Cyrus a magazine for alumni and friends of The Blake School
Douglas Smith ’81 traverses intriguing terrain
Flashback Fashions Opening up the archival closet
Plan of a Hack
Samantha Stein ’07 maximizes tech’s capacity
FROM THE HEAD OF SCHOOL
Cyrus a magazine for alumni and friends of The Blake School Editor Kristin Stouffer Managing Editor Tracy Grimm Graphic Designer Cate Hubbard Thanks to the many Blake community members who have contributed to this publication. Our Mission The Blake School provides students with an excellent,
academically challenging education in a diverse and supportive community committed to a common set of values. Students are expected to participate in an integrated program of academic, artistic and athletic activities in preparation for college, lifelong learning, community service and lives as responsible world citizens. Our Core Values Respect Love of Learning Integrity Courage Commitment to Pluralism The Blake School Administrative Offices 110 Blake Road South Hopkins, MN 55343 952-988-3430
Why Cyrus? Cyrus Northrop played a formative role in one of Blake’s founding institutions. In 1915, Northrop Collegiate School was named in his honor to recognize Dr. Northrop’s achievements as a nationally regarded educator and as president of the University
As I write this, some two dozen Blake students are boarding return flights to Minnesota after an intensive immersion experience overseas. Led by Blake faculty, two groups of Upper School students have spent the early summer months studying the history, culture, politics, art and daily life of Cuba and Vietnam. These for-credit global immersion experiences comprise pre-travel study, three weeks of in-country learning and service and post-travel presentations. Students bring impressive and thoughtful reflection to their capstone research and artwork. And students often describe their cultural immersion experience as changing them in profound and indelible ways. This sort of transformational teaching and learning influenced the career of Douglas Smith ’81, the subject of our cover story. As you’ll read, Blake teachers fostered his interest in language and history and ignited a spark that would fuel his desire to become a Russian historian, researcher and author. While he has logged thousands of miles throughout the world, his journey, in many respects, began at Blake. As I think of our current Blake students — those who have ventured to Cuba and Vietnam and those in the coming year who will travel to India, China and Sierra Leone — I wonder what awakenings will lead to career paths they may have never imagined. It’s exciting to think of the ripple effect set forth by these journeys of the body, mind and heart. As we enter the final year of Excellence Accelerated: The Campaign for Blake, our path forward reaches a momentous juncture. I hope the news in our special insert inspires you to support this transformational endeavor for the next generation of thinkers and leaders.
of Minnesota. His legacy of educational excellence continues at Blake today. firstname.lastname@example.org
Anne E. Stavney, Ph.D. Head of School The Blake School
CONTENTS Summer 2017
MINDING THE MAD MONK
In his latest book, author Douglas Smith ’81 makes the case for one of the most infamous figures in Russian history. PAGE 6 IN PHOTOS
A Stitch in Time
In Brief 2
Explore the fabric of school life through the decades.
Cover Story 6
Hacks for Humanity Samantha Stein ’07 enlists Silicon Valley innovators to take on pressing world problems. PAGE 18
In Photos 12 In Print & Production 20 Class Notes 21 Voices 29
IN BRIEF ACADEMIC HIGHLIGHT
FACES ON CAMPUS
AMERICA’S MOST CHALLENGING HIGH SCHOOLS The Washington Post released its annual rankings of how successfully schools challenge their students. Blake ranks second among Minnesota schools. The rankings employ an index formula that’s a simple ratio: the number of Advanced Placement, International Baccalaureate and Advanced International Certificate of Education tests given at a school each year, divided by the number of seniors who graduated that year.
STRENGTHENED BY OUR COMMON THREAD
Ghana-born Fatawu Sayibu spent months teaching Blake and Highcroft fifth graders how to drum and dance. By the end of his residency, the students delivered a stunning performance of Akwaaba Anansi, a play based on the West African trickster tales of Anansi the spider. Beyond the excitement of performing, the fifth graders found themselves profoundly impacted by the stories Sayibu shared about the culture and people, especially the children, of Ghana. This spring the class organized a drive for clothing and shoes for Sayibu to share with school children back home. In presenting the collection, Mackenzie Higgins ’24 recalled a line from a song the Lower School community sings: “‘We will build a global family, strengthened by our common thread.’ I feel this represents our connection with you [Sayibu] and now to the children in Ghana who will receive these clothes.” 2 Cyrus
EMPTY BOWLS EVENT REFLECTS COMMUNITY CONTRIBUTIONS Nearly 250 students, parents, faculty, staff and administrators stopped by the Upper School ceramics studio to take a spin on the pottery wheels. In May, their creations were displayed and available for purchase at the Empty Bowls Charity Fundraising Sale and Exhibit in the Martha Bennett Gallery.
All proceeds were donated to the Saint Louis Park Emergency Program (STEP) to help stock food shelves.
THE INFLUENTIAL Blake’s eighth grade speech program underwent a recent modernization to become a capstone project called The Influential. This next-generation version incorporates the skills, content knowledge and passions developed over a student’s Middle School career. As part of the project, eighth graders could work alone or in small groups to create an engaging multimedia presentation based on their field research, which included interviews with experts on their chosen topic of study. In addition to developing persuasive communication skills, the curriculum also fosters economics literacy through a cost/ benefit analysis of real-world challenges. At the project’s culminating symposium, four groups gave keynote presentations to an audience of sixth and seventh graders, as well
FACES ON CAMPUS
TENTS OF WITNESS
This April, World Without Genocide, a St. Paul-based human rights organization, sponsored an exhibit in Blake’s Upper School library. Tents of Witness: Genocide and Conflict featured canvas tents similar to those used in refugee camps today. The three tents on display illustrated the genocide of the American Indians, of the Holocaust and in Rwanda. The exhibit also highlighted the rape crisis in America and discrimination against women economically, socially, physically and in courts of law. World Without Genocide volunteers were on hand to talk with students about human rights and how to become advocates.
as adult community members. Participants chose which other groups they wanted to hear from during break-out sessions, which included a range of topics such as immigration, gun control, institutional racism and adolescent health.
Byrd of the American Indian Movement Interpretive Center to bring the exhibit to the Bennett Gallery. Detailing the complexity and diversity of indigenous peoples’ struggle for recognition of their cultures and rights, Papanikolopoulos believes Bancroft’s photos open dialogue and expose many to the stories that shape our surrounding cultures.
BEARS BY THE NUMBERS: BLAKE ATHLETICS 2016–17 YEAR IN REVIEW STUDENT PARTICIPATION RATES 90%
Photograph by Dick Bancroft
PHOTOGRAPHS TELL NATIVE STORIES IN BENNETT GALLERY EXHIBIT Photographer Dick Bancroft has spent years capturing images of the people and events of the American Indian Movement. A traveling collection of his photos featured in the book We Are Still Here was on display at the Upper School this spring. Inspired by discussions with members of Minneapolis’ Native community, Katerina Papanikolopoulos ’17 collaborated with curator Eric
AN UNEXPECTED GUEST DELIGHTS YOUNG LEARNERS In the midst of winter, Vince Goeddeke’s kindergarten classroom had a surprise visitor. A tiger swallowtail butterfly emerged from a piece of bark the students had collected in the fall but hadn’t realized was still in the room.
TEAM STATE CHAMPIONSHIPS
STATE TOURNAMENT APPEARANCES
INDIVIDUAL STATE CHAMPIONS
COLLEGE ATHLETES IN THE SENIOR CLASS College Athletes 24% Senior Class 76%
24% of the class of 2017 will go on to play college athletics.
Summer 2017 3
Teaching assistant Nancy Cluff, who first spotted the butterfly on a window, says, “We showed the students and they were scared, excited and amused. The more we searched for answers as to where it came from and why, the more we found our answers. It was such a fun week of exploring, researching and learning. What an amazing and wonderful event!”
year-end presentation. Many remarked that the project helped them understand not only the complexity of today’s global challenges but also the importance of actively seeking ways to create change.
FACES ON CAMPUS
LANDMARK LUMINARY COMMUNITY
LIKE FATHER, LIKE SON
HUMANITIES STUDENTS SEEK CHANGE FOR CHALLENGES Child labor, the gender wage gap, access to education, human torture and voting rights were some of the global issues sixth graders analyzed for Project Cirklo, a culmination of their yearlong humanities coursework. (“Cirklo” means “circle” in Esperanto, a universal language designed in the 1800s to encourage communication across cultures.) Groups of two to three students identified challenges related to the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights. After researching their challenge through 10 to 15 sources, students identified stakeholders, root causes and possible solutions. Groups were tasked with addressing their solution through two platforms: a piece of creative writing and a piece of art. The entire sixth grade showcased their work to fellow students and families at a 4 Cyrus
At this year’s Kindergarten Literacy Feast, Brady Cracraft ’29 served Korean cuisine inspired by the book Bee-bim Bop! And he did so wearing the same shirt his father, Lower School physical education teacher Charlie Cracraft, wore when he came to the United States from Korea in July 1982, at age 5.
BLAKE OPTS UP IN THREE VARSITY SPORTS Beginning in the 2017–18 school year, three Bears varsity teams — boys’ and girls’ hockey and boys’ tennis — will move from A to AA classification in the Minnesota State High School League. “The most important factor for Blake in requesting this change is to provide a positive experience
Former Vice President Walter Mondale met with Upper School students to discuss his role in the landmark Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright, in which the court unanimously ruled that states are required to provide counsel for criminal defendants who are unable to afford to pay their own attorneys. As attorney general of Minnesota, Mondale helped gain the support of 23 states on behalf of Clarence Gideon. Many legal scholars consider Gideon v. Wainwright the foundation for a series of cases that reformed the American criminal justice system.
for our student-athletes — one that allows for safe competition, appropriate challenges and meaningful experiences,” says Director of Athletics Nick Rathmann. Blake’s decision to opt up in these sports was informed by an ongoing, multi-year evaluation of all of the school’s MSHSL-affiliated programs. ACADEMIC HIGHLIGHT
STUDENTS JUMP IN FOR GEOGRAPHY LESSON A giant map of Minnesota brought students to their feet for an experiential social studies lesson like no other. National Geographic Society provides each U.S. state with its own 16-by-20-foot Giant Traveling Map, which is
loaned to requesting schools. At Blake, pre-kindergarten through fifth grade students employed spatial thinking to learn about Minnesota’s economy, agriculture, population and more. Each lesson allows students to move around on the map, notice important features and connect to key social studies skills.
All Creatures Medium to Small
Highcroft’s biggest annual special program, the Pet and Hobby Show, started in the spring of 1964 and involved all members of the school community. Horses were not eligible, but virtually every other type of furry, feathered or finned creature turned up at the pet show. “I remember [Headmaster] Brady had a goat,” said Carol Vaughan Bemis ’72. In 1970, 63 students brought dogs and there were also three rabbits, three birds and assorted fish and reptiles. In 1972, there were 20 cats, 15 rodents and one turtle. The judging categories were whimsical; children won awards for biggest and smallest dogs, the most unusual pet, the worst-behaved, the biggest tail on a rabbit, the ugliest rodent and the least-active reptile. “We entered our dog in the ‘friendliest’ category,” remembered David Graham ’85 [current Blake faculty member], “but when he bit a little kid, he was disqualified.” By 1972, reflecting diverse additions to the curriculum, the annual affair became the Pet, Hobby, Art, Science, Shop and Photography Show. Pet shows were fun for all members of the school community. Teachers planned the event and parents participated as judges and spectators. In the ultimate — albeit unwitting — demonstration of school loyalty, Latin teacher Jim Telander remembers that H. Cartan Clarke, board president, even served as a stand-in fire hydrant for one of the canine participants. The Pet and Hobby Show ended around the time of the school merger in 1974. This article was taken from Expecting Good Things of All: 100 Years of Academic Excellence by Janet Woolman. Summer 2017 5
Delving deep into the lore that surrounds one of the most infamous figures in Russian history, author Douglas Smith ’81 went in search of the real Rasputin. The Mad Monk, he argues in a new biography, was a complex character — and perhaps more historically significant than anyone ever thought.
MINDING THE MAD MONK DOUGLAS SMITH ’81
Written by Joel Hoekstra Illustrated by Owen Davey
Summer 2017 7
he museum was tiny — barely two rooms in a small but ornately decorated Russianstyle house in the village of Pokrovskoye, on the Tura River in Western Siberia. Its collection was unremarkable, including a spinning wheel, some lace curtains, faded photographs and some yellowed newspaper clippings. But Douglas Smith had traveled more than 8,000 miles from home to visit the miniscule museum, devoted to the town’s most famous resident and one of the most infamous figures in Russian history, Grigory Yefimovich Rasputin. The couple who ran the museum welcomed Smith with enthusiasm. They showed the American scholar the most prized items in their collection and presented him with a three-inch metal nail allegedly gleaned from the ruins of Rasputin’s home after it was demolished in 1980. Smith, in turn, presented the couple with some photographs he’d found on eBay — pictures of individ-
uals connected with Rasputin, including his daughter Maria, who eventually immigrated to the United States and lived in Los Angeles. Midway through his visit, the curators steered Smith in the direction of an old wooden chair. They explained the seat had been salvaged from the wreckage of Rasputin’s home and, according to legend, any man who sat in it would be guaranteed lifelong virility. “They insisted I sit in that chair,” Smith recalls wryly, before delivering the punch line. “I’ll leave it to your imagi– nation as to the actual power of this artifact.” Shocking or not, jokes about sexual potency come with the territory in Rasputin research. Juicy tales have followed Rasputin, a self-styled spiritualist and healer, since the early 1900s, when he found his way from Pokrovskoye to the royal court in St. Petersburg, eventually becoming an advisor to the tsar and his wife. Rumors, lies and myths swirled in his path wherever he went. Even accounts of his death, in 1916, are interwoven with mysterious
threads: he was reportedly poisoned, shot, beaten and drowned before he ultimately expired, as if his spirit was super-human, demonic, alien. Long interested in Russian history, Smith recently published Rasputin: Faith, Power and the Twilight of the Romanovs, an investigation of the many stories surrounding the life of the so-called Mad Monk. The biography has been lauded by critics as both “impeccably researched” and “colossal” — totaling 817 pages. The Los Angeles Review of Books praised it as “engrossing as any novel.” But Smith, who repeatedly encountered Rasputin in research he did for a previous book he wrote about the Russian aristocracy, admits he was initially reluctant to take on the topic. Academic historians have long regarded Rasputin as a sideshow — a character who, while colorful, had little impact on the course of history. “When I was a Ph.D. student, Rasputin was not a subject you’d take on if you wanted to be viewed as a serious scholar,” Smith says. “He’s a bit too outlandish, a bit
too well known. There’s a whiff of the carnival about him.”
BITTEN BY THE BUG Russian history and culture have long been a source of fascination to Smith. “There’s a certain Russian bug, and once people get the bug, they can’t shake it,” he says. “I don’t know if there’s also a French bug, or an Italian bug, or Japanese bug. But I do know that there’s a lot of us who, once we’re bitten by this Russian bug, just can’t let go.” Smith’s first love was German, which he learned at Blake from Heinz Otto. Teacher Rod Anderson encouraged his early interest in history. After graduation, Smith enrolled at the University of Vermont, earning degrees in German and Russian. He chose Russian on a whim but was immediately captivated by its strange alphabet, complex grammar and the window it opened onto this remarkable land. Post-college, he taught for a year in Vienna on a Fulbright scholarship and then briefly at a private Russian language
“I DON’T KNOW IF THERE’S ALSO A FRENCH BUG, OR AN ITALIAN BUG, OR JAPANESE BUG. BUT I DO KNOW THAT THERE’S A LOT OF US WHO, ONCE WE GET BITTEN BY THIS RUSSIAN BUG, JUST CAN’T LET GO.”
camp, headed by another Blake teacher, Chuck Ritchie ’57, who became a friend and mentor. The idea of graduate school began to appeal to him more, but when an opportunity to travel abroad presented itself, Smith jumped at the chance. The U.S. State Department needed young people to participate in a cultural exchange program with the Soviet Union. “It was an amazing experience,” Smith recalls. Over the course of a year, starting in the fall of 1987, he and two dozen other Americans traveled across Soviet territory, visiting Tbilisi in Georgia, Tashkent in Uzbekistan, and Irkutsk in Siberia, among other places. “The exhibit I worked on was called Information USA. This was the late 1980s, so it was all about the early days of information technology and how it was reshaping American life,” Smith recalls. “Grocery stores were just starting to use barcode scanners, and we had a little stand that was basically a mock checkout at a store. We would show the Soviets how the scanner worked, and they were
just amazed. This was mindblowing technology, especially in a country that was still chiefly using an abacus at checkout.” Soviets stood in line for hours to get into the exhibi-
the program made friends. It was exciting for us to have direct contact with people and hear about their lives at the height of the Cold War. Everyone made
Douglas Smith ’81
tion. But Smith says many of them were more interested in the American people than American technology. Here, in an era of controlled media and Cold War propaganda, was a chance to meet an American face to face. “They could ask all these questions about American life that they had no other way of addressing,” Smith says. “And those of us in
Russian friends.” Smith had learned about the program from a college professor who had traveled in the Soviet Union before the invasion of Afghanistan in 1979, when such exchanges were curtailed. “He said, ‘Doug, if they ever get started again, you’ve got to apply. It’ll be an experience you’ll never forget.’ He was right.”
SINNER, SAINT OR SIMPLY HUMAN? In the fall of 1988, Smith embarked on a doctorate in history at UCLA, focusing on the secret societies in Russia, then briefly returned to Europe in 1989 to work in Munich as a researcher and Soviet affairs analyst for Radio Free Europe. Smith eventually produced several books, now translated into a dozen languages. It was while researching Former People, about the last days of the Russian aristocracy, that Smith became interested in a figure he had long regarded as a minor character in history: Rasputin. “He seemed to crop up in everything I read, no matter how tangentially related to the subject at hand,” Smith says. “That got me thinking, ‘Maybe he’s more important than historians have wanted to admit.’” He began reading biographies about the peasant holy man but found all of them unsatisfying. “His biographers presented him in a two-dimensional manner, as this sort of holy devil, the saint who sinned, that kind of thing. He just didn’t seem like Summer 2017 9
“IT MIGHT HAVE BEEN TOO LATE TO SAVE THE REGIME, BUT IF NICHOLAS HAD FOLLOWED RASPUTIN’S COUNSEL, IT’S POSSIBLE THERE WOULD HAVE BEEN A DIFFERENT OUTCOME TO HISTORY.”
a really believable, threedimensional human.” He decided to give Rasputin a thorough examination, investigating everything from established facts to gossipy rumors. Did Rasputin flee his home after being accused of horse theft? Did he cure Alexandra’s son of hemophilia, as the empress claimed? Smith traveled the world looking for evidence to support or demolish even the most outrageous claims. 10 Cyrus
He also came to wonder if Rasputin’s place in Russian history would have been significantly different had Nicholas II heeded his advisor’s counsel regarding the needs of ordinary people. In particular, Smith points to a letter Rasputin wrote to the tsar in 1916: “Food was becoming scarce in the capital, Petrograd, and Rasputin advised, ‘You need to take note of what is happening here in your own capital. People
are hungry. They’re having to wait in long bread lines, and there’s growing dissatisfaction and anger.’” Those bread lines and anger eventually sparked the revolution that led to the downfall of the royal house and the tsar’s abdication. Says Smith, “It might have been too late to save the regime, but if Nicholas had followed Rasputin’s counsel, it’s possible there would have been a different outcome to history.”
SEARCHING FOR A STORY Beyond Siberia, Smith’s research into the life of Rasputin took him to archives and historic sites in London, Moscow, Berlin, Paris, New York and Washington, D.C. He currently makes his home in Seattle, where he lives with his two children and wife, Stephanie Ellis-Smith. “Stephanie is always my first reader,” Smith says. “She ends up living with these subjects pretty much as closely as I do. Sometimes she’s grateful
“IT WAS LIKE THIS STRANGE WINDOW OPENING UP UNDER STALIN’S RUSSIA THAT WE REALLY HADN’T SEEN.”
for that, sometimes she’s not so grateful. I think having Rasputin in the house for six years was a bit of a struggle.” As his work on Rasputin was coming to a close, Smith began to cast about for a new project. A friend told him she had learned about a cache of slides, films and photographs made by an American embassy official stationed in Moscow in the 1950s, shortly before the death of Joseph Stalin. Martin Manhoff had served as an assistant military attaché, working in the old U.S. embassy, across from the Kremlin on Red Square. Manhoff ’s estate had fallen into the hands of a woman in Seattle, who didn’t know what to do with the cache. Smith went to have a look and was stunned by what he discovered. Though disorganized, there were boxes and boxes of color slides and stacks of 16-millimeter film canisters. Sifting through the items, he discovered a film reel marked “March 1953: Stalin’s funeral.” His jaw dropped. “Photographs from Moscow in the 1950s, in color, are unheard of,” he
explains. “As I went through the piles, I realized there is no other existing film in the public realm that captures the scenes he captures, like Stalin’s funeral procession.” Diving deeper, Smith discovered Manhoff, trained in photography, had taken thousands of images, often concealing his camera inside a car as he drove around Moscow and traveled throughout the Soviet Union to Leningrad, Kiev, Crimea, Siberia. “It was like this strange window opening up on Stalin’s Russia that we really hadn’t seen,” Smith says. With permission, Smith took the collection, organized it, scanned several images and posted roughly a dozen online. They generated a huge flurry of interest and led to a contract with Radio Free Europe to do a four-part series on Manhoff and his work. The series, posted on the broadcaster’s website, has attracted more than 2 million page views. Smith is exploring the possibility of publishing a book containing the best of Manhoff’s photographs. In addition, Smith recently accepted an offer from his
publisher to begin work on a short book about a little-known chapter in U.S.-Soviet relations: a relief effort mounted by America when famine struck Russia in the early 1920s. “It was the worst famine in modern European history,” Smith says. “Some people were even reduced to cannibalism.” The United States, led by Herbert Hoover, then secretary of commerce, responded by setting up a massive relief effort, sending millions of tons of American corn, establishing food stations, distributing medicine. “It really brought Russia up off its knees,” Smith says. “And once the famine was over, the Americans packed up and went home and didn’t expect anything in return. I think it’s one of the finest things America has ever done, and none of us seems to know about it.” Since last fall’s election, of course, Russia has been a source of much conversation and news in America. As in Rasputin’s day, facts and fictions mingle; intrigue and mystery surround the country’s leaders and their motives. Smith has watched
events unfold with a historian’s eye, noting echoes of the past. “One of the constants of Russian cultural and political life is that those who have their hands on the levers of power seem to be hidden, operating in a realm of secrecy,” Smith says. “No one is sure who has the most power, who has influence. Among the Russian people, this has led to cynicism and a sense of powerlessness. Politics is something done in secrecy. There are definitely echoes of Rasputin’s age in today’s political environment in Russia.” Currently, Smith has no plans to write about, say, Vladimir Putin or contemporary Russia. He has no intention of delving into potential Russian meddling in the U.S. election. But as a historian who goes where the narrative takes him, Smith is aware all that could change. Anything is possible, he admits: “I never thought in a million years I would end up writing a book on Rasputin.” Joel Hoekstra is a freelance writer and editor based in Minneapolis. Summer 2017 11
A STITCH IN TIME IN PHOTOS
CLOTHING AND ACCESSORIES FROM THE SCHOOL'S ARCHIVES TELL THE STORY OF A BYGONE ERA AND A LONGSTANDING COMMITMENT TO ACADEMICS, ARTS AND ATHLETICS.
Photos by Kris Drake Styled by Alisun Abbott
3 (Photo 1) Northrop tennis trophy, 1930s; Blake baseball jersey, c. 1938; Blake football helmet, c. 1948. (Photo 2) Northrop Lower School uniform, 1960sâ€“1970s. (Photo 3) Blake School letter; Northrop library volunteer patch, 1960s, and a Northrop League armband, 1920s.
7 (Photo 4) Pins given to Northrop Upper School students who volunteered in the library, c. 1965â€“71. (Photo 5) Personalized Northrop Lower School art smock, c. 1969. (Photo 6) Blue sailor collar styled uniform of Northrop-predecessor school Graham Hall and early Northrop days, until the uniform was changed to the navy jumper in 1927. (Photo 7) Blake hockey jersey, 1940s
Summer 2017 15
11 (Photo 8) Northrop and The Blake School senior tie signed and passed down by the presidents of the Women’s Chorus, 1960s–1990. (Photo 9) Northrop Lower School choir robe, 1960s–1970s. (Photo 10) Blake letter jacket. (Photo 11 and 15) Northrop senior class blazers, 1950s–1970s. A new fabric was selected by the graduating class each year. (Photo 12) Blake School Glee Club bow tie, 1960s.
17 (Photo 13) Gold class ring from Northropâ€™s predecessor school, Graham Hall. This ring belonged to Miriam Lawrence, class of 1915. (Photo 14) Blake School songbook, c. 1936, on Blake blazer, c. 1958. The pocket insignia is a replica of the official school seal, including the motto Urbi et Orbi Lumen ("A light to the city and to the world"). (Photo 16) Blake Boosters button, c. 1970, and Northrop library volunteer patch, c. 1968â€“71. (Photo 17) Sixth grade Northrop patch, c. 1970.
Summer 2017 17
HACKS FOR HUMANITY
SAMANTHA STEIN ’07 HARNESSES THE POWER OF TECHNOLOGY TO CREATE SOLUTIONS FOR SOCIAL GOOD.
From her home base in Silicon Valley, Stein oversees Hacktivision, the company she founded to spur innovative thinking among technology experts and solve pressing world problems in ways that benefit the people they affect.
Question: How did you first become interested in technology as a tool for social good? Answer: I’ve always been interested in humanitarian work and conflict resolution. During college I thought I might work with the United Nations in conflict zones. I ended up working on protocols for digital archival systems in Morocco, where I realized I really loved technology for its capacity to benefit the public at scale through something created by one person or a small team. When I returned, I worked for several early-stage startups and saw the potential for technologists to use their skills to dive deeper into problems where technology can be used for social good. That’s how I ended up starting Hacktivision.
“TALKING WITH PEOPLE CONSTANTLY ABOUT WHAT YOU’RE BUILDING FOR THEM AND WHY AND HOW IS IMPORTANT TO ENSURE THE SOLUTION ACTUALLY FITS THEIR NEEDS.”
Q: Can you explain what Hacktivision does? A: There are two parts of the business. First, we host weekend-long competitions that bring together high-level technologists who work with a partnering organization to build technical tools scalable for social impact. Each competition addresses one of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals. We’ve partnered with the White House, United Nations, World Food Program and many public-sector organizations. Post-competition, we continue to work with the winning team to scale their project. All participating technologists have the option to join our consulting network, which helps legacy companies innovate like a Silicon Valley startup. Q: What does a Hacktivision weekend look like? A: Our technical development is based on human-centered design practices, meaning we involve the people for whom we’re building the products in all steps of the problem-solving
process. We have teams of five to eight people. Each team has “knowers,” those who have directly experienced the problem. For example, with the refugee crisis this would be someone who has actually experienced being a refugee. We also have industry experts, for instance, someone who has worked in humanitarian aid for refugees. Then we have technologists. The teams spend the first day presenting and researching the problem and the second day building a prototype and presenting to mentors. We’ve attracted mentors such as the CIO of Mozilla and the board chair of the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Q: Can you talk about a particularly gratifying Hacktivision weekend? A: Last July, we worked with the White House on creating new tools for gender equality. The winning team created something called Safe Harbor, a social media plug-in that vets individuals with a background check so they may open their home to domestic abuse survi-
vors [who are predominantly women] when shelters are full. The CEO on the winning team runs a large company that produces microprocessors, and she spun the product off within her own company as a corporate social responsibility initiative. It was incredible to see people engage with the project in ways we hadn’t anticipated. Q: What inspires you about the work you’re doing? A: I really love community building with technologists and creatives. It’s about not only solving tough business problems but also examining how the same problem-solving process can be applied to important social issues. I also love that, increasingly, people are looking at problems through the lens of those experiencing an issue and incorporating those experiences as they work toward a solution. It’s a simple idea, but one that is often overlooked and can result in products that don’t suit the needs of the people they’re intended to help. I think talking with people constantly about
what you’re building for them and why and how is important to ensure the solution actually fits their needs. Q: How do you see Hacktivision evolving? A: We’re running a minimum of four high-profile competitions each year, so our alumni network is becoming larger and stronger. As our community grows, it will be really incredible to see the relationships among alumni foster partnerships for new companies, help people find new roles within the industry and develop thought leadership in the specific markets our alumni come from. We’d also love more partnerships in the Midwest, where the lessons learned in Silicon Valley can be deployed in new companies and organizations. Do you know Blake alumni who are doing interesting work? Let us know at email@example.com.
Summer 2017 19
AL FRANKEN ’69
Al Franken, Giant of the Senate (Twelve)
From Senator Al Franken comes the story of an award-winning comedian who decided to run for office and then discovered why award-winning comedians tend not to do that. In this candid memoir, the honorable gentleman from Minnesota takes his army of fans along with him from Saturday Night Live to the campaign trail, inside the halls of Congress and behind the scenes of some of the most dramatic and hilarious moments of his political career. Has Al Franken become a true Giant of the Senate? Franken asks readers to decide for themselves.
JIM TUCKER ’88
Next of Kin (Thomas & Mercer)
A New Year’s Eve celebration begins with the pop of a champagne cork — and ends with the bonechilling screams of a killer’s victims. Ten-year-old Ben Brook is the lone survivor of the brutal murder of his wealthy family at their upstate New York compound. But from the moment he evades death, Ben’s life is in constant danger. Can NYPD detective Buddy Lock keep the boy safe from a killer intent on wiping out the entire Brook clan? Saving the boy will put all of Buddy’s skills to the test — and risk the lives of everyone he loves.
TOM WINSTON ’95
The Forgotten Coast: Return to Wild Florida (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Following in the footsteps of a wandering Florida black bear, three friends leave civilization and enter a lost American wilderness on a rugged 1,000-mile journey by foot, paddle and bike. Traversing Florida’s vast and seldom seen “Forgotten Coast,” the expedition encounters stunning and rare wildlife including black bears, manatees, alligators, ancient river fish and endangered woodpeckers — all living within a fragile wildlife corridor stretching from the Everglades to the Florida-Alabama border. On the wind, in the waves, through the trees and under the stars, Winston directs a documentary that looks back in time and forward to a future filled with hope.
(Huff Publishing) In a society often ashamed of aging and afraid of death, Anne Simpson and her granddaughter explore questions most of us are too fearful or polite to ask. Through poetry and vignettes, Simpson opens a conversation she hopes will include the reader and ripple out to different generations.
Andrij Parekh ’90 The Zookeeper’s Wife (Focus Features)
Once You Know This
When Poland is invaded by the Nazis, the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo, Antonina and Jan Zabinski, are forced to report to the Reich’s newly appointed chief zoologist. The Zabinskis covertly begin working with the Resistance and put into action plans to save the lives of hundreds from what has become the Warsaw Ghetto. Parekh’s cinematography brings this novel to life as a feature film.
(Delacorte Books for Young Readers)
Max Gold ’06
EMILY CHAMBERS BLEJWAS ’96
Eleven-year-old Brittany knows there has to be a better world out there. Lately, though, it sure doesn’t feel like it. She and her best friend, Marisol, stick together at school. But at home, Brittany’s granny is sick, her cat is missing, there’s never any money and there’s her little brother, Tommy, to worry about. Brittany has a hard time picturing her future as anything but a plain white sky. If her life is going to change, she needs a plan. Once she starts believing in herself, Brittany realizes that what has always seemed out of reach might be just around the corner.
Alumni are encouraged to inform Blake of their publications, recordings, films, etc. Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Anne Dodge Simpson ’53 Do You Feel as Old as You Are?: Conversations with My Granddaughter
Silicon Beach (Blind Hummingbird Productions) A struggling actor takes a job at a Los Angeles tech company that shrouds a dark secret.
CLASS NOTES Class notes and photos received after June 2017 will appear in the next issue of Cyrus. Notes are provided by alumni or their friends and family, and some have been edited for length and style.
Steve Woodrich is entering his 92nd year of life, during which he has been head boy at Blake (1943–44), attended Williams College, graduated from the University of Minnesota in business administration and spent two years as an enlistee in the 10th Mountain Division, 1st Scout “Fox” Company, earning two Bronze Stars and three Battle Stars.
In May, Gay Smith Conklin took a trip focused on the Austrian Empire, revisiting sites in Hungary and Romania and making some first-time Balkan stops. She writes, “How about Blake class of ’44? At 90-plus years, tell us what keeps you interested and glad to welcome a new day.”
rocks in Montana and published a couple of papers last spring. Bente continues to teach the Sussex School Math Counts team, which she started 40 years ago.”
Harriet Dayton writes, “I’ve been [living] at Folkestone in Wayzata for almost two years and really enjoy it. It’s a block from Lake Minnetonka, in the middle of town, and I walk [to the lake] every nice day. There are many friends, old and new, and so much to do. I sing in a wonderful choir, and we have had very exciting concerts. Lots of sun on the terrace has made my geraniums thrive all winter. Most importantly, all my sons and daughters-in-law, and many of my grandchildren, are here in the Twin Cities.”
Helen Preus Mairs graduated from Kent Place School in Summit, New Jersey, but says she remembers her years at Northrop. She would like to hear news from fellow members of the Northrop class of 1947.
Don Winston reports, “Bente and I are fine. I continue to carry on research on Precambrian
Polly Case Grose moved to Portland, Oregon, in June to join her three sons and their families along the West Coast. She writes, “To make this move is really sensible as I am in great mind and body health and able to enjoy a vibrant new community life.” REUNION
Dick Cardozo writes, “My bride of 56 years passed away two-and-
a-half years ago, so my daughters have taken over management. I’m gradually learning how to retire — only two board seats and one consulting client, if you don’t count those who want advice but don’t take it. Since retiring from university teaching, I’ve become a student once again. I take two music classes and a class in Talmud (texts of Jewish religious law). As I reflect on my experiences as a student and a teacher, I’ve come to realize that my Blake education of 65 years ago translates to about two years of college today.”
The Young People’s Symphony Concert Association (YPSCA), a volunteer organization that provides school-age children opportunities to engage with the Minnesota Orchestra, honored Dave Colwell with a lifetime membership and named him as its first board member emeritus. Dave served on the YPSCA board of directors and as president of the organization from 2003 to 2005 and 2009 to 2011. He has given his time to many projects, including candy sales at select Minnesota Orchestra concerts and service as an usher for Young People’s concerts. He is also a donor to the Musical Mentor program, which
supports ticket costs, transportation and in-school prep programs for schools that otherwise have no budget for taking students to the Young People’s concerts. He also gives generously to the School Music Auditions, which provide prize money to outstanding young musicians at the annual competition. Dave is known as “Mr. YPSCA,” one of many signs of affection from his YPSCA colleagues. Steve Olmstedclosed his office in March 2016. He writes, “Two of our grandchildren were married this summer, and our oldest will get married next March. Enjoying travel to Europe, California, Chicago, etcetera. Retirement agrees with us.” Anne Dodge Simpson ( See In Print & Production)
Anice Wishart Flesh and Barby Rice Youngwent to Borneo in March with Eldertreks of Toronto. Anice writes, “There were only six in our group, so it was super. We saw all the sites and would recommend this tour company. It is for folks over 50, which certainly includes us.”
Summer 2017 21
DICK CARDOZO ’52 WITH GRANDDAUGHTERS DAVE COLWELL ’53 WITH HARPIST ABIGAIL HANSEN. THIS MAY, DAVE WAS NAMED THE FIRST BOARD MEMBER EMERITUS AND A LIFETIME MEMBER OF THE YOUNG PEOPLE’S SYMPHONY CONCERT ASSOCIATION. (PHOTO BY MATT BRENENGEN)
Mary Bull Madsenand her husband, George, celebrated their 61st anniversary in December. Rod Wingetand his wife, Carol, continue to live in Santa Fe, New Mexico. He was appointed to a two-year term on the advisory board for the Santa Fe Division of Senior Services. He has created an outdoor activities program for people over 60, which includes hiking in the summer and snowshoeing and Nordic and Alpine skiing in the winter. He was inspired by a documentary film he made for local television about a similar program in Albuquerque. Maggie McCarthy Seely has completed a re-do of her home on Lake Superior. As with any building project, it became more involved than originally planned but is now wonderful. Carla Kopietz Paxton and her husband are loving their continuing care retirement community, Fleet Landing, in Atlantic Beach, Florida, which is near two of their three children and their families. She writes, “Great people and so much to do!”
Barbara Forster writes, “Along with the rest of ’55 finishing up our eighth decade, reasonably mobile with inconsistent memory resources and still missing our treasured faculty from NCS.” Dick Hyde is a retired attorney who now lives outside Atlanta in Suwanee, Georgia. For seven years following his retirement, he taught a course on WWII and its aftermath as part of the Lifelong Learning program at Washington University in St. Louis. Fascinated by the planes of WWII since childhood, Dick is part of the Commemorative Air Force (CAF), a Texas-based nonprofit dedicated to preserving historical aircraft from the WWII era. For almost half a century, CAF has collected and refurbished a fleet of more than 165 aircraft, making it one of the world’s largest air forces. He says, “We like to think of ourselves as the largest flying museum in the world, with our airplanes flying and on display at air shows from coast to coast.” Jack Mithun is living in Santa Barbara and pursuing his interests in photography and drawing.
DICK HYDE ’55 WITH THE “USO GIRLS” AT AN AIR SHOW IN DULUTH, MINNESOTA
Jon Bergerud graduated from Yale University in 1961. He taught speech at Mankato State University and was employed in the catalog division at Sears. He writes, “My hobbies are classical music (I have 4,000+ classical CDs) and a large library of history books and biographies.”
Ned Dayton’s granddaughter Lucy Nelson graduated from Blake in 2016 and is now at Wake Forest University. Granddaughter Abbie Nelson is a Blake senior and co-captain of the school’s state championship tennis team.
Andy Anderson achieved grandfatherhood for the fourth time with Oscar in San Diego and great-grandfatherhood for the first time with Eleanor in Louisiana. Both babies arrived in April. He writes, “As of last year, Marilyn and I are fully retired, keeping busy with a mix of harassing the kids, travel (Chile and Argentina in February), volunteering, bad golf and other hobbies. It would be great to see any of you, if you are near Manhattan Beach. We’re in the book.”
Carolyn Light Bell shares the news that grandaughter Bowie Light Bell, daughter of Josh Bell ’94, was born on January 7. Carolyn remains busy with her creative and artistic pursuits, including the recent publication of her short story As Time Goes By in Salmagundi Literary Magazine and a photography show in June. Visit her blog at onelightsourceblog. blogspot.com. The Southern California gang of Sally Nash Iorillo, Nona Anderson Greene, Judy English and Wendy Silvermann Nathanson celebrated their 75th birthdays together on May 10, and Mary Ann Levitt came down from Northern California to join them. Clarkson Lindley’s son, Carter, graduated from Gustavus Adolphus College this spring. REUNION
Sherm Malkerson reports that he is having fun and enjoying the school’s Breakfast at Blake events. He writes, “I have great memories of all my mentors at Blake from Jean Dewey to Don Mezzenga and more.”
DOUGIE PADILLA (AT CENTER) WITH FELLOW WINNERS OF THE MINNEAPOLIS ARTS DISTRICT’S 2017 VISION AWARDS
BIRTH OF LIFE IS A CHALK DRAWING BY JACK MITHUN ’55. BEATRICE MOOR ’62 ENJOYS EASTER IN THE SWISS ALPS.
Dougie Padilla received a 2017 Vision Award from the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District in honor of his leadership and commitment to arts, artists and culture. A contributing founder of the Northeast Minneapolis Arts District, Dougie’s commitment to create a community for artists helped guide the Minneapolis City Council to define the district’s boundaries. His own artistic work ranges from painting to sculpture to music, and it has been exhibited worldwide. He is an avid mentor, exhibiting with Grupo Soap del Corazón, an artist cooperative he helped form. REUNION
Skip Benson is retired and his current interests include reading, numismatics, philately, photography, golf and tennis. He and his wife, Julie, have been married for 39 years this October. Their son, John, is a career U.S. Army sergeant first-class and daughter Jennifer works for ProPharma Group. Mark Kaplan achieved the honor of U.S. Masters Swimming All American by virtue of his 400-meter medley relay team recording the fastest age group
time during 2016 in 25-meter pool competition. Mark swam the anchor leg for his team, which averaged over 70 years of age. He works out with the Edina Swim Club and currently is part of seven Minnesota Masters age group relay records.
Jenifer Neils, an internationally renowned scholar of ancient Greek and Roman art, has won the 2017 Baker-Nord Center Award for Distinguished Scholarship in the Humanities at Case Western Reserve University (CWRU). After 37 years at CWRU, Jenifer is moving to Greece to become the first female director of the American School of Classical Studies at Athens in the institution’s 135-year history. Her five-year directorship will start with the excavation of a temple in Sicily. “It’s the best of both worlds because it’s studying the Greeks in Italy,” she says. “In our field, there’s a new discovery almost every day. We’re constantly rewriting history.”
Al Franken (See In Print & Production)
Award-winning filmmaker and activist Sarah Pillsbury was
80 for 80 Showing a life of art through art is the focus of an exhibit from Susan Phelps Pearson ’55. Titled 80 for 80, the collection features paintings, assemblages, drawings and prints — one creation for every year of Pearson’s life. The artistic variety speaks to years of inspiration from the people in Pearson’s life (her husband, sons, grandparents and friends, among others), travels throughout Europe and the Southwest and the quiet beauty of her Wisconsin home. The volume of work reflects a life fueled by art — as the daughter of an art teacher (Pearson’s mother taught at Northrop), as an art student at Carleton College, as an art teacher and as a lifelong learner. Pearson has taken courses in silversmithing, ceramics, woodcut and serigraphy and learned to use “almost every power tool under the sun” to create large-scale assemblages. Pearson became enthralled by the concept of assemblage during a 1960s visit to a Kansas City department store where she saw wall hangings created from brass and glass doorknobs. “It was the most exciting thing I ever saw,” she recalls. “After that, I started noticing objects I could use.” With only one limitation — the material could no longer be used for its original purpose — Pearson ventured into media such as discarded lumber, broken pianos and antique typewriters. She has made quilts out of compact discs, necklaces
out of keys, underwater scenes out of rusted car parts and smaller sculptures out of silo hardware, slabs of oak, screws, nuts and washers. Sharing not only the art but the stories behind it is a big part of 80 for 80, recently shown at the Heyde Center for the Visual Arts in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin. The concept echoes an earlier show, 65 for 65, which included small-scale works created each of the 65 days after Pearson’s 65th birthday. “I’ve written a vignette about each piece in the current show,” she explains. “A painting might bring back the warmth of the day, the smell of the earth or the feel of the wind. An assemblage might tell a story. Each writing expresses some part of my life, family or travels.” By offering these moments and stories, Pearson hopes to share her experiences in a meaningful way. “Art has been a big part of my life,” she says. “I’ve had a wonderful life, and I’m still having a wonderful life.”
Summer 2017 23
NANNETTE BECKLEY ’74, CINDY WINSLOW ’73 AND MUFFY RITZ ’75 CELEBRATE SPRING IN SUN VALLEY, IDAHO.
CLASS OF 1976 ALUMNAE JILL MCCARTHY, CECILY MURPHY MAJERUS, ANDREA CARLA EISENBERG MICHAELS AND ANNE GOODALE ESMONDE HAVE A MINI-REUNION IN SAN FRANCISCO. AINSLEY AND CAULDER ARE THE CHILDREN OF DEVON HENSEL ’95.
Family Additions Josh Bell ʼ94 a daughter, Bowie Light, January 7, 2017 Devon Hensel ʼ95 a son, Caulder James, December 5, 2016 Andy Mitchell ʼ97 a son, Charles Wilson, February 4, 2017 Mariya Connors Melby ʼ04 a daughter, Gwendolyn MacBean, March 14, 2017 Jeff Leintz ʼ04 a son, Winston Joseph, March 29, 2017
Marriages Nayana Jha ʼ95 and Michael Cain June 18, 2017 Kenny Shum ʼ99 and Erin Sison November 12, 2016 Andy Johnson ʼ05 and Lindsey Walter August 6, 2016 Owen Payson Holm ʼ06 and Victoria Middleton Pool November 12, 2016
honored with the inaugural Minnesota Cinematic Arts Award, presented by the Minneapolis St. Paul International Film Festival. She was in the Twin Cities this April to attend screenings of her films and to participate in a discussion about her career, current projects and the importance of film in our world today.
Duncan Hannah had a show of his paintings at the Ornis A. Gallery in Amsterdam in June. He’ll show with Invisible-Exports in New York City in September and Galerie Pixi in Paris in October. He will be featured in a show, Club 57, at the Museum of Modern Art in October. His journals from the ’70s, 20th Century Boy, will be published by Knopf in the spring of 2018 and will be excerpted in the Paris Review. Liz Lott writes, “My husband, Brian Pavlac, and I have a new book. Game of Thrones vs. History: Written in Blood is a collection of essays by medieval historians from around the world who compare the popular series with historical reality. We worked a long time on this book, and we are very proud of the result!”
Rob Hensel received the 2016 United States Olympic Committee Volunteer Coach of the Year Award for his work as a founder and board chair of Beyond Walls, an urban squash program that promotes academic excellence and healthy lifestyles for youth. REUNION
Sally Ankeny Reiley writes, “I had a blast at our women of Northrop gathering in Minneapolis last September and look forward to coming ‘home’ for our 40th next year!”
Marcus Peacock has been named executive vice president of Business Roundtable, an association of chief executive officers of America’s leading companies. In his new role, he will help set strategic policy direction for the organization, oversee its professional policy staff and work closely with senior vice presidents who oversee government relations and communications for the organization. Marcus is a veteran government official and expert in federal regulation, budgeting and public policy with more than 20 years of high-level government experience, most recently with the
Office of Management and Budget, where he served as a transitional senior advisor to the director.
Sara Nelson writes, “My boys (Jack, 14, and Will, 12) and I moved to Bayfield, Wisconsin, into a Swedish-style cottage my father built. I have always wanted to live in a small town — with the three of us, the population reached a whopping 490 people! — and now, my dream is a reality. We love our life here. Of course, Bayfield isn’t your average small town. Its intense connection to Lake Superior provides all who come here with remarkable beauty, endless adventure and a profound sense of peace. If you have never visited our town, it’s time for a road trip!” REUNION
Scott Forbes reports that the season in Aspen was extended through the end of April!
Slater Crosby owns the Little Gym in Edina, Minnesota, and was recently named Franchise Owner of the Year by the Little Gym International.
NAYANA JHA ’95 AND MICHAEL CAIN WERE MARRIED ON JUNE 18 IN A TRADITIONAL HINDU WEDDING CEREMONY.
JEFF LEINTZ’S ’04 SON, WINSTON JOSEPH, WAS BORN MARCH 29.
ADAM FRISCH ’86 AND FORMER UPPER SCHOOL TEACHER AND BLAKE SKI COACH BOB TESLOW MET UP IN ASPEN AT THE WORLD CUP ALPINE FINALS.
Kevin Kelly traveled to England in September to visit friends in Devon, Cornwall and Wales. He enjoys being a grandparent. His son Tyler and daughter-in-law Rachel had another son in January. Dean Phillips is running for Congress against Rep. Erik Paulsen in Minnesota’s 3rd District.
Jon Ebel, a religion professor at the University of Illinois, was awarded a 2017 Guggenheim Foundation Fellowship. Jon specializes in the religious history of the United States, including the role religion plays in war. He will use his fellowship to complete work on a religious history of the Great Depression and the New Deal in agricultural California. In addition to his Guggenheim project, Jon is researching and writing a religious history of American warfare, told in five weapons. Jim Tucker (See In Print & Production)
Andrij Parekh (See In Print & Production)
Kerri Bieber McAfoos writes, “I loved Blake. I don’t spend much time in Minnesota, but Blake is near and dear to my heart. I named my first child Blake!”
Andrew Borene was awarded the FBI Director’s Award for Exceptional Service in the Public Interest for rescuing a woman who was being beaten by a man on a Washington-area highway in March. He currently works as a Booz Allen Hamilton consultant to the Intelligence Advanced Research Projects Activity, an arm of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.
Devon Hensel reports, “It’s been an exciting year in my house! My husband, Brandon Sorge, and I welcomed our second child. Our son, Caulder James, was born December 5, 2016. He joins big sister Ainsley. We live in Westfield, Indiana.” Devon was elected as a fellow in the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine and into the Society for Pediatric Research. Nayana Jha and Michael Cain were married on June 18 on a beautiful
Minneapolis summer evening at Arneson Acres in Edina. They were surrounded by family and friends from near and far for their joyous wedding weekend, which included a festive Mehendi party and a traditional Hindu wedding ceremony. Alene Grossman Sussman was named head of the Jewish Community Foundation, the planned giving arm of the Minneapolis Jewish Federation. She is responsible for crafting and implementing the foundation’s strategy for growing its assets. Alene writes, “I am thrilled and honored to lead the Jewish Community Foundation into the future and to increase donors’ investment impact on the community.” Tom Winston (See In Print & Production)
Emily Chambers Blejwas (See In Print & Production)
Marci Simon Cosentino writes, “Our daughter Faye is finishing her first year as a Blake Bear in Pre-K at Highcroft, and we are excited that our daughter Rose
will be starting Pre-K at Highcroft in the fall. Andy Mitchell and his wife, Laura, welcomed their second child, son Charles Wilson Mitchell, into the world on February 4. He writes, “After 15 years in NYC we moved to Austin, Texas, to enjoy a better (warmer) lifestyle and a good location to expand my venture capital fund business at Brand Foundry Ventures. I founded the firm in 2013.”
Ashley FenwickNaditch Viola has launched Meridian, a luxury lifestyle brand featuring a collection of unique, hand-made home decor pieces from around the world.
Kenny Shum was married in November with Blake classmates Eric Ramsay, Andy Gustafson, Megan Anderson and Megan Kelly ’02 in attendance. He and his wife, Erin, live in Park City, Utah.
In November, Sam Brown was appointed by President Barack Obama as a member of the Advisory Summer 2017 25
BLAKE 2005 CLASSMATES NATHANIEL MEIERPOLYS, LISA PERKINS, TANYA LINDGREN DENNY, ANDY JOHNSON, J.R. ROLAND, TOBY SEISLER AND ROBBIE COHEN CELEBRATE ANDY JOHNSON’S ’05 WEDDING.
ON SET WITH DIRECTOR MAX GOLD ’06 AND ACTOR RICKEY REYES ’06
ANDY JOHNSON ’05 MARRIED LINDSEY WALTER ON AUGUST 6, 2016. PICTURED WITH THE NEWLYWEDS ARE ANDY’S SISTER AND BROTHER-IN-LAW, CASSIDY JOHNSON STEINER ’96 AND ANDREW STEINER ’96, WITH THEIR CHILDREN, NELLIE ’27 AND ADA ’30.
Committee on the Arts for the John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts. Angela Lakedon works at Kraus Anderson Construction Company as a payroll coordinator.
Robbie Cohen recently moved to Boston to begin work as a senior product manager at the medical device company Abiomed, working with the Impella heart pump. Nathan Ratner is a third year medical student at the University of Minnesota. He was one of 16 medical students in the world, and the sole representative of the United States, selected to participate in Elsevier Hacks. Working with developers and designers in an innovative workspace in Helsinki, Finland, Nathan and the other participants will design and build solutions to solve challenges in medical education.
Max Gold directed his first feature film, Silicon Beach, which features classmates Mickey Bloom and Rickey Reyes. (Also see In Print & Production)
Sam Stein has joined TechCrunch as director of special projects and Battlefield, a premiere startup competition. (Read more about Sam in this issue’s Q&A on page 18.) Natalie Owens-Pike is looking forward to her 10-year reunion this fall. She loves her work as executive director of LearningWorks at Blake and was recently elected by her fellow Breakthrough Collaborative executive directors to the governing board of the National Breakthrough Collaborative. She will serve a two-year term, representing 24 fellow Breakthrough Collaborative affiliate sites across the country. She would love to see Blake alumni in San Francisco when she visits for quarterly meetings.
Jeremiah Ellison is running for Minneapolis’ Ward 5 council seat. He received the DFL endorsement, beating out incumbent Blong Yang and fellow challenger Cathy Spann. In May, Britta Wangstad earned a master’s in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley. She writes, “I entered the program
after two-and-a-half years living in Los Angeles, working as a junior architect for Gehry Partners. The master’s program was a fantastic experience, and I especially loved a project we did that included time at the Bauhaus community in Dessau, Germany. Now I am headed back to L.A. and finalizing the selection of my new work assignment. I’m really looking forward to being back with friends and colleagues there but will miss the incredible beauty of the Berkeley campus and my friends and family in the San Francisco area.” Marit Wangstad joined Young’s Market Company (YMCO), headquartered in California, in 2015. She writes, “After serving as a brand ambassador, I received a promotion in March into the YMCO Estates Group. In my new role as an account manager, I am part of a team of 125 professionals dedicated to providing outstanding services to a global portfolio of fine wine suppliers, wineries and customers. I support restaurants, hotels and boutique wine shops in the heart of San Francisco and love being immersed in the culture of the countries and regions of our products. It has been great to connect with so many of our ’08 classmates in the area. After first living in
Napa, I relocated to Berkeley and would love to welcome any Blake visitors interested in connecting to the many great wineries and restaurants in this area.”
Michael Ankeny placed third at the U.S. Alpine National Championships and second at the Canadian Alpine Championships in March.
Kent Carlson lives in Houston, Texas, and works in the energy industry. Charlie Billadeau has been working as a teaching assistant with Blake campus pre-kindergartners for the last three years. In the fall he will expand this role when he becomes Joanne Esser’s classroom teaching assistant. Sarah Carthen Watson is a third-year student at Washington University School of Law. This spring she received the Leaders of Tomorrow Award from Missouri Lawyers Media as part of the organization’s 2017 Women’s Justice Awards. The award is given to one female student from each of the four Missouri law schools
THE BLAKE ALUMNI BOARD WELCOMES ITS NEWEST MEMBERS (FRONT ROW, L TO R) ELLEN ARCHIBALD ’65, CAMILLE BYARS ’04, (BACK ROW, L TO R) ADAM GAREN ’97, DUNIA CHATHAM ’94, MATT FLORES ’01, TOM HEFFELFINGER ’66, (NOT PICTURED) KARI DAHLIN ’94 AND TOM RACCIATTI ’95.
for leadership and passion for making a difference in the justice system or legal profession. REUNION
Allison Bye reports, “After graduating in 2012, I settled in at the University of Minnesota studying environmental science education. Upon graduating this fall, I will continue on in pursuit of a master’s in education, hoping to teach at Blake someday! I still swim daily and love working with all the [Summer at Blake] Acoma campers and also dabble in landscape and environmental photography.”
Dani Cameranesi was one of 23 players named to the 2017–18 U.S. Women’s National Hockey Team. The team will relocate to the Tampa area to train at Florida Hospital Center Ice in preparation for the 2018 Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang, South Korea. Dani finished her senior season with the Minnesota Gophers women’s hockey team this year.
University of Southern California women’s lacrosse junior defender Lydia Sutton was named to the Canadian Women’s National
OWEN HOLM ’06 MARRIED VICTORIA POOL ON NOVEMBER 12, 2016, AT LYFORD CAY CLUB NASSAU, BAHAMAS. BLAKE GUESTS INCLUDED (FRONT ROW, L TO R) MERRIT JACKLEY ’07, ELLA MITCHELL ’08, SARAH POMERANTZ PETIT ’09, DOUG COLEMAN ’73, OWEN HOLM, VICTORIA POOL, BERIT JOHNSON ’06, DOUG HOLM ’03, JENNINGS GRANT ’07, TORY PATTERSON KOTSINONOS ’06, CONNOR COX ’06, MARY CONNOLLY ’07, (SECOND ROW, L TO R) REID PETIT ’03, PHILIP COLEMAN ’78, B.J. WANGENSTEEN ’06, MIKE POLICINSKI ’06, CAROLINE DAYTON ’03, FRED STEINER ’05, ANNIE MASSIE ’05, CHARLOTTE HITCH ’05, NED MITCHELL ’03, LAURA MASSIE ’05, MATT MANNING ’05 AND SAM GIBBONS ’06.
Team, which competed at the 2017 Federation of International Lacrosse Women’s World Cup in Guildford, England, in July. She was also named to the 2017 Face-Off Yearbook Preseason Division I All-America third team. Rory Taylor is one of 62 college students nationwide to be named a 2017 Truman Scholar, granted to aspiring public service leaders in the United States. Rory majors in international relations at Pomona College. A member of the Pawnee Nation of Oklahoma, he has worked on projects both in and outside of college to strengthen tribal and urban Indian communities. He is planning to pursue a Juris Doctorate with a focus on the intersection of international human rights and federal Indian law. He hopes to help build models of indigenous governance by connecting communities across the world.
Lucy Schemel is in her freshman year at the College of Charleston in Charleston, South Carolina.
SARAH CARTHEN WATSON ’11
Pressing Issues As a professional consultant, Dan Miller ’97 spent most of his days in a suit and tie. He cared how he presented himself but was never particularly picky about his clothes. “That was why I was so frustrated with the dry cleaning industry,” Miller says. “I felt like I wasn't asking for much in wanting my clothes back clean, undamaged, and on time, but that wasn't happening.” So he did something radical. He enrolled in a dry cleaning technology school in Maryland, left his consulting job and, in 2009, opened Mulberrys Garment Care. Without any venture capital funding, Miller grew his business to include six Twin Cities locations and last year opened 10 locations throughout San Francisco and Silicon Valley. His goal is to open Mulberrys in every major city in America, making it the first nationwide dry cleaning company in the United States. Miller’s reimagined dry cleaner emphasizes environmental consciousness, including toxin-free dry cleaning methods, eco-friendly detergents, biodegradable packaging and a hanger buy-back program. Mulberrys offers 24-hour pick-up and delivery service via an on-demand app, and the brick-and-mortar stores look — and smell — more like an upscale spa than a traditional dry cleaning shop. “By far the most exciting aspect of my work is bringing an industry that's been stuck in the 1980s into the
21st century,” Miller says. But this has come with challenges. Equipment manufacturers and suppliers have been resistant to change. And dry cleaning is, by nature, complicated. “You receive thousands of different garments of different colors and sizes that require unique cleaning and pressing methods, and they often need to be returned the next day,” Miller says. “It’s like if UPS had to take your packages, open them up, fix what was inside and then deliver them. In many ways it feels like pushing a boulder uphill, but it feels great when you get to the top of the hill.” Learn more at mulberryscleaners.com.
Summer 2017 27
ALLISON BYE ’12, BRIANNA POMONIS ’16, CHARLIE BILLADEAU ’11 AND EMMETT LINDQUIST ’16 LEAD THIS YEAR’S HAPPY CAMPERS OF BLAKE’S CAMP ACOMA SUMMER PROGRAM.
Former Faculty Upper School speech and communications teacher Greg Dawson retired from Blake this spring. His immediate plans include spending time in a wilderness area in Canada during July and August, giving friends a tour of the Black Hills in September, driving to the Pacific Northwest and California to visit friends and family in October, and accompanying his grandchildren to Disney World in November. Following that, Greg plans to focus on volunteer opportunities with organizations in the Native American community. This March, Rollie Johnson, who served as Blake’s athletic director from 1997 to 2006, was inducted into the Minnesota Athletic Directors Hall of Fame. He writes, “I make every attempt to visit Blake whenever we make our trips north. Many of the people I worked with over the years are now retired, but it’s still fun to wander the halls and take in a game or two. Our grandchildren are both
(FRONT ROW, L TO R) TOYIN EDISON-EDEBOR ’18, EVA MOTOLINIA ’18, TYLER JACKSON ’16 (BACK ROW, L TO R) CHARLIE ANKENY ’18, JOHN MILLER ’16, MARCUS BERG ’14 AND HANNAH KORSLUND ’16 ARE AMONG THE FACULTY OF LEARNINGWORKS AT BLAKE THIS SUMMER.
enrolled at Blake and our daughter Cassidy [Johnson Steiner ’96] and son-in-law Andrew [Steiner ’96] have been actively involved with Blake over the years.” Highcroft teaching assistant Diana Jones retired from Blake this spring. This summer she traveled to Chicago to help with her daughter’s move to Denver. She also headed to Nashua, New Hampshire, to meet her first grandchild, who was born June 10. She writes, “In September my husband and I are planning a trip to Glacier National Park. That’s when my ‘retirement’ will actually begin.”
In Memoriam Edward Callahan Jr. ’39 former parent, June 2, 2017 Paul Connolly ’09 February 19, 2017 Robert Cote ’52 May 2, 2017 Robert Dunn ’40 March 15, 2017 Robert Fischer Jr. ’66 February 12, 2017 J. Burr Friedlund ’62 December 31, 2016 Robert Gluek ’50 June 13, 2017 Joan Potter Goan ’45 former parent, former grandparent, February 16, 2017 Eileen Lahiff Grundman ’45 January 24, 2017
A. Tracy Guthrie ’51 February 21, 2017 J. Thomas Holzer ’65 July 8, 2017 Anne Dalrymple Hull ’33 former parent, former grandparent, February 1, 2017 Joan Barker Melvin ’43 December 29, 2016 Michael Miller former assistant head of school, April 2, 2017 William Owen ’49 July 7, 2016 Joan Stricker Pease ’49 January 7, 2017
S. Keller Pollock former faculty, former parent, March 12, 2017 Malcolm Robertson ’43 February 28, 2016 Stephen Sandy ’51 November 7, 2016 Libby Siegel former teacher and administrator, former parent, June 19, 2017 John Spencer ’40 March 6, 2017 Brad Walega current coach, June 22, 2017 Roscoe Webb Jr. ’46 June 1, 2017
Robert Pirsig ’46 April 24, 2017
The Winter 2017 In Memoriam incorrectly listed Sarah Bowman’s ’76 date of death as January 12, 2016. Sarah died on October 9, 2016. We apologize for the error. Please inform the Institutional Advancement Office of Blake community member deaths by calling 952-988-3430 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
SUBMIT YOUR CLASS NOTES AND PHOTOS TO CLASSNOTES@BLAKESCHOOL.ORG. 28 Cyrus
FORMER BLAKE TEACHERS JACK FECHT (FAR LEFT) AND JIM RIEN (FAR RIGHT) WITH FORMER BLAKE ATHLETIC DIRECTOR ROLLIE JOHNSON (CENTER) AT ROLLIE’S SON’S WEDDING RECEPTION.
VOICES Being Muslim in America
Sonia Baig ’21 plays tennis on Blake’s girls’ varsity team. She looks forward to joining her fellow teammates at the Upper School this fall. She also enjoys travel and telling stories through photography.
Last year, my classmates and I toiled over a batch of dumplings for a cooking project in Chinese class. My teacher only brought pork filling, so I created the pockets and skipped out on the tasting. My religion states that I’m not to eat pork, so when my classmates questioned me, I told them it was due to my Muslim faith. Nodding with smiles, they accepted my identity without a trace of judgement. Now, I can’t help but notice, or even look for, a sense of uneasiness when I tell people I am a Muslim. So much has happened this past year, most of which has redefined our culture and thinking as a nation. I have felt extremely frustrated hearing the media constantly refer to terrorist attacks by “Muslims.” While defining their religion may be important to trace the terrorists back to radical groups, it has felt as if Islam itself has been attacked and redefined by the media. Most of the recent terrorist attacks have all felt as if they were connected to radical Islamic groups. And while that may be true, the media has often focused the problem on the terrorists’ religion, not their violence. I use the word “felt” to describe emotional responses to these events because I believe both facts and feelings are important to consider in media coverage, individual thinking or hate toward certain groups. Facts, like bones, are important to the structure of anything, while feelings are important to the flesh. A good leader or opinion unites these factors into a body of truth; one which responds equally to the core and emotion of any phenomenon. I, along with many others, see that the media has not been building this body correctly. Radical terrorists who destroy in the name of religion are not true Muslims. They shouldn’t be associated with millions of innocent people who practice the peaceful faith of Islam.
Summer 2017 29
110 Blake Road South Hopkins, Minnesota 55343 952-988-3420 blakeschool.org
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Dear Friends, WHEN YOU THINK OF BLAKE do you recall a teacher or coach who played an instrumental role in your life? Do you remember a class or project that changed the way you see the world? Do you recollect caring adults and classmates who helped you discover your strengths and passions? Do you think back to a field, rink, classroom, library, stage or office on campus that served as a special space for you, a safe haven and place where you were at your best? When I talk with alumni and friends of the school, as well as current families, these indelible moments, people and spaces often come up in conversation. And these elements of Blake are often what inspire people to give back to the school that helped set them or a loved one on their life journey. Through Excellence Accelerated: The Campaign for Blake, we are deepening our investments in Blake students, faculty and facilities. It’s these people and places that make Blake a transformative educational experience. As we enter the final year of our five-year campaign, I’m very pleased to share the news that Angus and Margaret Wurtele have contributed $15 million toward Excellence Accelerated. Their generous gift marks not only the largest of the campaign but
What Blake Means to Us Campaign support has helped increase the percentage of Blake students benefiting from financial assistance from 15 to 21. Here’s what a few families have to say about why they are grateful for financial support and what the Blake community means to them.
“All parents believe their child is special, but the staff at Blake really do treat the students as such. Their individual talents are nurtured (through strings, theater, arts and social justice, for example). As the kids progress through the different school levels, they have matured into young people with the ability to think critically about the world, their place and responsibility in it and how to love learning.” CARRIE THOMPSON, SCHMITTY SMITH ’15, AMELIA SMITH ‘19, AUDREY SMITH ’21
“We feel very fortunate to be a part of the Blake community. What makes it unique are the shared values that bring everyone together. Even though we are drawing from a diverse population, we all believe in the importance of a rigorous academic, social and emotional environment where our children can thrive.” JENNY COOK, TAYLOR RONDESTVEDT ’11, LAUREN RONDESTVEDT ‘14 AND MADDY RONDESTVEDT ’18
“Our daughter is coming into full bloom at Blake. She is growing into a confident young woman who understands the importance of inclusive communities and is a great role model for her younger siblings. Through Blake, our daughter is becoming a better global citizen.” CAMARRA WINTERS, COREY COLLINS AND KIMORA COLLINS ’23
also the largest gift in Blake’s history. It is also one of the top gifts made to an independent school in Minnesota. The community’s connection to the Wurteles stretches over eight decades, beginning with Angus and Margaret’s mothers, who both graduated from Northrop Collegiate School, one of Blake’s predecessor institutions. Angus graduated from Blake in 1952 and Margaret from Northrop in 1963. Two of Angus’ three children attended Blake, as did Margaret’s child, the late Philip Otis ‘91. Both had sisters who attended Northrop, as well as several nieces, nephews, great-nieces and great-nephews at Blake. In the early 1970s, Angus served as a trustee, helping to usher Blake’s three predecessor schools through a merger. At the same time, Margaret was serving in a similar capacity as trustee on the Northrop board. Years later, she served on Blake’s board and was elected board chair. Angus and Margaret have made leadership gifts to each of Blake’s four major fundraising campaigns. And to honor the memory of Philip Otis, who tragically died in 1995 during a rescue mission as a student ranger at Mount Rainier National Park, the Wurteles funded the Philip Otis Environmental Authors Program and named the Northrop campus courtyard after him. Throughout the years, our community has played an important role in the lives of Angus and Margaret. The merger process helped bring them together as
“Blake has given our daughter the opportunity to stretch her academic wings. She’s challenged and engaged in her studies. She takes her education seriously and is happy with her Blake experience.” RON, LAURA AND SIERRA ’19 ERDMAN-LUNTZ
“Blake provides exceptional educational experiences and dedicated teachers for our children to develop, to fully explore their talents and interests and to express themselves. Blake prepares them for success in life.” DUNG TRUONG, NGOC DINH, NAM TRUONG ’23 AND MINH TRUONG ’29
a couple; the entire Blake community helped sustain them through the loss of their son Phil; and they remain actively connected to their classmates and teammates. In turn, the school has benefited immensely from their leadership and insight. The Wurteles’ generosity has inspired several other campaign gifts from members of the Blake community. Their gift, along with those from many Blake families, alumni, faculty and staff, brings the school to $70 million of the overall $80 million goal. We have set our sights on raising the remaining $10 million in this final year of the campaign. To reach our campaign goal, I ask every community member to consider ways in which you can support the next generation of learners and educators and help invest in Blake’s future. Working together, we will continue to create a vibrant, flourishing and exceptional educational community. Warm regards,
Anne E. Stavney, Ph.D. Head of School
“We knew Blake was a great school before attending, but the teachers have gone far beyond any expectations. The respect, care and growth they provide our children have made it difficult to end the school year because we adore them so!” REBECCA, TREVOR, KYRA ’28 AND ZOEY ’30 AXNER
’’ “Blake has provided an excellent opportunity for my daughter to not just learn and grow but thrive.”
JUSTIN AND KELSEY ’28 WEBSTER
Groundbreaking for the Blake Commons is tentatively set for spring 2018.
Blake Commons Preview Excellence Accelerated has brought campus upgrades to our athletics, arts and academic spaces. Next up is the construction of the Blake Commons. Once fundraising goals are met, work will begin on this new addition at the heart of the Blake campus in Hopkins. Groundbreaking is tentatively set for spring 2018 with completion in time for the 2019–20 school year. The school has partnered with U+B Architecture and Design to create the new space. The Blake Commons includes: • New Dining Hall and Outdoor Plaza A new dining hall will reduce the number of daily lunch periods from five to three, which will allow significant improvements in scheduling for academics; enable two distinct eating areas for Lower School and Middle School students; and provide a multi-purpose space for reunion, homecoming, graduation and other community events. • Indoor Connection Between Lower School and Middle School Light-filled walkways will allow students, faculty, staff and visitors to seamlessly transition between school divisions during winter and inclement weather. • A New Home for Admissions Relocated admissions offices will offer prospective families a more efficient and inspiring beginning to their Blake experience. The welcoming space will feature a gallery entryway showcasing artwork created by Blake community members.
Laura Mark Campaign Director 952-988-3439 firstname.lastname@example.org
110 Blake Road South Hopkins, MN 55343 blakeschool.org
A magazine for alumni and friends of The Blake School