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BU L L E T I N WINTER•1999 Volume 69

Number 2

SPOTLIGHT They Call Her Dr. Mary Wash-Your-Hands ................ 3 Mary Washburne ’79 volunteers with Doctors Without Borders helping Burmese refugees

By Sarah Hare, Diversion Magazine Mr. Doyle Goes to Washington................................... 8 Two video-making trips Taft students won’t soon forget

By Nathan Whittaker ’99, Taft Papyrus For the Love of Learning ........................................... 12 A New Option for the Senior Year

By Michael Townsend His Work is For the Birds.......................................... 16 Cover: Kem Appell ’55 traded in his golf clubs to tend a flock of exotic and endangered waterfowl

By Sara Beasley

DEPARTMENTS Letters ......................................................................... 2 Alumni in the News .................................................. 21 Around the Pond ...................................................... 24 Sport ......................................................................... 30 Big Red Scoreboard

Endnote .................................................................... 32 By Dr. Alfred Gilman ’58

The Taft Bulletin 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. E-Mail Us! Now you can send your latest news, address change, birth announcement, or letter to the editor to us via e-mail. Our address is TaftRhino@Taft.pvt.k12.ct.us. Of course we’ll continue to accept your communiqués by such “low tech” methods as the fax machine (860-945-7756), telephone (860-945-7777), or U.S. Mail (110 Woodbury Road, Watertown, CT 06795-2100). So let’s hear from you! Visit Taft on the Web to find the latest news, sports schedules, or to locate a classmate’s e-mail address. www.Taft.pvt.k12.ct.us or www.Taftsports.com. The password to access alumni or faculty e-mail addresses—or to add your own—is dutton.


Sports Trivia Winner Congratulations to Wilmot North ’30, the winner of the Taft Bulletin Sports Trivia Contest. Mr. North was the first respondent to identify correctly the three Indian tribes after which the intramural clubs were named: Senecas, Mohawks, and Cayugas. The groups, known as the Triangle Clubs, replaced the earlier Reds and Blues created in 1922, and were themselves replaced in the fall of 1930 by the Alpha, Beta, and Gamma clubs, “which embraced the entire student body.” The Triangle Club competitions awarded points for the winners in intramural baseball, hockey, football, soccer, basketball, and track contests (with some boxing and cross country) as well as points for Scholarship and Deportment. Medals were also awarded, and the winning club was traditionally treated to a special steak dinner in the dining room, served by members of the other clubs. Interestingly, students who worked for the Alumni Bulletin garnered an extra five points each for their team!

Letters to the Editor TIME wasn’t on his side

Kudos on Crisis

Like Father Like Son

I have received today and perused with interest the 75th anniversary edition of the Taft Bulletin. You have done a wonderful job of capturing the spirit and texture of the publication over the years. I am particularly interested in your references to my grandfather, Robert L. Johnson ’14, in both the March 1924 and October 1954 issues. Johnson family history always has held that my grandfather “helped” Henry Luce, his Yale classmate, “found” Time, but there is no reference to him in anything published by Time. I believe they had a falling-out early on. But family pride says that without my grandfather selling advertising in the upstart magazine, it would never have made it.

Hearty, hearty congratulations on that superb 75th anniversary issue of the Taft Bulletin. Great from cover to cover, starting with that magnificent front cover photograph with all the essentials of communication from a cup of coffee to a computer, with Taft printed matter in between. Thanks for all the space allotted to ’33, including the Dexter Blake family Then and Now. What a job Hank Becton does for us as class secretary! But to me the prize piece was “The World in Crisis” by Ambassador Frank Wisner. So glad you ran that as I think it is as good an overview of the present world situation—and the place of the US in it all— as I have yet encountered. I am making photocopies for our non-Taft children and some others including Curt’s [Buttenheim ’36] daughter Lisa, who is stationed with the UN in Geneva, and Jennifer [’84] in case the Bulletin doesn’t reach her in Moscow.

I very much enjoyed your 75th anniversary edition of the Alumni Bulletin. I offer one correction and one suggestion. On page 28, you show a photograph of new boy sons, etc., dated the fall of 1968. Not so—this photo was taken in the fall of 1967. Source: my clouded memory and the 1968 yearbook, which verifies (to name a couple) Bermingham and Wheeler as lower mids, ’71. I know that the unforgettable Caulkins ’70 was there for two years at least, and he never made it to senior! On page 41 Charles Yonkers ’58 mentions receiving an article by one of Cruikshank’s daughters. I spent my Thanksgiving vacation lower mid year with Scott McMullen ’70, Cruikshank’s grandson. Scott’s mom’s name was Janet McCawley (at the time), and they lived in the town of Fairfield. As I recall we had Thanksgiving dinner with the retired (and intimidating) schoolmaster at his house on Breakneck Hill in Middlebury [CT]. Recollections of a time when the headmaster lived in the school building proper might be interesting—not to say frightening. My uncle Rawson Foreman ’58 tells of a classmate who, infuriated that Cruikshank’s dorm inspection police had removed a centerfold poster from his room, confronted the headmaster in his office. After listening to the boy’s protestations of theft, invasion of privacy, and so forth, Cruikshank calmly and deliberately flipped him a quarter—the cost of the magazine. Thanks again for an interesting issue.

—Robert L. Johnson III P’96 Houston, Texas

Photos of Youth Much time has passed since my sons Charles ’65 and Wells ’67 graduated from Taft, and I was particularly pleased to see Wells’ picture in the library on page 11 and again his picture on the ranch on page 12. I am thankful that I can see again how youthful Wells was when these pictures were taken.

p.s. Also nice to see Geg’s [’40] letter to the editor! —Donald V. Buttenheim ’33 Lenox, Massachusetts

—Charles Jacobson, Jr. P’65, ’67 Manchester, Connecticut

Correction: In the fall issue we incorrectly identified Cheves Smythe as a member of the Class of 1960. He is a member of the Class of 1942. Our apologies.

Ed Note: The article by Janet Cruikshank McCawley that Charlie Yonkers mentions in the Class of 1958 notes [someone is a thorough reader!] was originally entitled “View from the Third Floor” and appeared last year in the Social Register Observer. Our agreement with the Observer is that we would wait one year before publishing it in the Taft Bulletin, so look for it in a later issue this year.

While your issues of the Bulletin are always interesting, entertaining, and instructive, your fall issue was exceptional. I appreciate all the work you did in getting everything together! As you may have guessed by now, I was particularly interested in the reference to the Fall 1970 issue that contained an article written by my son Bob ’70. Presaged by that article and his drama society work at Taft, Bob has devoted his life to the saving, preservation, and restoration of movie palaces and also to the operation of theatres of more recent vintage; I am extremely proud of him and his work! That makes it much harder to admit that I do not have a copy of his Bulletin article and to request that, if possible, you send me a photographic copy. Thank you very much for this and for your continuing good works for our School. —Bob Foreman ’44 Lawrenceville, Georgia

—Bob Foreman ’70 New York, NY

We welcome Letters to the Editor relating to the content of the magazine. Letters may be edited for length, clarity, and content, and are published at the editor’s discretion. Send correspondence to: Julie Reiff, Editor • Taft Bulletin • 110 Woodbury Road • Watertown, CT 06795 or to: reiffj@taft.pvt.k12.ct.us


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They Call Her Dr. Mary

Wash-Your-Hands A First-Time Volunteer Finds War and Fulfillment in the Company of Burmese Refugees By Sarah Hare Photographs by Timothy Hellum Taft Bulletin

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wo years ago, Mary Washburne, M.D.,’79 was slogging away in her family practice in Milwaukee, thinking there must be a more satisfying way to make use of her hard-earned medical skills. After making some inquiries into volunteer opportunities for physicians, Washburne, then 36, decided to join Doctors Without Borders (DWB), an international relief agency that’s among the world’s oldest medical service organizations. Within months she got someone to cover her practice, rented out her house, and found herself living in Thailand, working with Burmese refugees. “The New York office [of DWB] chose the mission,” Dr. Washburne explained as we bounced along a rutted road one morning early last year en route to Maw Ker, one of 19 refugee camps near the Myanmar (formerly Burma) border. More than 100,000 Karen, a mountain tribe fighting for independence from the Burmese government, call these camps home. DWB’s program in western Thailand assists the Karen in five of the Burmese refugee camps. “I was really lucky to end up with the Karen,” Washburne said as she steered the four-wheel-drive pickup clear of potholes

This was the fifth month of her sixmonth post, and Dr. Washburne had had intimate contact with diseases she never would have seen in her Milwaukee practice: malaria, dengue, beriberi, tuberculosis, cholera, and typhoid fever (which she contracted just two weeks into her mission), plus a potpourri of illnesses prevalent among displaced people. Although the first-time volunteer had anticipated battling exotic ailments during her stay in Thailand, she hadn’t expected to encounter a full-scale war. “Oh, those are just Chinese New Year

“Here, people don’t believe doctors are gods, like we’re supposed to be in the West. They don’t come into the clinic loaded with expectations. They appreciate anything we can do to help them.”

almost as big as the truck. “The Karen have been the highlight of this entire experience. Really an inspiration. They have so little and yet they are so hopeful. Medically it’s been fascinating, too,” She noted. “At this mission we’re not dealing with just one epidemiology—straight Ebola or cholera—like in Africa. Here we’ve got the whole stir-fry of diseases.” 4

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firecrackers,” Washburne said dismissively as we listened to rapid-fire popping in the distance. It was the first week of February and the Sino-Thai were celebrating in nearby Mae Sot with an abandon that made the festivities in New York’s Chinatown look tame. Still, by the alarmed expressions on the faces of the Burmese Karen gathered outside town, I realized I wasn’t the

only one who thought the explosions sounded like rifle shots. There was good reason to believe that they were. A few days earlier, two refugee camps had been attacked in the dead of night by Burmese soldiers who’d crossed the river from Myanmar. After forcing the Karen out of their beds at gunpoint, the invading troops burned hundreds of bamboo homes, leaving thousands of people huddled on vast stretches of scorched, smoldering earth. That same night, Thai authorities held off the Burmese army’s attempt to raze a third camp, Mae La, rescuing the homes of more than 8,000 Karen. The soldiers were now thought to be hiding in the leafy jungles just inside the Thailand border, hoping to repeat the destruction they’d brought upon the Wanka and Don Pakiang camps. By torching the camps, the Burmese government aimed to induce the Karen refugees to return home. Her dangling earrings and shock of blond hair glinting in the morning sun, Dr. Washburne calmly peeled pus-soaked gauze bandages from the back of a 33year-old man suffering from an acute renal infection. Shooing away a swarm of flies, she drained his oozing wound. “The Karen call me Dr. Mary WashYour-Hands because I’m always saying that a few simple sanitary procedures can go a long way,” she said while scrubbing up for the next patient with a bucket of water. “Sometimes, like now, sanitary measures are all we have.”


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Since the invading Burmese had stolen most of the medical supplies and reduced the camp hospitals to ashes, the DWB team had constructed a makeshift outpatient dispensary (OPD): four bamboo poles draped with a huge blue, plastic tarp. Barefoot patients wearing tattered sarongs wrapped around their waists lay on straw mats along the tent’s perimeter. Those with minor injuries sat listlessly on wooden examination benches in the middle of the tent, where Karen medics took histories and recorded vital signs. Off to one side, a table

though, it’s frustrating. I know they would heal faster and we could diagnose sooner if we had the luxury of the meds and the labs we have back home.” At the camp clinics, the lab technicians are equipped to perform only rudimentary tests: malaria smears, sputum tests for TB, urine dipsticks, and a rough hemoglobin. Among the Karen refugees now forced to sleep in fields rife with malarial mosquitoes and poisonous snakes, even these few diagnostic aids were saving lives. At least the lives of those treated in time.

of Plasmodium falciparum following a 1994 trip to Central America. “Without a clinic in the camp, she didn’t know where to go,” Washburne lamented. “Bullets didn’t kill her, but indirectly, the war still did.” Before the invasion, Washburne had sent e-mail messages to friends describing the conflict between the Burmese army and the Karen rebels as “a strange, slow, stuttering, kind of war... a war you know is there but can’t see.” Then, suddenly, it had exploded.

displayed boxes of bandages and a few other basic supplies, enshrined as if offerings in a Buddhist temple. “I’ve learned about making do with very little,” Washburne responded optimistically when I asked about the medical tools she had to work with. “You really have to rely on your clinical skills, and that is making me a better doctor. Sometimes,

“We could have saved her if she had come in sooner,” Dr. Washburne explained, pointing to the blanket-enshrouded corpse in the back of the pickup truck. An 18-year-old girl had died of cerebral malaria that morning. Staring at her body, which we were transporting to her family, I remembered my own agonizing bout with the deadly strain

According to reports that filtered down to the camp leaders, the refugees were not the only target of these attacks. Burning the hospitals had been a primary objective for the soldiers, who had orders to confiscate all medical supplies and equipment. “Where are the microscopes? And we want both of them!” the soldiers had demanded of the terrified refugees. Taft Bulletin

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“How did they know we had two microscopes at each camp?” Washburne wondered out loud as she described the attack—an attack that I would have witnessed if delays in obtaining a permit to visit the camps had not postponed my trip. “It makes you think that the soldiers had been watching us for a while,” she explained eerily. “And maybe they still are.” After the rampage, the Burmese army sent warnings to the relief agencies, threatening that medical personnel would be kidnapped and taken across the border to

And so, despite the threats, Dr. Washburne and a team of medics and nurses continued to sew up lacerations, clean burns, drain infections, treat dysentery, and deliver babies in the thick tropical heat. During my visit, three healthy babies were born. The only American serving on DWB’s Mae Sot mission, Washburne worked side by side with Canadian and French doctors and Karen medics, switching easily from English to French or the smattering of Karen she’d learned

had developed flourishing friendships with several Karen medics, among them Stanley, whom we met that morning at Maw Ker. (Many Karen anglicize their names to ease pronunciation for foreigners.) A broad-faced Karen wearing glasses and Western clothes, Stanley is a lab technician who wouldn’t look out of place walking down a street in Bangkok. But instead this 25-year-old father of a newborn boy is living in a refugee camp. Stanley came across the border with his family when he was 14. A few years

A first-time volunteer, Mary Washburne found the Karen inspiring.

treat its soldiers. The orders were clear: The physicians were to leave the camps, and the Karen were to return to Myanmar. But both the doctors and the refugees stayed put. “They need us now more than ever,” Washburne explained. Wells at other camps had become contaminated, and there was increasing concern about a cholera outbreak. 6

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during her stay. “It’s like a residency teaching program, and we’re the attendings,” Washburne noted of the Western doctors’ interaction with the Karen medics and nurses. “We train the Karen, so later, when we are gone, they can take care of themselves.” In just a few months, Dr. Washburne

ago, he moved from Wanka (one of the camps just incinerated) to marry a woman who lived in Maw Ker. He said the recent assault had destroyed his parents’ house. Red-eyed and obviously exhausted, Stanley told us how he had stayed up all night to guard his wife and baby. Yesterday, he had buried all their possessions to


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protect them from fire, “just in case.” (A week later, I read in The Bangkok Post that part of Maw Ker had been burned.) Late that night, when the medical team was unwinding with cold Singha beer in the colorless border town of Mae Sot, Dr. Washburne talked about why she had volunteered and what she had left behind. After trading in a six-figure salary for a DWB stipend of about $600 a month, she found that it wasn’t the doctoring that had been unsatisfying, it was the medical system.

feel they are entitled to smoke and take drugs and abuse their bodies and still be in perfect health. And you have to fix them or they’ll sue you. They feel they are entitled to a perfect life. Here, they smile. They give you presents. They are so appreciative.” In the days that followed, more refugees arrived at the camps under DWB’s supervision, some relocating from the charred camps, some fleeing from the other side of the border. “The ones who have just arrived from Burma are always in pretty bad shape,” ob-

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she stopped by the OPD to make rounds. Three days earlier, we had seen a sweetfaced 18-month-old boy with malarial tremors. We had watched as he writhed on a straw mat, teeth-chattering chills racking his febrile body, his honey-colored skin damp with perspiration. Today, it was apparent that the malaria therapy was working. The little boy’s fever had subsided, and he was feeling much better. Upon seeing Washburne, he jumped off his mother’s lap and ran to his doctor. He was smiling, and so were the Karen

Dr. Washburne makes rounds at a camp clinic, before the devastating torchings by the Burmese army.

“Here, people don’t believe doctors are gods, like we’re supposed to be in the West,” she said. “They don’t come into the clinic loaded with expectations. They appreciate anything we can do to help them. “Part of the reason I wanted to volunteer was the whole entitlement thing that people have at home,” she added. “They

served Washburne. The refugees who have lived in the camps for 12 years face challenges as well. “They cannot grow their own food. It’s prohibited by the Thai government, so they completely rely on aid,” she explained as we passed a truck that was distributing rice out of huge white plastic sacks. On my last afternoon with Washburne,

medics and villagers gathered nearby. He held out a rice cake. A simple present. And by the smile on Washburne’s face, more valuable than money in the bank. This article was reprinted with permission from the April 15, 1998, issue of DIVERSION magazine.

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Mr. Doyle Goes to Washington Two video-making trips Taft students won’t soon forget By Nathan Whittaker ’99

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ast summer, video teacher Rick Doyle and twenty of his students traveled both to the noble and majestic Olympic Peninsula in Washington State and to the blue waters of the British Virgin Islands to make movies. “I like to go a minimum of 500 miles away from here, so kids can’t go home and do other stuff.” All told, the two groups spent a combined four weeks dedicating themselves to nothing other than making movies. b Rick Doyle, Matt Donahue, and Scott Britell follow Maggie as they return from filming Killing Lassie on location. And, no, the movie has nothing to do with Rick’s faithful collie companion and video team mascot, who is alive and well and living in Watertown. 8

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This sort of excursion is certainly not a new occurrence in Taft history, but in fact, it is a decade-long tradition. To find the perfect backdrops for their screenplays, Rick and his aspiring pupils have traveled all across the United States, as well as to foreign countries, to film in such places as Martha’s Vineyard, Nantucket, the Florida Keys, West Virginia, Iowa, Montana, North Dakota, Wyoming, Utah, Minnesota, Wisconsin, St. John’s Island, Norway, and England. These voyages have produced several extraordinary films; in fact, Rick has received 38 regional Emmy nominations for the movies made on these trips. The first of their two expeditions occurred in June as they set off for a tree farm in Washington’s Olympic Peninsula for two weeks. Here, they made a film about a school shooting, a very real problem in

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Filming the final scene of Killing Lassie. An old fisherman’s cabin on the Pacific coast is used as the setting.

According to Doyle… “We try to make a family out of the whole thing. The kids take turns planning and preparing dinner each night; the traditions build each year. I always make a toast on the first night, and it’s always the same: Here’s to the movies and the people who make them.” today’s society. The film, titled Killing Lassie, stars Tim Dzurilla ’01 (Gordy), a distressed student who commits homicide; Matt Donahue ’98, Gordy’s brother and the cause of Gordy’s distress; and Eric Hansen ’99, Gordy’s friend who gets swept into the action. According to Rick, “It is a reflection on today’s glorification of violence, the desensitizing of the human being toward the value of life, and how television plays a role in the glorification of the sensational. It is a very hard-hitting, angry movie. It’s scary to think about what is going on.” The movie premiered at Taft in October and will be aired by either PBS or the local cable access station later this year. Two earlier movies, Pristine, filmed on a Wyoming trip, and Translucent, filmed in upper Minnesota two years ago, are now distributed through 23rd Publications, a Christian organization that promotes tapes about teenage issues and family values.

Making Movies on Location Olympic Peninsula, June “The location was a tree farm on the Pacific Coast of Washington. We stayed in a wonderful old cabin and did almost all the filming in the lush, green forest.” Olympic Peninsula Trip: Scott Britell ’98 Dan Cole ’00 Mike DeMarco ’99 Matt Donahue ’98 Tim Dzurilla ’01 Bridget Everly ’98 Eric Hansen ’99 Giorgio Litt ’99 Nick Ryan ’00 Cordy Wagner ’01 and Maggie, of course

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Rick Doyle directs Tim Dzurilla in a scene for Killing Lassie.

According to Doyle… “Each summer we go on location movie trips to all parts of the globe. I work with Connecticut Public Television and the movies that we do on these location trips are often shown on CPTV. Some are later distributed by a company called 23rd Publications.”

Later in the summer, the group again packed their bags to go on location for another movie: they lived on a 42-foot catamaran off the coast of the British Virgin Islands for ten days. One of the movies is called How My Mother Met My Father. “It’s a totally different idea and mood than the first project. It is a light-hearted movie about relationships after people first get married. It is a very pleasant, visually stunning movie.” Rick was not the only director on the trip— several students took the opportunity to film their own movies. Cordy Wagner ’01 created a film in which Georgio Litt ’99 stars as a man with a mental disorder. Mike DeMarco ’99 also pursued his interests in a film about two people—Georgio Litt ’99 and Nick Ryan ’00—who are lost in the woods and have to depend on each other to survive. Finally, Damon Cortesi ’98 directed a movie written by Ryan Murray, Eric Hansen ’99, and Aaron Kovalchik ’98 about four graduating high-school seniors who have difficulties “saying good-bye.” When completed, these

Making Movies Under Sail British Virgin Islands, August “The 42-foot catamaran was our center of operations as we ate and slept there. Ten days is what was needed to tape two movies. It was the first time I ever made a movie on water.” BVI trip: Scott Britell ’98 Damon Cortesi ’98 Josh Einstein ’01 Tammy Grella Eric Hansen ’99 Aaron Kovalchik ’98 Ryan Murray Lanny Shreve ’99 Andy Smith ’79 Sara Weitzel 10

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According to Doyle… “Making movies on location is nothing but problems— weather, bugs, batteries. Murphy is sometimes the 13th party member. You never know when he’s going to show up. When things can go wrong they will go wrong, but you learn to expect that. How to deal with people, that’s the toughest thing going. Learning how to make decisions, that can be the hardest part of making a movie, too.” movies will also be aired on either CPTV or the local access station. “The nice thing about the whole procedure,” says Rick, “is that people have the opportunity to write, to act, to direct, and to go on location. Going on location centers everyone; that’s the only way we can do a movie in nine or ten days. But it’s more than just that. It’s the whole idea of going together to an unusual place and living as a group. We become an extended family with a shared objective—to make a movie.

Even then, the movie is fifth down the pole of importance on these trips: safety, food, water, shelter, then the movie. Social activities are way down the list.” “It was probably the most intensive learning process I’ve ever been through,” said Cordy Wagner while editing his movie this fall. “Definitely the most rewarding.” This article originated in The Taft Papyrus last November. Nathan Whittaker is the paper’s arts editor and a highly talented cellist.

Eric Hansen and Aaron Kovalchik, in the boat, seem to be at the mercy of Josh Einstein, as this group learns to film on the water. c The trees—gentle, mossy green, gorgeous weather. That’s part of the experience, says Doyle, the beauty of these places. Eric Hansen and Matt Donahue survey the awesome setting. Taft Bulletin

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For the Love of Learning By Michael Townsend Portraits by Lisa Jackier

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or twenty-four seniors, the notion of a Taft education has an added dimension this fall. In accordance with the school’s long-standing mission of fostering independence, these students are taking charge of their education and enjoying a degree of self-reliance that has not been available in the school’s curriculum since the early days of the Independent Studies Program of the Sixties. Conspicuous by their toting enormous spiral notebooks and their obsessing over boxes of index cards, these students have elected to take the risk of leaving the traditional classroom behind in order to study subjects of their own choosing.

Kate Bienen “The course has been the best leaning experience of my life: I’ve learned things that I will use forever. Trembling on the phone during my interview with Elie Wiesel, listening to his brilliance, is something I will never forget. But I’ve also learned self-discipline; the seminar has made me learn to manage my time, to set priorities, and to focus my energy as never before.”

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Ben Cirillo possesses a keen interest in the stock market and has devoted long hours this semester to studying Wall Street and considering the possible effects of the economic crises in Asia on our markets. Danielle Perrin, one of the school’s most accomplished musicians, has been looking into the science of music therapy: the physiological and psychological benefits of music on convalescing patients. Kate Bienen, intent on forging a stronger connection to her cultural roots, is daring to examine the Holocaust in excruciating detail. Peter Walke, a committed environmentalist since seventh grade, has been exploring


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“constructed wetlands,” a method of purifying water in an ecologically sound way, and looking into the feasibility of creating a limited system at Taft. These seniors, whose passions could not be more diverse, share one common experience: each is enrolled in the inaugural Taft Senior Independent Research Seminar. They have elected to take a risk and, by designing and undertaking their own full-year academic course, they are presently following a path which diverges from the traditional Taft curriculum and challenges them to become both more resourceful and more aware of themselves as learners. The program’s genesis goes back to last year’s Senior Year Committee, a group of faculty members—led by Bob Wheeler— charged with evaluating the senior year at Taft and with making suggestions about how our seniors’ experiences could be enriched. Although initial discussions focused on the phenomena of “senior spring term”— the tendency of seniors in all high schools to tune out after the college process is completed—and on the sad fact that too many seniors reported that their last semester was the least intellectually stimulating and rewarding of their Taft careers, the committee rather quickly turned its attention to what the senior year should be. Bob Wheeler, who had been doing extensive research into approaches other schools had taken, was particularly intrigued by the Dwight-Englewood School, a day school in New Jersey. As that program had a six-year history of thoughtful revision and success, it provided a model well worth examining. Moreover, the committee believed in the inherent value of this kind of program to students of widely ranging abilities and interests; it was not to be a course exclusively for our most accomplished students. Mike Townsend and Willy MacMullen agreed to direct the program which would be based, with permission, on the DwightEnglewood model. According to Headmaster Lance Odden, the enthusiastic response from

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Andrew Bostrom “Even though I find the scarcity of time to be extremely frustrating, I have learned so much about my topic and about how I think. I am still struggling to find a precise direction for my paper, but I am learning slowly how best to manage my hectic schedule and still fit in my nightly research. This course has really challenged me to develop independence, and I am more confident now of my own ability to make things happen.”

students for this idea should have come as no surprise; indeed, the new program represents merely the latest evolutionary step in a school with a long-standing commitment to both innovation and independent work. According to Odden, the new seminar is “similar in its purpose and in the range of the intellectual excitement it generates” to the original Independent Studies Program, which Odden founded and oversaw in the Sixties. The new course honors the tradition of independent study at Taft, explains Bob Wheeler, “by embracing the conviction that our kids will do phenomenal work if we allow them to take charge of their education and then support them. What we are doing is shifting the focus from what we teach to what they learn— and that is the real measure of education.”

First Semester: The Thesis In the fall, participating students write a research paper of at least fifteen pages for the Seminar, which replaces a regular course. The process begins in the summer when they read at least two primary sources related to a field in which they have a particular interest. As soon as they return in September, they begin to consider questions which they believe will lead to an exciting exploration of some issues in that field. Concurrently, they begin the pro-

Seniors and Their Topics Kate Bienen: The Holocaust: An Investigation of “Rescuers” and Silent Conspirators. Andrew Bostrom: An Investigation into the Separation of Church and State (its constitutional history as well as contemporary interpretations—especially as it was interpreted by Judge Ira DeMent’s ruling in the Alabama case in 1994). Brooke Carleton: The Environmental, Economic, and Educational Importance of Microscale Chemistry as a Teaching Method in Chemistry Classes. Ben Cirillo: The Effects of The Asian Economic Crises on American Markets. Charles Crimmins: The Challenges that Confront Disadvantaged Urban Minority Students at Prep Schools. Michael DeMarco: The Consequences of Advances in Special Effects Technology in American Cinema. Taj Frazier: An Examination of the Explosion of Conversions to Islam in the Black Community in the Late 1960s (an argument that were it not for Islam, the rage and energies of the blacks would have been channeled into destructive forms). Jill Giardina: Effective AIDS Education for Adolescents. Lauren Henry: Primary Causes of Eating Disorders in Adolescent Females.

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Peter Walke “My consultation with an outside expert has been both the scariest and the most rewarding part of my experience. Calling a complete stranger and asking for guidance was not something that came naturally to me. But I finally worked up the nerve to call the public relations director of a wetlands construction company. We had a great talk, I learned a lot from him, and we’ve ended up being good friends.”

Galen Largay: The Pedagogical Roots of Montessori Education (and the effect of hands-on community learning on the student). Emily Lord: A Study of Twins: What It Reveals about the Nature vs. Nurture Debate. Julie Marmolejos: The Cross-cultural Influences Resulting from Increased Hispanic Immigration to the US. Emily McNair: The Ramifications of Making English the Primary Language of the Nepali Educational System. Bea Ogden: Creating an Environmental Studies Program for Primary School Children. Samantha Page: The Theme of Redemption in the Films of Martin Scorsese. Danielle Perrin: An Examination of Music Therapy and its Physical and Psychological Effects on Patients. Nicole Robertson: An Investigation into the Dangers and Benefits of Bone Marrow Transplants (and into why so few transplants occur). Becky Seel: An Examination of the Controversy Surrounding the Reintroduction of Wolves to Yellowstone Park. Cathy Schieffelin: The Relationship between Manic Depressive Illness and Creativity.

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cess of self-assessment that must continue throughout the year: they each take a “passion test” that compels them to evaluate candidly the depth of their interest, and they take a “personal learning inventory” that leads them to consider their strengths and weaknesses as a learner. Early on, the seminar classes focus on formal and systematic training in the use of written and electronic media for research. Each student must also contact at least one expert in his or her field in order to seek direction and advice. The rest of the semester is devoted to composing the Thesis. Students are given ample time to work independently as they do the research and the writing, but the seminar classes are focused on collaboration. Students take a variety of workshops designed to assist them with each stage of the writing process, and they work with each other, evaluating one another’s work and offering counsel. They also submit formal self-evaluations of their work in its various stages and write short papers in which they reflect on their progress.

Second Semester: Field Work In the second semester students continue to pursue their passion by working in the field in lieu of one or two “regular” courses. The only prerequisites for the field work are that it be directly related to the Senior

Thesis, that it provide an opportunity to expand on the learning presented in the Thesis, and that it not be of such scope to pose logistical difficulties for a student to meet his or her other obligations. By the end of the second week in January, each student submits a specific proposal for field work. In it, students must identify a series of questions from their research that can be most effectively answered through field work. Whenever possible, they should identify a mentor or outside expert (not a Taft faculty member) who can help them pursue answers to their questions. Students are asked to consider the following list and to name specific activities that would constitute meaningful field work for them: • subjects for personal interviews • sites to visit (museums, specialized libraries, archives, etc. ) • locations for actual work in the field • contact with any of the above via telephone, fax, Web site, etc. • specialized courses (not offered at Taft) in their field • additional reading • an experiment or survey or other project that carries theory into practice. Students keep a detailed log of their activities and a journal in which they assess their odysseys as they unfold. Moreover, the class meets at regular intervals to enable the students to work collaboratively, discuss specific aspects of their experiences, and give oral reports to their peers. By the end of April, students must bring the field work to a conclusion and begin work on a portfolio and an oral presentation that will represent the fruits of their year’s labor. The oral presentation will be evaluated by a panel that includes a head panelist (a student in the course who coordinates the presentation), an outside expert in the field, a faculty member, and another seminar student. How has the first group of pioneering seniors reacted to the experience thus


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far? As some of the voices that accompany this article attest, there are as many reactions as there are students in the program. Certainly, all would agree that it has challenged them in ways that are personal and profound, and that they have discovered heretofore untapped resources within themselves. Certainly, seminar student Cathy Schieffelin’s reflection indicates the richness of her experience and embodies many of the aspirations of all who had a hand in bringing this kind of experience to Taft. She writes: “Although I have learned a great deal about my topic—the relationship between manic depression and creativity—I have learned even more about my abilities as a student. I now realize that, ironically, it is often important to consult other experienced minds even while working in an ‘independent’ seminar. However, as Emerson said, ‘There is a time in every man’s education when he arrives at the conviction that envy is ignorance; that imitation is suicide. . .’ These words are especially relevant when I consider what I have gained from my senior seminar. By being enthusiastically engaged in learning about something that fascinates me, I have realized the impor-

Cathy Schieffelin “Although I have learned a great deal about my topic—the relationship between manic depression and creativity—I have learned even more about my abilities as a student. I now realize that, ironically, it is often important to consult other experienced minds even while working in an ‘independent’ seminar. By being enthusiastically engaged in learning about something that fascinates me, I have realized the importance of self-reliance in education. In this seminar the knowledge I have gained is directly proportionate to my curiosity, diligence, and desire. Even though I pay dearly for it, no college will give me an education, for, to quote Emerson again, ‘no kernel of nourishing corn can come to [me] but through [my] own toil bestowed upon that plot of ground which is given [me] to till.’”

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Laura Stevens “Senior Seminar gave me the opportunity to explore a subject—the effects of stress— that I am really interested in, and it also gave me the chance to become a certified Emergency Medical Technician, something I wouldn’t have been able to do this year otherwise. Also, because my paper is about the effects of stress on EMT’s, I learned a lot of important things that my class outside of school didn’t teach me. The learning in my Senior Seminar project was a perfect complement to my EMT training; I know it will make me a better EMT.”

tance of self-reliance in education. In this seminar the knowledge I have gained is directly proportionate to my curiosity, diligence, and desire. Even though I pay dearly for it, no college will give me an education, for, to quote Emerson again, ‘no kernel of nourishing corn can come to [me] but through [my] own toil bestowed upon that plot of ground which is given [me] to till.’” Mike Townsend is a member of the English Department and dean of the Senior Class. Fellow English teachers Willy MacMullen and Linda Saarnijoki also contributed to this article.

Sarah Sicher: The Effects of the Fundamentalist Taliban Regime on the Lives of Women in Afghanistan. Elliot Sharron: Stanley Kubrick and Woody Allen: How their Personal Lives Intersect with their Art. Laura Stevens: Emergency Medical Technicians and Critical Incident Stress. Peter Walke: An Analysis of Four Major Types of Constructed Wetlands (which are used to purify water) and an Argument in Favor of Taft’s Embracing such a System. Akio Yamanaka: An Examination of the Khmer Rouge Regime in Cambodia (and how the devastating effects of that rule can still be seen in the country’s educational and medical infrastructure).

Senior Year Committee Bob Wheeler, chair Rusty Davis Gerry DePolo Helena Fifer David Hostage Barclay Johnson Jack Kenerson Willy MacMullen Debora Phipps Mike Townsend Carolyn White Gail Wynne Bill Zuehlke

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His Work is

For the Birds Kem Appell’s Sanctuary for Exotic Waterfowl By Sara Beasley Photography by Kindra Clineff


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This pair of black-necked swans, native to the southern tip of South America, are one of only eight species of swans. Swans pair bond strongly and will remain together for twenty years or more.

b A demoiselle crane is the smallest of the thirteen species of cranes and is indigenous to southern Russia, northern Iraq, Iran, and India. A gentle bird, many are allowed to roam freely in parks and zoos. This one will eat from Kem’s hand.

m The Sanctuary is home to exotic waterfowl from every continent except Antarctica— a feathered UN of sorts. Although there are generally 500 birds in residence, at times, before a new generation of fledglings departs, there can be nearly 700.

A Baikal hen is as curious about us as we are about her.

J. Kemler Appell ’55 is an artist, a creator, and an educator. He and his wife, Julia, whose knowledge of and enthusiasm for birds is absolutely equal to her husband’s, have devoted themselves to building and maintaining a habitat for more than 75 different species of birds. His backyard aviary is a complex world, full of graceful lines and pure colors. The two hours we spent together on a wet and chilly Friday afternoon were magical: I was invited to wander through a paradise for birds and to contemplate the calm of the large pond and the singular beauty of its many inhabitants. As we talked, he opened up to me a world of intricacies and subtleties, patiently explaining to me every detail of what was a decade ago an imaginative birthday gift for Julia. That gift—a pair of swans—turned into an avocation; now, what began as a hobby must be described as a passionate mission that both Kem and

Julia share: to protect rare and endangered species and to share with others some of nature’s most beautiful creatures. I learned a great deal in my time with the Appells. Like each of their 250 pairs of birds, they are truly an impressive couple. They have taught themselves well enough that they can in turn educate others. Appell’s collection is one of the largest and most comprehensive in North America. It includes as many as 700 birds representing nearly 80 species. Some originate in South America, Nepal, and Bangladesh, to name but a few of the exotic species to be found in Appell’s backyard. This is the only place on the East Coast that one can see sea ducks in captivity. The Appells’ collection ranks with those found in the Bronx, San Diego, and Miami zoos. The names of the birds, although plenty poetic, do not begin to do them justice: silver versicolor teal, Bahama pintail, white cheek, Euro-

pean wigeon, Argentine red shoveler, cinnamon teal, Barrows goldeneye, hooded merganser, blue-scaled quail, Hawaiiannene, coscoroba swan, West African crown crane. My favorite was the iridescent Impian pheasant from Nepal—a truly gorgeous and majestic bird. Nestled on a wooded lot near the heart of Farmington, the “Sanctuary” is home to all of these birds and to many, many more. Some of the birds can come and go, but all seem to know that this place is always their home. This private aviary is designed to educate and to excite the minds and imaginations of all who visit. Connecticut College students studying animal behavior and behavioral science have found the aviary an invaluable resource, for example. Kem and Julia are especially interested in youngsters: second grade classes from schools all around the area have been visiting for years. Kem shows

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Luke and his Lady: An adopted Canada goose (originally misnamed Lucy) eventually found his match in this emperor goose at the Sanctuary. Kem doesn’t normally keep Canada geese, but he took Luke in after he was hatched in a shoebox in an Ohio motel. His mother had been frightened off the nest and some traveling students cared for the gosling until they found the Sanctuary. So far the mismatched pair have laid only infertile eggs.

me stacks of letters he has received from his seven- and eight-year-old friends. He saves every letter, clearly relishing the connection forged with the students. School buses pull into the Appells’ quiet neighborhood each spring and disgorge loads of excited youngsters. Typically, Kem and Julia take the children upon arrival into the garage for some preliminary teaching. The youngsters are then instructed to “park their noisy voices” in this makeshift “lecture hall.” At that point, each youngster is given a photograph of a bird. If the child can find that bird during the carefully planned walk through the aviary, then he or she gets to take home the photograph. The walk itself is calm and full of information. The children are given every opportunity to ask questions. The children’s letters are decorated with drawings of the birds they saw; the care taken with the drawings (and with the spelling

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For Julia’s birthday, Kem wanted to surprise her with a pair of black swans for the pond, and so the Sanctuary began in their backyard. It is now a collection to share. There are four black swans today. Fittingly, black swans are among the few birds where the male and female share the responsibility of incubating eggs, much as Kem and Julia have worked together to create this amazing aviary.

of the birds’ names) conveys how powerfully affecting an experience each child has. Kem and Julia believe strongly in the value of the education the Sanctuary provides: “Growing up in 20th century suburbia, children are deprived of the chance to learn about nature, about animal behavior,” says Kem. “Here, they can learn about life. Lessons are easily learned in this context; they see the whole cycle of life.” He and Julia also believe that visiting the fragile beauty of the Sanctuary teaches children basic lessons in responsibility. These children visit from all over the area; however, it is not surprising that some of the most responsive students are those from urban schools. During my time with him, Kem Appell impresses me with the breadth of his knowledge and the depth of his commitment. He shows me every facet of the Sanctuary’s design, pointing out the “salamanders” designed to melt snow

on the roof of the hatchery before it can gain any appreciable weight and pose a danger to the vulnerable chicks below. The entire area is enclosed within an electric fence. While these birds have many natural predators and thus are in constant danger, the fence and other protective measures do slow down a would-be adversary. The birds’ natural haven is the large pond. As we walk toward it, several black swans swim out to greet us. Kem and Julia immediately begin to talk to the swans, and they encourage me to do the same. I am taken aback by the volume and responsiveness of the birds. Clearly, these birds are comfortable with humans. Kem and Julia acknowledge just how attuned they’ve become to the various calls and sounds of their birds; it is easy to distinguish a cry of greeting from a cry of panic. It is difficult to imagine any threat, however, as I look out over the


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Getting your ducks in a row: These harlequin ducks are excellent swimmers and divers. They also enjoy a swing Kem built to resemble floating logs such as they might find in the wild. The harlequins are a threatened species, with an Atlantic population of roughly 2,000 and a population of 50,000 on the Pacific. There are only a dozen pairs in captitivity.

Kem and Julia are fairly tethered to their backyard oasis, but it is something to share with others, from second graders to college students, from grandchildren to hip-wader wearing Audubon Society members.

serene community of waterfowl. The birds enjoy a beautifully landscaped and gently sloping beach along one side of the pond. Kem has built a series of connecting decks on the water to allow the birds to move about. Overall, the pond looks much like a park; there are swings for the birds to play on, and all kinds of perches and natural vantage points. Protective measures—such as the electric fence—blend in with the lush and wooded setting. The most vulnerable birds and those not native to North America live within an enclosed aviary. Kem has made strategic use of hollowed out tree trunks and logs in order to achieve a harmonious and appealing habitat. One could sit quietly for hours, just observing the birds in what must be a very happy playground. Kem confesses that he often does just that: he sits and watches and listens and learns. “It’s amazing how human they seem sometimes,” he explains.

Our tour includes the nesting area, marked by private nest boxes made of cedar. It’s nicely solitary and the birds are well-protected from crows simply because they are ever so-slightly hidden from view. Again, I’m struck by how carefully designed the aviary is: it preserves and replicates the natural habitats of these birds in a simple, graceful fashion. Every bird is mated; if a bird is lost, it is immediately replaced. Their diet is as carefully considered as their environment. The birds eat wheat and corn in the winter to build fat; otherwise, Iams makes a special sea-duck diet. I learn that quail and pheasants love fruit, and that three pounds of fathead minnows are served every Friday. As we enter a storage shed, I ask Kem to show me what is inside several large bins. His strong, blunt fingers gently sift through the mix of wheat, dog food, oyster shells and bird seed that his birds eat. He gives the mix his full attention, patiently explaining to me why his birds need each element.

Every detail matters to him; one small miscalculation of temperature or amount can affect the health and life of his birds. Considering the care that he and Julia take with their aviary, it is no surprise that he chooses and handles the birds’ food with such tenderness. Luckily, waterfowl are hardy; of all birds, they are among the least susceptible to viruses. They are treated prophylactically for water-borne illnesses, and given heartworm medicine as well. The Appells have lost birds over the years, to be sure. But Kem and Julia are matter-of-fact about the risks they run. They are sure to do everything they can think of to protect and to sustain the birds in a healthy, safe, and aesthetically pleasing environment. And the eight resident endangered species are provided a secure place to live, thus ensuring the perpetuation of the breed. The Sanctuary tries to combine a park theme and setting with a commitment to

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The white wood duck is a mutation, not an albino, of the Carolina wood duck found along the eastern seacoast. The mutation happens once in 100,000 birds. The bird on the right is an old squaw, which is found along the Atlantic seacoast.

Julia and Kem Appell ’55 in their backyard aviary.

education. As Julia explains, “We can’t be all things to all people. We make the choice not to breed the birds.” Instead, they are bred and hatched in Litchfield and then brought to the Sanctuary. In fact, Kem is quick to invoke his “mentor” Mike Bean, and to credit his help with creating and maintaining the Sanctuary. Mike is some thirty years younger than Kem, and is the superintendent and curator of the Livingston-Ripley Waterfowl Trust in Litchfield, begun by Dillon Ripley, an ornithologist and former secretary of the Smithsonian. It is Mike Bean who first showed Kem, clad in his Cole-Haan shoes and his Sunday finest, as they tramped together through the muddy grounds of the Waterfowl Trust, what is possible to create for these birds. Kem’s reaction, he says, was “typical: I want it all, and I want it now.” Unfortunately, he had to wait for the eggs to hatch and for the hatchlings to fledge (to feather), so he read, and he

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learned “the hard way.” I sense the determination of this man—and the vision, and the patience it took to execute his dream. There was much to add and to alter in terms of his property. The pond originally held trout; the neighbors had to learn to accept the deliveries of propane to heat the buildings, and to get used to the school buses. Kem gave up golf, skiing, the country club, and trips to the Caribbean. He and Julia are fairly tethered to their backyard oasis, in fact, and they get only part-time help in running and maintaining the Sanctuary. Yet both are quick to affirm its centrality in their lives and its many rewards. Put most simply, it is something to share with others, from second graders to college students, from grandchildren to hip-wader wearing Audubon Society members. The Appells’ creation of the Sanctuary has led to professional memberships and an ardent side interest. Kem is on the

board of the American Pheasant and Waterfowl Society. He has also developed a passion for wood carvings of birds and has been asked to judge carvings from all over the world. “Wildfowl Art,” as it is called, is a beautiful and delicate form of representation. Like the second graders, wood carvers also make use of the Sanctuary. They come to observe and study the eider and other waterfowl living on the pond. Kem and Julia show me some of these incredible carvings, and I am struck by the detail of each. Life-size and life-like in every way, the carvings are warm and vivid renderings of the very creatures I had seen swimming, splashing and feeding on the pond. Thanks to the Appells, I am far away from Friday afternoon traffic and the cares of a restless world. Sara Beasley is a member of the English Department. She came to Taft two years ago after teaching at Davidson College.


ALUMNI IN THE NEWS

Alumni IN THE NEWS

Bob Taft ’59, Governor of Ohio

Ohio picked another Taft for public office last November. Bob Taft, two-term Republican secretary of state, won the governor’s seat 90 years to the day after his great-grandfather William Howard Taft was elected U.S. president. Bob also recalled the service of his grandfather and father in the U.S. Senate [Robert Taft ’06 and Robert Taft ’35]. “My only aspiration is to be the very best governor I can be,” Bob said. He prevailed in an “often bitter campaign” with a 50-to-45 percent victory that marked the closest Ohio gubernatorial race since 1978 and a largely Republican sweep in that state in November. The New York Times called it “a race between Ohio’s conservative south and the urban north.” Taft built his near-180,000vote statewide victory on comfortable

margins in GOP-friendly smaller cities, greater Cincinnati, and rural Ohio. Taft, 56, campaigned on a “moderate package of promises led by his vow to improve both the funding and quality of public schools and to work aggressively to ensure that pupils can read well by the end of fourth grade.” He is the first Republican to succeed a Republican governor in Ohio since 1903. Prior to holding public offices in Ohio, where he has held various posts since 1969, Bob worked for the State Department in Vietnam and for the Peace Corps in East Africa. He holds a BA from Yale, an MA from Princeton, and a JD from the University of Cincinnati. Source: Randy Ludlow, The Cincinnati Post.

The Rhodes Scholarship Trust has announced that Will Polkinghorn ’95 was one of 32 American students selected for 1999. This year’s recipients of scholarships for two years of study at Oxford University in England were chosen from 909 applications endorsed by 310 colleges and universities. Currently a senior at Colby College, Will called Taft Headmaster Lance Odden shortly after learning of this prestigious honor. According to Mr. Odden, Will wanted to express his gratitude to the Taft School for “changing his life and making this possible.” In particular, Will wanted to thank Chemistry teacher David Hostage, retired English teacher Bill Nicholson, and retired baseball coach Larry Stone for “instilling in him the desire to reach for excellence.” Mr. Odden said that he is “incredibly proud of Will’s accomplishment,” noting that Will struggled at first when he came to Taft, but he “took full advantage of the school and held himself to the highest standards.” Will is the third Taft School alumnus to be named a Rhodes Scholar, following Karen Stevenson ’75 and Julianna Horseman ’85.

Photo courtesy of Colby College

Will Polkinghorn ’95, Rhodes Scholar

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ALUMNI IN THE NEWS

Mary Mason Young ’82, Raising Stroke Awareness Photo by Jeff Frey & Assoc.

Mary Mason Young was recently profiled in a Duluth, Minnesota, newspaper for her work in stroke awareness. The issue is a personal one for Mary, who suffered a stroke just three months after her graduation from

Taft. The myth that strokes affect only the elderly is one she’d like to correct. Now 33 years old and recently married, stroke is still part of Mary’s life, “but it’s not her whole story.” She got her degree on what she “jokingly refers to as the 6-year college plan,” with a double major in youth ministry and religious studies. She then went on for her MS in education from the University of Wisconsin. Mary now coordinates the Human Development Center’s Public Housing Outreach Program, working with older adults and people with disabilities and helping them to live independently as long as possible. “She has a keen understanding of the struggle to maintain a balance between the need for independence and the value of a support system,” Twin Ports People wrote. “I see people communicate with persons who have disabilities from what I

call a ‘feel sorry for’ attitude,” Mary said. “Sympathy perhaps. My question then becomes: ‘Is that what’s appropriate?’ Sure, we support our friends and family when they go through a difficult time in life; but, do they really need our ongoing sympathy? Perhaps my attitude seems harsh, but I really feel that people need solutions, alternatives, and an attitude of ‘where do I go from here?’ in order to lead the best possible life with dignity and respect.... While it’s okay to offer assistance, we need to be open to the fact that it’s equally okay for them to decline any.” “For me, my stroke has become a very valuable learning tool. I have grown and learned in areas of which I probably would never have thought.” Source: Gail Wallace, Twin Ports People

Patrick Kerney ’95, Football First Team All-American Photo by Jim Carpenter

University of Virginia defensive end Patrick Kerney was named to the Football News All-American team as selected by the publication’s editorial staff. He was also named first-team All-America by the Football Writers Association of America. He is one of two defensive players from the Atlantic Coast Conference, both from UVa, named to the team. Pat went to Virginia on a lacrosse scholarship, but decided to go out for football his first year. He has since molded himself into one of the top pass rushers in the nation. He leads the ACC with 14 quarterback sacks, one shy of the school record. He has made 59 tackles this season, including 20 for lost yardage. At 6-6 and 265 pounds, he seems NFL bound Photo by Pete Emerson

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and scouts are already “hounding” him. “It’s a great honor— the best thing that’s ever happened to me. Four years of hard work has paid off,” said Pat upon learning of his selection. “I started as a walk-on here at Virginia, so it shows how far a player can go in a career. I’m thankful to my teammates and coaches because it wasn’t just me. I’ve been able to be a part of a great team and I’ve been blessed to have outstanding coaches.” Pat originally came to Taft with the intention of playing ice hockey but never did make the varsity. Instead, he lettered in football, wrestling, and lacrosse and rarely missed a day of lifting weights. Virginia football is ranked seventh in the nation.


Photo by Nicole Keys

Photo by Jeannette Montgomery Barron

Architectural Acclaim

Donald Buttenheim ’33 Receives First John Willard Award The Emma Willard School chose Donald Buttenheim ’33 as the first person honored with the John Willard Award “for unsurpassed service to the school founded by his mother.” John Willard’s legacy of excellence in molding the school through the years and helping to form a financially sound institution has been an inspiration to those who followed. In honoring Don, the school said, “Through your years of consistent and gracious service to the three educational institutions that have shaped your wise and generous spirit, you have grown a three-sided heart that warmly embraces the pasts and futures of The Taft School, Williams College, and our own Emma Willard.... You have helped to navigate the Emma Willard community through unsettled times, lending the strength of your dignity, your humor, your clear sense of values, not only to solve difficult problems, but also to help us all move forward in our educational task with vision and dedication.... (We recognize) your personal and professional excellence and integrity, your active commitment to optimistic human and spiritual values, and your years of loyalty, generosity, and leadership in keeping the legacies of Emma and John Willard alive and flourishing.” Don’s three daughters attended Emma Willard, as did his sister. He has served as a parent trustee, an honorary trustee, and a member of their board for fourteen years—as both first vice president and then president.

Centerbrook Architects and Planners, of which Jefferson Riley ’64 is one of the founding partners, was honored by the American Institute of Architects’ 1998 Architecture Firm Award. The honor is the highest that the AIA confers on a firm and is awarded annually to a single practice that has produced distinguished architecture for at least ten years. Jeff’s firm is in good company as previous recipients include I.M. Pei & Partners, Cesar Pelli & Associates, among others. Centerbrook was recognized for its ability to “consistently create beautiful architecture that responds to local contexts with human scale and spaces filled with delight.” Centerbrook has worked with Nobel laureate Dr. James Watson at Long Island’s Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory to develop humane settings and has extended that experience to many other institutions including Dartmouth, Yale, MIT, Williams, and Colgate, as well as designing churches, hotels, libraries, theaters, retail complexes, community centers, industrial plants, and private residences.

Barbie Potter ’79 Recalls Life on Tour Barbie Potter [see also Potter Enters Hall of Fame, Winter ’98] spoke to a packed audience at Yale University’s Smilow Field Center during the U.S. Tennis Association’s New England Junior Sectional Championships. She spoke along with Tim Mayotte of Springfield, Mass.; together they were

“billed as the top male and female pro players to rise from the tennis courts of New England.” Looking back, Barbie, 36, listed the highlight of her career as the time she beat her childhood idol, Billie Jean King, in three sets during the third year of her pro career. “Don’t listen to people who

say it can’t be done,” Barbie advised. “Nobody can tell you you can’t be good. You have to decide the reality for yourself.” Barbie was once ranked seventh in the nation in professional tennis. She retired in 1989 and is now a reporter for the Providence, RI, Journal-Bulletin. Taft Bulletin

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AROUND THE POND

pond Photo by Vaughn Winchell

Nobel Laureate Visits Taft On Thursday, November 12, Dr. Alfred Gilman ’58, paid his first visit to Taft in forty years to speak at morning meeting, visit science classes, and speak with students and faculty. Dr. Gilman, also a graduate of Yale University, won the 1994 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his ground-breaking discovery of the G-protein component of the cell membrane; the G-protein is involved in intercellular communication, and G-protein research has now become one of the hottest topics in biological research. During his speech, Dr. Gilman reflected upon his experience at Taft and played a brief video of the Nobel Prize induction ceremony. While at Taft, he was active in science, music, and sports, graduating cum laude and receiving the Rensselaer Alumni Medal for excellence in mathematics and science. His remarks, in part, appear on page 55. Source: Taft Press Club c Nobel Laureate Al Gilman ’58

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AROUND THE POND

Squashing the Competition The extraordinary depth of the current boys’ squash team prompted a week-long tour to England over Thanksgiving, during which they played six matches, sampled England’s culinary delights, and adjusted their notion of time and tradition. Their opponents included England’s finest school teams, against whom they fared very well, losing only to the very best—Wycliffe College. In that match, #1 and Captain Nick Kyme won his first game 9-1, and was up in the second when he repulled a hamstring injured during the soccer season. Nick lost in four; Ryan Byrnes, Max Montgelas, Aftab Mathur, and Eric Wadhwa each lost tight matches 3-2; Dave Morris lost 30 at #7; and Ross Koller emerged The varsity squash team spent their Thanksgiving holiday in an unusual place. with Taft’s only win (3-1) at #6. With Kyme sidelined for the rest of the Bogardus ’88 also did a great job driving tune-up for the season, as the team trip, they beat Lansing College 4-3, on the left side of the road and keeping opened its season with wins over perenBrighton College 5-2, Millfield 5-2, and the tank full of petrol.” They met the nial powerhouses Chestnut Hill Academy Harrow 6-1. great English player Jonah Barrington, and Haverford School in Philadelphia. “We were treated like royalty by our toured Salisbury and Westminster CatheLansing College visited Taft earlier hosts, particularly Lansing College,” said drals, stayed in a haunted pub, ate “Toad this fall to play both squash and soccer. Coach Peter Frew ’75. “Playing at Har- in a hole” too often, and visited The fourth international soccer match for row was really fun, as the game of squash Stonehenge by moonlight. “It was lots Taft, the game ended at 1-1. “It was a was invented there, and we also got to of fun… a real learning experience… great match for all involved,” said Coach play ‘rackets,’ the precursor to squash, in once-in-a-lifetime. We learned a lot about Willy MacMullen ’78. “As we always diswhich the rock-hard ball flies at 180 miles squash and about ourselves,” said Cap- cover in games like this, sports can bring per hour around a slate court. Andrew tain Nick Kyme. The trip was also a great people together.”

Admissions Travel Alex Chu ’66 accompanied Director of Admissions Ferdie Wandelt ’66 on his November trip through southeast Asia, including Hong Kong, Taipei, Bangkok, Hanoi, Ho Chi Minh City, and Mumbai (Bombay). Alex is pictured here, left, with the parents of Khiem Do Ba ’00, who are both math teachers at Hanoi Amsterdam School, the leading school in Hanoi for math and science. On the right is their translator, Ha, who was at Ake Panya in Thailand last year with Khiem. Taft Bulletin

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ACADEMIC HONORS Cum Laude AP Scholar Awards

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per-middle and middle year records. The Cum Laude Committee may also elect one-year students with extraordinary records. Averages are weighted for accelerated or Advanced Placement courses. Students were inducted at morning meeting. This year’s honorees are seniors Seth Caffrey, Sonia Cheng, Steve Dost, Tyler Doyle, Lauren Henry, Mythri Jegathesan, Sara Mehta, Dave Morris, and Danielle Perrin. Steffi Holler, an ASSIST student from Germany last year, was inducted in absentia. Other members of the class will be named to Cum Laude at commencement in May. Michael Baudinet ’00 and Andrew Karas ’01 were recognized at the same school meeting as the ranking scholars in their respective classes.

Rockwell Visiting Artist John Hull Photo by Susan Faber, Town Times

Fifty-seven Taft students have been named Advanced Placement Scholars by the College Board in recognition of their exceptional achievement on AP Examinations. Approximately 23 percent of America’s graduating seniors have taken one or more AP Exams. Only about 13 percent of the more than 635,000 students who took AP Examinations in May 1998 performed at a sufficiently high level to merit such recognition. At Taft, 18 students qualified for the AP Scholar with Distinction Award by averaging at least 3.5 on all AP Exams taken, and earning grades of 3 or higher on five or more of these exams. Eight students qualified for the AP Scholar with Honor Award by averaging at least 3.5 on all AP Exams taken, and receiving a grade of 3 or higher on four or more exams. Thirty-one students qualified for the AP Scholar Award by completing three or more AP Exams with grades of 3 or higher. Of this year’s award recipients, five are currently seniors at Taft and have at least one more year in which to earn another Advanced Placement Award. At Taft, the average grade is 3.9. AP Examinations, which 75 percent of all seniors take after completing challenging college-level courses, are graded on a 5-point scale. Most of the nation’s colleges and universities award credit, advanced placement, or both for grades of 3 or higher. More than 1,400 institutions award sophomore standing to students presenting a sufficient number of qualifying grades. The College Board offers 32 AP examinations in 18 subject areas. Taft students took over 400 AP exams last year.

In December, ten members of the Class of 1999 were inducted into The Taft School Chapter of the Cum Laude Society. Although the school is allowed to elect a maximum of one-fifth of a graduating class, only 7 percent were inducted this year in the first round. Taft generally includes 10 percent of the class in the fall and the remainder at graduation, rarely inducting more than 16 or 17 percent of a given class, according to Dean of Academic Affairs Bill Morris ’69. Cum Laude is the highest academic honor given at Taft. “While we celebrate their academic accomplishments,” Bill Morris said, “these students have distinguished themselves in all areas of school life.” Selection is based on both the up-

Artist John Hull came to Taft on Thursday, November 19. A narrative painter, he works with many themes including baseball, boxing, Los Alamos, and King Lear, to name a few. He gave two lectures on his work and attended art classes where he gave professional critiques of students’ artwork. Hull has been described as a “narrative” and “economical” painter. Some of his work is currently on display at the

Metropolitan Museum of Art, The New Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Yale University Art Gallery. He is a cum laude graduate of Yale University and has received four grants from the National Endowment for the Arts. His visit to Taft was sponsored by the school’s Rockwell Fellowship, established in 1997, which funds the visits of several professional artists each year.


AROUND THE POND

Summer Well Spent French teacher WT Miller had a productive summer in 1998. First, he traveled to Switzerland to teach at TASIS. From there he went to Nantes, France, where he set up a summer program that will become Taft in France. He hopes it will attract Taft students, but it will be available to all students through the Taft Summer School. From Nantes, WT went to Genneteil, a small town just outside of Saumur, where he spent two weeks collaborating with French author Jérôme de Boissard. “As a teacher there is no better way to understand literature than to see a book ‘constructed’ and to see how the author thinks.” He also attended a Balzac conference at a nearby chateau where Balzac worked on many of his best known works, including Le Père Goriot. Finally, WT created a new course for Taft that will lead directly into the AP French language course. Photo by Eric Poggenpohl

Woelper to Head Thai School History teacher Tom Woelper has been chosen to succeed former Taft faculty member Gordon Jones as the head of Ake Panya International School in Chiang Mai, Thailand. Ake Panya is Taft’s sister school founded by Thai businessman Krits Palarit. Mr. Woelper, on sabbatical leave for the 199899 school year, is attending Columbia University for the second semester and will begin his new post in June, according to Headmaster Lance Odden.

Head Nurse Retires Barbara Houle, Taft’s head nurse for 26 years, recently announced her retirement at the end of December. “Barbara served Taft and the students wonderfully during her tenure as head nurse, providing increasingly excellent care and expansion of services. She served ably twenty-four hours a day,” said Charlie McNair, the school’s physician. “We’ll miss her deeply.”

Johnson Recognized in Poetry Competition English teacher Barclay Johnson ’53 won Honorable Mention in the 1998 Writer’s Digest poetry competition. The contest attracted over 9,000 entries. The rhyming poem he submitted is reproduced here. Heirlooms of War At Saturday’s flea market fair on the Green, I saw within the bright moraine of farm towns vanishing, heirlooms of war that only skinheads consider sane: Helmets and bayonets, a Kraut grenade Medievally at home with pots and needlepoints. “Handle what you like,” a peddler said. Could he remember those devotees, Sifting through debris for arms and brass? When I was small and Dad went overseas, I hung my treasured blades beyond my cot To stare them down like snakes! The peddler tracked my eyes across a sword, Drawn to show its sharpness to the sun. “British,” I told him. “1805.” The grip and pitted hilt looked better won Than all those custom-made now under glass. To my surprise, I never picked it up. Not nowadays: my visit to Les Invalides, Where Bonaparte remains, pristine, With hordes of armour, walls of swords, the world’s First hospital for vets still smelling of chlorine Had smothered fascination, mocked my awe In sacrifice—the gaudy and the hostage-like. So much for my collection—bric-a-brac I can’t give away—not even to my sons! Yet still we watch for anniversaries Of brotherhoods on sacred battlefields, Cooking steaks in smoky reveries; While just across the valley, ranks of headstones Climb through all our years To take the high ground with their bones. Taft Bulletin

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AROUND THE POND

Grandparents’ Day

John and Kay Alban with Gregory Stevenson ’00

Alex Dickson ’99 with both of her grandmothers, Isabel Leach and Marge Dickson.

Katie Blunt ’02 and Todd Peebler ’99 with their grandmothers, Ms. Janet Anderson, left center, and Mrs. Mildred Worley, right center, who each traveled from Dallas, TX, for Grandparents’ Day. They discovered that they lived relatively near one another in the Lone Star State.

Roswell Johnson and Betty Carey with grandson Ged Johnson ’01 28

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Mihoko Maru ’01 pictured with her grandfather, Hiroshi Maru, who traveled from Tokyo to attend Grandparents’ Day and visit with his granddaughter. Mr. Maru said Mihoko was very lucky to be able to study in such excellent conditions.

Laura Marvel with granddaughter Blair Boggs ’02


AROUND THE POND

Telethon Time

Talk About Fun Times!

Rob Barber ’75 and Ca rl Sangree ’75

anClaudia Friedm 9 ’8 an Hoffm

Mike Brenner ’53

Talk About Fantastic Tafties! Picture It… New York City… November 1998… More than 50 alumni spent two nights feverishly dialing classmates in hopes of winning the nightly competition for most pledges raised. Rocky Gaut ’56 and Bob Coons ’41 tied for first place on Wednesday night while Rob Barber ’75 beat out Mike Giobbe ’59 by a mere 2 pledges on Thursday. Nobody went home empty-handed as Taft water bottles were given to all in thanks for a job well done! Next competition: March 3 and 4. Be There!

Dylan Simonds ’89 Bridget George ’94, Vic toria Larson ’94, and Mimi Hamilton ’94

John Greer ’47 and Dick Hulbert ’47

Wendy Bert Ross ’79 and ’79 aix Ch Weaver

Rocky Gaut ’5

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Dyllan McGee ’89

Nick Finn ’87 and Sophie Griswold ’87

Whitney Parks ’93

Eric Mendelso

hn ’88

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sport Fall Big Red Scoreboard Boys’ Crew

Football

Head Coach: ............................................................ Al Reiff Captain: .......................................................... Ed Miller ’99 Record: ........................................................................... 7-2 Crew Award: ............................................. David Morris ’99 Captain-elect: ......................................... Ryan Sochacki ’00

Head Coach: .................................................. Steve McCabe Captain: ..................................................... Todd Peebler ’99 Record: ........................................................................... 0-8 Black Football Award: ......................... Michael Sipowicz ’99 Cross Football Award: ................................... Ned Smith ’99 Captain-elect: .............................................. Venroy July ’00

Boys’ Cross Country Head Coach: .................................................... Steve Palmer Captain: ............................................... Mark Deschenes ’99 Record: ........................................................................... 7-4 John Small Cross Country Award: ............. Mark Deschenes Captains-elect: ..... Michael Baudinet ’00, Cameron White ’00

Boys’ Soccer Head Coach: ............................................ Willy MacMullen Captain: ..................................................... Brad D’Arco ’99 Record: ..................................................................... 10-5-2 Carroll Soccer Award: ....... Ben Cirillo ’99, Brad D’Arco ’99 Captains-elect: ................... Ramsey Brame ’00, Art Solis ’00

Girls’ Cross Country Founders’ League Champs Head Coach: .................................................... Karla Palmer Captain: .................................................. Danielle Perrin ’99 Record: ........................................................................... 9-0 Girls’ Cross Country Award: ........................ Danielle Perrin, Heather McKeller ’99 Captains-elect: .... Lindsay Dell ’00, Heather Lindenman ’00

Girls’ Soccer Head Coach: ............................................ Andrew Bogardus Captain: .................................................. Julie Feldmeier ’99 Record: ........................................................................... 8-7 1976 Girls’ Soccer Award: ............................. Julie Feldmeier Captains-elect: ....... Emily Blanchard ’00, Kelly Sheridan ’00

Girls’ Volleyball Field Hockey Head Coach: ..................................................... Fran Bisselle Captains: .............. Emily Townsend ’99, Jillian Giardina ’99 Record: ..................................................................... 14-1-1 Field Hockey Award: ........ Emily Townsend, Jillian Giardina Captains-elect: ....... Keely Murphy ’00, Katherine Putnam ’00

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Head Coach: ........................................................... Jane Lee Captains: ................. Sabrina R. Idy ’99, Kathryn Parkin ’00 Record: ........................................................................... 1-6 Volleyball Award: ........................................... Sabrina R. Idy Captains-elect: ..... Meredith Morris ’00, Kathryn Parkin ’00


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The Western Connecticut Soccer Officials Association awarded Taft’s girls’ varsity soccer team the Ted Alex Award for outstanding sportsmanship displayed throughout the 1998 season. Coach Andrew Bogardus ’88 proudly accepted this award at the association’s annual banquet on November 10, saying, “I am lucky to have a team full of focused, goodnatured athletes who simply love the game and always play a full 80 minutes without letting anything distract them. We are also fortunate to have very good leadership from Captain Julie Feldmeier ’99.”

Townsend is All-American Girl

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Girls’ Varsity Soccer Wins Sportsmanship Award

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Emily Townsend ’99, co-captain of the varsity field hockey team, earned her way onto the first team All American this year. She was picked from all high school field hockey players across the United States as one of the top eleven players in the country (and the only one from New England). “This is an incredible honor for an outstanding athlete,” said Coach Fran Bisselle. In Emily’s three years starting on Taft’s varsity squad, the team is 40-7-3. She scored 20 assists and 15 goals this year alone. The senior mid-fielder is described by her teammates as “one of the best field hockey players ever to attend Taft.” Emily traveled with teammates Katie Putnam, Keeley Murphy, and Jana Gold over Thanksgiving to compete at the Field Hockey Festival for the Houston Field Hockey Club. In addition, Emily has been invited to try out for the National Field Hockey Team over winter break.

Kyme Wins International Squash Award Nick Kyme ’99 from Bermuda was honored with the first Mark Talbott International Junior Squash Fair Play Award at the final awards dinner for the 1998 World Junior Men’s Championships. The award is given to the player who “exemplifies the spirit we are seeking to instill in all players,” said Ted Wallbutton, World Squash Federation’s chief executive. “Nick Kyme, in each of his four appearances at these world championships, has earned the respect of his opponents and the admiration of all the tournament officials for his outstanding sportsmanship.” The Squash Player magazine said, “Not only a fair player, Kyme is a legend in his own right; the only player ever to play in four world junior championships. His first appearance was at age 11.” He hasn’t fared poorly at Taft either, where he is captain for the second year of a team that is favored to win the New Englands for the 3rd time in Nick’s four years. His individual record in Taft matches is 43 and 1. Nick also plays varsity soccer and was the anchor man on Taft’s school record-breaking 4x400 meter relay team last spring. Taft Bulletin

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—By Dr. Alfred Gilman ’58 This is truly an interesting experience for me. I speak formally to medical students, Ph.D. students, and scientific colleagues all the time, but I have never had the chance to speak formally to a group of young men and women in high school. I want you all to dream about being explorers. You must be an explorer in every aspect of your life, no matter what your pursuit. A goal as a scientist, teacher, or any other type of scholar should be to discover new truth and knowledge and/or better ways to impart that knowledge to the community. A goal as a physician should be to discover new ways to earn the trust that your patients have placed in you. A goal as an attorney should be to discover new and simple paths to fairness for all. A goal as a business person might be to discover new approaches to improve productivity and enhance satisfaction for your employees. When you look back, you will want to be able to say to yourself that you made a difference. You will want to be able to feel that you left the world a bit better for your presence. Otherwise, what was it all about? We are frighteningly insignificant in the grand scheme of things. We must not strive for less than making a difference. Here is a truism of life, but you will only believe it as you age: each fractional increment in life passes in equal apparent time. It is a geometric/ logarithmic system. For a 15-year-old to pass to age 20, you grow older by 33 percent in 5 years. To pass from 40 to 54 you age by 33 percent in 14 years. To pass from 60 to 80 you age

by 33 percent in 20 years. But the bad news is that the 5 years starting at 15, the 14 years starting at 40, and the 20 years starting at 60 seem to pass in equal time! A corollary of this truism is that most of you currently think you are immortal. You know that you are not, but you really believe that you are. You think you have all the time in the world, but you don’t. It is time to start the serious dreaming and planning. Now I want to spend a little bit of my time talking with you about science, particularly about biology and medicine. I was fortunate to start serious study of biology near the dawn of the age of enlightenment. 1953 has been called “the end of history” in biology because it witnessed publication of the most important paper about biology to have ever been written. This paper is likely the most important ever published in all of science. And to go out on a limb, it is perhaps the most important paper that will ever be published in all of science, including the first descriptions of extra terrestrial life forms, which will happen some day. I hope that you know that the authors were James Watson and Francis Crick, and the discovery, published in a very brief two-page report, was of the double-helical structure of DNA. This fabulous structure showed two long strands of DNA wound helically around the same axis but running in opposite directions. The two strands were joined together because of beautifully complementary chemical bonding between pairs of the four bases that constitute the alphabet of DNA.

An A on one strand dictated a T on the other, and vice versa, while a G on one strand dictated a C on the other, and vice versa. Thus, if the sequence of letters on one chain is given, the sequence on the other chain is determined automatically. When you look at some structures you don’t learn much about function. But when you look at this structure, you suddenly learn the secret of the most fundamental property of life—replication. In the most classic of all understatements, Watson and Crick wrote at the end of this brief report: “It has not escaped our notice that the specific pairing we have postulated immediately suggests a possible copying mechanism for the genetic material.” Where have we come since then? First, appreciation of the central dogma of biology: that DNA encodes the blueprint for life by specifying the sequences of RNA, and that the sequences of RNA specify the order of amino acids in proteins, which are the fundamental building blocks of cells. We have learned to read the blueprints of life and to clone and manipulate the genes in DNA. These basic discoveries have had enormous practical consequences over the past 20 years. To name just a few: The complete DNA sequence of most major pathogenic bacteria is now known, greatly facilitating design of new antibiotics, which we need very badly as bacteria become resistant to the older drugs. The complete DNA sequence of more complex eukaryotic organisms, such as yeast, worms, and fruit flies, is now known or will be soon.

“…most of you currently think you are immortal. You know that you are not, but you really believe that you are. You think you have all the time in the world, but you don’t. It is time to start the serious dreaming and planning.” 32

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The complete sequence of the human genome will be known before any of you graduate from college. This is a monumental task, but it will be completed. There are about 100,000 genes in the human genome, so we are basically talking about an extremely dynamic puzzle with 100,000 pieces. To date, biologists have been trying to understand the mammalian organism by trying to put this puzzle together even though we only had a small fraction of the pieces. Human genes are now being cloned at a dizzying pace. When the genome is sequenced we will have them all, as well a read-out of other information in the DNA that controls the expression of these genes. In this postgenome era, which is starting right now, the complete puzzle will be assembled. This will happen in your lifetime. The consequences will be enormous. Right now human proteins can be synthesized in bacteria used to treat disease. Patients with diabetes now receive human insulin rather than insulin from pigs or cows and are thus spared allergic reactions to foreign proteins. Rare proteins like erythropoietin can be manufactured and used to treat anemia; this was impossible before the birth of recombinant DNA technology. Recombinant DNA technology has in turn given birth to literally hundreds and hundreds of biotechnology companies, and they all think they can make a fantastic contribution to human welfare. Much human disease has its basis in genetics. There can be changes or mutations in an individual’s DNA. This is the basis of evolution. It is also the cause of diseases such as cystic fibrosis or muscular dystrophy or sickle-cell anemia. The molecular basis of these diseases is now known, and people will some day be treated by replacement of defective genes. Soon we will be able to understand the genetic basis for complex behaviors and for diseases that are manifest as abnormal behaviors, such as schizophrenia and depression. Rational and more effective therapies will follow. Here’s another thing that will happen

to you or your children, but it’s a lot scarier. You will take a little scraping of skin cells from your newborn child to the DNA store for a sequence job. Return a few days later and you’ll be given a CD ROM containing the DNA sequence— your child’s blueprint. With some trepidation you will put the CD in the DNA reader and get back a printout from this 21st century crystal ball. For example, it might say, “Your child will be tall, dark, and handsome, but not very bright. Personality will never develop depth, and temper tantrums will be a life-long problem. He will likely die of a heart attack in his late 70s if someone does not shoot him in a bar room fight before that time.” If this is not bad enough, you have this nasty feeling that despite assurances to

We must not strive for less than making a difference. the contrary, the DNA sequence has also been submitted to the National Institute in charge of tracking perverts, and the profile is now available to future employers, insurance companies, and the FBI. Alternatively, mistakes could be made and the printout could proclaim that you are the proud father or mother of a German Shepherd with a great pedigree. There are some real obvious issues here that are going to be very difficult to control, but the answer is not to bury our heads in the sand. We can now produce clones of virtually anything. You clone a gene by isolating it from all other genes and allowing it to replicate—thus producing an infinite number of identical copies of the gene. You clone a cell in the same way. But now we can clone mice and sheep by starting with a single cell from an adult animal, and there is no technical

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barrier standing in the way of cloning human beings. Here is a great category for the senior class poll, assuming it still exists: pick your classmate “who most wants to be cloned”. But this is no laughing matter; it is serious stuff, and it poses very serious questions. Most are repulsed by the thought of human cloning for the purpose of producing identical copies of ourselves; some say that it would be terrible to have even two genetically identical human beings. They forget that nature does occasionally produce identical human twins. Nevertheless, I am happy to say that human cloning for this purpose is not likely on the horizon. There is enormous power in biological diversity. But think about this— it will likely be possible to produce a clone of any given individual that could be “harvested”, to use a cold word, very early in embryonic life. This embryonic tissue could then be used to isolate multipotent stem cells. These stem cells could then be grown and replicated in the laboratory and used for transplantation to replace neurons lost to Parkinson’s disease or Alzheimer’s disease, liver cells lost to hepatitis, bone marrow cells lost to cancer chemotherapy, and so forth. Now the issue is not so clear cut. We could each clone ourselves to produce a bank deposit of our own stem cells to be used to regenerate our aging or diseased tissues. Some will advocate such approaches; some will be repelled by it. Should research in these areas go forth? Who properly makes such decisions? Shall we leave it to the biologists and physicians? I think not. There is much to be done by ethicists, theologians, attorneys, legislators, and a host of others— particularly a very well-informed and very well-educated public. In general, the public is woefully ignorant of science. Don’t ignore it, no matter what your area of primary interest. All of science will be impinging on your life with increasing frequency. The remarks above are excerpted from Dr. Gilman’s talk at Morning Meeting in November (see page 24). Taft Bulletin

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Winter 1999 Taft Bulletin  
Winter 1999 Taft Bulletin