Cross Sections (Summer 2018)

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Performing Arts at Crossroads

PERFORMING ARTS Earlier this year, I had the great privilege of being in the audience for “LAUNCH,” the outstanding spring dance performance in the Community Room that featured Crossroads students from all three divisions. As I watched, I was once again awestruck by the incredible talent and discipline of the performers and the equally impressive teaching and mentoring by our dedicated faculty, as I am at all of our performing arts events.


Indeed, whether I am witnessing a polished performance on a Crossroads stage, an impromptu jam session in the Alley or a pickup rehearsal in a classroom, I am often struck by the role these disciplines play in the daily life at Crossroads and their collective impact on all of the students at our School. From the very beginning of Crossroads’ history, the performing arts have been viewed not as a complement to the academic curriculum but as an integral and valuable component of each student’s educational experience. As our Statement of Philosophy reads, “It is important for students to express themselves creatively and to use their imaginations freely.” These disciplines—drama, dance, A scene from the Middle School production of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.”

music and filmmaking—serve as creative outlets for our students, offering them opportunities to develop their talents while learning more about themselves and simultaneously building strong relationships with their peers and teachers. What’s more, the performing arts are essential in helping our students better understand the world around them and grapple with complex issues in society. In a political climate that has jeopardized reason, factual evidence and civil discourse, the performing arts have empowered our students to face their fears about the future and enabled them to make sense of the stories that splash across news feeds. Through conversations with students, parents, faculty and staff, alumni and friends, I have discovered that these creative endeavors double as avenues for activism, dialogue and healthy catharsis. As head of school, supporting these activities is among the duties I cherish most. In this issue of Cross Sections, we share stories that highlight the power of performing arts throughout the Crossroads community. Our cover story (page 26) demonstrates the numerous benefits of performing arts education across grade levels, including fifth-grade students engaging in explorations of Shakespeare plays; Middle School dancers building self-esteem at a critical developmental stage; and Upper School students taking advantage of opportunities to perform across the globe. Under the direction of Chippy Wassung, the Crossroads dance program helps to fulfill the School’s mission of educating the whole child (page 20). And the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute, which sprouted from the music major program that was established more than 40 years ago, continues to expand on its rich history of intensive classical music education (page 22). Students even incorporated musical performances into their activism as they protested against gun violence in schools through rallies, demonstrations and community events following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida (page 11).


Inside This Issue

The impact of performing arts opportunities at our School is perhaps best underscored by the professional accomplishments of the Crossroads alumni who have applied their passions and exceptional talents to careers in these fields. In this issue, we shine the spotlight on six alumni whose work spans a diverse array of specialties in the performing arts: stage, TV and film acting; classical and contemporary music; directing and producing; and dance. Their stories illustrate how their time at Crossroads influenced their journeys into the performing arts, and their achievements reflect their ability to move viewers and audience members across the globe through their crafts. What I love is that the magic of the performing arts at Crossroads is visible on campus each day. Whether rehearsing for an upcoming play production, learning a new dance sequence, improvising a solo in jazz band, creating an original piece of music in the electronic music studio or working behind the scenes to support a production, students constantly rise above the constraints of our existing facilities to participate in artistic endeavors that both inspire and challenge them. The different departments work together in often miraculous ways to share performance, classroom and practice spaces, limited as they are. Ultimately, it is our goal to provide our students and our faculty with performing arts facilities that match the


Around the School


Trustee News


Donor Profile


Parent Association


Dance Program


History of EMMI


The Crossroads Fund


Performing Arts at Crossroads


Honoring Employees


Retiring Employees


Alumni News


Class Notes


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

Top: Fifth-graders perform “Julius Caesar.” Above: Bassist Anna Abondolo, 12th grade, at the Holiday Concert.

Patti Finkelstein Director of Major Gifts Jenn Gerber ’97 Director of Alumni Relations Sanam Khamneipur Director of Annual Giving

exceptional programming that our teachers deliver on a daily basis. I hope you share my excitement in anticipating how the Crossroads performing arts landscape might evolve and grow in the future, both physically and programmatically.

Tom Nolan Dean of Alumni Relations

The curtain is rising on the 2018-19 school year at Crossroads, and it figures to be an exciting one in the performing arts and beyond, culminating in our triennial Crossroads Cabaret at The Wiltern on May 19. I hope each of you finds the time to attend a performance or two this year, so that you too will be moved and inspired by the incredible work done by our performing arts faculty and students. I promise that you will be awestruck by what you experience.

Paul Howiler, Eric Donohue, Allison Schaub Advancement Services

Ana Onaindia Annual Giving Manager Kathy O’Brien Major Gifts Manager Veronica Ulloa Events Coordinator

Designer Warren Group | Studio Deluxe Contributing Photographers Deb Donovan, Chris Flynn, Mark Gold, Jeff Goodman, Matthew Kaplan, Sara Ring ON THE COVER

Juniors Claire Wetsman, Sarah Wetsman and Chloe Shaw. Photo by Chris Flynn. Editor’s note: The last name of Database Coordinator Eric Donohue was printed incorrectly in the Spring 2018 edition of Cross Sections. We apologize for the error. Contact us at

MIA BRISBIN, 10th grade




Fourth-Graders Challenge Stereotypes in Homelessness Unit When fourth-grade students at Crossroads began their intensive unit on homelessness in Los Angeles, they had preconceived notions about the people they were going to study. By the end of the three-week examination, though, their thoughts had changed. “I used to think homeless people were mean, scary and even dirty, but now I realize more of them are kind, caring and that we’re really not that different from each other,” student Emilio Diez Barroso says. “They’re just like anybody you would see around you.” “I used to think people were homeless because they weren’t smart enough to get a job, but now I realize they can also be homeless because they were in poverty to begin with,” Emily Stutsman says.

The powerful unit started with Councils in which students brainstormed topics of inquiry before zeroing in on homelessness in Los Angeles. Like in last year’s unit on soldiers and war, the students made a list of assumptions they had and generated a list of questions to research. Their investigation was far-reaching in scope. With the help of experts—including psychologists, shelter workers, a sociologist, a Santa Monica city council member, a police officer, a veterans’ affairs staffer, a homeless count volunteer and a formerly homeless man—students uncovered demographic details and analyzed the major causes of homelessness in Los Angeles. They even tackled the concept of NIMBY (not in my backyard), which many advocates believe is

a major obstacle to creating more affordable housing for homeless people. Students then reflected on what they’d learned and created a plan to educate their community, which included a stirring presentation at an Elementary School Gathering. They also launched a service project, collecting hundreds of pairs of socks to distribute to homeless people. And their awareness campaign continues. “Homeless people aren’t really who you think they are,” fourth-grader Felix Ortiz says. “They’re just like everybody else. They have lives, too.”

Homeless people aren’t really who you think they are. They’re just like everybody else. They have lives, too. Felix Ortiz, fourth grade

The fourth-grade unit on homelessness in Los Angeles culminated with a sock drive to benefit people who are homeless.



Vertical Teams Refine Elementary School Curricula By Catherine “Cat” Ramos, Assistant Director of the Elementary School

Refinements to the Elementary School curricula have improved continuity in teaching and learning across disciplines.

What should math look like across grade levels in the Elementary School? What about literacy? How about social justice and service learning? And special programs and Life Skills? Starting in October 2016, Elementary School teachers began meeting monthly in vertical teams—groups of educators focusing on a given discipline across grade levels—to explore and reach consensus on common beliefs and agreements for student and faculty teaching and learning. Participation has spanned across all grade levels in K-5, ensuring continuity and consistency in the classrooms. During the first year, the vertical teams were tasked with reviewing the norms for how faculty members work together. They researched relevant, evidence-based best teaching and learning practices with the goal of drafting and presenting proposals of curricular beliefs and agreements to the entire Elementary School faculty. Last June, the K-5 faculty reached consensus on many student learning and instructional beliefs, as well as teaching agreements, which served to inform and guide both their work and their professional development moving forward.

Throughout the 2017-18 school year, participants focused their efforts on refining and expanding the math and writing agreements and highlighted areas of concentration for ongoing professional development. Audrey Matalone and Matt Lintner facilitated monthly meetings and coordinated scheduled visits with our math coach, emphasizing how to effectively support a range of mathematical learners and focus on fluency and number sense. Eva Araujo and Emma Cothren led monthly meetings highlighting the effective implementation of Writing Workshop, including how to craft mini-lessons, use mentor texts, conduct meaningful student writing conferences, assess student work and differentiate small-group instruction with support from a writing coach. Vertical teams are just one example of Crossroads’ long-term K-12 institutional commitment to researching best practices; clarifying and aligning curricula; and sharing our passion for and considerable skills in progressive teaching and learning in service to Crossroads students.

BRENDAN TERRY, ninth grade




A Day in the Life of a Crossroads Middle Schooler It’s 7 a.m. on Tuesday, and Jonas Khero is getting ready for a full day at Crossroads. His mom will drop him off by 8:05 a.m. at the 21st Street Campus, where he’ll start his morning with a block-length Core period with Scott Correll. The eighth-grade student is gearing up for a debate over granting amnesty to illegal immigrants, and he’ll have to be prepared to argue both sides of the issue. During snack in the Alley, he’ll stop to reflect on his experience in the Middle School. “I like all of my teachers,” he’ll say. “You really develop good relationships with your teachers, and you bond with them. They become your mentors.”


After snack in the Alley, he’ll head across the street with friends for Gary Ellenberg’s filmmaking class. He and two

classmates will work on an original video project, and Jonas will pull up a “Saturday Night Live” clip on the computer to help guide his group’s brainstorming session. His day will continue with photography, another art course he selected, before lunch. Jonas usually brings his meal from home but occasionally enjoys buying food in the Alley. He can typically be found hanging out with friends or shooting around on the outdoor basketball court.

Jonas Khero (third from left) heads to his filmmaking class.

When the bell rings, Jonas will make his way to a blocklength Latin class with Alison Wedding. Among the academic benchmarks on his calendar is a translation test next week, so he’s paying close attention to the material. Then, while his brain is in linguistics mode, he’ll finish off his regular school day with a Spanish course.

Jonas will spend his afternoon practicing with the Middle School baseball team, to which he contributes as a pitcher, third baseman and outfielder, and he’ll get home by 6 p.m. He might be able to play a game with his fifthgrade sister, Layla, but he’ll try to knock out an hour of homework before dinner. Once he wraps up his studies, he’ll unwind by

reading a book, playing video games or chatting with friends. “It comes in waves,” he’ll say of his weekly workload. “But I always know what my assignments are. It’s been a good year.” Jonas will be in bed by 9:45 p.m. He’s got another full day at Crossroads tomorrow.


Crossroads Students Innovate, Excel at Regional Hackathon What if the most creative young minds focused on solving some of the pressing problems of today? That’s what happened on March 3 at the Personal Tech Hackathon, where Crossroads students joined peers from around the region for an exhilarating day of brainstorming, planning, coding and presenting at Immaculate Heart High School in Los Angeles. Several Middle and Upper School students from Crossroads were among the winning teams, as determined by judges who evaluated each group’s work at the hackathon. Sixth-grade students Maurice Young, Joshua Huang and Owen Cazenave won the Shark Tank Award for Marketability for

their project, L.O.G., a locker organizer invention. Fellow sixth-graders Harper Edgerly and Sofie Szigeti, along with three students from other schools, won the Impact Award for Potential Benefit. The group designed and prototyped an app that quickly identifies foods to which the user is allergic. “It was a fun and productive day, for sure,” Middle School Technology Coordinator Dori Friedman said. Crossroads students were also recognized for their technical ambition. Seventh-graders Levi Gilbert-Adler and Daniel James won the Moonshot Award for their FillerBot, a threedimensional printer that works faster than other similar printers

because it makes only a shell of the designed object.

the high school division for their project, GreenBack.

Meanwhile, sophomore David Deiser and his teammates were honored for the same award in

Dori, Upper School Technology Coordinator Paul Way and Upper School science teacher Edward Peebles were among the Crossroads educators involved in the planning of the hackathon. Prizes included a variety of tech gadgets and accessories as well as scholarships for programming workshops. Above: Crossroads sixth-graders Maurice Young, Joshua Huang and Owen Cazenave celebrate their award at the Personal Tech Hackathon. Far left: Sixth-graders Sofie Szigeti and Harper Edgerly joined three students from other schools to design a food allergy app. Left: Seventh-graders Levi Gilbert-Adler and Daniel James earn the Moonshot Award for their three-dimensional printer concept.

MILES GRIFFIN, kindergarten



Collaborative Reading Event Promotes Gender Freedom What could be more charming than a book about two worms getting married? How about a joint reading of said book by Crossroads kindergartners and older students on the 21st Street Campus?

gartners about their groups. In addition, the special session provided the kindergartners with an opportunity to practice giving a book introduction, a skill they learned during a reading workshop.

divisions,” kindergarten teacher Julia Gonzales says. “For us as teachers, watching the kids connect and the impact that Burrow had on the Middle School and Upper School students was incredibly touching.”

Students of all ages convened in Roth Hall in March for a heartwarming celebration of “Worm Loves Worm” by J.J. Austrian, which was organized to promote gender freedom, reading skills and cross-divisional student interaction.

“It was fun because we were hanging out with older kids and we got to know what they were like and what they like about themselves and us and our School,” kindergartner Kaleo Litvin says.

The young learners then split up in small groups around Roth Hall to read “Worm Loves Worm” with the older students. To wrap up the session, the older students helped the kindergartners make handprints with paint on a large piece of paper.

It all started with an all-School read of “Worm Loves Worm” at the Elementary School, which complemented the kindergarten social studies unit about the similarities and differences between families.

The kindergartners first introduced the older students to the three stuffed-animal mascots in their class: Autumn (whose pronouns are she/her/hers), who has reading superpowers; Meddy Teddy (he/him/his), who offers wisdom about meditation; and Burrow (they/ them/theirs), who teaches about emotions and tells social stories.

The ensuing reading event on the 21st Street Campus—the result of collaboration between faculty members on both campuses—offered students in the Middle and Upper School PRIDE clubs a chance to teach the kinder-

“Cross-grade level collaborations are a wonderful way to share traditions amongst

“We have students at all three divisional levels who find society’s gender roles to be constraining, sometimes painfully so,” Upper School PRIDE Club faculty advisor Adam Waters says. “This event celebrated a wider range of gender identity and expression, and the natural joy and ease with which all the students participated was an inspiration and an example for those of us who may be older and still relearning about gender.”

Members of the Middle and Upper School PRIDE clubs read “Worm Loves Worm” with kindergarten students during a special cross-divisional collaboration to promote gender freedom.



Exploring “The Handmaid’s Tale” Through Student-Driven Projects


By Nika Cavat, Upper School English Teacher

Seniors in Nika Cavat’s seminar created presentations on fertility rituals around the world.

When Margaret Atwood was asked in an interview how she came up with the concept of her dystopian novel “The Handmaid’s Tale,” she said she simply looked to what has already happened: dictatorships, religious radicalism and repression of women’s rights. This spring, students at Crossroads delved into those concepts and more during an English senior seminar class focusing solely on Atwood’s novel to allow students a richer, deeper learning experience. One of the outstanding projects these senior English students completed regarding “The Handmaid’s Tale” involved researching fertility rituals around the world, as well as in art and poetry. They had the option of including infertility in their research, and they related their discoveries to the events of Atwood’s novel. Lizzy Tommey, for example, analyzed Frida Kahlo’s painting “Henry Ford Hospital (The Flying Bed),” poet Emily Dickinson’s “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers” and the treatment of women regarding infertility in ancient Rome. Her discoveries, similar to those of other students, led to a stronger comprehension of the undue responsibility and blame women have faced throughout human history regarding their ability,

inability or even desire to bear children. More often than not, they found, men have historically faulted women for being childless—regardless of the possibility of male infertility as a factor. Levi Kaplan focused his presentation on infertility, with support from a New Yorker article on reproductive dystopia in the novel and research on ancient Egyptian practices for infertility. Skylar Andrews explored a Hungarian tradition known as “the watering of the girls,” wherein buckets of cold water are thrown on young women as a celebration of fertility. For each presentation, students were asked to find a cultural tradition, a poem and an artifact or art piece that supported a pertinent quote from “The Handmaid’s Tale.” Rather than writing a traditional critical essay, seniors had the freedom to find cultural, literary and creative sources. The assignment also gave them valuable experience in researching real-life practices throughout history that resonated in Atwood’s extraordinary, disturbing tale. Along the way, students discovered just how alarmingly close “The Handmaid’s Tale” comes to portraying the modern reality of patriarchal bias against women in decisions about their own bodies.


School Safety Activism Takes Hold at Crossroads Eager to effect change locally and nationally on issues of school safety, students at Crossroads made their mark this spring through a variety of demonstrations, community events and sustained activism. On March 14, a month after the school shooting in Parkland, Florida, students rallied against gun violence as they stood in solidarity with peers across the country as part of National Walkout Day, hoping to prevent similar tragedies from happening in the future. Among the responses at Crossroads were student-arranged “action tables” where classmates could write letters to elected officials, fill out voter registration forms (if eligible) and make posters to hold at the March for Our Lives rally that was held in downtown Los Angeles on March 24.

“We cannot continue to sit around and wait for the world to change,” eighth-grader Izzy Falchuk announced to her peers in a speech at the March rally on campus. “We must stand up and fight tirelessly for what we believe in. We must find our voice in a world where our voices seem weak. We must stand as one united front to change the world.” On April 18, Upper School students presented an evening of poetry and music in protest against gun violence. Students, alumni, Crossroads co-founder Paul Cummins and others read and responded to poems from the “Bullets into Bells” anthology and performed uplifting music. Two days later, students on the 21st Street Campus staged a walkout to sustain their advocacy for school safety on the 19th anniversary of the Columbine shooting.

And on April 23, Crossroads parents seeking to make an impact on the issue gathered for a special presentation in the Community Room entitled “Responding to Gun Violence,” which covered information about school safety as well as steps that the entire School community can take to advocate for greater safety in our schools and in our nation. Speakers included Crossroads Security Manager Juan Molina; emergency preparedness consultant Chris Joffe; representatives of the Santa Monica Police Department and the security training and consulting firm Chameleon Associates; and Women Against Gun Violence activists. And in an unannounced appearance, Lorena Sanabria—a teen survivor of the Parkland shooting—spoke movingly of the need for change.

We must stand up and fight tirelessly for what we believe in. We must find our voice in a world where our voices seem weak. We must stand as one united front to change the world. Izzy Falchuk, eighth grade The Parent Association plans to tackle this issue in the new school year, mobilizing parents and other community members to take action to promote common sense gun safety measures.

Crossroads students protest against gun violence following the school shooting in Parkland, Florida.

Says Bob Riddle, “It is my hope that we as adults will follow the lead of our students and raise our voices to convince our local, state and national government officials of the need to enact laws that protect our schools from the insanity of gun violence.”



RISE Committee Advances Diversity, Inclusion on Campus

The RISE committee meets monthly to advance diversity and inclusion initiatives on campus. Not pictured: Crossroads Trustee Nada Kirkpatrick, parent Akieva Jacobs and Middle School faculty member Marisa Alimento.

With Crossroads furthering its quest to be a welcoming School for all, members of the community have been devising ways to promote equity, diversity and inclusion on campus. Spearheading this movement is the newly minted Radical Inclusion for Social Equity (RISE) committee—formerly known as the Supporting a Diverse Community (SDC) committee— which has been meeting monthly to both promote meaningful conversations around issues of diversity and inclusion as well as implement strategies to advance those goals on campus. The RISE committee—composed of administrators, diversity coordinators, faculty, staff, parents, trustees and students— values transparent and intersectional dialogue. It is open to all members of the Crossroads

community who are interested in supporting and improving inclusion on campus. “Holding space and advancing these conversations is so important—it’s about trying to better understand these issues,” says committee co-chair David Stewart, a co-assistant director in the Middle School. “We want everyone to know there’s a place for people to voice their concerns and build action steps to make change.” Following the School’s 2010 self-study and subsequent Assessment of Inclusivity and Multiculturalism, the committee formed in 2014 to make policy recommendations and support Crossroads’ myriad equity and diversity initiatives. “Changing the committee’s name from SDC to RISE was natu-

ral,” says committee co-chair Piya Narayen, an Upper School history teacher. “It reflected a need to have a name that truly embodies the group’s radical empathy to illuminate issues of imbalance and multiplicity while establishing the ongoing efforts to create individual and community development throughout the Crossroads community.” RISE has outlined a series of short-, mid- and long-range goals, including establishing a buddy system for rising freshmen and seniors; hiring a diversity administrator to support the diversity coordinators in each division; offering later transportation options to encourage student participation in after-school activities; recruiting more faculty and staff of color; and collaborating with the forthcoming Equity & Justice Institute.

The members of the group are delighted to help Crossroads flourish and unafraid to identify areas of growth. The key, David says, is embracing difficult conversations with an open heart. “We want everyone to feel at home here, and we want everyone to feel noticed and heard,” he says. “Our role as educators is to help our community learn and know more about the world around them. These are battleground issues—on social media, in politics and beyond—so that’s what it boils down to: helping our families understand the world around them.” Interested in joining the committee or learning more? Please contact David Stewart at or Piya Narayen at

SKYLAR MORGEN, ninth grade




Roadrunners Claim State Title in Boys Basketball By Tara Shima, Athletics Communications Coordinator

Capping a season filled with incredible highlights, the Crossroads varsity boys basketball team captured a CIF State championship March 23 by defeating Alameda 59-53 at Golden 1 Center in Sacramento. Despite playing on what was essentially a home court for Alameda and getting off to a slow start, the Roadrunners battled back to take the victory and the Division II title. The game and the state championship—the third in program history and the first since 1997—perfectly encapsulated Crossroads’ challenging and exhilarating 2017-18 campaign. The season began with a new head coach (Anthony Davis) and staff, new practice styles, new plays and a team in desperate need of renewed chemistry. Thanks to their hard work at practices and team-centered style of play, the members of the team grew close and started to see good things happen. By the postseason, they really started to gel. A string of gutsy wins brought Crossroads closer to the CIF Southern Section finals, and finally the team found itself vying for the section title against none other than crosstown rival Brentwood. The Roadrunners had gotten the better of the Eagles in the squads’ two regular-season meetings, including a four-point win at Extravaganza. However, the difficult three-peat was not

The Crossroads varsity boys basketball team capped the 2017-18 season by winning a CIF State title in Sacramento. Top: Team members hoist the championship trophy. Left: Ben Terry protects the ball while elevating against an Alameda defender. Right: The Roadrunners pose for photos with their trophy and individual medals. Opposite top: Crossroads players ride through the Alley during a championship parade. Opposite left: Director of Athletics Ira Smith and Bob Riddle celebrate the Roadrunners’ success. Opposite right: Head coach Anthony Davis looks on during the title game at Golden 1 Center. Opposite bottom: Yuuki Okubo (right) chases after a loose ball.


to be as Crossroads came up short in a heartbreaking 48-41 setback. Eager to keep their season alive, the Roadrunners quickly proved they were not done just yet. Their second-place section finish earned them a spot in the CIF State Division II tournament with a variety of other section winners and runners-up from across California. And just as it had done in the face of roadblocks so many times prior, Crossroads pulled together and went to work. The Roadrunners topped Selma, La Jolla Country Day, Cajon and Birmingham to earn a CIF State regional title and a berth in the state finals. They had reached the pinnacle of competition in high school basketball. In the championship game against Alameda, Crossroads found itself facing a five-point deficit at the end of the first quarter. But the Roadrunners had overcome adversity before, and they could certainly do it again. They had been unsettled, disappointed and challenged many times over the course of the campaign, and in persevering they had garnered the experience they needed to succeed under pressure. The players drowned out the distractions and focused on the task at hand. After the first quarter, the squad outscored the Hornets for the remainder of the game. The Roadrunners

were calm and effective at the foul line, sinking 19 of their 27 attempts, and drained 50 percent of their shots from beyond the arc. “We knew we were going to have some butterflies, some missed shots, little stuff like that,” said Anthony, a former assistant coach who thanked the team’s seniors for their leadership. “But these guys found the rhythm and pulled through.” Senior forward Shareef O’Neal had 29 points and 17 rebounds to lead the team, and senior guard DJ Houston added 15 points, seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. With the victory secured, Crossroads received a California-shaped trophy that will symbolize the team’s accomplishments for years to come. Players marked the moment in a celebratory cluster on the court, letting out triumphant cheers as they jumped with joy before receiving medals and posing for photos with the coveted hardware. For the die-hard Roadrunners fans who followed the team to Sacramento, watching this group of young men win the state title was a thrilling moment in School history. “I’m really proud of what we’ve done this year,” Shareef said. “We had our ups and downs, but we ended it on a good note.”



Board of Trustees In April, the Board unanimously accepted the nomination of Lanhee Yung. As a managing director with Starwood Capital Group, Lanhee leads the firm’s fundraising and investor relations efforts globally, raising capital on behalf of the firm’s private investment funds and co-investments, including real estate, energy infrastructure and hedge funds worldwide. She is also a member of the firm’s Investment Committee and co-manages a portfolio of a value-add fund. Lanhee graduated from the Cornell University School of Hotel Administration and earned her MBA from ESSEC/Cornell University. She has served two terms on the Board of the Association of Foreign Investors in Real Estate, including on the executive board as director of programs; serves on various Cornell University boards; and served on two Crossroads committees: Investment, and Cost and Accessibility. She and her husband, Mark Yung, are the parents of Sebastien and Natalia, who will enter the fifth and second grade, respectively, in September. “Our family has loved being part of the Crossroads community since Sebastien entered in kindergarten,” says Lanhee. “I am honored to give back to a school that has provided my kids with the gift of engaged learning.” “I am thrilled to welcome Lanhee as our newest Trustee,” says Board Chair Bob Friedman. “She and her husband are deeply committed to the mission and philosophy of Crossroads.

2017-18 Board of Trustees


Bob Friedman, Chair Darlene Chan, Executive Vice Chair Nat Trives, Executive Vice Chair Jeff Worthe, Executive Vice Chair Jeff Lipp, Secretary Bob Davenport, Treasurer

New Trustee Lanhee Yung

Lanhee’s background and wealth of experience will be of great value to the Board going forward. She has already proven herself to be an engaged and thoughtful participant in the strategic planning process which Crossroads is currently undergoing.” At the June 7 end-of-year Board meeting, trustees expressed their gratitude for departing members Ilene Resnick-Weiss and David Tannenbaum—who served five and 11 years, respectively—and congratulated Board Chair Bob Friedman on his 20 years of service to the Board. “Bob Friedman is like the maestro of an orchestra,” noted Executive Vice Chair Nat Trives, a Crossroads trustee for over four decades. “The integrity of the School is kept by him, and he is one of the finest men I’ve ever met. I commend him.”


Andy Baum Trevor Bezdek ’95 Michelle Brookman ’82 Juan Carrillo Christopher Chee Ann Colburn Emilio Diez Barroso Mary Farrell Nicole Hoegl Martin Jacobs Deborah Kanter Nada Kirkpatrick Marisol León ’03 Ted Miller ’82

Bob Friedman and Bob Riddle presented a Board-approved resolution of appreciation to retiring Assistant Head of School and Dean of Faculty Morgan Schwartz. Over his 32 years at Crossroads, Morgan became close with countless Crossroads students, parents and alumni, including many in Trustee Lois Reinis’ family.

Marc Millman

“My family has used these words to describe Morgan: kind, wise, insightful, reasonable and smart,” shared Lois. “He never talked down to students and always made the subject matter interesting. Thank you, Morgan, for the positive influence you’ve had on the lives of my family.”

Bruce Stern

Sharon Nazarian David Offer ’84 Lois Reinis Ilene Resnick-Weiss Tracy Seretean

David Tannenbaum ’89 Tom Werner Erik Wright Lanhee Yung



Hava and Paul Rahimian A little over two years ago, Hava and Paul Rahimian toured several middle schools with their twin sons, Colin and Tyler. But they applied to only one: Crossroads. While the boys had been set on matriculating to the local public charter school with their friends, by the end of the

tour they were literally jumping and skipping with enthusiasm for all things Crossroads. Since then, the Rahimian family’s enthusiasm has only grown. Education has been a core value for Hava and Paul since each of their

families emigrated from Iran during the revolution. Paul’s grandmother wanted to be a doctor and found herself studying behind closed doors, as women were increasingly discouraged from pursuing higher education. Yet she persevered and became Iran’s first female pharmacist. Hava’s father was never able to pursue the education he wanted, which made him even more determined to ensure that his children and grandchildren could. The family’s long-standing commitment to quality education includes more than 20 years of involvement with the Magbit Foundation, which provides interest-free loans to college students who pay them back when they are able.

KATIE ARONSON, seventh grade

The Rahimians are deeply appreciative of the diversity goals of the School and are supportive in every way possible. It is important to Hava that “diversity play a role in our sons’ worldview,” she

says. “There is so much to learn living daily with people from many backgrounds, experiences and economic levels.” They immediately jumped into financially supporting Crossroads through Annual Giving and the Financial Aid Endowment Fund. Both are vital to the life and stability of the School, and Paul recognizes “how very lucky we are to be able to contribute.” Supporting the newly established Equity & Justice Institute is especially meaningful to them. The couple explains, “It will fill a need in the community and the world, and we are excited to be here at the beginning of it, to see the seed planted and watch how it grows and morphs—to see how it will influence and impact lives and inspire other schools. We will always be involved and connected with the Institute. This really puts Crossroads at the forefront of equity and justice in education.”



K-12 Spring Fundraiser: “Crossroads Night Live!” Jonah Hill ’02, Laura Dern, Courteney Cox and Molly Shannon. The evening was a full-tilt celebration, with dinner and drinks, a 45-minute “SNL”-style comedy show, a dance party and a silent auction and raffle. Luke Silver-Greenberg ’02 did an amazing job directing the show, and Mery Grace Castelo produced yet another spectacular event. Demetri Pappas headed up the writing team, which also included alumni Michael Weintraub ’04 and Olivia Milch ’07.

The Blues Brothers bring down the house!

On May 5, the Parent Association presented a new Crossroads spring fundraising event, “Crossroads Night Live!” at the Skirball Cultural Center. More than 950 people attended the Saturdayevening gala, which sold out a week in advance. All proceeds supported the Financial Aid Fund at Crossroads, which benefits one in four students.




“Saturday Night Live” alumnus and Crossroads parent Bill Hader was the host for the evening, which featured live performances by Phil Abrams, Jim Belushi, Baron Davis ’97, James Davis ’01, Sara Gilbert, Robinne Lee, Camryn Manheim, Leslie Mann, Jesse Nolan ’01, Bob Saget, Julie Silver, Steven Weber and the Tom Nolan Band featuring Caitlin Tortorici ’05. Video performers included Henry Winkler,

One highlight of the comedy show was the “Weekend Update” skit with Bob Saget, James Davis ’01, Baron Davis ’97 and a special appearance by new Los Angeles City Correspondent Stefon (Bill Hader). Other features included “The Crossroadians” (an adaptation of “The Californians”), an interpretive dance by Steven Weber performed to Julie Silver’s rendition of “Natural Woman,” “Crossroads Jeopardy” and an appearance by the Blues Brothers. In addition to the show, the silent auction and raffle, the evening included a photo booth, a roving magician, caricature artists, a doughnut wall, much laughter, schmoozing and dancing. The evening was ultimately a “fun-raiser” as well as a fundraiser, and it was wonderful to see the adult community come together in support of the School. Hats off to Event Co-Chairs Marissa Pianko, Olivia Corwin and Michele Celmer; Auction/ Raffle Co-Chairs Ann Dinner, Jennifer Michael and Delphine Robertson ’88; Event Treasurers Shannon Pappas and Andrea Fama; the video team of Stephen Leeds ’88, Bob Yeoman, Sheridan Farrell and Jared Press ’18; and the many volunteers, participants and organizers who helped make the event a huge success. It truly was a “wild and crazy” night!

Event Co-Chairs Olivia Corwin, Michele Celmer and Marissa Pianko.


Camryn Manheim, Phil Abrams and Sara Gilbert play contestants on “Crossroads Jeopardy.”

Guests bid on fantastic auction and raffle items, the proceeds of which benefited the Crossroads Financial Aid Fund.

Auction Co-Chairs Ann Dinner, Jennifer Michael and Delphine Robertson ’88.

“What errr YAH doing here?!” Bill Hader, Robinne Lee and Leslie Mann are “The Crossroadians” in a takeoff of the SNL sketch favorite “The Californians.”

Steven Weber performs an interpretative dance tribute to womanhood as Julie Silver sings “Natural Woman.”

“Weekend Update” City Correspondent Stefon (Bill Hader, right) shares the hottest Mother’s Day tips with anchors Bob Saget and James Davis ’01.






During her first full semester in the Crossroads dance program, eighthgrader Georgia Bryan realized how much it was benefiting her—not just as a performer, but also as a student. Initially drawn to dance because it provides her a forum for artistic expression and physical exercise, she began noticing its impact elsewhere in her school experience. “Learning choreography is a great way of training your mind to do other things—like memorizing facts for other classes,” she says. It’s one of the reasons why Chippy Wassung—a fourth-year employee who recently completed her first full year as K-12 dance coordinator—has worked tirelessly to expand and invigorate dance programming at Crossroads. And there are other reasons, too. “Dance comes from a philosophy of educating the whole child,” Chippy

says. “It’s about this connection to oneself, a connection to your body and to other dancers. “And we want to prepare students in more ways than just having a dance experience. For the kids who don’t want to dance in college, we’re preparing the next generation of audience members and dance supporters.” Chippy has bridged the gap between the existing kindergarten and firstgrade dance curricula and the Middle School dance programs by developing a Dance Options class, which allows Elementary School students to take dance instead of P.E. once a week. She even teaches the young dancers using a structure that’s familiar to them, helping students make connections between their schoolwork and their dance lessons. “We model off of the writing workshop model, and we use very similar vocabulary because creating choreography is the same as writing—it’s just doing

it through movement,” she says. “It’s the sequence of learning choreography, learning formations, refining choreography and getting it ready to be performed or ‘published.’” Dance also offers a venue for kinesthetic learning. To reinforce a lesson about the states of matter, for example, Chippy could prompt students to move like a solid, liquid or gas. Whether in Dance Options or in the after-school Hip-Hop Troupe, Chippy broadens Elementary School students’ horizons as they develop their skills. Those foundations come in handy when students arrive in Middle School, where all sixth- and seventhgrade students have required dance rotations. Indeed, it’s Chippy’s goal to help more students explore their potential in dance before they enter the Upper School. For Georgia, who joined the dance program in the second half of her eighth-grade year, it’s already been a fulfilling experience. She starred in a dance video that was filmed on the 21st Street Campus, took a master class with “Hamilton” cast member Jennifer Locke and performed in the “LAUNCH” spring show. And she’s looking forward to seeing what the future has in store. “What I enjoy the most about the dance program at Crossroads is the effort that is put into making it great,” she says. “This year was a major transition year for boosting the dance program at Crossroads significantly. There are going to be so many exciting things going on in the next school year.”



HISTORY of EMMI The Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute (EMMI) is among the gems of Crossroads School. An audition-based, Upper School classical music conservatory, EMMI empowers students to engage in meaningful study under the tutelage of experts while providing them with opportunities to perform alongside their peers and acclaimed professionals alike. This timeline highlights honors the program’s growth and impact over the last 40-plus years.



Crossroads is founded with the arts as one of the School’s five essential commitments, creating an enriching learning environment in which music is viewed as a forum for promoting imagination, creative expression and human development.



Music teacher Mary Ann Cummins (pictured above right) and others pave the way for future performing artists by establishing a unique music major program that would later become known as the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute. Accepted through an audition process, students commit to the study and performance of classical music while benefiting from the School’s exceptional academic programs.

LA Phil principal violist Heiichiro Ohyama directs and conducts the Crossroads Chamber Orchestra from 1981-1992. Warren Spaeth (left) is the music department’s first chair. Elizabeth Heller Mandell—the mother of Warren’s student Peter Mandell ’87—is the primary benefactor of the Crossroads International House and a key supporter of financial aid for music students at the School.





Herbert Zipper, a music theory teacher at Crossroads who survived Nazi concentration camps and internment by the Japanese in the Philippines during World War II, is in China for the Pearl River National Piano Competition. There, he witnesses the first-place performance of a young Dong-Yi ’93, whom Herbert convinces to leave his Beijing conservatory to attend Crossroads. Herbert’s recruitment of promising young musicians from Asia would later evolve into the Zipper International Scholars Program.






Crossroads adds Alexander Treger to the ranks of its music faculty, further elevating the quality of the learning experiences of music students at the School. Alexander, who left Moscow two decades earlier, became a violinist and concertmaster in the LA Phil and also was an adjunct professor of violin at UCLA for 20 years.

Elizabeth Heller Mandell, a Crossroads trustee and a supporter of the arts in Los Angeles, passes away at age 65. In her honor and memory, her family and the Clarence E. Heller Foundation move to formally establish the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute program to strengthen and sustain classical music education at Crossroads.



Richard Grayson joins the Crossroads music faculty on a part-time basis, bringing with him more than 30 years of experience as a music professor at Occidental College. He has a profound impact on the School’s music students until his death in 2016, inspiring Ethan Treiman ’17 to compose an original piece honoring his late teacher that was performed during a special memorial concert in the spring of 2017.

Dong-Yi ’93 is announced as the new EMMI director, replacing founder Mary Ann Cummins and taking the helm of the program in which he was previously a student. He returns to Crossroads with insights as a performer with worldrenowned symphonies and with experience as a teacher at Yale University. Mary Ann stays on as a music theory teacher, a role she has played since the School’s founding.





Crossroads names Grace Park as the new Director of EMMI and K-12 Strings, infusing the program with her skills as a performer and with her experiences as a teacher at USC and Marymount High School. Among the early highlights of her tenure is a master class with Crossroads alumna Joan Kwuon ’86, a professional violinist who teaches at the Cleveland Institute of Music. Master classes allow student musicians to fine-tune their skills with guidance from alumni and others who hold positions in leading orchestras and music organizations around the world.

EMMI violinist Isaac Pross ’18 has one of his original compositions, “Under the Table,” premiered by the LA Phil at Walt Disney Concert Hall. The performance is a highlight of his participation in the philharmonic’s Nancy and Barry Sanders Composer Fellowship Program, just one recent example of classical music students’ impressive achievements at Crossroads.





(RE-)INTRODUCING THE CROS SROADS FUND Formerly known as the Annual Fund, the Crossroads Fund is the most important source of fundraising for the School. It is the fuel that keeps Crossroads a vibrant, nurturing place to learn. It keeps the School financially healthy and academically enriching. It keeps our student body diverse, engaged and thriving.


Why did you change the name of the Annual Fund to the Crossroads Fund?

So what is the difference between the Crossroads Fund and Annual Giving?

While the term “annual fund” is common within the independent school world, we felt the Crossroads Fund better reflects the purpose behind this crucial source of fundraising, which makes up nearly 10 percent of the School’s annual operating budget. The new name also helps distinguish the Crossroads Fund from Annual Giving.

The term Annual Giving applies to a range of giving methods that support the School’s annual operating budget. It includes the Crossroads Fund as well as donations made through purchases, predominantly through the Parent Association Spring Event Fundraiser: admissions tickets, raffle tickets, auction bids, etc. However, these purchasebased contributions are generally not tax-deductible and are not part of the Crossroads Fund.

*Don’t see your question here? Call our director of annual giving at 310-582-4426.



The Crossroads Fund Tax-deductible donations made directly to the Crossroads Fund. This includes gifts supporting Financial Aid and event sponsorship/ underwriting.

Spring Fundraising Purchases such as raffle tickets, events admissions tickets and auction bids

Doesn’t tuition cover the School’s expenses?

How is my Crossroads Fund gift used?

In short, no. If we raised tuition to cover the full cost of a Crossroads education, our School would be accessible to only the wealthiest families. Instead, we ask our entire community to contribute to the Crossroads Fund to the best of their abilities, giving more students the opportunity to reach their full potential.

The Crossroads Fund allows us not only to cover the basic expenses of running a school, but also to provide students with an extraordinary education that goes far beyond a traditional school experience. Your gift has a direct impact on our exceptional academic and extracurricular programming, the arts, athletics, rites-of-passage experiences, financial aid, Environmental and Outdoor Education, and more. It ensures that our School and our students are Crossroads Strong.

Learn more at



Performing Arts at Crossroads Through a broad range of creative pursuits, students build connections to the world—and to each other.


incredible fifth-grade Shakespeare program, which for decades has transformed the oldest students at the Elementary School into scene-stealing scholars who spend much of the year engaging with the complex language and themes of the Bard’s everlasting works.


The year was 2002, the Crossroads Touring Company was performing around the San Francisco Bay Area, and then-freshman Jack Madans ’06 was playing Hubbell, a deaf character, in the theater group’s emotional production of “Runaways.” Jack was tasked with learning all of his lines in sign language, which helped him grasp the patience and perseverance it takes to live with a different ability. But even that powerful lesson paled in comparison to the one he learned while on Tour, which was taking place during the school year for just the second time in Crossroads history. He interacted with audience members of different backgrounds: children who had been abused, teenagers at a drug rehab center, adults with developmental disabilities, hospital patients with terminal illnesses, veterans whose lives had been altered by their experiences in combat. “In a world where there are scandals, lies and violence in our daily lives,” he wrote in a post-trip reflection, “the positive energy of these people that I encountered on my Tour experience reaffirmed my hope for humanity.” The Tour experience, shared by scores of students over the years, exemplifies the magic and lasting impact of performing arts at Crossroads. And as the program celebrates its 25th anniversary, members of the School community have taken the opportunity to reflect—not only on the annual theater trip, but also on the many other creative outlets that challenge, inspire and energize students on a daily basis.

It isn’t just about acting out a scene of “The Crucible,” playing in the rhythm section on a Herbie Hancock tune, perfecting an original dance composition or working behind the scenes. It’s also about self-confidence, community and connection. “Watching so many generations come through here, I really believe the performing arts are particularly important in this day and time because the kids are connected to each other via devices, and you cannot be connected onstage by a device,” says Upper School Drama Chair Davida Wills Hurwin. “Your connection is one-on-one. “We’re in a time now where everything for kids is external: Their online identity is external, they’re very conscious of getting badges to put on themselves and often younger people lose what it means to be yourself. And acting or being on stage is supposedly occupying another identity, but you can’t occupy another identity if you don’t know who you are.”

‘OPENING UP A KEY’ An early hallmark experience of performing arts at Crossroads is the

The members of this year’s fifthgrade class delivered riveting performances of “Julius Caesar” under the direction of longtime drama teacher Scott Weintraub, but not before educating themselves on Shakespeare through lessons, video clips and in-depth discussions. The students bolstered their understanding by compiling fact sheets about the playwright and brushing up on their Shakespearean English. “Scott really knows if you know the word or you don’t,” says Zack Belzberg, who shared the role of Brutus with Emme Ross. “If there’s a word I don’t know and I say it, he’ll say, ‘What does that word mean?’ Now that I know what 90 percent of the words mean, it’s a lot easier. It’s like opening up a key.”

You really have to think about what you’re doing. And even when you mess up, you just have to keep going.” COOPER COHEN

fifth grade



provides students of all grades with everything from basic introductions to advanced, college-preparatory instruction. What’s more, dance at Crossroads serves as a tool for building self-esteem at critical developmental stages. “It’s not about looking at your flaws—it’s about, ‘This is who I am,’ and being accepting of that,” Chippy says. “There’s this different being that comes out in dance—it’s this freeing experience for them. And that one hour or class per week can really influence other aspects of school and life in a positive way.” Seventh-grade student Gabriella Ebrahimi, who has already choreographed her own performances, After auditioning and receiving their character assignments, the students learned their lines and blocking as they prepared to bring “Julius Caesar” to life in the Community Room.

No matter how a class ends, we know that we can walk out proud for the work we are doing and what we are achieving.” GABRIELLA EBRAHIMI

seventh grade

It serves as an Elementary School bookend for the fifth-graders, many of whom started watching their Crossroads peers perform Shakespeare plays in kindergarten. “One of the more challenging things was trying to find out what your character really wants and trying to portray that,” Ruby Abowitz says. “Sometimes, it’s the opposite of what you are. But you have to do it anyway.”

READY FOR LIFTOFF “LAUNCH” was the name of this year’s electric spring dance performance at Crossroads, a captivating showcase featuring students from

all three divisions in a potpourri of styles. And it might as well be the tagline for the overall dance program at the School, which has taken off under the direction of K-12 Dance Coordinator Chippy Wassung and dance teacher Sophia Stoller. The dance program is celebrating its 30th anniversary at Crossroads; although it officially began in 1989 with the advent of the arts building, a few classes were offered in Tenzing the year before. And the program, which has blossomed in recent years,

says dance at Crossroads not only provides a balance in her school day but also reinforces skills that she uses in her academic disciplines. “Dance makes me feel like I can truly be myself, and I won’t be judged,” she says. “It is like a tiny safe space that I feel like I can crawl into whenever I’m feeling stressed or overwhelmed. When I dance, I feel like all my worries melt away and the only thing I have to focus on in that time is myself, and everything else around me. It makes me feel like I’m in the


middle of a street, skipping and holding hands with all my closest friends.” Fellow seventh-grader Jamison Dean, also a member of the Middle School Dance Company, says she’s enjoyed being introduced to new dance styles and learning from special guest choreographers. “I am looking forward to being part of the growth of the Crossroads dance program and helping shape the program into a supportive environment that everyone can benefit from,” she says.

SOUND EFFECTS The beautiful sounds of Crossroads’ outstanding music programs echo far beyond the two campuses. They are heard at the Ricardo Montalbán Theatre in Hollywood, where the School’s various choral ensembles entertained audiences with delightful renditions of songs ranging from “White Winter Hymnal” to “Don’t Stop Believin’” at this past year’s Holiday Concert.

They travel to Walt Disney Concert Hall in downtown LA, where senior Isaac Pross—a violinist in the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute— had one of his original compositions premiered by the LA Phil in March.

the fourth time that the Crossroads ensemble was invited to perform in Panama, where students also explore rainforest biodiversity in the Mamoni Valley Preserve and teach local children through a music workshop.

They stretch up to Monterey, California, where the talented members of the Jazz “A” Band recently earned a top-three finish for the third year in a row at the Monterey Next Generation Jazz Festival.

But the true strength of the Crossroads’ music programs is on campus, where excellent faculty members and unflinchingly creative students nurture an environment of growth and camaraderie.

They reach New York City, where junior Amy Sze earned the opportunity to perform at the world-famous Carnegie Hall this past fall after winning first place for violin in the high school division of the Young Muse Competition. And they even resonate internationally, as evidenced by the Jazz “A” Band’s winter trip to the Panama Jazz Festival in Panama City. This was

Isaac says he wouldn’t have been able to start composing without encouragement from Mary Ann Cummins, his ninth-grade music theory teacher. He also enjoyed collaborating with Crossroads’ jazz bands on a variety of projects and even providing the score for a fellow student’s film. “Crossroads has helped me develop as an artist by providing so many artistic opportunities to showcase my

Everyone here is so committed and so focused, and it’s fun to be around people like that.” JACK CLINE

10th grade


Theater has helped me grow into the person I am today. I used to be superduper shy … I’m confident in saying I’ve grown out of that, and I’m happy that I have.” KARINA MARTIR

work and try new things,” says Anna Abondolo ’18, a recent winner in the Music Center’s Spotlight program who has received numerous other awards for her musicianship. “My teachers and peers at Crossroads have played a large part in helping me find my voice as a musician, and I am thankful to have such a supportive community behind me.” For more on the Elizabeth Mandell Music Institute, turn to page 22.

SUPPORT SYSTEM It was just an Upper School theater show, but it was so much more than that.

10th grade

As the Drama Conservatory prepared for its production of “Rent” last year,

several of its members were grieving and coping with death in their own lives—much like the characters portrayed in the play. Adding to the emotional gravity was the fact that the Saturday night audience included Julie Larson, a parent of two Crossroads alumni and the sister of late “Rent” playwright Jonathan Larson. “That changed the show entirely,” says junior Eli Glasberg, whose father had recently passed away. “As a cast, we felt more obligated to perform the show in the most truthful way we could. It made us more open.” During the show that evening, the students elevated their performances in a way that was palpable. In a moving rendition of “I’ll Cover You (Reprise),” Austin Astrup ’18 poured extra energy into the lyrics written for his character, Tom Collins, who is reminiscing at his lover’s funeral. “That was very powerful,” Robin Kim ’18 says. “Everybody in that theater felt grief and loss—and also hope—in a very powerful way.” Indeed, it served as a microcosm for how the members of Conservatory rallied to help each other in times of need. “That was a big part of my support system,” Eli says. “I felt so accepted and welcomed. It just goes to show how theater kids at Crossroads treat each other. If someone faces loss or finds themselves in a situation that is difficult, this community and the kids in this room are going to help each other. We can always rely on each other.”

HUCK TRIGGS, 10th grade






GERARDO COLMENARES At 16 years old, all alone, Gerardo boarded a bus in Oaxaca, Mexico, in order to come to the United States to pursue his dream of becoming a teacher. Following a very long bus ride, and speaking not a word of English, Gerardo moved in with his brother-in-law and sister while he took ESL classes. After three months, he moved to Santa Monica and found a part-time job at Pioneer Magnetics, where he was a receiving clerk. In 1998, work was slow in the business, so he walked through the neighborhood near his home and happened to walk by Crossroads. At the time, Steve Tomasini, then the director of facilities, was riding his bike and about to go home. Gerardo asked him about working at Crossroads. Although no jobs were available, Gerardo was happy to meet Steve and hopeful about working at Crossroads in the future.




A month later, he was passing by the School again, saw Steve and asked if there was any work at Crossroads. As one of the custodians was on sick leave, Steve asked Gerardo if he wanted to clean restrooms. Gerardo said that he would do anything, so he was given the job. Now he is responsible for cleaning the outside of the Elementary School, sweeping, mopping and cleaning the windows. The most satisfying part of his work is the gratitude he hears from parents about the cleanliness of the building, a frequent refrain from appreciative families. When Gerardo first came to Crossroads, he had a fulltime position at Pioneer and a half-time job at Crossroads. For two years now, he has been full-time at both Pioneer and Crossroads, clocking a 16-hour workday every single day. When he isn’t working, he is an avid baseball fan. Inspired by his father, who was an umpire in Oaxaca, Gerardo played in a rookie league in Mexico before moving to the United States. He is extremely grateful to Crossroads for helping his family to have a good life.

20 YEA


Even during graduate school at USC, Tom knew he wanted to teach; he imagined himself as a college film professor. When a colleague at USC told him there was an opening for a film teacher at Crossroads, he didn’t really consider it seriously. At the time, Tom was doing internships in the film industry and thought he would teach later in his life. But when he found out that several USC colleagues were applying for the job, he decided to submit his resume; he figured there must be something interesting about the school! During his interview, Tom connected deeply with thenUpper School director Ann Colburn and legendary film teacher Jim Hosney. It just so happened that Tom was immersed in a study of the French New Wave film movement—and so was Jim. And so, Tom came to Crossroads. Although classroom management was a steep learning curve for Tom as a young teacher, he discovered that he truly loved working with teenagers. He contemplated

teaching at the college level a few times, but he realized that he loves the autonomy he has at Crossroads and the response of the students to exploring film in depth. His film courses, now legendary themselves, engage the students in multiple disciplines, especially art and literature. In fact, there was a Cabaret skit one year in which the jokes centered around how students learn about subjects other than film in Tom’s class: “Oh, did you learn about the butterfly effect in science class?” “No, I learned it in Tom’s class.” In response to a question about history, the answer was the same: “No, I learned it in Tom’s class.” Dynamic, engaged and organized, Tom has continued to challenge and excite students for 20 years at Crossroads. Parents are hoping he’ll offer a class to them!


Longtime Employees Honored at Celebratory Dinner Individually, they’ve each worked at Crossroads for 20 years or longer. Together, these 61 faculty and staff members have made wondrous impacts on the success of the School, on the rich fabric of the community and on the well-being of students they’ve mentored along the way.

“Of all the schools I’ve ever seen in my life … I don’t think I’ve ever seen a healthier, more vibrant, more effective cultural curriculum than the one at Crossroads,” Roger said. “The credit goes to you—you are the people who created that culture of respect and passion and collaboration.”

This spring, it was their turn to be recognized. Crossroads celebrated employees who have spent two decades or more at the School at an elegant evening April 19 at Tiato, where honorees and their guests enjoyed a delicious dinner and more than a few courses of reminiscing.

Catherine Ramos, assistant director of the Elementary School, noted that she doesn’t typically frequent a place of worship but that Crossroads serves as her “community of faith.” Jose Guzman, a custodian on the 21st Street Campus, said he enjoyed spending time with his friends on staff in such a celebratory setting.

Attendees first mingled on the restaurant’s outdoor patio before being officially welcomed by Bob Riddle, who congratulated all 20-plus-year employees on their professional achievements. “Thank you for everything you’ve done for our School, and for everything you do,” he said. Before heading into the dining room, he encouraged employees to share with their tablemates their experiences at Crossroads, their standout memories and the secrets to their staying power. Later in the evening, Roger Weaver, Bob’s predecessor, shared in a speech that Crossroads’ true strength lies in its culture—a culture that is due in large part to the longtime employees who have created and cultivated a warm and welcoming atmosphere during their time at the School.


“How lucky the School is to have so many wonderful people,” noted Crossroads co-founder Paul Cummins.

1. Guillermo Lopez, Jose Guzman, Jose’s son Jose Jr. and Fidel Ramirez enjoy a laugh outdoors at Tiato.



2. KK Jackson ’82 and Laura Presburger celebrate 20-plus years at Crossroads. 3. Film teacher Tom Kemper and custodian Gerardo Colmenares reach their 20-year anniversaries as Crossroads employees. 4. Sporting name tags featuring their early school ID photos, the honorees shared stories from their many years at Crossroads.




Lorraine Christensen

When Lorraine Christensen came to interview at Crossroads in 1993, she was surprised and thrilled to see then-college guidance director Kristina Schwartz. Lorraine, as a faculty liaison, had worked with Kristina in the admissions office at Scripps College. Lorraine heard about the Crossroads opening from a history colleague at the Webb Schools, and she was excited that a high school had Latin and Greek programs. Lorraine’s interview was late in the school year, and she had already signed a contract at Webb, so she told Crossroads co-founder Paul Cummins that she couldn’t commit to the job. But Paul offered her a letter of intent saying that the School would retain her for the 1994 school year as well as 1993. So Lorraine came to Crossroads. She was blown away by the teachers’ creativity and by the students’ enthusiasm. And she was comforted in knowing that this must be a great place if Kristina was working here as well.

Larry Moss

Asked to grow the Classical languages program, Lorraine got right to work. Within a few years, enrollment in Greek and Latin tripled. She also wrote the “Crossroads Greek Anthology” for the second- through fourth-year Greek program, using a series of Aesop’s Fables to introduce complex Greek syntax to second- and third-year students before teaching them the structure of the language. Students had to choose one of the fables, write an analogous story from their own lives and create artwork to reflect the essence of the story. During her 24 years at Crossroads, Lorraine taught all of the Classical language levels except for Latin 1. She stayed at the School because she loved her colleagues, their “wicked senses of humor” and their thoughtfulness. Longtime colleague Jamie Meyer says of her extraordinary career, “She taught her students to see the value and depth of Classical studies and was an invaluable resource to her Latin colleagues.”

Larry Moss practically wrote the book on Life Skills at Crossroads. As a visionary leader for the department, Larry crafted part of the founding document, the Life Skills Sourcebook, which has since been shared around the world with people and organizations seeking to launch similar programs. And that’s just one example of Larry’s profound impact over the course of his time at the School since his start in 1989. He has held roles in music, administrative support and the Middle School in his 29 years, but his contributions in Life Skills will benefit Crossroads for years to come. After graduating from UC Berkeley with a degree in psychology, Larry earned a master’s in counseling psychology from Ryokan College in Los Angeles. He received clinical training in psychotherapy at the Maple Counseling Center in Beverly Hills and the Center for Family in Torrance. Larry became a licensed therapist in 1991

and worked for many years in private practice while simultaneously guiding Life Skills education at Crossroads. In Council settings, he helped students navigate relationships and external pressures while preparing them for life after graduation. First-year Life Skills teachers at Crossroads often observed Larry’s classes to learn how he supports students. Indeed, almost every faculty member in the department has shadowed him. “Larry is a brilliant educator—committed to the students and always welcoming of their ideas and individuality,” says Upper School Life Skills Chair David Listenberger. “His joy and laughter have guided our program for the last 29 years, and his guidance has kept us connected to the original intentions of the program for over two decades. Those of us lucky to have spent time in his classes will remember his impact in perpetuity.”


Morgan Schwartz

His roles have changed over the years, but Morgan Schwartz has been nothing short of a fixture at Crossroads. Over the last 32 years, he has shared his warmth and strong leadership with the School while promoting a culture of innovation, activism and academic excellence. In retirement, Morgan plans to spend more time with his wife, Kristina, who worked for 15 years at Crossroads as director of college guidance. He also looks forward to pursuing his interests in natural history and photography, but he expects to remain an active member of the School community by regularly attending campus events. “I am incredibly proud of Crossroads School and have absolutely loved working here for the past 32 years,” he says. “Thank you to everyone who has contributed, in one way or another, to my one-of-a-kind experience at this School— I am truly grateful.” Morgan began his Crossroads career as a

Warren Spaeth

chemistry and geology teacher in the Upper School in 1986 and also coached tennis, moving to the Middle School a few years later as assistant director. In 1999, Morgan succeeded John Sullivan as Middle School director, holding that position for a 17-year period that included one year as interim Upper School director. For the last two years, he enriched the entire Crossroads community in his role as assistant head of school and dean of faculty. Doug Thompson, who previously held that position at Crossroads, will take Morgan’s place on an interim basis as the School searches for a long-term successor. But it won’t be easy to replace him. “It’s almost incomprehensible to imagine Crossroads without Morgan,” Bob Riddle says. “We are the School we are today in large part because of all he has done for us, and for our students.” To read Morgan’s personal reflections on his career at Crossroads, see page 36.

Having worked in Massachusetts for a year early in his career, Warren Spaeth realized that New England winters were not for him. So he returned to Los Angeles with no job. While standing in the checkout line at Sav-on one day, he saw a Los Angeles Magazine piece about the best independent schools in Los Angeles. He noticed that Crossroads offered a course in music theory and couldn’t believe it. Two and a half weeks later, he found himself teaching a demonstration lesson on the first movement of Beethoven’s third symphony. He was hired on the spot. A part-time Music Theory 2 teacher in his first year at the School, Warren became full-time in his second year. He was thrilled to have extraordinary colleagues: Robert Chen, currently concertmaster of the Chicago Symphony Orchestra; Sheryl Staples, now principal associate concertmaster of the New York Philharmonic; Michael Kim, internationally known concert pianist and

current director of the School of Music at the University of Minnesota Twin Cities. In 1981, Heiichiro Ohyama, then principal violist of the Los Angeles Philharmonic, began conducting Crossroads’ youth string orchestra and made it among the greatest in the country. In the late ’80s, during one of his inspiring conversations about ethics with Paul Cummins, Paul said, “You would be a perfect person to teach ethics to kids.” Warren felt ill-equipped for such a role, but Paul made an offer that Warren couldn’t refuse: “Teach ethics for one semester. If you feel you failed, stop.” Passionate about his new role, Warren brought the classroom dialogue to a practical level. He even took his whole class to Skid Row, hoping to expand students’ horizons. Warren’s career has been a great gift to Crossroads. In his many decades at the School, he has imparted lessons on the music and ethics that have fueled his love of life.



Part of ‘Something Special’ By Morgan Schwartz

After 32 years at Crossroads, Morgan Schwartz is retiring as assistant head of school and dean of faculty. Here, in his own words, he reflects on his adventure at the School.

COPELAND TEDDER, first grade

accompanies a community that is in the process of building something special together. This spirit, along with the values of the School and the trust and freedom given faculty to develop their curricula, laid the foundation for my love of this unusual School. Furthermore, Crossroads nurtured and embraced opportunities for me to change my job, which kept me engaged in the School and which inspired me to learn new skills. For example, I created a geology field course for seniors that included memorable trips to Death Valley and the White-Inyo Mountains that let me share the passion I had for the discipline of geology. I found teaching quite by accident in the mid-1980s. After college, I began my career as a geologist for a small Canadian mining company that was developing a gold mine in Arizona. A serious back injury forced me to abandon this career just as it was beginning. Very anxious about switching careers, I started teaching science and math. In 1986 I came to Crossroads to teach chemistry and Advanced Placement chemistry and to coach girls and boys tennis. Prior to Crossroads, I worked at two different independent schools. One was very established and quite traditional, while the other was a tiny and creative operation. What I found in Crossroads was an environment that felt entirely different and completely refreshing. Housed in that peculiar campus sandwiched between the freeway and Olympic Boulevard were people brimming with a scrappy, can-do mindset absent of all pretense frequently associated with “private schools.” I was delighted by what I found and was inspired by the people I met. Many of these people are now my dear friends. One became my wife: Kristina, who was, for 15 years, the director of college guidance. The School had—and still has—a palpable sense of excitement, an entrepreneurial spirit that

I enjoyed being a faculty representative, assistant director of the Middle School, Middle School director, interim assistant head of school, acting Upper School director and assistant head of school and dean of faculty. I also served as a trustee at the Oaks School in Hollywood and on four visiting committees for CAIS, and have presented at the national conference level. I tried to build a genuine Middle School community, one full of students and teachers who understand and embrace this particular developmental stage. I am proud to have represented Crossroads through the admissions process and for making sound enrollment decisions. Similarly, hiring wonderful teachers and administrators to support student learning is a source of ongoing pride. To be afforded the great privilege and responsibility to make decisions that have no easy answers is something I will always appreciate. Participating in a School community that enjoys widespread agreement about the values and mission is important to acknowledge. This has been, by far, my most significant and fulfilling professional experience. I am tremendously proud of Crossroads and will forever cherish this 32-year adventure with the School.



Camp Harmony Resonates with Alumni Volunteers Crossroads alumni convened at Camp Harmony in February to share laughs with friends old and new while volunteering at the organization’s winter camp, which provides life-changing camping experiences for underserved children. Learn more about the programs and the deep Crossroads connections in this interview with Adam Slutske ’93, the director of Camp Harmony.

How many children participate in the winter camp? How many counselors? We have about 320 campers at both winter and summer camp. There are around 160 counselors, who are high schoolers. Typically, most counselors do both winter and summer camps if their schedule allows. How do you identify prospective campers? The campers are selected based on our relationship with an agency or shelter. We give each agency/shelter spots for camp, and they fill the spaces based on the children they think need it the most.

How many volunteers help run the winter camp? How many of them are Crossroads alumni or current students? We have about 160 high school kids as our volunteer counselors and another 40 or 50 adult volunteers. Between high schoolers and adult volunteers, we have about 30-40 Crossroads volunteers at any given time—maybe even more! What is the goal of the winter camp program? Winter camp is very similar in programming to summer. The program grew out of our desire to serve more children and to bring our counselors and campers back together once between the longer

summer sessions. Winter camp is over Presidents Day weekend, so it’s a Friday-to-Monday program. The summer camp goes Sunday to Sunday. We fill Hess Kramer and Hilltop camps to capacity for both winter and summer. How many members of your own family participate? My mom volunteers as president of United in Harmony (the umbrella organization that Camp Harmony falls under). Andrea, my wife, runs several programs at camp. During the session, you’ll find my aunts, uncles, cousins, mom, dad, wife, close friends and my children all at camp volunteering!

How can people help support the program? We always need volunteers—they are what makes our program so amazing. We are a 100 percent volunteer-run camp. I’m the camp director, and I’m a volunteer! After our need for volunteers, we always need funds and supplies for the campers. The funds allow us to continue functioning and paying for camp. Needed supplies include new shoes, towels, bathing suits and toiletries.



Crossroads Hosts First Alumni of Color Reception

1. Mir Harris ’02, Hassani Scott ’13, Vicky Muhammad ’95, Travon Muhammad ’93 and E.J. Fortenberry ’13 with Crossroads teacher Hyacinth Young



2. Shannon McQueen ’10, Kaela Farrise ’10 and Kristina Murray ’09 3. Jared Fellows ’13 and David McMillan ’96 4. Hassani Scott ’13, Erica Warren ’95 and Leshar McGhee ’94 5. M iriam Cortez ’13, Cherokee Washington ’13 and Kenya Collins ’12


6. KK Jackson ’82 and Mir Harris ’02



Special thanks to the Alumni of Color Reception Advisory Planning Committee: Reina Cano Jimenez ’98 Mir Harris ’02 Gabriella Barbosa ’04 Ian Sloane ’06 Hassani Scott ’13 E.J. Fortenberry ’13

8. A lumni discuss their unique Crossroads experiences. 9. K im Cooper ’92 with current Crossroads parent Joe Blackstone



7. Kim Greene ’99 with Bob Riddle



All former students of color were invited to come back to campus for an evening of reunion, networking and reminiscing about their experiences as Crossroads pioneers during the School’s first-ever Alumni of Color Reception.

the various initiatives that Crossroads has implemented to promote equity and justice on campus and beyond and shared that he was delighted to have so many alumni back at the School for this inaugural event.

The Alumni Office developed the event after hearing from alumni of color that they were eager to connect (and reconnect) with each other; to discuss the benefits and challenges of attending Crossroads; and to celebrate their successes.

The group of about 50 alumni, current teachers and parents then broke off into smaller groups to share memories and discuss how their Crossroads experiences shaped them during their time here and beyond.

Bob Riddle addressed the attendees, discussing the steady increase in students of color on campus. (Today, 47 percent of students identify as people of color.) He also spoke of

It was so successful that the Alumni Office is currently exploring ideas for a follow-up event.


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.


2 1. Alec Schulman ’17 and Haley Fragen ’17 2. James Kennerly ’16 visits with Dean of Alumni Relations Tom Nolan. 3. Dillon Lazar ’17 stops by on break from the University of Chicago.




4. Crossroads teacher Collin Hertz ’10 and Max Hertz ’15 5. Blake Slatkin ’16 6. Michael Libby ’11 with Tom Nolan 7. Jonathan Ainley ’07 and Harrison Kreiss ’07 8. Sarah Loew ’96 9. Lani Renaldo ’14 10. Stella Totino ’15 visits her brother Dante ’18 on campus.




11. Isabel Levin ’16 makes her first visit to campus since graduation. 12. Alexa James-Cardenas ’16 recently completed her freshman year at Carnegie Mellon University School of Drama.





Upcoming Events 08/29 Alumni All-Class Mixer Solidarity, Santa Monica

09/25 Alumni Admissions Evening Roth Hall

09/30 Alley Party 21st Street Campus

10/13 Classes of ’88, ’98 and ’08 Reunions The Alley

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 Jenn Gerber ’97 at



Alumni Gather at San Francisco Mixer

>>> 1. Leslie (Hsu) Freeman ’01 (second from left) with her husband, Arielle (Reinstein) Jackson ’99 and Micaela Reinstein ’03



2. Doug Leeds ’86 (center) with his wife and Tom Nolan 3. Marz Jaffe ’99 and Jessica Hilberman ’98 4. Group shot 5. Chen Zhao ’93 with Tom Nolan after Chen’s performance with the San Francisco Symphony 6. A ndy Donald ’01 and Liam Blaney ’12 7. Scott Andersen ’85 (second from right) with Bob Riddle, Doug Thompson and Doug’s wife, Barbara


8. Candace Payne ’98 with her young son and Bob Riddle 9. Steven Ojo ’05 with fiancee Stephanie Slatt, Amanda Medress ’05 and Derek Martin 10. Shelley Ackerman ’09 and Jon Goldstein ’09 11. Ryan Kalili ’16 with Tom Nolan






Recently moved?

It was a wonderful night of mingling and memories at Crossroads’ Alumni Mixer in February at Triple Voodoo Brewery in the Dogpatch neighborhood of San Francisco.


Alumni coming from nearby Oakland and as far as Santa Monica attended the annual mixer, including Scott Andersen ’85, Rebecca Belinsky ’11, Liam J. Blaney ’12, Andy Donald ’01, Leslie Freeman ’01, Jessica Hilberman ’98, Arielle Jackson ’99, Martina G. Jaffe ’99, Doug Leeds ’86, Amanda Medress ’05, Heather Murdock ’88, Steven Ojo ’05, Candace Payne ’98, Alex Pretzlav ’05, Micaela Reinstein ’03 and Marci Riseman ’88.


Many folks brought significant others, and Candace brought her beautiful baby. Head of School Bob Riddle and Dean of Alumni Relations Tom Nolan were also in attendance, as was Events Coordinator Veronica Ulloa. Over the course of the evening, attendees reconnected and shared Crossroads memories across different generations.


Former Assistant Head of School Doug Thompson and his wife, Barbara, came from Palo Alto, where Doug recently retired as head of Mid-Peninsula High School. As luck would have it, Doug will be returning to his previous role at Crossroads on an interim basis to replace Morgan Schwartz, who recently announced his retirement. Perhaps the camaraderie of the reunion helped encourage Doug to come out of retirement for another stint at Crossroads!

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In this issue, we highlight alumni whose career experiences span a broad range of disciplines in the performing arts: stage, TV and film acting; classical and contemporary music; dance; and directing and producing. Their professional accomplishments are a celebration of the breadth and depth of performing arts education at Crossroads.


FRANCESCA CARPANINI ’12 She now lives and works in New York City, where she initially moved to attend the Juilliard School. She reluctantly left Juilliard at the


Melissa Clark writes, “My 10-episode middlegrade podcast ‘Becoming Mother Nature’ will be available for streaming in late August, distributed by PRX and available wherever you get your podcasts. The story follows 13-year-old Chloe as she inherits the daunting job of Mother Nature from her grandmother.” George Renan writes, “I am living with my wife in Panama doing all sorts of strange things, but mainly teaching English and setting up my cult compound in the jungle. And by setting up, I mean thinking about it sometimes while I watch TV and sleep.”

For Francesca Carpanini ’12, appearing in Thornton Wilder’s “Our Town” during eighth grade at Crossroads School was a defining moment. “It was the first time I felt myself lose myself in a role and how intoxicating that could be,” she says. “I had always wanted to be an actress. That was when I learned what it truly meant.” By then, Francesca had been acting several years, starting at age 5 in a production of “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” a prophetic first experience with William Shakespeare. Francesca joined Crossroads in seventh grade and immersed herself in the Middle School Players. “I did every single play I could,” she says. In Upper School, she performed three shows a day in Northern California with the Crossroads Touring Company, which combined her love of theater and of outreach. “I was able to experience communities I never would have seen otherwise,” says Francesca.

end of her third year because she got a job offer—a life-changing, door-opening offer—to appear in “The Tempest,” produced by the legendary Shakespeare in the Park. The setting of Manhattan’s Central Park was ideal, she recalls. “It would rain or the wind would blow, and we would just keep going.” Francesca then made her off-Broadway debut in “Dead Poets Society” and, in 2017, her Broadway debut in Lillian Hellman’s “The Little Foxes,” alongside Cynthia Nixon and Laura Linney. “It was incredible to work with them every night,” she says. She is grateful for the opportunities to do “some wonderful things,” notes Francesca, who recently was cast in the lead role of an upcoming indie film. But she cautions how challenging an actor’s life can be. “I still spend chunks of time unemployed and auditioning,” she says. The trick is maintaining a sense of joy and passion and belief in yourself. And remembering something she learned at Crossroads: that storytelling has a larger purpose. “It’s really not about you,” Francesca says. “You can serve other people with laughter or sadness or compassion through your performance.”

KAELEN COOK, 10th grade





Michael Rosen writes, “What led



me to starting Unminced Words—shirts, mugs and other creations that bring levity and truth together—dates back to my formative years at Crossroads. I now have a creative outlet that connects with a worldwide audience instantly.” CLASS OF 1988

Greg Schell writes, “I’ve been continuing my world travels, shooting photography for magazine editorial and corporate clients. My brand-new website is up, too, if you care to take a look:” CLASS OF 1991

Nell Cross Beckerman writes, “I recently joined the world of children’s book writers, and my debut picture book will be published in spring 2020 by Cameron & Co. ‘Down Under the Pier’ celebrates the fun to be had both on top of and, during low tide, under the Santa Monica Pier. I would love to hear from any other kid lit writers out there!”

Cam Johnson ’11 has always been a “natural-born timekeeper.” Early on, he gravitated toward the drummer’s responsibility to dictate the passage of time. “I think a drummer really gets serious when they understand their job and how important it is,” he says. Cam’s gift for timing and improvisation has enabled him to craft a growing “hyphenate” career as a drummer-composer-A&R managerrecord producer. He vividly recalls his seventhgrade audition for Crossroads’ Middle School jazz band. As he played, he gauged the reactions of band director Tony Hundtoft and others. “Their faces told me I had a future in music at this school,” he says. Crossroads proved to be an important step in his musical evolution. But his story started at age 4, when his parents bought him his first set of toddler-sized drums. A few years later, they signed Cam up for lessons in classical acoustic guitar, an instrument he still uses for composing. In Middle School, he sat in on rehearsals for the Jazz “A” Band, directed by Evan Avery, and he jumped straight into its ranks as a freshman. That enabled him to drum alongside pianist Austin Peralta ’09, already a musical force. “Playing with Austin lit a fire under me,” says Cam. “I’m still holding onto those moments.” Cam attended pre-college music programs at the Colburn School and

performed with his rock band at house parties and venues around Los Angeles. He also made time for track and field and for social activism with Crossroads’ chapter of Friends of Lesbians and Gays (FLAG), now known as the PRIDE Club. At Columbia University, he explored his interests in politics, music and social sciences. He majored in sociocultural anthropology and took part in the Louis Armstrong Jazz Performance Program while writing and performing with local and student artists. Now, in addition to performing, writing and producing, Cam is developing his own musical project and beginning his journey into film and TV composition. He draws inspiration from jazz and American roots music while using experimental compositional practices to create soundscapes and lyrics that explore spirituality, relationships and society. “Given the tools and the time,” he says, “I’m probably going to create something you haven’t heard before.”



Matt Negrin


writes, “I


started a law firm, Negrin LLP,

When ballet dancer/choreographer Nicole Haskins ’05 hears music, she sees formations, scenes and colors. “I have to capture what I see somehow,” she says. “I’m not adept at drawing or sculpting. Choreography is how I envision the music.” Nicole trained for 15 years with the Westside School of Ballet in Santa Monica, starting at age 3. Early on, she performed original dances for her family. By age 11, she and her friends staged their own “Swan Lake.” Nicole joined Crossroads School in seventh grade and found herself “surrounded by people who were passionate and ambitious.” She appreciates how supportive the School was in devising a flexible schedule that accommodated her ballet training and “the way they valued my thoughts and opinions and treated me as an equal at the table.”

After graduation, she bypassed college to go pro—“I had to give it a try,” she says—signing on with the Sacramento Ballet. She had the confidence to “take that leap of faith” because of her training, her supportive parents and Crossroads’ nurturing arts environment, she says. While dancing professionally, Nicole has been commissioned to choreograph works for many ballet schools and several companies, including Smuin Ballet in San Francisco, where she currently dances. In 2017, she was one of the winners of Oregon Ballet Theatre’s Choreography XX competition. This summer, armed with grant funding, she began choreographing a new work for the Richmond Ballet, which will have its world premiere this November. A dancer’s career can be fleeting. “Particularly in ballet, you’re dealing with the confines of your own body,” says Nicole. Her greatest joy in working with other dancers is “helping them to identify ways they can keep growing and improving so they’re of greatest value to their companies.” In the long term, she pictures herself becoming a ballet master, mentoring and coaching. With each new piece she creates, Nicole sets a challenge for herself, then leaves room for the unexpected. “The best moments,” she says, “are spontaneous and unplanned.”

with my wife. We are excited for the legal adventures ahead.” CLASS OF 1993

Matthew Ehrmann writes, “I live in Santa Monica with my wife Erin and two children, Aria (7) and Enzo (6). I am the owner/creative director of Color TV Design, a local graphic design firm. I am also an artist/photographer with a passion for documenting disappearing American roadside treasures. My work is on display and for sale in Los Angeles and Palm Springs. I keep in close contact with many of the friends I made over 25 years ago in the Alley. Graphic design website: Photography:” Craig Juda writes, “I opened the flagship WO•LA workout gym on 3rd and Fairfax so youth can experience safe, fun and inspiring group fitness—a space where they can put down their cellphones and get their bodies moving with their peers. In the studio next door, parents and adults can enjoy the same invigorating workout. Both youth and adults experience the workout journey together, feeling more connected with body and mind and opening a world of possibilities. Come start your journey!”




Aaron Malone


writes, “In


2017, I traveled to one of the He loved the feeling of being terrified beforehand, “and the adrenaline rush of working on something, trying to find the funny

Jason Ritter ’98 got his first taste of stage life during second grade at Crossroads School when he appeared in the musical “Pippin” as Theo. “It was amazing to be around the older kids,” he remembers. But by middle school, shyness overcame him, and he avoided the limelight. Instead he joined the Jazz “B” Band, where he played bass. “I always liked being part of something bigger than myself, a group of people who come together to make something none of us could do on our own,” he says. In 10th grade, he was asked to audition for a small role in the spring fundraiser Cabaret, in which his father, actor John Ritter, had a part. Jason discovered that he was “sick of being too scared to embarrass myself” and that he enjoyed the process of acting—“every single bit of it.”

things about it, like a magic trick,” he says. By the time he graduated, he wanted to be an actor. Jason went on to New York University’s Atlantic Acting School and spent time at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in London, trying to demystify Shakespeare. Then he returned to LA and built a growing list of credits. He earned an Emmy nomination for NBC’s “Parenthood” and, in 2017-18, starred in the series “Kevin (Probably) Saves the World.” Recently, he got rave reviews for “The Tale,” a film that courageously takes on childhood sexual abuse. He chooses projects based on whether “there’s some element that rings true or moves me,” he says. “It all comes down to if I can contribute something to the character I’ll be playing.” Next he will appear in Netflix’s new superhero drama series, “Raising Dion.” Throughout his K-12 journey at Crossroads, he had “such great teachers and directors,” who imparted a sense of freedom and imagination— in a place where the arts are an integral part of all life has to offer, Jason says. “It’s a lovely way to learn.”

least visited countries (by U.S. citizens) in the world, Iran. It was an absolutely incredible adventure, and I highly recommend that everyone take the time to visit this beautiful country. The people go above and beyond to welcome guests; their generosity knows no bounds. The history and architecture are astounding! The food is pure bliss. It is a destination I will no doubt return to many times again.” CLASS OF 2002

Mir Harris writes, “Since the top of the year, I have been the manager of operations and community engagement for TimesUp. Shout-out to my awesome Class of 2002—I see you are all doing great things.” CLASS OF 2007

Michael Ojo writes, “I’ve been extremely fortunate—I’m continuing to pursue my dreams on the basketball court. In my six years as a professional basketball player, I’ve played in England, Cyprus, Sweden, Greece, Italy, Czech Republic and Austria. I was also named a member of the Nigerian national team and represented the country in three qualifying games for the Basketball World Cup, which will be played in China in 2019. I’ve also started to dabble in commentary and will be starting a podcast.”



Cherokee Washington writes, “I graduated



from Whitman College in 2017. I completed my final season of volleyball as the senior libero, completed a double major in rhetoric studies and psychology, and served as the first Associated Students of Whitman College diversity and inclusion director. I completed two senior theses: one about psychological flow in athletes and another about the role of Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” in black feminism. I am now pursuing a career in performance and cultural sport psychology, and I hope to work with professional athletes in the future.” CLASS OF 2014

Jack Freedman writes, “The last four years have been wild. I successfully played Division I baseball at UNLV, graduated in May and have accepted my first job. I will be a player representative and marketing manager for Munger English Sports Management. I thank Crossroads endlessly for the lessons of humility while teaching me to strive to be the best version of myself. I have learned, because of Crossroads, that knowledge truly is power.”

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

At Crossroads School, “you don’t have to change who you are to fit in,” says Benjamin “Jamie” Salka ’95. “Crossroads saw me for who I was and said, ‘We like what we see.’” What the School saw—by his own description—was a highly creative “goofball weirdo with a particular blend of very serious and very silly” who loved performing, songwriting and gymnastics. Crossroads’ affirmation gave him confidence. “I instantly felt at home,” Benjamin says of entering seventh grade. He jumped into theater classes, plays and assemblies, excited that students didn’t just perform “other people’s theater,” they created their own. During his senior year, as student body president, he was impressed that student council wasn’t merely symbolic. “We had ideas,” he says, “and the School took them seriously.” Following graduation from Northwestern University, Benjamin began directing, assistant-directing and producing on and off-Broadway in New York City. He was working for a Hollywood film production company when two friends asked him for advice on a concept they had. But he didn’t want to just give them advice. “I wanted to join them,” he says. So, in 2004, he became co-founder and CEO of Story Pirates, a child-centric education and media

company that turns kids’ original stories into wild sketch comedy musicals featuring professional actors “to let kids know their words and ideas matter,” he says. Story Pirates started as a pilot project in one Harlem school. Since 2005, a group that the New York Times dubbed a “theatrical treasure” has reached more than a half-million kids in 350-plus schools while running a popular live theater tour, a series of books and a No. 1 podcast for kids, as well as arts education and literacy programs. Benjamin, who moved back to L.A. in 2009 to open a second Story Pirates branch, oversees its growing media presence, including a hit radio show, YouTube videos and plans for livestreaming. Each spring, Story Pirates’ Adopt-a-School benefit takes place at Crossroads—the perfect setting, he says. “Because of the values this School instilled in me, we’re creating that experience for kids around the world.”





Violinist Michelle Kim ’91 has crafted an impressive classical music career, performing with symphony orchestras, chamber music groups and at music festivals worldwide. In 2001, she joined the New York Philharmonic, where she is now assistant concertmaster (the William Petschek Family Chair). Recently, she decided to set herself “a fresh new challenge” and pursue a solo career overseas. “Why not do something I’ve never tried before?” says Michelle. She started with a successful two-week tour of South Korea, where she was born. Michelle arrived in the U.S. from Seoul in fifth grade knowing barely a word of English. She began playing piano at age 7 and at 11 switched to violin, inspired largely by her father, a tenor and conductor. She immersed herself in studies with legendary teacher/violinist Robert Lipsett. “I

started late,” she says, “and that fostered an element of competition in me.” When she entered Crossroads School in seventh grade, Michelle discovered a “pretty incredible, prestigious music department” and outstanding academics—both of which helped propel her a few years later to recognition as a Presidential Scholar, she says. Particularly memorable was working with conductor Heiichiro Ohyama, “a dynamic force” who would later become her mentor. Also unforgettable was music theory class—so advanced and “insanely difficult,” it enabled Michelle and others to skip their firstyear theory classes in college. She went on to the USC Thornton School of Music, where she taught after graduation. She currently teaches at the Mannes College of Music at the New School in Manhattan. Early in her career, Michelle joined a string quartet led by Henry Gronnier, another mentor, who later loaned her his violin for her New York Philharmonic audition. That gesture, and an instrument loan as a teenager from the Colburn Foundation, led her to establish the Doublestop Foundation in 2010. The nonprofit provides stringed instruments to promising musicians who can’t afford the investment. As Michelle says, “This is one way we can share the stage.”

ALEX GOLD, seventh grade

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Crossroads’ 21st Street Campus Free parking and shuttle at the Water Garden (Olympic Blvd. between Cloverfield and 26th St.)

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