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Catlin Gabel News, Fall 2011

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From the Fall 2011 Caller


US head Michael Heath and LS head Vicki Swartz Roscoe are now also serving as assistant heads of school. Michael is responsible for co-curricular programs, overseeing robotics, outdoor education, PLACE urban studies program, the Global Online Academy (see below), and the Knight Family Scholars program. Vicki oversees professional development and curriculum, including a new system of teacher leaders who will work on coordinating curriculum by subject area. . . . Catlin Gabel is part of a prestigious group of independent day schools across the country that co-founded the Global Online Academy. The Upper School PLACE urban studies course is one of five inaugural offerings. . . . Heidi Durrow, author of The Girl Who Fell From the Sky, came to campus in October as this year’s first Jean Vollum Distinguished Writer. After a reading in US assembly, she spent time with two junior classes and the creative writing classes.


US Spanish teacher Lauren Reggero-Toledano was one of 25 teachers selected by the National Association of Independent Schools as part of the 2011–12 Teachers of the Future program. Lauren will lead an online discussion forum designed to share innovative ideas and teaching techniques and will create a demonstration video to inspire others. . . . US math teacher Jim Wysocki will present his paper “How Effective Is Your Homework?” at the spring meeting of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, his third presentation at this annual meeting. . . . A robotics tutorial site by robotics program director Dale Yocum has reached 750,000 uses internationally.


The Oregonian profiled Valerie Ding ’15 and her physics project. The project earned her a spot as one of 30 national finalist in the Broadcom Masters middle school competition for science, technology, engineering, and math. . . . Julien Leitner ’16 was featured in an Oregonian op-ed piece about his Archimedes Alliance project, which promotes philanthropy though large numbers of small donations. . . . The Oregonian profiled the Upper School’s PLACE urban studies class partnership with the Alberta Street Main Street project.



Five seniors were named National Merit semifinalists: Ilana Cohen, Zoë Frank, Holly Kim, Dylan Shields, and Jeremy Wood. Twelve seniors were recognized as National Merit Commended Students: Jade Chen, Emrys Dennison, James Furnary, Andrew Hungate, Julianne Johnson, Grace McMurchie, Walker Michaels, Andrea Michalowsky, Taylor Smith, Megan Stater, Cole Williamson, and Kenny Yu. . . . . Perla Alvarez ’13 and Violeta Alvarez ’15 were named to the nationally recognized Multnomah County Youth Commission. This is co-chair Perla’s fourth year and Violeta’s first year. . . . Cydney Smith ’12 and Marina Dimitrov ’13 participated in Saturday Academy’s Apprenticeships in Science and Engineering program. Marina interned at IBM and planned a middle school girls’ summer technology camp, and Cydney visited construction sites and helped with 3D architectural models at Multnomah County Facilities and Property Management. . . . The Flaming Chickens robotics team introduced the school’s robotics program at events that included a middle school girls’ summer technology camp hosted by IBM and one at a local elementary school, the Mensa annual gathering in Portland, and a local IBM annual employee gathering.


Roger Gantz ’89 returned to campus as the new varsity boys soccer coach. He led the team to victory in his first game. Devin Ellis ’12 won the boys 15 and over national championship in a bowling tournament in California with scores of 225, 250, and 215 in the finals. . . . Katy Wiita ’12 was named to the Pan American synchronized swim team and swam the free routine in Guadalajara. . . . Sailor Jonathan Cannard ’14 competed at the Youth Laser 4.7 World Championships in San Francisco against youth from 48 countries.


Meet Our Gatekeepers

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From the Fall 2011 Caller

Admission and financial aid director Sara Nordhoff and Knight Family Scholars director Chad Faber chat about admissions, financial aid, and what brought them to their careers. Chad came to CGS from admissions work at Harvard, and Sara’s work in admissions included the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth, Mt. Holyoke, and Bennington. 

Q: Tell us about your backgrounds, and how that led to your commitment to admissions and the realization of the importance of financial aid.
SARA: I grew up in a small fishing village, Damariscotta, Maine, where about half my class went to four-year colleges, mostly to state schools. When I went to Middlebury College in Vermont I received financial aid, and I never would have been able to go without it. I was hoping to spend my junior year at an exchange program at Edinburgh University in Scotland. There wasn’t financial aid available, and I remember conversations with my parents about whether it was really going to be doable for us. We asked Middlebury for assistance, knowing that if they didn’t help it wouldn’t be possible for me to go. And they did help. That was the moment when I realized that my school was really committed to my making the absolute most of my experience there. And that’s what I see as the power of financial aid. There were not a lot of students at Middlebury at that time receiving financial assistance, and I felt at times like the poster child for diversity. I was sensitive because I felt like you could kind of tell who was on financial aid and who wasn’t. If you have a financial aid policy because you’re trying to create the best and most diverse student community possible, you need to make sure your school community is ready to embrace people coming from all perspectives. And it feels to me like Catlin Gabel does a great job of celebrating the individual students for who they are and where they’re coming from—and for what they have to say when they’re sitting around the classroom table. I chose to work in admissions because I love the art and science of it, and I love cultivating a community. The moment when I call families in the spring and say, “You’ve been admitted, and we’re going to make it financially possible for you to come,” is like no other. I think that’s a lot of why I’ve stayed in this field— helping to make those possibilities happen for people.
CHAD: I lived in a metropolis of 250 in western Pennsylvania called Turkeytown. All that I knew growing up was from helping out on a farm. And I was caretaker of a cemetery, and I stocked shelves in a grocery store. I saw how hard my dad had worked in the steel mill, and I knew I didn’t want to do any of those things. And I knew I had to get out of there in order to do something different. My dad was underemployed after most of the steel mills closed, and my mom was at home. So my plan was to enlist in the Marine Corps to get money for college—though college wasn’t an expectation there. The month before I graduated from high school I got an ROTC scholarship, which basically provided full financial aid for me to go to college. I went to Georgetown, which was the one college I had been to other than Pitt. I didn’t know how to write when I got to Georgetown. One of my professors there said, “We need a five-to-seven page paper next Monday,” and I said, “On one topic? All about one thing?” I was really shocked in a way. How I struggled! I think that’s where I realized the power of education. I graduated from Georgetown on a Saturday and was in the Navy on Monday morning. I owed the military four years, but ended up staying almost nine years. A book called The Gatekeepers by New York Times writer Jacques Steinberg, who followed an admissions officer around Wesleyan for a year, was transformative for me. I read it while I was doing alumni admissions interviews for Georgetown, teaching high school, and talking to kids about the choices they were going to make. I knew then that I wanted to be an admissions officer. When I got an admissions job at Harvard I realized, “Wow. Now I’m the gatekeeper—from a mobile home in Turkeytown, Pennsylvania. How the heck did I ever end up doing this?” I saw a lot of kids a lot smarter than I who had even less opportunity than I had, and what kind of difference we could make in their lives.
Q: Have you had experiences with families where giving aid became crucial?
SARA: Yes, we’ve had Catlin Gabel families whose situations changed due to illness or a change in income. We get behind the kids and the families that we decide to take, whatever it takes, whether that’s supporting them academically when they’re struggling in their coursework, or supporting them financially when they’re struggling with their finances. It takes a lot to come forth and say, “We can’t do it any more. Can you help us?” There’s a certain amount of pride there. I know in my family, my dad especially, it hits pretty hard when you have to ask for help.
Q: What are your roles here and your admissions strategy? Admission is a huge responsibility. Somebody like you said yes to every person in every classroom here.
SARA: What I like about the addition of the Knight Family Scholars program to admission at Catlin Gabel is that it amplifies the overall strategy of what we’re trying to do in admissions— which is to bring in the brightest, most engaging, community-minded kids we can. To me that means kids from all over the metro area, from private and public schools, from households that speak English, Spanish, and other languages. And that gets at our financial assistance for these families. Our outreach strategy is about going out to schools all over the Portland metro area, about leveraging all our parents to get the word out about Catlin Gabel to their networks. When we get to the point of making hard decisions on who can come here and who can’t, we have a budget in mind that we can use for financial assistance, but that’s not what’s driving our overall efforts.
CHAD: The big thing is that we’re trying to find families that don’t know about Catlin Gabel. We can do a better job of going into communities and educating kids and families about what independent education is, what the value is, and how that’s going to help their child. It’s harder now for any state, not just Oregon, to do what it’s done before because of the economic times we’re in. I want the Knight Family Scholar program and the school to look like Portland. I want to see more kids from Hillsboro and the east side. As the income gap widens in this country, so does the education gap, and you’ve got to try and reduce that. A variety of independent schools can really differentiate what kids learn and make for an economically and intellectually stronger country.
SARA: The gift from the Knight family for the scholars program is invaluable, but reaching out to these communities and expanding this funnel of students applying to the school will put pressure on our financial aid dollars. This is why the school has launched its arts and endowment campaign. What’s important is that we both feel completely supported by the school’s leadership to say, “We want more great kids thinking about Catlin Gabel.”  


Amount CGS awards for financial assistance
$2.9 million
Percentage of students receiving financial assistance
2011–12 26%
2010–11 28%
2009–10 26%
2008–09 21%
2007–08 21%
Budget allocated to financial assistance
2011–12 15%
2010–11 16%
2009–10 16%
2008–09 13%
2007–08 13%



Open house highlights

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We had record-breaking attendance at our preschool through 12th grade open house on November 13. More than 700 visitors sampled classes, toured our beautiful campus, and talked with students, teachers, and current parents.

Don't worry if you missed open house. We offer an information evening on Thursday, January 19, for families applying to all divisions. More information including times and speakers available soon. 

Watch the video clip of school head Lark Palma addressing guests before their tours and classroom visits.

Overheard at open house

“Thank you so much for putting on such a wonderful event today. We were able to spend time talking with the kindergarten and first grade teachers and continue to be very impressed by how the arts and music are integrated into the Catlin Gabel experience. We had a great time. We are excited to continue the application process with our son.” — parents visiting the Beginning and Lower Schools

“My wife and I have been to several open houses and yours did the best at evoking the character of the school. The students were approachable, and the teachers did an excellent job of conveying the philosophy and goals of the curriculum. My daughter went in with an open mind yet had a bias towards another school. Now in her mind Catlin is head-and-shoulders above the others, and we agree.” — parents visiting the Upper School

"Our friends were surprised when we chose Catlin Gabel for our scientist daughter. We examined programs carefully and agreed that Catlin Gabel was the best choice because the school offers a broad background in scientific skills and ideas. She is a happy freshman, and we are very happy we made the right choice." current parent and volunteer open house tour guide

Highlights from the student panel presentation on academics in the Upper School

“There’s no busy work. Coming from another school I was used to doing 20 problems of the same thing over and over again. Coming into Catlin all the homework is purposeful. And because of the homework policy if you come to 45 minutes on a math assignment and don’t have time to finish, you can talk to the teacher. The teacher will meet you during office hours and not penalize you for not finishing it."

“The older you get the more choice you have on classes. As a senior I do have a lot of homework but I really enjoy learning about all the class topics because I chose them.”

“The focus is on the learning. Even if you are getting straight A's you still have constructive criticism in your narrative [written] evaluations.”

“When I take a biology test I’m not asked to just throw out information that I learned from a textbook. I’m supposed to analyze it in a different way. And then the teacher will look at that – can you take the information you learned and think about it in a new way? I came from a very academically challenging middle school and after we got back tests we’d ask, "How'd you do?" – we compared ourselves to each other. For some people that’s not a good thing because if they are not doing well they’re just going to give up. Here at Catlin Gabel there is a focus on self progress and improving yourself.


Girls soccer team playing OES for state championship Saturday

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Congratulations Eagles!

Girls Soccer Final
Saturday, November 19
10:30 a.m.
Liberty High School

Join us for this exciting match as the varsity girls soccer team faces their friendly rivals for the state title.

Every CG voice is needed.

» Learn the school spirit song

Admission: Cash or VISA/MasterCard only | Adult $8 | Student $5

Can't attend the game? » Check out the webcast on


Anaka Morris finalist in photo contest – vote for her photo!

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Anaka's photo of Maddy Odenborg '10 was selected from among 2,000 entries in the Oregon Cultural Trust photo competition. The grand prize winner is determined by open voting.

» Vote for Anaka's photo by November 18

You must have a Facebook account to participate.



Upper School Parent Classroom Days

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Tuesdays at School

November 19 and December 10
9  – 11  a.m.
Jubitz Seminar Room

We invite parents of applicants to the Upper School for a morning at Catlin Gabel. The day begins with a coffee hosted by Upper School head Dan Griffiths and teachers. Next, visit classes and see firsthand the high quality instruction, small class sizes, collaboration between teachers and students, and vibrant campus life that are Catlin Gabel hallmarks. The morning will end with a brief Q&A for those who wish to participate.
These parent-only events are from 9 to 11 a.m. and begin in our Jubitz Seminar Room (located in the lower level of the James F. Miller Library). 

Please look for us at a Catlin Gabel in the Community event.

Alumnus Peter Lind ’08 named Marshall Scholar

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The Catln Gabel community congratulates Peter!

Peter Lind ’08, a senior at the Air Force Academy, has won a prestigious Marshall Scholarship. He was one of 14 candidates advanced by the academy for the Marshall process.

The British government offers Marshall Scholarships to no more than 40 U.S. citizens each year. The scholarship program is named after General George C. Marshall, who helped engineer the Marshall Plan in Europe following the World War II. Scholarship winners, selected from about 1,000 applicants, study towards a master's degree at any university in the United Kingdom.

Peter plans to pursue an MLitt in international security studies and a second MLitt in Middle Eastern and Asian security studies.

After graduating from the Air Force Academy and receiving his commission as a lieutenant this coming May, he will most likely return to the Air Force Academy for a short time to teach younger cadets about the competitive scholarship process. In the summer between his two years in the UK, he will work with the British Air Force. After finishing his degree, Peter will enter directly into pilot training, likely in Texas, to become trained as a fighter pilot for his active duty service. Later he plans to become a military attaché or foreign area officer in the Middle East or Asia.

Peter was very gracious in attributing part of his successful pursuit of the Marshall Scholarship to the preparation he received at Catlin Gabel. He told science teacher Paul Dickinson (Mr. D) he was way ahead of most other Air Force Academy students in his writing skills and work ethic.

Peter added in an email, “Mr. D wrote a letter of recommendation for this scholarship and has played an incredible role throughout my education. I would also like to note that my time in Cuba [during a Catlin Gabel global education trip] was highlighted in paperwork and during my interview at the British Consulate-General – a big thanks to [Spanish teacher] Roberto Villa.”


Sophomore Mckenzie Spooner invited to run at Nike competition

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Mckenzie is among the top 40 girl cross-country runners in Oregon to compete against the top 40 girls from Washington at the 13th annual Border Clash. The Nike-sponsored event is on Saturday, November 20.

Ghanaian artist in residence presents tonight - Nov 7

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Eric Adjetey Anang Slide Lecture
Monday, November 7
7:30 p.m.
Gerlinger Auditorium

Eric Adjetey Anang, a Ga fantasy coffin sculptor from Ghana, is an artist in residence at Catlin Gabel from November 7 to November 11. We have invited him here to demonstrate his amazing art of sculpting a coffin out of wood in whatever shape a family feels best represents their deceased elder. He will be sculpting a woodworker’s hand plane, approximately 7’ long, 3’ wide, and 4’ high, on the front deck of the Barn. Please come ask him questions, watch him work, and feel free to participate in the building of the hand plane.

Two years ago, Michael de Forest, the LS woodshop teacher, traveled to Ghana for a summer and studied with Eric in his carpentry shop in Teshie, near Accra. There is also a US trip planned for Ghana from July 29 to August 19, 2012, where students will be working in the Kane Kwei Carpentry Shop with Eric.

Junior Maggie Boyd's film wins NW Film Center award

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Maggie's film, Someone That the World Forgot, received the Heart Award in the NW Film Center's Young People's Film Festival. Professional filmmakers selected the winning films from 150 entries.

Maggie made the movie last year during a collaboration project with students at Maru-a-Pula, our sister school in Botswana. The film is set to a poem by Lulwama K. Mulau, a Maru-a-Pula student.

Mature content.

» Watch Maggie's 3-minute film.

Girls' robotics competition featured in Beaverton Valley Times

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Beaverton Valley Times article, November 2011

Pumpkin Patch Photo Gallery 2011

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Seniors and first graders

Seniors who attended first grade at Catlin Gabel remember going to the pumpkin patch in 2001! This tradition is a school favorite.

To see more photos, including pictures taken at the pumpkin patch, go to the first grade web page.

Science teacher giving talk about bats

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7th grade science teacher Peter Ritson speaking at Washington State University in Vancouver

Peter and his wife, Christine Portfors, associate professor of biology at Washington State University Vancouver, host their annual Bat Talk from 3 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 29, in the Dengerink Administration building, room 110 at Washington State University in Vancouver. This event is an especially fun fall activity for families with children ages 4 – 12 and is free and open to the public.

While the season often calls for depicting bats as blood-sucking, vicious creatures, now families have an opportunity to see live bats up close and learn why these animals are largely misunderstood. In addition to teaching guests about bats, Christine and Peter will offer fun children’s activities including arts and crafts.

In their presentation, Peter and Christine dispel popular folklore and teach guests about the beneficial role bats play in nature managing insect pests, pollinating plants and dispersing seeds. They will showcase different bat species and introduce guests to a few of their captive tropical fruit bats.

WSU Vancouver is located at 14204 N.E. Salmon Creek Avenue off the 134th Street exit form either I-5 or I-205. Parking is free on weekends.

Calling all fans to the last home varsity boys soccer game Friday

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Come support the seniors at their last home game of the season. Cheer on the mighty Eagles at 4:15 p.m.

CGS teams run with world champions at Nike

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On October 20, students on Catlin Gabel cross country teams had the opportunity to meet all of the professional runners from the Nike Oregon Project and run with them on the wood chip trails surrounding Nike’s campus. After an introduction to all of the professional athletes by head coach Alberto Salazar, the cross-country team headed out for a few miles around the Beaverton campus.

Some of the athletes who guided the students around Nike’s campus included Mo Farah, gold and silver medalist at the World Championships in August; Galen Rupp, American record holder in the 10,000 meters and five-time NCAA champion; Kara Goucher, bronze medalist at the World Championships and three-time NCAA champion; and Dathan Ritzenhein, Olympian and NCAA champion, among others. Alberto Salazar, himself a three-time New York City Marathon champion and Boston Marathon champion, now coaches the Nike Oregon Project with the goal of developing the world’s best athletes to win medals at the World Championships and Olympic games.
Catlin Gabel’s cross country team members were able to ask the athletes questions as they explored the trails on campus and after finishing up their run. The students were incredibly inspired from this meeting and are now ready to convert some of that enthusiasm into results at the upcoming district and state championships in the coming weeks. Knight Family Scholars director and MS cross country coach Chad Faber said, “Our kids get the chance to run with the world’s best athletes today and watch them compete for and win medals at next summer’s Olympic Games in London. I can’t think of any experience more exciting for a student-athlete.”