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New challenge course emphasizes cooperation, ingenuity

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Catlin Gabel has recently installed a challenge course where students will have the opportunity to test themselves on a variety of high and low elements. The course is nestled in the woods below the Lower School Art Barn.

Safety issues have been thoroughly vetted and were our top priority in designing and building the course. Professional arborists assure us that the trees used to anchor the course are not at risk of damage.

The course is designed for students ages 10 and over. Use of the course is strictly limited to times when a trained facilitator is on site. Almost two dozen faculty-staff members have taken the extensive professional training sessions required to become facilitators. (See photo.) When a facilitator is not supervising the course, the ropes and cables are secured and inaccessible to passersby.

Every challenge course has its own personality. Catlin Gabel’s facility was constructed with an emphasis on group cooperation and overcoming obstacles. Under the guidance of trained facilitators, groups of students will tackle various challenges that require skill and ingenuity to resolve. The course contains four high elements and seven low elements. Some of the elements can be tailored for use by different age groups. Parent and alumni groups can arrange for challenge course events by e-mailing outdoor education teacher Erin Goodling ’99 at goodlinge@catlin.edu.

“We expect that sports teams, global education groups, departments, and classes will use the challenge course to help set the stage for their work together,” said Peter Green, outdoor education director.

We are very grateful to Andy and Becky Michaels, Oregon Mountain Community, Reed and Tina Wilson, and an anonymous donor for this exciting addition to our program. The challenge course fits right in with Catlin Gabel’s hands-on experiential approach to learning.

 

Science teacher Bob Sauer named Outstanding Classroom Teacher

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Upper School science teacher Bob Sauer recently was named an Outstanding Classroom Teacher in his region by the Oregon Science Teachers Association. The citation for his award took particular notice of his ability to engender enthusiasm about science in his students, as well as his international efforts for science education and experiential travel. Congratulations, Bob!

John Hamilton nominated for national coach of the year award

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The Oregon Athletic Coaches Association (OACA) named John Hamilton the Oregon nominee for the National Federation of High Schools “Coach of the Year” award for boys golf.

Each year the OACA selects one coach from each of the 10 boys and nine girls sports offered in our state. Each state award winner then becomes eligible for Section 8 awards competing against coaches in their respective sports from Washington, Montana, Idaho, Alaska, and Wyoming. Section 8 winners will compete for National Coach of the Year against representatives from the other seven sections of the United States. Oregon has won numerous sectional and national awards over the past 10 years.

Nominees must exemplify the highest standards of sportsmanship, ethical conduct, and moral character, and carry the endorsement of their respective state high school associations. The OACA looks for coaches with winning records who contribute to their schools and communities. Longevity in coaching is also an important consideration. They must be members of the Oregon Athletic Coaches Association.

Seven schools take part in Shakespeare collaboration

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Catlin Gabel students have been part of a collaboration in which Portland Playhouse is partnering with seven area high schools to produce a different Shakespeare play at each school. These plays will be performed first at each individual high school, and then all will come together at Portland’s Winningstad Theatre for a three-day Fall Festival of Shakespeare.

Come see the Catlin Gabel cast in As You Like It on October 29 and 30 at 7 p.m. in the Cabell Center Theater. And save the date to see their stage debut at the Winningstad Theatre on Sunday, November 7, at 4 p.m. (the curtain time has been changed since earlier reports). Tickets for the Catlin Gabel performances are available at the door: $5 general admission, $3 for students.

The collaborating high schools are Catlin Gabel, Lincoln, Jefferson, Hudson's Bay, Fort Vancouver, Cleveland, and De La Salle. Catlin Gabel is the only participating school to include Middle School students in its production.

“This is a thrilling opportunity for our students. They are meeting student actors from all over the city while delving into Shakespeare’s words,” said drama teacher Deirdre Atkinson. “Our students are building cross-divisional relationships and collaborating across disciplines: in addition to acting, the students are designing and building sets and costumes, composing original music, managing props, and generating publicity. I’m personally excited because experienced student actors are working with actors with no prior experience with Catlin Gabel’s theater program. This project allows us to develop community in the most creative of ways!”

The students have enjoyed meeting and training with actors from other schools. They have also benefited from working with professional artists who provided outside perspectives and experience in the process of producing a play. In preparation for leading this collaboration, Deirdre and her co-director, Gavin Hoffman from Portland Playhouse, trained with Kevin Coleman, the Shakespeare and Company education director. The rehearsal process incorporated techniques and exercises employed by professional companies, which enriched our students’ understanding and appreciation of Shakespeare’s works.

From the Portland Playhouse website: The Festival is a spectacular theatrical event, in part because student actors connect well to Shakespeare; they get the passion, large stakes, disaster. . . . high school is not unlike an Elizabethan tragedy. But the biggest surprise is the creation of an electric and fully engaged audience during the Festival. This Festival audience (imagine 330 Shakespeare-saturated teenagers packing the Winningstad) is the most active and alive theatre audience you will ever encounter. They “oooh” and “ahhh;” call out "Oh no she didn't;" scream and laugh. It's the closest thing we have to how an Elizabethan audience at Shakespeare’s Globe might have reacted. It’s an unforgettable experience for the students involved, and an engaging cultural phenomenon for everyone to witness.

Tickets for the Winningstad performance are available at the Portland Center for Performing Arts box office or online through Ticketmaster. Ticket Prices: Regular: $10 Students: $8

** Ticket charges at the PCPA box office are $3.25 per ticket. Location: 1111 SW Broadway, Portland. Hours: Mon-Sat 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.

** Ticketmaster charges are between $4 and $8 per ticket (depending on quantity of order)

 

National Merit semifinalists announced

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Oregonian article, September 10

Robotics program director Dale Yocum named technology educator of the year

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Congratulations, Dale!

The TechStart Education Foundation named Dale Yocum Oregon's technology educator of the year. The award honors a teacher who is:

An effective, engaging instructor who inspires passion and commitment from her or his students while advancing their critical thinking ability, skills, and knowledge in challenging, meaningful ways.

An advocate for the study of information technology, making technology accessible to all students and building an inclusive culture.

A role model for colleagues, who is committed to ongoing personal and peer professional development and establishes, evolves and communicates best practices and pedagogy.

In addition to prestige and recognition, the award comes with a $1,000 donation to Catlin Gabel's robotics program.

Catlin Gabel News Spring 2010

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From the Spring 2010 Caller

AMAZING AWARDS IN SCIENCE

Yale Fan ’10 and Kevin Ellis ’10 both won top honors and $50,000 each by coming in second place with all-around prizes in the recent Intel International Science and Engineering Fair. This was the first time ever that two winners have come from the same school. Yale has also won a place on the 20-member 2010 U.S. Physics Team, and he placed ninth at the Intel Science Talent Search in Washington, D.C., earning him a $20,000 award for his research on the advantages of quantum computing in performing difficult computations. Kevin was also one of the 40 Intel STS finalists in Washington, D.C. and won a $7,500 award. At this year’s international Northwest Science Expo, Kevin Ellis ’10, Rose Perrone ’10, and Vighnesh Shiv ’11 each won special awards from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers. Rose also came in second place in electrical and mechanical engineering. Yale won first place in physics and astronomy and several other awards. Brynmor Chapman ’10 won statewide second place in biochemistry, and Lucy Feldman ’10 won statewide honorable mention in animal sciences. Kudos to all!

NEWS FROM AROUND HONEY HOLLOW

Catlin Gabel was selected by Oregon Business magazine as one of the 100 Best Green Companies to Work For in Oregon, honoring the school’s variety of green policies and the high value its employees places on sustainable practices. . . . An article by facilities director Eric Shawn, “Catlin Gabel School—a Focus on Food,” was published in the May 2010 inaugural edition of the Journal of Sustainability Education. . . . PLACE director and urban studies teacher George Zaninovich was nominated by the Coalition for a Livable Future for the Robert L. Liberty Regional Leadership Award for his significant contributions to Portland’s livability. . . . . The Oregon Athletic Coaches Association named Lerry Baker the girls track coach of the year and John Hamilton the golf coach of the year for 2009. . . . This year’s diversity conference in April offered a wide variety of workshops on issues that included homeless youth, blindness, race and American popular music, Southern African cultures, immigration, political diversity, masculinity, worldwide access to technology, and contemporary religious practice. The day was capped with performances by the Jefferson Dancers and the Maru-a-Pula Marimba Band from Botswana.
 

FESTIVE GAMBOL BRINGS IN GREAT SUPPORT FOR FINANCIAL AID

Thanks to enthusiastic bidders, donors, volunteers, and supporters, the celebratory 2010 Gambol auction at The Nines hotel raised $345,000. Derrick Butler, M.D. ’86 brought the crowd to its feet when he spoke at a special appeal for financial aid. Many thanks to co-chairs Gina Wand and Heather Gaudry Blackburn ’90 (right).
 

OUTSTANDING SERVICE WORK

Middle School students, staff, and families contributed 1,152 pounds of food to the Oregon Food Bank for Project Second Wind. . . . The Upper School Environmental Club raised enough funds through sales of smoothies and baked goods to help provide 641 Iraqi students with clean, safe drinking water through Water for Peace.
 

KUDOS TO OUR STUDENTS

Mariah Morton ’12 jumped 18 feet at track and field districts to break the school long jump record set by Wendy Miller Johnson ’68 in 1968. . . . The Upper School mock trial team won its third state championship competing against high schools many times our size. . . . Cody Hoyt ’13 won an Oregon Driver Education Center video contest about safe driving with a spoof of the Old Spice commercial. . . . The Flaming Chickens robotics team won the regional Chairman’s Award this year, the highest honor. They also won the Innovations in Controls award at the Colorado regional competition.
 
 
For their senior prank, the community-minded class of 2010 converted the Upper School quad to a petting zoo for the young ones
 

 

Farewell to George Thompson '64 & Bob Kindley

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Two longtime educators retire
From the Spring 2010 Caller

George Thompson ’64 has launched into retirement after spending 25 years at Catlin Gabel—first as a student, then as a teacher and counselor. He’s become a familiar presence on campus, with his service dog, Cairo, receiving almost as much daily love and attention as George gets.

 
George’s career has centered on education. After earning his undergraduate and graduate degrees in history at Colorado College and the University of Washington, he first taught at Middlesex School, the school he attended after Catlin Gabel. “But I was bitten by the bug and wanted to start a school of my own,” he says. When he was 26 he and his wife, Margot Voorhies Thompson ’66, created Neskowin Valley School out of an old dairy barn in south Tillamook County. “It worked. The gods were with me. It was a wonderful, exciting project,” says George. They ran the preschool-8th grade school for 14 years, until they moved back to Portland to enroll their son, Geordie, in Catlin Gabel’s high school.
 
George worked for a year as the head of Vision Northwest, an agency supporting people new to blindness. He returned to Catlin Gabel in 1989 to teach 8th grade English. Six years later he embarked on a new job as counselor in training, spending four years at night school at Lewis & Clark for his master’s in counseling psychology and the credentials to become a full-fledged Upper School counselor. “This was an opportunity for me to delve deeper into the personal challenges of young people and help them become emotionally more literate and learn to help each other,” he says.
 
George is proud of the work he’s done on the Peer Helpers program, which trains students to help their friends solve their problems. He’s also enjoyed teaming with coach John Hamilton to teach the sophomore health class, which focuses on citizenship, ethics, choices, and self-knowledge. “I can’t see myself being idle and probably have a career left in me. I don’t know what or when it’ll be, but it’ll probably involve music. I will miss having kids around every day, but I feel like it’s a good time to say goodbye,” says George.
 
Bob Kindley retires this summer after 42 years of teaching math at Catlin Gabel. A graduate of Reed College with a master’s in mathematics from the University of Oregon, Bob always wanted to be a high school teacher—especially after attending five high schools around the country and seeing the best and worst of teaching.
 
Bob’s teaching philosophy echoes that of Catlin Gabel. “I want kids to ask their own questions and pursue the answers—not just give back what the text or teacher says. What they find doesn’t have to be profound or new, but it’s a sign that they’re thinking about the topic and getting a perspective on it,” he says.
 
“Math is the hardest thing to teach,” he says. “Some students have the gift to see to the heart of the problem. We tend to shortchange those students—it’s often a case of ‘show your work’—but we want to cultivate that rare gift of intuition.”
 
Bob fondly remembers his first year at Catlin Gabel, when he taught Tom Killian ’69 and Dan Bump ’70 (who’s now a mathematician). “I learned more from them about mathematical creativity and insight than ever before. I had many other fun classes, especially the class of 1971, with Mike Radow, Ilan Caron, and Bill Rempfer. It was a time when ideas were flying around, and we all got in on the thinking process.”
 
Bob has no big plans for retirement, but he expects to garden, travel, camp, hike, and fish. “I’m not done with math,” he says, and he plans to work on math projects and perhaps return to the school to tutor or substitute. “Catlin Gabel is a good school,” he says. “I’ve liked working with the faculty: there are good people here.”  

 

The Catlin Gabel Student Association: An Anatomical Analogy

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By Eddie Friedman '10

From the Spring 2010 Caller

There are bad days and good days in and for the Catlin Gabel Student Association, the CGSA, of which I am president this year. On bad days the CGSA seems to me like an appendix. It started when the school needed a group to process and carry out the tasks of the community that other student or faculty organizations could not. On bad days, the CGSA feels a little vestigial, and like a sharp abdominal pain above the right hip of the (student) body.

 
I wouldn’t enjoy working with and leading the CGSA nearly as much if every day were a bad day, and the vast majority aren’t. To continue the anatomical analogy, on good days the CGSA is the hind brain of the Catlin Gabel high school’s community. This utterly invaluable cranial region consists of three parts.
 
The pons is the bridge between the brain and the central nervous system. All information traveling to the brain from the body passes through this little patch of tissue. At the beginning of my time as CGSA president, Michael Heath, the head of the Upper School, told me: “Your job in the CGSA is not really to serve as the student liaison and petitioner to the faculty.” Coincidentally, many students told me: “Your job is not to represent the opinions of the faculty to us!” From what I’ve experienced so far, they were both wrong. The CGSA sends information both ways.
 
The medulla oblongata at the base of the brain, beneath the pons, regulates autonomic functions within the body. These functions are not conscious, so if the medulla oblongata were not there to carry them out they would not happen, and death would probably ensue. While maybe not quite so vital, allotting funding for clubs, planning kidnap day, and managing class elections are jobs that the CGSA does that bear great importance to the Catlin Gabel community.
 
And finally we have the cerebellum, that beautiful striped body of folded neural tissue, tucked back underneath the occipital lobes, attached to the brain stem at the pons. This region plays an absolutely essential role in the functioning of the body. Like the cerebellum, the CGSA receives information from all parts of the community and uses this information to modify and fine-tune the actions of the body as a whole. Not only does the CGSA represent the faculty’s feelings to the students and vice versa, we take into account those feelings and opinions and desires and synthesize them in order to do what we think is best for the Catlin Gabel community.
 
Earlier this year the CGSA dealt with the issue of cell phones in the high school community. The faculty thought something had to be done, while most students didn’t. We debated it thoroughly, observed cell phone use in the community, and conducted six weeks of experiments. We considered that while it might be easy to simply abandon the issue, if we did the faculty might take more drastic measures than we thought appropriate. Eventually we arrived at a middle ground that emphasized respect and responsible action, pillars of this educational body. (You may read the policy online at http://www.catlin.edu/upper/cgsa/cellphone-policy.) So far, everyone seems pretty happy.
 
The work of the CGSA is not always easy or straightforward, hence that uncomfortable appendix-like feeling. But when we toil to complete important, significant work for the community, despite many challenges, we’re the brain stem, and it all seems worth it.
Eddie Friedman will attend Brown University this fall. He admits that he may have taken a few liberties with the facts of the actual functions of the various organs he mentions, for the sake of beauty and aesthetic unity.   

 

Redefining Community: Linking the Global & the Local

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By Spencer White

From the Spring 2010 Caller

Our heads fill these days with reports of environmental degradation, the unraveling of indigenous communities, and the harsh realities of human conflict on our globe. I find this overwhelming and sometimes downright scary. I can only imagine how these problems make my 11-year-old students feel as they move through school, becoming more aware every year of the issues we, or they, will live through. Regardless of the life paths our students choose when they leave Catlin Gabel, they will face a world characterized by ever-increasing communication and collaboration with international communities. Technology has brought us the ability to maintain relationships and conduct business with people just about anywhere on the globe, at any time of the day. How our students engage in these relationships— in essence, their diplomacy—is of great importance to our world.

 
Our global education program seeks to foster global competencies in our students. Among these is the ability to work and communicate effectively across national, cultural, and linguistic boundaries. So how do we do this? Besides teaching world languages, or providing travel opportunities, how do we help our students build cross-cultural communication skills? The answer is, we practice. We practice by taking advantage of every opportunity we can to get kids to collaborate with their international peers.
 
Teaching students to be literate in cross-cultural communication requires two intentional activities. The first is creating meaningful relationships with people around the world—initially through email exchanges and interactive Skype conversations, and eventually through global travel.
 
The second act is linking these relationships to local peer groups. Our students must practice communicating about a specific issue, problem, or goal not only with local peers, but with peers of other cultures, languages, and nationalities. In this way we redefine the idea of community for our students, explicitly teaching that our actions and decisions affect not only our local community, but also those far away.
“Looking back in my journal I see how I have really never felt a connection with someone that far away from home before.” —Catlin Gabel student traveler
For example, Carter Latendresse’s 6th grade unit on food teaches students to critically examine how food is produced in the U.S. and compare our levels of consumption with that of other global communities. Making this tangible, the Garden Club’s new vegetable beds allow students to grow their own organic produce, as well as understand the influence the global food industry has on how we produce, transport, and learn about the norms of global food consumption.
 
Teachers David Ellenberg, Becky Wynne, and Laurie Carlyon-Ward, chaperones on this spring’s trip to Nepal, prepared 13 high school students by viewing Food Inc., a documentary on the U.S. food industry. Nepali students at the Sattya Media Arts Collective screened the film for our students’ visit, and together they talked about the arrival of fast-food restaurants in Katmandu. This spring, the students who traveled to Nepal will visit Carter’s 6th graders to talk about the perspectives of their Nepali peers.
 
Our community’s response to the Haitian earthquake in January most tangibly collected a sizeable sum of money to support Mercy Corps’s disaster relief work. But more notable was the fact that our Lower School students created pastel drawings with messages in French and Haitian Creole that were delivered personally by parents who traveled to Haiti to assist in the recovery. Our community grows stronger and more unified by working together to affect change in a distant place. From these collective efforts our students learn about the disparity between resources and power structures in our world—but they also see that they are not powerless in the face of all the world’s daunting problems, and that when we reach out to communities far away, we in turn strengthen our own.
“I really care about conserving water. I mean I did it before, but not nearly as much as I do now.” —Catlin Gabel student traveler
The Viewfinder Global Film Series is another example of how we challenge our community to unite around global issues, in the interest of educating our students. In its inaugural year, the series has hosted 23 films over 8 months of the school year—attended by more than 600 parents, students, and teachers. Far more impressive than the numbers, though, are the post-screening conversations that ignite passionate debate and reflection about how our school sees its place in our local and global communities.
“I was really surprised when I got back at the sheer amount of resources we use every day, how easy it is for us to have a hot shower, and how we take so much for granted.” —Catlin Gabel student traveler
As our students move into Upper School, their opportunities for local and global collaboration increase. Model United Nations challenges students’ diplomatic skills, while twice a week students board a bus to Aloha to help Latino children with homework. Many of these same students recently returned from Cuba. Apart from the humanitarian nature of the trip, the travelers learned the power of creating relationships with their Cuban counterparts and the life-changing nature of convening with a community so vastly different than their own. Leah Weitz ’10 saw this in action in Cuba, and she’ll never forget it: when she told their Cuban cabdriver about the humanitarian nature of their visit, he gratefully told her their ride would be free.
 
As an 18-year-old at Lewis & Clark College, I traveled to Argentina and Chile as part of my Hispanic studies degree. Six months in Mendoza living with modest third-generation immigrants of Italian descent taught me the power and potential of creating emotional connections with people outside my own community. Shy of the cliché of calling them my Argentine family, especially when talking with my “real” mother on the phone, I was shocked at how close I felt to them and how utterly dependent I was on their parenting and care. Perhaps I was an independent, self-sufficient young adult in the U.S., but in Argentina I was vulnerable and far from home. Here was my new community developing before my eyes.
“There is no real way to explain what has changed about me. What I can say is that the way I see things is as if I am seeing it on two planes, two perspectives. I see things the way I see it from Costa Rica and from the U.S.” —Catlin Gabel student traveler
We are fortunate at Catlin Gabel to have the opportunities and the means to develop international relationships through travel, technology, and the study of language. We are in the business of redefining for our students what community means, what it means to become a global citizen, and what it means to consider the global effects of daily decisions. In my mind, this fortune comes with a commensurate degree of responsibility. We have the responsibility not only to purposefully seek and create relationships in international communities, but we must always make an effort to connect these relationships to our daily curriculum, our school initiatives, and our local service work. These collaborations linking local action with global realties serve as important reminders of our need to change the way we think about community.  
 
Spencer White is Catlin Gabel's global education coordinator. He also teaches Middle School Spanish.

 

The Feeling Abides

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How have alumni brought the feeling of the Catlin Gabel community into their college, home, and work lives?
From the Spring 2010 Caller

Catlin Gabel is the standard I have set for a great independent school and is the backbone of my vision for being on the board of Cascades Academy of Central Oregon. I cannot think of an experience that has had a stronger influence on the way that I hope to help my community through nonprofits, education, parenting, and business. —Danielle Easly Nye ’87

 
Catlin Gabel taught me that I can work hard and have fun doing it. It also taught me to take pride in my work, do the best I can, and to not be afraid to keep learning. However, I think the most important thing I learned is to question without judgment. Why do we do it that way? What’s the reason for that? How can we do it better? Why did they put it together like that? —Ashley Tibbs ’92, at right, in his role as CGS basketball coach
 
Catlin Gabel provided me with a foundation in critical thinking skills that I use on a daily basis in the course of my work as a police sergeant. This helps me complete a wide range of tasks, which include everything from managing critical incidents, to addressing training issues, to navigating the various shades of gray I encounter on the street. Although I didn’t fully appreciate it at the time, Catlin Gabel also instilled in me the importance of service to others, which manifests itself through my commitment to providing service to the community when I go to work, as well as service to the department. Finally, Catlin Gabel gave me an appreciation for learning that has led me to pursue various classes and interests that enrich both my personal and professional life. —Joe Okies ’90
 
I’m not sure how much I truly understood the value of “the feeling of Catlin Gabel” until long after graduation. When I think of Catlin Gabel, I think of a near-perfect balance of critical analysis with an environment supportive of intellectual risk. Much is made of the importance of collaboration in professional work, yet as my career life advances I find that the truly excellent examples of effective interpersonal intellectual teamwork are rare. The “life of the mind” that Catlin Gabel espouses thrives in large part because of its environment of tempered judgment. The line between a stupid idea and a brilliant one is sometimes entirely dependent on the willingness of the audience to engage in the discussion, and Catlin Gabel never lacked for engagement. —Justin Andersen ’91
 
Catlin Gabel gave me the confidence to be an independent thinker. My teachers fostered an environment where friendly debate was not only encouraged, but expected. In my business (the entertainment industry), a lot of the creative decisions we make are entirely subjective. So you can’t be afraid to throw your opinion out there even if you think you’ll be in the minority. But ultimately, you have to have the confidence in yourself to concede that the best ideas aren’t always your own. —Maril Davis ’90
 
Upon arriving at the University of Virginia, I was dismayed at the lack of on-campus recycling bins. I brought this up with a professor who shared my discomfort in throwing away recyclables. Through some political maneuvering, we were able to procure funding for bins to go alongside the trash receptacles in high-traffic areas around the grounds. I credit all of this to my 4th grade experience at Catlin Gabel, where recycling was ingrained into daily life. —Markus Hutchins ’02  

 

Alumni Weekend 2010 photo gallery

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June 18 and 19

Volunteer award recipient Bob Noyes and distinguished alumni Henry Dick '65, Sally Bachman '75, and Rachel Cohen '90 were honored at a Friday evening gathering followed by dinner in the Barn. Saturday activities on campus included the alumni soccer game, a picnic in the Fir Grove, and a luncheon for the classes of 1945, 1950, 1955, and 1960 in the Jame F. Miller Library.

Click on any photo to view slideshow.

 

Urban Planning is Really Quite Fetching

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By Alma Siulagi '10

From the Spring 2010 Caller

As my childhood years faded into the past, the conviction that I would one day change the world dissipated. With the slow creep of reality reducing my options, I resorted to crossing my fingers in hope of stumbling upon another fabulous passion.

The wait was a long one. Throughout the first half of high school, I couldn’t even pick a specific subject that particularly captivated me. I was perfectly decent in most classes, and good grades were within reach if I worked hard (which I did). But nothing came naturally. I was restless about my future, and in a fit of aimlessness, I signed up for PLACE, at the time OULP (Oregon Urban Leadership Program). The vague course name matched my fuzzy understanding of the course, which, as far as I knew, was something my mom wanted me to do.
 
George Zaninovich, the current head of PLACE, often tells me that “urban planning isn’t sexy.” But I disagree—it completely seduced me with what I had passed off as the impossible. Changing the world may be forever beyond my reach, but changing lives materialized as a real option with PLACE.
 
What is urban planning? Most of my peers don’t know, and ask me to define it. I usually ramble on about “public spaces” and end sentences with “you know,” but what I really want to say is: It’s where we are standing right now, you and me. It’s everything around us—the buildings, businesses, the flowers on the side of the road, stoplights, your next door neighbor’s house, the way that road curves in a certain way, that tree you like to sit under in the park. It’s something that changes every step you make, provides the backdrop of every memory good and bad, and it’s what I want to do. It’s changed my world, and one day, I will change yours.
 
Until then, I’ll be here. I’ve chosen to stay in Portland, an urban design and planning hotspot, and study at Reed College. I’ll be downtown starting in May, working with Walker Macy, the firm that designed parts of Catlin Gabel’s breathtaking campus. I plan to spend the next few years learning urban planning inside and out (well, as much as one ever can with such a fluid subject), and then get started on changing the world.