Thistletalk -- Winter 2014

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Winchester Thurston School

Winter 2014



Douglas A. Campbell President Terrance A. Hayes Vice President Douglas H. Ostrow Vice President Deesha Philyaw Vice President Dusty Elias Kirk Treasurer Kathleen L. Metinko ’91 Assistant Treasurer Jennifer Gonzalez McComb ’89 Secretary

Winchester Thurston School


Heather Arnet CEO, Women and Girls Foundation of Southwest Pennsylvania Carol R. Brown Founding President and CEO, Pittsburgh Cultural Trust Esther L. Bush President and CEO, Urban League of Greater Pittsburgh Andrew Butcher CEO and Co-Founder, gtech Ronald Cole-Turner H. Parker Sharp Chair of Theology and Ethics, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary Patrick Dowd Executive Director, Allies for Children Nathaniel Doyno ’01 Director of Client Solutions, EnergySavvy John Fetterman Mayor of Braddock Lee B. Foster Former President and CEO, Chairman of the Board, L.B. Foster Company

Elsa Limbach Assistant Secretary

Judith Hallinen Assistant Vice Provost for Educational Outreach; Director, Leonard Gelfand Center for Outreach and Service Learning, Carnegie Mellon University

Gary J. Niels Head of School

Tori Haring-Smith President, Washington and Jefferson College Melanie Harrington CEO, Vibrant Pittsburgh

Deborah L. Acklin ’80 Kerry Bron ’84 Kathleen W. Buechel Manny Cahouet-Rotondi Simin Yazdgerdi Curtis Ilana Diamond Cindy Akers Gerber Robert I. Glimcher Rosanne Isay Harrison ’56, Emeritus Neal H. Holmes Elizabeth S. Hurtt ’74, Emeritus Vincent O. Johnson Janet Harrison Kuzmishin ’87 Carole Oswald Markus ’57, Emeritus David L. Porges Henry Posner III, Emeritus Martin E. Powell Kelly Hanna Riley ’91 Paul Rosenblatt Susan Santa-Cruz ’60 Sharon Semenza Philip T. Sweeney Jane Arensberg Thompson ’57, Emeritus


Gerald Holder Dean, Swanson School of Engineering, University of Pittsburgh Lynn Johnson ’71 Internationally Renowned Photojournalist John T.S. Keeler Dean and Professor, University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs Gaea Leinhardt Professor Emerita and Senior Scientist at LRDC, University of Pittsburgh Tom Murphy Senior Resident Fellow, Urban Land Institute, Washington, D.C., former Mayor of Pittsburgh Aradhna Oliphant President and CEO, Leadership Pittsburgh Inc. Jim Roddey Chairman, Allegheny County Republican Committee, Former Chief Executive, Allegheny County Alan J. Russell Highmark Distinguished Career Professor, Carnegie Mellon University Audrey Russo President and CEO, Pittsburgh Technology Council Lisa Schroeder President and CEO, Riverlife Task Force Steven Sokol President and CEO, World Affairs Council of Pittsburgh Tom Sokolowski Arts Innovator Janera Solomon Executive Director, Kelly-Strayhorn Theater Jane Werner Executive Director, Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh

Thistletalk Winter 2014



Winchester Thurston School


Volume 41 • Number 2 Winter 2014 Thistletalk is published by Winchester Thurston School for alumnae/i, parents, students, and friends of the school. Letters and suggestions are welcome. Please contact the Director of Communications, Winchester Thurston School, 555 Morewood Avenue, Pittsburgh, PA 15213.

Editorial Team

Nancy-Rose Netchi, Director of Marketing and Communications Lee Moses A’98, Director of Digital Communications

Alumnae/i Editor

Linsey McDaniel A’96, Director of Alumnae/i Relations


Jeff Adams Shannon Anglero Kathleen Bishop Terry Clark Jason Cohn Maura Farrell Kristen Maser Michaels ’01 Jane Schilling


Broudy Printing

School Mission

Winchester Thurston School actively engages each student in a challenging and inspiring learning process that develops the mind, motivates the passion to achieve, and cultivates the character to serve.

Core Values

We activate our Mission by creating a learning envir onment that pr omotes and instills appreciation for these five Core Values: Critical Thinking, Integrity, Empathy, Community, and Diversity.

Winchester Thurston School 555 Morewood Avenue Pittsburgh, PA 15213 Telephone: 412-578-7500 Thistletalk content represents opinions, ideas, and perspectives of the authors that are not necessarily those of the Trustees or Administration of Winchester Thurston School. The editors reserve the right to accept, reject, or edit any content submitted for publication in Thistletalk. Winchester Thurston School is a member of the National Association of Independent Schools. Winchester Thurston School is accredited by the Pennsylvania Association of Independent Schools. Winchester Thurston School does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, national and ethnic origin, gender, sexual orientation, age, religion, or disability in the administration of its educational policies, admission policies, financial aid programs, and athletics or other schooladministered programs. Copyright © 2014 Winchester Thurston School. All Rights Reserved.

VOL. 41 • NO.2


Winter 2014

WT’s Pioneering Spirit FROM THE HEAD OF SCHOOL


Gary J. Niels

wt sports

12 WT celebrates our first State Champion Cross Country team and first WPIAL Champion Soccer team

Features Renovated Athletics Wing and Inaugural Hall of Fame Induction: A Historic Year for WT’s Most Honorable Bears!


Q&A with Dr. Anne Fay Director of eLearning


China Visit Expands Possibilities

wt smart


wt community


Reunion 2014


Commencement 2014


Class Notes



About the cover

Hall of Fame inductee Cassandra “Cassy” R. Davis ’01 inspires a future generation of WT athletes, Julie Aneja ’26 and John Koeppl ’26.

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J .

N i e l s

from the head of school

G a r y

WT’s Pioneering Spirit A pioneer is a risk taker; a pioneer is courageous; a pioneer has conviction; and a pioneer leads change. To know WT’s history is to know that its founders, Miss Mitchell and Miss Thurston, were pioneers. Their spirit lives on at WT in 2014. The pioneering spirit was reflected in the development and institution of the City as Our Campus program. Recognizing the remarkable educational resources that existed at our doorstep, in our neighborhood, and in our city we ventured out of the confinement of our classroom walls. The result has been an educational program that reflects the “active engagement” of our students “in a dynamic learning process.” In our Upper School it was the pioneering spirit that led to an educational transformation of the traditional classroom science experience. This was demonstrated in our STEM Symposium where students presented on the complex processes in the design and construction of wind turbines that would be used in the development of ecologically friendly energy sources, or drones that were used to detect natural gas wells, or language instruction software to perpetuate cross cultural exchanges, to name just a few. In the Middle School it was the pioneering spirit that led our eighth graders to develop a virtual Holocaust Museum following their annual trip to the National Holocaust Museum. And in our Lower Schools it was this pioneering spirit that enabled us to not only host more than 30 fifth grade students from the prestigious Peking University Elementary School, but actually integrate them into our classrooms.


Thistletalk Winter 2014

It was also in a pioneering spirit that WT created a model for teacher development that implements the very best strategies for teacher growth. WT abolished the tired old administrator evaluation checklist approach to development and replaced it with teachers critiquing colleagues, providing feedback and discussing best pedagogical practices in collaborative pedagogical discussion groups. In addition, student and parent feedback provides each teacher with data to refine and focus her or his goal setting for self-improvement. In coordination with an educational assessment expert from Carnegie Mellon University, WT is seeking metrics to demonstrate improvements to the effectiveness in each teacher’s development. As I have studied the history of Winchester Thurston School I have often been struck by the commitment of both Miss Thurston and Miss Mitchell to the physical fitness of the girls attending their respective schools. Miss Mitchell travelled extensively studying the athletics facilities of other fine schools in the east prior to renovating the building on Fifth Avenue that became the Winchester School. Continuing that commitment, on October 10, 2014

As we look to our future, WT continues to pioneer ... WT’s new strategic plan launches research that gathers best practices in the new learning environment. WT honored a group of pioneering athletes and inducted them into the Inaugural Class of the Athletics Hall of Fame. Each inductee had a unique and inspirational story, but the common theme was pioneering spirit. As we look to our future, WT continues to pioneer. Just this fall our Cross Country and Soccer teams made WT history—becoming the first teams to earn the state and WPIAL championships, respectively. WT’s new strategic plan launches research that gathers best practices in the new learning environment. We explore how we can blend the community based learning practices that the City as Our Campus provides, with the rich and engaging online learning tools to build the classroom of the future. Each of these steps reflect the characteristics that I’ve defined as synonymous with pioneer: risk, courage, and conviction. We believe WT is leading educational change that deepens and broadens our students’ educational experiences. You’ll read more about these in the pages of this magnificent issue of Thistletalk.

PUES Director Yin Chao and WT Head of School Gary Niels sign a sister school agreement.



T h i s t l e t a l k SWpi rni tne gr 22 00 11 44













RENOVATED ATHLETICS WING AND INAUGURAL HALL OF FAME INDUCTION: A HISTORIC YEAR FOR WT’S MOST HONORABLE BEARS The renovation of the City Campus in public schools, but at WT that wasn’t Athletics Wing and the debut of an Ath- necessarily the case. It’s been amazing to letics Hall of Fame in a year of historic watch the transformation that has ocachievements are fitting tributes to the curred in the past 40 years, to the point school’s most honorable Bears.They pay now where we’re participating in WPIAL homage to the pioneers, and the pioneering spirit, that gave rise to the program in the first place— then grew it beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. “We now have about 75% of Middle and Upper School students participating in sports and performing at the highest levels,” says Director of Athletics Kevin Miller. “WT athletics (is) kids striving to be the best they can be…and giving them the opportunity to do so. Athletics at WT began with our founders, Miss Thurston and Miss Mitchell. Both were dedicated to sports and physical education, which was rare for young ladies at that time. It’s always been something that has been a core of what we do.” “I started at Winchester Thurston in 1975, and I came here to chair the physical education program,” remembers Ad- Hall of Fame inductee and keynote speaker vancement Consultant Gaylen Cassandra “Cassy” R. Davis ’01 Westfall, who joined WT when it was still an all-girls school. “I came at sports across the board. And not only are a time right after Title IX and girls were we participating, we’re competitive and competing in sports. Girls were compet- winning. If only Miss Thurston and Miss ing at a pretty high level in the WPIAL Mitchell could see athletics at WT now!”

WT Purple, Gold and … Green The renovated Athletics Wing is a gleaming, bright complex featuring the Bears Hall of Fame reception and celebration space; new athletics and physical education offices; a new fitness center, 75% larger than the original; spacious and secure locker rooms replete with extra wide lockers; an equipped athletic trainer’s area with a whirlpool and ice machine; increased, efficient storage space; and water bottle filling stations. The $2 million project has energy-efficiency in mind. Investments include new high efficiency boilers that will serve the entire Main Building, LED lighting, new insulation and sealing, and water saving devices, all of which are projected to yield approximately $40,000 annually in energy savings. Even the demolition was cost-saving and green, with dumpsters of metal debris shipped off for recycling, and concrete debris sent to repurposing facilities. “With the expansion and improvement of this space, the school is taking a great leap forward, upgrading and ‘greening’ a highly visible, well used facility that has not kept up with the remarkable strides we have made in sports,” remarks Head of School Gary Niels.

Facing page: Peter Buongiorno ’07, captain of the 2007 Boys Lacrosse Team, receives a warm welcome from student-athletes.



Top left (left to right): Gary Niels, Jean Pett-Ridge, Christopher Pett-Ridge, Julie Pett-Ridge ’93, Laura Pett-Ridge, Abby Dorrance ’00, Roy Dorrance; Top right (left to right): Urvashi Surti, Sailesh Surti, Gary Niels; Lower left (left to right): Gary Niels and G. Gray Garland; Lower right (left to right): Anthony Davis, Cassandra R. Davis ’01, Frank Richards, Aleta Richards

Indeed, the athletics program that began with physical education classes in the early 1900s and grew into a vibrant intramural program a half-century later now fields sports champions on a regular basis. In the last seven years alone— since the new Upper School building enabled the enrollment of more Upper School students than ever before, and the sloping, muddy lot serving as WT’s athletics field was transformed into the all-weather, state-of-the-art Garland Field—WT’s athletics record includes five individual WPIAL championships, one team WPIAL championship, two team WPIAL runners up, five individual state champions, one team PIAA championship, four section championships, 2 PIFA team championships and one WPSLA championship. “I am so glad that we now have a facility that supports the kids’ hard work and showcases their success,” notes Mill-


Thistletalk Winter 2014

er. “I am very proud to be part of a school that celebrates its students in this way.”

Celebration, Appreciation, and Recognition: Dedicating the Athletics Wing and Hall of Fame On October 10, the new Athletics Wing and the Hall of Fame were officially dedicated, heralding a new era in the history of Winchester Thurston athletics. Led by a bagpipe procession, the greater WT community gathered in recognition of the profound impact of athletics at WT. “I, too, was an athlete at Winchester Thurston—field hockey, basketball, and lacrosse,” stated Jennifer Gonzalez McComb ’89, parent and trustee, in her welcome remarks. “Interviewing for jobs, for schools, for graduate school… the fact that I was an athlete opened doors, started conversations. The process of being an athlete helped me with confidence, taught me organization, and taught me discipline.”

Keynote speaker and Hall of Fame inductee Dr. Cassandra R. “Cassy ” Davis ’01, now a post-doctoral research fellow at the University of North Carolina and a dedicated advocate for education, recited lines from Dr. Seuss’s McElligot’s Pool, one of her favorite children’s books. Like the boy who fished in McElligot’s pool, persevering despite being told he would never catch a fish there, Davis declared that a trailblazer is “…a person who is a pioneer and an innovator. You have to be courageous, and you have to be hopeful.” Davis acknowledged the inspirational qualities of her fellow inductees, thanked the WT community for contributing to who she is today, and charged students in the audience to blaze their own trails: “Even if you don’t come from a family of trailblazers, at Winchester, we have a slew of them! It’s in our DNA to be trailblazers, so I encourage you to find a trail and blaze forward.”







The Experience of WT Athletics Winchester Thurston athletics instills lessons of leadership, collaboration, perseverance, and honor, both on the field

and off, whether in P.E. classes or during the heat of championships. From the foundational foresight of Miss Thurston and Miss Mitchell to the achievements of pioneers and champions who broke new ground, to the accomplishments yet to come, athletics is—and always will be—a vital and invaluable part of the Winchester Thurston experience. “I am very grateful to the WT community for supporting this project,” said Miller. “The fitness center is awesome, our locker rooms are great, our trainer’s facilities are top-notch, but I am most excited about the trophy cases that were built into the lobby. Our student-athletes have worked very hard over the years and it is wonderful to recognize them in this way. I think the Hall of Fame tells an athlete, ‘You matter. What you do matters. What you’re passionate about matters. What you do is also going to inspire future generations to work hard, dedicate themselves to their teammates and push to be their absolute best.’ I think that’s the best message we can send them."




ber of the cross country team, watched the entire ceremony on the edge of his seat. He was thinking about when he will be inducted into the Hall of Fame, and who of his classmates will be inducted with him,” shares WT parent Kimberly Daboo. “I’m proud of WT for recognizing the value of athletics in the education of the whole child, and of those who supported the effort to build facilities worthy of our students.”

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In a nod to the 2007 Boys Lacrosse Team, Board President Douglas Campbell sported a vintage purple and yellow scarf worn throughout the 2007 championship season: “… handmade by a mother…and this is what we wore … even if the temperature on the field was 102 degrees.” To cheers and applause, Niels shared, “It’s taken many years to get here, and we’re now playing and competing at a whole new level athletically. I’m incredibly proud of our athletes and our coaches.” The momentous occasion—and its message—left an indelible impression on all who attended. “During the ceremony my son Oliver, a fourth grader and mem-



Champions and Pioneers: The Most Honorable Bears

To walk through the Bears Hall of Fame is to watch Winchester Thurston sports history unfold. If Miss Thurston and Miss Mitchell’s pioneering P.E. classes and commitment to physical health were the foundation of WT athletics, the Hall of Fame’s first inductees could be considered the program’s pillars. “The inaugural Hall of Fame class has achieved some of the finest athletics accomplishments in the history of Winchester Thurston School,” declares Miller. “These student-athletes and sports contributors displayed the determination and integrity of true WT Bears.” The inaugural inductees are champions and pioneers in equal measure. Visit for bios on each of these athletes.

Cassandra “Cassy” R. Davis ’01

Haley Surti ’97

Emily Dorrance ’93 and Julie Pett-Ridge ’93

2007 Boys Lacrosse Team

G. Gray Garland


Pioneers in learning inside and outside the classroom

Q&A with Dr. Anne Fay Director of eLearning


hroughout her nearly 30-year career, Dr. Anne Fay has focused on cognitive psychology and educational technologies that enhance student learning. She comes to WT from the University of Pittsburgh, where she was the Executive Data Assessment Liaison and Co-Director of Business Intelligence in Computer Services and System Development. Before that, she served as the Director of Assessment in the Office of Technology for Education and Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence at Carnegie Mellon University. Dr. Fay is the parent of two Upper School students: Fay Blelloch ’16 and Siena Blelloch ’18. Q: What is eLearning? A: A lot of people have the conception that eLearning means online learning, that we’re going to suddenly have all the classes online and students are going to be sitting in front of terminals, watching teachers remotely. That’s not eLearning. It’s a small piece of eLearning, but in general, as I see eLearning, the “e” stands for enrichment, enhancement, and expansion. We want to harness all those resources through the web, through technologies, to enrich the educational offering.

the classroom, where the teacher can be there, walking around and working individually with students. Now, students can—at home in their own time, or repeatedly—watch the instructional unit of the teacher. This allows them to review as many times as they want, which I think is really valuable.

Q: A big part of your job is working closely with teachers. Where is your input already being felt? A: David Nassar, Computer Science Department Chair, wanted to create Q: As the Director of eLearning, short video explanations of certain what is your role? concepts for his computer science A: The teachers, individually and with Dr. Joshua Andy and Dr. Anne Fay collaborate on class. I have a piece of software that the help of the technology staff, have developing more engaged learners. we identified that’s very easy to use, been implementing different pieces of but very powerful. I created a small technology into the classroom all over the place. What we want to video to demonstrate how the product works, and he took that do, in a sense, is take a step back and think, what are these different and created his own videos. Now he’s starting to move these fivethings accomplishing? Rather than thinking of the individual minute explanations online for students so that they can review technologies, we are thinking instead about curricular goals that these concepts on their own schedule. the technology is helping us meet. With Dr. Joshua Andy, who teaches AP European History, we started Q: So the technology isn’t driving the curriculum, the curriculum is driving the technology? A: Absolutely, and I think that’s a mistake that some people make: they see these cool technologies—and they are very cool—and then they want to find where to put it. It’s like ‘look at this great thing; what can we do with it?’ We want to think about, what do we want our students to learn? What do we want them to be able to do? And then think, are there things out there that we need to be providing them so that they can do those things? Q: What are some other examples of initiatives that are illustrative of your role? A: There’s a big buzzword out there right now: flipped classrooms. So the whole idea is, you take what you’d normally do in a classroom, such as conveying material to a student through a lecture, having students watch that for homework, and then doing what you’d usually do for homework problems—project work, writing—in


Thistletalk Winter 2014

looking at a tool developed at Carnegie Mellon University called Classroom Salon. With this tool, he can put up a reading or a video and post pre-determined tags saying, ‘I don’t understand this,’ ‘This is the thesis,’ or ‘Here is good evidence,’ depending on what his goals are for students. When students go online, they can highlight areas, pull a tag, and make a comment. Afterward, he can open up the discussion to the whole class, who can see each other’s comments, and they can have a discussion around those comments. Q: Pioneering is embedded in WT’s history, and eLearning is a new chapter in this history. How does it feel to be an author of this chapter? A: I have a lot of fabulous collaborators, I have to say, with the faculty and with the students. The faculty is excited and motivated. Being a parent here, I see the quality of teaching here, and I see how invested and engaged they are. They want students to learn; they want them to engage in the material in meaningful ways. It is

exciting, the idea of changing how education happens—breaking down some walls that we have in terms of strictly thinking of a teacher in a classroom, and this is the course, and using technology to break down those barriers. Q: It’s been said that today’s students are so accustomed to digital technology that asking them to step inside a traditional classroom—with blackboard, teacher, lecture—is like asking them to step into the Dark Ages. A: Yes. I think one of the issues is intrinsic motivation. I have seen students at home and various places, and when they start using these tools, they start creating, basically. They’re creators, not consumers. They can get totally engaged in the creative process. We have to be able to leverage that kind of excitement in the classroom. Anybody can get information now. The question is, how do you interpret that information, how do you use it, how do you create it, how do you transfer it to other areas of your life? Q: Imagine yourself looking back a year from now…what do you hope to have achieved? A: I really want to be able to showcase and communicate to the internal and external community the kinds of learning that Winchester Thurston is supporting through the use of technology: the opportunities we are providing students for how they can learn material, how they can demonstrate their learning, the kinds of products they’re creating, and also the kinds of things that teachers are able to use in their classroom to enrich the classroom experience.

An Educational Revolution Today in America, digital technology is everywhere, most prominently in the hands of youth. According to the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 95% of teens are online; 74% access the internet on a mobile device; 78% have cell phones; 47% have smartphones; 80% have desktops or laptops; and 23% have tablet computers. Technology is transforming how students learn – and Winchester Thurston is in the vanguard of this educational revolution. “The nature of learning is changing significantly because of the fact that our students have grown up in the digital age,” states Head of School Gary Niels. “What engages them, and how they learn, 24/7, from technology, is changing the nature of how we deliver learning in schools. Anne Fay has been a major thinker in all of this. She completed her Ph.D. in human-computer interaction, and she has been a scientist at two major universities, exploring the effectiveness of learning and the effectiveness of using technology and enhancing learning. With Anne on board in this role, the whole nature of the learning experience at WT will be improved, and students will graduate as not only more engaged learners, but also better equipped to go out into business. I don’t think people have any idea how lucky we are to have her as a member of our community. She’s brilliant.”

“Education is Life” Adam Nye, new Director of City as Our Campus

Adam Nye brings enthusiasm, experience, and a passion for education as WT’s new Director of City as Our Campus. As Associate Director of Education at The Thinkery, Nye was instrumental in the Austin Children’s Museum’s complete overhaul, from rebranding to relocating to an $18 million, 40,000 square foot facility that he helped design. Nye also played a key role in EdExchange—a professional development program that sends Thinkery staff to classrooms or community programs to co-develop and co-teach in an approach that has “completely rethought a museum’s role in the school and community”—and in the development of the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s MAKESHOP, now a nationally recognized exhibit and trailblazing model for museum Makerspaces all around the country.

Declares Nye, “I think education is the solution to so many of our world’s problems, and it’s through innovative learning strategies that we can equip the next generation to do big things, to change the world, to reinvent it.” The Ellwood City, PA, native obtained his B.S. in Education and Public Policy at Pennsylvania State University and his M.Ed. in Social and Comparative Analysis of Education at the University of Pittsburgh. One of Nye’s current interests is Connected Learning, “a model connecting academic achievement with student interest through the use of digital media and a ‘connected learning ecosystem’ comprised of schools, libraries, museums, homes, and other places where learning can happen…with digital media as the glue to hold it all together. This model has greatly motivated my work at The Thinkery and the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh, and it is one of the most important reasons I am so excited about City as Our Campus,” he shares.






hree years ago, Winchester Thurston welcomed 33 fifth graders from Peking University Elementary School for an innovative two week cultural immersion that broadened world views, fostered friendships, and planted seeds for a pioneering international partnership. The relationship has flourished ever since: PUES fifth graders and teachers now visit WT every September, and Chinese students enroll annually in the Upper School. This year, WT amplified the partnership when Head of School Gary Niels, Director of Lower School, City Campus Ashley Harper, fifth grade teacher and Global Citizenship Coordinator Karen Gaul, and Director of Upper School Admission Scot Lorenzi traveled to Beijing from September 10-17 on a mission to deepen the exchange.

WT and PUES: Kindred Spirits

Scot Lorenzi and Gary Niels try their hand at calligraphy with PUES students.

WT delegation with PUES Director Yin Chao (third from right) and Principal Pan Donghui (right).

“One of the most important conversations that’s going on in the wider independent school system in America is how to better enable our students to be global citizens,” says Niels. “This is a great way for us to continue exploring that process.” “The world is getting smaller every day,” affirms Gaul. “It’s our current students who will really be working side by side with people from around the world. That ‘side by side’ could be virtual, or it could be physical. The really wonderful part of our partnership is that the students are communicating with each other. Despite some communication barriers, they are successfully collaborating together in WT classrooms and learning about cultural nuances. These things are invaluable to learn firsthand.”

styles,” agrees Gaul. “There was a fabulously interactive lesson on the human digestive system in the science class. Students were sitting at round tables, working in small groups with hands-on materials. There was a lot of back and forth between the teachers, and discussion in the group. We also saw technology integrated in ways similar to ours. It wasn’t the stereotypical Chinese classroom that I thought I might see.” Niels emphasizes that the 2,800-student Peking University Elementary School is atypical of most Chinese elementary schools, describing it as “the supreme elementary school in all of China.” Affiliated with Peking University, one of the world’s foremost universities, PUES was designated a National Key Primary School in 1952 and is one of China’s national

Thistletalk Winter 2014

The purpose of the trip was four-fold: to demonstrate WT’s commitment to the partnership, to learn more about PUES and the students who visit WT, to connect with Upper School admission prospects, and to glean feedback from parents of current WT students. Significant time was spent observing PUES classrooms, says Harper, intrigued by the opportunity to compare school cultures, missions, and pedagogical practice “in hopes of learning how to enhance the partnership and deepen the visits for all students and teachers. I learned that we have far more in common as schools than I could have previously imagined.” “I was surprised to learn how similar we are in teaching


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keeps it close to her and reads it frequently to remember her days at WT. And Rocky, a visitor during the inaugural year, loved WT so much that he actually came to WT camp last summer, and he’s interested in applying to WT for Upper School. To hear the enthusiasm and the warm feelings that both of those children have for WT was wonderful.”

Moving Conversations with Parents

A WT-Spirited Day Of the trip’s many highlights, the reception hosted by Niels, Harper, Gaul, and Lorenzi was among the most gratifying. Invited were parents of past and current PUES visitors; prospective Upper School students and their parents, and parents of current WT students; even a WT alum now living in Beijing. “We had hoped to have as many as 25 attendees,” remembers Niels. “Instead we were surprised with 125.” “You could really say that the energy in the room was palpable,” laughs Gaul. “Many of the students came in Winchester Thurston t-shirts. It looked a little bit like a spirit day!” Lorenzi was struck by the lengths parents traveled for the

The WT delegation received a warm welcome with a Chinese Silk Dance by PUES students.





model institutions. Like WT, PUES is also an educational pioneer, a “radical school in the Chinese system because they want their children to be critical thinkers, creative learners, problem solvers, and collaborators,” he explains. “They are dedicated to teacher development and student engagement. The school is very much a kindred spirit to our own.”


“The parents were thankful we had come,” says Harper. “Their concerns were so similar to our parents’ concerns. Their belief in the value of giving their children the best education they can was humbling. It was special to connect with families and talk seriously about their hopes and dreams for their children.”

A World of Possibilities By all accounts, the China trip was a fruitful one, fortifying the relationship between WT and PUES, and affirming the schools’ dedication to continue exploring opportunities for educational exchange. The possibilities are rich, and there is much to consider, but one thing is clear: WT’s commitment to innovative teaching and academic excellence is stronger

Karen Gaul engages with a prospective student.

chance to learn more about WT and meet its people. “While most attendees were from Beijing, several others traveled more than 600 miles by plane and train to attend our reception.” By the end of the event, Lorenzi was flooded with requests for admission, and had gained valuable information on how to improve the WT experience for Chinese students and their parents. Even former PUES visitors were in attendance. “Anne was shy and scared when she arrived at WT last year,” says Harper, “but willing to take the risk. To see her in sixth grade, taller and admittedly changed by her experience, and to talk to her mom about how her visit to WT made Anne a better student and person was truly overwhelming.” “Sunflower was in my class last year,” shares Gaul. “We had written a class book together called I Remember. She said she

Gary Niels receives a studentled tour of PUES.

than ever; its place in the educational vanguard solidified by continuing to push boundaries, make bold moves, and—like all pioneers—explore new territory, even if it’s nearly 7,000 miles from home. “As I was looking across the mountains and walking on a portion of the Great Wall built in 1404, I thought, I want our students to be able to do this,” Harper shares. “I want our students to understand the incredible beauty and meet the kind people of China. It was a life-changing experience. I think about our school motto, and ‘the others’ part of it, you know: ‘think also of the comfort and the rights of others,’” reflects Gaul. “We think also of the comfort and the rights of the world.”


wt sports WT TEAMS FILL THE NEW TROPHY CASES “The accomplishments of the Soccer and Cross Country teams mark a major milestone in our development as a school. Once known solely as a strong arts school, WT can now boast of outstanding academics, arts, and athletics.” —Gary Neils, Head of School

On one incredible day for WT sports, two teams took home historic titles. On Saturday, November 1 in Hershey, PA, the Upper School Boys Cross Country team won the PIAA Class A Boys State Championship, an accomplishment never before achieved by a WT team. Just hours later at Highmark Stadium, in a nail-biting shootout that followed a scoreless game and two overtimes, the Upper School Boys Soccer team won the WPIAL Class A Soccer Championship against Sewickley Academy, earning the school’s first WPIAL soccer title ever. These extraordinary victories, along with strong seasons by the rest of WT’s sports teams, have inspired a level of excitement around WT athletics that is unmatched. “There is so much positive energy pulsing through athletics that is being translated onto the field,” said Director of Athletics Kevin Miller. “In addition to our teams’ successes, the renovation of the athletics facilities has been an exciting transformation, and a physical manifestation of the school’s commitment to its athletes. This feeling of optimism can be felt throughout the halls, on the sidelines, and on the field.”

CROSS COUNTRY EARNS WT’S FIRST TEAM STATE CHAMPIONSHIP! Beating out rivals Sewickley Academy, the Upper School Boys Cross Country team won the PIAA Class A State Championship! Their incredible victory at states came on the heels of their best season in history where they went undefeated in their section. This season the team was led by two PIAA track and field medalists, Landin Delaney ’15 and Will Loevner ’16, and WPIAL qualifier, Ben Littmann ’17. Loevner and Littmann both had standout performances at states, with Loevner placing fourth and Littmann placing tenth.

CREW SHINES AT SUMMER RACES The WT Crew team practices year-round, toning their muscles and honing their craft to compete with the best during the fall and spring seasons. This past June, six WT athletes earned invitations to the USRowing Youth National Championships in Sacramento, CA. Rowers qualify for this championship by earning a first, second, or third place finish at the Midwest Championships that took place in May. WT’s athletes had a strong showing at the Championship, with the all WT Junior Men’s 4x team placing fourth in the B Final, ranking them 10th overall. Katie Ashwood ’15 participated alongside athletes from other Pittsburgh area high schools on the Junior Women’s 4x team, placing sixth in the B final and 12th overall; and Ben Akers ’16 competed in the Men’s 2x placing sixth in the C Final and 18th overall.


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SOCCER WINS WPIAL CHAMPIONSHIP The Bears had unprecedented success this fall, going undefeated all season and taking home the WPIAL Class A Soccer Championship for the first time in school history. The team finished the regular season with an incredible record of 15-0-1. The victories were definitive; the squad had 11 shutouts, scored 75 goals, and allowed only five goals all season. After securing the WPIAL Championship title, the team went on to compete for the PIAA State Championship. In the semi-finals, they faced a rematch against rivals Sewickley Academy. With less than two minutes in the second overtime, Sewickley scored ending the game 3 – 2. Standout players this season include Adrian Bayemi ’15, Mathieu Lebiere ’15, Max Rogow ’16, Lucas Rosenblatt ’15, and Max Zissu ’15. Each of them received the honor of being named All-WPIAL Single A Section 1 Finest 15. Bayemi, Lebiere, Rosenblatt, and Zissu were also named to the 2014 Single A All-WPIAL team. Zissu was named WPIAL Class A Player of the Year, Lebiere was selected as All-WPIAL Player of the Year, and Coach Adam Brownold was designated Coach of the Year for the third time in the last four years. Bayemi finished the regular season as the team’s leading goal scorer with 25 goals.

FIELD HOCKEY EARNS PLAYOFF SPOT Upper School Girls Field Hockey had another winning season, finishing 10-5-2 for the season and 7-2-1 in the section. Led by coach Bill Fitch and assistant coach Allison Dockman, the team had thrilling wins against Shadyside Academy and Sewickley Academy. Fay Blelloch ’16, Lindsay Gorby ’15, Anastasia Landman ’15, and Elizabeth Siefert ’15 were named 2014 WPIAL Field Hockey AA All-Stars. For the third straight year, the team made the WPIAL Class A playoffs. Their season ended in a tough overtime loss to Shadyside Academy.

VARSITY GOLF HAS WINNING SEASON The Varsity Golf team had a strong fall season, finishing third in their section with a winning record of 8-4. Max Pollock ’15 and Will Robinson ’15 led the team, and finished first and second respectively in the WPIAL sectional qualifier.


wt smart MAKERSPACES FOSTER CREATIVITY, COLLABORATION, PROBLEM-SOLVING The tools can be as simple as pipe cleaners and LEGOs, or as complex as CAD software and 3D printers. The projects may connect to classes, or evolve from a student’s curiosity. The results can range from navigation solutions for the Northbound Trail to 3D printed wind turbines that power mobile devices. The place where it all happens? A Makerspace. “A Makerspace is defined as a physical space or environment that encourages hands-on learning, sharing, and creating,” says Kate Weber, North Hills Campus Librarian and Instructional Technology Specialist. “At North, our pond house is being transformed into our main Makerspace, with several other stations in progress around the campus.” While interdisciplinary, collaborative hands-on learning and problemsolving have always existed at WT, pulsing hubs brimming with supplies and dedicated to sky’s-the-limit exploration have not. Last year, WT’s first Makerspace, The Workshop, was developed with the Children’s Museum of Pittsburgh’s MAKESHOP, stocked with items like crown molding, K’nex, pegboard, nuts, and screws, and installed in the City Campus early childhood wing. This year, each division at WT boasts its own Makerspace. The Robotics classroom hosts the Middle School


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Makerspace, and Upper School “makers” learn, collaborate, and create on the top floor of Dorrance Library. Makerspaces give students at every level “the space to collaborate, design, build, and test,” says Graig Marx, Science Department Chair. Tinkering

teaches Lower School students about perseverance, independence, and resilience. Middle School students learn how to take ideas and move them forward through research and community problem solving. Upper School students sharpen those skills by designing and creating high-level projects for courses like Research Science and Advanced Computer Science Innovations – as well as Social Studies, English, and History. “What makes us different is how we have taken aspects of making, tinkering, engineering, and project-based learning and transformed it into what works best for our students and our school,” continues Marx.

DEVELOPMENTAL DESIGNS BUILDS COMMUNITY, ENGAGES STUDENTS Shifting social dynamics. Self-identity. Establishing independence. Middle school students have a lot on their minds…even before academics enter the picture. How can we support students grappling with these issues and create an environment that promotes their best learning? Enter Origins Developmental Designs, a new program in the Middle School that integrates social and academic learning. “We decided to adopt this program because it provides us with structures that we can use consistently throughout our school day to enable students to do their best learning,” says Director of Middle School Daniel Sadowski. Picking up where the Lower School’s Responsive Classroom leaves off,

CITIZEN SCIENTIST Project-based science in the Upper School continues to expand this year with Citizen Scientist, a brand-new, biotechnology-driven research course offering students a place in the global scientific community. Developed and taught by biology teacher Dr. Lynn Horton, Citizen Scientist draws upon environmental and ecological science, genetics, bio-engineering, and molecular biology as students collect and contribute data for ongoing realworld projects.

“The purpose of Citizen Scientist is to extend the reach of a few researchers to achieve a greater number and range of data collection than the individual researchers can do on their own,” explains Horton of the course—and the field itself. The first project for WT’s citizen scientists is School of Ants, an international ant population survey led

competence, relationship, and fun. Prompts guide discussions, and lessons are built around topics like bullying, building community, study skills, conflict, and diversity. Teachers and students are also encouraged to share something about themselves. Because the environment is fun, secure, and respectful, students feel connected, heard, empowered, and safe—qualities fostering academic engagement.

Developmental Designs is most noticeable in mixed-grade level advisory meetings, where the Circle of Power and Respect (CPR) framework reigns. Based on democratic, groupcentered principals, CPR features Greeting, Sharing, Activity, and Daily News—elements that address the young adolescent needs of autonomy,

by Dr. Andrea Lucky at Florida State University. Students will collect and identify local ants, then ship them to the David Clark Labs at North Carolina State University for analysis and incorporation into a website tracking ants in different urban areas.

Students will present their research at WT’s annual STEM Symposium and area science fairs, becoming “… expert presenters who can convey their scientific knowledge to both researchers and lay people,” asserts Horton. WT has invested substantially in Citizen Scientist through the purchase

Developmental Designs works hand-in-hand with the Mission Skills Assessment (MSA), now in its second year in the Middle School. The MSA measures proficiency in critical life skills—creativity, ethics, curiosity, resilience, teamwork, and time management—long taught in WT classrooms, and now focused on during scheduled time provided for by the new advisory structure.

of college-level equipment including an incubating shaker that grows various types of cells at a set temperature through constant agitation; a PCR (polymerase chain reaction) machine, which is the basis of much of molecular forensic science and genetic testing and will enable DNA testing and analysis; centrifuges that separate different materials from one another by spinning them at 10,000 rpm; and gel electrophoresis equipment for DNA analysis. Horton, with a Ph.D. in Cell Biology, says many of the procedures and experiments she has planned are based on her research and what she’s taught in college labs. “All of the experiments we do and the techniques students learn will put them ahead of their peers in college. I keep telling them this is resume building stuff and if I ran a lab I would be looking for someone with the kind of experience they are gaining! I hope to bring the excitement of discovery in research, the rigor of publishable laboratory research, and the ability to add to the scientific knowledge base to the classroom,” declares Horton.


wt smart NEW LOWER SCHOOL MATH CURRICULUM ADDS UP TO BETTER UNDERSTANDING From basic principles such as counting and cardinality, to more complex problem-based operations, like using real-world models to design solar homes or draw playgrounds to scale, the new Lower School math curriculum, Bridges in Mathematics, is building mathematical mastery— and greater enthusiasm—by bridging key gaps in understanding. “A key component of the curriculum is its acknowledgement that a child’s developmental understanding of computational math and conceptual math are not always in alignment,” explains Ashley Harper, Director of Lower School, City Campus. “For example, a child may easily understand multiplication when using manipulatives to create four sets of three with a total of 12, but not yet grasp the idea that four times three equals 12. Rather than forcing a child’s understanding in one or the other, the curriculum contains two strands for lessons: Number Corner, for manipulating and computing numbers, and Bridges, for conceptual and computational thinking.”


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Active engagement is fundamental to Bridges. Through vibrant workshop-style lessons, students ask questions—of themselves, of fellow students, and of their teacher. They are active and absorbed physically, socially, and intellectually. Conversation, evidence, and supporting thoughts and ideas are vital; exploring how students think a problem could be solved before solutions are introduced taps their innate understanding of mathematical concepts, then builds on them—a sequence that deepens understanding through creating meaning. Whether using a string to measure circumference and then measuring with a ruler, or developing and administering surveys to learn data validity, measurement, mean, median, mode, and range, students are developing the curiosity, tenacity, and higher-level thinking skills necessary to foster enthusiasm and support mathematical mastery.

“I am very impressed with the way Bridges weaves the ideas of multiplication and addition together with volume and surface area as well as with the commutative

and associative properties of multiplication,” shares fifth grade teacher Brian Swauger. “I feel like the understanding that the students are gaining is building a much stronger foundation for mathematical thinkers as well as a larger repertoire of knowledge and appreciation for the world’s greatest puzzle, mathematics!”

wt community

APPLEFEST 2014 More than 800 friends from the WT community and beyond enjoyed warm weather, crisp apples, a petting zoo, hayrides, carnival games, crafts, a blacksmith demonstration, and more at this year’s Applefest. This beloved event has become a tradition in the North Hills community, and the 2014 fall festival was another incredible event thanks to event chair Sabrina Wojnaroski and her dedicated committee of Parents Association volunteers.

SPRING BENEFIT AND AUCTION Mark your calendars for the evening of Saturday, March 7, 2015 for WT’s Spring Benefit. The Parents Association Benefit Committee is hard at work planning an entertaining evening with delicious food, lively music and entertainment, and a silent auction full of one-of-a-kind items and unique experiences. Keep an eye out for your invitation–this event is not to be missed!


wt alumnae/i news

REUNION 2014 A festive, all-school celebration, Reunion 2014 gathered alumnae/i, students, faculty, and parents to share a weekend filled with joyful moments of pride and gratitude.


The Class of 1964 at the rainbow bench. Front row (left to right): Marga Matheny, Nancy Herron Ruben, Carol Martin Crook, Jane Michaels, Christine Raisig, Anne Witting Kuhn, Emily Toerge Miller; back row (left to right): Becky Sweet O’Connor, Susanne Monteith, Nancy Hickox Wright, Julie Willey Haase, Joyce Griffith Butler, Jennifer Davies, Francine Gitnick Franke, Jeanne Horner Pote, Lynda Stern Coslov, Susan Finkel Wechsler, Dianne Diebold, Judy Ruben Alpert.

It was a special Reunion year, as the community welcomed back 20 members of the 50th year Class of 1964—the first class to graduate from the Main Building back when it was “the new building.” Fifty years later, the Main Building is in the midst of a renovation to preserve, upgrade, and green the learning environment. To celebrate their Reunion, the sixty-fours stepped forward to make a special gift to the Celebrate WT campaign, funding a charming rainbow bench in the early childhood learning garden. Alums from the classes of 1937 through 2012 celebrated the class and their contribution at a luncheon honoring the 50th year class.

Members of the Class of 1954 (left to right): Alice Gault Fuchs, Roberta Moritz Friedlander, Brenda Wise Moffitt, Darin Geise Snyder, and Anne Bahr McConnel, celebrate their 60th Reunion.


Save the Date Head of School Gary Niels expresses gratitude for Class of 1964’s generosity and support for their alma mater.


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October 9-10,

Be with us next October for Reunion 2015. There will be activities for all alumnae/i and special celebrations for class years ending in 0 and 5.

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REUNION CLASSES SAY “WT!” AT THE WELCOME BACK COCKTAIL RECEPTION. Alums from the Class of 2010 (left to right): Christopher Schmidt, Izzy Zehner, Chris Bangs, and Alaina Ferry

Class of 1984 members celebrating their 30th reunion (left to right): Jill Rubinstein, Susan Sheffler Anderson, Lori Feinman, Leonetta Brown, and Margaret Hiller.

Alums and their guests gathered in the transformed Athletics Wing for the traditional Friday evening Reunion Cocktail Party.

Class of 1989 members celebrating their 25th reunion (left to right): Sheen Sehgal, Vicki Taylor Stein, Marilyn Dadowski Croyle, Christina Sabeh, Lisa Fleischer Jackson, Kathryn Henninger Sokol, and Annie Hanna Engel.

WT CLASSIC GAMES: FIELD HOCKEY AND SOCCER On Saturday, the celebration of sports continued as students challenged alums in Field Hockey and Soccer matches on Garland Field.

Erin Herward Thurston ’94 brings back her winning goalie moves while faculty, parents, students, and alums cheer on the games.

Athletics Hall of Fame Inductees Ryan Bopp ’08 (far left) and Cassandra R. Davis ’01 (far right) award the MVPs for soccer to Manoli Epitropoulos ’14 and for Field Hockey to Christopher Schmidt ’10 (center left to right).

WELCOME BAT: HOME FROM COLLEGE LUNCH Young alums on break from college are invited to visit with friends and teachers at the annual Home from College Lunch. Mark your calendars: Tuesday, January 6, 2015.

Fancy footwork by freshman Erica Sweeney and Parus Nischal '13 as they compete for the ball.

JOIN US FOR THE FIFTH ANNUAL YOUNG ALUM LACROSSE GAME: MAY 2015 The tradition continues! Join WT alumnae/i on Garland Field for the games. Get in gear or cheer on fellow alums as they take on the Upper School boys and girls teams. Stay tuned for details.


wt today

CLASS OF 2014 S “It’s great to leave knowing that this school has positively

unday, June 8, 2008, marked the COMMENCEMENT 121st Commencement exercises S e n i o r C l a s s Vi2014 ce President at Winchester Thurston School Kassandra Humberson introduced as the 44 members of the Class of the graduation speaker, John Maione. 2008 processed forth to receive their Maione, performing arts teacher and diplomas before proud parents, faculty, private music coordinator, was the 2007 trustees, friends, and Upper School recipient of the Jane L. Scarborough underclassmen. Award. Letting his instrument do the in theater tech, who 3-D print, who play instruments, who The afternoon June 8 marked Senior ClassofPresident Alecthe 127th Commencement talking, he or began compete in math and quiz bowl competitions, and who do all of exercises at WT as the 62 members of Silberblatt welcomed guests with a with a moving the above and so much more. Each of us contributes something the Class of 2014 proceeded across the witty and exuberant cheer, “When I gu it a r s o l o , t he n special to our class.” stage of the Twentieth Century Club to say Dub, you say T—Dub-T, Dub-T!” went Kyle on toSalmon speak Droppa, Student accept the hard-earned diplomas that, Student speaker Hillary Ramsey about life’s journey, Council President and student speaker, according to Upper School Director likened herareclass’s educational evoking the lyrics encouraged his classmates to “pick Kristen Klein, “testimonies of their journey at WT to a marriage and ofa myriad singers few of the little things—the details character and scholarship.” concluded, “We are WT graduates, a nthat d s made o n g whigh r i t e school rs yours … think Students Pay Tribute to WT ’tilIndeath do us part.” Student speaker of that one person—or perhaps people, including Bob Dylan, John Lennon, his welcome address, Class President Nathaniel Brodsky or one moment that made you into the Eric Schuman offered this advice: “Grab and Paul McCartney. Accompanied welcomed his classmates, families, friends, teachers, and guests young men and women in this audience … There are so many the future by byfor thethe orchestra, and thanked parents sacrifices Maione concluded obstacles that have been overcome, but who was there with us the fitting theycollar, made and to sendwith theiranother students to song he composed, when we pushed through them?” force it toremarked, obey having inspired by words written WT. He “Thebeen sacrifices Carly Heywood, the final student speaker, closed the that”you made to send your kids here you. to him long ago on a 21st birthday card: ceremony by encouraging her are 100% worth it, because something “Godspeed and peace when day is done.” classmates to continue their happens in the pillared portals that adventures and embrace all that is far more important than the college has to offer. “WT offers memorization of postulates and place names: students are loved, infinite opportunities and outlets respected, and inspired as they are nowhere else.” of creativity where students have Student speaker Ally Siegel the freedom to start clubs and spoke of her classmates, sharing sports teams that have an impact “All of us have something that on the school’s future. From the opportunities I took advantage we do that makes us diverse. Our of, I learned things about myself and others. Moving forward in class has kids who are athletes, college and beyond, I encourage all of us to say, ‘yes.’” who are writers, who are involved

impacted me, and hopefully I have left my mark as well.”


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Winchester Thurston School Class of 2014Â Jasper Crane Acer Kelsey Maclayne Agnew Tonya Yvonne Armes* Sonu Kyle Bae Joshua Cameron Barge Shala Shamar Barney Eric Worthington Bentz Stefan Herrmann Binion Nathaniel James Knowles Brodsky* Molly Ann Campbell Quinn Adam Charney Ahmad Bilal Chaudhry Alexander Benjamin Chreky* Colin William Crowley Naeem Omar Davis Kyle Salmon Droppa Rachel Samantha Dubner* Elijah Dane Dumaine-Schutz Noah William Dumaine-Schutz Najiv Stefan Edwards Emmanuel Michael Epitropoulos

Zachary Thomas Ettensohn William Harold Fox III Alexandra Marie Goldsmith Kayla Beth Goldstein* Jonah Edward Golomb Jonathan Douglas Harper Carly Michelle Heywood Zachary David Hilton Joshua Tristan Hull Nathan Allen Hurrell Monica Beth Kamons Benjamin Robertson Kostella Robert Merchant Lincoln Christian John Mazur Elena Johanna McDonnell Kevin Lynn McDowell Michael McInerney Sophia Kazara Mergner Miller Cecily Grace Milligan Nikhil Satish Mohan Matthew LeRoy Moore

Eli Jeffrey Naragon* Quynh Anh Kim Nguyen Charles Prentiss Orr III Kevin Oury Sophia Marguerite Petricola Scott Matthew Rohrer Sarah Marie Ryan Madeline Mary Schmiedeknecht Alexandra Paige Siegel Stephanie Paige Skelly Jacob A. Sonnenklar Laurel Elizabeth Thompson* Alexa Jordan Urbach* Sarah Ann Vartazarian Sarah Hale Waters Elizabeth Burr Weinstock* Justin Douglas Whitney Nathaniel Fairbanks Winschel* Hunter Navta Wise* Kun Yuan *WT Lifers


Students Honored at Commencement 2014 The Emily E. Dorrance award for a student whose conduct, interaction, and leadership best demonstrates the school credo, Think also of the comfort and the rights of others, given by friends of the Dorrance family

Madeline Mary Schmiedeknecht The Mary A. Campbell award for outstanding scholarship, given by Katherine Houston Rush

The Mary A. Graham Mitchell award for character, personality, loyalty, and scholarship

The Ruth S. Gamsby award for citizenship, kindness, and courteous helpfulness, given by the Daniel F. Mullane family

Eli Jeffrey Naragon

Carly Michelle Heywood

The Alice M. Thurston award for integrity, courageous leadership, and service

Jasper Crane Acer

The Nina Wadhwa Student Council award for a student who best exemplifies Gentle in Manner, Strong in Deed, endowed by the Wadhwa family

Carly Michelle Heywood

Joshua Tristan Hull

College Choices for the Class of 2014 Members of the Class of 2014 have enrolled at the following colleges and universities: Allegheny College American University Brandeis University Carnegie Mellon University Case Western Reserve University Cornell University Drexel University Duke University Georgia Institute of Technology Green Mountain College Harvard University High Point University James Madison University La Salle University Michigan State University Muhlenberg College

New York University Northwestern University Oberlin Conservatory of Music Ohio Wesleyan University Otterbein University Parsons The New School for Design Pennsylvania State University, University Park Point Park University Purdue University Reed College Swarthmore College Syracuse University Temple University The College of Wooster The University of Arizona

Thiel College Tulane University University of Chicago University of Dallas University of Delaware University of Maryland, College Park University of Minnesota, Twin Cities University of Pittsburgh University of Pittsburgh at Titusville University of Vermont Washington and Jefferson College Washington University in St. Louis Wheeling Jesuit University Wofford College


class notes 194 0 Mary Elinore Turner Davies fondly remembers her happy days with Miss Mitchell.

194 4 Murray Armstrong James’ husband, Jack, died in May of 2011 about six months shy of their 65th wedding anniversary. It was a great marriage and she regrets that none of you ever had a chance to meet him. She is fortunate to have all three of their children living nearby. Her family also includes eight grown grandkids and 14 great-grandchildren, scattered across the country. She spends time working in her garden, birding with a small covey of friends, and volunteering with the Botanic Garden. After 50 years she is still active with the local Nature Center—they honored her with an award this past year. Her main regret is that she has not kept up with painting, but she has a talented daughter instead. Except for arthritis and the inevitable macular degeneration, she is in fine fettle and hopes all of you are also.

19 5 4 Dana Spicer McCown and her husband, Bob, moved to Brisbane three years ago to be closer to their daughters and his medical team. It was a huge change from living on a rural property to an “inner city” apartment. Dana writes, “our apartment faces the river and we thoroughly enjoy meals


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on our balcony watching the river life float past. It is also on the boardwalk and we can walk from our front gate to the cultural center of galleries, museums, and theatres. My loom was too large for our apartment and has been sold. That was a big change to my identity as I have been thought of as ‘the weaver.’ Now I am more involved in web design and book publishing. My latest is on Amazon entitled, Battery B; the Diary of a Soldier. This is a book my son-inlaw wrote about the Civil War embedding the diary of Bob’s Great Great Uncle who died after the first year. I am also treasurer of several organizations keeping my mathematics up to date. I hope that all of you are enjoying good health and able to keep up interesting and rewarding activities.”

19 6 0 Nancy Beyerl DeLaval Miller has completed her memoir, MULTIPLE: A Christian’s Battle with Insanity, and is looking for an agent. The book narrates Nancy’s abuse, life with Multiple Personality Disorder, and her eventual diagnosis and recovery in 1992. In August she was featured on a radio show broadcast from WOUB Public Television. The interview is available on the internet as a podcast on Conversations from Studio B, hosted by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

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Alice May Succop Burger ’69 had coffee and donuts with Virginia “Jinny” Sheppard ’41 on her 90th birthday! 19 71

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Catherine Widgery recently participated in the EuroMasters Regatta in Munich. She rowed with the Masters International Team, rowing six races and winning four.

Carolyn Cramer Sanford and her husband, Scott, have relocated to Pittsburgh after living in Los Angeles for 13 years with their three children, all of whom are in college this year. Although they loved their years on the west coast, they are happy to return to Pittsburgh. Carolyn and Margie Mermelstein Dubner recently celebrated their birthdays together with their husbands. Carolyn would enjoy reconnecting with other classmates. Her email is

19 7 3 Victoria Dym, voted class clown while at WT, now resides in Tampa, Florida. Victoria has signed a contract with Finishing Line Press to publish her first poetry book, coming in March 2015. She earned her M.F.A. in Creative Writing and

class notes 19 8 3

attended Ringling Brother’s Barnum and Bailey Clown College. Get on the mailing list at to receive a presale postcard from the publisher.

Edith Raphael Brotman’s childhood dream of becoming a writer finally came true this May with the publication of her first book, Mussar Yoga, by Jewish Lights Publishing. Mussar Yoga combines the ancient Jewish practice of self-improvement with yoga as a means of affecting change through the physical and

Left to right: Marcy Medina ’90, Amelia Matlack Hamarman ’90, Marla McDaniel ’90, and Darcy Katzin ’90 at a recent minireunion trip to New Jersey to celebrate Amelia’s birthday.

1 9 74 Holly MacIsaac Berkley is busy celebrating her 25th year as an Energy Psychology and body/mind expert for entrepreneurial women in the U.S., Canada, and Europe, writing a regular column on Peak Performance in the

BMW Motorcycle Owners of America national magazine, and developing a “Fast Start” video and webinar series for beginner motorcycle riders. Holly says “Get in touch!” at

19 8 0 Susan Baumann Wittrock works at Change Academy Lake of the Ozarks managing a team of life coaches. She home schools her son Jonah, age 16. Her older son Jacob was married in May 2014. She and her husband Gary have been married nearly 22 years.

19 9 0

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spiritual realms of being. Edith’s children Parker, 15, and Naomi, 12, are relieved to have their mother back from her deadline-imposed exile to the basement office, and are now getting used to the scheduling vicissitudes of book touring. Edith is also involved with helping veterans make the tough transition back to civilian life.

Leila Ghaznavi is selfproducing original works of theater that combine puppetry, acrobatics, myth and politics. Her most recent work Broken Wing played to sold out houses at the Philadelphia Fringe Festival. She currently works and lives in both Philadelphia and New York City. If you want to learn more about her work, visit

Leila Ghaznavi ’97 and Bob Stineman in the play Broken Wing. Photo credit: JJ Tiziou

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19 9 6 Hannah Grannemann along with her husband, Joe, and son, Elloit, moved to Charlotte, NC, where Hannah is the Executive Director of Children’s Theatre of Charlotte. Bill Diskin, who is now the Director of Admissions at the Cannon School nearby, visited the theater last week. She was honored to be in Juli Tomaino’s beautiful wedding in Chicago this past August!

Antoinette C. Oliver ’98 (left) and Azadeh Masalehdan Block ’98 (second from right) organized the first Pittsburgh Camfed Fundraising Event. Camfed, the Campaign for Female Education, supports women’s education and entrepreneurship in Malawi, Ghana, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Tanzania. More than $3,000 was raised for the organization through corporate sponsorship, a silent auction, and donations from members of the community.



Left to right: Andrew Wickerham ’06, Hannah Posner ’06, Jennifer Staley McCrady ’91, and Kerry Bron ’84 meet with juniors and seniors to impart career and college advice.


good. During my second year at WT, my English got better so I stopped spending my time searching for fossils.”

Matthew Benic is in his final year of graduate school earning dual Master’s Degrees in School and Mental Health Counseling from Walsh University. He is currently interning at Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio as a College Mental Health Counselor. After a summer in Haifa, Israel, Michael “Mike” Roth returned to Pittsburgh to start his Ph.D. at Carnegie Mellon’s Department of Engineering and Public Policy. His research will focus on energy, environment, and climate issues. Mike also just released a new music video filmed in Haifa and has his first debut album coming out this fall!

2003 Malcolm Smith has moved to Albuquerque, New Mexico to work with the Albuquerque Isotopes as a Season Ticket and Group Sales Representative.


In May, Kerry Bron ’84, Jennifer Staley McCrady ’91, Hannah Posner ’06, and Andrew Wickerham ’06 visited with WT juniors and seniors to share reflections and experiences from their varied career paths in radiology, legal advocacy, corporate sales, political campaigning, and med school. They fielded probing questions and offered real world insights for students considering these fields. WT students are eager to learn from your experiences. If you’d like to participate in a Career Conversation at WT, please contact Director of Alumnae/i Relations Linsey McDaniel A’96 at 412-578-7511 or

2005 John Whitehead is in graduate school at Louisiana State University studying petroleum engineering.

2009 Ken Yokota A’03 revisiting his favorite spot at the North Hills Campus. Ken Yokota visited the U.S. for the first time since attending WT North Hills Campus for Lower School. Ken writes, “I was always searching for fossils because, since I was a foreigner, I couldn’t understand what the other kids were saying. I soon realized that I was not alone though. Many classmates came and talked to me. While I couldn’t always understand what they were saying, it felt

Thistletalk Winter 2014

Sarah Hillman has been living in Prague, Czech Republic since October 2013, where she is teaching English as a Second Language (ESL).

2 013 Elena Falgione, accompanied by her teacher, Lynn Williams, performed Broadway tunes at Longwood at Oakmont this past June, singing to excited residents that included WT alumna Louise Baldridge Lytle ’51. Louise raved that Elena “was lovely and did such a nice job.”

IN MEMORIAM The following members of the WT community will be missed by their classmates, friends, students, and colleagues. We offer sincere condolences to their families. Jacqueline P. Clement, Honorary Alumna Catheryn Cottrell Deemer ’34 Ruth Succop ’37 Jane Land Hudson ’40 Phyllis Reed Andrews ’41 Dorothy Willison Reed ’41 Jean Ayars Pohli ’46 Dorothy Dodworth Scullin ’47 Suzanne Birmingham ’48 Lila Rosenthal Snyder ’50 Anne Ballard Dunlap ’53 Elizabeth Anthon Petrolias ’54 Suzanne Dressler Kellar ’55 Virginia “Ginnie” Willey Birmingham ‘57 Katherine Kibbee Paterson ’65 Jan Wolzansky Awad ’80 Nathan Hurrell ’14


Nathan Allen Hurrell ’14 November 26, 1995 - June 19, 2014

Confident, positive, optimistic. A loyal soul who would do anything for a friend. A bright student and full participant. Full of love and passion. A skilled musician. These are just a few ways friends and teachers remember Nathan Hurrell ’14, who was killed tragically just 11 days after graduating from Winchester Thurston. “We have a lot of remarkable kids come through this school, and I have to say Nathan was one of the most remarkable. He was larger than life…I was so looking forward to what kind of adult this young man was going to become,” said Head of School Gary Niels. Nathan joined the WT community in ninth grade after attending St. Edmunds Academy. A talented guitarist, he devoted himself to jazz band, chorus, and guitar ensemble, and appeared in all of the musicals during his four years at WT. He flourished on the WT stage, and played the lead role of Pseudolos in the spring 2014 production of A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. WT friends remember him as a magnetic force who set an example with his unflagging optimism, even during stressful moments. His generous heart had room for seemingly innumerable friends. Faculty remember him as a charismatic person with a passion for

people. “He was not only excited about what was going on in class, but really wanted to know about his teachers as people,” said Barbara Holmes, Upper School performing arts teacher, who directed Nathan in all of his stage appearances at WT. “His motives for being helpful and generous were completely unselfish and genuine; he was curious about my opinions on different plays and musicals, different types of music. If he saw someone standing alone, he would go to them and strike up a conversation. He was really curious about people and always willing to give of himself.” The Upper School community gathered to remember Nathan on the day of his death, June 19, and again on September 2, in a special assembly. Nathan is survived by his parents, David and Diane “Dee” Hurrell, two sisters, Samantha and Jennifer, and his grandmother, Joan Hurrell. Upon graduation from WT, he planned to attend DePaul University on a merit scholarship, and study marketing. Nathan’s love of and considerable contributions to the performing arts at WT will be memorialized in a plaque in Falk Auditorium, recognizing the many friends who came forward to make donations in Nathan’s memory.


Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage

Winchester Thurston School 555 Morewood Avenue


Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Pittsburgh, PA Permit No. 145

Front row (left to right): Maura Farrell, Kathy Zillweger Putnam '71, Lisa Carlson '69, Linsey McDaniel A'96, Megan Donnelly '85, Lucy Gabriel '13, Kathryn Hendrickson '13, Olivia Belitsky '13; Back row (left to right): Josefine Hallen and Max Stofman '11, Angel Karagyozov '10 and Rebecca Held, Jennifer Scanlon, Bunny Krueger A'70, Lauren Burroughs '07, Paul McComb and Jennifer Gonzalez McComb '89, George Putnam, Doug Campbell, Chris Potter '99, Gary Niels

Lucy Gabriel '13, Kathryn Hendrickson '13, Olivia Belitsky '13, Josefine Hallen

WT ON THE ROAD Kathy Zillweger Putnam ’71 and her husband, George, hosted WT alums and friends for a luncheon at the Somerset Club in Boston.

Megan Donnelly ’85 and Doug Campbell, President, Board of Trustees


Thistletalk Winter 2014

Hosts George and Kathy Zillweger Putnam '71 with Gary Niels