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"This school opened up the world for me"

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A personal story of the importance of financial aid from Dr. Derrick Butler '86
From the Spring 2010 Caller

After hearing the news that the Rummage Sale would retire, Derrick Butler ’86 M.D. shared his story on how financial aid changed his life. Inspired by his life story, we invited him to speak at the Gambol and help the school raise funds for student financial aid. Here are some excerpts from his speech.

I am confident that my life’s work is changing lives and inspiring others. My work is challenging and, many times, fatiguing, but I can wake up every day and possibly make a small positive difference in someone’s life. That is the essence of what Catlin Gabel has given me, and must continue to instill in its students.
 
My journey at Catlin Gabel began with me as a shy, fat kid from the ‘other side of the tracks’ (or in this case, the Willamette River). I was black, not wealthy, from a single-parent household, but hungry for knowledge. Six years later I emerged as a confident, curious, inspired young adult with a desire to explore every corner of the planet. Catlin Gabel allowed me to navigate the world outside of my inner city neighborhood and to realize my own potential for achievement. This school opened up the world for me and gave me the skills and courage to go out and savor it.
 
Financial aid at Catlin is what made all of this possible.
 
Catlin Gabel exposed me to a diversity of races, cultures, religions, and ideas that made a difference in my life by broadening my world view. I believe that my tenure there equally exposed my peers to someone like me, which helped them understand racial and socioeconomic differences—but also realize our sameness as human beings. I think the need for a wide diversity of students is even greater in our world today, a world of global cooperation and increased complexity.
 
I graduated from Catlin Gabel in 1986 to continue my journey of self discovery. I was first on full scholarship at Morehouse College, where Catlin Gabel’s academic rigor gave me the discipline and study skills to graduate second in my class. Then with the Peace Corps to Africa, where I taught science and math, traveled extensively, mastered French (which I first encountered at Catlin Gabel), and truly became a world citizen.
 
Led by my desire for service, my love of people in general, and passion for science, I then pursued my medical degree at the University of California–San Francisco and a public health degree at the University of California–Berkeley. During this period I also first experienced the devastation of the HIV epidemic, which would influence my later career path.
 
Now as a family physician I treat all types of patients, especially underserved populations of color in South Central LA and those who are even more disenfranchised: people living with HIV. I consider myself a doctor, master of public health, HIV specialist, breaker of stereotypes, lifelong seeker of knowledge, student of the world, and servant to humanity. Upon reflection, I see that Catlin Gabel was the foundation for these accomplishments.
 
I hope my humble story will help convince you that Catlin Gabel’s investment in people is what makes this school such a special institution. Greater than any investment on Wall Street, the support you can give for Catlin Gabel’s students will reap so much more in terms of human impact.
 
We must continue to give talented and motivated students the support they need to realize their potential at Catlin Gabel. Please help Catlin Gabel continue to change the world with its amazing graduates. So please, give cheerfully, give heartily, and give with inspiration. Thank you.
 
Derrick helped Catlin Gabel raise the crowd to its feet—and raise $150,000 for student financial aid. We thank him and all those who were moved by his story.
 
Photo: Reversed Lens Photography

 

Service in the Name of Compassion

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Julie Sutherland McMurchie '81 is a public face for end-of-life choices
From the Spring 2010 Caller
When Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act passed in 1994, Julie Sutherland McMurchie ’81 hardly noticed. A new mom who had three babies in four years, she was overwhelmed with family responsibilities. The Act zoomed into precise focus for her in 2001, though, when her beloved mother was dying of lung cancer at age 68—and made the decision to choose the way she would die.
 
Peggy Sutherland was an active, intelligent, and independent woman who had survived a bout of cancer in 1986. When she was diagnosed with a new lung cancer in 2000, she and her family fought it until they had exhausted all medical treatments, and she was declared terminal. In great pain and discomfort, Peggy knew what she wanted: to die on her own terms. After going through the state’s careful screening process, she died at home in January 2001 after taking a lethal dose of barbiturates supplied by her doctor. She was surrounded in peace by her family and their love, and Julie was by her side.
 
This experience was transformative for Julie. She and her family had received counseling from Compassion & Choices of Oregon, a group dedicated to informing the public about endof- life choices. The organization recognized Julie as someone who believed in their cause both emotionally and intellectually. After her mother died they asked Julie if she would like to do media appearances and public speaking about her mother’s experience. Julie became an impassioned speaker. “Public speaking makes me remember my mom and keeps me close to her,” she says. “It has been a good part of my grieving.”
 
Julie became more and more involved with Compassion & Choices, willing to work hard to help the organization grow and succeed. Today she is the chair of the board and has gained recognition for her effective leadership in fundraising and outreach. “I’m lucky to be in Oregon at the forefront of the movement. I’m at a place I can make an impact, and there’s lots of impact to be made,” she says. “I’m most proud of helping terminally ill people understand their choices. I want them to know that if their suffering gets too large, there’s an option. It brings comfort to people, even if they never do more than gather information.”
 
Julie came to Catlin Gabel in her junior year, and says that her education there was crucial to her: “It changed the way I think about myself. It was the best decision I’ve ever made.” She and husband Brad have three children, Kate ’11, Grace ’12, and Simon ’15, who have absorbed the value of service from school and family. Julie and Kate spent two weeks this spring in Uganda working in a medical clinic, and Grace plans to go on a service trip to Tanzania this summer. Julie is gratified that service work is so much a part of the culture for her children and their generation and is eager to see where their compassion will lead them. “I’m excited to see what my children end up doing,” she says.  

 

A Leader in Progressive Education

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Amani Reed '93 is one of the youngest division heads in the nation
From the Spring 2010 Caller
Amani Reed ’93 was an unproven quantity when he came to Catlin Gabel in 8th grade, a self-described “extra kid in the class” who was admitted although the class was full and his admission test didn’t go so well. “The lesson I learned was that it’s important to give kids a chance,” he says. As principal of the middle school at the University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, Amani daily applies lessons like this one, learned from his many years following his heart toward a place he’s perfectly suited to inhabit—one of the youngest independent school leaders in the nation.
 
Leaders at Catlin Gabel noticed Amani’s rapport with students when he was just a sophomore. Ali Barnett Covell ’65, then the Beginning School head, and Roy Parker, then head of the Middle School, both asked Amani to act as mentor to their students, so he worked with the youngest children and accompanied 8th graders on their Gilbert & Sullivan tours.
 
Working with kids resonated for him. “I didn’t know I was teaching, really,” he says. “But I woke up one day and found that I was a teacher.”
 
Amani attended Howard University and the University of Portland, where he studied secondary education and played soccer. He became involved again at Catlin Gabel working with Speed-Ujima, the diversity group that he had cofounded as a student.
 
“I’m blessed to be in this work. But we never do it alone, and I had really strong mentors,” says Amani. His first job in education came through Roy Parker, who had moved from CGS to become head of the middle school for Pittsburgh’s Sewickley Academy. He hired Amani as Summerbridge director, and Amani ended up working at Sewickley for six years, teaching 6th grade humanities, coaching soccer, working in admissions, and serving as diversity director.
 
Amani assumed more responsibility when he moved back to the Northwest in 2002 to serve as assistant middle school head at Lakeside School in Seattle, where he continued to teach and coach soccer. Amani connected with kids, but this experience for him was learning about adult leadership and what makes a school run. It made him want to take the next step: to become a principal, and lead adults and children.
 
Amani spent two busy years between 2005 and 2007, working at Lakeside, pursuing a master’s degree during a summer intensive at Columbia University’s Teacher’s College, becoming a new father (of son Taye, now 6), and exploring independent school leadership as part of Columbia’s Klingenstein Leadership Academy. “It all worked because my wife, Jules, is incredibly supportive,” he says.
 
Amani then landed his job as middle school principal at the huge University of Chicago Laboratory Schools, a place completely in sync with his educational philosophy. Founded by progressive education pioneer John Dewey, its tenets are similar to Catlin Gabel’s: experiential education, higher values, critical thinking, and individual responsibility for the collective community. Son Taye is in kindergarten just down the hall from Amani’s office, which delights him.
 
The work absorbs and satisfies Amani. “Figuring out the right way to support people, both adults and kids, to be their best is my goal.” He loves working with middle school kids, finding that to be the best part of his job. “The challenge of middle school is to create a sense of belonging. I help kids find themselves, feel connected to the community, and belong to something bigger and greater. I give them a sense of support so they feel that they can accomplish anything.”  

 

Alumni News Spring 2010

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From the Spring 2010 Caller

We are about relationships.

Keeping you informed and connected to the Catlin Gabel community is a top priority for our alumni program. Providing opportunities for our alumni to come together, re-connect, and network is our commitment to you. We do this through events such as homecoming, alumni weekend, the Gambol auction, opportunities for alumni to speak at the school or participate in classes with our students, and social gatherings for alumni outside the Portland area. We hope you have had a chance to join our events and activities at the school, because your involvement keeps our community strong and strengthens the future of Catlin Gabel alums to come.
 
The alumni board plays an integral part in connecting our community of alumni to the school. We are grateful for the commitment of the volunteers on the alumni board, including Adam Keefer ’98, who has completed his term as president. His extraordinary commitment and dedication, as well as his insight and wisdom, brought a thoughtful quality to our expanding alumni program. We thank him for his longevity of service to the school and continued guidance in the future.
 
Please join us in welcoming our incoming alumni officers Markus Hutchins ’02, president, and Susie Greenebaum ’05, secretary (right). Markus and Susie are both proven leaders (and, by the way, lifers). They bring new ideas, passion, and enthusiasm to continue the momentum of our alumni program.
 
We welcome your ideas and questions about how we might serve you better. Please drop by or call us any time with your thoughts and comments. Have a wonderful summer.
 
Lauren Dully Hubbard ’91, alumni and community relations program director dullyhubbardl@catlin.edu
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
Lesley Sepetoski, alumni and community relations officer sepetoskil@catlin.edu  

 

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.   

 

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.  

 

When Homework is More than Homework

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By Leah Weitz '10

From the Spring 2010 Caller

I’ll admit it—when I found out that my Spanish V Honors class had required community service hours, I was miffed. I had essays to write, classes to teach, tests to take—and geez, now this? But our teacher, Lauren Reggero-Toledano, insisted that to supplement our class focus on the Hispanic presence in Oregon, each student should go out into the larger community and engage in community service with an organization catering to Hispanics.

 
The only Hispanic community service opportunity of which I had any awareness at all was Homework Club. Here’s what I knew: Catlin Gabel students went somewhere and helped Hispanic kids with their homework, and staffer Mark Lawton plugged it in assembly a lot. With no more information than that, and slightly resentful of the fact that I could be preparing for my next history test instead, I hopped on a bus after school one Thursday bound for this mysterious and elusive Homework Club.
 
What I found was wonderful.
 
Homework Club, which is run by Bienestar, a Hispanic farm worker housing service, meets twice a week after school. Five to 10 Catlin Gabel students go to the community center at Reedville Apartments, where we meet up with 20 to 30 kids ranging from 1st through 6th grade. First we help them with their homework, which may consist of writing short stories, completing work sheets, or studying vocabulary. After their homework is done, the students practice reading to us. After a heartily nostalgic dose of Dr. Seuss or Maurice Sendak, it’s play time. Catlin Gabel tutors and their students mix while completing puzzles, playing hide and seek, or coloring with crayons.
 
I work with the 3rd graders. Note that I say work, not worked—for all of my moaning and groaning that first afternoon about the hassle of spending three hours helping kids with their homework instead of completing my own, I somehow found the time to come back . . . every week. It’s worth it to watch the kids improve, knowing that you’re the one who taught them how. Take Brenda, whose shy smile hides a spunky and charismatic attitude. When I first met her, her reading skills were excellent—but sometimes she would suddenly halt, staring at a word with blank eyes, before struggling through it and resuming her regular flawless read. I soon learned that Brenda, to whom English is a second language, had never seen or heard a lot of these words before. Now we sit with a dictionary next to us when we read, with the frequency of pauses always decreasing.
 
It’s not just Brenda’s vocabulary that has grown during the months I’ve been working with her. After a few months she hugged me goodbye for the first time, melting my heart like butter, before skipping off like it was no big deal. The next week she showed me a story she had written for school, featuring a character she’d named Leah. Her eyes sparkled as she laughed at my stunned expression. I’m not the only one fortunate enough to have blossoming relationships with these kids: take junior Lily Ellenberg, another Homework Club regular, who finds herself greeted by a cheering cluster of 1st graders every time she arrives.
 
Over the past months at Homework Club I’ve come to realize that the relationships we have with these kids isn’t just serving them alone. While my 3rd graders have been learning how to multiply, I’ve been learning how to teach—and realizing how much I love it. I can safely say that I have Homework Club to blame for my projected career choice, and I deeply thank Lauren for pushing me to get involved—because at Homework Club, teaching can be a learning experience too.
Leah Weitz ’10 chose to intern at Bienestar for her senior project. She will attend the University of Puget Sound this fall.   

 

Faculty reach 100 percent participation in annual fund

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Bravo!

We are grateful for the outstanding efforts of Faculty-Staff Giving Committee members Kathy Qualman, Lynda Douglas, Ginny Malm, Kate Grant, Ron Sobel, Chris Balag, Chris Woodard, and Spencer White.

Thanks to everyone who made a gift to the 2009-10 Annual Fund. Your contributions directly support our students and our school.

Graduation 2010 photo gallery

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June 12, 2010

 

 

Remember what made your time at Catlin Gabel special?

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Remember what made your time at Catlin Gabel special? Profound student-teacher relationships, lasting friendships with peers with varied interests and from all backgrounds, and exciting academics, arts, and athletics that opened minds and worlds.
 
Help preserve what is most important. Catlin Gabel needs your support to sustain its programs, students, and teachers, to ensure its role as a leader in independent education.
 
Alumni participation matters. By giving, you acknowledge the critical importance of giving back, of modeling philanthropy for our students and community, and of participation and strength in numbers. Participation percentages motivate and inspire others to give. Our alumni participation goal is 20 percent; we are currently at 12 percent.
 
Please give, in honor of your reunion year, in honor of a favorite teacher, in honor of your time on campus. Thank you for making Catlin Gabel a philanthropic priority.
 

Lifers photo gallery

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Members of the class of 2010 who have been at Catlin Gabel since preschool, kindergarten, or 1st grade

Click on any photo below to start the slide show.