Cross Sections (Summer 2020)

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A YEAR OF GRIEF AND RESOLVE If you’ve ever picked up a copy of Cross Sections before, you know that this is where I typically introduce the contents of the issue and celebrate the school year that was. And yet, this was a year in which we faced—and continue to face— unthinkable tragedy, both as a nation and as a school community.


While it now seems like ages ago, less than two months into the 2019-20 school year, the Getty Fire required thousands of residents to evacuate, including many of our families. The fire burned 745 acres, destroyed 10 homes, damaged 15 more and caused Crossroads to close for two days. Little could we know how this momentary disruption would pale in comparison to what was to come. Less than three months later, the U.S. confirmed its first known case of COVID-19. As the pandemic began to spread across the country, Crossroads closed its campuses once again in March, a week prior to Los Angeles County issuing its “Safer at Home” orders. Throughout the remainder of the school year, faculty and staff did a Herculean job of transitioning to remote learning—in spite of the personal challenges many of them faced—and students and families adapted to the new normal with incredible patience and flexibility. Yet the necessity of remaining at home had its own costs

During remote learning, seventh grader Máximo Cisneros helped sister Arantxa, a kindergartner, with her math homework.

for many children and adults alike, including fear, anxiety and loneliness. There were also deep feelings of grief and frustration around the dire economic toll of the pandemic and the needless loss of life: As of this writing, more than 140,000 people in the U.S.— including 8,000 here in California—have died from COVID-19. That grief and frustration were compounded by the May 25 killing of George Floyd, an unarmed Black man, by Minneapolis police, following the senseless murders of Ahmaud Arbery and Breonna Taylor. Protestors from around the country—including many Crossroads community members—spilled into the streets to demand justice and an end to systemic racism. For Crossroads, the moment called for a thoughtful and thorough reexamination of our own policies, curricula and culture to ensure that we are as inclusive and anti-racist as we strive to be. We reaffirmed our commitment to serve as a leading force for good in the greater community, and indeed, the world, through work that is largely headed by the Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute. And then, the unimaginable happened.


Inside This Issue

Top: Summer Medford’s friends held a vigil near the hospital. Left: Junior TJ Muhammad’s poem “Dear America,” posted to YouTube, is a searing critique of racial injustice.


Around the School


Parent Association


Trustee News


Donor Profile


Feature Story: Community Strength


Cover Story: Black Lives Matter


Feature Story: The New Normal


Honoring Employees


Retiring Employees


Alumni News


Class Notes


In Memoriam


is published twice a year by the Crossroads Advancement Office: Sara Ring Editor, Director of Communications Elena Bonomo Communications Manager

On June 11, rising 10th grader Summer Medford was hospitalized after going into cardiac arrest. Summer was a Crossroads lifer who always radiated love and energy, despite the many health challenges she faced. Over several tense days, students, parents, faculty, staff and administrators gathered in the courtyard of UCLA Mattel Children’s Hospital to support the Medford family and pray for a miracle. Sadly, Summer lost her battle on June 17, leaving those who knew and loved her reeling with grief and loss.

nity worked to make the remote learning experience enriching and meaningful for our students, despite the limitations, working tirelessly this summer to prepare for starting the school year with so much still uncertain. And I’m grateful to those in our extended Crossroads family who supported those struggling with the pandemic’s economic fallout.

Colleen Bartlett Director of Advancement Ginette Buffone Web Manager Mery Grace Castelo Director of Parent Relations and Special Events Patti Finkelstein Director of Major Gifts Jennifer Gerber ’97 Director of Alumni Relations Leslie MacDougall Major Gifts Associate Tom Nolan Dean of Alumni Relations Carlos Ortiz Advancement Coordinator

And so, in the midst of the pain our School continues to endure, it is difficult to find cause for celebration this year.

This issue of Cross Sections focuses on our community’s response to the challenges we faced, student service projects and the important work of the Equity & Justice Institute. We look forward to sharing additional stories from the 2019-20 school year in September’s Annual Report.

What I do feel is a tremendous amount of gratitude as I consider how our extended Crossroads community responded to each new crisis. I am grateful to all of those who have been holding each other and the Medford family close. I am grateful to the students, alumni and employees who are meeting this moment of racial reckoning with resolve and determination, pushing us to be a better school within a better world. I’m grateful for how hard our adult commu-

In the spirit of gratitude, I want to thank all of the Crossroads parents, students, alumni, parents of alumni, grandparents, Trustees and friends who stepped up during this turbulent year. While we cannot predict what the upcoming school year holds, I know that there is no storm we cannot weather. I am prouder than you can imagine to be part of this truly remarkable community. For all that you’ve done, and will continue to do, thank you.

Emily Wolff Archivist

Kristina Reyes Annual Giving Associate Sanam Khamneipur Smith Director of Annual Giving Veronica Ulloa Events Coordinator Sonoma van Brunt 50th Anniversary Coordinator

Paul Howiler and Allison Schaub Advancement Services Contributing Writers Jennifer Blitz, Jeff Goodman and Joanie Martin Designer Warren Group | Studio Deluxe Contributing Photographers Randal Coombs, Chris Flynn, Jeff Goodman, Farah Sosa and Tina Turbeville ON THE COVER

“Black Girl” by rising 10th grader Zoie Noelle Brogdon. Read Zoie’s poem “Melanin” on page 25. Contact us at


NINA YANKOVIC, 11th grade / Gold Key winner in the 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, West Art Region-at-Large program. Nina is also a 2020 National Gold Medalist for her photograph “Crescent.”



Climate Activism Blossoms Across Divisions at Crossroads on-campus sit-in and speeches by student leaders. Drawing inspiration from teenage environmental activist Greta Thunberg, they called on members of the Crossroads community to consider the planet’s health in daily decision-making. “Think about your children and grandchildren. If we don’t put an end to this, there will be no place for them to live,” Anya said. “Our shorelines are rising fast—too fast. Temperatures are rising. Air quality is deteriorating. Our future is disappearing in front of our very own eyes. So, take a stand. Eat less meat. Boycott plastic products. Participate in protests. Avoid high-emission transportation. Take a stand with us for Seventh grader Anya Shah understands why people might think climate change is a faraway our planet and for your future.” threat. She used to think the same thing. The students committed to keeping up the momentum throughout the school “Soon it will be too late, which is why we year through demonstrations and other must take a stand now,” she said during an educational outreach efforts. on-campus speech to coincide with the global climate protests last September. “This probIn the Upper School, students engaged lem isn’t going to fix itself.” in a variety of activities in support of climate action, including rallies, voter During the 2019-20 school year, across all pre-registration drives and awareness three divisions, Crossroads students advocampaigns led by members of the cated for urgency in the quest to protect our Students for Sustainability Club. planet—from climate change, fossil-fuel emissions, pollution and more. In addition, a group of Middle and Upper School students successfully lobbied to Elementary School students gathered on the Norton Campus field and marched with hand- establish Meatless Mondays on the 21st Street made posters. In developmentally appropriate Campus, helping the School combat climate ways, their teachers addressed climate change change and reduce its carbon footprint. and issues of environmental sustainability “I petitioned for Meatless Mondays because throughout the school year. Science teacher going meatless can help the health of Sasha Moore, for example, featured the students and the earth. It can reduce your global climate protests in her News of the risk of chronic diseases, obesity and cancer,” Week roundup. ninth grader Dilan Gohill said. “When you eat less meat, it lowers your carbon footprint, Middle Schoolers started a Climate Change protects our rainforests, saves water and Association Club and organized a series of reduces the use of fossil fuels.” awareness-raising activities, including an

Sculpture Reveals ‘Thirst’ for Climate Action A giant red sculpture stood—or, more accurately, keeled over—in the middle of the Sam Francis Gallery last fall. It was a 15-foot inflatable rendition of the ExxonMobil Pegasus logo, collapsed on the floor and seemingly gasping for air. On display at Crossroads from Oct. 23 through Nov. 15, 2019, “When Grief Strikes: A New Era,” featuring “Thirst” by artist Chad Person, made a powerful statement about the future of the planet with its jarring interpretation of an iconic image. The thought-provoking art piece—which originally debuted in 2010—was given renewed significance as students around the world rallied for solutions to the global climate crisis. Pegasus “has been retired from its role as color guard to one of the world’s most profitable corporations,” said Person, whose work has been included in exhibitions and public collections across the country. “Once everywhere, resource and icon alike are now vanishing, and we are forced to move on.” The continued relevance of Person’s sculpture challenged members of the Crossroads community to contemplate and discuss the role of humankind in creating and solving environmental problems.



10th Grade Project Supported by Elementary, Middle Schools the other half volunteered at South Park Elementary School. (See story on page 7.) Crossroads has close to 1,200 students in three divisions, spread over two campuses and more than two dozen buildings. But look a little closer and you’ll find a school that is unwaveringly unified in its educational philosophy, vision and sense of community. Elementary, Middle and Upper School teachers collaborate to develop coursework and experiential learning that build in scope and complexity as children age. Students and their families from across the School gather together for celebrations and performances, including the Alley Party, Holiday Concert and Cabaret. And in the fall of 2019, students from all three divisions took part in a community service project benefitting the Union Rescue Mission in downtown Los Angeles, which provides shelter, health care and long-term recovery programs for people experiencing homelessness. The project culminated with two consecutive 10th grade Community Service Days in October. On each day, half the students visited the Union Rescue Mission and

Upper School Community Service Chair Hali Morell and Assistant Chair Jason Ingram ’02 are grateful for the cross-divisional support. “Jason and I met with Cat [Ramos, assistant head of the Elementary School],” shared Hali. “She was really open to the idea of the Elementary School getting involved. We brought two lifers [high schoolers who’ve attended Crossroads since kindergarten] down to Friday Gathering at the Elementary School to introduce the donation drive and what we were going to be doing. The Middle School was enthusiastic, as well. It really did feel like an all-school event, everyone coming together as a community to support this 10th grade service trip.”

In the Stephen Morgan Middle School Building, during the first two weeks of October, a box sits nestled in front of the long desk where receptionist Elva Ephriam and Middle School Coordinator Elena Hood oversee the steady rush of foot traffic, greet-

ing every child by name. The box is full of toiletries that will be brought to the Union Rescue Mission later in the month: toothbrushes, shampoo, soap, razors and more. Crossroads Middle Schoolers are used to giving back. The division’s Service Learning program integrates community service with independent research and projects that educate students on social justice issues in our community. Students understand the complex issues behind inequity in the U.S. and beyond and are empowered to take meaningful action. “It’s impossible to grasp how much the things we take for granted mean to people who have nothing,” said eighth grader Cali O’Donovan. “We have such a great quality of life, but many people are living in terrible conditions.” Cali would know. As part of her Crossroads Service Learning course, she traveled to a Tijuana migrant shelter to deliver items she collected from Crossroads families and others. Last November, the Santa Monica Chamber of Commerce named Cali the 2019 Young Inspirational Hero for her work.

Left: Middle School students and families took part in the donation drive. Far left: Elementary School families donated toiletries and other items for families at the border.


“I like sorting stuff.”

ZOE LIPP, eighth grade

Over on the Norton Campus, second grader Spencer Wollack and his classmates busily sorted the items donated by Elementary School families. After learning about homelessness in class, he said he’s proud that the work he’s putting in will have a tangible impact on the lives of others. “I think the people who receive the items will be excited and really happy,” he predicted.

Elsewhere in the classroom, visiting 10th graders sat at round tables with Elementary School students, helping them color and write on large sheets of paper. “We are making posters that the Mission can use to decorate its walls, writing kind words” explained sophomore Emma Nia. “It’s a nice bonding experience with the little ones. We’re talking to them about how kind words can help someone in need.” “I feel like this is awesome,” said second grader Blake Dixon about the supply drive.

Above left: Second grader Blake Dixon helped sort donated items. Above right: 10th graders visited with Elementary School students to sort donations and create posters.

“I was feeling so sad for homeless people, because they don’t have the stuff that we have. And now they’ll have some of those things that we have. Just not monster trucks or RC cars.”


WINTER EBERTS, EBER fourth grade


“No one’s ever volunteered and said, ‘That’s an hour of my life I’ll never get back.’ ” In a massive, sterile room lined with endless rows of bunkbeds, Crossroads sophomores are mopp mopping the floor and wiping down surfaces surfaces. Cleaning the men’s dormitory in the Mission’s Gateway program is laborious, but Luke Hirshberg Hir knows he’ll never regret it— even iff he didn’t have a choice. “Crossro “Crossroads does more than encourage us to give back; back they make community service a requirement,” he continued. “Once you do it, it requirem feels good good. You want to go back and do it again. Byy making makin it mandatory, it becomes a habit.” students are joined by nearly a dozen The stude teachers and staff members, including PE Clockwise from left: Sydney Holden, Ailey Adair, Finn Hadfield and Quin Olds served on the cleaning crew in the men’s dormitory.

teacher and Upper School Community Service volunteer Daryl Roper. Daryl helped connect Crossroads with both South Park Elementary and the Union Rescue Mission. He’s run fitness/basketball clinics at both sites (the former alongside Jason Ingram) through his work with the Lakers Youth Foundation. While one group of Crossroads students cleans the dormitory, another sorts donated items. In the courtyard, male students and mission guests are playing spirited games of pingpong. In the women’s day room, female students and guests face each other across a long table, where the students give manicures. (For the safety and comfort of both guests and volunteers, co-ed interaction is limited.) In no time, small talk gives way to deeper conversations. As her nails are painted a deep crimson, a guest talks about the scourge of gun violence. Another guest encourages a student to keep up her study of environmental science. Sophomore Birdie Blaugrund and a middleaged guest named Melanie make drawings


and discuss their shared love of artist Frida Kahlo. Melanie talks about her plans for her upcoming birthday and asks to keep some drawings Birdie made to give to her grandchildren.

A Day of Movement and Fun

“They were really sweet,” said Birdie of the women. “I was nervous at first, not sure if they’d want to talk with us. It was really nice to interact with them.” The feeling is mutual. Volunteer Coordinator Christine Wells was formerly a Mission guest herself. She knows firsthand how meaningful it is for people experiencing homelessness— who can too often feel invisible—to receive the attention and respect they deserve. “I let our volunteers know just how important a smile can be,” she said. “The guests love having volunteers here, people who are willing to engage with them.” After the trip, Jason receives valuable feedback from the students: Next time, they want the opportunity to work every shift at the Union Mission. He is heartened by their desire for new and meaningful experiences. “Being an alumnus myself, I know that Crossroads does a great job making kids feel

heard and safe,” explained Jason. “I also know that it’s important to step out of your comfort zone. Taking those steps gives students the courage to take another step further, make connections with people they might not otherwise interact with. There’s a big world beyond Crossroads that students should experience. That’s an important lesson I want students to take with them when they graduate.”

Above, clockwise from left: Jonah Berghoff, Daryl Roper and Gavin Gores; Adam Baradaran played pingpong with a guest; Anabelle Sebbag provided a manicure to a guest.

At South Park Elementary, a Title 1 school, Crossroads students worked with third graders, who don’t receive physical education due to budget limitations. The sophomores created an “Olympics day” for the students to get them moving, motivated and having fun. Adam Baradaran, who has attended Crossroads since kindergarten, appreciates his own educational experience even more after visiting South Park. “We are so fortunate that Crossroads is so wellresourced,” he said. “It allows the School to really cater to kids and provide one-on-one attention. That’s much more difficult at a large, underfunded school like South Park. I was aware of the disparity going in, but seeing it firsthand made me truly appreciate how lucky we are, to see how different the school experience is for other kids.”



Crossroads Welcomes Three New Senior Administrators

Mariama Richards

After a thorough and thoughtful hiring process, Crossroads hired two new senior administrators beginning their tenures in the 2020-21 school year: Mariama Richards as associate head of school and Natalie Burton as head of the Elementary School. Both serve on the School’s senior-level Administrative Planning Committee. In addition, Anthony Locke ’01 will serve as interim head of Upper School, replacing Roxanne Zazzaro. Mariama, most recently the assistant head of school for academic programs at Friends’ Central School just outside Philadelphia, comes to Crossroads with more than 20 years of experience in education. Throughout her career, she has demonstrated her strengths in curriculum development, faculty evaluation and conceiving and executing major equity initiatives. She replaces retiring Associate Head of School Doug Thompson. (See story on page 37.)

Natalie Burton

Mariama’s visits to the School reinforced her enthusiasm for this position. “I heard music, saw smiles and felt energy everywhere I went,” Mariama recalled. “I thrive in communities that have that level of energy and excitement, and I knew right away that I wanted to work here.” After four years as the head of the Elementary School, Debbie Wei is stepping down to return to her roots in community activism. Debbie’s accomplishments include increasing student support services; working closely with faculty on critical curricular changes, improving both the alignment of our K-5 program and the coordination of instruction between classrooms; and putting a renewed focus on social justice work both within and beyond the classroom. Natalie Burton steps into the role of head of Elementary School with more than 30 years of experience in education. She most recently worked with the

Anthony Locke ’01

UCLA Math Project to provide professional development to principals and teachers. In her many administrative roles, she has supported teachers in implementing constructivist and student-centered principles in the classroom. “I was drawn to Crossroads for their commitment to creating, embracing and building upon the diverse, dynamic, creative and reflective K-12 community,” said Natalie, who is also a parent to Crossroads sophomore Miles Burton. After eight years at the helm of the Upper School, Roxanne is moving to be closer to family. Among her many accomplishments, Roxanne created the advisory program; strengthened and expanded our college counseling program; supported and expanded our diversity, equity and inclusion work; increased the flexibility of our daily schedule by creating the block schedule; hired and supported

exceptional high school faculty; and cultivated a strong leadership team in the Upper School. Her successor, Anthony Locke ’01, will serve as interim head of Upper School for the 2020-21 school year. Anthony began his tenure at Crossroads as a seventh grade Core instructor and varsity basketball coach. He spent four years in the Life Skills and Community Service departments before becoming an Upper School adviser, followed by his most recent post as the dean of student life. As both a Crossroads graduate and a longtime Upper School teacher and administrator, Anthony is intimately involved in all aspects of Upper School life, and is tremendously respected by students, faculty and parents. Welcome Mariama, Natalie and Anthony!

SYDNEY HAYES, 12th grade




Distinguished Speakers Inspire Crossroads and the Community A packed house of parents, teachers, students, staff and members of the greater community welcomed each of the activists and scholars in the 2019-20 Younes and Soraya Nazarian Equity & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series. The series is a key feature of the Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute. “A vital component of the Equity & Justice Institute’s work is to create safe physical spaces that promote

distinct forms of connected learning, participation and disparate community engagement,” said Derric J. Johnson, founding director of the Institute. On Sept. 9, 2019, the series kicked off with Ibram X. Kendi, the award-winning author of “How to Be an Antiracist.” At the talk, Kendi placed the country’s current racial climate in historical context, outlining the policies—including slavery,

Jim Crow segregation and mass incarceration—that have created racial inequities. He argued that policies should be assessed by their outcomes rather than by their intent. Next, in honor of Indigenous Peoples Day on Oct. 14, the Institute hosted acclaimed Native American environmental change advocate Winona LaDuke. The event began with a traditional prayer to the four directions

delivered by Tina Calderon, who is a member of the GabrielinoTongva and Chumash tribes, followed by an introduction from Joseph Quintana of the United American Indian Involvement. In her speech, LaDuke advocated for building toward a sustainable future. The third event in the series featured 95-year-old Zenon Neumark, who survived the Holocaust as a teenager by escap-

Top left: During her talk, Robin DiAngelo asked attendees to turn to people next to them—often strangers—and share how their race has impacted their lives. Top right: Native American environmental change advocate Winona LaDuke spoke on Indigenous Peoples’ Day. Above left: After his talk, Ibram X. Kendi signed copies of his book “How to Be an Antiracist.” Above right: The Equity & Justice Institute’s Operations Coordinator Jordan Zolliecoffer ’15 and Founding Director Derric J. Johnson.


ing from two labor camps and living as a fugitive under a false identity in Warsaw and Vienna. In anticipation of Neumark’s visit, the Institute organized tours of the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust for the Crossroads community. At the Dec. 18 talk, Neumark encouraged taking an active stance against injustice. He asserted, “If you see evil, stand up and speak up against it, no matter whom it’s against.”

On March 4, 2020, Robin DiAngelo, the New York Timesbestselling author of “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk About Racism,” challenged the audience to view racism as a system backed by institutional and legal control, one that continuously reinforces white privilege in America. As DiAngelo maintained, “whiteness stays centered by being unnamed and

unmarked, and to decenter it, you have to expose it.” The final event in the 2019-20 series, an environmental justice symposium scheduled for April 22, was postponed in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Younes and Soraya Nazarian Equity & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series brings noted scholars and activists to campus to help stimulate dialogue among students, educators and community

The 2020-21 lineup of speakers will be announced soon. For more information, visit

leaders committed to tackling the problems of racism, poverty, war, environmental degradation, educational inequities, religious persecution, genocide and other forms of injustice. The series is an initiative of the Younes & Soraya Nazarian Family Foundation, which supports educational causes in a broad spectrum of institutions and through a wide variety of avenues: academic, public policy, community-based, social and artistic programs in the United States and Israel.

Top left: Robin DiAngelo discussed the themes in her book “White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard for White People to Talk about Racism.” Top right: Holocaust survivor Zenon Neumark revealed uncomfortable parallels between the Holocaust and the global rise of nationalism and anti-Semitism. Above: The Kendi and DiAngelo events had to be moved from the Joanie Martin Community Room to the Grisanti Gym to accommodate the demand.



Historian and Author Ibram X. Kendi’s New Vocabulary LAYLA FAKKI, ninth grade

By senior Elijah Ezralow, excerpted from a longer piece written for Nika Cavat’s English class

The overwhelming turnout for the talk by Ibram X. Kendi (see story on page 10) did not just draw from students’ chatter in the Alley. As I looked for a seat close to the podium, I navigated through many unfamiliar faces. I spoke to a middle-aged woman and her elderly mother, who had been tracking Kendi since his writing first caught their attention in this “era of Trump.” Their interest reflected a much larger trend of dissatisfaction with both the current administration and the rising nationalistic trends around America. The Crossroads gym became a place for the counterculture that t has developed within the liberal California for an advocate to bubble to lookk fo them. These searching help guide them have their beliefs people came to h and angerr voiced but also to learn vocabulary and definition a new w vocabular off the problem.

In his address, Kendi delineated the fine line between “not racist” and “anti-racist.” Part of the issue at hand is that we as Americans have different understandings and definitions of racism and all forms of bigotry. The fight for a unified understanding of racism is for the edification of society. As Kendi explains, nonracist is a term that “signifies neutrality ... [b]ut there is no neutrality in the racism struggle. ... One either endorses the idea of a racial hierarchy as a racist or racial equality as an anti-racist.” What Kendi provides is a new vocabulary for interacting in society. Just as toddler groups are taught to understand boundaries or high school students are taught to think figuratively, Kendi teaches people how to speak about racism. By understanding the roots of racism and how they are

ingrained in policymaking, we can start to have a dialogue that addresses the disease rather than the trickle-down side effects. As the liberal society that we are, we must reflect on our values, define racism and create a common language. Perhaps this is the only medicine to heal a widening cultural hurt.

Independent School Alliance to Honor Crossroads Independe The Independen Independent School Alliance a nonprofit for Minority Affairs, Aff that provides educational ed access to local indepen independent schools to underrepresented students of underrepresent color, has honor honored Crossroads with a 2020 Imp Impact Award. Originally scheduled sched for April, ceremony has been the award cerem postponed until spring 2021. The other award recipients are Latham & Watkins LLP, Matt Jackson of Jackson Pictures and Maha Dakhil Jackson of Creative Artists Agency.

Crossroads is one of the 35-yearold organization’s founding school partners. Head of School Bob Riddle is a current Board member and has served as Board Chair. Indeed, it is in part due to the School’s strong relationship with the Alliance that, today, 47% of Crossroads students identify as people of color. In its announcement, the Alliance noted: “Crossroads provides a model on how an access organization and an independent

school can partner to make both a notable and noticeable difference in providing opportunity in the lives of students, families and the entire school community. They have become a top destination for many of our students. In addition, the Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute provides one of the more meaningful examples yet of why we are happy to bestow this honor for their contributions to the Greater Los Angeles area and, specifically, the Independent School Alliance.”


Seniors Rise to the Challenge It wasn’t the senior year anyone had planned. With the Crossroads campuses shut down in mid-March to curb the spread of COVID19, beloved senior-year traditions had to be postponed, canceled or moved to the virtual realm. But with their trademark grit and resilience, the Crossroads Class of 2020 rose to the challenge of making their final months of high school memorable. “It certainly feels heartbreakingly difficult to let go of the traditions that many of us seniors have looked forward to for years,” shared Karina Martir. “But there is a general understanding of having to adapt and support our peers. Our grade has done a phenomenal job at trying to persevere.” When Dean of Student Life Anthony Locke ’01 had the idea to turn Senior Dog Day into a virtual event, Karina and Anna Sophia

The Class of 2020

Lotman—Student Council co-representatives—solicited photos of their peers with their pups and created a video. A considerably more complex online endeavor was Senior Projects, in which students use the final weeks of the school year to pursue longheld passions or learn a new skill. In 2019, senior projects included hiking the Pacific Crest Trail and getting up-close and personal with orca whales. This year, seniors were forced to stay closer to home but showed remarkable creativity. Projects included building a tailgate, making a documentary and teaching an eighth grade Core class. Despite the inability to hold an in-person Senior Signing Day celebration, Athletics Director Ira Smith was determined to honor our 10 student-athletes who had committed to furthering their athletic and academic careers next year. On May 9, he visited each

student with college swag and a custom cake. For the 70 seniors who had not gone on their five-day Rites of Passage wilderness trip before the stay-at-home mandate began, the Life Skills Department offered a three-day, virtual Senior Threshold Experience over Memorial Day weekend. One of the greatest disappointments for seniors and their families was the inability to hold an in-person Commencement ceremony. To mark graduation day, the School held a virtual Tassel-Moving Ceremony on May 28. Throughout the day, members of the Crossroads community delivered grad bags to the home of each senior containing diplomas, caps and gowns, yard/window signs and other mementos. In the late afternoon, there was a virtual Zoom ceremony for seniors and their families for the traditional moving of the tassel. (Due to LA County restrictions on



large gatherings, we were unable to hold an in-person ceremony in July as we had hoped to do. We look forward to the time when it is safe to gather together again and celebrate the Class of 2020.) Sophie Himmel, co-senior class president along with Kai McAliley, appreciates how teachers and administrators

worked hard to make the senior year special, despite the limitations. “It’s in no way ideal,” she acknowledged. “But for Kai and I, who have been in many meetings about senior traditions, it’s been quite comforting to see the adults around us genuinely care about how this is impacting us and trying their hardest to make it the best it can be.”

Aristotle Hartzell and Daisy in the Senior Dog Day video.

On May 28, Crossroads community members delivered caps and gowns, diplomas and mementos to seniors prior to the Tassel-Moving Ceremony. Far Left: Jasmin Jean-Louis celebrated with her family, including brother Thevi Jean-Louis ‘19. Left: Daniela Lubezki showed off her diploma.

Senior Signing Day: Ryan Bley committed to playing baseball at the University of Rochester, New York.




Arlo Stevens Henrikson

Maxwell Howard Neuwirth

Sophie Kaela Himmel

Chloe Nia

Miles Hoegl

Diego Grey Gabriel Nuñez

Layla Katherine Horwitz

Yuuki Okubo

Alexandra MacKenzie Idelson

Oliver Hill Opie

Brennan Jackson

Davis Norma Ouriel

Michael Rutherford James

Andy Park

James Cody Xavier Gabriel James-Cardenas

Isabella Rae Pearce

Jasmin Jean-Louis Ariana Kalili

Brandon Maxwell Kemjika Adiele

Jade Elizabeth Duncan-Rogosin

Victor M. Aguilar

Lauren Elizabeth Elson

Stella a Goldie Koondel

Jackson Paul Alpin

Lilac Emery-Haynes

Ava Lynn Kopelow

Teresa Carolina Alvarez

Alexander Ward Etz

Charles Kopp

Emilio Villalba Anamos

Elijah Sole Ezralow

Isabella Grace Koz

Lola Sofia Arenas

Stefan Alexander Fayman

Mia LaFayette

Cole Bardin rdin

Emma Finkel

SarahElizabeth Grace Lee

Ryan Bley ey

Stanford M. Fram

Joby Aaron Levit

Ella Brindle

Lucien Conrad Loungway Frank

Kyle Austin Lim

Mia Brisbin

Elijah Peter Fresco

Joshua Benjamin Lipp

Nina Martine Cappellano pellan ella

Jeremy William eremy W m Fried

Anna Sophia Lotman

Lily Cataldi

Esther sther Fuentes

Daniela Sofia Lubezki

Miles Jordan Ceballos os

Charlotte harlotte Taryn Furie

Leo eo Harry Major

Kaia Lin Chau

Julian ulian Galvan

Celeste Margarita Mancia

Grant Choi

Lily ily Ghodsi

Yetlanezi Martinez

Benjamin Montgomery mery Clark

Alexandra Anna Goldberg

Karina Yzabelle B. Martir

Jack Wolff Cline

Theo heo Ezekiel Goldstine

Dexter Walker Mayo

Kaelen Rex Cook

Steven ven Haker

Kai Elijah McAliley

Alana Christine Cotwright

Lola Gabriella abriella Hakim

Esther Rose McGregor

Skylar Baskerville e Darwen

Monty Hamm

Kadin Menashe Mesriani

Lance Robert Davenport avenport

Zane Nathaniel Hankin

Hugh Milam

Nicolas de Oliveira ira

Ellery Harper

Theory Walker Knight Millar

Tallulah de Saintt Phalle

Charlotte Anne Harris

Hannah Millar-Jennings

David Anthony Deiser

Aristotle Rey Hartzell

Sadie Isabelle Miller

Celeste Marie Delgadillo

Sydney Lane Hayes

Levon Kevork Charles Momdjian

Isabella Roxi di Rienzo

Felix Falke Heller

Grahm A. Mondry

Lapis Amanzi Dove

Sydney Jacqueline Helmer

Jonah Beckett Neustadt

William Rockwell Kissinger

William Joseph Pinder Taylor Christine Plummer Levi Adam Port Weston Nathaniel Press Liv Jael Reinis Sadie Anne Rochman Natasha Gabriella Rojany William M. Royce Aislinn Varina Russell Daniela Giselle Sanchez Megan Elyse Schwartz Chloe Rose Sesar Anthilia Christina Sklavenitis Samuel Giles Slye Alden Katharine Smathers Laura Gussie Molly Spira Dylan Remy Stone Courtney Simone Thomas Huck Triggs Cherish Eve Voyticky Matthew Daniel Walley Aidan Gregory Weinrot Ethan Isaiah Weinrot Ella Tru Weston Mazen Redclay Wharton-Ali Alexandra Victoria Whithorne Reed Elijah Wilson Jacob Alan Winthrop Lucas Brendan Wurman Georgia Gabrielle Young



A Magical, Musical Evening at Home: “Couchella” “Plans mean nothing, but planning is everything.”

« Kate Hudson ’97 and the Elementary School Parent Band sang “Firework” in honor of the Class of 2020, with special guest Katy Perry!

We had planned to do a rock ’n’ roll concert on May 16 at the Hollywood Palladium for our 2020 Parent Association Spring Fundraiser. It would celebrate Crossroads’ Parent Band legacy through the years, including a version from each campus as well as a Parents of Alumni Band with some of the founding members. But exactly two months out from the planned event date, our world shut down due to COVID-19. What to do?

« The Parent of Alumni Band (and guest singers) performed a rollicking cover of “Wagon Wheel.”

The School counts on the income from the spring fundraiser to support the Financial Aid Fund. Crossroads allocates over $9 million annually to one in four students, helping us sustain a socioeconomically diverse student body. Despite the challenges, we knew the show must go on. So we put our heads together and translated the original Rock ’n’ Roads concept into a virtual show that could be viewed from the safety of our own couches. And so Couchella was born! Co-hosted by Crossroads alumnae and longtime friends Gwyneth Paltrow ’90 and Maya Rudolph ‘90, Couchella featured members from all parts of our community— parents, alumni, parents of alumni and grandparents—as well as surprise appearances from teachers and students. The show was paired with a terrific silent auction and raffle and cool Couchella swag for sale which, along with outright donations, helped us surpass our original fundraising goal for the live event! Couchella connected the entire extended Crossroads community for one magical, musical evening as we all sat on our couches at the same moment in time, physically distant yet together in spirit.

« Gwyneth Paltrow ’90 and Maya Rudolph ’90 were the amazing co-hosts of the evening.

From left, Andrew Gross ’87, » Jesse Nolan ’01, Henry Fagenson ’11 and Ian Sloane ’06 recording atop the science building back in February. They were among nearly two dozen alumni from across the generations—and miles—to perform in a “Stand by Me” music video produced in partnership with Mark Johnson and the Playing for Change Foundation.


« Dozens of Crossroads community members took part in an uplifting performance of “Guide Your Way.”





« The Middle/Upper School Parent Band got by "with a little help” from their friends.







OUR EXTRAORDINARY PRODUCTION TEAM! Executive Producer Mery Grace Castelo Producer and Editor Brian Pianko Producer and Writer Demetri Pappas Event Co-Chairs/Co-Producers Alicia Celmer and Kate Listenberger Co-Producers Elan Glasser, Jimmy Levine and Tom Nolan Auction and Raffle Co-Chairs Michele Aronson, Marisa Davis and Michelle Dean Auction and Raffle Team Elizabeth Gorcey, Lauren Hollingsworth, Alan Rakov and Gweneth Rehnborg

« Head of School Bob Riddle kicked off the festivities in true rocker style.

« The Couchella spycam revealed parent of alumni Bob Saget playing with Dodgers bobbleheads instead of watching the livestream. You’re busted, Saget!



Get to Know Board Chair Nada Kirkpatrick Eighteen years ago, when considering kindergartens for their eldest son, Nada and Karey Kirkpatrick decided to look at a school that was not initially on their radar: Crossroads. During a tour, they noticed the engaged children, experienced the vibrancy of the community and, most importantly, felt the joy. Sami became a Roadrunner, followed by sister Maia and brother Finn. (Sami graduated in 2016 and

Maia in 2018; Finn is a rising senior.)

gained from this School,” Nada said of their volunteerism. “This School has been the single most influential part of their lives.”

Nada and Karey have been deeply involved in the School since Sami began. Nada held nearly every volunteer position available in the Elementary School, including room parent, docent and library assistant. Karey chaired the Parent Band for 10 years and co-wrote the scripts for four Cabarets. “I could never pay back what my kids have

I could never pay back what my kids have gained from this School. This School has been the single most influential part of their lives.” Nada Kirkpatrick, Board Chair

Impressed with her leadership skills and effectiveness as a volunteer, Bob Riddle and thenBoard Chair Bob Friedman invited Nada to join the Board of Trustees in 2009. Nada has chaired the Board’s Governance Committee and served on the committees for Finance, the Crossroads Fund and Risk Management. She is also a member of the School’s Radical Inclusion for Social Equity Committee. She took over as Board Chair when Bob Friedman stepped down at the end of the 2018-19 school year. “Nada was the ideal choice to follow in Bob’s footsteps as Board Chair,” said Bob Riddle.

Hellos and Goodbyes In May, the Board voted unanimously to elect Linda Daly as a new Trustee. Linda is an author and former special education teacher who sits on the boards of several charitable organizations, including Caring for Children and Families with AIDS and the National Child Labor Committee. She is a passionate advocate for social justice and was instrumental in supporting and developing Crossroads’ Equity &

Justice Institute. Linda is the parent of two alumni: Leo Yablans ’17 and Julianna Yablans ’18. After 18 years as a Trustee, Tom Werner stepped down from the Board at the end of the school year. During his tenure, he served on nearly a dozen committees, including the Capital Campaign Committee, Executive Committee and Audit Committee, which he

chaired. He also served as the Board’s Vice Chair for a period of time. Although his daughter Amanda graduated Crossroads in 2006, Tom remained a committed champion of the School. “Tom Werner is one of the most generous, humble people I know,” said Trustee and former Board Chair Bob Friedman. “During his time as a Trustee, he has

been incredibly supportive of Crossroads, both with his time and financially. Tom is always there when Crossroads needs him in any way whatsoever. There is never a hesitation on his part to help. Never. He has been an engaged, thoughtful, important and guiding member of the Board.”


2019-20 Board of Trustees

The daughter of a Syrian immigrant, Nada is proud of the increased diversity on the Board over the past 10 years. She believes that the influx of women and people of color make the Board more effective, as diverse groups are better equipped to find solutions to complex situations. Nada is grateful to Crossroads’ passionate teachers for nurturing her children’s love of learning. She is particularly appreciative of how quickly faculty and staff pivoted to remote learning in the spring. In April, she sent an email

to all employees that included the following: “I want to personally thank all of you on behalf of the entire Board of Trustees for everything that you’re doing for Crossroads during this incredibly difficult and surreal time. I know that all of your jobs have become more difficult and complicated. ... All of you teachers are putting in hours and hours of extra time rethinking, retooling and reinventing your curriculum. While the Board wrestles with unique challenges, it puts my mind at ease knowing that our students are in the most capable and caring of hands while remotely learning.”


Nada Kirkpatrick, Chair Marisol León ’03, Executive Vice Chair Nat Trives, Executive Vice Chair Jeff Worthe, Executive Vice Chair Deborah Kanter, Secretary Bob Davenport, Treasurer


Andy Baum Trevor Bezdek ’95 Juan Carrillo Christopher Chee Ann Colburn Linda Daly Emilio Diez Barroso Bob Friedman Nicole Hoegl Martin Jacobs Jeff Lipp Marc Millman Sharon Nazarian Lois Reinis Tracy Seretean Bruce Stern Tom Werner Erik Wright Lanhee Yung

Tom Werner

Linda Daly

SAMARA KOSEFF, 11th grade

“She’s incredibly smart, is a great consensus builder, loves the School, is calm under pressure and, above all, has a brilliant sense of humor—probably the most important quality needed in a Board Chair!”



MAIA HEYDARKHAN, third grade

Carrie and Kevin Neustadt

Carrie and Kevin with their sons, Jonah and Sammy.

Crossroads’ commitment to service has long resonated with Carrie and Kevin Neustadt, parents to Jonah ’20 and rising 11th grader Sammy. When the boys entered Crossroads six years ago, “We felt a special connection to the School,” said Kevin. Carrie and Kevin quickly began volunteering. “We are going to work hard to build community,” Kevin remembered thinking. “And we’re modeling that for our kids.” The Neustadts understand that giving back can take many forms. In addition to devoting time as a grade-level representative and admissions volunteer, Carrie has served as a guest improvisation teacher, sharing the expertise she gained as a member of The Goundlings Main Company. She especially enjoys spending time on campus and experiencing the School’s programs firsthand. She reflects, “It’s nice to be there and see what’s going on.” Meanwhile, Kevin has been co-chair of the 2019 Parent Association Spring Fundraiser, Cabaret; Middle School Parent Association president; and an admission volunteer. He is passionate about his involvement and proud to see more fathers volunteering in recent years. “I made it my personal mission to get more dads

involved,” he explained. “When I first started, I was the only one in the room. Having more dads involved begets more dads.” Following in their parents’ footsteps, both Jonah and Sammy are active members of the Crossroads community. Jonah is a theater kid through and through, recently playing major roles in the Drama Conservatory’s productions of “Oklahoma!” and “Urinetown.” Sammy is a member of the new Crossroads Robotics Team with a passion for photography. Carrie and Kevin are deeply grateful to Crossroads for embracing and nurturing the individuality of their sons. The Neustadts have also exhibited a commitment to Crossroads through their support of the Crossroads Fund, which enables the School to open doors to educational excellence, hire and retain extraordinary faculty and provide financial aid to one in four students. Kevin said, “Crossroads wasn’t going to be just for our kids—we believe in the mission and the people. We’ve had a wonderful experience here and will continue to show our kids how much we value their education and their School.”




financial or help with groceries or child care, we knew that our fellow families would be able to provide the support that was needed. We had such a positive outpouring of generosity of resources, time and love. It was truly a testament to the strength of the Crossroads community.”

Posed with many uncertainties for the coming academic year, the School anticipates additional need will arise. We are grateful for and remain confident in the community’s enthusiastic support for one another every step of the way.


One of the cornerstones of Crossroads School is the strength of our community, near and far. These bonds were fully evident in the response to the COVID-19 pandemic, which left some households facing reduced income, new child care responsibilities or relatives in need of care. Throughout the spring, Crossroads employees, parents, alumni, parents of alumni and grandparents worked to alleviate the strain on fellow community members in several ways:


At the end of March, Parent Association leaders—Max Liszt ’95, Olivia Corwin, Jessica Yi, Debby Zwelling, Colleen Goetz, Sam Jones, Renee Mann and Maisha Chappell—and Crossroads administrators launched the Help Hub on the School’s website. This resource for Crossroads families and employees connected those in need of support with those able to provide it. The Help Hub received overwhelming support: On average, for every Crossroads family that requested assistance, eight community members offered their services. People who recently lost their jobs received help updating their resumes. Families received grocery deliveries from volunteers. “As the pandemic sent us into lockdown, we saw that increasing numbers within our community were needing aid," explained Middle School Parent Association President Jessica Yi. "Whether it was


Head of School Bob Riddle recognized that many members of the community were coping with unanticipated financial burdens, hindering their ability to pay for basic expenses, including rent and groceries. The School established the Community Emergency Fund for employees as well as Crossroads families receiving financial aid. A small committee of administrators reviewed each request and allocated support to those most in need. The committee distributed gift cards for groceries, utility bills and general expenses, as well as with aid to cover tuition balances. Thanks to our caring community, the School raised $228,000 for the fund between March 31 and June 31, 2020.

The widespread efforts to lift each other up were also apparent in this year’s K-12 Parent Association Spring Fundraiser. (See story on page 16.) Though unable to hold an in-person event, the Parent Association was determined to create an extraordinary experience in support of the Financial Aid Fund, which benefits one in four students at Crossroads. And their work exceeded all expectations. Dubbed Rock ’n’ Roads: Couchella 2020, the virtual May 16 event raised critical funds for Financial Aid through its auction and raffle as well as direct donations generously provided by our extended Crossroads family. Thank you to everyone who pulled together this year to support our Crossroads community!




It was a hard letter to write. Now in his second year as the founding director of Crossroads’ Equity & Justice Institute, Derric J. Johnson’s background is in politics, where he has fought to increase policing accountability and to decrease officer-involved shootings. He is a lifelong social justice activist. He is also a Black man. So when widespread protests followed the brutal murder of George Floyd by Minneapolis police, Derric knew the School community would turn to him for words of wisdom, comfort and hope. Despite the enormity of the task, Derric sat down at his computer and composed a powerful missive on systemic racism in America, reminding readers that the roots of the Black Lives Matter movement are hundreds of years in the making. And he challenged white allies to dismantle white supremacy, noting, “Working for change is a daily commitment; it is difficult and (most times) there are only incremental wins. Civic engagement is not seasonal; it does not only occur when there is unrest. It is 24/7/365.”

Working for change has long been a guiding principle of Crossroads. The School was founded in 1971, taking inspiration from the civil rights, anti-war and feminist movements. One of our five founding commitments is the development of a racially diverse student body. Today, 47% of our students identify as students of color. Yet as Derric astutely notes, this work is a daily commitment. As an independent school rooted in social justice, Crossroads must continually assess and improve the inclusivity of our campuses, examine our curricula for white/Western bias and educate students and employees alike on racism, microaggressions and inequities. In his own letter to the Crossroads community, Head of School Bob Riddle stated, “While it should not have taken the senseless and brutal murders of more Black Americans to cause much of white America to wake up, I think we all share a collective hope that this may be that moment, one that leads to significant and lasting change.”

From top: Derric J. Johnson introduced “White Fragility” author Robin DiAngelo on March 4. First grader Jax Gross and his family attended the June 1 Black Lives Matter rally in Santa Monica.


« From top: Alana Cotwright ‘20 and rising senior Nora Cazenave helped organize a June 9 protest through the streets of Culver City.

Anyone who expects Crossroads students to sit around patiently waiting for adults to effect change has clearly never met a Crossroads student. Through class projects, student-led clubs and rallies staged on campus and in the streets, our students are active participants in the struggle for racial justice. So it was no surprise, then, when Alana Cotwright ’20 and rising senior Nora Cazenave co-organized a Black Lives Matter protest along with peers from Culver City High School. As Nora explained, “We were excited about having a student-led protest with student speakers, because a lot of people our age are really angry right now, and have a lot to say.” The June 9 march began at Veterans Memorial Park with powerful testimonies from students including Nora, rising senior Beza Lulseged and Kai McAliley ’20. As Alana led them in chants, approximately 1,000 protestors peacefully marched through downtown Culver City, ending at the Culver City Police Department.



As an institution, Crossroads is taking significant steps toward ensuring racial equity on our campuses. Some are in response to this current moment: All K-12 teachers are reexamining their curricula with an eye toward elevating the voices, histories and struggles of people of color. Our senior leadership team will review the School’s policies and practices to ensure that they do not lead to racist or otherwise discriminatory outcomes. Many other initiatives are both well-established and ongoing. The Equity & Justice Institute team has researched and outlined what will become our fully embedded, intentional K-12 social justice curriculum, and will work with team of K-12

teachers this fall to further develop the curriculum. In the upcoming school year, the Institute’s Younes and Soraya Nazarian Equity & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series will host another impressive slate of authors, historians and activists. Details will be announced soon. One of the goals of the School’s current strategic plan is to “enhance a sense of belonging and inclusion.” Shared committee chair Amy Walia-Fazio, Director of Secondary Admission, “Our committee is focused on assessing the experiences of all members of our diverse community, including the experiences and realities of our BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and People of Color) students, employees, parents/guardians and alumni. While we have

strong systems of inclusion in place, we know we have room to grow and enhance our programs.” Our alumni are among the most outspoken members of the Crossroads family on topics related to racial and social justice. We are proud of their commitment to these issues and look forward to hosting the fourth annual Alumni of Color gathering on Sept. 20. (See story on page 38.) These events offer alumni from all generations the chance to connect with one another, faculty and staff and to speak openly and honestly about the joys and challenges of being a student of color at Crossroads. The insights of our alumni are an invaluable resource as the School continues to work toward substantive change. Dismantling centuries of systemic racism and oppression will not happen overnight. It will require painful introspection and meaningful action from individuals, communities, institutions and governments. As a School with a founding commitment to “the greater good,” we must remain this fight and believe that it is winnable. In this, we have role models to follow: our students. Crossroads Athletics Director and parent Ira Smith accompanied his adolescent sons to the student-led march in Culver City. “As a Black man with Black children, I recognize that educating them through this has been painful at times but necessary all of the time,” he wrote in a reflection about the experience. Ira found himself awed by the passion and conviction of the Crossroads students who stood up, spoke their truth and demanded reform, accountability and equality under the rule of law. “I am so proud of Nora, Beza, Kai and Alana,” Ira wrote. “Given the emotions of the moment, they represented themselves with poise, grace and dignity. They are our future; therefore, I am hopeful!”

« Ninth grader Charley Ordeshook created this piece for her Studio 1 Visual Arts class project “The Personal Is Political: Creating Political Graphics in a Time of Chaos and Change.”


Melanin By Zoie Noelle Brogdon

Is it scary? To me the dark is beauty and acceptance. To the world Simply put, it’s terrifying.

Why am I a threat? Is it because my skin, my grace, my culture, Holds more power than the whip you crack over our backs As you tell us to build your world.

Why are you kneeling on our necks? Is it because you are afraid that if we breathe, Our toxic words will infect your soul And show you the truth.

I can’t breathe.

My throat is closing, my body is limp, and I cry out for help. But you don’t care. All because my skin is the same color As the thing you were afraid of as a child,

The dark.

Zoie, a rising 10th grader, was invited to perform her poem as part of the Grand Park + The Music Center’s Fourth of July Block Party: Home Edition.



ADAPTING ADAPTING TO TO THE THE NEW NEW NORMAL NORMAL REMOTE LEARNING KEEPS STUDENTS SAFE AND ENGAGED. Year after year, Crossroads strives to foster students’ intellectual bravery and emotional resilience. In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic underscored the vital need for these strengths of character, which our community demonstrated time and time again. News of the rapidly spreading coronavirus prompted Crossroads to begin developing an action plan in late February. By March 4, the School had formed an Emergency Response Task Force, led by Head of School Bob Riddle. The task force comprised senior administrators, Nurse Coordinator Paula Rickey, Trustee Ann Colburn and Crossroads parents and physicians Cara and Paul Natterson.

On March 11, the School canceled classes for the rest of the week to give teachers time to prepare for remote instruction beginning on March 16. In the weeks that followed, teachers and technology coordinators met repeatedly to review, implement and assess platforms and processes that could best approximate Crossroads in an online setting. There were some inevitable bumps in the road as we pivoted to a radical new way of teaching and learning. We took those lessons to heart and continued to adapt our approach to best suit the needs of our students and their families. As noted by Heather Heraeus, parent of two Elementary School students and one Middle Schooler, “This whole experience has been very thoughtful, purposeful and whole-child centered, with an emphasis on sticking true to the social-emotional principles that make Crossroads so magical.”

REENVISIONING EARLY EDUCATION The transition to remote instruction was perhaps most pronounced in the Elementary School, which had previously used technology in only very targeted ways. Forced to rethink this approach upon the campus closure, teachers quickly adapted to the new digital classroom. They provided the learning and fun that are characteristic of the Elementary School, using platforms such as Google Classroom, Zoom and Seesaw. The third graders, for example, created the School’s first virtual LA Fair. Meeting online in groups, students researched landmarks around the city, from the Venice Canals to the Watts Towers, and created an interactive presentation featuring videos, games and artwork. Elementary School science teachers Sasha Moore and Andy

Putnam created playful lessons that encouraged scientific discovery. In one video, Andy discussed cicadas and Sasha—from a safe distance outside Andy’s window— chimed in with additional facts about the insects while dressed as a cockroach! By the year’s end, the Elementary School had reimagined community connection in a variety of ways: Administrators and faculty read bedtime stories on Zoom twice a week; Middle Schoolers volunteered to lead daily virtual recesses; and each child received a weekly call from a faculty or staff mentor. In Rose Gatherings, the Moving Up Ceremony and a carpool parade, the Elementary School community demonstrated their creativity, care for and love of one another.

STUDENT-DRIVEN DISCOVERIES Also using Google Classroom, Zoom and the School’s website to deliver instruction, the Middle

Third grader Mo Oshinksy replicated Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Minecraft as part of a collaborate, interactive LA Fair.

Seventh grader Zack Belzberg worked from home with his highly studious study buddy.


School exhibited kindness and flexibility throughout the spring. Each day, teachers and administrators assessed student well-being, and daily physical education and music meditation prioritized self-care. The Middle Schoolers excelled in this supportive environment. Sixth graders created a modernized version of Chaucer’s “The Canterbury Tales”; seventh graders critically examined the Bill of Rights; and eighth graders chose complex topics to research and debate via Zoom, ranging from homework to artificial intelligence. During lunch and after school, drop-in sessions enabled students to delve deeper into their interests and chat with faculty and staff. Then, in June, a virtual Moving Up Ceremony highlighted the voice of each eighth grader.

COLLABORATION & INNOVATION Community and creativity abounded in the Upper School’s

combination of synchronous and asynchronous distance learning. As Dean of Student Life Anthony Locke ’01 noted, “It is essential that we not only take our curriculum online, but also our community online.” In science classes, students examined how the coronavirus affects the immune system. Film students cast their parents and siblings as actors to produce short films. In Crossroads Advanced Studies English, students created an interactive website to present their final projects—ranging from podcasts and poetry to visual art—on the themes of freedom and incarceration. Music classes used new technology to produce an impressive array of concerts and recitals from their respective homes. Seniors commemorated their last days at Crossroads in different but meaningful ways. (See story on page 13.) For the first time, Senior Project Presentations welcomed attendees from near and far to the Zoom

classroom. A video Dog Day honored seniors’ furry friends. And a three-day virtual Rite of Passage retreat had a profound impact on participants. Following the retreat, one senior wrote, “Thank you for an amazing experience. I feel so grateful and lucky to have been part of it. ... Many thank-yous for helping me to find some closure and relief.”

PREPARATIONS IN PLACE For the 2020-21 school year, Crossroads is committed to providing a healthy and safe environment that fosters enriching academics and a close-knit community. Accordingly, the School established four reentry committees made up of administrators, health experts, faculty, staff, parents and students: Health and Safety; Teaching and Learning; Facilities and Logistics; and Community Life. We know that Crossroads will look very different this year, combining in-person and remote learning. When we are permitted to reopen

our campuses, the following protocols will be in place: masks will be required; classrooms will be rearranged to maintain the recommended distance between students; new hand-washing stations will be installed; staggered start times and assigned entry points will be implemented; cohorts of students will spend alternating weeks on campus, all large gatherings will take place virtually; everyone will be required to complete a daily self-screening survey before coming onto campus, and anyone with symptoms consistent with coronavirus will not be permitted; visitor access will be greatly limited; and no facilities will be rented to outside groups. While much remains uncertain, the School will be nimble and thoughtful in its decision-making. Indeed, intellectual bravery and emotional resilience will be critical to the School’s success in the year ahead, and we are more than ready to meet the challenge.

For the virtual EMMI Senior Recital, Andy Park performed a Beethoven duet with his sister, Claire Park ’19.



Celebrating Longtime Faculty and Staff

Every year, Crossroads honors the faculty and staff members who reach milestone anniversaries. On March 3, our 20- and 30-year honorees and their guests—as well as all employees who have worked at Crossroads for more than two decades—were invited to a dinner held at Tiato restaurant in Santa Monica. After a cocktail hour filled with mixing and mingling, attendees were served a four-course dinner, and a colleague of each of the nine honorees toasted them in a speech. (Earlier in the year, the Parent Association hosted the annual Employee Appreciation Luncheon to celebrate employees who had reached their 10-year anniversary.)


Read on to learn more about our 2019-20 honorees.

1. The honorees, from left: Jarod Sheahan, Jennifer Anderson ’94, Guillermo Lopez, Ximena Muñoz, Ana Maria Floyd, Chelsea Bent, Chrissy Gianni ’96, Leslie Rosdol, Jamie Meyer


2. The cocktail hour on Tiato’s patio


3. From left: David Listenberger, Tony Hundtoft, honoree Jarod Sheahan, Evan Avery and Brad Babinski 4. Bob Riddle gives a framed print of Crossroads’ iconic sine wave to honoree Jennifer Anderson ’94 5. Honoree Guillermo Lopez and Hya Young 6. Honoree Jamie Meyer and Barbara Kahn






JENNIFER ANDERSON ’94 When she arrived at Crossroads as a ninth grader, Jennifer “Jen” Anderson ’94 was overwhelmed at first. But the individual attention she received from teachers who wanted each student to succeed amazed and delighted her. When soccer and softball seasons began, Jen found her people and her place in the community. After college, Jen signed on as an assistant coach for Crossroads’ varsity softball team with Shawn Gilbert. When Jen later heard that a position for a Middle School math teacher had opened up, she jumped at the opportunity. She wanted to be the kind of teacher she experienced as a student, one who enables each child to feel safe and supported even in their most difficult subjects. Her demonstration lesson was so effective that

Morgan Schwartz offered her the job immediately. “Jen has this uncanny sense of balance between detailed instructions, good fun and clear boundaries,” says Head of Middle School Michelle Merson. “She’s able to challenge the most sophisticated independent math student and be there for those who feel a risk asking their questions.” In addition to teaching algebra, Jen has coached numerous Crossroads athletes in softball and volleyball in the Middle and Upper Schools. Jen is truly passionate about sports. As she says, “Baseball is my second language.” A soccer, volleyball and softball star during her high school years, Jen was inducted into the inaugural Crossroads Athletic Hall of Fame in 2014. Go, Jen!

CHELSEA BENT After college, Chelsea Bent held a number of jobs, but she really wanted to work with children. Having heard wonderful things about Crossroads, she applied to be a substitute teacher here. Although qualified in her own right, Chelsea still thinks babysitting for Joanie Martin’s granddaughter may have helped get her foot in the door. Eventually, Chelsea was hired as a fourth grade assistant teacher, moved to fifth grade and then became a lead teacher in 2006. While she loves chaperoning Environmental and Outdoor Education (EOE) trips and performing in Cabaret every three years, it’s the children, who add joy and humor to every day, that make working at Crossroads special to her. Chelsea prides herself on getting to know each

student—520 children over 20 years—through a direct, honest and kind relationship, so that each one feels seen, heard, supported and loved. A treasured time for Chelsea has been the annual fifth grade EOE trip to Catalina, which she finds deepens her relationships with students as she helps them through struggles and triumphs. Chelsea offers nurturing love and wise counsel that enable all of her students to feel safe. Colleague Lisa Doyle notes that “Chelsea has the most school spirit ever.” Whether dancing, singing, playing or cheering, Chelsea brings the utmost enthusiasm. Adding further joy to her experience at the School is being a Crossroads parent to second grader Charlie and kindergartner Birdie. Crossroads is lucky to have Chelsea and her amazing family on board.




ANA MARIA FLOYD Ana Maria Floyd is a long way from her native Spain, where she practiced family and civil law. When she learned that her husband had been transferred to Los Angeles, she recalls, “I was young and in love and didn’t think twice about moving. I just moved here.” Newly arrived, she decided to try something different. While working for a language education and leadership training organization, she saw an ad for a position at Crossroads. At her interview and teaching demonstration, she was told, “You are a natural.” The rest is history. During her 20 years at the School, Ana has helped transform the World Languages Department. She’s served as a department chair and has taught every level from Middle

CHRISSY GIANNI ’96 School and Spanish 1 through Crossroads Advanced Studies (CAS) classes. In her CAS courses, Ana challenges her students to practice real-world activities, including debating current events, resume writing and job interviewing. Ana holds her students to the highest standards and helps them reach their personal best. For 16 years, she has also taken the lead role in helping to plan a Spanish cultural exchange with a school in Zaragoza, Spain. Most recently, Ana became one of the three grade advisers for the Class of 2021. Ana brings the same level of care and concern to advising as she does to teaching. Ana is known for her empathy, her passion and her professionalism. Congratulations, Ana, on 20 wonderful years.

Although we’re celebrating her 20-year employment anniversary, Chrissy Gianni ’96 has actually been at Crossroads for 26 years—six of them as a student. Chrissy started working here as a sixth grade assistant Core teacher, computer instructor and substitute. At the time, she also coached volleyball and softball and provided voiceovers for an English-asa-second-language website. In 2001, Chrissy was hired to teach math at Crossroads. The following year, when a Latin position opened up, Chrissy seized the opportunity. Eighteen years later, Chrissy still adores teaching Latin. Her classes are legendary: She creates her own songs, mnemonic devices and games to help children learn. Chrissy is proud of the fact that students

love to hang out in her classroom, even after they move up to the Upper School. “Crossroads embraces the weird things I do,” says Chrissy. She started the Rock-PaperScissors Tournament and moderates both the GeoBee and the Ugly Sweater Contest, in which she is a formidable competitor. According to colleague Marisa Alimento, “Chrissy usually wears multiple layers of sweaters and a vest and declares herself the winner.” Continually pursuing her love of sports, Chrissy has coached several championshipwinning girls and boys volleyball teams. Chrissy promptly joined the Adult Community Choir when she returned to Crossroads and has volunteered for a solo part in every Cabaret since 2000. She dances like a star, too! Chrissy is our own Crossroads Renaissance woman, with a boundless talent for sports, academics, a technology, music and, most of all, fun.






GUILLERMO LOPEZ Before starting at Crossroads, Guillermo “Memo” Lopez worked across the street from the School in the warehouse of a bio analysis firm. At the time, his former high school classmate Isaac Magana was working in security, events and landscaping at Crossroads. For roughly 10 years, Isaac kept asking Memo when he was going to join the team at Crossroads. After the bioanalysis firm closed its 21st Street location, Memo was cashing his last check when he ran into Isaac, who made one last plea: “Now do you want to work with us?” Memo replied, “Yes!” At first, Memo thought he would only work at Crossroads until he found another job, but he loved working in security and events for the School. When he started, security personnel



JAROD SHEAHAN patrolled the neighborhood surrounding the School. Memo is proud of bringing students back to campus and keeping them safe. Twenty years later, as the Norton Campus security supervisor, Memo says that he has stayed all these years because everyone is treated like family at Crossroads. Memo has looked after the students like family, as well. When Middle or Upper School students are on campus late, he stays with them until a parent arrives. One time, he spotted a child choking on an apple outside of the Admission Office. Memo sprung into action and performed the Heimlich maneuver, saving the child’s life. In gestures large and small, Memo is always there to ensure the safety of the Crossroads community. Thank you and congratulations, Memo!





Jarod Sheahan thanks the Young Americans (YA) for helping him find Crossroads. When Jarod was a performer and teacher with its music program, he inspired then-17-year-old Tony Hundtoft, now a Middle and Upper School music teacher, to join YA as a drummer. At a dinner theater in Michigan, they both met future colleagues David Listenberger and Evan Avery for the first time. In 1996, Jarod moved to California. He continued to work with YA and began freelancing as an accompanist, playing at Crossroads and other places around Los Angeles. In 2011, Crossroads hired Jarod as vocal director, a position not originally on his radar. Jarod thought of himself as a musician, not a teacher, and didn’t even see himself as a singer. Yet Jarod’s gifts were quickly evident, and he has loved working at Crossroads.

He is gratified and rewarded by the trust, freedom and openness he experiences and the connections he develops with his students. He particularly likes to see how his support has helped students who once doubted themselves to become confident and proud. Upper School Music Department Chair Evan Avery says, “Jarod is one of the best choral directors, arrangers, conductors and teachers anywhere. He has raised the level of music on our campus in ways that cannot be overstated. From his work with the 21st Street Singers and Middle School Overtones, to the Conservatory musicals, drama tours, Cabaret shows, adult chorus and solo vocal concerts, Jarod inspires our students to raise their game and achieve levels that are anything but common in middle school or high school programs.”


KAYLA GERBER, eighth grade


XIMENA MUÑOZ Originally from Osorno, Chile, Ximena Muñoz has long known that Crossroads was the perfect school for her. When she first visited in 1994, she loved the relationships she observed, the teachers she met and how the School valued creation and exploration. Soon after, she began her Crossroads career as an Upper School Spanish teacher. Since then, Ximena has held many roles at the School. As a graduate of a bilingual school, she was equipped to teach a French section when the need arose. She pioneered the study abroad program which would evolve into the current cultural exchange program with Zaragoza, Spain. Ximena also served as chair of the Modern Language Department for several years. In 2006, she took a break from teaching to begin a family. In fact, her son was born the

22 Y




very first morning of her maternity leave! Four years later, Ximena resumed teaching when Head of School Bob Riddle asked her to start a sixth grade Spanish program. Now, she also teaches a seventh grade Options class. So much has changed since Ximena joined Crossroads. The immersion program has been greatly enhanced by technology, and language learning has changed dramatically, from focusing on grammar to prioritizing reading, writing, speaking and listening in context. Ximena can’t imagine teaching anywhere else. She is inspired daily by the philosophy of the School, the words of the administrators and the dedication of her colleagues. Most importantly, she inspires the children. As one sixth grade student says, “I love my Spanish teacher, Ximena. Her class is so much fun.”







JAMIE MEYER Jamie Meyer didn’t encounter classics as a subject until he went to college. But once he read works by Sophocles and Euripides, he was hooked. After earning a master’s degree in teaching Latin, Jamie accepted his first position at a school in Minnesota. When students and parents began leaving hateful messages and homophobic slurs on his answering machine, his principal at the time urged Jamie to resign rather than be fired. Then, while visiting his twin sister in Oceanside, Jamie learned about an opening for a Latin teacher in the Middle School at Crossroads. Not long after Jamie started, Crossroads held a forum on racism, sexism and homophobia. Jamie could not believe that he was working at a place where he was not only accepted but celebrated and embraced. Since then, Jamie has devoted much of his time

LESLIE ROSDOL outside the classroom to providing a safe haven for LGBTQ youth through various groups in and outside the School. In 1995, he also helped plan the first Gay and Lesbian Student Education Network conference in Los Angeles. Over the past 30 years, Jamie has taught Latin and English in the Middle School and Latin and Greek in the Upper School. He has also served as department chair, dean of the summer school and faculty adviser of the Latin and Greek Club. A career highlight for Jamie was performing in “Crossroads Eye for the Latin Guy” in a Cabaret. When asked why he has stayed at the School for 30 years, Jamie says, “This school is about passion and connection. Why would I ever leave?”

Thirty years ago, Crossroads only had one ceramics class. Hoping to expand the program, the teacher at the time invited Leslie Rosdol, whom she knew from Otis College of Art and Design, to help. Now, the program includes three Upper School classes, taught by Leslie, and two Middle School classes. “The kids totally ground me,” says Leslie. This year, in particular, has included several adjustments for Leslie, from relocating the studio to changes to the Upper School grading system and a transition to teaching in trimesters. Leslie has rolled with the changes, providing instruction that is both challenging and inspiring. Creating an environment where students feel safe enough to express themselves artistically is important to Leslie. She knows that her classes are about much more than making

art. She emphasizes that her students learn life skills— focus, flexibility, patience and persistence—along with the ceramics techniques. With a teaching style that has become far more student-centered over the years, Leslie notes that student investment increases proportionally with student choice and accountability. To engage the students, Leslie provides a few approaches to an assignment and then, in her words, “gets out of the students’ way.” She is particularly delighted when her students go on college visits and ask to see the ceramics studio. For Leslie, Crossroads has a certain energy that she has really enjoyed for the past 30 years. She asserts, “Crossroads has made a commitment to the arts, and they’ve kept it.”



Zerita Coleman

It’s probably fair to say that nobody has held more jobs at Crossroads than Zerita Coleman. In her 25 years at the School, she has held no fewer than 20 positions! She began in 1995 as a part-time crossing guard on the 21st Street Campus, but word soon got around that she was willing and able to handle a variety of roles. Zerita quickly established herself as the go-to person for all divisions and departments of the School. Since then, Zerita has served as a clerical assistant, Upper School registrar, Elementary School Hang Out assistant, Middle/Upper School library clerk, ACT/ SAT proctor, volleyball box office staffer, Upper School substitute receptionist, test center coordinator—and the list goes on! While she’s loved every position she’s held, her favorite was that of sixth grade assistant teacher for five years. Not only did she adore working with the children, but she was thrilled to have the responsibility of teach-

Angel Dela O

ing Black history to her sixth grade students. Zerita loved her work, but as she says, “It’s the people who make Crossroads what it is. Crossroads allows each person to be themselves.” The embrace of every person, regardless of status or title in the School, creates a community that Zerita cherishes. She says, “Whatever was going on, I loved being a part of it.” And so she was—fully! In fact, the thing that Zerita is most proud of is shining a light into the lives of others, explaining, “If I can add to your life, you are adding to mine and making it better.” In retirement, Zerita plans to continue the baking that she has enjoyed while at home during the pandemic, including strawberry cheesecake and pound cake from scratch. She’s retiring, but far from finished making and maintaining connections. She looks forward to seeing everyone the next time she comes to the Alley for a visit.

We have Norton Campus Security Supervisor Guillermo Lopez to thank for bringing Angel Dela O to Crossroads 14 years ago. Having worked as a bakery machine operator for 29 years, Angel decided he needed a change. His cousin “Memo” told him about an opening as a part-time security guard at Crossroads, and the rest is history. Angel was stationed at the Norton Campus gate for five years. In 2007, he became a full-time employee. In 2011, he moved to the 21st Street campus, rotating through many different locations to ensure that the campus was secure and our community was safe. From the start, Angel felt welcomed at the School by his colleagues, supervisors and families. While he was initially intimidated by some of the famous faces among the parent body, he was pleased to discover that they were all genuinely nice, down-to-earth folks. He also appreciated the friendliness and thoughtfulness of the students.

When Angel was on a break, you always knew where to find him: indulging his sweet tooth at the Middle School, where there were snacks for the adults. Angel doesn’t have any specific plans for his next chapter, but he looks forward to seeing what will show up in his life. One thing is certain: He’s ready to sit down. After 29 years of standing in the bakery and 14 years of standing in security, his feet are telling him it’s time to stop. He’s happy to spend more time with his wife, Lupe, and enjoy visits from their four adult children. One of his goals is to attend Crossroads events like the Alley Party as a guest and not a worker. We can’t wait to welcome you back to Crossroads, Angel. Thank you for your years of service and your dedication to the safety and well-being of our School community.





Lilian Mejia

Known for her sweet demeanor and earnest work ethic, Lilian Mejia has been a custodian at the Elementary School for 35 years. Her responsibilities have grown enormously since that division moved from the tiny campus on the grounds of Saint Augustine-by-theSea Episcopal Church to the current campus on Olympic Boulevard. But Lilian’s energy and enthusiasm for her job never wavered. Quiet and efficient, Lilian arrives at the School just as the children are getting ready to depart for the day. She takes special care to water the plants, feed the class pets and leave the classroom spaces sparkling. Lilian goes the extra mile for her colleagues. Assistant Head of Elementary School Cat Ramos laughs when she recalls Lilian’s insistence on thoroughly washing Cat’s tea mug, because she didn’t think that Cat’s “swish” of hot water was sufficient. She also marvels at Lilian’s ability to bring life back to even the most neglected or over-watered plant.

What has kept Lilian at Crossroads for all these years is being treated like family by everyone she encounters. She says she will miss the daily hugs, laughter and love that were the staples of her workdays at Crossroads, but we’ve promised her that these will always be in ample supply whenever she chooses to stop by. In retirement, Lilian is looking forward to visiting family in El Salvador and spending time with her adult children and three grandchildren. “Lily, you are one of a kind and we’re going to have a difficult time replacing you,” says Paul Larson, Swing Shift Custodial/Facilities Manager. “Your dedication to Crossroads and hard work played an important role in the overall success of our department. Thank you for your support and advice over the years and for your contribution to the team. We wish you a wonderful and welldeserved retirement!”

Conocida por su comportamiento dulce y ética seria en el trabajo, Lilian Mejía ha sido conserje en la Escuela Primaria durante 35 años. Sus responsabilidades han crecido enormemente desde que esa división se mudó de los terrenos de la Iglesia Episcopal de Saint Augustineby-the-Sea al campus actual en el Olympic Boulevard. Pero la energía y el entusiasmo de Lilian por su trabajo nunca falto. Tranquila y eficiente, Lilian llega a la Escuela justo cuando los niños se preparan para salir al fin del día. Ella tiene especial cuidado en regar las plantas, alimentar a las mascotas de la clase y dejar los espacios del salón brillantes. Lilian siempre hizo más de lo debido por sus colegas. Cat Ramos, la subdirectora de la Escuela Primaria, se ríe cuando recuerda la insistencia de Lilian en lavar bien la taza de té de Cat. No creía que el enjuagado de agua caliente de Cat fuera suficiente. También se maravilla de la capacidad de Lilian de resucitar hasta a la planta más ahogada o descuidada.

Lo que ha mantenido a Lilian en Crossroads durante todos estos años es como ha sido tratada como familia por todos los que encuentra. Ella dice que extrañará los abrazos, las risas y el amor diario que fueron elementos básicos de sus días de trabajo en Crossroads. Le hemos prometido que esos siempre estarán en abundancia cuando elija pasar por aquí. En su jubilación, Lilian espera visitar a su familia en El Salvador y pasar tiempo con sus hijos adultos y sus tres nietos. “Lily, eres única y vamos a tener dificultades para reemplazarte”, dice Paul Larson, gerente del cambio de turno de servicios y mantenimiento. “Tu dedicación a Crossroads y tu arduo trabajo desempeñaron un papel importante en el éxito general de nuestro departamento. Gracias por tu apoyo y asesoramiento a lo largo de los años y por tu contribución al equipo. ¡Le deseamos una jubilación maravillosa y bien merecida!”


Doug Thompson

This marks Doug Thompson’s second retirement from Crossroads! After a varied and colorful 19-year career as a Spanish teacher, soccer coach, dean of students and assistant head of school, Doug left Crossroads in 2002 to become the head of school at Mid-Peninsula High School. He retired in June 2017—and then returned to Crossroads in 2018 to step in as interim assistant head of school and dean of faculty. After 21 combined years at Crossroads and 37 total years in education, Doug retired again in July. He thinks it’s for “real” this time. When Doug returned to Crossroads, he was impressed with how the School had grown in scale, from new facilities (such as the Science Education & Research Center) to the size of the student body. But he was relieved to find the School’s mission remained strongly intact, including the amplification of student voices. Doug’s primary responsibilities in his role—later renamed associate head of school—were to support Head

Jim Untrauer

of School Bob Riddle and to serve as dean of faculty. Familiar with both roles, Doug approached all issues with a simple question: “How can I help?” All who worked with Doug admired his keen ability to listen and his willingness to do whatever it took to come to an effective resolution. Doug returned to Crossroads with both fresh eyes and a strong grasp of the unique culture of the School. During his two-year tenure, Doug has helped to create accommodation plans at all three divisions for students with specific learning needs. He also worked with a Board committee to revamp the head of school evaluation process. In retirement, Doug is looking forward to spending longer periods of time in countries that he and his wife, Barbara, have enjoyed, most notably France, Italy and Spain. Thank you, Doug, for 21 extraordinary years.

A Santa Monica native, Jim Untrauer came to Crossroads through his partner, Cheryl Junod; they’d met as students at St. Monica Catholic High School. Cheryl began working in the Upper School in 1987, and Jim—a nature lover—joined on some Environmental and Outdoor Education (EOE) trips. When the Facilities Department needed help during the summer of 1990, they brought Jim on. Less than a year later, Jim was hired as a full-time maintenance engineer. At the time, there were only three people doing maintenance—Silvino Avila, Rafael Caceres and Jim—and they did it all: assembling furniture, building new rooms, remodeling, painting, replacing plumbing and installing windows. Jim also mastered operating a forklift and honed his welding skills. Jim loves working alongside colleagues. He also excels at completing projects independently and problem-solving challenging tasks. You can often find him on the roof of the Science

Education & Research Facility, checking on plants or photographing the monarch butterflies as they make their annual visit. Jim, who will retire in September, remained at Crossroads for 30 years because of the deep bonds he developed with co-workers, many of whom have become lifelong friends. Crossroads became a second family to Jim and Cheryl, and they participated fully in School life: attending EOE trips and supporting all Crossroads events, from jazz concerts to athletics. (Jim even designed the original Roadrunner!) Jim and Cheryl traveled all the way to Sacramento for a state championship boys basketball game. Jim will now get to spend more time with his beloved Cheryl, who retired in 2017 after 30 years at Crossroads. He will be greatly missed.



A Time to Listen, Learn and Grow By Mir Harris ’02 and Lani Renaldo ’14

In the almost 50 years that Crossroads has been in existence, both the campuses and world have changed so much. On the Crossroads website, you’ll see the definition of a typical student: one who thinks critically, expresses themselves openly and commits themselves to a life that values community, justice and activism. It’s no surprise that at such a radical point in our history, students, alumni and parents are encouraging discussion on the work Crossroads has yet to do. As an institution, it falls on Crossroads to actively listen to its community and change practices that no longer serve the evolving student body. We consistently have to ask ourselves, “Have we done enough? Have we done all that we could?” The answer is that there is so much more to be done to truly reach equitable and safe spaces for all.

Mir Harris ’02

Lani Renaldo ’14

change. The Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) community is ready, willing and open to change. We hope Crossroads is, too.

Crossroads, in its ethos, has already prepared us for having these conversations. The School has always encouraged us to question our surroundings and behaviors, and when appropriate, to speak up. This conversation has been brewing, often avoided by guilt and fragility. However, time is up. We no longer live in a world where we can expect people, places, institutions, etc., to change. We demand

For the past three years, Crossroads has held annual Alumni of Color gatherings. This year, we will be opening the dialogue to alumni in the form of a Town Hall, currently scheduled for Sept. 20. (All alumni will receive an email with more details about this event.) The purpose of this Town Hall is to reflect on the valid experiences our community has faced and to provide

resources and tools for Crossroads to truly commit to the lifelong task of effectively, fully supporting its diverse student body. It is a way that students of color—past and present—will have a reconciliation within unpacking the trauma they have faced. It may be uncomfortable, but the discomfort can only lead us in having impactful and meaningful conversations. We hope to see the administration and faculty present, ready to listen, learn and grow as leaders. Together, we can continue to solidify the community we truly want to represent.

Alumnae Create Anti-Racism Resource for Mind and Spirit

Iman (formerly Njambi) Gibson ’04 and Tori Lund ’04 have applied the mindfulness and yoga skills they learned at Crossroads to a new joint venture—an anti-racism meditation album and journal. “Antiracism Meditation,” available on Spotify, Apple Music and Insight Timer, includes three 10-minute tracks to guide listeners through reflections on racism and privilege, allyship and Album artwork by Iman Gibson ’04.

loving-kindness. Accompanying journal questions (at invite listeners to consider these issues more deeply. As Iman and Tori explain, “Realizing our own biases is the first step. Eventually, it will become as innate as the breath: When one sees injustice, one will respond with action.”


Tom Nolan Moves On (But Not Too Far)

After four years, Tom Nolan is stepping down as dean of alumni relations. Fortunately for the School, he will continue to teach two Upper School Life Skills classes and lead two senior “rites of passage” trips. Tom has been a fixture at Crossroads for more than three decades, serving at different times as assistant admission director, admission director and dean of students, as well as a Life Skills instructor. When he joined the Advancement Office as dean of alumni relations, he brought with him a wealth of knowledge, his

tremendous heart, creativity and, of course, his guitar. “I have known Tom since 1993, when he was my dean,” said Alumni Relations Director Jenn Gerber ’97. “Tom knows everyone at this School and, not surprisingly, he is loved by everyone. He opens his arms and heart to all who know him, and he is fiercely committed to helping students find their path and voice in life.” Tom’s wife, Peggy O’Brien—a longtime Life Skills and theater teacher—

retired last year. With more free time, Tom looks forward to traveling with Peggy; writing and performing with The Tom Nolan Band; and spending time with daughter Liz ’03, son Jesse ’01 and his grandchild. Tom shared, “Working with Jenn and Alumni Relations Associate Carlos Ortiz this past year has been great, and we feel the alumni program is now on great footing. We hope alumni can feel our interest in being of service to them, and our desire to encourage them to be of service to this great school.”

Thank you, Tom, for all that you have done—and will continue to do—for the Crossroads community!

Alumni on the Pandemic’s Front Lines

Crossroads is proud of its alumni working on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic. We celebrate our graduates who are now doctors, nurses and medical technicians for their dedication, selflessness and commitment.

cases since the beginning of the pandemic.

Chris Evans ’05 is just one example. Chris is an emergency room doctor at two hospitals in Columbus, Ohio, where he’s completing his residency. He has been handling COVID-19

Chris has long been dedicated to the profession. “I’ve wanted to be a doctor since Middle School,” he recalled.

When praised for his heroism, Chris said, “I signed up for the job, and I’m doing the job I signed up for. This isn’t about heroism.”

After he completes his residency, Chris plans to take a break before beginning a job in Tucson, Arizona. Chris’ sister, Erin Evans ’03, is a veterinarian in Los Angeles and his mother, Lorraine Christensen, is an emeritus Crossroads teacher, formerly the chair of the Classics Department. Commitment runs in the family. To all of our alumni who are helping our country through this pandemic, we express our heartfelt gratitude!



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Day-Before-Thanksgiving Mixer

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The first-ever day-before-Thanksgiving 21+ Alumni Mixer took place at the Formosa Café in Hollywood on Nov. 27, 2019, and it was a blast! Trevor Bezdek ’95, thank you for providing the space, food and drinks and for making this fantastic night possible! It was so great having alumni from many different years stop by to see old friends and make new ones.

Above left: Nick Cloke ’95, Jesse Nolan ’01, Marisol León ’03, Trevor Bezdek ’95 and Nick LoCasale ’97.

Click on Login, then enter your user ID and password.

Above right: Dean of Alumni Relations Tom Nolan, Nick LoCasale ’97 and Naomi Yanagawa ’99.

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A Message to our Alumni Community Needless to say, 2019-20 was a tough school year. The Alumni Association wants to recognize our incredible alumni and parents of alumni for all the ways that you came together to support one another, the community, the School and the world. Whether you supported the School’s Financial Aid Fund or the Community Emergency Fund, provided vital resources to fight COVID-19, or protested against systemic racism, we thank you for stepping up and speaking out.

Our alumni have offered counseling, words of hope and encouragement, and opportunities for breath, reflection and self-care to the Crossroads community and beyond. Your ability to stand up in the face of tragedy is not surprising. Your generosity, wisdom and compassion truly exemplify what a Crossroads education is all about and how it helps to mold extraordinary people. Bravo and thank you for being you!

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Opera Star Danielle de Niese ’97 Visits Crossroads

Danielle de Niese ’97 recently starred in the world premiere of the modern opera “Eurydice” at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. “The music is hard,” she acknowledged to Middle and Upper School music students on Feb. 10. “It changes meters maybe eight or nine times a page.” But Danielle didn’t need the opera’s music director to teach her how to sing the challenging score. She said her music education at Crossroads— where she studied music theory with Mary Ann Cummins and Warren Spaeth, both in attendance at the talk—gave her the tools to work through it herself.

CALIN QUOC, kindergarten

In conversation with Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute Director Emily Stewart, Danielle discussed her experience as a professional artist, debuting at the LA Opera at at 15 years old and the Metropolitan Opera four years later. Since then, she has performed on the world’s most famous opera stages.

She also answered questions from students on issues ranging from increasing gender and racial diversity in the opera world to what she hopes audiences take away from her performances. “To be moved is everything to me,” she said. “I want them to go on a journey with me and be moved. That’s more important than how beautiful my voice is.”

From left: Warren Spaeth, Bob Riddle, Danielle de Niese ’97 and Mary Ann Cummins posed beneath a poster promoting Danielle’s Metropolitan Opera debut.



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. Harry Wilson ’12 visits with Head of Middle School Michelle Merson, his former Core teacher!



2. Alex King ’04 brings baby Hudson to campus for a visit! 3. Kennedy Martin ’19 stops by the Alumni Office to say hi! 4. Keith Closs ’18 drops by to say hello. 5. Shannon Gibbs ’14 subs in the theater department.


6. Melanie Gerren ’83, who’s been living in Rome since she graduated college, visits campus with her mother, Billie.



7. Becky Belinsky ’11 visits to speak to the Life Skills faculty. 8. Bryan Vogt-Nilsen ’15 attends antiracist leader Ibram X. Kendi’s talk in the Grisanti Gym. 9. Sam Cooper ’19 visits during his gap year. 10. Carolina Bonini ’19 stops by for a quick hello.





11. Tom Nolan catches up with Dani Bahrynian ’09 on the second day of school. 12. Jack Schoenfeld ’16, on a break from Stanford, visits Associate Dean of College Counseling Rosanna Llorens. 13. Jack Vorse ’19 swings by on a break from Pepperdine to say hi!





Parents of Alumni Mixer 1. Heather Bennett, Megan Weinsten and Michael Weinsten

The annual Parents of Alumni Mixer took place Nov. 17, 2019, in the Alley, where parents from many generations came out to eat, mingle and listen to the great tunes of The Tom Nolan Band! It was quite a night of dancing, enjoying each other’s company and sharing stories from the past.

2. Henry Brandon, Wes Terry and Isabell Terry 3. Kim Finkel and Tara Shima 4. Monique Brandon, Wendy Snyder and Toshihiro Nakajima 5. Russ Belinsky, Nancy Belinsky, Fred Goldring and Gale Goldring 6. Amy Roland, Gale Goldring, Pam Hausman, Gemma Corfield, Jenifer Bachner Porter, Damon Porter ’85 and Fred Goldring 7. James Kern ’90, Stephanie Covington Armstrong and Itzel Molina 8. Adrienne Breslow, Harold Breslow and Amy Roland 9. Alan Finkel ’83, Kim Finkel and Marisa Davis 10. The Tom Nolan Band performs!











SEBASTIEN YUNG, sixth grade



Classes of 1989, 1999 and 2009 Reunion Night The Crossroads Alumni Associated hosted another fun Reunion! On October 19, 2019, the classes of 1989, 1999 and 2019 came back to the Alley, to eat, drink, dance and catch up with old friends, former teachers and administrators. It was a blast, and we can’t wait for the next one!





>>> 1. Loren Kaplan, Yfat Gendell and Bob Riddle 2. Josh Baerwald and Michael Golde 3. David Tannenbaum and Michael Reinis 4. The Class of 1989 with Bob Riddle and Paul Cummins (from row, far left) and Tom Nolan (second row, far left)


5. Ann Colburn, Paul Cummins and Tracy Robinson 6. Jesse McBride and Monica Morant 7. Anthony Yannatta, Yfat Gendell and Roy Orbison Jr. 8. Asa Orbison, Roy Orbison Jr., Sarai Grenell and John Rosenfeld 9. Michael Golde, Jesse McBride and Andrew Orci
























1. M.K. Kellard, Sarah Bauer, Josh Bauer and Jenny Kellard 2. Kevin Kay, Maria De Vaney, Chris Ovitz, Matt Rodman and Brandon Gross 3. Laura Pozarny and Evan Pozarny 4. Cristina Bloom, Remy Pearce and Jamie Meyer


5. Class of 1999 6. Oliver Furth, Paul Cummins and Scott Weintraub 7. Josh Podell and Marz Jaffe

9. Josh Bauer, Yohance Serrant and Jordan Barbakow 10. Tasha McCauley, Amanda Cohen Tish and David Tish 11. Andy Brisbois, Stacey Brisbois, Michael Tomlinson, Anisha Tomlinson and Billy Robertson


12. Chris Ovitz, Kevin Kay, Remy Pearce and Daniel Utsinger 13. David Olds and Peter Fisher 14. James Atkinson, Jane Becker and Whitney Hills 15. Chris Ovitz, Ilya Erenberg ’97 and Jessica Rastegar 16. Whitney Hills and Lowell Shapiro




17. Jenny Kellard, M.K. Kellard, Susanne Nagata, Ryan Nagata, James Atkinson and Jane Becker 18. Arielle Jackson, Jamie Tamkin and Jimmy Kander

SKYE RAWLES, ninth grade

8. Morgan and Kris Schwartz, Courtney and Kimberly Morgan-Greene



ELENA FIS, 11th grade / Gold Key winner in the 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, West Art Region-at-Large program


’09 1







1. Leo Rofé, Josh Stone, Scott Weintraub, Kyle Klein, Natalie Berkus, Hannah Reisman and Jenna Goldring 2. Kyle Klein and Oliver Deutschman 3. Michelle Cortrite, Jason Schneider and Jamie Meyer 4. Robert Park and Elaine Park 5. Class of 2009 6. Rylee Ebsen, Michael Sommers and Sam Krusi 7. Jenna Goldring, Allegra Greenland and Dani Bahrynian 8. Jason Schneider and Matt Gibson 9. Joseph Dooley, Natasha Rolan, Jessie Ennis and Jon Goldstein 10. Caleb Hodge and Babs Akin-Olugbade








Seth Avergon runs the business



and marketing “The vast variety of subject matters taught and the freedom to try new things created a curiosity in me that continued in college, until one day,

consulting firm Avergon Marketing Group out of Long Beach, CA. When he is not working with companies in Orange and LA county, he is actively involved in animal rescue, helping to find homes for shelter pets. Seth is especially passionate about the bully breeds and fighting against breed-specific legislation (BSL). CLASS OF 1986

Jen Fruehling Davis writes, “Hello to my fellow Roadrunners! We moved our family to Boise, Idaho, in 2017 after living in Seattle for the past 30 years. We are enjoying the quieter, small-town mountain lifestyle of Boise and make frequent trips to Sun Valley to hike and ski. Launched our son Henry to the University of Denver in 2019 and working on launching our daughter, May, in the fall of 2020. I work for a real estate company and my husband, Pete, started his own tree-care service in Boise last fall. Hope all are well!” Joan Kwuon recently joined the violin faculty at the Colburn School Music Academy and Community School of Performing Arts. She is delighted to divide her time between Cleveland (Cleveland Institute of Music, violin faculty)

Pablo Pereira ’76 is an Emmy Awardwinning member of the American Meteorologist Society and has been forecasting weather for more than three decades. He started at Crossroads in 1972—its second year— as an eighth grader. Pablo describes his experience at Crossroads as very intimate; the classes were small then, only about 20 or so students in a grade. He credits the small class sizes for teaching him accountability— he couldn’t hide—and for helping him develop tight bonds with his classmates. “The closeness of the small classes created everlasting friendships,” he says. “It’s hard to believe that the best friends I made then, more than 40 years ago, remain my best friends today.” Pablo appreciates the space and opportunities for exploration that Crossroads provided students.

journalism just clicked.” He also credits his drama class with helping him overcome stage fright, which he says is essential in live television news. He puts his performance background to use regularly as a meteorologist on KTTV FOX 11, providing the weather forecast at 5 and 10 p.m. Pablo has been named Best Weathercaster by the Associated Press and the Radio & Television News Association of Southern California. Most recently, Pablo won a Television Emmy for his live coverage of the Space Shuttle Endeavour’s return to Los Angeles. Pablo passes by the 21st Street Campus almost daily on his way to work, which he describes as “a nice reminder of where I came from, and where I ended up.” Pablo’s memories of Crossroads include trips to the Kern River and the little burrito place that used to be across from the 21st Street Campus. He also fondly remembers the teachers and courses he loved, including Art Tuller for math, Steven Morgan for English and Terri Redman for biology. Like so many Crossroads alumni, the outstanding faculty left a lasting impression on him. He says, “The dedicated teachers and personal attention I was given during my time there made me who I am today.”


and Los Angeles. This summer, she performed the Beethoven Triple Concerto at the Round Top Festival and was artist faculty at the Interlochen Violin Institute and



the Montecito Music Festival. CLASS OF 1987

Nicky Kram Rosen writes, “Still basking in fond memories of the fun and fabulous all-’80s Crossroads reunion, which I was able to attend (in June 2019). It was great to catch up with old classmates and meet some new folks, too. Looking forward to more to come! CLASS OF 1988

Stuart Townsley writes, “Living in Las Vegas. I still have the portrait studio and am doing the same thing, so that is a blessing. Kids are both at college! Beautiful fiancee keeps me in line!” CLASS OF 1989

Jennifer Cohen writes, “I’m currently working in palliative care at Kaiser San Jose. As a former pediatrician, I never thought I’d be interested in the geriatric population but have found myself passionate about advocating for the needs of our underserved aging (Continued on page 54)

Since graduating from Crossroads, Anthony Chun ’89 has taken on many roles: Emmy and Annie award-winning animation director, cartoonist, children’s book author, dedicated husband and father of two. Anthony lives in Los Angeles with his wife, two daughters and a pug named Boba. He’s directing for “Rick and Morty,” supervising a new show for Hulu called “Solar Opposites” and developing his own ideas for shows. Anthony also sculpts giant papermache dragon-head trophies, which he hangs in his house and office. He wholeheartedly believes that his Crossroads experience influenced his career path and how he approaches his work. “Crossroads was a perfect school for me!” he says. Entering Crossroads in seventh grade, Anthony focused on music and art. He played the violin and fondly remembers his “goofy” classmates, “who turned out to be the some of the best musicians in the world.” He recalls performing alongside Yo-Yo Ma, Emanuel Ax, André Previn and the LA Phil and getting to meet acclaimed British conductor Simon Rattle. “It was great to be a part of this group of incredible young musicians during my years at school,” he says. It was a really bright, loving community.” These days, he practices music by playing solo Bach on the streets and subway stations of Los Angeles a couple times a week.

Anthony credits his amazing teachers for promoting creative thinking and for nurturing his artistic gifts. He is particularly grateful to Mary Ann Cummins—“a true force of nature,” he says—for encouraging him to become an artist. “I always looked forward to studio art,” he shares, “because it was a space of freedom and a time for me to exercise what was to become my vocation.” After Crossroads, Anthony studied literature at Yale, then drew superhero comics for DC and Image before transitioning to animation. “It makes complete sense because I’ve been doing everything I was doing since I was a kid at Crossroads, pursuing what makes me happy with enthusiasm and discipline,” he shares. “Crossroads allowed me to make these unusual choices, take chances and be surprising! That’s a huge gift.”




LESHAR MCGHEE ’94 Leshar McGhee ’94 began her Crossroads career in the ninth grade. She had attended public school up until that time; when she was accepted to Crossroads, she felt like she had won the lottery. Leshar took dance classes at Crossroads throughout high school and joined the African American Parent/Student Network at a time when “students and parents were passionately seeking to diversify the student body and the curriculum.” “I really did walk around Crossroads for those four years feeling like I’d been handed a gift and should take advantage of it all before it disappeared,” she says. “While waiting for carpool, I would sneak into orchestra practice so I could get a glimpse of students I knew would go on to be professional musicians. I joined plays as a dancer just to be a tiny part of the chaos and brilliant

talent of the drama productions. I even spent many nights on campus in special class tutorials led by Mark Govatos for the AP calculus exams.” Leshar received her bachelor’s from the University of Arizona, a master’s in public health from Harvard University and her medical degree from UCLA/Charles R. Drew University. Still, she says, “I don’t think there was ever a time in my life when I was more inspired to participate in my education than when I was at Crossroads.” Leshar currently sees patients in the Olive View-UCLA Psychiatric Emergency Room. As a consultant with the UCLA Public Mental Health Partnership, she teaches county mental health workers how to more effectively treat people experiencing homelessness and mental health issues. Leshar credits Crossroads for influencing her career path and her approaches to teaching and patient care. “Crossroads nurtured my passion for social justice,” she explained. “Every day in the county psychiatric emergency rooms of Los Angeles, I’ve advocated for the most vulnerable populations. I’ve always been proud to reject the formal hierarchy of medicine and to adopt Crossroads’ progressive model of education as I teach my medical students and residents.”


LUCIEN FRANK, 12th grade / Gold Key winner in the 2020 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, West Art Region-at-Large program



population. I think that after climate change, the complex challenges of addressing the health and daily care of aging boomers will be the biggest moral



and economic challenge of our time. Still juggling work with single-parenting my middle schooler! I wish I had Crossroads up here in the Bay to help me!” Alicia Kalvin writes, “I am a studio teacher with over 20 years working in the entertainment industry. I am responsible for the education and welfare of minors working on films, television shows, commercials, music videos and photo shoots. Learn more about me at I’d love to work with other Crossroads community members in film/television. Please call me for your next project with kids. I can be reached at abkalvin@ I look forward to hearing from you!” Adjoa Middleton writes, “This is my first year as an administrator for the public charter COVAH College-High School on the campus of Merritt College in Oakland. Students can finish high school early and take college courses concurrently. This year’s SBAC scores are a testament to our amazing team and superintendent. SBAC scores show 85.7% of our student body is proficient or advanced in English/Language Arts. Math SBAC scores increased by 120% at 50% proficient and advanced. This growth and

As an award-winning film editor, Cami Starkman ’05 has a unique ability to tell stories. Her own tale started at Crossroads, which she entered in kindergarten. Cami shares, “Crossroads was fun, nurturing and challenging. It shaped who I am as a human being. There’s probably not a day that goes by that I don’t think back to some sort of Crossroads memory!” Cami’s arts training began at Crossroads. As a Middle School student, she enjoyed the arts rotation, participated in technical theater and took a film production class. In the Upper School, she took studio art for four years, wrote film and theater reviews for the newspaper and always contributed to Cabaret. Numerous classes at Crossroads fostered Cami’s sense of creativity; it’s difficult for her to pick a favorite course or teacher. She has fond

memories of her time in Jim Hosney’s Great Books class, where she made video book reports with Alanna Glassman ’05. “We would combine classic books with current shows or music videos to make spoofs,” she says. “For example, we made ‘The Real World: Pequod’ based on ‘Moby Dick’ and a music video to Madonna and Britney Spears’ ‘Me Against the Music’ in which we replaced all the lyrics with lines from ‘Paradise Lost.’ Jim absolutely loved the combination of high brow and low brow, and it was so fun to hear his reviews.” When asked about the influence of Crossroads on her career path, Cami says, “Crossroads always encouraged me to be as creative as I could possibly be, which prepared me for my career as a film editor, where I create every day. The curriculum also taught me the art of collaboration, a skill which helps me constantly as I work with directors, producers and other creatives.” Cami earned an MFA in film editing from the American Film Institute in 2012. She has edited three feature films; commercials; branded content; and music videos for major acts including Carrie Underwood, Katy Perry and Nick Jonas. In March, Cami and her husband, Moshe, welcomed their first baby, Lennon Laurence Sayada.


achievement has earned COVAH

an organization that believes in


In October 2019, CAA hosted

national attention.”

empowering lives through sports.


an advanced screening of a PBS


documentary about the program

“With our

called “College Behind Bars,” which

son, Dylan,

was attended by Jesse Zwick ’04,


Michael Weintraub ’04, Annie


Guild Copeland writes, “Living in


Venice, love seeing alums around


town all the time. My digital design


kindergarten in 2019, I’m back at

Monroe ’04, Jeremy Powell ’04

company, Sisu, just turned 17. It’s

writes, “I

Crossroads as a parent, which is

and my sister Natasha Roland ’09.

debating whether to take AP U.S.


crazy and awesome and really goes”

History, but in the meantime, we


to show how time flies. We’re so


happy to be part of the community

won a Webby (our fourth!) this


year for our work with ‘Forks

Speaking: How the Way We

in this new way—exactly 20 years


Over Knives.’”

Communicate Transforms

since I graduated!”


Leadership, Love, and Life.’ In a

writes, “I


world with more tools and more



Aram Goldberg was just named

voice than ever before, we often find


became a

vice president of media strategy

it harder than ever to communicate

writes, “I’m

& public relations at the Jewish

with clarity and to connect in a

proud to

psychotherapist and just opened

Federation of Greater Los Angeles.

polarized world. ’Honestly Speaking’

work in the

my practice in Santa Monica! I

He will be working on a variety of

is meant to empower readers to see

field of

received my master’s degree in

tech-focused and philanthropic

that we can all get better at

suicide awareness, prevention and

couple and family therapy from

ventures aimed at helping those in

communicating in our work lives,

postvention (bereavement). If

Adler University in Chicago and did

need and combating the spread of

personal lives and online. The book

anyone in the Crossroads family

my post-graduate training in San

hate and anti-Semitism.

is available on Amazon and some

needs any support/guidance for

Francisco. In my private practice,

local bookstores.”

yourself or a loved one, please feel

I see adolescents, adults, couples

free to reach out to me anytime at

and families with a range of issues,

Erika Chau



CLASS OF 1999 ‘Hope has

such as anxiety, depression and

the assis-

Brandon Gross and his brother

two beautiful daughters; their names

relationship issues. I also have a

tant vice

Skyler Gross ’05 co-directed the

are Anger and Courage. Anger at the

particular focus in disordered


award-winning documentary “On

way things are, and Courage to see

eating, eating disorders and


My Way Out: The Secret Life of

that they do not remain as they are.’

body-image concerns.”

personnel at UCLA this past year,

Nani and Popi,” available through

– St. Augustine”

and also made her return to the

Sundance Now. Their partnership

age-group triathlon circuit. In

goes beyond film: Their latest



addition, she raced as part of Team

endeavor, GG Coastal Living, is a

Zelda Roland writes, “I founded and


CAF at Ironman 70.3 Oceanside,

real estate firm that helps clients

direct the Yale Prison Education


and #teambalucas at Nautica

buy, sell, renovate and design.

Initiative, which brings rigorous,


Malibu Tri, where they took first

Brandon and Skyler would love

high-quality, credit-bearing Yale


place in the paratriathlon relay.

to hear from fellow Crossroads

classes to incarcerated students in

Along with her partner, Rob, Erika

alumni (and are happy to share a

a high/maximum security prison in

wrote a short novel. It is titled

is an active supporter of the

link to watch their film!)

Connecticut. 600 people applied

‘Ashta,’ available now on Amazon

for our first 12-person seminar.

and Kindle. It is a coming-of-age

Challenged Athletes Foundation,


friends! I



story that deals with food, indulgence, eating disorders and early Ottoman food criticism. Enjoy, and let’s talk about it!”



Cherokee Washington is leaving Crossroads after two wonderful years serving as the administrative assistant of diversity initiatives and varsity volleyball assistant coach. She is also the assistant coach for Marymount California University’s indoor and beach women’s volleyball programs. In the fall, Cherokee will attend McGill University to complete her master’s degree. She will pursue research in cultural sport psychology, focusing on “cultural competency” and “cultural humility” within the field and the psychological effects on athletes who participate in various forms of protest. CLASS OF 2019

Carolina Bonini writes, “I recently graduated Crossroads after being a lifer and am studying at the University of California, Santa Cruz. After being in school for over a month, I decided to make a big move. I have joined the United States Army through my school’s Army ROTC program. I believe Crossroads has taught me the leadership roles to tackle this new expedition in my life. I’d like to thank Crossroads for being such an influence on my future endeavors through the military.”

To submit a class note and/or update your contact information, please visit

True to her alma mater’s name, Natalie Arnoldi ’08 has demonstrated a remarkable commitment to arts and sciences. She is currently a Ph.D. student in marine biology at Stanford University—where she also received her bachelor’s and master’s degrees— studying the role of mobile marine predators in fostering ecosystem connectivity. She is also an accomplished visual artist known for her large-scale oil paintings, which often feature an environmental narrative. Her work has shown at galleries throughout the country, including numerous exhibitions with her father, the artist Charles Arnoldi, and an exhibition at the Bakersfield Museum of Art that ran September 2019 to January 2020. “Crossroads’ equal emphasis on the arts and sciences in part enabled me to pursue simultaneous careers as a biologist and artist,” she shares. Natalie’s passion for both disciplines was nurtured at Crossroads, which she entered as a kindergartner. “I particularly remember loving art and music classes in Elementary School,” she notes. In Upper School, she gravitated to the ceramics class taught by Leslie Rosdol. Another one of her favorite courses was marine biology, taught by Frank Baele. She pursued her passion for the ocean outside of School, as well, volunteering weekly at Heal the Bay Aquarium in

Santa Monica as an aquarist intern and competing in surf contests. While a dual focus in marine biology and visual arts kept her plenty busy, Natalie made time to explore other interests as well. An avid swimmer, she was a member of the swim team throughout Middle and Upper School. She studied Spanish with Ana Maria Floyd (“One of the best teachers I’ve ever had”) and enjoyed the legendary course Great Books with Jim Hosney. Natalie describes her time at Crossroads as formative and enriching. “The older I get, the more I particularly appreciate how unique and holistic the Elementary School curriculum was,” she says. “From kindergarten, we were immersed in a hugely interdisciplinary style of teaching and taught from the outset how to communicate our feelings. I definitely think that Crossroads students graduate with a level of emotional intelligence that many people never achieve.”


Summer Medford (July 5, 2005-June 17, 2020)

Summer as Hamlet, with Ethan Valner

From left, Valentina De Greiff, Ava McGrail, Meazi Light-Orr, Summer and NAALA Ephriam

By Joanie Martin Special Projects, Former Elementary School Director

In June, we lost one of our brightest lights, Summer Medford, after her long and very brave battle with Systemic Juvenile Idiopathic Arthritis. A rising 10th grader, Crossroads lifer and devoted big sister to rising fifth grader Wynter, Summer was strong, determined, optimistic and ambitious. She adored school, especially art and English classes, and was a straight-A student. Summer had no desire for pity, nor did she ever let her illness—or anything else—stop her once she set her mind to something. Just days before her passing, she made a video proclaiming that she was working out in order to strengthen her lungs and get off oxygen. Despite frequent hospitalizations and doctor’s appointments, Summer completed her schoolwork thoroughly and punctually, even if it meant staying up late at

night in a hospital room. When she was cast as Hamlet in fifth grade and had to miss many rehearsals, she still learned her lines (and those of most of her classmates) and knocked the performance out of the park. Summer’s approach to challenges? “I got this!” And she did. With a smile that would light up a room, Summer was extremely caring and selfless. To a person, her friends attest to her genuine care for each of them, always putting their needs ahead of her own and making them feel accepted, important and safe. Izzy Millman notes that Summer was “a confident goofball, unapologetically herself, no matter who she was with or where she was. She was always cracking jokes and making the best of every situation.” Arden Seretean says, “Summer made me laugh the hardest, cry the least and smile the most.”

Summer was passionate about life. When her health permitted, she invested herself fully in hobbies including dance, tennis, golf and swimming. She delighted and entertained her family and friends with endless TikTok videos. A talented writer, Summer penned a series of “Quarantine Letters” for her ninth grade English class, which reflected her keen wit and a capacity for deep reflection beyond her 14 years. Summer’s friends Sarah Connelly and Farol Seretean firmly believe that she was put on Earth for a purpose: to show us all true friendship, undaunted determination, unwavering positivity, profound thoughtfulness and deep caring. Summer has left a legacy of joy and love that will live on in everyone who was lucky enough to have known and loved her.

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