Cross Sections (Spring 2017)

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This year, Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences celebrates 45 years of brave and bold education. The School’s fearless approach to teaching and learning was sewn into the very fabric of Crossroads. In 1971, a group of parents and educators established the School as a progressive, student-centered alternative to traditional education. Instead of a school that emphasizes rote memorization, authoritative teachers and academics above all else, visionary co-founders Paul Cummins, Rhoda Makoff and others created a legacy that continues to this day: a school where instructors teach students to be independent critical thinkers; where exemplary academics are complemented by programs in the arts, Life Skills, Environmental and Outdoor Education, community service, and physical development; and where our diverse students and faculty members embrace their role as activists and advocates for a more equitable and just society. You do not need to look hard to see examples of brave and bold acts in our current school year.

Right: Crossroads School in 1971, housed within the Sunday School classrooms of a Baptist church on Pico Boulevard in Santa Monica. Far right, cover image: Crossroads co-founder and first headmaster Paul Cummins in 1979 with students (clockwise from left) Patti Wolff ’82, Greg Washington ’79 and Kevin “K.K.” Jackson ’82. Patti now has a ninthgrader at Crossroads and K.K. is a P.E. instructor at the Elementary School.

Crossroads strives to be a safe and welcoming environment for all members of our community. This year, we formalized our policies to support students and employees who identify as transgender or gender nonconforming. In addition, we invited an educator with the nonprofit Gender Spectrum to lead trainings for our employees and designated even more restrooms on the 21st Street Campus as all-gender. Crossroads continues to tackle the thorny issue of racial inequality, in the world and in our community. In September, I joined a faculty member, a trustee and two students at the Future of Diversity Symposium in Washington, D.C., to discuss issues of diversity in schools and to share and receive feedback on new inclusivity initiatives. In August, Crossroads held its second Summer Diversity Institute for a cohort of faculty and staff. In this four-day, consultant-led training, employees built cultural competency, discussed challenges and opportunities regarding campus inclusivity and developed action plans to better serve our


Inside This Issue 03

Around the School


Donor Profile


Trustee News


A Summer in Harmony


Parent Association


Lighting the Way


Brave and Bold Education


Alumni News

40 Class Notes

Environmental and Outdoor Education students backpack through the southern Sierras.

diverse student body. Throughout the school year, the Crossroads Supporting a Diverse Community Committee continues its important work helping Crossroads implement the recommendations of the School’s Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism study. This year, our student-athletes have proven themselves as audacious and driven as they are skilled. The girls varsity volleyball team won a CIF Southern Section championship and a state regional title, and became the first girls team in our history to reach the state finals. Their exciting and inspirational season captivated the School throughout the fall. In January, the Roadrunners took on the Brentwood School Eagles in our annual Extravaganza competition, ultimately reclaiming the coveted Extravaganza Cup after six thrilling matchups. Four of our exceptional faculty members embarked on their own adventures through Crossroads’ annual Personal and Professional Growth Awards program. Their experiences last summer ran the gamut from walking in the poet Yeats’ footsteps in Dublin to volunteering with two indigenous communities in Panama.

They returned to their classrooms reinvigorated, ready to share the knowledge and insights gained on these transformative journeys with their students. Crossroads encourages students to take risks in the questions they ask, the passions they hone and the lives they forge for themselves. In this time of political transition and uncertainty, it is perhaps more important than ever that we have the fortitude to stand up for what we believe and continue to promote peace, love and equality for all people. I have no doubt that Crossroads students will rise to the challenge and continue to work to make a positive impact on the world. I am immensely grateful to the leaders who created this pioneering School 45 years ago, and to the faculty and staff, students, parents, alumni and others who have upheld its mission for more than four decades. Thank you to everyone who has helped make Crossroads School the groundbreaking School that it is. Here’s to celebrating our milestone 50th anniversary in just five years, and to looking forward to another 50 years of brave and bold education for Crossroads School!


In Memoriam


is published twice a year.


Call: 310-829-7391, ext. 564 Email: We have made every attempt to have all names and information in this publication correct. If any errors or omissions are noted, we offer our sincere apologies and hope you will notify the Communications Office.

If you have received a copy of this magazine addressed to someone who no longer resides in your home, please notify us at so that we may update our records. CONTENT CONTRIBUTORS

Sara Ring Editor, Director of Communications Jeff Goodman Communications Manager Kathy O’Brien Campaign Communications & Research Manager Julie Olds Executive Director, PS Science David Stewart Middle School Co-Assistant Director Nicole Loomis Upper School English Teacher Contributing Writers Elizabeth Aquino, Candace Pearson, Ashley Ratcliff Designer Warren Group | Studio Deluxe Contributing Photographers Randal Coombs, Anna Curtis, Mark Gold, Jeff Goodman, Samara Handelsman, Elijah Hurwitz, Ashley Ratcliff, Sara Ring, Mark Schubb, Tara Shima SPECIAL THANKS TO

Rachel Connell, the Alumni Office, Amie Mack and Sue Mathews




Crossroads Promotes Gender Inclusivity by Adam Waters, K-12 Human Development Consultant

The first question often asked when a child is born is, “Is it a boy or a girl?” And that question is a both a reflection of and an introduction to the binary way (male/female; either/or) we’ve constructed the world of gender. But what if that world isn’t so simply binary? Last year, Crossroads began looking in a deeper way at our policies and practices regarding those who fall all along the gender spectrum.

LYLA TRILLING, 11th grade

As a result, we have formalized our policies of inclusion regarding students who identify as transgender or gender non-

conforming. At the beginning of this school year, all full-time employees engaged in professional development led by Joel Baum of Gender Spectrum, a leading national voice on these issues. These efforts are already having an impact. “I know students at this School who are transgender or gender nonconforming, and whether they are closeted or not, they find security in the many all-gender bathrooms and increased awareness among our faculty and staff,” shares senior Phoebe Lewin. Being gender-inclusive is an institutional commitment that

benefits all students. According to Gender Spectrum, “Messages about gender are everywhere. … By learning about the diversity of gender, children have an opportunity to explore a greater range of interests, ideas and activities. For all children, the pressure of ‘doing gender correctly’ is greatly reduced, creating more space for them to discover new talents and interests.”

In February and

This is the beginning of a longerterm institutional process as we explore how best to create an environment that is genderinclusive for all students and families.

and their impact on

March, the Crossroads K-12 Parent Council held two events entitled “Your Child, Their Gender.” Led by Crossroads facilitators, participants explored the dimensions of gender all children through a presentation and discussion.

By learning about the diversity of gender, children have an opportunity to explore a greater range of interests, ideas and activities. For all children, the pressure of ‘doing gender correctly’ is greatly reduced, creating more space for them to discover new talents and interests.”



Crossroads Participates in Diversity Symposium

Diversity at Crossroads One of Crossroads’ five founding commitment is to “a student population of social, economic and racial diversity.” Currently, 42 percent of students identify as people of color, as do 31.5 percent of faculty. The School’s ongoing efforts to promote inclusivity and understanding among its diverse community include: The 2012 Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism (AIM) study. The formation of the Supporting a Diverse Community Committee to From left, David Stewart, Carmen Zapata, Robin Kim, Bob Riddle and Nicole Hoegl.

For the second time, Crossroads School was invited to participate in the Future of Diversity Symposium, held over three days in September at Georgetown Day School in Washington, D.C. The Crossroads delegation comprised Head of School Bob Riddle, Middle School Co-Assistant Director David Stewart, Trustee Nicole Hoegl, junior Robin Kim and sophomore Carmen Zapata. 2016 marked the first year that students were invited to participate. Over the course of the three-day symposium— whose theme was “Elevate Diversity, Equity and Inclusion”—faculty, staff and students from 25 independent schools around the country engaged in thoughtful dialogue around issues of diversity. For the adults, this included discussing how world current events impact schools; exploring the Divergent to Convergent group dynamics model to implement institutional change; and sharing new diversity and inclusion

initiatives to bring back to their institutions. Through the use of a Design Lab activity, participants received honest and specific feedback on their new initiative ideas. Students worked on analyzing the mission statement of their schools. Through Chalk Talks, journaling, affinity group activities and various guest speakers, the students developed recommendations that would improve diversity, equity and inclusion at their schools. On the final day of the symposium, the students presented their action plan and next steps to the adult participants.

help implement recommendations in the AIM report. The annual Summer Diversity Institute for employees to develop action plans to make Crossroads an even more inclusive learning environment. Renowned guest speakers to address students, employees and parents on topics related to racism and bias. A new Language Accessibility Committee to evaluate and

Nicole is a Crossroads Trustee and mother to a recent alumna and two current students. “I loved watching Carmen, Robin and the other gifted students from all over the nation demand immediate change now,” she says. “Their boundless enthusiasm and innovative

improve communication with families and employees for whom English is not their first language.



A Hide-and-Seek Lesson on Conservation approach to tackling the complexities associated with the issue of diversity was fantastic! Watching their brilliant minds and compassionate hearts in action gave me tremendous hope for our future.”

Sixth-graders arrived to instructor Art Borja’s science class on a Friday in October to find a strange device sitting on each of their desks—a device resembling something out of the classic film “E.T.”

Bob agrees. “The students’ stories, their ideas and their visions inspired us all, and gave us the resolve we needed to continue to do our work.”

Students pored over a series of “essential questions” to help understand what the device was and learned it was a telemetry machine used to track our endangered state reptile, the desert tortoise. Art then revealed that stuffed animal tortoises attached to radio transmitters were hidden around the Science Education & Research Facility— including inside flower pots and tucked behind a bush. Students used their receivers to locate the tortoises, with beeps growing louder and louder as they got closer to the destination.

“We basically just tried to find a tortoise with this [device],” says sixth-grader Anna Michael. “We learned they get attacked by ravens or more.” The class learned the impact the current drought is having on the tortoises, and discovered that the animals can live off of stored water for a year and hide in “burrows” or spots underground to stay cool. They also discussed the importance of geolocating animals in the wild in order to better understand migration patterns, especially for those animals that are endangered.

This project is part of an education outreach program created by the San Diego Zoo Institute for Conservation Research. Students simulate how scientists use radio waves or GPS to track the movement of desert tortoises through transmitters affixed with clay to the tortoises’ shells. These trackers have helped

STELLA EBERTS, third grade

While 11th-grade participant Robin Kim feels that Crossroads “has been doing a great job” promoting inclusivity, he believes there is more work to do in order to “build a stronger foundation for speaking on diversity.” He’s up for the challenge, saying, “We will continue to have this conversation at Crossroads and continue to implement change.”

alert scientists to the creature’s top threats: ravens and human beings.



Latin Flourishes at Crossroads by Jamie Meyer, Upper School Latin Teacher

On Saturday, Nov. 12, a comfortable and festive atmosphere pervaded the Alley as the colossal event unfolded, namely S.C.R.A.M.: the Southern California Regional Amici Madness. More than 800 high school and middle school Latin students from 31 Southern California schools and one Las Vegas school came to our unique campus to compete in various academic, athletic and artistic contests, and to participate in workshops and other worthwhile and fun events. These enriching experiences included the wild and wet Battle of Actium: Water-Balloon Battleship; the creative and glamorous Project Runway: Mythology Edition; the intense and fast-paced challenge of Fugepilum (dodgeball); the thrilling Open Certamen Finals (a Latin-related quiz bowl competition); the interactive workshop on Staging the Comedy of Plautus by UCLA professor Amy Richlin; and the thoughtful creation of paracord survival bracelets and

handwritten notes for our military and first responders through Operation Gratitude. Crossroads’ Upper and Middle School Latin students and teachers put in Herculean efforts over six months to plan, prepare for and put on this event. Those students included senior Jack Sadoff, who was elected the southern representative for the California Junior Classical League board at the spring State Convention. Every step of the way, support was given by parent volunteers and the School administration, faculty and staff—especially Facilities and Security personnel. Even alumni Howard Han ’98, Brandon Smith ’98 and Ian Martyn ’04, who all had been stellar leaders of the Latin Club, came back to help out. In fact, in November 1996—the only other time Crossroads has hosted S.C.R.A.M.—Howard and Brandon were juniors and provided essential leadership to support the event.

S.C.R.A.M. has been hosted many times by large public schools and private schools with larger campuses and athletic facilities. This year, it was important that a new school step up and take on the responsibility. S.C.R.A.M. is an opportunity for the community of Latin learners in Southern California to gather and celebrate the Latin language and Greco-Roman culture. The success of all these Latin programs demonstrates that Latin and its legacy are thriving in the 21st century. The State Latin Convention will be at St. Ignatius School in San Francisco in April. Scientia est potestas. Knowledge is power. For Crossroads students, the knowledge of Latin empowers them to become more articulate speakers, more erudite writers, deeper thinkers and more sensitive world citizens.


Eighth-Graders Debate Ballot Initiatives On a pre-election Thursday afternoon, students in Scott Correll’s eighth-grade Core class anxiously lined up in the hallway during a break, many dressed up in suits and blazers, as though waiting for a job interview. They filed back into class and one by one, took the podium to debate California’s ballot propositions with incredible gusto. In pairs, students were assigned to argue either for or against a variety of California’s 2016 propositions, including Prop 63, which requires background checks for ammunition purchases, and Prop 67, which prohibits grocery stores from providing single-use plastic bags. Students

had exactly three minutes to make their case in a “point/ counterpoint” debate style, which their classmates then voted on. The class also critiqued the performance of each presenter, including mannerisms, eloquence, public speaking skills and sources referenced. They discussed ethos, logos and pathos, the three modes of persuasion. Whether or not they agreed with the stance they took on their proposition, students learned the value of persuasive rhetoric. “I got Prop 56, the prop for cigarette taxes. I am arguing for it, which I am in real life,” Noah

Eatman says. “I learned that no matter what argument you’re given, whether for or against, you have to go with it.” Ezra Barber referenced Desmond Tutu’s famous quote “Don’t raise your voice. Improve your argument,” as influential to his approach. Senna Kotlizky had been nervous but felt good after it was over. “I would have never known about any of this and since I now know about the propositions, it’s much cooler because I actually know what my parents are doing when they vote,” Senna shares.

Administrators Take On New Roles A handful of key Crossroads staff members took on new responsibilities in the 2016-17 school year. Morgan Schwartz, who has been director of the Middle School for 16 years, is now serving as assistant head of school and dean of faculty following Jeff Guckert’s departure in June. Morgan has a deep knowledge of all things Crossroads and a 30-year history at the School, including a year as Upper School director and 17 years as a member of the Administrative Planning Committee. Morgan also stepped into the role of assistant head of school and dean of faculty in the spring of 2007 when Bob Riddle—who at that time held the position—took a sabbatical.

teacher and a Crossroads coach. Working side by side with Michelle are Lexi Peterson and David Stewart, who continue to serve as grade-level deans while sharing the responsibilities of assistant Middle School director. Morgan is providing continued mentorship and support to this team throughout the school year.

Michelle Merson is now serving as interim director of the Middle School. A 20-year veteran of Crossroads, she has been the Middle School assistant director for five years, served as a dean in the Middle, Upper and summer school over the last 10 years, and has been both a Core

Crossroads is grateful to all of the administrators who stepped into new roles this year and to everyone who has helped make it a smooth transition for both our employees and our students.

Morgan Schwartz

And while Joanie Martin retired as director of the Elementary School in June, she continues to lend her expertise to the School in a number of areas, including assisting with Elementary and Middle School admissions and serving on the master calendar committee.

Michelle Merson



VIVIAN WICK, 11th grade

PS Science Spreads Love of Learning

The Crossroads Elementary School students wiggled onstage like groups of atoms, slowly like ice and quickly like steam. Using their imaginations, they helped teach concepts of matter and energy to their peers in the Community Room. “Molecules never stop moving,” explained Julie Olds, executive director of PS Science, during the Gathering in early November. “We can’t see them, but they’re constantly moving.” The demonstration exemplified the kind of active, engaging learning that PS Science—an initiative of the Crossroads Community Outreach Foundation— delivers each week to hundreds of underserved students in 47 classrooms at five Title I schools in the region. PS Science provides Elementary School teachers with resources and professional development to improve science education for their students, aiming to elevate their critical-thinking and problem-solving skills.

Topics involving engineering and technology are included in the lessons. The organization currently supports science learning at McKinley Elementary and Saint Anne’s schools in Santa Monica; William Green Elementary School in Lawndale; Saint Anastasia School in Playa Del Rey; and Dickison Elementary School in Compton. Julie says she hopes to bring PS Science programming to many more sites in the near future. “It’s important for kids to have these experiences, to see stuff like this,” she explains. “We would love to serve not just 1,200 students, but 12,000 students or more.” Crossroads fifth-grader Simone Barber, who attended the

Top left: Crossroads Elementary School students explore how energy impacts the movement of molecules. The children acted as energy moving “pompom” molecules on the parachute— slowly to emulate solids and quickly to emulate gases. Top right: Students use Slinkys to model slow, long, low sound waves and fast, short, high sound waves. Bottom: Students at William Green Elementary School in Lawndale enjoy weekly hands-on science lessons through PS Science.

Gathering, said she loves many aspects of science, from molecules to animals. “It gives people an opportunity to learn all about their world,” she says. To learn more about PS Science, visit


Reflections on the Drama Conservatory Production of “The Crucible” by Holiday Kriegel, 11th grade

Playing the role of Abigail in Arthur Miller’s “The Crucible” was a dream come true. Throughout the rehearsal process I learned a great deal, not only about the play itself, but also about American history. It is extremely important that the story of the Salem Witch Trials be told so history never repeats itself. The themes of this story truly reflect what is going on in the world today. The presidential election that America recently watched displayed so many of the themes explored in “The Crucible,” including intolerance, reputation, hysteria and empowerment. All of the cast members found how the themes of this story are even present in their own lives, proving the importance of why this story must live on. Our director, Peggy O’Brien, did a wonderful job not only of helping us with our acting, but also of teaching us the history behind “The Crucible.” Our cast had many conversations about the trials themselves and McCarthyism, for which the play is a metaphor. As a cast, we also had to decipher fact from fiction. Peggy stressed the importance of knowing your history as an actor, which allowed us to grow not only as actors, but as people, too. I was excited to share our work with the Crossroads community. I am also very thankful to Peggy, the Drama Department and my cast. In a Salem courthouse, Abigail (Holiday Kriegel, right) and her followers claim to see visions.

All of the cast members found how the themes of this story are even present in their own lives, proving the importance of why this story must live on.”


Elementary Schoolers Get Into Character When new Elementary School Director Debbie Wei proposed activities centered around Character Day, teachers from every Elementary School grade responded with enthusiasm, working it into their individual curricula. An annual, global event that took place on Sept. 22, 2016, Character Day has educators and students from around the world join in a conversation about character. Teachers and students focus on who they want to be in the world, who they are and how to develop character strengths. Chelsea Bent and her fellow fifth-grade teachers facilitated the program for their grade. The classes were in the process of discussing summer reading books which were, conveniently, all about character. “We were already talking to the kids about character,” Chelsea says, “how it shapes people and how people

see us.” The books “Wonder” by R.J. Palacio and “Out of My Mind” by Sharon Draper reminded the students how their own words and actions are capable of building up or breaking down the human spirit. “In a way,” Chelsea explains, “our character, or how we are when no one is watching, leads us toward these everyday decisions.” The Character Day website has a suggested curriculum with resources available for download; the fifth-graders drew on the Periodic Table of Character Strengths to help them strive toward being “upstanders.” Differing from a bystander, an upstander is someone who stands up and sticks up for others. This also tied in with the students’ service learning projects, which included learning about children with different abilities and really getting comfortable with them. Each student,

Forgiveness is forgiving someone for when they do something wrong: when your heart tells you that you’re forgetting something that’s not right.” Written by Ada Yucel and Simone Barber as part of the Periodic Table of Character Strengths.

Top: Fifth-grader Zoe Lee created her “scientist selfie” using the app WordFoto. Left: Mila Diez Barroso Far left: Mosaic of “scientist selfies.” Right: Maurice Young and Ada Yucel in front of the fifth-grade Periodic Table of Character Strengths.


with some in pairs or trios, was assigned a character trait from the Periodic Table of Character Strengths. Students then defined that trait in their own words and illustrated a character trait in action. In Marc Quinto’s fifth-grade class, Mila Diez Barroso was assigned Love of Learning. “At my house we talk about this stuff all the time,” Mila says. “I thought it was an easy project because we do discuss character at home. I think all the traits are easy to understand, but I especially love learning. I love writing and reading and every subject in school. I’m a fast learner, too, and it helps me with everything in life. It helps me to understand people more clearly.” Science teachers Sasha Moore and Matthew Michael posed a question to their K-5 students: Who do you want to be as a scientist this year and who are you as a scientist? Each student created a “scientist selfie” that Sasha then made into a giant mosaic of faces. Using the Periodic Table of Character Strengths, a new children’s book called “Ada Twist, Scientist” and several team-building games, K-5 students discovered who they were as scientists and what character strengths appeared in the book’s character and in themselves. They were challenged to reflect on what type of character strengths they wanted to exhibit, to recognize what their growth areas were and to tie these reflections back to what type of scientists they hoped to be.

Crossroads Welcomes—and Welcomes Back—Grace Park and Warren Spaeth

This school year, the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute (EMMI) introduced Grace Park as its new director and reintroduced beloved music theory teacher Warren Spaeth; his previous tenure at Crossroads spanned from 1980 to 2001. Grace also serves as director of the K-12 Strings Program. Warren, who was the first ethics teacher at Crossroads, was invited back to teach an ethics class, as well as two music theory courses. He takes over the classes taught by the late Richard Grayson, an Upper School music teacher who passed away from cancer in July. Interestingly, it was Richard who took over for Warren 16 years ago, when Warren left Crossroads to become the founding music theory chair for the Colburn School. In addition to starting Crossroads’ first film studies class, Warren served as the first Music Department chair. Even before EMMI was created, Peter Mandell ’87, whose mother is the EMMI namesake, was one of Warren’s students. “I missed the students. I missed the values. I missed the environment, and I am so

happy I made this decision to return,” Warren says. “The music students are better than ever. Their work is so advanced that I sometimes forget that these are high school students.” Grace, who takes over for EMMI director Dong-Yi ’93, has an extensive background in teaching, having specialized in teaching violin and viola at the University of Southern California and Marymount High School, among others, and string literature at Boston University. She has also performed in chamber ensembles, orchestras like the Hollywood Bowl Orchestra and Boston Symphony and festivals and solo recitals across the United States, Europe and Korea. “My passion has always been in education and the EMMI program is an opportunity to work with some of the most talented and ambitious young musicians,” Grace says. “And working with the younger students has been such a joy and a rewarding experience. They come prepared to classes and are always excited to learn something new.”



I am from wood cutting boards and cleavers, ginger and garlic, red paper with writing I cannot read hanging on the wall. From ugly vegetables growing in the yard, climbing poles held together by string. From broken concrete, crumbling walls and an ivy covered hill, paths of dirt created by our running feet.

Debbie Wei is the director of the Elementary School. Over the summer, she invited Elementary School faculty and staff to write poems using a lesson plan developed by educator Linda Christensen, inspired by a poem by George Ella Lyon. You can find more “I Am From” poems by Elementary School employees at

I am from the neighborhood of bad boys Always standing ready to tease and taunt with fingers pulling at the corner of their eyes And words that cut deeper than stone. I am from friends forged in the battles we fought for dignity In a place where we were made to feel outside. Under a big tree in the front of our house, I would sit and cry, Dreaming myself to another place. Wondering—where is home. I am from aunties and uncles I never saw Money flying across the ocean as our clothes grew old and worn. And one by one they came. Uncle, Auntie, Lauye with his fake teeth. Finally, home, but not home. My mother called me “Yahto” and “Lao Duo-er” They meant “servant girl” and “the extra one.” Good fortune smiled on me. I never knew the meaning of my names. In the kitchen, pots of water boil the zhaozi my mother has made, And we wait hungrily, like little birds, with mouths wide open. On our plates, the dumplings let off steam. Too hot to eat, too tempting not to try. “Stupid girl.” My mother shakes her finger at my sister because she likes the outside dough, and I like the inside meat. And we sit next to each other, trading our favorite parts. Inside dusty photo albums and boxes I never open are the memories Lives long passed, words I cannot read, faces I don’t know, Blood of my blood - all long gone. I am from a culture, a language, people I don’t know. I am from a place, a country, a history that rejects who I am. And still I wonder Where is home.


Sophomores Immersed in Service Learning

The October programs reflected the School’s commitment to community activism, exposing students to issues and nonprofit groups with which they might not have been familiar. The events were designed to help students discover opportunities for their 20-hour service projects this school year. “It’s to inspire them and get them thinking about what their passions are and how they want to help in the world,” says Hali Morell, Upper School director of community service.

Students enjoyed performances by visiting members of Theatre by the Blind, an organization led by Greg Shane ’98 that empowers people with visual impairments or autism. The students began understanding the performers’ daily challenges when they were prompted to tie their shoes with their eyes shut. Later, students asked thoughtful questions of Eva Nathanson—who spoke as a representative of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust—and crafted fabric squares for a themed quilt. Students also learned about Amnesty International, Heal the Bay and Sole Brothers, among other organizations. “Giving back is a big passion for me,” says sophomore Dara Yu. “And for Crossroads to give us this opportunity, it takes us out of our routine and will make us think about the issues we’re learning about.”

Greg Shane ’98 introduces Theatre by the Blind to students.

SYDNEY JOHNSON, sixth grade

Whether they tied their shoes with their eyes closed or interviewed a Holocaust survivor with their ears—and hearts—open, Crossroads sophomores gained sensory insight into the world around them as part of the 10th-Grade Service Learning Day.



Personal and Professional Growth Awards Every year, teachers may apply for a Crossroads Faculty Personal and Professional Growth Award. In the 2015-16 school year, four teachers received awards to embark upon travel and study experiences, enhancing their own education and enriching the instruction they provide to students.

Todd Baron, Middle School Core Teacher

Silvia Salazar, Upper School Spanish Teacher

Researched Yeats in Dublin

Worked with indigenous communities in Panama

Thanks to the award, I was able to refresh myself studying the great Irish poet W.B. Yeats in the town where he struggled to do much of his writing. I spent 12 days in Dublin with no responsibilities whatsoever except to whim and fancy.

I had the opportunity to spend time in two indigenous communities in Panama. In Guna Yala, the town elders welcomed me and allowed me to volunteer in the community’s public offices and school. I organized activities and provided Spanish and English lessons in the school and worked closely with a first-grade class. In turn, the community members shared their language (Guna), songs, traditions and customs with me.

I walked the streets Yeats walked, visited the National Library’s Yeats collection, read his handwritten poems and plays and spent a day in the small town of Dalkey, where I saw the spot where one day I could easily retire. Every evening I returned to the apartment I rented in a converted 16th-century church, looked out the casement windows and read and wrote, filling a book that has not only inspired my current project (“Dreams in Which”) but has given me far more patience and joy in the classroom than I’ve had for quite a while. As a poet, I try to bring both structure and magic to every piece of writing I teach and the literature we engage with in class. Last year’s incredibly joyful and successful Poetry Month propelled me back toward this notion of structure, magic, walking, reading and writing. Crossroads gave that to me and I intend to bring that gift every day to my class.

I then traveled to Emberá Quera, a small village of approximately 50 people who live in thatched huts on stilts, as their indigenous ancestors did. I volunteered in the hut school that nine Spanish-speaking children attend. I also gave English lessons to the adults, who speak both Emberá and Spanish. Last year, my Crossroads students researched the Guna tribe. Unfortunately, there isn’t much information online about their traditions and customs. After my three-week trip, I have a lot to share with my students. I’d like one of my classes to establish an email communication with the first-graders from Guna Yala, as a cultural exchange opportunity. I’d love to open a little window to a world they don’t know, both to the first-graders and my Crossroads students. They could learn so much from each other.

Todd outside the National Library of Ireland.

Silvia (center, in purple) with students and parents in Ustupu, Guna Yala.

Leandra Rose, Kindergarten Teacher

Oksana Godoy, Middle School Core/Spanish Teacher

Engaged in yearlong Mindfulness Certification Program

Explored Afro-Cuban culture in Cuba

The Mindful Schools program kicked off with a silent retreat in the summer where practitioners from around the world gathered to deepen our meditation practice with the intention of teaching these practices to the youth in our care. Now we’re learning about the science and heart of mindfulness from leading experts in the field.

I went to Cuba for 17 days to learn about Afro-Cuban music, culture and folklore. I’ve always felt a special connection to it because I’m from the former Soviet Union. Cuba literally changed my life. The Cuban people are kind, resilient and humorous in spite of the atrocious conditions in which many are forced to live.

Going into the retreat, I was curious and somewhat nervous about spending the first three days in silence. To my surprise, I enjoyed the silence so much that I found myself wishing it had been longer and fantasizing about taking an extended vow of silence. Try doing that with a roomful of kindergartners!

I teach a class called Spanish for Heritage Speakers. I have shared my experiences through conversations, videos and photographs. We’ve discussed the nature of being black and Hispanic, both in the U.S. and abroad. In Core, I’ve shared the many interesting conversations I had with Cubans regarding censorship, propaganda and socialism. Depending on how we define these terms, our perception of them may change drastically.

Beginning a meditation practice eight years ago impacted my life and teaching in profound ways. Over time, this practice has helped me become more grounded, present and compassionate. I often wonder how my life would have been different had I found meditation earlier. Now I get to share my learning with our youngest students, providing tools that they can use for a lifetime. In addition to teaching mindfulness in the classroom, I lead school-wide meditations at Monday Morning Meetings and am collaborating with other teachers to incorporate mindfulness throughout the Elementary School.

One of my most memorable experiences was the Afro-Caribbean music festival in Santiago, a parade-like celebration with dozens of countries representing their folklore through live percussion and dancing, complete with traditional tribal wear rooted in African ancestry. Another highlight was attending the home and sanctuary of Santeria practitioners. It was fascinating to see how Cubans of African descent have courageously and subversively retained so many aspects of their culture throughout the horrors of slavery, segregation and oppression.

Leandra and a kindergarten student practice mindfulness.

Oksana with folkorists at the Plaza Vieja.

Crossroads Faculty Personal and Professional Growth Awards are made possible through the Annual Fund.




Varsity Girls Volleyball: Looking Back at a Thrilling Season by Tara Shima, Athletics Communications Coordinator

The girls varsity volleyball team made Crossroads history this year with an unprecedented post-season record. Coming off of a 10-3 regular season, the team finished second in the Gold Coast League. This ignited a competitive drive moving forward into their post season. Early Games Their first win was against Norwalk in Crossroads’ Grisanti Gym with a 3-0 sweep. The team’s success followed them to Hueneme where they easily moved into the third round of post-season play with another 3-0 sweep. The Roadrunners once again swept the match against Sunny Hills 3-0 in front of an enthusiastic home-team crowd. The team easily moved on to CIF Finals with yet another 3-0 victory against Santa Ynez in what Coach Aaron Wexler deemed their best match to date. CIF Division Title On Veterans Day, the team played Woodcrest Christian for the CIF Division 6 title at Cerritos College. Both teams were accompanied by large cheering sections and the Crossroads fans were given plenty of reasons to make some noise. In the first set, Crossroads led by no less than seven points at any given time, finishing 25-15 for an early lead in match play. In set two, the Roadrunners brought the match tally to 2-0. Woodcrest rallied in

the third set, building up an early four-point lead that quickly evened and then faded as Crossroads’ dream team battled back to a 25-18 set and 3-0 match win. This made the 2016 team Crossroads School’s first girls volleyball CIF champions.

potentially match point, the Roadrunners came back to once again level the game at 14 all. With some incredible rallies rife with heart-stopping defensive maneuvers and explosive hits, the Roadrunners went down fighting, losing the set 14-16 and the match 2-3.

State Competitions

To have come so close to winning the state title only to lose at the end was heartwrenching for this incredible group of players who had reached the pinnacle of high school competition. However, the team’s incredible journey and the impact it has had on our community and our Athletics program is something only to be celebrated. This group of Roadrunners is one of only six Crossroads teams to have made it to the state championship competition and the first girls team to do so. Their post-season set count was 29-4. They earned the 2016 CIF Division 6 Title, the California State Regional Division 3 Title and are the 2016 State Runner-Ups.

In the State Competition, the Roadrunners beat San Diego’s Westview High School, and then Culver City High School in the Nov. 22 State Regional Semifinal match. The team went into the State Regional Championship match against Bishop Alemany on November 26 with a perfect post-season record and a set tally of 24-0. Bishop Alemany took one set but ultimately lost to the Roadrunners, who were named CIF Division 3 State Regional Champions with their 3-1 win. One Final Matchup On December 3, the team played Acalanes High School for the Division 3 State Championship title. Hundreds of Roadrunner fans came out to cheer on the best girls volleyball team in Crossroads history. The first two sets went to the opponent but Crossroads came back in set three, for a 25-22 win. The Roadrunners maintained the momentum throughout the fourth set and, with a 25-17 win, forced a fifth game. In the final set, Crossroads pulled ahead with a slight lead, but Acalanes evened the score. At 13-14,

At the Jan. 6 Extravaganza, Crossroads honored the team during halftime of the varsity girls basketball game. The celebration included the unveiling of two banners: one for the Roadrunners’ section championship and another for their state regional title. Our School could not be more proud of these extraordinary student-athletes.


Roadrunners Reclaim Extravaganza Cup This year’s Extravaganza at Crossroads School was characterized by large crowds, enthusiastic cheers, thrilling performances—and the return of the coveted Cup. Thanks to several landmark victories Jan. 6, the Roadrunners reclaimed the trophy awarded annually to the overall aggregate winner of the day’s various athletic competitions against league rival Brentwood. Each school receives two points for a varsity victory and one point for a JV win.

After coming up short in the JV boys basketball and soccer games, Crossroads pulled even on the Extravaganza scoreboard with a 51-39 triumph in varsity girls basketball, thanks to 23 points from freshman Mia Lafayette and several key defensive stops against the Eagles.

The Roadrunners put up a fight in the girls varsity soccer match, but sophomore Sadie Recht’s goal wasn’t enough in what ended up being a 3-1 decision in favor of Brentwood.

The varsity boys basketball team defeated the Eagles 54-50 in front of a standing-roomonly crowd, getting standout contributions from senior Ira Lee (15 points), sophomore Jacob Ray (13) and junior Shareef O’Neal (11).

The varsity boys soccer team tallied the decisive 4-1 triumph, benefiting from stellar defense as well as goals by seniors Vitor Agulha and Gabriel Vasquez and sophomores Dante PerezMendoza and Artur Aguhla.




John Koonz

Two Longtime Trustees Celebrated At the Dec. 6 Board of Trustees meeting, longtime Trustees Darlene Chan and David Offer ’84 were honored for their 20-plus years of service to Crossroads School as Board members.

Crossroads maintenance engineer John Koonz is a familiar and friendly face known to students and staff on both campuses. He has been at Crossroads for 13 years, first at the Middle School and more recently on the Norton Campus. In 1997, John was working for the real estate company that managed the property that eventually became the Sports Center and soccer field. He dropped off a copy of his resume with then-plant manager Frank Gillette and—eight years later— got a call asking if he’d like to come in for an interview. John has supported the faculty/ staff Annual Fund campaign since its inception. “As part of the staff,”

he says, “I think it’s important to support Crossroads, support the community and help the School grow.” John appreciates the camaraderie among his colleagues and the supportive, friendly people who make up the School. He’s happy to give back to this place that means so much to him. “I’ve been here through two heads of school—both are great leaders, and both really effectively communicate the need for Annual Fund support from all of us,” he says. “I’m glad to do my part, and very glad to work at the happiest place on Earth—at least without amusement park rides.”

“One of the real strengths of our Crossroads Board has been the commitment of some of our longest-serving members, and both Darlene and David are a testament to that,” Bob Riddle told the assembled Trustees, administrators, and faculty and parent reps. “Their contributions to the Board, and to the School, over their long tenure through their work on the Finance, Governance, Real Estate, Development and Executive Committees have literally touched every aspect of Crossroads’ governance, and have helped to make Crossroads the School we are today. We are all deeply indebted to their thousands and thousands of hours of volunteer

David Offer

work over the years. I feel so fortunate to have them both on the Crossroads Board of Trustees, and I have personally benefitted from their wise counsel and deep commitment to our School.” Darlene is vice chair of the Board, a member of the Executive Committee, chair of the Governance

Committee and a member of the Finance Committee. Her son Andy Donald started Crossroads in kindergarten and graduated in

Darlene Chan

2001; he is currently the Associate Artistic Director of the American Conservatory Theatre in San Francisco. Darlene and her husband, Peter Donald, also raised alumnus Rudy Henry ’89 during his high school years. They are now proud grandparents of Celeste, Rudy’s daughter with his wife, Rosella. David graduated Crossroads in 1984 and has served as a member of the Real Estate, Finance, Governance and Development committees. He and his wife, Leslie, are the parents of three children, Hannah ’15, who now attends Yale University; Eli, a senior; and Sara, a seventh-grader. Board Chair Bob Friedman added, “Darlene and David have worked tirelessly as stewards of Crossroads. I am personally grateful for their dedication and am honored to be able to serve with them.” As a token of the School’s appreciation, David was presented with a Crossroads letterman jacket, and Darlene—an avid water aerobics participant—with a Crossroads swim team jacket, each inscribed with their names.

EMMA RAMIREZ, second grade








“I look forward to my break from work and LA and everything to come to Camp Harmony,” he says. “Literally the day I leave, I start counting down the days till the next session. You get a week of sleep recovery and all you want to do is get back.”

Crossroads basketball coach Anthony Davis and Dean of Students Anthony Locke ’01 also lend a hand at Camp Harmony. So does Adam’s wife, Andrea; his mother, Ronna; daughters Maya and Annie; and son Sam—a Crossroads seventh-grader.

For 51 weeks out of the year, Adam Slutske ’93 runs the family showerdoor business. But for one magical week during the summer, he’s camp director extraordinaire, and he wouldn’t have it any other way.

This past summer marked Adam’s 20th year with Camp Harmony, which brings more than 500 underserved and homeless youths ages 6-11 from across Los Angeles to a weeklong summer camp at the scenic Camp Hess Kramer in Malibu during the last week of August. About 50 Crossroads Upper Schoolers participate as counselors, many returning year after year to help shepherd the campers.

Everyone involved with Camp Harmony volunteers to bring the five-night camp to children in need of a break from their challenging daily lives; many of the campers are from homeless and low-income families. The nonprofit partners with 15 shelters, agencies and schools to select children to attend the camp.

Photographs courtesy of Brian Kramer Photography.

Adam, who began volunteering at Camp Harmony in his first year of college, says almost everyone who experiences it gets their “hearts stolen by Camp Harmony.” The waiting list to be a counselor is over 100 people long.

“Our program embodies so many values, whether it be selfesteem or taking a risk and then succeeding,” says Adam. “We’ve gotten a little more emotionally in touch with our programs. Instead of just running programs for every hour of the day, [each one] has a little more behind it.”

Amy Wilbraham ’13, who became a Camp Harmony counselor the summer after ninth grade, has returned every year since. Now that she’s attending Boston University, she serves as a unit head, supervising the counselors.

Campers spend their days playing basketball, swimming, doing yoga, and making candles and other crafts. At night, they reflect by holding Council, a practice of sharing and listening that’s integral to student life at Crossroads.

“I’m so in love with it,” Amy says. “Something about it is just incredible—the kids, the staff, everyone. I found something that I love and want to keep doing. I would stay here all year if I could.”

Camp Harmony, a program of United in Harmony, founded in 1989, also hosts a two-night camp in February.



“WE’RE A FAMILY AND WE’RE ALL UNITED.” Counselors and campers alike agree that Camp Harmony is a home away from home that creates a family away from family. First-time camper Kaysie says the togetherness of singing songs in the cafeteria with the other participants was her favorite part of camp. “I feel like a family at Camp Harmony because we all sing together, and we’re all happy because there’s so many things to do here,” the 10-year-old says. On day four of the camp, the familial bond could be seen in the contagious chorus of claps and cheers—“You can do it. I know you can!”; “I’m so proud of you”; “I believe in you!”; and the like—while campers conquered the ropes course, strapped into a harness several stories above the ground. Campers from one cabin decided to lift the spirits of one of their own, Clarissa, who was anxious about tackling the ropes course by singing: “Everyone’s invited.

We’re a family and we’re all united.” Diego, who has attended Camp Harmony for the past four years, once found himself in Clarissa’s shoes and offered the following advice: “If someone’s scared, I’d tell them just try not to look down and believe your instincts and the people who are holding you,” the 11-year-old says. Seeing campers evolve from timid to triumphant was one of the most rewarding parts of being a first-time counselor for Crossroads 11th-grader Kwame Williams. “We do a lot of activities that challenge campers to trust their counselors and each other,” he says. “Sometimes the campers are nervous when they do the ropes, but they know we’ve got them. They’ll jump off that edge and succeed, and they’ll be so excited.”


THE LUCKY ONES The counselors, comprising 10th- to 12th-graders from across LA, take away from the Camp Harmony experience just as much—if not more—as the campers.

Top: Camp Harmony counselor and Crossroads junior Kwame Williams, left, with Adam Slutske ’93 and his son, Crossroads seventh-grader Sam Slutske. Middle: Crossroads junior Lily Alexander has volunteered with Camp Harmony for three years. Bottom: A camper tests her mettle on the climbing wall.

Crossroads senior Isabella Cataldi, who has spent three summer and two winter sessions as a counselor, says it’s been an “eye-opening” experience. “A lot of times when I think something’s a big deal, I think about camp and I realize it doesn’t matter,” she says. “We’re so lucky and coming here makes us even luckier. It’s made me so much more grounded. I wish everyone could be a part of it.” Adam says the goal is to send the counselors home with a different outlook on life.

“Most of our campers come here for the week with absolutely nothing. We give them everything they need,” he explains. “We try to give the high school [volunteers] perspective on how good they actually have it.” Crossroads’ emphasis on community service—one of its five founding commitments is to the greater community— has played a role in sparking students’ passion for helping others through Camp Harmony. “My experience at Crossroads is a big piece of who I am today and the value set that I have, which is what drew me to Camp Harmony,” Adam shares. “My desire to be a part of something much greater and to be a part of communities that are doing incredible things for the world are hugely attributed to my time at Crossroads.”

My experience at Crossroads is a big piece of who I am today and the value set that I have, which is what drew me to Camp Harmony.” Adam Slutske ’93


THE ANNUAL FUND Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences has been a home for brave and bold education, founded by parents and educators who dared to believe that learning should be a joyful, exuberant experience. It’s a place where students question, create and embrace their roles as positive change-makers in the world. A place where extraordinary teachers challenge and inspire students to reach their fullest potential. And a place committed to diversity, equity and justice, where one in four students receives financial aid. All of this and more is possible because of the Annual Fund, a critical part of our operating budget. Join us in ensuring that the next 45 years (and beyond) are Crossroads’ bravest and boldest yet. Thank you to everyone who has given to the 2016-17 Annual Fund; your generosity is greatly appreciated. If you have not yet made a gift, please give to the Annual Fund today.




What is XRDSARTS2017: The Art of the Doodle?


It’s the pARTy of the year! The ART of the Doodle A silent auction will feature doodles: original works of art created by well-known personalities from all walks of life, including athletes, authors, artists, architects, chefs, cartoonists, comics, musicians and more.

*excerpted from larger work


The ART of dining Taste amazing fare representing many different parts of the world. The ART of drinking Enjoy a signature cocktail or other beverages at the hosted bar.


The ART of shopping Bid on hundreds of items ranging from great getaways and entertainment to delightful dining, exceptional experiences, awesome artwork, spectacular shopping sprees, gorgeous gems and jewelry and much, much more. The ART of fun! This adults-only evening is a great night to enjoy our wonderful Crossroads community and will include uniquely Crossroads musical entertainment, plus a DJ, dancing and other fun activities. Dinner, drinks, on-site child care and parking are all included!

Learn more at

Can you guess these famous doodlers based on the clues? 1. This magic, miraculous actress and stand-up sat down to doodle for us. 2. This film legend is known for “Blazing Doodles,” “Young Doodlestein,” “History of the Doodles, Part I” and many, many more.


6:30-10 PM

Skirball Cultural Center

3. He’s a Joker and a Jedi—the doodle force is strong with this one.

The identities of these mystery doodlers— and many more—will be revealed at the Art of the Doodle event on Saturday, May 6. You won’t want to miss it!




What brave and bold education means to Crossroads staff and faculty.

Crossroads demonstrates a brave and bold commitment to dynamic, experiential education through Environmental and Outdoor Education. Carrying a 35-pound plus backpack over uneven terrain, on snowshoes—often uphill—in cold winter conditions is no easy task, but there is no better way for students to see what they’re made of than to truly be challenged: physically, mentally and emotionally. Building a Quinzee (snow shelter), cooking for a group or riding out a storm—all provide opportunities to learn, fail and then learn some more.” JENN BOST, EOE INSTRUCTOR

“Crossroads is willing to question itself by constantly asking if we are doing everything possible to live up to the mission statement. Adjustments—and sometimes big changes—happen fairly regularly in our pursuit of excellence. EVAN AVERY, K-12 MUSIC COORDINATOR & US MUSIC CHAIR

The Human Development program and the arts typify ‘brave and bold’ education, as does the focus on children’s rights, the importance placed on students’ internal lives and the breadth of the education offered. Long before people were talking about ‘emotional intelligence,’ Crossroads was teaching students how to investigate their internal lives through Council and self-expression in the arts. The empowerment the School grants to learners is impressive.” TOM NOLAN, DEAN OF ALUMNI RELATIONS AND LIFE SKILLS TEACHER



“Our Elementary School efforts to keep the equity and social justice lens front and center in all that we do is why I feel that the Crossroads community has the ability to be global agents of change. Our All School Reads inspire ongoing learning and reflection in the areas of justice, action, identity and diversity. Lessons on Council, different kinds of families, race, the Peace Path, “upstanders,” the Science of Character, gender identity and more ensure that Crossroads is a safe place to learn and grow.” CAT RAMOS, ELEMENTARY SCHOOL ASSISTANT DIRECTOR

“We dare to treat people as individuals and we lean in to complicated problems to find solutions. We walk the walk in terms of our commitment to the development of the whole child. Crossroads’ professional community rallies to help students and families here through difficult problems, which may include periods of physical or mental illness or loss of a family member.” SUSAN GONZALES, MIDDLE/UPPER SCHOOL LEARNING SPECIALIST


Students in the Middle School Pride Options class meet weekly to raise awareness and take action on a variety of issues related to identity, diversity, equity, and justice. This has included a silent vigil in the spirit of the Black Lives Matter movement; a bake sale that raised hundreds of dollars for the LGBTQ teen advocacy group the Trevor Project; and a book drive for a local school without a library. Now, more than ever, Pride’s commitment to social justice and inclusivity resonates far beyond the Crossroads campus.” JOSH ADLER, INTERIM MIDDLE SCHOOL DEAN






Back in the early 1970s, when Crossroads School was recruiting its first families, co-founder Paul Cummins was repeatedly asked two questions: Where was the School going to be located? And who would be its teachers? Paul didn’t have the answers to those questions— yet. But he had a vision for a place that would defy convention in delivering holistic education focused on human development. And so it went that early Crossroads parents enrolled their children in a school with no designated campus and no hired faculty. In the 45 years since, the School’s history has been characterized by unconventional thinking—and doing. From the trailblazing style of its founders and the audacity of its inclusion efforts to its inventive and imaginative approaches to community engagement, academics and the arts, Crossroads has established a distinguished tradition of brave and bold education.




Paul was sitting in a lecture hall for a class during his junior year at Stanford University, not paying attention. Instead he was scribbling notes on paper, outlining the curriculum for the hypothetical secondary school of his dreams. “This was a message to me from myself,” the renowned educator says now. The epiphany led him to spurn potential careers in law or business to pursue a life in education, where his brave and bold decisions helped shape Crossroads into the pioneering, forward-thinking institution it is today. In starting the School 45 years ago, Paul and co-founders including Rhoda Makoff were just doing what they felt was common sense. “What are children most interested in? They don’t love grades and memorization and testing. What they do love is self-expression, exploration and play,” he says. “Kids ought to wake up looking forward to going to school. So what I tried to do was create an environment that was more youth-centered.”

Kids ought to wake up looking forward to going to school. So what I tried to do was create an environment that was more youth-centered.” His against-the-grain approach met with some resistance. Indeed, Paul still remembers how, decades ago, peers in the field dismissed him during a roundtable discussion at a conference. “I remember being treated like a second-rate educator,” he recalls. “They were so condescending. ... For me, it’s always been, ‘How do the kids perceive their education?’ They are grateful to be here. There’s something essentially different here from most other schools. The original vision is still intact.”



It was the late 1980s, and Elementary School teachers were hotly debating what Crossroads should do with respect to flying the American flag. Some faculty members believed it was a patriotic gesture, a show of unity and respect for one of the nation’s most recognizable symbols. Others felt it was jingoistic and divisive, a traditional emblem that didn’t match the School’s progressive values.


“There was a huge debate about it,” says Joanie Martin, director of the Elementary School at the time. “At faculty meetings, there were heated arguments. So for one of the next meetings, I said, ‘Bring your dinner. We’re not going to go home until we figure it out.’”

Sit in a circle, talk about it and decide. That’s not so common in a lot of places.” Nearly 30 years ago, through deliberation and discussion, Crossroads teachers and administrators came to an agreement: The American flag would not fly outside the school—then located at St. Augustine by-the-Sea Episcopal Church—but would be in full view in Pierson Hall, the room Crossroads used for meetings, assemblies and plays. And displayed alongside the Stars and Stripes would be the California flag as well as the United Nations flag, which depicts a world map surrounded by two olive branches. “That was emblematic of the kind of decision-making that gets done at Crossroads,” Joanie says. “Sit in a circle, talk about it and decide. That’s not so common in a lot of places.”

Paul Cummins and Joanie Martin.


Thoughtful discourse—hashing out complex subjects to promote understanding and consensus-building—is indeed a hallmark of Crossroads School, where students, teachers, parents, alumni and community members are encouraged to express their viewpoints while considering the opinions and perspectives of others.


1990s RECIPROCAL BENEFITS Also ingrained in the Crossroads culture is a deep commitment to community engagement that creates genuine connections and promotes understanding. In the mid-1990s, Cat Ramos—now assistant director of the Elementary School—was a fifth-grade classroom teacher. Her husband, Ramon Ramos, taught kindergarten and first grade at Westminster Avenue Elementary School, an LA Unified campus in Venice. Breaking down what they felt were unnecessary barriers, the couple helped students in their respective schools become service learning buddies. The children collaborated on projects, making bilingual books for each other and setting up a listening center with accompanying audio tapes. They performed bilingual plays, visited an artist’s studio, painted a mural and took dance lessons together. The students also studied the ocean, which enhanced the meaning of a field trip to the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach.

“By venturing out into the community, Crossroads students forged new relationships with students in Title I public schools and began to question and dispel stereotypical views of other people,” Cat says. “Students experienced the reciprocal benefits of nurturing our fundamental human need for connection and our responsibility toward others.”

Students experienced the reciprocal benefits of nurturing our fundamental human need for connection and our responsibility toward others.” That responsibility manifests in many ways at Crossroads today, from Elementary School presentations on Islamophobia and Middle School support of LGBTQ peers to Upper School discussions about discrimination and microaggressions.



TAKING A CHANCE– AND A STANCE Like many schools in the area, Crossroads offered Advanced Placement (AP) courses and prepared students for the year-end exams. But in the early 2000s, with Headmaster Roger Weaver at the helm, the School made a brave and bold decision. Teachers felt the AP courses not only restricted their ability to delve deeply into their respective fields, but also forced students to simply receive and regurgitate information. “In the spring, all they did was throw canned information at the kids,” acknowledges Upper School Director Roxanne Zazzaro. Crossroads responded by replacing AP courses with its own advanced classes.


Parents initially worried that the lack of AP classes at Crossroads would harm their children’s college acceptance opportunities, but the School was assured by numerous universities that Crossroads students would still be competitive applicants.

Every department in the Upper School has since offered Crossroads Advanced Studies (CAS) classes, which allow instructors and students alike to interact with complex material in more meaningful ways. Teachers have more autonomy and flexibility in the curricula, and students develop their reasoning skills instead of focusing on memorizing trivial details. Roxanne noted that Crossroads students each year are still accepted into top colleges, many of which acknowledge the rigor of CAS courses. “It hasn’t harmed us,” she reports. “It hasn’t put our students at a disadvantage at all.”

That’s brave and bold. It takes a stance against establishment.” “We took a chance as a School,” she adds. “We said, ‘We’re going to buck the traditional mold of what an upper school looked like,’ and we thought it would help [students] learn for learning’s sake. That’s brave and bold. It takes a stance against establishment.”


Crossroads has exemplified brave and bold education in the arts throughout its 45-year history, but the School has taken its philosophy to new heights in recent years. This credo is immediately evident at the Middle School, where the theater program repeatedly pushes the limits of stagecraft by producing challenging plays with complex language and themes. Following the 2016 presidential election, the Middle School Players—under the direction of Zoey Zimmerman— rehearsed an adaptation of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm,” which opened the night of Donald Trump’s inauguration. Through allegorical farm animals, the dystopian tale depicts the events leading up to the Russian Revolution and satirizes power-hungry leaders. The fact that “Animal Farm” was being produced against the backdrop of intense political uncertainty in the U.S. was not lost on Zoey’s students. “Crossroads made a bold move by choosing ‘Animal Farm,’ as it can challenge the presidency,” eighth-grader and dramaturg Zack Hauptman says. “I think ‘Animal Farm’ has been an important learning opportunity for all of us.”



Fellow eighth-grader and dramaturg Saga Leslie played one of the animals oppressed by the authoritarian forces that gradually take over the farm. “Political discussion should not be a special occurrence or confined to a classroom—it should be part of our lives as citizens in our country,” she shares. “Too often, as students, we are thinking only about our individual futures, but plays like ‘Animal Farm’ hopefully will make us aware of our collective future as well.” At the Elementary School, the creative dance curriculum fosters bravery and boldness by teaching students to understand and value their bodies. Weekly sessions promote self-esteem and kinesthetic awareness as well as social skills.

Too often, as students, we are thinking only about our individual futures, but plays like ‘Animal Farm’ hopefully will make us aware of our collective future as well.” Meanwhile, Upper School jazz musicians have gone three times in the last six years to the Panama Jazz Festival to perform, grapple with environmental issues and engage in community service.



Summer Mixer On Aug. 30, 2016, the Crossroads Alumni Association threw its end-of-summer mixer. Alumni from a full range of classes gathered at the Buffalo Club in Santa Monica to reconnect, reminisce and celebrate. What a wonderful night! The Buffalo Club was a great venue for us, and everyone was in fine form. Special thanks to emeritus employees Ann Colburn and Bernadette Boyle for joining us. Other faculty and staff in attendance included Bob Riddle, Tom Nolan, Peggy O’Brien, Ricka Glucksman, Cheryl Factor, David Olds, Scott Weintraub, Lily Rains ’97 and Anthony Locke ’01.




3 1. Ted Miller ’82, Michelle Brookman ’82, Michelle Greene ’82 and Lisa Chadwick ’82 2. Michael Laiken ’95, Lily Rains ’97, Bob Riddle and Natasha Gregson Wagner ’88 3. Z oe Worth ’07, Peggy O’Brien and Sara Worth ’11 4. Matt Casden ’89, Evan Hartzel ’87, Laura Alvarez and Marisa Alimento



5. G arrett Baer ’11, Dylan Pager (guest), Marty Abbe-Schneider ’10, Cheryl Factor, Ricka Glucksman and Brandon Baer ’10 6. T om Laichas, J.A. Adande ’88 and Greg Schell ’88 7. Kim Cooper ’92, Ann Colburn, Bernadette Boyle and Melissa Clark ’85




8. A li Jeevanjee ’93, Eric Umansky ’91 and Bob Riddle 9. Greg Schell ’88 and Emily Polk ’94 10. Anthony Locke ’01, Marisol Leon ’03 and Tom Nolan 11. Peggy O’Brien, Steve Leeds ’88 and Adam Polk ’94





12. Melissa Clark ’85, David Weinrot ’87 and Jill Taylor ’85


Alumni on Campus Whether it’s to speak to a class, visit with faculty, attend an event or just stroll down the Alley, we love having alumni back on campus. Here are some of the graduates who visited us recently. 1. Joan Kuon ’86 coaches EMMI alumna Lavinia Chen ’16 during a master class.



2. B etsy Rosenfeld Vargas ’91 visits with Patti Finklestein and Tom Nolan in the Advancement Office. Betsy is apprenticing in Tom’s senior Mysteries class. 3. Sasha Lieblein ’14 visits with Tom at Camp Harmony. 4. Katie Zimmerman ’16 comes to visit during fall break from NYU.





5. C hristine Quon Larusso ’03 visits Tom and talks poetry and teaching. 6. C arlos Ventura ’16 visits with Tom on fall break from Grinnell College. 7. C amille Fonseca ’12 takes time off from Yale School of Public Health to visit.



8. Brian Parker ’03 visiting from his home in Quinto, Ecuador, where he is a civil rights lawyer. 9. Josh Winograde ’94 visits with Director of Advancement Sue Mathews. 10. Travon Muhammad ’93 (right) and alumni parent Rich Singer present their nonprofit Sole Brothers to the 10th grade during Community Service Day.

8 1�

11. Kauan Gracie ’02, home from Rio de Janeiro, visits with her former dance teacher Pat Taylor. 12. Bianca Bracho-Perez ’02 and Zelda Roland ’04 catch up at the science building. 13. E rin Sachse ’11 (right) teaches jewelrymaking in the class of Chrissy Gianni ’96, where she started that career.




14. R iva Cooper ’16 and Maddie Bill ’16 visit the alumni booth at the Alley Party. 15. Jon Furst ’02 teaches about Beyond This Prison Project in Nika Cavat’s class. 16. Josh Flyer ’10 visits with Tom and Dean of Student Life Anthony Locke ’01.






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Parents of Alumni Reunion On Nov. 6, parents of alumni returned to campus for a reunion. They mixed and mingled over drinks and hors d’oeuvres, toured the Science Education & Research Facility and saw all of the new changes in the Alley. Thanks to everyone who came out for this great event!

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COLE HOEGL, sixth grade

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Class of 1986, 1996 and 2006 Reunion Night On Oct. 22, 2016, alumni from the classes of 1986, 1996 and 2006 gathered for the first triple reunion on campus! They were joined by Bob Riddle, Paul Cummins and Roger Weaver as well as over 30 current and former staff and faculty members. The vibe in the Alley was strong and the party lasted well into the night. It was great to reconnect with everyone and for alumni spanning the decades to meet one another!


’86 2

>>> 1. Class of ’86 Represents! 2. Michelle Kipper, Richard Rushfield, Ricki Booker, Doug Leeds and Joel Bremson 3. T om Laichas, Matthew Burns and Ricky Neal



4. A good-looking group! 5. Will Baum, Christopher Baker, Christa Schmidt (guest) and Charles Haspel 6. Keith Davis, Michael Rosen, Darren Pasco, Byron Carson and Arnold Robinson



7. Byron Carson and Keith Davis 8. Rachel Pollack, Natalie Leggett and Joan Kwon 9. Jason Blumenthal, Rachel Loeb, Joey Schwartz and Leslie Greenfield Taylor




10. Michael Morris, Matthew Greenfield, Will Baum and Nicki Ellison 11. Christopher Baker, Allison Yamamoto Stevens, Christa Schmidt (guest) and Matt Tyrnauer





>>> 1. Claire Doyle, Rebecca Grenell, Mimi Wheeler, Brooke Williamson, Marika Wagle and Mike Sommers 2. Chris Feil, Sonja Morange and Nikki Wiener 3. Zack Terry and Tom Nolan 4. Alexa Coblentz (second from left) and Ronald Hairston (third from left) with their mates 5. Tom Nolan photobombs the women of Class of ’96


6. Three decades of Roadrunners!



7. Mike Sommers, Chrissy Gianni and Jason Gianni (guest) 8. Michael Lucid, Amy Nathanson, Tom Nolan and Austin Winsberg (guest) 9. Layla Summers, Alexa Coblentz, David McMillan and Sarah Loew









’06 1








1� >>>

1. Ian Sloane, Cameron Cotter, Michael Larson, Bryan Kaye and Ry Arnoldi 2. Johny Gordon (guest), Lilly Waronker, Kayla Burchuk and Claire Balzary 3. A lyssa Mason, Tom Nolan, Sage Grazer and Eden Comess-Daniels 4. Terry Goldberg, Matt Givner, Jason Kaye and Henry Harper 5. Zachary Sills, Alyssa Mason, Chrissy Gianni ’96 and Jason Gianni (guest) 6. Gina Rockenwagner and Tina Turbeville 7. Tom Nolan, Clara Balzary and Wylie Gelber 8. Bob Riddle and Ian Sloane 9. Chase Landers, Andrea Pagliai and Terry Goldberg 10. A great group from 2006 11. Danny Goldfarb, Eric Akashi, Ian Sloane and Jack Madans






Kevin (K.K.) Jackson writes: “Just saying what’s up and much love to all my Crossroads family. If you are ever at the Elementary School, come into the gym and hollah at ya boy K82.” Mark Norris writes: “Amelie (9), Parker (4), Sophea and I are living in southwest Portland. We are loving it here. Please drop a line or come visit.” CLASS OF 1985

Stephanie Antin writes: “If you or someone you know would like to work from home or transition out of a corporate job, I would love to connect. I quit my corporate job years ago so I could raise my children. Now I am helping others do the same thing.” Samantha Levy enjoyed her 30th reunion, attended by several classmates who hadn’t been to other reunions. She writes: “I have a senior in high school and a senior in college who both went to Crossroads. Can’t believe that it is only a matter of months before I am again no longer going to Crossroads regularly—until I have grandkids!” CLASS OF 1986

Michael Morris has been a member of the Sierra Club since 2001. He writes: “I believe saving and worshipping nature is the only way out of many of our problems today. The chief ingredient? Water, of course—something you won’t likely find anywhere else closer than 4.25 light-years away except right here on Earth. We are messing things up, and it’s going to get a lot messier before we wake up. Such is human nature. But let’s balance the latter a little more with the former.”


AMY FLICKER JAFFE ’80 Amy Flicker Jaffe learned from her parents that “there’s always room at the table” and Crossroads reinforced the idea of “doing for others.” Emboldened by this guiding principle, she decided to make a commitment to help kids others too often overlook. Amy earned her bachelor’s in sociology at Hobart and William Smith Colleges, then her master’s in social work at New York University. Twenty-eight years ago, she joined Vista Del Mar Child and Family Services in LA, which provides services to foster youth, including residential treatment as well as a non-public K-12 day school for students with learning differences and emotional issues. “It’s amazing how resilient our kids can be,” says Amy, who is now the organization’s senior vice president of Intensive Interventional Services and a psychotherapist in private practice. The Flickers were a “pioneer” Crossroads family. Amy’s sister, Briar

Flicker Grossman ’77, was in the first class to go from seventh through 12th grade. Amy started out in fifth grade at the Crossroads precursor, St. Augustine by-the-Sea, then joined Crossroads in seventh grade. Even in its formative years, Crossroads had an abiding sense of community—”something you don’t find many places,” says Amy—and gave students the chance to make real connections with teachers who had high expectations. “At Crossroads, you learn how to think,” says Amy. “You’re challenged to ask questions, to disagree, to come together and strategize and brainstorm.” As a result, she felt well-prepared for college when others struggled to write papers and do research. Many of her Crossroads teachers and their lessons have stuck with her, including the late Steve Morgan, whose oral book report assignments “forced me to get out of my comfort zone in speaking with people.” She recalls Arleen Weinstock making history “a living, breathing thing and so relevant; it wasn’t just textbook.” At Crossroads, there is a care for students as human beings, says Amy, not ID numbers. “I’ve internalized that philosophy in working with the kids here at Vista Del Mar. We need to treat one another the way we want to be treated.”




Ellen Umansky will have her first novel, “The Fortunate Ones,” published by HarperCollins in February. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two daughters.

RYAN ENGLEKIRK ’90 Ryan attended two professional umpire schools to hone his skills, and quickly became in-demand to umpire high school, junior college, youth and

Behind home plate, decked out in his umpire’s gear, Ryan Englekirk keeps an expert eye on every move of a game. “I enjoy the challenge of having to figure out 10 different things in a half second,” he says. Ryan played basketball, soccer and volleyball at Crossroads but the gifted athlete, then known as Jennifer, was particularly talented at softball, usually serving as catcher. In 12th grade, when he blew out his right arm throwing to second base, he trained himself to play left-handed. A few years after graduation, Ryan was asked to umpire a game at a local park and a new passion was born. Umpires have held a fascination for him since he was a child— “They have so much dignity even under pressure,” he says.

semi-pro ball. Now he has combined that passion with a lifelong love of history for his Ph.D. at American University in Washington, D.C. His topic: the fight over masculinity and manhood in America and how it manifests in the role of the umpire in Major League Baseball. Ryan, who entered Crossroads in the seventh grade, recalls being teased and bullied at earlier schools. For the first time, school became a safe zone for him. “Crossroads nurtures a respect for others who are different than you,” says Ryan, who considers Max Brooks, Greg Bryan and Zoë Durrah Scheffy his closest friends from his class. However, he recalls, “All of my classmates were protective, kind and accepting to someone who was an outlier.” His dissertation, which examines the umpire as a Victorian role model, is titled “Men Among Boys.” He’s found great role models off the field, too, among his teachers at Crossroads, including Bob Riddle, Tom Nolan and Larry Wiener. “They are some of the most influential men I’ve been around,” says Ryan, “in terms of teaching me how to treat others.”


Melinda Moore has always been passionate about entrepreneurship and female empowerment. She recently launched “Driven,” a show on Facebook Live that highlights female movers and shakers in technology, fashion, wellness and nonprofits. Natasha Gregson Wagner is involved in a charity called CoachArt, which brings the arts and athletics to children with chronic illnesses. She writes: “This year I developed a fragrance in honor of my mom that is called Natalie. We have partnered with CoachArt. Of course I remember the Alley and falling in love with Bucky in the Alley and Jim Hosney’s film classes, but Mysteries is the class that remains with me always—the class that has a permanent place in my heart and soul. Crossroads shaped the way I learn and how I interact with my community. I will always be grateful.” CLASS OF 1989

Jennifer Cohen writes: “Loving my work in hospice and palliative care, and raising my funny and loving third-grader. Living among workaholic culture in Silicon Valley? Not so much. It’s a trade-off. Looking forward to my first trip to Italy in June with my daughter. She earned her travel stripes in Costa Rica last spring.”




Jenniffer Wallin Penrod is enjoying living back in California, in the Bay Area. She writes: “Hope to see you all at a reunion soon. Raising three kids reminds me of all the amazing memories and experiences I had at Crossroads. Cheers and be well!”

ALI JEEVANJEE ’93 architect Poonam Sharma, launched their own firm, LOC Architects in Downtown LA, and almost immediately won “Home of the Year” honors

Ali Jeevanjee arrived at Crossroads School in seventh grade with “a knack for drawing and making things” and felt right at home. “Crossroads made sense for me,” he says. Encouraged by “great, great teachers,” he explored art and photography, but being a visual artist didn’t feel exactly like who he was. Then, one day in 10th grade, driving through Santa Monica, he passed a house designed by famed architect Frank Gehry that used unconventional materials, including chain-link fencing as exterior walls. “I thought, ‘If that’s what architecture is, I want do to it,’” recalls Ali. Ali earned his bachelor’s in architecture at Cornell University and a master’s in architecture at Harvard University. He worked with a number of LA-based artists and architects, including in the office of Frank Gehry. In 2006, he and his wife,

from Architect Magazine. For the next several years, to support their growing business and family, one of them always held a salaried position with another firm. Then, three years ago, Ali and Poonam decided “this is the moment,” and took the bold move to both commit full-time to LOC. “What drove me was the sense that I had my own voice I wanted to speak with,” says Ali. “Getting the opportunity to do that within someone else’s company can be difficult.” The result, he says, has been the chance to create “transformative experiences” for people. Crossroads hired his firm to design the new Kirschner Family Room for the Paul Cummins Poetry Collection and convert the W. M. Keck Math/Science Institute—a place where he recalls taking ninth-grade biology—into the new Humanities Building. “It was great to see the space with fresh eyes, open it up and breathe new life into it,” says Ali. “I enjoyed working with the entire Crossroads team.” He carries with him from his days in Crossroads’ Art Department the ability to be critical about his own work. And, with that, another valuable lesson: “Life is yours to invent as you go along,” says Ali. “It’s not about following a prescribed path.”


Yelena Kompaneyets moved to San Francisco in August to join the Business Affairs department at Venables Bell & Partners. She writes: “I’m living in Emeryville and very happy to be back in the Bay Area. Missing the LA weather, but excited about this new chapter of my life.” Jon Sheldon writes: “This year was exciting because I wrote and directed a political feature comedy called ‘Swing State.’ It came out Nov. 1, just before the election. I have been able to work with many great film people from Crossroads over the years, and this film included Jake Busey ’89 and Sean Astin ’89.” CLASS OF 1991

Nick Rozansky writes: “My wife, Cathy (a Brentwood alum—boo!), and I have two boys, Oscar (8) and Sammy (6). Professionally, I am a partner in a law firm of about 30 lawyers, focused on consumer products and fashion. I owe a debt of gratitude to Jim Hosney, Larry Morrisette and Ann Colburn for teaching me how to write and think.” CLASS OF 1992

Rebecca Bloom writes: “Loving being back in the day-to-day of Crossroads with my first-grader, Caleb, and


exposing my husband to the community. Watching how happy Caleb is makes me love the School even more! Personally, I have been spending my time supporting Good Plus Foundation and starting a food blog, Square Meal Round Table, with my mother.” Jessica Ritz is a freelance journalist in LA, writing stories about culture, design, food, travel and other topics for a range of outlets. She writes: “It’s truly astounding and wonderful how many new creative, cool Crossroads folks I keep encountering in my professional orbit. (Plus, there’s a mess of us Crossroadian parents at my kids’ school in Hollywood.)” CLASS OF 1993

RHYS ADAIR, 11th grade

Craig Juda remains actively involved with the Crossroads Alumni Association, trying to raise funds to keep our community strong. He writes: “The Class of ’93 has done a great job, but we need everyone’s class members to help.” He is working on a startup fitness business that will launch in 2017. Travon Muhammad is the CEO and co-founder of Sole Brothers Inc. (, which was started on the Crossroads campus as a community service project. CLASS OF 1994

Emily Cummins Polk has been a practicing social worker in the Lennox Elementary School District for 14 years, providing school-based services to children and families as well as professional development to teachers and staff members in the district. Responding to the community’s need for more comprehensive services, Emily co-founded JUNTOS, a thriving school-based wellness

WE MET OUR MATCH! Thanks to all who participated in the alumni challenge match in support of the 2016-17 Annual Fund! It was a tremendous success. Many alumni participated for the first time to contribute to the ongoing health of the School. One out of four students at Crossroads receives financial aid, to the tune of more than $8 million this year. Our work in social justice, the arts, athletics, human development and progressive education continues because of the generosity and commitment of our community. If you haven’t yet given to the 2016-17 Annual Fund, we invite you to join the ranks of Crossroads alumni who are guaranteeing an exciting future for this extraordinary School.



center serving students, families, community members and staff with a focus on trauma-informed care. Emily and Adam Polk ’94 have two children, second-grader Della and Dax (pre-K). Matt Slatoff writes: “Over the summer, I traveled to Zion and Bryce national parks with fellow 1994 alumni Ed Fenton, Marc Perlof, Mike Dixon, Kevin Purcell and Yusuke Katsunuma. We had a great time catching up!” CLASS OF 1999

Arielle Jackson writes: “I’m working as a marketing consultant, helping early-stage startups figure out their brand strategy and product positioning. I get to work with all kinds of companies, from consumer hardware to education to agriculture to enterprise software. When I’m not working, I’m hanging out with my 3-year-old son, Dylan, and my husband, Todd (Harvard-Westlake ’99). His sister, Rieka, went to Crossroads (Class of ’03), so he’s outnumbered when we’re all together.” Marz Jaffe writes: “My husband, Eli, and I welcomed our daughter, Ripley Rose Jaffe, on June 22, 2016!” CLASS OF 2000

Jennifer Reynolds-Kaye has curated an exhibition at the Yale University Art Gallery called “Small-Great Objects: Anni and Josef Albers in the Americas” (Feb. 3-June 18, 2017). She writes: “If you’re on the East Coast, stop by and I’d be happy to give you a tour!” Her book is for sale on


GABRIELLA BARBOSA ’04 Having discovered a passion for political science from an early age, Gabriella Barbosa appreciated Crossroads history classes that “made you think about the world” and the School’s emphasis on developing a critical point of view. “I’ve always looked at things through a social justice lens,” says Gabriella, the child of immigrants and among the first generation in her family born in the United States. After entering Crossroads in sixth grade, she sometimes felt she was stepping between two worlds, traveling from her home in Silver Lake to Santa Monica. But “almost instantly” she recognized the many opportunities open to her, including Environmental and Outdoor Education trips that took her sea kayaking and camping. “I kept getting exposed to things I wouldn’t otherwise have access to,” she says.

Gabriella decided she wanted to increase such opportunities for others. Her solution was education: “One of the only tools you can choose to change your future.” She earned her bachelor’s in International Relations and Affairs and Human Rights at Columbia University, then began teaching government at a South Gate high school. Unafraid to take on difficult issues, Gabriella soon had a bigger goal: impacting the laws affecting education. She returned to New York and Columbia Law School, where she was chosen as a fellow with Education Pioneers, which is dedicated to improving outcomes for historically marginalized students. Armed with her law degree, she joined Public Counsel in LA as an Equal Justice Works fellow, advocating for legislative changes, such as a reversal of the state’s 1998 ban on bilingual education, just overturned in the 2016 election. These experiences and more led to Gabriella’s current position as policy director for Ref Rodriguez, Ph.D., District 5 Board Member for the Los Angeles Unified School District. For now, she has found her ideal spot on the political spectrum. As a lawyer, she often felt she was reacting to social injustice after the fact. “I like being on the front end of things: proactive, able to influence the people who create the policies and the laws. I really enjoy this space.”


Andrew Strauss and Fei Yang are proud to announce the birth of their daughter, Siena Elaine Strauss. She was born in Longmont, Colorado, on Sept. 15, 2016.


WYATT MILLS ’09 convey the chaos inside us all and reveal truths beneath the surface. “It’s normal to feel you don’t know what’s going on, to have self-doubt,”


Heather Mercer recently graduated from USC with her master’s in social work. She is currently working as a consultant dedicated to building the capacity of nonprofit organizations and is in the midst of launching her own program that will focus on educating and supporting women with a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome. Heather lives in Spokane, Washington, with her husband, Freddie, and two daughters, Harper (5) and Hope (1). Michelle Ohm (Wiener) married Matt Ohm on Oct. 9, 2016. They celebrated with friends and family at the Armory Center for the Arts on Nov. 5, 2016. CLASS OF 2003

Micaela Reinstein writes: “I moved up to Oakland the month after graduating from college, and I’ve been teaching special education here ever since. My wife, Tessa, and I have twin boys, Ever and Jude, born August 2015. I’m so in love with our little family!” CLASS OF 2004

Ian Martyn writes: “I now live in the Santa Barbara area and love it here. I play in Gamelan Sinar Surya and am always working to boost the local music scene. I’ve recently joined a Seattle-based music group and record

Deciding as a senior at Crossroads that he wanted a career as a fine artist was “risky and insane,” concedes Wyatt Mills, but at the time, it made sense. “And I had some maniacal confidence.” After all, he’d already written in a notebook at age 11, “I want to be Monet.” His confidence has proved justified. So far, he’s had five solo shows and 17 group exhibitions, with more on the way. And he has painted murals for Hanson’s Soda and Snapchat, whose co-founder and CEO, Evan Spiegel ’08, commissioned Wyatt after attending one of his shows. Reviewers have called Wyatt’s multimedia paintings “surreal,” “visceral” and “invitingly vibrant” and described his portraits as stretching “past the figurative into an attraction that is strange and monstrous.” His goal, he says, is to

he says. “I want to glorify that side of ourselves we try to silence.” After graduating with a BFA Honors from the School of Visual Arts in New York, he moved back to LA. In 2016, he made another big move—to Berlin, Germany, for an artist residency. “My routine in LA was getting too bland, too comfortable,” he says. His solution: Hit the refresh button. He believes in inviting serendipity. “I needed to travel in an unknown direction. That’s how I like to make paintings, too,” he explains. “Sometimes you have to be brave and destroy something you’ve created.” His residency over, he has moved into a new studio in Berlin and, inspired by the eclectic art scene, settled in for the foreseeable future. He has a commission for a new mural and two shows lined up. His Crossroads teachers encouraged him to pursue art while cautioning him about the realities. But he has no choice. For now, he’s experimenting and adding to his artistic vocabulary. “I’m at the beginning of my career,” he says. “I’m just riding the wind.”




label called the Materia Collective ( We specialize in video game music soundtracks and arrangements. I now get the opportunity to work regularly as a composer, arranger and session musician.”

NICOLE GIBBS ’10 Now a fast-rising tennis pro, Nicole Gibbs came to Crossroads as a junior. Her father, Paul Gibbs, now her traveling coach, taught literature and history at Crossroads, along with coaching girls and boys tennis and cross-country and serving as Upper School Athletics director. “The number-one thing I appreciated about Crossroads is the way it allows kids who have really strong passions and talents to excel in those fields and still get a good education,” says Nicole. For her, that passion started early. By age 3, she was hitting tennis balls in the family driveway using a “net” her dad set up, essentially a board over two trash cans. At 7, she played in her first tournament. “I’ve always been competitive,” she admits. Prepared by Crossroads’ ethic of independent thinking, she chose Stanford University for its combination of academics and athletics. She left in 2013 due to demands of the tour—though not before facing one of her idols, Serena Williams, at a Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) match on the Stanford home court. Throughout 2016, a stellar year for her, Nicole climbed in the rankings, reaching her career-high singles ranking—68 in the world—in July. She consistently competed in major WTA events, which took her to Hong Kong, Rio de Janeiro, Paris, Madrid, Moscow, Beijing and beyond. Along

the way, she soaked up the cultural experiences. She has played in 10 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments: the elite Australian, French and U.S. Opens, and the granddaddy, Wimbledon. In March 2016, she reached the fourth round at WTA’s Indian Wells tournament—”My standout result so far,” she says. A recent New Yorker magazine profile of Nicole praised her willingness to speak out on issues that are important to her, including gun control, climate change and equality for women. “Yes, there will always be players and fans who don’t agree with me, and perhaps I won’t win every popularity contest,” she shares in the piece. “But those who know me well know that I’m always down to have a calm discussion and talk through differences in opinion.”


Dylan Christina Moore writes: “Hello Crossroads community! I’m writing to let you know about an exciting opportunity for young leaders in the arts. The Artist As Citizen Conference is an annual six-day retreat hosted by the Juilliard School that provides practical tools to young artists who want to make a difference in their communities. It’s a wildly unique and powerful experience. Please check out our website or contact me for more information.” CLASS OF 2008

Jessica Ekstein studied for four years at Syracuse University, majoring in linguistics, French and German, and winning an award her senior year for most outstanding linguistics student. She has been happily living in Brooklyn ever since and working for a boutique real estate residential brokerage firm for four years in Manhattan. She is active in supporting AIDS Walk New York, donating and walking with a team every year. Her family has lived in Asheville, North Carolina, since 2012. CLASS OF 2010

Joe Jaffa is currently an assistant teacher at Palisades Charter Elementary School, working in a kindergarten classroom. To submit a class note and/or update your contact information, please visit



David Crist ’02 Jan. 10, 1984–Dec. 5, 2016

David Crist, front row center, at a publications convention at Columbia University during his senior year of high school.

On Dec. 5, 2016, David Crist ’02 died in a motorcycle accident in the Pacific Palisades. Twenty years ago, David joined Crossroads School as a seventh-grader. Rather immediately, this charming and fun-loving young man embraced all aspects of his new school. From the classrooms to the fields and courts, David’s active mind and physical skills were quickly and deeply engaged. To become friends with David meant that you were friends for life. David had an unusual knack for having meaningful conversations and relationships with people of all ages. Most of the people who spoke at David’s Dec. 14 memorial service met at Crossroads in the seventh grade. Others met David at Brown

University and one more recently was a student of David’s. Everyone spoke about his innate and deliberate gift for the zest of life. Years ago some of David’s friends even seriously considered creating a TV series about him. David enjoyed an enviable and healthy balance in his life. He was pursuing his writing after further studies on the subject at USC. David shared his academic knowledge and teaching skills by taking over for Middle School teachers Marisa Alimento and Grainne O’MalleyRamirez when they went on maternity leave. He coached Middle and Upper School volleyball teams and surfed whenever possible. David’s passions included traveling

the world; recently he and his mother, Jane, completed a bike tour of Italy. David’s continued connection to Crossroads brought significant joy to our community. Displaying quiet confidence and a peaceful nature, the pleasures of his intellectual engagement and general curiosity about people and life were obvious and evident for anyone lucky enough to have enjoyed his company. We will miss David immensely.

Morgan Schwartz Assistant Head of School & Dean of Faculty

Crossroads has established the David Crist Scholarship Fund to provide financial aid to students in need. To make a gift, please visit



Chuck Boxenbaum June 13, 1929–Sept. 21, 2016

Chuck Boxenbaum and Paul Cummins review plans for the Peter Boxenbaum Arts Education Centre.

Crossroads Trustee Emeritus, alumni parent and passionate advocate for the School Chuck Boxenbaum passed away on Sept. 21, 2016. Chuck’s dedication to Crossroads School is legendary. He and his wife, Kharlene, distinguished themselves as among the School’s staunchest supporters and most passionate leaders in our early years. As a Crossroads parent, Chuck joined the Board of Trustees during the 1977-78 school year, a commitment he maintained for 35 consecutive years. He served in a variety of officer roles, including three years as president. Chuck and Kharlene’s sons, Peter and Scott, attended Crossroads since Elementary School and made indelible imprints on the School. In 1988, the year of Peter’s passing after a long illness, the Peter Boxenbaum Arts Education Centre opened in his memory

on the 21st Street Campus, made possible by Chuck and Kharlene’s generosity. The Boxenbaum name, in its many iterations, is integral to the fabric of Crossroads. “Chuck was my first and forever leading mentor in both fundraising and community outreach,” recalls Crossroads’ co-founder and first headmaster, Paul Cummins. “He was also a true and wonderful friend.” Chuck showed immense generosity toward the School, contributing to capital campaigns and providing strong support for projects including the Documentary Film Program, the Visual Arts Department and the Paul Cummins Library. “I met Chuck Boxenbaum first in his role as an Upper School parent who wanted, as all parents do, the best for

his sons,” says Trustee and former Upper School Director Ann Colburn. “Chuck trusted Paul and the school Paul had created, giving generously of his time as a Trustee and as a donor. His generosity and compassion seemingly had no limits. In many sectors of his life, Chuck saw what needed to be done and then just did it. No fanfare, no expectation of honors or thanks.”

that the Elementary School, field and gym occupy today. And while how he accomplished this is a long story, securing the property required Chuck to fly back to Cincinnati to seal the deal and, of course, the rest is history.”

“Chuck provided extraordinary leadership during important years of growth for Crossroads,” says Board Chair Bob Friedman. “His work in connection with various properties occupied by Crossroads set the stage for the School to acquire a number of properties that enabled us to expand and enhance the educational experience for our students. In particular, he was directly responsible for the acquisition of the land

“I was the beneficiary of Chuck’s wise counsel and deep experience during my first years as head of school,” says Head of School Bob Riddle. “Indeed, I recall Chuck often being the voice of clarity in some of our earlier debates, reminding us of the critical need to grow philanthropy at Crossroads, while setting an example himself.”

Chuck also advised the Grandparent Campaign, expertly stewarded donors and advised all three heads of school.

Chuck is survived by his wife, Kharlene, and his son Scott ’84.




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