From the Winter 2010-11 Caller
Jenn Stallard ’92
Ritual creates a sense of familiarity. The term “familiarity” is closely associated with “family,” so it’s not surprising that Catlin Gabel’s many traditions are what help create a sense of community and history—in other words, family. It was my home. I always loved the Blue vs. White team competition around the Rummage Sale—what a great way to promote school spirit and community, for a very good cause! I also thought the class trips (8th, 9th, 12th) were fun, not to mention extremely valuable. My class (1992) was the first to take our 8th grade musical (Pirates of Penzance) on the road. I will never forget it! It would be an understatement to say I’m a creature of habit, and I’ve often wondered whether Catlin Gabel had a part in that. It may also be why I appreciated all the tradition as much as I did. After graduation, I attended a small private college and have generally lived in smaller towns that foster a sense of community and closeness.
Jim Bilbao ’79
Some of the ideas about why St. George is important:
* It’s fun. This works for everybody.
* It’s a charade. This works for the maturity of the kids.
* It’s easy: there’s no pretense of quality about the acting, sets, or costumes.
* The audience is easily satisfied.
* 8th graders get to try on acting in broad range of adult roles from mythic (Santa, George, devil, angel) to vocational (photographer, nurse, doctor).
* 8th graders get to touch real ethical issues, without any of the tough reading.
Jamie Bell ’92
Debbie Kaye ’73
I believe that “the child as the unit of consideration” is one of the most important elements of our founders’ vision. It moves me still. Just how we act on that principle has changed as pedagogy, technology, and the culture have changed. Yet putting each child at the center of the reason Catlin Gabel offers its particular type of education has remained constant. Our alumni love ritual because it connects us to the community, over years and space. St. George and the Gilbert and Sullivan musical are classic examples of shared experience. In more recent years, the Elana Gold ’93 Memorial Environmental Restoration Project and the senior trip, whose purposes and activities are constant, fill the same role. Years later, alumni can and do recall how they participated and with whom, the games and fun and food, the camaraderie. Shared experience and ties that bind. We look back fondly, smoothing the difficult edges of fatigue and any frustration, recalling the overall experience, lessons, and skills learned and yes, carried forward into other elements of our lives. Lifelong learning through community effort. Fabulous!
Peter Bromka ’00
Mason Kaye ’04
From the Winter 2010-11 Caller
By Tom Tucker '66
Tom Tucker ’66 teaches Middle and Upper School woodshop.
From the Winter 2010-11 Caller
Why I Like Change
David Ellenberg, 8th grade history
The Traditional and the New in Art
Laurie Carlyon-Ward, Upper School visual art
Growing as a Teacher
Maggie Bendicksen, 5th grade
Language Teaching Demands Evolution
Roberto Villa, Upper School Spanish
A New Teaching Experience
Joanne Dreier, kindergarten
PE and Sports Change, too
John Hamilton, Upper School coach and PE/ health teacher
Keeping Up with Technology
Bob Sauer, Upper School science
Building on the Basics
Mark Pritchard, Middle School music
From the Winter 2010-11 Caller
The Catlin Gabel Service Corps debuted in October with three community-wide days of working together for the greater good. The Service Corps emerged from our community process to figure out “What’s Next” after the Rummage Sale. As we examined what we would miss most about Rummage, we came to consensus around several essential ingredients for developing a new tradition: multigenerations working side by side and having fun together, serving the greater Portland community, student leadership, and demonstrating who we are at Catlin Gabel. The Service Corps was developed with these elements in mind. You can find out more on our website. Since those fall service days, the Service Corps has also gathered 50 boxes of books from our community for children at Bienestar, a migrant worker housing complex in Hillsboro where our students help with their Homework Club. More events and projects are in the works—and we encourage all our community members, past and present, to come and pitch in, work together, and have fun.
The Energy and Fun of Volunteering
By Qiddist Hammerly ’12
As a Catlin Gabel student, I’ve participated in many activities at the Oregon Food Bank. In Lower School, we collected food during the fall harvest festival. In 8th grade, we participated in monthly service at the Food Bank, and in high school we often ask the students for food donations. These ordinary and expected contributions have made the Oregon Food Bank a familiar name to all Catlin Gabel students, yet I have never experienced it in the way I did with the Catlin Gabel Service Corps in November. As part of this year’s initiative to provide cross generational, community-building service opportunities, more than 75 students, parents, alumni, and faculty-staff joined together for a day of packing pasta— and it was anything but ordinary.
If one thing was exceptionally exciting about this service activity, it was the palpable energy of the kids. Eagerly running back and forth and lifting boxes almost bigger than themselves, the kids probably worked the hardest of anyone. For close to three hours, we packed boxes of various kinds of pasta in two-pound bags. At any given table, students, parents, teachers, and siblings worked side by side. Some kids eagerly scurried back and forth, providing each table with more empty boxes, and taking the full boxes to the growing tower of pasta.
The tangibility of our work made it appealing and rewarding for everyone; at the end of the day, we could look over and see just how many pounds we packed, and how many families we were feeding. One Lower School student checked the weight of each bag meticulously to make sure no one family would receive more food than another. Some of the adults, who seemed apprehensive about letting the kids handle tape guns and carry heavy boxes, grew impressed with their unfaltering persistence. Everyone joked and laughed while scooping bag after bag, and we even participated in some friendly competition, betting on whose table team could pack their boxes of pasta the fastest.
After we were done packing, we enjoyed a group lunch at McMenamin’s. It was only then that I realized how rare it is to see so many different Catlin Gabel constituencies in one place. I had the chance to catch up with one of my 1st grade teachers, make a new friend, and chat with parents. Enjoying lunch together wrapped up the day in the perfect way. Too often when we engage in service, we simply break off and return to our daily work without any processing or reflection. Having a relaxed meal together allowed everyone to reflect on the day, catch up, and enjoy each other’s company.
What made this day so successful was the connection we felt as we volunteered. We weren’t simply packing boxes of pasta: we were engaging with each other and observing the product of our work. I think this service experience provides a glimpse into the future possibilities of multigenerational service at Catlin Gabel, both on our own campus and in the greater community. Despite the occasionally excessive use of the word “community” in our, well, community, engaging in service as a community truly is a unique experience that exceeds the benefits of individual volunteerism. Looking back over my 12 years at the school, some of the memories that stand out most to me are the engaging service projects I participated in with my Catlin Gabel family. At the Food Bank that day I could clearly see in our students’ eyes that very same engagement and motivation.
Qiddist Hammerly is a junior at Catlin Gabel and a Malone Scholar. She has been involved for years in community service.
Connecting Through Tree-planting
By Markus Hutchins ’02
Markus Hutchins ’02 is the alumni board president and a member of the school’s board of trustees.
By Zalika Gardner '90 and Herb Jahncke
From the Winter 2010-11 Caller
See 16-minute video below for more
From the Winter 2010-11 Caller
It is a pilot program for the Upper School faculty to explore a new model for high school education and attract outstanding new high school students. The gift funds an endowed faculty member to direct the program and teach in the Upper School. In the anticipated inaugural year, 2012–13, we hope to enroll about four Knight Family Scholars as fully integrated members of the Upper School student body who benefit from our exceptional curriculum. The Knight Family Scholars Program is similar in concept to the Rhodes Scholar program in terms of the caliber of students who will qualify.
The current generation of students is far more sophisticated than previous generations. Their educational needs are evolving quickly. Educators must ask, what more can we do to prepare them? How can we ensure that they have a great liberal arts and sciences foundation for success in college, plus the experience and skills to thrive in a workforce and world that will change in ways we cannot imagine? Catlin Gabel teachers have envisioned a high school that is more real world, project based, experiential, and interdisciplinary—but limited resources have stymied our progress toward this goal. Now we can take some big steps in building on our curricular innovations and evolve more quickly. As a new Catlin Gabel faculty member, the Knight Family Scholars Program director will collaborate with our high school teachers and students to develop methods of teaching and learning that respond to the changing educational environment.
The genesis for the program stems from the Imagine 2020 conference held in the spring of 2006. A lasting idea that emerged from the conference was to enrich Catlin Gabel’s educational offerings by taking advantage of what our great city and region have to offer— using Portland as a learning laboratory. Bringing students together with creative, analytical, medical, political, entrepreneurial, and science leaders would further our experiential and progressive education goals. The intent is to get our students “off the hill,” as one alumnus put it in 2006. Our global education and PLACE programs, and the urban studies class in the Upper School, also stem from the Imagine 2020 conference.
As I got to know Phil, our shared interest in improving education emerged as a vitally important theme. Phil and Penny Knight are long-range visionaries and Oregon’s most generous individual education philanthropists, which is humbling and exciting. We talked about Ruth Catlin’s vision of modeling for others and how, because of our relatively small size, our success, and our focus on progressive education, we are the ideal school for innovation. I described some of the seminal ideas that emerged from the Imagine 2020 conference and how hard our teachers work to implement those ideas.
The faculty and the program director will have the opportunity to advance the exchange of ideas in seminars taught by a network of community experts, including some of our talented and notable parents, alumni, and grandparents. The seminars, both on and off campus, will examine topics that emerge from the shared interests of the students and the director as they move through the program together. The seminars will also respond to the availability of influential mentors, speakers, and guest instructors. Upper School students, not just Knight Family Scholars, will be able to attend seminars. It is vitally important that this is open and inclusive, and that we prevent any kind of “us and them” dynamic. We also expect that as the program grows, it will include opportunities for the Knight Scholars to travel nationally and abroad for summer learning.
The research is clear: high caliber students raise the level of learning for everyone. The positive peer effect is evident throughout our school. Students in our supportive, noncompetitive environment engage more deeply when their classmates are excited about the lab, discussion, problem solving, or literary analysis at hand. And, naturally, teachers are at their best when their students are highly engaged.
Prospective Knight Family Scholars Program participants will stand out in four key areas: academics, community service, athletics, and leadership. As Knight Scholars they will receive tuition assistance funded by the program’s endowment. The amount of assistance will depend on their families’ need. The program will attract well-rounded students who will inspire their peers, take advantage of everything Catlin Gabel has to offer, and go on to serve their communities.
Current and former Catlin Gabel students are ineligible to become Knight Scholars because one objective of the program is to attract new students and deepen our pool of admitted students. The Knight Scholars Program will raise the profile of our excellent Upper School and entice students who will be wonderful additions to our community.
The faculty, admission office, and a new program director will decide whom we accept.
Typically, when donors make large gifts to institutions they fund a position to oversee the program. We will launch a national search for a Knight Family Scholars Program director to fully realize the vision of this program. The director will be Catlin Gabel’s first endowed faculty member. This turning point for Catlin Gabel could very well lead to additional endowed faculty positions.
First and foremost, the director will find the right students for the program. A big part of the job is outreach and making a wide range of communities aware of the program and our school. As the program spokesperson, the director will bolster the Knight Family Scholars Program and our overall admission program. The director will also lead the scholars’ seminar and teach other Upper School classes so he or she is fully integrated into our faculty. We will hire a dynamic educator who becomes a vital member of our school community.
When we laid out strategic directions in 2003, one of our top three goals was to strengthen our identity and visibility in the community. We set out to identify and attract qualified, informed, and diverse applicants and to increase our applicant pool, particularly in the Upper School. The Knight Family Scholars Program will move us quickly and decisively towards these goals.
In 1987, the school received a $3.6 million bequest from the estate of Howard Vollum that allowed Catlin Gabel to establish an endowment fund. His foresight and generosity moved the school beyond a paycheck-to-paycheck lifestyle.
The Knight Family Scholars Program raises our visibility as one of the leading independent schools in the country. On a purely financial and pragmatic level, the program releases financial aid dollars for students in all divisions. On a more philosophical and curricular level, the Knight Family Scholars Program will stretch us to take some risks about how we teach. All Catlin Gabel students will benefit from the innovations we pilot through the program. On a grander scale, my dream is to model innovations that can benefit students nationwide. We cannot underestimate the value of raising our profile, too. What’s good for Catlin Gabel’s reputation is good for Catlin Gabel’s students and teachers. As far as fundraising goes, this is the tip of the iceberg for all programs and needs of the school. I know Phil and Penny Knight’s generosity and confidence in Catlin Gabel will inspire others to give. In fact, two other donors are planning to contribute to this program. We anticipate a positive overall effect on admissions and on our ability to attract phenomenal student applicants. Some great young people, who perhaps don’t qualify as Knight Family Scholars, will still apply to our Upper School when they learn about Catlin Gabel’s curriculum, meet our faculty and students, and hear about our generous financial assistance program.
In the past three years, the Knights have quietly and generously funded other immediate needs that I identified. They were instrumental in our ability to provide financial aid for families who have struggled through the recession. I am so honored that they have put their trust in me and in Catlin Gabel.
By Lark P. Palma, PhD, Head of School
From the Winter 2010-11 Caller
Scenes from Experiential Week 2011 on the Catlin Gabel campus
From April 2011 Headlines
By Lark Palma, head of school
What kind of crazy school is this? Sometimes this question comes up when people meet our students and teachers during Winterim, Breakaway, and Experiential Days. And it’s a question we love to answer!
Catlin Gabel is a school that prizes deep, hands-on learning and innovation. We integrate experiential learning into our daily classes—and we dedicate one special week for alternative schooling that is totally experiential.
Our experiential week courses and affiliated trips offer between four days and two weeks of focused study, and a healthy break from routine. In the Upper School, students design the courses, and in the process they learn about planning and leadership. Course offerings for 1st through 12th graders this year ranged widely, from pirates exploring the Peter Iredale shipwreck at the Oregon coast to investigating Portland through photography, studying literary satire, and learning about coastal biology.
Perhaps you heard about the Middle School group traveling to Taiwan and their encounter with the aftermath of the massive earthquake in Japan. Their flight from the U.S. had been scheduled for a layover in Tokyo. After a long but uneventful flight across the Pacific, they learned of the earthquake when their plane began circling the Tokyo airport. The flight was diverted to a military base and the group was later flown to Osaka, where they were grounded for two days.
Despite exhaustion, hunger, and a night on the airport floor, spirits were high. The 10 students were philosophical about their circumstances. They knew a bit of discomfort and inconvenience paled in comparison to the horrors and sorrow facing the people of Japan. They passed the time playing cards and telling stories. Once flight arrangements were made for their continuation to Taipei, everyone’s thoughts turned to practicing the Mandarin language skills they would need during homestays in Taiwan.
I share this story with you to illustrate how experiential learning teaches self-reliance, resilience, and perspective. No other experiential week adventure could claim high drama, but during a week of miserable Oregon weather, I saw cheerful students and teachers return from adventures at Mt. Hood, the Oregon coast, Ashland, and downtown Portland. The cold and rain might have dampened anyone’s spirits, but our students and teachers carried on with joy and a sense of accomplishment.
When we ask alumni about their favorite Catlin Gabel traditions, Experiential Days, Breakaway, and Winterim top the list. Among the reasons they give for valuing this particular Catlin Gabel tradition are interacting with students and teachers they had not previously known and discovering they have a passion for something they had never tried before. Learning happens in so many ways, and discovering how to do new things, work together with new people, and brave the unknown is valuable for all our students. During experiential week, Catlin Gabel really walks its talk.
Experiential Days, Breakaway, and Winterim course sampler
Lower School: Walk Like an Egyptian, Super Sleuths, Hip Home Ec, Forts, Pets and Vets
Middle School: SeARTle, The River Wild, Shakespearience, Glass Fusion, Salmon Nation
Upper School: Urban Adventures, The Art of Movement: Parkour, Sailing in the San Juans, Cylinders, Pistons, and Crankshafts: Driving, Fixing, and Learning About Cars
Upper School head Michael Heath accepted the award given for Catlin Gabel's support of Bienestar, a nonprofit community development corporation serving migrant families in the Hillsboro area. Catlin Gabel students serve as volunteer tutors, have made donations of clothing and household items, and the entire school recently held a book drive that collected more than 3,000 books for Bienestar children. Former teacher Mark Lawton and Spanish teacher Roberto Villa were honored for their three years of support and dedication to the partnership between Catlin Gabel and Bienestar.
Read the Oregonian article.
The Oregon Regional FIRST Robotics competition engages high school teams from around the northwest in a competition that's a blend of rock concert, sporting event, and science fair. Catlin Gabel's Upper School robotics team, 1540 the "Flaming Chickens" will compete along with 60 other high school teams. Each team spends six weeks designing and building 120-pound robots for the competition. Catlin Gabel's robot is completely student designed, programmed, and built by students.
This is our homecoming, senior night and rivalry game all rolled into one! If you're there, be sure to come down to the pit to say hello, we always love visits from our supporters!
Rock trio Search Party is recording a concert CD and Catlin Gabel's own Jazz Band is the opening act!
Don't miss this night of rockin' good music sponsored by Slipknot Productions.
Friday, April 22
7:30 pm. (doors open at 7 p.m.)
Cabell Center Theater
Advance tickets $5 (available through division offices)
Tickets at the door $10
Proceeds benefit the Catlin Gabel Jazz Band
Check out the video of Search Party in concert. Scroll down to sample their CD.
Congratulations to team members Leah Thompson, co-captain, Grace McMurchie, co-captain, Talbot Andrews, Rachel Caron, Lauren Ellis, Mira Hayward, Andrew Hungate, Josh Langfus, Eli Wilson Pelton, Megan Stater, and Karuna Tirumala.
Special thanks to adviser Lauren Shareshian and coaches Bob '73 and Nell Bonaparte, Jim Coon, and Scott Thompson.
Both the blue and white mock trial teams had a great day at the 2011 regional competition. The Blue Team advanced to the state finals on March 11 and 12 to compete against the best teams in Oregon. This year’s case, State v. Freeman, is a criminal case where the defendant, a chef, is charged with murder by locking her business partner into the restaurant’s walk-in cooler.
Congratulations to Catlin Gabel Blue Team members Talbot Andrews, Rachel Caron, Lauren Ellis, Mira Hayward, Andrew Hungate, Josh Langfus, Grace McMurchie (co-captain), Megan Stater, Leah Thompson (co-captain), Karuna Tirumala, and Eli Wilson Pelton.
White Team members include Audrey Davis, Layla Entrikin, Brian Farci (co-captain), Ian Fyfield, Andrea Michalowsky, Fiona Noonan, Chris Park, Nick Petty, Nama Rosas, Henry Shulevitz, Emily Siegel, Curtis Stahl, Lynne Stracovsky (co-captain), Terrance Sun, and Mary Whitsell.
Our 8th grade robotics Team Delta has come up with an amazing idea for making prosthetic devices cheaper and more accessible in developing countries. They're in the XPrize competition for Global Innovation, and they need your help. You can vote for them at the bottom of their page. Voting has been extended two weeks from the original March 4 deadline.
I am excited to announce that Barbara Ostos will be our new Middle School head starting July 1.
(Editor's note: Current MS head Paul Andrichuk will lead our Teaching and Learning Center starting this summer.)
After an extensive search, including appraisal of many résumés and Skype interviews with several top candidates, we brought three superb finalists to campus. All three finalists could have served our Middle School and the community well. After careful review, consideration of community feedback, and thoughtful discussion, the search committee members and I were unanimous in our support of Barbara’s appointment.
Barbara is currently the middle school dean at her own alma mater, the Francis Parker School in San Diego, a school with many similarities to Catlin Gabel. She has been a teacher and administrator for 10 years, as 7th and 8th grade history teacher and as diversity coordinator, among other responsibilities. She developed a character education curriculum and led a board committee that did a positioning study for the school. Francis Parker School has more than 1,000 students in kindergarten through high school housed on two campuses. The middle school has more than 300 students.
Barbara expects to complete an EdD in educational leadership at the University of California, San Diego, by December. She earned an MA in nonprofit leadership and management from the University of San Diego, and an AB in government from Harvard University. Barbara’s family came to the U.S. from Cuba, and she is the first person in her family to attend college. She speaks fluent Spanish and French. Barbara will move to Portland with her husband, Carlos, and their infant daughter, Lydia.
Extensive references were consistent in their praise of Barbara as an educator, administrator, and colleague. Her current school head said, “Her interaction with the students is fair, balanced, and very appropriate. Her work with faculty is collegial, and her commitment to the job unyielding. She is bright, engaging, determined, and respected by her peers and parents alike. Barbara is a professional, a dedicated leader, and a committed member of the Francis Parker community. I could not be more impressed.” Others said, “killer sense of humor,” “seeks and values advice before making a decision,” “works hard to get to know students and parents,” and “not afraid to draw the line and make a difficult decision.”
Barbara will be in Portland with her family the week of April 6. If you have not met her, there will be opportunities to do so during that week. Stay tuned for her schedule.
My sincere appreciation goes to the search committee for an inclusive process and their thorough examination of feedback from all constituencies. I thank Chris Bell, Ann Fyfield, Erin Goodling ’99, Kristin Ogard, Tom Tucker ’66, Becky Wynne, and especially David Ellenberg, who chaired the committee. It is rewarding to see such a remarkable process yield the right person for this time in Catlin Gabel’s and the Middle School’s history.