Page 1

THE PEGASUS SCHOOL

ISSUE 11/SPRING 2016

How

Happiness

Happens


MISSION STATEMENT The Pegasus School is dedicated to academic excellence and to the development of lifelong learners who are confident, caring and courageous. COMMUNITY VALUES • Responsibility • Kindness • Teamwork • Generosity • Creativity • Curiosity • Courage • Integrity • Perseverance

2

THE PEGASUS SCHOOL

PEGASUS STUDENTS love to learn, to be challenged, and to work hard; they are bright and motivated; they are joyful; they grow in both intellect and empathy. PEGASUS TEACHERS inspire, nurture and guide. They love to teach; they are flexible, creative, collaborative, and innovative; they foster each student’s individual gifts and passions. PEGASUS PARENTS value education; they work closely with the school in a partnership based on thoughtful communication and mutual respect.

PORTRAIT OF A GRADUATE • Academically Confident • Well Balanced • Critical Thinker • Exceptional Communicator • Collaborative Leader • Responsible Citizen • Environmentally Conscious • Technologically Adept • Economically Astute • Versed in the Arts • Globally Aware


SPRING 2016 www.thepegasusschool.org EDITORIAL BOARD Nancy Conklin, Director of Admission Rick Davitt, Photographer Sue Harrison, Director of Advancement Karla Joyce, Writer Jason Lopez, Head of School Shalini Mattina, Assoc. Director of Advancement, Communications Marrie Stone, Writer Nancy Wilder, Middle School English Teacher WRITERS Benjamin Jenkins Karla Joyce Jason Lopez Marrie Stone CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Jen Aguilar Ginny Allhusen Wendy Bush George Cheng Brian Cullen Shea Watson CREATIVE DIRECTION AND DESIGN Shalini Mattina

Contents FEATURES

GRAPHIC DESIGN

20

AP Happiness

24

The Dark Side of Happiness

5

Head’s Message

6

At the Heart of Pegasus

8

Program: The Gift of Giving Back

10

Student Spotlight: “Planet Who” is Where She Wants to Be

12

Program: The Artist’s Way

14

Faculty Focus: Lisa Botts

16

Insight: Money CAN Buy Happiness

28

Insight: Hoopin’ It Up

30

Those Who Soar

32

Alumni Connections

36

Mark Your Calendar

Kristen Winstead, Sund Studio PHOTOGRAPHER Rick Davitt PRINTING Orange County Printing

Pegasus Magazine is published twice yearly by the Office of Advancement at The Pegasus School. It is archived at thepegasusschool.org/publications. We welcome your feedback! Please address queries and comments to Shalini Mattina at smattina@thepegasusschool.org

PEGASUS NOW

PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

3


4 4 THETHE PEGASUS PEGASUS SCHOOL SCHOOL


HEAD’S MESSAGE

Choose

Happiness

H

appiness is not linear, and neither are relationships. For instance, I met Chrissy Bridges, athletic and activities director, when she was a freshman during my first year of teaching. Her contagious smile then, and still, exudes happiness. Bridges recently asked me, “How do you manage your schedule? I was trying to meet with you, but you’re booked for two weeks!” I am overscheduled, but always with disparate engagements, and I love what I do. How Happiness Happens is the theme of this issue’s Pegasus Magazine. In her article, “Hoopin’ It Up,” Ginny Allhusen highlights the camaraderie among teammates in the Pegasus Dads’ Basketball League (which I am privileged to be a part of). In his article, “The Gift of Giving Back,” Brian Cullen not only explains the functions of the Board of Trustees and its committees, but also the reasons why a parent gives his/her time, talent and treasure to make Pegasus a better place. Both Allhusen and Cullen refer to struggles, times when events did not go as planned; however, both challenges described seem almost prerequisite to the final result— happiness. “The Artist’s Way,” by Shea Watson, underscores how Vicki Schmitz, art teacher, consciously creates projects that help art students find gratification through the creative process, and the angst of their struggle. In her feature article, “AP Happiness,” Karla Joyce delves into the relationship between tribulation and happiness in one’s life, in this case, that of Coach Charles Tyler, who beams happiness. Perhaps like The Pegasus School, it is the unexpected in this issue that may captivate your attention. For example, in his article, “Money CAN Buy Happiness,” George Cheng will set you back on your heels on the tenuous navigation of money and happiness. Similarly, the shared stories about our community — teachers, students, parents, alumni — will help you to understand the pursuit of happiness at Pegasus. One common theme throughout my years in independent schools is the way parents and schools alike have wrestled with the blessings and curses of socioeconomic privilege.

Healthy relationships prove to be more important than

material possessions in determining the happiness quotient. “The Dark Side of Happiness,” by Marrie Stone, reveals some halting statistics that show how our young school is by no means the first to grapple with the challenge of privilege. The identification of this dilemma, both by parents and teachers who seek ways to meet this challenge, and the existence of this angle in this magazine, speak volumes about the kind of place that is Pegasus. We are a special and privileged place indeed, not simply due to what we have, but because of what we seek— the knowledge and understanding of others, our community, and ourselves—in order to make a better place. Just as I enjoy the variety in a typical day, so will you enjoy this edition of Pegasus Magazine. The comfort of the expected will be satisfying, the challenges of the unexpected will be exhilarating, and the lasting happiness will evolve from the relationships forged. There is a poster hanging from the wall of my wife’s home office which simply reads, Choose Happiness. In essence, happiness is a mindset, so why not choose to be intrinsically happy?

Jason Lopez Head of School

PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

5


At the Heart of Pegasus

BY MARRIE STONE

The Everyday Stories of Exceptional People

Positively Positive Ashley Sung Has Your Back

I

t’s 7:55 a.m. and eighth grader Ashley Sung has organized a meeting among her friends. They gather at the bleachers near the back of the field. It’s serious. “We were all going to tell each other which high school we chose,” she says. “There was a possibility we were going to lose some of our friends to boarding schools. But at the last minute, a few changed their minds.” Her relief is palpable. In the retelling of it, she shakes with joy. Ashley is one of those young women who wants you to succeed more than you want it for yourself. She’s cheering for you harder than your own mom. And it’s all 100% genuine. Her motto: “Life is full of give and take, give thanks and take nothing for granted!”

“If I know there’s a quiz or an assignment coming up, or if it’s a day we all need to wear something special, I’ll text the whole class,” she says. “Some people don’t check their email. They’d want to know.” When asked about how she avoids feeling competitive with her classmates in a driven environment, she doesn’t miss a beat. “I’ve grown up with these people,” she says. “We’re more like brothers and sisters. Pegasus is our second home.” While students can be competitive, Ashley says there’s love and affection underlying it. “Because we have a strong bond, the competition feels loose and fun. I want them to succeed, just like I want my brothers to succeed. Why wouldn’t I?”

Ashley credits her parents for her positive attitude. “The glass is always half full for my parents. They remind me to focus on the positive effects I can have, and not dwell on the negative.” It’s worked. Teachers and students alike sing Ashley’s praises.

Wonder Women Christina Shen and Jennifer Pettis Embody Grace Under Pressure

T

here are often unsung heroines in our midst, and we usually don’t know it. They are the women who get it done, efficiently and without complaint, before the “it” is even known. Christina Shen and Jen Pettis, Pegasus mothers, are these women. They spend so much time working at Pegasus, their children consider the closet in the Advancement Office their own. Shen, a former commercial real estate lawyer, is the detail-oriented mom. She is

6

THE PEGASUS SCHOOL

not only a mom to her own children, but to everyone—even other moms. “She brings these amazing snacks to the bus stop for all of her friends’ children. Even the ones who come on the later bus!” says Shea Watson. “But don’t ever work out with her. She runs like someone is chasing her. She’s just one tough chick.” Pettis, formerly in advertising and considered “the creative one,” is known among friends as PGP (Party Girl Pettis). This pays dividends for the Spring Benefit silent auction. “One year we were falling behind,” says Edi Thimons. “Out of nowhere, Jen started bringing in items. She knows

everyone, but expects no recognition. She’s just willing to help.” Though humble and hardworking, they both maintain a healthy sense of humor. “We’re the least likely Girl Scout leaders,” Shen says. “No camping!” is our motto.” They joke that they’ve adopted a Beverly Hills approach to scouting. This wit and humor is critical to staying sane, and keeping others sane, when the pressure mounts during Benefit season. Arthur Ashe once said, “True heroism is remarkably sober, very undramatic. It is not the urge to surpass all others at whatever cost, but the urge to serve others, at whatever cost.” Christina and Jen know the difference.


Of Mind And Attitude Not a Race for Chase

W

hen eighth grader Chase Groux ran for ASB president last year, he asked the entire class to stand, take one step to the right, and be seated. “See?” he said. “I haven’t been elected yet, and already I’ve moved our class one step in the right direction.” Being the humble guy he is, Chase credits his sister with coming up with that winning line. “I love ASB,” he says. “I get to stand up, tell everyone what to do, and pass out Smarties that say, ‘Be a Smartie!’ Which is ironic, since my mom is in the nutrition industry.” Chase embodies the Pegasus spirit—smart, funny, humble, infectiously happy, and alarmingly articulate. He’s also a driven athlete, leader, world traveler, and scholar.

When asked if he had any advice for leading a happy life, he says, “I keep a list of quotations on my phone for inspiration.” Where did he get them? He wrote them. Like this one: “The key to life is a mystery, while the key to success is positivity.” He has dozens of them. Chase also uses the techniques he’s learned in the Surf Fitness and Mindfulness elective, taught by Jim and Pam Conti. “I’ve become good at what I’ve learned,” he says. “Last month I led a meditation exercise with one of my friends and put him to sleep! It also helps me focus in class and allows me to do homework longer.” Meditation comes naturally to Chase. His father regularly meditates and recently

graduated from yoga teacher training. But Chase is helping him with the properties of mindfulness. “He’s coming along,” Chase says. Yet another example of Chase’s innate ability to move people in the right direction.

The Power of Love Chressa Fancher’s Enduring Influence

C

hressa Fancher, third grade teacher, never forgets a student. And students never forget her. The day we talked, she was running late because a group of alumni—

now in college—came back to pay their respects during spring break. “Connor Rogers walked into my classroom and I just lit up. ‘Connor!’ I said. ‘You remember me?’ he said. He seemed so surprised.” Not only does Mrs. Fancher remember her former students, she remembers which rainforest animal they played. When told Chase Groux would be featured in the Pegasus Magazine alongside her, she sighed. “My little flying fox bat.” That’s Mrs. Fancher. In her classroom hangs a framed letter from former student Sally Fales, published in the Newport Beach Independent in 2011. It contains all the heartache of first love—that feeling of instant connection, an inability to let go, a pledge to never forget. Sally recalls small details with visceral emotion.

“I even remember . . . when you brought us all a Popsicle, and I felt a connection that I will have the rest of my life,” she wrote. “Everything I hated doing, you made it fun. I don’t know how you made life so magical.” Mrs. Fancher has somehow managed to pass that magic onto students for fifteen years. We all have those teachers who, fifty years later, we can still recall with clarity. Pegasus is full of those teachers. Mrs. Fancher is squarely among them. “I want my students to be happy and confident. If they’re not, I need to change what I’m doing,” Fancher says. That philosophy embodies the Pegasus difference. Small gestures make enormous impacts on the lives of students. Mrs. Fancher has a bottomless supply.

Marrie Stone is a local writer, interviewer, and the co-host of “Writers on Writing” at KUCI, 88.9FM and the mother of Haley Rovner (‘15). Contact: marriestone@gmail.com

PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

7


PROGRAM

The Gift of

Giving Back The Synergy of the Board of Trustees

W

BY BRIAN CULLEN

henever I’m asked why I joined the Board of Trustees (BOT), the answer is simple: my two daughters. When Teri and I searched for schools in 2006, we visited several in the area, both public and private, clueless about the process. We heard about

Pegasus, like most parents, by word of mouth. Fortunately we had an expert to advise us— Teri’s father, a retired elementary school teacher and principal.

8

THE PEGASUS SCHOOL


When we arrived at Pegasus and met Nancy Conklin, director of admission, Teri’s dad had all the right questions, and Nancy had all the right answers. When asked, “Why, during all these school visits, do we never meet the head of school?” Nancy whisked us to Dr. Hathaway’s office, interrupting her lunch (which she kindly offered to share), and gave us the opportunity to talk to the visionary behind Pegasus. That was the moment we knew Pegasus was right for our girls. Over the past ten years, our daughters have flourished, not only academically, but also emotionally. They’ve developed confidence and respect. Our older daughter, Linda, is now a freshman at Mater Dei High School, and Jenny is in sixth grade. We are proud of our daughters, and recognize the role Pegasus has played in their growth.

Joining the Board After eight years of wonderful experiences, I decided it was time to give back to the School. While I was aware of the BOT, I wasn’t familiar with its role and members. When asked to attend a Facilities Committee meeting as a “guest,” I thought this could be an interesting opportunity to contribute. I didn’t anticipate my “guest appearance” would be the start of a journey to Facilities chair and member of the Board, which has been a satisfying, educational and enjoyable journey. (By the way, if you are asked to make a “guest appearance” at a committee meeting, just say, “Yes, of course.”)

Structure of the Board The BOT presently has fourteen members, all of whom are parents of current and former students. The Board has five standing committees—Education, Development, Finance, Governance and Facilities. With the exception of Governance, which is comprised solely of trustees, each committee has several members from the parent community, faculty and staff. As a result, it’s a large pool of smart and impressive people committing time, talent and treasure to Pegasus. This is one aspect of what makes Pegasus a wonderful community. Fortunately, my professional expertise in finance and infrastructure development is valuable to the School, particularly on the Facilities committee. I was honored to be considered and appointed in 2014. Although the Board has faced some challenges over recent years, thanks to the commitment of time and talent by many long-standing members (and some recent past Board members) under the leadership of Robert Riedl, chair, Pegasus is in an

amazing position of strength to safeguard and continue the School’s mission. We are fortunate to have the new leadership of Jason Lopez and his team, and the Board is now in a fantastic position to focus on the future of Pegasus.

Synergy of the Board The strength of the Board lies in its diversity, yet every member is dedicated to the School’s mission. While the wide spectrum of our collective experience is unique, as are the individual talents each member provides, we are committed to a common mission. Board members bring a variety of skills from a range of industries and professions — development, finance, legal, design, engineering, business and marketing, and perspectives from different parts of the United States and abroad. This creates tremendous synergy both between Board members, management and committees. In fact, over the past few years, committee chairs have worked closer together to bring collaboration and integration between committees where common interests and goals exist.

The Power of Why Not long after Jason was appointed head of school, he shared a TED Talk by Simon Sinek, the author of Start with Why. Sinek stresses that “people don’t buy what you do, they buy why you do it.” This resonated. Why do we choose to have our children educated at Pegasus? The school has the same access to talented faculty as other institutions. The facilities could be described as dated and a little quirky, and the location is somewhat inconvenient for many families. Yet we are all delighted to have our children experience the magic of Pegasus. Why? Although Pegasus endured some difficult times, the quality of the education never faltered, and the children remained immune from administrative turmoil. How was this possible? My opinion is the amazing faculty, and the secret formula that is woven into the fabric of the School, originating back to Dr. Hathaway. We are tasked with safeguarding that magic, and the School’s mission, so future families will understand the “why” of Pegasus. Under Jason’s leadership, supported by the Board of Trustees, and the retention and attraction of amazing faculty, future families will know why they choose Pegasus as the place to educate their children, just like Teri and I chose Pegasus to educate our two daughters.

Brian Cullen is the president of PERC Water, a water infrastructure development company. He is the father of Linda (’15) and Jenny (’18). Contact:briandcullen@gmail.com

PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

9


STUDENT SPOTLIGHT

Selene Shankle: “Planet Who” is Where She Wants to Be BY WENDY BUSH

10 THE PEGASUS SCHOOL

The theater. It saved me. It is a magical place.


M

uch like Horton the Elephant, Selene Shankle is a unique individual who is determined, passionate and thoughtful. Her experiences at Pegasus in the arts, particularly in theatre, have given her a quiet confidence that shines through both onstage and in her persona. When asked what is her happy place at Pegasus, she smiles wide. Her eyes twinkle and she says, without hesitation, “The theater. It saved me. It is a magical place.” Coming to Pegasus in third grade, Selene explains that she was really unsociable and had a hard time interacting with people. She decided to audition for the production of Willy Wonka and was cast as an umpa lumpa. She has been hooked ever since. “It opened a whole bunch of new pathways for me.” Her theatrical experiences have provided her a way to connect with students and make friends along the way, as well as gain some invaluable life skills such as public speaking and critical thinking. Her recent role as Horton the elephant in Seussical the Musical is her favorite part to date. Selene found a special connection with Horton’s character unlike any she had had in her previous roles. She felt her earlier parts were strict, poised or serious characters. With Horton, there was a shift. “I performed as this really kind character who is saving these people. ‘A person is a person, no matter how small’ kind of attitude. It was really fun for me! It was the person I never got to be when I was little.” Much like how Horton becomes attached to, and cares for, the “small” people on Planet Who, Selene has derived great happiness and satisfaction from mentoring younger students. She coaches them, teaches them, and even steps in a few times when she feels students need to get more serious, encouraging them to give it their all. Mrs. Goldhamer, second grade teacher who directs the after school theatre program, completely agrees. “Every year as she grew, Selene embraced this role with these kids.” Mrs. Goldhamer observes that the younger children in the cast would, “sense about her that you are in the presence of something that you should take from, that you should grow from.” Mrs. Coyle, middle school theatre teacher, offers a slightly different observation about Selene’s time in the theater. “She really doesn’t concern herself with superfluous thoughts like whether or not she looks “cool” or if people think she is weird. She just goes for it every time, remains in the moment and never allows outside influences to change her focus. She is one of the most focused students I have had at the middle school level.” Selene’s time in theater has influenced other areas of her creative life, including her singing voice. Mrs. Wilson, music teacher, shares that, “Selene has a great ear and an innate

musicality.” Wilson has watched Selene grow from someone who didn’t believe she had much range to mastering a variety of styles. Selene feels that learning to sing has made her a happier person. Interestingly, it wasn’t the singing itself that has made Selene feel more joyful, but rather understanding that what she can’t sing, she can instead play on the piano. She started the piano at age three, but it wasn’t fun until she was able to translate melodies from her head to her fingers. Coyle often finds Selene at the piano before class playing for herself— anything from classical, jazz, musical theater, to popular. She often hollers over to her, “Okay, Liberace, it’s time for class!” This confidence in her expression has spilled over to other areas. Selene’s most recent addition to her artistic portfolio is Anime, Japanese hand-drawn or computer animation. After a trip to Japan two years ago, she became fascinated with this art medium and taught herself how to draw in this style. Mrs. Schmitz, middle school visual arts teacher, notes that Selene makes a point to pull out her iPad whenever they cross paths to show her the latest thing she is working on. “She is obviously talented in many areas, so it impresses me that she spends so much time and energy developing her visual art.” Superficially, Selene doesn’t strike you as a conventionally happy kid. Her favorite color is gray and she loves eel, which she could eat every day. Selene intensely studies, not just her scripts, but all her academic subjects. These aren’t qualities that come to mind when picturing a typical happy-go-lucky eighth grade girl. But, then again, Pegasus is not a place where “typical” is often used as an adjective. Happiness at Pegasus it seems, at least in Selene’s case, is driven by passion and engagement and not aspirational stereotypes or appearances. She is a focused young lady who has found a quiet joyfulness from the arts, and that joy percolates silently outward, drawing others to her both on stage and in life. She will miss her little Pegasus family of “Whos” when she moves onto Sage Hill School in the fall. This rising star is just starting her ascent, and it will be fun to see how high in the sky she goes. Wendy Bush is the director of operations for a sales consulting company. She is the mother of John (‘15) and Ellie (‘18). Contact: wendy@jbbush.com PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

11


PROGRAM

THE ARTIST’S WAY The Power and Pleasure of the Visual Arts

BY SHEA WATSON

W

hen Vicki Schmitz gets inspired, her enthusiasm spreads all over Pegasus. With the campus as her canvas, tape her medium, and students as her muse, Schmitz brings important conversations about art, its role, and its power to the entire community. You are the source of all the blue tape around campus. How did the tape art project begin? I start by discussing street art. I show samples of different types of street art—graffiti, sidewalk chalk drawings, installations on city streets. I try to get at the question—what is art? What’s the difference between going to a museum and encountering art on the street? Who decides what hangs in a museum versus public art on the street? That question interests children. Putting something

12 THE PEGASUS SCHOOL

in common spaces encourages people to ask questions. Why is it there? What’s the purpose? That’s the conversation that starts the unit. When they’re able to install their own work outside the classroom, it gets them jazzed. I see students waiting for reactions. It fills them with pride and a sense of accomplishment, because others think it’s cool. In middle school, you want to be cool. The concept of happiness for the artist versus happiness for the audience is interesting. What is art doing for the audience versus the artist? What is the interaction? When art is around us, everyone gets something out of it— the artist and the observer. Then it starts a conversation, so the community benefits too. It is the pleasure of stumbling upon something cool, coming around a corner and seeing something unexpected. ‘Whoa, look at the elephant! How many legs is


but I convinced them to do it. Afterward, they were smiling and ready to show it off. That’s the feeling we want our students to have—that they worked through the problem. That’s much more gratifying than giving it one shot and having it be perfect. They don’t get anything out of that. If you have to grapple a little, you get more out of it.

that?’ That’s a wonderful experience for the audience, and also for the artist. When students hear reactions, they set the bar even higher for themselves. How long has your tape art been part of the art curriculum? The clear tape people started two years ago. I attended the National Art Education Convention in San Diego. Two art teachers had done a clear tape human project at their school. I had to try it! The students loved it. I wondered how else we could take art outside the classroom. Through educational magazines and updates, I saw lots of ideas, including something similar to the tape murals. I thought, ‘Painter’s tape is blue. Pegasus’ color is blue. Painter’s tape won’t leave residue. Why not try?’ The costs and risks were low. The students brought their best and the reaction from the community was amazing. This is the second installment of the year, and we will probably do one more. Do you think you will continue the tape murals next school year? Probably. The younger students see the murals and want their turn. But it changes every year. Students have different ideas, and it evolves. I let them feed their own curriculum. Their creativity becomes part of the creativity of the program, and that makes me happy. What is the most important lesson the students get out of the actual installation of the tape art? I recently attended a workshop featuring a speaker who said, “I tell my students, ‘If I don’t frustrate you every once in awhile, I’m not doing you any favors.’” That’s what we do at Pegasus. For example, recently some boys were creating an optical illusion. I told them to step back and realize one of the angles was off. They had to deconstruct it and do it again. It was frustrating for them,

Some of our great art curriculum has evolved from the National Art Education Convention and other professional development opportunities. How is this made possible? That’s something I love about independent schools, particularly Pegasus. The school is very supportive of professional development opportunities. They encourage us to find local programs so the budget can go further. But if there’s something amazing that requires travel, they still try to make it possible. Spending time with other artists and educators is invaluable. Last summer, I attended a studio class at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design. One week devoted to my own art with other art educators—it was a chance to produce and have our own critique group. It refilled my creative tank. The reason I went into art education was because I enjoy creating art. It’s hard to find time to do that. In a way it seems like a trickle down theory, because by teaching art you are making art yourself everyday through your students. Art educators discuss this often—are we making art through our students and our curriculum? It’s interesting. It’s fun to see what the students create, and it’s an interesting place to be. I watch them, even when I’m doing demonstrations, and it makes me want to do more. We have great students and a great space here. That helps.

Shea Watson is the mother of Miranda( ’17), Avery (’19) and Robbie (’23). Contact sheahwatson@gmail.com.

PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

13


FACULTY FOCUS

SIMPLY SPANISH Señora Lisa Botts’ Entertaining Approach to Language BY JENNIFER AGUILAR

O

ne Monday morning in March, music leaks from Señora Botts’ Spanish class. The tune is familiar, at least to her students, but the lyrics are strange and foreign.

It’s Rihanna’s “Work,” but Botts holds the microphone. She’s taken center stage in her classroom and, as always, Botts prepares to make work fun. 14 THE PEGASUS SCHOOL


Botts knows the students are familiar with Rihanna, but she has no idea what the song is about. In other words, she doesn’t hesitate, as she recalls, to make a complete fool of herself, modeling exuberance and lack of self-consciousness for her students. Those two traits, it turns out, are essential for success in learning a new language. Botts bases much of her curriculum on linguist Stephen Krashen’s theories on second language acquisition. Krashen’s research reveals that negative emotional and motivational factors—such as anxiety, self-consciousness, boredom, annoyance, alienation, etc.—interfere with acquiring a second language. He refers to these roadblocks as the “Affective Filter.” Botts works to lower that Affective Filter, and the results are impressive. Many Pegasus graduates take Spanish II or III as high school freshmen, even then, their courses are often a review of what they’ve already learned. Taking the vocabulary acquired during the lower school years and merging with more recently learned grammar, seventh grade is where it all clicks for many students. Listening to one middle schooler make an off-the-cuff presentation gave Botts goose bumps. “These students are becoming fluent before my eyes, and it’s so rewarding. I feed off their enthusiasm about their own accomplishments.” Botts connects with adults as well as students. Parents line up at her door on Back-to-School Night, as they wait to meet the teacher their children can’t stop talking about. Valerie Harelson, eighth grade Spanish teacher says, “When Lisa isn’t teaching Spanish, she’s thinking about it—coming up with creative songs, new skits, or innovative projects. Whenever I walk into her classroom, students are engaged and eager to learn. They go back to visit her often, as they love and remember her songs and amazing positive energy.” On a recent visit to Sage Hill, high school teacher Sra. Olivia approached Botts in awe. “Are you the Sra. Botts?” Her reputation precedes her. While many adults may remember middle school as a dark and difficult time, Pegasus students develop meaningful and enduring relationships with multiple teachers every year. These relationships help keep them grounded, as well as drive their desire to excel. Add in teachers like Botts, who aim to lower anxiety and inhibitions, encouraging students to laugh and express themselves, and they are poised to thrive at a typically tumultuous age. Skits such as “El Cuadrado de Amor” (translation: Love Square), in which a normally reserved middle school boy plays the part of “chico caliente” with flair, are pure entertainment. Laughing to tears throughout the performance, Botts is the most engrossed audience member of all.

If Botts weren’t teaching today, she’d still be an actress. Once pursuing Hollywood dreams and starring in stage productions, Botts approaches teaching with the style of a performer— infusing humor, emotion, and spontaneity into her class. Not only does she supply major growth and life lessons to her students, she reminds me of my own middle school years and the vastly different experience my children are having. Botts (along with her parents) was born in the United States, part Puerto Rican and part Spanish by blood. However, she didn’t start learning Spanish until ninth grade. Her choice to pursue Spanish in college and as a career came out of her passion for the language. Inspired by the movie Dangerous Minds, which tells the story of a teacher who makes a difference in the lives of her underprivileged young pupils, Botts accepted a position at an inner city high school teaching drama and Spanish. Then, in 2002, she came to Pegasus to rejuvenate the lower school Spanish program, bringing her passion, patience and dramatic flair. According to John Sullivan, former lower school director, “Lisa turned a tired, video-based foreign language program into a dynamic, interactive program.” In 2010, she transitioned to the Middle School. Sra. Botts continues to live her dream of performing, but in a classroom to an audience of enthusiastic seventh graders. She bonds with them at an age when they desperately need positive social connections. She makes a difference in their lives. My own children are embracing their Spanish speaking heritage, and not afraid to be themselves, proudly singing and dancing in front of their peers. As alumna Tomiko Hoshijima ’13 says, “Señora Botts taught me the most of any teacher I’ve had after three years in high school Spanish. All that time I thought we were just having fun, but we were actually learning!” Jennifer Aguilar is the proud Pegasus parent of Noah (’17) and Sabrina (’19). Contact: mrsjenaguilar@gmail.com PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

15


INSIGHT

Money CAN Buy

HAPPINESS W

ithout a doubt the more money you possess, the more you can satisfy basic life needs. But do not confuse satisfaction with happiness. Your last meal may have satisfied the hunger in your belly, but does it make you salivate just thinking about it? Happiness is a mental state of mind, a complex chemical reaction in your brain comprised of dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin and endorphins which all combine to create a warm and fuzzy feeling. Scientists have discovered short term tricks such as eating chocolate or exercising to temporarily release endorphins; however, for true long term happiness we need to dig deeper — literally into our wallets. Money can buy happiness if you know how to spend it.

16 THE PEGASUS SCHOOL

BY GEORGE CHENG

Buy Experiences, Not Objects Research conducted by Elizabeth Dunn and Michael Norton, co-authors of Happy Money: The Science of Happier Spending, shows that the mere mention of money causes people to feel stress and exhibit antisocial behavior. To counter these adverse effects, spend your discretionary income on social experiences. Hosting a dinner party with friends, playing a round of golf with buddies, and vacationing with your family are all social activities which will lead to greater happiness than purchasing a material object like a car or television. I am guilty of purchasing a massive television. At the time of the TV purchase, I envisioned hosting a festive world cup viewing party. The truth is the majority of the time I watch television


by myself in the dark. Recently, when I was tempted to buy another television, I elected instead to use those funds to travel with my kids to watch a real soccer match in the light! Travel experiences have the additional benefits of pre-trip anticipation and the post-trip afterglow. The excitement before a trip allows you to escape reality for a moment and go to the happy place in your mind. As much as I love spontaneity, book a trip as far in advance as possible to enjoy this grace period of happiness. After the trip, your brain will most likely only remember the fond memories as time passes. Try to recall your own childhood trips and I bet you do not remember any of the inconveniences of travel. Complete the circle by making the trip an annual tradition (i.e. ski week, girls trip, etc.) enabling your memories to amplify your anticipation! I personally receive an extra boost of pleasure when I maximize the happiness return on investment (ROI) equation, which is the happiness value you receive divided by the initial cost. For example, instead of joining an expensive golf country club where I would feel the need to play golf every day to “break even,” I play once a month at the local public course for $40 with ten other dads. My golf score is forgettable, but the laughs are priceless. Playing a public course means minimal cost, higher happiness, and plenty of leftover funds to pay for much needed golf lessons.

“Prosocial” Spending: Spend on Others Giving away your hard earned money seems counterintuitive to happiness. Yet research has shown people who engage in “prosocial spending,” spending your financial resources on others, report higher levels of happiness. Why is this so? I think we would all agree willingness to help others in need and feelings of empathy is human nature. Writing donation checks, not so much. There are so many worthy causes to support and even once you find

one how much money do you actually give? Start modestly with something where you feel like you are making an impact and tie it in with one of your hobbies. For example, my hobby is photography, so recently I helped to purchase a camera for a classroom in need. Search the website donorschoose.org for your hobby or extracurricular activity you participated in high school and you will find something that resonates with you. Take it to the next level by donating your time and advocating for the cause. Travel to meet with the recipients of your kindness to make it tangible. Helping them to articulate the need and raising awareness is equally important as your donation check. Strive to develop a personal connection to the cause which is the gateway to a lifetime of philanthropy. Your longevity may even be extended because of it. Studies suggest altruism reduces stress and lowers heart disease risk. My anecdotal evidence is based on my own experience volunteering to take pictures at the Children’s Hospital of Orange County. Each time I click the camera, a little sliver of stress melts away. Imagine how wonderful I feel after snapping one hundred photos!

Put Your Mouth Where Your Money Is A friend of mine joked that I should make a “donation” to a freelance writer in need in exchange for ghost writing this article. We both agreed cheating undermines happiness and it would set a terrible example for our children. It would also be a disservice to our children if we led them to blindly believe the adage, “Money does NOT buy happiness.” Let’s show our kids with our actions how we can spend money to promote a meaningful life full of happiness.

George Cheng is vice president of sales for an electronics company. He is the father of Charlotte (’21), Oliver (‘23) and Henry (’26). Contact: gcheng0527@gmail.com

PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

17


You need to help others live a happy life. Then you will feel good inside.

To live happily, you have to learn to live for you and no one else.

18 THE PEGASUS SCHOOL

Accept who you are and happiness will come easily.


“In your opinion, what is the secret to living a happy life?” Simply surround yourself with people who love and care about you.

PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

19


FEATURE

AP HAPPINESS

It’s a Serious Subject. It’s Universally Relevant. It’s Essential for Success. BY KARLA JOYCE

I

’m a determined optimist who struggles daily to stifle irrational fear (tsunamis can happen here, brakes could fail on a freeway overpass) and rational (jihadist brutality). Derisive politicians, disappearing prepubescent selfies, and drones alone are enough to curb my hopefulness and, by extension, happiness. And yet I bounce back upbeat. Even uberhappy, by some standards. Is it my nature? Genetic proclivity toward gratitude and good humor or a pervasive Eeyore gloom is substantiated by scientific study, but surely environmental influences accruing from birth also shape our unique souls. My twins are a testament to the complexity of DNA-determined, context-tempered personality traits: one avid and impassioned yet glass-half-empty, the other lighthearted, glass overflowing. Because of her outlier temperament, the doggy downer among us must work at happiness. We insist on it, along with basic kindness, commitment to a musical instrument and good oral hygiene. This candid “parenting” admission triggered a collective gasp from our editorial team, indicating clear-cut disagreement on the extent to which happiness matters in education and in life and whether it should be habitually encouraged. The fact that happy people are more successful than unhappy people

20 THE PEGASUS SCHOOL

at both work and love, earning better performance reviews, more prestigious jobs and higher salaries may sound hollow next to “personal expression” or Ivy League degrees. But it is no trifling matter. In her groundbreaking research on positivity, psychologist Barbara Fredrickson has found that positive emotions broaden our thinking in ways that make us more flexible, more able to see the big picture, demonstrably more creative and — that messy necessity — resilient. I beat the happy-drum at home because it’s my nature, and I’m the mom. And, because it minimizes chaos and cultivates selfcontrol. Requiring little Miss Molly to take her mood elsewhere or miss dinner may differ with teaching techniques built on the latest vogue, but there are more than a few people still firmly in my camp. In her book Raising Happiness, Christine Carter, Ph.D., sociologist and senior fellow at UC Berkley’s Greater Good Science Center, calls happiness a skill that parents can— and should — teach their children. “Kids develop habits of thinking, feeling, and behavior based in large part on what we teach them about the world, their relationships, and our expectations. These habits profoundly influence how happy they are.” And, as simple as it sounds, happiness matters. Don’t trust me; trust Harvard.


The Harvard Happiness Study In the recent TED Talk, What Makes a Good Life? Lessons from the Longest Study on Happiness, Robert Waldinger, acclaimed psychiatrist, psychoanalyst and Zen priest, asks his audience a compelling question: “If you were going to invest, now, in your future best self where would you put your energy?” If a recent survey of millennials is any indication, the path to our collective best self is Kardashian-esque: a whopping 80 percent said that a major life goal was wealth and over 50 percent associated success with fame. Regardless of age, we’re constantly told to “lean in” to work, to push harder and achieve more in order to have a good life. (The good life, presumably, begetting happiness.) Rare is the deathbed confession that life’s meaning lies in a million followers, more work, or finer stuff. Most of what we know about human life and happiness comes from asking people, in their waning years, to remember a past which is often filtered, refurbished, or simply forgotten. But what if we could watch entire lives as they unfold through time? “What if...” asks Waldinger, the current director of the Harvard Study of Adult Development at Harvard Medical School. “What if we could study people from the time they are teenagers all the way into old age to see what really keeps people happy and healthy?” That simple question triggered the longest-running longitudinal study of human development, ever. Since 1938, Harvard researchers have tracked the lives of two groups of men measuring a staggering range of psychological, anthropological, and physical traits in an effort to determine what factors contribute most strongly to human flourishing. The first group were enlisted when they were sophomores at Harvard College; the second group culled from Boston’s poorest neighborhoods. George Vaillant, director of the study for the three decades prior to Waldinger, published “Triumphs of Experience: The Men of the Harvard Grant Study,” a summation of the insights the study has yielded to date. Not surprisingly, the lessons generated from the lives of these men aren’t about wealth, fame or working harder. “The seventy-five years and twenty million dollars expended on the study points to,” in Vaillant’s words, “a straightforward five-word conclusion: ‘Happiness is love. Full stop.’” Waldinger’s interpretation is equally definitive: “Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.” This takeaway is both simple and astonishingly rich in its intricacy. The data confirms that social connections are good for us and that loneliness kills; unwanted isolation correlates to less happiness, declining health and an earlier ebbing of brain functioning. But it is the quality, not quantity, of those relationships that matters; personal connections wrought

Good relationships keep us happier and healthier.

with strife are worse for our health than loneliness. Finally, it is supportive relationships that last that safeguard our brains. The message, that good relationships are good for our health and happiness and well-being, may be easy to digest but it is as difficult to execute as say, defining happiness itself. “Why?” asks Waldinger. “Because what we’d really like is a quick fix, something that’ll make our lives ‘good’ now. But relationships are messy and complicated and the work of tending to family and friends, it’s not glamorous.” It’s a lifelong process, he reminds us. It never ends. And, unfortunately: it’s hard. (Teach that to a teenager.)

Unhappiness is Easier Audrey Monke, former Pegasus parent and Director of the Sierrabased Gold Arrow Camp, is privy to sociological data of a different kind. This mother-of-five has observed school-age children in their natural habitat — at play, freed from programming — as well as the teens and college-age students who counsel them, for over twenty years. She recently offered parents, in a PEGtalk forum, her most applicable findings: that good social skills are the gateway to friendship and, meeting an audible exhale, that social skills can be learned and improved upon. By modeling and methodically encouraging the practice of smiling and joining and listening and allaying-anger in children, we are giving foundation to relationships. “In other words, we are building the roots of happiness.” To Monke, that’s more important than math facts. PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

21


Unhappiness is measured by the difference between images and reality. Far from a Pollyanna platitude, this advice reflects what modern psychology knows about how belief systems about our own abilities and potential fuel our behavior and predict our success. The “fixed mindset,” as defined by renowned Stanford psychologist, Carol Dweck, is one that assumes character, intelligence, and creative ability are static. “Growth mindset,” on the other hand, is the belief that basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work. Monke heaps praise on Pegasus parents for their loyalty to the growth mindset in academics but finds, broadly, it stops there. “We all know a child who stands outside the group, never fitting in. We call him ‘quirky’ and move on...” as if his character is as fixed as his skin tone. Solid scientific research proves otherwise. Sure, character comes in many shades with social interaction far easier for some than others. But whether we leap into the Gaga ball pit or approach it haltingly, giving up then going back, we all can get there. There is incentive to teaching social skills early, when obstacles to happiness — cliques, limited swings — present themselves neatly on playgrounds. As Dennis Prager, talk radio host, points out in his book, Happiness is a Serious Problem, “unhappiness is easier.” The impediments to meaningful connections and contentment are so ingrained in our nature and culture, he says, that only perspective and effort make happiness possible: “It is a battle to be waged, not a feeling to be awaited.” The Prager reader is undoubtedly adult, but his catalogue of human handicaps and universal obstacles to happiness is most clearly encapsulated in the petri dish called middle school. Teaching teens to distinguish between necessary dissatisfaction (that which drives us to improve) and unnecessary (“This iPhone 5S is embarrassing!”) is a first step in self-control; our human nature may be insatiable, but our brain is the arbiter of unhappiness. Comparing ourselves with others begins in middle school. Run a loop of MTV’s “Where They Are Now” biopics for your teenager for more landing punch than a lecture; it’s a trap. “As self-destructive as comparing ourselves with others is,” writes Prager, “it may actually be less of an obstacle to happiness than our comparison to images.” Nearly all of us have images of how

22 THE PEGASUS SCHOOL

our lives should be, but teens today craft theirs to maximize “likes” or simply stand out. Images are perfect; life is not. Teenagers need to know now that unhappiness is measured by the difference between their images and reality. Study after study (and simple observation) tells us that there is little correlation between the circumstances of people’s lives and how happy they are. Happiness is derived, most definitively, through unyielding effort and the wisdom and encouragement to choose it.

Happiness Is… Notice that nowhere in this article or the books referenced will you find a definition of happiness. The dictionary dubs happy as “characterized by good luck; fortunate” and “marked by pleasure, satisfaction, or joy.” That is as bereft as calling beauty, “nice to behold” or equating love with Valentine’s Day. The definition of happiness may be elusive, but most people would say they know it when they see it. So, what does happiness look like? For me, it looks like Coach Tyler. On January 26, 1967, Chicago suffered its biggest snowstorm in history. Tyler made the most of the mess by throwing a party, and in walked his future wife. It took months for Tyler to make a move because Chicago in the 60s was rife with racial strife, and Jan is white. “I’d been discriminated against all my life. I didn’t want to pull her into that.” But, ultimately, he chose love. Eighty years into a life marked by unhappy events and remarkable personal suffering, Tyler is famously positive. His secret: selective memory. “Sometimes, it’s good to forget,” he explains. “It’s good for me, and good for others, that I don’t walk around with a chip on my shoulder.” And: perspective. On the first day of their honeymoon, Tyler and his new bride stopped for pancakes. While inside, someone broke into his car and stole their suitcases. Undeterred, they returned home for more clothes and discovered the neighboring apartment building engulfed in flames. “What had just seemed like a devastating event to us was quickly put in perspective,” he says. “These people had just lost everything.” And: strategy. “When the phone rings at 2:00 a.m., you have to get your mind right before picking it up.” But Tyler’s ultimate lesson for landing on the other end of life, awash in love, is the simplest of all: smile. “You can’t always change your circumstances,” he says. “But if you smile — force it, if you have to — you will change your perspective of them.” Happiness is work. It is a mental exercise, akin to calculus. It is a choice. Karla Joyce is a Pegasus parent, PTO president and contributing writer for the Pegasus Magazine. Contact: karlajoyce@cox.net


PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

23


FEATURE

The Dark Side of

HAPPINESS BY MARRIE STONE

W

ould you rather: (1) win the lottery; or (2) become a paraplegic? You probably don’t need to ponder too long, and I doubt I’ll talk you out of your answer. Studies have shown, however, that six months following either of these two events, neither one has a significant impact on a person’s baseline happiness. While people rate the events themselves as highly positive and highly negative, respectively, the impact these events had on total happiness was far less extreme than psychologists expected. What should we make of this? A few things, actually. First, external factors have little impact on internal state of mind. This probably doesn’t come as a surprise. There are those who remain perpetually positive and optimistic despite enduring a number of hardships. And, likewise, individuals who have every reason to be happy, but who continually focus on the negative.

24 THE PEGASUS SCHOOL

Earlier this year, CNN correspondent Anderson Cooper and talk show host Andy Cohen were in conversation in Segerstrom Hall in an event called AC2: An Intimate Evening. They make a great team in large part because of their differences. While their talk wasn’t centered on happiness and its pursuit, a number of worthwhile psychological tidbits emerged from the night. “Whenever my phone rings,” Cooper said, “I assume I’m going to be fired. I always answer with dread.” “Really?” Cohen replied. “When my phone rings, I think I’m being invited to a party. And it’s probably for me!” Their exchange demonstrated the maxim that happiness is a state of mind. We each have an internal set point, and changing it can be extremely difficult—though not impossible. Paraplegics, and those experiencing other life-altering events, are often quick to adapt. That’s how humans are wired.


philanthropic events, or getting an advanced degree. What people actually do, according to several surveys of lottery winners, is buy a bunch of stuff they don’t need, get involved with toxic people who use them, and often turn to substance abuse. While this isn’t always the case, the path to hedonism is often paved with good intentions and may be difficult to avoid when offered the chance. And yet happiness seems to be at the forefront of our minds. How we pursue it, maximize it, and pass it on to our children. We imagine if we possessed the right combination of external conditions, we could achieve internal bliss. Much like a diet plan that results in extra pounds, this obsession with happiness is making many of us unhappier. But is unhappiness such a bad thing?

The Wrongful Pursuit of Happiness In her 2011 TED Talk, June Gruber, Yale psychologist, asks whether too much happiness is a good thing. She analyzes three ways happiness leads to unhappiness: the amount of happiness we have, the timing of our happiness, and the method by which we pursue happiness. If there’s an issue with any one of these three, Gruber argues, happiness unravels.

Amount

Chasing the high of happiness... can cause many unhappy results.

If happiness is a desirable state, the more of it the better, right? Wrong. If we were to chart happiness on a graph, it should look more like a bell curve than a steadily rising line to infinite joy. Happiness has a peak. Once that peak is reached, striving for more pleasure becomes risky. It can result in mania, which in the extreme is diagnosed as mental illness, but even in smaller doses can lead to all kinds of risky behaviors including addiction, abuse, and the quest for quick fixes. Chasing the high of happiness, in other words, can cause many unhappy results.

Timing This concept, known as the hedonic treadmill, or hedonic adaptation, describes our human tendency to return to a stable level of happiness despite major obstructions. It has been observed as far back as St. Augustine and cited in 1621 in Robert Burton’s Anatomy of Melancholy. “Desire hath no rest, is infinite in itself, endless, and as one calls it, a perpetual rack, or horse-mill.” Second, what we think we’ll do with our theoretical lottery winnings is often very different than what winners do. We may imagine ourselves traveling the world, or engaging in

Likewise, there are often wrong times for happiness. Life is filled with unhappy events—death, illness, war, abuse, the list goes on. This seems so intuitive that it barely requires mention. However, individuals who deny, suppress, ignore, or otherwise refuse to process stressful and unpleasant events, continuing to exhibit high levels of happiness during depressing situations, suffer emotional impairment and poorer functioning skills in everyday life. Much like air freshener sprayed over a stench, masking unhappiness isn’t healthy.

PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

25


Happiness is best obtained when it is indirectly pursued. It’s a byproduct of other goals.

Anderson Cooper recognized this wisdom. His father died when Cooper was ten, and his brother committed suicide in his early 20s. He said entering war-torn territories was a way to map the external world onto his internal mental state. “I started going overseas and going to places where life and death was very real and where people were suffering tremendous losses. Hearing their stories and hearing people talk about it sort of helped me to get to a place where I could talk about it, I think.” It’s difficult to process tragedy when others around you are oblivious, going on with the mundane tasks of life. Or, often worse, when they’re trying to cheer you up. Knowing that happiness is not always a necessary—or even desirable—state of mind can assist us in surviving the worst trials of life. Psychologist Barbara Fredrickson’s research backs this up. While she identifies numerous benefits associated with positive emotions (see “AP Happiness,” pg. 24), she acknowledges that too much of a good thing results in emotional and psychological inflexibility in the face of new challenges. The other notable wrong time for happiness is during competition. Satisfaction and contentment can stifle hunger, which is an essential element in achieving success. In a study conducted by psychology professor Maya Tamir, people in a happy mood perform worse than people in angry moods when playing competitive computer games. Happiness also results in sharp decreases in creativity. As psychologist Charles Carver discovered, positive emotions like happiness signal our brain that goals have been fulfilled and objectives attained. This, in turn, causes us to slow down and mentally slide. We lose our competitive edge. Deferring happiness can lead to eventual success, which, of course, is critical to satisfaction and happiness.

Method As every article, profile, and insight in this issue stresses, happiness is best obtained when it is indirectly pursued. It’s a byproduct of other goals. As John Stuart Mill observed, “Those only are happy who have their minds fixed on some object other than their own happiness.” When we set our sights on obtaining a degree, a promotion, producing a piece of art, or spending more time with family, happiness often follows. Because our own happiness is not our objective. Much like trying to catch your own shadow, wrapping your arms around your internal idea of happiness is nearly impossible. We set up a high happiness standard, and

26 THE PEGASUS SCHOOL


when the standards and expectations are high, we’re often disappointed. When we expect to experience happiness, we experience disappointment instead. In his TED Talk, “Why We’re Unhappy,” Nat Ware, economist and entrepreneur, explains the psychology surrounding the expectation gap. When our expectations are set—whether financial, physical, educational, and the list goes on—we are more prone to disappointment and unhappiness when they’re not achieved. Our expectations are relative. We compare ourselves to those around us to see how we’re doing. A new Toyota Camry in Iowa is very different than a new Camry in Newport Beach. We feel different about the way we look depending on the company we keep. Statistics bear this out. As Time Magazine reported in 2011, “Both happiness and crime rates tend to be tied to rankings of economic inequality in states as well as countries — the larger the gap between rich and poor, the less happiness there is and the more crime.” The closer our expectations align with our reality, and the more our reality slightly outpaces those around us, the happier we feel.

The Hidden Costs of Wealth’s Effect on Happiness In 2010, psychologist Daniel Kahneman and economist Angus Deaton conducted a Princeton study reporting that while excessive money can’t buy happiness, there is a threshold amount that can (see “Money CAN Buy Happiness,” pg.16). They studied the correlation between annual household income and overall daily contentment. That amount was $75,000 a year in annual income. It has recently been adjusted

to account for inflation and cost of living to $83,000, and here in California, to $95,325. Presumably Orange County is somewhat higher. Beyond that, there is a point of diminishing returns. Wealth comes with its own barriers to happiness, and increases to the financial bottom line do not translate to increasing the satisfaction quotient. According to recent research conducted by Columbia University, “The young and rich (defined as children of families with an annual income of more than $170,000) are seeking help for anxiety and depression at twice the rate of their poorer peers.” One theory is the pressure that parents place on their children to succeed. ‘’If the parents are focused on outcomes, then the kids are going to feel that their needs aren’t being met,’’ says Vijaya Manicavasagar, the director of psychological services at the Black Dog Institute. ‘’Some kids could withdraw into their shell and become depressed or anxious. Other kids would rebel against it.’’ And yet a sizeable number of U.S. parents, when asked what they want for their children, respond that they wish them happiness. Many parents will do whatever they can to make their children happy—however they define it, and however they believe they can achieve it. That often translates to buying things. It may mean doing their homework, fighting their battles, paving their way. That’s a lot of pressure to put on kids to be happy. When we encourage our children to rank happiness as their highest goal, when we live in paradise, when our children have everything—at least economically—it can set them up for depression and anxiety. “If I can’t be happy here, with all this, how will I ever be happy?” As Anderson Cooper learned, when emotions don’t map to the external world, it can be difficult to cope.

The Blessings and Benefits of Unhappiness Setting happiness as our goal, and instilling that goal in our children, puts us at risk of stepping into psychological quicksand. The high divorce rate of the 1980s and 1990s, which accompanied the “Me Generation,” illustrates the point that when we seek to always be happy, fulfilled and content, when we’re unable to live with discomfort and pain, we’re in danger of making short-sighted and ill-conceived decisions. Just as delayed gratification can serve us well, so can delaying our own happiness now and then.

PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

27


INSIGHT

HOOPIN’ IT UP

BY GINNY ALLHUSEN

Pegasus Dads’ Basketball League BY GINNY ALLHUSEN

S

troll through the Pegasus campus on any given weekday and you’re bound to see all kinds of activity, at least until 3:30 p.m., when almost everyone heads home after another successful day. Then the campus grows quiet. Where earlier a swarm of chattering students waited on the grass for their carpool to arrive, now a few bunnies hop about nibbling on a patch of clover. But one night a week, the parking lot begins to fill anew, this time with a strangely recognizable group of men. By day, they are the movers and shakers of the Orange County business community, or our beloved Pegasus teachers and administrators. But come 5:00 p.m., they trade in their loafers for some high tops and make their way to the Activities Center, where they greet one another with high fives and maybe a bit of trash talk. These are the men of the Pegasus Dads’ Basketball League. Although they may breathe a bit heavier than the typical middle school baller we see on the

28 THE PEGASUS SCHOOL

Thunder home court, they take their game seriously. The Dads’ League grew out of a simple observation two years ago. While attending an event in the Pegasus gym, Allen Schreiber, Pegasus dad, noticed the high quality of the facility and proposed the idea of leveraging that resource to give dads a way to connect to each other and to the school. Of course every great idea needs someone to execute it: enter Chrissy Bridges, activities/athletics director. Bridges embraced the concept and


sprang into action, organizing teams, setting game schedules, scheduling referees, and ordering jerseys. Overnight, the league was up and running with six teams in its inaugural season. Now in its fifth season (two seasons per academic year), the league boasts 44 players, including current and alumni dads, teachers, administrators (yes, you can catch our head of school dribbling down the court on a typical Wednesday evening!), and faculty spouses. It has proven the perfect venue for building bonds across grade levels, allowing dads to get to know each other and their kids’ teachers better, and much more. On a typical game night, a few dads from Game 1 will hang around to watch Game 2. Some will bring along their fan club (aka, their children). The average age of the Dads’ League Sixth Man appears to be about 7 years old. It seems little gets in the way of these dads coming out to blow off steam and have fun. Just ask Jason Carl, faculty spouse and Pegasus dad, who recently showed up for a game though his newest bundle of joy was just days (days!) old. Watching these guys, one can’t help but get a bit of a Clarke Kent - Superman sensation. While the players line up for

the Game 2 tip-off, I notice the elastic marks from the dress socks still imprinted on one player’s calves—a remnant of the CEO uniform he shed on his way to the court. Another dad, just having finished Game 1, sits on the bleachers with an ice pack pressed against one side of his face, and a cell phone on the other. As the game heats up, one dad complains to the ref about a “cupcake” foul call, but at the next time-out he approaches to apologize for getting carried away. (The ref, being accustomed to much viler talk in other leagues, laughs off this unnecessary contrition). A few minutes later, two players collide near midcourt. Anywhere else, the offended party might yell for a Flagrant I, but here he is helped up by his child’s math teacher and both

men laugh. As the second half winds down, it becomes more obvious these aren’t NBA stars after all—there are a few more airballs, and it’s common to see them walking back to the other end of the court, where earlier they were running full speed. The trash talk diminishes as they struggle to catch their breath. And then it’s over. But it doesn’t stop there. The fun of the Dads’ League is as much about the pizza and beverages afterwards as it is about the game itself. A crew head up the road to First Class Pizza, specifically chosen because their purchases support Pegasus through the CFC giveback program (Dustan Bridges says he goes there for the lemonade). There the trash talk begins anew, the plays get somehow much more fantastical than they actually were, and the shooting percentage gets better (or worse, depending upon the angle of the story), though the final buzzer sounded long ago. To see this now weary, but oh-so-happy group of guys, an unlikely alliance if ever there was one, chatting contentedly is to watch the building of community. Teacher’s assistant alongside CEO, pre-K dad mingling with middle school teacher, bonded by a shared love of hoops and Pegasus. Inevitably the barstools start going up onto the tables all around them—another game night has come to an end. One by one they head home to their ibuprofen and Epsom salt baths— tired, sore, happy. If you’re interested in joining the Pegasus Dads’ Basketball League, please contact Chrissy Bridges at cbridges@thepegasusschool.org. New leagues will begin in the fall of 2016. Ginny Allhusen is a developmental psychologist, mother of Abbie (’13), Blair (’15) and Kate (’18), and basketball widow. Contact: vdallhus@uci.edu

PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

29


THOSE WHO SOAR

A FAMILY AFFAIR The Business of Happiness

A

lex Popof ‘06 and Elizabeth Zadro ‘02 soar personally and professionally, with family by their side. In a recent interview, both share the paths that led to their successes, and how they applied lessons learned along the way to achieve happiness. BY BENJAMIN JENKINS

What is your company and how did it begin? AP: We’re a software company, Visual Labs, that provides body cameras to police and private security firms to promote transparency and accountability. We began as a Stanford senior capstone project, pairing with a corporate partner (BMW) to solve real industry problems. We focused on dash cameras, and created a prototype. Based on feedback, and the events surrounding Ferguson, our emphasis shifted to police accountability and trust. Ninety-nine percent of police officers are trustworthy and most of our cameras document officers doing a good job, thus preventing unjust accusations. It’s a truth telling tool. LZ: My dad started Zadro Products 30 years ago. We have a 70,000 square foot facility in Huntington Beach where we manufacture about 40% of our product line. We invent, engineer, design, manufacture and distribute products for the personal care industry. We have 50 patents and roughly 200 active products found in most major and specialty retailers, including: Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Brookstone and Restoration Hardware. We also have offices and 22 factories throughout Asia. How did you get involved working with your parent(s)? AP: My dad’s background is in finance—he’s a CPA with his MBA from UC Irvine. Given his experience, my dad is a good complement to the company. He supported me from the beginning of the project and once he saw a bright future, he left his career and started working for us full time. We think alike, so it’s helpful having him as a representative when we meet with prospective clients.

30 THE PEGASUS SCHOOL

Alex Popof ’06 pictured here with his father. Alex attended Harvard Westlake (Los Angeles) from 2006-10, and Stanford from 2010-14. He majored in computer science and minored in economics.

LZ: Over the summers, I worked wherever needed — invoicing, paperwork, menial tasks. I started to work full time after college. How would you define happiness and how has your career helped you find it? AP: Happiness is peace of mind. My work is important, but so is surrounding myself with people I trust. Happiness comes from loving my work and who I work with, one of whom happens to be my dad. My dad and I trust each other, love working together, share successes and overcome obstacles — it’s a friendship. That’s special. Not many people get to do that.


LZ: For some children, family businesses are a mandatory route, but my parents never forced it. Zadro was an option. I tested it, worked every day with my parents, and loved it. I took on more responsibilities and became director. Many people seek a job, person, or event for happiness. To me, happiness builds from within. You need to stand on your own before leaning on something/someone else to be happy. Not every day is going to be fulfilling, but happiness comes from working toward a bigger goal. Describe some of the lessons you’ve learned through the process. AP: Patience is a big one. You need to work hard, but the mentality of work is different than school. In school, you prepare and you’re done. At my job, I work hard every day, yet sometimes the rewards don’t pay off. At the same time, there are surprises. It’s the patience of knowing that good things will happen. Sometimes the path is windy, but usually time brings success. LZ: Achieving a goal requires preparation. My colleagues have been in the industry longer. I respect them. I know my limits so I don’t rush, nor do I pretend I know everything. I learn the process. I also believe in explaining the “why” behind the action, as opposed to giving out directives. When people understand the why, it helps them solve future issues, push for change, and make the company stronger. This outlook is a critical factor that has allowed Zadro to grow. What drives you to succeed? AP: When an officer does the right thing and the video proves it, that keeps me going. Without our product, the officer could lose his job, or be placed on leave. When a client (like the chief of police or lieutenant) shows appreciation, or when our product helps someone or keeps the city safer—that’s cool. LZ: I love the art of product development and creation. It’s exciting to see a product come to life— from concept to prototype to engineering to production and placement— along with consumer response. The strategic placing of products, and the growth of the company through successful products, excites me. I’m also driven by responsibility. We employ a lot of people whom I want to see succeed. Then the company succeeds.

Liz Zadro ’03 and her fiancé. Liz graduated from Mater Dei in 2007 and attended UCLA on an academic and soccer scholarship. She studied anthropology and, after graduation in 2011, lived in Italy for six months, then started working for the family business.

What are your biggest goals and what’s in store for the future? AP: My goal is to expand the use of the product, but in a controlled way. If we can impact more people — protect officers’ safety, promote accountability, and protect citizens in as many places as possible — then that’s great. From the business side, good things will follow financially. The more happy clients we have, the more financial rewards. LZ: There is a balance between personal and professional, both which include my parents. The goal is to allow them to take off more time. Many of our partnerships have lasted over 20 years, so we’re established and have a solid growth path, which we need to maintain. So, the short answer is profitable growth and allowing my parents to retire. Benjamin Jenkins oversees the Pegasus Alumni Association, Grandparents’ Association, programs and events. Contact bjenkins@thepegasusschool.org

PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

31


ALUMNI CONNECTIONS BY BENJAMIN JENKINS

2002 Sara Becker is an experiential educator teaching agriculture and sustainability to children. Becker started a farm that led her to the food movement on the east coast. She is currently teaching sustainable farming and food workshops through the nonprofit, New Heights, based in Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Becker and her fiance travel back annually to California to volunteer with a mobile greenhouse called Compass Green that travels the coastline of northern California. Becker also works as a freelance personal drought tolerant landscape designer.

Sara Becker ’02 pictured with faculty members Elaine Sarkin and Vicki Olivadoti.

Zachary Milder lives in Brooklyn, New York, where he is pursuing a career in visual arts and music. He previously worked at the Museum of Modern Art, PS1, and recently began working freelance as an art handler, audio engineer, and graphic designer for several companies, galleries and event spaces. Milder continues to enjoy playing soccer on a regular basis.

32 THE PEGASUS SCHOOL

2003

in figure skating competitions and working towards earning their gold medalist status in the US Figure Skating test structure. They are planning to move back to Orange County this summer in order to be closer to family.

Hayley and Miranda Young ’03 visiting the Great Wall of China.

Hayley & Miranda Young ’03 have been enjoying their jobs working at Duke University. Hayley works for the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Initiative. Miranda works for The Fuqua School of Business. In March, they traveled to China, where they led a group of students on a cultural immersion trip to Shanghai and Beijing. The trip also included a stop at the Duke Kunshan University campus for a reunion with students in the master’s degree program that Miranda helped launch and manage. This past May, Hayley watched the first group of students graduate with the Innovation & Entrepreneurship Certificate, an undergraduate degree program she helped create three years ago. Outside of work, the sisters have stayed very busy with their athletic endeavors, despite retiring from their collegiate tennis careers after graduating in 2011. They also completed the OC Marathon, Chicago Marathon, and San Francisco Nike Women’s Half Marathon last year. In addition to playing on a co-ed soccer team and doing Pilates and yoga weekly, the Youngs are participating

Faculty member Vicki Olivadoti with Elizabeth Abbott Schreiber ’03 and Elizabeth Zadro ’03 at Schreiber’s baby shower.

2004 Stephen Marshall is earning his PhD in Chemistry at California Institute of Technology. He is also studying for CFA exams. Marshall volunteers in the community, tutoring underprivileged children. Joseph Puishys serves as a chemistry and radiological controls assistant officer aboard the USS City of Corpus Christi, one of the world’s most advanced nuclearpowered fast attack submarines. Puishys is responsible for the chemistry of the nuclear reactor and steam plants and tracking radiological exposure to the crew, waste generated and cryptology. He was recently featured in a local newspaper, Orange County Breeze.


Julia Ostmann ’07 speaking at her graduation from Harvard University in December.

2007 Julia Ostmann was the esteemed student speaker at her graduation from Harvard University in December. Ostmann will be attending Cambridge University in the fall.

2008 Zachary Friedman graduates from the University of Oregon in June with a degree in accounting. Zachary Friedman ’08 with For the past brother and former Pegasus student, Garin Friedman. three years, Friedman has been an associate scout for the Milwaukee Brewers, a professional baseball team in the National League. Friedman travels and assists in scouting and evaluating talent at high schools, colleges, and junior colleges throughout the west to relay the best information on up and coming talent to the Brewers before the MLB draft in June.

2009 Sara Cluck will graduate in May of 2017 from Texas Christian University. Cluck is a communications major with a business minor. Recently, she interned with several

Sara Cluck ’09 pictured with faculty members, Nancy Wilder and Dustan Bridges, on campus.

real estate firms in Orange County, a career that she is very interested in. She has also interned as a financial analyst with Canterbury Consulting, a wealth management firm. This summer she will start another internship as an analyst with Clean Energy, located near home in Newport Beach. Stephen Kim will be a senior at Brown University next year, graduating with a degree in applied mathematics and economics. He is currently co-president of Brown’s Socially Responsible Investment Fund. Kim is looking forward to an internship this summer at Credit Suisse in New York.

2010 Colby Bock is a sophomore at USC majoring in business with a focus in finance and entrepreneurship. Bock is the philanthropy chair at the Sigma Nu fraternity. As chair he helps organize fundraisers, such as sporting events and tournaments, to raise money for charities. Bock also raises money for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital through online crowdfunding. Aside from monetary philanthropy, Bock organizes service based events like volunteering at the LA Regional Food Bank. Bock’s interest in philanthropy and entrepreneurship began at Pegasus when he started Colby’s Double Play.

Counterclockwise from top: Lily Williams, former student, returned to Pegasus to speak to the children about the writing process. ■ Nick Crabtree ’12 and his mother, Edie, in their Boise State gear. Nick will be playing as a tight end for Boise State in the fall. ■ Ryan Pierce ’10, pictured with faculty member Vicki Olivadoti, on campus to visit faculty members.

He utilized his passion for baseball and collected sports gear for underprivileged children by setting up donation bins and working with Newport Beach Little League to secure donations. This endeavor grew exponentially after getting attention in the local news (KCAL) and the OC Register.

2012 Nick Crabtree graduates from Huntington Beach High School in June. He was awarded the Jim Axton Memorial award for “Character and Inspiration” from the football team. He was also the lone representative at the Sunset League Sportsmanship conference. Crabtree received a full scholarship to Boise State University to play tight end. According to Scout.com, he’s the third best tight end in California and 47th best in the country. Lauren Kim graduates from Sage Hill School in June. While at Sage Hill, Kim helped to establish an Amnesty PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

33


2013

Class of 2012 enjoying a party at the Mossman residence before Sage Hill Senior Prom. Top (L-R): Ethan Ackerman, Griffin Vrabeck, Connor Bock, Jack Koulos, Cameron Lydon, Matthew Aghaian, Jacob Rosenberg; Bottom (L-R): Sophia Mossman, Katelyn Harvey, Maddy Nadelman, Scarlett Brach, Sheridan Rhee, Jacklyn Gerschultz, Lauren Kim.

International program. Kim recently was accepted to Dartmouth where she will be attending next fall. She plans to double major in psychology and economics. In addition, Kim continues to pursue her passion in fashion through several opportunities, including interning at a local clothing company.

Lauren Fishman competed in the Orange County Science and Engineering Fair. She did a continuation of her seventh grade science fair project on gender differences in expressing emotions. The title was “Expressing Emotion: Physiological, Verbal, and Facial Differences.” In addition to studying adolescents, Fishman expanded her research to include senior citizens. She received first place in the behavioral science category at the award ceremony in April. The competition included 670 people across 21 categories.

Blake Meyer graduates from Ocean View High School in June. Meyer recently committed to attend and play football as quarterback at Lafayette College in Easton, Pennsylvania. He will study pre-med and economics. Meyer was all league offensive MVP and all league first team. He was invited to play in the north-south all star games this summer. In addition, Meyer was an academic scholar athlete awarded by the National Football Foundation, Orange County Chapter. He played four years varsity football and varsity basketball. Jacob Rosenberg graduates with honors from Sage Hill School in June. He will attend Stanford University this fall. Rosenberg was recruited to their nationally ranked sailing team. He has also been one of the top high school sailors in the country and has been a member of the US National Olympic Sailing Development Team the past few years.

34 THE PEGASUS SCHOOL

Lauren Fishman ’13, a junior at Sage Hill School, presenting at the Orange County Science and Engineering Fair.

Elena Bonvicini ’13 and Jack Pelc ’13 visited James Swiger, social studies teacher, and others.

Charles Tyler. The documentary was screened in late January at Chapman University and with Pegasus students and parents. Ostmann also performed as Fan, Scrooge’s sister, in South Coast Repertory’s A Christmas Carol last December, as well as Puck, in A Midsummer Night’s Dream in May. In April, Ostmann received the Congressional Silver Medal from Congressman Alan Lowenthal. This award is Congress’ only award specifically for youth established by the US Congress to recognize leadership, initiative, service and achievement.

Lauren Kochis is attending Groton School in Massachusetts and recently won the golden gavel at a Debating Association of New England Independent Schools debate. Aside from her passion for debate, she also enjoys crew, participating as an admission tour guide and singing with the acapella group, the Grotones. Jamie Ostmann created a documentary on Pegasus faculty member, Coach

Lauren Kochis ’13 volunteering on Groton Day of Service.

Jamie Ostmann ’13 receiving the Congressional Silver Medal from Congressman Alan Lowenthal.

2014 Rachel Bryant studied ballet in San Francisco with Alonzo King Lines Contemporary Ballet Company and with Oregon Ballet Theater in Portland. This year was her eighth Nutcracker with Maple Youth Ballet. Bryant’s roles included Lead Arabian in addition to


Leap Year Letters Bring Fond Memories

F

our years ago, Mrs. Nancy Wilder instructed her eighth grade class to write letters to themselves on February 29, 2012. She prompted them to include details about their current life. What occupies your time and thoughts? Who are your friends? What are your hobbies? After guiding them with the Madeline Hebert ’12 opening her present, she asked them to Leap Year letter. think about the future in the following four years. What type of person do you hope to become? Knowing that February 29 would only come four years later, Mrs. Wilder collected the letters with a promise to send them to the students when that day came again. Here are some reactions from that class after reading them this past February:

Counterclockwise from top: Julia Qualls ’14, Kinsale Hueston ’14, Emily Anastos ’14 and Amanda Miskell ’14, part of Girl Scout Troop 871, volunteered with Mary Karaba and current Pegasus students in Girl Scout Troop 2811 at Atria Golden Creek in Irvine that has both assisted living and memory care facilities. ■ Rachel Bryant ’14 performing with Maple Youth Ballet as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. ■ Blake ’12 and Adam ’14 Meyer visited by Coach Tyler at one of their Ocean View High School football games.

Spanish Ambassador, Snow Corps, and Waltz of the Flowers. Bryant recently put on a stunning performance with Maple Youth Ballet as the Wicked Witch of the West in The Wizard of Oz. Bryant will be spending three weeks this summer with Ballet Austin in Texas. She also attended the Regional Dance America in Phoenix with her ballet company. Jake Laven and Henry Lavacude-Cola, Sage Hill School sophomores, earned second place at the Beckman High School Regional Debate tournament, continuing their near perfect record since they have joined the Sage Hill debate team. The pair are currently undefeated regionally and hope to take their debate experience from both Pegasus and Sage Hill programs to national tournaments next year. Adam Meyer is enjoying his second year at Ocean View High School. He plays on the OVHS football, basketball and baseball teams and has been on the varsity baseball team since freshman year.

“I remembered writing the letter in eighth grade. I was excited and curious to read what I had written and what was important to me. Reading the letter made me realize what a great teacher Mrs. Wilder is. I miss being part of her ‘Den of Scholars.’” — Madeline Hebert “Reading the letter gave me a new perspective of how I had grown through high school. I had written a joke to myself which made me happy. I am proud of everything I accomplished in high school and it was good to reflect on the path that helped me arrive to where I am now.” — Leah Phillips “Opening my letter this year was a very humorous, yet nostalgic, experience. Not only was I able to see the growth of my writing, and the changes I’ve made in my academic life, but also how much I have matured over the years. My letter also solidified the fact that when Mrs. Wilder says she is going to do something, she follows through!” — Nick Crabtree “I was really excited to receive my Leap Year letter, as I had recently reconnected with my peers from Pegasus around February. It’s been really cool to see what has changed and what has surprisingly stayed the same over the course of four years.” — Madison Nadelman “Reading my letter was not only a great and fun addition to my day, but it was an effective reminder as to who I was four years ago and how much I have grown as an individual.” — Matthew Aghaian “I found this letter to be nostalgic and heartwarming. It is crazy to see where my mindset was in eighth grade, sitting in the ‘Den of Scholars,’ versus my mindset today, preparing to graduate from high school.” — Sheridan Rhee PEGASUS MAGAZINE SPRING 2016

35


NONPROFIT ORG. U.S. POSTAGE PAID HUNT. BEACH, CA PERMIT NO. 421

19692 Lexington Lane Huntington Beach, CA 92646 www.thepegasusschool.org

M ark Your Calendar Camp Pegasus June 27–August 5 Pegasus Prep August 22–26 Passport to Middle School September 1 First Day of School September 6 11th Annual Golf Social October 4

Profile for The Pegasus School

Pegasus Magazine - Spring 2016  

Pegasus Magazine is published twice yearly by the Office of Advancement at The Pegasus School. Issues are archived at www.thepegasusschool.o...

Pegasus Magazine - Spring 2016  

Pegasus Magazine is published twice yearly by the Office of Advancement at The Pegasus School. Issues are archived at www.thepegasusschool.o...