball team to their first-ever NCAA Final Four appearance. He participated and held office in Williams’ Black Student Union, an organization integral to raising issues of equality, diversity, and a spirit of collaboration throughout the campus. Humphreys continued his studies at Columbia University’s Teachers College, where he earned a Master of Arts in the

Teaching of Social Studies Education. Today he works as a master teacher and chair of the history department at the College Academy High School in Washington Heights, New York. He enjoys mentoring new teachers, developing new and innovative teaching protocols, and advising the School Leadership Team on ways to move the school forward. He is finishing his second Master of Arts in School Leadership and Administration, and plans to open a single-sex charter school aimed at creating community leaders and humanitarians throughout New York City and beyond. When not at work, Humphreys enjoys spending time with his wife, Ana, and four sons: Elijah, Jacob, Aaron, and Matthew. He serves as coach of his sons AAU basketball team, the Harlem Jets, and as an active neighbor, he often attends the Community Board 11 meetings and aspires to join its education committee in an effort to continue to build on Harlem’s new renaissance. j

College Choices This year, Taft seniors chose to matriculate in the highest number (two or more) at the colleges and universities listed below. Georgetown University proved popular with eight members of the Class of 2015 attending, although Cornell and Tufts were both a close second, with seven Tafties matriculating at each of those universities in the fall. Babson College (3) Bates College (3) Boston College (3) Boston University (5) Brown University (4) Bucknell University (5) Carleton College (2) Colgate University (3) Colorado College (2) Columbia University (2) Cornell University (7) Dartmouth College (3) Duke University (2) Georgetown University (8) Haverford College (2) Hobart and William Smith Colleges (2) Lehigh University (3) New York University (3) Occidental College (2) Princeton University (2)

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (2) Rochester Institute of Technology (2) Southern Methodist University (4) St. Lawrence University (3) Stanford University (2) George Washington University (3) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (3) Trinity College (6) Tufts University (7) Tulane University (2) University of California, Los Angeles (2) University of Pennsylvania (3) University of Richmond (3) University of Southern California (3) University of St. Andrews (3) University of Vermont (2) University of Virginia (2) Wake Forest University (2) Wellesley College (2) Wesleyan University (5)

m Members of the Upper School Girls’ Dorm posed in their college sweatshirts this spring.

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


Faculty member Jim Mooney working with students on compound machines in preparation for the Connecticut Science Olympiad.

Team Taft Rocks TEAMS Competition and Connecticut Science Olympiad Twenty-four Taft students took

part in the annual Technology Student Association (TSA) Tests of Engineering Aptitude, Mathematics, and Science (TEAMS) competition this spring. TEAMS is a one-day nationwide event for students in middle and high school in which teams of eight students work together to solve problems using engineering concepts. The competition includes math and science multiple choice and essay questions based on an annual theme and multiple scenario topics. This year, the theme was “The Power of Engineering,” which explored the relationship between energy and engineering. Scenario topics included alternative fuels, solar power, hydropower, nuclear power, smart homes, and wind energy. Taft

fielded three teams this year, two comprised of upper mids and seniors, and one team of mid and lower mid students. Team A, made up of upper mids and seniors, placed first in the state. Team B, also upper mids and seniors, placed third in the state. Taft’s “JV” team of mid and lower mid students placed second among their peers. In another strong showing of science mettle, 19 Taft students traveled to the University of Connecticut’s Storrs campus in March to participate in the annual Connecticut Science Olympiad, a series of science challenges organized like an Olympic track meet. The Tafties were among some 500 students from 39 teams from across the state competing in 23 events designed to

encourage student interest in science. The Connecticut Science Olympiad is sponsored by the University of Connecticut’s College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and led by science professors from UConn and Yale University, and Connecticut science and engineering businesses. “Some events focus on knowledge and recall, some test various skills at designing experiments, and some require the students to build an apparatus to perform a given task,” explained faculty member Jim Mooney, who coached the group of Taft students. Faculty members Ranbel Sun, David Hostage, Jim Lehner, Laura Monti ’89, Michael McAloon, and Amanda Benedict also served as coaches for the event. Team Taft did very well again this year, with the school’s “A team” placing third overall in the state. (The Taft team placed third overall in 2014 as well.) This is particularly impressive given that the Taft students—who prepared mostly during free time throughout the year—were competing against schools with entire programs geared toward preparing for the Science Olympiad. Taft students medaled in a number of events during the 2015 competition, including Air Trajectory, Astronomy, Bridge Building, Compound Machines, Disease Detectives, Forensics, Fossils, and an invention event called “Mission Possible.” j

—“Still Crazy—About Teaching,” continued from page 13

our time here,” says Frew. “When I came in 1985, the old science office had one Apple IIe computer,” says Mooney. “To print, you needed to insert a special disc with the commands on it. I’d say we have come a long way since then.” “Technology’s effect on our daily lives, in the classroom and beyond, has been a major change,” Palmer agrees, “as well as the pace of the daily/weekly schedule. There is so much multitasking for students and faculty.” “We have upgraded all of our facilities so that we rival or surpass many small 16

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015

colleges in terms of quality classrooms, dining hall, and athletic facilities,” says Reiff. “The quality of the faculty also seems to be at an all-time high—dedicated, passionate, skillful, and intelligent adults make up the community.” “The diversity of this community has made Taft a much more interesting place, a better place,” adds Frew. “We’ll have students from 30 states and 43 countries this fall!” “We get great kids here,” agrees Heavenrich, who appreciates the school’s mission to educate the whole

child. “It’s congruent with what I think education is about—an emphasis on consideration and ethics, how you treat others, the moral lessons.” Every job evolves, but especially here at Taft. For Heavenrich and most new teachers, a significant portion of their time in the early years was devoted to coaching and dorm life. Now mentoring and classroom teaching dominate his days. “Still, you don’t teach content. You teach students, and they change each year, so it never gets old. I want to pass my enthusiasm on to the kids, not a love

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Channeling the Bard of Avon Mid and lower mid students got their Shakespeare on this past spring during Taft’s time-honored tradition of Shakespearean recitations. Mids participated in the 94th Annual Mid Class Sonnet Recitation, while lower mids took on Hamlet. Top sonnet orators were: Emma Vermylen, Sonnet 72; Tise Ben-Eka, Sonnet 116; and Eugenie Greeff, Sonnet 29. Lower mids earning top honors were Nathalie Bonilla, Winston Salk, and Raymond Bai. j View videos of the recitations at

of math necessarily, but being playful with the mind—puzzles, problem solving. I just do it in the context of math, awaken them to how much fun it can be.” And yet their years at Taft have been marked by other significant milestones—marrying, raising families here. “I think Steve McCabe actually faxed us Founders League Meet results when we were in Waterbury hospital a day after Henry was born,” says Palmer. Heavenrich holds firm to his original observation. The reason he’s stayed for 40 years has been “the strong sense of community, especially when we face hard times.”

GLI Scholars Go Inside the UN One of the goals of Taft’s Global

Leadership Institute (GLI) program is to give students an opportunity to expand their network of connections and opportunities and broaden their horizons as global leaders. To that end, GLI scholars traveled to the United Nations Headquarters in New York City in May. The scholars learned about the work of the UN as they toured the headquarters and met with various leaders from both United Nations Women

and the Humanitarian Affairs Division. They also met with Professor Joshua Cooper, co-chair of the United Nations Universal Periodic Review Committee for the United States, and Ammina Awan, who moved from the Clinton Foundation to join UN Women. Awan encouraged students to get involved in the HeForShe campaign, a solidarity movement for gender equality, and to apply for the Clinton Global Initiative University in college. j

But it’s the fun times, too. Palmer and Heavenrich cite Senile Six hockey nights, with Mark Potter ’48, Jol Everett, and now Dan Calore and Gretchen Silverman, among others. For Mooney it’s been music parties at the Piacenzas’ or Davises’. So what really keeps them at Taft? “Every day is challenging, stimulating, and just plain fun. I love the culture of excellence swirling through Taft’s halls—the academic intensity, the artistic passion, the melting pot of cultures learning how to live together, and the powerful friendships forming. The essence of Taft is the people,” says Frew.

“I have always been appreciative of the freedom Taft has given me to try new things,” says Mooney. “The same things that kept me here after year one are what motivate me now,” says Palmer. “It’s fun to be in the classroom with students and in the English office with colleagues, talking about great books and writing; the tight community and close friends we have here; being out on Taft’s fields with the runners.” “When I started,” says Reiff, “I told myself I would keep teaching as long as it was fun. Well, here I am 30 years later. It’s still fun!” j Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


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Visiting Speakers From academics to artists to business leaders, a number of guest speakers came to Taft during the spring semester. The following is a sampling of the visitors who spoke with and worked with students in April and May. Videos of selected Morning Meetings and other speakers can be found at c Lawrence Douglas Professor Lawrence Douglas

of Amherst College visited Taft on April 9 as this year’s Albert Family Holocaust Study Fund speaker. Douglas is the James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence & Social Thought at Amherst College. A graduate of Brown University and Yale Law School, he is the prize-winning author of several books.

Lawrence Douglas met with students in the Faculty Room following his formal remarks.

. Scott A. Mori Taft welcomed renowned

botanist Dr. Scott A. Mori back to campus on April 10 as part of the school’s ongoing New York Botanical Garden (NYBG) Seminar Series, made possible by a grant from the Yerkes Family Botanical Art and Science Speakers Fund. Mori, whose research on flowering plants focuses on the taxonomy and ecology of trees of the lowland New World tropics, lectured on “Botanical Exploration in My Backyard.”

. Roger Ailes Roger Ailes, chairman and CEO

of Fox News as well as the chairman of Fox Television Stations, overseeing all national operations for Fox News, Fox’s 28 broadcast television stations, and Twentieth Television’s syndication group, spoke to Taft students during Morning Meeting on April 17. Ailes also met with students for a period of Q&A in the Woolworth Faculty Room.

m Drummond C. Bell III ’63

The James Mongomery Band Blues Band

m James Montgomery American blues musician

James Montgomery, best known as the lead singer, blues harp player, front man, and bandleader of the James Montgomery Blues Band, performed in Bingham Auditorium on April 17. Also performing was Taft alumnus Jeff Thompson ’80, the band’s drummer. Before the concert Montgomery met with Taft music students, offering an

informal workshop for many of the students in the jazz band. He then invited them to sit in with him during the show.

. Chris Herren Former NBA player Chris Herren

visited Taft on April 21 and spoke during Morning Meeting about his journey overcoming substance abuse. Herren met with students in the Faculty Room following a powerful talk to the entire school.

Drummond C. Bell III ’63, who has served Taft as a dedicated and hardworking trustee for 30 years and is this year’s recipient of the Horace D. Taft Alumni Medal, spoke about life at and after Taft during Morning Meeting on April 30. Bell, who has been a great champion of expanding educational opportunities for minority and financially disadvantaged students, spoke about the meaning of the school’s motto: Non ut sibi ministretur sed ut ministret.

. Susie Tarnowicz ’03 Taftie and artist Susie Tarnowicz

’03 was back on campus for a week in May, holding workshops for art students in cyanotype drawing and personal journal-making. j

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


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At the starting line for the second Zoë B. Klimley ’15 Run to Remember

Running for, Remembering Zoë The second Zoë B. Klimley ’15 Run to Remember —a 2-kilometer

loop around the Taft campus—took place in May. The race was held in memory of Zoë Klimley, a member of the Class of 2015 who died unexpectedly in January 2014. Hundreds of students and faculty joined with the

Klimley family and friends for the 2K, many wearing T-shirts designed by Zoë’s friend Madison Haskins ’15. As was the case last year, the money collected from this year’s run will go to a scholarship created in Zoë’s memory. “Heading into my 34th year of teaching, having been involved in the planning

of Zoë’s Run to Remember has been one of the most meaningful endeavors I can recall,” said faculty member Ginger O’Shea. “Working with the family, students, and faculty in this capacity has really brought out the best that Taft can be! I hope the recipients of Zoë’s scholarship will possess her love of life.” j

Spring Break Serving Others For the 10th year, a group of Tafties

spent part of their spring vacation in the Dominican Republic serving others. This year the Taft group worked with the nonprofit Outreach 360, teaching English to elementary school students at La Escuela Basica John F. Kennedy. After a day of orientation, the 16 students (along with chaperones Rosy Cohane-Mann and Laura Monti ’89) spent the following four days at the school working with first through sixth graders. In the evenings, the Taft students and faculty members attended talks on the culture, history, and educational system of the Dominican Republic as well as enjoying merengue dance lessons. The trip also included a “culture day” with a trip to the market at Dajabon, on the border between Haiti and the Dominican Republic. An afternoon beach excursion rounded out the trip. j 20

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015

The Impact of Refilling Rather than buying prefilled bottles of water, many Tafties have been using bottle filling stations located in the school’s athletic center and in Centennial Dorm to refill reusable bottles. Taft’s Director of Environmental Stewardship Carly Borken spearheaded the idea for the bottle filling station with the help of Director of Facilities Jim Shepard. Borken hopes that more such devices will be added across campus. Faculty member Jim Lehner and AP Environmental Science student Elisabeth Lowe ’16 did a bit of calculating this spring to show the true impact of all of that refilling. According to counter on the bottle filling station located in the athletic center, that station saved more than 15,000 bottles in six months. Lehner and Lowe converted that number of bottles saved to the amount of energy saved—in Taft’s case, those 15,000 bottles not produced converts to about 4 barrels (168 gallons) of crude oil not used. j

. Members of Taft’s girls’ crew team spent two days in March learning from Olympic rower Lindsay Shoop while on a spring break training trip in Tampa, Florida. Shoop, who won a gold medal in the women’s eight at the 2008 Summer Olympics and is also a fivetime U.S. national team rower, was a tremendous resource during the training trip, helping the girls build their skills. The team had two practices a day during the six-day trip, spending about five hours each day rowing on the Hillsborough River. “Lindsay’s direction was imperative to instructing technique to the girls,” said faculty member Carly Borken, who is head coach of the girls’ crew team. “The whole focus of the two days was developing the best technique for efficiency and power. She was so calm but precise, really focusing on how to coach the girls to make positive changes in their stroke.” In addition to working directly with the girls’ team in Tampa, Shoop gave an evening lecture to both the girls’ and boys’ teams. j

m Radio World by Mark Potter ’48 Yee-Fun Yin

Potter at Play The late Mark. W. Potter’s

eponymous Taft gallery featured his own work in a new exhibition during April and May. The work in this show (titled Boxes, Constructions and Collage) came as a surprise to some as it was seemingly dissimilar to his larger body of work. To those who knew him well, the boxes reminded of his intrepid experimentation, his freewheeling demos in the Art Room, and his theatrical efforts to awaken the creativity and open the minds of his students. j

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


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. Reflection by Allie Davidge ’15

m Mayna by Emma Howie ’16

Tafties Earn Photo Accolades Photographs by Taft students Allie Davidge

’15 and Emma Howie ’16 were recently juried into the Shoreline Arts Alliance’s IMAGES 2015, a statewide competition and exhibition open to all Connecticut photographers. Now in its 34th year, the IMAGES competition received close to 700 photographic submissions by 121 photographers this year. “It’s a difficult show to get into, and I know many professionals and artists whose entries have been rejected in the past,” said photography teacher Yee-Fun Yin. “I couldn’t be more proud of Emma and Allie.” A panel of three judges selected photographs for awards and exhibition based on creativity, photographic excellence, and the ability to evoke reaction. Davidge’s digital pigment print Reflection was accepted into the exhibition as was Howie’s print titled Mayna. Howie’s photograph also won the Arts Alliance’s Ann Christensen Award, which is awarded to a photographer “whose work makes a lasting impression.” j

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m Members of Taft’s Jazz Band and Chamber Orchestra were immersed in the sights, tastes, and sounds of some of their musical idols when they traveled to Memphis and New Orleans in March. Faculty members T.J. Thompson, Luz Lara, and Jim Lehner accompanied 11 students on the six-day trip. The group toured Graceland, Sun and Stax Studios, and performed at clubs with local musicians in Memphis before heading to the Big Easy. In New Orleans they toured the French Quarter and performed in cafÊs, clubs, and at a local Congregational Church.

The Spring Dance Showcase, a performance featuring all of the Taft School dance classes, was presented in Bingham Auditorium in May. Directed by Sarah Surber, the diverse program was the culmination of the semester, and much of the work was created by, or at least influenced by, the students themselves.

Around the POND Close to 300 grandparents c were on campus in April to spend time with their Tafties. It was wonderful to have so many grandparents on campus for a full day of classes, musical and theatrical performances, and an afternoon of athletic contests.

Taft seniors spent one of their final days on campus living the Taft motto Not to be served but to serve. The senior class spent a day volunteering in the local community (working in classrooms, packing food for senior citizens, performing trail maintenance, and doing farming, among other activities) as part of Senior Community Service Day.

m Each summer, all Taft students and faculty read a book in common. This all-school reading selection acts a shared experience to build community and foster discussion at the beginning of the new academic year. This year the Summer Reading Committee (composed of members of the faculty and student body) has chosen Mudbound by Hillary Jordan as the all-school reading selection. Winner of the 2006 Bellwether Prize for Fiction, Mudbound is a powerful novel of two families, white and black, in the Jim Crow South immediately following World War II. Author Stewart O’Nan has called the novel “a real page-turner—a tangle of history, tragedy, and romance powered by guilt, moral indignation, and a near chorus of unstoppable voices.” Barbara Kingsolver said of Mudbound, “this is storytelling at the height of its powers...Hillary Jordan writes with the force of a delta storm.” Jordan will visit Taft as a Morning Meeting speaker in October to continue discussion of the book and its themes with Taft students and faculty.


Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015

Taft’s tennis teams worked on their game in late April with former world No. 1 professional tennis player Chris Evert. Evert has won 18 Grand Slam singles championships and three doubles titles. Pictured at right: Tatum Shane ’18 (center) with her mother, Clare Evert-Shane (left), and aunt, Chris Evert.

Taft Theater Gives Back The spring play at Taft is a

fixture of the end of the year, but this year the actors, technical crew, designers, and directors worked on a project that added fresh purpose to the traditional offering by embracing Taft’s tradition of community service. Taft’s spring production of Androcles and the Lion—a story of “friendship that was won by a kindness that was done” adapted for young audiences from Aesop’s fable— played twice on campus, and then embarked on a tour to local elementary schools and libraries. “Everyone benefits from an undertaking like this,” said director Susan Becker Aziz P’11. “The actors worked in a broad style that requires high energy and lots of physicality, which was new for many of them. The technical crew built a flexible setting that could be set up easily in many different locations. It is always tons of fun to create a performance that entertains—this time we were excited to have the added good of reaching audiences off campus that we have never played to before. That made this production pretty special.” j

Androcles and the Lion played at Taft and at area elementary schools and libraries this spring.

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


For more on the spring season, please visit

Spring Sports wrap-up By Steve Palmer / Photography by Robert Falcetti

Shelby James ’15 pitches against Suffield during the New England Championship softball semifinals.

Pen Naviroj ’15 putts on the 2nd hole in a match against Loomis Chaffee and Convent of the Sacred Heart at the Watertown Golf Club.

Kevin Mulhearn ’17 pitches during a 6–4 win against Deerfield.

Girls’ Golf 15–2

Founders League Champions Once again, Taft was right at the top of New England golf, this season placing 2nd at the Independent School Golf Classic held at Agawam Hunt Club in Rhode Island. Team co-captain Pen Naviroj ’15 shot a 79 to lead Taft and place 5th out of 80 golfers. In fact, the only team the Rhinos lost to all season was champion Greenwich Academy. Taft marched through all other foes, winning nearly every match by the score of 5–0 or 4–1. For the fifth time in seven years, Taft won the Founders League title, defeating 2ndplace Hotchkiss by 22 strokes. Naviroj was medalist with a league low score of 42. Throughout the season she was followed closely by co-captain Meghan Foos ’15, Marisa Mission ’17, Hannah Wilczynski ’16, and Avery Andreski ’17.

Boys’ Golf 11–3 Taft earned 11 victories in the highly competitive Founders League with excellent play this season. Senior co-captain J.P. Raftery ’15 was the team’s leader on the course and posted the team’s low scoring average of 78.14 strokes. J.P.’s

finishes in the three major tournaments were the highlights. He finished 3rd at the Andover Invitational, 2nd at the Founders League Championship, and 5th at the Kingswood Invitational. These top five performances will be a mark for future Taft golfers to aim for in the years to come. Throughout the season, the core of the scoring varsity crew was rounded out by Owen McGowan ’15, Joel Rheaume ’16, Nick Lavezzorio ’15, Hunter Ramee ’17, and Mani Capece ’16.

’16, and middler Kevin Mulhearn ’17. Post–grads Victor Rodriguez ’15, Ethan Lee–Tyson ’15, and Dan Harrington ’15 added experience and depth to the lineup and the defense. Frantz pitched the team to victories over Avon, Westminster, Hotchkiss, and Hopkins and also hit .368 for the season with 18 RBI. Lebek hit .361 with 20 RBI and earned wins over Salisbury, Loomis, and Hotchkiss, and Harris compiled a .400 batting average and a .483 on base average along with 15 RBI.

Baseball 16–4

Softball 11–3

This was the best Taft baseball team in years, with impressive team depth on the mound and at the plate. Among the many highlights were wins over powerful rivals Avon Old Farms (4–3, Avon’s only loss on the season) and Salisbury (3–1, one of two losses for Salisbury). Surprisingly, the Rhinos’ 12–4 Colonial League record was only good enough for 3rd place—behind Avon and Choate—but Taft did finish ahead of Loomis in the league for the first time in many seasons. The Rhinos were led by a solid core of returning players: seniors Justin Lebek ’15 (captain), Hunter Frantz ’15, Quentin Harris ’15, and Doug Goldstone ’15, upper middler Miah Vargas

Taft went 10–2 in the regular season, outscoring opponents 148–48. Twelve players finished with batting averages over .300, and four starters (Madie Leidt ’16, Daria Acosta–Rua ’16, Anna Rasmussen ’17, and Alli Kalvaitis ’18) hit over .500 to boost the team’s average to .457. That offensive production combined with strong pitching from Acosta–Rua, Kalvaitis, and Shelby James ’15 led Taft to secure the No. 2 seed in the New England tournament. With a backdrop of hundreds of fans on Alumni Day, Taft rallied to tie

Western New England Finalists

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


Nadir Pearson ’15 in the long jump against Loomis Chaffee.

Varsity player Courtland Boyle ’16 returns a shot during a match with Deerfield Academy; Taft won 4–3.

Suffield in the bottom of the seventh and secured a place in the finals when Mary Collette ’17 scored in the bottom of the ninth. Despite the efforts of co–captains Claire Descamps ’15 and Leidt and an early lead, the Rhinos succumbed to rival Westminster in the final inning of the championship game by a score of 3–4. With 12 returners, including Softball Award winner Leidt, the team looks poised to take another run at the championship next season.

Boys’ Track 13–1

Founders League Champions; New England 2nd Place This was a historic season that started with the track under snow in March but ended with the team’s first Founders League championship and a 2nd–place finish at the New England Championships. Led by a mix of veterans and newcomers, the team set a total of six school records: D.J. Woullard ’15 in the 110 and 300–meter hurdles (14.89, 39.27); Jevaughn Sinclair ’16 in the 100 (10.74); Nick Wignot ’15 in the discus (158–9.5); Jimmy Putko ’15, Alex Salytchev ’16, Marcus Alleyne ’17, and Sinclair in the 4 x 100 relay (42.58); 28

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015

and Putko, Matteo Mangiardi ’17, Nadir Pearson ’15, and Sinclair in the 4 x 400 relay (3:24.82). At the New England meet, Sinclair raced to victories in the 100 and 200 meters and anchored the winning 4 x 100, Wignot won the disc, and Pearson placed in the long jump and 110 and 300 hurdles. Senior captain Preston Veley ’15 was the leader of the distance crew, scoring big points in both the league meet and the NE meet.

Girls’ Track 6–5–1 Challenged by Coach Steve McCabe at the season’s start to improve on last year’s results, the girls’ track team did just that, finishing with a winning record, a credible 4th–place finish in the league, and several high finishes at the New England championship meet. Captain Livvy Barnett ’15 defeated perhaps the best New England prep school runner this year to win the Founders League 1500m title and then ran an outstanding double at the New England meet to finish 5th in the 1500 (4:54.27) and 4th in the 3000 (10:45.44). Captain Caroline Kearns ’15 was the best javelin thrower in the league (112 feet), and Jada Newkirk ’17 (long jump, 100m,

200m) and Taylor Jacobs ’18 (800m, 400m) also contributed to the scoring in every meet including the championships.

Boys’ Tennis 15–4

New England Runner-Up; Founders League Champions; Southern New England Tennis League Champions (Team Sportsmanship Award) The team’s depth and consistency carried it to within a few points of the New England championship. Season highlights included 6–1 victories over Andover and Choate, 4–3 wins against Deerfield and Kingswood, and a 4–2 win against Hotchkiss on Alumni Weekend to advance to the New England championship finals vs. Exeter. The strong play at all six singles spots was anchored by Courtland Boyle ’16 at No. 1 singles, but Aaron Pezzullo ’17, captain Mike Mulroy ’15, Ogden Timpson ’17, Jacques Pellet ’17, and Dylan Powell ’18, all played superbly to lead Taft to a No. 1 seeding for the New England tournament. Thanks to a clutch tie-breaker won by doubles specialists George Johnston ’15 and Griffin Conner ’15, the Rhinos were actually leading the championship match against Exeter 3–1 before dropping an incredibly close 3–4 final.

Spring Sports Girls’ Tennis This squad began the year with high hopes as newcomers Franny Hough ’18, Regina Gutierrez ’17, and Raquel Gutierrez ’17 joined returners Bella Ordway ’15 and Liv O’Malley ’15 to form the core of what appeared to be a very strong team. Early victories over Berkshire, Kent, Loomis, Westminster, and Greenwich Academy confirmed these expectations. Unfortunately, good luck was not on Taft’s side as the No. 1 singles Ordway went down with an injury. The Rhinos rallied their way into the New England Championships where they faced off against No. 1 seed Milton. The quality of tennis was outstanding, but Taft could not have Milton’s firepower. O’Malley and Eugenie Greef ’17 earned all Founders League honors, and the team will be captained next year by Bella Horstmann ’16 and Greef.

Boys’ Lacrosse 8–9 Taft’s season was defined by youth, injuries, and inexperience, but the team still experienced success in a number of areas. Big wins included beating No. 11 nationally ranked Westminster 8–6, and No. 20 ranked Deerfield Academy, 9–8 in Overtime. Captain and UVa signee Zach Ambrosino ’15 won the Nels Corey Award for Western New England Defensive Player of the Year and was also named an U.S. Lacrosse All–American and an Under Armour All American. Long–stick midfielder and captain Brandon Salvatore ’15 (Cornell) scored 4 goals and picked

up 126 ground balls; captain–elect Matt Davies ’16 (Richmond) led the midfield in scoring with 27 goals, and Ross Pridemore ’18 became the first lower mid in team history to lead the team in scoring with 23 goals and 23 assists.

Girls’ Lacrosse 7–8 Phenomenal team chemistry made all the difference for the Rhinos this year, whether it was fighting for incredibly hard-fought wins, such as the OT besting of Andover, or a few frustrating losses against strong Loomis, Deerfield, and Sacred Heart teams. The two gritty and competitive games that defined the nature of the season were tough losses against powerhouses Greenwich Academy (11–14) and Hotchkiss. Sorely missed will be the senior leadership and athleticism of captains Rachael Alberti ’15 and Lauren Drakeley ’15, as well as the solid play of Maggie Lineberger ’15, Catherine Kahler ’15, and Elinor Walker ’15. Eliza Dunham ’16 and Brooke Majewski ’16 will anchor the team’s defense next year and serve as team captains with goalie Becky Dutton ’16, who had another recordbreaking season defending Taft’s cage.

Boys’ Crew 51–49 In their dual-meet races and regattas, Taft’s four varsity boats compiled an overall record of 51 wins versus 49 losses, despite the fact that ice on Bantam Lake kept the team on land until taxes were due on April 15th. Taft’s first varsity lineup of co–captain

and stroke Jack Torney ’15, Aiden McAleer ’15, co–captain Richard Gilland ’15, Henry Conlon ’15, and Shelby Hetherington ’16 (cox) competed against some of the fastest crews in the country and so 2nd place became an honorable spot to finish. All four varsity boats qualified for New Englands, where the fourth varsity boat fared the best of all Taft crews, finishing 6th—a great achievement for a mostly novice crew composed of Taro Sochi ’18 (cox), Jack Ewing ’18 (stroke), Ben Olsen ’17, Keenan Murray ’15, and Eduardo Ferreira ’15.

Girls’ Crew 32–51 The season was shortened by two weeks due to ice on Bantam Lake for this team of exactly 50 percent novices, but the Rhinos saw significant progress in the short season. Through the leadership of tri–captains Athena Wilkinson ’15, Becky Frank ’15, and Talley Hodges ’15, the entire team showed drastic time improvements each week, causing the boat line–ups to change regularly. As the team faced strong boats from Gunnery, Deerfield, and Pomfret multiple times, it was exciting to win in redemption after losing to those teams earlier in the season. Taft placed third out of five schools at the DuPont Cup and 2nd out of four schools at the Alumnae Cup. The top three boats qualified for NEIRA and the first boat, consisting of Becky Frank ’15 (cox), Lily Thebault ’18, Athena Wilkinson ’15, Kate Tewksbury ’16, and Emily Drakeley ’17, caused a huge upset when they placed 11th overall after entering the regatta ranked 19th. j


Softball Award Madeline R. Leidt ’16 Crew Award Athena M. Wilkinson ’15 Richard G. Gilland ’15 John M. Torney ’15

Wandelt Lacrosse Award Rachael M. Alberti ’15 Lauren A. Drakeley ’15 Odden Lacrosse Award Elisha H. Cooper ’15 Ryan E. Tetro ’15

George D. Gould Tennis Award Isabella J. Ordway ’15

Galeski Golf Award Yiran Meng ’15 John P. Raftery ’15

Alrick H. Man, Jr. Award Michael J. Mulroy ’15

Seymour Willis Beardsley Track Award James M. Putko ’15 Preston J. Veley ’15 Margaret R. Swomley ’16

Stone Baseball Award Justin T. Lebek ’15 Girls’ Golf Award Pensiri Naviroj ’15

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


class agent awards Snyder Award

Largest amount contributed by a reunion class Class of 1965: $151,328 (includes Annual Fund and Capital Fund) Gift Committee Chairs: Larry Morris and Jeff Levy Head Class Agent: Kemp Bohlen

Chairman of the Board Award Highest percent participation from a class 50 years out or less Class of 1965: 68% Gift Committee Chairs: Larry Morris and Jeff Levy Head Class Agent: Kemp Bohlen

McCabe Award


annual fund 2014–15 Reasons to


ow in its 125th year, Taft is pleased to announce that the Annual Fund raised a total of $4,071,867, including $1,821,183 from 42% of the alumni, beating last year’s 41%. The Parents’ Fund also had a terrific year, raising $1,643,820 from 94% of the current parents. We thank all our volunteers: Class Agents; Parents’ Committee members; Dylan Simonds ’89, Annual Fund Chair; Sawnie and Jim McGee P’14, ’16, Parents’ Fund Chairs; Jean and Stuart Serenbetz P’03, ’06, ’09, Chairs of the Former Parents’ Fund; and Joanie and Bob Dayton ’60, Chairs of the Grandparents’ Fund.

Largest Annual Fund amount contributed by a non-reunion class Class of 1962: $114,039 Head Class Agent: Fred Nagle

Class of 1920 Award

Greatest increase in Annual Fund dollars from a non-reunion class Class of 1951: increase of $24,530 Class Agents: Bob Govin, Dan Davis, and Charlie Wolf

Romano Award

Greatest increase in participation from a non-reunion class less than 50 years out Class of 2006: 38% from 28% Head Class Agent: Su Yeone Jeon

Young Alumni Dollars Award

m Annual Fund Chair Dylan Simonds ’89 shows his Rhino spirit.

Largest Annual Fund amount contributed from a class 10 years out or less Class of 2009: $6,851 Head Class Agent: Ben Brauer

Young Alumni Participation Award

Highest participation from a class 10 years out or less Class of 2014: 62% Head Class Agents: John MacMullen and Rosey Oppenheim

Spencer Award

Largest number of gifts from classmates who have not given in the last five years Class of 2000: 12 new donors Head Class Agents: Andrew Goodwin and John McCardell

Awards determined by gifts and pledges raised as of June 30, 2015.


Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015

Congratulations to the Rhinos on a very successful weeklong, young-alumni challenge with Hotchkiss for reaching the highest Annual Fund participation. Final Score: Taft 21.7% Hotchkiss 21.3%. Our thanks to the hundreds of Tafties who played a part in this great win. Way to go BIG RED!


n impressive 94% of current parents joined in raising $1,643,820! Taft’s Parents’ Committee again reached 100% participation. This is the 23rd consecutive year that current parents garnered a participation rate of 90% or higher. Special thanks goes to the parents of the Class of ’16 for having the highest participation in the May 5th Day of Giving. Their children enjoyed a celebratory taco truck feed after the friendly competition. c Parents’ Fund Chairs Sawnie and Jim McGee P’14, ’16

On May 5th, Taft had an amazing Day of Giving, celebrating the school’s 125th Anniversary! We were excited that 266 donors from the Taft community contributed $148,805 to the Annual Fund, more than doubling our original goal of 125 donors on that day. Congratulations to the Class of ’84—led by Head Class Agents Ed Fowler and Jeanne Pocras—for having the highest number of donors on the May 5th Day of Giving.

The Class of ’65 had a remarkable 50th Reunion, led by Gift Committee Chairs Jeff Levy and Larry Morris and Head Class Agent Kemp Bohlen, as well as the rest of the Gift Committee. Their class won the Snyder Award and the Chairman of the Board Award in recognition for their hard work.

The Class of ’95—led by Head Class Agents Dan Oneglia and Tony Pasquariello—broke the 20th Reunion participation record, closing with 49%! The Class of '00—led by Head Class Agents Andrew Goodwin and John McCardell—not only won the Spencer Award but also broke the 15th Reunion participation record (with 48%) and the dollar record (closing with $76,796)!


growing our future

Rooted in

parents’ committee 2014–15 Sawnie and Jim McGee, Committee Chairs Sarah and Jeffrey Andreski Michelle Andrews Linda and Paul Barnett Sonia and John Batten Megan and Courtland Boyle Mary Pat Greeff Cabrera and Joe Cabrera Nanny and Marty Cannon Constance and Michael Carroll Laurent and Wendy Weaver Chaix ’79 Margaret and Anthony Colangelo Jeanmarie and Colin Cooper Mary and Michael Darling

John Davidge III and Deborah Lott Becky and Michael Elrad Hiram and Molly McCann Ewald ’82 Alicia and Bill Ewing Stefanie and Paul Feidelson ’85 Libby and Terry Fitzgerald Icy and Scott Frantz Deborah S. Galant Danielle and David Ganek Debbie and Paul Guiney Diana and William Hildreth Shelly and Bill Himmelrich ’82 Stephen ’85 and Laura Black Holt ’85 Liz and Keith Howie Claire and Bart Johnston

Jeff Keeler and Marietta Lee Betty and Francis Lam ’77 Fredric Leopold and Celeste Ford Beaumont and Ben Lett Alice and Albert Ma Barry and Winnie Ma Rose and Paul McGowan Cindy and Jim Meeker ’69 Ronald Milardo Paige and Steve Molder ’78 Eileen and Michael Nelson Liza and John Nugent Nan and Tim O’Neill Bridget and Doyle Queally

Mark and Jane Isaacs Schoenholtz ’83 Staley and Carter Sednaoui Steve Shafran Joe and Anne Sheehan Laurie and Scott Sommer David Soward and Roxanne Fleming Ryder and Brooke Sheppard Stahl ’84 Sarah and George Tierney Denise and John Trevenen Lin Xu and Stanley Xu Alison and Scott Zoellner ’83

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015



Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015

How difficult would it be for those first boys at Pelham Manor to recognize their school today, more than a century later? And yet, for all the bricks and mortar that have been laid in those intervening years, so much remains the same. Faculty are still known to challenge students on the athletic field at the end of a season, or to have the kids on their floor in for cocoa some evenings. Coeducation, though, has made a world of difference, as have students from all corners of the globe. On these pages we recount some of the highlights of the school’s first 125 years. How did Taft become the school it is today? Through it all, character, honor, and hard work have been at the heart of a Taft education—an experience that is at once physical and mental, academic and personal, intellectual and moral. As Horace Taft reassured his “old boys” so many years ago, “The fundamental training of character and of mind, training the whole person will always be foremost in the ambition of the school.”

By Julie Reiff


Mr. Taft’s School founded in Pelham Manor, New York, with 17 students and three “masters.” Horace Taft rented the “Red House” from Mrs. Robert C. Black, a friend of his brother Henry Waters Taft, who also lived in Pelham Manor. Eventually they also rented a “Yellow House,” which housed four boys and held the school dining room.

Beyond Beyond Bricks& Bricks& Mortar Mortar 125 years of Taft 1890


First Alumni Day held. Mr. Taft says he waited until there were enough alumni to field a baseball team. The Classes of ’96 and ’97 squared off against ’98 and ’99 for four innings, followed by Mrs. Taft’s tea and then a bonfire in the evening. Stewart Alger ’91, the oldest alumnus in attendance, was asked to give remarks.

School colors chosen: Blue and Dark Red. Stuart Hotchkiss, Class of 1896, informed the Taft Papyrus in 1940—on the occasion of the school’s 50th anniversary—how the school acquired its colors: “It seems,” summarized the newspaper, “that of the first 10 students at Taft, nine were headed to Yale, and one was going to Harvard. They chose Yale blue and, out of deference to the Harvard student, chose red for the other color.”

New brick gymnasium is built adjacent to the Warren House. It becomes part of the Arts and Humanities Wing in 1985 and remains the oldest school building on campus.







1891 Seeking more suitable facilities for his fledgling school, Mr. Taft hears of a Civil War-era hotel for sale in Watertown, known as the Warren House. He is reported to have replied, “Where in the world is Watertown, Connecticut?” Horace Taft marries Winifred Thompson earlier in the year, and she helps choose the new property.

The shingle-style Annex is constructed across the street as a new dormitory and is enlarged in 1910. It was only intended to serve until Mr. Taft could raise enough funds to construct his master campus plan in brick. By 1963, the wooden structure is considered a fire trap and is demolished.



Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015



Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


Two new buildings are added: Martin Infirmary (today’s McIntosh House) and the Service Building (today’s Congdon House) as part of a new campus plan by architect James Gamble Rogers.

First issue of Taft Bulletin published. Led by Spencer Gross ’24 and John Goss ’24, the publication is put together by students. Prior to this, alumni news ran in the Taft Papyrus. Alumnus Dr. M. Heminway Merriman, Class of 1897, provides the funds.


125 years of Taft






Horace Taft and Harley Roberts give ownership of the school to a 15-member board of trustees, which includes former President and Chief Justice William Howard Taft and five alumni.

Charles Phelps Taft Hall, also designed by Rogers, is completed on site of the original Warren House, which was demolished in 1928. The Lincoln memorial bust for the lobby is donated in 1932. What did students do for luck before his shiny nose?


Horace Dutton Taft Hall is completed, allowing further expansion of the student body. Winnie Taft had helped select renowned Collegiate Gothic architect Bertram Goodhue. Upper schoolers live here, while eigth and ninth graders continue to live in the Annex. The upper floor of the Warren House serves as the infirmary.

1914 1930


First student of color, Wayne Jackson ’57, enters as a middler from Bermuda.

I pledge my honor



The school’s emphasis on character and honor is formally encoded into the Honor System. The phrase “I pledge my honor…” becomes a daily part of the Taft lexicon.

Founder Horace Dutton Taft retires after 36 years as headmaster. Paul Fessenden Cruikshank is named his successor. Mr. Taft travels for a year and then moves back to Watertown, where he continues to teach civics and have students to his home for dinner.





1936 With the U.S. entry into the war, new courses are offered in military math, cartography, and navigation to help better prepare graduates for military service. More than 1,400 Tafties serve in uniform during the war, roughly half of the school’s living graduates.


Mays Rink is built, largely with student labor, and is the first artificial rink in prep school circles. The roof is added a few years later.


Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


Art teacher Sabra Field Johnson becomes the first female faculty member.


125 years of Taft


Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015 70th Anniversary Science Center opens across the pond. It is replaced in 1997 by the Lady Ivy Kwok Wu Science and Mathematics Center.






John Cushing Esty, a dean from Amherst College, is named the school’s third headmaster.


A graduate of the University of South Africa and Columbia, Richard Pieterse becomes the first faculty member of color.


Citation of Merit first bestowed, now called the Horace D. Taft Alumni Medal. There are seven recipients that first year. For a complete list of recipients visit




Lance Rue Odden, who joined the faculty in 1961, is named the school’s fourth headmaster.


Nearly 25,000 books are moved, in Library of Congress order, from the Woolworth Library (now the Faculty Room) to the new $1.3 million Hulbert Taft, Jr. Library. The entire student body was involved in the move, which took just under five hours.





Arts and Humanities Wing is created from the Old (1910) and New (1956) Gymnasiums. The construction of Cruikshank Athletic Center (1980) up the hill freed this critical space at the heart of campus.


After years of discussion, planning, and cooperative classes with St. Margaret’s and Westover Schools, Taft admits its first female students—82 of them in all. The 1927 Martin Infirmary is turned into a girls’ dormitory: McIntosh House.


Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015



First All-School Community Service Day held.


Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015 William R. MacMullen ’78, center, is named the school’s fifth headmaster, the first alumnus to lead the school. He is pictured here with predecessors Lance Odden, left, and John Esty, right. Lance and Patsy Odden are honored that year with a hockey arena that bears their name.


The Rhino is officially introduced as the school mascot at the Centennial Symposium in January. The anniversary school year begins with a special Convocation, during which a new dormitory is dedicated, forming the new Centennial Quad.






Lady Ivy Kwok Wu Science and Mathematics Center opens and the pond is expanded. Sir Gordon Wu and Lady Ivy Kwok Wu, former parents, pictured here.

Donald F. McCullough ’42 Athletic Center opens, doubling the school’s indoor facilities and reducing the need for team practices to cut into evening study hall.


125 years of Taft



Center for Global Leadership and Service is created, working in partnership with Waterbury Public Schools, the city of Waterbury, and the Police Activity League.

Many archive photographs courtesy of Taft’s Leslie D. Manning Archives.

For an expanded version of Taft’s 125th Anniversary timeline visit


With support from the David, Helen, and Marian Woodward Foundation, the school acquires Christ Church, the neighboring rectory, and the historic Academy Building, including the Green. Baldwin School is purchased five years later.

2009 2015






Moorhead Wing opens, completing a major renovation of the dining facilities and extending Main Hall to better connect the west side of campus.

Vogelstein Dormitory opens, allowing the school to come closer to complete gender parity (50/50 boys and girls). School also acquires the former Watertown Library (Walker Hall), which begins a new phase of historic preservation in the heart of Watertown.



Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


Alumni Weekend

Photography by Robert Falcetti, Anne Kowalski, Philip Dutton, and James Shannon


“No distance of place or lapse of time can lessen the friendship of those who are thoroughly persuaded of each other’s worth.” —Robert Southey

And so it goes with reunions: time and distance slip away as we celebrate the bonds forged of common experience, shared memories, and affection for a place that still feels like home. Taft’s 2015 Alumni Weekend was a grand celebration of those bonds, where friendships were strengthened and renewed, and where, if only for a weekend, the pull of our Taft roots felt just a little bit stronger. Young, old, and in between, alumni returned in record numbers on the occasion of Taft’s 125th anniversary, and honored the traditions that have helped define us as a school, and as a community. Enjoy this look back at Alumni Weekend 2015.

1 3 1

Taft’s Old Guard leads the way during Taft’s 125th Anniversary Alumni Weekend parade.


The Class of ’65 reunites in the Woolworth Faculty Room after 50 years.

2 4

6 5 3 1945 classmates Curtis Jones, Bill Rutter, Alex Burnham, Art Hilsinger, and John Carson with the headmaster at the Old Guard Luncheon.


4 Two generations of Tafties enjoy their reunions: Jennifer Goodale ’80 and her dad, Tom ’55.

5 Enjoying face painting before the Alumni Parade starts.


Zulie Torres with Charles Cordova ’85 at the 30th Reunion Dinner at the Highfield Club.

7 Julie and Al Reiff ’80 with Amy and Carlos Salgado ’80 during the 35th Reunion Class Dinner.

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015



6 9 42

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015






8 10

Alumni Weekend



Mike Hoffman ’97 and Tamara Sinclair ’05 of Admissions lead a wellattended Back to Class session for returning alumni.





Barnaby Conrad ’70 and Tom Strumolo ’70

Cathy and Greg Oneglia ’65 with George Boggs ’65 (center)

A sea of Tafties play in the Alumni Soccer Game on Snyder Field.

Willy MacMullen ‘78 and Drum Bell ‘63 check out the Taft gear in the registration tent.


The Class of ’00 gather post-parade; Reunion Chair and Class Secretary Ribby Goodfellow, right, and Jessup Shean, center.



1945 photo fun at the Old Guard Luncheon

Bruce Byrolly ’50 admires the 125th Anniversary timeline commemorating Taft’s many milestones.


Class of ’95 friends gather on campus after the Alumni Parade.


The distinguished gents of the Class of ’50 before the Old Guard Dinner.

Alumni Weekend



Proud ’75 alums return for their 40th Reunion.


Class of ’10 alums “get down” at the 15th Reunion Party.

3 Tamara Sinclair ’05 gets together with Amanda Frew ’05 for some Saturday evening fun at the Heritage Reunion Party.

4 The 50th Reunion Class of ’65, led by (from left) Kemp Bohlen ’65, Jim Robertson ’65, and Carl Bozzutto ’65.


Marianne and Dyke Benjamin ’55 and Thad Carver ’55.


Jonathan Carlos ’05 challenges Headmaster and former coach Willy MacMullen ’78 during the Alumni Soccer Game.

7 1960 classmates and spouses enjoy an event during their 55th Reunion.


Steve Shope ’80 surrounded and supported by his 35th Reunion classmates.

9 Jenn and Tom Goldstone ’90, Hank Torbert ’90, and Amy Holbrook ’90 at the 25th Reunion Dinner at John’s Café.

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9 Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


Today is the 125th Commencement of Mr. Taft’s school, a testament to the vision of a few and the dedication and trust of many.

” —Ezra W. Levy ’15

125th Commencement Photography by Robert Falcetti

Ezra W. Levy ’15

Class Speaker

Class speaker Ezra Levy ’15

Twenty years from today, I hope to walk from the library, down the path laid with row upon row of graduated classes, and stop alongside the pond. In among the Class of 2015, in the middle row, a little on the right, will be my name engraved on a brick. I will look at the child whose hand is in mine and say, “There is everything I was 20 years ago.” How many of us hope to be back to Taft someday to admire our bricks?… But what makes you think you’ll be able to come back here in 10 or in 25 years and find a recognizable school? Yet no one here even questions whether or not our bricks will be here when we return. There’s nothing written in stone, or even brick, that says, ‘Mr. Taft’s School will run into the indefinite future.’ [Today is] the 125th Commencement of his school, a testament to the vision of a few and the dedication and trust of many. What makes us confident that we’ll be fortunate to witness the 150th? Taft is rebuilt every morning, when its people arrive and begin the day’s work. We don’t think about it this way, but what would we find if no one showed up one day?... There’s nothing self-perpetuating about [Taft]. People perpetuate it, nurture it, and sustain it. Ultimately, the value of an institution like Taft is derived from those who rebuild it every day. Most days, our engagement is unconscious, only revealed in our actions. Today, Commencement Day, we consciously acknowledge our commitment in words, too. This is the strange, proud moment when we students turn to our parents and admit, plainly and humbly, that we cannot, cannot remotely, repay the debt we have amassed to you. We turn to our teachers, coaches, and advisors and thank them for their investment in us, knowing full well that we cannot begin to pay it back. Please, we ask, go easy on us, we have no deeds, we must defer the debt. And what is a debt deferred if not a promise to future generations? We cannot repay now—we haven’t the credit. But we promise to pay, if not the generation that raised us, then the one we raise ourselves. The brick, you see, is the smallest down payment, a reminder of our personal commitment to the unfinished work of building Taft.

2015 graduates honored their classmate, the late Zoë Brooks Klimley ’15, with a patch bearing her initials.

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


Quentin A. Harris ’15

Head Monitor

Head monitors Vienna Kaylan ’15 and Quentin Harris ’15 present the class brick and carry it to the wall of Centennial.

Vienna A. Kaylan ’15

Head Monitor

We have all experienced the hazy nostalgia of looking back on the memory of a special place. It is if we are ship captains, looking through our spyglass at a magnified moment in time. Through the glass, the memory is huge and allconsuming. But then, as we near the shore, and revisit the place of our memory, we realize that the place is actually a lot smaller than we remembered…. Moms, dads, grandmas, grandpas, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends, and teachers sitting with us here today, I know that all of you know what it’s like to look through the spyglass of your memory and feel overwhelmed by the size of a place as you sail towards the shoreline. But once you arrive at the site of your memory and disembark, you discover that the place is actually a lot smaller than you remembered. You see, when we Tafties look at our home here, our telescopes are backwards. Over our years spent at Taft, this place seems to grow smaller and smaller. We begin to feel independent and grown up, and eventually, we feel too big for this campus. In our memory, Taft is not a huge, magnified entity. Maybe our confidence is a bit naive, but it means that when we come back here, Taft doesn’t seem a whole lot smaller. So, forgive us if we feel wise beyond our years. But it’s hard to feel inexperienced and unprepared when we remember how much we changed here.


Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015

Learning to take risks and expand our horizons is akin to learning how to do a flip for the first time on a trampoline. At first you’re nervous and scared to execute the move because you’re fearful of failure, but as you become more and more comfortable and begin to trust the trampoline you are eventually able to execute it. The Taft community has served as our trampoline in our time here, as we learned how to become thoughtful and compassionate young adults in a safe and supportive environment. In times of failure Taft was there to spring us back to our feet and absorb the pain and disappointment we may have felt…. As we begin to undertake the biggest transition in our lives, I’m not sure we have ever attempted a flip this high before, never tried to leap over the netting of teachers and structure that we had at Taft. As our Taft careers come to a close, we no longer will have that sense of assurance and sustenance we felt while on the Taft campus—we will no longer have that protective netting. We will take leaps of faith and thrust ourselves out into a new community, taking risks and testing our limits, but we will do so with confidence and reassurance because our experiences at Taft have prepared us to face adversity and shown us how to persevere over any circumstance we encounter.

125th Commencement

Jim Baker ’49, of Glencoe, Illinois, proudly sees his granddaughter, Emily Rominger ’15, graduate from his own alma mater.

Naima Caydiid ’15, from Somaliland, enjoys a group selfie with her family and friends.

Faculty member Bob Ganung, who won the Abramowitz Award for Teaching Excellence along with faculty member Phillip Koshi, with Eugene Lee ’15 and Catherine Ganung of Taft’s College Counseling office.

Naomi Muñiz ’15, Jacob Goldstein ’15, Leon Vortmeyer ’16, Aaron Dillard ’16, Ryan White, Jr. ’15, and Maria Ossa ’15 enjoy the sunny, perfect day in late May after the ceremonies.

Jane Scott Offutt Hodges ’87 with daughter, Talley ’15, son Nalty ’19 (who enters Taft in the fall), and her husband, Philip.

Pen Naviroj ’15 receives the Aurelian Award, the class’s highest honor, along with the Chemistry Prize and a Senior Athletic Award.

Shoup Award recipient Jon Willson ’82, who has stepped down as dean of academic affairs and will spend next year on sabbatical.

John Cannata ’15 receives his induction into the U.S. Air Force Academy by Lt. Col. Dale Greenwood and family friend Army Capt. Maxwell Sirkin.

125th Commencement

Class speaker and Papyrus editor Charlotte Klein ’15 receives the Webster Prize for Excellence in Writing.

Charlotte T. Klein ’15

Class Speaker

I was cleaning out the shelves of my desk hutch, going through piles of books…. One of the books…I couldn’t give away was Eric Carle’s A House for Hermit Crab. In it, I see myself, and I see the senior class, too. His story is of the adaptation that occurs both physically and mentally in the face of change…. “Time to move,” said Hermit Crab one day….“I’ve grown too big for this little shell.” He had felt safe and snug in his shell. But now it was too snug. Hermit Crab stepped out of the shell and onto the floor of the ocean. But it was frightening out in the open sea without a shell to hide in. Stepping outside of the shell provides for discomfort….We expect our new shell to fit…from the get-go, forgetting that our past covering did not come fitted to our bodies at any point but arrived just as the new one will…. It is us that molds the shell, and never the other way around…. As we leave our shells behind, we find ourselves asking how profound is this loss of Taft? How do we continue to exist without Taft and how does Taft continue to exist without us? The way we hold onto people at Taft is by the shell…. Perhaps that’s what makes graduation so profound...these shells we have cultivated and added to over time are suddenly shed…but as a class, we share the experience of what has been happening inside all along.

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


Brooks J. Klimley

Speaker and parent of the late Zoë Klimley ’15 I want to encourage you to do things because you…want to do them. I want you to see the future and your role in it through the prism of your own heart and mind….because, if you can capture exactly what you want to do by yourself, within yourself and through yourself—you are on your way to creating what William Deresiewicz in his…book, Excellent Sheep, calls “self,” “that which is developed and capable of pushing back when the world pushes against you.” As a…Taft graduate who seeks to serve and not be served, you’ll need to develop what Deresiewicz describes as “the fortitude to put criticism into action, to ask questions instead of just answering them, to not only figure how to get things done, but to question whether they are worth doing in the first place.” You’ll need to understand all the influences pushing at you to act in certain ways, study certain things, and love certain people and emerge with a solid understanding of yourself…. I am suggesting that you retain a healthy skepticism and try and live what Socrates called the “examined life.”…If you are acting because of, or in favor of others, you will likely fail; however, if you pursue your life with an understanding of your inner strengths and goals, you will flourish in whatever pursuit or challenge you take on. As none other than William Shakespeare wrote (and my mother reiterated countless times to me when I was away at prep school), “To thine own self be true.” That is the finest of all advice I can proffer to you this morning…. I believe this is the legacy that Zoë would like most to leave with all of you. An unwillingness to compromise in deference to some outside influence…a passionate drive to excel while being at peace with one’s goals and thoughts… and a vibrant, empathetic embrace of life and all its actors which are woven into this crazy, crowded kaleidoscope of a world we live in…. You must aggressively pursue your thoughts and your dreams, your vocations and your avocations, your pleasures and your penances, your loves and your losses, according to your faith and confidence in yourself.

A parting message as seniors pick up their graduation gowns in Centennial Dorm.


Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015

Commencement speaker Brooks Klimley, father of the late Zoë Klimley ’15 who was honored during the ceremonies, with Headmaster MacMullen.

125th Commencement

William R. MacMullen ’78


Graduate D.J. Woullard ’15 revels in his big day with faculty member Jamella Lee.

In this our 125th year, I cannot find any references in all of Horace Taft’s writings to the school’s first Commencement, probably because it could not have been much of a ceremony: there were, after all, only two seniors, S.W. Eells and D.O. O’Neil. There is no yearbook, no graduation program, no class photo. And yet I feel as if I know young Eells. After all, it was his father, from Cleveland, who wrote Horace Taft in the late spring of 1890, after seeing the leaflet announcing the founding of Mr. Taft’s School for Boys, inquiring whether there was room for his boy. In his memoirs, Taft recalled that letter: “It was the first hint I had that anybody might be interested. I replied, calmly, that I had room. I might have added that I could let him have the whole school.” And so Eells of Cleveland was the first enrolled, and the first to graduate. I have a vision of Horace Taft at the modest house in Pelham Manor, New York, where the school was founded. Perhaps he is standing on the steps, two handmade inked diplomas in hand, Eels and O’Neil in front of him, briefly clasped hands, a pat on the back, and a “Best of luck”—and with that, our first Commencement was over. From such scenes are we made today. Teacher. Student. Handshake. An ending. A commencing. For me, this day has always been something I experience as a poem: I read it each year, am lost and then found again in the structure, imagery, and sounds of this Quad. We might think of a real poem that tells us something today. In his work The Prelude, my favorite poet, William Wordsworth, wrote of “spots of time,” those extraordinary moments we can return to in memory such that we can be repaired, renovated, arisen. You have had such moments here. I hope these spots of time will continue to shape you and to have a renovating power, a power to rebuild in you when there is crumbling, to lighten when the carried weight is heavy, to nourish and repair when there is fracture, and to lift you up when you have fallen. It’s a rather extraordinary idea, isn’t it? That the board of trustees and the faculty have tried to create a school where you would have the rare opportunity to experience planned-for and spontaneous moments you would carry with you forever and to which you would return in memory to help you live well. We call this “the lessons of Taft,” but that phrase hardly does justice. Perhaps that’s all this school is, all it’s been for 125 years: a chance at spots of time which having been lived will never be lost, and which can always be recalled, and will help you live with honor, health, and happiness. If we have done this, I will be satisfied, just as Horace Taft was, when he shook the hands of those two boys so long ago. j To read the complete remarks from Commencement or to view photos visit

Taft Bulletin / Summer 2015


From the


The Captain’s Sweater For two successive seasons in 1936 and 1937, Livingston Carroll ’37, better known as Pat, captained the Taft Golf Team as well as the Wrestling Team. After graduating from Yale, he returned to Taft to teach Latin and to coach soccer, wrestling, and golf until his death in 1959. His time on the faculty was interrupted by service in World War II, during which he earned a Silver Star and a Purple Heart. Carroll gave his captain’s sweater to classmate George Richardson, whose son gifted it to Taft. Distinguished by the insignia applied in navy blue felt, it is the only athletic team captain’s sweater in the Archives’ collection. —Alison Gilchrist, The Leslie D. Manning Archives


Taft Bulletin / SUMMER 2015

. Pat Carroll ’37 in his sweater and his 1936 Golf Team. George Richardson ’37 is second from the left.

Hillman House An Example of Stewarding Taft’s Campus Into the 21st Century Where once sat a drafty house beyond repair, now stands a zero-energy home full of natural light, warmth, and teaching potential. Over the past year, Taft has partnered with BPC Green Builders and Trillium Architects to build an innovative faculty home at 59 North Street. Named Hillman House, the new faculty residence uses state-of-the-art technology while respecting the character of Watertown’s historic district. Taft’s first “green” certified passive home, Hillman House (honoring the family of Elsie and Henry Hillman ’37) was the third-place winner in the 2015 CT Zero Energy Challenge, a competition to construct residences that best utilize innovative building techniques and new technology intended to lower energy use to near or net zero. The secret to the home’s energy efficiency begins, builder Chris Trolle says, with a “well insulated box—a durable and super-insulated thermal envelope with rigid insulation.” The four-bedroom, 3,600-square-foot house boasts double 2-by 4-foot wall construction and triple-pane windows manufactured in Ireland. (The home’s windows are double the performance of a typical window.) The house is so well insulated that it can claim an R-value of 48 (in comparison to the typical U.S. home with an R-value of 7). All of this insulation means that the house’s heating

and cooling systems barely have to run. Solar panels on the home and garage generate electricity while the home’s appliances—including a condensing dryer—were selected for maximum energy efficiency. In addition to being a home for longtime faculty members Suzanne and Bob Campbell ’76, Hillman House will serve as a teaching tool. Monitoring systems wired into Hillman House transmit data back to a classroom in the Wu Science Building, where students in environmental science classes can monitor the data and learn about the impact of passive homes. One of the major goals of the Ever Taft Even Stronger Campaign is to add $31.5 million to Taft’s endowment in support of the school’s facilities. In addition to renovating and building new faculty residences like Hillman House, the campaign will support campus improvements including major renovations of HDT, the Martin Health Center, and Bingham Auditorium. Taft has a stunning campus where the community comes together to live and learn in unique ways. The campaign recognizes that the school has an obligation to care for its historic campus, much of which requires renovation to maintain the quality and functionality in meeting the challenges of a 21st-century boarding school experience.

Stewardship of Taft’s campus is just one of the priorities of the current campaign. To find out more, visit or contact Director of Development Chris Latham at 860-945-5923 or

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A gaggle of geese, a pride of lions, a pod of whales, a romp of otters, a prickle of porcupines, a smack of jellyfish—a crash of rhinos! Join fellow Rhinos at one of our many upcoming alumni events. Whether at Taft-Hotchkiss Day, Alumni Weekend, or one of the many events held throughout the country and the world this year, we hope you’ll join the Rhino crash. For details and registration:

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