Cross Sections (Spring 2019)

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3,715 HOURS. That’s enough time for the Earth to orbit nearly halfway around the sun, or for an Apollo-style spaceship to travel to the moon and back 20 times. It’s even enough time, in theory, to drive to the moon at regular freeway speeds!


I offer these figures as a vivid illustration of the estimated collective time spent by the Crossroads community creating our new strategic plan, which will serve as our North Star for the next five to seven years. Over the course of two years, students, faculty, staff, parents and alumni worked collaboratively to identify the School’s highest priorities and most pressing needs, demonstrating a remarkable commitment to the School and its people. I was awed by their energy, insight and dedication as we examined our School with an eye toward improving it, broadening its impact and sustaining its long-term well-being. Those 3,715 hours included meaningful conversations between the members of the Strategic Student performances at School assemblies strengthen the sense of community and belonging.

Plan Steering Committee, the Strategic Planning Work Groups and the Board of Trustees. They built on the thoughtful input we collected through a community-wide survey that generated hundreds of responses. And they fortified the deep examination that the School completed for a recent self-study, part of our successful accreditation process with the California Association of Independent Schools and the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. Crossroads has developed a timeline for each of the 15 goals in our strategic plan, prepared courses of action, identified who will be responsible for each and is forming committees to oversee their successful enactment. By the end of the fifth year of implementation, we hope to have accomplished all of the plan’s goals and produced an impact that will benefit the School for years to come. In this issue of Cross Sections, we share stories that reflect the values and priorities of the School and of Crossroads’ new strategic plan. In our cover story (page 24), I share insights about the process and implementation of the plan, including building toward greater institutional sustainability and plans for a new performing arts center. One focus of the plan is strengthening the School’s efforts to promote student well-being (page 18), which include the recent addition of a new counselor; a student survey about social-emotional learning; and grade-specific approaches to healthy development. Another aspect of the plan addresses belonging and inclusion (page 20), which Crossroads advances through curricular lessons, diverse guest speakers and affinity groups. Indeed, it is my hope that everything happening at our incredible School—from EOE trips (page 4) and athletics (page 13) to the interfaith dialogue hosted by the new Equity & Justice Institute (page 11) and professional development opportunities


Inside This Issue 03 Around the School 14

Trustee News


Donor Profile


Parent Association


Student Wellness

20 Belonging and Inclusion 22

Crossroads Fund


Strategic Plan


Alumni News


Class Notes

Enhancing the student experience is a key element of Crossroads’ new strategic plan. CROSS SECTIONS NEWS MAGAZINE

(page 6)—dovetails with our strategic plan in meaningful and impactful ways. Our magnificent alumni have continued making a difference in myriad fields, a testament to the knowledge, passions and values they developed at Crossroads. In this issue, we highlight outstanding graduates in the military, visual arts, education, activism, filmmaking and the nonprofit world (page 40). Spanning over three decades of graduating classes, these individuals make me proud to be a member of the Crossroads family.

While I am energized by the 3,715 hours we clocked in for the creation of our strategic plan, I am even more excited to participate in the considerably longer process of bringing it to fruition. All the while, I will be thinking of our current and future students, of the faculty and staff who nurture them and of the members of our community without whom the day-to-day magic of Crossroads would not be possible. To the North Star and back, I thank you wholeheartedly for your partnership and support.

is published twice a year by the Crossroads Advancement Office: Jeff Goodman Editor, Communications Manager Sara Ring Director of Communications Colleen Bartlett Director of Advancement Ginette Buffone Web Manager Mery Grace Castelo Constituent Relations Manager Patti Finkelstein Director of Major Gifts Jennifer Gerber ’97 Director of Alumni Relations Tom Nolan Dean of Alumni Relations

Read the strategic plan in its entirety (pages 25-27).

Kathy O’Brien Major Gifts Manager ON THE COVER

This star trails photo composition, created by junior Cole Bardin for his Photography 3 class, includes about 160 longexposure images of the night sky. Centered around Polaris (aka the North Star), the trails illustrate the Earth’s rotation.

Carlos Ortiz Advancement Coordinator Sanam Khamneipur Smith Director of Annual Giving Veronica Ulloa Events Coordinator Paul Howiler, Steve Owen, Allison Schaub Advancement Services Designer Warren Group | Studio Deluxe Contributing Photographers Randal Coombs, Gary Ellenberg, EOE faculty, Chris Flynn, Jennifer Gerber ’97, Jeff Goodman, Suzanne Landis, Oksana Lutsenko, Martie McKinney, Taylor Parker, Sara Ring, Tara Shima Contact us at

KATE SALKE, 12th grade




In-Depth Projects Flourish During Middle School Block Week It’s early October, and things are in full swing at Crossroads Middle School—except this week, the first week of October, it’s not entirely business as usual. Once a trimester, for an entire week, students trade their regular daily schedules of four or five 45-minute classes a day for two or three classes per day, each comprising a 2-hour “block” of time. Welcome to Middle School Block Week. Started roughly five years ago, Middle School Block Week was implemented to better support longer, more complex science labs. Over time, Block Week grew to include Middle School curricula like the World Cup

teams project and a Government in Action unit during the last national election.

digital blueprints and creating a 3D printed object to be used at the event.

The benefits of this type of scheduling, according to Middle School Director Michelle Merson, include more focused classroom time as well as deeper learning and more hands-on, studentdriven possibilities.

In seventh-grade science, students plotted and planned their escapes during the Biomes Escape Room project. Eighth-grade math students took measurements of their standing and sitting heights to determine whether a tunnel on a roller coaster was safe. In Latin, students participated in a “Make-a-Villa” Minecraft-style project.

This year, students in seventh-grade math classes became event planners. Working in groups, students were tasked with designing an event such as a bat mitzvah or grand opening. Some of the project requirements included scaling up recipes, designing

“Kids love it because the week is not so multifaceted,” Michelle says. “And they feel that the homework is lessened. Parents note that, too, and enjoy the time with their kids.”

Kids love it because the week is not so multifaceted. And they feel that the homework is lessened. Parents note that, too, and enjoy the time with their kids. Michelle Merson, Middle School Director

Left: Middle School Block Week offers students more opportunities to collaborate on in-depth projects. Above: Seventh-grade math students built scale models as part of an event planning project during Middle School Block Week.



Elementary Schoolers Expand Horizons on EOE Trips By Kyle Shepard, Elementary School substitute teacher

Research has shown the many positive effects of nature: reduced levels of depression, anxiety and stress; and improved self-esteem, learning capacity and social engagement. As a behavior analyst pursuing a master’s in clinical psychology, I witnessed these benefits firsthand on Crossroads’ fourth- and fifth-grade Environmental and Outdoor Education trips this fall. The fourth-graders headed to Lazy W Ranch in San Juan Capistrano, and it was beautiful to watch students comfort peers who were initially homesick. The students hiked, mined for gold, saw animals in their wild habitats,

learned about Spanish settlers and performed creative skits. And students’ faces lit up as they saw a “superpod” of dolphins during a whale-watching boat excursion. Many students opened up about their experiences and expressed gratitude during closing appreciation circles. On the fifth-grade trip to the Catalina Island Marine Institute, students interacted with the ocean, marine life and the local environment. They hiked, kayaked, snorkeled and grew together during transformational team-building exercises like the Giant Swing, during which students wore harnesses

and trusted their rope-pulling peers to lift them upwards of 30 feet in the air. Thinking about the support students gave to their more fearful peers during this activity still gives me chills. Later, the fifth-graders shared what they had witnessed in each other and in themselves. They were proud to face their own fears and glad to help others conquer theirs. These trips are opportunities for students to disconnect from our device-dependent world, engage with peers, face unfamiliar challenges and develop new skills in unique environments. Simply put, they’re life changing.

Above: The fourth-grade EOE trip allowed students to spend time at Lazy W Ranch in San Juan Capistrano. Opposite, clockwise from top left: Fourth-grade students took advantage of their surroundings by mining for gold during their EOE trip to San Juan Capistrano. The fifth-grade EOE trip offered students an opportunity to go snorkeling in the marine ecosystems around Catalina Island. Each using just one finger, fourth-grade students lift and lower a stick as part of a teambuilding exercise on their EOE trip. Kayaking at Catalina Island was among the highlights of the fifth-grade EOE trip. Fifthgrade students experienced new thrills on the Giant Swing, a transformational activity on their EOE trip to Catalina Island.

SIENNA CARTER, sixth grade




Meet Jenna Bach, the New Elementary School Counselor When Jenna Bach began working at Crossroads this school year, she noticed something special about the School’s culture. “I immediately loved the value placed on cultivating relationships between students, teachers, families and staff,” she says. “This is of utmost importance in creating a safe and supportive community for children.”

Faculty Personal and Professional Growth Awards Lifelong learning is a key component of the Crossroads School philosophy, and the School invests annually in the professional development of every faculty member. In addition, every year the School grants up to four Faculty Personal and Professional Growth Awards, enabling teachers to undertake special projects that challenge them both professionally and personally and enliven their teaching. Teachers engage in this work during school holidays and over summer break. Below, three recent winners describe their experiences and the benefit to students back on campus.

It’s a value she’ll continue promoting as the new Elementary School counselor, serving as a social-emotional coach for students. Jenna, who graduated from Santa Clara University with a master’s in counseling psychology, brings to Crossroads a variety of counseling experiences. For three years, she worked in an intensive outpatient program in a low-income middle school in San Jose. Her next job was in Cupertino, one of the wealthiest cities in the nation, where she worked with middle school students burdened by high expectations. Two years ago Jenna moved to Santa Clarita and did outpatient therapy using a cognitive behavior model with clients ranging in age from 5 to 18. She incorporated her passion for the arts into her work and was thrilled to see her clients respond to expressive art therapy. Her road to Crossroads was paved when she met Elementary School Director Debbie Wei at a job fair in 2017. Following a conversation about social-emotional learning and the integration of mental-health programs in schools, Jenna visited Crossroads and knew it was a perfect fit. Jenna’s work includes organizing friendship groups, guiding lessons with teachers and meeting with students individually. With parent permission, Jenna holds discussions about friendships and conflicts with a small group of students in grades three to five. “This community truly feels like a family,” she says. “I am constantly inspired by the amazing, supportive educators and administrative staff I collaborate with. I feel so fortunate to be part of this community.”

JOHN CLIMACO, Middle and Upper School Physical Education Teacher My project aimed to introduce bamboo bike frame-building as an alternative livelihood among residents of two lowincome villages in the Philippines. To this end, I organized skills training sessions with local volunteer master builders, including Engelbert Chan, who founded Lovebikes Philippines. One of my goals was to elevate the confidence and character of marginalized children through skills acquisition and development. Through a hands-on, build-on-site activity, the workshop imparts basic techniques, but it yields so much more than a bamboo bike frame. Firstly, building something from scratch inspires confidence that anything is possible. Secondly, bicycles are of practical value as transportation to and from work or school. Each bike presented an opportunity for participants to grow professionally in the bamboo bike industry or any related endeavor.


One highlight was the relationships I developed with the workshop participants. They were fascinated by building a bamboo bike and exploring the many possibilities presented by bamboo and similar sustainable materials and practices. One takeaway from this mentorship is the importance of identifying common ground among people. In the school setting, this could help close achievement gaps. I plan to explore this approach in my classes now and in the future.

VALERIE JAUREGUI, Elementary School Librarian I traveled the Selma to Montgomery National Historic Trail and visited the Edmund Pettus Bridge to support research for a picture book manuscript that I am writing. I also visited Selma’s National Voting Rights Museum and Montgomery’s Equal Justice Initiative’s Legacy Museum and National Memorial for Peace and Justice. My goal was to learn more about the history of civil and voting rights in the United States. Some of the most memorable experiences included speaking with people who were children and foot soldiers during the 1965 Selma march. One person who stood out was Sam Walker, the tour guide I met at the Voting Rights Museum in Selma. When their parents went to work, Sam and other young people stood in for the adults as foot soldiers. His story demonstrated how individuals across generations worked together to secure equal rights for African-Americans. I plan to collaborate with the fifth-graders during their unit on the civil rights era in Social Studies to share my new insights.

I have also learned about new resources and titles to include in the Elementary School Library collection for students in all grade levels to expand their understanding of this formative period in United States history.

ZOEY ZIMMERMAN, Middle and Upper School Theater Teacher How do we perceive ourselves within cultural frameworks? What is the place of soul in the process of understanding individual and collective identity? These questions were explored in May 2018 at the International Association for Analytical Psychology’s conference, “The Labyrinth of Identity: Unveiling Our Unlived Lives,” in the enchanted Alpine village of Saanen. During that week on sacred Swiss soil, communing with trees and Jungian scholars, I was immersed in the concept that soul calls us into our most expansive, authentic selves, and that to create art is to converse with soul—a concept which has long influenced my collaborations with young artists. The processes of theater-making are the processes of cultivating identity. To hear soul is to “unveil” those hidden forces in one’s own psyche, as well as the psyche of the world, forces that can become destructive if kept in the shadows. Following this deep dive into Jung, I traveled to Berlin for a theater binge. Inspired and cleansed by these European terrains of land, mind, art and soul, I returned to the classroom with a renewed fervor for the work of cultivating our most authentic selves—individually and collectively—through that “conversation with soul” called theater.

LONDON MANDEL, fifth grade




Upper School Students Organize TEDx Event at Crossroads The potential of technology to provide clean water, the imminent dangers of climate change, the need for risk-taking in venture capital—these were just some of the captivating topics discussed during the inaugural TEDxCrossroadsSchool event. The event—held Nov. 4 in the Joanie Martin Community Room—was organized by senior Derrick Tong and other members of the Upper School TED Club who wanted to bring to Crossroads the educational and inspirational power of the popular lectures network. “Planning any TEDx event is no easy task,” Derrick says, “and the fact that a group of Crossroads students took on such an

endeavor showcases how capable and driven Crossroads students are.”

harness technology to do better with what we have?”

Centered around the theme “Redefining the Future,” the symposium enabled attendees to absorb fresh perspectives in a setting that fosters interaction and conceptual synthesis.

The lineup also featured talks by other School community members, including senior Lola Ellenberg, president of the campus Students for Environmental Action club; Upper School English teachers Alan Barstow and Rika Drea; Environmental and Outdoor Education faculty member Colin Gruen; parent Cara Natterson, a pediatrician and author; and parent Mark Suster, a venture capitalist.

The roster of speakers included David Hertz, the father of three Crossroads alumni. Skysource/Skywater Alliance—helmed by David and his wife, Laura Doss-Hertz—won the $1.5-million Water Abundance XPRIZE in October for developing a sustainable energy water generator. “How does mankind look at technology?” David asked in his lecture. “How do we

Explains Derrick, “The main goal of hosting TEDxCrossroadsSchool was to spark exciting and meaningful conversation that will create positive change within the Crossroads community.”

The main goal of hosting TEDxCrossroadsSchool was to spark exciting and meaningful conversation that will create positive change within the Crossroads community. Derrick Tong, senior

Right: David Hertz, the father of three Crossroads alumni, discusses access to clean water at the TEDxCrossroadsSchool event. Far right: Crossroads senior Lola Ellenberg, president of the Students for Environmental Action club at Crossroads, delivers a compelling presentation about climate change.



Chords2Cure Concert Celebrates 5-Year Milestone

Music has often been a therapeutic outlet for Crossroads junior Jaxon Blumenthal—when he was diagnosed with a rare liver cancer at age 11, when he endured months of chemotherapy, when he received a life-saving liver transplant and whenever he’s needed a boost over the last five years. “It was music that kept my spirit alive in the hospital,” Jaxon says. It’s fitting, then, that Chords2Cure—the nonprofit launched by Crossroads students and parents to support pediatric cancer research—does much of its fundraising through annual music concerts. This year’s edition—held March 10 at The Broad Stage in Santa Monica—marked the nonprofit’s fifth anniversary and celebrated all the organization has achieved since its inception.

Chords2Cure has raised more than $300,000 for pediatric cancer research and clinical trials, such as those used to develop the promising new drug Vitrakvi, which received FDA approval in November. “We use the funds from Chords2Cure to help get early-stage clinical trials off the ground,” says Dr. Noah Federman, director of the Pediatric Bone & Soft Tissue Sarcoma Program at UCLA, who counts Crossroads alumna Mafalda von Alvensleben ’18 as a former patient. “We hope to offer them a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel.” Mafalda, who was diagnosed with Ewing’s sarcoma at age 14, is now cancer-free and studying biochemistry at Yale University. And Jaxon, who has written several songs about his journey, has performed at every Chords2Cure concert to date. For more details, visit

“Crossroads has been instrumental in Chords2Cure’s success,” says Chrissy Blumenthal, Jaxon’s mother. “Every event sells out within a matter of days, and it’s due to the students’ compassion, their immense talents and the community’s generosity.”

Crossroads junior Elijah Ezralow contributed to this story.

Top left: Largely through its annual concerts, Chords2Cure has raised more than $300,000 for pediatric cancer research. Top right: Crossroads alumna Mafalda von Alvensleben ’18, who is now cancer-free, performed at last year’s Chords2Cure concert. Above: Crossroads junior Jaxon Blumenthal has performed at every Chords2Cure concert to date.


Equity & Justice Institute Hosts Interfaith Dialogue Launched in September, the Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute has quickly established itself as a driving force for dynamic, socially conscious engagement both within and beyond the Crossroads campuses. On Nov. 13, partly in response to the deadly shooting three weeks prior at The Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh, the Institute presented an interfaith dialogue in partnership with The Guibord Center. “When divisiveness appears to be the norm, developing safe havens for civil discourse with people from different political, sociodemographic and religious backgrounds should be our focus,” says Derric J. Johnson, founding director of the Institute. “Let’s positively leverage such tragic events to galvanize segregated communities and exercise collective power for the purpose of changing the world.”

MILES GRIFFIN, first grade

The event marked the second in Crossroads School’s Younes and

Soraya Nazarian Equity & Justice Distinguished Lecture Series, which was established to help stimulate dialogue among students, educators and community leaders committed to tackling the problems of racism, poverty, war, environmental degradation, educational inequities. During the keynote speech, Rev. Dr. Gwynne Guibord described how the devotion of Muslims and Jews elevates her own relationship with Christianity, noting, “Religion must catapult us into the discomfort of becoming our better selves.” Her speech was followed by a panel discussion with a diverse group of interfaith leaders, moderated by Derric. To a rapt audience, the panelists spoke on issues including the separation of church and state, spirituality versus religion and how misconceptions can lead to persecution. Audience members asked

Crossroads held an interfaith panel discussion in November to promote pluralism and understanding.

questions on topics including the evolution of spiritual texts over the centuries and how to explain religious discrimination to children, harkening back to Rev. Dr. Guibord’s opening remarks. “We live in dangerous times,” she acknowledged, calling interfaith dialogue essential “if only for the sake of our mutual safety and survival.”


Rev. Edward Anderson Eliana Kaya Dr. Sable Manson Tasneem Noor Rabbi Joel Thal Simonds Mustafa Zeno



STELLA OMAN, ninth grade

Students Explore the Museum of Latin American Art

Three Middle School classes—Spanish 1A, Spanish 1B and Spanish for Heritage Speakers—took a field trip to the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach in November. For both native Spanish speakers and those first learning the language, it was an exciting exploration of Latin American art and culture featuring an educational tour, a collaborative scavenger hunt and lunch outdoors on the museum grounds. “The trip served our students in myriad ways,” Spanish teacher Oksana Lutsenko says. “Beginners engaged with heritage speakers, and a Crossroads community of Middle School Spanish enthusiasts was effectively formed. Furthermore, students learned together about Latinx culture, both past and present, and the detailed discussions about the art allowed for reflection on current social and economic realities. In addition, students were afforded an opportunity to apply what they may have already known about Day of the Dead, both during the tour and in the subsequent discussion.”

Accompanied by Oksana and Spanish teachers Ximena Muñoz and Stephanie Simon, students engaged in an in-depth examination of the Día de los Muertos altar display and art exhibition; analyzed the symbolism in muralist Judithe Hernández’s “A Dream Is the Shadow of Something Real”; and took a deep dive into Chicano culture and tattoo art through the exhibit “Ink: Stories on Skin.” “It was cool to hear about and see all these different representations of Latin American culture,” seventh-grader Gio Amores says. Back on campus, while enjoying traditional Mexican baked goods, the three classes came together a second time to take part in group games and discuss the exhibitions they had toured. Sixth-grader Celeste Molina reflects, “It’s important to be informed because a lot of people lack that knowledge and understanding about different cultures.”


For Middle School Athletes, Success Is Multi-Dimensional By Tara Shima, Athletics Communications Coordinator

Crossroads Middle School is filled with talented studentathletes who make their presence known both in the academic and competitive arenas. But, true to Roadrunner form, these individuals are so much more than just students and athletes. In order to garner a better understanding of Crossroads Middle School students’ lives beyond school, we caught up with a few of these incredible individuals. Seventh-grader Ryan Natterson is a multisport student-athlete: cross-country, volleyball, rowing, soccer and track. Away from the sporting arena, Ryan can be found playing his trumpet or bass guitar or volunteering with the Starlight Children’s Foundation. “Starlight helps kids have a better experience in hospitals by donating new, comfortable gowns and offering virtual reality games that help keep their minds occupied while they wait to have medical procedures,” Ryan explains. Eighth-grader Elijah Ayers-Davis is enjoying his first year as a student-athlete at Crossroads. Elijah has contributed his seasoned basketball skills to the Crossroads team and may join the baseball and cross-country programs in the future. Between workouts and school, Elijah has found time to nurture his passion for acting through the Drama Teachers Association of

Southern California competitive festival, where student-actors from dozens of area schools perform comedic and dramatic scenes from published plays and musicals. Elijah recently represented Crossroads by playing the protagonist in the dystopian tale “Fahrenheit 451.” Sixth-grader Kerron Jones was a member of the league-champion swimming team this year, played wide receiver in flag football last year and plans on running track this spring. Kerron also has music running through her veins; she dedicates hours to singing and playing alto saxophone, which she practices with Crossroads’ Middle School band; in a Santa Monica mariachi band; and with the Santa Monica Youth Orchestra. Kerron is no stranger to time management—she starts her day at 6 a.m. in preparation for her hour-long commute to School and gets home at about 9 p.m. every night. Crossroads Middle School student-athletes are so much more than that single label entails. They’re a talented group of individuals who are building a life enriched by academics, athletics and extracurricular activities. Juggling their disparate interests, striving for excellence in all they pursue, these students are personally fulfilling one of Crossroads’ founding commitments as they develop their own “physical wellbeing and full human potential.”

Top: Eighth-grader Elijah Ayers-Davis (second from right), who plays basketball, has also pursued his passion for acting in his first year at Crossroads. Center: Sixth-grader Kerron Jones balances her responsibilities as a student, multisport athlete and accomplished musician. Bottom: Seventh-grader Ryan Natterson, a multisport athlete, also plays trumpet and bass guitar and volunteers with a nonprofit that supports young hospital patients.



Board of Trustees Crossroads is truly fortunate to have such a committed and thoughtful Board of Trustees. Thanks to the continued dedication and leadership of the Board, the School is well-positioned for continued success as we launch an ambitious new strategic plan and approach our 50-year anniversary. We’d like to take this opportunity to explain the role of the Board and the deep and lasting impact our Trustees continue to make on our School. What is the role of Crossroads’ Board of Trustees? The Board of Trustees champions and protects Crossroads’ mission. It is the Board’s responsibility to ensure that the mission is relevant and vital to the School community and to monitor the success of the School in fulfilling its mission. Each Trustee actively promotes Crossroads while accepting accountability for the School’s financial and strategic future. Trustees serve as fiduciaries of the School. Who is on the Board? Crossroads currently has 29 Trustees (17 men and 12 women), including current parents, alumni, parents of alumni and grandparents. The Trustees’ diverse professional experiences and skill sets—in business, the arts, finance, real estate, the law, politics, social justice, community advocacy and more—ensure a comprehensive approach that helps the School thrive. Indeed, the composition of the Board

2018-19 Board of Trustees reflects the strategic expertise, resources and perspectives (past, present and future) needed to achieve Crossroads’ mission and strategic objectives. What decisions are made by the Board? The Board oversees longrange, strategic planning for Crossroads. The Board engages in strategic financial planning; assumes primary responsibility for the preservation and growth of capital assets and endowments; approves the annual operating budget; and participates actively in fundraising in a leadership capacity. How does the Board work with the School administration? The Head of School reports to the Board of Trustees as a whole, but not to individual Trustees. As such, the Board as a body is responsible for hiring, setting compensation for and evaluating the Head of School. The Board has no oversight over any other administrators or employees, and is not involved in the day-to-day management of the School. Some administrators, such as the director of finance and operations or the director of advancement, may work with Board committees in an advisory capacity, sharing critical financial or fundraising information with the Finance, Audit or Development committees, for example. The Board does not work with division administrators.


Total Trustees








Jeff Worthe, Executive Vice Chair



Bob Davenport, Treasurer

Current Parents

19 66%

Parents of Alumni*

8 28%

Andy Baum


3 10%

Michelle Brookman ’82

59% 41%



*not current parents also


Bob Friedman, Chair Nada Kirkpatrick, Chair Designate Darlene Chan, Executive Vice Chair Nat Trives, Executive Vice Chair

Deborah Kanter, Secretary


Trevor Bezdek ’95

Juan Carrillo Christopher Chee Ann Colburn


Emilio Diez Barroso

Audit Committee

Mary Farrell

Development Committee

Nicole Hoegl

Executive Committee

Martin Jacobs

Finance Committee Governance Committee Head of School Evaluation Committee

Marisol León ’03 Jeff Lipp Ted Miller ’82

Head of School Compensation Committee

Marc Millman

Investment Committee

Sharon Nazarian

Revenue Committee

David Offer ’84 Lois Reinis


403(b) Investment Committee Grandparent Development Committee Risk Management Committee Radical Inclusion for Social Equity (RISE)

Tracy Seretean Bruce Stern Tom Werner Erik Wright Lanhee Yung



Frances and Steven Berman Frances and Steven Berman had an idea of Crossroads’ strong emphasis on community when their 10th-grade daughter, Liliana, enrolled a few years ago. But when they arrived at their first Alley Party, the annual welcome-back-toSchool carnival, they really knew. “There was a cohesiveness that made us look at one another and say, ‘We belong,’” Frances says. “There is a genuine camaraderie

among the faculty, the parents and, most importantly, the students.” The Bermans have become integral members of Crossroads’ loving community, and they have grown to appreciate everything the School does to help students become the best versions of themselves. It’s why they support the Crossroads Fund (formerly known as the Annual Fund), which enables the School

to offer life-changing academic and extracurricular programs; hire and retain top-notch faculty and staff; and sustain a student body of socio-economic diversity through an allocation of $9 million in financial aid to one in four students each year. “We give to the Crossroads Fund because we have to ‘turn on the lights’ in order to run the business of education,” Steven shares. “We give because our teachers should feel that their own education and contribution to the betterment of our children is acknowledged and appreciated. And we give because Crossroads is held together by our incomparable administration.”

HUGH USHER, first grade

With eyes toward the future, the Bermans have also provided support for the Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute through Worlds Unimagined: The Campaign for Crossroads. “Our support for the Equity & Justice Institute

comes from our hope that people outside our community will better comprehend the larger meaning of discrimination,” Frances says. “We look forward to seeing that impact.” The Bermans have exhibited a commitment to philanthropy for more than 20 years, contributing to organizations such as LA Family Housing, Planned Parenthood, Beit T’Shuvah, Corpus Christi Church, Cedars-Sinai and the UCLA Medical Center as well as to a variety of educational institutions and political causes. With Crossroads, giving comes naturally. “When everyone contributes to the bottom line, which cannot be met through tuition alone, it is possible to meet a complete responsibility to the best education of our children,” Steven says. “No matter the contribution, we collectively raise our School up to the highest level.”



The Alley Party: A Crossroads Tradition For the 33rd year in a row, Crossroads kicked off the school year with an Alley Party to remember. 21st Street was shut down for an entire day for the free welcome-back-to-School fall block party, which this year was attended by some 2,200 members of the School community, including current families, grandparents, alumni and parents of alumni.

This year’s Alley Party was held Sept. 30, 2018. Kudos to fabulous Alley Party co-chairs Mona Fakki, Joe Blackstone and Andrea Slutske (pictured far right, with Bob Riddle) and their amazing team:

Fitting with this year’s theme, “Super XRDS,” capes were distributed at the front entrance to all children as well as to the young at heart. Many came dressed as their favorite superhero or one of their own invention. Attendees were offered supplies to make custom eye masks, “kryptonite”type amulets and other must-have superhero accessories. Larger-thanlife décor transformed 21st Street into a superhero’s playground.

Cookie Monsters: Jim Hartung, Karen Fields, Michael Berlin and Robin Sinclair

Popular annual traditions were back, including live performances by student musicians and bands on the Alley Party stage; carnival-style game booths; rock walls; inflatable obstacle courses; original arts and crafts; a hands-on science booth hosted by PS Science; Lego race car building and racetracks; a sand art booth; a photo booth; a sports lounge with big-screen TVs as well as foosball, air hockey and pingpong tables; and an eye-popping array of delicious food and desserts. This year’s event was made possible only by hundreds of parent volunteers and our incredibly generous in-kind donors. Crossroads is supergrateful to the dedicated volunteers who, once again, made this day so amazing for our community.

Chili/Pie Contest: Jaimee Bush, Sydney Meller, Jennifer Gerber ’97 Community Service Donation Coordinators: Amanda Lebowitz and Barrie Pivko

Creation Station Coordinators: Alisa Ratner and Alethea Redclay ’91 Décor Committee: Samantha Sackler, Sharon De Greiff and Sydney Meller Entertainment Coordinator: Alicia Celmer Event Photographers: Erin Moss and Stephen Leeds ’88 Food Coordinators: Karin Schaer and Molly Webb Food Logistics Coordinator: Jill Bodie Game Booths: Dylan Brown and Jared Frandle Photo Booth: David Oshinsky Sand Art Booth: Jordan Greenhut Science Booth: Julie Olds Signage Coordinator: Nate Daniel Volunteer Coordinators: Natalie Burton and Tasha Baum Volunteer Website Coordinator: Jamie Mohn



The 2019 Parent Association spring fundraiser is … that’s right … Cabaret! What’s Cabaret? It’s a uniquely Crossroads, original musical theater production created by Crossroads and performed by our students, parents, alumni, faculty and staff—even some grandparents and parents of alumni join in! Surprise guests are the cherry on top. The show is appropriate for the whole family. You won’t want to miss this! All of the proceeds from this amazing event will benefit the Crossroads Financial Aid Fund, which sustains our socio-economically diverse student body by providing more than $9 million to one in four students each year.

Crossroads thanks our incredibly generous Alley Party donors: Audio Video West/The Parmenter-Shimomura Family Bludso’s Bar + Que/The Starr Family Caffe Luxxe Creation Station/The Ratner Family Designer8*/The Sackler Family Earle’s Restaurant The FIRM EVENT DESIGN/ The Sackler Family Freshlunches Krispy Kreme Doughnuts/The Reinis and Glickman Families Mou Gelato/The Gores Family OLIPOP Pressed Juicery/Hedi Gores Prova Pizza/The Gores Family Puro Vegan Gelato Sand Art/The Greenhut Family Tender Greens/The Dressler and Goldin Families The Water Garden


5:30 PM* *A “well-dressed rehearsal” is scheduled for 12 p.m.

Admission tickets do not cover the cost of putting on this spectacular show. To make Cabaret a successful fundraiser for the Financial Aid Fund, we count on generous sponsors and underwriters. In addition, exciting silent auction items and raffle offerings will be available online, as well as Party Book and Charity Buzz items. Everyone in the community is invited to support Cabaret in all the ways that they can. Need more information? Go to Have a question? Contact Cabaret co-chairs Deborah Dragon, Carly Friedberg, Tamar Kane ’85 and Kevin Neustadt at



A DEEPER WELLNESS ACROSS DIVISIONS AND DISCIPLINES, CROSSROADS IS STRENGTHENING EFFORTS TO PROMOTE STUDENT WELL-BEING. A purposeful emphasis on student wellness has been critical to Crossroads’ success since the School’s inception more than 45 years ago. Indeed, it’s right there in the mission statement. But as Crossroads embarks on the implementation of a new strategic plan, the School wants to be sure it continues working to elevate well-being for the nearly 1,200 children who spend time on campus each day. “Our mission statement talks about developing each student’s well-being and full human potential,” Head of School Bob Riddle says. “What do we mean by well-being? How do we enhance that and deepen that for students? We’re going to be looking at that. What is the student experience like from a well-being standpoint, and how do we make it better?”

Calm and Collected Understanding personal and community wellness is a key element of the experience at the Elementary School, where students are encouraged to express their feelings while understanding how their emotions work. This past semester, Elementary School Counselor Jenna Bach, Assistant Director of the Elementary School Cat Ramos and Elementary School Dean Ilene Silk introduced helpful peer problem-solving strategies to students in grades three to five. It started as a lesson in neuroscience. Students learned that they need to “cool down” their amygdala—the part of the brain that processes emotions—to be able to access their prefrontal cortex, which is active in decision-making and moderating social behavior. The students then found cool-down strategies that help them when they’re upset, such as breathing deeply, reading or sitting in the shade. They also began using a “Cool Down and Think It Out” worksheet

to reflect on what happened, how it made them feel and how they solved the problem. “It has benefited students by providing an outlet for identifying and expressing feelings and resolving conflicts—both important life

skills—so that students are less likely to carry these issues back into the classroom or throughout the day,” Jenna says. “This method leads to greater self-awareness, expanded feelings vocabulary and an improvement in problem-solving and conflict resolution skills.”



People Who Care Crossroads makes available to students a wide variety of supports in the area of student wellness, and it starts with personnel. Jenna is one of four full-time counselors available to students, who also find comfort in the presence of grade-level deans and learning specialists. Across divisions, these staff members help students develop healthy relationships with them-

selves, their peers, their teachers and their communities. “Whether it is stress related to academics, social challenges or the impact of all that is happening in our world today, students carry those worries with them to school,” 21st Street Campus counselor Jasmin McCloud says. “As school counselors, we are able to help students develop coping skills that they can utilize, not just in school but in all areas of their lives. Our goal is to ensure that students have the skills to manage their mental health successfully so that they continue to thrive now and in the future.”

Digging Deeper Crossroads is taking student wellness to a new level through participation in the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) Panorama Social-Emotional Learning Assessment program.

Conducting the survey exemplifies Crossroads’ deep investment in and proactive engagement with the social and emotional health of students, who will be consulted for input on improving wellness on campus.

This multifaceted survey of students in grades three to 12—conducted this past October and again this spring—enables the School to assess its strengths in social-emotional learning (SEL) and hear from students about where additional supports might be suitable.

“Surveying students’ experiences in the School community—how they relate to their teachers and peers—allows us see the impact that the School has on each child,” Upper School Director Roxanne Zazzaro says. “Through the Panorama survey, our students reveal to us how the School supports the development of their social and emotional skills. As we strive to support the whole child, this survey allows us to discover the SEL skills of our students, such as a growth mindset, self-awareness, self-efficacy and how we can help and support them as these skills continue to develop.”

Crossroads will aim to use the results of the survey to improve the classroom experience and campus life, particularly around issues of student wellness. The School will also be able to review indicators against CAIS benchmark data.

Understanding Needs In the Middle School, student wellness is augmented by faculty and staff members’ evolving knowledge of the age group. Teachers and administrators have honed their approaches in and out of the classroom to incorporate key findings on transescence, a pre-adolescence developmental stage that has attracted deep research over the last decade. “A sixth-grader in October is very different than a sixth-grader in February—it’s not just by grade level,” says Middle School Director Michelle Merson. “In this developmental time, students are leaving their elementary selves and they’re trying on everything they see out in the world. They’re learning from adults and society what it means to be an adult, and we’re there to give them feedback.” Through orientations, Crossroads helps parents and guardians understand the developmental needs of their children. Middle School parents have also been encouraged to bring students to parent educa-

tion evenings—about cyberbullying, for example—so they experience the events and absorb the information together. In Life Skills classes, Middle School students are empowered to have mature conversations about their experiences. In town halls, they discuss topical social issues. And through service learning opportunities, they gain a sense of empowerment in identifying and addressing societal issues. All the while, students are developing skills—such as expression, collaboration and empathy—that will help them navigate the world beyond eighth grade. “We want them to make mistakes,” Michelle says. “We’re comfortable with it, we move through it, we know no one’s perfect and we create an environment where it’s OK to be imperfect. We understand that they’re taking risks in order to grow into something bigger than they are right now.”




Through classroom projects, author visits and affinity groups, Crossroads students examine the values of belonging and inclusion on campus and beyond. From buddy programs in the Elementary School and a silent Middle School rally in support of the LGBTQ community to Upper School students’ participation in the annual People of Color Conference and the interfaith dialogue held recently on campus, the Crossroads community continues to demonstrate a sustained commitment to inclusion.

These efforts, though, are never complete. Indeed, as part of the new strategic plan, the School aims to further enhance a sense of belonging for students, families, employees, alumni and beyond. “We want to be more intentional about the way we make sure every member of our community feels fully supported and included,” Head of School Bob Riddle says. This past semester, the importance of belonging and inclusion—both at Crossroads and in the world around us— was reinforced through a variety of programs and initiatives.


IN THE CURRICULUM Starting in the Elementary School, students at Crossroads begin developing an understanding of their own identities while learning to embrace those of their peers. First-grade students recently explored multiculturalism through a lesson in gastronomy, using the book “What the World Eats” as a launching pad for their social studies discussions. The students then crafted still-life watercolor paintings of their favorite foods. At the start of the school year, third-graders played “Classmate Bingo” to help build and strengthen connections among peers. They also created individual “My Place in the World” presentations to learn about the histories, geographies and cultures of their ancestries. These curricular elements promote belonging, inclusion and empathy at a time when community members look to the School for comfort and guidance in the face of ongoing local, national and global divisions.

only about seven to 10 percent of characters in children’s stories,” eighth-grader Meazi Light-Orr reports. “How much she cared about the issue of unequal representation really made [her presentation] fun and easy to understand.” Oh’s visit followed Middle Schoolers’ summer reading of “Flying Lessons & Other Stories,” a collection of inclusive stories for youngadult readers that was created in partnership with Oh’s nonprofit, We Need Diverse Books. The book includes works by authors such as Jacqueline Woodson, the 2018-19 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, who came to Crossroads with illustrator Rafael López this fall as part of an inspiring evening presentation about diversity and acceptance. “[Oh] made a point to say that she used realworld issues of inequity to set the stage for the things she wanted to write about,” says Derric J. Johnson, founding director of the Crossroads School Equity & Justice Institute. “These are the types of things that she felt today’s children should be reading.”


“We’re part of the larger world,” Bob says. “Things that impact students and families outside of Crossroads—and things going on in our country—are going to impact them here, too. So, we need to be aware of what’s going on, how that’s affecting members of our community and what we can do to better support them.”


GUEST SPEAKERS This past semester at Crossroads, students discussed the value of inclusion with visiting authors who promote diversity through the characters in their stories. In October, author Ellen Oh visited Crossroads to speak to Middle School students about the need for diversity in young-adult literature. Organized by librarian Jay Chang and sixth-grade Core teacher Nancy Seid, Oh’s day included presentations to the sixth, seventh and eighth grades as well as an informal lunchtime Q&A with a smaller group of students from each of the three grades. “She shared some shocking statistics about how, 10 or so years ago, nonwhite people made up

AFFINITY GROUPS Crossroads has further advanced belonging and inclusion through the creation and growth of affinity groups for students. More than a halfdozen affinity groups are available for Upper School students. Divisional diversity coordinator and Spanish teacher Silvia Salazar says they fortify the School’s efforts to make all students feel supported and respected. “Affinity groups provide safe and comfortable spaces where students can be their true selves and where they can navigate courageous conversation and find support from peers,” she says. In the recently launched Multiracial Student Union (MRSU), for example, students of mixed

Right and center: Elementary School students paint with watercolors as part of a unit on identity. Far right: Middle School students discuss diversity in literature with author Ellen Oh.

backgrounds embrace their differences and have open discussions about their experiences. “Identity can be a struggle for multiracial students—it can be difficult to find your ‘place’ and to know what part of your heritage to associate yourself with,” sophomore Maya Armus says. “By no means do we want to generalize the experiences of multiracial students, but these are some of the issues that have come up in our group and some of the reasons why we started MRSU.” Members of the group have discussed the challenges of being multiracial and handling insensitive questions and doubts about their identity. They have shared stories about how their racial ambiguity—or lack thereof—impacts others’ perceptions of them. And they have started conversations about current events and examined the roles of multiracial people in media and pop culture. “Affinity groups can be a great way to share certain unique experiences that others may not face,” sophomore Nora Cazenave says, “and realize that no one is alone in their experiences.” In the Queer Student Union that launched at the end of the 2016-17 school year, LGBTQ students find support in closed weekly meetings. The affinity group is distinct from the activismoriented PRIDE Club, which is open to allies. “There’s such a demand for it from the students,” school counselor Adam Waters says. “Like any minority group, like any oppressed group, they’re constantly having to translate all day long. It’s nice when you can speak in your native tongue, which is what all of the affinity groups can provide.” Director of Learning Resources Kayti Mathewson contributed to this story.





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SYDNEY HUANG, sixth grade



Is there a better legacy to leave than the gift of

financial health. These options include a

education? The Robert Frost Legacy Society

charitable bequest in your will; a beneficiary

honors those who include Crossroads School as

designation; and annuities and remainder trusts

a beneficiary in their wills, trusts or life insurance.

that provide you with income.

There are a variety of gift types to choose

To learn more about how to leave a lasting legacy

from that can provide you with tax and income

at Crossroads School, please contact Director of

benefits while helping to ensure the School’s

Advancement Colleen Bartlett at 310-582-4512.






Crossroads recently unveiled a new strategic plan, which will guide the School over the next five to seven years. Following a months-long process of deep examination and thoughtful reflection undertaken by the Crossroads community, Head of School Bob Riddle shares his insights about the School, its current state and what lies ahead:

What does a new strategic plan mean for Crossroads? It’s going to give us a roadmap for the next five to seven years. In a way, it’s like our North Star. It’s to make sure that we stay focused on the things that are most important for the School, which resulted from the recent work we did to get input from all parts of the Crossroads community.

It also guides us in being responsive to the California Association of Independent Schools (CAIS) accreditation and self-study process that we just completed. That process yielded a number of recommendations, and the major recommendations from the selfstudy were incorporated into the strategic plan.

It’s going to give us a roadmap for the next five to seven years. In a way, it’s like our North Star.


One School. One Community. One Vision. ENHANCE / Deepen the Crossroads Experience

1. Enhance Student Wellness

Expand our commitment schoolwide to the support of each student’s well-being and full human potential, preparing students to know themselves fully and improving student wellness and agency.

2. Reimagine Our Use of Time

Continue to examine holistically the daily schedule and annual calendar, ensuring that the allocation of time, space and resources 1) provides an optimal learning experience for students, 2) approaches the use of facilities in a shared and equitable matter and 3) prioritizes collaboration among teachers across and within all divisions and departments.

3. Update Our School Philosophy and Core Commitments

Review and update the School’s philosophy and core commitments, using this process to reinforce and strengthen the School’s mission and, in particular, its ability to inspire and develop self-motivated students who utilize critical thinking combined with humble confidence and compassion to engage in a complex and changing society.

« Detail from the night-sky mural created by first-grade students.

4. Cultivate a Consistent Culture of Learning and Continuous Improvement

The entire K-12 faculty and staff commit fully to the ongoing review, design and implementation of clear student learning outcomes, instructional strategies and educational best practices across and within departments and divisions required to sustain excellence in our rapidly evolving educational landscape.

5. Enhance a Sense of Belonging and Inclusion

Develop a more robust and intentional system of integration and inclusion for our students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni into our various Crossroads communities.

6. Philosophy of Learning Spaces

Create a set of learning space core values and operating principles that guide the design of any future space in order to facilitate learning, community building and social justice.

7. Enhance Our Performing Arts Program

Invest more deeply in the performing arts program by recommitting to the creation and development of a new performing arts facility.



A strategic plan brings together the Board of Trustees, the faculty, parents, students and alumni—it brings everybody together in saying, “This is how Crossroads is evolving, and these are the things that are important to us.” It allows people to see what we’re working on, to reaffirm our values and to help people understand how and why we are evolving. What major goals does the strategic plan identify?

We also want to look at how we serve the greater good, and part of the strategic plan is being clear about our new Equity & Justice Institute and giving it all the support it needs.

We want to deepen the Crossroads experience and make sure that we’re continuing to do the things that define us, but to improve on them—whether it’s focusing on student wellness or how we use time, or looking at the School philosophy and where it’s relevant versus where it might need to be tweaked. The second goal is to expand our presence in Los Angeles and beyond. Crossroads has always been concerned about access. There are almost 1,200 students who have access to the kind of education we provide, but we want more students to have access to it. We also want to look at how we serve the greater good, and part of the strategic plan is being clear about our new Equity & Justice Institute and giving it all the support it needs. The last part deals with how we can sustain our School for the future. We need to make sure, in all the decision-making we do, that we’re being thoughtful

and strategic and careful so that Crossroads is here 25 years from now, 50 years from now and 100 years from now. That means looking at everything from financial sustainability and enrollment management to environmental sustainability and supporting faculty and staff. How does the strategic plan incorporate forthcoming facility upgrades? One of the goals is to enhance our performing arts program, and we’re going to do that by creating new performing arts spaces. It was important to make sure the strategic plan included any projects that were already ongoing, and that’s one of them. An underlying goal is to create a philosophy of learning spaces. As we create new spaces or remodel existing spaces, we should have clear guidelines about what’s important in a particular space, from natural light and desk types to making sure that we’re thinking about these spaces from a social justice perspective—in terms of accessibility, imagery, naming and beyond. We want to define what our priorities are when we’re creating learning spaces for students. How will Crossroads go about implementing the strategic plan? It was about a 16-month process to create our new strategic plan, but, in some ways, that was the easy part. The hard part, now, is doing the work. Starting in the

fall of 2018, we began crafting a timeline for each of the goals, establishing initial action steps and identifying who will be responsible for each of them. There will be committees for each of these goals to help implement them. How long will this strategic plan last? Good strategic plans have a life cycle of five to seven years. Crossroads recently received full accreditation, which is typically a seven-year cycle; Ian Symmonds, our strategic planning consultant, says you really can’t go beyond that timeframe for a strategic plan because you can’t predict where the world is going or where education will be at that point. So, it’ll be a five-year plan with a 10-year impact. The hope is that, by the end of the fifth year, we will have accomplished most—if not all—of the goals, and the impact will go beyond those five years. What, then, is the impact of the strategic plan? It’s to make our School better, of course, but it’s to be clear about our priorities. No school can sit still. The world is changing, kids are changing and things are always evolving. We need to be responsive to those changes and be aware of what our greatest needs are. In some areas, it’s about being better; in some areas, it’s about being careful. In some areas, it’s about growing. It’s about all of those things.


INSPIRE / Expand Our Presence in Los Angeles and Beyond

8. Fortify Our Equity & Justice Program

Nurture the growth of the newly established Equity & Justice Institute through 1) service learning connected to real community needs and 2) externally facing programs inspiring our students to use their skills, intellect and passions to tackle some of the world’s toughest problems.

9. Develop an Innovation Center or School Within a School

Explore programs that serve to 1) incubate progressive education practices and curriculum, 2) expand alternative course offerings not available during the school year, 3) generate revenue and/or 4) offer Crossroads educational experiences to the greater community.

10. Expand Accessibility to Crossroads for the Greater Los Angeles Community

Explore and deepen our commitment to the greater Los Angeles community through accessibility to Crossroads programs.

11. Cultivate a New Professional Human Resources Paradigm

Create and nurture a new professional human resources paradigm that strategically integrates a holistic approach to 1) recruitment, orientation and retention, 2) professional development and support, 3) evaluation and 4) communication for all of our human resources.

SUSTAIN / Steward Our Strategic Resources

12. Create a New Financial Model for the Future

14. Expand Our Environmental Sustainability

13. Plan Our Strategic Enrollment Management

15. Investigate Faculty and Staff Housing Options

Develop a sustainable financial model of our School community built upon new assumptions of programs, enrollment optimization, revenue generation and resource allocation.

Create a strategic enrollment management plan that will drive assumptions about access, affordability, tuition, revenue, capacity and enrollment composition through the life of this plan.

Work toward environmental sustainability in our use, reuse, and conservation efforts, analyze current practices, establish metrics and set clear goals for the future.

Investigate affordable, convenient housing strategies and other options for members of the Crossroads professional community to address the high cost of living on the Westside.



Crossroads Alumni Share Wisdom With Film Students Upper School film students at Crossroads had the opportunity this fall to learn about the inner workings of the film industry directly from alumni who have paved successful careers in entertainment. Campus visits by actor-director Jonah Hill ’02 and screenwriter Vanessa Taylor ’88 deepened students’ understandings of the filmmaking process and allowed them to gain insight and receive encouragement from former Crossroads students who were once in their shoes. During Jonah’s visit on Dec. 10, he discussed the importance of arts education, the makings of his feature directorial debut, “Mid90s,” and how he made the transition from acting to directing. “Don’t let fear drive your decisions,” he says. “When it comes to creativity, when it comes to filmmaking, fear is what causes bad decisions. If you think something is too gutsy or you’re not supposed to do something, but you believe in it so wholeheartedly … stand by it.” A separate discussion and Q&A in October featured Vanessa, a screenwriter whose credits include “The Shape of Water” (for which she was nominated for an Academy Award) and “Game of Thrones.” Vanessa opened up about her career in the entertainment industry and shared insights with students about

everything from choosing projects and overcoming writer’s block to the benefits of table reads and the challenges of being on set. Fondly remembering the two classes she took with legendary former Crossroads film teacher Jim Hosney, Vanessa says she’s grateful to have attended such an incredible School. “I loved Crossroads generally— loved how it celebrated difference,” she says. “I think I would be a more conventional person now if I hadn’t gone here and seen that not only is it OK to be different—it’s way cooler to be different.”

Top: Crossroads alumnus Jonah Hill ’02 chats with Upper School students about the film industry. Above: Students in Molly Hansen’s filmmaking class meet with screenwriter Vanessa Taylor ’88 (sixth from right).

SARAH HUANG, 12th grade




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› Find Crossroads alumni in your To learn more about or register for any of our upcoming events, or to update your contact information, please visit or contact us at If you would like to be a part of the planning committee for your reunion, please contact Director of Alumni Relations Jennifer Gerber ’97 at


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Alumni Mixer





On Aug. 29, the Alumni Office hosted an all-class Alumni Mixer at Solidarity in Santa Monica. Assistant Head of School and Dean of Faculty (and former Dean of Students) Doug Thompson, retired teacher Tom Laichas and cross-country coach David Olds came to mingle and reminisce with alumni. There were representatives from the Class of 1985 all the way to the newest Crossroads alumni in the Class of 2018. As usual, there was much laughter, reconnecting and storytelling. Join us for the next Alumni event and stay connected!

1. E van Hartzell ’87, Rob Reinis ’92, Craig Juda ’93 and Matt Karatz ’89. 2. Ryan Englekirk ’90. 3. Anna Berk ’01 with Dean of Alumni Relations Tom Nolan. 4. Nicole Frand ’01, Suzy Taylor ’01, Anna Berk ’01 and Marisa Peck Johnson ’01. 5. A guest, Lisa Durow Czapla ’99, Naomi Yanagawa ’99 and her sister. 6. Raya Yarbrough ’98 and husband Bear McCreary.



7. Nicole Campoy Jackson ’03, Ben Warner ’02 and Michael Kaplan ’02. 8. Doug Thompson and Tom Laichas.





Alumni on Campus Whether it’s to speak to a class, visit with faculty, attend an event or just stroll down the Alley, we love having alumni back on campus. Here are some of the graduates who visited us recently.

1. Sam Stein-De Turk ’18 with Zoey Zimmerman.




2. Roy Orbison Jr. ’89 and his family. 3. Melina Alden ’07 reuniting with Tom Nolan on 21st Street. 4. Jared Gross ’18 stops by the Alumni Office. 5. Marty Abbe-Schneider ’10 gets ready to paint a mural in Zoey’s office. 6. Kayla Kane ’18 and Alberto Mancia ’17 together again at their alma mater. 7. L iz Stewart ’18 and David Olds pose in the Alley.




8. D evin Bhalla ’12 happy to be back at Crossroads. 9. Madison Quan ’18 with Tom Nolan. 10. Vivvy Wick ’18 pays a visit to school counselor Leslie King. 11. Natalie Berkus ’09 and Anthony Locke ’01. 12. Jamie Tamkin ’99 on the top floor of the Science Education & Research Facility.








Parents of Alumni Mixer The annual Parents of Alumni Mixer took place Nov. 15 at the UTA Artist Space in Beverly Hills, where parents from all generations of Crossroads students came out to renew their connections. Ai Weiwei’s exhibit served as a breathtaking backdrop, and the celebration was spectacular. We enjoyed delicious food, stimulating conversations and more than a few Crossroads memories!







1. Claudette Groenendaal, Davidson Lloyd and Tom Keegan. 2. Gemma Corfield, Amy Roland and Michelle Brookman ’82. 3. Director of Alumni Relations Jennifer Gerber ’97 with her mother, Gayle Gerber. 4. Sari Ehrenreich and Marilou Hamill with Constituent Relations Manager Mery Grace Castelo. 5. Tom Nolan (center) with Sherry and Rich Kolber. 6. Parents of Alumni Mixer attendees.



Class of 1988, 1998 and 2008 Reunion Night The Crossroads Alumni Association hosted a combined class reunion Oct. 13 in the Alley, where members of the classes of 1988, 1998 and 2008 came together to celebrate. What a beautiful event! Many alumni reconnected with former teachers and administrators, hugged old friends and classmates and partied the night away. This was a grand evening of reminiscing, laughter and community.

’88 1



1. The Class of 1988 meets up in the Alley. 2. Guest Peter Nelson, Angel Myhre, Trish Devine Karlin and Peter Karlin ’85. 3. Class of 1988. 4. Steve Solomon, Tariq Khero and Anthony Storm. 5. Delphine Robertson and Josh Kramon. 6. Guest Evan Sagerman, Marci Riseman, Vanessa Taylor and guest Jason Gelles.







1. Candace Payne, Ramona Rose Burke, Lauren Holland-Brown and Sarah Reback. 2. Ashley Kassan, Lindsay May, Aaron Greenberg and Sarah Meyer. 3. Simon Helberg, Jason Ritter, Andrea McDonald and Arielle Miller enjoying their time together again in the Alley. 4. Class of 1998. 5. Brandon Smith and David Silverton. 6. David Silverton, Evan Francis, guest Shawn Smith, Marisa Mandler and Roberto Cisneros. 7. Guest Constance Stephen, Sherwyn Stephen, Reina Cano Jimenez and Marc Brunswick. 8. Christopher Date, guest Shelby Patton, Howard Han, Jason Ritter and Jeremy Konner are all smiles at their 20th reunion.







’98 5




’08 1







1. Eva Everage ’10, Alexandra Miller, Hannah Greenblatt, Vanessa Vallon and Elizabeth Raiss. 2. Brianna Golding, Sean Meisler and Ashley Reese. 3. Jeremy Fassler, Auriel Rudnick and Roxy Rockenwagner. 4. Class of 2008. 5. Eva Everage ’10, Sean Flanagan, guest Gabe Worgaftik and Tess Cannon. 6. Alexandra Miller (left), Avery Burton (right) and Avery’s wife (center). 7. Amie Moore and Rachael Benjamin.



In the Winter In the winter I lay my restless limbs on the bone-dry ground and grow roots stretching to the icy core of this earth. Bark pale as moonlight twists into my spine, braiding a thick trunk. Wind whistles through the hollows of my wood. Soon my eyes flutter to a close, inky night heavy on my eyelids in the winter I am still.


Alexandra’s poem “In the Winter” and a second poem, “Melting Midnight,” were published online in the Fall 2018 issue of the journal Up North Lit. Alexandra submitted her work as part of her Creative Writing 1 final portfolio and publication project.




Bill Shapiro writes, “I’ve been



living in Brooklyn since the early ’90s. I served as editor-in-chief of LIFE magazine for a while, and I’ve written a few books, including one with Keith Richards. My new book, ‘What We Keep,’ is a collection of interviews with people about the single object in their life that holds the most emotional significance. I spoke with folks like Hasan Minhaj, Cheryl Strayed, Melinda Gates and Joss Whedon, but also cloistered nuns and former counterfeiters. I’ve got one kid in college, one in the hunt, and a girlfriend named Naomi. Holler if you’re passing through New York!” CLASS OF 1988

Gregory Schell writes, “Greetings, Roadrunner alumni! I’m still traveling the world and taking photographs for magazine editorials and corporate clients. My brand-new website is Cheers!” CLASS OF 1990

Ryan Englekirk successfully defended his dissertation, “The Third Team: Unmasking Fraternity and

Roberto Cisneros ’98 joined the Army after graduating from Crossroads, and his passion to serve has taken him to places around the world, including Germany, Iraq, Afghanistan and several South American countries. Roberto was raised in a lowermiddle-class neighborhood close to the School, and his father, Miguel, was the head of maintenance at Crossroads when Roberto entered as a fourth-grader. At that time, there were few Latinx students at the School. In spite of the cultural challenges, Roberto remembers his experience fondly: “Some of the best years of my life were attending Crossroads. I had nothing but positive experiences there. From the staff to the students, everyone treated each other with respect. I am very grateful I had the opportunity to attend.” Roberto began his leadership training at Crossroads. After school hours, he was involved in the Santa Monica Police Department’s Explorer Program. “My Crossroads experience made me the leader I am today,” he says. “In the military, we have men and women from different socio-economic backgrounds, religions and beliefs. Not once during my years at Crossroads did I ever feel discriminated against because I grew up in the low-income neighborhood just up the street.”

Roberto, who attended his 20-year Crossroads reunion this past fall, says his favorite memory is of his Ojai trip. He shares, “I am glad they are keeping up the tradition.” Longtime teachers at the School remember his Commencement speech as moving and thoughtful. Roberto is now stationed at Fort Sam Houston, Texas, assigned to Army South as assistant inspector general. “I travel frequently to Central and South America to conduct inspections of our embassies,” he says. He’s entering his 19th year of service in April and is eligible for retirement in June 2020. Roberto and his wife of 17 years, Lita, own a house in San Antonio and enjoy living there. When asked about his future, Roberto says one option he’s considering is becoming an instructor in the Junior Reserve Officers’ Training Corps. “I would have the opportunity to mentor and teach young students in high school,” he says.


Masculinity Among Major League Baseball Umpires, 1970-2010,” on Nov. 30. He is frantically making the necessary revisions and is on track to graduate with his Ph.D. in



history in May 2019. To prove that he is truly a Renaissance man, he student,” he knows and appreciates that several courses he took at Crossroads—such as photography, geometry and art history—helped to

impressed attendees at the Crossroads Alley party with his prize-winning key lime pie. CLASS OF 1993

Travon Muhammad writes, “I am still coaching boys eighth-grade basketball at Crossroads and still CEO and co-founder of Sole Brothers. More importantly, we are starting a Sole Brothers scholarship fund, which will provide scholarship money to students who have been accepted to a four-year university and show a need. If interested, please donate at” CLASS OF 1997

Danielle De Niese writes, “I am going to make my West End debut this spring with Emmyand Tony-nominated actor Kelsey Grammer in the first London production of ‘Man of La Mancha’ in 50 years! I am looking forward to returning to my musical theater roots and flexing different creative muscles alongside Grammer and the incredible Lonny Price. If you’re in London in 2019, I hope you will pop by to see the show and say hi! For show tickets, visit Missing you all, hoping to make the next reunion and sending you all my love!”

To say that moving from Tokyo to Santa Monica was a dramatic change for Shingo Francis ’88 would be an understatement. Starting with his first summer course and continuing into his entry as a seventh-grader at Crossroads, he noticed right away how comfortably students expressed their thoughts and emotions. “My peers would say what was on their mind directly and also express their emotions of joy, anger or sadness,” he remembers. “It was new and interesting to me to have the teachers encouraging the students to do the same and express their opinions about matters in and out of class. No training in Japan could have prepared me for this experience in my first several years at Crossroads, since the cultural environment expects an almost opposite attitude and disposition.” Although Shingo acknowledges that he was “not much of a class

shape his creativity and perspective. These days, Shingo is a full-time artist working in both Japan and Culver City. He primarily works with paints, but he also dabbles with art installation, video art and drawing. His work has been exhibited in the U.S. and around the world, including in Japan, South Korea, Spain, Switzerland and Germany. When he isn’t creating his own artwork or spending time with his wife and 3-year-old son, he is likely curating exhibitions. He also loves surfing and taking trips to the desert to experience the unique combination of light and space—a combination that is reflected in his artwork. Thinking back on his time at Crossroads, Shingo says he enjoyed developing strong friendships with his classmates. But perhaps what resonates with him the most is a life lesson that the School reinforced in him throughout his years in the Alley. “One of the most important things that relates to my works as an artist is the foundation Crossroads laid for me to know and follow what interests me,” he says. “For better or for worse, that sense of what is important to you and what you want to know more about still drives me to be curious, challenging and passionate.”



Davida Deutsch Hall writes,


“I created a


social justice beauty brand called The Lipstick

Currently a junior at the University of Michigan, Christine Lee ’16 leads a busy life. While at Crossroads, Christine was a proud member of the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute (EMMI), and music continues to influence her path. She went to Michigan to study with renowned violin professor Danielle Belen. “Between practicing, lessons, technique classes and performances, I hope to soon gain some private students here in Ann Arbor, as I have in Los Angeles,” Christine says. This past summer, she studied violin during the Center Stage Strings music festival in Ann Arbor and had the opportunity to have lunch with Belen, music teachers Nancy Eldridge and Caroline Coade, Crossroads parent Sarah Mandell and several other students. “We had a lovely time,” Christine says. “It was around then I learned that I would be loaned an Enrico Ceruti violin, circa 1865, from the Mandell Collection of Southern California. My family and I are so appreciative that the Mandells not only strengthened my musical studies in EMMI, but they are also further supporting and guiding my violin studies while I am 1,500 miles away!” At Michigan, Christine has loved her academic experience. “I have recently been accepted into the University of Michigan’s writing minor program,” she says. “Through this minor, I hope to further my English

studies and refine my writing skills.” She is distinguishing herself academically as well as musically. She was recently recognized as a James B. Angell Scholar for maintaining a 4.0 grade point average during her time at Michigan. Christine is enjoying Ann Arbor and can’t believe how fast time flies. “It was my junior year of high school when I joined the Crossroads family, and I have come a long way since,” she says. “I was blessed with my time at Crossroads. I not only matured academically, but I was also properly guided by EMMI’s music education and performances. My stay at the International House prepared me to transition very smoothly from high school into college. Looking back, I feel I have taken the ‘road less traveled.’” This year, Christine hopes to perform a junior solo recital. She also plans to continue assisting current EMMI students over the summer, which she has done the last two years.

Lobby in 2017 to help women find their voice at a moment when our rights are being threatened. Proceeds from our various lipstick shades support activism-oriented organizations: Kiss My Pink (Planned Parenthood); deep-red Outrage (ACLU); burnt-orange Fired Up (Brady Center to Prevent Gun Violence); and a Vitamin E lip balm called In the Clear benefiting the unPrison Project, which supports formerly incarcerated women. Visit us online, follow us on Instagram @thelipsticklobby or make a purchase and get 15 percent off with the discount code XROADSLL15.” CLASS OF 1999

AnnSophie Morrissette writes, “I recently celebrated my one-year anniversary with my wife Krystin (several of my fellow alumni attended the wedding)! I’m currently a vice president at Fenton, a communications and PR firm dedicated to social change issues such as housing and homelessness, education reform and climate change. I am looking forward to our 20-year (!) reunion in 2019.”


Arielle Jackson writes, “After 15 years in



San Francisco, we finally made the move back to LA. It’s been fun seeing more of my local Class of ’99 friends—including Lisa, Taylor, Naomi, Dana, Rachel and Sydnee— and running into Crossroads alumni all over the place. I’m still working with early-stage startups on brand strategy and product positioning, Dylan (5) is happy to be near all four of his grandparents and Baby No. 2 is keeping us busy!” CLASS OF 2001

Anthony Kohrs writes, “I have returned to practicing law in Los Angeles after volunteering for the Trump campaign in 2016. I am also an occasional columnist for Breitbart News on matters of constitutional law and immigration.” CLASS OF 2003

Nicole Campoy Jackson writes, “After eight years away, I’ve come home to LA, and not empty-handed: with a son and a new business. I’m thrilled to be back for many reasons, not the least of which is the food renaissance this city has been having (and that I’ve been missing)! The most

Ana Mancia ’15 came to Crossroads in sixth grade, and she wasn’t always a mover and a shaker. “When I started at Crossroads, my only goal was to ‘fit in,’” she says. “But by the time I graduated, I had fallen in love with entrepreneurship and knew that standing out would make me much more successful in life than fitting in.” Ana led a very active life in the Upper School. She was captain of the varsity swimming team for two years, was heavily involved in the music department and helped lead the PRIDE Club. At the age of 16, she became a California-certified domestic violence counselor and started volunteering in women’s shelters in Los Angeles. During her freshman year at UC Berkeley, she launched the university’s first student-led domestic violence organization and created a dating violence education program in several Oakland high schools. “Seeing the impact that domestic violence was having on her peers ... prompted her to found the ASUC Intimate Partner Violence

Commission,” reads a recent UC Berkeley profile of Ana, who pays weekly visits to classrooms across the Bay Area to discuss domestic abuse. “Her hope is that early education will help break the cycle of violence.” “A lot of resources on campus were grouped with sexual assault or sexual violence,” Ana says in the profile, “but intimate partner violence requires different types of resources than sexual assault. When you’re in a relationship with someone who is constantly hurting you, it’s not like a one-time sexual assault.” Ana says her Crossroads experience allowed her to explore her creative side while receiving support from a close-knit community. “I am grateful to have found several artistic passions at Crossroads, to build strong relationships with many faculty members and to discover my perseverance,” she says. “It was an environment in which teachers truly care about you as a whole being, outside of the classroom.” As she visits classrooms across the Bay Area to train students, she envisions one day managing her own nonprofit to further combat domestic violence. “My favorite part is that I can slowly break the cycle of domestic violence and help our next generation of youth prevent this issue that affects one in three women globally,” she says. “My mission in life is to end domestic violence as much as possible through education.”



important reason has to be that I’ll be raising my son in the place I love and amidst the people I love.” Nick Roth writes, “I



am a writer and community organizer running for California Democratic Party Assembly district delegate. Delegates elect party officers; endorse candidates for statewide, legislative and congressional offices; and endorse resolutions and ballot measures. I am running on a slate of 14 dedicated progressives who support getting money out of politics, Medicare for all and a Green New Deal to create jobs and combat climate change. Check out” CLASS OF 2005

Amanda Donenfeld writes, “I am grateful for the 13 years I spent at Crossroads. My aunt, Nancy Grinstein, was the first student at Crossroads, and the first graduation was at my grandparents’ house in the 1970s! I met some of my closest friends at Crossroads. I was able to foster my love of storytelling in the theater Conservatory program. I now direct, write and produce TV and digital shows. I often collaborate with fellow alumnus Micah Levin ’05.” Cami Starkman writes, “I got married in 2017. I brought my

These days, Olivia Milch ’07 is on the rise as a filmmaker. She made her directorial debut with her own script on a rites-of-passage film, “Dude,” which was released on Netflix last year, and she also co-wrote “Ocean’s 8” with Gary Ross. But she sounds even more excited when talking about Crossroads: “It was the best! I am overwhelmingly grateful that I went to Crossroads; I can only imagine how annoying I was then, because I still feel so positive about my experience. I bounced all over the place, was really loud and opinionated and wanted to be involved in all the decision-making. Every one of those instincts was fostered and supported.” Olivia was a prototypical Crossroads student in that her day-today life was incredibly varied. She was involved in Student Council (and became the student body president), wrote for the newspaper and the Academic Journal and played four years of Upper School soccer. “I really liked being on campus,” she says.

When asked about favorite classes, Olivia says, “I was lucky enough to take three years of film with Tom Kemper. I was also lucky enough to take Great Books with Jim Hosney, which afforded me the gift of his film teaching as well.” Olivia maintains that her Crossroads education has “influenced everything I do in my life and my work. Crossroads instilled in me a belief that I had a role in my own education and, in turn, the world around me. Crossroads made me feel like my voice mattered and should be heard.” Lately, Olivia’s work has brought her a good deal of attention in the film industry. “I am really excited about telling stories that authentically represent the female experience in all of its diversity and complexity,” she says. “I am grateful to be able to continue to learn and pay it forward by holding the door open for younger writers and creators whose stories we need to see in the world.” Olivia certainly left her mark on Crossroads, and it comes as little surprise that she’s doing the same in the film world. With her talent and commitment, she is helping blaze the trail for female filmmakers. And her story, it seems, is just getting started.


husband to my 20-year reunion, and

event planning business, Table +

under two and a birth doula. I

New York. He has also done mural

he could not believe that I got to

Cloth (, and

look forward to working with any

work for Zoey Zimmerman, one

spend my K-12 years in such a

my recent marriage to the best

alumni who are expecting! I was

of his many fantastic teachers at

creative, loving and fun place. He

man I know. Table + Cloth is a

also just accepted into midwifery

Crossroads. Marty has also

often says, ‘You can really tell

full-service event planning

school and I am excited to begin

adopted a puppy named Stevie.

Crossroads shaped who Cami is.’

company that specializes in

that journey. My website:

It’s going well so far. Website:

(Usually adding: ‘It explains a lot.’

strategic partnerships that grow”

Hmmmm.) After Crossroads, I

your company and brand. I recently

attended Pitzer College and then

got married to my best friend of

AFI Film School, where I studied

seven years whom my grand-


editing. I am currently an editor of

mother calls ‘the last gentlemen



documentaries, commercials and

left.’ We had a magical evening



music videos. The documentary

beneath a full moon with all of our



that I edited last year recently won

loved ones. It has left me feeling

from Bard

“Hey guys!

an LA Area Emmy Award for Best

whole and ready to conquer the


My best

Cultural Program. Yay!”

world with force and passion.”




with a bachelor’s degree in studio

friend and I

arts. He now works as a freelance

are leaving college this year and

artist and in the entertainment

starting a company together called


Anja Akhile

industry in various capacities,

Engine. It’s a team of engineers


writes, “I

including as a writer (“The

solving companies’ most gnarly


gave birth

Goldbergs,” “Talking Tom and

problems. We are hoping to give

“The two

to my

Friends” and “My Knight and Me”).

technology consulting a makeover!



As an artist, Marty has created

Find us at”



murals for Willie’s Shoe Service in

on July 5. I am now a mom of two

Koreatown and Freehand Hotel in

things in my life right now are my


Instagram: @marty.abbeschneider. CLASS OF 2010




GREG SHANE ’98 Theatre by the Blind. Meanwhile, his volunteer experiences with a theater program in Inglewood morphed into CRE (Create Reflect Empower), which

When Greg Shane ’98 was a student at Crossroads, he was known as a soccer player, a strong student and a magician. But the School also influenced what he does now: running a theater company for blind and autistic actors, directing veterans in original plays and creating an arts nonprofit, CRE Outreach, that touches the lives of hundreds of students. “Crossroads taught me to think outside the box and problem solve effectively,” he says. “It encouraged values of compassion and understanding. I can’t say enough about the impact Crossroads has had on my professional career.” After graduating from Tulane University with a degree in theater, Greg returned to Southern California and volunteered in a program with visually impaired people. As their director, he developed a braille-for-feet format for his actors to use on stage. Out of that experiment, he created

brings performing arts to underserved populations. While pursuing a master’s degree through the NYU Steinhardt School of Education, Greg studied in Brazil with Augusto Boal and the Theatre of the Oppressed, at Trinity College Dublin and with the Complicité company in London. Upon returning to Los Angeles, Greg took up his work with Theatre by the Blind and CRE. Now, 13 years later, his organization partners with the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs, the Lake Street Community Center near Echo Park, the Braille Institute, Wayfinder Family Services and the Los Angeles Unified School District. Last year, Greg transformed a rundown karate studio in Culver City into The Blue Door Theatre. In April, his group will produce an all-veteran play, “Silent Torment.” And Theatre by the Blind recently received a grant to stage a show at the Kirk Douglas Theatre. Greg is grateful for his family and his incredible support team, which includes Crossroads alumni. He has been married for three years and is stepfather to an 8-year-old boy. For more information about CRE Outreach, visit or email Greg at

REX GRUBE, sixth grade

Nonprofit Organization U.S. Postage PAID Santa Monica, CA Permit No. 351

1714 21st St. Santa Monica, CA 90404 Change Service Requested

SUMMER 2019 We are excited to offer a wide variety of programs and classes. There’s something for everyone! SESSION 1 June 17-21

One-week camps and intensives

SESSIONS 2 & 3 June 24-July 26

Two-, three- and five-week classes and programs. School closed July 4-5.


July 29-August 2 One-week camps and intensives


August 5-9 One-week camps


August 12-16 One-week camps

Single class to full-day schedules. Tuition reduction available. 310-582-4506 | • •| 310-582-4506

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