PEACE Through Theater of Our
Geologist Jeremy Boak â€™70 Explores the Prospect of Oil Shale
Rate My Ride Not Seen On Campus
W I N T E R
2 0 0 8
B U L L E T I N Winter 2008 Volume 78 Number 2 Bulletin Staff Director of Development Chris Latham Editor Julie Reiff Alumni Notes Linda Beyus Design Good Design, LLC www.gooddesignusa.com Proofreader Nina Maynard Mail letters to: Julie Reiff, Editor Taft Bulletin The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. ReiffJ@TaftSchool.org Send alumni news to: Linda Beyus Alumni Office The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. TaftBulletin@TaftSchool.org Deadlines for Alumni Notes: Spring–February 15 Summer–May 30 Fall–August 30 Winter–November 15 Send address corrections to: Sally Membrino Alumni Records The Taft School Watertown, CT 06795-2100 U.S.A. TaftRhino@TaftSchool.org 1.860.945.7777 www.TaftAlumni.com The Taft Bulletin (ISSN 0148-0855) is published quarterly, in February, May, August, and November, by The Taft School, 110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100, and is distributed free of charge to alumni, parents, grandparents and friends of the school. All rights reserved.
This magazine is printed on recycled paper.
j Students gather around a bonfire on the pond as part of the Big Red Rally on the eve of Hotchkiss Day and the final contests of the fall season. For more on how the teams fared, see page 16.
F E AT U R E S
Rock of Our Energy Salvation?.............. 18
Geologist Jeremy Boak ’70 explores the potential of oil shale to solve our nation’s energy crisis. By J. L. Sommars
Peter Frew ’75
City at Peace.......................................... 22 Working with teens in cities around the globe to build peace through the performing arts. By Sevanne “Vanni” Kassarjian ’87
Rate My Ride.......................................... 28 Consumer Reports Senior Automotive Editor Gordon Hard ’70 Helps Buyers See Beyond the Sticker. By Michael Kodas
D E PA R T M E N T S
Letters.................................................... 2 Alumni Spotlight.................................... 3 Around the Pond.................................... 8 Sport....................................................... 16 By Steve Palmer
From the Archives.................................. 32 Things You Don’t Often See Anymore By Alison Picton
On the Cover: Geologist Jeremy Boak ’70 says his focus at the Colorado Energy Research Institute is on the development and stewardship of the earth’s resources. For more, turn to page 18. Chris Shinn
Taft on the Web
Find a friend’s address or look up back issues of the Bulletin at www.TaftAlumni.com For more campus news and events, including admissions information, visit www.TaftSchool.org What happened at this afternoon’s game? Visit www.TaftSports.com Don’t forget you can shop online at www.TaftStore.com 800.995.8238 or 860.945.7736
From the Editor
The most exciting thing to happen on campus this winter is certainly the move to the senior research paper. Okay, so students might argue that it was the laser tag game in McCullough one Saturday night, or the last-minute score in the boys’ varsity hockey game to upset top-ranked Salisbury, but neither is as historic. How many of you remember writing the big history term paper your upper mid year, frantic in those last days of the winter term to complete your bibliography or rewrite that conclusion? Academically the research paper tended to dwarf everything else that semester. Why not, the History Department asked, have students work on this most important skill in the senior year, after the college application process was complete, and allow students to choose a subject of genuine interest to them, in any discipline? This would have the added advantage of making students work more independently, as they soon would in college. Working with faculty members from every department, seniors have indeed selected an impressive array of subjects. Although several students still focused on historical topics, such as invasions of Afghanistan from Alexander the Great to the U.S., others reached into science, art, language, health and popular culture to explore such issues as juvenile justice and human rights, creativity and mental illness, foster children, concussions, ocean acidification and coral reefs, the cervical cancer vaccine or the work of dancer Martha Graham. Reaching out to the faculty as a whole (trainer Maryann Laska and Headmaster Willy MacMullen are both advising topics) has allowed those of us not in the classroom to share our expertise, too. Fortunately for me, program director Greg Hawes ’85 steered Charlotte Luckey ’08 my way; her focus is on how outside events shaped the Taft Community during World War II. A fourth-generation Taftie (and great-granddaughter of Paul Cruikshank), she is fortunate (or Luckey) to have her grandfather’s scrapbooks and letters in addition to the resources of the school’s archives. By now she may even have interviewed one of you! —Julie Reiff Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
A Chorus Line As much as it pains me, I can provide additional information about the archive photograph in the last issue (p. 42). Clearly Manning had way too much time on his hands to process this picture into his archives! Pictured is part of the chorus line from the Class of ’53 Alex in Wonderland musical. The production, including original music, was crafted by our gifted classmates and was a very transparent roast of Paul Cruikshank and numerous faculty members. I believe this may have been the last theatrical production permitted where the students were given free rein. Sadly, a number of the key individuals involved in the production are deceased. The chorus line was selected from those who either flunked the voice tests or who were so outrageous they were cast as comic relief! —Steve Henkel ’53 The 1953 Senior Review: From left, Steve Henkel, Ralph Lee, Mike Cipollaro, Jim Goldsmith, Nate Smith, Bruce Docherty, and Jack Dobbs. Thanks to Steve and also to Mike Brenner ’53 for the identifications.
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 ReiffJ@TaftSchool.org
I find your “quotable” on page 5 of the fall issue personally objectionable. Our Taft Bulletin is no place to post political feelings—for one party or another. This is an alumni/ae informational publication keeping graduates informed as to what is going on in and with our school. If a graduate chooses to enter politics—so be it. We don’t have to hear or read his or her feelings in OUR bulletin. That I disagree with Ryan Sager’s statement is an “under statement.” That being my position, I do NOT expect it to be published in my (our) Alumni Bulletin. We deserve better. —Alan P. Danforth ’44
I was very surprised to see your choice for the “Quotable” section. As such I assume you approve of what our illustrious alum Ryan Sager ’97 chose to write about the Republicans in Iowa. I am particularly offended by his slam at Jesus Christ. My recollections of Taft are that we were taught Christian principles and values. Furthermore we would never disparage any public servant who chose to speak of his belief in a supreme being. Maybe things have changed there at Taft, God forbid! —John Boyet ’51
When was the Parents’ Association Field House, next to the football field, constructed? a.) 1911 b.) 1938 c.) 1945 d.) 1952 Send your guess via e-mail or postcard to the address left. The winner, whose name will be chosen at random from all correct entries received by March 15, will receive a Taft stadium blanket. Congratulations to Mike Spencer ’69, who correctly guessed 1968 as the last known year the school had a gun club. Curt Buttenheim ’36 kindly identifies the members of the 1936 Gun Club pictured with our question: seated, from left, David Eames, Jack Hindley, Dave Ferris, Walter Kleeman, Jack Broome, unknown and George Genzmer; standing, Ray Jopling and John Rogan.
Pedro Mendoza ’01 hel ps establish a computer and internet resource center in a rural Amazon villag e.
The Real Amazon.com The idea was to give extremely poor, rural populations in the Amazon access to the internet and new technology. So Pedro Mendoza ’01, working for the nongovernmental organization Fundación Proyecto Maniapure, arranged a deal with the social branch of the Microsoft Corporation to provide the funding to establish an infocenter in Maniapure, a rural village in the Amazon. “This infocenter,” says Pedro, “will
have access to the internet and provide a useful tool for students after class. My job there is to teach students how to use Microsoft software. Many students learned for the first time in their lives how to use a computer.” The project is still developing, as they wait for eight computers to inaugurate the infocenter, which were due early this year. “I worked with native criollos and with Panare indians that lived
close by. The area in which I worked is very remote,” adds Pedro. “It’s a 10-hour drive from Caracas, Venezuela, and one has to cross the Orinoco River by a small ferry called chalana.” The main idea of the project is to educate a poor population and allow them to acquire the necessary skills to work in the modern world, providing both the financial and technical assistance of Microsoft and the support of Fundación Proyecto Maniapure. Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
Students and teachers check out the new science lab at Nkoanrua Secondary School in Tanzania.
Lab Report When Stephen Smith ’51 traveled to Tanzania in 2006 he was very moved by the children at Nkoanrua Secondary School, Tengeru, in Arusha. “I had lunch one day with three of the boys and asked how long it took each of them to walk to school. One said an hour and a half, but he explained he had long legs, or it would take one and three-quarter hours. The next said he was lucky that it only took him threequarters of an hour, and the third said two hours each way. Are they dedicated to getting an education!” Wondering how they could help, Stephen and his wife, Judy, discovered that the school had no science facilities, so he contacted Taft for some guidance on what they would need. Science Department head David Hostage provided them with information along with some advice on the curriculum. The fact that the school had minimal electricity and no running water didn’t deter the Smiths. Working with a brilliant local Tanzanian and an American woman who runs the nonprofit Jifundishe (www. Jifundishe.org), the Smiths were able to Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
provide a lab complete with rain barrels to provide running water, electricity and propane gas to operate the Bunsen burners. In addition to the lab itself, there is an equipment storage room and a small teacher’s office, where the books are kept. The formal dedication was held last July. “It was quite a day,” remembers Stephen, “a three-hour dedication, but that’s Tanzania—much lecturing of the children, women performing local dances, a small brass band, and some 500 students in attendance. The head of the Arusha School District and an assistant minister of education from Dar es Salaam, plus numerous assorted officials, were very impressed with the schoolroom. It appears that we built a science lab that far surpasses anything in public schools in Tanzania. It is amazing how so few dollars go so far there if managed correctly.” “This lab will give students at the school a definite advantage when it comes time to take the National Exams,” explains Stephen. “Fewer than 10 percent of government schools here have equipped labs, and learning chemistry, biology and
physics using only theory makes it very difficult to really understand.” The Smiths’ interest in Tanzania began with the International Theatre Literacy Project (www.ITLP.org), which takes theater educators to three secondary schools in Arusha and helps children improve their English (Kiswahili is the native national language, but all classes are taught in English in the later years) by teaching them how to write, produce and perform a play. “It also gives each a better sense of self confidence,” adds Judy. The Smiths returned in 2007 for the ITLP program and the dedication of the lab. The Taft Tanzania trip, offered again this June (see fall 2007), has in turn looked to the Smiths to help arrange a day when Taft students help at the school with ITLP and one day with Jifundishe at its free public library with local schoolchildren. Stephen is also hoping one or two of the students at Nkoanrua Secondary School might one day come to the Taft summer program and hopes to send a few experienced science teachers to Tanzania to help the school adjust to its newly lab-oriented curriculum.
Flex Those Jobs Sara Sutton Fell ’92 is no stranger to starting a new business. While still an international relations major at UC Berkeley, she and classmate Rachel Bell Robards co-founded JobDirect, a company that traveled to colleges and helped soon-to-be grads post their resumes online (see winter 1997 Bulletin) Now she’s started a website geared toward telecommuting and flexible jobs: www.flexjobs.com. Other job-seeking sites either overlook flexible work or treat it as an afterthought, Sara told the Denver Business Journal. “There never has been a well-known, reliable site for good flexible jobs.” What are flexible jobs? They are jobs that fall outside of the traditional full-time, 9-to-5 structure. They can range from telecommuting, part-
time, flexible hours, contract work, consulting, project-based to seasonal, or a combination. Sara firmly believes that there are a lot of professional people looking for more flexible job opportunities, such as stay-at-home parents, international candidates, retirees, athletes and graduate students. There are very compelling benefits for employers who provide options, she adds, that include saving money on overhead, more productive and focused workers, improved employee morale and company loyalty, reduced number of sick days and job turnover, or better ways to handle fluctuating workloads or special projects. For job seekers, FlexJobs is free. Employers pay anywhere from $50 for a single job posting to $300 for a year
of search access. For more information, visit www. flexjobs.com
“Before going into the culinary field, I was in service and sales for a business publishing company,” says Chris. “After logging some 50,000 calls over eight years, I needed a change. The spark that made this a real possibility originated with a simple question from my wife Allison: ‘What do you want to do?’ Six months later I began the Pastry Arts Program at L’Academie de Cuisine.” The eight-month program ended with an externship at a fine-dining restaurant in northern Virginia called 2941. “I stayed on there and was made responsible for the pastry production,” he adds. “One day during a rare slow week, I made some molded chocolates. Chef raved about them and a few weeks later asked me to make some more for some VIP guests. Soon they were given to every diner at the end of the meal.” Good feedback kept rolling in so he
decided to make a go of it on his own. In October 2006, he walked into a local chocolate shop and the owner agreed to start selling his chocolates. A month later someone else asked if he could carry them at his soon-to-open shop, and others followed. “My grandfather was a baker by trade. Maybe the pastry is in my blood,” adds Chris. “I actually enjoy baking breads and pastry more than chocolate, but I enjoy sleeping at night, so chocolate won out over baker’s hours.” Christopher’s Confections’ commercial kitchen is located at Basikneads Catering in Alexandria, Virginia. You can find his chocolates in the D.C. area at Artfully Chocolate, Biagio Fine Chocolate, Periwinkle, and The Park Hyatt Washington, or online at www. christophersconfections.com.
m Sara Sutton Fell ’92, president of Flexjobs.com, works on the balcony of her home in the Boulder foothills with her dog Derby sleeping at her feet. She launched the job-posting website in September. Kathleen Lavine | Denver Business Journal
Design by Flavor Dark Tanzanie chocolate ganache, gingerbread, or Juniper Cassis are just a few of the pralines created by chocolatier Christopher Blume ’88, who opened Christopher’s Confections in 2006 near Washington, D.C. . Chocolatier Christopher Blume ’88 gave up a career in sales to pursue his passion.
Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
Knot Your Ordinary Bag Jennifer Lopez and Eva Longoria have both been spotted with the latest “arm candy” by Kathy Kwei ’90, and Bag Trends called her fall collection—made of water snake and lamb or calf skin with goat suede linings—“absolutely divine.” Kathy launched her own handbag line last spring, hoping to blend modernity and tradition with unique textures and luxury materials, but her signature Chinese “Eternity” knot-inspired weave is always the main focus. The art of Chinese knotting that she learned from her grandmother has inspired and been integrated throughout her work. As a young girl, Kathy remembers spending afternoons with her grandmother knotting cords for necklaces filled with jade and precious stones, or looking over the intricate embroidery patterns of old quilts and robes. Her grandmother was a clothier “artiste” for silver screen legends Katherine Hepburn and Anthony Quinn, as well as a master at Chinese knotting, which instilled in Kathy a deep reverence for her cultural roots and passion for working with her hands. Kathy’s fashion career began in public relations at Louis Vuitton in Hong Kong, spanning 14 countries in the Asia Pacific region. Her love of handbags, passion for design, and entrepreneurial spirit inspired her to start her own line. In 2002, she left the company to pursue a master’s degree in accessories design from the prestigious London College of Fashion (Cordwainers). While in London, she worked with handbag designer Susannah Hunter, as well as the trendy Billy Bag Company. After moving to New York, Kathy completed a six-month internship with the famed Zac Posen, working on his handbag and accessories line for the spring/summer 2006 collection. Deeply ingrained in her heritage, Kathy draws much of her inspiration from her Chinese roots as well as Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
her experiences from living globally in nine different cities including Athens, London, Dubai, Hong Kong and New York. Her pieces are available at numerous boutiques around the country and abroad, at many Nordstroms and online at activeendeavors.com, 20ltd.com and luxcouture.com.
. Designer Kathy Kwei ’90 learned her signature Chinese “Eternity” knot spending afternoons with her grandmother.
The Line / La Línea Beldon Butterfield ’53 Ediciones de la Noche, 2007 In this novel set in nether world of the Mexican drug trade, men and women on both sides of the border wage an ill-fated “war on drugs.” Amid this world of violence, a three-way romance is forged between DEA agent
Fernanda Deering, the dashing but conniving Jaime Nunez, a subcomandante in Mexico’s elite enforcement agency, and George Redfield, a bon vivant, bi-cultured Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist. Born and raised in
Argentina, Butterfield came to Mexico with Time Inc. and eventually became acquainted with the narcotics culture of his adopted country. He divides his time between San Miguel de Allende and Mexico City.
I’ll Drink to That
Beaujolais and the French Peasant Who Made It the World’s Most Popular Wine Rudolph Chelminski ’52 Gotham Books, 2007 The remarkable saga of the wine and people of Beaujolais and Georges Duboeuf, the peasant lad who brought both world recognition. Chelminski transports us to the unique
corner of France where medieval history still echoes and where the smallholder peasants who made Beaujolais wines on their farms battled against the contempt of the entrenched
Burgundy and Bordeaux establishment. He is also the author of The Perfectionist: Life and Death in Haute Cuisine, published in 2006.
The Teapot Dome Scandal
How Big Oil Bought the Harding White House and Tried to Steal the Country Laton McCartney ’59 Random House, 2008 Mix hundreds of millions of dollars in petroleum reserves, rapacious oil barons and crooked politicians, White House cronyism, and the excesses of the Jazz Age and you have the
granddaddy of all political scandals—Teapot Dome. McCartney tells the complex story of how big oil handpicked an obscure senator to serve as the nation’s 23rd president. Contemporary
records newly made available reveal just how far reaching the affair was and how high the stakes. McCartney is also the author of Friends in High Places and Across the Great Divide.
Our Man in Mexico
Winston Scott and the Hidden History of the CIA Jefferson Morley Foreword by Michael Scott ’73 University Press of Kansas, 2008 Chief of the Mexico City sta- Michael to confront the reality tion from 1956 to 1969, Win of his father’s life as a spy and Scott occupied a key position in his sudden death in 1971 while the founding generation of the Michael and his stepbrother Central Intelligence Agency, George Leddy ’73 were at Taft. but until now he has remained Morley reveals how Scott ran a shadowy figure. Investigative hundreds of covert espionage reporter Jefferson Morley fol- operations from his headquarlows the quest of Scott’s son ters in the U.S. Embassy while
keeping three Mexican presidents on the agency’s payroll, participating in the Bay of Pigs fiasco, and, most intriguingly, overseeing the surveillance of Lee Harvey Oswald during his visit to the Mexican capital just weeks before the assassination of President Kennedy. Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
For more information on any of these stories, visit www.TaftSchool.org
Around the pond
Peter Frew ’75
by Julie Reiff
Walker Hall Sam Lardner and Barcelona entertained a full house in Walker Hall with their “musical celebration of life and love in the Mediterranean.” Admissions Director Peter Frew ’75 first met Lardner when on sabbatical in Barcelona in 1999. “We lived across the street by total coincidence,” says Peter, “and shared many a meal, song fest, and games of tennis.” Sam Lardner & Barcelona have been bringing their killer flamenco fusion to Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
audiences in Spain, the U.K. and North America since joining forces 3 years ago. “Sam has captured the depth and richness of his adopted town’s culture,” writes one fan. His “beautiful singing voice, Barcelona’s killer instrumentalists, it’s everything a cross border musical collaboration should be,” adds another. Their recent CD, Barcelona, was heard around the dorms for weeks after the concert and remains a favorite for many new fans.
Antonio Restucci is a world-class guitarist in his own right, and Matías Míguez is considered among the best Latino bass players of his generation. Sandra Ortega and Yasmina Azlor add richness, depth and authenticity with their syncopated clapping rhythms and powerful vocal harmonies. Their concert marked the third installment of Walker Hall’s Music for a While series. For more about their music, visit www.samlardner.com.
Stride Right Count Basie nicknamed her Stride, acknowledging the command with which she plays this technically and physically demanding jazz piano style. Grammynominated pianist Judy Carmichael is clearly one of the world’s leading interpreters of stride piano and swing. “She’s a born entertainer,” says Chris Latham, the school’s new development director. “The way she pulls the audience in with little bits of history and wonderful stories. She’s at once disarming and very professional.” Carmichael has played a variety of venues from Carnegie Hall to the Peggy Guggenheim Museum in Venice to programs with Joel Grey, Michael Feinstein,
Steve Ross and the Smothers Brothers. Her Grammy-nominated recording, “Two Handed Stride,” teamed her with four giants of jazz from the Count Basie Orchestra: Red Callendar, Harold Jones, Freddie Green and Marshall Royal. She has written two books on stride piano and numerous articles on the subject of jazz. She has served on a variety of music panels at the National Endowment for the Arts and is one of few jazz pianists honored as a Steinway Artist. She has appeared frequently on Garrison Keillor’s A Prairie Home Companion and on National Public Radio’s Morning Edition, Entertainment Tonight and Sunday Morning with
Charles Kuralt. She hosts and produces her own Public Radio show, Judy Carmichael’s Jazz Inspired. Her performance at Taft was presented as part of the school’s yearlong Friday-night concert series in Walker Hall, Music for a While. She also performed for the entire student body that morning in Bingham Auditorium. For more information, visit www.judycarmichael.com.
tries live in overcrowded housing, with poor water quality, no sanitation and no garbage collection. Roughly two million of these “shanties” are in South Africa. “It is wrong to assume
that the people who live in these shanties are there because they have done something wrong in life,” adds Carissa. “They simply were not born with the same opportunities.”
Shanty Quad Students in Greg Ricks’ South African Democracy course built a “shanty found commonly around the world” in the middle of Centennial Quad in November, with some construction help from faculty members Greg Hawes ’85 and Rob Follansbee. Their goal was to reflect on the poor physical housing that exists all over the globe. “We all get so wrapped up in our lives here at Taft that we lose sight of what is truly happening in the world that this school is preparing us for,” says Carissa Blossom ’08, who founded the Global Concerns Club this year. “People outside of our community are living in shipping containers, cardboard boxes, under plastic sheeting, in old cars, and in shacks, shanties and slums. We live in a world struggling to recognize and act on the inequalities that exist everywhere. It is vital, especially in a democratic country where the people’s opinion is heard by their government, that people are truly aware of what is going on in the world today.” The UN estimates that more than 1.6 billion people in developing coun-
m Shanty builders Patrick Antoine, Maddy Bloch, Charlotte Bromley, Kristin Castellano, Alex Cernichiari, Cody Ernst, Tyrone Hughes, Rex Merdinger, Daquan Mickens, Dwayne Simon, Sarah Sullivan, Bridget Sylvester, Bisi Thompson, and Zach Williams along with faculty members Greg Ricks, Rob Follansbee and Greg Hawes ’85. Julie Reiff Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
Around the pond Music, Tea, Flowers and Prayer A riveting performance by AUN, twin brothers Ryohei and Kohei Inoue, was the highlight of Japanese Culture Week in November, a new event this year. Arranged as part of the Friday-night Walker Hall Music Series, the Japanese percussion ensemble gave students a taste of their music at Morning Meeting on Thursday, even inviting students to join them on stage playing one of their dozen instruments. Hearing the group was coming, Japanese teacher Seiko Michaels then began to plan a weeklong series of events—including Japanese flower arranging and a formal tea ceremony in the Potter Gallery. “If an idea such as this emerges in the community,” Art Department Head Bruce Fifer told the Papyrus, “that exposes us as a community to traditions in other cultures, that supplements our overall education and enriches our lives—I try to facilitate it and make it happen.”
j Traditional Japanese drummers Ryohei and Kohei Inoue perform as part of Japanese Culture Week. Yee-Fun Yin
Chaplain Robert Ganung, who taught in Hawaii for four years, shares an interest in Japanese culture (he was interim minister at a Japanese-American United Church of Christ congregation in Kauai) and arranged for a Japanese Buddhist priest to visit as well. Rev. Kenjitsu Nagakaki spoke at Morning Meeting and also visited classes. The minister at the New York Buddhist Church, his tradition is known as Jodo Shin, which was founded by Shinran Shonin in the 13th century in Japan. It
is part of a form of Buddhism known as Pure Land and is based upon the idea of trusting in Amida Buddha’s (bodhisattva or enlightened being) infinite wisdom and compassion for liberation from the endless cycles of life, death and rebirth. “Being able to return home to New England from Hawaii and help plan Taft’s first-ever Japanese Cultural Week was an exciting experience for me,” adds Bob. “And I look forward to organizing next year’s event.”
Seniors made their way, despite the rain, down to Country Cinema on Main Street for the private showing. (Bingham Auditorium is now digital
only.) Peter got a huge round of applause from the kids when he made his Hitchcock-like appearance in one of the early scenes. The screening was limited to seniors, in part because the cinema could not hold the entire school, “but we also thought this would be a special treat for this class, an event they could use to build class unity,” said Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78, who introduced Berg and gave him a refresher tour of the campus earlier that evening. In the film, which stars Jamie Foxx and Jennifer Garner, a team of U.S. government agents is sent to investigate the bombing of an American facility in the Middle East. For more information, visit www. thekingdommovie.com/
In a rare event at Taft, seniors were invited to a special screening of The Kingdom with director Peter Berg ’80, who introduced the film.
10 Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
Author Tracy Kidder Mountains Beyond Mountains, the book selected for the all-school read last summer, may be about a doctor who sets out to cure the world, but there was a large buzz on campus in October for the chance to meet the Pulitzer Prizewinner who tells his story. At the center of Mountains Beyond Mountains stands Paul Farmer. Doctor, Harvard professor, renowned infectious-disease specialist, anthropologist, the recipient of a MacArthur “genius” grant, world-class Robin Hood, Farmer was brought up in a bus and on a boat, and in medical school found his life’s calling: to diagnose and cure infectious diseases and to bring the lifesaving tools of modern medicine to those who need them most. He helped found the organization Partners in Health, which has led the worldwide fight against tuberculosis and AIDS prevention. Author Tracy Kidder explains that Farmer’s message “is to pay attention to the world as it really is…. Don’t join what often seems like America’s collective amnesia toward the suffering that
can seem so distant but that in fact surrounds us. Don’t forget about the forgotten people in this world…. We are all human beings.” Kidder is the author of the best sellers The Soul of a New Machine, House, Among Schoolchildren and Home Town. He has been described by the Baltimore Sun as the “master of the nonfiction narrative.” Although much of his talk focused on Farmer’s work and topics raised by the book, Kidder ended his remarks with some advice of his own: “There is no skill you can acquire that can’t be used, one way or another, to improve the world,” Kidder explains. “If at least part of the time you get your mind off yourself and out into the world, the work of school gets easier. You do the work, but for a larger purpose. And if one of your goals is to find a way to improve the world, then I don’t think you have to worry a great deal about improving yourself. If you begin to do the first thing then you will, by my definition anyway, have already begun to do the second.” j Author Tracy Kidder meets with interested students at an open session in the faculty room in the afternoon. Earlier in the day, he spoke about his book and the work of Dr. Farmer at Morning Meeting and visited classes. Maddy Bloch ’08
Renewed Debate The Debate Team has struggled to become more active in recent years, but a renewed effort in the fall has sparked promising results. Taft uppermid Bennett Siegel was awarded the prize for Best Novice Speaker at the annual Hotchkiss Parliamentary Debate Tournament in November. Eight students (four 2-person teams plus 3 observers) gave up their Sunday sleep-in to travel to Lakeville. Nine schools participated in the tournament, including Andover, Deerfield, Choate and Hotchkiss. Students debated extemporaneously for three rounds, choosing from three topics for each round. Topics involved areas of current events like the legalization of selling bodily organs and the value of Wikipedia. Siegel received the highest scores from the judges for his three rounds, achieving a 90 average (out of 100). Taft is a member of the Debate Association of Independent Schools, and the team looks forward to continued success in both debate and public speaking tournaments during the coming months. The team is coached by English teacher Christopher Brown ’64, a lawyer who joined the faculty this fall. Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
Around the pond Off to See the Wizard Miss Gulch (Bisi Thompson ’09) pedals her bike determinedly as a tornado rips across the Bingham stage. Dorothy (Louise Trueheart ’08) follows, Toto in hand, and before you can click your heels, you’re not in Kansas—or Bingham—anymore, but in some magic world skillfully created by director Rick Doyle. Rick’s magical Munchkin Land sets, floating bubbles and “hot-air” balloons were only surpassed by the performance of the talented cast, who entertained faculty, students and visiting family members on Parents’ Weekend in October. m Senior Lily Lanahan and uppermiddler Juliet Ourisman test their structure in the 2nd Annual Spaghetti Bridge Competition. Michael McAloon
Pasta Bridges Weighted Down Once again, students in Jamie Nichols’ Introduction to Engineering course tested their problem-solving and engineering skills using only spaghetti and epoxy. Their task: construct a bridge that spans one meter, be no more than a half meter tall, and have a mass of less than .75 kilograms. (Each two-person team is also given a small block of wood equipped with a metal hook to incorporate into their structure that will allow them to suspend the weights.) Winners were declared in two different categories. Seniors Noah Geupel and Mark Lentini’s bridge, Lady Dianne, held the most weight at 8 kilograms. Senior Lily Lanahan and uppermiddler Juliet Ourisman’s bridge, The Martha, had the highest load to bridge weight ratio at 7.8. No team surpassed last year’s winner, constructed by Patrick Gritt ’08 and Chance Jennings ’08, which held 15 kilograms. 12 Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
“The best show at Taft in years,” “Broadway worthy” and “Wow,” were among the lavish praise heaped on Dorothy and her traveling companions (seniors Maggie Hutton as the Wicked Witch, Sam Shiverick as Scarecrow, Charlie Fraker as Tin Man and Nick Tyson as the Cowardly Lion). Support for the production was provided by the James G. Franciscus Theater Fund and the James Hollyday Webb Theater Fund. Thomaston Opera House lent costumes, and the Warner Theater some elements of the set. Flying Effects were provided by ZFX, Inc.
. Munchkins welcome Dorothy (Louise Trueheart ’08) to Oz in the fall musical. Bob Falcetti
Walk for a Cure On most Sunday mornings, you will find the majority of Taft students snug in their beds. Yet on a recent Sunday last fall, nearly 50 students and faculty members braved the cold and sacrificed their sleep-in to participate in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer, an annual walk hosted by the American Cancer Society. Making Strides Against Breast Cancer is the ACS’s premier event to raise awareness and dollars to fight breast cancer. The walk is also designed to celebrate all breast cancer survivors and to provide hope to every person affected by this disease. Many students volunteered as cheer-
leaders and handed out water for the walkers on a beautiful fall morning in Hartford’s Bushnell Park. The Taft Team also raised nearly $3,000 for the American Cancer Society. Why Making Strides and not other walks? “This is what our students want to participate in,” explains Baba Frew, director of Taft’s Volunteer Program. “We really want the kids to decide what is important to them and what ways they want to get involved.” In addition to the money raised from the walk, students raised $1,531 for Lee National Denim Day, another event to raise funds for Breast Cancer research.
m Seniors Hope Gimbel, Beth Kessenich, Isaac Bamgbose ’09, Zach Brazo ’09, Maggie Hutton, Sarah Linhares and Christine Call cheer on walkers at the American Cancer Society’s Making Strides event in Hartford. Peter Frew ’75
Songs include holiday favorites such as “Once in Royal David’s City,” “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel” and “Adeste Fideles,” as well as Gregorian and African chants arranged by Paul Halley. Collegium Musicum is a select group of 55 singers chosen by audition each year. Its repertoire spans nearly every major period of music from
medieval to contemporary. The group has toured extensively, including trips to China, Spain, Italy, Australia, New Zealand, as well as New York City, Philadelphia and San Francisco. This March, Collegium will make a concert tour to Paris, Aix-en-Provence and Barcelona. Contact Bruce Fifer for more information (BruceFifer@ TaftSchool.org).
A TAFT CHRISTMAS Taft Collegium Musicum released a new music CD for the holidays, A Taft Christmas. Conducted by Bruce Fifer, the Collegium recordings include a festive assortment of Christmas carols and anthems from various live performances of Taft’s Annual Service of Lessons and Carols with the Taft Chamber Ensemble, a guest brass ensemble, and guest organist Paul Halley.
Peter Frew ’75
Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
Around the pond With Honors In a ceremony in Bingham Auditorium, 12 Taft Seniors (all girls, as their fellow students quickly noted—a first at Taft) were inducted into the Cum Laude Society. Founded a century ago, 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. Twelve members of the Class of 2008 were inducted in October, based on their academic records for both their middle and uppermiddle years. This group will be joined at graduation by others whose selection will be based upon their records for their uppermid and senior years. These dozen students represent the top 7.5 percent of the class, with weighted averages that ranged from
5.073 to 5.56 for those years (a maximum of one-fifth of the senior class may be elected). Also recognized at the assembly were the ranking scholars for the previous year, with the highest average of his or her class: Alice Cho ’10, Mike Notaro ’09 and Amy Jang ’08.
m Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78 and Academic Dean Jon Willson ’82, right, welcome the newest members of the Cum Laude Society, from left, Jasmine Chuang, Jessica Ng, Nellie Beach, Courtney White, Theresa Chang, Christine Call, Taylor Gorham, Natalie Landis, Sarah Sullivan, Amy Jang, Caitlin O’Halloran and Katherine Latham (in absentia). Yee-Fun Yin
NEASC Accreditation When a graduating senior proudly accepts a diploma from the headmaster at Commencement, no thought is given to the process that allows the school to award it. Once per decade every college and high school in New England is evaluated by a visiting committee of fellow educators under the auspices of the New England Association of Schools and Colleges. Taft’s visiting committee, chaired by Dexter Morse of Worcester Academy and Assistant Chair Thomas Hassan of Phillips Exeter, consisted of representatives from twelve different schools, who conducted more than 90 interviews on campus in October, basing those conversations in large part on the school’s rigorous 175-page selfstudy report created last year. Not surprisingly Taft successfully 14 Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
met all 16 standards and, therefore, passed the accreditation process without any qualifications. Making four commendations and three recommendations, the committee praised the school, above all, for the candor, rigor and depth of the self-study, for the campus, facilities and institutional resources, for the devoted and committed faculty and for the school’s work on diversity. “The committee emphatically stated,” said Headmaster Willy MacMullen ’78, “that what impressed them most was that their recommendations were exactly the areas Taft had identified in our self-study as places we wanted to improve. The visiting committee saw Taft to be a confident, thriving leader in independent school education—an ideal setting for a 21st-century independent school.” Those recommendations were to
improve the support and evaluation of administrative faculty, as well as descriptions of job responsibilities; to improve communication, both external and internal, but especially the latter, in terms of policies and procedures; and to improve evaluation procedures for all faculty. In upcoming months, the school will develop action plans for these areas as well as those identified in the selfstudy as areas for improvement that the committee did not point to. “I feel enormous pride,” Willy adds, “in the work everyone did in writing a self-study that was praised by one experienced member of the team as ‘the best, the most honest, most comprehensive self-study I have ever read.’ That process and document, joined with the work of the visiting committee, will mean a great school becomes even greater.”
In Brief College Advice Fred Hargadon, former dean of admission at Princeton, Stanford, and Swarthmore, spoke with seniors and their parents in October about the college admission process. Hargadon has also served as senior vice president of the College Board, a trustee of Swarthmore College and the Thacher School, and spent six years as a member of the Visiting Committee of the Harvard Board of Overseers for the College and Graduate School of Arts and Sciences.
Math Team Top 10
On Display Advanced and independent photography students joined several hundred artists at the 10th annual City-Wide Open Studios exhibition in New Haven in October. More than 300 people visited the exhibit, including a few Taft alumni. “The reviews were very positive,” says Taft photography teacher Yee-Fun Yin. “Taft students gallery-sat on Sunday and met with many visitors to talk about their work. They also met other exhibiting artists and learned about their work. The show closed Sunday evening on a high note when a private collector from New York City bought two pictures.” Exhibiting photographers were seniors Claire Novak, Shane Sanderson,
Sarah Sullivan, uppermids Catie Birmingham, Amy Brownstein, Barbara Romaine and Julian Siegelmann and middlers Tierney Dodge, Hillary Hall, and Erik Roomet. Over the past ten years, CWOS has drawn thousands of visitors to explore New Haven’s neighborhoods while discovering artists and revamping perceptions of the city. For more information, visit www.artspaceNH.org m “Keep Off,” silver gelatin print by Shane Sanderson ’08, one of the photographs exhibited in New Haven last fall.
The math team is very busy again this winter. “We have three NEML contests, the American Mathematics Competitions, and a few of us will go to Cambridge for the Harvard-MIT Mathematics Tournament,” explains Math Team adviser Ted Heavenrich. Their results so far have put them in the top ten nationally. After three contests in the NEML (halfway through the season) the team is in fourth place in New England. “The only private school ahead of us is Phillips Andover,” says Ted. More significantly, the same contests are given in 47 out of the 50 states in the U.S., and only eight schools in the country have done better than Taft.
Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
S S S S Fall
Mike Moreau ’09 won the Founders League meet in a new course record at Avon and helped lead Taft to an 8–2 record this fall. Peter Frew ’75
Girls’ Cross Country 5–4 The Taft harriers put together their strongest season in several years. A solid 21–35 win over Kent in the wind and rain of Parents’ Weekend ensured their winning record, but the team’s best day of the season came at the Founders League meet, where Taft earned 3rd place behind All-League finishes by Emma Nealon ’11 (8th) and Sophie von der Tann ’09 (10th). At the New England Championships, Taft placed 6th as a team, with three runners in the top 30: captain Brooke Hartley ’08 (23rd), von der Tann (17th), and Nealon (26th). 16 Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
P P P P
O O O O
R R R R Steve
Captain-elect Liesl Morris ’09 in a 3–2 victory over Loomis on the new turf field. She won the NE Tournament award and was named a Founders League All Star. Peter Frew ’75
Boys’ Cross Country 8–2 The boys’ team placed 6th at the 34team Canterbury Invitational to open the year and then went 8–2 in dual meets during the regular season. Their best meet of the year came on a wet and wild home course on Parents’ Weekend, a 21–35 win over a very strong Kent team. The next weekend, Taft placed 3rd at the Founders League meet, with the individual champion in Michael Moreau ’09 and two other AllLeague runners in Shane Sanderson ’08 (14th) and Tom O’Mealia ’10 (15th). The team returns eight of its top ten runners for what looks to be a strong 2008 squad.
Field Hockey 10–4–1 New England Quarterfinals This skilled team was balanced, front to back, and qualified for their 12th straight New England tournament, earning coach Rachael Ryan her 100th win. Highlights included an impressive 3–2 late-season win over a 10–1 Westminster team and a 3–1 victory over Choate. The Rhinos’ defeat of Loomis (3–2), the first game played on Taft’s new turf field, was certainly an inspirational moment. In the end, Taft dropped a hard game to Greenwich Academy (1–3) in the first round of the New England tournament. In that game, Sarah Sullivan ’08 made ten
saves to keep the game close, and the score was tied 1–1 at the half behind Felicia Desorcie’s ’08 goal. Leading scorers for the season were Desorcie and Kelsey Lloyd ’09 (10 goals each), followed by Kelly Collins ’08 (8 goals). The team will sorely miss captain Jenny Glazer ’08, a three-year starter, and Kate Lesko ’08, who was the backbone of the defense.
PG Nyasha Miller was powerful at net all season, earning both New England and Boston Globe All Star accolades. Brian Boland
Girls’ Soccer 9–5–1 This offensively powerful team racked up nine wins in the first 11 games, including a 2–0 win over Choate and a 7–0 win over Deerfield. One of their best games of the season, a 1–1 tie with New England runner-up Loomis, came with a high price, as senior goalkeeper and co-captain Ashleigh Kowtoniuk ’08 was injured, making for an uneven end of the season defensively for this fine squad. Up front, Taft was led by Kerry Scalora ’10 (24 goals, 12 assists), and Holly Lagasse ’09 led the way for the defense. Tricaptains Bridget Sylvester ’08 and Schatz Bromley ’08 handled the central midfield, while youngsters Jenny Janeck ’11
(forward) and Sierra Mead ’11 (defender) were key players. Versatile players Becca Hazlett ’09 and Lagasse will captain the 2008 team. Boys’ Soccer 6–10–1 For this young team, a goal here and there made the difference in a season of very close games. A string of three victories (over Andover 2–0, Salisbury 1–0 and Berkshire 2–1), evened their record at 4–4 early on, but late in the season, the ball bounced the other way. In perhaps their finest game, and the season’s last, Taft dropped a heartbreaker to an undefeated Hotchkiss team (1–2). Forwards Dan Lima ’09 and co-captain Ollie Mittag ’08 created many opportunities up front, while co-captain Cam Mathis ’08 led in scoring (7 goals) and had a big impact in most games. Will Bunker ’09 was instrumental in the midfield, with Kevin Spotts ’10 and Johnny DePeters ’09 as tireless defenders. Jake Heine ’08 had some great games in goal, especially in the 2–0 win over Andover. Football 0–8 The season started with one of the best games in several years, as Taft battled back and forth with a strong Avon Old Farms team, holding a late 14–13 fourth-quarter lead. In the end, Taft’s final drive would come up just short on Avon’s 20-yard line, a 14–21 loss. But, the Rhinos would lose more than just the game, as Taft’s leading rusher (99 yards) and tackler, Dwayne Simon ’08 would leave late with a season-ending leg injury. More key injuries would limit Taft’s defense for the rest of the fall, including in a well-played 29–37 loss to Kent at home on Parents’ Weekend. Offensively, quarterback Drew Connolly ’08 was versatile, with 185 rushing yards, nine TD passes, and 82 completions. Tyrone Hughes ’08 (34 receptions, 412 yards) and Tom Cantwell ’08 (26 receptions, 358 yards) were dangerous threats downfield all season, and captain Andrew
Balysky ’08 and Robbie Bourdon ’09 led the team in tackles and assists. Volleyball 16–3 Founders League Tri-Champions, New England Finalists This perennial powerhouse fought through New England’s best to end the regular season with a 14–2 record and a #2 ranking. Often, they would fill the gym, both home and away, with loud Taft fans—a great volleyball crowd. Two wins against Choate (3–1, 3–0) showed the talent of the year’s squad, but it was rival Hotchkiss who would provide the defining epic battles for a great season. The schools met three times, each match decided in an intense 3–2 score. In the first meeting, Taft would claw back at home after losing the first two games, only to drop the fifth game, 12–15. It was the reverse in the final regular season match at Hotchkiss, with Taft winning the first two games, then coming back to win 15–13 in game five. The New England Championship would be a replay of those two incredible matches, and it was perhaps the best of them all, though Taft would drop the fifth game 11–15. To get to that championship game, Taft defeated strong teams from Hopkins (3–1) and Deerfield (3–1) in the first two rounds. Nyasha Miller ’08 was powerful at the net all season and was named a New England All Star and a Boston Globe All Star, while Kristin Castellano ’08 and two-year captain Maggie Widdoes ’08, both skilled, versatile players, were also New England All Stars. Nellie Beach ’08, Alexis Cronin ’08 (Founders League All Star), Camilla McFarland ’08, and Elyse Brey ’08 were all three-year varsity players, and this year’s seniors were certainly one of the great volleyball classes of all-time. The 2008 team will be led by captain-elect Geneva Lloyd ’09, All-Founders League player Grace Dishongh ’09, Carly McCabe ’10 and Miller Bowron ’09. For more on the fall season, visit www.TaftSports.com. Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
One geologist explores the potential of oil shale to solve our nation’s energy crisis. By J. L. Sommars Photos by Chris Shinn
“If you expect to solve the problem in your lifetime, you haven’t taken on a big enough problem.”
eremy Boak ’70 quotes an old Arabic proverb to describe his career. “If you expect to solve the problem in your lifetime,” he says, “you haven’t taken on a big enough problem.” One look at his resume and you realize this Harvard-educated geologist is no stranger to accepting challenges. Boak managed two projects to close Rocky Flats, where nuclear weapon components were made for 40 years. He explored for oil along Alaska’s North Slope, looking for the next Prudhoe Bay Field. Following the terrorist attacks on 9/11, Boak safely removed 75 grams of weapons-grade plutonium from Downtown Denver. He traveled to Greenland to study some of the oldest known objects on our planet—3.8-billionyear-old rocks—to understand how continents were built. He led a team of scientists to determine the 10,000-year environmental impact of the nation’s repository for spent nuclear fuel. Yet, Boak says his current assignment may be the most daunting and have the greatest impact of them all. Boak is at the epicenter of what some say could lead to our nation achieving energy independence. Working for the Colorado School of
Mines in Golden, Colorado, he is responsible for fostering discussion and debate about the controversial future of oil shale. Last October, a symposium he organized drew more than 330 experts from twenty countries, the largest gathering of its kind in the world. Not only controversial, oil shale may be the most misunderstood energy source on the planet. For starters, it’s not shale, nor does it contain oil. But geologists like Boak prefer this simple field name to the more precise, yet tongue-twisting, “kerogen-rich lacustrine dolomitic marlstone.” “It’s really the precursor to oil,” explains Boak. “Oil shale contains organic material that produces oil if you heat it.” The U.S. contains most of the world’s oil shale reserves, much of it located in western Colorado. Boak says the U.S. Geological Survey has estimated global oil shale reserves at three trillion barrels of oil. This is more than twice the amount of oil produced in the world over the last 150 years. “The potential is enormous,” says Boak. “But so are the technical, environmental and political issues that go along with it.” With oil prices hovering around $100 a barrel, it is no wonder that slabs of this dry, gritty rock have captured the attention of the world’s energy community. Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
“I always saw the whole business of being an earth scientist as having a service component to it, trying to solve problems for the earth and our society…”
“The potential is enormous, but so are the technical, environmental and political issues that go along with it.”
“Shell Oil estimates that production will be profitable at an oil price of $30 a barrel,” Boak says. “Others are more skeptical, putting the breakeven point at $40–$50. “The extraction techniques vary. Shell, for example, proposes to insert a heater down the hole to cook the rock. They claim that generating the electricity would require one barrel of oil for every three to five barrels produced.” Working like a slow cooker, Boak says this process would require at least one and a half years before oil could be removed from the ground. “One of our biggest challenges is what to do about the greenhouse gases that are created,” he says. “As much as 250 million tons of carbon dioxide could be generated each year once really large-scale production is reached.” He says one solution might be to essentially reverse engineer the natural gas industry. “We would build a separate system to capture the CO2 emissions aboveground and pipe them back into the earth.” Environmental issues are always a concern, especially in Colorado, the state that once pulled the plug on hosting the Winter Olympics (because of its impact). “When people in the Department of Energy come out and say, ‘We think we can have two and a half million barrels a day of oil shale production in 15 to 20 years’ that immediately
triggers the debate,” says Glenn Vawter, a mining consultant and shale oil pioneer in Glenwood Springs, Colorado. “What is it going to do to our water? What’s it going to do to our wilderness areas? What’s it going to do to our air? And most of all, what are the infrastructure needs for our communities that we don’t have and where’s the money going to come from? “We’ve had a lot of meetings where Jeremy has had to herd all the cats,” Vawter says. “He is the person who always keeps the discussion and debate on track, particularly with people on the academic side who tend to be very opinionated and only want to do their own thing. “We’ve learned that when you’re talking about oil shale, there are a lot of cats out there.” Boak is also quoted frequently in the national and international news media. “He’s respected as someone who is balanced in his reporting of what’s going on,” says Vawter. “He’s not on the side of industry or the environmental or adversary groups. He gives a balanced report. That’s one of the good things he brings to the debate.” Yet, the soft-spoken Boak can also be as stubborn as the rock samples that clutter his office. While working at Las Alamos Labs he successfully stood up to a group of creationists determined to change the high school science curriculum in New Mexico.
“We’ve also finally become engaged in the climate debate. We can examine our long geologic history…. There are important stories to be told about what are the conditions that cause this and how does our current situation relate to our past.”
The son of an engineer, Boak admits to being a geek when growing up. He remembers reading “The Universe and Dr. Einstein” when he was nine years old and credits an eighth grade science teacher for sparking his interest in geology. He attended Taft with his twin brother, Jeff, and graduated from Harvard in 1974. He applied to the Peace Corps but elected to attend grad school instead. In 1983, he achieved his Ph.D. in geological sciences. Married to Anna Stafford and living in Denver, the couple has a 16-year-old son. “Chris is good at math and science and is thinking about going into medicine,” says Boak. “Some of that is the influence of TV shows like House. There aren’t many TV shows about geologists. “In the movies, we’re generally portrayed as flakes or drunks. Although, I must admit that beer drinking is near an essential quality for geologists and it’s significant to note that our mayor, who opened the first brew pub in Denver, was trained at Wesleyan as a geologist.” Boak says another misperception about geologists is their commitment to the environment. “We have this Rodney Dangerfield image,” he explains. “When it comes to the environment, people think of biologists and biochemists, but they don’t think about hydrologists and geohydrologists who are concerned about sand and sediment and how the water that flows through them might be contaminated. “We’ve also finally become engaged in the climate debate. We can examine our long geologic history and the times when the earth was even warmer and there were no ice caps and
glaciers. There are important stories to be told about what are the conditions that cause this and how does our current situation relate to our past. “Taft’s motto is Not to be served but to serve. I imbibed that pretty heavily when I was at school. I always saw the whole business of being an earth scientist as having a service component to it, trying to solve problems for the earth and our society, even though those problems might not be solved in my lifetime.” Almost forty years later Boak considers the motto of his new school, the Colorado School of Mines. “Our focus is on the development and stewardship of the earth’s resources,” he says. Having studied 3.8-billion-year-old rocks, he has a unique, if not humbling, perspective on his life, his purpose and profession. “Do you know the origin of the word, stewardship?” he asks. “It’s from the Old English, a compound of stig, which means house or hall, and weard, which is a ward, guard or keeper. A steward is responsible for caring for something valuable that he doesn’t own. As a geologist, our house or hall, that valuable piece of property we’ve been entrusted with, is the Earth.” Jack Sommars is a freelance writer in Littleton, Colorado. . The Roan Cliffs stand above the Colorado River west of Rifle, Colorado, where the steepest part is the oil shale itself. The richest part of the oil shale lies north of these cliffs in an area called the Piceance Basin, which contains enough organic material to produce more oil than the current reserves of Saudi Arabia. Courtesy of Jeremy Boak
“Our focus is on the development and stewardship of the earth’s resources.”
Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
Cityat P E AC ! E
Working with teens in cities around the globe to build peace through the performing arts. By Sevanne “Vanni” Kassarjian ’87 Photography by Christopher Smith
went to my first City at Peace rehearsal twelve years ago. I had no idea what I was watching. It was overwhelming—the energy, the volume, the intensity, the hormones! Seventy teenagers, ages 13 to 19, packed into one room, eating, laughing, stretching, singing…. And then, just as I got used to the noise, I was overwhelmed again. City at Peace, I learned, is an international nonprofit organization that empowers teenagers to create safe, healthy, peaceful lives and communities. Using the performing arts as a vehicle, City at Peace is developing the next generation of engaged community leaders, but I had no idea what that meant until I went to that first rehearsal. The rehearsal room was on the second floor of a bank in Northwest Washington, D.C. They didn’t have their own space yet and they certainly didn’t have a theater to rehearse in. I had been invited by the artistic director, Paul Griffin (whom I married three years later). He was working with two kids I would have crossed the street to get away from. They were learning how to tape onto the floor the dimensions of the theater they would eventually be performing in. “Measure 20 feet from the center, that’s where the wings start. This is the edge of the stage. Right here. It drops off into the orchestra pit so everybody better get used to stopping right here…. Everybody, circle up!”
eate cr to re si de r he or s hi on d se ba en os "Each [Teen] is ch ." change in the world, not on their talent Suddenly there was silence and focus as the group was called to order and their work began. Some of the teens were from group homes, some had spent time on the street, while some were attending school with the presidentâ€™s daughter. Many had never spoken to anyone with a different skin color from their own before. Some, still kids themselves, had their own kids with them. Some had their younger siblings whom they were charged with caring for in the absence of a parent. While it was my first rehearsal, they were already well into their year of Saturdays together and their show was only a month away. When I arrived, among the large group of cast members there were three adultsâ€”the director and two volunteers organizing snacks (for some cast members, the only meal of the day). As I watched, what started out looking like chaos to me turned out to be a well-oiled machine that still produces theater each year that is relevant and excellent. 24 Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
I listened as they worked on several songs. One slight blonde girl mumbled shaking her head until a girl twice her size put her arm around her and sang in her ear until she got her back on key. Some soared, coming from the Baptist church and confident of their voices. Then they sweated through perfecting choreography, giving it their all regardless of ability. This is the way it works: City at Peace holds auditions all over a city, looking for teens who represent as wide a range of experiences, lifestyles and backgrounds as possible. Each is chosen based on his or her desire to create change in the world, not on their talent. Most of them have never performed before. The group meets for a year every Saturday and is led by a team of youth within the group. They have two goals: one, write, produce and perform an original musical from their real-life stories and their vision for positive change, and two, design and execute community-action projects in their cities based on this emerging vision.
Before they get to build a show they spend months building themselves as a team. They do social change exercises in which they discuss power and discrimination and fear and ignorance. They develop amazing facility with topics that adults stumble over, like race, sexuality, poverty. They do trust exercises, dropping into each others arms and revealing more about their lives than they were aware they knew. They tell each other their life stories, learn how to listen, understand and work together. They sing and dance and act, performing for each other their own work and writing, and improvising scenes based on the topics that they cover. All with the aim of creating their show from the building blocks they have made themselves. Finally, after several hours of dancing and singing they break for lunch and then, still sweaty, return to work on scenes in groups around the large room, preparing to present their work to each other. The rest of the cast made up the audience in rehearsal that day and they were watching stories from their own lives—one scene about a drunken parent, the next, someone contemplating suicide egged on by her mirror. The audience laughed and cried and knew when it was right. Paul and a group of teens started City at Peace to serve a need that they felt for a place where teens could speak their hearts and minds and do something about the violence and conflicts they were experiencing. (DC was the “murder capital” of the U.S. at the time and experiencing an epidemic of youth violence.) Since then City at Peace has grown. It is now an international organization with local programs in New York, Los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Santa Barbara (California), Charlotte (North Carolina), Baton Rouge (Louisiana), several cities in Israel, and Cape Town, South Africa. Paul and the musical director and choreographer who work with the kids never for a moment approach the work as if, well, they’re only kids. They demand their absolute best. Anytime anyone isn’t giving their all, they are invited to leave; after all, it’s free and the door is open. Cast members only stay
if they want to—and if they want to stay, then they must do the work and respect other people who are trying. I come from a world of professional theater, and I had assumed that the rehearsals and performances were going to be haphazard and “fun” for the kids. But because their material was from their lives and experiences, the stakes couldn’t have been higher. No one plays in his/her own story and so it’s very simple: if one cast member is creating a scene based on the death of another cast member’s mother, they better “get it right.” I remember eavesdropping and hearing from one scene group, “No one talks like that. That sounds like television.” City at Peace became a major part of my life and not just because I would eventually marry its founder and director. Over the years I have had the honor to work on several shows. As a professional actor and a corporate coach, I usually get asked to work on the big family scenes, the narrator,
ity at Peace envisions a society where teenagers are valued, respected and play a leading role in creating vibrant communities. City at Peace is working with leaders in two additional cities in the U.S. to initiate new programs in 2008 and was recently awarded funding from a major international foundation, allowing expansion of its program over the next three years and the chance to build programs in new cities in South Africa.
Other honors include:
j 2007 Mayor’s Art Award for Outstanding Contribution to Arts Education (finalist in 2005 and 2006) j 2007 Youth Pride Alliance Allies Award j 2006 semifinalist President’s Committee on the Arts and the Humanities Coming Up Taller Award j 2005 Excellence in Youth Empowerment Award from the D.C. Commission on National and Community Service j 2001 Margaret Mead Centennial Award For more information, visit: www.cpnational.org
my tears are mostly out of pride. It’s a pride that leaves me speechless at their courage and in awe at their determination to change their world. They have the courage to share their lives and take responsibility for them. When the curtain goes up some kids know that their parents will recognize their life stories—the father who has been beating his daughter privately for years or the mother with an addiction to prescription drugs—and they are ready to support each other in any way that’s required. I’ve watched cast members grow up, go to college, get married, have kids, start careers. Since I have had my own
and the tough monologues. One year I was performing in Repertory at the Actor’s Theatre of Louisville in Kentucky during the week before the City at Peace show. In between my performances I would fly back to work with the cast. I wanted to be there for them, and I wanted to see their work. They spend the year asking each other: What do we care about? What do we want to communicate to people about each other and the world we live in? The answers to those questions are why they perform. I introduced the late Garrett Wyman ’87 to City at Peace after we met up again years after graduation. He became a founding member of the Board of City at Peace, now headquartered in New York. He served tirelessly to promote and build the national organization’s initiation and growth. He would often say: “You have to see a show to really understand City at Peace.” Several times during that first rehearsal I found myself in tears. Tears for kids half my age with more experience of pain than I could imagine; and tears of side splitting laughter. They each bring in such remarkable life stories and are often coping with so much; and they learn to put their focus on how to serve each other and their communities. Now
"...I found myself in tears. Tears for kids half my age with more experience of pain than I could imagine; and tears of side splitting laug hter. ...Now my tears are mostly out of pride. " 26 Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
kids I have the biggest pool of baby sitters in New York! And there will be some friends for life. The demands of my own children have taken me away from all-night decision-making sessions just before the show. But even when I was on bedrest with both of my pregnancies, a few City at Peace actors came to work on their parts in my living room. Somewhere along the way I became the de facto adviser for those interested in pursuing careers in theater. Even as I write this I am aware of application deadlines looming, thinking “if his mother has kicked him out, how do we fill out the parent information section…?”
At the end of the first rehearsal, I was scooped up and hugged by about 12 kids in rapid succession. Over the years of watching hundreds of teens get their hugs at the end of each rehearsal (a City at Peace tradition), my appreciation of something that I first saw as almost quaint has grown into awe. For some of them, this is the only affirmation they get. It’s so powerful for these young people who have all the money in the world but whose parents are too busy to hug them, for teenagers who have no parents, for teenagers who only know physicality as violence. It’s basic, fundamental. Teenagers need it to grow and they are still growing kids.
Rate My Ride
Consumer Reports Senior Automotive Editor Gordon Hard ’70 Helps Buyers See Beyond the Sticker By Michael Kodas
t’s understandable that readers of Consumer Reports would expect Gordon Hard to be driven. As a Consumer Reports senior editor for automobiles, he pens some of the most influential words in the automotive industry. Even his email address—a combination of the “Go” of his first name and the “Hard” of his surname—implies intensity. But like a lot of the vehicles he writes about, the expectations are deceiving. While his words and his driving (at least when he’s at the testing facility) live up to his name, Gordon presents a decidedly laid-back figure in person. His relationship with cars began when he was 13 and his parents gave him and his brother a 1950 DeSoto to dismantle and rebuild. “We got pretty good at the first part,” he reports on the Consumer Reports website.
After high school, he undertook his first great road test when he drove a 1971 Volkswagen Microbus from Connecticut to Nicaragua. The trip was a teenager’s dream, which Gordon continues today in a job that allows him to drive home a different car every night if he chooses to. He clearly continues to enjoy that part of the job, but admits there are a few drawbacks. Everyone at the facility knows who puts every little dent and ding into each of the cars they test, and occasionally Gordon forgets what car he drove to the supermarket. “A couple times I’ve tried to get into someone else’s car because it was like the one I had yesterday,” Gordon recalls. Gordon maintains a low-key and informal approach to a job requiring the utmost precision. He’s an apt reflection of the entire staff at the Consumer Reports 327-acre auto test facility at a former drag strip in East Haddam, Connecticut. Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
“We’re rigidly egalitarian here,” Gordon says. There are no lab coats, but plenty of denim. Gordon’s wearing khakis, sneakers, a plaid shirt and wire-rimmed glasses under a faded Taft baseball cap. His jacket bears a logo for the testing facility—a steering wheel with the Consumer Reports bull’s-eye at its center. A Woodstock prep school student scrawled the design on a napkin during a field trip to the testing track. Gordon enjoys telling the tale of the way the logo made it to his jacket almost as much as he does driving around the bigger version of the Consumer Reports symbol that sits at the center of the test track’s skid pad. Here the bull’s-eye is surrounded by pavement-lane markings at 200- and 250-foot diameters that make the entire pad look like a gigantic record player. One of the astronauts, as Gordon likes to call the test drivers, accelerates around a 25-foot-wide lane at increasing speeds until he or she can no longer keep the car within the lane. An accelerometer measures the lateral forces to determine the vehicle’s ultimate cornering grip. Giving a tour of the facility, Gordon drives the circuit just fast enough to lean 30 Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
his passengers against the doors of the Mercedes he’s taken out. He races down the track’s straightaway, a leftover from its previous life as a drag strip. An adjacent mile-long serpentine handling circuit is patterned off the Lime Rock Park racetrack. Braking tests are conducted on wet and dry pavement. Another braking test uses a wetted-pavement “split mu” surface in which the pavement under the left tires is slicker than the pavement under the right side of the car. Cars with antilock brakes stop straight, those without will spin completely around here. The testing center has a full complement of its own road maintenance and paving equipment, and gets help from the Connecticut Department of Transportation to maintain precise and consistent grip coefficients, but that doesn’t mean that the track is made up entirely of good roads. Each vehicle tested at the facility also visits what they call the “REC” road, for Ride Evaluation Course, a 1.5-mile course through the woods with precisely placed potholes, dips, manholes, drainage grates, cracked pavement, and uneven joints. There’s an off-road course with a bog that vehicles must occasionally be winched out of and a rock hill that challenges the best all-terrain vehicles. Tires are also tested at the facility, as well as at a snow-covered parking lot of the Jay Peak ski area in northern Vermont. While Consumer Reports has one of the best-equipped automotive proving grounds (no car magazine has a comparable track), the best-known automobile testing instruments and characters promoting automotive safety, the crash test dummies, are nowhere to be found there. “We don’t do any crash tests, (at least) on purpose,” Gordon says. “We drive them hard here but we don’t injure them.” The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration handle collision tests. Consumer Reports, on the other hand, purchases all of the vehicles it tests, and sells them used, with low but hard mileage, when they are done with their tests. Cars are fitted with a variety of high-tech meters and sensors during their testing, but some of the most important measurements are subjective. “Some things are impossible to do strictly empirically,” says Senior Engineer Gabriel Shenhar. Noisiness is a good example, Gordon points out. Road noise in the test vehicles is measured with microphones, but the subjective analysis of the engineers is a better gauge. “A noise might be low in decibels, but still be raucous and annoying to a lot of people,” Gordon says. “You won’t pick it up on a scope, but you will pick it up from people who will say ‘I hate that noise.’” So the engineers are the most important part of the vehicle testing process, and can have a far greater impact on the automotive industry by running tests at Consumer Reports than they can working for manufacturers. “Nobody has invented a means to measure ride comfort,”
Gabriel says. “The rear ends of our engineers here are the most precise instruments in the world.” “Classy asses,” adds Gordon. Gordon’s role in the process is to take the engineers’ detailed testing reports and turn them into something that any car buyer can understand. He writes at least ten road-test reports a year, along with material for the magazine’s special automotive publications, buying guides, and additional stories for ConsumerReports.org and its blog. Gordon has noticed that the tensions between Consumer Reports and various automotive manufacturers has eased since executives from the companies have started visiting the car testing facility regularly. “There used to be this perception … that Consumer
a cigarette-puffing robot that proved that no brand of cigarette was substantially less harmful than another. The test result backfired when one cigarette manufacturer, which Bill Hard’s article identified as having infinitesimally lower amounts of tar and nicotine than other brands, published full-page advertisements bragging that the Reader’s Digest story showed they made healthier cigarettes. It’s a ploy encountered a few times at Consumer Reports, and is why the magazine has a “no-commercialization” policy that prohibits companies from republishing scores or quotes from the magazine. It’s not surprising that Gordon’s identical twin brother Robert is a writer and editor too, though he works for a German chemical and nuclear fuel company that has the almost-satirical moniker NUKEM.
“We don’t do any crash tests, (at least) on purpose. We drive them hard here but we don’t injure them.” Reports hated Detroit, which was never true,” Gordon says. “But based on our tests the Japanese cars usually beat the domestics because they were made better, more reliable, and with more attention to detail. So they scored better in our tests. It’s just that simple. “They want a pass for patriotic reasons,” Gordon says. “Well, we can’t do that. “We sometimes feel bad because we know that Detroit’s in a lot of trouble and when we criticize their cars, we hurt their sales and that means somebody’s career is going to be hurt as well. But we also feel that Detroit’s troubles are selfinflicted. They’ve had 25 years to get their act together since Toyota started being a real competitor. “We learn something about their decision-making process. Maybe there is an overlooked virtue they want to tell us about,” Gordon says. “And we can tell them things that people within their company don’t want to bring up because few people want to give their boss bad news.” Gordon began his tenure at Consumer Reports in 1984 at the magazine’s headquarters, where he wrote about consumer electronics and food. But after a steady diet of walkmans and popcorn, “I jumped at the chance to write about something more interesting than mayonnaise,” adds Gordon. Gordon got his start in the business continuing his family’s legacy at Reader’s Digest. His grandfather, William Hard, Sr., was a roving editor of Reader’s Digest and is famed as one of America’s original muckraking reporters who crusaded for social reforms in articles penned for the Nation, New Republic and Saturday Evening Post. Gordon’s father was also a longtime editor at Reader’s Digest, whom Time magazine referred to as “nervous, nicotinous William Hard, Jr.” He once tracked down
“If you live in a house with lots of books and gifted storytellers, where no subject is taboo, and where the world and its curiosities is always Topic A, then it’s not unusual to gravitate towards editorial work, which provides a continuous information fix,” Gordon says. For Gordon’s own son, Hayden, 11, the job at Consumer Reports provides plenty of fringe benefits. A hill where they test how cars handle in the snow, occasionally with snow they manufacture, is also perfect for sledding. “Sometimes we have snow when nobody else does and we bring our kids in for sledding. It’s great,” Gordon says. “They slide down and they get a ride up.” Reports on the sleds have been suggested, Gordon says. “If we could find an objective test panel.” Michael Kodas is a photojournalist, picture editor and writer at the Hartford Courant and author of the upcoming book High Crimes: The Fate of Everest in an Age of Greed.
Taft Bulletin Winter 2008
F r o m t h e A r c h i v es
Things You Don’t Often See Anymore
by Archivist Alison Picton the library: using the card catalog Just ask Peter Frew ’75… digitization changed all that in 1995.
Leslie D. Manning Archives
seniors hanging out on the senior fence, 1940 Captains’ photos were taken on the fence for many years as well, in the Yale tradition.
playing cards and smoking in Wade, the senior house, 1960 Beginning in 1938, Headmaster Paul Cruikshank forbade card-playing in dorm rooms without permission. The rule was finally dropped from the Student Handbook in 1967. The 1938 New Boy Book also laid out a complicated smoking rule for uppermids and seniors, but by the early 1940s only seniors were allowed to smoke, and then only at the Senior House. Cigarettes were banned entirely in 1988.
students shoveling snow During World War II Headmaster Paul Cruikshank initiated the Job Program, which required all boys to do some of the manual labor around the school. Now the facilities and grounds staffs do most of those jobs.
F r o m t h e A r c h i v es
making solid geometry models in the basement of the Annex, 1950 While they existed principally for the use of the school’s maintenance staff, the Woodworking and Machine Shops were available to boys interested in building things during their free time. Both facilities were popular beginning with World War II, when extracurricular courses in mechanics and technical trades were offered (and boys had “hobbies”).
letters from home… or from a girlfriend. Finding mail in one’s PO box, when the message was an object that had a feel, a weight, a scent, her handwriting…
laundry day Around 1967. Once a week, the Main Lobby and Headmaster’s Entrance became laundry central. A laundry service still exists for those who choose it, but deliveries have moved downstairs, and each dorm is equipped with washers and dryers.
Set the record straight. old photo? Have more, or
more accurate, information?
Until the mid-1960s the school’s own 18-hole course approached the edge
Kindly share it with us.
of the campus. Some dormitories actually sit on early parts of the course.
Recognize someone in an
Email reiffj@TaftSchool.org or write to Julie Reiff, editor,
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Fifty years from now, what sights that are commonplace now won’t we see?
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