Winter 2012 Taft Bulletin

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Winter 2012

h Fall Parents’ Weekend is usually marked by great sports rivalries and inspiring theater performances. This year it was marked by a foot of snow. Grandparents’ Day, scheduled for four days later, was postponed until May 2. For more images from the storm, visit Phil Dutton

in this issue

B u l l e t i n

Three recent additions to the faculty share their


Winter 2012




A Geologist’s Vision for Taft Q&A with Wold Chair Peter Saltsman


Global Literacy For The 21st Century

Jamella Lee Takes Students from Learning to Leading By Debra Meyers


The Systems Guy

IT Director Charles Thompson Sees New Tools For Timeless Skills By Tracey O’Shaughnessy

Departments 2 From the Editor 3 Letters 3 Taft Trivia 4 Alumni Spotlight 10 Around the Pond 18 Sport 36 Tales of a Taftie: Stevan Dedijer ’30 37 From the Archives: A Trophied Life

from the EDITOR We received lots of letters about our trivia request to see how many 25-year varsity head coaches you could name. Nearly three dozen nominations in all…. Well, we did the research and here’s what we learned. First let me say that 25 years is a long time, and not being named to this august group should not be taken as a slight against any of the coaching greats. Among them, the Winter God Len Sargent. Although he came to Taft in 1937, he assisted Coach LaGrange for many years before taking the helm in 1951; he retired in 1969—certainly worth an honorable mention. Also, Lance Odden, who took over for the Winter God and brought lacrosse to Taft, coaching that team until 1979, long after he became headmaster. It’s worth noting that Assistant Headmaster Rusty Davis, who brought home four consecutive New England championships with girls’ soccer, turned in his whistle after only 24 years. At least that’s what Taft Annuals tell me; there is plenty that they didn’t. Some early years do not even list coaches. We called on the Archivist Alison Gilchrist to fill the

On the Cover v Members of the varsity football team celebrate their victory at the New England Championship. Robert Falcetti




holes, and here’s what we came up with. If you know differently, we welcome the information! Dick Cobb: Girls’ Basketball 1972–2001 (and still timing games!) Jim Logan: Basketball 1933–63 (time off for WWII and illness, but easily 27 years) Patsy Odden: Girls’ Ice Hockey 1976–2001 John Small: Cross Country 1959–86, Track 1958–87 Larry Stone: Football 1961–96, Baseball 1962–96 John Wynne: Wrestling 1966–2000 And still coaching… Peter Frew ’75: Boys’ Tennis 1986–present* Steve McCabe: Track 1983–present* Steve Palmer: Boys’ Cross Country 1987–present (see page 21) *Sabbatical year included —Julie Reiff


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B u l l e t i n

Winter 2012 Volume 82, Number 2 Bulletin Staff Director of Development: Chris Latham Editor: Julie Reiff Alumni Notes: Linda Beyus Design: Good Design, LLC Proofreader: Nina Maynard Mail letters to: Julie Reiff, Editor Taft Bulletin The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. Send alumni news to: Linda Beyus Alumni Office The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. Deadlines for Alumni Notes: Spring–February 15 Summer–May 15 Fall–August 30 Winter–November 15

Winter 2012

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Heads Up

Look up your classmates on the go! x

The list of Taft faculty and alumni headmasters continues to grow. Henry Pennell, who taught here from 1943 to 1960, went on to head St. Mary’s Hall in San Antonio, Texas, and Peter Becker ’95 was recently named the next headmaster of The Gunnery and Dan Scheibe ’85 of Lawrence Academy. For a complete list, visit

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Send address corrections to: Sally Membrino Alumni Records The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. 1-860-945-7777 The Taft Bulletin (ISSN 0148-0855) is published quarterly, in February, May, August and November, by The Taft School, 110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100, and is distributed free of charge to alumni, parents, grandparents and friends of the school. All rights reserved.


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

Band on a Truck

I am intrigued with the photo of the band in back of a truck in front of Sullivan’s. I used to hang out at Sullivan’s as a wee lad. Mrs. Sullivan was one of the world’s nice ladies. My grandparents’ place was just up the road at the corner of Cutler and Main. We didn’t do anything like that during my tour with the band 1954–57. Phil [Young] came to Taft in 1949 according to my Annual. Looking at the cars and the dress of the kids I suspect it was early in his time there. I would also say that the truck appears to be parked. Look at the posture of the boy on the ground in back of the truck. He isn’t walking. Main St. at that point had two traffic lanes and the truck is parked on the side. The band appears to be decked out in senior sports jackets, a tradition at the time. The Class of ’57 broke that tradition opting for rings instead. Phil Young was one of my favorite people at Taft. Thanks for bringing back some nice memories of him. —Tommy Hickcox ’57 This marvelous photo is so evocative for me, not just because it’s my dad [P.T. Young], but it speaks of early ’50s Main St., Watertown (looking east from the present library), apparently on Memorial Day. That funky grounds crew truck was also enlisted at year’s end to transport the Taft band to the annual feed at Black Rock. We would all pile into the back (imagine the safety factor) replete with hamburgers, hot dogs, whole cases of coca-cola (gold!) and 5-gallon tins of potato chips, courtesy of the kitchen staff.

In typical Taft fashion this represented not only a liberation from tired dining room fare, but the sheer exhilaration of flying down Route 6 in cattle-car fashion with visions of the annual feed in our collective future. The archives article by Alison Gilchrist was well researched and entertaining. I make my living in the restoration of furniture so the details were poignant to me. I will pay more attention to the HDT building’s doorways when I return. —Jim Young I just received my fall 2011 Taft Bulletin and noticed the photo of Mr. Logan on page 2. I will enter the competition, although I have lost touch with the school somewhat, having lived in Australia since 1969. I did visit the school once with my then 12-year-old son in 1992 while I was on a visit to my father’s upstate New York home. I was captain of the 1961–62 basketball team, so I guess one of the answers to your trivia question is Mr. Logan. He probably chalked up 25 years as soccer coach as well. I also guess that Mr. Small and Mr. Sargent would be on that list. Pre 1959 I have no idea—there were probably many. I think Mr. Poole left before he would have chalked up 25 years. And perhaps Mr. Odden, although I doubt he would have kept on coaching after he became headmaster. I have recently retired (2009) from teaching high school in Sydney’s Northern Beaches. I coached the girls’ basketball team for 35 of those years, and the baseball/softball teams for 25. My school was Mackellar Girls’ High School in Manly Vale, where I started teaching history and English in 1972. —Jay Owen ’62


The latest Bulletin asks for remembrances of long-term coaches. I recall two others from my era. Len Sargent, a bachelor until late in his career, married while I was at Taft. He coached hockey forever. And John Small, who coached track and cross country. For a long time Small was appreciated by a small coterie of Latin and German scholars and distance runners. It was an austere society that I was privileged to be included in. To this day I remember the obscure Latin sentence painted on the inside door of his second-floor HDT apartment: Aeternumque locus palinuri nomen habebit, which I understand translates as “This place shall forever have the name of Palinurus.” Palinurus was the name of Odysseus’s helmsman, I believe, and was also the name of Small’s sailboat. Cross country, although ostensibly a team sport, was perhaps the most introverted of sports at Taft, and Small appealed to the introverts and loners, affirmed the importance of their marching to a different drummer. These men were bachelors for all or most of their Taft careers; perhaps the closest thing I’ve ever known to monks. I suspect there are not a lot of them still at Taft or at any boarding school. But I think they were important to its history and to its culture at the time, before coeducation. —Jeff Boak ’70

Taft Trivia Prior to the football team winning the New England Class A Championship this fall, when was the last time they took home the title? Email your guess to Congratulations to Bob Foreman ’70, whose name was drawn from the many entries that correctly identified Jim Logan as a 25-year head coach.

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alumni Spotlight

By Julie Reiff

v Her excellency the president of India, Shrimati Pratibha Devisingh Patil, presents the Padma Shri Award to Karl Potter ’45.

Encyclopedic Knowledge Professor Karl Potter ’45 was honored by the president of India last spring for his work documenting Indian philosophies, receiving a Padma Shri award, one of India’s highest civilian honors. Potter, professor emeritus in the Department of Philosophy at the University of Washington, has edited The Encyclopedia of Indian Philosophies, an ongoing project to assemble and summarize information on the various systems (darsana) of Indian philosophy. Initiated more than 40 years ago, the series is on its 13th volume. Eventually the plan is for some 28 volumes in total. The Padma awards—conferred in three categories: Padma Vibhushan, 4 Taft Bulletin Winter 2012

Padma Bhushan and Padma Shri—are conferred by the president of India at a function held at Rashtrapati Bhawan. Padma Vibhushan is awarded for exceptional and distinguished service; Padma Bhushan for distinguished service of high order and Padma Shri for distinguished service in any field. The awards are announced on India’s Republic Day every year. Each volume in the series contains summaries of all the philosophical texts of the system known to exist in Western language translation, or extant only in editions, or in a few cases available only in manuscript. These summaries are arranged in the chronological order in

which the texts appear to have been written, and provide a guide to the literature together with a flowing account of the development of thought through the history of the system being covered. The summaries are solicited from specialists in the field from throughout the world who have an intimate knowledge of the texts being summarized. Potter is working on projected volumes that will cover Nyaya-Vaisesika from 1500 to 1650; Buddhist Philosophy from A.D. 750 to 1300; Dvaitadvaita Philosophy and Purvamimamsa Philosophy. The complete bibliography for the encyclopedia is available at

Better Brain Care MONTREAL—After sustaining a vicious check that left him with a broken vertebra and a severe concussion, Taft hockey veteran and current Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty ’07 spent many bleak days last spring wondering if he would ever play hockey again. He received ongoing treatment for his injuries at the Traumatic Brain Injury Centre at the Montreal General Hospital, and now has doctor’s permission to return to the ice this season. In the meantime he has launched the Max Pacioretty Foundation to help raise funds toward the acquisition and installation of a Functional MRI (fMRI) scanner for the Montreal General. One of the most recently developed forms of neuroimaging, fMRI scans measure changes in blood flow related to neural

activity in the brain or spinal cord. It offers a concrete means of measuring changes in neural connections and brain chemistry, and is a tremendous leap forward from current post-concussion tests, such as treadmill performance or sensitivity to light. Pacioretty describes his initiative as an effort to give something back to the medical facility that helped him toward a rapid recovery. “It’s rewarding to score a goal or have a good game, but even more so to help someone’s life. That’s why I want to be hands-on with this,” said Pacioretty. The $3.5-million fMRI machine will attract researchers and make the Montreal General Hospital a major player in the study of injuries that affect anyone exposed to head trauma. “This would be the first

Haven’s Kitchen Haven’s Kitchen is just that—a true haven of sustainable eating. Lela Ilyinsky ’04, the company’s director of marketing and events, helped start Haven’s Kitchen this winter with friends Alison Schneider and Katie Fagan. Their hope is to go beyond the farmto-table movement, says Lela, that is (fortunately) becoming more prevalent in restaurants, and teach people how to cook in this manner on their own. “Our overarching goal is to teach people how to cook sustainably, get to know farmers at the farmers market, learn to cook with what’s fresh and in season versus something that’s been imported at the grocery store. Ultimately, this will increase the demand for farmers market produce, and lower the cost so that everyone can afford to eat real, organic, fresh food.” The cool twist is that despite its focus on sustainability, Haven’s Kitchen

is in a gorgeous carriage house. With original floors from the 1800s and Bertoia chairs in the dining room, the space has an elegant design. There is also a second-floor room where guests can throw their dream party. “My path to Haven’s Kitchen was, appropriately, all about the food!” adds Lela. “I met Ali two years ago when she bought a house next to my grandmother’s in Connecticut. She invited my family over for dinner and I can still remember that first meal—poached salmon with a creamy dill sauce, orzo salad, and lots of margaritas. We developed a friendship that continued to revolve around food. We began talking about Ali’s dream for Haven’s Kitchen and it didn’t take long for me to join her in making Haven’s Kitchen a reality.”

machine of its type,” Dr. Tarek Razek, who runs Montreal General’s trauma unit, told the Montreal Gazette. “There are maybe half a dozen in the world that approximate its function. This will be of a newer, higher generation. There’s already a lot of cool stuff going on in terms of traumatic brain injury care and research. But this is a really big advancement, and it will set our whole region apart in terms of the kind of work we’re able to do.” Pacioretty hopes his foundation will draw support from corporations, service clubs, minor hockey leagues, “anyone out there who would like to undertake a fundraising project,” he said. Source: Mike Boone, The Gazette, a division of Postmedia Network, Inc. c. 2011 Dave Sidaway, The Gazette

v Lela Ilyinsky ’04 is part of the team that created Haven’s Kitchen in Tribeca, two blocks from Union Square. Philip Ficks

They see Haven’s Kitchen as the first of its kind in Manhattan—a beautiful space for the home cook to learn how to make delicious food and eat with a new awareness of the environment, of farmers and each other.

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Rocket Man

n David Ward ’46 modeling the Jet XX Vest in 1962. H. Gates, Pictorial Division AMSC, Redstone Arsenal, Ala.

For the .001 percenters, the option to fly around with a jet vest or rocket belt has become a reality as these devices have become commercially available in the last year or two. They also have an interesting Cold War history, in which one Taft grad plays a prominent role. Back in the early 1960s, Dave Ward ’46 was employed by the Army Missile Command at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama, where he helped write the patent for one of the first rocketpacks. “I was a ‘patent adviser’ in the rocket/ propellant section,” explains Ward. He had transferred there from the Patent Office in Washington, D.C., where he

had previously examined potential patents from Redstone Arsenal. “As part of the rocket team at Redstone, I worked mainly with my friend Arthur Rudolph and physicist Thomas Moore, and occasionally with Wernher von Braun,” adds Ward. “While von Braun was working toward putting a man in a rocket, Moore worked on the notion of a rocket-powered man.” Moore called his device a Jet Vest and flew it for the first time in 1952. Though limited military funds would not encompass a completely finished model, Moore proved that a man-rocket combination was feasible. When he needed someone to model the device, he turned to Ward. The team filed and finally received a patent (#3150847) for the Jet Vest, a human-propelled rocket, in 1964. Rudolph followed von Braun to NASA, where he eventually became project director of the Saturn V rocket program, which successfully lifted off from Kennedy Space Center on November 9, 1967—Rudolph’s birthday. The American military funded a

parade of personal-flight experiments after World War II, explains a recent article in National Geographic (“Personal Flight: If we only had wings”). None “fulfilled the mission of safe, maneuverable, or stealthy flight. Consider rocket belts. The wearer of the belt would fly less than a minute because of limits on the fuel a person can carry. Plus, the device is expensive, noisy, and notoriously difficult to control.” The hand controls on the Jet Vest were operable, explains Ward, and did allow some degree of control, but the military did not extend Moore’s funding for developing a self-contained system—even though it had the support of von Braun. The Jet Vest was considered a “far-out” device or even laughable by some in the military. When the military later decided to investigate a “battlefield mobility device,” they invited contractors, but as Moore reported, “they didn’t invite us.” Sources: 2011/09/personal-flight/shute-text

Icon/Muse The latest show by artist Marc Leuthold ’80 opened in November at the Priebe Gallery of the University of Wisconsin at Oshkosh. The exhibit consists of figural and carved work exhibited in conjunction with a text from The Last Days of Socrates by Plato. These figural works were based on internet images of well-known personalities—including Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and Yoko Ono. “These people all led fascinating lives,” explains Leuthold, “and they each possessed prized enduring characteristics that transcended their appearance. My premise was to create renditions using rapid gestural

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movements. I wanted something fresh, something more than a physical resemblance. They are abstracted figures, somewhat influenced by Medardo Rosso and Rodin. Leuthold is well known for his sculptural wheels. In this case, he used internet images of the iconic women and transcribed a contour drawing of each to the wheel surface. Two of the wheels are porcelain and one of them is translucent in the

central area of the wheel—“something I have been working towards for years,” says Leuthold. “The connection of Plato’s text with my sculptures hinges on immortality and life choices,” he adds. “A life well lived is something we all think about. Would that we could all use our time as well as Socrates, Plato—and many of the women who are my icons and muses.”

v Yoko Ono by Marc Leuthold ’80

In Print A Good and Perfect Gift: Faith, Expectations and a Little Girl Named Penny Amy Julia Truesdell Becker ’94 A Good and Perfect Gift is a spiritual memoir that chronicles Becker’s journey through her daughter Penny’s first years of life. Top of her class at Princeton, Becker always imagined that her children would turn out just like her. So when Penny entered the world with Down syndrome, Becker had to rethink everything. Beyond tackling the day-to-day whirlwind of doctor visits, child development experts, insulting comments from well-meaning friends and even her own prejudices, Becker comes face to face with terrifying emotions. Worry that Penny would die early or that she wouldn’t be able to live on her own. Sorrow over the thought that Penny might not know deep love from another person. And her darkest fear, that Becker herself wouldn’t know how to love her daughter. But love—love from Penny, love from her husband Peter ’95, love from friends, and love from God—finds a way to pick Becker up out of her fear and into faith. Instead of being a parent crippled by control and expectations, she finds freedom and joy in loving Penny and watching her thrive in who she was perfectly created to be. From the initial dark moments in the hospital to the light and laughter Penny brought into the family, this is a story of a remarkable little girl who surpassed expectations. It is the story of a young couple coming to terms with their firstborn child being different than they anticipated, and eventually receiving that child as a precious gift. It should appeal to any reader who wonders how grief can be transformed into joy. A graduate of Princeton University and Princeton Theological Seminary, Becker is also the author of Penelope Ayers: A Memoir. Her essays have appeared in the New York Times, First Things, the Philadelphia Inquirer, the Hartford Courant, the Christian Century, among others. Read an excerpt from her new book, or follow Becker’s blog, at

The Last Frontier— Puerto Rico and the Caribbean John Allen Franciscus ’50 The golden age of Puerto Rico and the Caribbean was from the 1950s to 2006, writes John Franciscus ’50. Puerto Rico was just coming out of a sugar cane economy after WWII. Under Operation Bootstrap, American money and business expertise poured in. A little like the Old West, it was also a time of enormous growth as the middle class began to get a piece of the economic pie during Puerto Rico’s boom years. This is a true story of an adventure into the unknown Puerto Rico of the 1950s and the Caribbean—still undiscovered. Franciscus and his family moved there after his USAF pilot training, to join Nelson Rockefeller’s IBEC Housing initiative to build the first lowcost housing and supermarkets on the island, changing the place forever. While living in PR and exploring the islands, Franciscus met an incredible cast of characters, movers and shakers. This, he says, was the time of miracles.

Lights, Camera…Travel! Andrew McCarthy and Don George ’71 “The premise behind this anthology is simple: since the ancient Greeks, actors have been society’s storytellers. And ever since Hollywood first left the backlot, these storytellers have been traveling to far-flung corners of the world to tell those tales.” So starts the introduction of Lonely Planet’s newest literary travel anthology, Lights, Camera...Travel! Edited by actor and travel writer Andrew McCarthy and acclaimed travel editor Don George, the book features 33 illuminating and entertaining stories by distinguished actors, directors, and screenwriters from their time on the road. Taft Bulletin Winter 2012 7

In Print This anthology of personal, inspiring, funny, embarrassing and human stories includes tales by Alec Baldwin, Brooke Shields, Sandra Bernhard, Dana Delany, Neil LaBute, Rick Steves, Paulina Porizkova, Bob Balaban, Eric Bogosian and Anthony Edwards. Alec Baldwin presents an atmospheric and heartfelt depiction of life in LA, while Brooke Shields hilariously recalls her mishaps in the Arctic while on assignment for Marie Claire. Eric Bogosian hunts for Buddhas in Thailand and Dana Delany reminisces how a movie location romance in Brazil “started my lifelong relationship with younger men.” Filmmakers may be a nomadic breed but even they never cease to be amazed by a new location. Making a movie may be easier on the backlot, but it’s certainly richer on the road. Actor Andrew McCarthy is also a contributing editor at National Geographic Traveler magazine. In 2010 he was named “Travel Journalist of the Year” by the Society of American Travel Writers. Don George has edited five previous Lonely Planet literary anthologies. He also wrote the Lonely Planet Guide to Travel Writing. Don has been global travel editor for Lonely Planet, travel editor at both the San Francisco Chronicle and San Francisco Examiner and is also founder and editor of’s ‘Wanderlust.’ He is currently contributing editor and book review columnist for National Geographic Traveler, special features editor and blogger for and editor of the online literary travel magazine Recce ( Don appears frequently as a travel expert on television and radio and hosts a national series of onstage conversations with prominent writers. He is also cofounder and chairman of the annual Book Passage Travel Writers and Photographers Conference.

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Sometimes I Feel Like a Nut Jill Kopelman Kargman ’92 Demonstrating Woody Allen’s magical math equation, comedy = tragedy + time, a sensational collection of witty essays about life, love, hate, kids, work, school and more from the author of The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund and Arm Candy. Jill Kargman is a mother, wife and writer living the life in New York City . . . a life that includes camping out in a one-bedroom apartment with some unfortunate (and furry) roommates, battling the Momzillas of Manhattan and coming to terms with her desire for gay men. In this entertaining collection of observations, Kargman offers her unique, wickedly funny perspective as she zips around Manhattan with three kids in tow. Kargman tackles issues big and small with sharp wit and laugh-out-loud humor: her love of the smell of gasoline, her new names for nail polishes, her adventures in New York City real estate, and her fear of mimes, clowns, and other haunting things. Whether it’s surviving a family road trip or why she can’t stand Cirque du So Lame or the hell that was her first job out of college, Kargman’s nutty self triumphs, thanks to a wonderfully wise outlook and sense of fun that makes the best of everything that gets thrown her way. And if that’s not enough, Kargman illustrates her reflections with doodles that capture her refreshing voice. “Please welcome the new David Sedaris,” wrote the LA Times, “not that the old one is broken or anything. It’s just that Jill Kargman, in her first book of essays, provides the same gutsplitting reading pleasure.” Jill Kargman is a writer based in New York City who is deathly afraid of clowns. And mimes. After graduating from college, she worked her way up the magazine ranks and used the inspirational toil of assistant life to cowrite the 2000 Sundance film Intern. Success with novels such as Wolves in Chic Clothing and The Ex-Mrs. Hedgefund has been accompanied by her work as a featured writer for Vogue, Harper’s Bazaar, Town & Country, Elle and others.

Bowlby’s Battle for Round Earth Frederick Leonhardt ’74 Historians will be the first to admit that the vanquished rarely if ever enjoy the privilege of telling their story let alone recording it for posterity. In Bowlby’s Battle for Round Earth, geologist, psychotherapist and philanthropist Frederick Leonhardt invites us to view John Bowlby—arguably the father of attachment theory—as a warrior who ultimately was vanquished during his long battle to bring about a naturalistic systems theory revolution within such disciplines as psychology, psychiatry, psychoanalysis, mental health, sociology and public policy. “Think of Bowlby’s Battle as a very detailed annotated bibliography consisting of only two entries,” says Leonhardt, who is executive director of the FHL Foundation. Leonhardt decided to summarize Bertalanffy’s 1969 book General System Theory and Gerald Midgley’s 2000 book Systemic Intervention as a first pass toward telling the story behind the systems-attachment theory (dis)connection. “This book is a placeholder as we await a formal treatment of the Bowlby-systems theory connection,” says Leonhardt. In his capacity as a philanthropist, Leonhardt says he would enjoy nothing more than for a researcher (or research group) to come along and turn his “annotated bibliography” into a full-fledged treatment of the Bowlby-systems theory (dis)connection. Leonhardt started out as a soils engineer and later worked on the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Red River Lock and Dam Feasibility Study as a civilian contract worker. After earning a master’s degree in structural geology from UT Dallas, he moved to Denver to work as a petroleum geologist for Atlantic Richfield. His father’s death in 1986 inspired him to pursue a career in psychology. He worked as a paraprofessional crisis advocate at Albuquerque Rape Crisis Center, went back to school and received a master’s in counseling psychology and then went on to work as a psychotherapist with troubled teens at a psychiatric hospital. Through his graduate work at Webster University and, later, his clinical experience working with teens, Leonhardt gained an appreciation

for John Bowlby’s attachment theory. Today Leonhardt runs the family foundation that his grandparents started in 1953. He is a regular contributor to the Foundation’s Bowlby Less Traveled blog You can find him hiking and camping in the great outdoors of New Mexico with his yellow lab, Amber.

Easy Economics: A Visual Guide to What You Need to Know Leonard Wolfe with Lee Smith ’55 and Stephen Buckles Let’s face it, economics can be boring…but we all need a decent understanding of the basics if we want to survive in these difficult and uncertain times. Let’s make it more interesting. Easy Economics isn’t packed with reams of text or stacks of numbers, this book is visual and engaging. The book aims to bring you up to speed, in a way that entertains while it informs, through a collection of many of the most frequently asked questions— plus some you probably haven’t thought of—on the subject of economics. The topics range from: • The difference between debt and deficit • Causes and cures of recessions • The financial crisis of 2007–2009 explained • Is globalization good or bad? • How fiscal and monetary policies differ • Bubbles and busts Unlike so many other books on the subject, it explains through a Q & A format with entertaining and informative illustration, material that many people ordinarily find uninviting and even intimidating in an easy-to-digest, appealing way. Although they didn’t know each other at the time, Leonard Wolfe and Lee Smith were both students at Yale together: Smith as an undergraduate, and Wolfe as a graduate student. Eventually they worked together at Fortune, where Wolfe was an art director and Smith a senior writer/editor who served as Fortune’s bureau chief in both Tokyo and Washington. For more information, visit Taft Bulletin Winter 2012 9

For the latest news on campus events, please visit

around the Pond

, Medalists Alex Reiff ’12, Cathy Chen ’12, Qingyang Xu ’13 and Quang Bui ’13 with Physics Team advisers Chris Ritacco and Jim Mooney. Courtesy of Cathy Chen

By Debra Meyers

Physics Is Fun

Taft Wins Physics Olympics at Yale

Four Taft students competed in the annual Physics Olympics at Yale University in the fall; Team Taft completed the pentathlon with the highest combined overall score, earning top honors at the prestigious event. Taft was one of nearly 50 schools to compete in the 2011 Physics Olympics. Now in its 13th year, the contest is sponsored by the Physics Department at Yale University. Quang Bui ’13, Cathy Chen ’12, Alex Reiff ’12 and Qingyang Xu ’13 earned Taft’s win by besting the competition in a series of five 35-minute events. Each event is a task or simple experiment performed as a team, designed to obtain a result or measurement. The teams are ordered based on the accuracy of their results; prizes are awarded to the 10 Taft Bulletin Winter 2012

first-, second- and third-place teams in each event and overall. Taft placed first in “That Sinking Feeling,” where teams built duct tape boats that could stay afloat when loaded with sand. Competitors could use no more than two meters of duct tape; the winning boat would stay afloat while carrying the greatest volume of sand. Taft’s value of 1.38 kg was 10 percent greater than the second place team. “The competition was a testament to the efficiency of collaborative brainpower and teamwork,” explains Cathy Chen, “and the boat challenge was a perfect example of that: Alex came up with the idea of turning the duct tape inside out to gain sturdier friction so as to prevent the boat from sinking; I recommended

securing the four corners to stabilize our ship, and Quang and Qingyang took measurements. We all relied on each other’s physics insight and we put our hands together to build the ship.” Team Taft placed second in the Fermi quiz, where teams make order of magnitude estimates (including a practical calculation of just how many pingpong balls will fit inside a 747 jet), and third in the “Frequency Asked Question” event, where teams measured the difference in pitch between two nearly identical tuning forks. Taft was the only team to place in three events, which earned them the highest overall score for the day. Their medals and trophy are on display in Wu 120.

Honoring a Hero Will Keys ’06

Members of the Taft community honored the memory of Will Keys ’06 during a charity road race in December. Organized by Will’s childhood friend, Courtney Strakosch, Run for the Heroes is the second annual Tree of Compassion Walk/Run 5k event; last year’s race raised more than $25,000 for ALS, Lou Gehrig’s disease. This year, Courtney shifted the focus of the event to honoring our military heroes: proceeds from the race benefited the Fire Family Transport Fund and Hope for the Warriors. Hope for the Warriors is a nationwide charity dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for U.S. service members and their families who have been adversely affected by injuries or death in the line of duty. Run for the Heroes dollars will purchase a van for the charity to help them transport soldiers and veterans with injuries or disabilities. “The vehicle will be named for Will,” Courtney said. “Will was a true hero who loved America and knew he wanted to protect our country from the time he was a young boy. He was an incredible

n The Taft contingent at the Run for the Heroes in December. Peter Frew ’75

friend and son, and left an imprint with every person he had ever met.” Earlier this year, Will died from injuries sustained in a car accident near his military base in North Carolina. Will joined the navy after graduating from Taft in 2006. He completed a two-year tour of duty at the Naval Medical Center, San Diego, before being deployed to Afghanistan, where he supported a combined anti-armor team. Upon his return to the U.S., Will transitioned to the Scout Sniper Platoon. In every assignment, Will was known for his high professional standards and exceptional rapport with his fellow soldiers. “I am so proud to have raised a muchloved human being who people want to honor,” said Will’s mother and Taft health services director Lisa Keys. “To all who love him and have so generously donated in Will’s memory and support

us in our sorrow I am thankful. It takes all I have to put one foot in front of the other and I could not do it without the support of the Taft community. When I think of Will’s death and the good it brings out in people to benefit others like him, those who love and protect their country, it is very humbling.” Taft runners—and his family—found the event to be a moving and extraordinary tribute to an exceptional young man. Four members of the Piacenza family ran locally, while two others ran in absentia in North Carolina and Washington, D.C. “It was a special day,” said Jean Piacenza, director of counseling and community health. “My head was full of how precious William was and how his legacy of honor, courage and commitment keeps spreading—and of course, how deeply he is missed.”

Music for a While Ken Nigro’s Jazz Band brought energy to the new term when they performed in concert this January in Walker Hall. A nonet featuring music from Supersax, original compositions and unique arrangements of jazz styles from the ’50s up through the present, the Ken Nigro Band invoked the fun and warmth of a summer jazz festival. Exsultemus, a period vocal ensemble, also performed in January, transporting the Woodward Chapel audience back in time to early Italy, then over the mountains to Germany and Eastern Europe. Music for Voices and Brass from Italy and Germany

featured the grand sonorities of cornetti, sackbuts and organ mingled with the exquisite voices of Exsultemus. The 2011–12 Music for a While Performance Series continues February 24 with a perennial favorite, Arts from the Heart, featuring Taft’s adjunct music faculty. The program begins at 7 p.m. in Walker Hall. Music For a While concludes Sunday, March 4, at 5 p.m. in Woodward Chapel with a classical choral performance of Mozart’s Solemn Vespers. For more information on these and all Walker Hall series performances, visit

n Jazz quintet Five Play performs in Walker Hall as part of the yearlong concert series Music for a While. Peter Frew ’75

around the POND

A Tradition of Caring

17th Annual Community Service Day

n Chemistry teacher Walt Warner and Emma Stein ’12 walk through a science experiment with

local third graders. Nicole Lee ’13

Taft’s 17th annual Community Service Day was marked by good will, good weather and good deeds. More than 700 members of the Taft community fanned out across Watertown and its neighboring communities, donating time and talent to area children, seniors, churches, environmental groups and charitable organizations. Through 30 separate projects, Taft students, faculty and staff left their mark on the region. “Community Service Day is a wonderful Taft tradition that matters hugely to many local organizations. The groups we support have come to depend on the thousands of hours that students and faculty provide,” said Headmaster Willy MacMullen. This year, students painted a mural 12 Taft Bulletin Winter 2012

at the Watertown Convalarium and worked to fill the shelves at both the Plymouth Community Food Pantry and the food bank in Watertown. They did trail maintenance and restoration for the Connecticut Forest and Parks Association, Flanders Nature Center, Bethlehem’s Bellamy-Ferriday House, and the Bent of the River Audubon Society in Southbury. They carried an anti-drug message to schoolchildren in Waterbury, worked with local students on the Taft School campus, and supported the Acts 4 Clothing Ministries. Where there was a need, there were many hands. “The day is an embodiment of our motto, Not to be served but to serve,” said MacMullen. “Service happens at Taft in countless ways and every week,

and we should remember that, but a public day—where we stop our normal business of academics—provides a different kind of affirmation of what we believe in as a school.” Fourteen Taft students traveled to the Children’s Community School (CCS) in Waterbury to help with the “Red Ribbon Carnival Celebration.” Red Ribbon Week is the oldest and largest drug prevention campaign in the country. “For the older CCS students—the 4th and 5th graders—drug awareness is, sadly, real. But for the younger students the carnival is more about having fun on the playground with high school students,” said Academic Dean Jon Willson ’82. “The day was a natural extension of the ongoing work students do in Jamella Lee’s Service Learning course each week with CCS; their students and staff were enormously appreciative of our efforts.” This year’s biggest and newest project was the Watertown Greenway initiative. Forty-two football players, along with their coaches, managers and two other faculty members, cleared brush, invasive weeds and garbage at the site of Watertown’s muchanticipated greenway. With construction there set to begin next spring, the work is both timely and necessary. Siemon Company President and CEO Carl Siemon visited students at the site to thank them for their efforts, as did Town Manager Charles Frigon. “We encourage our students to think about our motto every day,” explained Community Service Day coordinator Jeremy Clifford. “Setting one day aside that is devoted to living it allows students to make connections with programs, peers and organizations that we hope will continue. It also gives them a tangible understanding of the genuine difference volunteer service makes in our community.”


Homework Helpers

Taft students know the importance of doing their homework. But for the past eight years, student volunteers have been putting their own homework aside a few hours each week and sharing their knowledge and insights with area young people through Taft’s Homework Helpers club. Seniors Sarah Denning and Sheila Snyder are the current co-heads of Homework Helpers, a service club that works with local students in grades one through five. Both have been involved with the club throughout their Taft careers. “I see it as a great way to help the community,” Sheila said. “I love to work with kids and I love to see them learn. For me, it is a great moment when a child looks up at me and says, ‘I get it!’” Sheila and Sarah advertise Homework Helpers at all of Watertown’s elementary schools, both public and parochial. They also submit


n Homework Helpers Rozalie Czesana ’14, David Sohn ’13, Sheila Snyder ’12, Sophie Snook ’13 and Caitlin Morton ’12 with their students. Julie Reiff

announcements to the local newspaper. “We definitely draw from all the schools and see students from every grade,” said Sheila. “Though we probably see more third- and fourth-graders.” As a drop-in program, attendance varies from week to week, generally topping out at about 20 elementary school students per night. Still, there are always enough Taft volunteers available to ensure that everyone receives one-on-one help. “Our students meet as a group for an orientation session on what it means to be a homework helper,” explained faculty adviser Baba Frew. “It is a very studentrun group; they are very independent.”

Taft volunteers may create study guides, quiz students on spelling words, invent memory games, or simply check and review work students have completed, depending on the students’ needs. Often, they develop relationships with children who consistently use Homework Helpers. “I love to see the kids who come back every week and have news of how the science test you helped then study for went really well or how their mom was proud of the map they drew,” said Sarah. “Anything that shows that you’ve actually helped them beyond just getting through the night’s homework is so rewarding.”

A Test of Mettle Yields Medal rounds of parliamentary debate in both novice and advanced divisions. Awards were given to the top three novice and advanced speakers, as well as the top speaker from each school. The top three schools also earned prizes. “I am greatly honored to have been named a Top Speaker,” said Qingyang. “I engaged in three very tough debates. My opponents were critical and coherent in argument and graceful and gentle in manners. I am also grateful, with deep humility, to the decisive support from my partner Taewan Shim ’14.” Taft sent one advanced and two novice teams to the event. Their efforts earned Taft an impressive fifth-place finish. “Unlike most of the other schools at the tournament, Taft is a debate club,

not a debate team,” explained Coach Brianne Foley. “The students’ strong finish is a testament to their hard work and preparation.” Foley, who began coaching the team in the fall, intends to formalize the club’s approach to competition and preparation in the spring term. When she does, Qingyang will embrace the challenge. “I enjoyed myself a great deal that day; it was very exciting,” said Qingyang. “I believe that hard work and full dedication might well enable me to achieve even more in this field.” Taft Bulletin Winter 2012 13

Debra Meyers

Qingyang Xu ’13 was named a Top Speaker following his impressive performance at the Andover Invitational Interscholastic Debate Tournament in November. Nearly 300 students from 26 schools participated in the event, making it the largest tournament ever held in the history of the Debating Association of New England Independent Schools (DANEIS). The Andover Invitational is a world-qualifying tournament; the day’s top performer, Nat Warner ’13 of Choate, earned a spot on the U.S. team and will compete at the World Individual Debating and Public Speaking Championship (WIDPSC) later this year in Brisbane, Australia. The tournament consisted of three

around the POND

…The Laughter, The Fun, The Joy of Dance!

n Bridget TeeKing ’12 competing at the Great Britain Championships. Time In Focus Photography

“We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once,” Friedrich Nietzsche wrote. For Taft senior Bridget TeeKing, there are no lost days. In 1995, the buzz from Europe was deafening as performances of a traditional form of Irish dance featuring precise, quick and intricate steps took the U.K. by storm. Riverdance debuted before U.S. audiences the following year, during an 8-week sold-out run at New York’s Radio City Music Hall. Americans—and the world—were fascinated: Bridget TeeKing was no exception. “I loved it from the start,” said Bridget, who began studying Irish step dance in 1997, when she was only five years old. It wasn’t long before Bridget was competing—and winning. Her natural athleticism, combined with her

14 Taft Bulletin Winter 2012

determination and drive, made her a strong competitor. And despite a full course load at Taft, athletics obligations and an impressive list of activities and academic accomplishments, Bridget continues her commitment to dance and her success on the international stage: Bridget recently returned from the U.K., where she competed in the Great Britain Championships, the world’s second-oldest Irish dancing competition. Bridget finished 11th in a field of some 150 contestants. “I compete almost every weekend,” said Bridget. “I usually do two or three events to prepare for a major competition or championship. I travel to Massachusetts or New Jersey for the local competitions; there are a lot of events in New England and the Atlantic region.” Bridget competed at the New England Championships in November

and came in 5th, qualifying for the 2012 World Championships. Unfortunately, as ruled by the Irish dancing commision (An Coimisiún Le Rincí Gaelacha), she cannot compete because her teachers will be judging. She planned to travel to Dublin for the All Ireland Championships in February. Bridget’s world-renowned teachers are based in Bethel, Connecticut. She has studied with the same teachers since she first began dancing. Three to four times a week, Bridget leaves campus and travels to their studio. The rest of the week, she practices in the dance studio at Taft. “For me, dance counts as an arts credit,” Bridget explained. “And my schedule allows time for practice.” Irish dance competitions are highly structured. Dancers must post a minimum of five wins at each level of competition to advance; Bridget has successfully moved through all six levels. Her accomplishments qualify her for New Englands, Nationals and Worlds. Bridget has qualified to represent the U.S. at the World Championships on five occasions. Bridget’s sisters, Megan ’13 and Caitlin, both started dancing at age 4. Both have also competed at the World Championships. Next year at this time, Bridget will be in college, where she expects to be fully engaged in pre-med studies. Still, she wants to continue dancing and competing. “Most competition levels end at age 21, so I have a few more years,” Bridget said. “It wasn’t the most important factor in choosing a college, but I did look at schools that were close to competition hubs. After that, I don’t know. I love to dance, I love to teach and I love to compete. Dancing has definitely shaped who I am.”

Inspiration Through Celebration As part of the school’s Memorial Day celebration last year, Chaplain Bob Ganung honored the more than 70 Taft alumni who gave their lives for their country. Mark Wawer, father of John ’11 and Nate ’13, attended the ceremony, held in Lincoln Lobby, where the World War II memorial is located. “That night Nate and I talked about the meaning of Memorial Day and the connection he and John had with those young men who walked the same halls as they did,” said Wawer. “And so a project was formed.” Wawer returned to the Taft campus on Veterans Day 2011 to talk about that project: Locating three Taft men buried on Italian soil. The Wawer family would spend part of their Italian vacation celebrating the lives of Donald Rodes ’43 and Albin Schoepf ’39, who are buried

at the Sicily-Rome American Cemetery in Nettuno, Italy, and Richard Knight ’40, laid to rest in the Florence American Cemetery. “Once I located them I tried to contact any living family members to let them know we were going to visit the gravesites to pay our respects and to let them know that Taft had not forgotten them and continued to honor their sacrifice.” Upon his return in July, Wawer emailed those families again to describe the trip and send them photos. Wawer was not the only parent to affect students during Morning Meetings last fall. Author John Kuhns, father of Dylan ’13 and Casey ’13, spoke about his achievements in business, and the importance of doing what you most enjoy in life.

The full roster of fall speakers included students and faculty, as well as Rockwell Visiting Artists Curtis Hanson and Airlie Anderson. Alumni Ward Mailliard ’65, Todd ’92 and Amanda Costanzo McGovern ’93, and Tyler Godoff ’06 returned to campus with personal messages, while Josh Viertel, president of Slow Foods USA, enlightened students about the slow food movement, designed to “create a world in which all people can eat food that is good for them, good for the people who grow it and good for the planet.” , Nate ’13 and John Wawer ’11 at the Florence American Cemetery while on vacation in Italy. Mark Wawer

around the POND

Cum Laude Scholars Named

n This fall’s honorees are (from left in photo): Alex Reiff, Academic Dean Jon Willson ’82, Michelle

Chang, Kanoko Kotaka, Thuy Tran, Ina Kosova, Cathy Chen, Christina Morgan, Sarah Nyquist, Eliza Davis, Kristen Shaker, Julian Patrick Sena, Benjamin Garfinkel, Mai Thanh Nguyen, Tae Young Woo, Christopher Browner, Connie Cheung and Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78. Yee-Fun Yin

Sixteen Taft seniors were recently inducted into the Cum Laude Society, tying last year’s record number for the fall term inductees. A maximum of 20 percent of the Senior Class may be elected into membership in the Cum Laude Society; those inducted in the fall represent the top 9.2 percent of their class,

with weighted averages that ranged from 93.2 to 97.9 for those two years. In introducing the new Cum Laude Society members Headmaster Willy MacMullen recalled the work of Professor Angela Duckworth, the noted UPenn research psychologist who spoke to the Taft community in 2010.

“If you have the willingness to do that which is hard, to get back up after you’ve struggled and to face challenges, it will pay off more than anything,” MacMullen said. “That is what these students have done throughout their years at Taft. By any measure these are extraordinary students. But do not forget that achievement comes because they worked hard. Working hard, persevering and having grit matter hugely.” Founded in 1908, the Cum Laude Society is the national scholarship society in secondary schools, corresponding to Phi Beta Kappa and Sigma Xi in colleges and scientific schools. Students are elected based on their academic records during both their middle and uppermiddle years. Another group of inductees will be honored during graduation exercises this spring; their selection will be based upon their records for their uppermid and senior years. The Ranking Scholars for 2010–11 year with the highest unweighted averages in their classes are Linh Khanh Tang ’14, Ne Yeon (Carrie) Shin ’13 and Kristen Shaker ’12.

Be Our Guest Bingham Auditorium was a kaleidoscope of brilliant colors set in motion by the spirited cast of Beauty and the Beast on stage during fall Parents’ Weekend. And despite the unusual and significant snowfall, it was this lively production that made Parents’ Weekend unforgettable. “It is a great musical—certainly Disney’s best,” said Taft theater and film teacher Rick Doyle. Under Doyle’s direction, Taft mounted a production based on the stage adaptation of the Disney film, featuring Jillian Wipfler ’13 as Belle and Jacob Goldstein ’15 as Prince Adam,

cursed to inhabit the body of a beast. Christopher Browner ’12 was brilliant as Lumière, and Max Flath ’13 excelled as the narcissist Gaston. “I thoroughly enjoyed playing Belle,” said Jillian. “Not only is she a princess, but she is a passionate and intelligent girl with a fire in

her. Although it was challenging, I worked to create my own Belle, while keeping her the princess we all know and love.” , The high-energy cast, the spectacular sets and the exceptional choreography all made Beauty and the Beast a production to remember. Yee-Fun Yin

Student Perspectives

Mark W. Potter ’48 Gallery

The winter term began with an emotional one-man show featuring the photography of senior Everett Brownstein. The mountains of Nepal’s Helambu region are dotted with monasteries that attract Buddhist lamas. It is also a popular destination for trekking and tourism. Brownstein volunteered as a teacher in the local school there; his students are the subjects of some of his photos. The show featured portraits and landscapes of the children, their school and the remote village where Brownstein lived. But there were also images of life in the larger, more urban Kathmandu Valley. Photographs of the simple and pristine landscape of Helambu were

n Pokhara, Nepal, 2011, by Everett Brownstein ’12

juxtaposed with images of the hustle and bustle of Kathmandu. From shots of an almost unnoticeable switchbacking trail leading to the school in the serene mountains, to the crowded streets filled with mopeds and cars, these photos captured life in Nepal through Brownstein’s incomparable eye. Pieces of Everett’s one-man show may be seen in the current exhibit of

student work in the Potter Gallery. Paintings, drawings, sculpture, ceramics and photography are all on display through March 2. All pieces were created during the current school year. The student artists will make way for their mentors on March 30, when the Taft School Visual Arts Faculty Show opens in the gallery. For more information, visit

Rhino Run As an elementary school student, Sara Iannone ’13 joined the cross country team at St. John the Evangelist School, where she often competed against students who were much older and much more experienced. Still, it was clear early on that she was a runner to watch. Since that time, Sara has become one of Taft’s top cross-country runners. Under the auspices of her Litchfieldbased running club, Sara has competed in the USATF Junior Olympics. Through all her successes, she has never forgotten her days at St. John’s. “I wanted to plan an event for the community because there are so many local kids who like to run,” Sara explained. “When I was running at St. John’s, I loved going to races to run and to meet runners from other schools.” Last April, Sara began working with boys’ cross country coach Steve Palmer to plan a cross country meet for middle school runners. On October 5, their plans came to fruition: Students from

Middlebury’s Memorial School, Rumsey Hall, Watertown’s Swift Middle School, and, of course, St. John the Evangelist competed in the first Taft Rhino Run, a 3k-event on the Taft School campus. “The middle school distance is shorter than high school, so they only ran one loop of our standard course,” Sara notes. “That means they only had to run the hill once.” More than 100 runners competed in two races: one for boys, one for girls. Memorial’s Alex Abraham bested the boys’ field of 63 to win in 11:22. Sydney Soracin was the top finisher of 51 girls, with a winning time of 13:05. The top ten finishers in each race earned ribbons, while the top finishers from each school went home with Taft Rhino Run t-shirts. “The kids really seemed to enjoy the race,” said Sara, “and I think it’s great that Taft offered Mr. Palmer and me so much support in putting together this event. There were many Taft cross country runners who came and volunteered their time to help out and cheer on the runners.”

n Middle school girls take off at the start of the first (annual?) 3k Taft Rhino Run. Everett Brownstein

Sara and Mr. Palmer both hope the Taft Rhino Run will become an annual event. “Taft has always had a good number of local students on the cross country teams. In fact, I’ve had 10 captains for the boys’ team who have been local runners,” said Palmer. “I’ve watched some middle school races; they’re exciting, fun to watch, and remind us of the essence of sports. Sara’s idea to host this race was a great one.” Taft Bulletin Winter 2012 17

For more on the fall season, please visit

fall SPORT wrap-up By steve Palmer

Girls’ Cross Country 6–3

h Middle blocker Alex Makkonen ’12 takes her approach and swings in a match against Hopkins. Alex was selected as one of Taft’s New England All-Star players. Phil

This year’s team benefitted from the presence of talented newcomers and seasoned veterans, finishing with a winning record and a 3rd place in the league. The season began with a thrilling win over Miss Porter’s (26–29) and ended with decisive victories against Suffield, Berkshire and Williston. The Rhinos’ 3rd place at the Founders League meet came behind strong runs by Sara Iannone ’13 (9th), Dana Biddle ’14 (14th) and Caroline Manly ’13 (16th), while Elizabeth Shea ’13 won the JV race. The team was ably led by tricaptains Maddie Estey ’12, Eleanor Hough ’12 and Emma Stein ’12, who finished her career in fine fashion by winning the JV race at New Englands. Iannone and Biddle were All-Founders League runners for their top-15 finish. Though a cadre of talented seniors will graduate this spring, the bulk of the varsity team will be returning next year.

Dutton/Photo Trophies

Volleyball 14–6

New England Semifinalists

For the fifth time in ten years, Taft reached the New England Semifinals and nearly made it back to the finals for the fourth time. This year victories over Greenwich Academy (3–2), Loomis (3–0) and Deerfield (3–1) earned the Rhinos a #5 seed in the tournament. At NMH’s loud, packed home court, Taft upset the 4th seed (3–0) to advance to the second round, where they eventually fell to Choate in a hard-fought 1–3 match. The terrific season was centered 18 Taft Bulletin Winter 2012

on the play of the six seniors: Anne Tewksbury ’12, Christina Morgan ’12, Lexi Rogers ’12, Alex Makkonen ’12, Taylor Peucker ’12, and Captain Olivia

Burt ’12. Captain-elect Morgan Manz ’13 was an All-Founders League player as well as a New England All-Star. She was joined as a New England All-Star

by Makkonen and Peucker. Cassie Ruscz ’13 was an All-Founders League player, while defensive specialists Tiffany Li ’14, Sarah Cassady ’13 and Rita Catherine O’Shea ’14 kept the fans on the edge of the bleachers. Up front, the strong attacks by both Candice Dyce ’13 and Jacky Susskind ’13 helped the team beat archrival Hotchkiss twice during the season.

game at home versus defending New England champ Hotchkiss. The game was one for the ages, with both teams playing at the top of their game for the full time and two overtimes. With the two exhausted teams grouped on the field, the game was decided on the last of ten penalty strokes, when Taft’s final, upper-corner shot deflected off the edge of the Hotchkiss goalie’s stick. During

h Senior Charlotte O’Leary

on the ball in a valiant but unsuccessful match against Hotchkiss in the New England Semifinals. Robert Falcetti

Field Hockey 12–5

New England Semifinalists

The field hockey team had one of its best seasons in recent history, beginning in Ireland in August when most of the team worked with world-class coaches and played top Irish club teams. On the field, Taft was led by co-captains Jordan McCarthy ’12 and Caitlin Majewski ’12, whose mental toughness was at the center of the team’s success. During the season, key wins over Loomis (3–1), Williston (3–1) and Choate (1–0) set up Taft’s #5 ranking for the tournament. In a great win over Nobles (1–0) behind Majewski’s goal, the Rhinos advanced to a semifinal

year, Jared Carson ’13 and Han Bin Lee ’13, were right at the front of the team by season’s end and will lead a host of returning uppermiddlers. The best win came over Berkshire and Suffield at Berkshire’s challenging course. In the big invitationals, Taft finished 7th at Canterbury to start the season, 6th at the Founders League championship and 13th at New Englands.

h Senior Demetrius Russell scored on a 74-yard touchdown run that may have been the play of the game against Kent to win the New England title. He finished the game with 139 yards on 27 carries. Robert Falcetti

the season, Amy Feda ’13 recorded nine shutouts in the net, and Maggie O’Neil ’13 and Story Viebranz ’12 anchored a tough defense. McCarthy led the team in scoring and was dangerous in every game, while Charlotte O’Leary ’12 was a key playmaker everywhere on the field.

Boys Cross Country 3–5 Taft had a tight pack of varsity runners all season, led by Carl Sangree ’14, who finished first for Taft in every race except one. Eric Metcalf ’12, Dan Rubin ’13, John Davidge ’13 and Charlie Garcia ’12 all moved up impressively from JV runners in 2010. Captains-elect for next

Football 8–0

New England Class A Champions Erickson Conference Champions

The 2011 Rhinos could not be stopped. Their fantastic undefeated season was a product of great team speed, a relentless work ethic and a group of athletes who really enjoyed playing together. The result was an overwhelming offensive output and a fast, unified team defense. Taft put up 367 points over eight games (over 45 pts. per game), while the defense totaled 18 interceptions—five for touchdowns—and 12 fumble recoveries. The first major challenge came against an Taft Bulletin Winter 2012 19

spring SPORT undefeated Avon team, where Taft was down 21–13 but scored the last 24 points of the game. They next faced a powerful 4–1 Choate squad, who also jumped out to an early lead. Senior Matt Quatrano’s interception return for a touchdown turned the game around, as did his play on defense and his TD reception. The much-anticipated match up with undefeated Kent was put on hold on Parents’ Day when the October blizzard hit, nearly stranding the Kent football team on the roads back to school. However, both teams went on to win their remaining games, and the two undefeated Class A teams met at Rockefeller Field with the Norm Walker Bowl and the Erickson Conference on the line. Taft would jump out to a 21–0 halftime lead with fumble recoveries, Tim Drakely’s sharp passing (he finished the game completing 13 passes for 136 yards and one TD), and Demetrius Russell’s 74-yard touchdown run. Russell would finish with 136 yards rushing, and Taft held at bay a tough Kent team that came alive in the second half. Jackson McGonagle ’12 and Anthony Gaffney ’12 were the key receivers, while Gaffney (3 INTs) and Alex Huard ’14 (2 INTs) were defensively destructive to Kent. The 28–18 win was Taft’s first New England Bowl championship since 1992 and reflects the optimism and devotion of Coach Panos Voulgaris. Based on their excellent play all season, defensive linemen Frankie Benavides ’12 and Jordan

Stone ’12 were All-Conference players, as well as defensive backs Huard, Quatrano, and John Zakrzewski ’12 (the team’s leading tackler). Adam Parker ’13, another leading tackler, was an All-Conference linebacker, along with Russell at running back, and Drakely (QB), who finished the year with 28 TD passes and 1 INT. Drakely, Quatrano and Stone were named to the All-New England team, with Gaffney earning Player of the Year honors for his 17 touchdown receptions and great defensive play.

FALL AWARD WINNERS The John B. Small Award............................................................. Carlos E. Garcia ’12 Eric H. Metcalf ’12 The Girls’ Cross Country Award ........................................... Madison R. Estey ’12 Eleanor B. Hough ’12 Emma M. Stein ’12 The Field Hockey Award.......................................................Caitlin D. Majewski ’12 Erin Jordan McCarthy ’12 The Livingston Carroll Soccer Award...................................Zachary B. Karlan ’12 The 1976 Girls’ Soccer Award..................................................... Alexa E. Dwyer ’12 The Black Football Award....................................................Frankie J. Benavides ’12 The Cross Football Award...........................................................Jordan K. Stone ’12 The Volleyball Award.........................................................................Olivia J. Burt ’12

20 Taft Bulletin Winter 2012

Boys Soccer 12–3–1

New England Semifinalists

This team, who will be remembered as one of the great Taft soccer teams, was composed of four three-year players, four experienced underclassman, a handful of players new to Taft, and a selection of players from the JV team. After ten games, Taft was undefeated and outscored their opponents 33–3. It was an impressive start as key wins over

h Max Feidelson ’12 and Andrew Trevenen ’13, who scored two goals in the semifinal game. Phil Dutton/Photo Trophies

Avon (3–0), Deerfield (2–1), Berkshire (2–0), Williston (3–1) and Loomis (2–0) propelled the Rhinos into the New England Tournament with a #3 ranking. Their first-round victory over Worcester Academy, a convincing 4–1 win at home behind two goals apiece by Andrew Trevenen ’13 and Mitch Wagner ’12, sent Taft up to Lakeville to face a strong Hotchkiss team. The semifinal was a memorable battle between rivals, both teams missing clear chances to win in regulation. Taft would lose stellar goalie Jack Katkavich ’12 to injury in the final quarter, and then

the game in overtime (1–2) in a hard, emotional soccer game for this great team. Throughout the season, Wagner was a physical force up front and led the team in scoring, amassing 17 goals, but he was supported well by the play of Zach Karlan ’12 and Erich Marcks ’12 on the wings. Matt Harrigan ’12, Oliver Sippel ’13, Travers Nammack ’12 and Shane Hardie ’13 were a formidable back four all season long. The midfield was dominated by All–League players Tyler Carlos ’12, Brandon Sousa ’12 and Charlie Vallee ’13. The trio controlled possession at both ends of the field and were indispensable from the first game to that overtime, semifinal loss as the team played a sophisticated and entertaining brand of possession soccer while retaining a nose for goal. The 2011 boys’ soccer team was a special group that came together to be a force among the very best teams in New England prep soccer.

Girls Soccer 7–3–5 Taft won its first four games, including wins over Berkshire (3–0) and Suffield (6–0), but five ties during the second half of the season left the Rhinos just short of qualifying for the New England Tournament. This wellbalanced team was solid on defense, with co-captain and Founders League All-Star Lexi Dwyer ’12 in goal (four shutouts). In addition, Boston Globe All-Star Sammi Morrill ’13, Eliza Davis ’12, Ellen Kalnins ’12 and Georgia Bermingham ’13 formed a strong, aggressive back line. Co-captain Laurel Pascal ’12 and Kelley Gaston ’12 created a lot of the speed and balanced play in the midfield with their composure and a powerful presence. Founders League All-Star Shelby Meckstroth ’13 and Taylor Rado ’14 were the playmakers up front, combining for 17 goals. This exciting season was topped off with a team honor roll GPA of 87.7, an impressive achievement.

25 Years and Running Last fall marked Steve Palmer’s 25th season as head cross country coach at Taft; a quarter century since he took over from the legendary John Small. As things would have it, the team’s only home race, on Parents’ Weekend, got snowed out, but Palmer was honored at a school-wide assembly at the end of the season. Former captain Mike Moreau ’09 came to help with the honors,

presenting Palmer with an engraved Pewter tray and reminiscences from his former runners. It was, remarked Assistant Coach Don Padgett, “a deserved acknowledgment of an extraordinary coach and gentleman.” For more on the legacy of 25-year head coaches at Taft, see page 2. To view a retrospective on Palmer’s cross country career to date, visit

Taft Bulletin Winter 2012 21

Robert Falcetti

Vision for


A Geologist’s Vision



with Wold Chair Peter Saltsman

Our children do not inherit our world, we borrow it from them. — Native American saying

Taft’s mission is the “education of the whole student.” Can you talk about how you see the Wold Chair extending that mission?

Please see page 27 for a description of the new Wold Chair.


I see Taft as a place that wants to make substantive long-term change, to become a role model as an institution and to serve the community at the cutting-edge of this emerging field of environmental stewardship. I believe this new chair will serve to build community awareness and individual interest in some of the most important issues of our time. The Wold Chair ensures that a Taft education takes into account global issues relating to environmental science and stewardship that impact businesses, local governing bodies and international relations. In every campus in the country, and in virtually every community around the world, people from farmers to biologists, and fishermen to hurricane hunters are thinking deeply about how climate change may be impacting their world. The school’s goals and vision are remarkably aligned with my own ideals. Coming from a background in applied earth and environmental science, I wanted to lend a fresh perspective to an educational institution with an excellent science curriculum. Based on my thesis research at Harvard, leadership from the top is critical to furthering on-campus initiatives, and here was a well-established school intent on making intentional and well-thought strides in the direction I was interested in moving. Given the rigor of the academic program offered at Taft, this would be the kind of school where intelligent students and faculty could reflect upon how best to serve their community and the world. Here was a place that would create the kind of local, regional, national and global leaders who would take on significant roles in adapting the world toward a newer, better and more environmentally aware future. Taft Bulletin Winter 2012 23

What’s your background; how did you get interested in sustainability?


I grew up in nearby Middletown, Connecticut, and spent my childhood playing in the woods of New England and sailing off its shores. I’ve been obsessed with the water and boats since I was a kid and rowed competitively through high school and Dartmouth, and have sculled ever since. As an avid hiker, I was passionate about being outdoors and continually wondered how those hills, mountains and valleys formed, and why the forests grew the way they did. After college, I sought work in the Colorado Rockies, where I scored a job as a geologist, working on a large-scale gold exploration project at the Summitville Mine, at 11,500 feet, high up in the mountains, on the Continental Divide, and surrounded by elk and deer calving grounds with golden aspen leaves in the fall and buried in snow by late October. We drilled 300-foot holes and analyzed rock on a grid pattern to construct a 3D map of the hydrothermal zone of a former volcano. As much as I loved the adventurous life of minerals exploration, that was also the turning point that drove me into the field of environmental cleanup work. Ironically, that project later became a major Superfund site. Instead, I found myself exploring the soil, bedrock and groundwater of the Northeastern U.S., in a different kind of earth exploration work—assessing and addressing impacts to natural resources by releases of oil, metals, solvents and other contaminants. I got to use all kinds of the latest technologies to delineate and clean up localized effects of the Industrial Revolution. Having enjoyed a great education, and after my wife and I had two adorable daughters, I became drawn back to academia. Not only did I want to be closer to my own kids than distant fieldwork allowed, I was also excited to further my education and give something back to the world as a teacher. I took full advantage of my thesis research time to perform case studies of eight institutions: Smith, Williams, Middlebury, Tufts, UNH, Harvard, Andover and Exeter. I focused on the experience and challenges of sustainability directors there and strove to understand how they became effective agents of change within different traditional and successful institutions. Their stories were mesmerizing, and they proved to be a fascinating lot of people, who found ways to work productively with the whole variety of groups on their campuses.

How do you see your role at Taft?


What does ‘sustainability’ mean to you?


24 Taft Bulletin Winter 2012

I plan to assess the school’s present and ongoing environmental initiatives relative to other campus-based institutions, and I hope to foster leaders for the future, to promote qualities within the community that would guarantee rigorous and comprehensive discussion of current environmental issues now facing the world, I also want to help Taft to be an institutional example of sustainability, from community awareness raising and engagement to operational methods and systems. I see myself becoming embedded within the academic, community and operational life here in order to get to know everyone and everything well enough to make sound recommendations to the organization, and to work directly with the many key players who can make change happen. For me, it literally means caring for the world and making choices in life that will provide future generations with an undiminished capacity to survive and thrive, as our own forebearers gave us. Humanity is faced with an increasingly complex and populated world and with an overflow of information due to the growth of every area of science. We are in exciting times where the choices of current generations will have long-lasting import, and where we must all work well together to ensure that the marvels of our blue planet are sustained in perpetuity.

Where is the Taft campus and community in terms of sustainability?

What have been some of the highlights of your early months here?


The school is already doing great things—not all of which are highly visible. The LEED Gold certification of the Moorhead Wing is really the flagship of the environmental design process at Taft. This is a major accomplishment—from its compact footprint and the incredible natural light from windows and skylights, to the efficiency and functionality of the design and the fact that even the chairs are ‘locally harvested’ from woodworkers in Vermont. The LEED certification is based on how the new space was designed and built to save energy, increase water efficiency, reduce CO2 emissions, improve indoor air quality and demonstrate stewardship of resources. Taft has made tremendous progress in other areas as well. The school purchases green power from solar, wind, geothermal and hydroelectric producers. Power is also generated by the 12.6-kilowatt solar panel array installed on the roof of the athletic center—a gift from the Classes of 2006 and 2007. The campus lighting system is exceptionally efficient, having been upgraded to include both indoor and outdoor CFL and LED fixtures. An advanced buildingmanagement system automatically adjusts to many factors, including humidity, occupancy and outside temperature, and is controlled via a centralized computer terminal to promote maximum heating and cooling efficiency. In 2008, the campus completed a conversion to a dual-fuel furnace that allows the school to burn natural gas, which is cleaner and more efficient, or to switch back to oil in the event of mechanical failure. More than 1,000 efficient double-pane windows have been installed around campus, based on a thermal imaging study of all school buildings in 2006. Additional savings have been achieved through the installation of energy-efficient washers and dryers for students, and a new filtered-water system eliminates the need for bottled water deliveries to campus. Staff also drive a highly efficient fleet of hybrid and electric vehicles, and the grounds are maintained using organic fertilizers and a computerized irrigation system, which promotes efficient water usage.


I have had the opportunity to work with students in my climate science and physics classes, to help train hard-core athletes for their next season through a conditioning program, and to foster the growth of school groups such as the Taft Environmental Awareness Movement (TEAM). Within TEAM we’ve identified a number of special-interest subgroups to tap into differently motivated students—those who are inspired to build the capacity of their own community to be more in touch with nature, make healthy food choices, foster environmental awareness within their dormitories, further promote the recycling program, or plan for dorm-to-dorm and interscholastic energy competitions such as the Green Cup Challenge. Together we’re working to construct a sound strategic plan to guiding the steps that Taft will take going forward. I was able to attend a national AASHE (Association for Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education) conference, where thousands of operational and institutional leaders from around the world assembled to exchange ideas on how best to serve society and their school, college and university goals. Taft stood out as one of a select cadre of private schools who are choosing to be leaders among secondary schools and who value how this emergent field applies to their own institutions.

Taft Bulletin Winter 2012 25

Complex environmental issues can polarize communities. What role do you think education plays in preparing students to face complex global issues?


Powerful new tools allow us to realize in great detail the effect of the world’s increasing population on its supporting earth systems. We have much work to do in order to address even the simplest of related questions. Academic communities like Taft are just the kinds of places to hold these challenging and engaging discussions necessary to form the kinds of leaders that local and global communities will require to navigate waters ahead. The education of future generations is a critical factor in maintaining healthy earth systems and promoting practices of earth stewardship. Responsible educational institutions play a primary role in helping students prepare for the modern world by teaching important basic skills such as evaluating sources, thinking critically, considering issues from a range of perspectives and maintaining global awareness. As such, sustainability represents an important new interdisciplinary area of curriculum to prepare students with 21st-century literacy skills. The wealth of accumulated knowledge in many related science disciplines, readily accessible online sources, and at times turbulent debates on our interrelationships with the earth’s resources and ecosystems are fertile grounds to stimulate students’ curiosity, imagination, creativity and ingenuity in considering our own civilization’s pathways into the future. As Tony Wagner discusses in The Global Achievement Gap, schools must be rigorous in motivating students to want to excel, and also need “to change to keep pace with changes in the world in general and the world of work.” Students need to understand how to sort through massive conflicting streams of information, as well as qualify and question their sources.

How has your training and experience as a geologist who has worked on projects all over the country and in South America shaped your vision?


What is your message to Taft students about sustainability?


26 Taft Bulletin Winter 2012

No matter what project you undertake, you rarely work alone, and success, more often than not, depends upon true engagement and support of those both immediately around you and in the greater community. Getting to know the culture, realities and individual challenges people face are instrumental in fostering good working relationships. So one must work with people and seek to foster synergy. Never overlook the fact that the most pragmatic solutions are often the best. In addressing complex hydrogeologic studies and environmental cleanup efforts, I learned that seemingly impossible projects can be accomplished when everyone’s purposes are aligned and people help each other toward shared goals. I want students to become leaders, to own the process of making this campus more efficient, more sustainable. It starts with turning lights off, recycling or taking shorter showers. But those are also the low-hanging fruit. As leaders, they need to think bigger, to think about bringing in new ideas and new ways of doing things— whether that’s wind power or organic farming. Despite all the gloomy stories you may hear about climate change, from my perspective of having worked to address the effects of the Industrial Revolution on our soil and groundwater, I have no doubt that we have the resources and technology to address impacts of our burgeoning civilization on our own atmosphere and ecosystems. I’m an idealist and a hopeless romantic, and I think we can have it all. j

Wold Family Chair in Environmental Studies and Stewardship established by John S. Wold ’34 and the Wold families, is awarded to an experienced faculty member to support Taft’s commitment to lead in matters of environmental stewardship. In addition to educating students in the classroom on important aspects of environmental issues, the chair holder will lead the school’s efforts to become the most environmentally responsible institution it can be.

Three generations of the Wold family: Jack ’71, Court ’02, John Wold ’34 with Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78. Not pictured but also Wold family graduates are Cecily Longfield ’03 and Claire Longfield ’06.

John Wold ’34 was the first professional geologist to serve in the U.S. Congress. He represented the state of Wyoming from 1968 to 1970. He studied geology at Union College (where his father chaired the Physics Department for 25 years) and went on to earn his master’s at Cornell. After moving to Wyoming in 1950 as an independent geologist and businessman, Wold began what is today the Wold Companies, which include oil and gas exploration and production, coal and minerals development and wind energy projects through Whirlwind Company and cattle ranching. He also is CEO of American Talc Company in Van Horn, Texas, which mines, processes and markets talc for the ceramic, paint, plastic and filler industries.. Among his many honors, he received this year’s American Association of Petroleum Geologists Pioneer Award, was named “Wyoming Oil/Gas and Mineral Man of the 20th Century” in 1999 by the American Heritage Foundation of the University of Wyoming and “Wyoming Man of the Year” in 1968. In 2008, he received Taft’s Alumni Citation of Merit. Wold is also the author and sponsor of the National Mining and Minerals Policy Act of 1970, which emphasized the need to strengthen national security by establishing a strong, domestic, free-enterprise mineral industry. The funds for Taft’s endowed faculty chair were “made possible by the development of God-given Rocky Mountain minerals,” said Wold. “They were produced under the strictest federal and state environmental regulations. There has to be balance and a sensible understanding of our economic system. The regulations guiding our development of our natural resources make economic motivations almost extinct. ” The Wolds hope to promote a balanced approach to the study of sustainability. “This chair is incredibly exciting,” says Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78, “a signal of Taft’s commitment to environmental stewardship, proof of the important and pressing lessons our students need to learn.” The generous gift from the Wold family also created the Wold-Richmond Endowed Scholarship, providing financial assistance to a Taft graduate attending Union College. “Willy MacMullen’s great-grandfather, Charles Richmond, as president of Union College, is the man who lured my father there from Bell Telephone Laboratories in 1919,” explains John. “What unique relationships.”

Taft Bulletin Winter 2012 27




Global Literacy Jamella Lee Takes Students from Learning to Leading

was a law student in Ohio when a colleague called and said, “I have the perfect job for you.” That job was at Taft, as chair of the Global Service and Scholarship Department. “My passion has always been effecting change through education and service,” explained Lee. “As I worked and traveled throughout the world, understanding the importance of the law in making that change came into sharper focus for me, so law school made sense. My goal was not to practice law, but to make my work in service and education more meaningful.” And just as law school marked a logical progression in Lee’s personal and professional development, so did the position at Taft. Established in 2007, the Global Service and Scholarship Department formalized Taft’s commitment to service and global learning by fusing rigorous academic study with experiential service—a description that mirrors Lee’s journey to Taft. “Becoming chair of the Global Service and Scholarship Department pulls together everything I have ever done; all of my intellectual passions are met here.”

Ser v ice a nd L ea r ning Lee grew up in a small rural town in Texas thinking she would become a doctor. As an undergraduate at Cornell she became involved with a number of programs serving young people in upstate New York, including the Ithaca Youth Bureau and the local 4-H. As graduation approached, she applied to two very different programs: either would prepare her well for a life of continued and meaningful service. “I was accepted by both City Year and Harvard’s Graduate School of Education,” Lee notes. “I deferred Harvard and went to Ohio to serve as a corps member and service leader at City Year of Columbus.” City Year was founded in 1988 on the belief that even one person could make a difference and that young people in service could have a significant impact. Since its inception, City Year has been at the forefront of the national service movement, leading to the establishment of AmeriCorps, the passage of the Edward M. Kennedy Serve America Act and the creation of Voices for National Service. When her year was up, Lee went on to Harvard, where she earned a master’s degree in education. While there, she worked as an elementary school teacher in Cambridge, a facilitator in the Harvard Summer Literacy Institute and as a language and literacy specialist at the Dorchester Neighborhood Charter School. With bags packed and degree in hand, Lee was bound for Washington, D.C., where she had accepted a position at another charter school. “Before I left for Washington I got a call asking if I might consider a new

Robert Falcetti

opportunity,” Lee explained. “It ended up being a rather extraordinary opportunity.” In April of 2001 former President William J. Clinton accepted South African President Nelson Mandela’s invitation to attend the Civil Society Conference in Cape Town. Clinton brought a delegation from the U.S., which included representatives from City Year. It was there that the seeds for City Year in South Africa were sown. The new program would bring together young leaders from around the world who share a passion for civic participation and service, with the goal of strengthening democracy at home and abroad. South Africa was the pilot country for this program: it would be known as the Clinton Democracy Fellowship and it would be built in South Africa by City Year alumna Lee. “I was amazed by the country’s commitment to young people, not only in its creation of a National Youth Service Policy, but in its designation and celebration of an entire holiday for young people—Youth Day,” Lee explained. “Early on, I came to understand the role that young people played in combating apartheid in South Africa and the important role that they continue to play in building democracy in their country and around the world.” Ful l Circle After four years in South Africa Lee returned to the United States to continue her work in education, becoming the Vice President of Communications and Development for the Ohio Charter School Association (OCSA). “My first project in the first education class I ever took at Cornell was on charter schools,” Lee recalls. “I studied things like school choice and vouchers. At Harvard, I worked in a charter school. It fit that I should continue my career with a charter school association.” 30 Taft Bulletin Winter 2012

She was soon recruited by a member of the OCSA board to join Concept Schools, an education management and consulting group based in Chicago. Concept Schools was building technology, math and science-based charter schools throughout the Midwest. In her new role Lee worked with local authorizing agencies to advance charter school applications. That included working with the Chicago Public Schools and their Chief Executive Officer at the time, Arne Duncan. Duncan is currently the United States Secretary of Education. “Charter schools represent change, and change is very political. The authorization process is rigorous and rooted in law,” explained Lee. “In South Africa, everything that came across my desk related to law and policy. Working first for the Ohio Charter School Association and then for Concept Schools I found myself once again engaged with law and policy. It became increasingly clear that to effect change I needed a deeper knowledge of the law.” In her application to law school, Lee made it clear that her interest in law school went beyond practicing law. Still, she spent a summer at a law firm to see if there was a spark. The spark instead came through her weekend work with The Law and Leadership Institute. The Institute was established by the Ohio Supreme Court under Chief Justice Thomas J. Moyer. Its goal is to target disadvantaged high school students and help them develop the knowledge, skills and interest to pursue careers in law. “We taught them basic English skills, basic writing skills, enrichment,” Lee said. “We engaged them in oral debates and taught them how to argue. It was very fulfilling and it is what I am most passionate about.” This passion for empowering youth and impacting change on a global level made Lee a natural fit for the position of Global Service and Scholarship Department chair at Taft. Lee formally joined the Taft School community in August 2010. She teaches classes in service learning, social justice and human rights. Her impact in the classroom has been swift and significant; it also brings the value of her past experience into sharper focus. “For my human rights research paper, I examined hate speech to determine when it crosses the line,” explained Lauren Laifer ’11. “To support my thesis, I needed to dissect countless Supreme Court cases, all of which were far too convoluted to understand. Ms. Lee sat down with me and went through each Supreme Court case, translating what seemed like a foreign language into something comprehensible. She simply wanted me to learn, and she was willing to spend as much time with me as necessary to make sure that I did.” Lee is also the dean of multicultural affairs and education and works closely with the Davis International Scholars Program, which identifies and recruits

highly motivated future leaders from around the world. She plays an integral role in Taft’s annual Community Service Day, in our new Senior Service Day and in our diversity training initiatives. “In each of these roles, my goal is to teach Taft students about service, education, diversity, morality and justice in a context that extends far beyond the Taft School walls,” Lee said. “Our students will have a great influence on the world, and we have a moral responsibility to educate them to be a part of that global community in ways that make a difference. We want them to be globally literate in the 21st century.” Lee’s vision is of a school community where service learning is interdisciplinary and fully integrated in the classroom and beyond. In her Service Learning course, for example, Lee spends the first weeks focusing on the academics of service and on learning about the community students will eventually serve. She teaches students about the history of Waterbury, about the city’s changing economic condition and about the city’s academic needs-based formal assessments by the state of Connecticut. “The importance of the work Taft students will take on comes into clearer focus for them when they see that only 30 percent of fourth-graders in the city met state standards for reading last year on the Connecticut Mastery Test,” Lee notes. Armed with that information, Lee’s students make the academic shift to literacy, studying brain and language development to better understand how children learn. Only then are they ready to put their knowledge to work at the Children’s Community School in Waterbury, where they volunteer each week as literacy tutors for kindergarten students. Lee sees this approach to combining academics and service as a model for all learning at Taft. “I want us to be more deliberate about how we make service part of daily life at Taft. I see us using our existing structures, like athletics and Community Service Day, to continue promoting

service. I also see a service learning-type course in every academic department.” Lee points to courses in financial literacy, for example, through economics classes in the Math Department. “We have the ability to learn about struggling economies and to develop strategies to help individuals advance economically,” Lee notes. “Our ability to reach those individuals isn’t limited to how far we can drive. We can teach through technology; I see us using the internet to talk to and impact communities around the world. Our learning—and especially our service learning—becomes a means and a mechanism of bringing people together, thereby exploring diversity.” Lee understands that change is a process. Further integrating service into both the curriculum and daily life at Taft will take time. She envisions forums on service learning and an updated academic program that is phased in over time. All of this, she believes, will change not only Taft, but the way service learning takes place on other campuses. “I’d like people to look at Taft and say, ‘They are a phenomenal model making service happen—for making their motto real.’” Which gets to an important point. “I would love to see this department renamed Global Studies, Service and Leadership,” Lee said. “This is about leadership in every way. We can be a model for other institutions, but our students are also emerging as leaders who can think and think differently about social and moral issues. We are leaders in our diversity work, in our work in the community, in the classroom, in the dorms and on the athletic field.” And it is clear that her focus on leadership is hitting home. “I have had the privilege to work with Ms. Lee on many different projects; she is a wonderful mentor,” said Thuy Tran ’12. “Working with her taught me the meaning of leadership. She offers students not only guidance, but also space for their personal growth. New ideas are welcomed; leadership is encouraged. Her open-mindedness gives students like me freedom to be innovative and take risks, knowing that she will always be there to support us. Ms. Lee is inspiring in her dedication and her grace, and as a model of leadership.” Ultimately, Lee sees a building on the Taft campus known as the Center for Global Leadership and Public Service. The building would house a resource center for students seeking intern- and extern-ships, as well as global service opportunities. It would also support the department’s rigorous academics curriculum and provide space for lectures and programs. “I believe in the work we are doing here,” Lee said. “This is not a job for me. It is an opportunity to live and share my passions.” j Debra Meyers is public relations coordinator at Taft. Also a recent arrival to campus, she has been a freelance writer for more than 20 years. Taft Bulletin Winter 2012 31

Robert Falcetti

Vision for


The Systems Guy Charles Thompson uses new tools for timeless tasks

by Tracey O’Shaughnessy

Charles Thompson may be one

of the few seventh-graders who dreamed of becoming an accountant. “I was totally nerdy,” says Thompson, the school’s new director of information technology. “One of my best friends was the Commodore Vic-20. In some ways, I’m still nerdy.” Fortunately for Thompson, he lives in an era where nerds, so to speak, rule. The 43-year-old Brooklyn native ultimately had the insight to determine that a life spent jostling numbers, even if he were to realize his goal of becoming the vice president of a bank, might just bore him to tears. “I realized, Oh, my God, for me that would have to be the most boring job in the world,” says Thompson, laughing heartily. Thompson is the school’s new director of information technology. He came to Taft in July from St. George’s School in Newport, R.I., where he began as a computer science and math teacher, and theater technical director, and ended 21 years later as the school’s director of technology. In a wide-ranging conversation, Thompson, tall, lean and gregarious, reflected on his own development as a computer science specialist and theater enthusiast, as well as his own excitement and concerns about the possibilities and pitfalls of emerging technology. Garrulous and affable, with a self-effacing wit and accommodating demeanor, Thompson spoke from his ground-floor office at the school, a place studded with computer manuals, keyboards and a patchwork of memos that attest to the large job Thompson has ahead. It was a chance encounter with the early Commodore Vic-20, the popular 8-bit computer Thompson’s mother bought him, that

convinced him that there were elements of his old accounting dream that could engage him. He enjoyed numbers, loved logic and became something of an autodidact in those embryonic years of home computing. “I really enjoyed taking a problem, and writing a program to solve it,” says Thompson, a squash player who sports a pair of black-rimmed glasses. “I taught myself to write these programs in BASIC, save them on a little cassette tape drive and then play with them later. That was my introduction to the world of computers.” As director of information technology he is charged with making communication inside and outside of the school run more smoothly and efficiently. “One of his primary tasks is to either overhaul or find a new student information system,” said Jon Willson, Taft’s academic dean. “That’s just a monster job. There have been so many cooks in the kitchen over the years that (the system) is just meandering and clunky and bizarre.” But Thompson, Willson adds, “is just so affable and fun to be around. He really connects well with the students.” Already, Thompson has established three critical goals for the school that he hopes will streamline how faculty and students use the computer tools they have and integrate technology into student learning. First, he said, he would like to make communication between and among faculty and students more effective. “It is important for us to evaluate our methods of communication,” he said. “For instance, we have a great email server, but we don’t use much of its functionality at all. I am hoping to get our information flowing more effectively.” Taft Bulletin Winter 2012 33

Second, he said, is efficiency. “I’ve always been a systems guy,” Thompson said. “I love to evaluate everyday procedures and find ways of making us more productive. For instance, we have built so many great tech resources here, but they are hard to find. I like to build technological tools that streamline age-old procedures and bring resources together.” The information system that Taft inaugurated 16 years ago “is a beast of a homemade application, that requires a lot of manual intervention, even for simple tasks,” he said. “Over the years, they’ve been patching and bandaging it instead of zooming out and searching for something off the shelf that might have features we’ve never even imagined. That way we benefit from what other schools do.” Finally, and most critically for Thompson, is getting classroom teachers to buy in to new ways of instruction by harnessing the technology tools available. Increasingly, he says, “the sage on the stage” method of teaching is becom-

he believes teachers must help students navigate through the technology to help them acquire information, question authority and pinpoint the most reliable sources. “We need to teach kids how to utilize the internet for intellectual pursuits,” says Thompson. “Our task as educators is now to ask kids the right questions, and tell them to ‘Have at it.’ Then the students collaborate to find, evaluate and scrutinize sources, understanding that Wikipedia isn’t always fact, as they work to create or publish their answer. Our goal is to enable kids to be better critical thinkers.” But even as Thompson promotes critical thinking skills, he hedges. He says that as much as he embraces technology, he is a fundamentalist learner at heart. He worries that an overreliance on critical thinking may encourage analytical and imaginative ideas, but it also may leave students without the foundational principles upon which those ideas take flight. Countries that encourage a disciplined, rote pedagogy may lack the creative impulse or inge-

“I love to evaluate everyday procedures and find ways of making us more productive.”

ing obsolete, in many ways a victim of a wired generation that does not have the attention span of its predecessors. Acknowledging that today’s students are wedded to technology means understanding that the process of scholarship is vastly different today. “Kids are learning very differently now,” says Thompson, who says he is in many ways an old school teacher who happens to be agile with new school tools. “For better or for worse, because of the introduction of technology into kids’ lives, they’ve become more dependent on it,” he says. “It shrinks their attention spans, so if things aren’t as zippy, or more interactive, they are not as engaged.” That means getting classroom teachers to embrace technology in a way that gets students to think critically, question the technology on which they have been weaned and come up with innovative conclusions. The current generation has grown up in a time when, Thompson says, “all information is at your fingertips and searchable.” Consequently, 34 Taft Bulletin Winter 2012

nuity to create new avenues of growth. But their reliance on fundamentals allows them the concrete knowledge to get the job done. “As much as I’m a fan of using technology to have kids find solutions, I worry about creating a society of only abstract thinkers. I think they miss a lot of important information that comes from the fundamentals. Kids aren’t taught to pay as close attention to detail as in past generations. “There must be a happy middle ground. I’m appalled, for instance, at students’ lack of attention to grammar. Oh, it just kills me.” he says. Dubious of the idea of ditching the memorization of multiplication tables when any number of computational tools will more expeditiously provide answers, he is a steadfast believer in a firm grounding in the basics. In part, that comes from Thompson’s own background, spending long avenues of time alone, teaching himself the fundamentals of learning. A single child, raised by a single mother who worked as a registered nurse, Thompson says he was a ‘latchkey kid,’ returning dutifully

home to his Brooklyn neighborhood and staying indoors until his mother returned from work. He spent a good deal of time outdoors when his mother came home, learning to use a stick, a ball, a few trees and errant hubcaps to create ball games with his neighborhood friends— something he says is missing today. But he now sees the hours spent alone as critical in developing his skills as a computer science teacher and thinking about the future. “Nowadays, kids are kept so entertained with playdates and programs that they don’t have the time to play and to wonder and to imagine,” he said. “We had to figure out what we were going to do with ourselves. I think that was a good thing.” One of the activities that hooked Thompson early was theater. He was fascinated by the technical architecture of musicals—sound, lights, and video. At Meyer Levin Junior High School, he got his first taste of working behind the scenes of a theater production, a facility he developed and used in high school, college, at

he was a computer science major, while he continued to work on theatrical productions, ultimately running a lighting, sound and video company within the university. As a 1990 computer science graduate from Tufts, Thompson, in many ways, had the cat by the tail. He was riding the crest of a great transformation in home and institutional technology. But a chance summer as a counselor at the Exploration Summer Program on the campus of Wellesley College reminded him of how much he had enjoyed teaching, working with kids and being part of a community. When the time came to examine job offers, Thompson faced a critical decision. “When I was applying for jobs, one of the offers was working at Raytheon on the Patriot missile,” he said. “I had another one working for Westinghouse, designing defense programs. Then, of course, there was teaching at St. George’s. So, I had to weigh the options: I could program for war or I could have some hand in shaping the minds of the future.”

“Nowadays, kids are kept so entertained with playdates and programs that They don’t have the time to play and to wonder and to imagine.”

St. George’s and even now, at the Newport Jazz and Folk festivals where he still works assembling technical crews for the stages. Thompson spent all of his schooling until high school in public schools until a scholarship to Middlesex School in Concord, Mass., opened his eyes to the world of boarding schools. He was one of only a handful of black students at the school and faced only one ugly incident of racism, when he was a sophomore and the class cutup directed a racial slur at him. “I’ve always been fairly level-headed and I realized pretty quickly that this could go one of two ways,” Thompson recalls. “I thought, ‘I could get very angry and this could get really ugly, or I could just walk away.’ It wasn’t easy, but I walked away.” He said it was while he was at Middlesex that he first had the taste of the close-knit boarding school community and thought he might like to be a part of it in the future, a whim he dismissed as his interest in computer science grew. Thompson graduated from Middlesex in 1986 and moved on to Tufts University, where

For Thompson (though not, he hastens to add, for his mother) the choice was obvious. At the time, he figured he would spend three years at St. George’s School and then go into private industry. But the only child found he enjoyed the community of a boarding school (teaching, coaching and dorm parenting) and the lifestyle it afforded him. “For me, it was not about the money, it was about the lifestyle,” he said. “I see people in my class who have gone prematurely gray. Some of that, I think, is they worry more. I wanted my life to be more than sitting in a sub, sub, sub basement with a keyboard and a screen. I had lived so long with just a keyboard and a screen. In some ways it was a breaking out of that mold.” Thompson says he is “thrilled” to be at Taft. “My overall goal is to try to make us do what we do better, to keep us on top of the curve, so to speak.” j Tracey O’Shaughnessy is a nationally award-winning columnist and editor for the Republican-American in Waterbury. Taft Bulletin Winter 2012 35

tales of a TAFTIE

By Brady Dennis

Stevan Dedijer, Class of 1930 Innovator, adventurer, researcher

Sources: My Life of Curiosity and Insights by Stevan Dedijer (edited by Carin Dedijer & Miki Dedijer, 2009) Interview with Miki Dedijer, Dec. 2011 Obituary of Stevan Dedijer, David Bloom, The Guardian, U.K. Aug. 31, 2004 “Innovator, adventurer, researcher: Stevan Dedijer” “The Father of Business Intelligence” by Patrick Marren, Journal of Business Strategy (Nov. 2004) “A Damn Place Called Bastogne” by Stevan Dedijer (Taft Bulletin, Winter 1996, originally appeared in the Princeton Alumni Weekly)

PHOTO: Per Lindström/ Lunds universitet

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36 Taft Bulletin Winter 2012

Stevan Dedijer lived a life that even the daydreaming Walter Mittys of the world might have a hard time imagining. He studied physics at Princeton, reported for Newsweek, edited a communist newspaper, underwent training as a U.S. intelligence agent, jumped out of planes over Europe as a member of the 101st Airborne, oversaw a Yugoslav atomic research program and became a university professor. He founded a research policy institute and pioneered a field of study known as “business intelligence.” He lived in Copenhagen and Calcutta, in Paris and Pittsburgh and Rome. He lectured at Harvard and Yale and Stanford. He married three times, had four children. At nearly 70, he took up skydiving in part to prove to people deciding whether to fund his research that he still possessed vitality and daring, and that he had no intention of retiring. “I have lived intensely, changing countries, cultures, languages, ideologies, beliefs, professions and families,” Dedijer wrote in an autobiography edited by his wife and published after his death in 2004, just shy of his 93rd birthday. “I tended to suddenly jump from one social system to another, like jumping from a place without a parachute.” In some ways, his constant globetrotting and his hunger for adventure made him a sort of loner, a man always on his way someplace else. By the same token, his frequent jumps to different places and cultures allowed him to bear witness to some of the defining moments in modern history. “He was a lovely and a maddening man,” said Miki Dedijer, Stevan’s youngest son, a former science journalist who lives in Sweden. “He showed very little fear, and loved doing things his way. I think he needed some fear, danger, challenge to feel fully alive.” Dedijer was born in Sarajevo and “spent much of his early childhood on the run,” according to an account by the Guardian, because his father belonged to a secret military group linked to the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand II, which helped spark the First World War. After attending a boarding school in Rome as a teenager, Dedijer arrived at Taft in 1929. All he knew of Connecticut was what he had read in James Fenimore Cooper’s The Last of the Mohicans. Dedijer barely had arrived in the United States when the stock market collapsed and the nation hurtled toward a crippling depression. “This social disaster was a strange, provocative mystery for me,” he later wrote, saying the experience shaped his turn toward Marxism.

Largely shielded from the economic calamity in the safe environs of Watertown, Dedijer reveled in his newfound adventures at Taft. He honed his English skills and fell in love with American girls. He marveled at the size of an Idaho potato. He played soccer and basketball and ran track. He sang in the glee club. He went by Steve. After Princeton, he worked as a business reporter for Newsweek, headed to Pittsburgh to edit a weekly communist paper that served Serbian laborers in the western Pennsylvania steel mills. He signed up for the OSS (the predecessor to the CIA) but didn’t last long given his political sympathies. He later became a paratrooper and jumped over Europe as bodyguard to Maxwell Taylor, commanding officer of the 101st Airborne and later the head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff under President Kennedy. In 1952, Dedijer was appointed director of Yugoslavia’s Nuclear Institute, but he became increasingly disillusioned with the communist regime of Josip Broz Tito and resigned. In 1961, he moved to Sweden and joined the faculty at Lund University. There, the ceaseless traveler finally settled in. In the coming decades, Dedijer founded the university’s research policy institute, published hundreds of academic papers and developed the field of “business intelligence,” which centers around collecting, analyzing and applying strategic information to help make the wisest business decisions. It is not cloak-and-dagger corporate espionage, as the name might imply—Dedijer abhorred such practices—but rather gaining advantage by more intelligently analyzing readily available information. He continued to travel widely, to write and lecture frequently. In the final weeks of his life, he returned to his home in Dubrovnik, a two-room apartment overlooking the Adriatic Sea. Over the entrance were carved the words, “I have little, I need little. May God protect what little I have.” Even as he lay dying, his son recalls, Dedijer would gaze out over the ancient city and proclaim, “I’m the luckiest man alive. I’m richer than Onassis. Look at this view.” In his final journey, the relentless wanderer found peace. “Midst its endless wars and troubles I have had a wonderful life in all parts of the planet, tackling difficult dreams,” he had written in his yet-to-be published autobiography. “I belonged everywhere and nowhere.” j Brady Dennis is a staff writer for the Washington Post.

from the ARCHIVES

Yee-Fun Yin

A Trophied Life There was a time when heavy soup-laden silver tureens (above, at left) were routinely promenaded out of the school kitchen and each one placed before a seated schoolmaster for serving to a table of hungry boys (see page 37). The eight, 15-inch silver-plated vessels—now in the archives—were probably ordered sometime in the late 1890s, when the young school’s existence seemed assured enough to elegantly engrave each one: The Taft School. There are also a ladle and a few spoons left from the time. However, most of the remaining silver is of the honorary kind—gifts made to Horace Taft during his headmastership—from 1890 to 1936. The three-handled sterling silver Tiffany cup in front was presented to Mr. Taft in 1906 by “Watertown Friends.” We don’t know exactly who they were, but the gift speaks well for town-gown relations at the time. On the right is the large Paul Revere bowl of hammered sterling silver, a gift to Mr. Taft at an annual Alumni Dinner. Upon receiving it “amidst a loud ovation” according to the Taft Papyrus, the 6-foot-6-inch headmaster, long known as “The King,” welcomed the Old Boys, thanked them and said that he considered himself “unworthy” of such recognition. The bowl is engraved To the King from the Alumni, May 13, 1933. Perhaps the most interesting piece of the group is the tall engraved silver cup in the back, a gift from Mr. Taft’s fellow Connecticut headmasters, several of whom

were personal friends. None of them had both founded and led a school for anything like 46 years, and they regarded him informally but absolutely as “the dean of New England headmasters.” The June 11, 1936, Papyrus describes the occasion on the eve of his retirement: The presentation (of the cup) was a complete surprise to Mr. Taft. When he returned to his home he was exceedingly astonished to see before him the assembled group of headmasters…who had secretly met in his living room while he was conducting the daily vesper service. Reverend Frederick H. Sill, Headmaster of Kent School, presented the cup on behalf of the other members of the Association: “To few men is given the opportunity of spending nearly half a century in the service of others, and the lifetime of Horace Taft has been devoted to just that. As a teacher, as a citizen, as a friend, he has influenced the lives of countless people by his high ideals, his energetic devotion to duty and his passion for friendship. To those of us who have a professional as well as a personal friendship with him he has set a worthy example of a teacher in the finest sense of the word.” The engraving on the side of the cup reads: To Horace Dutton Taft with Admiration, Gratitude and Love for his Long Leadership Among Connecticut Schools

Engraved in concentric circles in the underside of the cup are the names of his fellow headmasters: S.S. Bartlett....................................South Kent School N.H. Batchelder.................................................Loomis E.B. Blakely....................................................St. Luke’s A.C. Coburn..................................................... Wooster P.F. Cruikshank.......................................................Taft B. Gage............................................................... Hackley H. Gibson.........................................................Gunnery P.M. Gray N. Hume......................................................Canterbury P.G. Kammerer H. Lefferts......................................................... Pomfret G.B. Lovell....................................................... Hopkins R.R. McOrmond..................................... Westminster G. H. R. Nicholson.....................................Kingswood E.B. Quaile......................................................Salisbury F.B. Riggs G.C. St. John.......................................................Choate L.H. Schutte.............................................Rumsey Hall A.N. Sheriff......................Roxbury School, Cheshire F.H. Sill.................................................................... Kent G. Van Santvoord.........................................Hotchkiss The cup was designed and crafted by Christian Gebelein, the best silversmith of the time, following the specifications of the sculptor Evelyn Longman Batchelder, who was, then, busy creating the famous bronze bust of Mr. Taft. She also happened to be the wife of the headmaster of Loomis, Nathaniel Batchelder; both were close friends of Mr. Taft. —Alison Gilchrist, Leslie D. Manning Archives Taft Bulletin Winter 2012 37

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