CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES MAGAZINE
“WE MADE IT.” It’s an aﬃrmation I found myself repeating frequently at the end of the 2020-21 school year. Sometimes I’d state it triumphantly to large crowds of students, families and employees— sitting safely distanced—at culminating events. And sometimes I’d simply think it to myself, in wonder: “We made it.” In a year of seemingly endless challenges caused by a devastatingly deadly pandemic, we are emerging on the other side, shaken but whole.
BY BOB RIDDLE HEAD OF SCHOOL
This issue of Cross Sections commemorates the School’s founding 50 years ago. And I can’t help but think that our ability to make it through this diﬃcult year was in no small part shaped by the vision of Crossroads laid out by our founders. While they could not have foreseen the terrible events that have transpired since March 2020, they built a school that fostered deep interpersonal connections, continual innovation and an unwavering commitment to the mental, emotional and physical well-being of every child. I believe that our adherence to these foundational principles—demonstrated daily by faculty and staﬀ, families, students and our extended Crossroads community—is what kept us strong and enabled us to continue providing an enriching, student-centered education. For in spite of all the hardships we faced, there is also much to celebrate about the last school
Upper Schoolers enjoy nature at the Wind Wolves Preserve.
year, which transpired remotely, in person and, at times, both. The Elementary School harnessed the natural curiosity and exuberance of our youngest learners through hands-on learning projects and lots of play time on our soccer ﬁeld. The Middle School prioritized social-emotional engagement, oﬀering a second period of Life Skills classes and piloting a new discussion-based course called Advisory. And the Upper School provided ample opportunities for asynchronous learning at home to combat Zoom fatigue as well as daily Environmental and Outdoor Education trips for students to study nature in small groups. I am thrilled that we were able to safely hold in-person graduation ceremonies for our ﬁfth, eighth and 12th graders, as well as a belated commencement and celebration for the Class of 2020, whose graduation was held virtually last June. While much of this year’s focus was on creating and implementing remote learning curricula and preparing our campuses for in-person activities, we continued to move forward on our strategic plan goals. Much of this work centered on the goal to “enhance a sense of belonging and inclusion,” such as expanding existing initiatives and developing new ones in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion. Our Equity & Justice Institute hosted a phenomenal roster of “women revolutionaries”— including labor rights activist Dolores Huerta, Women’s March Foundation president Emiliana Guereca and renowned poet Nikki Giovanni— through its Younes and Soraya Nazarian Equity & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series. I will be forever grateful for the countless ways that our parents, teachers and staﬀ supported our nearly 1,200 students throughout this often painful year. While Crossroads has undoubtedly changed signiﬁcantly since ﬁrst opening out of two rooms of a Baptist church 50 years ago, we continue to uphold the values of community and compassion that have characterized us from
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Inside This Issue 02
Around the School
Cover Story: 50 Years Forward
Feature Story: A Glimpse Into the Archives
Student Artist Honored
CROSS SECTIONS MAGAZINE
is published once a year by the Crossroads Advancement Office: Elena Bonomo Editor, Communications Manager
One of the ﬁrst faculty members, Art Tuller, embraced the new school’s child-centered philosophy.
the start. As you read about the history of the School in these pages, I hope you share my deep sense of pride in continuing the legacy left by co-founders Paul Cummins and Rhoda Makoﬀ, and the ﬁrst classes of “trailblazing” students and families who took a chance on a brand-new school with an unorthodox approach to education. The 2021-22 school year will be ﬁlled with opportunities to celebrate the remarkable history of our vibrant and groundbreaking school, kicking oﬀ with the annual welcome-back-to-school Alley Party in the fall and culminating with a not-to-bemissed “Cabaret” ﬁnancial aid fundraiser
Sara Ring Director of Communications
in the spring. After an extended period of isolation required by the pandemic, our hope is to be able to hold many events in person once again and enjoy one another’s company. As I announced in April, next year will also be my last at Crossroads; saying goodbye after 38 years will indeed be bittersweet. The Board of Trustees has partnered with an executive search ﬁrm to recruit and hire my successor. I have no doubt that the next head of Crossroads School will embody the values that all of us hold so dear and will be equipped and excited to continue moving us “50 years forward.”
Colleen Bartlett Director of Advancement Ginette Buffone Web Manager Mery Grace Castelo Director of Parent Relations and Special Events Jennifer Gerber ’97 Director of Alumni Relations Carly House (current) Patti Finkelstein (through June 30) Director of Major Giving Leslie MacDougall Major Gifts Associate Carlos Ortiz Advancement and Alumni Relations Associate Kristina Reyes Annual Giving Associate Sanam Khamneipur Smith Director of Annual Giving Veronica Ulloa Events Coordinator Sonoma Van Brunt 50th Anniversary Coordinator Emily Wolff Archivist
The Community Room was converted into a ﬁfth-grade classroom so that students could enjoy in-person instruction while following social distancing guidelines.
Paul Howiler, Sara Ojediran, Allison Schaub Advancement Services Contributing Writer Joanie Martin Designer Warren Group | Studio Deluxe Contributing Photographers Peter Bartlett, Cornerstone Photography, Chris Flynn, Colin Gruen, Tammy Moran, Anand Patel, Jason Raff, Jeff Ranes, Bob Riddle, Ira Smith, Tina Turbeville, Chippy Wassung ON THE COVER
50th anniversary logo designed by Alicia Patel Contact us at email@example.com.
MAYA BENARTZI, ﬁfth grade
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AROUND THE SCHOOL
Fostering the Joy of Elementary School at Home and on Campus The ﬁrst day of Elementary School last fall, like in years past, was ﬁlled with excitement. On Aug. 26, students in kindergarten through ﬁfth grade approached Norton Campus, where they were welcomed by the friendly waves of their new teachers and administrators. But, unlike in years past, the students didn’t bid farewell to their parents and rush through the Elementary School doors to check out their classrooms and see their friends. Instead, they picked up their school supplies and headed home, where they would learn for the next several months. This atypical ﬁrst day was then followed by an array of other ﬁrsts. Kindergartners and ﬁrst graders experienced their ﬁrst day of limited on-campus instruction in October, while second through ﬁfth graders enjoyed fall ﬁeld days to socialize on campus with their friends for the ﬁrst time that year. By early March, all Elementary Schoolers were learning on campus in the mornings, with third- through ﬁfth-grade homerooms alternating weeks. Finally, following spring break, the Elementary
School welcomed all classes, Monday through Friday, for full days of on-campus instruction. Navigating this ever-evolving schedule required faculty and parents to collaborate in unprecedented ways. During remote and hybrid instruction, in addition to attending regular educational meetings and Councils, parents had the opportunity to hear “ﬁreside chats” from their children’s teachers and virtually meet one-on-one with them every Friday. “I am deeply grateful for the strong and valuable home-school partnership that we have been able to create,” reﬂected Natalie Burton, who served as the head of Elementary School through June 30. Supported by their parents and teachers, the students continued to engage in the interdisciplinary, student-driven projects that characterize Crossroads’ Elementary School experience. In the fall, for example, ﬁrst graders participated in a mock election. After learning about the character traits of a good president,
they voted for ﬁctional characters from books they had read and used their math skills to tally the results. In social studies, they studied the electoral college and then created campaign statements and posters in support of their ideals. At home, teachers encouraged on- and oﬀ-screen learning. In kindergarten science, the students ventured outside to create sculptures with nature in the style of artist Andy Goldsworthy and then reﬂected on their work. “It’s amazing to me how nature can make such beautiful stuﬀ,” expressed kindergartner Calder Robinson, who created a sculpture made of chard, stones and ﬂowers. Monday Morning Meetings and Friday Gatherings, held in the “Community Room Zoom,” continued to be a space for students Below Left: In May, ﬁfth graders came together for their ﬁnal Elementary School Dance Options performance on the soccer ﬁeld. Below Right: First graders exuberantly danced with streamers during a music class.
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AROUND THE SCHOOL
I am deeply grateful for the strong and valuable homeschool partnership that we have been able to create. Former Head of Elementary School Natalie Burton to share their work with their Elementary School peers, faculty and families. At the ﬁrst virtual class gathering in January, second graders in the 2S homeroom presented on common idioms. It was, as teacher Peter Del Giudice slyly noted, “one for the books!” The following week, second graders in 2N shared what they’d learned from reading nonﬁction, from the length of the longest snake (about two cars long!) to the season when beards grow the fastest (summer!). In May, the students in K-5 Dance Options demonstrated all of their hard work since January in a video performance shared at
Monday Morning Meeting. While most of the performances were rehearsed and ﬁlmed individually at the dancers’ homes and edited together, the ﬁfth graders were able to gather in person on the soccer ﬁeld for a phenomenal dance to Surfaces’ “Sunday Best” and HRVY and Matoma’s “Good Vibes.” “I’m so proud of you, dancers,” teacher and choreographer Bryanna Brock added after the show. “You learned all of these dances on Zoom, and you constantly came to class with a positive attitude. You were ready to learn, ready to work. And I think you did amazing work even in these tough circumstances.”
Above: After presenting at Friday Gathering on the city seal of Los Angeles, third graders sang a song dedicated to their families.
While the 2020-21 academic year presented unprecedented challenges for the School’s youngest learners, the joy that typically ﬁlls the halls of Crossroads was still present. At the “Fabulous Fifth-Grade Variety Show,” students shared their amazing talents in skits, dances and songs. Hilarious Hair Day inspired an assortment of stylish and silly ’dos. And the all-out dance parties at weekly Friday Finales showed just how excited the community was to be together, whether online or in person.
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Centering Social-Emotional Learning in the Middle School On a sunny October afternoon, pop music played over the speakers in 21st Street Sports Court, and a sixth grader spontaneously burst into dance. It was her ﬁrst day on campus all year, and she and her eight-person cohort couldn’t have been happier. In addition to a campus tour, the day’s agenda also included paper-airplane competitions, art making, relay races and games. Assignments and assessments were not mentioned once as students and teachers basked in the (physically distanced) company of one another. Over the course of a year largely characterized by unpredictability, this emphasis on social-emotional engagement remained consistent at the Middle School.
LILAH ZWELLING, sixth grade
Anticipating moving between remote and on-campus learning throughout the year, Middle School administrators and faculty developed a schedule and established cohorts that could easily adapt to the diﬀerent scenarios. Among the changes to curriculum was the addition of a second period of virtual Life Skills classes, in which students express their feelings on a variety of subjects in a safe and nurturing space through a practice called Council.
“That is a huge shift in the program,” explained Head of Middle School Michelle Merson. “One of our foundational commitments is prioritizing social-emotional development for our Middle Schoolers and really giving them time to breathe and be with each other.” Eighth grader Nyla Washington appreciated the opportunity: “I ﬁnd it nice and stressrelieving to have a class where we can just talk about how we are feeling, whether good or bad, and get it oﬀ our shoulders.” When permitted by the county, the Environmental and Outdoor Education Department also brought cohorts of Middle School students on ﬁeld trips to the Wind Wolves Preserve and to the beach to explore nature and practice Council. Ahead of the Game (AOTG) likewise oﬀered students opportunities to develop tools to succeed. AOTG topics ranged from practicing mindfulness techniques to developing executive functioning skills. “We want students to evaluate the area they want to work on, the systems they are using
and set some small commitments to habits that will keep their stress level low,” explains Sixth-Grade Academic Dean Lexi Peterson. The Middle School Service Learning program further encouraged students to be active in the world around them, embracing what it calls the “privilege of service”—the idea that
On an Environmental and Outdoor Education trip to Wind Wolves Preserve in November, sixth graders enjoyed a day of art, hiking, games, Council and other fun activities.
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SOPHIE MA, eighth grade
AROUND THE SCHOOL
“it is an opportunity, a responsibility and a privilege to serve the greater community.” Service Learning Coordinator and eighthgrade Core teacher Josh Adler shared: “While the pandemic has certainly posed obstacles to site-speciﬁc volunteer work, this moment has also created tremendous opportunities to learn, grow, raise awareness and engage safely and conscientiously with the greater community.” Students baked cookies and created care packages for people without housing; interviewed ﬁrst responders; and participated in beach cleanups, among numerous other projects. “I know that it’s not easy to change your habits … which is why I think it’s best to take things step by step,” said seventh grader Nadia Hofer, who picked up debris from Will Rogers State Beach with her sister, third grader Alina. “Maybe ﬁrst do some research about what you can do to help, and then jump into it after a bit.” Meanwhile, arts programs ﬂourished in the past year. The Middle School Players presented three virtual productions, “Super Happy Awesome News,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” and “The Shakespeare Show!” Middle School musicians and dancers collaborated to
create unforgettable virtual holiday and spring performances. When they could ﬁnally perform together in the spring, they couldn’t contain their excitement. In May, seventh graders participated in mock trials based on the crime in S.E. Hinton’s novel “The Outsiders,” which they read earlier in the year. Considering the essential question of seventh-grade Core—“What is justice?”—the students delivered nuanced opening statements; questioned and cross-examined witnesses; and shared compelling closing arguments. Faculty, staﬀ, parents and friends acted as the judges and juries tasked with determining the verdicts. “I liked working together to prove a point,” said seventh grader and acting defense attorney Jacob Liszt after one of the trials. “I loved learning about the Constitution and law.” Whether at home or on campus, Middle Schoolers adapted to the unprecedented circumstances, harnessed their potential and demonstrated academic and artistic excellence in a variety of pursuits. Even with all of the challenges of the 2020-21 school year, the Middle School’s strong focus on social-emotional development led to some truly phenomenal student achievements.
For the ﬁrst time all year, the Middle School Jazz Collective had a chance to play together in person in the spring.
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Cultivating a Culture of Care and Collaboration Last summer, when the Upper School administrative team looked ahead to the 2020-21 school year, they were aware of the challenges that they, faculty, students and parents were about to face. Support, partnership and open dialogue would be crucial to counteract the isolation and anxiety that the COVID-19 pandemic would likely produce. As such, they articulated a community goal: to create a culture of care and collaboration. And over the course of the year, the entire community worked together to realize this goal both online and on campus. Adapted to meet student needs, the Upper School schedule oﬀered more double blocks this year, prioritizing expanded time for in-depth study, peer engagement and group reﬂection. During lunch and the morning break, dubbed “Digital Alley,” students had time to socialize, meet with one another in clubs and take part in the community. Student Council played an active role in bringing people together as well. Alleyween featured a virtual fashion show of creative costumes and spooky online games. In place of the annual Sports Extravaganza, Upper
Schoolers went head-to-head in a game of Crossroads sports trivia via the online platform Kahoot. Holiday-themed “Roths,” storytelling events in the style of “The Moth Radio Hour,” featured beloved faculty members sharing anecdotes of love, loss and luck.
Above Left: In the spring, seniors returned to The Ojai Foundation for a two-day trip. They had the opportunity to connect with nature and one another as they prepared for the future.
Care and collaboration abounded in remote and on-campus classrooms. Addressing widespread Zoom fatigue during remote learning, Upper School history teacher Casey Baird developed lessons that encouraged students to engage with their physical spaces even while at home. For a lesson on early human tools, Casey invited his students to gather items in their houses that could be used for a zombie apocalypse survival kit and then compare their tools with those of early humans.
not just feel like I’m surviving during remote learning, but to feel like the class is thriving.”
“To me, what’s exciting as a teacher is that you inspire really interesting projects that motivate students to interact with their surroundings simply by asking what we think of as pretty basic questions,” reﬂected Casey in “Teacher’s Toolkit,” a weekly session for sharing innovative teaching practices. “And the possibilities of student choice and voice are endless. This has been a way for me to
Above Right: In preparation for Earth Day, Upper Schoolers made signs encouraging their peers to protect the planet.
Senior Georgia Kennedy-Bailey, who served as Student Council co-president, particularly valued time away from her computer during the school year. “Zoom fatigue is very real,” she noted in a conversation with the faculty, who welcomed her input during another Teacher’s Toolkit session. She looked forward to putting together a music video for her history class. “Larger-spanning projects that are partially asynchronous and partially on Zoom are a great way to keep kids engaged.” Despite the added diﬃculties of collaborating remotely, students still excelled using innovative recording and editing technology. The Drama Conservatory’s productions of “Romeo and Juliet” and “Radium Girls” were impressive demonstrations of acting
8 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
AROUND THE SCHOOL
and storytelling via Zoom. Students in the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute (EMMI) put on spectacular solo shows as well as chamber orchestra performances. Dancers moved in sync while on separate screens in their concerts. And EMMI musicians, the jazz bands, singers and dancers created a show-stopping version of Ben E. King’s “Stand by Me” for the Holiday Concert. When cohorts of Upper Schoolers returned to campus in October, the faculty also piloted “IRL (In Real Life) Days,” allowing students to safely learn and collaborate in person. English and publications teacher Nicky Loomis prompted students to “write from the senses” on pen and paper. Meanwhile, Science Department chair and teacher Anand Patel led a workshop on the external anatomy of sustainable ﬁsh, after which students learned to ﬁllet them and make ﬁsh tacos.
Top: Seniors ﬁlleted ﬁsh during an “IRL Day” on campus. Above: In between classes, these Upper Schoolers shot some hoops.
Preparing to bid farewell to Crossroads, seniors participated in additional activities to make the most of their remaining time together. The Environmental and Outdoor Education Department organized trips to Wind Wolves Preserve, Malibu and the beach. Drive-thru events showered the seniors in Crossroads swag. In April and May, reimagined retreats at The Ojai Foundation oﬀered a culminating experience for them to reﬂect
on their time at Crossroads and prepare for their futures. After spring break, Upper Schoolers ﬁnally had the opportunity to return to campus for daily in-person learning. Joy once again ﬁlled Crossroads’ Alley, and teachers and students took advantage of new avenues for collaboration. In an eﬀort to begin “decolonizing” curricula, ninth-grade history and biology faculty conceived of the “Solve for X” project, for which students selected a real-world issue, conducted research and proposed a viable solution. Students tackled a range of topics, from curbing climate change, to teaching about consent, to reconceptualizing the American education system. “So often people are taught to approach realworld issues from one viewpoint,” explained science teacher Sarah Eleid. “And in the decolonizing education movement, we seek to change that by ﬁrst owning up to the fact that knowledge is a shared resource and is always interdisciplinary.” This year had its undeniable challenges, but the culture of care and collaboration created by the entire community was clearly crucial to the Upper School’s many successes.
DAISY KOHNER, 11th grade / “A Life-Size Self-Portrait” earned a Silver Key in the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, West Region-at-Large.
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Roadrunners Forge New Paths By Tara Shima, Athletics Communications Coordinator
Crossroads students are bold. They forge their own paths. Over the past year, our students’ unique skills were put to the test. With ﬁelds, pools, gyms, courses and courts closed for more than half of the school year, Crossroads student-athletes faced roadblocks they’d never encountered before. But they persevered. Swimmers took to the ocean, swam in backyard pools with resistance bands and woke up at 6 a.m. in hopes of reserving a lane in a public pool. Runners blazed trails across the globe, while baseball and basketball players turned their backyards into training grounds. Tennis players cross-trained on bikes, and golfers chipped balls into ﬂower beds. Driveways became courts to practice volleyball serves, and hacky sacks allowed soccer players to stay sharp. Families got into the act with bike rides, hikes
and workouts in make-shift home gyms. When the familiar road was no longer viable, Crossroads student-athletes found a new one. Over a year after the pandemic shut down the world as they knew it, competitive sports resumed, and Crossroads student-athletes demonstrated their physical prowess. With hundreds of Roadrunner fans in attendance, the boys varsity soccer team won the California
Interscholastic Federation (CIF) Southern Section Division 6 championship and the Southern California Regional Division 5 championship. Their head coach, Federico Bianchi, was named CIF Soccer Division 6 Coach of the Year; senior Lucas KawamotoDuran earned the title of Most Valuable Player; and ﬁve players earned a place on the All-CIF Division 6 Team. Ninth-grade diver James Jones earned a medal for her ﬁfth-place ﬁnish in CIF
Division 3 ﬁnals. Sophomore Cole Hoegl, junior Sydney Holden and senior Jack Slavin represented the School in the CIF-Southern Section Division 4 track and ﬁeld ﬁnals. In addition, numerous Crossroads student-athletes earned Gold Coast League honors. Crossroads student-athletes didn’t just step into the arena once it reopened—they kicked, jumped, ﬂipped, dove, chipped, volleyed and marched their way to success.
Top Left: Eighth grader Jake Siegel kept in shape for tennis with long rides along the Paciﬁc coastline. Top: The boys varsity soccer team won two championships. Far Left: Crossroads swimmers practiced together for a brief period in the fall before campus closed again. Left: Maizie Bartlett and the Crossroads girls varsity basketball team held a commanding lead over Moorpark High School in the ﬁrst game of the season in April.
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Walking the Talk With the Equity & Justice Institute By Janeen Jackson, Equity & Justice Institute Operations Coordinator
During the 2020-21 school year, the Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute continued to focus on solutions, inspiring the community to be a movement for good in the world. Among the Institute’s many initiatives, the digital newsletter The Activist, a series of phenomenal virtual events and a new summer literacy and cultural enrichment program all helped to further its mission.
Fostering The Activist Featuring letters from the Institute’s Founding Director Derric J. Johnson and articles on various social justice matters, The Activist remained a primary educational tool for the Institute. This year’s issues commemorated 2020 as the 100th anniversary of women’s suﬀrage; delved into the prevalence of hate crimes across the
nation; reﬂected on the origins of Black History Month and the ongoing need to establish culturally competent curricula; and covered other critical topics.
Talks With Revolutionaries In recognition of eﬀorts to advance gender justice, the Institute presented a slate of distinguished women activists.
“This year’s speaker series brought a range of societal issues to the forefront by examining how women revolutionaries have been instrumental in creating an equitable and just society,” explained Derric. For her English class, junior Bella Williams created the painting “An Ever Expanding Community of Struggle” as a response to Angela Davis’ political philosophies.
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In September, two broadcasts of the Institute’s conversation with Angela Davis attracted more than 2,500 viewers from around the world. The renowned advocate for economic, racial and gender justice talked with Derric, students and recent alumni about the importance of community and coalition building in the ﬁght to end systems of oppression. Four more speakers were presented as part of the 2020-21 Younes and Soraya Nazarian Equity & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series. In October, the Institute welcomed Joanna Mendelson, associate director of the Anti-Defamation League’s Center on Extremism. Mendelson spoke about the dangerous proliferation of white supremacist extremist groups in the U.S. She contended that “we must elevate all of the diﬀerent communities that feel persecuted, that feel subjected, that have been targets of hate … as we create and forge pathways ahead.” The next virtual event featured civil rights activist and organizer Dolores Huerta, who founded the United Farm Workers union with César Chávez in 1962. In a December discussion with Derric and students, Huerta recounted stories of becoming an organizer, being a woman in a leadership position and ensuring the next generation of leaders continue her life’s work. Huerta asserted, “Each one of us has power. Each one of us can
help change the world and help make it a better place.” Emiliana Guereca, founder of Women’s March Foundation and the driving force behind the four oﬃcial Women’s Marches in Los Angeles, spoke to this article’s author and students in a conversation broadcast in January. Guereca echoed Huerta’s sentiments: “We need to identify our power and step into it.” In April 2021, the Institute wrapped up the series with esteemed poet Nikki Giovanni in a conversation with Derric and faculty. After reading a selection of her poems, Giovanni shared her thoughts on current events and recalled the inﬂuence of her contemporaries, civil rights leaders Martin Luther King Jr., Rosa Parks and John Lewis. Giovanni expressed hope in the work of poets and young people: “It’s our imagination and your students’ imagination that’s going to help change the world and make the world a better place.”
Supporting Our Neighbors This summer, the Institute held its ﬁrst Children’s Defense Fund Freedom School® program. Rooted in the Mississippi Freedom Summer project of 1964, the summer literacy and cultural enrichment program aims to use a research-based multicultural curriculum to combat summer learning loss and the
academic achievement gap, which have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. Over six weeks, “servant-leader” interns from Santa Monica College led 50 students of color and their families from the Pico neighborhood—the most diverse and under-resourced community in the city of Santa Monica—in activities designed to promote literacy, character-building, civic engagement, social action, nutrition and health. Participants also received books each week to build their home libraries. This program is made possible by generous donors including lead gifts from funding partner Paciﬁc Western Bank, which made a three-year commitment, and the Oﬃce of Los Angeles
Top: Soﬁa Trejo, a ninth grader, asked civil rights activist and community organizer Dolores Huerta how today’s educational system informs people’s knowledge of race. Above Middle: Sophomore Zoie Brogdon asked activist and entrepreneur Emiliana Guereca how to reframe gender equity in the classroom. Above: Senior Zack Hauptman asked activist Angela Davis how attending a progressive private school might have inﬂuenced her political views.
County Supervisor Sheila Kuehl. The Institute looks forward to continuing the program for the next two summers and hopefully long into the future. Programmatic planning is underway for the 2021-22 school year. For more information, visit xrds.org/equityandjustice.
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Strategic Plan Update Crossroads launched its 15-point strategic plan in 2019. The plan articulates the School’s priorities and objectives identiﬁed during a recent self-study as well as the strategic planning work overseen by the consulting ﬁrm Ian Symmonds & Associates, with the participation of individuals from all across our incredible community. The School established 15 committees to oversee the completion of each initiative. Some of the work was delayed so that our faculty and staﬀ could address the School’s immediate needs during the COVID19 pandemic; the 2021-22 school year will see a recommitment to this important work. Below is an update on the goals currently in progress:
metrics that will help us drive decisionmaking and ensure that all members of our community feel welcomed and valued. Learn more about the School’s initiatives to enhance belonging and inclusion on page 14.
Expand Our Environmental Sustainability
Reimagine Our Use of Time This committee proved invaluable during the COVID-19 pandemic, helping to design remote, hybrid and eventually in-person schedules as regulations evolved. The unusual nature of the 2020-21 school year provided the committee an opportunity to reconsider the best use of classroom time and the structure of the school day; they will continue this work in the new school year to develop long-term scheduling improvements.
This committee is working to set clear, measurable goals that prioritize environmental sustainability in the School’s use, reuse and conservation eﬀorts. Prior to the pandemic, members worked to reduce items requiring plastic packaging from campus vending machines and discussed reducing waste with Bergamot Café, one of our food providers, by eliminating plastic packaging and cutlery. While COVID-19 safety and hygiene protocols required the temporary suspension of these eﬀorts, the committee looks forward to expanding Crossroads’ sustainability initiatives in the coming year.
Fortify Our Equity & Justice Program We continue to fortify and expand the Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute, founded in 2018 to foster community action with partner organizations in order to serve the greater good and be a part of the positive change in the world. Learn more about the Equity & Justice Institute on page 10.
Enhance a Sense of Belonging and Inclusion On the recommendation of this committee, the School has joined the Inclusion Consortium, a growing group of 100+ independent schools that network resources to build authentic dashboard and inclusion
Enhance Our Performing Arts Program Plan Our Strategic Enrollment Management In the past year, Director of Enrollment Management Eric Barber has taken the recommendations of the Enrollment Planning Task Force and is reﬁning enrollment models and scenarios with Bob Riddle, all three division heads and the director of ﬁnance and operations. The administration will determine a K-12 target enrollment, with related recruitment and marketing strategies. In September, the School plans to share its recommendations with the Board of Trustees, including the optimal size of the K-12 enrollment and other strategic initiatives to provide more access to a Crossroads education.
The School is preparing to build a new 70,000-square-foot Performing Arts Center on the southeast corner of the 21st Street Campus, providing students with facilities that support and enhance our exceptional programming in drama, music, dance and ﬁlmmaking. The center will include a Main Theater Building designed by Zoltan E. Pali of SPF:a, whose work includes the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts and the renovation/restoration of the Pantages Theatre. The building will feature a 650-seat proscenium theater, a recital hall, practice rooms and a rehearsal studio. It will also be the new home of the Crossroads Equity & Justice Institute.
Architect Alice Kimm of JFAK will design an adjoining Studio Classroom Building with spaces for music, dance, ﬁlmmaking and multimedia; a high-tech recording studio and multimedia center; and a 200-seat black box theater. Some of Kimm’s notable designs include the LEED Platinum-certiﬁed Sustainability Institute/JCAP at Caltech and the LEED Gold-certiﬁed Roberts Pavilion at Claremont McKenna College. Michael Ferguson of TheatreDNA will serve as the project’s technical consultant. The new Performing Arts Center is slated to break ground in 2022.
In the 2021-22 school year, we will begin working to fulﬁll the below goals: ► Update Our School Philosophy and Core Commitments ► Cultivate a Consistent Culture of Learning and Continuous Improvement ► Philosophy of Learning Spaces ► Develop an Innovation Center or School Within a School ► Expand Accessibility to Crossroads for the Greater Los Angeles Community ► Cultivate a New Professional Human Resources Paradigm ► Create a New Financial Model for the Future ► Enhance Student Wellness
Investigate Faculty and Staﬀ Housing Options A dedicated group of Trustees and parent volunteers with backgrounds in real estate and ﬁnance are charged with investigating “aﬀordable, convenient housing strategies and other options for members of the Crossroads professional community to address the high cost of living on the Westside.” The committee facilitated a partnership with City National Bank, which oﬀered an online seminar in January to Crossroads employees looking to buy their ﬁrst home as well as one for current homeowners. As part of the partnership, CNB is oﬀering Crossroads employees a special lending rate and a designated bank contact. The committee is developing a platform for the Crossroads community—including parents and alumni—to share information on available employee housing, such as rental units or roommate opportunities, and will educate current and potential homeowners on ways to oﬀset mortgage payments.
CONNOR WEINHOUSE, seventh grade
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Reﬂection and Growth KINGMAN DAVIS, kindergarten
The Crossroads community engages in meaningful diversity, equity and inclusion work.
One of Crossroads ﬁve founding commitments, enshrined in the School’s Statement of Philosophy put forth in 1971, is to “the development of a student population of social, economic and racial diversity.” Fifty years later, the diversity of the Crossroads community—in terms of economic means, family structures, racial/ethnic backgrounds, religious beliefs, gender identities and expressions, and more—is among our greatest strengths. Today, our students hail from 86 ZIP codes, and half identify as students of color. To support economic diversity, the School allocates over $10 million in ﬁnancial aid every year, beneﬁtting one in four students. And yet there is much work that needs to be done. The urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement in the spring of 2020 shined a spotlight on inequities that persist even in progressive institutions such as ours. Since then, Crossroads has bolstered existing programs and taken new steps to fortify our commitment to our diverse community. This article provides just a snapshot of the important work being done by faculty, administrators, staﬀ and students to meet this moment and build a strong foundation for the future.
Elementary School If you’ve ever been around young children when slices of birthday cake are being handed out, you
First graders like Jag Winston learn how to stand up for themselves and others by creating peaceful protest signs.
know that they are hypervigilant when it comes to fairness and equity. Crossroads’ Elementary School nurtures this instinct, teaching children to recognize and call out injustice and to ﬁnd commonality with people from vastly diﬀerent backgrounds. The School uses the Southern Poverty Law Center’s anti-bias school curriculum, with a focus on its four pillars: identity, diversity, justice and action. During Monday
Morning Meetings and Friday Gatherings, K-5 students enjoy a presentation of the Elementary School’s All-School Reads, which reﬂect the four pillars. “The goal is to get conversations started so that kids of all ages feel that they have a voice,” shared ﬁrst-grade teacher Taylor Parker, a member of the Elementary School’s Justice, Action, Identity and Diversity Committee. “But
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equally important is to get their ‘wheels turning’ so that they can apply critical-thinking skills to these very complex discussions.” The words we use, particularly around identity, convey how we see ourselves and others. Over the years, the division has developed an anti-bias vocabulary— from allies to xenophobia—for teachers to use in their classrooms. “It began back when we ﬁrst introduced the curriculum on diﬀerent kinds of families,” explained Assistant Head of Elementary School Cat Ramos. Crossroads’ new K-12 diversity, equity and inclusion consultant, Assistant Head of Middle School David Stewart leads students in a discussion of what makes a just society in a January town hall honoring Martin Luther King Jr.
Anshu Wahi, has been working with the Elementary School on the latest iteration of the vocabulary and is helping the division assess and reﬁne its pedagogy and curricula.
Middle School In 2020-21, the Middle School piloted a new weekly Advisory course developed by Sixth-Grade Academic Dean Lexi Peterson. Through readings, conversations and activities, students studied racial and ethnic identity, implicit bias and intersectionality, and how these elements are reﬂected in their own lives. Students spent 20 weeks with Tiﬀany Jewell’s “This Book Is Anti-Racist: 20 Lessons on How to Wake Up, Take Action, and Do the Work.”
“The book talks about topics like Black rights, gay rights and other social justice movements,” explained seventh grader Arya Fakki. “In class, we have conversations about how to move from being a bystander to an upstander.” A consistent piece of feedback has been the need for more support for Black boys in Middle School. While the transition from Elementary School can be challenging for any child, it can be especially diﬃcult for Black boys: Increasingly aware of stigmatization, the fear of poorly representing their community can lead to anxiety and a drop in academic performance, often referred to as “stereotype threat.” Assistant Head of Middle School David Stewart is working to
In the 2020-21 school year, Crossroads oﬀered these aﬃnity and allyship groups to students, overseen by faculty advisors: MIDDLE SCHOOL Asian Paciﬁc Islander Desi American Student Union; Banana Splits (for children of separation/ divorce/blended families); Black/ African American Group; Girls of Color Alliance; LGBTQIA+ Allyship Group; Mi Familia UPPER SCHOOL Alma Latina; Asian Paciﬁc Islander Desi American Student Union; Black Girl Magic; Black Student Union; Black-Jewish Alliance; Jewish Faith and Culture Club; Multiracial Student Union; Persian Student Union; Queer Student Union
16 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
expand existing supports to provide a more robust afterschool program that will include coaching (for parents and students), mentorship, tutoring and weekend activities. David has researched and supported students of color— here at Crossroads and in his native Cleveland—for decades. “What I’ve learned is that the biggest piece is perspective and attitude,” he reported. “If we can reinforce good habits, build their self-esteem and invite their parents into the process, they will be successful.”
Meet the New Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion: Stephanie Carrillo We are thrilled to welcome Stephanie back to Crossroads, where she served as co-chair of the Diversity and Social Justice Task Force, interim dean of students, and History Department chair/teacher between 1998 and 2013. She went on to become a teacher leader liaison for the educational organization Facing History and Ourselves and spent six years as the director of diversity, equity and inclusion at Campbell Hall in Studio City. Stephanie is a graduate of California State University, Fullerton, and completed coursework in Education Specialist Instruction for Mild/Moderate Disabilities at California State University, Northridge. “I can’t think of a better place to guide the strategic journey of equity and inclusion work than at Crossroads, a school I believe in so much and one that was so formative to me as a teacher and social justice advocate,” Stephanie shared. “Serving as its director of diversity, equity and inclusion is truly a dream come true!”
What is my sphere of inﬂuence? What systems are failing people, and why? How do I want to see Crossroads evolve, and how can I support that change? Those were some of the questions considered by Upper Schoolers in January during virtual workshops led by Anshu Wahi and John Gentile, a faculty member for the National Association of Independent Schools’ Student Diversity Leadership Conference. Sophomore Tiﬀani Williams, a grade representative and member of the Upper School Black Student Union, found the experience enlightening. “Some students expressed that they never really think about being white,” she recalled. “They don’t have to worry about that part of their identity. I think the workshop oﬀered those students a good opportunity for reﬂection. And for those of us who are more
conscious of our race, it allowed us to share that experience and feel more understood.” Throughout the year, students interviewed guest speakers on topics including antisemitism, the women’s movement and civil rights, as part of the Equity & Justice Institute’s lineup of “women revolutionaries” featured in the Younes and Soraya Nazarian Equity & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series. (See article on page 10.) The start of the 2021-22 school year will see new Upper School History oﬀerings that more accurately reﬂect the voices, experiences and contributions of marginalized communities; additional changes are under development. “We’re excited to roll out our new ninth-grade course Exploring Human Stories and our completely revamped 11th-grade U.S. History course,” said Upper School History chair Kevin Scull. Supporting this work has been Associate Head of School Mariama Richards, who holds a bachelor’s in history from Spelman College and a master’s in Africana Studies from Cornell University. In the fall, Crossroads will begin to roll out a brand-new K-12 social justice curriculum, developed after a year of research by Equity & Justice Institute Founding Director Derric J. Johnson and former Operations Coordinator Jordan Zolliecoﬀer ’15, with assistance from current Operations Coordinator Janeen Jackson and Middle and Upper
KATE JANG, 10th grade / “Way to Me” earned a Silver Key in the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, West Region-at-Large.
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18 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
AROUND THE SCHOOL
In honor of National Holocaust Remembrance Day, survivor Lillian Trilling speaks with students over Zoom. The April event was facilitated by the Righteous Conversations Project, a program of Remember Us, and hosted by the Upper School Jewish Faith and Culture Club.
School Librarian Jay Chang. Topics will include Ability, Disability and Ableism; Civil Rights Movements; Genocide and the Holocaust; and Homophobia and Heterosexism. Lessons will be customized for each grade level and progress in complexity as students advance through the School.
Faculty and Staﬀ Over the course of the year, teachers were also active learners, engaging in mandatory anti-bias trainings that encouraged self-reﬂection and demonstrated how to recognize and address incidents of racism and other forms of prejudice. Staﬀ members were also invited to participate: as Mariama often
notes, “Everyone who works at Crossroads is an educator.” In the fall, employees met twice with Howard Stevenson, a professor at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education and the director of its Racial Empowerment Collaborative. In February, employees met virtually with Rosetta Lee, a teacher at Seattle Girls’ School and a diversity speaker and trainer. Rosetta spoke of the need to recognize our lack of awareness around bias and gave practical advice for handling uncomfortable interactions between students. In addition to these guest speakers, Crossroads Middle and Upper School faculty met
monthly with Silvia Salazar, and often Anshu, to continue to build on this work. An Upper School Spanish teacher and co-chair of the RISE Committee, Silvia is the School’s new associate director of Latinx support and outreach; prior to that, she served as the Middle and Upper School director of diversity, equity and inclusion. The School has also established the Faculty and Staﬀ of Color Aﬃnity Group, which meets monthly. “The times that we are in as a society require the ability to constantly process what is taking place,” says new fourth-grade teacher J. Latif Boze. “Supporting each other through discussion and conversation can make a world of diﬀerence.”
The RISE Committee The mission of the Radical Inclusion for Social Equity (RISE) Committee is to utilize radical empathy to illuminate and engage with issues surrounding diversity and to act as catalyst for institutional change and individual identity development. RISE strives to promote meaningful conversations around issues of diversity and inclusion as well as to take action steps to advance those goals at Crossroads. It is open to all members of the School community who are interested in supporting and improving inclusion on campus.
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Momentous Occasions Celebrated Together “This time last year, and across the many months that followed, today seemed nearly impossible,” acknowledged senior Lila Grayson at the Class of 2021 Commencement Ceremony on June 3. “But here we are. It is so amazing to see everyone, and it is amazing to have arrived here together.” After a year ﬁlled with uncertainty, the Crossroads community was ﬁnally able to convene in person to celebrate the achievements of our ﬁfth, eighth and 12th graders. “On the widest stage ever,” as Head of School Bob Riddle jokingly described it, graduating Class of 2021 delivered speeches reﬂecting on both the hardships and the funny memories that they’ll carry with them for the rest of their lives. Standing ovations followed TJ Muhammad’s powerful speech, entitled “The Beautiful Tragic Story of a Black Student Athlete,” and Alberto Mancarella’s piano performance of a Beethoven sonata. Film Department chair and teacher Thomas
Kemper’s commencement address underscored the power of “analytical imagination.” Crossroads ﬁfth graders took the stage on June 10 for an atypical outdoor Moving Up Ceremony. Each student shared their favorite Elementary School memory, from meeting a ﬁfth-grade buddy as a kindergartner, to acting with drama teacher Scott Weintraub, to learning to love history in third grade. Between their speeches, students interpreted Taron Egerton’s rendition of the Elton John and Bernie Taupin song “I’m Still Standing”
in sign language and performed a choreographed dance to the song “Sunday Best” by Surfaces. Students received an elbow bump from Head of Elementary School Natalie Burton before collecting their Moving Up certiﬁcates from Bob to cap oﬀ their ﬁfthgrade careers. The end-of-year student celebrations concluded with the Middle School Moving Up Ceremony on June 15. Following a welcome from Bob, eighth grader Nyla Washington shared her moving reﬂection on the importance of ﬁnding your voice
and Yasu Agawa, a Crossroads “lifer,” encouraged his peers to cherish their time together. For the customary “One Last Word” faculty speech, self-described “super lifer” science teacher Collin Hertz ’10 humorously recalled his own Crossroads Middle School years, reassuring the eighth graders that it is OK to make mistakes and take risks. A solo piano and vocal performance by Sadie Rosenstein and two numbers by the Middle School Jazz Collective provided musical accompaniment to the ceremony and sent the School into summer. Amazing, indeed! Upper School Student Council Co-Presidents Georgia KennedyBailey and Lila Grayson cheer for the Class of 2021.
Two soon-to-be sixth graders celebrate their Moving Up.
The eighth graders take one last class photo before they move up to Upper School.
20 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
AROUND THE SCHOOL
Bob Riddle to Step Down After 2021-22 School Year After 37 years of dedicated service to Crossroads, 12 of them as head of school, Bob Riddle announced in April that the 2021-22 school year would be his last. “While I am not planning to fully retire at the end of next year, I have discovered the need to ﬁnd a better work-life balance and, in particular, to spend more time traveling with my husband,” he wrote in a letter to the School community. “At the same time, I feel as if I might want to take one last professional leap before I fully retire, although in what ﬁeld I don’t yet know.” Bob joined the School in 1984 as a Middle School math and Life Skills teacher and
went on to serve in roles including Upper School academic dean, Upper School director, assistant headmaster and dean of faculty. He was appointed head of school in 2009 and has overseen a period of tremendous growth, including the expansion of the 21st Street Campus, the creation of the Science Education & Research Facility and the Equity & Justice Institute, and the development of the strategic plan. The search for a new head of school is underway. The Board of Trustees has partnered with the ﬁrm Resource Group 175 and convened an advisory Search
Committee to assist in the recruitment and selection process. The committee anticipates bringing ﬁnalists to campus in the fall to meet with various stakeholders; the Board will announce the new head of school in December. The new head will begin their tenure in July 2022. In her letter to the community, Board Chair Nada Kirkpatrick shared, “I am beyond grateful for Bob’s tireless devotion to our students and to the greater Crossroads community. I look forward to honoring Bob and his legacy next year as his remarkable tenure draws to a close.”
Elementary School Head Natalie Burton Departs Crossroads In June, Head of Elementary School Natalie Burton announced that she would be stepping down from Crossroads to relocate to the East Coast with her family. Natalie joined Crossroads in July 2020 and provided strong and compassionate leadership, helping us navigate the unprecedented challenges of the pandemic. In a letter to the community announcing her departure, she wrote, “I
am inﬁnitely grateful for the opportunity I have had to be the division head at the Elementary School this year. I do not have the words to fully express how much I truly love this position and every single person I have had the pleasure of working with and getting to know.” In the same letter, Bob Riddle reﬂected, “We were so fortunate to have such an experienced progressive
educator and administrator leading our Elementary School this year. … To say that she and her team performed miracles is an understatement, and she is leaving knowing that she has our deepest appreciation, admiration and gratitude.” Current K-5 Dean of Campus Logistics and Science Specialist Sasha Moore will serve as the interim head of the Elementary School for the upcoming
school year. Sasha has worked at Crossroads for nearly two decades and has held many administrative roles throughout her tenure, including interim K-5 dean of students; interim Elementary School assistant director; K-5 dean of summer programs; and K-12 assistant director of summer programs. Fourth-grade teacher Matt Lintner will provide additional support in a new one-year position as dean of teaching and learning, delivering curricular and pedagogical support to faculty and helping the School navigate the COVID-19-related guidelines and requirements that may be in place next year. The School is grateful for Natalie’s leadership this year and welcomes Sasha and Matt to their new roles!
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Cash Warren ’97 and Jessica Alba
Cash Warren ’97 and Jessica Alba are new parents at Crossroads—their daughter Honor started in seventh grade last fall—but they’ve long been champions of the mission and philosophy of Cash’s alma mater. This year, they also contributed to Annual Giving and the Financial Aid Fund. We asked Cash, founder of the apparel brand Pair of Thieves, and Jessica, an actor and founder of The Honest Company, to share what inspires them to support the School. Cash, what were some highlights of your experience at Crossroads? Cash: I loved Crossroads. What I remember is the relationships with other students and the diversity in the student body. It was something that just felt like a warm hug. And some of my closest relationships were with my teachers and the staff at Crossroads. Those relationships felt very close-knit, authentic and true, and that was something that I wanted my kids to have as well.
Jessica, what about Crossroads appeals to you most? Jessica: The principles that Crossroads has around cultivating emotional intelligence, coupled with the academic approach, creates an environment and community that helps all children thrive. What are Honor’s favorite classes at the School? Cash: She’s loving all her classes, but she talks a lot about Latin, Core and math. It’s fun to see her push herself. Crossroads does such a good job of helping kids mature and grow up. Jessica, what inspired you to donate Honest Company cleaning supplies to Crossroads upon the School’s full reopening? Jessica: Health and safety are always my priorities. As we navigated going back to school in the spring, I wanted to take the burden off the teachers and give parents peace of mind that
Jessica and Cash with their three children (clockwise, from center): Honor, Haven and Hayes.
the classrooms are being disinfected with cleaners that are made without harsh chemicals or fumes. Our cleaning products are safe and effective for the whole family and meet the California Department of Public Health school guidelines. Why have you decided to make Crossroads a philanthropic priority? Cash: To support the School’s mission and its socioeconomic and racial diversity. Allowing kids from all walks of life to experience Crossroads is so critical to its DNA. Anything that we can do to help support that mission going forward and at the current time is exactly why we’re there. We want to make sure that the student body can reﬂect the ever-changing landscape in this city.
22 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
Crossroads Night Live Reprise Goes Virtual After more than a year of pain and isolation brought on by the deadly COVID-19 pandemic, we were all in dire need of something to laugh about. Anticipating this, the Parent Association styled this year’s May 15 ﬁnancial aid fundraiser as the return of Crossroads Night Live. The ﬁrst CNL, held at the Skirball Center in 2018, was a sold-out event hosted by Bill Hader and featured other comedy legends and luminary “Saturday Night Live” cast members spanning decades. Emily Deschanel ’94 and Zooey Deschanel ’98 kicked off the show with a cold open paying tribute to, and poking fun at, Crossroads’ Council tradition.
Since large gatherings were still not possible in person, CNL 2021 brought the community together virtually for yet another epic evening of comedy and music created by Crossroads, for Crossroads. The show was 90 minutes of nonstop fun and fundraising to beneﬁt the School’s Financial Aid Fund.
NBA great Baron Davis ’97 countered cancel culture with sage advice in “Dr. Davis: Getting Seuss’d.” Bill Hader sheepishly copped to not getting vaccinated in time to ﬁlm “The Crossroadians” in person, resulting in a sidesplitting version using Barbie dolls.
Bob Riddle hosted a socially distanced outdoor lunch for the School’s senior administrators, blasting them with an entire buffet’s worth of food and drink launched by an air compressor cannon.
This memorable production was made possible by two Crossroads dads and volunteers extraordinaire who generously shared their professional talents: proliﬁc writing genius Demetri Pappas and exceptional editor Brian Pianko. They also co-produced the show with Director of Parent Relations and Special Events Mery Grace Castelo. Event Co-Chairs Marissa Pianko and Samira Poulos and Auction/Raffle Co-Chairs Bhavna de Montebello, Sarah Slome Schwartz and Alan Rakov (who donated livestream services from his company Live From) were seminal to the success of this uniquely Crossroads fundraiser.
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Molly Shannon’s legendary SNL character Sally O’Malley auditioned to be Crossroads new mascot, with a little assist from Steven Weber. Ed Norton played a no-nonsense “mascot whisperer” auditioning potential new Crossroads mascots.
Coldplay’s Chris Martin performed the brand-new release “Higher Power.”
Parker Bent performed a medley of Crossroads-centric songs, featuring hits like “The Long and Winding Roadmap” and “(I Can’t Get No) Vaccination.”
Jesse Nolan ’01 and Inara George ’92 offered a sweet rendition of the Hall and Oats classic “Sara Smile.”
Henry Winkler played a driver and Marcia Gay Harden a detective facing transportation budget cuts in “Law & Uber,” with a special appearance by thirdgrade teacher Ronnie Anderson.
Bob Saget and James Davis ’01 reprised their synergistic roles on “Weekend Update” with hilarious cameos by Helen Hunt and Dan Cortese.
Mascot hopeful Robinne Lee cheerfully offered to hand out “emotional participation trophies” to both teams at sporting events.
Julia Louis-Dreyfus spoke from the heart about the importance of the Financial Aid Fund in sustaining our economically diverse community.
Surprise guest Sting performed his hit song “If I Ever Lose My Faith in You.” OneRepublic frontman Ryan Tedder gave a touching performance of “I Lived.”
24 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
Trustee News Throughout the challenging 2020–21 academic year, the Board of Trustees provided strong governance and support. While the School experienced a loss of rental revenue and a gain in expenses related to technology and facilities upgrades for health and safety, careful planning by the Board— led by Chair Nada Kirkpatrick—enabled the School to make only a modest increase in 2021-22 tuition while providing more ﬁnancial aid funds.
After Bob Riddle announced that he’d be stepping down next June, the Board—which is responsible for overseeing the search for and selection of a new head of school—created an advisory Search Committee co-chaired by Marisol León ’03 and Trevor Bezdek ’95. The committee is working closely with executive search ﬁrm Resource Group 175 and will share updates with the Crossroads community.
HELLOS AND GOODBYES Four new Trustees joined the Board during the 2020-21 school year:
Erin Simon ’95
Sarah is the CEO of the media company Hello Sunshine, founded by Reese Witherspoon, and has led the company’s growth as a premium content studio and direct-to-consumer brand. She holds a bachelor’s in international relations from the University of Melbourne and an MBA from Harvard Business School. Sarah is the parent of rising senior Louise and incoming sixth grader Fletcher.
Moujan is a founding partner of Bryant Stibel, a platform that provides strategic, ﬁnancial and operational support to businesses with a focus across technology, media and data. She holds a bachelor’s in psychology from UC Berkeley and a JD from UCLA School of Law. Moujan is the parent of rising 10th grader Ryan and incoming sixth grader Jake.
Paul manages a national debt fund that provides construction ﬁnancing to ground-up real estate development projects. He founded Parkview Financial in early 2009 and has since originated hundreds of commercial and residential loans. Paul received his bachelor’s from UCLA in business/economics and his JD from USC. He is the parent of rising juniors Colin and Tyler.
Erin has worked for the Long Beach Uniﬁed School District since 2014. She is currently assistant superintendent of School Support Services, leading the direction of special education and student support services in a range of areas. She holds a bachelor’s in public relations from San Jose State University and an Ed.D. in educational leadership from Cal State Long Beach.
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2020-21 Board of Trustees Stepping down this year were three Trustees who all joined the Board in 2017. Deborah Kanter brought her experience as general counsel for The Broad Foundations to the Finance and Audit committees; she also served as secretary of the Executive Committee and chaired the Governance Committee. Erik Wright, a managing director for Cerberus Capital Management, served on the Finance, Investment, Development and Crossroads Fund Committees. And Capital Group Equity Portfolio Manager Martin Jacobs shared his expertise on the Finance, Investment and Governance Committees. In September, Board Chair Nada Kirkpatrick—whose youngest child, Finn, graduated in June—will step down from the Board. She became a Trustee in 2009 and has served as chair since September 2019. She has chaired the Board’s Governance Committee and served on the committees for Finance, Development, Crossroads Fund and Risk Management. She was also a member of the School’s Radical Inclusion for Social Equity Committee. Nada has been deeply involved in the School for nearly two decades; in addition to Finn, she is the proud parent of alumni Sami ’16 and Maia ’18.
Nada Kirkpatrick, Chair Marisol León ’03, Executive Vice Chair Nat Trives, Executive Vice Chair Jeﬀ Worthe, Executive Vice Chair Nada Kirkpatrick
Bruce Stern, Secretary Bob Davenport, Treasurer
Crossroads is grateful to Nada, Deborah, Erik and Martin for their dedication to the Board and to the well-being of the School. Trustee Juan Carrillo, who joined the Board in 2012, will succeed Nada as chair. He has shared his wise counsel and ﬁnancial expertise on the Finance, Audit and Executive Committees. Originally from Mexico, Juan earned a bachelor’s in accounting from the Monterrey Institute of Technology and an MBA at Stanford Business School. As a business executive, he served at Avery Dennison as office products worldwide new business development manager and was senior project manager of strategy consulting at Monitor Group. Since 2005, he has been a stay-at-home dad to Marco ’21 and rising junior Yann. “Juan was the perfect choice to succeed Nada as our next
Board Chair,” said Bob Riddle. “The head of school and board chair relationship is critical to the success of any school. I know that Juan will provide me with key support and guidance during my last year as head, as well as to my successor during the transition period and beyond. We are incredibly fortunate to have Juan step into the role of Board Chair this fall!” Shared Juan: “As a father of two ‘lifers,’ I am very grateful for what the School has meant to our family: a supportive and inclusive community that challenges us to be better. It will be an honor to work closely with Bob during his last year at Crossroads. I am excited about the School’s future as we move into a new phase while remaining steadfast in our philosophy and core commitments.”
Andy Baum Trevor Bezdek ’95 Juan Carrillo Christopher Chee Ann Colburn Linda Daly Emilio Diez Barroso Bob Friedman Sarah Harden Nicole Hoegl Martin Jacobs Moujan Kazerani Jeﬀ Lipp Marc Millman Paul Rahimian Lois Reinis Tracy Seretean Erin Simon ’95 Erik Wright Lanhee Yung
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YEARS FORWARD By Emily Wolff, Archivist
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Early in 1971, Paul Cummins and Rhoda Makoﬀ—then headmaster and assistant headmaster, respectively, at the elementary school St. Augustine by-theSea in Santa Monica—laid out their vision for a new school, essentially re-imagining what a school could be. In the ﬁrst Crossroads brochure, they wrote: “The Crossroads School seeks to imbue each student with a respect for learning, with an awareness of the valuable traditions of the past, with a sense of social commitment and concern for the future of man, and with a sense of his unique, personal worth.” Fifty years later, Paul and Rhoda’s words (male pronouns aside), still describe Crossroads’ DNA. Their vision has provided a steady foundation for the School over time because it allows for evolution and innovation. A look back at the history of Crossroads reveals 50 years of moving forward. Thoughtful questioning, open dialogue, risk-taking and social responsibility have led the School to create new solutions, to grow and to ﬂourish. For ﬁve decades, Crossroads has pushed boundaries to respond to an ever-changing world and remained at the forefront of progressive education.
Paul and Rhoda’s vision for Crossroads was a direct response to community needs in the late 1960s, a period when many parents felt dissatisﬁed with traditional, chronically underfunded public schools in Los Angeles. Those parents had begun to look for alternatives that were based on new theories of child development and learning and more in sync with their progressive values. Accordingly, in 1970, with Rhoda’s help, Paul
began the project of transforming St. Augustine: Rows of desks gave way to a more open classroom conﬁguration; art, music, dance and drama were added to the curriculum; electives gave students some choice; and new teachers nurtured emotional and social growth. Not all families were pleased with the changes, and some left the school. But those who stayed began to see remarkable diﬀerences in their children’s education.
Crossroads Brochure, 1971
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1970s Before the concepts of emotional intelligence and social-emotional learning were commonplace, Crossroads introduced a unique curriculum to help students understand and navigate their inner lives as well as develop respect and compassion for others. The Life Skills program, now an indispensable part of the Crossroads experience, began in 1983 with a class called Mysteries. As Paul recalls, a student walked into his oﬃce one day, ﬂopped into a chair and asked, “May I talk?” Without waiting for a response, she continued, “Tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow— is that all you adults ever talk about?” She vented about the emphasis on
In fact, many wanted their children to continue this new way of learning even after they graduated from St. Augustine. A group of parents asked Paul and Rhoda about an equivalent secondary school, and the two visionary administrators got to thinking. Together, Paul, Rhoda and a small Board of parents saw an opportunity to create a childcentered school from the ground up— one that would foster creativity,
individuality and social awareness as well as provide strong academics.
preparing for the future; next week’s test; the SATs so she could get into college; college so she could have a career; and on and on. “When,” she asked, “do we get to enjoy today?”
As Paul wrote in a letter to families in 1986, “Soon we found ourselves dealing with unanswerable questions, and exploring individual ‘mysteries.’ We found that the very act of dealing with these questions beneﬁted us all.”
That question sparked a realization that students need both the space and the skills to talk about their immediate experiences and feelings. Mysteries was launched as a two-hour class for seniors to discuss what was important to them. They used a practice called Council, in which participants sit in a circle, share one at a time and listen from the heart. The program culminated in a retreat at The Ojai Foundation that oﬀered students a chance to reﬂect before graduation.
In 1971, Crossroads School oﬀered seventh and eighth grade from a Pico Street church and developed programs that would become integral to the School’s identity. In its ﬁrst year, students volunteered at a Head Start center and tutored at public elementary schools. They ventured to Yosemite in the School’s
The success of Mysteries led to the expansion of the program into all
new bus. Local artists taught classes from welding to folk dancing. As the School expanded and settled into its 21st Street Campus, outdoor education was incorporated into the curriculum; the arts were an essential part of every student’s education; and community service became a graduation requirement. Crossroads also provided scholarships from the start to foster a socio-economically diverse student body.
grades, from kindergarten through senior year, and its evolution into today’s Life Skills. Recognizing human development as an aspect of education has had a powerful impact on students’ lives and on the culture of the School. Crossroads’ Life Skills classes have since become models for programs in both independent and public schools.
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19 90s Inspired by the civil rights, antiwar and feminist movements, Crossroads’ founders believed that education could be a vehicle for social change. Until the 1990s, the School’s founding commitment to serve the community had been fulﬁlled primarily through student service. But Paul wanted to make an even greater impact by using institutional resources to respond to the needs of the broader community. So Crossroads sent its then-choral director, Thea Kano, to give weekly classes at Palms Middle School. Like many California schools at the time, Palms’ budget for arts had been slashed. The impact of a single Crossroads teacher on the students was remarkable.
The School established the Crossroads Community Foundation with the express intent of developing and implementing programs like the one at Palms Middle School to foster signiﬁcant change in the city. CCF then launched P.S. Arts to provide children in underserved Los Angeles public schools with music, visual arts and drama programs. Starting with weekly arts classes at several Title I elementary schools in Venice, P.S. Arts saw both increased enrollment and attendance as well as improved student and faculty experiences. Driven by demand, P.S. Arts grew exponentially, eventually becoming an independent nonproﬁt in 2003.
It currently provides a high-quality arts education to nearly 25,000 students in California’s most underserved public schools. P.S. Arts also became the model for P.S. Science, which Crossroads launched in 2006 to provide an
exploration-based science program and materials to children—along with mentorship for teachers—at local, underserved public schools. Now also its own nonproﬁt, P.S. Science serves thousands of students across Los Angeles County.
30 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
In the early 2000s, a serious conversation began about whether the Advanced Placement college curricula and exams were right for Crossroads’ students. Every spring, teachers expressed their frustration about having to set aside their own lessons to spend two to three months preparing their students for the exams. Whereas in-depth inquiry and independent thinking characterize Crossroads’ academic
program, the AP curricula instead required a rapid accumulation of surface-level information. Not surprisingly, students also voiced their displeasure with AP courses, ﬁnding them far less interesting and intellectually challenging than those designed by Crossroads’ teachers. “A teacher asked, ‘Why are we doing this?’” Head of School Bob Riddle recalled. “I think if we were a more
traditional school, the answer to that question would be, ‘Because it’s what we’re supposed to do; it’s what all schools do.’ Instead, we answered that question by saying, ‘That’s the right question to ask!’” After several years of evaluation and debate, the School made the bold decision to replace AP courses with a new, rigorous program designed by Crossroads teachers: Crossroads
Advanced Studies. These upper-level courses in English, history, science, languages and visual and performing arts encourage critical thinking and a dynamic worldview rooted in the School’s philosophy and values. This enriching change in approach demonstrates not only how Crossroads values the voices of students and faculty, but also how the School is able to continually evolve to meet the educational needs of the community.
CROSS SECTIONS MAGAZINE / SUMMER 2021 31
Over the last decade, Crossroads has achieved many of its long-term goals, from building the state-ofthe-art, LEED Gold-certiﬁed Science Education & Research Facility in 2015 to increasing diversity within our student body, faculty and senior administration. Our students continue to excel in all areas of their educational experience. In 2016, a team of Upper School science students received a $6,500 grant from Lemelson-MIT to develop a water-usage monitor prototype. In 2018, the boys varsity basketball team won the third state championship in the School’s history. Students continue to be recognized in national competitions for their achievement in the visual and performing arts: In 2018, the School’s renowned Elizabeth
Mandell Music Institute chamber orchestra was invited to perform at Carnegie Hall. The School’s 15-point strategic plan, published in 2019, will guide Crossroads in our eﬀorts to improve, to grow and to guarantee the School’s long-term sustainability. Measures to enhance student wellness, cultivate a consistent culture of learning and enhance our performing arts program through
a new Performing Arts Center will enrich the student experience. The development of an innovation center, increased accessibility to Crossroads and the fortiﬁcation of our Equity & Justice program will expand our presence in Los Angeles and beyond. And we will steward our strategic resources by expanding our environmental sustainability, planning our strategic enrollment management and creating a new ﬁnancial model
for the future. (Read more about the strategic plan on page 12.) Crossroads entered the 2020s with renewed focus, despite the many challenges brought on by the COVID19 pandemic. Innovation sustained the School in the face of seemingly insurmountable obstacles, and innovation will undoubtedly enable the School to thrive as it moves another 50 years forward.
32 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
A GLIMPSE INTO THE ARCHIVES: 50 YEARS MAY 19, 1985
Crossroads reinvents its annual music showcase as an all-school, all-out spectacular called Cabaret at Wadsworth Theater.
Crossroads opens its doors in three rooms of the First Baptist Church at 2601 Pico Blvd. in Santa Monica, welcoming 34 seventh and eighth graders. In need of more space, Crossroads moves to 1714 21st St., formerly the Motherhood Maternity factory, in the fall of 1972.
Paul’s address ﬁle is evidence of his philosophy of a school being not merely a building, but a set of relationships.
As the School grows, rooms are named for important artists, writers, scientists, thinkers and athletes.
Paciﬁc Day School? Oxford West? The founders test out possible names for their new school on the cover of this proposal.
An ad for teachers captures the essence of the educational experience the founders are shaping.
SEPT. 21, 1971
The Crossroads archives could never tell the School’s whole story. Like all archives, ours holds a partial record, brought together by some combination of judgment and chance. But the archives’ images and objects provide a unique way to look back at the last 50 years and connect us to the School’s ol’s ongoing story.
By Emily Wolff, Archivist
The Crossroads Peace Institute brings together concerned students, educators and activists. The community participates in a No Nukes March.
CROSS SECTIONS MAGAZINE / SUMMER 2021 33
Bob Riddle, who began working at Crossroads as a math teacher in 1984 before becoming an administrator, steps into the role of head of school. Around this time, a student creates a portrait of Bob.
When Paul becomes president of the Crossroads Community Foundation, then-assistant headmaster Roger Weaver steps into the role of headmaster. Pictured here in 1992, Roger famously wears pink socks every Friday.
Crossroads families, faculty and staff come together in response to the COVID-19 crisis, establishing an emergency fund, pivoting to remote and hybrid learning and reimagining community-building events in the virtual realm.
The Crossroads Community Outreach Foundation (formerly CCF) launches P.S. Science, a program designed to provide underserved public elementary schools inquirybased science education. A brochure from 2010 is pictured here.
With sixth graders now part of their ranks, Middle Schoolers begin to publish their own yearbook.
Crossroads Elementary School moves from 4th Street to the newly built Norton Campus, where teachers and students have to adjust to quieter surroundings. They commemorate the year in the Crossroads Elementary School Album.
S OF PHOTOS, ARTIFACTS AND EPHEMERA
Crossroads Hall of Fame is created to celebrate the School’s athletic accomplishments. The Hall of Fame houses the Boys Varsity Baseball Team CIF State Championship trophy from 1997.
Crossroads celebrates its 50th anniversary!
34 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
Save the Dates! GE T R E A DY FOR T H E SE A M A Z I NG
50 T H A N N I V E R S A R Y C E L E B R AT I O N S ( A N D M O R E T O B E A N N O U N C E D) D U R I N G T H E 202 1-2 2 S C H O O L Y E A R ! 09/08/2021
Sam Francis Gallery Alumni Biennial Art Exhibition, “Glance Back, Forge Forward,” Opens
Birthday Party at the Alley Party
Alumni Athletics Extravaganza
Teach Council to 50
Alumni Arts Festival
Roadrunner Hall of Fame Celebration
Parent Association Spring Event Fundraiser: Cabaret
Stay tuned for additional details and updates!
CROSS SECTIONS MAGAZINE / SUMMER 2021 35
MIKE ELLINGTON Twenty years ago, Mike Ellington began working at the Elementary School as a security guard through an outside contractor. Consistently warm and gracious to students, parents and visitors, Mike quickly endeared himself to the entire community. Everyone, including Mike himself, wanted him to work directly for the School, and Crossroads soon hired Mike to work at the Elementary School gate. It wasn’t long before Sports Center Coordinator Frankie Gladden realized Mike’s strengths. Frankie asked Mike to work as support staff on the night shift at the Sports Center, where Mike prepared setups for events in the Community Room, on the ﬁeld and in the gym. At one point, when the School was in the need of a lifeguard, Mike even stepped up to ﬁll that role for a brief time as well. Mike
JENNIFER NELSON next worked on the 21st Street Campus as an event staff coordinator and ultimately became the facilities crew lead in charge of the physical setting for all events. Mike has moved from one position to the next with his signature good nature and bright smile. He has juggled multiple events with ever-changing needs simultaneously and seems to do so effortlessly, despite the challenges. Whether faced with a ﬁnnicky coffeepot or too few chairs, Mike has always come to the rescue. Outside of work, Mike is an avid fan of LeBron James, following him from team to team, and a big Raiders fan, regardless of their locale. And Crossroads is a huge fan of Mike!
Jennifer “Jenn” Nelson heard about an opening for a receptionist at Crossroads’ Elementary School from a friend who worked in the Facilities Department. At the time, Jenn was employed at Starbucks and wanted a fulltime job with “normal hours” and beneﬁts. Plus, she would love working with children! Jenn became a reception superstar in no time. She not only deftly managed the front desk, but also served as a de facto school nurse. She remembers responding to frightening incidents of head wounds and broken limbs—and tending to the largest splinter she has ever seen! During her ﬁrst year at Crossroads, the administrative assistant at the time left, and Jenn was encouraged to apply for the open position. Over the past 19 years, Jenn’s job has greatly
increased in scope to include every aspect of office manager and assistant to the Elementary School administrative team. Jenn was also the safety coordinator and the substitute teacher coordinator for 17 years. To all of these roles, she has brought her efficiency, detail-orientedness, timeliness, warmth and good humor with spectacular success. She is also the most generous, thoughtful person we know. If she senses you are having a bad or busy day, she’ll be at your elbow with a cup of tea, a piece of chocolate and a hug. A truly special person, Jenn embodies everything we love about the Elementary School. In fact, if you need to know anything about any aspect of the division, ask Jenn!
36 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
HONORING EMPLOYEES YEAR
PL E OYE
BARBARA KAHN Born in Encino, Barbara Kahn left for Northern California and vowed never to return. But when she was teaching in a progressive public middle school near Oakland, a friend told her about Crossroads. Barbara had never heard of the school before, but her friend thought it might be a good ﬁt for Barbara’s teaching style. When she visited for the interview, she was surprised that the children looked so happy and the energy was so positive. Barbara took the job teaching seventh- and eighthgrade math with the intention of only staying in Southern California for a short while. Thirty years later, Barbara is amazed that she is still teaching at Crossroads. She attributes her longevity to the autonomy she is given as
LESLIE KING a teacher and the challenges each school year brings, even though she primarily teaches the same courses, Algebra 2 and Trigonometry. Barbara served as chair of the Math Department for 10 years and also sponsored the Animal Rights Club and the UNICEF Club. She was once roped into a reluctant performance in Cabaret, despite protesting that she didn’t sing and dance at all. Barbara is proud of her ability to make concepts accessible to students who lack conﬁdence in math, and she values her relationships with her students. Her own experience in an eighth-grade math class of 40 students with a teacher with whom she couldn’t connect made her understand the importance of empathic, careful teaching. Barbara, we are so grateful for your 30 years at Crossroads.
When Leslie King was a teenager, she heard Eleanor Roosevelt speak in person and decided what she wanted to do: invest herself in community service. Years later, she earned her master’s degree in social work from UCLA. Before coming to Crossroads, Leslie worked as a ﬁfth-grade teacher in Brooklyn; acted as a pupil services and attendance counselor for the Los Angeles Uniﬁed School District; and later served at Maryvale, a residential treatment center in Rosemead. Thirty years ago, Leslie applied for a part-time school counselor position at Crossroads. At that time, she was the sole counselor for both the Middle and Upper School. Now she is one of three full-time school counselors for those divisions. The team works together in what she calls “the Crossroads way”—
lovingly serving each student and always asking, “What can we do? How can we help?” She notes that the ethos of the entire school community is to do things “with an open heart.” Some-times the counseling work is demanding, but Leslie ﬁnds enormous joy in helping others and in the laughter she shares with her colleagues, students and parents. Crossroads has become Leslie’s family and community. And anyone who has interacted with Leslie knows that they will feel seen, heard, supported and loved. Leslie is enormously grateful for the love and support she enjoys daily at Crossroads, and we are equally grateful for all that she has given us.
CROSS SECTIONS MAGAZINE / SUMMER 2021 37
Read the profile of 30-year
DAVIDA WILLS HURWIN
MACCABEE COHEN, seventh grade MACC
honoree HYACINTH YOUNG on page 40 in the Retiring Employees section!
Forty years ago, Davida Wills noticed Crossroads School while driving down 20th Street. She was new to the area and teaching one drama class at Santa Monica High School. On a whim, Davida decided to send her resume to Crossroads, along with letters of recommendation from her students. And it worked! During her interview, Davida fell “head over heels” in love with the energy, trust and freedom of Crossroads. She worked part-time at ﬁrst, teaching seventh and eighth grade before moving to the Upper School a year later. Davida started a movement class in the Drama Majors program, choreographed “Oh Lovely War” and What a L directed the ﬁrst Cabaret in 1985, the year she became a full-time employee. In 1988, full-tim Davida became chair of the Drama Department—a position she ha has held since, except for a short shor hiatus when her
daughter, Frasier ’07, was a student in the program. Davida loves the fact that Crossroads says “yes”! She started the annual touring program, the Dance Company, the Dance Department and the Drama Conservatory. Unafraid to take the same type of risks that she asks of her students, Davida has staged many productions considered cutting-edge for high schoolers, including “Rent,” “Spring Awakening” and “Godspell,” the latter of which was produced outdoors with real police cars in the Alley. Davida remains thrilled that no two students or years are ever the same. Vivacious, energetic and dynamic, Davida changes right along with the culture and the children.
38 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
Twenty-four years ago, lured by longtime friends, Trudy Cano came to Crossroads as the secretary for Athletics. She had gone to grade school with Jim Untrauer, who worked in the Facilities Department. She knew Chuck Ice— for whom she and Cheryl Junod, then the Upper School administrative assistant, had worked when he was the athletics director at their high school, St. Monica Catholic. Chuck was the baseball coach and athletics director at Crossroads when Trudy applied. She’d loved working for him previously and was eager to return to work now that her children were in school full time. Trudy’s job grew as the school grew. She became the administrative assistant not only for athletics but also for physical education. She secured the sites, procured the officials and booked the game schedules. More recently, Trudy became the person who organized all the seasonal athletic banquets. By the time she left, Trudy was managing 20
or so teams. She loved doing it all, but she feels that her greatest achievement was organizing the annual Sports Extravaganza, which was “bigger and better” every year. The Extravaganza started years ago with a parent named Linda Rambis, who arranged for an In-NOut Burger truck to be stationed outside the gym for the annual homecoming game against Brentwood. Now the Extravaganza has several In-N-Out trucks and many other vendors. Because the crowds cannot all ﬁt into the gym, two huge outdoor screens show the action as it unfolds during basketball games. It’s a big deal. While she is proud of her accomplishments, Trudy prides herself in watching all the students play and working with her colleagues both at Crossroads and at other schools. Trudy retired in October 2020 and is as busy as ever walking her dog, gardening, reading and looking forward to travel.
The distance between South Dakota and Santa Monica is long, but Crossroads is lucky that Jamie Meyer made the trip—and stayed for 31 years. While visiting his twin sister in California, Jamie learned about a Latin position at Crossroads. Knowing next to nothing about independent schools, he decided to go to an interview at the School, just for fun. Immediately after the interview, Jamie was asked to teach a lesson to an eighth-grade Latin class. The students, at ﬁrst mildly appalled by Jamie’s formal suit, stood and applauded by the end of the lesson. They have been applauding ever since. Jamie attributes his long tenure at the School to Crossroads’ inclusiveness. After feeling excluded and judged in former teaching positions, Jamie was comfortable being openly gay during his very ﬁrst year at Crossroads—a true blessing. He knew he had found his home at the School. During the past 31 years, Jamie taught in the Middle
School for ﬁve years and spent the remaining years in the Upper School teaching Greek (until the program was terminated), and Latin. He sponsored the Crossroads Junior Classical League Club as well as PRIDE for many years. Jamie also has numerous Cabaret appearances to his name, most notably his sketch “Student Eye for the Teacher Guy”—an award-worthy performance! Jamie is proud of his undying passion for teaching. Now, as he retires, he wants to read voraciously; travel extensively; learn to speak conversational Latin, French and Spanish; and resume playing his grandmother’s baby grand piano. Jamie, you are loved and will be missed.
CROSS SECTIONS MAGAZINE / SUMMER 2021 39
Capturing Scott Weintraub’s 37 years of teaching at Crossroads is no easy feat. Funny, clever, unique and innovative, Scott moved to Los Angeles in 1984 to pursue his acting career. Soon after, his former high school drama teacher, Jack Nakano—who was chair of Crossroads’ Drama Department—brought Scott in to teach in the Upper School. In the years that followed, Scott began teaching in the Middle and Elementary Schools as well, becoming one of the few teachers to work with students in all three divisions. In every class, Scott encouraged his students to take creative risks, trust themselves and the material and strive to create magic. He never played it safe. Memorable shows Scott directed include his steampunk “The Mikado”; the world premiere of “Freak the Mighty,” workshopped with the novel’s author, Rodman Philbrick; “Candide,” in which the actors memorably cavorted with the full orchestra onstage; an early
gender-bending Middle School production of “1776”; and “Twelfth Night,” the ﬁrst and only cue-script Shakespeare production attempted by an American high school. He directed, co-choreographed and costume designed a K-12 production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream” boasting 139 performers and the Crossroads Chamber Orchestra. In hopes of sparking a lifelong love of Shakespeare, Scott also created An Evening of FifthGrade Shakespeare, which has become a Crossroads rite of passage. Scott is known for inserting comic bits of business, contemporary references and additional characters into his productions—from John Muir foraging through the forest in a “Midsummer Night’s Dream,” to Maria from “West Side Story” trying to steal Romeo from Juliet. By double casting lead roles and adding lines to smaller ones, Scott ensured that every student was challenged and had a victory. “It’s been an incredible journey,” he said. “I wouldn’t trade it for the world.”
Long before Barbara Whitney became the director of ﬁnance and operations at Crossroads, she knew about the School. A number of her colleagues and friends at the Getty Center, where she worked for 21 years, spoke highly of Crossroads. In 2004, when Barbara was ready for a change, she left a campus atop a mountain for one surrounding an alley. A month later, her daughter, Kate, entered kindergarten. Barbara planned to stay at Crossroads until Kate graduated from college—that bittersweet time has come. A delightful surprise met Barbara upon her arrival at Crossroads. She already knew employees Lilian Mejia and Pedro Ruelas through St. Augustine by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, occasionally providing translation for them. Her ability to communicate, translate and mediate between people became emblematic of Barbara’s tenure at Crossroads. Fairminded, diplomatic and warm, Barbara earned everyone’s trust, helping faculty, staff, administrators, Trustees
and parents understand and respect one another. Barbara cherishes the many memories she made at Crossroads, especially those moments shared with her daughter. When Kate was in Middle School, Barbara’s office turned into a hangout for Kate and her friends. Whether stopping in for lunch money or to escape the Alley hubbub, they always brightened Barbara’s day. Watching the growth of Kate’s volleyball team—from their Middle School days through their ascent to the state championship ﬁnals in 2016—was another particularly exciting highlight for Barbara. Barbara is extraordinarily grateful for the relationships she has made at the School and for all of her colleagues in the Business Office, Human Resources, Auxiliary Services and Facilities, who have worked so hard over the years. Thank you, Barbara, for 17 wonderful years at Crossroads.
40 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
One of seven siblings born in Jamaica, Hyacinth “Hya” Young moved to Montreal when she was 15. After college, she taught at a progressive school in Montreal, where the students didn’t wear uniforms and the parents didn’t necessarily agree with her literature choices. When she taught Shakespeare’s “The Merchant of Venice,” one parent complained that the play was antisemitic and claimed that all the other parents agreed. Hya felt demoralized. But that night, an old colleague, Les Larsen, then-director of Crossroads’ Upper School, invited her to interview. Tempted by the warm weather and a new beginning, Hya decided to “take a year off” for the position. Hya loved the autonomy she experienced at Crossroads. She could be fully herself, and the literature choices she made were always respected, even encouraged. She never left. The myth is that Hya “doesn’t give A’s.” According
to Hya, she tries to be fair and recognize students’ efforts. If students struggled, Hya would “invite” them to her (mandatory) study halls. She especially enjoyed the “lightbulb moments,” when they suddenly understood a concept or strategy. She always told those hardworking students that she was proud of them. Hya’s B+ or A- was a badge of honor. Hya loved being a “surrogate mom” to the International House students—relationships that continue to this day. She also served as a faculty representative for more than 20 years. Hya was renowned for the social events in which she enthusiastically participated—McGinty happy hours, breakfast clubs, beach volleyball and the Sunshine Club. Hya’s famous jerk chicken delighted employees at nearly every event. A Crossroads legend, Hya will never be forgotten.
CHARLIE NEVINS, 12th grade / “A Conﬂuence of Lines” earned a Gold Key in the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, West Region-at-Large.
CROSS SECTIONS MAGAZINE / SUMMER 2021 41
42 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
At Long Last, the Class of 2020 Celebrates Commencement When the COVID-19 pandemic prevented in-person gatherings in the spring of 2020, our then-seniors decided to forgo a virtual ceremony. They wanted the same closure to their time at Crossroads that every class before them experienced together as a community. Finally, on June 12, 2021, the Class of 2020 enjoyed a
Commencement celebration that was a year in the making. (A ceremony was held June 3 for the Class of 2021; see page 19.) Before the ceremony, the recent graduates gathered in the gym, and the excitement was palpable. Together, they processed down the soccer ﬁeld to “Pomp and Circumstance”; enjoyed an original song performed by Lucas Wurman and music by faculty member Jarod P. Sheahan; listened to powerful speeches by their peers Davis Ouriel, Jonah Neustadt, Levi Port and Cody JamesCardenas, along with an address by Upper School History Department chair and teacher Kevin Scull; and received letters from Head of School Bob Riddle and gifts from the Alumni Oﬃce and the Upper School. In her speech, Davis acknowledged, “To begin our next lives, we never needed to walk oﬀ this stage.” But, Class of 2020, we are certainly glad you ﬁnally did. It was worth the wait!
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CROSS SECTIONS MAGAZINE / SUMMER 2021 43
A Full Slate of Virtual Alumni Gatherings array of community-building virtual events for alumni to enjoy safely from their homes.
Alumni displayed their artwork after a watercolor workshop with artist Fahren Feingold ’89.
Year after year, we look forward to seeing our alumni back in the Alley as they reconnect with friends and former teachers. This year,
with in-person gatherings largely prohibited by public health guidelines, the Alumni Oﬃce brought the Alley experience online, oﬀering an
Legendary Life Skills teacher Tom Nolan held two alumni Councils to bookend the school year. In November, “Top Chef” winner Brooke Williamson ’96 and baker extraordinaire Breanna Jackson ’10 shared their culinary expertise with the community. Participants learned to make sweet potato fries with garlic-sesame tahini and cranberry and orange tarts just in time for Thanksgiving. The following month, Masterclass Co-Founder and CEO David Rogier ’01 was joined by ﬁlmmaker and parent of alumni Jay Roach for a conversation about the power of curiosity.
After winter break, mental health professionals Brian Stefan ’99, Lily Sais ’99 and Kaela Farrise ’10 created a safe online space to discuss anxiety, depression and suicide in the context of the pandemic. This sobering but important panel oﬀered guidance on how to cope with our thoughts and concerns during a trying time. Our ﬁrst virtual reunions took place in April, when the Classes of 1990, 2000 and 2010 had a chance to catch up with each other on Zoom. Fahren Feingold ’89 then shared her artistic talents in a watercolor workshop. If you weren’t able to join us for at least one of these events, we hope to see you in 2021-22, when we will (hopefully) gather in person once again to learn and have fun.
A Great Summer Internship Experience at GoodRx Looking for experience in the health care ﬁeld, Kayla Mitchell ’15 turned to the Crossroads Alumni Internship Program. Launched in 2018, the program aims to help our alumni garner meaningful work experience in a range of professional settings, and both expand and deepen their connection to our Crossroads community. In the winter of 2018, Kayla reviewed the open positions and applied to several, including one for a research internship at the prescription price transparency platform GoodRx. “The application process overall was straightforward,” Kayla said. “I
applied and got a couple of interviews. Before I knew it, I was accepted!” For roughly two months the following summer, Kayla worked with the research team of GoodRx, whose co-CEO and co-founder is Crossroads Trustee Trevor Bezdek ’95. Noted Kayla, “It was good to see that the CEO of GoodRx went to Crossroads. It made me feel like the alumni community really looks out for its alumni.” Now a registered nurse, Kayla appreciates how much she learned about the intersections between health care and technology at GoodRx.
“My experience was amazing,” reﬂected Kayla. “I was a part of a great team that was personable and kind. The environment was young and driven! There was a lot of ﬂexibility with the program as well.” Two years after the internship, Kayla continues to work as a parttime research assistant for GoodRx. Internship opportunities for summer 2022 will be shared with alumni in the fall. If you are interested in participating as an employer, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Kayla Mitchell ’15
44 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
Opine, Pioneers! Crossroads’ earliest students share memories from the good old days. This “trailblazer” icon identiﬁes students who entered the School in 1971.
“I loved doing my ﬁrst acting performance as Lady Crackwhip in ‘School for Jesters’ at St. Augustine by-the-Sea! I was one of the original 18 students in Crossroads’ founding seventh-grade class. We had wonderful electives. We went to a pottery studio one semester, and then a stained-glass studio. I seem to recall our French teacher was fresh out of school, and we gave her a nervous breakdown insisting that she teach us all the French swear words.”
Mark Norris ’82 shared the photo at left of a scene in the Alley from the early 1980s.
MARY GOODSON ’77
“The energy of the school itself was focused on growth and expansion—from two grades, a handful of teachers and 34 students in the ﬁrst year to full junior high and high school classes with new teachers and teaching assistants and dozens of students. With that expansion, something wonderful and irreplaceable was lost, though much was gained for many.”
Left to right: Wendy Whitaker, Briar (Flicker) Grossman, Laura Wolff and Sara Sherman-Levine before their spring trip in 1974.
SUE SAFYAN ’76
They held cheerleader tryouts during Crossroads’ ﬁrst year. At the appointed start time, all the girls found themselves frozen in terror; nobody could muster the courage to start. Eventually the tryouts successfully ensued. An hour after, the staff announced their decision: We all made the squad! My recollection is that we cheered for one football game, sans uniforms or pom-poms. Then after that one game, the squad ﬁzzled—and, to my memory, it was never evoked or referred to again.” SARA SHERMAN-LEVINE ’77
CROSS SECTIONS MAGAZINE / SUMMER 2021 45
“Even after 40 years, some of the most special people I’ve had the privilege to know are in this photo. What is it about high school that a short little three-year stint can loom so large within so much longer a life journey? The subsequent life stories of the people in this photo are surprisingly diverse and testify to the power of liberal education and parental support for personal autonomy as the young discover who they are. This was our Crossroads.” KEITH WEBER ’76
I could not believe we could call adults by their ﬁrst names. I was one of a few Black students at the time, and I was welcomed with open arms. I remember that Paul Cummins used to drink lots of coffee back then, and he would offer everyone a cup who entered his office. ‘Hi, I’m Paul Cummins, would you like a cup of coffee?’ Paul took care of me and opened up his home and family to me; we have been family ever since.” KEVIN “K.K.” JACKSON ’82
Left to right: Sue Safyan, Carrie Morrow and Mary Goodson. The junior class in 1976. From back row, left to right: Henry Ames, Kari Steinberg, Marcy Sloane, Jack Loera and Cary Bren; Megan Williams Sara ShermanLevine, Elizabeth “E.J.” (Jerison) Terry, Laura Wolff and Briar (Flicker) Grossman; Karl Thompson, Andrea Weiss, Mihal (Shapiro) Skaggs, Liesl Erman and David Jackman.
I started in 1973, and I think we only had one or two buildings then. My fond memories include hanging out in the Alley between classes; our wonderful, grandmotherly Latin teacher; Art Tuller’s math class, welding and pottery; singing John Denver songs on the bus on the way to Kern River—and so much more. It was an innocent and creative time.” JODY SEWARD LOWE ’79
“I was just barely 17—as was our class size—at graduation. We are still branches of a tree planted 50 years ago; I talk to at least one Crossroads connection daily. Those tight-knit ﬁrst years at such a small school taught acceptance and appreciation of others as well as (required) tai chi, drama, community service ... not just the typical three R’s. Crossroads oxymoronically indoctrinated questioning authority, seeking justice and being the change. Our many roads crossed and diverged.” ELIZABETH “E.J.” (JERISON) TERRY ’77
46 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
Leap of Faith: An Interview With Crossroads’ First Student What made your parents brave enough to sign you up for a school that didn’t yet exist? The ’60s had just ended, but the mindset of change, innovation and exploration of the unknown remained. Crossroads’ alternative approach to education caught the attention of my mother, Elyse. She had heard Paul speak and decided on the spot that she was game for anything he created. What was it like being in that ﬁrst class of 34 students?
Nancy Grinstein ’76 was the ﬁrst student to enroll in the brand-new Crossroads School, entering in the fall of 1971 as an eighth grader with 33 other students. She has had a full career directing theater and cable television, importing ﬁne goods and serving on several boards in support of underrepresented youth and the arts. She and her husband of 40 years, Neal Rabin, are the proud parents of two “smart, enterprising, passionate, activist daughters,” Tess and Dia Rabin.
What was your earliest memory of Crossroads? Paul Cummins interviewed me. With no location, teachers or other students, he asked me point blank, “Do you want to do this? You’ll be the ﬁrst student.” Taking the appropriate millisecond to contemplate my vast options, I blurted out, “Absolutely!” Truly, all I’d actually heard was that I didn’t have to go back to public school. That’s as far as my critical thinking went at 12 years old.
The energy was kinetic. We all shared a deep sense of the importance of curiosity, discovery and, most of all, the fun of pioneering this new adventure and constructing something that we wanted to be powerful, unique and signiﬁcant.
How did Crossroads inﬂuence your career path? Crossroads nurtured me and gave me the conﬁdence to develop several professional parts of myself: artist, entrepreneur and community activist. My own inner courage and deep curiosity for the world ﬁrst blossomed on Pico Boulevard in an old, tired church with a sad little dirt ﬁeld. Who would’ve expected that? Nancy and her mother, Elyse
What were the teachers and staﬀ like? Crossroads’ adults actually cared about what we thought of our own education pathway. Our opinions, ideas and participation mattered. Paul Cummins, Rhoda Makoﬀ, Steve Morgan and Teri (Darrow) Redman
OWEN TISHLER, ﬁrst grade
Nancy at graduation, facing Rhoda Makoff, with Paul Cummins in the background
are a few of the inspirational leaders and teachers who have shaped who I am today.
CROSS SECTIONS MAGAZINE / SUMMER 2021 47
This “trailblazer” icon identiﬁes students who entered the School in 1971.
KEITH ’76, TOM ’79 & JOSH ’85 RESNICK
CLASS OF 1976 Amy Pascal writes: “Crossroads changed my life. After graduation, I studied international relations at UCLA and married a journalist and playwright; we have a 21-year-old son. I work in the movie business. It was at Crossroads where I realized that I loved analyzing stories, and, not just that, but I was good at it! I’ll always live in LA, no doubt in part for the joy that I still feel driving down Olympic and passing the school that shaped me to my core.” Anne Schardt writes: “Following a career in Silicon Valley, Europe and Asia, I left ﬁntech to ponder what I want to do when I grow up. With adulting son and aging parent, I still try to remember what ‘relax’ means, but have reconﬁgured my life for its next (still mostly) mystery phase. My sweetheart and I will soon begin ‘slow travel’ escapes to the far reaches (OK, maybe Italy ﬁrst) of the world, as well as rediscovering a bit of the States.”
Between 1973 and 1985, at least one of the three Resnick brothers called himself a Roadrunner. Keith ’76 began his Crossroads career in 1973 as a 10th grader. Tom ’79 followed in Keith's footsteps, enrolling as a 10th grader in 1976. Finally, Josh ’85 started as a seventh grader in 1978. The brothers share a deep appreciation for the School and its impact on their lives today. “The School’s focus on community involvement seemed unique at the time and really helped shape the person I am today,” reﬂects Keith, father of three and co-founder and executive director of the Lili Claire Foundation. Named after his daughter who was born with Williams syndrome, the Lili Claire Foundation offers programs and services to children living with neurogenic birth conditions and their families. Tom likewise attributes his “sense of service” to his “eye-opening” experi-
ence at Crossroads. At the School, he reﬂects, “I gained a lot of self conﬁdence [in] my abilities.” After working in several industries, Tom most recently founded the tax preparation service The Tax Fanatic and obtained his enrolled agent license. He lives in Las Vegas with his four children. A parent of three Crossroads alumni, Josh adds, “Crossroads taught me to be a very disciplined student. I was also always encouraged and rewarded for taking creative risks. This deﬁnitely played a role in my later entrepreneurial endeavors by giving me the tools and conﬁdence I needed to manage complex businesses in creative ﬁelds.” Josh currently runs a family investment office called Pure Imagination Brands. He previously founded the video game company Pandemic Studios and the gourmet candy company Sugarﬁna. The Resnick brothers also share an appreciation for the friendships they made at Crossroads. Tom describes his classmates as “wild and uniquely individual,” adding it “didn’t take long to ﬁt in.” Josh shares, “Friends I met at Crossroads continue to be my best friends today.” As Keith remembers, “My classmates were fun, accepting and rebellious. We knew we were having an experimental educational experience that most other kids were missing out on, and we took full advantage.”
48 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
Pablo Pereira writes: “All these years later, there remains a great sense of pride telling people I graduated from Crossroads. I pass by there almost daily, and not a time
KEITH WEBER ’76
goes by when I am not triggered by a great memory from old friends and teachers that have had a lasting impact on my life.” Maggie Lear writes: “I became a licensed social worker, focused on criminal justice reform, and have lived in NYC for over 35 years. I’m proud to be the board chair of Youth Represent, which provides legal representation and advocacy for NYC youth. I also facilitate K-12 meetings in NYC’s independent schools through the organization Parents in Action. I consider myself a serial collaborator and a continual student of the issues I care about! Crossroads helped to lay the groundwork for my interests today.”
CLASS OF 1982 Kevin “K.K.” Jackson writes: “I volunteer at PAL, Boys & Girls Clubs and run my own nonproﬁt for at-risk youth. I have been married to my wife, Regina, for 32 years. We share three adult children (Kayvonn, 32; Kanaesha, 30; and Kameron, 20) and three grandkids (Kaydonn, 8; Tiaura, 3; and Kyree, 1). Family has always been my
Keith Weber ’76 still remembers how it felt to be a new student at Crossroads. “People like Sara Sherman-Levine and Annie Schardt made sure I was instantly at home. Crossroads was family and still is.” Keith, who entered Crossroads as a sophomore in 1973, fondly recalls his teachers during those early years of the School. Biology teacher Teri (Darrow) Redman, in particular, left an indelible impression on young Keith. As he remembers it, she lived in an ashram (which he and a few of his classmates helped paint) and “actually attended Woodstock!” He reﬂects, “she had a rare ability to be a friend while maintaining an authority which kept us all in line.” Keith shares, “Crossroads was a small and very inclusive community. It was a time of high ideals and possibilities.” Among Keith’s other cher-
ished memories from that era are how much he enjoyed his welding class; playing football with coach Rich Makoff; and studying English with Steve Morgan. “And, of course, Rhoda Makoff, Paul and Mary Ann Cummins and Kathy Specktor.” Keith’s friendships extended beyond the four walls of the classroom. “I majored in rock concerts,” jokes Keith, who went with his peers to see Led Zeppelin, Jethro Tull, The Who, The Kinks, David Bowie, Steppenwolf, Jimmy Cliff, James Taylor, Neil Young, Crosby Stills & Nash, Donovan, Chicago and Jackson Browne—to name just a few. He adds, “We also were regulars at the ‘Rocky Horror Picture Show’ live performances at the Roxy Theatre in Hollywood.” Now, with ﬁve grown children and four grandchildren in the San Diego and Seattle areas, Keith moves at a pace that is somewhat slower, but no less enjoyable, than before. Today, Keith is a lecturer of management information systems at Rochester Institute of Technology. He remains grateful for his educational experience at the School, noting, “The liberal arts education, I believe, trained me to view the world in a very holistic manner.” Looking back, Keith says his time at Crossroads was “the longest (in a good way) three years of my life. Crossroads was a gold mine of lifelong friends.”
CROSS SECTIONS MAGAZINE / SUMMER 2021 49
passion: camping, ﬁshing, boating and just being outdoors together. When I’m not working, I’m coaching, mentoring or training kids in our
LIESL ERMAN ’77
community and beyond.”
CLASS OF 1984 When Crossroads ﬁrst opened its doors in 1971, seventh grader Liesl Erman ’77 was one of the original 34 students to enter them. “At age 11, I don’t think I understood the signiﬁcance of starting a new school,” says Liesl. “I knew it was going to be different; I didn’t realize just how different.” Liesl fondly remembers two experiences that were rare in schools at that time: environmental studies, which took her to Yosemite; and community service, where she enjoyed conversing in Spanish with a resident of a nursing facility. “Every day at school was unique,” recalls Liesl. “It was as if we were starting from scratch every day, kind of making it up, but in a good way.” According to Liesl, the students embraced the innovative educational experiences: “In the ﬁrst year, I’m pretty sure some of my classmates got credit for practicing their motocross skills on their Sting-Ray bikes in the parking lot. Yes, I’m talking about you, Miles Dale! At the same time, some of my other seventh-grade classmates were learning 10th-grade math. Needless to say, I was in neither of those groups!” Music classes were taught by Liesl’s mother, Mary Ann Cummins, a faculty member to this day. Liesl herself is now a freelance symphony harpist and has performed with orchestras and chamber groups
around the country. She also arranges for and conducts small ensembles of students. Those early days of Crossroads yielded Liesl many fond memories— some of which, she admits, can’t be fully described in a school magazine. She read Rabelais with Jon Rinander; acted out television commercials in rapid Spanish for Carol Nelson; and learned about the biology of human reproduction through detailed chalkboard drawings by Teri (Darrow) Redman. Liesl feels lucky to have been a student of the caring, evergentle Steve Morgan, whom she credits with her appreciation of Shakespeare. Fifty years after she ﬁrst walked through Crossroads’ doors, Liesl has a newfound appreciation for the School. “The tremendous growth and success of Crossroads since those early days is such a beautiful testament to those original founders/dreamers,” acknowledges Liesl. “I wish they were all still here to see it.”
Sharon Mautner-Rodgers writes: “I am professor of cello at Gustavus Adolphus College and associate principal cellist of the South Dakota Symphony. I also freelance in Minneapolis and have performed with The Oratorio Society, VocalEssence, the Sinfonia Chamber Orchestra and the Minnesota Orchestra. In the summers, I perform with the Lakes Area Music Festival in Brainerd, Minnesota. This summer will be my 30th wedding anniversary. My husband and I have three grown children: Anthony, 25; Anya, 21; and Adam, 18.”
CLASS OF 1985 Anthony Marks writes: “Excited to announce that my family has relocated and moved to Aurora, Colorado, a suburb of Denver, for work and a lifestyle change. Our son Jason will be starting his sophomore year at the University of Colorado, Boulder, where he is majoring in journalism with a minor in sports media. We’re looking forward to many new adventures and welcome visitors!”
50 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
Andrée Collier Zaleska writes:
VALERIE PICKETT ’77 & VANESSA PICKETT-FLOWERS ’78
“I’m living happily on 10 acres in southern Vermont,
In 1971, seventh grader Valerie Pickett ’77 was in the inaugural group of 34 students to attend Crossroads, then held in a Baptist church on Pico Boulevard. The next year, when Crossroads moved to a former Motherhood Maternity factory on 21st Street, her sister Vanessa Pickett-Flowers ’78 joined as a seventh grader. While the sisters started their Crossroads careers in less-than-glamorous facilities, they were undeterred. “The energy at the school in those days was a hippie and adventurous vibe,” says Vanessa. “It felt exciting. It was fun and upbeat, and everyone was friendly. It was a good learning experience—motivating—and the teachers were always available to help.” The School’s ﬁrst yearbook in 1972 included poems by each student sharing highlights from their year. Valerie described how cool it was that
her printmaking teacher brought the entire class to her house, where she had a printmaking shop. Nowadays, Valerie feels a highlight of her Crossroads experience was her favorite teacher, Steve Morgan. She appreciates how the curriculum ignited students’ passions and empowered them to explore new horizons. “And our school trips were good memories. Those were great experiences,” adds Valerie. Vanessa agrees, “Yes! What an opportunity to experience school trips, which were not common for schools to offer in those days. Some of my best and funniest memories are the trips to Yosemite and especially hiking in Catalina.” “Fifty years later, where does the time go?” reﬂects Valerie. “Good memories.” Thinking about the impact of the School on her life, Vanessa shares, “Crossroads gave me a life of diversity, which has helped me greatly.” Valerie and Vanessa live near each other in San Diego County. Valerie retired after working 18 years for the county, and Vanessa is looking forward to retiring in 2023 after 32 years on San Diego’s waterfront. Vanessa has been married for 29 years and has two sons and a granddaughter (who is the love of her life!), and Valerie loves being an aunt and enjoys spoiling her nephews and grandniece.
homesteading and teaching in a forest kindergarten. I write about this life in my blog at soulspeed.posthaven.com.”
CLASS OF 1993 Max Ross writes: “I thought I’d never leave Google, but after 15 years, I ﬁnally found something that pulled me away: In November, I joined Roblox to help build the Metaverse. My favorite Roblox game at the moment is called ‘Destroy the Giant Duck.’ The object of the game is to destroy a giant duck. My Roblox handle is AuntDonald if you (or your kids) want to play with me.”
CLASS OF 1997 Lizzy Gerber writes: “I’m currently living in Beachwood Canyon with my husband and 2-year-old baby, Eleanor Jane. In addition to our regular jobs, my husband and I recently started a barbecue business called Edna Jane’s BBQ. It’s delicious! Follow us on Instagram @ednajanesbbq, on Facebook at facebook.com/Ednajanesbbq or online at ednajanesbbq.com.”
CROSS SECTIONS MAGAZINE / SUMMER 2021 51
THEA DAVIDSON, 11th grade / “Sunset Dancing” earned a Gold Key in the 2021 Scholastic Art & Writing Awards, West Region-at-Large.
52 CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES
CLASS OF 1998 Courtney Fishman writes: “I’m now living in Sherman Oaks with my husband and two boys—who are 2 and 5 years old, the true
DONALD MCCLEARY ’79
lights of my life. I’ve launched my dream business called My Little Outﬁt, which offers an exceptional collection of curated, gently loved clothing for babies and children up to 6 years old. It is all e-commerce-based, and I am the sole owner. Please check us out mylittleoutﬁt.com and follow us at @shopmylittleoutﬁt. Would love and appreciate your support!”
CLASS OF 2002 Danielle Schwartz writes: “I recently opened up a clothing and lifestyle store of my own called Lady Dandelion! It’s right in the neighborhood on Montana Avenue and Ninth Street, and high school girls tend to love it the most. It is a line for feminine tomboys inspired by my lifestyle of skateboarding and surﬁng and also my 3-year-old daughter, Lulu. We live in Venice Beach.”
To submit a class note and/or update your contact information, please visit xrds.org/stayinvolved.
Donald McCleary ’79 is a man who gives back. And he credits much of who he is today to his experiences— and “the beautiful people” he met— at Crossroads. Donald notes that the perspectives to which the School exposed him have shaped him throughout his life. After attending St. Augustine by-the-Sea through sixth grade, Donald began his Crossroads journey in the seventh grade in 1973. Although he remembers being “scared to death” at ﬁrst, he now considers his experience at Crossroads “the best time of my life!” A lover of sports, particularly basketball, Donald fondly recalls his classmates as “very accepting and welcoming and, most of all, fun.” When asked about any humorous anecdotes from his days at Crossroads, Donald is quick to reply, “The funniest stories came from my
brother, Kevin ‘K.K.’ Jackson ’82.” He adds, “The most fun was playing basketball and trying to keep up with the other students—that was a task within itself.” Donald is grateful for his Crossroads experience: “At the schools in the area I was from, drugs, ﬁghting and violence were the norm. So the attention to the success of the students [at Crossroads], no matter what direction they chose, was completely cool!” Donald also appreciated his teachers, Steve Morgan, Teri (Darrow) Redman, John Nordquist, Art Tuller, Rich Makoff and Paul and Mary Ann Cummins, to name a few. “The genuine care from the teachers and coaches was great. It was school, but it was so much more.” Donald works for the nonproﬁt organization Anti-Recidivism Coalition as a pre-apprentice life coach. He previously worked for Behavioral Systems Southwest, providing assistance to individuals returning home from prison. He is the proud father of a 10-year-old son, AJ, and an adult daughter, Kashawnda (pictured with him). “I am proud to say to anyone who asks that I am a graduate of Crossroads School for Arts & Sciences, Class of 1979!” exclaims Donald. “The memories I have will be with me till the day I die and always cherished. Thank you!”
Upper Schooler Zoie Brogdon’s Magazine Cover Art Earns Awards
CROSSROADS SCHOOL FOR ARTS & SCIENCES NEWS MAGAZINE
BLACK LIVES MATTER A RECKONING FOR OUR SCHOOL AND OUR WORLD
The Black Lives Matter movement inspired Zoie Brogdon, now a rising junior, to create the artwork featured on the cover of the summer 2020 issue of Cross Sections magazine. The cover recently won a Gold InspirED School Marketers Brilliance Award and a Silver CASE District VII Award of Excellence. The issue was designed by the Warren Group | Studio Deluxe. “I wanted to visualize my feelings of empowerment as I saw so many people rising up to stand for what is right. I drew that Black female to represent my emotions with her and her embracing her Blackness,”
explained Zoie. “We (Black people) are powerful, and as many times as you try to knock us down, we will get back up and rise higher.” One Brilliance Awards judge commented on her work: “I love that a student’s art is used to illustrate this very powerful and important subject. The cover is striking. The artist’s portrait engages the reader eye to eye and dares them to look away from the subject at hand.”
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